21 April, 2022
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?