Ukraine War: Is Putin trying to open a front from Belarus? – Another attack towards Kiev? – My Comments

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[It seems to me that the USA especially, behind the scenes, has worked hard to cut off help from Putin's natural allies. The most successful move has been with China. The Chinese have NOT sold or given Putin any weapons or equipment or supplies that he needs. Iran has proved to be the most useful ally of all, and even Syria has had some uses. His best White friend is Lukashenko of Belarus. But Belarus is a smallish White nation with a population of about 10 million. And I think they're intimidated by Ukraine's 44 million. And yes, they are close friends of Putin, but if they take part in this war, then there will be hatred that will last long after Putin is dead. I get the impression that Lukashenko, as friendly as he is to Putin, is not keen to fight in this war, especially now that he's seen the losses the Russians have taken. I've been reading that there is a possibility of an offensive from Belarus's side. This would take them right back towards Kiev. I'm not sure how much of this is Ukrainian propaganda in order to scare the West into giving more weapons. But it does seem that the Ukranians are already preparing trench works and defensive lines in the event of a Russian-Belarus attack. Belarus obviously can't do it on their own. We'll have to watch how this develops. The top Ukranian General claims that in the first part of next year, he's expecting an invasion from Belarus and he says he can defeat it … if he gets enough weapons. That's always the Ukrainian story … we need more weapons. But I do get the sense that Lukashenko is not that keen on actually fighting in Ukraine despite him being totally loyal to Putin. According to the info below, it seems Putin is trying to put pressure on Lukashenko. Expect the war to hot up next year from about March-April. I think from Putin's point of view, such a move would result in putting more pressure on the Ukrainian Army. The goal being to overload them and then they fall apart. From my perspective, Putin seems to be struggling because the Western weaponry has been game changers. But Putin's hope is that the West loses interest. This is a very intense war. This is no game. This is far more intense than Iraq or Afghanistan or anything that we Whites in Africa have had. This is much more like WW1 and WW2. White men with good weapons really slogging it out. It's nasty. A LOT of people have died. Jan]

o Russian President Vladimir Putin will likely pressure Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko to support the Russian war in Ukraine further at a December 19 meeting in Minsk.

o Lukashenko is already setting information conditions to deflect Russian integration demands.

o Putin’s upcoming visit to Minsk could indicate that he is setting conditions for a new offensive from Belarusian territory.

o Putin and Lukashenko’s meeting will likely advance a separate Russian information operation that seeks to break Ukrainian will and Western willingness to support Ukraine.

o Russian President Vladimir Putin reportedly ignored worst-case scenario assessments of potential damage to the Russian economy prior to launching his full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

Here is more detail:

Russian President Vladimir Putin will likely pressure Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko for Russian-Belarusian integration concessions at an upcoming December 19 meeting in Minsk—Putin’s first meeting with Lukashenko in Minsk since 2019.[11] Lukashenko and Putin reportedly will discuss Russian-Belarusian integration issues, unspecified military-political issues, and implementing Union State programs.[12] The Union State is a supranational agreement from 1997 with the stated goal of the federal integration of Russia and Belarus under a joint structure. The Kremlin seeks to use the Union State to establish Russian suzerainty (control) over Belarus.[13]

Lukashenko is already setting information conditions to deflect Russian integration demands as he has done for decades.[14] Lukashenko stressed that "nobody but us is ruling Belarus," and that Belarus is ready to build relations with Russia but that their ties "should always proceed from the premise that we are a sovereign and independent state."[15] It is unclear whether Putin will be successful in extracting his desired concessions from Lukashenko. Lukashenko has so far largely resisted intensified Russian integration demands and has refused to commit Belarusian forces to join Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Putin’s visit to Minsk could indicate that Putin is trying to set conditions for the newly assessed most dangerous course of action (MDCOA) that ISW reported on December 15: a renewed offensive against Ukraine—possibly against northern Ukraine or Kyiv—in winter 2023.[16] Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Belarusian Defense Minister Viktor Khrenin signed an unspecified document to further strengthen bilateral security ties—likely in the context of the Russian-Belarusian Union State—and increase Russian pressure on Belarus to further support the Russian invasion of Ukraine, in Minsk on December 3.[17] ISW’s December 15 MDCOA warning forecast about a potential Russian offensive against northern Ukraine in winter 2023 remains a worst-case scenario within the forecast cone. ISW currently assesses a Russian invasion of Ukraine from Belarus as low, but possible. Belarusian forces remain extremely unlikely to invade Ukraine without a Russian strike force. It is far from clear that Lukashenko would commit Belarusian forces to fight in Ukraine even alongside Russian troops. There are still no indicators that Russian forces are forming a strike force in Belarus.[18]

Putin and Lukashenko’s meeting will—at a minimum—advance a separate Russian information operation that seeks to break Ukrainian will and Western willingness to support Ukraine, however. This meeting will reinforce the Russian information operation designed to convince Ukrainians and Westerners that Russia may attack Ukraine from Belarus. Russia’s continued strikes against Kyiv, constant troop deployments to Belarus, and continued bellicose rhetoric are part of (and mutually reinforce) this information operation. The Kremlin is unlikely to break the Ukrainian will to fight. The Kremlin likely seeks to convince the West to accept a false fait accompli that Ukraine cannot materially alter the current front lines and that the war is effectively stalemated. ISW assesses that such a conclusion is inaccurate and that Ukraine stands a good chance of regaining considerable critical terrain in the coming months.

Russian President Vladimir Putin reportedly ignored warnings about worst-case economic scenario assessments from senior Kremlin financial advisors prior to launching his full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. Unnamed sources told the Financial Times (FT) that the head of the Russian Central Bank, Elvira Nabiullina, and the head of Sberbank, German Gref, briefed a 39-page assessment to Putin outlining the long-term damage to the Russian economy if Russia recognized the independence of proxy republics in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts a month prior to the full-scale invasion.[19] FT sources noted that both Nabiullina and Gref spoke to Putin of their own initiative but were not brave enough to tell Putin that Russia risked a geopolitical disaster when he interrupted the brief to ask how Russia can prevent a worst-case scenario. Nabiullina and Gref specifically warned Putin that Western sanctions would set the Russian economy back by decades and negatively impact the Russian quality of life. Both Nabiullina and Gref reportedly were shocked when Putin launched the invasion on February 24 and indirectly expressed some discontent to their inner circles, despite implementing provisions to mitigate some negative impacts of sanctions during the first weeks of the war.

The report, if true, indicates that Putin had received some prognosis of the war’s risks and costs but decided to ignore them in favor of his maximalist goal of seizing Ukraine. It is unclear if Putin received and subsequently ignored similar reports from the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) or the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), but his engagement with Nabiullina and Gref shows that he had some awareness of the potential long-term risks of the war. Nabiullina’s and Gref’s reported hesitance to dissuade Putin also demonstrates the unbalanced power dynamic that may have prompted some Russian officials to play along with Putin’s bad decisions rather than remonstrating with him.

Source: https://understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-december-16



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