Russian aggression in Ukraine: Is Putin preparing a new attack on Ukraine?

11:17 Aug. 12, 2016

Is Putin preparing a new attack on Ukraine?

In this file photo taken on Friday, May 9, 2014, Russian President Vladimir Putin, centre, flanked by Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, left, and Federal Security Service Chief Alexander Bortnikov, right, arrives on a boat after inspecting battleships durin

Observers have greatly feared that Russia's President Vladimir Putin would start a small regional war this August, writes Anders Aslund for Atlantic Council

Russia has moved up its State Duma elections to September 18. Although only Putin's parties are allowed to win, he has a predilection for "small and victorious wars" to mobilize his people.

In 1999, the second war in Chechnya preceded his rise to president. In August 2008, Russia attacked Georgia. In February 2014, Russia annexed Crimea, a move that was greatly popular in Russia. Its war in Syria has been an unmitigated success. For the last two years, Russia's economy has been in recession, giving Putin all the more reason to mobilize his compatriots around a small war.

Read more Putin raises stakes over alleged Ukrainian terror plot in Crimea - Guardian

August is the best time for Moscow's military action because Western decision-makers are on holidays. The Berlin Wall was initiated in August 1961, the invasion of Czechoslovakia occurred in August 1968, and the Moscow coup took place in August 1991.

Read more An August Surprise from Russia?

The parallels with the August 2008 Russian-Georgian war are striking. That conflict started with the Olympic games in Beijing. The United States president was a lame duck amid the presidential election campaign. Russia was pursuing a large-scale military exercise called Caucasus 2008 in the Northern Caucasus. The Kremlin blamed Georgia for an implausible attack.

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