Saturday, July 29, 2017

Return the Thousand Cuts

Is Ukraine dying from a thousand cuts in a struggle that cannot regain the Donbas let alone Crimea? Does this mean Ukraine must negotiate to surrender their eastern territory to de facto Russian control and concede Russia's formal annexation of Crimea?


Although the Ukrainian army is far stronger than in 2014, in the past the Kremlin has repeatedly shown itself willing to pour in Russian special forces and regular troops whenever the battlefield situation has tilted against the rebels. Since Ukraine cannot defeat Russia and Russia has no intention of occupying Ukraine the only way to break the political stalemate and incessant skirmishing on the ground is through a new round of political negotiations.

"Negotiations" that start with Russia unwilling to leave Ukraine are only meant to ratify Russia's conquest.

I personally think Ukraine needs to make Russia die from a thousand cuts. Ukraine's efforts need to focus on killing Russian soldiers in the Donbas until Russia tires of the bleeding ulcer and withdraws from the Donbas unwilling to suffer ongoing losses to keep that scrap of territory.

Irregulars need to infiltrate Russian-dominated territory and plant mines around Russian units. Long-range artillery needs to target Russian positions with fire or scatterable mines. Intelligence people need to get locals to kill Russians.

As long as pro-Russian Ukrainians are dying to hold this gain for Russia, Russia will play the game all day long.

Start killing Russians and the question of staying is put back in play. Without the Russians to prop them up, the Donbas AstroTurf rebels won't be able to hold the ground.

America has reason to help Ukraine, of course.

Ukraine needs to do more than fight Russians. Reducing corruption and increasing rule of law in Ukraine will create more prosperity and freedom that will strengthen Ukraine's ability to fight and appeal to poverty-stricken Russian-occupied Donbas residents who only have the alternative of joining dictatorial and economically weak Russia.

And unless Russia leaves Donbas because they are chased out, the Russians will keep clawing for more territory the way they do at Georgia's expense since 2008.

Until Russia is strong enough to take even more in larger chunks, of course.

Crimea is a tougher problem. But ultimately, after Donbas is regained, long-range missiles to bombard Sevastopol base complex and mining Crimean waters could be a threat that gets Russia to negotiate for a return to the status quo ante on the peninsula.

And I'll repeat that I think in the interim Ukraine should sue Russia for rent for Crimea. The monthly bill for holding the entire region has to be pretty high considering the facilities and natural resources.

And get a cleaning deposit, too.

UPDATE: Annoyingly, Russia continues to pretend that they aren't involved:

The German government says Germany, France, Russia, and Ukraine have agreed on a number of "immediate measures" to push forward with a peace deal brokered in 2015 to end the bloody fighting in eastern Ukraine.

If Russia stopped waging war on Ukraine, the fighting would dwindle to nothing. The idea that Russia is trying to end the fighting is ludicrous and I don't know why anybody goes along with this pretend position.