Alan Zendell, April 10, 2022
There’s nothing subtle about what is about to happen in Ukraine. Russia is openly preparing a brutal attack on Ukraine’s eastern provinces that will continue the systematic destruction of once beautiful cities and the targeting of innocent civilians. It will be nothing less than a massive terrorist attack ordered by Vladimir Putin and directed by his favorite war criminal general, Aleksandr Dvornikov.
While he has never been brought before a war crimes tribunal, The Guardian reports that in Syria, “forces under [Dvornikov’s] command were responsible for widespread abuses against the civilian population and were frequently accused of committing crimes against humanity. [He] has been described as an ‘old school’ general and a ‘blood and soil nationalist’ trained in Soviet military doctrines that view obliterating civilian targets as a means of gaining battlefield momentum.”
Dvornikov will lead the second phase of the Russian invasion of Ukraine after Putin claimed Phase 1 achieved its objective. Yet, we all saw massively outnumbered Ukrainian defenders beat back the two-pronged Russian siege on Kyiv, and then force Russian forces to retreat, leaving behind countless wrecked tanks, support vehicles and downed aircraft. Russian forces left behind thousands of weapons, and by some accounts, up to 20,000 dead soldiers and officers, with thousands having surrendered, been captured, or simply deserted. One can only conclude that Russia’s objective must have been the wanton reduction of cities and towns to rubble and rape, torture, and murder of unarmed civilians.
Phase 2 will be different from Phase 1 in several ways, which should convince President Biden and the EU to drop their reluctance to arm Ukraine with what it needs:
• the Russian attack will focus entirely on the eastern and southeastern provinces that border Russia and Crimea, which the U. S. and NATO permitted Russia to annex in 2014. Future historians will argue whether that miscalculation is what brought the world to where it is now, but it is clear that we cannot afford another;
• by focuing his efforts on obliterating eastern Ukraine, Putin has moved the war hundreds of miles from the border of any NATO country;
• this time, there will be no retreat by Russian forces until they have destroyed and occupied every part of Ukraine from the Donbas Region in the east to Mykolaiv in the south, which Russia has already leveled with missiles launched from ships and aircraft. No doubt, they would like to occupy Odesa, Ukraine’s most important Black Sea port, as well.
If Russia is allowed to control all that territory, NATO will be in the impossible position of negotiating the withdrawal of an occupying force in the midst of what will surely be a nonstop guerilla war. That would undoubtedly lead to the very confrontation Biden has sworn to avert – the possibility of direct hostilities between Russia and NATO forces with the threat of nuclear war always in the background.
We must face up to that in the decisions we make in the coming weeks. The only alternative is to follow the course of Neville Chamberlain who kept appeasing Adolf Hitler until the entire world was at war. If we haven’t learned that lesson, we’re doomed to the same fate.
How do we minimize the risk? By giving Ukraine what its president, Volodomyr Zelensky, has been begging for. He needs MIG fighters, helicopters, and sophisticated anti-aircraft weapon systems. With the war now centered far from NATO borders, and Ukrainian forces having proved their mettle, arming them with what they need to destroy Russia’s ability to feed and supply it’s forces is clearly the best way to avoid winding up in an untenable negotiating position when the fighting finally ends.
The Russian military, while retaining the ability to cause mass destruction, has shown itself to be far from the unstoppable fighting machine Putin thought he was putting in the field. Taking away Russia’s domination of the skies and giving Ukraine the ability, using western intelligence, to destroy Russian supply convoys and further weaken morale among Russian conscriptees is the best chance to stop Russia in its tracks.
No strategy is without risk, but even Vladimir Putin cannot survive continued military and leadership failures when thousands of body bags start showing up in cities and towns all over Russia. It’s possible that Putin will attempt something desperate to save himself, but it’s more likely that at some point those around him, seeing their personal fortunes and Russia’s economic future being destroyed, will take him down.
Now is the time to move what Ukraine needs to where they can use it. President Biden and his NATO counterparts must come together without delay before the bombing starts. The only way to minimize the risk of a worldwide conflagration is to engage Russia on its own borders rather than ours, with willing Ukrainians doing the bulk of the fighting using weapons supplied by us.