Revealing move that he aims to use to choke the life out of Independent Ukrainian State.
Tactics of rebel state recognition point to slow but firm decapitation
The evacuation of Donbass residents at the week-end points to tangible proof as to Putin’s course of action.
The forced relocation of women, children and elderly from the self-proclaimed republics of Luhgansk and Donetsk over the weekend is the first indication of where and how Putin will use his military forces.
First published 21/02 /22
On the one hand evacuating civilians out of harm’s way has lessened the opportunity to falsely accuse Ukrainian forces of targeting civilians in the disputed areas, once they are out of the way.
However there is still a chance a bus or train may be victim of Putin’s cynical covert operations, to provide him with Casus Belli to put Russian troops onto the offensive.
After all this is a man at the head of a regime that has plausibly been accused of murdering up to 300 of his own citizens in order to give Putin the reason to re-invade Chechnya.
The accusation came in the form of a book ‘Blowing up Russia’ written by Alexander Livtenenko.
The revelation cost the latter- a former FSB agent- his life following his poisoning at a London Hotel.
Such an operation could legitimately put his regular troops into a region already controlled by his proxy rebel army primarily under the pretext of peace keeping operations.
The evacuees from the separatist regions are receiving 114 Euros compensation to leave and resettle some thousands of miles from the Donbass in the far flung territories of Russia,
That is Hardly a fortune, but with the evacuees numbering up to 750,000 that amounts to a lot money
So would Putin spend upwards of just under 100 million on such an operation if he did not have clear intent to deploy in the Donbass? I don’t think so.
We therefore have a clearer indication of what path he is likely to pursue once he has put Russian troops on Donbass soil.
I envisage he will ultimately annexe the regions and place them under direct Russian control rather than the haphazard control of Dennis Pushilin and his separatist junta.
Once Russian troops are in position of a new front line they are eyeball to eyeball with Ukrainian troops who have been involved in eight years of sporadic fighting with the separatists and no doubt some under cover Russian forces assisting them.
As I write Putin has indeed announced 18 00 GMT 21 /02/22 following a National Security Council meeting, that the two self-proclaimed breakaway republics of Luhansk and Donetsk will receive recognition official from Russia.
This contravenes international law This territory was hitherto a legitimate uncontestable part of Ukraine de Jure and de facto.
However Russia’s unilateral action will be no less compared with the separation of Kosovo from Serbia and the subsequent recognition of Kosovo as a sovereign independent state. By Western states.
Putin has been careful not to annexe the territory he doesn’t need to, but if the “governments “ of the newly recognised “states” ask for assistance from outside aggression this makes it so much easier for him to send troops and material and have them based openly and permanently in the Donbass on the frontline.
If there are future artillery exchanges or other incidents of conflict with the Ukrainian Military, it will quite ordinarily involve regular Russian forces.
This now means Putin can manoeuvre his troops into the line of fire providing the perfect excuse for further incursions deeper into Ukrainian territory.
Looking at the map of the southern Donbass any logical future expansion will be towards Mariupol and beyond creating a Southern corridor to link up with the Crimean Peninsula,
He doesn’t need to do this straight away, it could wait until he has all his pieces in place, then he can embark on the next stage of the dismantling of Ukraine as a viable state.
What is emerging is a strategy of “death by a thousand cuts” as opposed to a ‘Lightening War’
Strangling the Ukrainian state by first cutting it off from its vast coal and steel making area, followed by its access to the sea.
If following the creation of a southern corridor to the Crimea the next target will surely be the great port city of Odessa. Russian occupation would make Ukraine a land locked country without either access to the sea or the rump of its industrial and mineral resources.
It would force Ukraine into a reliance on Russia to provide access to what was once theirs and or a dependence on overland routes for it’s exports and imports.
This slow incremental turning of the screw will lead to the diminishing of Ukraine’s economy and possibly the ability of the state to prosper and function efficiently.
It may well struggle to pay for its infrastructure upkeep let alone modernisation.
It will force commerce and government more towards Russia than the EU and more likely the Ukrainian government will increasingly have to supplicate with Russia.
Russia in turn will dictate who pulls the strings in Ukraine until such time as the only politicians and business people that can make the state function are approved by Russia.
This is the way I envisage Putin will take back Ukraine I doubt there will be an all-out multi front assault on the country, just a slow but efficient death inducing squeeze that brings Ukraine to her knees,
So whatever pathetic answer the West has in response to Putin’s aggression it should implement them now and get in as many special forces trainers and reconnaissance agents while it still can, to promulgate any future resistance that will make Putin pay a high price for future occupation of the country.
The problem for anybody hopeful for an Afghan style insurgency here, being the unlikelihood that hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians will be taking to the vast forests and Carpathian mountains to oppose Russian dominance.
Thirty years of relative prosperity has made confortable consumers of most Ukrainians.
They often own their own properties worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, enjoy the independence individual car travel provides and Holidays at home and abroad.
Despite the heroic resistance of the Orange Revolution and Madian Square and the sacrifice of the military on the frontline, its more likely the majority will shuffle into line and reluctantly take on board whatever management of the system comes into place.
There will be no shortage of people, some with Russian sympathies, others simply with mouths to feed and pensions to maintain, who will provide the apparatchiks for the Civil Service, the police and the railways.
In the medium term the best a Western looking Ukrainian patriot could hope for is the separation of Western Ukraine from the East.
Putin can’t last forever, and perhaps internal turmoil and repression can destroy Putin’s regime from within and it can be hopefully replaced with a more permissive regime, more tolerant and respectful of its independent neighbours.
This though is only a hope rather than a calculation and it will be dependent on Western alliances that tread far more carefully when engaging with a future Russia.