Last night, at the behest of our good friend Sackers, I watched All Quiet on the Western Front. Impressive stuff and, being filmed before the invasion, not pointedly directed against any war in particular. But avowedly anti-war, nonetheless, in an age when nobody seems to know much about history - the closing credits of the film state that, following the first few months of the conflict, WW1 settled down to positional warfare in which the front line never subsequently changed by much. That's not even true of the Western Front, let alone the Eastern and Mediterranean theatres. "Ain't gonna study war no more" ... ho, hum.
So it seems Putin can't muster a spectacular for the first anniversary, and he's settled for signaling it's to be an attritional strategy of assuming the West will lose interest. Well, he's been making trite calculations about almost everything from the start, so why up his game now? A rather telling symptom of just how badly the Russian army is placed, is the arrival in theatre of ... BTR-50s - considered obsolete when I started studying these things in the 1970s: as if the UK had dusted down some Humber 'pigs', the famous 1-ton Armoured. T-34s can't be far behind. Still, steel plate is steel plate, I suppose.
At the time of writing (12 noon, 24 Feb) the West is taking very seriously the latest story, that Russia is planning something based around Belarus: there's blanket air recce being conducted. The Ukrainians suggest it'll be a false flag attack on Belarus by Russians disguised as Ukrainians to stir the former into joining hostilities. Lukashenko will be trying to avoid this like the plague. My guess would be that "pre-bunking" will do the trick here, and Putin won't get his convenient new northern front opened for him by his subservient neighbour. So maybe it'll just be an anniversary round of attacks on civilian infrastructure.
Everyone, though, does indeed seem to be worrying about attrition and urging Ukraine to make its move. Thus far, there has been pretty good judgement on strategic matters. Hopefully, nothing rash results from this pressure. One sometimes hears it argued: better freeze the conflict now rather than push Russia back to earlier (2022? 2014? 2013?) borders, because Putin or his successor will merely wait a few years, build up massively, then come pouring across the border again. But this is empty: what treaty could Russia possibly be induced to sign tomorrow that they won't tear up when they are good and ready for Round 3?
The West has to reckon on taking unilateral measures to secure Ukraine against Round 3, whatever and whenever borders are next (temporarily) 'frozen', de facto or de jure. Does Biden want to do this before the next election? That maybe what will dictate the timing.
Still several hours of this anniversary day to go, and surprise is always surprise ...