I think it’s time to really get real on what has happened in Ukraine, what is happening, and what might be happening.
Doing so will require a great deal of searching in some weird places. Because we are all consuming some sort of spin, somewhere. Everyone is doing it-NATO, the US, the EU, the UK, The Russian Federation, and of course, Ukraine. It will also require us to be more dispassionate armchair generals, questioning what we think we know constantly, absorbing new information as it arrives. We all have a fan favorite, and we will say just about anything to make our team look good. I certainly would like to believe that Ukraine is going to be able to get Russia the hell out of its territory. It’s an illegal war, and a threat to national sovereignty everywhere. Moreover, it’s a direct challenge to Western democratic hegemony, bringing incredible wealth and control of global food and energy to a nuclear armed country in the midst of a fascist rebirth.
I’ve already talked about what I think is going on in Putin’s head; I don’t think he’s an expansionist on the level of Hitler or Japan or any of the other great powers of yore who tried to seize great swaths of land by brute force. Instead, Putin chooses small wars, like the ones he’s waged in Chechnya and Georgia. This Ukraine war, though, is his biggest gambit yet. According to him, this is a “special military operation”, designed to liberate the breakaway republics of Donetsk and Luhansk. Now what Putin and his generals did to achieve his strategic goals is a matter of intense debate. Most feel that the plan was to invade Ukraine and swallow it whole, and take Kiev. I do not number among these analysts. It’s beyond Russia’s control to hold the entirety of Ukraine with the forces it has. Everyone seems to think that Russian strategists are mentally deficient, and I think that’s a mistake, one that will cost Ukraine greatly in the future. What was done instead was draw Ukrainian forces far, far from the east to face withering attacks from Russia from all sides. Railways and infrastructure were targeted to ensure the Ukrainian forces would not cross the country to join the fight in the east. You mean to tell me that the Russians sent only twenty thousand soldiers to take a city of 3 million? I don’t think so. They are simply not that dumb. But Ukraine sure sent a bunch, and the Russians retreated, again strategically. And no one should believe casualty numbers from anyone. They vary so wildly it’s impossible to see through the fog of war.
It was around this time that Putin declared the first phase of the operation complete; and suddenly the Russians were on the move to the east, with a much easier time pacifying Donbas. But there seems to be more to Russian ambitions, and I believe they were there the whole time. Once the Mariupol obstacle is removed, the land bridge to Crimea is complete. Kherson is under Russian administration. So if that’s basically wrapped up, they run the Sea Of Azov.
But are they done after the land bridge? I don’t think so. What will make all of this worth it is landlocking Ukraine, cutting off its ability to trade with the world. That means Mykolaiv and Odessa are next. Proving my supposition is that suddenly everyone wants to talk about Transnistria, a breakaway area from neighboring Moldova controlled by Russian forces. The Russians can link up there, and pretty much put an end to the special operation and try to sue for peace. Many think that Putin has designs beyond Ukraine. I don’t see a point to that. This has been a major effort for them that they will need to recover from. If Ukraine isn’t interested in the new map, well, there’s going to be a long, ugly insurgency in store for Russia and while millions will die, Russia will have paid for its adventure. Nobody wins this thing.
Rumor has it that Polish troops are on the move to fight those Transnistrian Russian forces, and cross into Ukraine as a peacekeeping force. So there’s clearly going to be some kind of showdown there. Is Odessa going to be a NATO beachhead in Ukraine? Are we going to pour assets in from the west? It’s very possible. It could be an extremely provocative move, one that could be interpreted as NATO directly confronting Russia. And just about everyone agrees that when that happens, the world needs to pay attention and worry a bit more about the third world war popping off for real.