Why it’s better than a 50-50 chance that Russia will attack Ukraine this winter
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The director of the Ukrainian defense agency predicts that Russian forces, now amassed with hundreds of heavy combat vehicles parked near the Russian-Ukrainian border, will attack by late January or early February 2022, according to the Military Times.
The only question is when and that decision boils down to the Russian President’s calculation of what President Joe Biden and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization might do in response.
Russian President Vladimir Putin took a measure of Biden and found him weak. In addition, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s recent trip to Ukraine has rekindled calls for the Kyiv government to join NATO, something Putin swears never will happen.
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To end Kiev’s scramble for NATO membership, Putin is preparing his forces to attack this winter. This assault is likely to involve air strikes, artillery and armored formations assisted by deep penetration inside Ukraine by airborne forces and amphibious assaults at critical ports of Odessa and Mariupul.
But first anticipate a feint from Belarus to Poland to distract NATO’s attention from Ukraine accompanied by a few blows of a nuclear saber in the Baltic region.
Earlier this fall, Russia’s full-scale Zapad 21 military exercise in Belarus was a repeat of the possible upcoming Ukrainian invasion. This exercise dropped 3,500 airborne soldiers with special operators, a strategic step necessary to soften the enemy’s rear zone to ensure the success of massive armored formations crossing the international border.
Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov admitted that the timing of any invasion was not clear and that Putin had not yet decided, but it is clear that the Russians are rapidly building their capacities to do so. They have significant forces, including tens of thousands of reservists called up in recent months, weapon platforms including Iskandar short-range ballistic missile systems and other long-range weapons in the border region of the Ukraine. An important satellite imagery accessible to the public testifies to these massed Russian forces and their offensive equipment.
Biden is weak in Putin’s eyes, and we can thank the sad fiasco of the US military withdrawal from Afghanistan for fueling Russian thinking.
Of course, any attack will likely follow the scenario seen with Moscow’s 2008 invasion of the Republic of Georgia and after the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, when Russian forces captured Crimea and sparked the insurgency in course in eastern Ukraine. Each of these advances began with the launch by Russian forces of a series of psychological operations and cyber attacks. A similar scenario is already underway across Ukraine.
Ukrainian intelligence chief Brigadier. General Kyrylo Budanov admitted “They [the Russians] want to foment unrest, through demonstrations and meetings, which show that the people are against the government “, an obvious justification (create a pretext) for” Mother Russia “to rush to the aid of her old satellite as she does. made in the Republic of Georgia and the Crimea.
Budanov identified a recent example of Russian-created unrest in Ukraine. He pointed to anti-Ukrainian sentiment created by Russia and attributed to the incident labeled “Wagnergate”, a controversy involving dozens of Russian mercenaries hired by a Russian oligarch friend of Putin responsible for attacks inside. Ukraine. It should be noted that we have seen the Wagner group do Putin’s auctions in Syria, in several African countries and even elsewhere in Eastern Europe.
Will Putin attack Ukraine this winter? I give it a better chance than 50-50. Why? Biden is weak in Putin’s eyes, and we can thank the sad fiasco of the US military withdrawal from Afghanistan for fueling Russian thinking.
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Additionally, now is the time for a foreign distraction as Biden is unpopular at home, he has many domestic challenges, and a pesky Congressional election in November 2022 that could result in the loss of his party in the Senate and House of Representatives. In addition, Putin sees that his ally Chinese President Xi Jinping has a similar view on Biden’s weakness, which explains China’s military build-up across the Taiwan Strait and the possible upcoming demolition of democratic Taiwan.
Clearly, domestic and geopolitical challenges are piling up for the Biden administration, a real test of its fortitude in foreign policy. I have serious doubts that Biden and his administration will be up to the task of discouraging Putin and Xi from taking bold steps to reclaim the land they have long claimed as their own.
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