Bear in the trap
June 7, 2015 § 1 Comment
Amid fear and angst over a well-advertised Russian summer offensive, maybe it is time to strike a different perspective on the war in Ukraine.
Firstly, ask yourself why Russia is not at greater pains to hide its preparations for the expected offensive. The flow of equipment, men, supplies, drones and the constant registering of artillery is hardly hybrid any more. To the contrary it is perfectly overt and only a fool would buy in to the thinly veiled lies about peaceful intent cranked out by Russia’s spokesmen. Russia’s preparation is overt also because it is nigh impossible to hide from millions of eyes and clutches of satellites.
I submit that Russia’s offensive preparations may be primarily intimidation for the purpose of not having to actually attack. That is, the popularly expected horde of tanks and conscripts rumbling through the Ukrainian fields blitzkrieg style under a canopy of attack helicopters may be nothing more than a particularly bad nightmare. The heavy probes and local adjustment attacks such as witnessed at Maryinka and Shyrokyne are but flyweights in comparison, utlizing no more than small parts of the assembled whole.
It seems to me that incessant reporting about and wringing hands over this widescreen maskirovka mainly serves Russia’s propaganda purpose. While some detailed reporting is necessary, loud and frenzied fretting over Russia’s already established presence and preparation only produces fear and anxiety – precisely that which Russia would like us to experience.
Why attack? Why NOT attack?
The Russian-proxy forces have proven themselves incapable of producing decisive battlefield results. They are a pest but they cannot produce a breakthrough or move the front strategically, or so it would seem. For this, Russia’s overt might is necessary, and it becomes yet more necessary the deeper into Ukraine the campaign progresses (big if). However, the very moment the real Russian army is committed, powerful consequences begin to pile up. More sanctions will be levied. Ukraine may then see actual arms deliveries from the EU and US, causing yet more loss of Russian life that must be hidden or explained at home. The Russian economy will be beat down like a stray dog. Russia will risk exclusion from SWIFT and a whole range of severe executive restrictions on its ability to wage war. I should think that Russia is not quite prepared to go there, but it will threaten with it.
Thus, Russia (or rather Putin/Kremlin) cannot commit fully – for fear of losing big time, as described above.
Nor can Russia withdraw – for fear of losing big time geopolitically and on the domestic scene, in addition to loss of face and potential war reparations, war crimes trials and what have you.
Nor can Russia stay half committed to a prolonged economic attrition game against Ukraine – beause its now stunted Italian-sized economy cannot match that of the free world in the long run, and because doing so would entail growing domestic dissent.
The bear is in the trap but wants us to believe he’s not.
Pundits and commentators like to say that Putin has Ukraine by the collar. I’d say that it is Ukraine that has Russia locked in a vise. It should not let go until Russians too see the light and do what is necessary.
”Not let go” means that Ukraine should not let Russia win (of course) either through intimidation or through war, nor should Ukraine allow Russia to retreat until it has been forced to accept the very harshest of terms – or until the Russian population have risen in anger to dismantle the crooked system which enslaves them.
There is one caveat to this. Russia may yet sponsor a slow, grinding war that pushes a kilometer here and there, eventually leading up to local encirclement battles where major Russian assets are briefly fed in to gain a decisive success. This is akin to boiling the frog while keeping the domestic trade and society relatively functioning, inuring the West to a never-ending war such as in Syria. I believe the Russian economy, and the patience of all parties, is not quite prepared to support that strategy.