On April 22nd, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shogun declared the maneuvers in Krim and western Russia a success. All troops would be returned to their permanent bases by May 1st.
However, he also included that they should leave their heavy weapons behind in western Russia for another exercise later this year; ready to respond to any "adverse developments" during NATO's Defender Europe 2021 exercise. And therein lies the rub....it's not over. This was only a Prelude to Putin's Play for Ukraina.
Aside from practicing for the future, these exercises showed the Western Powers that Russia is indeed capable of addressing its military operations spot on with little effort and with overwhelming force. But what else was the true purpose.
It was multi-fold: To show the strength, readiness, and will to act for Russia's interest... anywhere and everywhere that Russian citizens live.
Let's remember, this Prelude had started years ago by accelerating Russian citizenship for all Donbas residents, replacing the normal 8-year waiting period with 3 months. Presently, the overwhelming majority of Donbas residents are now Russian citizens with Russian passports, just like Krim. They are the most vital characters to THE PLAY.
So, what else did this show of force do --- it revealed the extent to which the West would possibly respond to such actions: To the effect of a few warships sent to the Black Sea weeks after and a wide "concern" over the troop movements.
And Russia found out that they could actually prevent the US from sending a destroyer to the Black Sea just by telling them not to come --- flyovers, the same. Thank you for the info...
Oh, and the West's welcomed relief when the pullout was announced: It was just a bluff, nothing too serious, let's hope the bear hibernates again. It's just war games... (How do armies prepare for real wars?) Count the many similar takeovers by Russia throughout the world. Wagner's opera plays everywhere. Libya is already falling into the trend as will others.
But getting back to Donbas, we will see the troops return. My guess is after the May celebrations. By which time Russia will probably succeed in causing a military flare-up to give reasons for Russian Troops to move in to save the Russian citizens.... And yes a bombing of festivities by Russian saboteurs is always a typical Russian option, blame the other side. But this time I think that Putin will introduce a new version. He will have to ad-lib the approach.
I think that probably around, or after, the May celebration the citizens of Donbas will issue a (pseudo) "legal" proclamation that they will indeed annex their combined republics from Ukraina and henceforth allow Russian troops within their newly formed country.
The wording will be all important, although I'm not sure if it can be made reasonable enough for hesitative doubt on the West's next action. But any delay buys time and time buys consideration. I assume Russian troops will have by then returned to their April status along the borders for that reason.
Russia will then claim the "legal" aspect of the LPR/DPR Proclamation to allow Russia to openly move Russian soldiers into Donbas for its Russian citizens' protection... and the request would come from the LPR/DPR (republics).
Putin has already referred to Luhansk and Donetsk as "Republics". Next will come the official recognition by Russia.
Now, here comes the call card --- What will the West do? Will they counter by bringing Allied troops into Ukraina. Is that what the NATO exercises are for?
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