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On September 21, Russian President Vladimir Putin once again delivered a televised speech to the nation, lasting 14 minutes and 24 seconds, sending a strong signal to escalate Ukraine’s “special military operation”, implying the use of nuclear weapons to defend the “new territory” of Ukraine’s occupied zone, shocking the world.
Putin announced in his speech that he had signed a partial mobilization order, which was the first military mobilization of the Soviet Union after World War II. Russian Defense Minister Shoigu later accepted an interview with the media and confirmed that 300,000 reservists will be recruited during the mobilization. Comprehensive analysis of the content of the speeches of the two people, there are five intentions of local mobilization:
First, control the existing contact lines. Putin said that the Russian army “is fighting on a contact line that is more than a thousand kilometers long.” The “line of contact” claimed by Putin, also known as the “front line” by Shoigu, actually alludes to the “line of actual control” and the “new border”. Kartapolov, chairman of the State Duma Defense Committee, disclosed that the Russian army will establish several new troops to “protect the state borders”, hinting at protecting the more than 1,000 kilometers of “new borders” that have been formed in the occupied areas of Ukraine.
Second, to control the Ukrainian occupied territories. Shoigu said bluntly: “Control the liberated territories of Ukraine”. The “autonomous” agencies of the four occupied regions (Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporozhye, Kherson) simultaneously announced that they would hold a referendum on joining Russia from September 23 to 27, and the results were not in doubt. Putin has pledged to “support” the referendum result. The Russian army occupied Ukraine with an area of about 90,000 square kilometers, accounting for about 15% of Ukraine’s total land area. “Legitimizing” it is an explanation for the country. After a war, the price was heavy, and nothing was gained. A strong person like Putin would also be under enormous pressure, and his historical status would be completely denied.
Third, countering Western military aid to Ukraine. The U.S. provided more than two-thirds (over $25 billion) of aid and arms to Ukraine, and the U.K. provided about 10 percent. If it weren’t for the support of the United States and Europe, Ukraine would have collapsed long ago. Putin accused “the purpose of Western countries is to weaken, divide and ultimately destroy our country”, and the Russian army “fights not only neo-Nazi forces, but actually the entire Western military machine.” On September 22, Russian Presidential Press Secretary Peskov specifically pointed out that “NATO is using its own logistical capabilities to fight against Russia.” Russia spends about 300 million US dollars in war every day, and its comprehensive national strength is not as good as that of the United States, and it is not enough to confront the West. The more protracted the war is, the more passive it is, and it must be resolved quickly.
Fourth, make up for the serious shortage of troops. At present, the Russian army has invested about 150,000 regular troops in Ukraine, plus about 100,000 mercenaries and local armed forces. After three rounds of general mobilization, the Ukrainian army has accumulated more than 500,000 troops, and the fourth round of mobilization is underway. The Ukrainian army pretended to attack Kherson on the southern front, and the Russian army deployed 20,000 reinforcements from Kharkov on the northern front, resulting in the emptiness of the northern front. Shoigu reported that 5,937 Russian troops were killed, 61,207 Ukrainian troops were killed and 49,368 were injured. Conventionally, the casualties of soldiers reported by both sides of the war are not credible, and they generally underestimate their own side and exaggerate the other side. Usually, the casualty and casualty data reported by both sides are averaged, which is closer to the truth.
Fifth, list the stop loss line hard. Putin’s stop-loss line is the Ukrainian land that he actually controls and occupied, and he locks in the already victorious results. Zelensky repeatedly listed his stop-loss line, liberated all occupied territories, and the Russian army returned to the pre-2014 borders, that is, to Crimea. Both are extremely tough and have nothing to do with each other.
In early September, Ukraine counterattacked in the Kharkov region on the northern front, regaining tens of thousands of square kilometers of territory. Such a quick and beautiful victory is beyond my own expectations, and beyond the expectations of Russia, the United States and the European Union. None of the planned goals for Russia to launch the war has been achieved.
On February 24, Putin made a televised speech to the nation, launching the Ukrainian war in the name of “special military operation”. One of the goals, “demilitarization” was not achieved. The Ukrainian army became stronger and stronger after being supported by NATO equipment, intelligence, communications, and training. The second goal, “demilitarization”, was not achieved. The Zelensky government is still in power and has become a “hero” in defending democracy in the West. The Russian army was forced to withdraw from Kyiv on April 4, and has indicated that it has given up on overthrowing the Zelensky government and establishing a pro-Russian puppet government; the third goal is “liberation”. The entire Donbass” has not been realized, and the Donetsk region has not been completely captured. Putin explained that “deep and long-term fortifications have been established here, and a frontal attack on them will cause heavy casualties.”
War is the last politics and the hardest politics. If you can’t get it on the battlefield, you won’t get it at the negotiating table. It will definitely continue to fight this winter, and the armistice negotiations are far away. The two countries could not afford to lose the Russian-Ukrainian war. Russia lost Putin to step down and became a second-class power; Wu lost Zelensky to step down and the country was divided. Predicting the direction of the Russian-Ukrainian war mainly depends on the following four variables:
1. Public opinion. Russia has launched limited special military operations. Except for contract soldiers and their families, there is almost no domestic feeling. After the partial mobilization, the people involved are significantly wider, the impact on the economy and people’s livelihood has deepened, and the ruling crisis faced by the government has intensified. On the day the mobilization order was issued, anti-war demonstrations broke out in nearly 40 cities and towns including Moscow, St. Petersburg, and Yekaterinburg. More than 1,000 people were arrested across the country. If Russian anti-war public opinion continues to rise, Putin’s re-election in 2024 is uncertain.
Second, winter. The biggest beneficiary of the Russian-Ukrainian war is the United States. For example, the United States is currently exporting a ship of liquefied natural gas to Europe. The biggest loser is Ukraine, and the second loser is Europe. Europeans have been suffering this winter, facing the dilemma of freezing or starving. Prices, especially electricity prices, continue to soar, and the anti-war pressure in Europe will inevitably increase and pass on to their own governments, which will exacerbate differences among EU countries and weaken the united front in support of Ukraine. European powers or the European Union cannot resist the energy crisis and hyperinflation, so they have the motivation to come out for diplomatic mediation, or even abandon Zelensky. This is the way Putin most expects to end the war.
3. Nuclear weapons. After the four occupied areas of Ukraine were put into Russia, Russia regarded them as “territory”. Putin warned in his speech, “When the territorial integrity of our country is threatened, we will do everything possible to protect Russia and our people.” , “It is possible to use any Russian weapons, including strategic nuclear weapons based on new principles.” Putin is not crazy, in fact, he is just deterring the United States and NATO from directly going to the battlefield, and cautiously assisting Ukraine with heavy weapons (such as fighter planes, tanks, long-range missiles, etc.). The Russian army mainly fights mechanized warfare, while the Ukrainian army, which is armed with NATO, fights information warfare. Conventional weapons between Russia and NATO already have a generational gap. If the war situation continues to be unfavorable, it can only make up for it with the help of tactical nuclear weapons.
Fourth, the United States. The Ukrainian army successfully launched the autumn counteroffensive, with a deep American brand. In terms of politics, the good news from the battlefield will help Zelensky continue to fight for US aid, help boost the US Democratic Party’s November 8 midterm election approval rate, and keep the majority of the Senate; military, NATO military adviser In-depth participation, the Russian side even considered it to be typical NATO tactics, direct NATO command, Ukrainian army build-up, mobilization, feint on the southern front, etc., Russia did not find it.
The United States and NATO have no intention of engaging in a hot war with Russia, let alone a nuclear war, and continue to consume Russian power through proxy warfare. Hours after Putin’s speech, Biden temporarily adjusted the content of his speech at the general debate of the 77th United Nations General Assembly, making it clear: “There is no winner in a nuclear war, and a nuclear war must not be fought.” On September 21, NATO Secretary-General Stoll “NATO is not seeking a conflict with Russia, nor is it a party to a conflict with Ukraine,” Thunberg said.
With the blessing of a huge nuclear arsenal, the Russian army is invincible in the Ukraine war, but strategic failure is a foregone conclusion. Seven months after the start of the war, the Russian army did not do its best, nor did it unscrupulously, and maintained restraint in its attacks on Ukrainian civilians and infrastructure. The biggest variable in the future battlefield should be the Kharkiv region.
Kharkiv is the second largest city in Ukraine, an industrial center and a transportation hub. The Russian army’s lack of strength and too late mobilization have led to a panic defeat this month, and there is a high probability that it will no longer take the initiative to counterattack, but it does not mean that it is not covetous of this “fat”. If the Ukrainian army continues to attack the Donbas region from the northern front, it will become an excuse for the Russian army to counterattack with heavy troops and re-occupy it and vote to annex the Kharkiv region.
(Note: The author is an independent reviewer, WeChat public account: SSWYPL. This article only represents the author’s personal views. The editor-in-charge email [email protected])