Russian military in the Ukraine war.

Strictly speaking, Vladimir Putin had only two options after the collapse of the Kharkov front and the continued partisan attacks on Kherson and Melitopol. One was the partial withdrawal of troops, at least from the southern territories, as a goodwill gesture in the face of a possible negotiation that would give legal status to the territories annexed in 2014. The other was the announcement of a mobilization more or less of the Russian population to try to turn around the military dynamics on the different fronts. Although we all hoped that he would decide on the former, no one will have been surprised to hear the latter.

If we put aside the paraphernalia, that is, the umpteenth threat of the use of nuclear weapons, which must be understood more as an internal message for its own population than as a real threat to the West – if you plan to attack with nuclear weapons, the last thing you can think of is to announce it on television, Putin’s decision seems to lead us to a very long war because, contrary to what many Kremlin enthusiasts might think, it seems that both the announcement of new troops and the recognition of the referendums that are going to be held this week and the next in Donetsk, Lugansk , Kherson and Zaporizhia, point to a new stage in which Russia is going to defend itself more than it is going to attack.

Send hundreds of thousands of recruits without training – some, because they don’t have it; others, because they have just finished their military service, and the rest because they fought in wars that are nothing like this one- to lead is to condemn the majority to death. In that sense, it will take a while for Russia to have new battalions that are well prepared, well armed, effective, and have sufficient morale and courage to undertake near-suicidal missions. Let us remember that we are no longer talking about professionals or volunteers, we are talking about people of military age who, against their will, are sent to the front.

[Estos son los 300.000 reservistas que Putin envía a la guerra: menores de 35 años y bajo pena de prisión]

During that time, the normal thing is that Ukraine – which can also continue to send hundreds of thousands of men to the front, with the difference that its general mobilization has already lasted seven months and a good part of the training is carried out by NATO experts – keep up the initiative. You would do well to exploit any weakness in the midst of the disorganization expected in the Russian army in the coming weeks because later, you have to admit, it’s going to be complicated.

The improvised army

What exactly does Putin intend with this partial mobilization? We do not know. The adage We’ve heard it a thousand times: “Liberate Donbas from Nazi repression”. Very well. Now it only remains for them to explain to us what they are doing then in Kherson and Zaporizhia and why they also want to liberate them from the Nazis that, apparently, are not in Kharkiv, from where, according to their narrative, they have “strategically withdrawn” in recent weeks. It is all such nonsense that it is difficult to find a coherence.

Russian military in the Ukraine war.

Europe Press

Let’s not try. What Putin is doing by sending these 300,000 troops – the number has been given by his defense minister, Sergei Shoigu, so it is probably false – is buying time. If it turns out that, for whatever reason, things are going well and they are able to reconquer what was lost in Kharkov, complete the invasion of Donetsk and at least take Zaporizhia before declaring its annexation, great. Now, he probably knows himself that his escalation is going to cause an escalation on the other side. That the United States and NATO will send more and more precise weapons. That a February 24-style offensive is now completely out of his reach.

That said, Putin’s alternative is a defensive one: in reality, those Russians are going to serve as the makeshift army of the annexed provinces. They will be a retaining wall. In itself, this may sound like little, but it is not: Russia was at serious risk of losing everything it had gained in 2014 if the dynamics of the war continued along the same path.. By overpopulating the front, in principle, it guarantees a better defense of what has already been conquered. Ukraine has enough men to defend itself effectively, but not enough to launch a new counteroffensive against such a large army. The price to pay would be very expensive.

If Putin is serious about this, and he seems to be, he has months of red tape ahead of him. It is not just a matter of militarily defending a territory but of organizing it. Right now, that organization, between the missiles that fall and the acts of sabotage, is impossible. Another thing is how much money it is going to cost Russia to sustain four new provinces, rebuild them from the rubble and keep those three hundred thousand men there defending the territory. One thing is that the Russian economy has not collapsed and quite another, that it is in excess.

China does not want to continue paying

In this sense, China’s immediate response asking both parties for a negotiation that ends the conflict as soon as possible is striking. It is clear that in Beijing they will continue to side with Putin in his crusade against the West… but it is also clear that they are beginning to get a little fed up with paying his bills. When we talk about China, we are talking about a country with its own territorial conflicts and with a zero Covid policy, unique among large economies, which is putting the country on the verge of recession. Nobody cares if the war continues. To China, even less.

In principle, Putin should not be too excited either, but he is proud of it and that is no small thing when talking about an egomaniac. Enough to destroy the world because they won’t let him keep Lisichansk? I don’t think so. Enough to continue playing red and doubling the bets just to show that he never loses? That can be. However, any such decision has its risks:Partial mobilization will generate deep unease in the Russian population, in all its layers. First, because many will get rid of it because of who they are and that will generate an enormous, more or less buried, rage. Second, because those who are not free go to something similar to certain death. Third, because we return to the economic issue: three hundred thousand people will leave their jobs to serve the army.

All together leaves a dangerous breeding ground. It is always thought that nothing can be done against dictators, until suddenly they fall. Few die peacefully in bed. Neither Gaddafi nor Mubarak expected to be overthrown in the early 2010s; neither did the ayatollahs expect the current protests in Iran. Repression works until it stops working. Until the army itself feels that its future is in danger, that its companions die gratuitously and that, instead of going back to the times of imperial Russia, the Kremlin is humiliating the country in the face of foreign. That’s when things change. One day to another. If this is not the last letter from Putin, it certainly seems so.

Russia-Ukraine War

Source: Elespanol

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J. A. Allen

Author, blogger, freelance writer. Hater of spiders. Drinker of wine. Mother of hellions.

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