Putin to Give Speech Announcing Popular Referendums in All Four Ukrainian Regions Occupied By Russia as a Prelude to Full Russian Annexation
This move is likely meant to deter Ukraine from further counterattacks as a Ukrainian invasion of newly-annexed Russian territories would provoke a Russian tactical nuclear response
September 21, 2022 update: In Russian President Vladimir Putin’s televised address, he announced a major escalation of the war in Ukraine including full Russian support for the popular referendums being held in the Russian-occupied Ukrainian oblasts of Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhia and Kherson oblasts. He also announced a partial Russian military mobilization for the first time since the end of the Second World War which would include the call up of 300,000 reserve troops to send to Ukraine which would increase the number of Russian troops in Ukraine by 250%, which would give Russia rough numerical parity with Ukraine in troops numbers for the first time in the past six months. Finally, he stated that the West has crossed every one of Russia’s redlines in its undeclared proxy war against it, warning that Russia would not hesitate to use its technologically superior nuclear arsenal, if necessary, to defend the territorial integrity of Russia (including the soon-to-be-annexed Ukrainian oblasts) from renewed Ukrainian counterattacks.
So it seems that after forcing the Russian military to fight the last seven months with one hand tied behind its back, Putin has now decided to take the gloves off and enable Russia to win the war against Ukraine outright, a move which Russian hardliners have long advocated but he do. Putin has spent the past five and a half months trying to get Ukrainian President Zelensky to return to the negotiating table to sign a peace deal ending the war but with this escalation it is clear that his patience has finally run out and he has given up on a diplomatic solution most likely in the realization that only an increased threat of or actual Russian nuclear escalation will be successful in forcing Ukraine and the West to agree to an end to the conflict.
At the summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization held this past weekend, Russian President Vladimir Putin was asked his reaction to Ukraine’s successful Kharkiv counteroffensive in which Ukraine took back nearly 5% of its territory that Russia had occupied reducing Russia’s control of Ukraine’s internationally recognized territory from 20% to 19%. Putin smirked and replied, “let’s see how it ends up for them.” In my previous article published on September 16th, I warned that Russia was all but guaranteed to engage in a major escalation of the war in response to this Ukrainian battlefield victory even though following its two most recent counteroffensives in which they reportedly suffered several thousand troops killed in action, the Ukrainian Armed Forces have largely exhausted their capability to engage in major offensive operations.
Lt. Colonel Daniel Davis (USA Ret.), who serves as a Senior Fellow with Defense Priorities and Fox News national security commentator, reports that Ukraine has suffered an estimated 200,000-250,000 military casualties in the war thus far, including 50,000-70,000 troops killed in action. He estimates that Russian casualties have been much lower due to their 20-1 advantage in artillery in many sectors of the front, though still quite significant. Essentially, the war has settled into a period of prolonged stalemate with Russia having the advantage long-term as Russian forces have dug into established defensive positions while Ukraine is unlikely to be able to capture much more additional territory. As Ted Galen Carpenter wrote in an article published in the National Interest just yesterday, “Celebrations of Ukraine’s recent military successes are both premature and greatly overdone. Indeed, the cheering could prove to be entirely misplaced and inappropriate. NATO leaders and the Western news media need to realize that they may be celebrating the prelude to a prolonged, extremely bloody war or even an impending nuclear catastrophe.”
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