Kremlin should not expect a blitzkrieg or quick win if it invades Ukraine, says Polish expert

9 February 2022, 09:08 PM

The Kremlin should realize that Russia has no chance of a blitzkrieg or a quick win if it further invade Ukraine, Polish political expert Sławomir Sierakowski wrote in a column for the NV weekly news magazine on Feb. 8. 

In the article Sierakowski, who is head of the Krytyka Polityczna (Political Critique) movement, director of Institute for Advanced Study in Warsaw and senior fellow at the German Council on Foreign Relations, talked of the “view from Kyiv” on the ongoing war in the temporarily occupied Donbas region and the likelihood of a full-scale Russian invasion of Ukrainian territory.

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“What can Russia get by launching a (full-fledged) war? It has no chance of a blitzkrieg or a quick, decisive win that would give Russia permanent control over Ukraine,” Sierakowski wrote.

“Ukrainians decisively prefer war to a rotten world, and will not agree to defeat under any circumstances.”

Sierakowski noted that Ukrainians are aware that they are not a peer military rival to Russia, but are confident that they can resist strongly enough to impose high enough costs on the invader.

Sierakowski added that he believes that the North American and European powers will react consistently, regardless of whether this war is small or large, arguing that a new Russian attack on Ukraine would destroy the entire post-Cold War order in Europe, possibly threatening the resumption of large-scale wars and occupations. According to the expert, Western capitals have finally realized that they cannot allow this to happen.

Over the past few weeks, Germany has finally stopped talking about the importance of Nord Stream-2, a gas pipeline that is supposed to supply gas directly to Germany from Russia, bypassing Ukraine, writes Sierakowski. And the United Kingdom has drafted sanctions against Russian oligarchs, who have long been using London as their platform and financial haven.

“In the light of all these developments, Kremlin strategists should consider whether success is possible in Ukraine,” the sociologist points out.

“War makes sense if there are long-term benefits to be had when it ends.”

“Is it realistic to force 40 million Ukrainians, who have endured eight years of war with Russia, to be loyal to the Kremlin? Is it really possible to occupy and then pacify the second largest European country? The fiasco of the United States in Afghanistan has demonstrated that wars are much easier to start than to end. The Russians, of course, remember their own disastrous experience in Afghanistan, which contributed to the collapse of the Soviet Union,” Sierakowski recalled.

Russia has been massing troops at the border since late October.

More than 130,000 Russian troops and offensive weapons have been deployed near Ukraine’s borders and in the temporarily occupied territories, according to the latest intelligence estimate from the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine.

On Jan. 14, the U.K.-based Guardian newspaper and the U.S.-based CNN news channel reported that Russia had positioned covert operatives in Ukraine to carry out a “false flag” operation to use as a pretext for a Russian attack, with the White House and Pentagon both stating they received the same intelligence.

Both U.S. and European officials have expressed concern over the situation. U.S. President Joe Biden in December declared that the White House was working out “the most comprehensive and meaningful set of initiatives to make it very, very difficult for (Russian President Vladimir) Putin to go ahead and do what people are worried he may do.”

The proposed measures include cutting Russia off from the SWIFT international banking system, personal sanctions against Russian President Vladimir Putin and his inner circle, and a ban on U.S. dollar transactions with Russia.

The Kremlin says the troop movements are an internal affair of the Russian Federation.

At the same time, Moscow has repeatedly accused Ukraine of planning “provocations,” and alleged that Kyiv plans to regain control of the occupied territories by military means. The Kremlin has failed to back up any of its allegations with evidence, however.

Russian troops have also been deployed to Belarus, as part of previously unscheduled military exercises. However, Russian equipment has been spotted along the Ukrainian-Belarusian border, far from the zone where the exercises are supposed to be held.

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