I suspect Russia can no longer gamble on getting a peace deal from the present Ukrainian regime. Backed by the collective western elites who have an incentive to keep the conflict going it seems to me that ideas of an eventual settlement rather than capitulation via regime change decapitation are fading.
Kiev is being used as a grinding tool to whittle away at Russia’s resource base. This is the sole purpose behind the current tactics being deployed by Ukraine’s puppet-masters. Of course it has long been assumed that the obvious advantage Russia has in terms of artillery and air power would overcome all resistance sooner or later. But I do wonder how soon that will be if the West, as it appears to be, is willing to make things drag on right to the very last Ukrainian.
If the western powers have indeed decided to throw everything Ukraine has at the Russian lines without a thought spent considering an eventual peace agreement then their talk of the conflict going on for years that we have heard for a long time now may become reality. What choices, if this is the case, does Russia have at this moment, taking into account that it may have to deal with additional offensives by Ukraine where virtually kamikaze attacks are mounted simply throwing Ukrainians constantly at Russian lines?
1. Russia could continue resolutely as of now, hitting at strategic locations in the Donbass and presumably at some point finally and completely break through Ukraine’s defence lines and then totally secure the Donbass and other liberated regions.
Presumably the strategy then would be to call a halt to the SMO and demand that zElensky agree terms.
But what if this still does not bring the regime to its senses and all that happens when Russia calls a halt to its special military operation it simply continues to wage war, using any hiatus to build its army, retrain and gain additional weaponry, meanwhile continuing to mount provocations and sabotage attacks?
2. Russia could take the step that has already been suggested in the Duma, to declare Ukraine a terrorist state and begin an assault on an increased range of targets within Ukraine including all command and control centres including the office and hiding places of the pseudo-president zElensky.
If this option was taken it would be a major step and escalation. Russia wants zElensky in place so that he can sign the eventual peace agreement. But if no peace agreement is contemplated at any point by zElensky what then? Then the only choice it seems to me is the one above, to take out the entire regime or at least to decapitate it.
I am beginning to move more and more toward the second option above now that the seemingly pointless ‘Kherson Offensive’ may be turning out to be at least somewhat more successful than was first thought. (Though this present piece may well be made redundant through a major Russian offensive to obliterate it and any hope of further offensives by the regime and its masters.)
If Ukraine, through support of its sponsors, can continue to mount attacks using force of numbers and ever more military hardware supplied by the West then I strongly suggest that Russia should actively consider taking out the regime completely as the most reliable means of ending what is intended to be a forever war with the West totally unable to back down.
If Russia did take out the regime in all its aspects it would then “own” Ukraine and this would naturally have its own enormous costs, unless what was left of Ukraine was left to the devices of AZOV, AIDAR and others as a rogue state that the West would require to support. But of course there lies another danger, that the West would simply transfer its allegiance to there, prop them up in turn and begin the same policy of war support as before.
These are difficult decisions for Putin along with his military high command to make. Neither option is ideal in a situation where the Ukrainian regime and its backers resolutely refuse to negotiate, or even contemplate negotiating a peace agreement, but to continue attacking and harassing Russia and the territories under its control that were once part of Ukraine. What should Russia do if the strategy of the regime and those behind it is to NOT negotiate ANY peace but to fight and continue fighting no matter the consequences for Ukraine, Russia or the world as a whole?
This is the thorny question the Russians will have to answer if the next few weeks do not bring a final resolution to this conflict and the eventual peace we all hope for.