WORDS: 1,771 — The image above represents a screen capture of a radio exchange between Ukrainian soldiers manning their post on Snake Island just off the Ukrainian coast in the Black Sea, and a Russian warship. The Russians asked for their surrender and assured safety.. and the soldier’s reply depicted above as translated. This is a graphic example of the patriotic heroism being displayed by the Ukrainian people that will serve to make the Russian takeover all the more challenging… and costly.
The conditions in the Ukraine are fluid even as I write this. Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) is echoing a growing call in Congress about answering a call from the Ukrainian government to declare the skies over that country a no-fly zone. Certainly we can impose that.. NATO can surely impose that (and likely the better call). But it seems some folks in Congress are actually contemplating a greater picture here than just avoiding putting American troops in harms way in some form because us Americans are afraid of another war, a protracted war, or a nuclear World War III. This conflict should be nothing about maintaining a distance simply because Ukraine is “just not that important” to expend American lives. The issue here is all about stopping Putin… and less about saving Ukraine for the sake of Ukraine alone. Of course we care about the people and lives that will be lost, and certainly the bullying of a super power against “the little guy”. In fact, that would also include the individual Russian soldier engaged in this idiocy… as many will go back to their families in body bags. The end result, is all this worth the inevitable death on both sides? Putin doesn’t care, obviously.
If Congress, with NATO, does establish a no-fly zone then very surely the pilots enforcing that decree will be at risk themselves. But.. we can also surely comprehend that Putin will test that, and his pilots, and his ground anti-aircraft weapons, will shoot down something… and NATO will respond defensively. Then that’s an escalation.. because Putin will not back down. I cannot say at the moment I am supporting a no-fly zone. Likely that should have been done well before the Russians crossed the border. Opportunity missed, I’m afraid. Doing it now will just dare Putin, and from a strategic point, the Russian troops are already in the middle of a deployed operation with plans for air support integration. Removing their air support now will likely make vulnerable the meeting of their objectives. This gives local commanders, and Putin, little choice in striking back at airborne NATO no-fly enforcement.
In fact, we can go even further. How would NATO respond to no-fly violations? That alone seems an unworkable situation. Okay.. so what are the options for containing, or even stopping, Putin? I cannot speculate nor does my speculation even matter other than being a blogger. Here’s some observations I have made.
- OBSERVATION #1 – Much has been discussed about how many Russians it would take to conquer Ukraine. After all, we know militarily speaking, Russia is far superior to anything the Ukrainians could muster on military tech alone… not to mention being outnumbered in armor and missiles. But here’s a stat that nags at me a bit. The population of Ukraine is something like 47 million people. Are we looking at an invading force of something like 200,000 Russian troops conquering a nation of 47 million? Let’s assume for a moment that of that population only 10% is of fighting age able to fight back… that’s still 4.7 million against a force of 200,000. Let’s go further… 1% of the population is 470,000 people with the ability to fight back still exceeds the Russian numbers. Now, very true, the Ukrainians have a poorly equipped military to engage a Russian force. They very likely don’t have enough conventional weapons to be distributed, or maybe even the ammunition to sustain a long effort. Well, we can take examples from WW2 when the inhabitants of the Warsaw Ghetto held off the Germans for nearly 30 days with captured weapons and makeshift devices. These population numbers are just way too large to even think that the Russians could sustain a long or even short term occupation. Like those striking back in the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, the Ukrainian people have a strong tenacity to fight. The average Russian soldier may not be all that enthusiastic about this. Which leads me to the next item.
- OBSERVATION #2 – It seems from what I have observed from the media that the typical Muscovite at least, relates to Ukraine in the form of having family connections, immediate or extended, in that country. Even some of the press interviews of hunkered down Ukrainians, those folks have no ill feeling toward Russia in general and act surprised with the attack. In an odd way, we might see this as being more a civil war in some ways. It’s not a stretch to imagine a fair number of Russian soldiers also have connections to the Ukrainian population and very likely might exhibit some morale issues toward harming Ukrainians. In other words, I can easily surmise that many Russian soldiers could be less than enthusiastic about all this. This will be a drag on unit discipline and thusly effectiveness. For now the typical Russian soldier is shooting another trained soldier. As this drags on these Russian soldiers will be killing non-uniformed civilians. Again.. just my speculation. [Update: I wrote this paragraph three hours ago, took a break… just now heard a report from Gen. Wesley Clark, retired former commander of NATO, who is in close updates with his past associates, has indicated that up to now the Russian military has generally under performed as anticipated and there is indeed some morale and confusion getting in the way of operations.]
- OBSERVATION #3 – How might the American public perceive all this? The media, especially CNN, is doing an impressive job staying on all this. Now, depending which side on the Trump-fence one might be sitting will decide if that media is just a Liberal propaganda source trying to keep conflict alive and it’s not really all that bad… it’s not our business, or we should just leave Ukraine alone as it’s not worth losing Americans lives over. On the other hand.. I am sensing that the Far Right radical Conservative element that treads on the edge of following through with some civil war violence just might assign this valiant struggle of Ukrainians against the powerful oppressor as an emboldened inspiration to engage here domestically. Certainly the Second Amendment devotees will draw support for having an armed society as preparedness against such a Ukrainian conflict happening here in America. I also can see a result of all the media reporting of the human toll… the death, destruction, the refugees, the children… and Americans will start becoming more sympathetic to their cause, and a possible dislike of Russians might come through. This could easily pressure Congress, and the President, into a greater involvement of some sort. Depending on how that involvement might unfold will determine how much Putin might interpret such action as a further threat against him… and escalate the conflict. Bottom line.. we can try to ignore all this but we will not be able to do that. That leads us to the next observation…
- OBSERVATION #4 – Putin is at best not only unpredictable but also impulsive and extremely untrustworthy. This makes the man totally dangerous. We might want to sit smugly thinking the sanctions recently instituted against Russian leaders will do the trick, but we are not taking into consideration that Putin will not back down and could very well strike back against the sanctions alone. The Russian government warned on Wednesday of a “strong” and “painful” response to the Biden administration’s sanctions against the country over its invasion of Ukraine, according to multiple reports. Russia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry said the country would target “sensitive” US assets in retaliation. We can’t just dismiss this. It’s unknown what Putin could do or might try to do… but if any part of American society is affected by some Russian retribution stunt for the sanctions levied on him, whether cyber or something more “real”, that will most certainly engage Americans further against Putin. It’s bad enough that the invasion itself will affect oil/gas here in the States.
- HOW TO STOP PUTIN? My concern is that stopping him might require a measure of international pressure but I think we can rest assured he will strike back in some form rather than admit any sort of defeat. Something like that could easily make good his threat of a “strong and painful” response, and we certainly don’t want that to escalate to some impulsive use of nuclear weapons. Very likely a good way to “remove” Putin is from within his own ranks. Maybe a military coup. Possible? Let’s think back to the transition of power and the insurrection of January 6th. What did Gen. Milley do to relieve China’s concerns that we were not in the middle of a coup? He contacted his military counterpart in China to assure him all was well. We learned during that controversy that many of our high ranking military commanders do indeed have counterparts in Russia, China, and other nations, with which they often share non-sensitive information in order to make sure there are no misunderstandings regarding military activities. It’s not impossible to presume that such contacts might be exploited to encourage or even provide some measure of secretive assistance to military counterparts in support of a coup attempt. Impossible? Consider this… back in the days of the Soviet Union the Communist “machine” had extremely tight control, top to bottom. Units had political officers to assure compliance to party dictums and ideology at all levels. People were encouraged to rat on their neighbors. That kind of control is not in place anymore. Of course there are people loyal to Putin.. but it’s not defined by threats of vanishing into a gulag somewhere. It’s more a mobster mentality these days.. and money greases the wheels.
As we get more into the conflict in the next few days we will have some idea on how all this will turn out… for Ukraine at least. As for how America reacts to all this.. this we will not know until it happens. Nonetheless, the emphasis is how to deal with Putin in the short term and the long term. In the meantime, Ukraine fights for its existence and the rest of the world deals with inflation, oil prices, and an unpredictable Putin… with nuclear weapons at his fingertips. “Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war!”