Putin chooses a queer tactic of desperation. First, annex territories that you do not control and never will. Then threaten to unleash a nuclear war if “your new territories” are threatened with attack.
Peter Zeihan looks at which cities Putin will threaten to nuke, in order to try to achieve goals that his half-destroyed army is unable to achieve:
The main Ukrainian army is moving to take away the occupied territories from the invaders. Russia never actually controlled these territories, since the civilian populations of Ukraine never gave up the fight. Ukrainian partisans are active behind enemy lines, killing collaborators and the same Russian occupiers who are supposedly to conduct the coming “annexation.”
Ukrainian partisan activity is likely driving panic among Russian occupation authorities and collaborators. The Ukrainian Resistance Center reported on September 19 that Ukrainian partisans used an IED to kill collaborationist policeman Denys Stefanok in Melitopol on September 18. Stefankov was reportedly responsible for interrogating Ukrainians and hunting for Ukrainian partisans. Occupation authorities denied reports of his death on September 18. The Ukrainian Resistance Center also reported on September 19 that Russian forces are increasingly hunting for saboteurs in Berdyansk following an attack that killed two collaborators on September 16. The Ukrainian General Staff reported on September 19 that Russian collaborators and pro-Russia residents of occupied Bilokorakinskyi and Troitskyi, the two northern raions of Luhansk Oblast that are closest to the Kharkiv border where Ukrainian forces are advancing, are fleeing to Russia.  __ Source: Understanding War (ISW)
Russians Becoming Trapped Inside Stranded Crimea
Ukrainian forces are now attacking on a broad front and expect to control all of Kherson province by the end of the year. This means major losses for the Russian in terms of troops captured or driven out of the area. In addition, Ukraine will control most of the water supply for the Crimean Peninsula and control territory close enough to the Kerch Strait bridge to damage or destroy it with missiles or airstrikes. The Kerch Strait bridge was completed in 2014 at a cost of nearly four billion dollars. It is the main supply route between Russia and Crimea. The only other rail line runs from Donbas to Crimea and is under attack by Ukrainian partisans.
Russia troop losses are another problem. Russia is unable to recruit enough troops to replace losses and a recent leaked report from the Russian Ministry of Finance completed in late August gave the Russian army’s “special military operations” in Ukraine some death toll numbers. According to this report, the Russian government needs to allocate 361 billion rubles for the pensions of the fallen Russian troops, an average of about 7 million rubles per person, and a total of 48,759 dead. Ukrainian military intel currently puts the Russian dead at about 54,000, a number many Westerners dismiss as inflated. Another Russian weakness that is largely ignored by Western media is the degree of corruption in the Russian military. This has led to chronic shortages of essential supplies and equipment for the troops. This was particularly the case with thousands of Russian “reserve” troops recruited and financed by individual provinces.Like Rats in a Trap
The Growing Partisan Movement in Ukraine Bodes Ill for Russia
Kyiv was a booming city when Moscow was a slum of mud covered sticks. Ukraine is an actual country. Russia is a make-believe country, a slapped together empire of unhappy nations and peoples who have long been eager to break from the serfmaster.
The continued success of Ukrainian forces results in more Ukrainians believing the situation is improving for them personally and for all Ukrainians. This shift in attitudes towards Ukrainian success and against Russia has created a growing partisan movement in the occupied territory and open hostility towards Russian civilian and Ukrainian collaborators. More of these pro-Russia civilians are fleeing to Russia and Russian troops in the occupied territories find themselves under growing attack by the partisans, who are directly supported by Ukrainian special forces with clandestine supplies of weapons and air and missile attacks on targets identified by Ukrainian civilians in the occupied territories. This sort of thing hasn’t been seen in Europe since World War II, when it played a major role in driving the Germans out. The Russians never expected this degree of popular resistance and are unable to deal with it.
Ukrainians are less surprised because Ukrainians have been fighting foreign domination for about 1,500 years. It was 1,500 years ago that the first “Ukrainians” appeared, if you define a nationality as a common language and cultural customs. This occurred at the same time a unified Russia appeared and was able to expand more rapidly than Ukraine so that today there are six times more Russian than Ukrainian speakers. Forcing others to adopt your language is a common tool for linguistic expansion. Ukrainians had much less ambition for imperial expansion. This means that the continued existence of the Ukrainian language and nationalism is something of an achievement, one that Russia hoped to eliminate with a successful invasion of Ukraine in 2022.StrategyPage
Europe Faces a Tough Winter; Russia May Not Survive
Europe is facing a great “growing up moment,” when it begins to realize that its great dreams of running their nations on “wind and solar power” were nothing but childish fantasies. They had been secretly relying on Russian oil & gas while they were pretending to be succeeding with their grand green renewable dreams. The stupid ones will keep on dreaming, but the more practical and intelligent Europeans are being forced to face the music of their former stupidity.
Meanwhile back in Moscow, the continued existence of Russia as we know it, depends upon the Russian perceptions of who is winning Putin’s insane war in Ukraine. As more Russians learn to see through the Kremlin smokescreen of delusions, the ground under Putin and his lackeys will grow ever less secure.
Russia’s delicate position does not make Europe’s precarious situation any more pleasant. Europe had made itself utterly dependent on Russian petroleum and other Russian raw materials. Doing without is going to be painful.