Why Putin Won’t Wage a Big War in Ukraine

Why Putin Won’t Wage a Big War in Ukraine. By Andrei Illarionov.

Russia’s months of military movements and Biden’s “strategic communications campaign” are psychological operations intended to intimidate Ukraine, Europe, and the rest of the world.

There won’t be a big war any time soon. The Kremlin’s low-cost, high-impact campaign might succeed if some Western leaders, especially in the United States, can help Putin. …

Last month, Joe Biden threatened devastating retaliation against Russia before making an exception for any “minor incursions” Moscow might make. Biden’s gaffe alarmed Ukrainians far more than anything Putin said or did. …

The Kremlin’s main goal is to intimidate Ukraine to surrender preemptively to Putin by agreeing to execute the Minsk Agreements of 2015. Ukraine considers the Minsk process a Trojan Horse that would end up exploding the country.

Moscow and Washington are trying to force the Ukrainian leaders to avoid would-be destruction from Putin’s incursion by agreeing to a Minsk “compromise” with relatively “small” losses. …

Sucked in

Why there won’t be a war:

In the foreseeable future there will be no large-scale war of Russia against Ukraine, let alone a European war or World War III.

It’s all a psychological campaign. How do we know?

  • Western services failed to see Russia’s preparation to attack Georgia in 2008 or occupy Crimea in 2014, or to attack Ukrainian positions near Ilovaisk and Debaltseve in 2014-15. … The U.S. intelligence community has a poor analytical track record. It failed to anticipate the Soviet collapse and the 9/11 attacks. It misinterpreted the intentions of Saddam Hussein in Iraq. It failed to foresee the aggressive rise of China. And then there’s Afghanistan.
  • Putin has made no attempts to conceal his troop movements over the past three months. To the contrary, he readied his earlier attacks on Georgia and Ukraine in secret. When Putin acts openly, he is not preparing a real attack. He is running psychological operations of bluff, blackmail, and intimidation. …
  • The greatest estimate of Russian troop strength concentrated near Ukraine has declined since September, from 200,000 … to 147,800 this month. Those 200,000 aroused no international alarm. …
  • Maps of the supposed, predicted hostilities in Western news outlets appear designed to create an emotional impact without hard factual bases. For example, a November 21, 2021 map published in the Military Times shows two Russian formations aimed at capturing the cities of Kyiv and Kharkiv. The map would have readers believe that Russia could capture or encircle cities of 1.5 million and 3 million people, respectively, with a combined 12,000 troops at most. This is laughable.
  • The 1943 Soviet offensives against Kharkiv required 980,000 troops, and Kyiv another 671,000. Plus occupation forces for large areas in the overall theaters of operations. Technology might have reduced the number of troops needed for an operation, but nowhere near the suggested scale.
  • Russia has an insufficient minimal troop size concentrated “near Ukraine” to defeat Ukrainian fighters and capture significant territory of the country. Those amount to 148,000 Russian troops and 32,000 pro-Russian separatists, or 180,000 soldiers. … Ukraine has 261,000 soldiers and officers, with an anticipated increase of 100,000, plus 200,000 in active reserve, plus 400,000 veterans of the war in Donbass. Ukraine’s civilian population is ready to fight for freedom and independence of their country.

I’ll bet Biden and Johnson claim credit for using threats and diplomacy to change Putin’s mind and avert a war. But really there were being used by Putin, who is actually trying to intimidate the Ukraine into giving up concessions (via the Minsk agreement).