Ukraine war: Putin under pressure: The Kremlin chief still has three options

In the Ukraine war, Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin has three options. Why the referendums in Luhansk and Donetsk are playing into his hands.

Kremlin boss Vladimir Putin rarely comments on the Ukraine war, strictly speaking: never. According to its own understanding, Russia is conducting a “special military operation” that is always “on schedule”. “The plan is not subject to adjustments“Putin asserted after the recent meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

In truth it works little according to plan. The excuses for doing so have to be adjusted all the time. When the storming of Kyiv fails, there is talk of a “reduction in military activity,” so to speak of a concentration on the Donbass. When the occupiers gave up Snake Island in the Black Sea, they spoke of a “step of good will.” When Ukraine launches a counter-offensive and the Russians retreat, this again counts as a military “regrouping.”

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the Starting position before the onset of winter has deteriorated. High losses of soldiers and material – most recently in the Luftwaffe – poor morale, supply problems. It begs the question of what Putin’s next move is. What options does he have? Basically there are three: negotiations, freezing of the conflict or further escalation.

negotiations: Joachim Krause is a scientist, a man who follows the war from a distance. As early as mid-August, he declared, “You can see from week to week how fewer options the Russians have.” The director of the Institute for Security Policy at the University of Kiel tells our editors that “it would be in Russia’s interest to have one now negotiated peace to offer.” Or rather: a ceasefire.

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Putin’s options: negotiate, “freeze”, fight

This presupposes that the government in Moscow acts rationally. There are doubts about that. Germany’s most renowned historian, Heinrich August Winkler, is involved in Putin’s politics “a self-destructive train” out. When the war was only a month old, both warring factions sat down in Istanbul and talked about a ceasefire. At the time, President Volodymyr Zelenskyi’s negotiators promised to “thoroughly” examine the country’s required neutrality. But since then the balance of power has shifted – in Zelensky’s favour.

This has not only to do with the much-noted military successes of the troops under the command of General Valeriy Zalushnyi. To atrocities As in Bucha and Izyum, after the growing destruction, including of the environment, Ukraine today cannot avoid holding Putin accountable: investigations, reparation payments.

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Ukraine is able to set conditions. At the weekend, Zelenskyj ruled out peace negotiations. The West, too, spends so much money on military aid and accepts a loss of prosperity as a result of sanctions and counter-sanctions that it has to insist on securities, especially with a view to investing billions in reconstruction. It is important to prevent Putin from respite gets to sort themselves out and attack again. Therefore, negotiations should only be an emergency exit for Putin. He’s probably looking at another option.

Freeze: The term was invented for the collapse of the Soviet Union and means in practice that the weapons are largely at rest and postponed Boundaries are cemented. This is how Russia creates facts when it seems opportune. Example: Transnistria. It was milled out of Moldova by force of arms.

Putin’s red line: the attack on Russian territory

The result is a unstable peace: permanent instability, a war can flare up again at any time. There is evidence that this is the Kremlin exit strategy could be because conquering Ukraine is unrealistic. On the one hand, the Russian leadership emphasizes that the liberation of Donbass is “the main goal”. On the other hand, a “Citizens’ Chamber” in the separatist region of Luhansk asked for a referendum and union with Russia. Their example was followed by the “Donetsk People’s Republic” and Kherson. Facts will be created by the end of September.

If Ukraine accepts this, it will lose part of its territory. There are no negotiations and no coming to terms with the war. Borders would be massively reinforced on both sides. One would arise in the middle of Europe Line of demarcation as between North and South Korea. “That may well be the case, but at least Ukraine would then have the chance of a reconstruction that will not be destroyed by Russia,” says Joachim Krause.

National defense justifies a general mobilization

After the successes in the north-east in Kharkiv, the front in the south in the area around Cherson is also shifting in favor of the Ukraine. At the same time, it is conducting an offensive in Luhansk. However, once an “annexation” has been sealed, Putin can turn the defense into one Attack on Russian territory reinterpret. This logic leads to the next option, the most dire scenario of all: further military escalation.

Escalation: At the meeting with the Chinese President, Putin said that Ukrainian troops had tried to “attack” civilian infrastructure in Russia. If the situation develops like this, “ours will reaction more severe be cancelled.” The Kremlin boss added menacingly: “Let’s wait and see how it develops and how it ends.”

The “now more than ever” attitude justifies an abrupt turn to the stated purpose of national defense: one general mobilization – the “special operation” then turns into a war. The biggest problem would be solved: the lack of soldiers. Weapons should not be missing. This is more the shortcoming of Ukraine. According to the University of Kiel’s Ukraine Support Tracker, she hardly ever receives any new aid commitments from the West. The fact that the Ukraine is receiving four self-propelled howitzers from Bundeswehr stocks was reported in Germany as sensational news.

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Putin would gamble on who bleeds out first. “We’re in no hurry.” Economically too, especially in relation to the West, the following applies: Who is willing to take on the bigger sacrifices in the form of inflation and skyrocketing energy prices? Aggravated with cyber attacks, up to one “Blackout” like last time in Ukraine.

Ultimately, the rhetoric of national defense leads to the constructed transgression of a red line, to justify the use of tactical nuclear weapons. You belong to Russian military doctrine, which is taken seriously by NATO and the USA. The American secret services proved to be well informed in this war and deliberately voiced threats early on.

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A few days ago, US President Joe Biden warned Russia against using such weapons (“don’t do it”) and made it clear that doing so would not be without consequences. In a CBS interview, he said it would change the face of war, which has not been the case since the Second World War. Like the West’s reaction to Putin’s all-out war would drop out? The minimum would be that the last scruples would be dropped when it came to arms deliveries to Ukraine.

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