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Putin’s Winter Offensive by Mike Whitney

“Every dead Russian and Ukrainian in this war, every family anywhere in the world that suffers the consequences of this war, every business that shuts down because of the economic damage this war is causing and the increased risk of nuclear annihilation, it’s all US Govt made.” Twitter @KimDotcom – Proxy War (def)– a war instigated by a major power which does not itself become involved.
Ukrainian gains on the battlefield have been met by a widely-anticipated Russian escalation. On September 21, in a rare national address, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the mobilsation of 300,000 reservists who would be called to serve in the war in Ukraine. In recent weeks, the Russian army has suffered a number of setbacks due to its lack of sufficient manpower in the battlespace. Simply put, the Russians did not have enough combat troops to carry out their mission or to defend the vast area that has recently been annexed by Moscow. Russia’s Special Military Operation was never designed to seize and occupy great swaths of Ukrainian territory. In essence, the SMO was a police operation aimed at locating and eliminating the Ukrainian forces that had been bombarding and killing ethnic Russians living in east Ukraine. After numerous clashes with advancing NATO-trained battalions, it’s clear that Russia needs significant reinforcements to roll back Ukrainian forces and impose a security buffer around its new provinces. Russia’s critics see the under-staffing as an indication of military incompetence but, in fact, Moscow is merely adapting to a fluid situation in which both parties continue to raise the stakes.
Russia’s critics, of course, will dismiss this explanation as nonsense, even so, the calling up of 300,000 reservists shows that Putin’s generals realize they cannot achieve their strategic objectives with merely an “expeditionary force” but must adjust to changes on the ground. And that is precisely what they are doing; they are beefing up their forces at a time when Putin’s public approval rating is at an eye-watering 77%. So, while an earlier mobilization would have undoubtedly been met with widespread condemnation and rejection, the great majority of Russians now fully support the policy. Simply put, Putin has won the hearts and minds of the Russian people. He has convinced them that their country, traditions, culture and lives face an unprecedented existential threat.
Bottom line: Russia has now laid the groundwork for a broader and more violent conflict. 300,000 reservists have been called up, vast amounts of military hardware are being shipped to the front, and public opinion overwhelmingly supports the war-effort. All the signs point to a significant escalation in the fighting that will leave much of Ukraine in ruins while pushing Washington and Moscow closer to a direct confrontation.

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