Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
I assumed Bad Vlad would occupy the break-away provinces and perhaps a little deeper just to convince Ukraine not to try and retake them.  I knew he wanted a Dnieper Line, but I didn't expect him to go for the whole thing this time.  He has, and I now expect him to try and flatten Kiev because why would he want that on his border.  The question I've been turning over is why now, why the rush?  And I have to admit I blew it, I misinterpreted an important thread.  I knew he turns 70 this October, but I didn't trust reports of his failing health, first because they were all over the place, and second because they rang too much like the constant reports we used to get of Politburo members' health during the Cold War.  Now I'm certainly more inclined to believe there is a health issue, but I don't believe it's needed to explain the current affairs.  Sick or not, Putin can feel the sands running through the hour glass, and he has no succession plan.  Not even as much as Stalin had.  Stalin at least had the Politburo; Putin has been a one-man gang, and it's too late to put together an institution to allow an orderly transfer of power.  So he's going for all he can now.  That's why he's committed such a relatively small part of the army; he wants be able to pivot against other targets.  The West needs to understand this quickly.  Germany especially needs to understand this is not "just business".

And I'm not willing to give the western intel services credit for supposedly "getting it right" either.  Aside from their hand in creating this mess (MI6, CIA, and BND all recruited OUN elements including Bandera and Lebed to conduct anti-Soviet operations.), intelligence work is like maths in this respect: If you get the right answer for the wrong reason, you're still wrong.  20 years ago they gave us the wrong answer for the wrong reason, and we may never stop paying.  This time the analysis was no better.  The services just wanted to let slip the dogs of war and were willing to beat the drum to make it happen.  We still don't have an honest analysis of what is happening or why, which makes it difficult to make an intelligent and effective response.  It couldn't be working better for Putin if he had a latter-day Bill Haydon in place.

by rifek on Sat Feb 26th, 2022 at 02:27:12 AM EST
One point about the timing: Arming Ukraine had become a football to kick around in US politics. Under Obama it was still considered too provocative, but now we were at a point where not doing it was basically borderline treason. So if you want to drive to Kiev today is better than tomorrow.

As to what the Russians want to achieve, I guess the best case is they think they can do a repeat of Georgia, have Zelensky implement something very much like Minsk 2 with additional territorial losses and go home. Worst case they try to go for regime change, which would have to be backed by a substantial military occupation.
The thing is, can scenario one really work out long term for Russia? Georgia is far off, while Ukraine is bordered by NATO countries and being victimized by Russian aggression has basically been turned into the founding myth of, at least the western parts, of post Soviet Ukraine. Which is why I really didn't think the Russians would go for it. (with a side helping of US intelligence haven't been right about anything substantial in the last thirty years). But then, if the policy is really driven by Putin being an irredentist right wing crank we're definitely looking at much worse outcomes.

As to Western intelligence: I find it notable that Zelensky was complaining that no one told him anything and apparently the German intelligence chief had to leave Ukraine with the first wave of refugees while the anglo spook connected journos were confidently talking about an exact date for the invasion. Was there a Russian ultimatum to the US? Putin reportedly considers talking with the Europeans as a waste of time, an estimation that is famously shared by the US ("fuck the EU") so the Euros being out of the loop wouldn't be surprising.

by generic on Sat Feb 26th, 2022 at 01:05:29 PM EST
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30 years?  I would submit the Western intelligence services have been primarily motivated by budget since WWII and that their analyses and shite-stirring in nonaligned countries have not been aimed at informing their respective governments and carrying out those governments' policies but rather at compelling those governments to keep the services' gravy boats filled.

What do the Russians want?  Their empire back, and Putin considers it his destiny to get it.  It's interesting, though, that the face of Russian policy suddenly seems to have become Medvedev.  Whether Putin is grooming him to come back up the ladder or setting him up to be kicked off entirely remains to be seen.  What's also interesting is that Medvedev went straight to rattling the nuclear saber, which would indicate Russia is desperate to avoid a war of attrition, hot or cold.

Meanwhile, Germany finally woke up to the threat both of Russia directly and of most of its Ostis believing Russia is the victim here, and is shipping military aid and supporting cutting off Russian access to SWIFT.  That would reduce the ruble to bog paper.  In the US, the FCC, DHC, and DOJ are FINALLY investigating Russian control of communication companies, including media outlets and wireless and VoIP services.  RT seems to be the main target at the moment, but you can expect all the usual RethugliKKKon operators to be circling the wagons by Monday morning.

by rifek on Sat Feb 26th, 2022 at 08:52:41 PM EST
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Well, the Georgian scenario has already turned to rubble. The Russians did make attacks into Georgia outside the disputed territories, but they never tried to take Tbilssi.

I think Putin may well be sincere when he says he wants to negotiate with the Ukranian military, once they have deposed Zelenskiy. The idea being that Ukraine can occupy itself and the Russians go home. I can't see another end game : any mediation between crazy old man Putin and drug-addled nazi Zelenskiy seems like a long shot.

And if the army doesn't stage a coup, then the mounting death toll among Russian troops (no idea about the numbers) is going to damage the Russian social fabric, being blamed on Putin rather than on the Ukranians.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Sun Feb 27th, 2022 at 09:44:26 AM EST
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True enough, it's already much worse than Georgia. What made me scoff at the idea of a full scale invasion initially was that the Russians really don't seem to have assembled the numbers to occupy a country the size of Ukraine. So either the talk about a military coup is more than just bluffing, they got even more high on their own supply than the Americans when they attacked Iraq or they are willing to offer terms to the current government.
Hopefully it's the latter:
by generic on Sun Feb 27th, 2022 at 02:46:31 PM EST
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I would guess that he didn't want to commit more troops because he wants to maintain readiness for a NATO military riposte elsewhere (but we all know that he needn't have worried about that)

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Sun Feb 27th, 2022 at 03:24:58 PM EST
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