Is Russia about to launch a new offensive in Ukraine?

Russia’s provocations are not going unheard in the West where tangible support for Ukraine is only increasing.

Recently, the Biden administration has been facing a growing challenge thanks to Russia’s armed provocations in Eastern Ukraine.

President Biden and his team had a phone call with their Ukrainian counterparts and sent the message that their unwavering support was with Ukraine.

Pentagon spokesperson, John Kirby, said, “We are discussing our concerns about that increase in tensions and ceasefire violations and regional tensions with NATO allies.”

Similarly, an emergency warning was given to the US Force Command in Europe. As it is known, the armed conflicts between the pro-Russian separatists who declared “independence” in the Donbas region of Eastern Ukraine and the Kiev administration have been ongoing since 2014.

More than 13,000 people were killed in the conflict to date according to the United Nations. As you may recall, the Trilateral Contact Group, consisting of Russia, Ukraine, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), is facilitating the negotiations regarding the Donbas crisis. The comprehensive ceasefire was established between the parties in July 2020 has been frequently violated as of late.

It is most likely that all parties will try to resolve the Ukrainian crisis through diplomacy, and it’s unlikely that the US will establish close military contact with Russia.

American experts on Ukraine that I spoke to stated that this time, US representatives are on the field in Eastern Ukraine and they travel when needed. The reason for this is that during the Obama administration, these expeditions were not allowed.

I had a chance to speak with the Former US Ambassador to Ukraine, Dan Herbst, regarding the tension between Ukraine and Russia. Here is what he has told me: “ The Biden administration moved smartly this past week with phone calls from the whole national security team to Kiev expressing support for Ukraine in the face of Russia’s military buildup in northern Crimea and along Ukraine’s eastern border. This was a timely warning to Moscow not to escalate its aggression against Ukraine.”

If one pays close attention, it’s clear that the US is more active with transition and deployment in the Black Sea and is constantly conducting exercises there. Apart from that, the Americans are adequately prepared to resist Russia’s disinformation. Russian propaganda in Eastern Ukraine is pushing the false narrative that Ukraine will invade this region — it is clear that Russia is trying to sow confusion in Ukrainian territory. Currently, the US does not have an ambassador in Ukraine, so it is expected that a US ambassador and a special envoy will be appointed to Kiev in the near future.

If we look at the point reached in Crimea over the last seven years, it’s quite a painful situation. The Russians have entirely occupied the Crimean peninsula, which is a strategic geographical location in the Black Sea region, and Crimean Tatars and Ukrainian activists have been either imprisoned or deported by the Russian invaders.

So far, 50,000 Crimeans have been expelled from Crimea under the hybrid deportation strategy. Ukraine has begun to follow an increasingly active foreign policy regarding Crimea over the past six months. It has planned to welcome the representatives of more than 100 countries on the established Crimea Platform in Kiev in the summer months.

On March 30, Russian President Vladimir Putin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and French President Emmanuel Macron held a virtual meeting and discussed the latest developments in Eastern Ukraine.

While Putin said that Kiev increased tensions in the region by ignoring the ceasefire, Kiev and the West stated that Putin violated the ceasefire. Frankly, Europe’s pressure on Putin is essential here, but it should not be forgotten that some European countries have important trade agreements with Russia. It is clear that the mistakes made regarding Crimea under the presidency of Barack Obama will not be repeated in the eastern region of Ukraine.

The US is more active in the field, and the territory won’t be left empty to Russia. US military aid to Ukraine that started in 2017, will both increase and become more active in the field in terms of intelligence. We also need to watch the position Turkey takes. Turkey opposes Russian hegemony in Crimea but at the same time does not want to break off its relations with Russia.

Ukraine’s geopolitical position stands on a severe rupture line for Russia. Russia aims to restore its territorial integrity and possess a consistent route in the east-west direction. For Russia, Ukraine is a gateway to Eastern Europe and the Balkans. Russia is deeply concerned about Ukraine completely sliding towards the West and joining NATO. Putin has pulled every type of string to spoil the game in the Caucasus.

NATO and the European Union should give utterance to the fact that they are paying attention to Russia’s provocations in the region. The tension between the US and Russia has become a flashpoint for East-West polarisation — and this emerging development has different dimensions; such as the future of Crimea, the security of the Black Sea, and the sovereignty of Georgia and Ukraine, which concerns many countries, including Turkey.

Foreign Policy Expert on U.S.-Turkey Relations, ME, Security, NATO, Transatlantic / Journalist / 2019 Ellis Island Medal of Honor Recipient www.alicinar.com