Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Considering the "what ifs" and "then whats" of a direct Russian intervention in the Donbass

It has been my recurrent effort on this blog to try to explain the likely reasons why Russia has not intervened so far in the war between Banderastan and Novorosiia.  I notice that those who see signs of "betrayal" or "sellout" by Putin are long on accusations but very short on specifics.  Unlike the excellent article which I recently posted as a "must read", the folks who are busy accusing Putin of betrayal stop at the very short term: send guns, send men, impose a no-fly zone, strike this or that unit, etc.  Fine.  And then what?  It is that "then what?" which our armchair patriots systematically shy away from.  Besides "then what?" the other issue which these armchair strategists shy away from is "what if?".  What if the Bandera freaks really open up with everything they have, out of spite or out of retaliation, and what if they really flatten Kramatorsk, Slaviansk or an entire neighborhood of Donetsk?  What if the dead at this point turn from tens or hundreds into the many thousands?  Those who mistakenly believe that the junta forces have already used "massive artillery strikes" should look up the concept "огневой вал" which is often translated as "artillery barrage" which, while not incorrect, does not even begin to convey the meaning that it has in Russian military doctrine.  Rather than to give figures, just take a look at these: (shows Ukrainian training) (shows various systems)

My point is this: the Ukrainians have the systems needed to *really* flatten a town and they are trained to do so.  So what if they do that?  Then what?

Of course, Russia has the means to rapidly destroy the Ukrainian artillery units in  the Donbass, but that would mark yet another escalation of the conflict.  Then what?

Or what if the US orders Poroshenko to "request" the protection of NATO? And what if NATO does something really dumb like the initial deployment of the 82nd Airborne to Saudi Arabia as part of Desert Shield?  Why do I call "Desert Shield" really dumb?  Because unbeknown to the American public, the 82nd AB was put into a very dangerous situation: this light infantry force was deployed as a "tripwire" force meaning that if the Iraqis crossed into the KSA they would have to engage the 82nd and that meant attacking the USA.  Brilliant?  Hardly.  The 82nd is a light infantry force which has zero change against the large Iraqi tank formations.  The *hope* on the US side was that US airpower would be enough to stop the Iraqis.  And it was just that - hope.  Years later, I think it was Dick Cheney who was asked by a reporter what would have happened if US airpower would not have been enough to deter Saddam and if the 82nd had been butchered.  You know what he replied?  "We would have had no other option to to use our nuclear weapons".  So finally the truth came out: the White House was ready to take the risk sacrifice the 82nd AB and it was "hoping" that the US would not have to use nukes.  I don't know about you, but seeing Imperial leaders "hoping" not to use nukes really scares me.

So what if Obama (whose Administration must have an average IQ lower then George Bush Senior one's by at least 20 points!) puts down a "tripwire" force along the Dniper and what if the Ukrainians organize combat operation or even military strikes from behind this tripwire force?  Then what?

One more example?  Sure!

It is not unreasonable to suspect that maybe 15%-20% of the folks living in the Donbass/Novorossia region are not pro-Russian at all and that they support the junta.  This is a big area with, if I recall correctly, something in the range of 7 million people living in the Donetsk-Lugansk region, so even 10% of 7 million is still 700'000 people supporting Kiev.  From these 700'000 let's take on 10% capable of fighting (70'000) and let us assume that only 1/4 of them would be actually willing to seriously fight.  That is still 17'500 men willing to fight in just two region of a much bigger south-eastern Ukraine.  That is way more than the IRA ever had in its ranks.  That is even more than Hezbollah has today!

Speaking of the IRA - remember how the Brits deployed in Northern Ireland to officially restore peace and security? (If not, see the "Operation Banner" entry on Wikipedia for a quick refresher).  That also seemed like a no brainer at that time.  It turned into a prolonged nightmare.

I could multiply such examples ad nauseam but you get my point: unlike some of our wannabe strategists, Putin and his Russian Security Council members have to consider the full-spectrum of possible "what ifs" and "then whats" before taking a decision to intervene.  And I haste to add that a covert intervention is dangerous too: if, so far, Kiev has failed to capture a single Russian "agent" or "operator" this does not mean that this might not happen and that would be a political disaster for Russia.  And if you think that the SBU could not catch itself in broad daylight you are right - except that in this case the Ukrainians would just be the arm of the US CIA/NSA who, you can be sure of that, are the one using all their formidable means to locate any Russian covert activity in the Ukraine.

I won't even address the comments of some lunatics who are seriously suggesting that Russian should nuke London or any other such stupidities.  I conclusion I will just say this: like it or not, there is a consensus in Russia right now that a direct intervention would be a huge mistake.  As for covert aid, we can only speculate about it, but I do notice that the Novorossiia Defense Forces seem to regularly "find" "abandoned" weapons just of the type which they need most.  As to those who constantly demand a Russian intervention in the Donbass I will say this: unless you can support your calls for intervention with all the appropriate "what ifs" and "then whats" - don't bother posting them here as you are only making yourself look amateurish and irresponsible.  If you are such a hero - grab a gun and go fight yourself, but don't tell others when/how they should die.

The Saker