Thursday 7 September 2023

Putin steps closer to the edge

A month ago we wrote

Scrapping the grain deal, and blasting grain storage facilities, looks like a serious blunder ... the potential for a grotesque Putin mis-step coming along soon. As critical Russian commentators have been quick to point out, a de facto Russian blockade of Odessa will drive Ukraine to export via the Danube. Now: much as Russian historians love to recount the Battle of Izmail, do they really plan to blockade the Danube, arguably Europe's greatest river linking 9 countries (mostly NATO members), 4 national capitals and a large amount of trade? Really? Article 5 looms large here ... Putin's capacity for cocking things up on the world stage has known few limits since 2021 ... I can't guess what he'll do next

Well it rather seems I did, because a day or so ago Russia bombarded Izmail, with drone debris crashing into Romania.  The latter (a NATO member, obviously) is hosting a lot of allied military resources right now, including UK fighter aircraft that fly top-cover for Black Sea reconnaissance, and very regular border patrols by the US Navy and Italian Air Force.  All the triggers are there.

This is, however, as nothing compared to the protective shield around the Polish areas bordering Ukraine.  The weight of anti-aircraft / anti-missile defences there is like nowhere else on the continent of Europe.  People have often mused - including BTL hereabouts - as to why Russia doesn't interdict the large daily flows of munitions across the Polish border.  Well they might try: but it wouldn't be easy.

There's a case to be made that things are ratcheting up to something very tense this coming winter.  It used to be a rule of thumb in ancient Greece that no city-state could survive a second winter after its lands had been ransacked two summers in a row - which might be in Putin's mind.  

He might also like to recall that Athens successfully** devised a solution to this: significant use of imported goods along heavily-defended lines of logistics.



** Yeah, yeah, I know that eventually Athens lost to Sparta.  But that was imperial over-reach born of monumental, buccaneering hubris. 


Anonymous said...

Athens eventually lost, as I remember from school, because her military expeditions only benefited their commanders when successful but weakened the state when they failed. Having Alcibiades on your side, a clear forerunner to a certain Boris Johnson, did not help.

Another recollection from school is that tyrants have the full state to deploy and are therefore more difficult to conquer. However if you do depose the tyrant the state falls under your control because no one feels any affection for the deposed leader. Democracies are easier to conquer because they are a messy form of govt, but they are more difficult to hold as people liked their freedom. I think this was a theory neatly encapsulated by Machiavelli in The Prince. Putin plays the classical tyrant quite well but I am not sure where Ukraine fits into this model.

Great site this, always enjoy dropping by.


Caeser Hēméra said...

It might be tense for the Russians - my prediction of a Russian collapse in the south by end of this month may have been a tad premature, but perhaps not by that much.

There are places where Ukrainian artillery rates now exceed Russian ones, and with better accuracy and results, and the remnants of the VDV are being shifted around so much it looks like the Hokey Cokey has entered their doctrine.

Russian "successes" are plastering a single mashed up Challenger (where it looks like the crew survived) across social media, whilst videos of Russian tank turrets doing a Dick Fosbury whilst BBQing their inhabitants have gotten boring, and shooting down drones over their own cities.

At least they've got their Armata platform, oh wait.

Russia has been so weakened the Chinese (their, ahem, BFFs) are cheerfully sticking Russian territory on their standard map. Putin might want to hurry up his meeting with Kim in Vladivostok before the next version of the map is released, otherwise he might find himself greeted by the PLA by the time he gets there.

Of course the Chinese map expands like Mr Creosote, we can but hope a wafer thin bit of land gives them a similar ending.

About the only positive they have is that we didn't build any of their concrete structures, and attacking the UK is pointless when you just need to wait for the consequences of us moving our entire national capex budget into a glorified train set.

Bill Quango MP said...

Very good YouTube on the Black Sea by PerunAU.

He pointed out with the grain deal in existence, Russia only needed to monitor the grain convoys from Odessa. And could keep their fleet as an offensive force.

Without it, the entire Black Sea is a target area for Ukraine.

Ukraine’s own navy isn’t really even in being anymore.
Neutral ships won’t sail.
So EVERY ( in theory) ship in the Black Sea is a hostile. Which means the Black Sea Russian navy suddenly has a lot more work convoying from seadrones

Anonymous said...

I see the first Challenger has gone.

"I am not sure where Ukraine fits into this model"

Well, when the people of Kosovo rebelled against Serbia, the "democracies" bombed Serbia (starting with the water and power installations).

When the people of Donbass/Luhansk rebelled against Ukraine, the "democracies" sent Ukraine large amounts of weaponry so they could keep bombing them.

So obviously the Serbs were Bad People, and the Ukrainians in Donbass were Bad People. Because we are the Good People.

It gets a bit more complex when Saudi Arabia, armed by Britain and the US, bomb the Yemenis, killing far more people than have died in Ukraine since 2014. The thing to do is not think about it at all, because it isn't on the news.

E-K said...

Article 5 is very loosely termed when you actually look at it. A lot of get-out clauses in it.

America's support for Ukraine is waning and with that the UK's and EU's support looks tiny.

Putin is still in power with an iron grip of terror over his people. We were told he'd be overthrown by now and that sanctions would see him off. How's UK inflation going ? It may be coming down but it's now compounded inflation and will be suffered for decades yet with Conservatives about to suffer an exile of at least two generations. My guess is that Putin will be there for quite a while yet.

In any case. All too late for Ukraine which has sacrificed a generation of young men for the US neocons and military complex.

E-K said...

... tragic for Russian's too.

But Art 5 again. Are we REALLY prepared to go to WW3 over Ukraine ?

E-K said...

The XL Bully dog crisis is a direct manifestation of Tory policy. Lockdown, rewarding fecklessness whilst punishing thrift and responsibility.


But 14 years ago being literally eaten alive on a British street or home was NOT a possibility.


It is now ! And it's been happening. Don't try to deny it.

This has NOTHING to do with Labour.

E-K said...

... it has nothing to do with Putin either.

Novichok is minute on this crisis - as well as Ukraine and the infestation of Rap music (the transmission of gangsta culture at the speed of sound) the Americans gave us this one too via genetic modification !

E-K said...

...oh. And Woke.

America delivered that to us too. Not Putin.

Putin killed a couple of bin riflers. America's the existential threat to us now via gansta culture (replete with Bully dogs) and woke.

E-K said...

...and their destruction of the Conservatives via the economic fallout of their war in Ukraine.

E-K said...

...and their interference in the Northern Ireland Protocol. (NOT leaving the EU.)

E-K said...

... AND obesity brought by fast food outlets,Coke and candy.