E’ sostanzialmente il senso di questo articolo pubblicato qualche ora fa dal Financial Times. In vista di una nuova fase di contrattazioni diplomatiche la Russia sarebbe sul punto di avviare una nuova offensiva in Ucraina. Un uso strumentale – e limitato – della forza militare da far valere sul tavolo delle trattative. Evitando un ulteriore irrigidimento delle sanzioni.
“The fighting is nothing new — it is the perfect continuation of a Russian policy line tested before,” says Igor Sutyagin, an authority on the Russian military at the Royal United Services Institute think-tank.
For example, he says, when Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, and François Hollande, the French president, refused to go to Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan, for peace talks in January, what followed was a rebel assault on the city of Debaltseve. “A month later they started discussing Minsk II. Now Minsk II is in its last days . . . Russia wants to force new negotiations, so they will increase the humanitarian pressure.
“For Russia the use of military force is part of their diplomatic efforts.”
All agree that the status quo is unacceptable for Moscow. The rebel-held territory around the cities of Donetsk and Lugansk does not amount to an economically viable state, meaning a continuation of the stalemate will be a long-term drain on Russian resources. […]
But Moscow’s freedom of action is also becoming more constrained. Most western diplomats believe the Kremlin is genuinely seeking to de-escalate tensions in eastern Ukraine so it can win some form of economic relief from damaging sanctions — evidence that the embargoes are having an effect.
Ukraine’s military has also in recent months heavily fortified key positions, including in the strategically important port city of Mariupol. Separatist commanders admit that although Mariupol is the key to control of some of the country’s most important industrial sites, attacking the city could be more trouble than it is worth.
Another reason why Russia may be keen to negotiate is that the west has proved more united than Moscow anticipated, with Europe sharpening its diplomatic responses. That Europe has agreed a set of automatic sanctions on Russia if Mariupol falls — pre-emptively removing the notion of European vacillation from the Russian strategic calculus — is perhaps the greatest bulwark protecting the city.
“[Putin] is not ready to wage a full-scale war as this would increase sanctions and unite Ukraine as well as the west against him,” says Olexiy Haran, a Ukrainian political science professor from Kyiv Mohyla Academy.
“On the contrary, he wants to reduce sanctions while making some gains. He wants to legitimise the militants through Minsk II, and lay upon Ukraine and the west the financial burden of rebuilding [the rebel-held region of] Donbass which he himself destroyed.”