Friday 24 March 2023

Edward Luttwak in Unherd last month

The full article is here.

'Looking ahead, there are only two possible major military moves for Russia. Following the mobilisation of 300,000 reservists last autumn, Putin’s army is now larger than when it invaded last February. Then, the aim was not to start a war but to end it, with a quick victory forecast by Russian and US Intelligence, both equally intoxicated by the false promise of “post-kinetic” warfare; this would combine electronic propaganda with cyber-attacks on everything from military headquarters to civilian infrastructures. Generals who had never fought against patriotic Europeans but only against Middle Eastern sectarians, if they had fought at all, who considered tanks old-fashioned and had limitless respect for “information warfare”, heavily influenced the totally wrong estimates that misled both Biden and Putin.'

That's interesting. Putin and the US expected a quick victory for him, just as Hitler and the British expected Germany to defeat Communist Russia quickly in 1941. (Forgive the Hitler analogy but it is necessary this time.)

'It is possible, then, or at least “not impossible”, that Putin is now trying to extract a slice of victory from a disastrous war, by offering to give up remaining Russian-controlled parts of Zaporizhzhia and Kherson in exchange for Ukraine’s surrender of Donetsk and Luhansk, the two regions which had the largest proportion of Russian speakers to begin with, where popular resistance to Ukrainian rule was strong.

'Of course, Zelenskyy would also have to agree to negotiate, and aside from his expressed refusal to give up any territory at all including Crimea, it is not clear that he would have the authority to negotiate over territorial concessions. But that is when the reality of Ukraine’s limited sovereignty would emerge to settle the matter. The country now depends on the United States and its closest allies to survive, and the US in turn would have to go along with Europe’s major governments, who would undoubtedly demand an end to the war.'

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