Saturday, June 23, 2018

The Short and Glorious War No More

Can you imagine Russia's military reputation if they had stopped after seizing Crimea with nearly no bloodshed?

Clearly, Russia should have stopped while they were ahead in Crimea, because the Donbas front just drags on:

In June 2018, the Russo-Ukraine War has become an expensive example of violent stagnation. The expenses are measured in lives lost and money wasted, spilled blood and red ink.

Both sides suffer, and Ukraine demonstrably since the fighting occurs on its territory. However, Russian president Vladimir Putin and the curious oligarchy of billionaires and gangsters backing his Kremlin regime have discovered the expensive stalemate has exacerbated Russian economic problems. Widespread disappointment has revived demands for internal change, which is bad news for Putin and his cronies.

In retrospect, Putin's Kremlin bet on two things: rapid military and political victory in Ukraine and high oil prices constantly replenishing Russia's national coffers.

That fight drags on because Russia's military isn't actually that good across a broad enough portion of their military. So I didn't think Russia could count on a rapid victory in eastern Ukraine:

Just because the threat of invasion is "largely bluff" doesn't mean Russia could not invade Ukraine. But it would be ugly and lack "style points" that are required when a major power uses force against a minor power. Especially given Ukraine's unready military, I think Russia could bulldoze their way into eastern Ukraine over Ukrainian opposition.

But it would be ugly and expose Russian weaknesses. Russia doesn't want that.

And if Ukrainians resist such an invasion of eastern Ukraine, Russia could face a long front line against Ukrainian troops that attempt to whittle away Russian control while partisans resist in areas of Russian control.

Although obviously, Ukrainians can rightly want to avoid a war even if they believe that ultimately they will eject the Russians.

I think Russia really doesn't want to attempt more than Crimea. That's at the limit of their real power, I believe. And even that could look ugly if the Ukrainians resist in their besieged bases and if Ukraine can use (even if it burns up) their small air force and navy to exact a price and deny Russia easy style points.

I was speaking of a broader invasion than only the Donbas. But this judgment has proven true in the smaller objective of the Donbas region of Ukraine.

Of course, Russia did invade eastern Ukraine--although I was right that a broader invasion was not likely to succeed as even the failure in the smaller objective shows.

But I was right that the Russians shouldn't want to invade more of Ukraine after the Crimea takeover.