Putin’s May 9th victory deadline. What is his plan?

Timothy Ash UK Economist, covering Emerging Europe, Middle East and Africa.

21 April, 2022

Russian occupying forces in Ukraine (Photo:REUTERS/Alexander Ermochenko)

Russian occupying forces in Ukraine (Photo:REUTERS/Alexander Ermochenko)

Guess Putin trying to sell the idea of a Russian “win” in Mariupol.

The message seems to be that Russian forces will just ignore/bombard the remaining Ukrainian troops around
the Azovstal steel plant – but the Russian message is that they have secured the land corridor to Crimea, and can now move on to the Battle for Donbas.

Let’s see if that proves correct – actually, nothing Moscow has said so far has gone to plan.

Putin seems to aim for a quick win in Donbas, by the May 9 parade in Moscow – but the experience of this war is that Moscow just continually over-estimates its abilities, and under-estimates the Ukrainians.

Seems that Putin’s game plan now is to take Donbas and secure the land corridor to Crimea, and sell that as a big win, even though we all know that was not his prior ambition (it was to take all of Ukraine).

But if Putin secures the rest of Donbas, and this land corridor, in effect we would see the division of Ukraine, a bit like the Korean peninsula.

And what Putin will then face is a massive Western effort to support Ukraine – both economically and militarily.

Ukraine could end up like South Korea – a real economic and military force, and Russia, in effect isolated like North Korea.

That’s a grim outlook for Russia.

I guess Putin is banking on the idea that Ukraine ex-Donbas, and without the bulk of Black Sea ports will not be economically sustainable. I think it could be, assuming massive Western support for Ukraine. Ukraine gets most of the population, weight of the farmland/agri sector, and like South Korea/Israel will be on a mission to succeed, with likely EU accession perspective, and massive Western support.

In this scenario though we see Russia isolated, and a new Iron curtain was drawn across Europe, and Russia on the wrong side of that.
So from Putin’s perspective, it is:

a) can he actually win in Donbas – highly debatable;

b) Even if he “wins” what kind of victory is that, as I think he has revealed himself as an enemy and threat to the West, and there will be no reversal of sanctions, and energy diversification will continue/accelerate, while Sweden/Finland will join NATO, while Ukraine will massively re-arm/economically reform/financed by the West.

Ukraine will be the big winner ultimately, and Russia the massive loser. I still doubt whether Putin can accept all that. Is a North Korea outlook for Russia sold as a big win?


  1. Needs to be seen if Putin only wants a land-bridge, or just a base territory for further expansion. I do suspect salami tactics, every day a new piece, until the ultimate fight for Kyiv. This May 9 story could be complete crap in the worst case. Ukraine needs more tanks, batteries and finally MIG’s from former Eastern Bloc countries like Bulgaria and Romania in exchange for F-16’s. And Patriots not to forget. I only say ‘Iron Dome’.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Great to see an optimistic article in the midst of all the horror.
    It’s all achievable, provided the allies do what is needed.
    At the moment they are still well short of the mark.
    The allies must wargame the scenario that the “palace coup” or “Red Square Maidan” (to quote our owner) do not unfortunately happen and create a viable solution to putinazi aggression. This means denying any kind of victory for putler in Donbas and fortifying Ukraine to the extent that it can never be attacked in this savage way again. Boris has hinted at this, but it must be put into solid, practical effect.
    Ukraine must be turned into an impregnable fortress. At the moment putinazi vermin are just using it as a dartboard.
    The kidnapping of children must be addressed separately. This crime is so grave that special action must be taken to get them back. Putler’s savages cannot get away with this.

    Liked by 4 people

    • If Putler tries to annex the Donbas and/or Kherson I think there will be a massive push back from civilized countries. Maybe even Germany/France. I hope that push back will include an organized effort to end ALL Putin’s illegal occupations including Georgia and Moldova. If they are clever they would add all of Ukraine, the Kuril islands and Kaliningrad. Putin would be under pressure to defend all these lands after dealing with the Ukrainian meat grinder.
      Then, in theory, he would be forced to choose between holding his ill-gotten territory in Ukraine or trying to prevent the reversals of the other occupations I listed. If it was truly organized I think it would work. I’m not pretending to be a general but I understand numbers. I think Putler would huff and puff but I can’t imagine he could do anything about it if this was organized. IMO this should have been done from the start by NATO and it has nothing to do with fucking membership.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Unless the defenders get very serious help, the Donbas and Kherson oblast will be taken and it’s the beginning of the end for Ukraine.
        By serious help I mean the total fortification of Mykolaiv, Odessa, Lviv, Kharkiv and Kyiv; as a bare minimum.
        This means an integrated air defence, heavy artillery, cruise missiles and fast jets.
        They need this stuff right now for each city.

        Liked by 2 people

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