Russian Allies Fall Away; Russia Shells Civilian Kyiv

Putin’s forces are more than a match for Ukrainian forces, in the long run. But Putin wanted to destroy Zelensky’s government quickly, and quickly set up a puppet government before resistance could harden. That objective is taking Putin longer than he expected.

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Putin needs friends, to watch his six. But countries in Central and Eastern Europe are condemning Putin, even the countries that until recently supported him Kazakhstan has formally refused to send troops to assist Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. Even China is distancing itself from Putin’s brutal folly, and merely abstained from a vote in the UN to condemn Russia, rather than voting against it as it would have done if China wanted to show support. India, also, refused to vote to support Putin.

Russia is Losing Men and Material

Reports from the battleground claim that Russia has lost thousands of men, hundreds of armored personnel carriers, almost a hundred tanks, about a dozen planes, and even more helicopters.

They are not playing tiddlywinks over there. But Putin failed to notify his commanders of the seriousness of the situation, before he sent them into harm’s way. Some of them thought they were only there to collect information or to perform military maneuver exercises. Certainly the lost Russian paratroopers who walked up to Ukrainian civilians to ask for directions, did not fully understand their mission parameters. Nor did they understand the rapidly hardening attitudes of ordinary Ukrainians, as more civilian infrastructure is destroyed by Russian missiles and artillery shells.

…if Russia pushes on to occupy much of the country and install a Kremlin-appointed puppet regime in Kyiv, a more protracted and thorny conflagration will begin. Putin will face a long, bloody insurgency that could spread across multiple borders, perhaps even reaching into Belarus to challenge Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, Putin’s stalwart ally. Widening unrest could destabilize other countries in Russia’s orbit, such as Kazakhstan, and even spill into Russia itself. When conflicts begin, unpredictable and unimaginable outcomes can become all too real. Putin may not be prepared for the insurgency—or insurgencies—to come.

Foreign Affairs

This operation of Putin’s is in danger of turning into a genuine “Charlie Foxtrot.” More highly placed Russian civilians are beginning to turn against Putin, as are thousands of ordinary Russians on the ground in Moscow, St. P., and other Russian cities. A quick victory was what he wanted, with minimal civilian casualties. Ukrainians are descendants of the original Rus, and most normal Russians do not want another massacre of the Rus to remind them of what Stalin did.

Even a relatively rapid takeover of Kyiv would probably not yield the results that Putin wishes:

“Yes, maybe they will take the city in two or three days,” a Kyiv resident told The Times. Oksana, who declined to give her full name as she searched in vain for a food market, added: “But then they will face the fight of their lives. Russian soldiers will never sleep soundly in Kyiv — we will make them afraid every moment.”

The New “French Resistance”

Russian troops have not fought against a real adversary at this scale for decades. Young Russians — growing up in an atmosphere of polluted air/water/soil — are not really healthy. It is more and more difficult for Russians to field an army of healthy conscripts. But these Russian fighters in Ukraine are mostly volunteers. Russian leaders did not want to trust the conscripts in a war for fear that they would surrender merely to get out of Russia.

Is China Russia’s Friend?

China has its own set of priorities with regard to global and territorial ambitions. Russian “friendship” is way down the list.

The 1.35 billion Chinese people south of the border outnumber Russia’s 144 million almost 10 to 1. The discrepancy is even starker for Siberia on its own, home to barely 38 million people, and especially the border area, where only 6 million Russians face over 90 million Chinese. With intermarriage, trade and investment across that border, Siberians have realized that, for better or for worse, Beijing is a lot closer than Moscow.

There are two main points here:

  • First, as outlined also by Murawiec, the population imbalance on the two sides of the border is very destabilizing. Eventually, this could even lead to China using a strategy similar to that now employed by Russia in eastern Ukraine: if the Russian borderlands end up with a sizable number of ethnic Chinese with ties to China, the Chinese regime could hand out Chinese passports on the Russian side of the border and then pursue de facto annexation in the name of protecting the ethnic minority from “encroachments” by Moscow. 
  • Secondly, it’s significant that the actual location of the border was not formed in the mists of ancient history, but is rather a result of nineteenth-century politics. The fact the border was set by the “unequal treaties” of 1858 and 1860 ties the current Russia-China border to China’s “Century of Humiliation.” It was during this period (approximately 1840-1950) when China was on the losing side of numerous wars and treaties inflicted on China by the world’s great powers.

This continues to be highly relevant in the minds of some Chinese nationalists who base assessment of current policies in Beijing on the grounds of ensuring that another century of humiliation never occurs again.  _Source

It is not a question of IF China will stab Putin in the back. It is a question of WHEN.

Who Will Want to Get Rid of Putin First?

If Putin continues to alienate former allies and is ultimately unsuccessful in achieving most of his objectives for the Ukrainian invasion, China may not have the opportunity to eliminate the source of their embarrassment. Russian oligarchs who have been dominated — and sometimes murdered — by Putin for decades now, may begin to understand that all that they have worked for is in danger unless they eliminate the madman who is leading Russia to destruction.

Russia is a fractious hellhole for political maneuvering, and for many years after Putin is taken out there may be no one who can keep the country from disintegrating — particularly if the Chinese decide to get involved in the dismantling.

Putin risked all of this when he made the cracked-brain decision to invade Ukraine, for no better reason than his own inner fears and overweening pride. He is much like Hitler in that regard. A possible epitaph: “He believed his own propaganda for longer than he should have.”

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