The Telegraph: Among them is a large-scale attack.. Putin’s five options in Ukraine
The Daily Telegraph says:The Telegraph) With the failure of talks to avert a crisis between Russia and Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin has broad military options and the West is unable to prevent him from implementing any of them.
and cited article The British newspaper reported to Roland Oliphant that Putin could launch air strikes similar to the NATO campaign against Serbia in 1999, experience a devastating ground incursion, as he did in Georgia in 2008, or launch a major World War II-style invasion, encircling Kiev, and annexing half of Ukraine.
The reporter explained that all of these options are within the capabilities of the Russian army based on the size of the deployment near the Ukrainian border of about 100,000 soldiers, with more troops on the way from Siberia. Here are those options:
Option 1: More intimidation
There are many options that Putin could make without invading, including the entry of Russian ground forces into the territory of his ally Belarus to threaten Ukraine’s northern border, or openly moving troops to the breakaway Ukrainian republics controlled by Russia in Donetsk and Luhansk. Both steps would simultaneously put Russia in good standing for a future war, and put significant additional pressure on Kiev and NATO to reach an agreement before that point was reached.
Second: Punitive strikes
If intimidation fails, Putin’s next step will likely involve the largest force of his military: long-range artillery, missiles, cruise missiles, and air strikes that can bombard from afar with impunity.
Ukraine does not have a similar force to respond, and its air defenses – mostly Soviet-era missile systems – can shoot down some Russian planes during bombing runs, but they provide little to no anti-missile umbrella.
Ukrainian leaders will have to make painful choices about defending front-line forces or critical infrastructure. Any Ukrainian launcher that exposes itself to firing will be immediately liable to be destroyed by Russian strikes.
The Ukrainian government is well aware of the problem and has appealed to NATO for modern American Patriot systems, but so far to no avail.
If the air, missile, and artillery campaign does not succeed in forcing concessions, the ground forces will follow.
The third: the legendary land bridge
Some Western analysts assume that Russia’s first step will be the capture of the coastal highway (M14) that runs along the coast of the Azov Sea between Crimea and the Russian border. Such a move would inflict a painful defeat on Ukraine, and would be limited enough to be halted if political circumstances required.
Carrying out such an operation on such a narrow front would allow Ukraine to focus its smaller army to confront the threat, giving it a fighting chance to inflict significant losses on the Russians if not actually defeat them.
Fourth: multi-sided attack
In the sprawling General Staff building in Moscow, planners likely made larger war options involving multiple, and possibly simultaneous, axes of progress.
One scenario could see Russian formations crossing the Ukrainian border into the Kharkiv and Luhansk regions. Ukrainian forces stationed on the current front line will have to choose between staying in their trenches to prevent the breakaway republics from seceding, or withdrawing to avoid sieges and almost certain destruction.
The alleged invasion plan, which was leaked and published in the German newspaper Bild late last year, includes a daring amphibious and air operation to besiege and capture Odessa (Ukraine’s most important port).
But analysts say the plan would be so risky that the Ukrainian military would have to do one thing: hit a beach crowded with cluster munitions or shoot down slow-moving transport planes full of paratroopers.
Fifth: Driving in Kiev
The capital of Ukraine is not an easy target. Its population of 3 million would be overwhelmingly hostile to the invading forces.
The old town and its most important government buildings lie on the defensible hills on the west bank of the Dnieper, and the road and railway bridges which the attacking force must take, are dominated by a cliff-like slope. The nearest bridges downstream are 60 miles away, and in the north, dams have been built on the river to become a vast reservoir.
An invading force from Belarus could negate those obstacles by crossing the border on the West Bank.
The writer concludes that Putin may not need the Belarusian front, or enter the capital at all, as the Ukrainian president, with his army destroyed, half of his country occupied and Russian artillery standing in front of his office, will have no choice but to surrender.