Tuesday, October 23, 2018

The Russian Triad of Deceit in Ukraine is Collapsing

Russian violations of the ceasefire in the Donbas are being documented because, it seems, the static front allows more assets to watch them despite Russian interference with Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe ceasefire monitors:

The 600 OSCE staff (most of them roving monitors) in eastern Ukraine and Donbas, whose job is to oversee the ceasefire, have been complaining since 2015 that they are being restricted by rebels and, less frequently Ukrainian forces from carrying out inspections. There are satellite photos available as a backup and local sources on the ground. Russia believes that because the front lines have not moved much in years, they can do what they want with no consequences. Despite that attitude the Russian operation in Donbas is falling apart. Morale among the Ukrainians who agreed to keep the rebellion going is bad and getting worse. More and more of the “rebel activity” in Donbas is carried out by Russians pretending to be Ukrainian rebels. The Russian government apparently believes it will ultimately win but does not have a clear idea of when or how.

Well, I've long said that rather than being some unique new style of war that requires tons of PowerPoint presentations to counter, Russian "hybrid" warfare consists of invading a country, denying they are invading a country, and the West going along with that lie. The last leg of that triad of deceit is collapsing.

More importantly, the separatists who provide a veneer of local consent to the Russian invasion are getting tired of the war.

And even more significant is this development that has completely escaped my notice:

In eastern Ukraine (Donbas) Ukrainian forces recaptured another village and its 150 or so inhabitants were no longer prisoners of, and human shields for, the rebels. Russian backed rebels are withdrawing from more and more rural villages that Ukrainian forces are slowly surrounding or at least making difficult to reach and resupply.

"Another" village was liberated? How many others have been freed?

I did note early last year that Ukraine was launching their own subliminal counteroffensive. But I hadn't read that it was slowly working.

And if declining morale means Russia must take over more of the fight, Ukraine needs to send body bags back to Mother Russia.

The war isn't as "frozen" as the Russians might like. This puts a new light on Russia's squeeze play of implementing a subliminal blockade of Ukraine's Donbas coast on the Sea of Azov.

Russia has a problem of course. They could escalate or broaden the war in response to losing in a smaller war. Although it is risky because Russia could not sustain such a bigger war for long.

Sadly, Russia's war in Syria, which I've considered Ukraine's real front line because of the scarce resources Russia must divert to that campaign, is apparently winding down.

But perhaps just as important, if Russia is counting on time to weaken Western resolve to sanction Russia for their 2014 invasions of Ukraine, a bigger round of fighting would stiffen spines in Europe and perhaps accelerate NATO rearmament, too.

Explain to me again how Putin is a master poker player.