Putin has lost his war in Ukraine and created Toxic Russia.

Putin has lost his war in Ukraine and created Toxic Russia.

Putin has lost his war in Ukraine and created Toxic Russia.

by Philip INGRAM MBE

No matter what the end state is on the ground in Ukraine in the coming weeks there is one simple fact that cannot be disputed, Putin has lost.  So, how can I be certain?

Putin’s objectives for his further invasion of Ukraine (remember he started this in 2014 with the forceable annexation of Crimea and then FSB led, with GRU support, activity to generate the breakaway Donbas Region), were to topple the Ukrainian Government, as it was becoming to EU and NATO focused, and replace it with a more Russian focused and sympathetic government that would fall into line as Lukashenko does in Belarus. His secondary objective was to open a land bridge between Crimea and Russia including the disputed Donbas region, setting the conditions for autonomous Donetsk and Luhansk.

To achieve his objectives, Putin will have wanted a rapid surgical operation into Kyiv to achieve his objective and a then slower mass movement of Russian troops into Ukraine to ensure compliance. He will have expected a rapid reinforcement of the Donbas region, welcomed capitulation by the local people and a rapid progression along Ukraine’s Southern coast.  In any final settlement with a new government, he would likely have wanted the disputed regions of Donetsk and Luhansk to be recognised as independent along with any additional captured territory linking them to Crimea.

Looking at the military operation around the invasion so far. Russia has failed to achieve air superiority as Ukrainian Airforce and Air Defences are still operating; gaining air superiority is a precursor to any lightening strike. Rapid special forces and elite military operations to capture key terrain around Kyiv in the first few days of the invasion were repulsed by the Ukrainian defenders. A ground convoy aimed at linking up with the captured key terrain coming from the North on Kyiv became fixed for many kilometres on roads, unable to manoeuvre through Ukrainian resistance and poor Russian logistic support.

Progress has been slow through poor equipment’s availability, poor logistic support, bad planning, poor command and control and massive resistance from the Ukrainian defenders.

To date Russia has failed to capture what would be assessed as any of its key objectives. In essence all of these suggest a complete failure in the planning, execution and therefore command and control of the first stage of the operation.  The Ukrainian Government remains active, President Zelenskyy is clearly in charge and is giving global leaders a masterclass in leadership. His approach has been key to uniting the Ukrainian people in a tighter national bond that they have ever had. That bond will be almost impossible to destroy.

Russia has been forced to move to its classic play book actions mirroring what happened in Grozny in 2000, Georgia in 2008 and more recently in support for Assad in Syria.  The surrounding of built-up areas and their gradual destruction through indirect fire from aircraft, rockets, missiles, and artillery – this is exactly what is happening in the cities of Kherson, Mariupol, Donbas and more. Given a complete loss of initiative moving into Kyiv and the way urban warfare soaks up experienced troops, the same fate will be the only option for Kyiv should Russian forces be able to encircle it. That still remains in doubt over 2 weeks into the invasion.

Strategically Putin has set the conditions for the EU to come together in a way no one could have predicted. Defence spending and focus in EU countries is going up rapidly and as a block its political and economic reach is likely to expand.  The same can be said for NATO, member countries traditionally reluctant to meet the 2% GDP spend on defence are doing so now with some haste and more expenditure to deliver real capability back into their militaries. Some countries who work closely with NATO and in particular Sweden and Finland but have never sought membership are now seeing a swing in public opinion supporting membership.

Putin has galvanised the EU and NATO and set the conditions for both to expand.

Global diplomacy, economics and politics are reined against Russia with sanctions biting deep, international companies and brands are removing any association with Russia to protect their reputation; historic votes in the UN General Assembly condemning Russia’s action have happened and the look of disbelief on world leaders faces, every time Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov says anything is palpable.  China and India will be concerned at the speed the international community reacted with economic sanctions and be wary of ending up on the wrong side of international feelings.

Putin has galvanised the international community against Russia in a way never seen before. Putin has created Toxic Russia.

Inside Ukraine, pre-invasion, politics was confrontational, the people happily existed together, and the former actor President was tolerated.  However, since the invasion, the Ukrainian people have come together as a single entity with a spirit and belief that is electric. President Zelenskyy has galvanised a national spirit focused against Putin in a way no one would have expected, he continues to give a master call in leadership under adverse conditions to other global leaders.

Putin has galvanised the Uranian people against him in a way no one would have expected.

I suspect the Russian people are in a mixed emotional bag at the moment, some angry at the international community and Ukrainians because they believe the disinformation fed to them through state media; some are shocked and don’t know where to turn, some are beginning to hurt and see the real damage Putin has caused Russia on the global stage. It is too early for the impact of what is going on to have a real effect insider Russia and the thinking of the Russian people but more importantly those with access to power, Putin’s closest aids.

It is clear that the Russian military are beginning to hurt on the ground, and Putin’s initiative to start peace talks was a classic effort to create breathing space for elements of his war machine, even though their activities haven’t stopped. However, he is likely looking for his get out options. The most likely before the conflict started would have been rapid seizure of ground and a negotiated pull back to the disputed Donbas region, with Donetsk and Luhansk being recognised as truly independent and the land bridge between Crimea and Russia maintained.  However, it is too late for that. Even if President Zelensky agrees to discuss the possibility to stop the slaughter of civilians, even if there is a Minsk type agreement, Russia will never be allowed fully back onto the international stage and global brands will abandon Russia for fear of untold damage to their reputation. NATO would still be expanding, the EU and much of the globe galvanised, Defence capability focused against Russia would be growing.

There is no winning scenario for Putin, even if he could take the whole of Ukraine. The only way for Russia to come back is Putin’s demise. The only question is what cost till then?  The sad thing is that a long-drawn-out war, achieving nothing for Russia and delivering untold death and destruction to the people in Ukraine, and increasing Russian casualties, remains on course to be where this invasion is going.

Philip Ingram MBE is a former senior British Military Intelligence officer and NATO Planner. He is available for comment.

Russia and Ukraine, the Chemical and Biological threat with a touch of Nuclear

Russia and Ukraine, the Chemical and Biological threat with a touch of Nuclear

Russia and Ukraine, the Chemical and Biological threat with a touch of Nuclear

By Philip Ingram MBE

The Russian messaging machine has gone into overdrive on its claims that the Ukraine and the US are developing chemical or biological weapons for use against invading Russian forces, as they brought the accusation to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) on Friday.  So that is the reality, a question I have been asked frequently by many press outlets in the past 24 hours?

At the end of February Vladimir Putin issued a statement where he raised the alert level of his nuclear forces and later his Foreign Minister Lavrov blamed comments from the British Foreign Secretary for forcing them to do so. This one act of putting your foot on the nuclear escalatory ladder then taking it off again says so much about Russia’s approach to diplomacy.

Russia has a policy of “escalate to de-escalate” so threatening the unthinkable to then back down is something in their psyche but they also have a history of following thorough, in particular when it comes to bombing, rocketing and shelling civilian built up areas and in Syria, helping to facilitate the use of chemical weapons.

In Ukraine, Russia’s invasion has become bogged down and in some areas fixed. They have little freedom to manoeuvre. That is why we are seeing what many refer to as the playbook tactics being rolled out. Whenever Russia has been fixed or bogged down in the past, they have rapidly resorted to surrounding cities and pounding them from the air, with rockets, missiles and artillery, in an indiscriminate manner, all to try and break the resolve of the people.

The agreement for humanitarian corridors and ceasefires is also playbook stuff as is mining those routes and shelling fleeing civilians. Again, looking at the response from the international community in the past to these atrocities, there has been none; Russia has been allowed to get away with it.

Many of the commanders involved in invasion of Ukraine will have served in Syria, some may even have been in Grozny in 2008, but that playbook tactics will be in their psyche, Putin likely won’t even have had to order it as it will have been in the wider contingency plans for cities showing too much resistance. What Russia hadn’t expected was that is every city! The last time this level of resolve was shown, in Syria, to break the deadlock, Chemical weapons were employed.

It is that playbook combined with the statements from official Russian MoD channels and the calling of the UNSC meeting that makes the threat of use of chemical weapons in Ukraine all the more real.

I will dismiss biological weapons quickly by saying they are not an act of war. Biological weapons are very difficult to weaponise into battlefield delivery system and their effects more difficult to control. You also need superb medial facilities for your own troops in case of accidental exposure, and the Russians don’t.

However, a real threat doesn’t automatically translate into their actual use. Key to this is that in Syria, Putin had a plausibly deniable outlet for blame when the international community called out the false flag attacks blamed on the Syrian opposition fighters, he could blame Assad and say he was misled too. This is a combination of  маскировка (maskirovka), masking the truth behind disinformation and  враньё(vranyo), which means to tell a lie without expecting to be believed, both are frequently exercised Putin tactics.

There are 2 scenarios where Putin may use chemical weapons in Ukraine, one is in a false flag incident in the vicinity of a Ukrainian research facility giving an excuse for him to go to the Russian people as say, “told you so, this is why we have to invade all of Ukraine.”  This remains a possibility but the fact that western intelligence has already called it out may take that option off the table as it has done before with other potential false flag incidents.

The second is horrific, Putin uses chemical weapons in order to break the blockades around Ukrainian cities. Here I am going to assess this as being less likely to unlikely as no matter what messaging Putin puts out, he knows that personally this gives him nowhere to hide within an international context, ever. He may be a psychopath, but he is in some ways still rational. He knows that use of chemical weapons would have to be authorised by him and that would mean automatic prosecution and a massive withdrawal of the tacit ‘turning a blind eye,’ he is getting from the likes of China and India. His pariah status would be further set in stone; irrecoverably so.

He also doesn’t need to go there yet. He has much more he can do with conventional military capabilities, if he can manoeuvre them and support them logistically, in this case that if is probably the biggest word in the English language.   He can threaten other disasters such as nuclear meltdowns in Ukraine’s nuclear facilities currently under Russian control but blame that on counter attacking Ukrainians. He has much more conventional terror to rain down on Ukraine’s cities before he even needs to consider the unthinkable.

The worrying final issue is no matter what the outcome, Putin has lost this war. He has failed, his military have failed. He has strengthened the Ukrainian people as a nation, strengthened the international community including the EU, caused the conditions for possible further NATO expansion.

Sun Tzu says, “Speed is the essence of war. Take advantage of the enemy’s unpreparedness; travel by unexpected routes and strike him where he has taken no precautions.”  Putin’s forces didn’t listen and are fixed. Unless there is a palace coup in Moscow, this conflict could go on for a long time with all of the associated suffering and deaths. The only other tiny green shoot of hope is that the Russians are becoming so fixed, that if the Ukrainian defenders can generate manoeuvre capabilities to counterattack, their time to push the Russian back in a significant way could come. Supporting the Ukrainian defenders more and enabling them to become attackers is the Wests next logical step.

 

Philip Ingram MBE is a former senior British Military Intelligence Officer and NATO Planner and is available for comment.

 

No fly zones and the Russian nuclear threat

No fly zones and the Russian nuclear threat

No fly zones and the Russian nuclear threat

by Philip INGRAM MBE

The clamours to instigate some form of a no-fly zone over Ukraine are increasing as the humanitarian fall out from Russia’s invasion and increasing rocket attacks and shelling of built up and residential areas, grows.

From a cursory glance perspective, it seems a logical step, something the West did over Iraq as Saddam Hussein oppresses his people, but what are the implications?  At the moment the conflict is geographically bound inside the borders of Ukraine. On paper Russia has a much stronger military force but realistically only a small percentage is properly trained, equipped, and resourced and the Ukrainian defenders are having success after success in blunting their advances.  The Russian have become largely fixed.

Should the international community decide to implement a no-fly zone, or even humanitarian no fly corridors, the only organisation that has the resources, including command and control, to police this is NATO. To maintain them safely NATO would have to be prepared to destroy any air defence capabilities that tracked them, the risk of not doing so would be too great.  This would bring NATO into direct conflict with Russia and probably Belarus.

The implications of this are instantaneous, the conflict would go from being geographically bound, to being at the minimum Northern Hemisphere, but more likely global. Putin knows he can’t win against a sustained conflict with NATO. He would need to warn NATO off from proactively attacking Russia. His only option for doing this is a nuclear option.

This doesn’t mean there would be an immediate strategic first strike and therefore global nuclear Armageddon, Putin is not that daft, but the escalation ladder would be escalated quickly.  His first option would be the use of a tactical nuclear weapon in Ukraine, possibly on or near a Ukrainian Nuclear power plant and therefore Chernobyl is a distinct target, so he could blame the explosion on Ukrainian shelling of the plant causing an explosion. He would know that the West and Ukranian government would know it was a weapon but could sell the accident to his domestic audience and to doubters in the West, remember маскировка (maskirovka), literally masking, is key to his tactics. The effect would be a clear message to the West that he is ready to escalate and to the Ukrainian’s, give in now or Kiev is next; the thought and implications are horrific.

Putin would know the West would know the truth but could calculate that by doing this he is sending a warning that the West would not want to escalate. The Wests only nuclear response realistically is a more strategic one. However, in 2018 former Defence Secretary James Mattis told the US Congress, “I don’t think there is any such thing as a tactical nuclear weapon. Any nuclear weapon used any time is a strategic game-changer.” He is right.

The West would have to decide the next moves, if it was to back down, Putin would redouble his murderous tactics in Ukraine. If it were to escalate by attacking a Russian military target with a medium range nuclear weapon, that escalation ladder would be being climbed very fast, and we would, de facto, be involved in a nuclear war.

Putin’s response to that would probably be further escalation, likely hitting a target in a small European country, one of the Baltic states or Finland or Sweden, again calculating the West would not escalate further. It is not in his increasingly deranged and psychopathic psyche to back down, he knows he can’t lose or he loses everything and to him, if he loses everything then it is possible he will think everyone should lose everything. There is only one unthinkable step next. We must remember his thinking will not be wholly logical from an external viewpoint.

So, what tactical weapons does he have and are they controlled? Reports are confusing and numbers of tactical nuclear weapons in open-source reporting range from 230 and 2,000. Tactical weapons are not regulated by treaty, unlike strategic nuclear weapons. However, U.S. and Russian arms control treaties simply define non-strategic weapons as those with a strike range inferior to 5500 km with Operational nuclear weapons up to 500 Km and Tactical, 300 km. Jim Mattis’s comment remains relevant!

Russian policy on Nuclear, release (Principles of State Policy in the Sphere of Nuclear Deterrence Until 2020), states that Moscow may also use nukes in response to non-nuclear attacks threatening to disarm Russia’s nuclear forces, or that threaten the existence of the Russian state itself.  NATO involvement would easily evoke this policy and маскировка (maskirovka) would make the threat seem much bigger to the Russian people and military commanders.

It is believed that nearly half of Russia’s non-strategic arsenal are estimated to belong to the Russian Navy. Of greatest relevance are long-range (1,550 miles) subsonic Kalibr land-attack cruise missiles, as well as P-800 Oniks supersonic anti-ship missiles (range 500 miles), both understood to be nuclear-capable.  We have seen reports of the air or land launched Kalibr missiles used with conventional warheads in Ukraine already.  The Russian navy also have nuclear torpedoes and anti-submarine weapons. In addition Russia reportedly has nuclear anti-aircraft systems.

Their Land based capability is estimated to possess less than 100 nuclear warheads for its missile batteries. Its precise Iskander-M tactical ballistic missile system can swap its regular warhead for up to a 50-kiloton device.  The 2S7 self-propelled gun with a calibre of 203mm and a range of about 37km is believed to be able to fire nuclear projectiles with a yield up to 1Kt. The number of nuclear shells held is not clear.

In the air, Su-34 and older Su-24M attack jets are nuclear capable and longer-range Tu-22M supersonic bombers, which can carry dual-capable Kh-32 supersonic anti-ship and land-attack missiles.  Russia has also allegedly developed a unique air-launched Kinzhal hypersonic ballistic missile with a 1,200-mile range. However, it is likely that if so this isn’t fully operational yet.

The bottom line is, at the moment with the conflict geographically bound, Putin does not currently need to consider the use of nuclear weapons, he has many more tactical conventional steps he can take before that would cross his mind. However, as mentioned before the escalatory ladder can be ascended very rapidly and NATO military involvement could stimulate a step onto the first rung. Even tactical use in Ukraine would likely result in more Ukrainian casualties that a no-fly zone of any type could save. Is it worth the risk?

Philip Ingram MBE is a former Senior British Military Intelligence Officer and NATO Planner. He is available for comment.

 

 

Sunday 27th February, Russia’s invasion and assessment **Updated**

Sunday 27th February, Russia’s invasion and assessment **Updated**

Sunday 27th February, Russia’s invasion and assessment. *** Updated as at 1400 hrs to add comment ref Nuclear threat***

By Philip Ingram MBE

Another day has passed where Russia has failed to achieve its main effort, the decapitation of the leadership in Ukraine. Open-source reporting indicates that Russia has still not achieved air superiority and given their on-paper air force strength it is important to ask why?

Better progress has been made along Russia’s secondary axis along the coast of the Sea of Azov from Crimea towards Mariupol trying to create a Russian controlled land bridge between the disputed Donbas region and Crimea, and therefore a land route into Russia itself.

There has been much talk of the Russian capture of Ukraine’s second city Kharkiv in the East of the country. I have even seen commentary from a senior former military commentator that Putin could have switched his main effort to the East.  However further reports of the Ukrainians having recaptured it and Russian forces surrendering, add to the ‘fog of war.’

One thing you don’t do lightly in a military operation like this is switch your main effort – doing that has many of your supporting elements geographically misplaced and could give an opportunity for your opposition to seize the advantage as you redeploy them. A switch of main effort would also symbolise that your original mission has failed and would indicate that the whole mission is in jeopardy.

I don’t think Russia has taken that decision at the moment but certainly has the secondary objective of securing the whole of Eastern Ukraine and would use that as the bargaining position for peace talks should their objective of toppling the Ukrainian Government and capturing Kyiv, fail.

Pictures of Russian vehicles running out of fuel, casualties being abandoned where they fall suggest an undisciplined force with command-and-control issues and likely logistic issues. In this type of conflict, it is your logistics that could lose you the war! I must question how many Russian commanders will actually have been properly tested in the complex logistic operations needed to fight over such a wide area with such numbers of forces? I doubt it has happened.

The reports of Chechen units being brought into the battle, with one allegedly destroyed and unconfirmed reports of elements of the Belarus military being readied would suggest at this early stage that the Russians are coming unstuck. You don’t bring in reserve elements unless your main force has been fixed and you don’t bring in strategic reserve elements, which the Belarusian military would be, unless you are in real danger of losing any momentum and your tactical and operational reserves have already been fixed.

What I assess is more likely in the coming days is that Russia will use increasingly violent tactics in an attempt to surround and secure Kyiv. Possibly bombarding the city trying to break the will of the people and attempt to force the leadership to surrender in order to stop civilian casualties. This of course is contrary to the Geneva conventions and protocols and would indicate a desperate Putin.

All of this points to thinks not going well for Russia at the tactical and operational levels. Therefore I assess we are entering one of the most dangerous few days of the conflict. Putin’s forces need to try and wrestle the initiative back. They will have to throw all their resources at doing that. The pressure from Moscow for good news will be immense. The potential for extremes of violence aimed at the civilian population of Kyiv in the coming days is increasing, however, if Ukraine can blunt Russia’s moves for another few days it is distinctly possible that Putin could switch his main effort to just capturing an increasing part of East Ukraine before suing for peace.

Time and more information will tell.

*** Additional Comment as at 27 1400 Z Feb 22***

President Putin has ordered his nuclear forces to a “special” level of alert. We shouldn’t be immediately concerned at this as he hinted at the beginning of the invasion that there would be consequences for “whoever tries to hinder us,” and given the increasing pressure the international community is putting on Russia economically, increasing isolation at sea and in the air and the increased supply of weapons to Ukraine from 27 countries he likely feel his only option is to flash his big stick, ie his nuclear forces.

He is trying to gain advantage in the information sphere.  His statement is also an indication that operations on the ground are not going as well as he would like and that the support the West is giving Ukraine and the amazing resolve shown by Ukrainian forces and defenders is having a very real impact on the Russian invaders.

Russia’s nuclear capability has been a very high priority for western intelligence for many years so any real changes in their status will likely be closely watched. This is an attempt at deterrence by Putin, not a statement he has any immediate intention to use nuclear weapons. However, you have to remember that if you threaten something, it is only credible if you are prepared to use them.

Philip Ingram MBE is a former British Army Intelligence Colonel and NATO planner., he is available for comment.

 

 

The Russian attack, an assessment as at 26th February 2022

The Russian attack, an assessment as at 26th February 2022

The Russian attack, an assessment as at 26th February 2022

By Philip Ingram MBE

With Ukraine firmly under attack by Russia in the Air, from the Sea and by Land forces it is an opportune moment to take a proverbial step back and analyse what seems to be happening with the Russian campaign, attacking Ukraine.

What is clear is the Russian Main Effort, the capture or destruction of Ukraine’s political and military leadership, decapitating Ukraine, in order to install a leadership more sympathetic to Russia’s (Putin’s) goals. Putin and Lavrov have effectively said this.  Militarily this would be achieved by attacking and capturing Kyiv.

So, in military terms what is a main effort? The main effort is defined in the Army Doctrine Publication Land Operations as: “the concentration of forces or means in a particular area and at a particular time to enable a commander to bring about a decision.”

That in simple terms means it is what the military commander should concentrate his best resources and primary focus with all other activity designed to support that main effort. In Ukraine, the attack on Kyiv is clearly the Russian military commander’s main effort and the other activity is supporting effort aimed at dividing Ukraine’s defence forces by giving them multiple areas to focus on.

To have achieved their main effort the Russians should have rapidly secured air superiority by destroying Ukraine’s radars, air force and air defence assets. This would have given Russia the ability to manoeuvre freely on the ground and using airmobile and airborne assets whilst restricting Ukraine’s ability to manoeuvre defence forces to counter Russia’s attacks.  It is clear Russia tried to do this, but it is equally clear it hasn’t been successful.

Once air superiority had been achieved, I would have expected rapid Air Mobile and Airborne operations to capture and hold key terrain, those areas that would give the attacking Russians an advantage, so bridges, airfields, power plants and for another blog, the information sphere. It is clear with the Russian Special Forces air mobile attack on Antonov Airport, 20 miles north of Kyiv, they tried to do this. If they had been successful, they would have been reinforced rapidly with other airborne and airmobile troops so they could break out, fix Ukrainian defenders and join up with advancing armoured forces.  They have failed to do this.

Simultaneously Russian Armoured formations would be expected to deploy rapidly towards Kyiv with the main axis of advance likely following the M-01 highway from the Russian Border to the Northeast of Kyiv, bypassing but surrounding the city of Chernihiv to fix defenders in place whilst continuing to move the main body of the ground offensive to Kyiv as rapidly as possible.

A secondary axis to Kyiv would likely be from the Northwest of Kyiv following the M-07 highway. Artillery, rockets, ground attack aircraft and attack helicopters would provide cover for the armoured forces to advance as rapidly as possible by neutralising any defences before that got there. This clearly hasn’t happened.

The one question that hangs over all of what seems to be happening, from open-source reporting only, is; where is the expected overwhelming force by air and land that was expected looking at Russia’s on paper capability and superiority over the Ukrainian defenders?

The longer the Ukrainian’s can slow, stop, defeat, disrupt the advancing Russian forces the more frustrated their commanders will become. This is called creating friction, that friction makes what should be simple, more difficult and the difficult impossible and increase the potential for the ‘fog of war’ to further cloud Russian command and control decision making. I can just imagine the language Putin will be using to his military commanders.

However, what must be remembered and is clear in the Land Operations publication, is human dynamics lie at the heart of all conflict.” The human dynamics of a frustrated attacking force made up of personnel hundreds and thousands of kilometres from home who have been deployed for months already and don’t know the real reason why they are there, will be very different from the human dynamics of the defenders fighting for national survival and the safety and security of their families.

The loss of 2 IL-76 aircraft, likely carrying some of Russia’s elite airborne forces will not just have led to another mission to capture key terrain to failure but will impact heavily on that human factor.

It is because of this that Russia has only days to achieve its main effort because the first troops are the best equipped, best trained and most motivated, you never lead with your second best. Only a small percentage of the on-paper strength of the Russian military will be those troops, the more poorly trained and equipped will be there to hold ground after the fight has been won, not to become embroiled in a protracted campaign.

A very early assessment would be the Ukrainian defenders have the Russian attacking forces on the back foot the coming days are vital as if Russia is defeated in its main effort (which must happen) then Putin’s days are numbered. It is clear that secondary effort is a land bridge along the sea of Azov coastline connecting the Donbas region to Crimea but securing only that may not be enough to keep Putin in power.

We can expect Russia to become more aggressive around Kyiv with further attempts at Airborne and Airmobile troop insertions and increasing indirect fire and missile attacks to try and attack the morale of the defenders of Kyiv and the population. This next 48 hours is critical to both sides.

Philip Ingram MBE is a former Colonel in British Military Intelligence and NATO planner. He is available for comment.

 

 

 

The Russian attack, an assessment as at 26th February 2022

Russia’s potential war plan for Ukraine

A possible Russian Op Plan for a further limited incursion into Ukraine – a potential war plan. *** Updated at 21 1845 Z Feb 22***

This is based on opensource information only and there remains an outside possibility that President Putin will slowly withdraw forces and say he never intended to invade anyway.

At approximately 0400 local 2X Feb first echelons of Russian forces will move into the Donetsk region of Ukraine from the East. Simultaneously elements will attack N from Crimea and landings on the Sea of Asov coast will begin.

The Russian intention will be to advance rapidly to a line along the River Dnipro, consolidating an additional land bridge to Crimea, annexing Eastern Ukraine in order to set the conditions sue for peace ensuring international sanctions are not levied against Russia or key Russian individuals.

Elements from Belarus and Russia will likely feint a move on Kiev.

Airborne/Airmobile operations could attempt to capture crossings on the Dnipro River.

Operations will likely be preceded with massive cyber-attacks aimed at power, military C2, communications and media.

Suppression of enemy air defences, (SEAD) across the whole country will likely be on immediate standby if not launched as a precursor, if launched as a precursor then the feints towards Kiev are more likely to become real axis of advance.

A significant false flag incident will occur 6+ hours before H Hour after a period of time with numerous small incidents, building in frequency and damage.  Odessa will be threatened, primarily from the sea but also from the small Russian forces in the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic (PMR) to further fix Ukrainian defences.

The End State could likely be further elements of East Ukraine under Russian control, with a then negotiated settlement back to Donetsk + where the + is an additional artillery buffer zone or demilitarized zone, withdrawal to this point would be conditional on no sanctions against Russia or key Russian individuals  – Russia wins, world goes Phew!

Indicators and Warnings:

  • Increasing domestic rhetoric suggesting Western Interference
  • Increased international rhetoric accusing the west of interference
  • Increasing Rhetoric around ethnic Russians being targeted
  • Rhetoric around Ukrainian incursion into Donbas and or/Russia
  • Increased Belarus activity on Polish border with refugees
  • Ukraine Cyber-attack
  • Global Cyber-attack
  • Russian Black Sea fleet deployed
  • Elms Russian Med Fleet deployed
  • Elms Russian Northern Fleet Deployed
  • Increasing condemnation of Ukraine from the Kremlin
  • Senior Russian Officials avoiding international travel
  • ‘Manufactured’ terrorist activity both against Ethnic Russians but also inside Russia itself – bombs in Moscow / Airliner Shot Down?
  • Invasion

Further thinking and Indicators will be added below:

Additional thinking as at 21 Feb 1845 Z 

The Russian Embassy in London tweeted that “President #Putin informed President @EmmanuelMacron and Federal Chancellor @OlafScholz of his intention to sign the decree to recognise #Donetsk and #Lugansk People’s Republics.” This plays into the playbook Putin is trying to follow which I describe as the Kosovo Playbook.  He is recognising the breakaway regions to Gove legitimacy to their calls for Russian military to come in to stop the various crisis that he has manufactured. What is worrying is he will probably want a spectacular to act as the trigger and that means innocent lives will be lost. He will feel he can turn a Kosovo excuse back on the West and say I am only doing what you did so done sanction me! (Remember the Russians joined the NATO operation, they arrived in Pristina 24 hrs earlier than NATO forces but that is because they were working to an Operation Plan that had been stolen by Russia Intelligence from NATO, except it was an old version and timings had slipped by 24 Hrs (The author helped write that plan!))