If Russia invades Ukraine, what will be its capabilities and objectives? Thought tanks involved in military simulations. Their key results are here.
Released at 7:00 p.m.
Conquer or occupy
In a recent debate at the Atlantic Council, former Ukrainian Defense Minister Andrii Zagorodniuk argued that Russia did not have enough troops on Ukraine’s borders to launch an invasion “in the next few days.” “We’ve been talking about weeks, they have almost no military hospitals, for example,” said Mr. Zakorotnyuk said.
But U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Tyson Wetzel believes that the current Russian forces are sufficient if the goal is to quickly gain a new border in eastern Ukraine without occupying all occupied Ukrainian territories. “It could be a way to formally integrate Donbass,” said Ben Conble, a political scientist with the RAND think tank, who assessed Russia’s military capabilities abroad in 2020.
This RAND report accurately describes an invasion scene from eastern Ukraine to the city of Kharkiv. Donbass is part of Ukraine, which has been partially escaped from the Kiev government since 2014 due to Russian military support.
Another possibility is the siege of Kiev using Russian military maneuvers in Belarus planned between February 10 and 20. “It’s still a bargaining chip here,” Lt. Col. Wetzel said Tuesday. The Belarusian army can defend the right side of the Russian troops. The attack on Kiev could also be a diversion that would force Ukraine to evacuate the east. ⁇
Cut the dipper
In 2014, the Russians attempted to capture the town of Mariupol, south of the Donbass. At this time they may be trying to connect Russia and Crimea with the Dnieper River by occupying southeastern Ukraine. “This will facilitate Russian logistics in the region,” Lt. Col. Wetzel said Tuesday. The only problem is that there must be a waterfall landing west of Mariupol, this time there are only six troop carriers in the area with a total of 2100 soldiers. This is not enough. ⁇
December report by the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) that the capture of southeastern Ukraine could hamper trade in the Dnieper, which is essential for the Ukrainian economy. According to participants in the discussion of the Atlantic Council and the ISW report, the invasion of southeastern Ukraine will be stopped south of the city of Zaporizhia.
Unlike his colleagues Olesya Tkacheva, a political scientist at the Flemish Free University in Brussels, who published an analysis of Russia’s military performance in Ukraine in 2014 for the RAND in 2017, believes the attack will not come now or in February because of Russian military theory. Supports surprise.
“It may have been September or early January, but not now, because everyone expects it. In the RAND’s 2017 analysis, the Crimean invasion was successful, but the Donbass invasion was not successful because the objectives, including the Mariupol victory, were not achieved.
Link with Transnistria
Like the Donbass, the more ambitious option would be to occupy the entire Ukrainian coast to build a bridge between Russia and Transnistria, Moldova’s Moldovan region. Michael Kaufman of the CNA think tank (which runs the U.S. Navy’s Naval Analysis Center) observed at the Atlantic Conference, “There are Russian troops in Transnistria that can attack eastward.
It would be a problem to beat Odessa, but it is enough to starve Odessa until Ukraine accepts that hope. Constable thinks. MMe Tkacheva believes that the expanding invasion beyond eastern Ukraine will be difficult to justify for the Russian people, because the Donbass is based on the protection of the region’s 500,000 Russian passport holders.
In 2008, Russia invaded Georgia in the early hours of August 8, the opening day of the Beijing Olympics. The second Beijing Games kicks off on Friday, February 4th. In December, a report by the Heritage Foundation’s think tank military analyst argued that the opening of the Olympics could be re-used to reduce media attention on Russian activities.
“I do not think Russia wants to hide behind the Olympics as it did in 2008. Especially since China is now a more valuable ally, such a diversion is undesirable,” he said. Said the constable.
An earlier version of this text misrepresented the city of Saporizhia in the southwestern Ukraine and the Dnieper River. Our apologies.