I am among the many who are gladdened by the resistance to date in Ukraine and the level of international support the Ukrainians are receiving. I will admit to a tiny bit of gloating at the troubles the Russian military has experienced to date. With all that in mind I still think the outcome for Ukraine will be a dark one.
To put it in sports terms, Putin’s offense is not hitting on all cylinders thus far but they still look like they will win the game because the real (or deep) game plan is very much intact. Remember, democracies (which are Putin’s real targets) historically die from within and that is exactly how Putin plans to conquer Ukraine. He plans on the Ukrainian people losing sufficient confidence in their democratically elected government to enable him to replace it with his puppets. That has been the plan all along and a convoy that runs out of petro is a speedbump.
Putin may be evil but he is still smart. He has to know the stubbornness of Slavic people; he is one himself. Occupying a resistant Ukraine would be a monumental task. One that Russia is incapable of. In the long run the resistance would win. The idea is to make life sufficiently miserable so as to get a large enough portion of the population to blame Zelensky and allow him to be deposed. Then Putin’s operatives, who are already waiting in the wing, will simply install their own people. Rigging an election, if that became necessary, would be a small challenge in the midst of chaos. The citizens of Ukraine have always been the real target and remain so today.
The Russians have made a major effort at taking over power plants, laying siege to major cities and cutting off Ukrainian access to the sea while not allowing a free flow of migrants to friendly countries. The strategy is obvious – starve the masses into submission in the dark. If successful enough people will blame Zelensky to undermine his government and with it democracy.
The game is not over – I can’t help myself but to think of this in sports terms – and several things could change the outcome. Among them is sufficient aid (mostly military) from the West and a Berlin Airlift style running of the ensuing Russian blockade. (Better yet, not allowing Russian control of Ukraine sufficient to form a total blockade.)
If Putin achieves his objective, which is control of all of Ukraine, he will not stop there. Pause, but not stop; such is his well established pattern of behavior. I predict his next step will be to take over Moldova.
Moldova has a large border with Ukraine and very importantly is not a NATO member. As has been the case in Ukraine (also not a NATO member) this has given the West the excuse it needs not to go all out in assistance. Putin will use the same fake news scenario he has employed in the past. Moldova has a wannabe breakaway state of Transnistia which is largely inhabited by ethnic Russians. Putin will declare that Moldova is threatening them. This is a page from Hitler’s playbook and eventually the free world had to stop him at great cost.
After Moldova, Poland is the most likely NATO country in Putin’s sights. Recently I again wrote of Kaliningrad. That would make a heck of a beachhead to invade Poland, especially after Putin already had forces based as advanced as Ukraine and Moldova.
History has taught us that if we let Putin succeeded in Ukraine, we will only delay the inevitable while increasing the eventual costs. Forget about the margin on the current scoreboard; right now, Putin is winning.
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