Saturday, March 5, 2022

Russian: Fighting the Last War

 One problem most major powers seem to fall prey to is that when fighting a war, they always seem to fight the last war they were in. Russia seems to fallen back to the lessons from their last 2 foreign country offensives.

For Russia - back when they were the Soviet Union - the last war they participated in with troops (rather than just air support) was Afghanistan. In Afghanistan they quickly took the major cities, but then had to fight a long term insurgency that sapped USSR's energy on the field and support on the home front.

Overwhelming firepower in Afghanistan

So Putin learned from Afghanistan. He would take a lesson from the previous war that worked well, the Czech Invasion that put down the Prague Spring. He would flood the country with Russian Troops. Given the lack of arms by the local population, they quickly folded. And, by telling the Soviet Citizens the Czechs were rebelling against the Soviet very form of government, the internal population was compliant.

A monopoly on arms in Czechoslovakia

So, what got fucked up in Putin's thinking?

1. The Russians were not the sole supplier of weapons to Ukraine - whereas they had been to Czechoslovakia. Ukraine has some serious firepower delivered by other states. Furthermore, Czech public did not have almost any weapons and folded quickly against overwhelming firepower. Ukraine public has weapons, even if not great. AND they have seen Russian actions after beating an enemy and are fighting in a war or death condition.

2. The Czech war was fought against a socially isolated group, with the rest of the country not completely behind them. Ukraine resolve is united across the country.

3. Czechoslovakia was technically in the Soviet sphere of influence then. It was part of the Warsaw Pact and the fighting could be written off (and therefore ignored) as an internal conflict. The Ukraine has been independent of the Russian Sphere of influence, on and off for decades. And many countries was freaked out about a stronger country just taking over another.

4. Russian popular opinion turned the populace against the Afghan war after a long and costly struggle. To counter this, Russia depended on a lighting quick attack and win streategy (a blitzkrieg if you will).  This did not happen as the Ukraine offered surprisingly stiff resistance.

- In the run up to war, first Russia spread disinformation about why they were attacking - to save Russians in Eastern Ukraine who were subject to Ukrainian Genocide. This was believed by the proPutin public in Russia. After actually invading, the troops on the ground were kind of shocked this wasn't true.

- Once this got back to Russians proper, demonstrations against the war spread.  So Putin tried to stop out information about the progress of the war. Turns out that is harder to do that than it was before the internet.

- Yesterday, Russia marked any news they didn't like, including the terms "war" and "invasion" as fake news (that you for that, Orange Shitface Trump). And "fake news" as Putin defines it - and subject to his whims - is punishable by 15 years in prison. BBC, CBS, CNN and others have left Moscow in response.

5. In both previous wars, the Russia ultimate weapons - nucs - were ruled out before the war started. (Just as in the US invasion of Afghanistan) In the Ukraine invasion, Putin has already threatened nuclear weapons. He is now threatening to sabotage a nuclear power plant. Designed to intimidate and possible allies of Ukraine, it has strengthened international resolve against the invasion.

The Russians can, and probably win, dominate this war somehow. Putin has shown no problem killing untold civilians, bombing homes, schools and hospitals. The western powers, terrified of poking the bear AND terrified of losing Russia's oil and gas, will force Ukraine to accept whatever terms Russia offers that we can lie to ourselves and think are reasonable. And we will celebrate Ukraine's "Independence" while at the same time diminishing it.

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