Putin invades Ukraine

This seems to go way beyond the annexation of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk "people's republics":

Russian forces invaded Ukraine on Thursday, assaulting by land, sea and air in the biggest attack by one state against another in Europe since World War Two.

Missiles rained down on Ukrainian cities. Ukraine reported columns of troops pouring across its borders from Russia and Belarus, and landing on the coast from the Black and Azov seas.

Explosions were heard before dawn and throughout the morning in the capital Kyiv, a city of 3 million people.

It's vile, of course, but I also wonder about the practicality of this. Ukraine is a huge country with a population of 44 million. Does Putin think he can occupy and annex the whole thing? With ~200,000 soldiers?

For analysis, I recommend Mark Galeotti, whom I worked with on a number of projects many years ago, he's one of the world's top Russia experts, and Andras Toth-Czifra, who's occasionally written for my website, Atlantic Sentinel.


  • I was just going to make a post in Atomic, "What if Putin didn't invade Ukraine in 2022?". I've wondered that myself; How can the Russians hope to occupy the entire country with 200,000 troops? One thing's for sure, atomic power will become much more common in Europe in the years ahead, and I imagine we'll be seeing a couple of new nuclear armed states emerging too. Poland and Turkey come to mind. De Gaulle's point about dependent collective security being a farce in the atomic age has been illustrated. Russia called the bluff. The Americans are not willing to see their cities vaporized for the sake of protecting the sovereignty of European or other allied states. The final test of this will be in the Baltics in a few years I suspect, when formal NATO members get invaded. I'm just terrified for my friends in Kyiv. Things are changing.

  • Ukraine gave up its nuclear weapons in return for security guarantees from Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States. I agree with you - I wouldn't be surprised if the likes of Poland took note.

    I also hope this will change minds in Germany and my own country, the Netherlands, about relying on Russian natural gas. Here nuclear, too, is a potential solution, but nuclear energy, not weapons.

  • Yes, there have been three countries that decided to give up their atomic weapons or programs and have subsequently been invaded. Iraq, Libya and now Ukraine. North Korea, by contrast stayed the course with their nuclear program, and is invasion free. It's pretty clear after this whose path other states, weather democratic or authoritarian or whatever else will follow.

    As for the Germans I don't know. They seem to have a sort of fondness for the Russia/China emerging bloc. I know that the US started getting unhappy with the CDU after Merkel started shutting down nuclear plants and making a big push for Russian gas. And odd little cultural things too like accepting a Karl Marx statue in Trier from the Communist Party of China a few years back. Apparently, Berlin is the main opponent of kicking Moscow out of the SWIFT system. Some interesting things might happen to the old US led Atlantic coalition in the years immediately ahead.

  • All this and Trump's response? Praising Putin....


    my stepdad's literal actual response to this whole mess: 'Putin's got the balls biden don't have.'


    That's all you have? Reducing this to team red vs team blue? What... is WRONG with you?!

  • It's this weird obsession with "strength" - which, of course, is not strength at all! Trump is the most pathetically insecure man. Putin lashes out at small neighboring countries because he feels insecure. It's an odd version of masculinity that interprets wanton aggression as strength.

    @JohnZybourne, you're right, there is an affection for Russia in Germany. For China, I'm not so sure. I think that's more about business than anything else. Russia is more emotional for the Germans.

    It's hard to imagine now, but at some point that German-Russian relationship might be useful to end the war. I'm not saying Germany is right to constantly make excuses for Russian behavior. It's not. (And plenty of Germans disagree with their government on this!) But hopefully at some point we'll return to negotiations and then the Russians would be more inclined to trust the Germans than anyone else.

  • I don't know what's going on here. I know Putin both:

    Does not want NATO nations boardering Russia.

    Wants the Soviet Bloc back in some form or fashion. Probably as a trade alliance all beholden to Russia rather than big monolithic thing.

    What surprises me, plesantly so, is how stiff a resistance the Ukrainians are giving. Granted I would love both america and China to be less 'oh we denounce this we will impliment sanctions' and more 'listen here you little shit. you hit that button. we hit our Buttons and EVERYONE dies. so sit down, shut up, and stop acting like a jackbooted asshat long enough to listen at what EVERYONE is screaming.'

    Especially after this: Europe will not want Russia's oil. I'm surprised they ever entertained the notion given Putin has in his entire tenure been nakedly authoritarian, narssicistic, cruel, and the only deal he will accept is if everyone bends knee to him.

    So he LITERALLY can't afford to piss china off right now. Ya... as much as I fucking hate it. Given all the chest thumping China does politically? We need their help to get russia to stop acting bullish.


    'Russian ship. Go Fuck Yourself.'

  • Ha! Yes, I saw that too.

    On the whole I'm getting the impression the Ukrainians are far more motivated than the Russian soldiers. The first are defending their homeland, the second following the orders of an old, paranoid man to invade a "brotherly" people. Whatever Russia's numerical superiority, we're seeing now that motivation and morale definitely make a difference.

  • edited February 28

    My guess is that the Russian war planners made three assumptions that didn't pan out. It's shockingly incompetent frankly. Firstly, I'd wager their war plans were based around old Soviet/Warsaw Pact armored assault doctrine. The issue was that those plans involved a massive nuclear bombardment to soften up targets before the tanks rolled. The modern Russian government seems to have figured 'Who needs nukes when you have elan!' in a sort of August 1914 way. Secondly, they also seem to have missed that as was the case in 1914, modern military technology favors the defender. Anti-armor, anti-air and anti-shipping missiles are much cheaper per unit than the tanks and jets and boats they take out. Second World War style blitzkriegs don't work as well anymore.

    Finally, the Russians seemed to have learned the wrong lessons from the Georgia War of 2008. Saakashvili was mismanaging the country and had violently put down protesters and the like and the Georgian army of the time was more of a token force which swiftly collapsed in the face of serious resistance and they didn't want to die for him or his government. None of these lessons apply to Ukraine. Zelinsky was unpopular but not to the point that people wanted to see him thrown out, and more importantly the Ukranian army had 8 years of combat experience against Russian weapons systems and tactics in the east of the country.

    These reasons were why I figured the Russians would just go into the defacto Russian controlled areas in the east and then hunker down in a fashion similar to what they did in Georgia. I didn't think they'd be stupid enough to try a general attack with so few troops. But here we are.

  • I don't know enough about Russian military doctrine to comment on the first points, but I do agree with you on #3: that Russia (or at least Putin) underestimated Ukrainian resolve and support for their government.

    I guess it's the sort of mistake an autocrat would make: conflicting the popularity of one leader and a people's support for democracy.

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