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Battle in Ukraine: How Will Putin React

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.

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Background

Over 6 months back Vladimir Putin launched the invasion of Ukraine. He felt that Russia was suffering from an existentialist crisis and that Ukrainian president Zelenskii was playing into the hands of the Americans, to become the frontline state against Russia.

The Russians sought a regime change and launched an invasion to capture Kyiv and Kharkiv. They failed, withdrew, and launched an invasion of the pro-Russian Donbas region. Here they had some success. This was phase 2 of the offensive. They have captured about 20% of Ukrainian territory in its entirety.

However, the war seems to have taken a turn for the worse for Russia as in a counter-offensive the Ukrainian army was able to recapture about 3-4 hundred square miles around Kharkiv. They are also attacking the Eastern region and have made some minimal gains. Russia has been pushed back and the question arises, has the Russian army been defeated?


The war and the result

This question merits an answer because some weird sites are propagating a lot of news like Russian soldiers shooting the generals and Russian soldiers shooting each other and running away. There's no end to the videos which are coming out, but are they true?

We have to accept that Vladimir Putin planned this invasion in a very haphazard manner. Observers have noted that he did not spend time burning the midnight oil to plan this Invasion. When you plan an invasion, you plan to the minutest detail which neither he nor his generals did. They took everything lightly and treated the attack as a limited Military operation.

There's nothing like a Limited Military Engagement; either you are at war or you are not at war. it doesn't mean that you just say limited engagement. This is not the way a war is fought. War is a war and has to be given full attention. The aims of the Russians were very clear; they wanted a change of regime, and they wanted to ensure that Zelinski doesn't join Nato nor become a member of the EU.

Putin wanted to ensure that Ukraine doesn't become a front-line state against Russia. Most of these aims are achieved but Putin wanted a regime change and that has not happened. This was because the Ukrainian people were aroused by Zerlenskii and he had backup cover in the form of weapons supply from Joe Biden and Boris Johnson. Without the help of Boris Johnson and Biden, the Ukrainians would not have been able to hold on to the Russians.

Another reason Ukraine could hold out was that the Russians committed only a small part of the army in the battle against the Ukrainians. This was a major flaw as the old saying a winner takes all is true and by not committing his full force Putin gave a lifeline to Zelenskii.

Putin has had his failure but what happens next? are the Ukrainians going to liberate the entire Donbas region and Crimea? I don't think so.

The Ukrainian army has won a tactical victory but not a total Victory. I don't think Russia is going to give up, though they are under pressure from China to have a solution. The Indian Prime Minister Modi has also been talking of a peaceful solution through negations.

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What is a negotiated solution? It means a solution in which there's a give and take. In this case, the Russian demand is very clear. They feel a threat to their existence. This is the issue and there can be no negotiation on that, so who's going to guarantee what the Russians want?

In 1993, Boris Yeltsin when he was the president applied for membership in NATO, when Bill Clinton was President. The USA didn't accept Russian entry into NATO, because they knew that they were going to create an enemy so that their hegemony over Europe continues.

The war has divided the European nations who are in trouble, They don't know what to do. The French are sitting on the fence while the Germans would like to defeat the Russians but then there's so much dependent on Russian oil and gas they don't know what to do. The other countries don't matter.

I don't know whether the countries of 3urope have realized that they have mortgaged their Independence to the Americans and they think that America is going to come and help them at a critical stage.

America is not going to come and help especially after their defeat in Afghanistan. At the same time, they will supply weapons and urge the nations like Ukraine to fight the Russians. A corollary to this is the small countries of Europe are cheering that Zelinsky is winning. This is easier said than done. The fact is that though Ukraine had taken some territory as advanced the war is not over. Zelenski has rosy dreams but the Ukrainians are not going to be able to push the Russians out of the Donbas region or take Crimea.


What next

The Russians are going to regroup and if they regroup and plan the assault properly they can still turn the tide. It's a question of the prestige of Vladimir Putin and I've been observing in the last conference in Central Asia which he attended with eight countries Putin has lost his Elan, the bombastic way he walked around and talked. He appeared more amenable, more mellowed maybe because he realized that after six months of fighting he had not achieved what he had expected.

The war is not over and it's not over till both the countries negotiate peace well I'll wait and see what happens. Ukraine has the upper hand but that doesn't mean they won the war and as far. as Putin is concerned he has not lost war though his army is demoralized.

Putin has no choice but to escalate and bomb the Ukrainians. I don't see any other way. If he fails Russia as a global power will be finished so it's Hobson's choice for him. He has to do something drastic. I have had a lurking feeling for a long time that in case Putin is pushed to the brink he might use a tactical Nuclear device or maybe engineer a nuclear blast in one of the nuclear plants in Ukraine. In that case, I'm afraid Ukraine's Goose would be cooked.

The Russians are on the back foot and miscalculated and didn't assess the enemy properly. Despite some small successes the Ukrainians have not won nor rolled to the Russian border.

Putin has to do something better now. He is thinking that he would be in the mold of Joseph Stalin, but he's not a patch on that great man.

I hope peace will come but I do not see peace coming until the core demand of the Russians is accepted. The Americans are not going to accept and they will not let Ukraine accept. Let's see what happens. But with winter coming I think the EU is going to accept that the Donbas region will remain with Russia and a solution will be hammered out this winter. Let's wait and see.


© 2022 MG Singh emge

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