Russian troops have already invaded the Donbas in 2014 and 2015, and thus saved the "DNR and LNR pro-Russian fighters" from complete defeat. This was stated by member of the public council under the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation, Kremlin military expert Ruslan Pukhov in an interview with the Fontanka Russian news agency.
"The Russian military grouping on the border with Ukraine was continuously supported in rotation in 2014-2016, with periodic reinforcement in case of escalations. The introduction of a limited grouping (eight battalion tactical groups) at the end of August 2014 made it possible to defeat the advancing Ukrainian troops and forced Ukraine to cease offensive operations against the DNR and LNR and to sign the Minsk agreements. The introduction of a very small contingent at the beginning of 2015 allowed setting a trap for the Ukrainian forces in Debaltseve and forced Ukraine to finally accept the Minsk agreements", - he admitted that the war in the Donbas cannot be considered civil.
According to Pukhov, now the Russian authorities are preparing for a new invasion of Ukraine, but are forced to hide their aggressive plans.
"Since Russia is in fact the guarantor of both the DNR and LNR and the Minsk agreements as a whole, it is forced to adequately respond to the military preparations of Ukraine. But since, for obvious reasons, Russia cannot declare its guarantees directly, it is forced to conceal and keep silent about the corresponding military activity for its part", - he explained the reason for the large-scale troop shift from the Russian Federation to the Ukrainian-Russian border.
"In fact, Russia is concentrating a significant grouping of troops in order to carry out an effective large-scale counter-offensive operation to completely defeat the Ukrainian military group in the event of a Ukrainian attack on the DNR and LNR at least in the Donbas and, most likely, on the entire Left Bank of Ukraine", - he clarified the Kremlin's plans.