Is Russia’s slow but steady approach to the Ukraine, with incremental escalation, weakness or strength? From James George Jatras at ronpaulinstitute.org:
Among realists who don’t accept the Kiew siegt an allen Fronten! narrative it is widely assumed that Russia will soon begin, perhaps in dramatic and decisive fashion, a winter offensive. This would come just as Kiev is hitting “empty” on all key manpower and materiel indicators, exacerbated by the Zelensky regime’s continued insistence on squandering them on strategically meaningless attacks on hardened Russian positions.
The assumption of a bold Russian shift to the offensive may not be valid, though, as it’s clear that among Moscow’s primary intentions is to avoid triggering a direct clash with NATO forces, which, they reasonably believe, could escalate uncontrollably to the strategic nuclear level. (That’s why it appears Moscow has abandoned its longstanding no-first-use nuclear doctrine for launch-on-warning See: Paul Craig Roberts: A Hair Trigger on Endgame – LewRockwell)
So instead of taking decisive action, Moscow may prefer to incrementally escalate the “slow grind” chewing up Kiev’s forces, while continuing to dismantle Ukraine’s infrastructure, which also contributes to accelerating depopulation of Ukraine as cities and towns become uninhabitable. (As Moon of Alabama suggests: “It does not look like an imminent all out attack on the Ukrainian front lines is in the cards. The expected large winter attack may not be coming at all. Instead the new forces will rotate through the frontline and only attack locally whenever they see an opportunity.” MoA – Ukraine SitRep – Catastrophic Losses, Failing Wonder Weapons, NATO Escalation (moonofalabama.org) )
The key question, though, is this: Is the slow grind (versus dramatic and decisive knockout) less likely to cause uncontrollable escalation, or does it invite it?