Zelenskyy Says Liberating Settlements Is a Trend
Ukrainians forces are again taking striking amounts of territory, particularly around Kherson this time - it feels a bit like the situation around Kharkiv thru to Izyum again.
All the focus has been on Putin's speech Friday, annexing occupied territory and declaring them Russian, and subject then to much hyperbole around falling under Russia's nuclear umbrella. But, a few points here:
- Lyman, et al fell, which also fell under the annexed territory/nuke umbrella scenario and Putin did nothing. Surely if he was to use a tactical nuke, it would have made sense to have used it around Lyman.
- Seeing lots of territory now lost by Putin around Kherson, again annexed territory, and Putin has done nothing.
- Crimea long fell under Putin's annexed territory/nuke umbrella, and Ukraine has long been hitting it, and yet Putin did nothing.
Feels here that Putin has seen lots of his red lines crossed, he has lost escalation dominance. His bluff has been called. He is desperate to negotiate to try and keep whatever he has left - interesting to see the Pope trying to help him out.
I looks like Ukraine will continue to make gains thru to the Feb 24 settings, and then might pause to negotiate. Until then, I don't see why they would stop, as Russian forces appear on the back foot, losing and at risk of humiliating collapse in Ukraine.
I don't see why the US would push Ukraine to pause here, from a US perspective its a winning scenario to have Russia continuing to present conventional military equipment in Ukraine, to have the Ukrainians smash it up with high tech Russian equipment.
The US are being given a wonderful opportunity by Putin to destroy Russian conventional military equipment - almost feels like Saddam, first Gulf War, and the road from Basra moment.
All this is just such a big lose-lose for Putin - he said at the start of the war that the Russians were not as stupid as to do what the Yanks wanted and get them sucked into a war in Ukraine. Well the Russians have been that stupid, and they showing how they are even more stupid every day by continuing this war.
My base case is still the total collapse of Russian forces in Ukraine, their eventual capitulation, and then Putin has to try and salvage whatever he can in Russia - and this might involve Putin's eventual loss of power.
I think the Ukrainians will take things to the Feb 24 boundaries, seeking to negotiate there the futures of DPR/LPR/Ukraine with whoever emerges in the leadership role in Russia, post war. I think Putin might use tactical nukes to defend Crimea, if the
Ukrainians actually looked like taking it, as it has long been the home of the Russian BSF, even thru 30 years of Ukrainian independence. But the Ukrainians are not that stupid.
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