Credible reports including Russian sources indicate Ukrainian force have crossed the Seversky Donets and Oskil rivers and entered Donetsk Oblast recapturing several villages. This is important because Putin promised to “liberate” Donetsk Oblast. I imagine the end of the war is still a long way off, but it has become clear that despite being much bettered equipped, the Russian military isn’t as good as Ukraine’s army. And the Russians appear to have deployed all their available troops. There are no meaningful reinforcements to send. If Russian units start cracking in the south like they did in the north, this could be over sooner than we think. And so we have to start thinking about what a Ukrainian victory will look like.
The great Anne Applebaum had an excellent article on this topic in the Atlantic yesterday.
When I write that Americans and Europeans need to prepare for a Ukrainian victory, this is what I mean: We must expect that a Ukrainian victory, and certainly a victory in Ukraine’s understanding of the term, also brings about the end of Putin’s regime.
To be clear: This is not a prediction; it’s a warning.
I don’t know if it’s been talked about (I’m sure it has, just not following that closely). But I wonder if Ukraine manages to push Russia completely out of what they took this time around, might Ukraine think to try to reclaim the Crimean region Russia seized a while back?
This post from September just popped up in my feed for some reason. Interesting question.
Ukraine says they want to liberate Crimea. Doing so seems really hard for geography reasons if nothing else. Russia’s strategy seems to be to fall back to hardened defensive positions and fill the gaps with large numbers of newly mobilized solders combined with massive artillery support. Makes a tough go for Ukraine, no doubt.
My BMB prediction is that is not sustainable. I believe Russian units will continue to crack and will continue to be forced to withdraw to more defensible positions. When I originally started this topic in September, I under estimated the effect the newly mobilized forces would have. Even though they are mostly ineffective, their sheer numbers have made a difference and reportedly there will be another mobilization early next year.
Still Russia isn’t winning. Russia is retreating. I don’t see how Russia turns that around.
I predicted when this thing started that unless Russia achieves victory quickly Putin will be out. I’m sticking with that.
I also said I have no idea how the Russian Duma works, but I don’t remember a single Russian leader suffering a defeat and continuing in the job for more than a short time. How does succession work? Probably as badly as it does here - or everywhere, with the possible exception of Kings appointing their sons and those sons appointing their sons and so on.
But seriously, we’ve gone from a period of reasonably competent leaders (FDR, Truman, Eisenhower, JFK, LBJ) to a mixmash of good and bad (Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan) to a mixture of really good and real clownshow (Clinton, Bush Jr & Sr, Obama, Trump) so it’s not like we have perfected the formula exactly.
Run through the list of Russian leaders since Khrushchev: Brezhnev, Andropov, Chernenko, Gorbachev - and now Putin. Good, bad, terrible, every segment represented. Of course we won’t know what’s coming. It’s possible it will be worse that Putin, but it seems to me it’s less likely than something mildly or even seriously better.