9A Russian ballistic nuclear missile roles through Red Square during rehearsals for the 2018 Military Victory Parade (Photo by Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images) It is an unfortunate feature of wars that they are often launched with an expectation of swift and decisive conclusions but then spin out of control, losing both focus and limits. Just over thirty years ago I wrote
Another article well worth reading. It seems to me that ultimately everything boils down to what Putin chooses to do and I can't see him voluntarily giving up his ill gotten gains and I can't see him choosing peaceful co-existence with Ukraine, though I can see him accepting cease fires. The only way to secure Ukraine's survival is to batter the Russian army so badly it can't invade anything and keep the sanctions going so it can't re-arm to the point of being able to successfully conquer anything. Not long ago this seemed impossible. Now it looks distinctly achievable. We can always hope for a palace coup but when Putin finally leaves his replacement may be open to accepting peace. But whatever happens, nothing beats permanently puling the teeth of Russian imperialism. Let's hope the West, and Europe in particular stays the course!
An inevitably bleak, but helpfully analysis; and although we are in a 'new situation', it also shows the strength of historical continuity.
General Valery Gerasimov, Chief of the Russian General Staff, is today (April 28) announced as the commanding general of the Donbas operation. So the unified command in the Ukraine War under General Aleksandr Dvornikov—”the Butcher of Syria”—mentioned by Professor Freedman is apparently no more. (Source: ISW Ukraine Analysis, April 28.)
Thank you for another interesting article Mr. Freedman.
May I, perhaps rather boldly, enquire on your thoughts to the wider strategic picture here - at the grand strategic level? Clearly much hinges on outcomes in Ukraine, but…
1.) With a continental Europe looking for alternative sources of energy, will this put a greater focus on Syria and the Eastern Mediterranean oil and gas fields (which could, at current development rates, provide all of Europe’s gas needs within a decade) ?
2.) How, if at all, will the Ukraine war affect Russia’s progress for a Russian ‘customs Union’ from Belarus - Ukraine - Georgia, Armenia and across the ‘’stan’s’ towards China?
3.) Does this affect, in the slightest, Chinese thinking (I suspect little, but what do I know!) - their apparent MacKinder Heartland across Eurasia? Silk Road meeting the Four Seas startegy?
4.) With the strategic importance of Ukraine’s Black Sea coast to Russia, what does this mean for Turkey’s Geopolitical importance? Does this give any significant leverage to President Erdogan over a somewhat fractious relationship with the West (U.S.A.)?
5.) And, of course, on the very many geopolitical issues which I am ignorant of ! ?
Putin knows his operation has been a total disaster, so what will he do?
He will tell the Russian people that Kremlin intelligence has discovered the mean old US and NATO are planning to attack Russia using nuclear weapons, hoping to start WW3 and thus destroy all life on Earth. Since Putin is gentle and peace-loving like all Russians, he cannot allow such a thing to be on his conscience, and so will reluctantly submit to the West's brutal threats by withdrawing Russian liberators from Ukraine, thus saving all of mankind. He will go down in Russian history textbooks as Saint Putin, savior of the the world.
But how did you intend for all these new and future supplies from NATO to get to the front lines? Firstly, a) Russian forces have started bombing all railways in Western Ukraine, b) The Ukrainian army can not run south of the Dnipre River via Kherson and c) If they run down through Eastern Ukraine (West of the Dnipr River) via Dnipro or Poltava they are destroyed by Russian planes, missiles or artillery.
That is one of the reasons why I believe that the Russian forces will win before the Ukrainian forces learn to use the new equipment and are able to bring it to the front line.
The second reason is that the Ukrainian air-to-ground missiles sing on the last verse - and when the very last batteries are destroyed, Russia will be able to increase their air operations significantly - incl. to use the more slow and less manoeuvrable heavy bombers.
Re May 9th celebrations: "...the enclaves of Donetsk and Luhansk, and possibly even the Kherson region, would be in a position to hold referendums on their annexation into the Russian Federation."
Given the whole situation, is it really necessary to hold a referendum in order to (triumphantly) announce their annexation?
As Ukraine was ignoring almost all the terms of the Minsk agreements it had signed, couldn’t Russia have argued this “special operation” was a legal action in response to Ukraine’s breaking the agreements (akin to America’s second invasion of Iraq). Seems to me that pushing the Minsk idea would have undermined the moral case for sanctions, at least. Surprised Russia did not take this approach (well, not really- clearly they wanted to go well beyond Minsk and subjugate all of Ukraine).
Great analysis. You wrote, " Russia is not short of weapons that can cause massive blasts," in reference to conventional weapons. Are these weapons that Russia has not yet used and has in sufficient supply to cause horrific damage to Kyiv, fro example?