Thursday, August 18, 2016

Make Russia's Mothers Grieve

Russia is in no position to seek more than limited objectives in a renewed war with Ukraine:

Russian efforts to reform its Soviet era military system to match the effectiveness of Western troops continues to encounter problems. While Russia tried to keep the problems secret, the Internet and the government programs to reduce crime and corruption interfere with that.

Do read it all.

Russia is a threat to NATO because Russia is close to weak targets and America is far away--not because Russia is an awesome military power.

Russia has pockets of excellence, a significant slice of adequate, and a mass of crap to commit to war.

Oh, and lots of nuclear weapons. So they've got that going for them.

Which means that if Russia reopens a war of movement to conquer more Ukrainian territory, Ukraine needs to drag out a fight while sending as many dead Russian soldiers back to their mothers in body bags as they can.

The key will be to inflict losses on Russia and preserve their own army above all else, even if territory has to be ceded.

I stand by my advice from mid-2014:

If Putin does escalate to openly waged warfare against Ukraine to take eastern Ukraine, Ukraine needs to do three things: preserve the Ukrainian army; wage irregular warfare in eastern Ukraine to stress Russia's still-inadequate ground forces; and strike Sevastopol.

Ukraine must not give Putin a short and glorious war. As long as the Ukrainian army fights on, Ukraine lives.

UPDATE: Strategypage thinks Russia is bluffing and trying to get an edge to end their failed effort to shatter Ukraine. But they warn that the preparations involved in a bluff might have a life of their own if the awakened Ukrainians don't back down and accept their losses and otherwise bend to Russia's will:

It appears many Russian leaders now believe the Ukraine effort might be made to work after all. But this involves a risky bluff. Russia has been sending more troops to new (or temporary) bases on the borders of Ukraine and East European nations that recently joined NATO to gain a measure of protection from Russian aggression. Russia is threatening an invasion or Ukraine and perhaps other nations as well. This idea has not gotten beyond the “let’s make preparations and see what happens” stage. Russia is a place where things often go from bad to worse so this gamble, no matter how risky, might become a reality.

I guess I tend to see the "life of its own" of massing forces being the logic that goes forward. After all, would President Obama agree to something that involves retreating before Russia in the last months of his presidency, just to be known as the president who "lost" Ukraine?

UPDATE: Let me just add a data dump of articles I ran across. No particular theme:

Russia rattles sabers: for war or diplomacy?

Ukraine naturally fears invasion but is it just bluff?

Whatever Russia plans--or will do despite whatever plans they have right now--they need to do something because the low-level war is stalemated and the economic cost of alienating the West isn't going away soon enough to help.