Russia invades Ukraine

Yew

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It is clear that Russia continues to make small advances, but from what I can gather, they're incurring substantial losses for as little as a couple of hundred meters.
Ah, the Field Marshall Haig school of tactics.
 
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Cloud Strife

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This story is worth a read. To cut it short, a retired Russian colonel went on TV and made it clear that things can only go from bad to worse for Russia.

What should be frightening Russia right now is that Ukraine hasn't even used the capabilities of their reserves due to a lack of equipment. There's a valid point that Russia doesn't have the forces to actually win this war, and they might even end up overwhelmed in the LDPR as Ukraine will have nothing to lose by taking them back into Ukrainian control.

I still think Ukraine will leave Crimea alone (beyond blowing up the Kerch bridge), as it won't pose any threat to them once Kherson Oblast is taken back under Ukrainian control.
 

Roast Veg

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I still think Ukraine will leave Crimea alone (beyond blowing up the Kerch bridge), as it won't pose any threat to them once Kherson Oblast is taken back under Ukrainian control.
If they think they stand a reasonable chance of reaquiring it then they will go for getting it back. The ultimate victory for Ukraine is to restore itself to its original borders. The last thing anybody wants, though, is for Sevastopol to become the new Mariupol.
 

TheEdge

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If they think they stand a reasonable chance of reaquiring it then they will go for getting it back. The ultimate victory for Ukraine is to restore itself to its original borders. The last thing anybody wants, though, is for Sevastopol to become the new Mariupol.

While movements on the Crimea are not impossible I doubt Ukraine will try. A siege of Sevastopol would risk them loosing their moral authority if it got bloody. Any ideas what the local populace there wants to be? Ukraine or Russia. Because if it's Russia it would be a pointless endeavour.

The Kerch bridge however...
 

DynamicSpirit

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If they think they stand a reasonable chance of reaquiring it then they will go for getting it back. The ultimate victory for Ukraine is to restore itself to its original borders. The last thing anybody wants, though, is for Sevastopol to become the new Mariupol.

I agree. From what I gather, most of the population of Ukraine probably wants Crimea back, there are undoubtedly a lot of Ukrainian citizens living in Crimea - and very likely constituting a majority of the population of Crimea, who did not want to become part of Russia; there are good legal grounds for Ukraine to take it back (it's internationally recognised as part of Ukraine), and good military grounds too - Ukraine will be a lot safer from any future sea-based attack if it can take back the naval base at Sevastopol. It also puts them in a much better negotiating position against Moscow if they can take Crimea back before negotiating any peace.
 

najaB

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If they think they stand a reasonable chance of reaquiring it then they will go for getting it back. The ultimate victory for Ukraine is to restore itself to its original borders. The last thing anybody wants, though, is for Sevastopol to become the new Mariupol.
I don't think it would be in their best interests. Much better long-term to cut Crimea off and leave it as a drain on Russia's finances - get Russia to give it back rather than take it back.
 

Annetts key

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How useful would the naval base at Sevastopol be if Ukraine could attack any Russian navy ships with long range missiles?

Russia may end up having little choice if their military performance means they can no longer effectively defend the territory that they have illegally taken. But this could take months or years of war.
 

Pete_uk

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Go back to 2001 and Putin was at Ground Zero in New York as a welcome guest to pay his respects to the victims of Islamic terrorism. He was also sincere about it. It’s like looking at an alternate universe now.

*Sigh*
It makes you wonder how different history could be.
 

Roast Veg

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I don't think it would be in their best interests. Much better long-term to cut Crimea off and leave it as a drain on Russia's finances - get Russia to give it back rather than take it back.
It can only be a bargaining chip after Donetsk and Luhansk have been ceded - they are a greater priority - but what will Ukraine have that Russia would trade for it? Not demanding reparations?
 

Cloud Strife

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Any ideas what the local populace there wants to be? Ukraine or Russia. Because if it's Russia it would be a pointless endeavour.

The Kerch bridge however...

Pre-annexation by Russia, they wanted to be in Ukraine, but with more autonomy. I just cannot imagine Ukraine fighting their way into and through Crimea, not least because they were already inflicting considerable pain through sanctions and the water supply. If the Kerch Bridge goes down and they control the land border, the cost to Russia will be enormous.

IMO, I don't see any realistic scenario where Ukraine retakes Crimea. It's more likely that Crimea simply becomes an expensive economic mess for Russia and stays that way for a long time.

Anyway, today's update is that absolutely nothing is clear. Reports are all over the place, but it seems to have been a day of yet more UAF gains. The river crossing appears to be confirmed, and that we're likely to see some serious combat in Volchansk. If - and it's always if - the UAF can establish a firm foothold on the eastern side of the river, then I suspect that it won't be long before the entirety of the Kharkiv Oblast will be liberated.

The Azovstal resistance is (apparently) over, but it's not really clear at all what's going on there. We know that around 300 left, and that the Ukrainian side has ordered the resistance to leave, but it seems that there's still substantial amounts of forces holed up there. Either way, the Azov Battalion will go down in history for what they did in Mariupol. I don't think it's an exaggeration to say that their defense of Mariupol almost certainly turned the tide of the war so far.
 

najaB

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If the Kerch Bridge goes down and they control the land border, the cost to Russia will be enormous.
That's exactly the scenario I was pontificating. Make it too expensive for Russia to stay and too embarrassing for them to leave.
 

DustyBin

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This story is worth a read. To cut it short, a retired Russian colonel went on TV and made it clear that things can only go from bad to worse for Russia.

What should be frightening Russia right now is that Ukraine hasn't even used the capabilities of their reserves due to a lack of equipment. There's a valid point that Russia doesn't have the forces to actually win this war, and they might even end up overwhelmed in the LDPR as Ukraine will have nothing to lose by taking them back into Ukrainian control.

I still think Ukraine will leave Crimea alone (beyond blowing up the Kerch bridge), as it won't pose any threat to them once Kherson Oblast is taken back under Ukrainian control.

I caught this on Twitter this morning where somebody had kindly added English subtitles to the actual debate; it’s quite extraordinary really. You don’t say what he was saying on Russian TV unless you either a) want to jump off a balcony having murdered your entire family with an axe, or b) have been authorised to do so. Presuming it’s the latter, is this Putin’s way of preparing the Russian people for a withdrawal from Ukraine (following a great victory obviously)? It’s maybe just wishful thinking, but I can’t help but get the impression he knows the game is up and it’s now all about how to frame Russia’s defeat victory domestically.
 

Cloud Strife

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I caught this on Twitter this morning where somebody had kindly added English subtitles to the actual debate; it’s quite extraordinary really. You don’t say what he was saying on Russian TV unless you either a) want to jump off a balcony having murdered your entire family with an axe, or b) have been authorised to do so. Presuming it’s the latter, is this Putin’s way of preparing the Russian people for a withdrawal from Ukraine (following a great victory obviously)? It’s maybe just wishful thinking, but I can’t help but get the impression he knows the game is up and it’s now all about how to frame Russia’s defeat victory domestically.

It might well be the case, although I've read some commentary suggesting that the Russian armed forces are - to put it mildly - in a rage with Putin and the political/intelligence leadership. It might well be that they know that they can't win the war, and that the army in particular wants out of Ukraine before they get annihilated. The Russian army must also be terrified of what is coming to the party.

I've read one claim on Twitter that the Spetsnaz units turning up now are on 3 month contracts and that they're suffering from a wide range of problems that make them totally unsuitable for any sort of special operations. If this is true, then it would explain why Russian defences are melting away when counterattacked. There are also more and more suggestions that Russia is running out of combat-ready troops, which means that the WW2 scenario approaches.

What concerns me is the fate of the Azovstal defenders. Zelensky appears to be taking a huge gamble that they will be treated like normal POWs in Russian custody, although it may be a calculated gamble. If they are known to be mistreated or killed, then the anger among the Ukrainian population will go through the roof: just in time to equip a huge offensive force to wipe out the Russian forces.
 

najaB

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What concerns me is the fate of the Azovstal defenders. Zelensky appears to be taking a huge gamble that they will be treated like normal POWs in Russian custody, although it may be a calculated gamble. If they are known to be mistreated or killed, then the anger among the Ukrainian population will go through the roof: just in time to equip a huge offensive force to wipe out the Russian forces.
It's a "win-win" strategically (though perhaps a bit psychopathic) - they will either come home as heroes or die as martyrs. Neither option plays well for the Russians, at least if they trade them for Russian prisoners they get something out of it.
 

Cloud Strife

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It's a "win-win" strategically (though perhaps a bit psychopathic) - they will either come home as heroes or die as martyrs. Neither option plays well for the Russians, at least if they trade them for Russian prisoners they get something out of it.

It looks like the Russian "strategy" in Mariupol is beyond any comprehension. They're now talking about demolishing Azovstal and turning Mariupol into a resort town, while admitting that around 60% of the city is beyond repair. Having said this, it could just be the usual fantasy stuff from the DPR leadership.

Another bit of news is that the Russians are not paying anything to injured troops, nor are they paying anything to the families of killed troops.
 

ainsworth74

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It's a "win-win" strategically (though perhaps a bit psychopathic) - they will either come home as heroes or die as martyrs. Neither option plays well for the Russians, at least if they trade them for Russian prisoners they get something out of it.
As well as that if the Russians do kill them then if Russians end up confronted with any other such pockets of resistance you can be sure that the defenders will fight to the last. Possibly even against orders. Why surrender and be executed when you can fight on and at least take some Russians with you? Quite apart from any moral considerations mistreating and executing POWs is always a bad idea as once word gets out that's what waiting for you if you do surrender why would you?
 

Yew

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I'm starting to see a few suggestions of a "Odessa Naval Corridor", to protectships taking Ukrainian grain to the developing world.
 

DynamicSpirit

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I'm starting to see a few suggestions of a "Odessa Naval Corridor", to protectships taking Ukrainian grain to the developing world.

In principle, it sounds like a good idea, but in practice...

Is it legally possible to open the Dardanelles/Bosphorus to get any NATO/neutral warships into the Black Sea to police such a corridor, without also allowing more Russian warships in, which could then be used to attack Ukraine/replace the sunken Moskva? I can't see Ukraine being willing to agree to that.

Also, how would you stop Russia from using a naval corridor as a cover for its ships to launch more attacks on Ukraine? (For example: Russian Warship sails up to the corridor, near neutral ships, so Ukraine can't risk attacking it, and then uses that position to fire missiles at Ukraine?

Also the naval corridor would presumably have to extend right into the port at Odesa, which then means that ships protecting the corridor are actually in the conflict zone. Given NATO's current aversion to putting any forces in the conflict zone because of the escalation risk, I'm not sure how they'd agree to that here?
 

najaB

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Is it legally possible to open the Dardanelles/Bosphorus to get any NATO/neutral warships into the Black Sea to police such a corridor, without also allowing more Russian warships in, which could then be used to attack Ukraine/replace the sunken Moskva?
Yes. The Montreux Convention bans the passage of ships belonging to the combatting nations in time of war, but places no restrictions on the movements of third-party navies.
In time of war, Turkey not being belligerent, warships shall enjoy complete freedom of transit and navigation through the Straits under the same conditions as those laid down in Article 10 to 18.

Vessels of war belonging to belligerent Powers shall not however, pass through the Straits except in cases arising out of the application of Article 25 of the present Convention, and in cases of assistance rendered to a State victim of aggression in virtue of a treaty of mutual assistance binding-Turkey, concluded within the framework of the Covenant of the League of Nations, and registered and published in accordance with the provisions of Article 18 of the covenant.
So it doesn't seem that is a show-stopper.
Also the naval corridor would presumably have to extend right into the port at Odesa, which then means that ships protecting the corridor are actually in the conflict zone. Given NATO's current aversion to putting any forces in the conflict zone because of the escalation risk, I'm not sure how they'd agree to that here?
Actually, it would just need to extend to within Neptune range of Odessa - Moskva was sunk some 50NM off the coast so there would be no need for NATO ships to come any closer than that.


In other news, multiple sources are now reporting that there was an assassination attempt on Putin in the early days of the war - Google News link. This is quite significant if true, and even if it isn't the fact that it's being deemed credible says a lot about the magnitude of drop in his perceived strength has been.
 

Cloud Strife

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In other news, multiple sources are now reporting that there was an assassination attempt on Putin in the early days of the war - Google News link. This is quite significant if true, and even if it isn't the fact that it's being deemed credible says a lot about the magnitude of drop in his perceived strength has been.

I suspect that this is another Ukrainian ploy to confuse and disorientate the Russians. It makes Putin sound weak, while also sending a clear message that Ukraine is openly considering assassinating him. It might also be a diversion tactic to get away from the fact that Russia, at the minute, is clearly doing well in Sievierodonetsk and to the south.

Right now, I expect Russia to make some important gains in the south and east in the next couple of weeks. It seems that the Ukrainians have run out of the weapons that were doing so much damage (Javelins, Switchblades, Bayraktars) as well, as we haven't had any videos in a while.
 

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Actually, it would just need to extend to within Neptune range of Odessa - Moskva was sunk some 50NM off the coast so there would be no need for NATO ships to come any closer than that.
There is if you don't just want Russian submarines to have a field day with the merchants.

The real issue is less the Russian surface fleet (and air force) but more the total lack of Ukrainian anti-submarine capability. We leave those merchant ships 50nm from Odesa and there's plenty of time for a Russian submarine to make hay. They might not actually of course but good luck finding an operator/insurer willing to take that bet.
 

najaB

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We leave those merchant ships 50nm from Odesa and there's plenty of time for a Russian submarine to make hay. They might not actually of course but good luck finding an operator/insurer willing to take that bet.
I can't imagine that Russian submarines would target and sink third-party merchant ships. That is out and out piracy.
 

ainsworth74

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I can't imagine that Russian submarines would target and sink third-party merchant ships. That is out and out piracy.
You willing to risk it though? You willing to risk sending your ship into an active warzone unescorted? Willing to insure a shipowner who wants to and if you are what premium are likely to charge?

I'm not sure the Russian's would sink third-party merchant ships (though I certainly wouldn't rule it out). But the threat alone is likely to have a similar effect on shipping.
 

DynamicSpirit

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I can't imagine that Russian submarines would target and sink third-party merchant ships. That is out and out piracy.

The Russians (or at least, their allies in Donbas) already have form for shooting down a passenger airliner, and more recently attacking civilians in Ukraine. Russia clearly has a war aim of stopping Ukraine exporting grain, so it's not hard to imagine how Russian officials/Putin could mentally justify to themselves sinking merchant chips on the basis that those ships are colluding with the enemy and therefore legitimate targets.

The other problem is, what do the escorts do if the worst happens and the Russians do attack the ships that NATO/other countries are supposed to be protecting? If they fire on the Russian ships/subs, they become active combatants, which NATO has massively prioritised trying to avoid. If they don't fire on the Russian attackers, then the safe corridor is useless.
 

Yew

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You willing to risk it though? You willing to risk sending your ship into an active warzone unescorted? Willing to insure a shipowner who wants to and if you are what premium are likely to charge?

I'm not sure the Russian's would sink third-party merchant ships (though I certainly wouldn't rule it out). But the threat alone is likely to have a similar effect on shipping.
Sinking a merchant ship is how the US entered world war 1.
 

najaB

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The Russians (or at least, their allies in Donbas) already have form for shooting down a passenger airliner, and more recently attacking civilians in Ukraine.
Yes. But, as you point out, it wasn't (at least officially) a Russian serviceperson who pushed the button. Which is quite different to a torpedo attack, which they would have difficulty denying responsibility for - unless Russia has supplied the LPR or DPR with submarines?
 

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Sinking a merchant ship is how the US entered world war 1.
Though that was a US flagged, owned and operated ship. These days the chances are any such being US flagged, owned and operated are slim to none. The US merchant fleet is tiny. You'd be most likely dealing with a Panamanian or Liberian flagged ship, probably owned by a non-US company and probably crewed by non-US citizens.

I'm not disputing that Russia sinking a third party merchant ship would be an escalation with unknowable effects and therefore seems unlikely. But my point is that for one it cannot be ruled out (I note that several merchant ships were attacked in the opening phases of the war) and for another considering that it will be difficult indeed to find any owners, operators and insurers willing to risk a 50nm run into Odesa un-escorted. For this scheme to work you're going to have to provide an escort all the way to Odesa and even then I suspect you'll find it hard to find many willing to participate.
Yes. But, as you point out, it wasn't (at least officially) a Russian serviceperson who pushed the button. Which is quite different to a torpedo attack, which they would have difficulty denying responsibility for - unless Russia has supplied the LPR or DPR with submarines?
They'd just flood the zone with BS like they always do. It was a Ukrainian bomb/missile, it was a secret US submarine, etc etc. We all know it would be lies. It wouldn't stop them.

Again, I think it unlikely that Russia would do such a thing. But I do not think you can safely rule it out and I think that because of that the chances of finding anyone willing to sail to Odesa unescorted are remote.
 

TheEdge

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What if these merchant ships flew the flag of the United Nations?

If possible, in theory they'd have to respect that, in the same way they should be trusted to respect a Liberian or Panamanian one.

In practice it would need a UN resolution to act and, once again, Russia can just veto it.
 

Giugiaro

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Don't worry everyone!
Russia has heard your calls and started stealing grain from Ukraine!
Rejoice, as Putin is not stupid! (or racist, or a dictator, or, God forbid, a fascist!)

 

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