In chatting with another writer this morning, he used the phrase above, and we both agreed it’s going to be a long weekend. Monday, 9 May, is likely to tell the tale. I don’t like where my own analysis leads, especially as I tend to think the line between tactical and strategic exists only in the minds of idiots.
Of the people I respect and/or know, they seem split between three options. In the first, Vladimir declares goals accomplished and in effect goes home. In the second, Vladimir declares war on the Ukraine, mobilizes, and goes all out with conventional forces. In the third, Vladimir declares war on the Ukraine and uses both chemical and nuclear as part of the “escalate to de-escalate” program.
To be very honest, I hope and pray that Vladimir does the first. It would be the wisest course given all. That said, I’m not sure he can do it for a variety of domestic political reasons. He invested heavily in the 24-48 hour victory fantasy, then doubled down when it failed. The current offensive is effectively at a standstill, which is not a good position for declaring unilateral victory/success/goals met.
On the second, I think a brutal slog will get even more brutal. Unlike some, I also think that Vladimir will use chemical weapons while threatening to escalate and/or ignoring any and all posturing by the West. After all, the extensive use of chemical weapons in Syria did not bring about any meaningful response despite a lot of posturing by Western leaders who decided the line was neither red nor a line.
On the third, I think it will be a literal miracle if Vladimir only declares war on the Ukraine. All of the proper legal (Russian) and other steps to widen the conflict have been taken. There are reports that Vladimir is particularly irked with the British, and the case has already been made in multiple avenues that Russia is already at war with NATO. While in the past we have made accommodation with the Russians taking a very active role in its proxy wars with the West, there is no guarantee Russia will return the favor. In fact, they have made it rather clear that they are not inclined to do so.
In regards the third option, my own take is that they will use chemical and are likely to use one or more tactical nukes against a headquarters, logistics center, or symbolic target and one or more of those targets may not be in the Ukraine. Poland is the likely target, but other countries can’t be ruled out. After the use, the word will go out that we accept or they go strategic and launch everything they have. The response of the Biden administration, NATO, and others is not guaranteed.
In fact, the possibility of panic and/or dementia anger scares me. You have the meat puppet, a VP who apparently refuses to read the daily intel brief, and a brain trust that not only seems determined to start a war (see all the leaks of how we are helping the Ukraine kill generals, sink ships, etc.) but reportedly has never done any exercises involving nuclear war… Yeah, we could live a version of The Sum Of All Fears. I really don’t want an answer to the question of what happens when no leader is strong and secure.
Until the 9th and a definitive statement from Vladimir, we sit on metaphorical pins and needles. My suggestions are: prayer, and lots of it; preparation; and patience. I’ve made what preparations I can, and really wish the fundraiser hadn’t stalled so I could be moving right now. Where I am, I either have a good chance, or am totally fucked if they are using one of the old targeting packages. Going to hope for the former, and hope that an order gets here before anything happens, and top up some of my preparations. Nice thing is on the food, it can be used when things get lean later in the year if Vladimir does call it and go home.
Be safe and be prepared. And hope for the best on Monday.
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If you would like to help me in my recovery efforts, feel free to hit the tip jar in the upper right or the fundraiser at A New Life on GiveSendGo. Getting hit by lightning is not fun, and it is thanks to your help and prayers that I am still going. Thank you.