Almost one year after Russia invaded Ukraine, it appears Russia is working its way towards launching another major offensive, possibly attacking Ukraine from two or three directions at once, including over the Belarus border
It will be interesting to see if Russia has implemented new tactics that will give this offensive a better chance of success than the initial invasion. Have they resolved their logistics issues? Will they once again have long convoys that get bogged down on the road or will they come in across country? Can they stop small squads or Ukrainians armed with portable anti-tank missiles? Do they have a defense against drones?
It is one thing to launch missiles from the Russian side of the border and strike Ukrainian cities and infrastructure, causing death and power outages. It’s another to put boots on the ground and tires on the road to push the front lines back a dozen miles. Missiles, rockets, and drones can fly over contested river crossings, but troops need bridges.
Russia has to act soon, striking while the ground is frozen rather than muddy to avoid getting their equipment bogged down. They must also attack before Ukraine receives new tanks from the UK or Poland that could help blunt the assault.
Will this Time be Different?
I expect a new attack will be similar to the original, but both sides will have more experience with this type of battle. Russia will no longer expect it to be a cakewalk with welcoming citizens throwing flowers. The attack will not surprise the Ukrainians, who should have defensive positions, and will have hardened troops in the field.
It will be interesting to see if Russia will try to gain control of the air or if they will commit more advanced weapons platforms to the fray. In the initial invasion, both sides used weapons systems developed during the Soviet era. Will Russia roll out its most modern aircraft and tanks? Will Ukraine have new armored vehicles and weapons systems from NATO? Can we expect Russia to again throw poorly trained conscripts into the breech, or have they been transporting more experienced career soldiers to the front from Eastern parts of the country? Will their soldiers have sufficient food and fuel? Or will the assault stall when the supply chain stretches or is hit by HIMARS?
How well prepared is Ukraine? They are predicting the attack, so it will not catch them unawares, but what surprises have they planned for Russia? Will they fall back to a new defensive line or hold their hard-won positions? Will they draw in the invaders, only to cut them off, encircle them, and destroy them? Or will they be overrun? I expect they have something planned, but time will tell if it suffices to stop the next invasion wave.
If Russia launches another massive ground attack, it will generate a new wave of media coverage. After the initial attack, media coverage slowed and faded away to almost nothing. A new offensive will cause it to rebound again, gaining the attention of Americans and Europeans. That should lead to more moral outrage and condemnation from Russia’s enemies. We can also expect it to generate talks of additional sanctions and more donations of arms to Ukraine, but the war won’t end. More weapons and mercenaries will flow into Ukraine. Russia will mobilize more soldiers. Both countries will see more death. Nothing good will come from it.
The ground war will grind on. Russia will make some gains, but not as many as they want. If Russia loses, they have threatened to use nukes. If Russia makes huge gains, we might see Poland be “invited” into Ukraine to take up defensive positions in the Western half of the country to stop Russia from rolling across it. Either action would cause a significant escalation and possibly greater NATO involvement in the war. Perhaps our best hope is that nothing much happens.
Some problems we face today directly result from the war in Ukraine, but it’s not like everything would be sunshine and flowers if they declared peace tomorrow. The danger is threats could go beyond words and things might out of control, endangering us all. We have an unstable president with much to lose on one side and on the other a president in cognitive decline who is already lost. That’s not very reassuring.
As preppers, the war should be on your radar, but don’t let it blind you to the many other threats. Keep an eye out for side effect, unintended consequences, and splash back, but don’t let it ruin your day or upset your plans.