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Russia will hold on in Donbas to pressure Kyiv

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Significance

This follows a February 1 report by The International New York Times that senior US officials were increasingly warming to the idea of providing more significant defensive military support to Ukraine. The last round of Ukraine Contact Group talks broke down on January 31, with both Kyiv and the Donbas separatists blaming each other for the significant escalation in fighting around Donetsk airport, Mariupol and Debaltseve. EU leaders agreed on January 29 to continue sanctions against Russia for another six months but stopped short of placing new economic restrictions on Moscow.

Impacts

  • The Ukrainian military will increase mobilisation but will probably try to reduce influence of volunteer battalions.
  • Significant disagreement in Moscow is likely regarding the Mariupol offensive owing to the risk of large casualties from separatist attack.
  • The risks to Kharkiv and Odesa from asymmetric destabilisation are growing as tensions escalate.
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