UKRAINE/RUSSIA: Overnight both the Ukrainian and pro-Russian separatist sides in Donbas have reported intensified shelling, leading to the military heads of both the Lugansk and Donetsk regions to declare a “general mobilization” on Saturday, urging all military age males to fight.
“I urge my fellow citizens who are in the reserves to come to military conscription offices. Today I signed a decree on general mobilization,” Denis Pushilin, leader Donetsk People’s Republic, said in a video statement according to the AFP.
The Lugansk separatist republic published a similar mobilization decree, citing that the rebel forces are busy “repelling aggression” and need additional assistance.
At this point both sides on the ground are accusing the other of seeking to provoke a justification for rapid escalation, at a moment Russia has continued with its large troop presence on the other side of the border, which the US has in the recent days put at anywhere between 130,000 to up to 190,000 troops – including inside Belarus. Washington too has continued pushing its ‘Russian false flag’ narrative.
Given the rapidly intensifying ground-level situation in Ukraine’s east, officials in Washington have expressed surprise that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is traveling to Munich to attend the major international security conference which is ongoing there. Representing the US at the Munich Security Conference is Vice President Kamala Harris.
CNN reports that “Biden administration officials have privately urged Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky not to leave Ukraine and visit Munich on Saturday given concerns about a possible incursion from Russia, according to three US officials and one senior Ukrainian official.”
“Some US officials are concerned that him leaving the country could open the door for Russia to make false claims that he has fled,” the report details. “While officials haven’t explicitly asked Zelensky not to make the trip — and have been careful to make it clear that it’s up to him — those concerns have been communicated, one of the officials said.”
Two overlooked developments of late: US withdrew its OSCE monitors in Donbas — strange timing while accusing Russia of plotting attacks/false flags. Kiev also refused to negotiate w/ separatist Donbas forces on reviving Minsk accords.
DC & Kiev: No monitoring, no negotiations.
— Aaron Maté (@aaronjmate) February 19, 2022
Biden had also weighted in Friday, saying “that’s a judgement” for Zelensky and his team alone to make. But the US president added: “In the pursuit of a diplomatic solution, it may — may be the wise choice. But it’s his decision.”
Despite the deterioration along the line of contact in Donbas, Zelensky’s traveling to Germany could also be a significant sign that he still doesn’t believe the White House prediction of an “imminent” Russian invasion. Currently pressure is building on the diplomatic front for Kiev to intensely engage the concerns of the pro-Russian breakaway regions. It appears Moscow is hoping the ratcheting situation forces Ukraine’s government to make concessions for the avoidance of major war.
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