Skip to main content

A Military Appreciation on Ukraine: Best Course of Action for Putin, Invade

A senior air warrior, graduate from the Staff College and a PG in military studies. He is qualified to write on war and allied matters.



I will start by giving a little bit of the background history of the present imbroglio in Europe. In the last 100 years, Europe has been the playground of dictators and saw through two world wars. At the end of the Second World War, Europe was gripped by what is called the 'cold war' between the western world and the USSR. In all these three catastrophic events the west, led by the United States triumphed.

The victory in the Cold War gives no credit to the western world and was mainly due to internal contradictions in the Soviet state which was not a cohesive entity. The west was however declining after the Korean War where they failed to win a decisive victory. Even earlier the Americans had suffered a bloody nose in China when their puppet general Chiang Kai Shek had to flee from the mainland to Formosa.

Traumatic defeats in Vietnam and loss of influence in Iraq and Iran added to the woes of the Americans. This was followed by the mother of all retreats and complete capitulation in Afghanistan after two decades of fighting. When the history of this period is written 200 years hence it will be noted that Afghanistan was the quagmire that sank the American military and state.

History is a cycle and the Russians who have produced great leaders earlier suddenly saw the rise of Vladimir Putin. This man was cast in the mold of Stalin and he has a one-point agenda to try and restore Russia to the old glory of the Soviet Union when it matched America brick for brick. Most probably this is too big an ambition and there is a distinct possibility he will not succeed. But that does not mean that America will remain the sole dominant power in the world. It is now being challenged by China and already the Americans have begun to look old and worn out.

The Soviet Union broke up into 15 countries and Ukraine was one of them. It must be understood that the Ukrainian people and Russians are of the same racial stock and Ukraine has been part of Russia for many decades. Putin is gambling on restoring Russian influence in Ukraine and that is the background to the present problem.


Courses of action

When I was doing my post-graduation in military science at the Staff College, a major part of the curriculum was sand model exercises. We not only discussed the various campaigns of the world but also the likely scenario of coming battles. The directing staff would inform us to examine all courses of action to solve a military problem and then select one which would be referred to as the best course of action. This is called a military appreciation and then reduce to paper with necessary maps and other attachments.

We have now understood the political compulsions of Putin who has now focussed on Ukraine in an effort to exert Russian influence and try and get Ukraine back into the Russian Fold. The Western powers have been brandishing NATO, which was signed in 1949 and includes most of Europe. It is a military alliance but there is one article namely article 5 which enjoins all countries of NATO to help any country which is under threat militarily or otherwise. This is all very well on paper but practically in the 21st-century, it's got no meaning. That is the reason that Donald Trump had referred to NATO as an obsolete alliance.

It is all very well to fight a war against an enemy. In Europe the only enemy of the west is Russia but it is a very formidable power with a potent nuclear arsenal and the latest missiles and gadgetry. The hard fact is that NATO cannot fight Russia for the simple reason that most of the countries of Europe are not united in fighting Russia. Two of the countries, Germany and France are very reluctant to take part in any action against Russia because they know the consequences. As far as the smaller countries are concerned they have no meaning and there is the danger that they will be wiped out from the world map. One can recollect the statement by Nikita Khrushchev who was the Prime Minister of the USSR when in 1961 at the height of tension, he had said that it would require just 5 Hydrogen bombs to wipe England of the World map.

.The point I'm trying to make is that the Western powers do not have the conventional ability to fight Russia and if they decide to go in for a nuclear option the chances are that they will suffer irreparable damage and the entire Europe will be destroyed. America will survive but then it will leave the field open to China.

Scroll to Continue

In my assessment apart from jingoism, the West is not going to fight Russia. If the Ukrainians are thinking that the Americans are going to risk their nation and its total destruction by fighting for Ukraine then they are sadly mistaken.

In such a scenario what is the best course of action for Putin? I have already outlined the courses of action and now we can come to what is the best course of action for Putin.


Best course of action

As things stand Russia has surrounded Ukraine from all sides with almost 120,000 troops including tanks, guns, and vehicles as well as nuclear-capable Tu 22 Swan bombers. Their nuclear forces are also on alert.

The Russian navy fleet has positioned itself off the Black Sea coast and Ukraine is encircled from all sides. I am not a warmonger and my job is basically just to give the military assessment. I've already pointed out that the Americans are not going to get into physical combat with Russia. This is the best time for Putin to attack Ukraine. Probably that is what Joe Biden wants otherwise the security guarantees which Russia has been asking for could have been easily given by the United States.

Ukrainian has an army of about 250,000 soldiers but they signed the death warrant in 1994 when they handed over all the nuclear missiles to Russia and signed the non-proliferation Treaty. Now Ukraine has no deterrent and against a superior Russian army, I do not think the battle will last for more than 7 to 10 days.

The best course for Putin is to try and win the war in 10 days and put a pro-Russia government in power in Ukraine. He must not try to incorporate Ukraine back into Russia which will happen on its own. After the installation of the pro-Russian government, he can withdraw the Russian army, which he should.

The United States has been threatening sanctions but if I remember correctly the sanctions have been in force for the last eight years and nothing has happened to Russia because it is a self-reliant economy. I do not think even the Nord pipeline which Joe Biden is threatening to shut will cripple Russia. Biden had tried to entice Qatar to fill in the gap but then Qatar is a great friend of Iran and nothing much is going to happen there.

The sanctions will not have the desired effect. Joe Biden and his friend Boris Johnson have cemented a Russian alliance with China. Joe Biden has brought these two countries together to form a military alliance the like of which the world has not seen.

I will now conclude and say that Joe Biden is the man who is going to lead America into an abyss of no return. I have not been able to understand his thinking and reasoning when he shifted his priorities from the South China Sea and Taiwan to Ukraine. He has created a Frankenstein which could have been easily avoided.

Further reading Brief -Center for Strategic and International Studies Global Conflict Tracker

Related Articles