Streetwise Professor

November 12, 2014

Is the Next Invasion Coming in Ukraine? It Looks That Way

Filed under: Military,Politics,Russia — The Professor @ 2:54 pm

It is clear that things are heating up in Ukraine. Nato commander Breedlove stated that Russian troops and armor have moved into the Donbas. Even the blind OSCE has noticed their presence. There are nine battalion combat groups on the border. The intensity of combat between “rebels” and the Ukrainians is increasing. Ukraine has put its troops on alert, telling them to expect an assault.

I have predicted that the conscription cycle and the need to open a land route to Crimea would lead Putin to launch an attack soon. When the ground is reliably frozen, but before winter fully sets in, would be the optimal time. That would be very soon.

I think an attack is likely, especially since the west (Obama, Merkel, etc.) continue to avert their eyes and pretend like nothing is going on. “Leaders” who will not utter the word “invasion” even though that is clearly what has transpired obviously have no stomach for confrontation, and Putin is betting on that continuing.

I think it will proceed as follows. The “rebels” will be committed to attacks throughout Donbas to fix and attrit the Ukrainian forces. They will be cannon fodder. Once the Ukrainians are fixed in place, and their units become combat ineffective due to losses, or at least lose significant numbers of personnel and equipment, the Russian regulars will slice in to deliver the coup de grâce.

Then the castrati in western capitals will express concern, and have meetings, and end up doing nothing.

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  1. Credit where it’s due, you called this one weeks ago.

    Comment by Tim Newman — November 12, 2014 @ 3:19 pm

  2. If Putin bothers to notice, his currency and economy is collapsing: Maybe this invasion is also a diversion. is this rational behavior given crazy premi? GK Chesterton once commented that a madman was not someone who had lost his reason (logic) but someone who only had reason( Logic) left.

    Actually P’s decision making strikes me as a problem the old Industrial Engineers called sub optimization: each process or decision is optimal within its own sub process, but the process as a whole is a disaster. the issue is at what point do the Ukrainians go nuclear – that is not with weapons but blow t he pipelines, or will they do a Czechoslovakia? To what extent can or is the threat of irregular warfare and internal opposition on a scale that would make the Caucasus look petty so remote that it isn’t considered? If there is anyone who understands the free Ukraine and its capabilities as per the above out there, please let them speak.

    We Know where President O (panywaist?) and Merkel (pantyless?) stand, or rather lie. but what about the Poles and Balts?

    Comment by Sotos — November 12, 2014 @ 3:55 pm

  3. I’m sure you already noticed this, but last week Putin mounted a defence of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Non-aggression Pact. Among other things, he said “People say: ‘Ach, that’s bad.’ But what’s bad about that if the Soviet Union didn’t want to fight; what’s bad about it?””

    When I read that, I thought that Putin is sending a pretty broad hint to the West, especially the EU. Accept a de-facto partition of Ukraine, and we’ll say no more about it.

    To Russians, Hitler is the guy who broke the Non-aggression Pact. He could have had his share of Poland and the Baltics, and the USSR would even have supplied him with the oil and other raw materials he needed for his war in the West, but he broke the Pact, and we all know how it ended up.

    Comment by jon livesey — November 12, 2014 @ 4:41 pm

  4. @Sotos. IMO Putin is escalating and accelerating precisely because of a teetering economy and currency. Like a company/bank on the verge of insolvency, he has strong incentives to gamble for resurrection. Moreover, the foreign adventures are at least a temporary opiate for the domestic masses that can mask the pain and anxiety of economic troubles.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — November 12, 2014 @ 5:32 pm

  5. I say start shelling Rostov and then let’s see what this does to Putin’s support ratings in Russia. Obviously Ukraine will not do this because it gives the EU a pretext to backstab them overtly (as opposed to what the EU has been doing so far).

    Comment by aaa — November 12, 2014 @ 6:08 pm

  6. @aaa. The EU is much too delicate to backstab. They frontstab instead.

    EU and Obama sold Ukraine down the river months ago. Hell, I said in February, right before Yanuk took a powder, that Ukraine was on its own. Nothing has changed.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — November 12, 2014 @ 6:27 pm

  7. Good. Let Putin waste more of his increasingly worthless rubles, strengthen the resolve of Poland to rearm and not depend on Germany/France and force the Ukrainians elites to be serious. EU/NATO stepped into the Kosovo situation and a billion dollars of stolen money later corruption and incompetence is only marginally better than under the barbaric Serbs. Ukrainians need to get their shit together and do a Poland, or theyll end up like a Hungary.

    Comment by d — November 12, 2014 @ 11:47 pm

  8. I’m beginning to think I know what Churchill felt like in August of 1939.

    And you, SWP, must know how Cassandra felt.

    Comment by Blackshoe — November 13, 2014 @ 8:54 am

  9. @Blackshoe. Yup. To both.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — November 13, 2014 @ 9:48 am

  10. @d: again, the fear is that by driving his economy further and further into the hole, he becomes more dangerous, not less. As SWP said above, “he has strong incentives to gamble for resurrection.” While it might seem ludicrous to compare the nations of companies gambling money to countries gambling with hundreds of thousands of lives…but there’s good precedent. Imperial Japan knew in 1941 when they made the decision to go to war with the United States (which, as covered in the book “A War It Was Always Going to Lose”, by Jeffrey Record, was made before the US imposed the oil embargo) that they would probably lose it (especially the IJ Navy, who knew they couldn’t beat the US Navy).

    Yet they still did, because it became the only way for the Imperial Japanese system to try and survive (even if it had slim chances). Thus, Putin might end up doing something utterly insane because that’s the only way to keep the system he (and the people around him) know to keep it going, and they think it might work.

    And with Pravda talking about nukes…they scare me more everyday.

    Comment by Blackshoe — November 13, 2014 @ 3:19 pm

  11. Incremental decisions leading to disaster are hardly unknown: to what extent do you think O is even paying attention to this, or even Saint John (Kerry) the Supine?

    Comment by Sotos — November 13, 2014 @ 3:31 pm

  12. They are having trouble occupying two halves of two provinces, they are going to go from that to what, nuclear war? A regime infinitely more insane and unstable, North Korea, hasnt done the equivalent of that so why would Russia — especially after surviving two economic collapses even worse than what they currently face? Domestic repression is infinitely a less risky proposition, and since most Russians are servile peons they probably will welcome it by bringing certainty into their dreary lives. Russians are a threat to anyone who does business with them or anyone who is their neighbor but the culture of their politics always bring forward economic illiterates into power. There is why China is ascendant and Russia isnt, one culture is designed for world power the other one for low rent brigandage.

    Comment by d — November 13, 2014 @ 6:49 pm

  13. “d” Putler is not acting logical here, which makes him unpredictable. Also ruSSia is a psychotic culture. They hate themselves and they have to create an environment which brings on hate to them. That is success for them in their way of thinking. Westerners, particularly Americans are neurotic, they love themselves and expect everyone to love them. The American narccistic Nero wants to be loved, wants to be flexible. He like many today, loves to flex over and get it up the arse. But many other people are and will be getting it up the arse.

    A decadent successful society attacked by an aggressor from another century. It’s happened before.

    Comment by traveler — November 13, 2014 @ 7:48 pm

  14. “they are going to go from that to what, nuclear war? ”
    Actually…that’s what their doctrine calls for, yes.

    And that’s the thing-their doctrine understands the only way they can win major wars is with the use of nukes. They’ve probably been that way since the 1950s, but they’ve reinforced that view in the 1990s due to the atrophy of their conventional forces.

    Likeiwse, another key difference between the Norks and the Russians: as B. R. Myers will tell you, the Norks worldview and ideology is inherently insular and exclusionary-it’s about keeping foreign ideas out and keeping the Korean race pure, whereas Russia views its ideology as applicable for the entire world (at least in the sense it’s a counter to the West and the so-called WEIRD-values).

    Comment by Blackshoe — November 14, 2014 @ 8:02 am

  15. There are many, many reports documenting Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, including military blogs.

    Kyiv Post is a source of English speakers:

    as is Radio Free Europe:

    Here is an 8-minute video about life in one of the Ukrainian army camps (not in English, but pictures are still worth a lot):

    “one day with the Ukrainian Anti-Terrorist Operation”

    Also this report – including the increase in abandoned dogs:

    Crimea is a shambles.

    In the 2 sections of Luhansk and Donetsk provinces, the Russians and the pro-Russians have essentially laid waste to the area – deliberately so.

    The Russians have noted with glee that after blowing up the coal mines in Ukraine, Ukraine will have to buy coal from Russia for its power plants, etc.

    The motto of the Kremlinoids is:

    “I want to see my neighbor’s barn burn down.”

    And they will do everything they can to make it so.

    Comment by elmer — November 14, 2014 @ 9:25 am

  16. Blackshoe, ‘doctrine calls for’?As long as Russia is fighting a self proclaimed stealth war it cant very well also claim that its engaging in a defensive war against NATO. The idea that the insane North Koreans are less willing to be insane than Russia — as is your strange claim that Russia is promoting some kind of world wide ideology instead of being merely a clique of scared old men trying to hang onto what they stole — could be possible of course but you should take care that your priors arent affecting your ability to examine the situation.
    Russians blowing up coalmines in Ukraine is also a long term net positive for Ukraine — oligarch controlled Eastern Ukraine’s heavy industries have been subsidized by the central government for too long. Even now, the Ukrainian state, captured by corruption, is handing over half a billion in hard currency to Eastern, Russia linked oligarchs for no apparent reason. Coal and steel are both in a secular decline, Ukraine’s future lies in purging traitors and corruption and luring German factories to a country whose labor costs are 1/4th of Slovakia’s. Or if they dont purge the traitors — and this is the second go around that they’ve tried to ‘reform’ since everyone seems to have forgotten how badly they fucked up in 2005 then whats the difference between one corrupt state taking over another corrupt state?

    Comment by d — November 14, 2014 @ 12:06 pm

  17. “As long as Russia is fighting a self proclaimed stealth war it cant very well also claim that its engaging in a defensive war against NATO.”
    Oh, sure it can-and has since at least 2012 or so. Remember, everything going on in Ukraine is merely an effort by the Western backed Neo-Nazi junta according to the Russians, and everything since 2007 (or 1991, depending on how far back you want to go) has been about Russia fighting back the imperialist West (and West is almost always a stand-in for “NATO”). It’s all a battlefield in the same war (as was Georgia). See also their current war on information

    “as is your strange claim that Russia is promoting some kind of world wide ideology instead of being merely a clique of scared old men trying to hang onto what they stole”

    I take it you’re unfamiliar with the Eurasianist philosophy:

    You yourself have said that Putin’s misadventures are only burning through rubles he doesn’t have, something I fully agree with. Here’s the problem: what do you think VVP does on that day when the bank account goes empty and he has to face the reckoning? Do you think he complies with the West and gives in? That’s completely out of character of what we’ve seen so far. It’s possible he gets deposed and someone more sensible takes over…but I don’t see that happening anymore. First off, who is that more sensible person? Medvedev is the most likely choice for sensibility, but I don’t think he has any power anymore (if he ever did). Instead, a coup would be just as likely to put Sechin or Rogozin in, who would be even more irrational. All of which adds up to Russia being more dangerous as they get closer to the brink, not less.

    So what do you see happening when the gig is up?

    Comment by Blackshoe — November 16, 2014 @ 10:23 pm

  18. […] As I wrote in November, an attack along the coast to open up a route to Crimea would be an obvious m…. As for those (including some former military) who claim that major offensive operations would be postponed to the spring, I say: Huh? Winter warfare is a Russian specialty, and even a passing familiarity with the history of campaigns in Russia (Napoleon’s, WWI, and WWII) shows that it is spring (and fall) mud that is a far greater impediment to military operations than cold and snow. The notorious “raputitsa” that follows the snow melt (or fall rains) causes movement to grind to a halt until the fields and roads dry. […]

    Pingback by Streetwise Professor » The World in Flames: Another Low, Dishonest Decade — January 26, 2015 @ 10:12 pm

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