The West Won’t Like Russia’s Next Move in Ukraine, by Ted Galen Carpenter

Every time the West jumps up and down about alleged Ukrainian victory in its war with Russia, the Russians come back with a powerful counterpunch. From Ted Galen Carpenter at

NATO leaders and the Western news media need to realize that they may be celebrating the prelude to a prolonged, extremely bloody war or even an impending nuclear catastrophe.

ATO officials and the Western news media have not concealed their glee that Ukraine’s counteroffensive has forced a precipitous withdrawal of Russian troops from a sizable chunk of territory near the eastern city of Kharkiv. The attack did appear to catch the Kremlin by surprise. Russian leaders expected the main counteroffensive to come in the south, and the bulk of Kyiv’s efforts do appear to be focused on that region. Nevertheless, the loss in the east is a significant military setback—and an even greater embarrassment—to Russia’s military command and the Putin government.

Enthusiastic pro-Ukraine figures in Europe and the United States are celebrating and contending that Kyiv’s success portends Russia’s overall defeat in the war. According to that thesis, Russian president Vladimir Putin will have to accept a peace accord that falls far short of the Kremlin’s initial goals. The best he can supposedly hope for is an agreement which restores the status quo ante—which would mean that Moscow gains no territory, nor would Ukraine be prevented from joining NATO. More optimistic types speculate that such a spectacular failure, which comes after massive expenditures of both blood and treasure, might well lead to Putin’s ouster.

Such celebrations are wildly premature. Russia still has several military options, and some of the scenarios should deeply worry the United States and its NATO allies.

Option 1: Moscow could launch a counter-counteroffensive—one focused on the Black Sea port of Odessa. That city is Ukraine’s last outlet on the Black Sea, and its seizure would effectively make Ukraine a landlocked country. It would also give Russia a stranglehold on Ukraine’s principal economic lifeline, since the majority of Kyiv’s exports and imports flow through Odessa. The loss of that city would be a colossal economic and psychological blow to Ukraine. Given that Russia redeployed sizable numbers of troops and quantities of weapons from eastern Ukraine to the south even before Kyiv’s eastern offensive, there is a high probability that Odessa is now Moscow’s principal target. Already overextended Ukrainian forces in the south would be very hard-pressed to repel a concerted Russian attack.

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One response to “The West Won’t Like Russia’s Next Move in Ukraine, by Ted Galen Carpenter

  1. Pingback: the West won’t like Russia’s next move in Ukraine | Waikanae Watch

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