I wrote two long posts about my thoughts of this war and how things look now and in the future in another forum. I will share them here as well.
“There won’t but any direct Russian punitative military intervention because – and this may come as a surprise to you – Donetsk and Lughansk Oblasts are not in Russia.”
Yes, I was thinking that Russia will eventually intervene in Donbass over a year ago but certainly not anymore. Things have gone past that point. Donbass does not have the same value for Russia that Crimea has. That is why Russia did intervene in Crimea but not in Donbass.
But those who say that Russia does not intervene in Donbass “beacause Donetsk and Lugansk people are not Russian citizens” are obviously wrong. Russia did intervene in Crimea even if at the time the Crimean people were not Russian citizens. Russia does not see Donbass as a valueble asset as it sees Crimea but more of a burden. This is why it has been left to fight against the Kiev junta.
“Are you saying that the Ukrainian seperatist citizens in those oblasts have only been successful against central government and oligarch forces because the Russian military has been fighting alongside them? Or are you saing that they have only been succesful because of Russian logistic and intelligence support?”
Yes, that is partially true. From what I have read from multiple (pro-Russian) sources is that Russia did help the rebels especially in two or three occasions: In Ilovaysk, Debaltsevo and possibly in Donetsk airport. They are calling this help as “northern wind”. People like Colonel Cassad have been writing about it. I don’t know how much direct military support the rebels got from Russia back then, but the support was certainly bigger then than it is now. Russia has toned down its support considerably.
On their own the rebels are not able even to drive the junta out of Donetsk, as the current situation is. “Northern wind” is not blowing now and the rebels are stuck defending their positions under constant shelling and mounting civilian and military casualties. At the other day Zakharchenko was talking about evacuating whole districts of Donetsk because civilians are dying and in constant danger. That shows how dire the situation there is. The Kiev military has also become better, mostly due to training from US advisers. Their artillery is now more accurate and it causes serious losses for the NAF every day.
“And if the latter, do you think such support will be withdrawn?”
I think it was already been withdrawn, at least for temporary. Russia wants the rebels to adhere the Minsk agreement (while their enemy is given a free pass to break it). That means no Russian military support for the rebels (while the US gives a direct military support to the Kiev junta which is against the Kiev agreement) and no heavy weaponry in the front line for the rebels (while Kiev is again allowed to break the Minsk agreement and shell Donetsk every day with heavy artillery).
If things don’t change the Novorossiya will lose the war. Either by a fast onslaught that breaks the NAF defense line (and Donetsk falls) or more likely with a slow attrition with constant non-stop shelling of civilian and military targets with heavy artillery while the rebels are not allowed to respond in kind (because Russia is not giving them the needed support and a permission).
I hope that I’m wrong and another Ilovaysk/Debaltsevo comes out of the blue, but I’m not seeing it happening. I’m not even dreaming about taking Mariupol and Slavyansk anymore. I just want the Kiev junta driven out of an artillery reach of Donetsk and Gorlovka. But right now they can’t even do that. They are fighting a losing war.
And the second one:
Here is a related story from Lenta: http://lenta.ru/news/2015/06/17/usa_kiev/
Ukrainian parliamentariancalls on to create concentration camps for the citizens of Donbass and a complete destruction of civilian infrastructure in all parts of Donbass in order to “break their will”.
For him bombing of civilian infrastructure (houses, roads, factories, bridges etc.) is a “necessity to win this war”. He’s taking the USA’s example when they bombed Dresden in order to break the Wehrmach morale.
This is where I see the war is going. Kiev is becoming more bold. Their last big defeat happened almost half a year ago. Since then the rebels have been rather losing than winning.
The Kiev junta knows that they are backed by the West and are given a free reign to do just about what they want. There is basically no “red line” for them. They could literally kill every civilian in Donbass without repercussions. The Donbass people have become “personan non grata” for the Kiev junta and for the West. The human rights that the West likes to preach have been denied from the Donbass people.
But the big question mark is Russia. The Kiev junta knows that the West will cover their asses in any case, but what about Russia? The only thing that can prevent the Kiev junta from “cleansing” Donbass would be Russia. Would Russia risk a bigger confrontation with the West by stopping the genocide of Donbass or would Russia let it happen?
The Kiev junta is going to “test the waters”, so to speak. They will bring more and more heavy weaponry to the front line (they are doing it all the time). They are gradually increasing the destruction of civilian infrastructure in Donbass. They are gradually killing more and more civilians. They are watching if Russia reacts. If no reaction from Russia, the force against Donbass will be again increased by a nod.
This is what their attrition tactic will be and it will continue for years, as long as Donbass falls. The West will finance their military so there is no hope of Kiev falling on its own weight.