Retired US Army General Mark Hertling wrote this clear and sobering Twitter thread about the likely strategy and tactics to be used in the upcoming battle in eastern Ukraine. Hertling was the commanding general of the Seventh Army in Europe and thus it was his job to be familiar with Russian army tactics. In particular, he says the use of tactical nuclear weapons is distinctly possible in this new phase of the war.
As repressive as it was, the old Soviet Union was actually led by a collective leadership centered on the Politburo. This article points out how Vladimir Putin has now built something radically different – a personal dictatorship where the old guardrails against recklessness no longer exist. If so, how far will Putin go in Ukraine to win his home front war?
Finally, this interview with a Russian-based pollster pours a bucket of cold water on the idea ordinary Russians will reject government propaganda and revolt because of the war. He found overwhelming support for the invasion, which is consistent with many interviews with ordinary Russians. When asked how reliable such polls are in an authoritarian state like Russia, he says his polls more accurately measure how people will behave. Russians have developed a culture during the Soviet era and now under Putin based on the importance of complying with the state and avoiding any open opposition. It will take decades for this type of compliance culture to fade.
As mentioned in my previous article, war changes the decision analytics of international relations by hardening the warring parties’ goals and attitudes to the point where the outcome becomes a matter of personal and national pride rather than strategic. Vladimir Putin’s recent speech recounted in this article is a frightening example. To him, the war in Ukraine is now a two-front war, the most critical to Putin being his war at home against Russian opposition and to establish his totalitarian rule. He now may believe he must win both wars to survive and so cannot accept anything other than Ukraine’s surrender or destruction. It also means that, to the extent Western sanctions threaten that survival, he will do whatever is necessary to weaken them. Even more dangerous days may be coming.
This interactive history of the Russian invasion prepared by the British Royal United Services Institute for the Financial Times newspaper an excellent history of the war up to now. As the final slide says, Russian forces have reached a culmination of a phase of the war that frankly has failed to achieve its original objectives. Based on the vicious siege of Mariupol, the second stage will follow the traditional Russian tactics of using artillery and aerial bombardment of cities to break the will of Ukrainians. The images will be even more horrendous before this is over.
It is hard to find anything amusing about this subject, but our friends to the north may have provided one. The Russian delegation to the United Nations had the audacity to circulate a proposed resolution urging the “parties” to the conflict to support humanitarian efforts in Ukraine. The Canadian delegation returned it with the attached comments and corrections to highlight its absurdity. If you’re a fan of dry British humor, you’ll enjoy it.
P.S. A copy was sent to all other UN delegations. The Ukrainian delegation responded with “Accept all changes”.
The series of bullet points in this article is a succinct summary of the causes and issues underlying the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Without excusing Russian aggression, it emphasizes the importance of ending the hostilities through a negotiated solution and points out why the crisis should spur Europe to take responsibility for its own defense.
UKRAINE – WHAT A NEGOTIATED SOLUTION WOULD LOOK LIKE
As this article points out, the Ukraine War will end when both sides agree to expressly recognize the facts that existed before the war. Those include not only the demonstrated inability of Russia to conquer Ukraine, but also its neutralization and the loss of the Crimea and the Donbas, subject to confirming plebiscites in those regions.
One comforting piece of news amongst the tragic wreckage of the #russianinvasion. The US and Russia have established a deconfliction hot line in Europe to avoid any accidental encounters between NATO and Russian militaries in the area of combat.