Russians have been talking for years about a possible attack on the port city of Mariupol, and then continuing on to Odessa.
As we reported earlier this week, Russia has been massing troops, tanks and other military hardware in Ukraine on northern border of the Crimea Peninsula of Ukraine, and closing crossing points.
On Thursday, Russia’s FSB (successor to the KGB) issued this explanation:
FSB Russia prevented the commission in the Republic of Crimea of terrorist attacks prepared by the Chief Directorate of Intelligence of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine
The Federal Security Service prevented the commission of terrorist attacks in the Republic of Crimea prepared by the General Directorate of the Ministry of Intelligence of Defense of Ukraine, the targets of which have been identified as critical infrastructure and livelihood of the peninsula.
The purpose of the sabotage and terrorist attacks is to destabilize the so
As a result of operational search activities on the night of the 6th of August 7th, 2016, in the region of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea discovered a group of saboteurs. During the arrest of the terrorists, a firefight occurred and a Russian FSB officer died. At the site of clashes, investigators found 20 improvised explosive devices with a total capacity of more than 40 kilograms of TNT, ammunition and special means of initiation, regular and anti-magnetic mines, as well as grenades and special weapons, consisting of armed special units of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
We have now had several years of statements by Putin and Russia’s government about Ukraine and Syria that turned out to be total lies, so we can reasonably assume that most of the FSB statement is a total lie. I’m not saying that everything that Ukraine’s government says is truth. All I’m saying is that, after several years of an unending stream of total lies and hundreds of Russian internet trolls paid to lie, we can be certain that anything that comes from Russia’s government is total BS, with no relation to the truth except by accident.
Large quantities of Russian military hardware are being deployed in Crimea, far more than would be justified by a single gunfight, or even a single terrorist attack. Columns of armored personnel carriers, military ambulances, fuel tankers, trucks, signals and engineering vehicles have been video-recorded in the port town of Kerch, which handles ferry arrivals from Russia. They have also been spotted in the Crimean regional capital of Simferopol, and outside a military training range near the southern town of Feodosia. Internet services have been cut in northern Crimea, with no explanation.
Ukraine is denying Russia’s accusations, but in reaction to Russia’s actions, Ukraine’s army is reinforcing units in Kherson, the region just across the Crimean border.
One possible target of a new Russian invasion would be an attack on the port city of Mariupol. As you can see from the above map, Kerch is separated from the Russian mainland by a narrow body of water that links the Sea of Asov with the Black Sea. In 2014, Russia had announced the intention to build a land bridge connecting Kerch with the mainland, but that has never happened, and so people, supplies, and military equipment have to depend on ferries to reach Crimea from Russia.
From Russia’s point of view, the best solution would be a new invasion of Ukraine targeting Mariupol, and then to take control of the entire land border with the Sea of Asov. That would allow Russia to deliver people, supplies and military equipment overland in cars, trucks and buses. From there, Russian forces could continue westward to Odesa and then on to Transnistria, an enclave in eastern Moldova with a heavy Russian population. ( “5-Nov-14 World View — Russian troops approach Ukraine’s border, threaten port city Mariupol”)
It’s always wise to remember that Russian troops are still occupying eastern Ukraine, and Russian separatist leaders in 2014 repeatedly threatened a complete secession of the region from Ukraine, so that Russia can annex the entire region just as Crimea was annexed.
US forces in Libya may declare victory over ISIS this week
The following analysis is from the American Enterprise Institute (AEI):
U.S.-backed forces in Libya may declare victory over the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) in Sirte this week, but a victory over ISIS in Sirte may lead to more conflict in the long term and ultimately strengthen actors that pose a direct threat to U.S. national security.
The fall of Sirte is imminent. Libyan militias allied with the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) seized ISIS’s primary remaining stronghold on August 10, along with other key ISIS positions in the city center. U.S. air support and Special Operations Forces allowed the GNA-allied militias to overcome ISIS’s defenses. The militias will continue to combat pockets of resistance in the city but will likely declare total victory over ISIS in Sirte within the coming week.
The fall of Sirte is not an existential threat to ISIS in Libya, however. ISIS militants continue to operate openly in northern Libya, including in Benghazi in the east and near Sabratha in the northwest. Nor has ISIS lost the capabilities that it based in Sirte. Approximately 350 ISIS fighters remain in the city, but the majority of ISIS’s fighting force has withdrawn to southern Libya or infiltrated civilian populations. ISIS may reconstitute in a safe haven in southern Libya, from which it will resume attacks in northern Libya and attack into neighboring Tunisia and Algeria. AEI Critical Threats
KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Russia, FSB, Ukraine, Crimea, Mariupol, Kerch, Kherson, Sea of Asov, Black Sea, Libya, Sirte, Government of National Accord, GNA, Benghazi, Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria/Sham/the Levant, IS, ISIS, ISIL, Daesh
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