One Finite Planet

So Long Mr. Putin, And Thanks. But Meanwhile….?

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War relies upon both sides feeling the other side are the "bad guys" The invasion of Ukraine has reached a point where Ukraine has defeated Putin in the global PR war, labelling Putin and the invaders the "bad guys", and requiring Putin to escalate measures to try to ensure the new does not spread to much in Russia, and in the military. Meanwhile, there is still a physical invasion war going on, and as Putin's desperation to hide reality increases, so will the resulting devastation.

Sufficient spread of the ‘bad guy’ status will result in a failed invasion, and in the end of Putin as leader of Russia. End of Putin will now have a positive effect on cohesion Ukraine, Europe and worldwide not seen since the end of WWII, a ‘successful’ but stalled invasion will only increase pressure on Putin to escalate, and while ‘the west’ continues to capitulate, the scale of conflict and devastation can only increase.

Despite fears of the consequences of doing what is needed to bring this drama to an end, it needs to be stopped ASAP.

The Information War: Putin Is Now Forever The Bad Guy.

Video released soon after this post.

Biden has said Putin “badly miscalculated”. The greatest miscalculation may have been underestimating the PR machine that Ukraine has been able to mobilise.

Ukraine has already won the PR war and reduced Putin’s world standing to “bay guy” who cannot remain. The problem is, the PR victory may have won over the world, but it has not sufficiently motivated NATO form them to risk providing Ukraine sufficient support to stop the invasion.

Though its troops face what some would call an insurmountable challenge from the Russian military, Ukrainian media, with the help of organic reach, is currently winning the hearts of minds of people in the Western world with tales of old ladies standing up to Russian troops, 80-year-old grandfathers volunteering to fight, Army cats that catch snipers, and one brave soul who punched a convoy of Russian trucks in the face.

The veracity of these stories have proven impossible to independently verify as firefights rage across the country. But the enigmatic nature of these stories, as New America strategist and the author of ‘Likewar: The Weaponization of Social Media’ Peter Singer notes, may actually be helping the cause.

“It is more about the story of a hero fighting back against the odds than his name or even the truth of the story,” Singer told Military Times.

And the internet is abuzz with rumors of Ukrainian citizens showing unparalleled bravery in the face of impossible odds against Russia, the supposed propaganda pros.

“They have flipped the script on the supposed Russian masters of it,” Singer said. “Ukraine was not only able to keep its population in the fight when the key Russian goal was to cause the quick collapse, but it also energized the West into levels of support that few imagined before all this.”

Military Times 4th March 2022: How Ukraine is winning the propaganda war

I previously discussed and embedded the video of Ukrainian offering to tow an out of fuel Russian tank back to the border. Then there was also the story of the Ukrainians who told the Russian to “F**k themselves” before widely being reported to have been posthumously awarded bravery medals, except, it turns out the are most likely not dead yet.

Invasion II: The Sequel To Crimea Where The Bad Guy Loses?

The first episode, “Crimea”, ended with the bad guy in the ascendency, but at least it has take a long time to produce the sequel. What is now assured are sequels one after another until the bad guy eventually does lose. Hopeful without such a dreadful plot in the interim, that it spoils the feel good happy ending the the world needs right now.

After One Week, “Crimea Invasion: The Sequel” disappoints. I don’t think anyone is happy with the script so far, but it still could turn out well in the end. This time, Putin, the ‘bad guy’ has attracted enough attention, that the world will not rest until he withdraws, or is deposed. Withdrawal is not an option for Putin, so he will continue as the bad guy until eventually he is deposed.

In the end, the bad guy will lose. But will it require more than one sequel to “Crimea” before the end of this drama?

One week in, and the battle continues. The most likely scenario is, that even if Kviv/Kiev falls, unlike with Crimea, it will be impossible for Putin to establish rule in Ukraine prior to the invasion collapsing. For Russia, a country of 142 million taking over Crimea, a territory of 2 million is one thing, but ruling a territory of 44 million is another. This is the army of the nation of 142 million, against the entire population of the country of 44 million, and only the advantage of weaponry can make victory possible.

Every feel good drama requires a bad guy losing to end on a positive note. There was no real bad guy for Covid-19, and you can’t really ‘battle’ big oil or get a winning moment against climate change, so the world really needs a positive note at this time. For the feel good block buster that gives the audience a lift, a villain must be defeated as a result of some battle before the happy ending.

Sequels often disappoint, and Putin, director and producer, may be unhappy with giving the green light on this one. However, reality is, to back down now would result in Putin losing even more than the leadership of Russia.

Putin will keep throwing the military at Ukraine until they submit, or the army stops following his orders. This will result in a lot of pain, which could be reduced if ‘lethal aid’ to Ukraine was increased. Even if the eventual outcome is positive, it hard to see past the pain right now. The ‘west’ could limit this story to a single sequel before the bay guy loses, or it could end up like Star Wars, with episode after episode

The Russian Empire Strikes Back? Putin To Restore The Empire?

Sanctions Don’t Stop Tanks: This Episode Is The Ground Battle.

Six months ago, even the small portion of the sanctions that have been imposed today could have stopped Putin, at least made him think and possibly saved tens of thousands of innocent lives in Ukraine and I also warned that sanctions never stop tanks.

Garry Kasparov, Human Rights Foundation Chair And Chess Grandmaster on 7:30. 2nd March 2022.

Now the tanks are rolling, the victor for this current episode will now be decided in battle. Once the tanks are rolling, there is full commitment. From this point, stopping is failure. The invasion now will not stop and until the invasion is declared a success, or declared a failure. Putin will never declare the invasion a failure, that would have to come from someone standing in his way.

Without More Defences, Cities Will Fall, But What Happens Then?

It is easy to imagine cities where the Russian’s have taken over, with the military on the streets. It is hard to imagine life continuing in these cities in any semblance of normal. Troops on every corner? A question for the troops will become, who are the enemies they were sent to conquer? The ordinary citizens?

This would leave Putin with a stalled overall plan and if he is still in control Putin will need a next step that is not just waiting it out. That next step would be made under extreme pressure, and probably would be another takeover, and very likely one designed to provoke war, what Putin could call an act of war, he can claim Russia in under attack.

What Is Needed For The Good Guys To Win This Episode?

Stop Letting Putin Set The Rules.

So far, Putin is able to set the rules. “Cross what I declare is a line, and that would be declaring war”, is effectively what Putin has been saying, and that is Putin being in charge.

In fact, NATO is so frightened, that they even blocked sending Ukraine planes.

It seems NATO is committed to proving sufficient arms for Ukraine to put up a fight, but not providing sufficient arms to repel Russia, as that might make Putin angry. This gives the impression NATO is happy to allow the suffering of Ukraine to merely be extended, in the hope Putin is deposed prior to completing the invasion.

‘Lethal Aid’ Sufficient To Hold Off The Russian Military.

, but will not take sufficient steps to allow them to repel Russia.

As things stand, all the Ukraine can do is slow the takeover of their cities by the Russian Army. Something has to break in the advance, or an entirely new level of aid is needed. At this time, NATO is calling the shots, and NATO feels it is at the limit of what it can do without escalating the crisis. However, since the start of the invasion, measures have moved past points that were previously considered too far.

Shattering the Illusions of The Troops.

Russian troops are likely to start asking: “Are we the bad guys?”.

The Russian troops invading Ukraine are human beings, who need to have motivation to fire their weapons. Given the close links between the people of Russia and Ukraine, the troops need to believe the Ukrainian people want the Russian invasion to free the people. from genocide and Nazi a regime as claimed in speeches by Putin. The troops need to believe they are saving Ukrainians from what is happening in Ukraine.

Putin was speaking of Neo-Nazis and all manner of things wrong in Ukraine, but it is hard to know what is now in the minds of the troops. People who join an army voluntarily will most likely believe any actions of that army will be justified, but the Russian army also has conscripts (1yr compulsory service) who need not share the same ideals.

The Russians have the physical might, but the ammunition for PR is all in the hands of the Ukrainians. Stories like “Ukraine calls on mothers of captured Russian soldiers to pick them up“, and the Ukraine’s ambassadors speech can have an effect, if they can be seen.

Mud. Lots Of Mud.

When the snow melts in the spring, fields can get so muddy in the plains of Eastern Europe that Russians have a word for it: Rasputitsa, or “the season of bad roads.”

Mud hindered Napoleon’s 1812 invasion of Russia and Hitler’s 1941 blitzkrieg against the Soviet Union, and it could be one of many factors now in the timing of any possible Russian move into Ukraine.

Putin confronts the mud of Ukraine

Invaders need to try and complete an invasion prior to he spring ‘Rasputitsa’, which is expected late March, but with climate change, could start a few weeks early. It is believed/rumoured that during Putin’s visit to China on Feb 4th and 5th 2022, just over three week prior to the invasion on Feb 24th, Putin agreed to delay the invasion until after the Beijing winter Olympics finished with the closing ceremony on the Feb 20th. It certainly fits the timeline, but limited the time between the start of the invasion and the mud.

Next Episode?

Why Would Putin Would Go Further?

The Ukraine has won the information war, at least to the entire world beyond Russia, has created an angry Putin.

The motives range from just anger, to choosing a smaller target to prove the might of Russia with a swift outcome, though to trying to ensure someone retaliates so Putin can declare Russia is under threat.

Moldova.

Moldovans fear that Transnistria, a region run by Russia-backed separatists in eastern Moldova, might be the next target after Ukraine.

NY Post

If taking Ukraine, why not take neighbouring Moldova, with a population of just over 4 million, has less than twice the population of Crimea, and less than 1/10th of that of Ukraine. Far easier to manage. But then, Putin just wanted easy, he could have done Georgia first.

Georgia.

An obvious target where Putin has dabbled before that would like to join NATO. At just over 3.5 million population, even smaller than Moldova, and again closer in size to Crimea. But again, what would attacking Georgia achieve as it would not even distract Europe significantly from the battle in Ukraine.

Since Georgia gained its independence, the Kremlin has continued to exert pressure on Tbilisi by employing a combination of instruments of power. Along with traditional sources of power—such as using or threatening military force, supporting proxies, and creating separatist regimes as leverage against the country—Russia employs economic measures, information operations, and cyber-attacks.

Georgia’s experience as a long-standing victim of Russian hybrid warfare illustrates that the modern Russian way of warfare is not a new phenomenon. However, modern technologies, such as cyber capabilities, the use of social networks, and electronic warfare, are new enablers for Russia to uphold its indirect strategy. Figure 1 illustrates Russia’s hybrid warfare and gray zone campaign model against Georgia from the 1990s to present.

Russia’s permanent war on Georgia: Foreign Policy Research Institute.

Finland?

It sounds impossible, but Finland was also at one time part of the Russian empire, and is not yet part of NATO but could join. Huge natural resources, and a population of only 5.5 million is just over twice that of Crimea, and so much easier to manage than the 44 million of Ukraine. However, as part of the EU, this would attract attention, which could be just what Putin wants.

I am not the only one to put Finland 3rd on the list of possible targets, plus Russia has directly warned both Finland and Sweden about joining NATO and threatened military action.

This is not the first time the suggestion has arisen: Vladimir Putin ‘wants to regain Finland’ for Russia, adviser says, plus Putin may not understand satire, and think Biden really did suggest he invade Finland. But seriously, although it did not go smoothly last time the soviets invaded Finland, the Soviets did end up gaining 9% of Finland, and perhaps they will take more this time rather than the entire country.

Russia’s most likely target in the near future is either Finland or Sweden; although both are members of the EU, they are not members of NATO. By attacking a non-NATO country, Putin does not risk a proportional response in accordance with Article 5. But by targeting a European country, he can expect to reap the rewards of public approval at home from voters who are desperate for a victory. This is a simple cost-benefit analysis that Putin has conducted, openly, many times before. Each investment of Russian force has paid dividends. Finland and Sweden meet both requirements.

I do not expect Russian tanks to roll into Helsinki or Stockholm unopposed. But it would be relatively simple for Moscow to execute a land grab in a remote Arctic enclave or on a small island, like Sweden’s Gotland, considering the strategic capabilities Russia has built on its northern flank. After all, who would go to war over a frozen Baltic island or piece of Finland’s tundra? NATO wouldn’t, but Putin would—because the stakes are higher for him.
Russian aggression on Scandinavian territory—in countries everyone in the West considers part of the West—might seem far-fetched. However, it was not long ago that Putin’s annexation of Crimea, which I predicted, struck even Russia hawks as an outlandish doomsday scenario. A few years earlier Russia’s invasion of Georgia, despite my dire warnings, also took the world by surprise.

Foregnpolicy.com: 2019

WWIII Is Possible.

Condemnation Of the Invasion of Ukraine Is Mixed: Which Nations Voted What?

141 to 40.. but only 50% by population.

The UN held a vote to condemn the invasion. I have found many reports of how this was an overwhelming vote, but was perhaps not as overwhelming as claimed.

The United Nations has voted overwhelmingly for a resolution deploring Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and called for the immediate withdrawal of its forces, in a global expression of outrage that highlighted Russia’s increasing isolation.

The Guardian.

But was it really so overwhelming? The population of those 40 countries not voting yes is 3,843,949,243 (using 2020 population) and is very close to exactly 50% of the people in the world. Further, With Russia, China, India, Pakistan, Nth Korea, Iran etc, this is the homes of more than half of the worlds nuclear weapons. Reality is, not all those who abstained are supporting Russia, but they are open to being swayed.

Desperation Could Be Contagious.

Putin knows that if the the invasion of Ukraine is seen to be going to end in failure, he will lose control. If Putin loses control, he would be a scapegoat for a war that those who take over would say was a huge mistake. The fate of Putin would not be desirable at all.

This war is now all or nothing for Putin, and that even includes nuclear if there was a way for him to gain anything. Given nuclear on Ukraine makes no sense, it is hard to see who Putin would target. Would he really start a nuclear war with the US because they are one of 141 countries supporting Ukraine?

However, what it other leaders with expansionist ambitions feel threatened by such ambitions being politically unpopular follow a collapse of the invasion of the Ukraine? Could one or more other powerful leaders support Putin, because they have a vested interest in the outcome?

Unlikely, but unfortunately, not completely impossible.

The Time Pressure Of Social Media.

We live in an age of polarisation. Even whether the world is flat become a subject of division. As I wrote previously, overwhelmingly people are outraged by Putin and henchmen, but AI and social media is going to find away to bring more people across to the other side. If you can convince some people the world is flat, you will be able to convince some that Putin is in the right. This would keep the outrage high, but will erode resolve as opinions are divided. If Putin is not deposed soon enough, the unity could become eroded.

What Is On Offer, and The Potential Happy Ending..

On a happier note, the unity within Ukraine, and support for Ukraine, does have the appearance of really bringing people together. Plus if there is regime change in Russia, and the change is rejecting the policies of Putin, that has to be a good thing. This would also at least discourage other regimes from following the Putin path, potentially improving policies of some other nations. We have not had WWII, and hopefully we will not see it as WWIII, but we could see the positive mood that follows the ending of war, as if this ends the right way, it could really feel like a victory.

Hopefully it ends like one of those feel good movies, however even in those, not all of the good guys make it to the end. Some firmer action right now could improve that.