On 5 July, Ukraine celebrates Navy Day. On the occasion of the holiday, President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskiy spoke at celebrations in Odessa. In his speech, he noted that Ukraine is currently actively developing naval bases and educational institutions, arranging places for the permanent deployment of naval units, developing Ukrainian navy facilities, and restoring and modernizing weapons and military equipment.
“Our country’s goal is to regularly increase your power. We know how in recent years, in many senses of the word, the Ukrainian Navy was tried to destroy and sink. I will not just allow it. I will do my best to make the Ukrainian fleet a model of strength, modernity and a real pride of Ukraine. To make us to become a maritime power not in the distant memories of the past, but in the real present and the near future,” the head of the state noted.
According to him, the command of the Navy is tasked to ensure the combat readiness of the navy and to equip the naval forces with missile weapons as a deterrent.
Meanwhile, experts are increasingly expressing concerns about possible further violent actions by Russia against Ukraine. Thus, according to the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, the Russian Federation has created three interspecific groups capable of carrying out sudden offensive operations with limited targets in Ukraine’s territory. At the same time, the build-up of forces along the state border continues.
“In particular, new military units (units and formations) are being actively formed, and existing military formations are being reorganized in order to increase their combat potential. At present, 28 battalion tactical groups have been deployed along the state border of Ukraine. Today, the formation of three new units is being completed: two armies and an army corps, which are to become fully operational in 2020-2021,” said Lieutenant General Leonid Holopatiuk, head of the Main Department for International Co-operation and Verification of the General Staff of the Armed Forces.
During an online meeting of the OSCE Security Co-operation Forum, he also said that Russia now has about “87,000 troops, up to 1,100 tanks on the border with Ukraine; up to 2600 armored combat vehicles; up to 1100 artillery systems; up to 360 volley fire missile systems, 18 operational and tactical missile systems”
According to one version, “Caucasus 2020” military exercises, scheduled for September, can be a trigger for future open aggression against Ukraine by Russia.
That says US Lieutenant General, former commander of the US Armed Forces in Europe Ben Hodges. In an interview with LB.ua, he said that Russia could use military exercises and, under their cover, try to seize the North Crimean Canal to provide Crimea with water. Simultaneously or later (depending on the reaction of the world community), another object of attack may be Odessa, in order to gain full control over the entire part of the Ukrainian Black Sea coast, from Odessa to Kerch.
According to the general, the world will be troubled by completely different problems at this time, because in the United States, for example, the struggle for the presidency will be in full swing. He also drew attention to a large-scale information campaign by Russia, which through its influence in Ukraine is pushing the idea of a humanitarian catastrophe in Crimea and undermining the confidence of Ukrainians in the government in the country.
Meanwhile, Ukraine has decided not to wait for the development of events in another’s scenario and continues to strengthen all types of intelligence and combat capabilities in the Crimean direction. As the commander of operation of the Joint Forces Serhiy Naiev noted, the troops are reinforced.
Against this background, the statements of Ukraine’s Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces Ruslan Khomchak, who recently stated that each of the brigades in the Joint Forces operation will be reinforced by American Javelin man-portable anti-tank missiles, are consistent with the above. He also noted that in the near future these weapons will be in Donbas. In addition, now the Ukrainian military is working on the use of drones “Bayraktar” with combat damage to the target.
However, some experts are skeptical about statements about a possible Russian attack, as similar theses have often been exploited by the authorities as an excuse for Ukrainian society to be more loyal to Kyiv’s sometimes unpopular political decisions.
In particular, political scientist Ruslan Bortnik notes that theoretically there can be a risk of an attack by Russia, although it is not appropriate for it, as it could provoke another wave of sanctions, while the world political chessboard now shows quite favorable conditions for Russia.
“If Russia wants to destabilize us militarily, it does not need to intervene directly in this situation. It just needs to ‘pull off the chain’ the ‘DPR’ and ‘LPR’. To inflate them with weapons, military forces and other means and allow to storm Mariupol. The very fact of storming Mariupol, or Schastya, or Svitlodarsk will cause a political crisis in Ukraine. At the same time, this will not necessarily mean a new round of sanctions for Russia” the expert said.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian and international analysts are trying to determine which direction the Kremlin will take next, Russia has paused to prepare a response to the “consolidated position of Ukraine, France and Germany” at talks in Berlin that took place on 3 July. Thus the deputy chief of Administration of the president of the Russian Federation Dmitry Kozak didn’t forget to emphasize that Russia in the near future expects the project of amendments to the Constitution from Ukraine, which would settle “the special status of Donbas.”