At the same time, Russia is unlikely to dare to take such a step, being afraid of tougher sanctions. The Russian Federation is likely to set out on an offensive from Donetsk and Luhansk regions with subsequent capture of Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions.
Viktor Muzhenko, former Chief of the General Staff, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine from July 2014 to May 2019, expressed this opinion to GuildHall, an Ukrainian media outlet, an Ukrinform correspondent reports.
When asked about the possibility of Russian invasion of the southern regions of Ukraine, Muzhenko stressed: "Such scenarios have been considered and there are appropriate plans for how the Armed Forces should act in this situation. Although I believe that everything will start in the East of our country, not in the South. We understand the current situation, how Russia can cross the administrative border between Crimea and Kherson region with its regular formations. This will immediately provoke a negative reaction from almost the entire world community and will lead to strengthening of appropriate sanctions. Russia takes this into account as well."
In his opinion, Russia will rather intensify relevant actions in eastern Ukraine with the involvement of illegally created military formations on the territory of the so-called “Donetsk People’s Republic” and “Luhansk People’s Republic”. “This can take place and be implemented not only in Luhansk and Donetsk regions, but in Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions also," said former Chief of the General Staff.
When asked how the Armed Forces will act in case of a full-fledged offensive, Muzhenko said: "Martial law is imposed, and there are a number of measures during the martial law that are clearly stipulated in the relevant guidelines, the plan of how the Armed Forces should act – full combat readiness of all military units, creation of appropriate groups to counter the invading forces, strengthened air defense, protection of relevant critical facilities, including lifting stations, water intake stations on the Dnieper River, which once supplied water to the South Crimean Canal etc."
According to the former Chief of the General Staff, all these steps are clearly outlined and elaborated, and even if some changes have been made recently, nothing has changed strategically.
At the same time, Muzhenko believes that Russia will invade Ukraine only under certain conditions.
"Direct military invasion may only really take place under a number of certain conditions. First of all, if there is chaos in Ukraine, the paralysis of all public administration bodies, military administration. This will be preceded by a powerful information operation. I believe that it has been conducted already. The second stage may be reconnaissance, sabotage or special operations, and only after that, when the appropriate conditions are created, we can talk about a direct intrusion of the regular troops of the Russian Federation," Muzhenko said.
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