We are reaching a point in the Ukraine-Russia Conflict now where the threat of escalation is becoming alarmingly credible. The failure of the Russian offensive in the north has shifted the battlefield to the Donbas region in eastern Ukraine. A new Russian offensive is underway there, but its unclear how successful it will be in the face of the heavy casualties and equipment losses Russian forces have suffered thus far. On the flip side, Ukraine is enjoying plentiful resupply of material and weapons from the United States and her NATO allies in Europe. Russian defeats on the battlefield have emboldened many NATO member-states to give weapons and ammunition until it hurts, so to speak. Self-propelled artillery, main battle tanks and SPAAGs are taking the place of Javelins and Starstreaks.
Russia is growing alarmed by the increased activity and the expanding resupply operations. NATO efforts are ramping up as Russia feels the bite from economic sanctions at home and the failure of Russia’s conventional forces to secure victory in the early days of the war have helped to create a stalemate on the battlefield. From the Western perspective, now seems to be the perfect time to increase pressure on Russia. In Moscow, however, the situation looks very different. How Vladimir Putin reads the situation now is a crucial factor. The Ukraine adventure has gone sour in every way. The West has declared an economic war against Russia and now NATO members are pouring weapons and other war material into Ukraine. Those weapons will soon be put to use against Russian forces on the battlefield and transforming the conflict into a proxy war.
This week, Russian warnings to the West have increased in number and tenor. Amid Western calls to decrease the aggressive rhetoric, Vladimir Putin raised the ante today. He pledged ‘lightning’ fast strikes against any nation ‘interfering’ with Russia’s war in Ukraine. “If anyone ventures to intervene from the outside and [pose] unacceptable threats of a strategic nature to Russia, they should know that our counter-retaliatory strikes will take place with lightning speed,” he said.
Hyperbole? Perhaps. But in the wake of Western government officials publicly proclaiming a desire to see Russia weakened and unable to undertake a military operation like this again in the future, one must wonder how Putin will regard these comments in the coming days and weeks. The greatest concern is how he will respond if he reaches the point where he considers NATO resupply in Ukraine to be an existential threat to Russia.
Conventional Russian missile or air attacks on military targets in Poland, for example, will assuredly bring on a Western response. Where does it go from there? Nowhere good, that’s for sure. We’re not at that point yet. However, right now the threat of escalation is the very real elephant in the room.
Alright, that’s enough real world. Back to 1987. North Atlantic/Norwegian Sea and the return of the Vampires tomorrow night or Friday morning. Hope everyone’s doing well! –Mike