Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
February 20, 2023

The Buildup To War In Ukraine - Sunday, February 20, 2022

It is somewhat disquieting how the events these days track those of a year ago.

In 2022 we saw a preparation of Russian and Ukrainian troops for a war, a meeting between the presidents of Russia and Belarus, an exercise of Russia’s strategic nuclear forces on February 19, a strong Putin speech on the 21st, followed the next day by legislative action. Then the solemn and very symbolic Defender of the Fatherland Day on February 23 with military action starting the next day.

The anniversary is following the same pattern. The mobilized troops have been prepared. Putin has again met Lukashenko. Yesterday there was another strategic nuclear exercise. Tomorrow at noon (Moscow time) Putin will hold a public address. On the 22nd the Duma will hold an extraordinary session. Then another wreath laying during the Defender of the Fatherland Day followed by what? We don't know. But something is definitely coming.

From AP's summary of Sunday, February 20, 2022:

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, facing a sharp spike in violence in and around territory held by Russia-backed rebels and increasingly dire warnings that Russia plans to invade, on Saturday called for Russian President Vladimir Putin to meet him and seek resolution to the crisis.
In new signs of fears that a war could start within days, Germany and Austria told their citizens to leave Ukraine. German air carrier Lufthansa canceled flights to the capital, Kyiv, and to Odessa, a Black Sea port that could be a key target in an invasion.

NATO’s liaison office in Kyiv said it was relocating staff to Brussels and to the western Ukraine city of Lviv.

CNN added:

The Ukrainian defense ministry has reported further ceasefire violations in the east, after a day of heavy weapons fire Saturday.
Ukraine said it recorded a total of 136 ceasefire violations on Saturday.

The Ukrainian Border Guards said that because of the shelling one crossing point for international humanitarian organizations, Shchastia, at the Line of Contact had been closed since 8:00 a.m. local time Sunday. A UNHCR convoy that used the crossing point Friday said it had been caught in crossfire.

Some residents of Donetsk -- which is controlled by pro-Russian separatists -- reported heavy shelling early Sunday. One woman contacted by CNN said she and her children wanted to move closer to the city center because of shelling in her district, Abakumova.

It's unclear where the shelling originated. The authorities in the breakaway republics persistently claim shelling by Ukrainian forces, who in turn regularly deny firing artillery across the front lines.

The woman also told CNN that on Saturday her neighbors had left for Russia and had been accommodated somewhere near Rostov-on-Don in a tent encampment.

The Russian authorities say that more than 40,000 people have arrived in Russia after being evacuated from the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics, according to the acting head of the Ministry of Emergency Situations Alexander Chupriyan.
Russia's Investigative Committee says it is beginning an investigation into media reports of fatalities due to shelling in Luhansk region. In a statement, the committee said: "The media reported that this morning the Armed Forces of Ukraine made an attempt to attack the positions of the People's Militia of the self-proclaimed Luhansk People's Republic, while, according to preliminary data, there are casualties among the civilian population."

The Donetzk News Agnecy reported of infiltration attempts:

Donetsk, Feb 21 – DAN. Ukrainian saboteur squad has infiltrated the DPR with the purpose of arriving to the Russian border, the Ministry of State Security said.
"A DPR artillery depot has been blown up," the report added.

Another saboteur attack was thwarted in Donetsk in the night of February 20.

A Ukrainian saboteur blew himself up at the Donetsk railway station this morning while installing an explosive device.

The President of Russia Vladimir Putin had a call with the French President Emmanuel Macron:

In a follow-up to the talks during President Macron’s recent visit to Moscow and regular telephone conversations, the two leaders had an in-depth discussion of the developments around Ukraine as well as developments regarding long-term legal security guarantees for the Russian Federation.

Serious concerns were expressed due to the quickly deteriorating situation along the contact line in Donbass. The President of Russia noted that provocations from Ukrainian militants were the reason for the escalation. Attention was drawn to the modern weapons and ammunition being sent to Ukraine by NATO member countries, which is encouraging Kiev to pursue a military solution to the Donbass problem. As a result, civilians in the Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics are suffering and being forced to leave for Russia to save themselves from intensifying attacks.

The OSCE Special Observer Mission at the ceasefire line in southeast-Ukraine reported of Saturday, February 19 2022 and Sunday, February 20 2022 without separating both days in its verbal description.

In Donetsk region, between the evenings of 18 and 20 February, the SMM recorded 2,158 ceasefire violations, including 1,100 explosions. In the previous reporting period, it recorded 591 ceasefire violations in the region.

In Luhansk region, between the evenings of 18 and 20 February, the Mission recorded 1,073 ceasefire violations, including 926 explosions. In the previous reporting period, it recorded 975 ceasefire violations in the region.

However the graphic showing the number of observed incidents attached to the report separates both days. For unknown reasons the number of total ceasefire violations and explosions on Sunday decreased significantly from the previous day. (This was however not a trend. The next day will see another large increase.)


The map shows ceasefire violations in yellow, orange to red colors. Most of these appear on the side of the Donbas republics. The source of most of the ceasefire violations, like noise of shooting or explosions recorded by cameras, drones or heard by the observers, is listed as 'undetermined'.

The map shows explosions, as small black dots, on both sides of the ceasefire line for Saturday and Sunday. While only few of the hundreds of explosions were located and marked on the map a count of the black dots shows some evenness with 25 impacts marked on the Donbas side and 28 on the government controlled side of the ceasefire line.


Posted by b on February 20, 2023 at 15:37 UTC | Permalink


Maybe Putin will start something in earnest. Russians are slow to saddle but they ride like the wind

Posted by: G wiltek | Feb 20 2023 15:44 utc | 1

Reddit has a subreddit called /r/combatfootage, where people uploaded videos of fighting all over the world. Most of it was from the middle east, but in the week leading up to the war, a ton of videos from ukrainian paramilitaries started flooding the subreddit, mostly showing sniper and IED attacks on russian separatists.

Posted by: Hrughus | Feb 20 2023 16:25 utc | 2

one year on and russia are losing badly - defeated outside Kyiv, Kherson, Lyman and Izyum recaptured forced to mobilise, and now unable to take a small city after 8 months of fighting. LOL.

Posted by: L | Feb 20 2023 17:12 utc | 3

Wonderful series by our host. Of course the build-up to current events can be traced all the way back to the beginning of the Cold War, if not sooner. After the collapse of the Soviet Union the U.S. unilaterally left the ABM, INF and Open Skies treaties with Russia, and according the Brzezinski's world-view, spent some US$ 7 billion on converting Ukraine into an anti-Russian state... which lead to the U.S. orchestrated a coup, the establishment of some 30 bio-labs and full militarization. Revenge is a dish best served.

Posted by: North Patagonia | Feb 20 2023 17:20 utc | 4

b quote "It is somewhat disquieting how the events these days track those of a year ago."

yes, it is... it is disturbing, as it seems very few if any, have learned anything in all this... thanks..

Posted by: james | Feb 20 2023 17:26 utc | 5

Something must be brewing. They've activated the reservist trolls to shell your site b! OSCE report NAFO shill hovering at "Posted by: L | Feb 20 2023 17:12 utc | 3".

One day someone is going to have to explain Russophobia to me. It really stirs up the dregs.

Posted by: Patroklos | Feb 20 2023 17:46 utc | 6

The uptick in trollery seems to correlate with the approaching anniversary of the SMO.

I wish these kids in their basements had better employment options.

Also the pudding-brained puppet-in-chiefs visit to Kiev was clearly a photo-op aimed at maintaining the narrative back in the home front.

Posted by: Chris | Feb 20 2023 17:57 utc | 7

The trolls are coming, the trolls are coming after got kicked out from tweeter.

Posted by: Enzo Tagoriano | Feb 20 2023 18:58 utc | 8

Another valuable addition to our understanding of the run up to war. Thanks to b whose work deserves a better reception than the buzzing of trolls.
It is a public holiday across Canada today.

Posted by: bevin | Feb 20 2023 20:03 utc | 9

Ukrainian Time-line from THE MONTHLY REVIEW:

"In 2014, Washington helped engineer a coup in Ukraine overthrowing democratically elected president Victor Yanukovych. Yanukovych had been friendly to the West. But in the face of financial conditionalities imposed by the International Monetary Fund, his government turned to Russia for economic help, enraging the West. This led to the Maidan coup only months afterward, with the new Ukrainian leader being hand-picked by the United States. The coup was carried out in part by neo-Nazi forces, which have historical roots in the Ukrainian fascist troops that assisted in the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union. Today, these forces are concentrated in the Azov Battalion, now part of the Ukrainian military supported by the United States. The domination of Ukraine by right-wing Ukrainian ultranationalist forces and Russophobe groups as a result of the coup led to rebellions in the eastern Donbass region of the country and to a brutal repression, with more than forty people burned alive in the public Trades Union building in Odessa, to which they had fled, at the hands of right-wing forces (Bryce Green, “What You Should Really Know About Ukraine,” FAIR, February 24, 2022; David Levine, “Council of Europe Report on Far-Right Massacre in Odessa,” Word Socialist Web Site, January 19, 2016).

Following the coup, the predominantly Russian-speaking Crimea decided to merge with Russia through a referendum in which Crimean people were also given the option of going forward as part of Ukraine. The largely Russian-speaking Donbass region in the eastern part of the country meanwhile broke away from Ukraine, in response to the violent repression against ethnic Russians that had been unleashed by the new right-wing government. This resulted in the formation of two peoples’ republics of Luhansk and Donetsk in the context of the Ukrainian civil war. Luhansk and Donetsk received military backing from Russia, while Ukraine (Kyiv) received ever-greater Western military support, effectively commencing the longer-range process of incorporating Ukraine into NATO (Arina Tsukanova, “So Who Annexed the Crimean Peninsula Then,” Strategic Culture Foundation, March 28, 2017; “What Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics Are,” Strategic Culture Foundation, February 28, 2022).

In the war of Ukraine on the Russian-speaking population in the breakaway republics of Donbass, some 14,000 people were killed, and 2.5 million people displaced, most of them taking refuge in Russia. The initial conflict ended with the signing in 2014–15 of the Minsk Agreements by France, Germany, Russia, and Ukraine, and endorsed by the UN Security Council. According to these agreements, Donetsk and Luhansk were to be given the right to self-government, though remaining in Ukraine. Nevertheless, the military conflict continued and eventually intensified again. In February 2022, there were 130,000 Ukrainian troops besieging and firing on Luhansk and Donetsk, effectively tearing up the Minsk Agreements (Abdul Rahman, “What Are the Minsk Agreements—And What Are Their Role in the Russia-Ukraine Crisis,” February 22, 2022; “Who Is Firing at Whom And Who Is Lying About It?,” Moon of Alabama, February 20, 2022).

Russia insisted on adherence to the Minsk Agreements along with a demand that Ukraine not be brought into NATO and that the rapid U.S.-backed military buildup in Ukraine directed against the Donbass republics cease. Vladimir Putin declared that these demands were all “red lines” for Russia’s security, which if crossed would force Moscow to respond. When Ukraine and U.S.-dominated NATO continued to cross the red lines, Russia massively intervened in the ongoing civil war in Ukraine in alliance with Donetsk and Luhansk."

Posted by: Dosamuno | Feb 20 2023 22:30 utc | 10

Posted by: L - one year on and russia are losing badly - defeated outside Kyiv, Kherson, Lyman and Izyum recaptured forced to mobilise, and now unable to take a small city after 8 months of fighting. LOL.

Were you laughing when the US left Afghanistan after 20 years having been defeated by an enemy with no standing army, no navy, no airforce and no means of industry from which to replenish their weapons stocks? My guess is that you weren't since comments such as yours exhibits a gluttony for propaganda parroted in ignorance rather than any factual understanding of the topic

Posted by: Erik | Feb 20 2023 23:40 utc | 11

The Last Gunsmiths of The Khyber Pass

Posted by: c | Feb 21 2023 0:13 utc | 12

Posted by: L | Feb 20 2023 17:12 utc | 3

Obviously you wouldn't care what I said, but losing a half-million Ukrainians just to take back Kherson and some empty fields south of Belgorod isn't worth bragging about.

Posted by: crim | Feb 21 2023 1:01 utc | 13

I used to work with a young Pashtun who told me about this in the mid seventies. He was English but had been back to the homeland and travelled across the Durand line because that was what Pashtuns did.
Evidently artisans performed miracles of gunsmithery.

Posted by: bevin | Feb 21 2023 3:45 utc | 14

Talking of Izyum, the war boffins told us that there had been a catastrophic Russian defeat there in WW2, still raw in the memories of both Military sides today.
Would it be runny Troll poo to suggest that Russian military command assessed that any repeat of WW2 losses might backfire badly on Domestic support for the SMO ?

The USUKIS war machine might be run on AI, but public opinion runs on emotions. Such as Frogs telling us Brits to obey EU rules.
Losing public opinion at an early stage might have lost the war for Russia.
The trolls job is to work on weaknesses so the quickest way to repair the holes is to ignore the trolls. Empire of Lies employs trillions of trolls, like household germs or Camembert. Who are we to criticise Russian military command?

Posted by: Giyane | Feb 21 2023 4:01 utc | 15

@L | Feb 20 2023 17:12 utc | 3

You make the common mistake of focusing on territory (in this case, the small city of Bakhmut), as opposed to the primary target, the Ukrainian army.
Bakhmut is strategically important, so Ukraine has felt compelled to bring up more and more troops to feed into the meat-grinder. The long-term result: Bakhmut falls, with more Ukrainian casualties and fewer Russian casualties.

Posted by: John Schmeeckle | Feb 21 2023 14:00 utc | 16

Posted by: Hrughus | Feb 20 2023 16:25 utc | 2

DNR and LNR were not separatist.

Minsk agreements contained the details for their peaceful reintegration with Ukraine, but ukronazis and their western handlers would have none of it.

Posted by: Arganthonios | Feb 21 2023 14:41 utc | 17

c | Feb 21 2023 0:13 utc | 12

I went through the Kyber Pass in March of 1979, so I got to see some of this industry with my own eyes when the bus stopped in Torkham, right on the border. Money changers(many currencies) galore, carpet sellers, vast array of the locally made rifles and machine guns, and shiny slabs of locally produced hashish.

The market was brisk! Something for everyone!

Posted by: john | Feb 21 2023 15:12 utc | 18

Re Buildup To War In Ukraine - Sunday, February 20, 2022

Diary log feb 20 2022

February 20 Sunday Luhansk, two civilians killed and five buildings damaged in shelling by the Ukraine military. Southwest of Donetsk was subjected to heavy artillery fire. Red Cross said water services had been disrupted for more than a million people in the region, and called on all sides to spare civilian infrastructure. 30,000 people from Donetsk and nearby Luhansk have crossed the Russian border in the past 24 hours.
Ukrainian Army 79th airborne assault brigade crossed the Seversky Donets River and attacked the positions of the LPR With massive artillery support.
Ukraine's foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba said Ukraine was not planning or carrying out any offensive operations.

US Embassy in Moscow issued a warning to Americans about possible terrorist attacks in Russia, in shopping malls and the subway.

Russia closes airspace over sea of Azov and some of Black sea.
Russia and Belarus do an extra day of training manoeuvres- 30000 Russian troops in Belarus

Posted by: olaf22 | Feb 21 2023 19:34 utc | 19

I have been trying to post a lengthy piece on this thread this afternoon. On each occasion it has appeared in preview with the "Your Comment has been posted. Post another .." message. But it has never appeared. There are no links in it.
The grammar is no worse than usual.
I don't appear to have been banned.
After three attempts I'm beginning to lose confidence that it is worth posting at all, and I'm not sure whether I will try again. But I do worry that this might be happening to others and be the reason why there are so few comments on this thread.

Posted by: bevin | Feb 21 2023 20:57 utc | 20

Posted by: bevin | Feb 21 2023 20:57 utc | 20

You said no links.
I've had the same issue with links.
Not anymore though.
Change your phone recently?
Any of the technology savy patrons got possible answers

Posted by: jpc | Feb 23 2023 22:05 utc | 21

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