Russia Invades Ukraine: My Take

Here’s my take on what I think will happen in Ukraine and what the Russians will do.

But first a little humble pie for a group of distinguished scholars and their earlier predictions. Go here for a report on predictions about what will happen in Ukraine and Putin’s military options. The authors are all distinguished scholars associated with high status institutes and academic programs. Take a look at a few of their conclusions. I quote exactly from the document the report was published in with some elliptical material for the sake of space.

… A close look at what the invasion would entail presented in the report and the risks and costs Putin would have to accept in ordering it leads to a forecast that he is very unlikely to launch an invasion of unoccupied Ukraine…

… Putin is more likely to send Russian troops into Belarus.

… One of the least likely things to happen is for Putin to launch a mechanized drive to see each the strategic city of Kharkiv in northeastern Ukraine…

The following scenario and assumptions seem to cohere into a foreign policy that reflects facts on the ground as well as aspirations and hopes. You can proceed logically as follows:

First, the early glory days of Ukrainians picking up arms to defend their country – a David and Goliath image if there ever was one – will not last too much longer. The Russians are well enough trained and there is more than 100,000 of them in the streets. Ukrainian Armed Forces are small and will not hold out for much longer. And if you think arming citizens is the answer, think again. It will just get them killed.

And Putin will not give up or accept some anemic peace treaty. This is his military operation and he is thoroughly committed and motivated to carry it out. He would lose face and never be taken seriously again.

Ukrainians could slip into a terrorist mode and began assassinations, ambushes, and other forms of resistance all of which worked for the Afghanis during the Afghan war with Russia. But the Afghanis are more prepared for such asymmetrical warfare, which I don’t believe is in the Ukrainian DNA.

Ukrainians are more patriotic and nationalistic in the western part of the country and that’s why Putin will not overlook them by focusing attention on the eastern part of the state where most Russians in Ukraine live. This is exactly the reason he will invade the Western part of Ukraine because he doesn’t believe in Ukrainian separate identity in the first place.

After Putin has captured enough territory including government buildings and media he will set up a puppet government. There are generally three reasons conquering militaries set up puppet governments.

A Puppet Government

 A puppet government is a government with no sovereign authority over its territory, whose actions and policies are controlled by a foreign power. Putin might leave some Ukrainian officials in place for the appearance of sovereignty. Many puppet governments convey an image of sovereignty, but in reality, they cannot do anything without the consent of whichever foreign power controls them. That would be Russia. For the most part, they are set up following conquest, after a foreign power conquers the area in which they set up a puppet government. Read more about puppet governments here. 

The second reason foreign powers establish puppet governments, and this applies to Putin in particular, is to try and fool both the citizens under its control and the international community into believing that the territory runs its own affairs. Although I don’t suppose we will be seeing much of the Ukrainian flag after Putin overwhelms them. In many cases, however, both the people that are the subjects of the puppet government and the international community do not recognize the puppet government’s legitimacy.

The third reason that conquering powers set up puppet governments is so that they can advance their own agendas. Puppet governments help facilitate the agenda of the controlling foreign power by using the territory and resources of the puppet state.

I don’t see Ukraine regaining its independence in the near future. We have yet to see a brutal Putin will be when he finally pulls the puppet strings to control Ukraine. Is he Hitler? Probably not but that doesn’t mean certain people won’t disappear, and we will never know it. I’m not expecting Putin to have public executions, but I am expecting a massive information manipulation and the sort of disinformation that the Russians have shown themselves to be adept.

About Donald Ellis

Professor emeritus at the University of Hartford.

Posted on March 4, 2022, in Communication and Conflict Resolution. Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Russia Invades Ukraine: My Take.

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