As I sit here, I wonder how the Russian invasion of Ukraine will end. This morning it is reported that Russian nuclear forces have been put on alert. Other reports indicate that Russian forces have bogged down in their attempts to capture Ukraine. Western countries are announcing arms deliveries to Ukraine. Energy flows continue from Russia to Europe, in spite of western economic sanctions on Russian banks. In this very confused situation one has to think about how this crisis ends.
It has just been announced that Ukraine has agreed to send a delegation to the Belarus border for negotiations with Russia. Will there be a cease fire while such negotiations occur? Without a cease fire this offer by Russia could be seen as a false flag attempt to reduce Ukrainian resistance and the resupply coming from the west. This negotiation could result in Ukraine agreeing to not seek membership in NATO in exchange for a Russian withdrawal and some form or reparations for the damage it has inflicted on Ukraine. This is probably a globally desired outcome.
In spite of the possibility of negotiations continued belligerency must be considered as most likely.
Russia’s attack on Ukraine, if it has the internal strength to devote continued human and other resources to fight, will eventually overcome the Ukrainian resistance. The Russian means of overcoming Ukrainian resistance will be to level everything as they did in Chechnya. But what will they have conquered? Not a functioning country with on call leadership to rule it. There will be numerous shortages to be dealt with because of their destruction during the conflict. Major urban areas of Ukraine will have been destroyed. Housing will be in rubble. Russia will then have to turn to the west and appeal to its compassion to assis in rebuilding a neutral Ukraine.
What if the internal strength and support is lost in Russia? Is it possible for the Russian Army to conduct a coup? Is the current nuclear alert focused on preventing a coup? It is highly unlikely that Putin will relinquish power willingly. But with the sanctions starting to take effect, will the Oligarchs look and find a replacement? If so, he most likely will come from the military so as to assure its support. Putin may be offered an end of life in exile. He would probably not accept such an offer and would therefore have to be executed.
Before this crisis, as we reported, Russia secured a back-channel method of ameliorating the impact of the sanctions imposed by the West—Chinese support. There is reporting that it is Chinese pressure that pushed Russia into the negotiations that are scheduled to occur tomorrow.
The relative incompetence on the Ukrainian battlefields of the Russian military shows that the threat to NATO is not as severe as it was during Cold War I. But in the aftermath of this crisis Russia will learn the mistakes of its military training and look at the US model. One should expect to see several national training centers emerge in different geographical areas of Russia. In addition to the training at the centers there will be significant emphasis placed on the mobilization skills required to get to a battlefield. Logistical support operations will be streamlined and modernized. This will result in a more competent Russian military during Cold War II.
Probably the biggest changes that will result from this crisis is the western dependence on Russian energy sources. Europe will gradually relook its energy requirements. Russian energy will have to compete with other sources of energy to include nuclear and natural gas from other parts of the world. For OPEC this will be a huge opportunity for deliveries of liquid natural gas and distilled petroleum products. For the United States this creates a market to fuel economic independence and funds to reduce national debt and fuel growth and prosperity. This will require that the far-left climate change elements will have to understand the logic that clean energy, not no energy, is the solution to their climate concerns. This understanding will most likely not emerge to execution during the current administration. In spite of the Biden administration, American energy companies will move forward to position themselves to exploit the severe changes in energy policy that will come from the next administration.
As an interim conclusion there are three possible end states envisaged:
- A decimated Ukraine with the Russians trying to rule it by martial law.
- A negotiated agreement with Ukraine agreeing to refrain from seeking membership in NATO
- A coup in Russia resulting in new leadership that withdraws from the Ukraine
Time will tell what the outcome of this crisis will be. This piece will be updated as events continues
Six weeks ago, I wrote a piece explaining my ambivalence on US policy towards a Russian invasion of Ukraine. In that piece I said: “much of the US deterrence credibility has also been undermined by its energy policy.” This reality has now come home to rest! Russia is now conducting a “peace keeping” operation in the eastern Ukraine. The US has done nothing to increase its credibility with respect to its energy policy. This is fatal!
When the Biden administration first came into office it declared that global warming was one of the critical national security threats facing the country and the world. In this one statement it signaled to Russia and maybe China that its center of gravity is energy. This has been borne out by its policy:
- Reducing exploration in Alaska
- Stopping the keystone pipeline construction
- Asking OPEC to increase oil production to offset US reductions
- Now, several days ago, suspending exploration leases on federal land
We may see the administration try to reach an unfavorable nuclear agreement with Iran as a way of opening an oil source. However, Iran has been able to sell black market oil to China and thus there is not much more oil there to reach the global market.
Americans are complaining about inflation and part of that complaint is the cost of fuel. But nothing has been done to stop the rising costs of heating homes and operating vehicles on the highways. The supply chain problems, of course, were compounded by over restriction of trucks in the ports of California.
At the same time the US military is now seen as partly emasculated by wokeism and critical race theory. This is problem that we warned against some time ago, but no one of consequence listened, or they just didn’t care. It is hard for me to accept that our leaders don’t care about our military readiness, but……..
So, Russia has annexed part of the Ukraine and will now suffer through some sanctions. What has gone mostly ignored in the main stream media that supports US weakness and all of the policies that are causing it is the agreement that Russia and China entered into just before the Olympics started. This agreement constitutes part of Russia’s sanction avoidance channel. Russia can shuttle goods and capital through China thereby greatly ameliorating the impact of sanctions. The other avoidance effort by Russia is the saving of significant cash, which sustain it for months. Will this arrangement with China help limit China’s push towards annexing Taiwan? We can hope. But as my former boss and friend General (ret) Gordon Sullivan used to always say: “Hope is not a method.”
A lesson learned from this experience is that threats of sanctions don’t work. Sanctions should be applied before the action and then withdrawn as a reward when aggressive actions are not taken. What a way to learn this lesson again!
One can expect two possible outcomes:
- Continued aggression in Ukraine in phases until all of Ukraine is subjugated. This will result in a Chechnian type resistance from the Ukrainian people that will result in significant Russian and Ukrainian casualties.
- Continually more painful sanctions imposed upon Russia and their domestic impact in the west.
- The beginning of a new cold war to contain Russian expansionism both in Ukraine and most likely in the Baltic states that are now members of NATO.
What must happen now? Once eyes are diverted from Ukraine and movers and shakers in the US realize the terrible box we are in, then personnel changes and policy changes must follow. Some of this will come from the 2022 elections. Others will come from internal ruminations by the administration. In the middle 1960s Bill Clinton was able to do a complete reorientation of his administration and exit the presidency with an almost 55% approval rating. Can Jill Biden be convinced that this is what needs to happen? Only time will tell.
As my readers can tell I am not optimistic about the near-term future for our beloved country. But I have confidence in the American electorate to right this ship of state that is taking on water and to steam a new course back towards prosperity and global power.