In case Russia floods East Ukraine with a quarter of a million troops, which Stratfor sees as a possibility, the US thank tank envisages a NATO air strikes against Russian forces
The article originally appeared at Neo Presse. Translated for RI by Alexander Samarkin
Startegic Forecasting, Inc (Stratfor) was founded in 1996 as a leading private US-think tank that provides analyses, reports and future projections on geopolitics, security issues and conflicts all over the world. Stratfor publishes situation reports and analyses for regional and global conflicts on a daily basis. In its analyses Stratfor not only provides background information on current political and economical developments, but also draws conclusions from determining factors of a conflict or country situation and forecasts future developments.
The reports are short and precise and go straight to the point. As profound quick information to conflict situations and regional developments Stratfor analyses are not only popular in journalistic circles, but also among government agencies, companies and scientific institutions. The expert team of Stratfor consists of political and economical scientists and security experts that have “informers” in all regions of the world and evaluate a multitude of public and covert sources.
In 2010 the US magazine Barron’s called Stratfor “Shadow-CIA” due to its intelligence characteristics.
Since 1996 Stratfor publishes a daily report with current developments. This service is provided on the internet and is accessible to everyone for a fee. Alongside they provide a multitude of geopolitical information. That includes maps, remittance work and regional analysis. The list of clients has not been published yet, but part of it is accessible on Wikileaks. Some international corporations, particularly in the raw materials industry revert to Stratfor. Moreover government organizations are provided with information. Many big American media outlets use Stratfor for background information or as primary source. German speaking media also use Startfor.
One of the current purported clients is the Obama administration. It was about calculating the options in case there would break out an openly waged war between Ukraine and Russia. That is a reaction to an alleged threat from the Kremlin to send in troops over possible US weapon deliveries to Ukraine.
The socialist daily “Junge Welt” quotes the report as follows:”The easiest option would be an outbreak of rebel held area in Donbass and push along the coast of the Sea of Azov to the lower reach of the Dniepr. According to US analysts, this would take about 30.000 soldiers and two weeks to accomplish successfully.
Gain: Land access to Crimea, that otherwise would be easy to cut off or blockaded by sea and access to fresh water supplies of the Dniepr. Disadvantage: a long unprotected and fragile northern flank of low operational depth. Approximately 45.000 soldiers would be needed in the long run to hold this line and to suppress possible resistance of pro-Ukrainian forces. An extension of this option would be a continuation of the advance along the coast west of the Dniepr to Odessa and Transnistria. This would take twice as long and twice as many troops. The crossing of the Dniepr is reported as the biggest risk in that scenario, moreover there would be an even longer unprotected flank.
In this context Stratfor regards a general offensive alongside the east Ukrainian border the militarily most plausible option, in case it comes to such a war. Due to the wider front it wouldn’t take longer than the first option, but would have the advantage to reach a suitable defensive line with the occupation of the east bank of the Dniepr: the river is mostly dammed and therefore very broad, the number of bridges is small and passages are often roads on top of dams. To destroy these would trigger a flood catastrophe that would harm both sides. The disadvantage for Moscow: up to 250.000 Russian troops would have to be deployed to hold the conquered area, but the total number of the Russian land force is only 280.000 troops. Hence they would almost entirely be bound in Ukraine and not be available for other hot spots.
Even more so if Ukraine could manage to organize a substantial partisan movement against the alleged Russian invasion in the eastern part of the country. It’s conspicuous that with US assistance two units of Ukrainian volunteer battalions, “Donbass” under Semjon Semenchenko and “Dniepr-1” under Yuri Bereza, are in the process of underground combat training. The latter has begun to recruit applicants with knowledge of English for a “special unit” a few weeks ago.
A counterstrike by NATO or USA alone would be led predominantly by air. According to Stratfor NATO forces would need about three weeks to fully arrive at the theater of war, therefore initial territorial gains could not be fully prevented. Later on, however the holding of such areas could be questioned through air strikes on Russian targets. What such air raids would leave of eastern Ukraine is foreseeable and NATO air force would have to reckon with serious losses either.”