Will Russia Be Able to Achieve Its Goals?
In December 2022, President of the Russian Federation V. Putin made a number of program statements on the goals of the unleashed war against Ukraine at the current stage and in the future. According to him, currently the main of the goals is to incorporate Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions of Ukraine into Russia. At this, he acknowledged that the war against Ukraine would be protracted and would require Russia to exert all its forces. At the same time, in the context of the aggravation of relations between Russia and the United States/NATO over Ukraine, he spoke about the growing threat of nuclear war. Moreover, V. Putin did not rule out the possibility of amending Russia’s military doctrine, which would allow a preventive use of nuclear weapons.
In general, such statements testify to the emergence of a qualitatively new situation during the hostilities at the front lines in Ukraine, both of the tactical and strategic nature. Of course, the Kremlin has not abandoned its global plans for Ukraine. However, it is forced to revise them, taking into account the peculiarities of the current situation. Let’s analyze this issue in more detail.
…The protraction of the war against Ukraine leads to increasing negative consequences both for the whole of Russia and directly for the Putin regimeа…
The protraction of the war against Ukraine in the absence of real prospects for the Russian army to achieve significant success at the front leads to increasing negative consequences both for the whole of Russia and directly for the Putin regime. Therefore, in Putin’s environment, are growing the positions of political and economic (oligarchic) groups that advocate a temporary limitation of the goals of the “special operation” in Ukraine to taking full control of the already occupied territories and concentrating efforts on their integration into the Russian Federation.
It is quite obvious that in modern realities, supporters of such an idea have an advantage over their opponents, who are against the pause in the hostilities and demand to continue full-scale hostilities until the final victory over Ukraine and its liquidation as an independent state. This is exactly what V. Putin’s statement on plans to incorporate only four regions of Ukraine into Russia testified.
However, the declaration of such intentions does not mean that Moscow refuses to destroy Ukraine and finally resolve the “Ukrainian problem”. The Kremlin just seeks to bargain for some time in order to restore and regroup its armed forces to be able to continue a full-scale war against Ukraine. For the same purpose, Moscow’s calls for the resumption of negotiations with Ukraine have become more frequent, but still on Russia’s terms.
However, Russia’s failures at the front prove that it is worth focusing on more pressing issues, in particular, how exactly Moscow will “annex” Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions of Ukraine. Although everything is already clear. First, it needs to at least capture them in full, which it is trying to do.
…The offensive of the Russian troops with the operational goals of the occupation of the entire territory of Donetsk region turned into separate tactical clashes…
But, as the development of events shows, the Russian troops cannot achieve tangible success even where they are still continuing an active offensive — in the Bakhmut and Avdiivka directions. According to Ukrainian military, the fighting there is increasingly becoming counterintuitive in nature. This is when both offensive and defensive actions are carried out on both sides. That is, the offensive of the Russian troops with the operational goals of the occupation of the entire territory of Donetsk region turned into separate tactical clashes.
And in Luhansk region, Ukrainian troops do not stop counter-offensive operations and are already on the outskirts of the cities of Kreminna and Svatove. As you know, their liberation will allow Ukrainian troops to radically change the situation in this region in their favor, as stated in most analytical assessments. Besides, Russia has no chance to seize the city of Zaporizhzhia and re-occupy the city of Kherson. The enemy could not enter Zaporizhzhia or at least get closer to it even in March 2022, in the most difficult times for Ukraine, when the city was defended only by units of the National Guard and Territorial Defense. And Russia occupied Kherson only because its defense was not properly organized at all. Now both of these cities are reliably protected and able to withstand any enemy offensive.
The situation for the invaders remains extremely difficult in the occupied territories of Zaporizhzhia region and the left-bank part of Kherson region. On the one hand, the forward positions and rear objects of the Russian troops are constantly under fire from Ukrainian long-range and other artillery. On the other hand, there are partisans and the Special Operations Forces (SOF) of Ukraine, who have already “set fire to the ground” under the feet of the enemy.
…Today Russia’s losses in the south of Ukraine already outweigh the possibilities of their replenishment…
According to some estimates (a number of Russian military bloggers included), today Russia’s losses in the south of Ukraine already outweigh the possibilities of their replenishment. Especially in the conditions of systematic strikes of Ukrainian artillery on key objects of transport infrastructure of the region and attacks on them by the SOF and partisans. This significantly complicates both the possibilities for the Russian troops’ maneuver and for their logistics. And one more thing: American and British expert institutions studying Russia’s war against Ukraine point out the facts of preparation and even the beginning of offensive actions of Ukrainian troops from the controlled part of Zaporizhzhia region in the southwestern direction along the left bank of the Dnipro River. The operation is planned or is already being carried out in order to liberate the left-bank part of Kherson region (including making it impossible to strike at the city of Kherson and the right bank of Kherson region) and reach the Crimean isthmuses. If successful, a further offensive can be launched towards the cities of Melitopol and Berdyansk, Zaporizhzhia region.
…The Kremlin is trying to seize the initiative in the war. It seeks to resume large-scale offensive operations in the main sections of the front…
In general, such a development of events implies a real prospect of Russia’s losing most of its achievements in the war, starting from February 24, 2022, which is unacceptable for the Putin regime from a political point of view. Especially after Moscow’s formal annexation of the occupied territories of Ukraine, which were declared “new subjects” of the Russian Federation.
Under such circumstances, the Kremlin is trying to seize the initiative in the war. It seeks to resume large-scale offensive operations in the main sections of the front, as it was in February-March 2022. This is what the announced general mobilization actually means: replenishment with the necessary resources of combat units that have suffered losses, as well as increasing the combat potential of the Russian army. At the same time, the Russian authorities have accelerated measures to put the country’s economy on a war footing.
At present, the steps of the Russian leadership to implement such plans have already yielded certain results. For example, 318 thousand people were drafted into the armed forces and other security services of the Russian Federation. At least half of them underwent retraining in training centers for one and a half to two months. The production of missiles and other weapons is being established, and so is the repair and modernization of military equipment, which is removed from conservation. Sewing enterprises are switching to the production of military uniforms (including warm ones), camouflage gowns and nets, sleeping bags, tents, etc.
The volume of military expenditures of the Russian Federation is increasing. In 2023, it is planned to allocate 9 trillion rubles or 143 billion US dollars, which is 32 % of the expenditure part of the state budget of the Russian Federation. Such indicators are the largest in the history of modern Russia.
The overwhelming majority of the mobilized have already been sent to the front and are included in the combat units of the RF Armed Forces. This allowed the Russian military command to strengthen offensives on the Bakhmut and Avdiivka directions, as well as to move to counterattacks in the areas of the cities of Kreminna and Svatove.
The grouping of Russian troops in the occupied territories of the south of Ukraine is growing. They are also increasing activity within the framework of local offensive actions in order to improve their tactical position and to hold back Ukrainian troops.
According to some data, reserves of the RF Armed Forces are being formed near Ukraine, intended to strengthen the first echelon of Russian troops on Ukrainian territory, including to prepare for a new full-scale offensive, which may begin in January-February 2023.
…Partial mobilization so far did not help Moscow achieve any tangible changes in the war against Ukraineи…
At the same time, partial mobilization so far did not help Moscow achieve any tangible changes in the war against Ukraine. It only achieved new problems related to the protracted war and the forcible conscription of a significant number of citizens into the army without proper provision for such a process.
So far, we will not analyze the negative consequences for Russia as a result of the imposed Western sanctions, although they cause it the greatest strategic losses. Let’s just say that it has already lost about 70 % of its shares in the world oil market, and with it — more than half of oil and gas revenues. And they are core of the financial base of the Russian war against Ukraine. Currently, the volume of such a base is significantly reduced. But this is only half the trouble for the Russian Federation. No large-scale offensive is possible without sufficient quantity and appropriate quality of weapons and ammunition, at least they should be no less and no worse than that of the enemy. Until the summer of 2022, Russia had a tangible advantage over Ukraine in all these indicators. Now there is no such advantage, and Russia is actually unable to restore it, which has been repeatedly stated in various analytical assessments of Ukrainian and Western experts.
…Russia can hope for victory over Ukraine solely at the expense of its demographic potential…
The main expert opinion is that Russia can hope for victory over Ukraine solely at the expense of its demographic potential, namely, the mass of people who, despite the losses, will be thrown into battle. However, it will require general mobilization, which will cause even more significant problems for the Russian Federation. Thus, even the conscription in Russia of a small number of reservists numbering about 320 thousand completely overstrained the entire state mobilization system. As you know, it was unable to provide mobilized persons with uniforms, proper ammunition, and even food. Conscripts mostly purchased them at their own expense, mainly received as a one-time incentive after being drafted into military service.
Later, local authorities of the Russian regions joined the solution of these problems. They unsuccessfully try to provide assistance to the mobilized from their regions (what should be supplied, but is not supplied by the army).
The state, military and local budgets of Russia also lack funds for monetary support for servicemen, compensation for the injuries and deaths of soldiers and officers, as well as for benefits for them and their families. And the mobilized are usually turned into “cannon fodder” for the sake of reconnaissance of Ukrainian positions before the introduction into battle of regular units of the Russian army (which have been lucky enough to survive since the beginning of the war in February 2022).
Who can now be surprised by what is now happening in the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, starting with the riots of the mobilized in the rear and ending with their escape from the front line with weapons in their hands? Russia is trying to somehow deal with this by introducing harsh penalties for deserters, in particular, the death penalty without trial and investigation.
The shortage of personnel in the Russian army is somehow compensated by militants of private military companies such as PMC Wagner. Now they are voluntary-compulsory recruit all sorts of criminals from prisons and penal colonies. There are no problems with them at all. They are rightless, no one controls their number, and therefore they are sent to death without any hesitation or remorse. Although recently prisoners have been trying to repel those who drive them to slaughter. And in the most radical forms — with the use of weapons given to them.
…Each mobilized in the country is a “plus” one soldier in the Russian army and a “minus” one worker in the Russian economy…
Russia would somehow survive this. But each mobilized in the country is a “plus” one soldier in the Russian army and a “minus” one worker in the Russian economy. Three hundred thousand of such “minuses” have already led to a shortage of labor in Russia, which applies even to those enterprises that manufacture military products. Therefore, the industry and agriculture of the Russian Federation suffer additional losses, which further complicate the economic situation in the country.
As you can see, even partial mobilization in the Russian Federation leads to extremely serious consequences. Let alone the general mobilization, which can be announced at the beginning of next year, if the partial one is resultless! Neither Russia nor its economy will simply withstand this mobilization. Moreover, general mobilization is not just an additional conscription of hundreds of thousands of people into the army, it is a total militarization of the economy.
…Moscow understands such prospects, and therefore it will be forced to invent new gestures of “goodwill”…
Obviously, Moscow understands such prospects, and therefore it will be forced to invent new gestures of “goodwill” such as the withdrawal of its troops from the occupied southern territories of Ukraine. As a result, the war may return to where it began, namely to the Donbas. And what happens next, time will tell.
By the way, for the first time in many years, V. Putin refused to hold a final press conference and to address to the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation in December 2022. And this is tantamount to the fact that he admitted Russia’s defeat in the war with Ukraine and now fears to show up in public in order to avoid uncomfortable questions.
Even more indicative in nature was the answer of the Press Secretary of the President of the Russian Federation D. Peskov to the question whether Russia intends to annex Chernihiv and Odesa regions of Ukraine. According to D. Peskov, “right now, Moscow’s main task is to protect the inhabitants of the Donbas”. He didn’t mention the occupied territories of the south of Ukraine at all…
…Russia is beginning to “deflate”, although it is still trying to impose its will on Ukraine and the West…
That’s it. Russia, as we can see, is beginning to “deflate”, although it is still trying to impose its will on Ukraine and the West. Including with the help of terrorist strikes on critical energy infrastructure and peaceful settlements of Ukraine, as well as nuclear blackmail of Russia’s adversaries.
However, this will not help it. Our joint victory over Russia is just a matter of time.