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Ukraine 20: We’re not bluffing and you can tell we aren’t by how we say we aren’t bluffing…


Ser Scot A Ellison
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3 hours ago, Relic said:

So, might be an unanswerable question but...how does this end? Assuming Ukraine makes zero concessions and Russia refuses to back down how can this be realistically de-escalated before Putin uses a tactical nuke?

It looks to me like Ukraine's posturing towards Crimea is at least in part designed to make the Russians fear that they could lose Crimea, but Ukraine has also indicated they would be prepared to go through a diplomatic peace process regarding Crimea succeeding to Russian control and being recognised by Ukraine (and then other countries). That seems to be the maximum concession Ukraine can really realistically offer and is really rooted in the demographic reality that the majority of the population of Crimea probably really do favour unification with Russia, which is not the case elsewhere, not even in the Donbas.

Putin doesn't really seem to be interested in that as a face-saving off-ramp, although other Russians probably would take that, or maybe some kind of other compromise (returning to February 23rd lines; claiming all of Luhansk Oblast and the currently-taken lines in Donetsk but abandoning everything else). By annexing the territory Putin has effectively created an impossible situation for both Ukraine and Russia: nobody, not even the Russians (bar possibly Putin), thinks it is at all reasonable for Ukraine to freely give up 20% of its territory, a large chunk of which the Russians do not occupy or are actively retreating from.

Even if Ukraine did agree to that, you'd probably have a situation where Ukraine was very quickly afterwards in both NATO and the EU and was very heavily armed and in a far militarily superior position on Russia's border to what it was in 2014 or February 2022, which I'm not sure is a viable situation for Putin either.

What doesn't help is that Putin is probably thinking he has been quite generous. Clearly the original plan was to take Odesa and cut off Ukraine from the sea, and that has now clearly passed, and he wanted to take Kharkiv Oblast as well and that possibility has passed, so in Putin's mind, he's probably thinking annexing four oblasts rather than six (or more) is already a generous compromise, which is clearly not what the Ukrainians think, especially given that they have had the strategic initiative for the past two months or so.

You also have the apparent growing certainty in NATO, possibly based on intelligence, that Putin will try to expand the conflict after any peace deal he makes with Ukraine, either invading another third country (Kazakhstan or Georgia) or invading a NATO member where he thinks he can score a big, quick win (in the Baltic States, for example), without waiting for Russia to rebuild its military properly, which at this point would probably take at least 10 and more likely 20 years (which Putin doesn't have, certainly in office and probably not at all), and it might be better to try to force a final confrontation now then wait for some situation in which Russia is even more desperate.

I suspect there's at least one stratagem that NATO and Ukraine think could work, which is constantly bleeding Russia in the conflict at least as much as they have already, leading to far more bodies going home and more discontent in Russia until that reaches a point where even Putin has to back down (which feels incredibly optimistic) or he is removed in some process. The problem is that there isn't enough evidence that that would happen in any kind of reasonable timeframe: we've seen apparently stable, not-at-war-at-all countries suddenly have a revolution out of nowhere and we've seen leaders lose massive wars in a humiliating manner and hang onto power for many years or decades afterwards (Hussein).

There is another possibility that Putin uses a tactical nuke deliberately to provoke a military response from NATO and he can then back down and use that as "proof" that Ukraine is owned by NATO and the west and uses that to rile up popular support in Russia internally whilst pulling troops out. He might regard "losing" to NATO interference as a defendable and survivable position whilst losing to the supposedly weaker and inferior Ukraine is not. That's a hell of a gamble though.

Edited by Werthead
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7 minutes ago, Tywin et al. said:

Long story short, Putin needs to take a long gaze through a hospital window on a very high floor...

With the caveat that some in Putin's circle who would be candidates to succeed him are even more hardline, reckless and dangerous. But there's also the possibility of some who are more hardline but also more realistic and know this is a busted play, and would look to negotiate their way out of the mess. The marketing of this as "Putin's war" is useful in that regard.

Of course, you also have the issue that as part of any peace deal, Russia would have to rescind its recognition of the annexed territory, which is going to be tough proposition.

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25 minutes ago, Werthead said:

With the caveat that some in Putin's circle who would be candidates to succeed him are even more hardline, reckless and dangerous. But there's also the possibility of some who are more hardline but also more realistic and know this is a busted play, and would look to negotiate their way out of the mess. The marketing of this as "Putin's war" is useful in that regard.

Of course, you also have the issue that as part of any peace deal, Russia would have to rescind its recognition of the annexed territory, which is going to be tough proposition.

One that seems almost impossible so long as shithead is in charge. It's hard to fathom how this can be resolved with him still acting as head of state, which to me means this situation will continue for a long time, even if it deescalates, and Ukraine and the surrounding countries will never feel safe so the West will have to continue arming them, only making the situation worse.

Fun times.

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14 minutes ago, Tywin et al. said:

One that seems almost impossible so long as shithead is in charge. It's hard to fathom how this can be resolved with him still acting as head of state, which to me means this situation will continue for a long time, even if it deescalates, and Ukraine and the surrounding countries will never feel safe so the West will have to continue arming them, only making the situation worse.

Fun times.

When you got on bear's back and ride you can't just dismount :P

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10 minutes ago, Matrim Fox Cauthon said:

There is also a Ukrainian breakthrough reported at Kupiansk, heading towards Mykolaivka. 

Yeah it sounds like their attempt to hold Lyman at all costs is working just as well as Hitlers directives in the Eastern front in 42/43. They exhausted themselves trying to hold but lost anyway leaving themselves little for the next line. And any time the UAF can neutralize a strong force and capture their equipment it just means more line held by useless conscripts. So now it’s very likely Svatova and Kreminna fall next. And most of that chunk of land will be liberated. This will isolate Lysychansk as well and I imagine within a week or two it will be encircled.

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1 hour ago, Arakasi said:

 

I've just read that on a section of 15km Ukrainians attacked with 2 brigades (10 batalions). The section was defended by only one Russian regiment, like 2 or 3 batalions. Ukrainians got already 25km deep, this looks really good :)

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At this point, I strongly suspect that Putin's attempt at a partial mobilization will lead directly to his downfall, a major shakeout among his top flunkies, and what amounts to a partial breakup of Russia itself as the remoter provinces withhold resources and seek to strike independent deals with their neighbors regardless of Moscows directives.

 

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1 hour ago, Arakasi said:

Yeah it sounds like their attempt to hold Lyman at all costs is working just as well as Hitlers directives in the Eastern front in 42/43. They exhausted themselves trying to hold but lost anyway leaving themselves little for the next line. And any time the UAF can neutralize a strong force and capture their equipment it just means more line held by useless conscripts. So now it’s very likely Svatova and Kreminna fall next. And most of that chunk of land will be liberated. This will isolate Lysychansk as well and I imagine within a week or two it will be encircled.

It seems the parallels with Germany in the East, in WWII are clear ones.  The Russians are holding a lot of territory, with nowhere near sufficient numbers, against an increasingly numerous and well-equipped opponent, who can strike at will with overwhelming force.

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1 hour ago, SeanF said:

Much as I'd like Putin to be heading for The Hague, it may make sense to offer him comfortable retirement, if he quits, in somewhere like Mar A Largo.

No need to trouble the Hague, I'm sure an improperly parked car somewhere needs attention. We can drop the good Comrade off in the same Assisted Living facility Bin Laden went to. I hear the staff are unimpeachable.

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2 hours ago, SeanF said:

Much as I'd like Putin to be heading for The Hague, it may make sense to offer him comfortable retirement, if he quits, in somewhere like Mar A Largo.

Putin won't accept it, because he's too much of a threat to whoever takes over. He'll be murdered shortly after losing power.

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48 minutes ago, Winterfell is Burning said:

Putin won't accept it, because he's too much of a threat to whoever takes over. He'll be murdered shortly after losing power.

He won't be murdered nor will he be a political threat if he is given a luxury prison sentence offshore. He deserves much worse but if it does save the planet from nuclear conflagration it might be worth exploring. 

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