Putin went all in. What does this mean for Ukraine and what to expect from China
Ukrainian military (Photo:REUTERS/Maksim Levin)
For Putin, the only chance to save himself is to not end the war
It is clear now that China is not joining the war. It was the biggest risk we could imagine, because it would very significantly expand Russia's resource base and could really, really seriously change their combat potential. If there are no collusive arrangements, then this risk has not arisen. But it's too early to say, because things can still develop. We may see some other actions from China that will actually indicate that it has taken a side. And especially we have to look at the fact that if their so-called peace initiatives do not find a response, it is an open question on what position they may take next. Unfortunately, China is still a completely unknown component and we have to look at it very carefully, and very intensively.
Regarding the Hague decision: here the situation is very simple. This is the first solution of many. We must understand that this is the beginning of a very serious campaign to recognize Putin and his entire team as international criminals. This decision cannot be underestimated because, first of all, it affects the many countries that have not decided yet. Those countries that have decided, of course, will only strengthen their position. And this is a big plus, because any businesses that tried to work with Russia; or the politicians who tried to say something about the negotiations; all these people who are talking about some concessions and everything else will be saying it much more carefully. And those businesses that were thinking about doing business with Russia will fold, because they will understand that as long as the regime is in power, it does not make any sense to do so.
It will also affect those countries that are undecided, especially in the global South. And finally, this will give a push to other legal efforts, in order to promote further this whole topic and move on to a full-fledged tribunal.
They say that Putin cannot be brought to justice until victory or the overthrow of the regime. He can. Of course, the question of his stay in prison or some other punishment is more complicated. But the recognition of him and his team as international criminals will seriously affect their prospects,, in particular, on any agreements with China and other countries.
This is a very large hybrid component of our victory.
And it will seriously hit Russia’s economy, because if the regime is recognized as a criminal in the whole world or in key countries of the world, then this actually cuts off a large number of opportunities. This is a very large hybrid component of our victory. A large number of very talented, skilled lawyers are currently working on this. This is a whole separate front. We do not see it as openly as the military, but it is there and there are very active actions.
Regarding the readiness of the Armed Forces for a counteroffensive: first of all, there is not and cannot be a hundred percent ideal situation, especially in the situation in which we are. We are really working at the edge of possibilities. Of course, there are many difficult moments and situations. And if some journalists expect that Ukraine will fight against the third army of the world (I mean budgetary-wise) without a "snag ", then this would be a completely naive position. Most journalists, analysts, politicians of the West, like all of us, highly appreciate the qualifications of the Armed Forces. I also personally know our commander-in-chief and the chief of the General Staff, commanders of many types of troops. We have extremely qualified leadership in the Armed Forces, this must be understood. And we must continue to believe in the Armed Forces. We understand that it is very difficult and there will be issues, but we must understand that Ukraine will solve them with dignity.
Regarding the intensity of the supply of Western weapons to create an armored fist: this intensity is not satisfactory. It would be wrong to say that everything is happening as we wanted, as we planned. It is one thing to get political statements or political commitments. This is a huge part of the job, because without them nothing would happen at all. And here the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, together with its partners, is doing a great job. There are no questions on that. But how our partners then fulfill these obligations very often leads to delays – that's a fact. Indeed, a lot of equipment arrives very quickly, this is also a fact. But some countries in any case will supply either with delays, or not fully, or without technical support, training. Or with equipment that will be in a poor condition and so on. Can we somehow derail this story? Yes, we can. I am sure that all these facts are known, because this is not the first day that we are receiving materiel – we are working on it. But we can definitely say that the partners could do this faster, much better – this is also a fact.
The question of forming a fist is, of course, exclusively under the responsibility of the General Staff. They should decide when Ukraine will be ready for certain operations.
According to military science and operational art, it is a very difficult matter to decide on operational plans and prepare for the implementation of these plans. Adequate resource provision, weapons, military equipment, infrastructure, ammunition, proper composition, preparation, training of technical personnel who will maintain this equipment... All these things must be calculated before it is determined that Ukraine is ready for this or that operation of any scale.
Russia will carry out mobilization measures until it loses the war. It will not be able to stop. Any constructive stoppage of the war on the part of Russia (negotiations or otherwise) is completely unrealistic. I have been saying this practically since the first months of the war. It was clear that they had already completely let go of all chances for some kind of civilized settlement of this war, this conflict, and had already gone all-in.
Putin understands that losing the war is the end of his regime, so he will do everything to ensure that the war does not end. For him, the only chance to save himself is to not end the war, because he understands that he will not be able to end it with victory. This is already mathematically even unreal – we can see that. And, fortunately, the entire world political community already agrees with this, which was not the case before.
He cannot end it with a victory for himself. And any defeat or recognition that he cannot end it with victory is actually a disaster for him. Therefore, he will continue it as long as he has the strength.
And for us this means only one thing: we have to physically push the Russians out of the territory of our country. We will conduct counteroffensive operations until the last soldier either falls or leaves the territory of Ukraine. This is our only chance.
And then, together with our partners, we must create such a system of strengthening Ukrainian capabilities (I hope, already as a member of NATO), which would make a relapse on the part of the Russian government impossible. And to continue all our actions regarding prosecution, sanctions, compensation for damages, which should bring the Russian regime to physical bankruptcy.
And then there will be a very serious chance that it will fall. Next, we will see a new reality. While all this is happening, Putin will try to attract new fighters – obviously, from the ranks of the civilian population, because he no longer has normal reserves left.
And with each new wave, it will be more and more difficult to do this, because people will still think about themselves first. Most of them do not have political consciousness, and they will try to oppose conscription, somehow save themselves. This process will go all the way to the point when the maximum percentage of the Russian population will already understand that the regime is failing.
There has already been such a moment in the history of Russia. These are the consequences of the First World War, when a huge number of Russians were mobilized and then sent to the front. The war was lost, and the. they turned back and changed the regime.
This goes on to the same thing. Putin understands these risks. That is why he conducts limited mobilization actions in order not to reach the point when the war will become so unpopular that it will threaten the regime. That's what he banks on. But I think they will survive this wave. Yet with each new day, it will be more and more difficult.
We see fractures in many politicians or leaders of the Western world. We can cite the example of Macron, who first said one thing, then another. And now the word "victory" is constantly repeated, and of course we support it. You just need to understand some individual characteristics. I personally know U.S. Army General Mark Milley. I can say that he is an extremely intelligent person, very careful. This is a person who will not scatter promises, will not make any predictions in which he is absolutely not sure. This is a person who completely consciously changes his position. And he does not believe that if he already declared something three months ago, then his position should always be that way, and he will never back down from it. He sees that the operational situation is developing, he sees how Ukraine is mastering certain types of weapons, how capabilities are being prepared, he sees some results. And still, being a very careful person, he still says absolutely consciously, normally, that "today my position will be like this."
He never said that Ukraine would lose. Of course, they were extremely pessimistic at the beginning of the war, a year ago. But already at the end of March 2022, his position was not at all the same as it was at the end of January or in the middle of February.
And today it is being formed. It is formed primarily under the influence of how we implement our operational plans. Therefore, our task is not to pay attention to everything, but simply to do our job. And we will see that the whole Western world stands with us in one way or another.
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