Nine months ago, CSIS’s Seth Jones wrote at WaPo that Russia could defeat Ukraine but could not hold the territory. Today it is not even certain that Russia can “defeat Ukraine” much less hold it.
To give it a serious try, Moscow would need to dilute its defenses along borders on its vast frontier. Moscow would have to trust its own frozen insurgencies not to rise up, especially while Ramzan Kadyrov sends forces into the high-attrition Ukrainian front.
What will Moscow do if its insurgencies flare up across Russia to fill the security vacuum created by Putin’s Ukraine obsession? Nuke insurgents on Russian territory? Invite China’s PLA into Russia to stabilize it? Mortgage Russians’ future by either course of action?
What does victory mean for Russia in Ukraine? Increasingly it looks like a genocide plan to physically erase sovereign Ukrainian civilization from the earth with bombardments. To sustain this, Moscow counts on illicit or inexcusable business partnerships with facile powers indirectly inviting Moscow’s parasitic inroads to their respective future political economies.
If Russia succeeds in its genocide plan for claiming victory in Ukraine, what will that tell China it may do to push through its Belt and Road strategy? How many Eurasian and Far Eastern nations are in the path of the precedent Moscow under Putin would set by destroying Ukraine?
Only Moscow and Beijing will benefit with increased leverage and influence inside countries making excuses for supplying Russia with means for fueling wars of genocidal aggression.
Emerging nations would do well to hear from the West that Russia is trying to colonize or destroy Ukraine, and after doing so would likely escalate colonial leverage over emerging nations with its partner China.
Of premium international value would be if emerging nations deny their supply chain resources to Russia, Iran, North Korea, and to the extent China supplies Russia-Iran, China, until Putin ends his war of aggression and exits Ukraine.