Michael MacKay, Radio Lemberg, 29.01.2019
Since the Russian Federation’s undisguised attack on the Ukrainian Navy on 25 November 2018, the build up of Russian troops and armaments facing Ukraine has been precipitous. The commander of Ukrainian and therefore European defences in Donbas, Lt.-Gen. Serhiy Nayev, believes the Russians want to seize control of the entire coast of the Sea of Azov. In response, Ukraine has created a new reserve armoured brigade to throw back the Muscovy invaders when they come in force.
The Armed Forces of the Russian Federation have increased the number of troops stationed in and near the war zone. General Nayev, commander of the Joint Forces Operation, said: “The number of tactical battalions near the Ukrainian-Russian border has increased from eight to twelve, and this is only in my area of responsibility.” He was speaking to Kyiv Post correspondent Askold Krushelnycky.
The Russian Federation has not yet used military aviation in its war against Ukraine, but it may do so yet. The aggressor has staged a substantial number of aircraft read for operation at air bases on the other side of the battlefront, near Donetsk, according to the Joint Forces commander.
General Nayev also said that the Russians were increasing the number of sabotage and reconnaissance teams they are sending into the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine. Senior Russian army officers are inside Ukraine directing the battle, as evidenced by the use of special satellite communications. In General Nayev’s opinion, the presence of Russian generals proves that a regrouping of Russian forces is underway, which most likely means preparation for an offensive.
“Their reconnaissance capabilities have tripled: more DRGs [special operations teams], more radio interception groups, more spies. As a rule, this happens in the run-up to an offensive,” said the Ukrainian commander.
Ready to counter-punch against the Russian offensive, the Armed Forces of Ukraine have created a new reserve armoured brigade. This was announced by Ukraine’s defence minister, Stepan Poltorak, while visiting arms factories in Kharkiv on January 28.
The tank brigade is trained and ready to go into action to repel an expanded invasion by the Russian Federation, said Minister Poltorak.
Ukraine has a quarter of a million active duty troops, and more than 158 thousand reservists. Many members of the reserve are combat veterans of the Russian invasion of Ukraine in Donbas, ongoing since 2014.
The Ukrainian defence minister highlighted Ukraine’s rearmament since the Russian Federation began its invasion in 2014. Under the state-owned defence conglomerate UkrOboronProm, Ukraine’s defence of the homeland in 2019 is independent and robust – nothing like it was when the Russians began the war. “We can’t compare a tank of 2014 and a modernized tank of 2019,” said Minister Poltorak.
When the Russian Federation invaded Ukraine on 20 February 2014, the Armed Forces of Ukraine were in a sorry state. Leftover Soviet equipment for defence and legacy Soviet training for defenders, meant that only augmentation by the volunteer battalions saved Ukraine in the early days of Putin’s War. In the five years since, Ukraine has focussed its arms industry on repairing old vehicles and weapons. UkrOboronProm supplied over a thousand armoured vehicles to the Armed Forces of Ukraine in 2018, mostly refurbished and modernized. Increasingly, Ukraine will shift to the introduction of new weapons. Ukraine’s defence minister envisages 20 new types of weapons being introduced in the 2019 procurement program. “It is a good signal showing that we’re moving forward and not going to stop,” he said.
The Russian Federation is preparing to launch a large-scale offensive. Ukraine is preparing to defend itself and Europe from Russian aggression.