Putins Plan

Lets begin with the upside: There will be no great war in Europe, no war against the Baltics, no taking of Gotland and no Third World War. Nothing of that will happen.

Source: CSIS – Center for Strategic & International Studies

So far for the good news. Now for the bad news especially concerning Ukraine. Putins aim is NOT an invasion of the whole of Ukraine. He is not even striving for a complete military victory over the whole Ukraine. He wants regime change in Kiev. And he has a blue print: The war against Saddam Hussein in 2003.

Like in 2003 we will see a rolling start. The first 24 hours will be air strikes, cruise missile strikes and precision strikes with Iskanders against ukrainian air defence of all kind. In effect this will bring air domination for the russian air force in 24 hours because ukrainian air force is very weak.

The next phase will consist of advancing Donbass irregular forces covertly backed by russian forces with the aim to lure ukrainian forces into a trap and kill or encircle a sizeable part of ukrainian forces.

This will be overlapped by phase three, a combined attack fom the southeast, Crimea and from Transnistria (with air assault brigades from Transnistria) with two objectives: take Odessa and establish land corridor to Donbass. Then merge eastern assault with southern forces at the Dnjepr to combine strength.

In phase four fast troops from north and from Belarus will form a three pronged attack against Kiev with the aim of overrunning the ukrainian capital in 72 to 96 hours. Then depose old president and government and replace with new and russia friendly government, declare ceasefire and request ukrainian forces to do the same.

The result will be a new russia friendly Ukraine firmly under Moscows control. This is what Putin wants.

The only problem is: if the assault on Kiev gets stuck or gets to costly Putin will be in the doldrums. He has some reserves from the western and central military district but it will take days to get them going, precious days the ukrainians will use to reinforce. In this context the NLAWs sent to Ukraine recently could very well change the balance. Ukrainians will be susceptible to air raids but russian tanks will get shot by NLAWs and without tanks there will be no takeover of Kiew.

Time is now working against Putin. My guess: we will see beginning of air war in the next 96 hours. If not this thing was only a pretty stark comedy. In my opinion there is no third option left.