[NOTE FROM LARRY — Introducing a new author, but not new to those familiar with the SAKER. Please welcome Gaius Baltar.]
Recently I heard an “expert” offer the opinion that Putin and the Russian Army had made a serious mistake when they organized the “special military operation” (SMO) in the Ukraine the way they did. It would have been far better to just send the army into Lugansk and Donetsk to defend them rather than make an ill-advised dash toward Kiev.
Instead of following this belated advice from that expert, the Russians chose to move fast into northern and southern Ukraine. Why did they do that? There are many theories; some good, some illogical, and some completely incoherent. I thought it might be a good idea to step back and look at the situation before the SMO from the Russian point of view. Russians tend to be practical and logical people and the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces probably more so than most. Their plan must have had logical reasons based on what they saw at the time. So, how did the Russians see the situation before the SMO, at the end of 2021? Let’s put ourselves in their shoes and come up with a theory. Note that this is not a theory of what did happen, only of what the Russians may have thought that might happen when they planned their SMO.
The defensive lines and the siege of the Donbass
The first thing the Russians must have noticed was the construction of the massive Ukrainian defensive lines around the Lugansk and Donetsk republics. The Ukraine Government had made no secret of their plan to capture the republics and the Ukrainian Army should have had an “offensive posture” rather than defensive. It makes perfect sense to construct defensive lines while planning an attack to prevent disruptive counterattacks, but the Ukrainian defenses went far beyond that. They were truly massive and built over a period of 8 years. We know how strong they were because it has taken the Russians more than a year to break through them.
The Russians must have taken a look at those defenses and reached the following conclusion: Their purpose is to contain the Russian Army if necessary – even if a large part of the Russian Army is used against them.
The second thing the Russians must have noticed was the absolute determination of the Ukrainians to attack the republics, even if this ensured a Russian response. We saw that determination when the Russian Government recognized their independence just before the war started. According to the OCSE artillery monitoring map, Ukrainian artillery attacks on the republics decreased right after the recognition of independence, but then increased again – most likely after having received orders from Kiev to keep going. At that point in time Russian involvement was ensured, but the Ukrainians still kept attacking the republics.
The Russians would have connected those two things; the determination to attack and the massive defenses. They must have come to the following conclusion: “They want us to attack through the Donbass, and then they are going to use those defensive lines to contain us. Why?”
Having observed all this the Russians must have started to think about the Ukrainian plans. They would have assumed that those plans were not just Ukrainian plans, but NATO plans as well. So, what were the Ukrainians and NATO planning?
The Russians must have made the following deduction: “The Ukrainians and NATO want us to attack through the Donbass and clash against those lines. Why would they want that? It must be because it is a precondition for some kind of plan on their part – some kind of larger plan. What is that larger plan?”
Then they must have thought about what it would take to confront the Ukrainian army in the Donbass and take on the defensive lines. What would that require? It would require a large force and a lot of time. That would mean that a considerable part of the Russian Army would be tied down there for quite some time. Was that perhaps the precondition for the larger Ukrainian/NATO plan? Was the whole thing perhaps about forcing the Russian Army to attack through the Donbass and taking on the defensive lines – specifically to tie it down – to keep it busy while the Ukrainians and NATO carried out the rest of their plan?
After having considered this, the Russians must have asked themselves the following question: “What do the Ukrainians and NATO want more than anything?” And since it’s actually the Americans and the British running the show: “What do the Americans and the British want more than anything?” The question isn’t hard to answer. What the Americans, the British, and the Ukrainians want more than anything is Crimea. Crimea is the key to “dominating” the Black Sea, and capturing it would be a dagger into the belly of Russia.
After having run through this logic, the Russians would have come to the conclusion that the Ukrainian attack on the Donbass republics and the defensive lines was a trap to tie them down. Then they started planning countermoves.
The Russian plan
The first thing the Russians may have thought about when planning the countermove was timing. How long after the war started would the Ukrainians move on the Crimean peninsula? They wouldn’t do it right away because they would want the Russian Army to be well and truly engaged in the Donbass before making a move. They would also not want to tip the Russians off by assembling a big force near Crimea before the Russians engaged the defensive lines in the Donbass. This would mean that the area north of Crimea, i.e. Kherson and Zaporizhzhia oblasts, would be lightly defended for a while.
After having reached this conclusion, the Russians put together a plan to preempt the Ukrainian/NATO plan. The plan had one main objective and two secondary objectives.
Objective 1 (main objective): To capture Kherson and Zaporizhzhia oblasts to create a buffer zone between Crimea and the rest of Ukraine. This objective had to be reached extremely fast while the area was still lightly defended. This operation was all-important at that point in time, far more important than anything happening in the Donbass or the Kiev area. Capturing Kherson was not enough to create the buffer zone because the Ukrainians had to be prevented from attacking the Crimean Bridge. The Zaporizhzhia coast line is only 150 kilometers from the bridge so Zaporizhzhia oblast had to be taken immediately as well.
Objective 2 (secondary objective): While a large part of the Ukrainian Army was positioned in the Donbass, there was still a large force kept back, possibly for the Crimean operation. This part of the Ukrainian army would have to be kept from engaging the Russian forces going after Kherson and Zaporizhzhia. The only way to do that was to threaten something that had to be defended at all cost, even at the cost of the Crimea plan. There was only one location the Ukrainians would defend at all cost outside the Donbass – Kiev itself. The Russians therefore decided to advance on Kiev in an extremely threatening manner. The forces they used were not sufficient to take Kiev outright but enough to hold the area north of the city and seriously threaten it. The Ukrainians would have no choice but to take the threat seriously and move forces toward Kiev, including the forces intended for the Crimean operation. This would prevent the Ukrainians from responding to the Russian occupation of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia oblasts.
Objective 3 (secondary objective): To force Ukraine to negotiate peace on Russian terms. The Russians most likely assumed that if the Kherson/ Zaporizhzhia buffer operation was successful the Ukrainians might want to negotiate. They would want to negotiate not only because Kiev was threatened, but primarily because their main objective, the capture of Crimea, had been thwarted. This part of the plan was partly successful because the Ukrainians were ready to sign a treaty before the Americans and the British intervened.
The conclusion from this (perhaps dubious) mind-reading of the Russian General Staff is that the main objectives of the initial Russian operation were Kherson and Zaporizhzhia, not Donbass, Kiev, or a treaty with the Ukrainians. When the negotiations fell through, the Russians moved back to their contingency plan with the main objective of destroying the Ukrainian Army.
It is important to keep in mind that this is not a theory intended to explain what happened. It is only a theory to explain the Russian plan based on what the Russians may have been thinking at the time. It’s highly speculative and perhaps wrong, but it explains a lot nevertheless – including Ukrainian and Western reactions to the Russian operation.
The Ukrainian plan
Let’s describe the theoretical Ukrainian/NATO plan before moving on. The plan, according to this hypothetical Russian pre-war theory, had three main objectives:
- To tie down the Russian Army in the Donbass using the massive defensive lines and a good part of the well-trained and well-equipped Ukrainian Army.
- To carry out a surprise attack on the Crimean peninsula, occupy it and turn the Black Sea into a NATO-controlled area – and putting massive pressure on Putin as a bonus. For this a significant part of the Ukrainian army was held back from the Donbass.
- To bog down and bleed the Russian Army in the Donbass with the goal of engineering a regime change in Russia. The sanctions blitz was planned as an integral part of that goal.
It’s April 2023 and so far none of these objectives have been achieved. Let’s assume that this theory is correct and this was actually the plan – and let’s look at what the Ukrainians and the West have been up to since it failed. Again, this is highly speculative.
The obsession with the plan
If we look at what the Ukrainians and the West have been doing in this war, a pattern seems to emerge: They still seem to be carrying out the initial plan, even though it failed. Almost every decision they make seems to be in accordance with the plan, or more specifically, in accordance with a pathological denial of the failure of the plan. Let’s look at a few examples:
The obsession with Crimea: The Ukrainians and the West are still planning to take Crimea, even though it is impossible. Still, the capture of Crimea is alive in their minds and a realistic option. Zelensky even at one point said that the Ukraine had started the liberation of Crimea … “in their minds.” Occupying Crimea was a part of the plan and abandoning Crimea means that the plan has failed.
The attack on the Crimean Bridge: Destroying the bridge was a part of the plan, and even after the Crimea was out of Ukraine’s grasp and the Russians had secured a land corridor to Crimea, the bridge was still a priority. It had to be attacked because that was a part of the plan. Now that itch has been scratched and they have, so far, not had the need to try again.
The obsession with Bakhmut: The Ukrainian Army has probably lost close to 40,000 soldiers defending Soledar and Bakhmut. The enclosed area is a kill zone for Russian artillery which the Ukrainians supply with endless cannon fodder. Even the Americans have doubts that hanging on to the city is the right option and the Ukrainians may even be willing to sacrifice their spring offensive to hold on to it just a little bit longer. More and more military experts are shaking their heads and talk about Bakhmut as a Ukrainian obsession, which it is. Holding Bakhmut prevents the last part of the plan from failing, i.e. to hold the Russian army on the other side of the defensive lines. If the Russians break through, the plan will have failed completely. Therefore Bakhmut must be defended.
The obsession with the sanctions: One of the biggest shocks of the war was the failure of the Western economic sanctions. The response of the West to the failure has been interesting. They didn’t cancel the sanctions or freeze them or rethink them. Instead they keep on sanctioning everyone and everything even though it is clearly pointless and even counterproductive. The situation is becoming increasingly surreal but they can’t stop. If they stop, the plan will have failed.
The initial panic
There is one other issue which the failure of the Ukrainian/NATO plan may explain. Every significant person in the West expected the Russians to invade the Ukraine before it happened. This was, in fact, what many of them wanted. One would have expected them to show indignation, to condemn the brutish Russians, and so on and so forth. The initial reaction in the West went far beyond that. There was extreme anger, panic and hysteria. There were even threats of using nuclear weapons. I always thought these reactions were far more extreme than the Russian invasion warranted. Why completely lose your mind over something you knew was going to happen? I suspect all the anger, the panic and the threats were because the Russians thwarted the Western Crimea plan. They were going to trick the Russians but the Russians tricked them instead. The Westerners were humiliated and nothing motivates anger and threats of nukes more than humiliation.
The anger and obsession with the failed plan in the Ukraine and the West are without doubt the result of the psychology and personality of the incredibly uniform Western and Ukrainian leadership class. They don’t accept personal failure easily, or the intrusion of reality into their plans. But that is a matter for another essay, and a long one at that.
Finally, remember that this is all speculation – a thought exercise if you will – but who knows…
Mike D. says
Very interesting. The Russians are historically excellent chess players
and students of that game.
I have argued this same theory on my Substack page in numerous articles.
I do a lot of work with SouthFront and many of their people felt that the push to Kiev was a mistake.I disagree. And I think time has proven me right.
Gaius’ explanation is, from my point of view, correct.
Yes, the Russians took casualties in the first two weeks — but it was worth it – -they saved lives later on. And suddenly those “massive defense lines” — mainly fortified villages and towns — became liabilities– restricting the UAF’s ability to maneuver.
A fort can become a prison,
Yes, it is a very fine article. For my part, I became convinced some years ago, as a result of travels in this part of the world, that should the Russian’s ever invade Ukraine, the entirety of the land-bridge to Crimea would be their strategic priority. But then, I told myself, Russia would not actually attack. How wrong can you be?!
I was surprised at the invasion too. Partly because Biden, Blinken, Sullivan started screaming the Russians are going to invade! I just assumed they were lying as usual. After going back over the initial timeline… Russia saw the fortifications and artillery being brought to the front for an assault on the Donbas. They recognized the failure of the Minsk agreements at that point Russia responded by getting their military ready and making several overtures to the Biden regime that they were involved in the undermining of the Minsk agreements and that the US must come to the negotiating table to resolve this. The Biden regime refused all negotiations. I believe the Russians gave an ultimatum. Either come to the negotiating table of we will respond militarily. The US refused again and immediately went to the press and began screaming that the Russians were going to invade. I believe they did this because Russia literally told them they were going to invade if they refused to negotiate. It would be nice if we could get the actually messages sent by the Russian government to the Biden regime as obviously this in conjecture on my part… but it explains Biden’s refusal to even talk about Ukraine and the sudden proclamations all over Western media that the Russians were about to invade… and then it actually happening.
Klaus Kondrup says
Note that in Georgia, they did the same: rush towards Tbilisi and then carry out strategic objectives before pulling away. The idea that Russia wishes to occupy these challenged countries, and have capabilities to do so is at best dubious. Ukraine offensive became executed as a chess player plays his opening, perhaps too dogmatic, but Russia now has a good position for the middle game. Thanks for link to your sub stack. Here is mine:
What is most interesting is the belief that the Russians somehow screwed up in the first weeks of the war, especially with the drive to Kiev. This is, I think, the effects of propaganda. “Oh, the Russians took casualties!” . Of course, they did and it was worth it. Because they basically won the war in the first month. But the West had to spin things differently…..Suddenly, you had people rubber-stamping other people rubber-stamping the opinion that the Russians didn’t know what they were doing. As I write here.
Do you really need other blogs to promote your own?
Larry surely is a patient and tolerant man.
Regardless, Mr. Macfarlane writes a pretty good blog and does his research. You could do worse than to check it out.
If they won the war in the first month, why are they still fighting it a year later? Sure doesn’t look like the war has been won.
Although it appears they’re not so good at war, which would be a more useful skill at the moment.
Charles E. Fromage says
It is difficult to argue against any of these points. They are very logical, especially in light of what has occurred in the last 14 months.
I would only add – the initial SMO thrust towards Kiev did all that you said, but moreover, it was a relatively easy gamble on a quick decapitation strike, before Ukraine, and especially NATO, could mobilize. Imagine the Russians had found Kiev’s airports less-well defended, or were able to easily control access to Kiev, or frightened Zelensky and his cronies into fleeing in fear, or caused top political actors to be overthrown? The war would have ended immediately with total success.
Again, it was a low-risk and high reward scenario, a “lottery ticket.” It was a long-shot, and that was understood – but it was worth attempt – and it played into all other strategic scenarios as well.
The tangled webs we weave says
Yep, a very plausible scenario he outlines. NATO’s initial objective in 2014 WAS Crimea, that’s as obvious as the nose on your face. Now, I’m guessing Zelensky understands that without Ukraine’s commitment to taking Crimea, NATO loses a key interest in this war and may very well eventually abandon him. More trouble than it’s worth and too much unintended damage to the west, so he’s forced to play along whether willing or not as head of a captive nation.
Anyway, it’s pretty obvious that Ukraine, with NATO’s help, was intent on launching Operation Storm 2.0. The ultranationalists had been calling for it since 2015. Apparently, now we see with Minsk II, so have the European powers.
Crimea was still part of Ukraine in 2014. It was only after the western sponsored Maidan coup of that year that Crimea seceded from Ukraine and was annexed by Russia. Hence, Crimea could not have been NATO’s initial objective at that moment in time. The whole point of the coup was to turn Ukraine into a NATO asset that would serve as a proxy in a war to weaken and dismantle Russia. It hasn’t quite worked out that way, and Crimea will remain a part of the Russian Federation permanently. The west’s BIG mistake was underestimating Russia’s military strength and economic resilience, while at the same time overestimating their own.
The tangled webs we weave says
You’ve assumed I didn’t mean that NATO was a willing behind the scene participant and certainly one with foreknowledge in the Maidan coup?
That was a bad assumption.
Annex is the wrong word.
Crimea held a referendum and voted to join the Russian federation. Almost the entire Ukrainian navy based at Sevastopol refused to put up armed resistance.
If am not mistaken, after the fall of the Soviet Union, Crimea was initially independent. Ukraine annexed it by force.
Also important to note, Crimea was never a regular Ukraininan Oblast. It was self governing and independent to large extent, with its own parliament etc. Similar to what was proposed for the Donbass in the Minsk agreements.
The tangled webs we weave says
In fact, it’s pretty much a replay of the entire Balkan scenario.
In 1992, the Europeans came up with the Lisbon accords (then they were legitimate, I believe). Adopted, they were then undermined by Bush’s envoy, Warren Zimmerman leading to the civil war that the accords had so hoped to avoid. After 3 yrs of bloodletting, culminating in Operation Storm, the ethnic cleansing of Serbs and the Dayton accord, Clinton pretty much accomplished the very same cantonization that the Lisbon accords had sought. Great leadership, eh? We’ll skip Act II and Kosovo for now and get to…..
Act III: Boris Johnson as Warren Zimmerman. Zelensky as Izetbegovic and a whole new cast of rotten players. And who do we find front and center among both rotten castes of players? I’ll give a hint. It starts with a neo and ends with a con.
The tangled webs we weave says
A little taste of Act II: Kosovo to stimulate the appetite.
Albright played an interesting bit of subterfuge at Rambouillet in order to prep the stage for NATO’s bombing. Those who don’t know, read up on it. Hence, my calling it Shambouillet since oh, about 1999 or since its birth.
That was a direct prelude to the subterfuge of Minsk II. Same players, same stacked deck. You be the judge.
Paulo Guerra says
Exactly, I should have stopped everything in Lisbon. But the US also promised the proxy that it got more! More blood like Ukraine!
i would go even that far to say that the Russians could try at the first day to push throught and try to capture Ze. Maybe the GS should have ask some of the unit to try that suicide commado and i am willing to bet that at least one group would have actually tried that. But on the other hand i fully suspect that the RGS expect then an Nuclear respöonse by the West and for this they stop short of threatening Ze directly.
Leaving ‘Elensky, with his Napoleanic delusions of grandeur, on the throne was a master stroke. He has done more damage to the Ukie military than Russia could hope to do.
Why would the Russians want to capture Zelensky? They could easily kill him at any moment, but they don’t. So there is some kind of agreement between Putin and NATO.
Oh, and about NATO’s nuclear strike on Russia in response to the elimination of Ze. Are you really so naive as to think that the US will commit suicide because of Ze?
The Dolphin says
Putin simply wants Zelensky left alive to be the one who signs the unconditional surrender; dissolves the Kiev gvt and Ukrainian constitution; steps down; calls proper elections; then gets badly beaten by someone more sensible. This all gives The New Ukraine a democratic legitimacy. However, whether the US itself will allow such a chain of events is strategically dubious!
Russia killing Zelensky would be *the worst* global optics Putin could possibly do! His promise NOT to kill Zelensky was merely a PR play.
Zelensky is so terrible as a leader that maybe that’s the reason the russians dont kill him: so he keeps making the same mistakes and hence they (russians) keep destroying his army with less trouble.
Killing “great leader” Zelensky would be a such a typical Western Anglo-Saxon decapitation move. The Russians are to smart to fall into that chais trap. As long as he lives, he is the focus of power and projection for a failed plan and a dying state…and they can’t get rid of him because ONLY he is their ANNOITED one. If he is allowed to be “disappeared ” with the full force and might of the global elites and neocons behind him, so much for NATO and Western hegemony. Only his owners may dispose of him and only at their convenience. The Russian General Staff must toast him with chuckles and wry smirks of incredulity and disdain with every shot of vodka.
Great exercise. Anyone who followed all the steps of pre-war, war , media hysteria and the hellout sanctions such as me will have lots to think further over.
So oder so ähnlich wird es wohl gewesen sein. Sehr guter Artikel.
Clif Heindel says
An interesting read.
Is it not too clever by half to have ones main objective (taking Crimea) undermined (in leaving the Kherson-Zaporizhzhia oblasts litely defended) to gambit the Russians into a mire in Donbas…to…prevent the Russians from taking Crimea?
Perhaps I’m not thinking clearly.
Michael Droy says
Nobody expected the SMO – the CIA promises were about the coming False flag to justify an attack on Donbas.
just saying says
Yep. The author is overthinking military side of NATO-Ukro plan. They created an army to defeat Donbass militias, not the Russian Army. Russia was supposed to be defeated from the inside trough instability caused by sanctions.
If you think that NATO and its UA proxies thought that the Russians wouldn’t intervene once Ukraine had begun an assault on the Donbass and had planned for that assault, then I have a Crimean bridge to sell you.
If you think that NATO and its UA proxies thought that the Russians wouldn’t intervene once Ukraine had begun an assault on the Donbass and had planned for that RU intervention, then I have a Crimean bridge to sell you.
just saying says
You need to work on your reading skills, unless you replied to the wrong post, twice.
Pym of Nantucket says
I have at least one friend, former US army senior officer who worked as a contractor training Ukrainians. His talking points were exactly about the quagmire for Russia being the plan. That with a Russian economy they expected to be on its last legs is what was expected. The whistling past the grave is strong in memes joking about how poor Russian strategy is looking at clips of the Russian river crossing debacle and other tidbits.
Similarly I spoke with a NATO ally junior officer last summer and talked about my fear NATO weapons were overpriced junk and he looked at me like i was speaking chinese. Our own people in uniform BELIEVE patriots, f35s, abrams, etc are the best shit going. They totally believe it. They must be just flummoxed to see the Russian air defense, hypersonics and arty ass kickings and wonder if they are just having a nightmare.
Personally I’m now becoming concerned the NATO bubble might pop too fast and cause instability.
They’re probably focussed on the terrible Russian tanks and appallingly badly equipped and trained soldiers. Don’t worry, once those are all gone these NATO officers will have no choice but to look at the hypersonics. Then they’ll understand
no, the us was talking about russia conquering ukraine in days, they trained a guerilla army with small arms and anti tank weapons, they wanted an insurgent rebellion,
Russia picked a clear decisive grinding invasion that denied them there small arms training capability.
just saying says
US was first talking about Russia not intervening, and then about Russia conquering Ukraine in days. In both cases the goal was not to militarily defeat Russian Army, but to make Russia crumble from the inside.
In February last year, Ukraine had the biggest army in Europe (not counting Russia, nor Turkey). They had more tanks than Germany, and UK, and France combined. Plan A was crushing rebel forces. Plan B was insurgency. End goal for both was instability in Russia, and regime change.
Interesting analysis, and probably not far off given how the two side think. Russia tends to think things through, whereas on the US/NATO side everybody is sort of used to just bulldozing ahead and making excuses later. On the Ukraine side, it seems a variation of the Indian rain dance. It always worked. Why? because they kept dancing until it rained. Here we see the same approach – they will keep with the plan until it works, throwing money and lives at it, except it won’t work because they’ve been outmaneuvered.
Now maybe it’s just the secondary goal on the Ukraine/NATO/US side – keep the gravy train rolling for those benefiting from the graft and corruption, and there are lots, whether in Ukraine or in the US. They will line their pockets at every one else’s expense, and don’t really care about much else.
Of course that means continuing the strategy of preventing tracking of funds and audits at all costs. They have been consistent with that too. The personal gain objectives of some key players seem intact and delivering on their plans.
Michael Creighton says
I think your thoughts are correct Larry. Unfortunately for those of us in the west we have to live with imbeciles pushing for WW3.
Michael Droy says
Excellent. The Challenge for Russia to my eyes was always:
“Get enough artillery dug in between Donbas and Ukrainian dug in positions to out gun the Ukrainian artillery that was already in place.”
That Ukraine intended an attack on Donbas was obvious – see Zelensky 2021 promises, Hollande/Poroshenko/Merkel statements on Minsk, all current talk, and most of all the absence of Ukrainian forces anywhere else when CIA was promising a Russian invasion. They meant a false flag to trigger the Ukrainian attack, but Russia pre-empted the false flag (which will look brilliant to those writing books in 10 years time).
So yes the distraction around Kiev and the securing of Kherson/Zaporizhzhia oblasts were essential.
Excellent piece – thankyou
The importance to the defence of Crimea of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia oblasts is a new idea to me.
The core assumption to me is that Ukraine was always going to attack Donbas – those defensive positions outside Donbas are essentially attacking positions that prevent any accumulation of a Donbas defence.
The SMO was always pre-empting the attack on Donbas (you know the one that Zelensky loudly promised and the CIA predicted in loudly announcing the imminent Russian false flag.
The Challenge for Russia to my eyes was always:
How to get enough artillery dug in between Donbas and Ukrainian dug in positions so that
We are in the kairos of the change to new world-order. Tomorrow I’ l be presening a comprehensive analysis of that current archetypal momentum.
Today swiftly the behold ! of the 16th in the chain of weeks 2023.
‘Daughter’s Wisdom and Father’s Delight Beyond ‘Houses Buildt of Stone’
Moscow Exile says
The place is called “Zaporozhye” in Russian.
“Zaporizhzhia” is the English for “Zaporozhye”, just as “Moscow” is the English for “Moskva” and “Russia” is the English for “Rossiya”?
Michel - Louis LONCIN says
REMARQUABLE comme “spéculation” !!! Il est en effet certain que “l’attaque” de Kiev avec si peu d’effectif était un LEURRE à ce point évident que les divers “Gamelin” (*) et autres “experts” auto proclamés PERORANT sur les plateaux TV des chaînes françaises s’y étant laissé prendre, se refusent à reconnaître leur aveuglement et continuent de la qualifier de “grande défaite” russe !!! De même, l’attaque vers Kharkov, la seconde ville d’Ukraine, majoritairement russophone … Loin de se concentrer prioritairement sur le Donbass, les Russes, outre la prise d’une bonne partie des obasts de Zaporojié et Kherson, se sont concentrés sur la LIBERATION de Marioupol(lieu d’une tuerie perpétrée la 09 mai 2014 par les NAZIS d’Azov, sept jours après le pogrom d’Odessa)
(*) nom du généralissime français en 1940 dont le plan “Dyle-Breda”, négligeant totalement les Ardennes supposées infranchissables par les blindés, a déterminé le DESASTRE de Sedan … Il est employé par Xavier Moreau pour stigmatiser et ridiculiser les généraux et spécialistes militaires français …
I believe Gamelin was fully complicit in allowing the Germans to enter through the Ardennes. Every serious military staff would have checked to see how well the Germans could used the many logging roads. That’s one “tell”. THe other is that Gamelin was never removed from office for letting France fall in 5 weeks. Gamelin was still running France’s war in Indochina in the 1950’s.
It is very important to understand that France and the UK had a complete program to rebuild Germany and have it destroy the USSR, what’s called the Drang Nach Osten.
Dr. Annie LaCroix-Riz wrote a very densely footnoted book about French and British support for the Nazis. The book is « Le choix de la défaite ». 679 pages which stick strictly to the facts, 68 pages of sources in French and German archives, with the German archives having the most damaging material. Support for Germany started by the mid 1920’s and was spear-headed by the most powerful industrialists and bankers. Gamelin, Weygand and the entire French command absolutely hated the Soviets and refused every initiative for a common pact against the Germans. In the late 1930’s Germany produced as many warplanes in a month as France built in a year, and ditto for Britain. By August 1939, France had 60 not-well-trained army divisions and Britain had … wait for it … two divisions for the defense of Europe. Germany had over 90 divisions on the French border. Yet no one in France nor in Britain was worried – because “the fix was in ” and Germany would attack to the East. Her book also goes into great detail how Czechoslovakia was gaslighted for at least 5 years before Chamberlain gave that nation to Germany, so the Czechs felt it was hopeless to defend their democracy. Oh, and that “German Economic Miracle” under Hjalmar Schact ?
French banks make loans to Germany at 3% while they starved French industries with 8% loans. Supposedly “French” “Jewish” bankers, at that.
You are French, you should buy this book and you will learn a lot for 46 Euros. Unfortunately, her incredibly important book has only been translated into Serbo-Croat (!) It needs professional translation into major languages.
Westerners tend to think the idea that the West supported Hitler to attack the USSR is some sort of commie fantasy. 679 pages shows it was an absolute fact. And then you have to ask yourself, “How come nobody knows this history?” Why did it take a French Professor of Contemporary History, with first publication in 2006, 2nd Edition in 2010, and no one outside France, and I think very few Francophones too, know about this.
Even a cursory glance at the headlines of the major 1930’s newspapers (under fascist control) should give everyone a clue.
As I noted in another comment below, US support for pure Ukrainian Nazis dates from before the Nazi defeat. So all this, as the French say, is à longue haleine. Nearly a century and still going strong.
Moscow Exile says
The place is called “Zaporozhye”.
“Zaporizhzhia” is Ukrainian.
Carlton Meyer says
Many tons or ammunition was stockpiled in huge salt mines around Soledar and Bakhmut, they wanted to defend that treasure.
The Russians quickly captured two large nuclear power plants. This gave them valuable bargaining chips and the option of cutting power to the region.
Russia didn’t want to engage in bloody street battles in big cities, especially Kiev. It was much easier to just grind up Ukrainians as they arrived in the farmlands. They didn’t want to capture tens of thousands of Ukrainians, who they would have to feed and guard for months, then release one day. Best to kill anyone who invaded Russia’s Donbas.
The SMO was to show Russia was serious and would use force. It was successful as a deal to end the fighting was reached in April. Then Boris Johnson showed up and killed it.
Jim S says
Sound reasoning and a highly plausible scenario. Bakhmut still doesn’t make much sense, unless the follow-on defensive lines only existed on paper.
Raymond Leddy says
I don’t know why this is being put forward as a theory, everything has been about Crimea, Sevastopol naval port, access to Med by RU navy, supply to Tartus, Syria/Assad and finally Iran, all else is noise & spin off benefits to the trough dwellers.
Wash, rinse and repeat says
I’m sure NATO had Poti in Georgia in its sights as a naval base, much as it had Sevastopol. NATO’s tactics are clear; finding a willing idiot, promote him in a color revolution, then set him to work to accomplish your goals. If you fail, no matter….try and try again.
This fit well with the events. It miss some bits about the Russians helping the Republics maintaining the front-lines without it to be too obvious (cheers for the PMCs & the logistic guys) and the push around Karkov that also have its little effect on the AFU distribution (maybe more than Kiev that was an unrealistic short-term objectives for so few Russians to hold).
Those two points aside, the west objectives also seems plausible. But don’t say it too loud in the MSM , you’ll get a Vatnik tag for saying the US planed the shit. They were just out-played and, bad player as they are, they will drag on their defeat to the last Ukrainian… it’s just sad.
Larry , a Word about Soudan ? It seems our DoS friends did shit again. How do I know ? Easy, they where crying ” it’s Wagner fault” on every MSM and Sullivan tweeted shit …again.
Darth Readius says
Larry I complained a lot about the “Psychologist” guy and his complete failure with Hegel but this guy is a gem!
I understand this is pure speculation but it sure connects all the dots! A fittingly astute theory for a guy named Gaius 😉 Well done for everyone involved in this!
This theory also explains why they didn’t build fortifications around Crimea. I have been wondering why they seemingly left the south so lightly guarded and defenseless.
Europe sees the US I assume as their savior but they should see Russia as that since it was Russia who defeated the tyrant Napoleon, the dictator Hitler, and now seem to be doing the same with the US hegemon. It’s so interesting to me that European powers can’t help invade Russia at their height and everyone of them meats their end their. Why Europe doesn’t adore Russia is beyond me. (Minus that whole Communism period obviously)
“that whole Communism period” is the typical ignorance (or arrogance?) of uninformed westerners.
Ever ask yourself how this mean, most evil commies achieved to abandon analphabetism from some 90% to nearly zero in less than 15 years? Or why the “Great Depression” of the west in 1929 and following was unkown in USSR, because there was economic growth in all this years? Or how come, that the USSR were able to built industries and feed their people at the same time in 19 years ready to fight american financed Nazism from Hitlers Germany?
Search for the words of the american ambassador in Berlin (1936-1938) Davies about his perspective of Josef Stalin in letters to his daughter. Read the studies and publications of historians like american Grover Furr, italian Domenico Losurdo and belgian Ludo Martens for example. Look at the autobiograpy of american Anna Louise Strong who lived for decades in the USSR. And there are many other witnesses.
The american view on the Soviet Union is the same way today the west judges on modern Russia. No differences. And that’s why most of americans and western europeans can’t deal with Russia and the USSR as well.
Just a thought says
A bit off topic (although all’s connected in one form or another, isn’t it) but was just pondering the possible impetus between this Saudi-Syrian, Saudi-Iranian, even Turkish-Syrian rush to reconciliation, with the Saudis as the main pivot.
OK, let’s speculate. I think that the Saudis, having seen the absolutely transparent use of Ukraine by Washington as a proxy against Russia, a Ukraine that was already well divided by east-west aspirations, and even using an equally transparent coup d’etat to initiate it……that the Saudis suddenly saw themselves in a new light, as also being for decades a US proxy, in Yemen, in Iraq, in Syria etc etc etc. and didn’t particularly like this new epiphany of theirs. They may have realized that there were really NO rational bounds to Washington’s appetite for upheaval and very much maybe……it was time to get off this train before it derails onto the lot of them.
F. Tuijn says
You make a lot of sense.
But Saudi Arabia would have felt itself unable to move if China hadn’t sold it medium range rockets many years ago and more recently drones and a license to build them while China bought ever more oil from KSA and Aramco build several petrochemical plants in China. At the same time Russia became a trusted partner in OPEC+. MBS and his older friend MBZ, now president of the United Arab Emirates, find it natural to visit Russia.
Diplomats and businessmen have been working for years to achieve the current change in world relations.
Beobachter aus Hamburg says
The Donetsk People’s Militia claimed a year ago to have captured plans from the enemy for an attack, including on Crimea, on March 8, 2022.
Mariupol and the Azov Steel bunker was very important to both sides. The Russians were there unexpectedly quickly and surrounded Mariupol. The NATO-Ukraine side was desperately trying to get anything or anyone out of there. Macron has been rotating. The NATO officers and Foreign Legionnaires who were rumored to be there were never heard from again. Possibly the bunker was command center for the attack, including on Crimea, and the war is therefore continued so doggedly by the West so that the Russians cannot present witnesses and evidence of the other side’s war guilt as victors.
The war was prepared – according to Merkel’s confession – already since 2015, even at the time of Trump, who did not want to play along and was therefore hated in Berlin. Since about 2012, starting with speeches by German President Gauck, a steadily increasing war rhetoric and Russophobia can be noticed in Germany, One wondered at the time what it was all about. It made no sense, except to damage one’s own Russian business. As preparatory, continuously increased war propaganda, it does make sense. The hysteria around Skripal, Navalny, and the completely exaggerated reactions to the failed color revolutions in Kazakhstan and especially in Belarus.
Nord Stream 2 was already supposed to be built under Putin, but apparently not to go into operation until after Putin’s fall, for booty removal. Toward the end, the German government used every trick in the book to obstruct completion and then commissioning.
The original plan had apparently called for regime change in Russia after the loss of Belarus, a military debacle in Ukraine with the loss of Crimea, and ruin of Russia by all-out sanctions war. Now the war is apparently being continued to do as much damage as possible in the lost Ukraine and to the Russians. A Russian victory and a post-fascist Ukraine that must confirm the Russian version of events in peace negotiations, even a tribunal with high-level witnesses and evidence, would be a disaster for the Scholz government.
Again, this is speculative. It supports the speculation of Gaius Baltar. In any case, I would not be surprised if the Russians end up putting appropriate material on the table. Their actions in the SMO seem plausible and strategically excellent to me.
[Deepl translation from German]
Excellent points, Beobachter aus Hamburg, you hit the nail spot on, the most salient point being the planned attack by the Ukrainian/NATO Forces on the Donbas Republic at the beginning of March 2022 (together with Zelensky’s speech from Feb 19, 2022 in which he suggested Ukraine will develop nuclear capability) must have been the reason Russia attacked on Feb24.
This theory makes perfect sense and it certainly explains the screaming hysteria in the British and US media.
I imagine that the positioning of Russian troops and nukes in Belarus has blindsided NATO too…and will certainly have diverted some of their attention away from Crimea and the Donbass.
The Crimea is unfinished business for the UK. Having failed to take it in the 19th Century due to military incompetence , the embarrassment has remained and so they’ve decided to have another go but with US muscle and NATO cover this time. They will try again, maybe in another hundred years, so the only way of dissuading them, in my view, is for Russia to inflict the most crushing and merciless defeat on the US/UK/NATO axis. A bloody nose isn’t enough…it needs a full-blown decimation.
Close, but not quite…
It is a no brainer. Securing the land corridor to Crimea via Kherson and Zaporizhzhia oblasts was always objective number one. I knew in Feb of last year, the Russians did not have the manpower or equipment to take Kiev but the land corridor was taken in a matter of days.
This analysis is notable for pointing out the one and only, most important, almost exclusive obsession of the Combined West and NATO – Crimea! And of course, the subsequent defeat and dismemberment of Russia.
Crimea has always been in the cross hairs of the West, starting with the British Empire. The bloody Crimean War (I forget the exact year) was the one that led to the establishment of Red Cross. As pointed out by the author, Crimea with its jewel, the naval port of Sevastopol, is absolutely the key for military domination of the Black Sea.
The 2014 West-sponsored Maidan coup was the initial step toward getting Ukraine and hence Crimea into NATO, and thus make the Black Sea a NATO lake. But no one, I repeat no one, in the West or East, expected Putin to preempt the whole thing by annexing Crimea peacefully. That spoiled everything for the Combined West and NATO. So Plan B into action: Strengthening the military capability of Ukraine by any and all means necessary, including the fraudulent Minsk Agreement perpetrated on Russia. The objective was of course, Crimea, again! A single decisive blow toward Crimea, while the extensive, unprecedented fortifications in Donbas, and provocative, continued shelling of Donetsk civilians goaded Russia to expend its military might against those fortifications. The Russian SMO move toward Kiev thwarted that Crimea Master Plan, as has been correctly pointed out by the author.
The initial plans for Crimea spoiled by SMO, and then subsequent Russian mobilization, what to do? Logically, Ukraine should focus more on preventing a Russian breakthrough in Donbas and racing to the Dnieper river, with a potential assault on Kiev. That is what Zelensky is trying to do. But … … his western backers never stopped obsessing about conquest of Crimea. Most likely, chances to achieve their wet dream are fading away like the morning mist in a bright sun. Hence the enormous western pressure for a Ukrainian counteroffensive, no matter what disaster is unfolding in Donbas.
So, given the Western and NATO obsession with Crimea, my guess is:
If there is a Ukrainian counteroffensive, its main focus will be Crimea. Of course, there will be diversionary attacks in Donbas and elsewhere, but the main effort will be a “lightning” thrust toward Crimea. To do this, dams on the Dnieper river will be employed. All the reservoirs have been filled up except the one upstream of Novaya Kakhovka. If that dam can be blown, the defensive positions including artillery placements erected by Russian military on the Eastern (left) bank in Kherson region will be flooded (and Zaporizhia nuclear power plant cannot be cooled). Once the flood waters recede somewhat, an assault can begin without facing devastating artillery fire, using the armored boats donated to Ukraine military by the West. I doubt NATO would have given them a large number of such boats for purposes other than crossing Dnieper near Kherson, and racing toward Crimea!
IMHO, it is Crimea, Crimea, Crimea as far as the West and NATO are concerned in Ukraine.
They cannot take it themselves without triggering a nuclear WW III. But Ukraine can and they will do their best to see that happen. Crimea is also the reason why the combined West prohibits peace talks that do not address the Crimea question. They could care less about Donbas, except as far as it ties down Russian forces and prevents them from thwarting the assault on Crimea. They will keep prolonging the conflict with more and more weapons to Ukraine, hoping to EVENTUALLY strengthen Ukraine enough, even if it takes another decade, to have it assault Crimea and retake it. The only way Russia can prevent that outcome is to utterly destroy the Ukrainian army NOW, when the Western and NATO weapon and ammunition supplies to Ukraine are inadequate, and dictate surrender terms to Ukraine that will remove it as a proxy combatant for NATO once and for all. If they don’t do that, they will regret it and pay for it dearly, unless of course they resort to nuclear weapons to defend Mother Russia, of which Crimea is now once again an indivisible part, bringing an end to the world, as we know it!
are you sure NATO lasts a decade?
There’s an old Soviet expression that accurately describes western political and military planners: They like to think big thoughts.
Sideshow Bob says
The Russian’s aren’t chess players.
Their primary war strategy is the massed peasant zerg rush. They lack arms so the rear ranks are told to pick up weapons from their dead compatriots.
LOL. Is that you newdill? Troll or ignorant, that is the question.
Biswapriya Purkayastha says
That was funny. Thanks for the laugh early in the morning.
vero! stanno combattendo con le armi NATO raccolte dai “mercenari” NATO massacrati.
Invece di armi, la NATO farebbe bene a mandare a Zelè le Koca sacchi per cadaveri e carri funebre
Jim Bob says
Regarding the sanctions – anyone following this topic for many years and reading Andrei Martyanov, Andrei Raevski (The Saker) and others was never concerned about sanctions causing any serious damage to Russia. The sanctions put in place after the MH17 false flag (my first option and that of the director of a certain 5 eyes military intelligence agency that I talked to) ensured Russia was going to turn away from dependence on the West, and it certainly worked. Over a year ago a friend said Russia was going to suffer because of the sanctions but I laughed it off, and we were right.
Thank you Gaius, nice to read your work again & see you here.
The Neocon failed plan for Belarus regime change also change the equation for their ukraine campaign against russia. It is a key linchpin to stop the northern flank of ukraine theatre from russian hands , alas it is foiled and russia retained foothold on belarusian area
This is one of the reason that i am totally confused why some ppl still claiming ‘its biden , its obama , its trump’ when it is historically obvious these american presidents are just ‘actors’ doing their ‘PR’ stuff and there is a different kind of people steering US foreign policy and military adventurism not for a short duration of a president’s term but a far longer (read : Decades) ..
The encircling of Russia by NATO
Endless Regime Change Ops around Russian borders
The replacement of EU leaders with US Stooges
The insane and irresponsible money printing which will destroy US dollar and economy
The Anger toward Trump as he didnt want to do what the neocon wants
Anyone who have their brain still free from the endless propaganda by the west will notice the pattern immediately. The long game of US Empire is culminating in ukraine 2022 and their plan to retake crimea was thwarthed by Russia’s SMO. The Empty West initiated the most evil and NAZI’like campaign to demonize Russia and China and play their economic sanction game to the fullest..
Too bad the US and EU vassals overplayed their hand as Western economy and military are not as strong as they believed and the sanction game ruined western economy instead of russia’s.
EVEN TODAY , the insane anti-china part of the neocon want to antagonize china because CHINA refused to pay for US debts like in 2008 , this is the reason the US Empire blackmailed china and this time china is ready for hot war and turned out US is not ready by large margin for a war with china.
The only reason these anti-china NEOCONS want to close up ukraine disaster is because they want full focus on anti-china war/provocation using their new proxies aka japs and koreans to be their new ukrops.. alas i dont think south korean will fall for this nonsense , and japs are just too cowardly to go to war with china , as both knew North Korean will be fully rearmed and strengthen by both China and Russia and will be the counter proxy
Jack Gordon says
This was fascinating speculative reasoning; I couldn’t stop reading once started. Please feature this writer again soon, Larry. (I wonder what the author thinks of the Russian decision to station enough of their troopers north of Kiev in Belarus. Is that too a ruse designed to siphon off enough uniformed Banderites to make operations in other areas easier? Or perhaps along with the nuclear weapons now positioned there it’s designed to dissuade Polish yahoos from becoming over rambunctious?)
Jungian blather says
The Poles definitely have a sadomasochistic bent to their national identity. It’s truly disturbing. I wish such things could be quarantined.
Mark J says
UKR/RU and more
Biswapriya Purkayastha says
I usually agree with Simplicius76 – he’s by far the best military analyst on the net – but when he says this conflict could go on for years longer, my response is, “Oh yeah? What are the Ukranazis going to fight with next year, toddlers armed with NATOstani sticks and stones?”
Either the NATOstanis pour in their own troops, directly or in the guise of “volunteers”; or Jacob Dreizin is right and the Ukranazis are going to collapse late this year from manpower losses alone.
Follow the bouncing grenade says
Seems to me, the US and EU have stepped into the very quagmire they planned for Russia.
Could be karma. Could be just plain vanilla stupidity. Could be one follows from the other. I’ll let the philosophers ponder which follows from which other.
Philip Garber says
There’s some pleasingly Biblical about that.
Jacob dreizin is a grifter and liar
anyone here knew dreizin is talking out of his ass and anyone who visited his site knew you will be attaked by holy dreizin himself if you have different opinion .
Biswapriya Purkayastha says
So you’re saying that the Ukranazis are going to fight on for years?
I would take Dreizin any day over the incestuous cabal of armchair generals who cite each other as sources, repost each other’s articles, and pretend to be experts.
As for insulting people who dissent:
Tell me when for example Martyanov stops insulting people who point out that he’s full of reeking sewer gas.
To get a good idea of the timeline, you need a good idea of what this existential war is.
The military fighting in Ukraine is actually the smallest of the several fronts. The other fronts are gentle de-dollarization, removing Washington’s controls over its “allies” etc, building up non-hegemonic economics and financial institutions, and probably some other fronts I’ve missed in this count, and all while trying to keep the neocons from pushing the red button. Constant grinding defeat leaves Washington, London and Paris frozen like deer caught in the headlights, obsessively repeating the same failed moves.
Russia’s real problem with the Ukraine is to be able to drag it out long enough to get irreversible victories on these other fronts. General Winter, will finally arrive in full force in the autumn of 2023. The Global South is making new economic paths which need to become stable and permanent. Too early a victory would bring an incomplete surrender, and would only give the Empire time to regroup and rebuild the Nazis.
You have to always go back to the 3 goals Putin stated before the SMO began:
To de-Natzify Ukraine [permanently], to push NATO back to frontiers of the last century [but it would be more practical to get NATO to just disband], and to protect the Russian territories of the former Ukraine, which in practical terms means ending any Ukraine military. Putin and all of Russia is dead serious about this, and ready to pay the price.
Very few Westerners know that Washington started supporting Ukro-Nazis even before the Third Reich was defeated. Wehrmacht General Reinhard Gehlen hooked up with OSS chief Allen Dulles (then station chief of Switzerland) and was flown out of Bavaria in a US Army light plane. Gehlen was Director of the West German secret police from 1950-1968. 15,000 to 250,000 people died in the Nazi-Soviet war, 1945 to approx 1956. If anyone has an accurate death toll, please inform us. The Russians know this sad history very well, and they will not fail to absolutely kill the brown plague this time. The Russian Army will end up right at the Polish border and all the Ukro-Nazis will be in prison, in a grave, or in permanent exile. As for ending the NATO threat, we can see NATO is busy emptying their own arsenals so the Russians can destroy it all in Ukraine.
The Kremlin has not yet said much about Lithuania and Finland violating the treaties whereby the USSR gave then sovereignty. Lithuania blockaded Kallinigrad for a while and has not promised they will never do another blockade. Russia is in full legal right to re-take Lithuania. Finland’s treaty promised perpetual neutrality but NATO membership broke that promise. Russia has zero legal obligation to recognize these two as independent nations. As a practical matter, as long as NATO still has any teeth, Russia will bide its time and has basically kept silent. But before this hybrid war is over, Finland and Lithuania may once again become Russian protectorates.
I could give 6 reasons why Russia wants/needs a years-long war, 6 proofs that this is Russia’s plan (starting with 21 bridges still over the Dneiper), and I can give at least 6 strong reasons why the Kremlin doesn’t want to discuss any of this.
John Helmer on his website Dances With Bears, yesterday quoted a member of the Duma who is also a Major General (high but not too high up). This Russian says the war will end in the 2027-2030 time frame, and Helmer noted that other post-1990 wars have all been very long. Russia needs to win and this is the most sure way to win.
Jess, you didn’t mention it, but I expect you are aware that certain Finns and Estonians are already fantasizing aloud about blockading Russia – closing the Gulf of Finland to Russian ships.
Respecting any such blockade, my own fantasy (or ‘preferred short-term solution’ if you will) would be for Russia to detonate an underwater nuke, delivered via submarine drone, in the Gulf between Tallinn and Helsinki. A glance at the map suggests the resulting tsunami would swamp both capitals, but spare Kaliningrad and St Petersburg.
Fantasy aside, it’s interesting to step back and look at recurring historical patterns. Repeatedly, ever since the Time of Troubles (or even the Teutonic Order’s attack on Novgorod if you want to go back that far) Russians, or their progenitors, have faced invasion from the West … by Poles and Lithuanians, Swedes, French and Germans. These invasions were always enabled by Finns, Balts and/or western Slavs. The Russians repeatedly have had to address this by setting up buffer zones, annexing or ‘Finlandizing’ the countries between them and expansionist westerners.
Growing up in late 20th-century America, I got accustomed to the meme of ‘eastern Europe groaning under the heel of Soviet oppression, behind the Iron Curtain.’ I don’t think the Russia’s historical strategic interests – which outlive and have transcended empires and ideologies – even entered my mind until the Maydan coup.
Your idea that Finland and Lithuania may become Russian protectorates again is interesting. I don’t think it would be limited to just those two countries: The other Baltics and the Poles have much to answer for.
I think Putin’s purported goal of restoring the Russian Empire (or the USSR) originated purely as a neoconservative fever dream. But kneejerk, inveterate western aggression against Russia could easily lead to a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy, a row of buffer states in eastern Europe along the lines of the old Iron Curtain. It may be he only way for Russia to protect itself.
We are living in an extremely important era, and the fact that long-dead empires are now being revived is evidence. Even if this is the last gasp from the Poles, the LIthuanians, remnants of the old Hanseatic League and maybe even the Swedes, this last gasp will mark the transition between major epochs.
Barring future stupidities or crimes, I don’t expect Russia to declare Estonia as ended, and probably not Latvia either. Russia will want them to make amends for official discrimination against people of Russian heritage, but that probably will not shake their sovereignty, unless Tallinn and Riga refuse to make amends. Lithuania broke the treaty which established its sovereignty, and so did Finland. So I believe they will have a different fate. It’s a matter of international laws, and it’s more than just that Putin is a lawyer by training. The entire structure of modern Russia is built on respect for legality, not despotism. To damage Russia’s respect for laws would damage Russia. I think Russia will stay away from the dark side, but yes, it will eventually secure its security needs against the limitrophe states and any future foreign sponsors. As with the Ukro-Nazis, it’s a case of “Once burned, twice learned.”
So it’s not a revival of the old Russian Empire, but more like a minimalist implementation of shared common security.
Timothy Murray says
That the enemy are rattled by being outsmarted is a key to defeating them.
Find their competencies, beat them at it.
The gold-backed Ruble is another vector of attack.
Information dominance…destroy that in Europe and America..
Control over education (mind shaping) ..
Step by step, they will fail and fall.
Thank you for an excellent essay.
When you boil down to the nitty gritty, it’s pretty easy to define what the US & Collective West’s Plan was, it’s as transparent as a Zelensky get rich scheme to embezzle $400 million from US Taxpayers (sorry for the sarcasm?) Their Plan is the HOPEISM Plan, i.e if we do this or that to Russia & China, WE HOPE, we’ll get the outcome we desire to maintain our Global Hegemony & Unipolar US Empire? But the Decline & collapse is undeniable & unstoppable now, America’s desperate attempts to hang on to its Empire that’s in freefall collapse is like King Canute trying to hold back the incoming Tide by telling the Ocean not to advance, that’s the futility of all of this? We sure live in interesting times, once in a Lifetime event & Millennial, epochal Geopolitical changes are happening on a daily basis & it’s fascinating to observe this slow motion Train wreck as a Observer watching this from the pavement!
Paul Damascene says
Gaius–welcome to Sonar. You remind us of why we miss The Saker.
Thoughtful, w/ rare combination of humility and insight.
Though a few military analysts initially recognized (then some forgot) how deft the early Russian moves were, when judged on their own inferred objectives–‘fixing operation,’ ‘recon in force,’ ‘driving UKR to negotiate,’ waking Europe up and convincing them Russian patience was exhausted’–very few analyses specifically dealt with Russia’s moves in terms of what the UKR/West’s own military plans were, beyond ‘attack the Donbas’.
Very good speculation, especially tying in the persistence of sticking with the initial plan even though it was foiled.
One extra goal of the initial plans, on the basis of the tentacles of attack:
Secure as much WMD potential as possible: Nuclear plants and bio-labs.
Yes – In fact I think Elensky’s threat to build nukes and knowledge of Pentagon funded Bio-Labs was crucial in Russian decision making. Both were neutralised on day one as was tthe huge ammunition dump outside Kharkov.
The US planned to create a nuclear armed even bigger Israel in Ukraine.
The focal point now is Odessa and the Black Sea coast. After that all that remains is what to do with a rump poisonous fascist inspired Ukraine rump state. The US would love that.
Mark j says
Excellent example of the highest form of warfare… information warfare.
Note the plastic hanging down at the entrance of the bunker. It’s the same bunker
Two different stories.
Sam Bullard says
This is a useful thought exercise and very compactly written considering the scope.
There are key differences between Russians and Anglos that work in Russia’s favor. By “Anglos” I mean the US and British leadership. Russia’s leaders fight to win. Anglos fight to make money. Russia expends only enough resources to achieve the outcome. Anglos prefer unending conflicts with no limits on cost and vague outcomes at best. Anglos are an open book. They’ve made it no secret that they want to weaken Russia, take Crimea and the Donbass, cause regime change, and ultimately break up the Russia Federation. Although Russians are generally harder to read, they benefit especially from the Anglo lack of interest in an opponent’s history, culture, language, military resources, etc. These things will be analyzed by specialists who may or may not be adequately educated and trained for the job. The specialists prepare summaries for Anglo leaders who then cherry pick only the information that fits their attitudes and preconceived beliefs. Another key difference is that Russians adapt whereas Anglos double down. Military plans are tested when the enemy is encountered. When their plans aren’t working, Anglos tend to deny the fact, to minimize its significance, and to pour more resources into the failure. Russia learns from setbacks and quietly adapts. The result is that over time Russia is surprised less and less in battle while the Anglos are surprised more and more. By “battle” I mean all forms of warfare that The Saker described so well, kinetic, economic and informational.
I don’t know, but I imagine Russia’s chess players understand that the only mistakes they can make now are to settle for anything less than unconditional surrender at Ukraine and to fail to respond adequately in support of China and all other nations who will not surrender their sovereignty to the hegemon.
Biswapriya Purkayastha says
This seems logical and well thought out, but doesn’t go far enough.
1. The Russian government was still pushing Minsk 2 as late as 21 February 2022. As long as Ukranazistan had gone through the motions of accepting Minsk 2 it could have reoccupied the Donbass without a shot
2. Minsk 2 was always a cover for arming Ukranazistan and Russia cannot but have known it
3. It permitted the Ukranazis to arm and fortify for 8 years (while sundry online pundits repeatedly claimed that the Ukranazi armed forces were drunk, demoralised, and unfit to fight)
4. More than clearly not anticipating that the conflict could possibly go on longer than 6 months (which is why Kherson ended up almost undefended after the kontraktniks refused to renew their service) and Izyum and Kupyansk, the gateway to the Slavyansk-Kramatorsk agglomeration, had to be abandoned without a shot,
5. Russia had been no more prepared for how this conflict turned out than anyone else, though it’s adapted much better and faster,
6. The online pundits and armchair generals were talking through their collective hat.
War Games says
Russia definitely knew Minsk II was dead, as I remember maybe that prior summer, there was a Russian tirade leveled at France and Germany for playing games.
It’s a shame. It was all about the west refusing to relinquish their wet dream of NATO occupation of Sevastopol.
Really foolish of them because, as you say, they could have paid simple lip service to Minsk II, reoccupied the Donbass then, as they’ve (US or UA, take your pick) so often done just torn up their constitutional amendment and said – nope, possession is 9/10ths of the law, we’re not bound by any agreements now, and continued planning for an assault on Crimea as stage II. What would the UN have done? Enforce ‘international law’? Bwahaha.
Paulo Guerra says
Russia controlled Ukraine from the east and south! Or who elected yanukovich? Before thinking about war, there is politics. Russia had no interest in dismembering a country as big as Ukraine without any power to interfere with Kiev on its border. After splitting the east how does Russia control political power in Kiev? Even after the coup, a federal solution was best for Russia. That’s why RUS bet on the Minsk agreements! And if it weren’t for NATO, Russia today would be able to make Ukraine a prosperous country again. Who lost the most were the Ukrainians!
and the states – colony of the €U
General view is that about 50,000 Russian troops were in the attack on Kiev. I read an interview of one Russian soldier that claimed he was part of that group and he said that their number was nowhere near 50,000 but only 12,000. That kind of casts a different light on that famous 50Km column of trucks near Kiev. I’m willing to bet that these trucks carried nothing but were there for show, to make the attack look more substantial than it really was. When the Russians withdrew, that supposed traffic jam just disappeared. Now a claimed by the western reporters figure of 50,000 could not possibly take a defended city of 5 million, assuming reasonable defences. Stalingrad was a city with population of few hundred thousand yet it could not be taken by army of 300,000 and we are to believe that Russians could take Kiev with far smaller numbers. If Russians ever take on large cities, it will be after most of the Ukrainian army has been destroyed in smaller cities such as Bakhmut. After the war, it will be less costly to rebuild Bakhmut than Kiev, assuming that Russians will go all out and in words of former president Medvedev, make Ukraine disappear as a country.
The Dolphin says
Fascinating! If incontrovertible evidence that the trucks were empty decoys, and that the troop numbers were only 12 000, that would prove once and for all that Russia’s initial little Kiev excursion was in fact only a feint NOT a defeat. But I can’t ever see Kiev or London or Washington admitting to having fallen for empty trucks!!!
It always struck me as bizarre that the inability of Ukrainian forces to incinerate that convoy stuck out in the open as it was for days hasn’t drawn more analysis beyond the usual “Ukraine glorious victory!” trope. That looks to me more like abject failure than anything else.
Kherson region was very important for a further reason- the water canal that fed Crimea has its intake near the Khakova hydro electric dam upstream from Kherson.
Ukraine blocked it in 2014. Turned Crimea into a desert.
One of the first things Russia did after they captured that area was to big out the blockage Ukraine had put in.
This “best guess” is 1 of the best potential explanations I have seen.
I am an expat who was living in Ukraine when the SMO started.
I follow closely and wait for Russia to capture the city I was in, so I can return.
You should give Gaius Baltar a chance to talk too us more often, Mr. Johnson, he knows what he’s talking about.
The narrative’s excellent except he could have emphasised (or mentioned) two things that are very relevant.
(1) Everything that Ukraine has done since the Americans turned the country into their colony in Feb 2014 has been to further their decades long desire to balkanise Russia, turn her into seven or nine small Russias bickering amongst themselves, but not a threat to the US hegemony and each of them a valuable source to extract the massive reserves of natural resources contemporary Russia possesses.
(2) the Wolfowitz doctrine, because this is what has been guiding the US foreign policy since it’s drafting in 1992, the doctrine applies equally to China and the EU, what many commentators have failed to mention is that the destruction of the N-2 pipeline has put an end to the German leadership on the EU project, by switching to the US imported LNG Germany has lost her sovereignty fully, the Americans are now in control of the country energy supples, and energy is what makes not only the economy of a country but life in general tick. On any major issue of global politics the German politicians (and hence those of the EU) will have to listen to the Americans and do as they’re told, the Macron epiphany will be short lived, as will be his tenure as President.
U€- politicians HAD and MUST listen and do what they are ordered by U$A.
it is no coincidence that germany and italy are defeated nations that accepted unconditional surrender (france and poland are fake winners who fought from the gb and with the partisans) and when a new government is elected, it goes first to Jerusalem to wear the kippah and pray at the wall of tears and then fly to Washington to get the agenda and programs.
you can also refuse if you want to end up badly like some of your predecessors.
if there`s one thing I hope doesn`t happen, it`s zelensky and his entourage being able to escape ukraine before the excrement hits the fan and the fathers, uncles, brothers, wives and children of the hundreds of thousands of fallen are able to administer due punishment – in appropriate mussolini-, or perhaps ceaucescu-style, that is.
Gauius Baltar; Attempting to get people in the USA to see things from a “Russian viewpoint’ is a difficult task (the attempt is appreciated). Most of my fellow citizens are geographically deficient, some might know how to locate Coachella, but very few, the Donbass. In addition, many are lacking skills need for critical thinking, i.e spatial orientation & situational awareness – the other person’s viewpoint – is a supremely difficult task. The preferred method is: If It not’s understandable, forget it. If it’s not under our control, destroy it. And for some reason, many approach Russia with religious fanaticism that shuts off all objective thinking. On my part, in order to better understand: What the hell is going on in the Ukraine, that has energised me to re-read Russian novels, Russian history, and watch Russian movies. Lo and behold, a viewpoint develops.
What is most interesting is how ,to a degree,’the past is prologue” especially as one considers the past 400 years: Disputes over geography along the Dnieper River, European ‘fear’ of barbaric Asiatic invasion (with Russia in the lead), Russian expansion to the Baltic, Black Sea, & Siberia. and into the 20th Century a fear that the imperial capitalist would destroy the Revolution of 1917. Things to consider, it wouldn’t be surprising that under Putin’s leadership that initially he was looking to a ‘political solution’ to NATO expansion and once ‘ a red line was crossed’, the response was the SMO (a planned contingency) was initiated
IMO, the strength of the Western response (sanctions and arms to Kiev), the counter strike was a blow, but not a decisive one and this has caused Russia into seeking to re- balance (at this time) East and West (refer to a model of the globe) and to focus on the East ( Europe – the Decline of the West waiting it’s future internment after suicide). Russia responded to the counterpunch and now has a fortified geographic border along it’s original SMO (the taking of Ukraine’s main defensive line) – which an attempt to overcome could only be attempted by a massive joint NATO/Ukraine effort – with no success guaranteed except escalation).
In addition Putin, reoriented and made a hard pivot to the East (this being advised to the Tsars a 150 yrs ago as the future of Russia (not Europe) . The current situation seems like an evolutionary process: Teutonic versus Orthodox, Europe civilization versus Asian Barbarism, Nazi versus Slav, , capitalism versus socialism ( as envisioned by the Trotsky & Lenin in 1917 ,Refer to: Volume 3, Appendix 2 ). Geopolitically, this means the US led Nato will now be poised against a cooperative Russia and China (drawing in all Western colonies wanting to shed their shackles) – cooperation now being the main word in Global Game Theory.
The US has to now consider – Taiwan – (China and Russia); the Ukraine – (Russia and China). Of course, all this will not happen tomorrow, but evidence of the trajectory is forming up. The events of the Donbass front are important for the individuals involved, but they are becoming minutia in the grand scheme of things. The key question now is if General Nuland doesn’t succeed in retaking the Crimea, lock, stock, & barrel, how is the US/NATO/Ukraine going to retreat. To put this into focus, What would be the outcome in a defensive war of attrition , (China & Russia) versus the (US & NATO). My bet is that the Russian Chief of Staff is three steps ahead in the game and playing their cards close to the chest.
This is an excellent thought experiment and it helps to rethink what is going on. Thank you!
John Van Krimpen says
Thank you for an interpretation of recent history. I guess we will know in 10 years or so when memoirs from the survivors are written and translated as to accuracy and astuteness in your logic based guesswork.
Crimea has never been in the negotiation mix from the Russian side, not that I have read and a target is a reasonable baseline assumptionfor Ukraine/NATO goals.
Rope a dope is bleeding Ukraine dry of manpower and ammunitions, let alone real hardware.
Paulo Guerra says
Basically this is a theory to try to fit everything that has happened since Feb 2021. But in relation to the NATO plan, there was no need to think. It’s the same since the end of the USSR or Woodrow Wlison. Take Russia and slice it up. And this time they even wrote it in the 2019 RAND report, the Pentagon’s main think tank. The two main objectives why the US provoked this proxy war was to disconnect Germany and Europe from Russian gas and to overthrow Putin to take Russia and its resources and also target China. In short, take Eurasia like Brezinsky’s dream! Because the US knew that the dollar, the hegemony and the unipolar world had their days numbered! Already at the tactical level the plan to overthrow Putin was through the disinformation campaign among Russians that still continues and through the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Russians. Ukraine, which complains of having been invaded and was invaded by NATO in 2014, in 2021 did not even wait for the Russians at the border. When Russia came in with that apparatus of “40 km train” device for peace, they immediately got into the bunkers! And Russia, instead of sending infantry, sent artillery, as Peski never forgets!
Russia never wanted war. That’s why RUS didn’t take Donbass right away in 2014 and force the Minsk accords. Because it was much more important to control Ukraine through Donbass in an eventual Federation! Of course, Crimea has always been one of NATO’s biggest provocations. That’s why Russia annexed the Sabastopol base right after the coup. Without firing a shot because Crimea has always been an autonomous region with 90% Russians. And that was the end of the NATO lake dream. And in 2021 when Zelensky again started talking about taking Crimea, Russia entered Ukraine and took Kherson and Zaporizhzhia to make Crimea safer! With the land and water bridge to Crimea. And the nuclear power station with the energy for Donbass too! Kiev most likely served two purposes, arresting ukrop troops and forcing negotiations. Taking Kiev with 40,000 men was not for sure! Russia never had men in Ukraine to cross the Dnieper. Not even now after the mobilization! All men to defend a front of 1000 km! And at the level of objectives in batlefield, since since the failure of the negotiations, Russia must be fulfilling more than 90%. Ukraine has yet to win. Kharkov was a race in territory with Russia on the way out! And the same in Kherson City. And the US managed to disconnect Germany from Russian gas. Until see.
Paulo Guerra says
All US wars since the Balkans only happened because of the weakening of Russia in the 90’s! All Russia’s allies as Wesley Clark said! The US has had a pathological relationship with Russia for over 100 years! With Russia strong, the US had never deployed the missiles in Poland and Romania nor had NATO approached the border with Russia. In Georgia and Ukraine. And the same with Iraq, Libya and Syria! The first war after the conflict in Georgia where Russia reacted seriously and defeated the US!
Paulo Guerra says
And this balance is good news for peace in the world! The USSR played this role for 50 years. The faithful of the balance!! Like it or not! Washington only respects those it fears!
S. Clark says
I enjoyed this essay very much and appreciate the thought put into it, especially of both sides strategy. I might recommend readers hear the latest interview Scott Ritter had with a Polish woman. Scott was very impassioned and denounced the Polish leadership. He called them fools who keep thinking Poland is now a major player, where it simply is now a US appendage. The woman had to interrupt to say this did not reflect the Polish people, just the leadership.
He had an impassioned but also thoughtful analysis of Putin, considering him one of Russia’s greatest leaders…like Peter and Catherine the Great.
MacGregor had a very solid view of the strategic situation, as always, and was especially stern about American society and leadership, how the country is wrecking itself staying into a war it can’t win and a world it is losing control of.
The only concern I have of Russia is I wish they would wrap this thing up. I think the longer this war goes on, the more the west will find some way…money from somewhere…to keep this up. I dread our leadership simply grabbing whatever wealth is left in our people and use it to fund the war. They simply won’t give up, like gamblers. if we starve or wind up under a bridge, it means nothing to them.
I wish we had these two men and Larry in charge instead of the gamblers. The complete nihilism of our leadership is a curse, but one we probably created.
With regard to the concern you mentioned in your comment, I would suggest that Russian, now realizing that they are in conflict not only with Ukraine but also with NATO, have decided to use the same strategy for both. By that I mean, the Russians are demilitarizing Ukraine (of both manpower and weaponry) with their stand-off barrage of artillery shelling, rocket fire, drone attacks, and now conventional air force bombing and at the same time draining NATO of their stockpiles of equipment and ammunition. In essence, while demilitarizing Ukraine, the RF are also weakening NATO’s ability to wage war everywhere in the world and have as a bonus demonstrated the West’s inability to sustain industrial warfare.
Brilliantly put together and highly plausible.
Two points not considered though: firstly, Russia went in with a smaller force than needed. If they had read the American trap correctly would they have had a bigger force and mobilised sooner?
Secondly, the Russians have been relatively gentle in proceeding with the SMO, certainly no shock ‘n awe American style. If they had perceived this to be a trap, would they not have gone in harder and faster?
Just asking. I’m not a military person.
Why not Harder & Faster? Because they are fighting their OWN!
Marc D says
Victoria Nuland’s comments during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing to examine U.S.-Russia policy at the U.S. Capitol on Dec. 7, 2021, fit well with this hypothesis.
“Russia has turned Crimea into a massive military installation…those are legitimate targets, Ukraine is hitting them, and we are supporting that,” Nuland told the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington.
“No matter what the Ukrainians decide about Crimea in terms of where they choose to fight, etcetera, Ukraine is not going to be safe unless Crimea is at a minimum demilitarised,” Showing Crimea was central to there plans, like the above article states. Excellent critical thinking.
Nuland does not really seem to identify as American, but she just loves American power and uses it to serve her own unstable needs. For her and the other power mongers like her who have infested high office and have recklessly sent young Americans far away to violent deaths and severe injuries, abusing American power is just a means to an end. She got the war she was pushing for all these years, so one would think that she would be happy now, but one would be wrong.
I think there is a political/cultural angle here to to the SMO. the sanctions were the main piece and it failed. this war was lost by nato in less than a month once the ruble stabilized. next, russia gets rid of its 5th columnists: oligarchs and entertainers that were western leaning have mostly fled. and finally, and most importantly, putin gets russia on his side. the russians see that this is existential, this conflict was about the dismemberment of russia. and with that demonstration the general mobilization went without a hitch. and the rest of the world is watching too. they saw what happened helped along with the boastful gaffes that revealed nato’s thinking. there is chess going on; maybe that’s russia. but this aspect was judo, and that’s putin
Skeptical Canuck says
Excellent article, and a very plausible scenario, I’d say.
For 1 thing, the US military was drooling over the potential acquisition of Sevastopol especially and Crimea from well before 2013.
There’s evidence referenced in this article of how they were already planning on renovating several building in Sevastopol for use by US mil.
So it’s very reasonable to surmise IMHO, that a main objective, of the Ukie buildup, would be a drive on Crimea. Using their massive escalation of bombardments of Donbass, in the 2 weeks or so prior to the start of Russia’s SMO, as a provocation to try to get Russia to mostly commit troops against the very heavy fortifications in DPR/LPR Ukie occupied zones.
Happily, the Ukia/Nato plans were all for naught. 🙂
I’m glad you were able to survive Battlestar Galactica! Give my regards to Caprica Six 🙂
Good article, btw.
Andrej Zupan says
The simplest possible explanation would be the The Art of War, chapter 2, where Sun Tsu writes about protracted war.
The dash toward Kiev was risky, but it also offered a chance to end war quickly. Therefore it was risk worth taking.
In Germany they say: After all tight, comes all off.
Meant are screws, but that also fits the policy, in this case the Western policy towards Russia. Russia has warned often enough, a fair but consistent bear. Therefore the US/UKR coalition is fucked up now.
This will have further consequences. Many countries see their chance to finally free themselves from the grip of the U.S. dollar and turn to a different system. Big problems ahead for the U.S. dollar.
And Ukraine? Who will pay for reconstruction? I think the US will have no money for this and also are not interested in. So the rest of the unkrainian people will sit on a garbage pile. How much of this will remain to Ukraine?
Maybe Russia will help – but only a country without guns and nazis.
May be just a theory, but it looks really sound to me. Well elaborated, and it takes all apparent factors into account. Lacking any other explanation, this is certainly an excellent one.
Don Lamb says
Excellent analysis and complexity agree with theory. I miss the Saker blog. Accept for Pepe. I didn’t like his writing. He has no discernment.
The Russians played it well despite everything thrown at them. But when the war ends what do you think about surrender terms like 4 regions will be lost to Russia from Ukraine but what about other cities like Kharkov Odesa dniper sumy do you think there will be referendums or Ukraine won’t accept it because Russia wants a final victory terms like Russia speaking people have to be protected
I think the war will end by autumn 2023
For my part, I add a 4th Objective to the Russian side, an important secondary one.
The dash towards Kiev offered an important trip to CHERNOBIL.
Mind you, Ukrainen officials, starting from their ambassador to Berlin (a certain “gentleman” called Melnik, who got famous for insulting the German leadership) in April, 2021 WERE BABBLING ABOUT UKRAINE GETTING NUCLEAR WEAPONS.
I would risk, that Russian intelligence about it was inconclusive, as well as over the biological “facilities” of Vicky Nuland, which certainly commanded action to be sure about them.
Given Boris Johnson’s obsession with Churchill, why would Johnson NOT want to capture Crimea and earn his place in the history books?
Johnson’s direct and personal intervention with Zelensky to prevent peace is now explained, as is the vile and disgusting role of the UK Government in fomenting war.
Vojkan M. says
Mostly agree about the Russian thinking, especially concerning the goal to ensure a deep rear for the defence of Crimea, mandating the swift take-over of the Zaporozhye oblast (Mariupol is in the Donetsk oblast so the need to liberate it was self-evident).
Not so sure about US/NATO thinking. It doesn’t explain why so much of the weapons and training that the West provided to Ukraine before the war were more adapted to urban guerrilla warfare than to full-fledged war between (near) peers. I think that Russia thwarted the West’s expectation by not committing itself to an Afghanistan-like effort.
It was always meant to be a war of attrition, except that the Russians decided that if it must be so then it would be on their terms rather than on the West’s.
Yes, I’ve always felt that the US wanted a full Russian invasion. Their air forces would be depleted badly, many casualties on the ground, and then would come a 10 year bloody insurgency. Russia would be burdened and go into decline. The US gets its goal. Now, the US is crippled and in decline. Russia took it’s time, no overcommitment, and let the enemy’s moral weakness fester. Eventually, they will submit, or be ignored, worst of all. Stalin sacrificed lives to win, but today, Russia fights with wiles.
Bobby Sands says
How do the Ukronazis seriously think they could take Crimea from Russia. They never fought for it in the first place nor colonised it by force. It was gifted to them by Kruschev for God knows what reason.
With the Russian Black Sea fleet based in Sevastopol the nazis would have been hammered by Russia’s navy.
Let’s suppose for a minute that there was no Russian navy or Russian army and air force bases in Crimea you can be sure that the native Russian population of Crimea would have quickly raised a peoples army to defend their lives and homes against the invading enemy.
For 30 years in the British occupied part of Ireland the IRA defended the Nationalist population of 600,000 people. They had 1500 Volunteers organised in individual Active Service Unit’s, 200 of whom were on active service at any one time. They were lightly armed with assault rifles handguns and RPG7’s. The ordinary people were their intelligence service. They managed to pin down up to 35,000 Brit regular troops including their so called “crack troops” the Paras, the SAS and the Royal Marine Commandos, along with 12,500 locally recruited paramilitary police (RUC) and a locally recruited militia numbering 8000 soldiers (UDR) not to mention 200+ MI6 agents. In the 1970s the brits estimated that the IRA could maintain it’s “campaign of violence” against british rule with the active support of only 3% of the population.
Imagine what the Russian population of Crimea could do to the occupying Ukrops with a population 10 times the size of the Irish Nationalists in the 6 counties and with unlimited assistance from Russia and her people.
It does appear Russia wanted to threaten Kiev. Whether or not this was a genuine threat, perhaps hoping Zelensky would flee, is up for debate. I do, however, want to point out the failure to seize the airport, which would have facilitated bringing troops and supplies in.
The NYT had an interesting story about a Ukrainian negotiator who was shot dead by his own side for being too sympathetic to the Russians. That article also mentioned that this individual was responsible for letting the Ukrainians know about the Russian plan to seize the airport.
I wonder how events would have played out if the Russians had successfully seized that airport.
Richard Whitney says
Re: the first two weeks.
I haven’t read your SubStack, but here are my two cents:
The SMO goal was the demilitarization and denazification of Ukraine. But you weren’t going to do that with the militia of Lugansk and Donetsk plus Wagner, if Ukraine could reinforce their eastern resources. You would have been overwhelmed early.
So you send a column in the direction of Kyev. Now, this column was for show, there were never the RF numbers to capture and control such a big city. However, you could count on everybody and their US/NATO advisors being convinced that you were intent on Kiev, and that is all you would need to keep Ukraine’s reinforcements in place.
Once that was accomplished, the process of realizing the SMO goals could breathe. Since then, the front line has been the denazi/demilitary zone.
Boxers use footwork and feints to set up their attacks. Boxing is not just throwing haymakers. Sun Tzu would appreciate the Dao of the RF strategy.
Hats off. Kudos. And a Bravo!
This is a quite cogent critical thinking based artical, or essay on strat-tac in a rapidly evolving war tech battle between nazi/satan and a whole lot of Christians who have no allisions their name is dead if they fail to defeat evil infesting Europe and Eurasia.
Snd providing the most common sense likely scrnerios of how events can go, I say this is a mighty fine piece. And also, hope Mr. Larry invites this author over more often. Besides there is a big whole in the alt-media since The Saker had to retire. (Hope GOD blesses him and his loved ones with peace and happiness, Saker certainly earned something nice for all his efforts, and this author sure looks to be filling that void, this piece is just great in every way) Bravo!
A very logical and credible analysis; thank you Larry for this. I don’t believe the Russians have made any critical mistakes in conducting this SMO—not even in the so called information war. Truth for Russian leadership has been the best path in the long run though many criticized it at first, complaining that the Russians were losing the information war.
I would only add one thing to Larry’s analysis which is this: By keeping their advancements along the line of conflict in the Donbass and in the South incremental, the Russians have contained the worst of the physical destruction of Ukraine to the towns and cities in the war zone. This I think was also part of the plan with an eye to the future and the rebuilding and revitalization of the country as a whole, though it will likely not be called “Ukraine” in the future.
My apologies to Gaius Baltar and Larry for confusing who had written this great article. My hat is off to Mr. Baltar and the astute analysis above. I think you’re spot on.
Thank you Mr. Baltar for this credible and logical analysis of the war to this point. All I would add is that I think the Russian strategy of incremental advancement in the Donbass and the South might also be part of the plan because it has limited, to some degree, the worst destruction of towns and cities to those along the line of conflict. Perhaps this path was taken with the idea in mind, on the part of Russian civilian leadership, that they planned to rebuild and revitalize the country once the conflict ends. Mariupol where rebuilding has already begun is an example of the Russian commitment to restore places the war has destroyed.
The Dolphin says
A most cogent analysis. I hope its essence can become more publically appreciated.
A very interesting thought game to be sure. I can follow the line of reason and I think it is valid. One factor NATO and the western crowd did not have on their screen was the Wagner PMC. If at all they were regarded as a crowd similar to Blackwater or whatever they call themselves nowadays. That they turned out to be so efficient and capable was I think a surprise. Thus the spin that they are all released convicts and mass murderers.
My worry is that when all is over Wagner could become a state in a state and try for a power grab. The gladiators in Rome tried that once, if my memory serves me well.
History Addict says
All that talk about Sevastopol ruling the Black Sea: yes, that is true, it does. But more importantly Sevastopol allows the Russian Navy using ordinary ships’ fuel to reach the Mediterranean and be able to threaten the shipping lanes from the Suez canal through the Mediterranean to Western Europe and beyond. All ships need fuel to move around, and there are not that many friendly ports for the Russians in the Mediterranean to refuel.
Threatening or protecting shipping in the Mediterranean is much more difficult if the Russian Navy has to operate from Murmansk (Northern Atlantic) or Kaliningrad/St.Petersburg (East Sea), let alone Vladivostok…..
Excellent analysis of the Russian SMO plan as well as NATO’s plan. This was not a case of “Plan A failed in taking of Kiev, time for a Plan B”. Rather it was Phase A, then Phase B. Phase A locked down Ukraine forces to enable establishing the land bridge to Crimea.
But I think there was another aspect to Phase A, that was give an opportunity to a possible Ukraine military revolt against the Deep State Nazi government. In any event it sparked negotiations that almost succeeded.
I believe Putin felt the above considerations were needed to be put in play with an eye toward mending the rift between the two Slavic peoples in the future.
Olivier Sauvage says
You theory matches quiet accurately the data at hand, to put it scientifically. It also tallies with various analyses I’ve come across in the first six months of the war. The Russians refused to attack head-on the strongholds of UAF in Donbas. Also, Kherson and Zapporizhia fell into Russian hands very early, easily and quickly, as most UAF troops surrendered or fled, as early as March. This last data point does not fit your theory though, or does it? It may be a UAF trick to lull Russia with an enhanced sense of security. At the time the hot points were Mariupol and Kiev. Many observers, non-Western of course, pointed out that the Kiev attack was to force UAF to divert forces to defend the capital thus weakening it elsewhere. Anyway, one doesn’t invade a city like Kiev with such a small force, that’s evident.
Nonetheless, I totally agree that Crimea is the key, the central point of the conflict, both for Russia and NATO. That’s not debatable: its loss by Russia means the death of the Russian navy and its influence in that part of the world, and may be Russia itself. Its gain by NATO means total control of the Black sea and the oil fields of the Caspian and a threat to Iran from the North, and most importantly, the sure death of the Chinese Silk Road in those parts of the world. It also means the fall of crucial countries like Kazakhstan. The geopolitical consequences would be enormous. It means at least the end of Russia as an influential giant.
Mike Hampton says
I’m with Larry Logic.
Tree is to leaf as flower is to petal.
Russia is to Crimea as buffer zone is to Kherson/Zaporizhzhia.
Putin isn’t stupid. His officers are experienced. Ukraine hasn’t taken Crimea. A buffer zone exists. Reality makes it less a thought exercise.
I pity the poor Ukrainians who are currently in the swamp on the Russian side of Dnieper River. In the immortal words of Pink Floyd, “Forward, the General cried from the rear.”
Are you Night Vision from The Saker Blog who used to make sitreps? Because your analysis and writing style really similar to him!
Nightvision writes on Substack under the pen name Simplicius The Thinker.
The military operation in Ukraine is only a small part of the total war. The total war comprises 1) political, 2)economic, 3) military, 4) technological, 5) cultural parts. Political and economic considerations are far more important than military considerations. If the sanctions had crippled the Russian economy, the Russian Federation would have been history.
Ever since the beginning of the conflict in 2014, it was the West that has been escalating. The fact that Putin refused to recognize the republics of Luhansk and Donetsk for 8 years to maintain Ukraine as a sovereign state effectively disproves the claim of Russian imperial ambitions. Likewise, the small size of the SMO would have a made a conquest of Ukraine impossible, again disproving Western accusations. The Russian reluctance clearly shows the aggressive intention of the West. That has helped Russia win the political and economic war outside the West.
Both militarily and economically the collective West is 20 to 30 times more powerful than Russia. The type of intervention chosen by the Russians in Ukraine was the only way for Russia to prevail against the West. I don’t know if Putin actually planned this or if it was just good luck. Anyways, it’s nothing short of genius.
A good example of the collective West being 20 to 30 times more powerful than Russia is luxury goods conglomerate LVMH on Monday became the first European company to ever surpass $500 billion in value, following a massive rise in sales.
Hopefully it won’t come to total war in the Ukraine with Ukraine forces, in lieu of artillery, missile and air power support, being flooded with the supply of Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior, Hennessey, Moët & Chandon, Givenchy, Princess Yachts, and TAG Heuer products.
Yes, another, longer essay, is needed to explain the insanity of our “elite” ruling-class clowns. This all smacks of the typical US/EU bureaucrat who truly has no concept of the possibility that they may be wrong about anything.
More importantly I think you touched on a keystone point – admission of failure or being wrong is essentially a suicide for them because it calls into question their very existence (which is predicated on never being wrong). I believe it is a feature of the under 50-yr olds who make up the majority of technocrats/bureaucrats in the EU/US foreign policy and military decision-making centers.
Excellent thought experiment, by the way!