Donbas war: Political forecast for this autumn

Author : Bohdan Petrenko

Source : 112 Ukraine

In October, the threat of escalation of hostilities will increase
12:24, 9 October 2017

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Any events in our country should not prevent us from forgetting that there is a war. Moreover, in the near future, it would not be officially hidden behind the shield of an "antiterrorist operation."

In October, the threat of escalation of hostilities will increase. First, the reduction in bombardment will not only lead to active conversations about further reintegration, but also to reintegration itself, at least at the level of the divided mentality of Ukrainians on different sides of the contact line. Images of the enemy - "separatists" or "junta" - will be erased in the public opinion without war. Today, the war reached its bottom: de-escalation has lasted for several months in many respects (the number of victims, the number of bombardments). Although, according to Ukrainian intelligence, the number of pro-Russian troops in the east did not decrease.

Related: Poroshenko’s plan on Donbas reintegration

Secondly, autumn is the time of approval of the state budget, including in Russia. It is clear that the leaders of the "Donetsk/Luhansk People’s Republics" (DPR/LPR) and their supervisors who control the flows are more interested in increasing expenditures. Russia itself is not interested in such expenses. Therefore, it is possible to legitimize the increase or preservation of the flow of money only in the context of intensified conflict.

Thirdly, the inhabitants of the occupied territories should receive answers to the question of why they have such low social standards compared to other parts of Donbas, which are free from the "Russian world." These answers will traditionally based on "a threat from Ukraine’s Armed Forces". During the active phase of the war, the LPR/DPR authorities would reduce the behind-the-scenes games among themselves (terrorist acts and murders would become less frequent).

Related: Top-10 decisions of the week by Verkhovna Rada: Donbas reintegration, pension reform and NKREKP selection board

Why is activation possible now? Because there are some natural and political factors for this. The spring-autumn season is close to the end, and this is the most favorable time for military operations.

Now about political ones. The peak of the escalation is possible between the meeting of Volker and Surkov on October 7 and the second reading of Ukraine’s draft law on reintegration of Donbas (probably in the next plenary week of October 17-20). The goal is to stimulate radical deputies not to support these projects and provoke radical mass protests under the parliament in order to frighten other deputies. In the future, this will give the Kremlin the opportunity to accuse Ukraine of not fulfilling its obligations, of slowing down the peace talks and of being unable to be a reliable partner with Western allies. Consequently, the world pressure against Russia would reduce.

Related: Surkov and Volker discussed UN draft resolution on Donbas proposed by Russia

Another political date is October 14 - Defender of Ukraine Day. This is the day of remembrance of Ukrainian Insurgent Army (used as a consolidation symbol for Ukraine’s far-right parties and organizations). Making gifts (shelling Ukrainian positions) during festive time is a good tradition of Moscow. And although exacerbations at the front are possible, it is likely that the biggest challenges on this day will be created inside the country.

We must understand that in the near future the goal of military exacerbations is not the territorial seizures, but rather inflaming the "sense of war" between Ukrainians on both sides of the border, persuading the Ukrainians and the rest of the world of the idea that this war is civil. That is why the war will not go beyond the "gray zone." And none of the sides is ready to break the established line. At least for now.

Related: Russia calls Donbas reintegration law ‘mockery over Europe’

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