Russia plans large-scale ground offensive against Ukraine?

Recent evidence suggests that Russia may be planning a major ground operation against Ukraine. While the President of Russia Vladimir Putin leads a conversation about the world, some leading Russian analysts have explicitly supported the “Syrian option” in relation to Ukraine.

Whether they speak for themselves or acting on behalf of the regime, vbrasyvaya trial balloon to test the people’s opinion the soil and abroad, receiving a response to the possibility of total war? In democratic countries, private analysts generally speak on their behalf. In authoritarian, totalitarian and fascist regimes, senior analysts often speak on behalf of the leader, albeit unofficially, thus giving him the opportunity to deny it.

20 Dec senior expert of the Center for military-political studies of the prestigious Moscow state Institute of international relations Mikhail Alexandrov said that if the Ukrainian military massively violate the ceasefire in the Eastern Donbass, Russia must meet “the massive attack of the army of Donbass”, — referring to 35 thousand heavily armed Russian and Pro-Russian militants in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions “with the support of our aircraft and systems long-range: that is, our missile systems, cruise missiles, and “Iskander”.

December 27 the popular television program “Evening with Vladimir Solovyov” was Alexander Kofman, the former “foreign Minister” of the so-called DNR and Rostislav Ishchenko, the former Ukrainian journalist, who moved to the Russian side. The three of them discussed how Russia and Russian-backed insurgents to capture the city of Ukraine.

Ishchenko suggested that Russia should be cautious, sending your army in major cities of Ukraine: “What if these idiots are” Ukrainians “will go on the defensive in the big cities? Should we will then send infantry to kill them? Then there would be huge losses for the Russian army”.

In response, Soloviev said, “We took Aleppo fairly quickly. And there we learned to solve problems in this way. Moreover, the army of the “DNR” to learn how to fight in cities. No need to worry. The people of Ukraine will not fight for them,” referring to democratic government in Kiev.

Coffman is equally optimistic about the chances of the Russian army: “I know that as soon as our troops close in any town, the Ukrainian army always leaves it. It is a fact”.

Finally, on December 29, Mikhail Khazin, Russian economist, broadcaster, columnist, and former member of the presidential administration, suggested that Ukraine be divided between Poland and Russia. In the Russian part corresponding to the South-East of Ukraine, Moscow should ban the Ukrainian language and culture. Russia occupied the North of Ukraine, which corresponds to Kyiv, Sumy and Chernihiv regions, will be transformed into agricultural hinterland, devoid of industry and the armed forces. “The excess population” will be deported to the far East of Russia.

Unfortunately, says Khazin, there may be a “few million people who are not able to transform.” What Russia should do with them? His answer: “They must be partially expelled”.

Especially terrible in these statements is the prosaic manner in which they were made. The mass killing, aerial bombardment, ethnic cleansing and genocide are, apparently, quite respectable options.

But they are not the only one. Russian fascist Vladimir Zhirinovsky and Alexander Dugin, has long been equally speak the language of extremism.

Zhirinovsky called for the “complete destruction” of the Baltic States and Poland. Philosopher Dugin has always supported imperialism and war. Putin himself is also involved in his policy of intimidation sabre-rattling.

At least, the recent review in Moscow testifies to the ferocity of the Russian political culture. As in other fascist States such as Nazi Germany, violence, murder and destruction have become the norm and routine, quite respectable gentlemen can now be considered genocide as an option is quite respectable policy for the Kremlin. It’s as if a democratic government took on the job of a person who, upon admission in his speech incited hatred.

But most of all concerned about the possibility that these talking heads don’t just participate in idle speculation and what if scenarios where they focus on the specifics — what the Ukrainian cities and Ukrainian what region they are targeting — assume that this time they mean it. This time they really can recommend to the Kremlin to engage in total war against Ukraine.

This is not the first time nedremliuschee speakers predicted the policy of the Kremlin with their comments. The USSR practiced this technique on a regular basis, through affiliated with the state analysts, with the support of political and state institutions regularly hinting and testing public opinion direct and indirect way, Aesopian language requires the Kremlin’s logic skills to decipher and understand. Under former President Boris Yeltsin, when Russia was still a democracy, politicians and analysts were able to Express themselves openly. In the Putin regime, indirect ways of influence and testing of public opinion back in fashion. And there’s a reason: Putin, benevolent dictator-the pretender, you need always and everywhere to hate the world. He can threaten and “growl”, but talk about the genocide, total war and mass killings have left to his subordinates.

Amazingly, only Ischenko, a Ukrainian traitor who knows Ukraine, do understand that the invasion will not be a cakewalk, and that Russian troops will suffer heavy losses. Contrasting to the message Kofman accept as “fact” that the armed forces of Ukraine will not fight.

Their myopia amazing if only because the Ukrainian army is fighting to the last with Russia and its militants in the Eastern Donbass. With only 6,000 people in full combat readiness at the beginning of 2014, when Russia invaded the Crimea and the Donbass, currently Ukraine has about 100,000 veteran troops, competent and experienced officer corps, and more modern weapons. Moreover, the population became more Patriotic and anti-Russian, and will fight. A Russian invasion is likely to succeed, because the Russia’s use of aviation may lead to destructive effect, but the subsequent occupation would be extremely costly.

Can Russia afford such a war, even when it is already embroiled in Syria? Possible. But the cost will be enormous, not only for Ukrainians, who will die hundreds of thousands, but also for the Russian, who will also die by the hundreds of thousands.

Based on the evaluations of several American experts, it is reasonable to conclude that Russia will need to go to the next level for the conduct of the occupation. To occupy the Donetsk and Luhansk region alone, Russia will have to apply somewhere around 26 702 thousand and 133 thousand 514 soldiers. A “land bridge” from Crimea to Transnistria would mean the occupation of Kherson, Mykolaiv and Odesa regions — which will require about 46 497 thousand and 92 thousand 994 soldiers. The occupation of all the seven South-Eastern regions would require 118 536 thousand soldiers (26 702 thousand for the Donetsk and Luhansk regions and 91 834 thousand for the rest) and 317 thousand 182 soldiers (514 133 thousand for the Donetsk and Luhansk regions and 183 of 668 thousand for the rest). If Russia decides to conquer all of Ukraine, will require an additional 548 587 thousand soldiers — or a total of 667 123 thousand to 865 thousand 769 soldiers. One only Kyiv and Kyiv oblast will require alone 90 thousand 676 occupying soldiers.

Can Russia afford such a war, even when it is already embroiled in Syria?

Possible. But the cost will be enormous, not only for Ukrainians, who will die hundreds of thousands, but also for the Russian, who will also die by the hundreds of thousands.

The prospects for such huge losses will deter rational leaders. Whether they are Putin, considering his own contribution to brutalization Russian culture and possible consent of Donald trump to the intervention of Russia in the near abroad? The answer is not necessarily “no”, that should be a cause for concern for the whole world.

Alexander Motyl is Professor of political science at Rutgers University in Newark (new Jersey, USA)