NATO commander claims Russia may attempt another offensive in Ukraine

Russian military may refresh its offensive in Eastern Ukraine despite delicate peace accord sealed in Minsk in February, NATO’s top general says in US Congress

Updated Jul 28, 2015

The NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander in Europe from the US air forces, Philip Breedlove told in the US Congress on Thursday Russian army had been seeking the opportunity to "reset and reposition" in the battleground in eastern Ukraine even if a fragile armistice deal was signed between the belligerents last February.

The US commander expressed his suspicion by leaning NATO’s observations on the arrested crisis in Ukraine.

"Many of their actions are consistent with preparations for another offensive," Breedlove said.

American general claimed that Russia was “preparing, training and equipping to have the capacity to again take an offensive" as he also acknowledged that he would  not be able to predict Moscow’s next move.

The US and Russia have straddled over Ukraine since the crisis erupted last year and the parties have been accusing each other of fuelling the tension in the country. Due to the annexation of Crimea and eastern Ukraine crisis, the relations between Moscow and Washington nearly underwent into the level of Cold War since the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991.  

However, the Second Minsk Agreement sealed on April 12 had relatively decreased tension between the Kremlin management and the Euro-Atlantic Alliance as it also remarkably downed violence in eastern Ukraine.

The US still insists that Russian military has deployed largest force on the border with Ukraine’s Donbass region where ethnically Russian-speaking majority overwhelmingly supports the integration with Moscow.The NATO commander paid attention to the issue and claimed as saying, "We do see a very distinct Russian set of command and control in the eastern part of Ukraine."

Breedlove said Moscow was tightening its grip over the separatist forces in the east and added that they consider changing attitudes of Russian leadership towards the eastern Ukraine.

He added that supplying arms to Ukraine should be considered as it could force Russia to return to negotiating table.

Ukrainian leadership has long been expecting from the US to get lethal weapons, but the US administration has so far declined to provide those weapons to Kiev.

European leaders, most notably German Chancellor Angela Merkel, oppose foreign military aid since they consider more armament could cause further escalation of the crisis by destabilising the situation either in Ukraine or Europe in general.

Meanwhile, the Kremlin announced on Thursday, hours before Breedlove's UN speech, Russian, German, French and Ukrainian leaders made a phone call during which they have assured peace and stability in the region by confirming withdrawal of heavy weapons from the frontline.

The leaders were said to have noted “certain progress” in Minsk ceasefire agreement, according to the Kremlin statement.

TRTWorld and agencies