Several Western media outlets today published maps showing Russian troops near the border of Ukraine. These maps also show how Russia is going attack in the event of a war, which, according to the publications, may just start. But this is not certain – Putin, allegedly, has not decided yet.
The Washington Post, citing US intelligence, claims that Russia plans to concentrate about 175 thousand troops near the borders of Ukraine in the near future.
“The plans include extensive movement of 100 battalion tactical groups, as well as armored vehicles, artillery and equipment,” the newspaper writes, citing a source in President Biden’s administration.
“Russian plans envisage a military offensive against Ukraine in early 2022 with a scale of forces twice that which we saw last spring during Russia’s surprise exercises near Ukraine’s borders,” assures The Washington Post.
The newspaper publishes a map and satellite images of Russian troops in selected areas.
Looking at this map, some questions immediately arise.
1. The satellite images show a total of seven new battalion-tactical groups. At the same time, it is argued that there are about 50 of them along the border of Ukraine. But for some reason, this is not confirmed by other photographs.
2. The illusion that the troops are “standing at the gates of Ukraine” is created by a simple graphic technique: a settlement, which is actually located at a considerable distance from Ukraine, is surrounded by a pink oval, which is many times larger than the area of the city or village where the Russian troops are based. Thus, the border of this oval almost touches Ukraine on the map.
3. On the map, the same oval is drawn around the village of Persianovka in the Rostov region. But neither in the text nor on the map itself is there any explanation of what is stationed there. And why this point was not numbered, unlike the others, is unclear.
The Washington Post concludes that there may not be an attack, and what is happening is an attempt by Russia to show the seriousness of its intentions. To convince Biden at the upcoming meeting to make concessions on Ukraine and close the doors to NATO.
Which contradicts the general tone of the article about the threat of a Russian attack in the coming weeks.
The German newspaper Bild too came out with a similar article, under the headline “How Putin could annihilate Ukraine”. Bild writes that a Russian attack could happen very soon – in January 2022. Bild too says the Kremlin has not yet made a final decision, they allegedly tend to believe that war is inevitable.
How Real Is An Invasion Scenario?
The authenticity of the plans showed by the Washington Post and Bild, among others, cannot be confirmed.
It is not entirely clear whether publications of the Western media are based on real insider information of the special services, or this is a compilation of information from open sources (possibly, “leaked” through the special services).
At the same time, both articles contain a reservation – it is not yet a fact that “Putin will attack” – the decision has not yet been made. In this case, it is not entirely clear why such terrifying maps are published and such formidable predictions about an imminent war are given, which, as one can read in the very same articles, are still hypothetical in nature.
That is, with a high probability we are talking about another information and psychological operation called “Putin will attack soon”.
On the other hand, in recent days Moscow has begun to accuse Ukraine of preparing an offensive in Donbass. At the same time, they make it clear in Russia that they will intervene if this happens.
That is, the Kremlin has also started hinting that the situation is close to war.
At the same time, Russia announced that the only alternative to this is to guarantee that Ukraine will not join NATO and to stop its militarization. This will become the main topic of contacts between the Biden and Putin next week.
The West, however, does not seem to show any intention to compromise.
NATO, at least, has already stated that NATO membership is a decision of sovereign countries, and this should not concern Russia in the least. Biden said that he does not accept from Russia any red lines in Ukraine. Biden said he is preparing arguments for a conversation with Putin, “so that it would be very, very difficult for Mr. Putin to go forward and do what people fear he is going to do.”
However, this is all “rhetoric for the public”. We’ll see soon how things will turn out after the negotiations.