Special Briefing: The Russia Ukrainian Incursion
Mere days ago Russia evacuated their embassy, the United Kingdom has sent disposable anti-tank rockets and Canadian Special forces has been confirmed entering the region to aid and assist in evacuation. And finally the United States has said the quiet part out loud that they can do nothing to stop a Russian Invasion.
All but confirming Russian Invasion is imminent.
But Why Now? Over what, and implications does this have?
Read on to find out and how this could impact you.
Ukraine the breadbasket of Europe has been resource rich and a buffer zone for Russia against NATO and her allies. Ukraine has over the past several years made attempts to join NATO for fear of Russian aggression.
NATO has made attempts to add Ukraine to their alliance making them a defacto Poland through the Article 5 doctrine. (an attack against one is an attack against all.)
Russia has been wary of NATO’s continued expansion, especially after the fall of the USSR, and has met NATO with increasing hostility as it has continued its eastward expansion. Now only a few countries act as a buffer zone between Russia and NATO, Ukraine being a focal point within the region due to its positioning and history.
Why Act Now?
With Ukraine potentially being entered into NATO this has forced the hand of the Russians to act. However, what actions they take next depends on the theory you believe Russia is operating under.
Restoring the Empire:
Many Neoliberal policymakers believe that Putin still wants to rebuild the Soviet empire and restore the glory to for former USSR. This would be most notable by increasing the sphere of influence and territory occupied by the Russian Government.
An odd time to do so given he has ruled Russia for close to 30 years with minimal expansions.
However the theory is not without merit as Russia and Putin have previous stated part of the reasoning for the Crimea annexation was to “free” ethnic Russians.
The Ukrainians have dammed off a major canal flowing into the Russian eastern part of occupied Ukraine an Crimea resulting in a shortage of fresh water.
To gain control over the Dnieper river and surrounding arable land it requires to invade roughly half the country of Ukraine.
Russia does not have the resources for a full scale drawn out kinetic conflict. The region would easily become a quagmire akin to the early 80’s and 90’s eastern blocs they fought in and for.
Russia is trying to maintain a buffer zone between itself and NATO to ensure its survival. Having Ukraine encroach on this space is a major threat to Russian National Security. Russia must by logic: invade or disrupt Ukraine’s entry into NATO at all cost for the means of self preservation.
The Truth, it’s a mix of all three.
All else equal every country would love to expand, especially if it contains people similar to their own. Resources and Survival are two of the major drivers for conflict and Russia is no different.
The M14 is a major coastal highway connecting Ukraine and Crimea. It is a major consideration for occupation. The occupation of this highway would allow both the continued and further expansion into the region. The highway stretches from Crimea to Odessa. Sealing off Ukraine from the Black sea and is a vital shipping route.
Occupying this road entrenches any Russian expansion deep into the territory.
Ukraine during the 2014 invasion of the Crimea peninsula dammed a major canal supplying fresh water to the region of Crimea. This has slowly dryed up over the past several years and is now dangerously low.
Russia by taking the Dnieper river in the middle of the State could blow open the dam making Crimea far more survivable once more and put defensive measures to prevent another dam from being built.
Zaporizhzhia hosts one of Ukraine’s few nuclear power plants. This industrial city is vital to the region not only for power but manufacturing.
It is key to ensuring security of the region and to prevent Ukraine from rearming themselves. Preventing a counter attack by controlling Ukraine’s vital resources.
Three Strategies for Incursion:
Total Invasion: Unlikely
Total invasion of the State of Ukraine, while militarily feasible is both strategically and tactically unsound. Strategically conquering Ukraine in-totality would remove Ukraine as a buffer zone between Russia and NATO, a red line that Russia has advocated for well over a decade.
Further occupying the Capital of Ukraine, Kiev would be unwise as not only would the Russian Government need to install a puppet government, they would also need to station significant personnel indefinitely to maintain order. The further westward Russia expands the more hostile the territory becomes, with Kiev being the most hostile. Kiev would become a warzone of guerrilla warfare
Total occupation would also give NATO and the International Community pretext for significant retaliation. Something that Russia seeks to avoid.
Ancestral Invasion/Half Measure: Likely
Russia is most likely to reclaim the ancestral lands of Russia of “Novorossiya” or New Russia. Capturing half of the country including the Dnieper River. This gives them cover of freeing ethnic Russians from tyrannical rule and mistreatment (damming of the river as propaganda).
This also secures both the regions fresh water and arable land strengthening Russias natural Resources and supply chains.
Strategic Strikes: 25%
If Russia merely wanted to punish Ukraine and keep strategic advantage, they could do a “minor incursion” by targeting only key the infrastructure, as mentioned above.
Targeting these key points mitigates international backlash, while advancing Russian International objectives: Keeping Ukraine out of NATO and further strengthening Russia’s position within the region.
Destroying the key infrastructure and allowing the Russian backed separatists to continue keeps Ukraine off balance and drains them of resources that prevent future defensive rearmament. For it is a civil conflict, not an international conflict, thus NATO cannot interfere.
Regardless of Strategy Russia is amassing forces along the border and within neighbour Belarus to keep their strategic options available and further act as a deterrence to NATO.
What This Means for you
This geopolitical event has several consequences for the average person. Globally we may see embargoes and sanctions against Russia meaning both imports and Russian exports will be affected. Russia is the buyer for a fair amount of agricultural goods. And obviously Russian goods will be more difficult to come by.
If you’re European this could be disastrous as Russia provides the majority of the continent with energy and heat. Prices will rise even if supply chains remain stable due to pending instability.
Globally Russian aggression will make markets more volatile and increase the price of commodities.
These effects while not catastrophic in of themselves add another element into the systemic global crisis occuring.
Russia due to NATO’s continued eastern expansion will seek to stop these actions and provocations. To do so they will enter Ukraine targeting the strategic areas of the Dnieper River and the M14 highway to secure and advance Russian national interests.
The EU will do little as Russia supplies the Union with both energy and gas neutering their ability for true retaliation.
Energy and Markets will become more volatile affecting everyone as the uncertainty of crisis unfolds.
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