Russia declared war on Ukraine on February 24, 2022. It is executing a meticulously prepared and played out plan for war. NATO seems to have relied too heavily on the power of its sanctions to deter Putin, which seems like a major strategic mistake because it hasn’t worked in the past and doesn’t seem to be working now.
Instead, it has emboldened the determination of Russian leaders that NATO will not be able to respond to a quick offensive beyond condemnation, Ukraine’s capacity building and sanctions against Russia.
This pushed Ukraine toward disaster, as its president’s strong request to join NATO was neither followed by the West nor provided any assurance that someone else would do the same. heavy lifting or would put boots on the ground in Ukraine to fight the Russians, despite having a massive army. power imbalance in favor of Russia.
Deciphering Russia’s strategic and military action so far
The contours and logic of Russia’s plans were evident from its posturing over the months, President Putin’s speeches to the nation and his demands on Ukraine.
Russia’s political objective appears to be to target the Ukrainian leadership into giving up on demanding NATO membership, or else forcing regime change, replacing it with a pro-Russian government that does not propagate not NATO membership or agenda.
Strategically, the center of gravity of the Russian offensive is the spirit of the Ukrainian leadership and army to surrender to Russia with a minimum of military actions. This strategic objective cannot be achieved without surrounding Kyiv, which is the key strategic objective; as a result, operations to encircle Kiev and capture adjacent airbases were launched.
After Russia recognized the independence of the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Luhansk People’s Republic, the liberation of the Donbass region was inevitable.
The military objective is to demilitarize the Ukrainian military to ensure that Ukraine cannot be used as a springboard by NATO to threaten Russia’s security and isolate Kiev to facilitate regime change without military interference. To shape the battlefield, the Russian army positioned three sides of Ukraine with massive combat superiority, used the forces of Belarus to invade the north to reach Kiev by the shortest route, used its Black Sea Fleet and Crimea to block Ukraine from the south and the Donbass region forces to invade from the east and some forces from the northeast to speed up consolidation.
Military operations have been preceded by cyberattacks and information warfare. Military operations were launched in a well-planned and professional manner under the banner of “special operations”, starting with air and missile strikes to neutralize air defense capability, air assets to achieve air superiority and pulverize targets military, claiming to have destroyed more than 70 military targets and installations, including 11 airfields in Ukraine, before the arrival of ground elements, adding conventional superiority to enhance its hybrid warfare.
NATO response and future options
US President Joe Biden’s February 22 speech and statements by other Western leaders made it clear that NATO will have no troops on the ground in Ukraine and will depend on financial sanctions and material support for Ukraine in response to Russian aggression.
This weakness has encouraged Russia to seize the opportunity for an offensive in Ukraine with minimum military cost, so far. NATO is still unclear on future responses, as the Russian offensive is already underway; therefore, the time for possible NATO military action is already over.
NATO is therefore only saving its own security by reinforcing the NATO countries bordering Ukraine and Russia to prevent any possibility of Russian adventurism in any of the NATO countries, leaving the Ukraine to its fate, because it is not yet a member of NATO.
Likely upcoming Russian action
Russia will try to achieve its strategic goals as quickly as possible and withdraw from Ukraine to minimize its costs. He will avoid fighting in built-up areas, as he will prolong the invasion and may not stay as an occupying force to prevent the reactions of a hostile segment of the population from turning into an insurrection against him. He will therefore try to maximize the pressure on Ukraine by all instruments of power to either submit to regime change or force it as soon as possible and defuse it.
Regardless of what Russia wants, the determination of the Ukrainian military and leadership will determine the timing and dynamics of escalation and NATO support to refuel the resistance will determine the capacity to resist. Russia is unlikely to make the mistake of completely annexing Ukraine, as this does not make sense in strategic cost-benefit analysis.
To pressure Ukraine to surrender, Russia could also take control of some key strategic facilities, until its strategic objectives are achieved. It is severe punishment for Ukraine’s uncomfortable geopolitical situation and the leadership’s desire to join NATO, which has thrust it into the center of a ‘great power contest’ that will be a tragedy for its country. people, in all eventualities.
The first priority for India should be to evacuate its own students and its diaspora. He can push for diplomatic solutions and peaceful resolutions, as well as measures to reduce temperatures, but he must avoid taking sides as he has good relations with all opposing powers.
While each country’s sovereignty must be maintained, both sides have rejected it when it served their interests, such as in the wars in Iraq, Crimea and Afghanistan. India must factor the weak Western response to the Ukraine crisis into its strategic calculations, as it may encourage other authoritative powers like China to take similar steps in the Indo-Pacific region.
(Disclaimer: The views of the author do not represent the views of WION or ZMCL. WION or ZMCL also does not endorse the views of the author.)