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Russian Games: 120,000-140,000 Russian Troops on the Ukrainian border…


Ser Scot A Ellison
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33 minutes ago, Kalibuster said:

My suspicion is that Putin believes that the US  will back down from super scary sanctions because they'll hurt Europe and Biden doesn't want to do that too much right now, and they'll hurt Biden.

It's fairly counter-intuitive to think backing down from tough sanctions is the safe-ground for Biden politically.  The GOP will absolutely eviscerate him for being weak on Russia.  Of course they're gonna do that anyway, but it will be a much more compelling argument.

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20 minutes ago, DMC said:

It's fairly counter-intuitive to think backing down from tough sanctions is the safe-ground for Biden politically.  The GOP will absolutely eviscerate him for being weak on Russia.  Of course they're gonna do that anyway, but it will be a much more compelling argument.

The counter to that is that they'll eviscerate him for a global recession and getting us or Europe involved in a war. One of them might blow over by 2024, but the other? Not so much. 

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1 minute ago, Kalibuster said:

The counter to that is that they'll eviscerate him for a global recession and getting us or Europe involved in a war. One of them might blow over by 2024, but the other? Not so much. 

Imposing sanctions - especially if they're coordinated with the EU - is not "getting involved in a war."  And I think you're vastly overestimating the possibility such sanctions cause a global recession.  Obviously they will impact and at least temporarily destabilize the global economy, but global recession is a rather extreme outcome in terms of probability.

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Just now, DMC said:

Imposing sanctions - especially if they're coordinated with the EU - is not "getting involved in a war."  And I think you're vastly overestimating the possibility such sanctions cause a global recession.  Obviously they will impact and at least temporarily destabilize the global economy, but global recession is a rather extreme outcome in terms of probability.

Depends a lot on what Putin et al have said, honestly. If Putin has said that he'll treat sanctions as a step too far, especially if they're severe? Might pull us into a war. I don't personally know, but I do know that we are not acting as if Putin going to war with Ukraine is something we will not stand. 

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2 minutes ago, Kalibuster said:

Depends a lot on what Putin et al have said, honestly. If Putin has said that he'll treat sanctions as a step too far, especially if they're severe? Might pull us into a war.

I don't really follow how imposing sanctions - especially if they are imposed after Putin has already invaded - are supposed to enable Putin to "pull us into a war."

Anyway, my point is I think you're clearly misreading the domestic political scene.  Or at least how those inside the beltway view the current political landscape vis-a-vis Russia.  A lot of the right is already pushing for sanctions - as demonstrated by Cruz demanding a vote on sanctioning the pipeline.  In addition, once he was given that vote it emphasized even electorally vulnerable Democrats (Hassan, Warnock, Kelly, Cortez Masto, Rosen, Baldwin) are currently too scared to vote against sanctions in spite of the Biden administration's opposition (not to mention Menendez proposing a much smarter, and tougher, alternative sanctions bill).

More importantly, I don't need a poll to tell me that if Russia invades Ukraine the vast majority of Americans will be in favor - at least - of imposing tough sanctions.  That may wear off eventually, sure, but it's unlikely to before the midterms which is the immediate political concern.

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6 hours ago, Werthead said:

Reports now that Russia has moved large contingents of troops into Belarus for "joint exercises." Unclear if moving armed forces to that position is to dissuade European countries from getting involved or to join in any invasion of Ukraine. Obviously from Belarus they are not in a position to support any attempt to annex the east of the country and it's more likely they would be trying to launch a strike on Kiev.

Damn, they're really trying to mess with "Western" leaders and media (well, Western compared to Russia, this obviously includes Baltics and Poland). I suspect they're bluffing and trying to see who actually believes they plan to invade and annex most of Ukraine and want to force NATO and Ukraine to deploy even more troops around just to wear them down and increase the cost. It would help to have a leader who can pull out a cold calculating poker face, who wouldn't comment much and wouldn't make open moves, to let Russia in the dark and push them to do something more obvious.

Honestly, if I were to assume troops in Belarus were meant for war and invasion, I would wonder if they're meant to hit Lithuania rather than Ukraine.

As far as I know, troops have been withdrawn from Kazakhstan, that was just a very short involvement and as soon as situation was under control, Kazakh security, police and military forces took over.

6 hours ago, Werthead said:

the Russians may find invading the Ukrainian heartland where almost everyone hates them a very different proposition to sending troops across the border into broadly pro-Russian regions.

I can't believe that Putin is considering doing this. The internal political situation in the Kremlin must be much direr than anyone thought.

Yeah it would be totally stupid and bordering insanity. This failed so many times before, be it Afghanistan (USSR and US), Vietnam, Iraq, heck even Ukraine back in WW2, that I would be amazed if Putin actually tried it. Even what Wert said, a blitz raid to Kiev with full withdrawal after a few days / weeks would be bonkers and way too risky considering the current stakes (besides, Putin should realize that Russian military putting their own guys at the top in Ukraine is a sure way of creating open rebellion against the new regime). I just can't see Russia sending military to stay, outside of the mostly pro-Russia provinces.

5 hours ago, Ser Scot A Ellison said:

What if NATO provided air support but let the Ukrainians fight the ground war?

Would the US risk sending F-35 against Russia air defenses for a non-existential fight? If the brass is 100% sure that it'll be ok, maybe, but if there's any risk that some jets will be brought down, I doubt they would tempt fate. Better to keep using it against 2nd class enemies until there's no other choice.

 

For now though, we should be glad that China hasn't decided to put pressure on Taiwan. Having such a mess in both places with both China and Russia involved would basically force US/NATO/West to decide who to fully support in case of war and who to let down.

As for Russian military action, I could see them sending troops in the few rebel parts if Ukraine were to attack there, and I could see them bombing Ukrainian targets without sending troops or planes across the border, so technically no invasion nor incursion, rather the kind of operations the US frequently makes: artillery, missiles. If they can severely cripple Ukraine and Ukrainian military this way, it might be a show of force for Russia and a sign of impotence from Ukraine (no joining NATO after that) and to a lesser extent from the West, weakening NATO. But frankly I don't see what Putin intends to do, I'm unsure and puzzled, I can only see what he's not going to do if he can avoid it.

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Yup. By far the most likely overall outcome is Putin carving off the rebel-held regions as a fait accompli and using Russian air and missile power to hit Ukrainian military targets. Basically saying those regions are Russian now, fucking deal with it.

Anything beyond that is really out of character for Putin. Whilst he's certainly been uncooperative with the West and effectively a dick, he's always actioned rationally from his and from Russia's perspective. This situation feels very out of character for him.

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15 minutes ago, Werthead said:

Yup. By far the most likely overall outcome is Putin carving off the rebel-held regions as a fait accompli and using Russian air and missile power to hit Ukrainian military targets. Basically saying those regions are Russian now, fucking deal with it.

Anything beyond that is really out of character for Putin. Whilst he's certainly been uncooperative with the West and effectively a dick, he's always actioned rationally from his and from Russia's perspective. This situation feels very out of character for him.

Haven’t the Donbass provinces said they don’t want to be part of Russia?  They want to be an independent state allied with Russia?

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21 minutes ago, Werthead said:

Yup. By far the most likely overall outcome is Putin carving off the rebel-held regions as a fait accompli and using Russian air and missile power to hit Ukrainian military targets. Basically saying those regions are Russian now, fucking deal with it.

Anything beyond that is really out of character for Putin. Whilst he's certainly been uncooperative with the West and effectively a dick, he's always actioned rationally from his and from Russia's perspective. This situation feels very out of character for him.

Don't these smaller incursions still invite heavy sanctions though, or would the EU be less inclined to act (I think Biden will go as hard as he can even over a small event)?

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22 hours ago, kiko said:

Sorry for the double post, but I just remember that one of the triggers for Putin's aggressive behavior was the very successful deployment of the Turkish drones. Can't dig out the article maybe someone had heard of that?

From what I read, this did have an impact on Russian views.  There is certainly an argument that making Ukraine stronger would encourage Russia to invade (since it wants to stop Ukraine before it becomes too strong).  But at the same time, Russia may have already decided to invade, so giving Ukraine weapons is just giving Ukraine a better ability to defend itself.

I do wonder would the West give Ukraine a lot more weapons if war does start.  There doesn't seem to be any chance of a direct intervention.  But weapons?  I don't know enough about that.

It is very difficult to see a solution anyhow.  NATO membership is controversial but Ukraine could declare itself a neutral country (like Finland as during the Cold War) if Russia said it respected Ukraine's territorial integrity.  But Russia also doesn't want Ukraine to have closer ties to the EU.  And then you have the Donbass.  Hard to get a proper view of how people feel there, given it is occupied, but there obviously is a Russian affiliation.  And even if that was sorted via some sort of federal solution, you still have Crimea and you can't see Russia giving up on that.  But you can't see a Ukrainian President accept it has lost the territory either.

Putin seems to be taking the Littlefinger.  See what chaos does.

I  mentioned Armenia/Azerbaijan and Turkey before.  This link goes into it, with a more positive view of Russia's situation than I had previously read.

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-54903869

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Out of the box idea - what if we offered Russia to join NATO? Will it blow Putin's mind.

On a more serious note, say Ukraine never joins NATO but it does become stronger militarily. Why does Putin fear that? He won't be able to bully them anymore, but it's not like Ukraine is going to invade Russia. They would crush the rebels in the east and maybe demand Crimea's return, but that would simply return the borders to 2014. What economic gains has Russia made from annexing Crimea?

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32 minutes ago, Corvinus85 said:

Out of the box idea - what if we offered Russia to join NATO? Will it blow Putin's mind.

On a more serious note, say Ukraine never joins NATO but it does become stronger militarily. Why does Putin fear that? He won't be able to bully them anymore, but it's not like Ukraine is going to invade Russia. They would crush the rebels in the east and maybe demand Crimea's return, but that would simply return the borders to 2014. What economic gains has Russia made from annexing Crimea?

It’s geopolitical.  Russia’s only “warm water” naval base is Sevestopal in Crimea.  They were worried the Ukrainians might take the base or demand Russia leave.  

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14 minutes ago, Ser Scot A Ellison said:

It’s geopolitical.  Russia’s only “warm water” naval base is Sevestopal in Crimea.  They were worried the Ukrainians might take the base or demand Russia leave.  

So for a naval base they are started all this?

I guess they couldn't develop their largest port with a military base. smh https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Novorossiysk

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3 minutes ago, Corvinus85 said:

So for a naval base they are started all this?

I guess they couldn't develop their largest port with a military base. smh https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Novorossiysk

In part, yes.  Russians see Ukraine (Kiev in particular) as the heartland for their people and culture.  Russians are weird about Ukraine:

 

 

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28 minutes ago, Corvinus85 said:

So for a naval base they are started all this?

I guess they couldn't develop their largest port with a military base. smh https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Novorossiysk



It's an aside to all of this, but it's weird how the geography of it all makes the largest country in the world so unsuited to basically any shipping traffic. 

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7 minutes ago, polishgenius said:



It's an aside to all of this, but it's weird how the geography of it all makes the largest country in the world so unsuited to basically any shipping traffic. 

Tim Marshall’s series on Political Geography, Prisoners of GeographyThe Age of Walls, and The Power of Geography,is fascinating and goes into depth on these sorts of questions in particular Russia’s obsession with a buffer zone to the west.

Edited by Ser Scot A Ellison
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3 hours ago, polishgenius said:



It's an aside to all of this, but it's weird how the geography of it all makes the largest country in the world so unsuited to basically any shipping traffic. 

Russia historically, in whichever way it existed, often attempted, whether by siege or by plotting, to take Constantinople before Mehmet II and the Turks succeeded, and turned it into Istanbul. Then they attempted by plotting, particularly in the decades prior to WWI and after, to get hold of it.  They are still desperate to get direct access to the Med, which Russia's geography keeps from them.

It was an historical thrill, reading what John Quincy Adams had to say about this in his diaries, in connection to conversations he had with Czar Alexander, in their conversations strolling along the Neva.

Edited by Zorral
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