Putin's 'Psychic Attack'
Rooting out Russia's moles
On January 26, 2021, Ex-MSD lawyer turned London-based lecturer Vladimir Pastukhov makes a couple of interesting points about the Ukraine-Russia mess in his blog published by Echo Moscow. Here’s a rough xlation.
1. Between these two extreme statements - "They are all morons there.” and “They are geniuses of insidious intrigues, acting according to a meticulously verified and diabolical plan, one that is inaccessible to the understanding of mere mortals." there is a huge gray zone, a fog that hides a sad truth. People who determine the Kremlin’s policy today, ordinary citizens, are not fools, but too few stars have fallen from the sky. These people have a tenacious practical “peasant” mindset (although they are burdened with degrees). They see the risks. They believe that they have an “exit strategy.” But, as often happens with these people, they have not yet thought out the proposition [of invading Ukraine] thoroughly.
2. The war with Ukraine of the 2022 model cannot be a repetition of the military campaign of 2014-2015, which led to the signing of the enslaving Minsk Protocol. Even if Ukraine is defeated in this war (which is possible, but by no means guaranteed), the price of victory this time around will be completely different. The West, without directly intervening in the conflict (also likely, but not necessarily), will provide Ukraine with all the necessary military and financial assistance so that it can continue this war "to the last Ukrainian." If someone hopes that the Ukrainian army, with all its known vulnerabilities, being equipped with an unlimited amount of modern high-tech weapons, will not be able to inflict significant damage on the Russian army, they are mistaken. Both sides of the conflict, after all, are the heirs of the same military school.
3. The Kremlin cannot fail to understand that after a certain point, the damage suffered in the battles for Ukraine will turn out to be politically unacceptable for the Kremlin. It is one thing to "manage" the situation with the death of several hundred conditional "volunteers" and quite another to deal with the death of several thousand soldiers of the regular army. The hardships of a long (and this cannot be ruled out) military campaign, not only in the material sense, but also psychologically, as well as severe sanctions against the elites (which, in this case, are almost inevitable) - all this individually can be ignored. Taken together this would be the best gift the Kremlin could give the opposition that has lost faith in itself. But for what? No one seems to be attacking.
4. The secret, apparently, is that the Kremlin is hatching a “victory strategy” that will save it from all these troubles and mount a blitzkrieg as the only format of war acceptable to Russia. In a sense, the strange-sounding British statement about a coup d'état is not without meaning, because a coup in the broadest sense of any turmoil is the main condition for the success of Russian intervention. Without this, the military operation in Ukraine seems to me an extremely risky undertaking for the Kremlin. For it to be like in 1914, the resistance of the Ukrainian army must be undermined from within before Russian troops even cross the border. That is why the Kremlin is actively interested in whether Ukraine has died. (Ще не вмерла Украiна?)
5. What Russia is doing today most of all reminds me of the famous Psychic Attack scene from the movie Chapaev. It’s is a well-planned operation calculated down to the smallest psychological detail designed to cause panic in Kyiv. It allows for activating all the underground "moles" Russia's foreign intelligence agencies have packed into country over the years. The result should result in confusion and temporary paralysis of military machine, without which a "bloodless” invasion would be practically impossible. I'm afraid to make a mistake, but in the coming weeks, the center of gravity of the confrontation may move from the external borders into Ukraine. That is where events will transpire that will determine whether or not there will be a big war. If Ukraine resists a split and rebellion, there is a chance to avoid war. If it fails, a military invasion could become almost inevitable.
6. In a sense, the main enemy of Ukraine today is its internal mood, which provokes the aggressor and creates in him the illusion of the possibility of a "small victorious war." An ill-timed brawl between the two main political parties, an almost Putin-style fight against the oligarchs, the bombing of Zhytomyr to spite Moscow (a set of excessive and controversial measures to de-Russify the public sphere in a country where a third of the population continues to speak Russian) - all this contributes in various ways to the success of Russian aggression and creates fertile ground for emergence of an anti-Maidan movement. So far, the front line of the Russia-Ukraine war runs along Bankova Street [in Kyiv]. Or maybe [Ukraine] [has died] already?