New Delhi: Russian military operation will not be limited to Donetsk and Luhansk in eastern Ukraine, Indian security experts said on Thursday February 24, hours after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a military operation in eastern Ukraine.
The experts in India, however, maintained that it would be premature to jump to conclusion or guess that Russia has launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
Decoding Putin’s move, the experts said that his statement was limited to the Donbas region, where the rebels had sought Russian military help against Ukrainian forces.
Talking about the current crisis, Major General Ashok Kumar (Retd) said, “Once the Russian troops had surrounded Ukraine from three directions, it was appearing that the war is inevitable. However, due to diplomatic efforts and concerns of the international community, there was hope in initial stages that probably it could be averted.”
However, out of the two pre-conditions Russia had laid down, the one on expansion of NATO forces eastwards to include Ukraine was non-negotiable.
“Since there was no word coming either from NATO or the US, it became inevitable for Putin to move forward with his plans,” Kumar said,
The first thing which he did was to identify two independent states — Donetsk and Luhansk — as countries in the eastern part of Donbas, which have more than 90 per cent Russian population who are predominantly pro-Russian.
“Because Ukraine as per them (Donetsk and Luhansk) had started bombarding and doing incursions in their area beyond the line of contact, which was decided in the 2015 Minsk agreement. And thereafter the Russian forces moved into the Donbas area,” Kumar said.
He further stated that there are reports that there is huge shelling in other parts of Ukraine as well, and a number of military targets have been destroyed because of the missile attacks.
“Now at what stage the war will go is a matter of judgement. There has been a hardening of stance from the US and NATO also,” he said.
Swasti Rao, Associate Fellow, Manohar Parrikar-Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (MP-IDSA), said, “Russia has been revamping its military might since long, and it should not be seen as a development of the last two months. This is part of it’s imperialistic design.”
As far as the military ties with Russia is concerned, India is dependent on Russia for 50-70 per cent supplies.
“Though India has initiated the process of Indianisation of military procurement, we still depend on Russia to a large extent,” Rao said.
About economic sanction, Rao said, “We need to wait and watch what type of sanctions are imposed on Russia in the days to come. The US, if they impose a restriction on swift banking, it will be a jolt to Russia, and if the US imposes CATSA, then the import of military equipment will be difficult.
“So far, he (Putin) has maintained that he only intends to limit himself till Donetsk and Luhansk, but this cannot be taken without a pinch of salt. In his repeated addresses, Putin has been referring to Kyiv being the original cradle of Russian civilisation. I doubt that he will only limit himself to the eastern region in the long run. He may stop before the Dniper river now.”
On Thursday, Russia launched a military operation in Ukraine, with Putin warning other countries not to interfere in his affairs in eastern Ukraine.
“To anyone who would consider interfering from the outside: If you do, you will face consequences greater than any you have faced in history. All relevant decisions have been taken. I hope you hear me,” Putin said.
Meanwhile, the global community, especially the West and the US, has accused the Russian President of launching an unprovoked attack on Ukrainian territory.