The Invasion of Ukraine

Discussions about serious topics, for serious people
Post Reply
User avatar
lpm
Junior Mod
Posts: 4957
Joined: Mon Nov 11, 2019 1:05 pm

The Invasion of Ukraine

Post by lpm » Tue Jan 18, 2022 6:57 pm

I'm assuming stage 1, the invasion of the eastern third, is fairly straightforward militarily. At least if you don't give a sh.t about casualties among your own forces.

Putin's forces then reach the Dnieper. The map shows it's got reservoirs all the way along, not just a river. I presume they'll stop there and it'll be a partitioned country for the next few decades? Russia doesn't really want the west? Or is this a risky assumption.

Is stage 2 pushing onwards into the west, to force surrender, or simply hold the east against guerillas? Putin would presumably need to move south from Belarus which looks to be through hilly and forested terrain, plus a certain radioactive zone...

What will happen to Kyiv? Seize it, like an old fashioned victory of capturing a capital? Divided in two and the eastern half becomes Kiev again? Or destroyed by artillery from both sides? Urban conflict is the worst of all modern warfare with mass death of civilians. What happens to the dams along the Dnieper? Odessa and the Black Sea coast would be very attractive to Putin.

Assumption again, but a likely outcome is a fanatically anti-Russian West Ukraine and a miserably poor and violent East Ukraine? Looks like 30 million people in West Ukraine, 15 million in East Ukraine.

The civilian death toll is going to be horrific.
⭐ Awarded gold star 4 November 2021

User avatar
lpm
Junior Mod
Posts: 4957
Joined: Mon Nov 11, 2019 1:05 pm

Re: The Invasion of Ukraine

Post by lpm » Tue Jan 18, 2022 7:10 pm

Looking at aerial photography from Google, and pretending not to have zero expertise, it looks like Kyiv is impossible to attack from the north. Massive lake, then the Pripyat river which looks very marshy, then Chernobyl. Better to come south out of Belarus much further to the west, then swing round.

Attacking the western half of the city from the east is impossible. There aren't any bridges across the Dnieper for 100km, except the handful in Kyiv itself.

I reckon Putin's going to threaten Kyiv, but really he's after the southern corridor. Seize the already-captured eastern provinces properly, take the entire coastline of the Sea of Azov, join up to Crimea and go up to the Dnieper. Maybe bomb the sh.t out of Odessa to wreck Ukraine's access to the Black Sea without needing to actually seize it.
⭐ Awarded gold star 4 November 2021

IvanV
Dorkwood
Posts: 1451
Joined: Mon May 17, 2021 11:12 am

Re: The Invasion of Ukraine

Post by IvanV » Tue Jan 18, 2022 7:26 pm

lpm wrote:
Tue Jan 18, 2022 6:57 pm
Assumption again, but a likely outcome is a fanatically anti-Russian West Ukraine and a miserably poor and violent East Ukraine? Looks like 30 million people in West Ukraine, 15 million in East Ukraine.
Ukraine is miserably poor already. Russia's GDP per capita is 3 times Ukraine on a nominal basis and double on a purchasing power basis. You can understand why the russified populations of eastern Ukrain think they might be better off in Russia. Not so different, actually, from the Germanised populations of the Sudetenland disdaining their own democratic governance for powerful dictatorship that annexed them.

You think, why don't they think Russia's dictatorship would be terrible? Because living in Ukraine is hardly very nice either, for all that it has appeared to preserve democracy. Ukraine might have actual contested elections, but this doesn't mean it has better governance than Russia. In fact, contested elections with a corrupt/ineffective/in-fighting system can result in a worse economic outcome and governance than a dictatorship. In ancient Rome, for example, there was actually an economic flowering at the opening of the Empire, when Augustus succeeded in taking control of the Empire and ending the Republic. It was actually worth carrying out public investment, when you knew you'd remain in control of it afterwards.

There is a lot more to a functioning democracy than fair elections. (And it's worth reading Robert Harris's Cicero trilogy for a reminder of quite how dirty and horrible "democracy" can be, and utterly in the control of a leading political class.) To prevent these Roman-type outcomes, you additionally need civil society and well-governed functioning adminstrations.

If you don't have that, then this is what happens when you vote some new people in. They find themselves in control of a fill-your-boots system, surrounded by a powerful civil administration service that is deeply implicated in it, and totally in bed with various powerful oligarchs, who will all impede at any turn your attempt to fix it. Soon you give in and fill your boots, you may as well. And the majority end up screwed again, whoever they vote in. We forget it took about 250 years to move on from the Glorious Revolution to some kind of a semblance of modern democracy in Britain.

User avatar
Woodchopper
Light of Blast
Posts: 5636
Joined: Sat Oct 12, 2019 9:05 am

Re: The Invasion of Ukraine

Post by Woodchopper » Tue Jan 18, 2022 7:46 pm

We should avoid assuming that the world can be played like a game of Risk. Its one thing to take territory, another to hold it.

Firstly, If Ukrainians resist a Russian invasion then Russia will need a lot of troops to hold the territory its taken.

We can draw an analogy with the Troubles in Northern Ireland. There were never more than a few hundred active members of the Provisional IRA, INLA and other republican groups. They were supported by many more in the population.

At the height of the Troubles, the UK had circa 20 000 troops deployed, plus about 8 000 in the Ulster Defence Regiment and a similar number in the Royal Ulster Constabulary. So we're looking at about 36 000 in a territory that contained 1.5 million people in 1970. Those pro-UK government forces also had the committed support of a majority of the loyalist population in Northern Ireland.

The big question is whether even a few hundred Ukrainians would resist a Russian invasion. If they were to then the territories to the east of the Dnieper are enormously larger than Northern Ireland, and while its mostly rural, there are several large urban areas. Kharkiv has about 1.5 million people and there are several cities with populations of hundreds of thousands. Ukrainian partisans would presumably be well equipped by the government in the west of the country, and would very likely be supplied by the US and other European states.

Russia probably could find enough troops to subdue large parts of Ukraine, but would Putin want to do that? A bl..dy and indefinite counter-insurgency is not an outcome that anyone wants to achieve.

Secondly, Ukraine has been fighting an intense hot war in the east of the country since 2014. Since then the Ukrainian army has been rebuilt, and is well trained and experienced. Its got about 200 000 active personnel and about 250 000 reserves. Certainly, the Russian armed forces are stronger and better equipped and would probably win. But in the event of a full on invasion the Ukrainian armed forces would still be able to inflict a lot of pain.

So if they were to plan an invasion of Ukraine east of the Dnieper, Putin's generals would be looking at initial heavy casualties which would likely be followed by indefinite partisan warfare which would take up hundreds of thousands troops.

IMHO, if it comes to war Russia is more likely to modestly expand the territory controlled by the Donetsk republics, or stage temporary raids or air strikes designed to destroy Ukrainian infrastructure without permanently occupying large amounts of territory.

User avatar
Woodchopper
Light of Blast
Posts: 5636
Joined: Sat Oct 12, 2019 9:05 am

Re: The Invasion of Ukraine

Post by Woodchopper » Tue Jan 18, 2022 7:49 pm

lpm wrote:
Tue Jan 18, 2022 7:10 pm
I reckon Putin's going to threaten Kyiv, but really he's after the southern corridor. Seize the already-captured eastern provinces properly, take the entire coastline of the Sea of Azov, join up to Crimea and go up to the Dnieper. Maybe bomb the sh.t out of Odessa to wreck Ukraine's access to the Black Sea without needing to actually seize it.
That's still a huge amount of territory and millions of people to control, and for what? They spent billions building a bridge from Russia to Crimea.

User avatar
nekomatic
Dorkwood
Posts: 1043
Joined: Mon Nov 11, 2019 3:04 pm

Re: The Invasion of Ukraine

Post by nekomatic » Tue Jan 18, 2022 8:05 pm

Françoise Thom reckons that Russia is getting ready to present NATO with an ultimatum demanding
the renunciation of any enlargement of NATO, the cessation of military cooperation with post-Soviet countries, the withdrawal of American nuclear weapons from Europe and the withdrawal of NATO armed forces to the borders of 1997
and is willing to carry out pre-emptive strikes on NATO targets if it doesn’t get it, so I do hope Woodchopper’s analysis is the right one.
Move-a… side, and let the mango through… let the mango through

User avatar
dyqik
Light of Blast
Posts: 5717
Joined: Wed Sep 25, 2019 4:19 pm
Location: Masshole
Contact:

Re: The Invasion of Ukraine

Post by dyqik » Tue Jan 18, 2022 8:11 pm

lpm wrote:
Tue Jan 18, 2022 7:10 pm
Looking at aerial photography from Google, and pretending not to have zero expertise, it looks like Kyiv is impossible to attack from the north. Massive lake, then the Pripyat river which looks very marshy, then Chernobyl. Better to come south out of Belarus much further to the west, then swing round.
Going quickly through the Chernobyl region wouldn't be much of a risk to your troops, while I assume it's difficult to station forces there to resist for a long time.

User avatar
Woodchopper
Light of Blast
Posts: 5636
Joined: Sat Oct 12, 2019 9:05 am

Re: The Invasion of Ukraine

Post by Woodchopper » Tue Jan 18, 2022 9:02 pm

nekomatic wrote:
Tue Jan 18, 2022 8:05 pm
so I do hope Woodchopper’s analysis is the right one.
I'm assuming that Putin is a rational actor. But I don't know what pressure he's under internally. My main concern is that he's manovered himself into a corner and can't back down without a major concession from the US or NATO (which he isn't going to get).

Overall, under Putin Russia has aggressively used military force to achieve foreign policy objectives. Georgia in 2008, Ukraine in 2014, Syria in 2015. But one feature of all of them was that the had limited risks to Russia. If we are looking at Putin's modus operandi, its relatively small interventions with a high pay off.

User avatar
Woodchopper
Light of Blast
Posts: 5636
Joined: Sat Oct 12, 2019 9:05 am

Re: The Invasion of Ukraine

Post by Woodchopper » Tue Jan 18, 2022 10:31 pm


IvanV
Dorkwood
Posts: 1451
Joined: Mon May 17, 2021 11:12 am

Re: The Invasion of Ukraine

Post by IvanV » Wed Jan 19, 2022 11:13 am

Woodchopper wrote:
Tue Jan 18, 2022 7:46 pm
The big question is whether even a few hundred Ukrainians would resist a Russian invasion. If they were to then the territories to the east of the Dnieper are enormously larger than Northern Ireland, and while its mostly rural, there are several large urban areas. Kharkiv has about 1.5 million people and there are several cities with populations of hundreds of thousands. Ukrainian partisans would presumably be well equipped by the government in the west of the country, and would very likely be supplied by the US and other European states.
A major issue is the attitude of the local population. Crimea and the Donetsk area were takeable because a large majority of the local population considered itself Russian.

Crimea was historically part of Russia, and handed over to Ukraine as a kind of thank you present at some point in the Soviet era. No way to treat boundary adjustments. Also, invading it was no way to resolve the issue. But if there had been a proper border reconciliation process, as happened with some of the other former Soviet republics (very messy situations with enclaves and roads crossing back and forth over borders) then Crimea, over 90% Russian, would undoubtedly have returned to Russia. But Ukraine wouldn't do that. If they had done it, then maybe some of the unpleasant ramifications of it being done militarily could have been avoided. I don't know the extent of other parts of western Ukraine that are overwhelmingly Russian.

Ukraine got international support in refusing to consider the situation of Crimea through a democratic process. Unfortunately there is a very strong lobby in international organisations against any kind of process for changing boundaries, because so many countries know that they have bits that would like to leave.

Allo V Psycho
Catbabel
Posts: 672
Joined: Sat Nov 16, 2019 8:18 am

Re: The Invasion of Ukraine

Post by Allo V Psycho » Wed Jan 19, 2022 12:02 pm

IvanV wrote:
Wed Jan 19, 2022 11:13 am
Woodchopper wrote:
Tue Jan 18, 2022 7:46 pm
The big question is whether even a few hundred Ukrainians would resist a Russian invasion. If they were to then the territories to the east of the Dnieper are enormously larger than Northern Ireland, and while its mostly rural, there are several large urban areas. Kharkiv has about 1.5 million people and there are several cities with populations of hundreds of thousands. Ukrainian partisans would presumably be well equipped by the government in the west of the country, and would very likely be supplied by the US and other European states.
A major issue is the attitude of the local population. Crimea and the Donetsk area were takeable because a large majority of the local population considered itself Russian.

Crimea was historically part of Russia, and handed over to Ukraine as a kind of thank you present at some point in the Soviet era. No way to treat boundary adjustments. Also, invading it was no way to resolve the issue. But if there had been a proper border reconciliation process, as happened with some of the other former Soviet republics (very messy situations with enclaves and roads crossing back and forth over borders) then Crimea, over 90% Russian, would undoubtedly have returned to Russia. But Ukraine wouldn't do that. If they had done it, then maybe some of the unpleasant ramifications of it being done militarily could have been avoided. I don't know the extent of other parts of western Ukraine that are overwhelmingly Russian.

Ukraine got international support in refusing to consider the situation of Crimea through a democratic process. Unfortunately there is a very strong lobby in international organisations against any kind of process for changing boundaries, because so many countries know that they have bits that would like to leave.
This. Russia was never likely to give up its claim to the naval base of Sevastopol, not only because of its major military significance but also because it was the site of two 'heroic' but unsuccessful defences, in the Crimean War and the Second World War. It was Khrushchev in 1954 who shifted it to the Ukraine, when perhaps it didn't seem to matter so much, if they were all part of the USSR. A democratic vote would very likely have led to a return to Russia. By my (entirely personal!) 'secession test*', Crimea should have been able to secede from Ukraine if it chose to, and not allowing a vote was wrong.

*three parts. 1. History - did the region have an identifiable historical identity? 2. Is it geographically sensible? 3. is it the wish of the majority, with protection for the rights of the minority?

User avatar
sTeamTraen
After Pie
Posts: 2433
Joined: Mon Nov 11, 2019 4:24 pm
Location: Palma de Mallorca, Spain

Re: The Invasion of Ukraine

Post by sTeamTraen » Wed Jan 19, 2022 6:50 pm

Presumably Putin's political aim is to install a Lukashenko-like regime in Kyiv and it's a question of how much money, blood, and international credibility he is prepared to expend to do it. Does he have any actual friends apart from Belarus? Russia gets the default benefit of the doubt from Serbia because of the Orthodox/Slav thing, but I can't see the Poles or Hungarians offering much in the way of support even if their governments do share similar worldviews on the deficiencies of liberal democracy(*); the kinds of people who vote for PiS or Fidesz still have memories of Russian presence until 30 years ago.

(*) Putin said something nice about Muslims the other day, which won't have endeared him to the "defenders of European civilisation".
Something something hammer something something nail

User avatar
dyqik
Light of Blast
Posts: 5717
Joined: Wed Sep 25, 2019 4:19 pm
Location: Masshole
Contact:

Re: The Invasion of Ukraine

Post by dyqik » Wed Jan 19, 2022 9:10 pm

sTeamTraen wrote:
Wed Jan 19, 2022 6:50 pm
Presumably Putin's political aim is to install a Lukashenko-like regime in Kyiv and it's a question of how much money, blood, and international credibility he is prepared to expend to do it. Does he have any actual friends apart from Belarus? Russia gets the default benefit of the doubt from Serbia because of the Orthodox/Slav thing, but I can't see the Poles or Hungarians offering much in the way of support even if their governments do share similar worldviews on the deficiencies of liberal democracy(*); the kinds of people who vote for PiS or Fidesz still have memories of Russian presence until 30 years ago.

(*) Putin said something nice about Muslims the other day, which won't have endeared him to the "defenders of European civilisation".
It's also complicated in the Caucasus, and probably Central Asia (aka the 'stans).

User avatar
Woodchopper
Light of Blast
Posts: 5636
Joined: Sat Oct 12, 2019 9:05 am

Re: The Invasion of Ukraine

Post by Woodchopper » Wed Jan 19, 2022 9:49 pm

sTeamTraen wrote:
Wed Jan 19, 2022 6:50 pm
Presumably Putin's political aim is to install a Lukashenko-like regime in Kyiv and it's a question of how much money, blood, and international credibility he is prepared to expend to do it.
He'd like that but I don't think its a realistic war aim. The Ukrainians violently expelled a pro-Moscow stooge in 2014. If Putin wants a another proxy back in power in Kyiv he's going to have to indefinitely occupy Ukraine. That would take hundreds of thousands of troops which Russia needs for other roles, like protecting Putin.

IMHO Putin's aim is to use the threat of war to decouple Ukraine from the EU, NATO and the rest of the western world. Its not a member of either organization, but it has close links with them and member states which are deepening. If that happened Ukraine could then be a permanent buffer state. Not part of Russia, but rejected by the West.

But threats haven't worked. So Putin now faces a choice between a humiliating climbdown and withdrawal, or some kind of military action which he can use to portray a victory. That might not sound too bad, but military adventures have a habit of escalating, and short term measures can become permanent.

IvanV
Dorkwood
Posts: 1451
Joined: Mon May 17, 2021 11:12 am

Re: The Invasion of Ukraine

Post by IvanV » Thu Jan 20, 2022 8:57 am

Woodchopper wrote:
Wed Jan 19, 2022 9:49 pm
So Putin now faces a choice between a humiliating climbdown and withdrawal, or some kind of military action which he can use to portray a victory. That might not sound too bad, but military adventures have a habit of escalating, and short term measures can become permanent.
He controls the press so effectively that a humiliating climbdown is easily portrayed as a victory. For example, the Russians have been successfully sold the story that present disquiet is all provoked by the West. So a Russian climb-down is now easily turned into seeing them off.

tom p
After Pie
Posts: 1876
Joined: Mon Nov 11, 2019 1:14 pm
Location: the low countries

Re: The Invasion of Ukraine

Post by tom p » Thu Jan 20, 2022 2:00 pm

IvanV wrote:
Thu Jan 20, 2022 8:57 am
Woodchopper wrote:
Wed Jan 19, 2022 9:49 pm
So Putin now faces a choice between a humiliating climbdown and withdrawal, or some kind of military action which he can use to portray a victory. That might not sound too bad, but military adventures have a habit of escalating, and short term measures can become permanent.
He controls the press so effectively that a humiliating climbdown is easily portrayed as a victory.
But enough about Johnson

User avatar
Woodchopper
Light of Blast
Posts: 5636
Joined: Sat Oct 12, 2019 9:05 am

Re: The Invasion of Ukraine

Post by Woodchopper » Thu Jan 20, 2022 2:42 pm

IvanV wrote:
Thu Jan 20, 2022 8:57 am
Woodchopper wrote:
Wed Jan 19, 2022 9:49 pm
So Putin now faces a choice between a humiliating climbdown and withdrawal, or some kind of military action which he can use to portray a victory. That might not sound too bad, but military adventures have a habit of escalating, and short term measures can become permanent.
He controls the press so effectively that a humiliating climbdown is easily portrayed as a victory. For example, the Russians have been successfully sold the story that present disquiet is all provoked by the West. So a Russian climb-down is now easily turned into seeing them off.
Yes, there is very little independent media left in Russia. But some people are still able to read foreign news via the internet. I suspect that the humiliation for Putin would be personal. He'd know that he'd backed down after threatening war, and so would the powerful people around him.

User avatar
Bird on a Fire
Princess POW
Posts: 9623
Joined: Fri Oct 11, 2019 5:05 pm
Location: Portugal

Re: The Invasion of Ukraine

Post by Bird on a Fire » Fri Jan 21, 2022 6:21 pm

Crazy Russian showers seamen all over Black Sea
https://www.newsweek.com/russia-announc ... ng-1671447
We have the right to a clean, healthy, sustainable environment.

monkey
Dorkwood
Posts: 1390
Joined: Wed Nov 13, 2019 5:10 pm

Re: The Invasion of Ukraine

Post by monkey » Fri Jan 21, 2022 7:36 pm

Is anyone else wondering why Russia is bothering to try and claim that their troop movements are for "miltary excercises"?

Is it some sort of diplomatic speak where everyone knows what's going on, but no one actually says it?

User avatar
dyqik
Light of Blast
Posts: 5717
Joined: Wed Sep 25, 2019 4:19 pm
Location: Masshole
Contact:

Re: The Invasion of Ukraine

Post by dyqik » Fri Jan 21, 2022 7:47 pm

monkey wrote:
Fri Jan 21, 2022 7:36 pm
Is anyone else wondering why Russia is bothering to try and claim that their troop movements are for "miltary excercises"?

Is it some sort of diplomatic speak where everyone knows what's going on, but no one actually says it?
I figure it's like the word "practicing". You'd think that for the amount of time that doctors have been practicing that they'd be really good at it now.

User avatar
Bird on a Fire
Princess POW
Posts: 9623
Joined: Fri Oct 11, 2019 5:05 pm
Location: Portugal

Re: The Invasion of Ukraine

Post by Bird on a Fire » Fri Jan 21, 2022 8:29 pm

Just like practising homosexuals. Most of them are pretty good at it in my experience.
We have the right to a clean, healthy, sustainable environment.

User avatar
dyqik
Light of Blast
Posts: 5717
Joined: Wed Sep 25, 2019 4:19 pm
Location: Masshole
Contact:

Re: The Invasion of Ukraine

Post by dyqik » Fri Jan 21, 2022 9:16 pm

The statement might be missing the word "training".

Of course, there's no more realistic training exercise for the invasion of Ukraine than a live-fire invasion of Ukraine training scenario on geographically realistic ground.

User avatar
Woodchopper
Light of Blast
Posts: 5636
Joined: Sat Oct 12, 2019 9:05 am

Re: The Invasion of Ukraine

Post by Woodchopper » Sat Jan 22, 2022 12:29 pm

monkey wrote:
Fri Jan 21, 2022 7:36 pm
Is anyone else wondering why Russia is bothering to try and claim that their troop movements are for "miltary excercises"?

Is it some sort of diplomatic speak where everyone knows what's going on, but no one actually says it?
It provides a rhetorical fig leaf for Putin's self esteem if he does decide not to invade at all. Could be useful over the next few weeks.

User avatar
Woodchopper
Light of Blast
Posts: 5636
Joined: Sat Oct 12, 2019 9:05 am

Re: The Invasion of Ukraine

Post by Woodchopper » Sat Jan 22, 2022 12:32 pm

Much has been said about whether or not the US and other states reneged on promises to Russia that NATO wouldn't be expanded eastwards.

I think this is a pretty good summary of what happened: https://warontherocks.com/2016/07/promi ... t-matters/

Allo V Psycho
Catbabel
Posts: 672
Joined: Sat Nov 16, 2019 8:18 am

Re: The Invasion of Ukraine

Post by Allo V Psycho » Sat Jan 22, 2022 12:34 pm

Bird on a Fire wrote:
Fri Jan 21, 2022 6:21 pm
Crazy Russian showers seamen all over Black Sea
https://www.newsweek.com/russia-announc ... ng-1671447
Slightly longer and more detailed version (the source for Newsweek, I reckon)

https://news.usni.org/2022/01/21/russia ... more-91449

Post Reply