Ukraine Update: 18 February, 2024 (Afternoon)

Separatist officials in eastern Ukraine have warned of a ‘large-scale Ukrainian attack’ coming soon and have called for the evacuation of women, children and the elderly to start immediately. The Ukrainian government countered with a statement calling the attack rumor false and nothing more than a lie designed to give Russia a pretext to invade. As this back and forth was taking place, Russian media has been releasing reports that claim Ukraine is stepping up attacks on the separatist regions of Donetsk and Luhansk. Shelling has increased around these regions for a second consecutive day.

In a video posted online but apparently recorded on Wednesday, Denis Pushilin, the pro-Moscow leader of the Donetsk People’s Republic, gave a stark warning.  “Very soon, President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky will order the military to go on an offensive, to implement a plan to invade the territory of Donetsk and Luhansk people’s republics. From today, Feb. 18 a mass organized transfer of the population to Russia is being organized. Women, children, and the elderly will need to be evacuated first. We urge you to listen and make the right decision.” The evacuees will go to the Rostov region of Russia, where camps and accommodations are being set up by the Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations.

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A car bomb exploded outside of a government building earlier today in the center of Donetsk. The explosion occurred around 6:00 PM Donetsk time (11 AM Eastern Standard Time). Video and photos allegedly from the scene show a car engulfed in flames. The blast was reportedly heard around the city. The vehicle reportedly belonged to Denis Sinenkov, chief of the People’s Militia.

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US officials now estimate the number of Russian troops near Ukraine to be somewhere between 160,000-190,000. This is a marked increase from the estimated 100,000 troops present in late January, 2022. According to Michael Carpenter, US ambassador to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe this represents the largest military mobilization to take place in Europe since the end of World War II. Adding to the tense situation, on Saturday Russia will conduct an exercise of its strategic nuclear forces, in which ballistic and cruise missiles will be test-fired.

Author’s Note: Next Update Will Be Posted Around 8 PM EST

UKRAINE UPDATE 11 APRIL: SETTING THE STAGE PART 2

As time goes by, it continues to appear probable that Russia is preparing for some level of military activity in the eastern Ukraine. What is not yet certain is the extent. Will Russia decide on a limited operation centered on a small number of objectives? Or perhaps a largescale infusion of men and material into the eastern Ukraine to prepare the separatists fighters for the next phase of the conflict. Of course, there’s the ever-present possibility of Russia deciding the time is right to launch a major offensive aimed at defeating Ukraine militarily and repositioning nation-state permanently back under Kremlin control, and in the Russian sphere of influence.

Before hostilities can commence, Russia has some matters to attend to first. Foremost is making certain it has a justifiable provocation in hand at the moment the first troops cross the border. History has demonstrated countless instances of false flag operations undertaken on the part of the aggressor to create a casus belli blanket for their upcoming military operations. The Gleiwitz incident and the Shelling of Mainila are two well known such operations from World War II. At present, Russia is working to create an escalation of the fighting in eastern Ukraine to bring about grounds for an intervention. Whether or not the escalation is the result of a design matters  little. The sharp rise in tension will culminate in a false flag type of event that creates the illusion of the situation in eastern Ukraine teetering on the brink. It is at that moment when Russian military forces will make their appearance. No sooner.

The timeline for the escalation and provocation will be determined by the Russian military buildup. It will not occur until the troops are in place and prepared to move. By most indications, Russian forces are not quite there yet. More time is needed. However, when the troops are ready, events will occur rapidly. From the point in time when the provocation becomes a reality to the moment the balloon goes up, a period of 24-36 hours will have passed, at most.

The false flag provocation will undoubtedly be centered somewhere in eastern Ukraine or, to rise the emotions of Russian citizens, at a point in Russia, not very far from the Ukrainian border.