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Putin prepares new offensive in Donbas this summer

Reporters at The Daily Beast suggest that the Kremlin is preparing a new summer offensive in the Donbas in order to seize new territories of Ukraine.

According to journalists, the data provided in the last two weeks by the monitoring organizations and senior Western diplomats confirm the worst fears of the United States: "a summer offensive is inevitable," Joinfo.ua reports referring to The Daily Beast.

The publication notes that it is not just about increasing the number of potential invaders by 50% compared to July of last year – the month that followed the invasion of Russia on the territory of Ukraine. It is about the number of military personnel, which will be enough to capture a huge part of the Ukrainian territory.

The Daily Beast reports that for weeks the OSCE, NATO and "brave citizens" of eastern Ukraine warned that the Russian heavy military equipment and artillery were sent back to the front lines. Western observers are concerned not only about the quantity of military equipment in the hands of separatists, but also about its quality characteristics – in particular, we are talking about Strela-10 anti-aircraft missile system. This anti-aircraft missile system is designed to provide direct support to the troops and military equipment near the front lines and is able to shoot down high-speed aircraft at low altitude such as helicopters and jets. " In fact, the first time the Russian-backed fighters were ever seen using T-72 tanks, Strela-10s were filmed escorting the vehicles from a border crossing in Luhansk just seven days before the MH17 was immolated," The Daily Beast writes.

So why then they had to sign the Minsk agreement "designed to forestall any such scenario and explicitly called for de-escalation rather than retrenchment," the author of the article asks. The statements of the leaders of self-proclaimed people's republics about their plans for the near future are of particular concern in the West too. For example, on April 23, Vice News broadcast an interview with Alexander Zakharchenko, the leader of the so-called "Donetsk People's Republic", who "was unambiguous: He did not want it to hold," flatly rejecting one of the key points of the diplomatic agreement about the Donbas' remaining part of Ukraine, The Daily Beast emphasizes.

"Aside from Zakharchenko's belligerent rhetoric," a senior Western diplomat told The Daily Beast, "the most worrisome evidence is the continued active tempo of Russian training activities with the separatist armies, and the presence of advanced Russian surface-to-air missile systems near the contact line in blatant violation of the Minsk agreement," The Daily Beast quotes unnamed a Western diplomat.

The news agency points out that, being on a visit to Moscow, U.S. Secretary of State acknowledged that the Obama administration was considering the possibility of lifting the sanctions against Russia, "if and when Minsk is fully implemented." Now Kyiv seriously fears that Washington "will do nothing if Minsk is turned to toilet paper," and that's "as good as an engraved invitation for Putin to proceed as he'd already planned to anyway," The Daily Beast concludes.