Some quick thoughts to share, and we will get the big ones out the way first. Should we send U.S. troops: NO! Do I like Vladimir? No, though I have had professional respect for him in some areas, and personal in one. If you are not mature enough to differentiate between respecting someone and liking them, bugger off.
My heart bleeds for the Ukraine, and I’m moved by the willingness of its people to resist the invasion. To watch those who now live elsewhere, or are the children/grandchildren/etc. of those who immigrated return to defend it is amazing. What they have accomplished in resisting the invasion is nothing short of amazing. We should do all we can to support their efforts. Governmentally, this means sending them all the anti-tank, anti-air, and other arms and ammunition they so desperately need. It means providing humanitarian aid via public/private means. It does not mean providing troops on any level. That would be the worst thing we could do. On multiple levels.
That said, I have no problem with allowing U.S. Citizens to go there and fight. To join the Ukrainian Foreign Legion that has been proposed. In fact, I’m reminded of something the late (and much missed) L. Neil Smith wrote in one of his books, about an American staunchly opposing the U.S. taking a stance in a European conflict, and then leading a 1,000 airship volunteer armada to do just that. It is the difference between official action and non-official action, and is something we haven’t done much with since the Spanish Civil War. While that is a bag of worms for another day (and a nasty bag it is), we must not get sucked into this on an official level.
A good bit of that has to do with the rather obvious mental deterioration in one Vladimir Putin. It’s been obvious for a while that something was off with him. Multiple parties are talking about it now, but what brought it home for me was his meeting with Macron at the ultra-long table. While this was, no doubt, in part a way of snubbing him, there was something more to it. Then came the night he castigated a major cabinet member of live television — not a bright thing to do in the current return to the politburo level of operations. Then came is tirade against the Ukraine and justification for his actions. That was when a LOT of people began comparing notes and sharing concern over his mental well being. When the photo came out of him using the ridiculously long table to meet with his own defense leaders, well… While unconfirmed, it seems he doesn’t like to have anyone who is not part of his innermost circle behind him these days, or to let any such even close to him. Given that he is quite familiar with concealed weapons that can induce apparent heart attacks, much less spray nerve agents, the close thing is understandable. As for behind him, he is also quite familiar with leadership at various levels committing suicide by shooting themselves in the back multiple times.
In about three weeks, we’ve seen a Vladimir who was “off” go from chess to raising on a busted flush in something that is well beyond “off.” The nuclear escalation is not exactly unexpected, at least if you know a bit about the Soviet playbook for such things. What matters is if he still has full control, and/or the extent to which Dead Hand has been brought online. All I will say is that if his ability to give certain orders has been unofficially curtailed, it would not be the first time. If it hasn’t, it is not a good idea to poke the crazy man with the button via official actions.
And there are a lot of official actions out there that are not going to help in regards the deteriorating man. Among others is Switzerland deciding that they are neutral, but not that neutral. Add to it firm allies who have told him no, even after he just helped them out literally a few weeks ago… Even Xi has said no on some fronts. None of this is likely to slow down the deterioration. Or provide enough of a reality check to get through to him as he rages in his bunker with his captive oligarchs.
And while we are at it, let’s look at the attack itself and the absolute fuck up that it, and subsequent actions by STAVKA (call it what it is), truly are. It was billed as a demonstration of the new Russian way of war, their version of “Shock and Awe.” Problem is, S&A or any other form of blitz is heavily dependent upon superior logistics, something the Soviets nor the Russians have ever had. You need massive amounts of ammo, fuel, parts, and replacement troops to pull it off. Replacement troops not only because of losses, but the need to detail out troops to hold key points as you go. It also requires highly trained troops who know land nav inside and out.
From what I am learning, the order went out to make this happen. The actual order, however, may not have even approached what would be given for a small-unit special ops strike. Contingency plans? Decap. No? Then try for decap again. Decap. Decap. Try it again damnit! There are differing reports on the number of Wagner troops killed or captured, but a good number were sent in on assassination missions. They were not alone. Problem was, they were all alone as the original push down got bogged down; the efforts to do airmobile and airborne ops were shot down (literally in some cases); and, the public is now on high alert to the saboteurs and assassins roaming major cities trying to mark targets, etc. Don’t expect rules of war for those caught marking civilian buildings for strikes. For now, expect a return to grinding Soviet bombardment, civilian casualties be damned.
The fact is, Vladimir has already lost simply because he didn’t win. He is committed, and is committing Russia and all its people, to a long, grinding, bloody slog that is going to have severe economic impacts. Just replacing ammunition, gear, people, is going to have a severe impact. Add to it the growing official and unofficial sanctions? The Russian people are going to feel this one, in ways they never have before. Current Vladimir does not care. He’s lost to that. He has no way to go in and control the country, or even the parts he’s tried so desperately to annex. Even those are likely to slip from him given the current state of “uppitiness” on the part of the Ukrainians.
The Ukrainians have not won. At best they have pushed things into a long grind with some chance of a stalemate. Yet, by doing this they have won. They have prevented the cheap and easy victory on which Vladimir counted. They have forced him into committing military and economic resources he does not have over the long term. Heck, even the short term. Russia’s economy was already teetering, current operations and responses are going to crater it unless something major happens. I’ve lived through a couple of power struggles in the Kremlin; under these circumstances, I hope we all do live through what is to come. A quick clean change of leadership seems unlikely given the Keystone gang we’ve seen so far, but it may be our best hope.
All we can do is wait and see what happens. While current circumstances are not new or unique on many levels, I will note that in my lifetime I’ve never seen a situation like this where key leadership was this insecure. Xi is in some ways hanging by a thread, and knows his enemies in the CCP are looking for any excuse to bring him down. Vladimir we’ve discussed. The Europeans, particularly the Germans? They are not secure either, especially since the Green policies have caused them to firmly place their mouth around Putin’s, er, finger, in regards energy. To see them decide to fund their own military, back off on the idiocy of green (maybe), and truly support the Ukraine strikes more as a desperation move than a rational push. Johnson is a non-entity right now, and not to be taken seriously. Our own dementia patient? Hell, he’s just waiting for his ice cream and to be allowed to go back upstairs to watch Matlock. Those behind him, however, are desperate beyond belief. Not one major stable leader anywhere in the world. That’s a new one and I thought I had about seen it all after watching the Soviets/Russians for more than 40 years now.
Oh, for those still focused on the opening paragraph and gasping with indignation that I have had some respect for Vladimir (at least in some areas)? The one personal area was with food, as it was through him (though he didn’t know it) that I tried his favorite restaurant in St. Petersburg. It became my favorite too. Too bad I’ll never get back there again in this lifetime. Oh well, I’d rather find something better in the Ukraine anyways.
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