With Russian army on back foot in Ukraine, is escalation Put

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With Russian army on back foot in Ukraine, is escalation Put

Postprzez geemongG » 14 wrz 2022, o 10:02

With Russian army on back foot in Ukraine, is escalation Putin's only real option?


Russian President Vladmir Putin has a new problem. His invasion of Ukraine is not just bogged down. It’s going rapidly backwards.

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Ukraine’s armed forces have launched two stunningly successful counteroffensives around Kharkiv in the nation’s east, and in the south near the Russian-occupied city of Kherson. Kyiv is now claiming to have recaptured some 2,000 sq km of its territory, with the potential to cut off and trap a sizeable portion of the Russian invasion force.

By the Kremlin’s own standards, this is hardly winning. Realising Russia’s war aims – including regime change and the establishment of a “Crimean corridor” that denies Ukraine access to the Black Sea – would require nothing short of a dramatic reversal of its fortunes.

Putin now essentially has three options.

First, he can seek a political solution, hoping to hold onto the territory Kremlin proxies captured in the eight years prior to his 2022 invasion. That’s an unattractive choice, especially since a bullish Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is hardly in the mood to negotiate favourable terms for Moscow.

Internationally, it would be a humiliating blow to Russian prestige: A smaller state defeating a top-tier nuclear power in a major land war.

Numerous experts have claimed Moscow might seek to annex Moldova’s breakaway region of Transnistria, plus further chunks of Moldovan territory. And in early September, Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov warned of armed conflict if Moldova threatened the 2,000 Russian troops guarding Transnistria’s large ammunition dump at Cobasna.

An actual invasion would be difficult, because it would require Russian control over the Ukrainian city of Odesa for land access. But an airborne reinforcement of its Transnistrian garrison might be tempting, or launching a hybrid warfare campaign to justify doing so.

In April, there were several “terrorist incidents”, including the bombing of Transdniestria’s Ministry of State Security, as potential pretexts for such a move.
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