Monday, June 24, 2024

The Day After Russia Attacks

Authors:  Alexander Vindman and Dominic Cruz Bustillos

Affiliation: U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel (Retired) and Former Director for European Affairs at the National Security Council, Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies Foreign Policy Institute; Lawfare Institute

Organization/Publisher: Foreign Affairs

Date/Place: January 21, 2022/USA

Type of Literature: Article

Word Count: 3000


Keywords: Ukraine, America, and Russia


The recent conflict and disputes between Russia and Ukraine have fueled a geopolitical sensation among global powers and multinational organizations. It is a sensation that predicts inevitable war between Russia and Ukraine over the moratorium on NATO membership for Ukraine. Despite the series of diplomatic negotiations between Russia and NATO and the west, Russia has remained at a standstill in its opposition to Ukraine’s membership in NATO and Moscow is now opting for the dismantling of Europe’s security architecture which the west will not subscribe to. As Europe is on the brink of the largest military offensive since the Second World War, the author forecasts and posits the numerous scenarios that could possibly occur. It is confirmed that Moscow has deployed 30,000 soldiers in the northern Ukraine equipped with S400 missiles, six Russian war ships are already anchored near the southern Ukraine, while 15,000 Pro-Russian insurgents are camping in the eastern Ukraine; and beyond them is the Russian border where the highest number of soldiers are deployed, amounting to 100,000. The live-fire drills and exercises that are currently taking place and the arrival of logistics units are indicative of a force preparing for action; even Washington predicted the inevitability of Russian invasion.  If diplomacy fails, Moscow’s ultimate aim is to render Ukraine into a failed state by incapacitating its military strength, causing chaos in Ukraine’s domestic politics and destabilising Ukraine’s government. Moscow is convinced that this will contain the Ukraine security threat as an intractable adversary and increasingly serious security challenge. One of the scenarios that Moscow could resolve to is the annexation of the Donbas region of Eastern Ukraine. The Kremlin has already pushed a bill that recognizes the separatist statelets in the Donbas in a manner akin to the way Russia recognized Abkhazia and South Ossetia, two breakaway regions in Georgia. According to some scholars, this will excite Moscow as they consider it as victory. A second scenario that Russia could resolve to is the seizure of Ukraine’s economic power houses and its important places. It will be less offensive, however, Russia would seize Mariupol, a major Ukrainian port on the Sea of Azov, as well as Kharkiv, a major city with symbolic importance as the interwar capital of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. Nevertheless, with its land, air and sea might, Russia may attack Ukraine’s most important port from the east and south and Odessa could be seized. It is important to note that despite occupying Ukraine’s major cities and exposing its forces to urban warfare, this will weaken Ukraine but will not render it a failed state. The third scenario is an all-out invasion. In this case, all three flanks will be attacked as Russia employs its land, sea and air power on all axes. Russian forces will move towards the northeast, while others will stay in Crimea and invade from the south and east. On the other hand, some forces could also pincer Kyiv. Many argue that the third scenario could be harsh as Moscow will target the Ukrainian government, the military, critical infrastructure, and places important to Ukrainians’ national identity and morale. If this scenario goes as planned, the Ukrainian Government, military and economic infrastructure are doomed to fail. However, any attempt to invade Ukraine will attract strident and unprecedented consequences to Russia. The USA and its allies are in support of Ukraine and the US House of Representatives and Senate have already introduced a bill, the Defending Ukraine Sovereignty Act of 2022, that resembles a wish list for advocates of Ukrainian sovereignty. Moscow could also face a plethora of sanctions such as sanctions on Russian officials who support an attack on Ukraine, the public disclosure of ill-gotten assets belonging to Putin, the disconnection of Russian financial institutions from the SWIFT system, a review of sanctions on Nord Stream 2, and sanctions on the Russian energy and mining sectors. In a nutshell, Europe is facing the biggest military conflict since the Second World War as the conflict of interest involves powerful countries such as Russia, the US and EU, while China and India still remain mute. However, the US has no intention to deter Russia forcefully and in the same vein it will not back down on principles or values that it has espoused for decades. On the other hand, Kyiv is toiling with domestic politics and many argue that any attempt to face Russia is tantamount to political suicide. As it stands, Kyiv and the west should expect the unexpected from Russia.

By: Muhamed Ali, CIGA Research Intern



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