WORLD War could be triggered in just four weeks in Ukraine as Vladimir Putin sends thousands of troops to the Russian border, experts have warned.
The bombshell claims come as convoys of tanks and armoured vehicles were filmed being mass transported in regions close to rebel-held eastern Ukraine and annexed Crimea.
With tension sharply rising, Russian military analyst Pavel Felgenhauer said it now requires a “psychoanalyst” to determine Moscow’s intentions in Ukraine but warned events could see “war in a month”.
The West has expressed alarm about the Kremlin’s movement of troops and forces, and the analyst says they are right to be concerned as unverified new footage appears to show military movements in Russia’s Voronezh, Rostov and Krasnodar regions, along with key railway routes.
The clips of tanks and armoured vehicles are spreading on the web in Russia and Ukraine.
“The crisis has the potential to escalate into a pan-European war, if not even a world one,” Felgenhauer warned starkly in an interview with Rosbalt news outlet in Russia.
The crisis has the potential to escalate into a pan-European war, if not even a world one
“But for now, potential. Will it happen or not? Let’s wait and see.
“In the West, they don’t know what to do about it.”
Asked why Russia may be pushing for a conflict now, he replied: “Address this question to a psychoanalyst. Do I need to explain?”
He claimed all the conditions could be in place by early May when Russia will hold a major Red Square parade to mark the anniversary of victory in World War Two, and he suspected a “decision has been made already”.
Among factors pushing Russia towards a new and massive land grab in its neighbour were “the closure of pro-Russian TV channels in Ukraine, the threat of arrest and trial of (opro-Putin oligarch) Viktor Medvedchyuk, the arrest of (opposition leader Alexei) Navalny (in Russia), (President Joe)Biden calling Putin a murderer…
“The threats are growing, and rapidly. Much is not discussed in the media, but we are seeing very bad signs.”
In the third week of March, three large Russian Baltic Fleet landing ships passed south through the English Channel, accompanied by a corvette, he said.
“There will be ten such combat units in total, plus small airborne troops,” he said.
“You can collect up to two divisions, taking into account the air force.”
Russia could be planning a “Normandy-style landing” between Odessa and Mykolaiv, he claimed.
Putin has huge forces in occupied east Ukraine – which fell under his sway in 2014, and in Crimea which was occupied.
“Obviously, a major operation is being prepared, and other forces will be brought in as well,” he said.
“Everyone is talking about a possible tank invasion from Belgorod through Kharkiv in the direction of Zaporizhia in order to surround Ukrainian forces on the left bank of the Donbass.”
Putin might “cut off Ukraine from the sea, create (a new rebel state of) Novorossiya, for example…” or he could make a move then pause and start dictating terms to the West.
Or Russia could seek to extend his control devouring Ukraine as far as Transnistria, a landlocked, Moscow-controlled no man’s land ‘unofficial state’ with its own KGB secret service.
It is wedged between Moldova and westerrn Ukraine.
Felgenhauer predicted that the West’s expected reactions to such moves were “unclear”.
“Some (in the West) say that the Russians should not be provoked, and military intervention is too risky.
“Others, on the contrary, are in favour of unification (of Russia and Ukraine)and open confrontation, because then it will be possible to bargain with Russia.”
The only current consolation in current military trends is that a Russian offensive against the ex-Soviet republics of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia – all now EU and NATO states in the Baltic – looks unlikely .
Felgenhauer, 69, has worked as a military analyst for independent Russian newspapers The Moscow Times and Novaya Gazeta, and contributed to international outlets including The Jamestown Foundation.
It comes the day after President Joe Biden offered Ukraine “unwavering support” after Vladimir Putin mass deployed soldiers and tanks to the border.
Biden made the pledge in a call to President Volodymyr Zelensky on Friday after Kiev accused Moscow of building up military forces on its border.
White House said in a statement that Biden “affirmed the United States’ unwavering support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of Russia’s ongoing aggression in the Donbas and Crimea”.
What is happening between Russia and Ukraine?
RUSSIA and the Ukraine have remained technically at war since 2014.
Ukraine was aligned with Russia as part of the Soviet Union until its collapse in 1991, following which it became an independent state.
Both nations remained closely tied – but Ukraine gradually began to distance itself, seeking deeper ties with the West.
The open conflict was triggered by the Ukrainian Revolution in 2014 – when an uprising overthrew the pro-Russian government of Viktor Yanukovych.
Vladimir Putin’s forces reacted by annexing the region of Crimea from Ukraine – a move which was widely condemned by the West.
The conflict then spiralled when pro-Russian groups in Eastern Ukraine then took up arms against the state.
Russia gave their backing the separatist forces which formed breakaway republics in Donetsk and Luhansk.
Putin’s forces then launched a military incursion into these regions as they gave their support to the rebels.
Russia continues to hold Crimea – and claims the region joined them willingly after they a referendum.
Almost seven years have now passed and the War in Donbass remains at a stalemate.
It is estimated some 14,000 have been killed in the conflict, including more than 3,00 civilians.
Ukraine and the rebels signed a new ceasefire in July 2020 – but clashes have been steadily increasing again since last November.
Zelensky on Twitter said he was “glad” to talk to Biden and hailed Kiev’s partnership with Washington as “crucial for Ukrainians”.
But Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia would take additional measures if the West sent out troops, after claims such a move by NATO would escalate tensions near its borders.
Back in 2014, Putin’s forces annexed the strategically key Crimea from Ukraine and pro-Russian groups then took up arms against Kiev.
Peskov told reporters: “No doubt such a scenario would lead to a further increase in tensions close to Russia’s borders.
“Of course, this would call for additional measures from the Russian side to ensure its security.”
He insisted, however, that Russia was “not threatening” Ukraine, despite an earlier statement which warned a war in Donbass would “destroy” its neighbour.
A NATO official told Reuters that Russia was undermining efforts to reduce tensions in eastern Ukraine, and NATO ambassadors had met on Thursday to discuss the situation.
The official said: “Allies share their concerns about Russia’s recent large-scale military activities in and around Ukraine.”
Zelensky joined the criticism, saying “military exercises and possible provocations along the border are traditional Russian games”.
Ukraine and Russia have remained technically at war since 2014.