“The world is on the threshold of the largest military offensive since World War II,” the authors warn. They assume that diplomatic negotiations will lead nowhere, because Russia, Ukraine and the West have nowhere to retreat.
They outline three possible scenarios for further development. The mildest is Russia’s recognition of the independence of the two so-called “republics” in the occupied parts of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. However, this would only confirm the status quo, with which the Kremlin is not satisfied. Moreover, it would make it impossible to involve these regions back in Ukraine as a kind of fifth column blocking Ukraine’s Western ambitions.
According to them, the second scenario is a limited offensive with the aim of conquering a small area on the border, or the entire Black Sea coast. This would hit Ukraine hard with the loss of important ports and allow Russia to resume water supplies through the Dnieper to the thirsty Crimea.
However, this action would require a complex and bloody battle in the cities and a long-term occupation of the territory with the hostile population, which would result in a permanent violent resistance. “It would weaken Ukraine, but it would not become a dilapidated state,” Vindman and Bustillos think.
Large and short invasion
They consider the third scenario, consisting in a full-fledged invasion from land, air and sea, from the south, east and north, to be the most probable. They expect the fastest possible control of the airspace and the subsequent campaign towards Kharkov and Sumy, along the coasts of the Azov and Black Seas and the raid from Belarus to Kiev, which would block the transfer of Ukrainian reinforcements to the south.
“This operation would focus on objects of the Ukrainian government, army, critical infrastructure and places important for the Ukrainian national identity and morale,” the authors develop their prediction. The invading troops would avoid too risky and costly attacks on large cities and conquer only the territories needed to approach the shelling targets.
These would include factories producing or developing advanced military technology, including Neptune anti-ship missiles, Hrim-2 short-range ballistic missiles or Sapsan missile systems.
The offensive would last only a relatively short time until Russia destroyed the set goals or reached a favorable diplomatic end to the fight. “If everything went according to plan, the attack would cripple the Ukrainian government, army and economic infrastructure,” Vindman and Bustillos predict.
White House Council
The authors give some advice to the US government, regardless of the size of the eventual invasion. First of all, they support the widest possible economic and personal sanctions. They recommend focusing not only on those involved in planning and carrying out a possible attack, but also on the “close circle of Putin’s oligarchs” specified by imprisoned opposition opponent Alexei Navalny, whose team specializes in uncovering the hidden wealth of a Russian villain.
They stress that Putin is betting on hostility between Republicans and Democrats, and call on representatives of both parties in Congress to unite on the issue of anti-Russian sanctions. They also call for the greatest possible unity between the United States and its European partners, without which any action would lose its strength.
They acknowledge that Russia can bear sanctions. They recall its reserves of $ 630 billion, growing self-sufficiency in critical industries, large energy sources and the existence of an alternative to the international payment system SWIFT (cutting from it is considered one of the options for sanctions). Nevertheless, they consider this approach to be painful for the Kremlin and the whole of Russia, and point to the Moscow Stock Exchange, which is falling sharply in the light of growing tensions.
Vindman and Bustillos further encourage arms supplies. “Washington should provide Ukraine with small arms, ammunition, equipment and a large number of portable anti-aircraft kits (MANPAD). It should also supply more advanced systems such as Patriot anti-aircraft missiles and Harpoon anti-ship missiles, “they say.
They acknowledge that it cannot reverse Russia’s superiority, yet they believe it could make the invasion more costly.
Last but not least, they urge European countries in particular to prepare for the influx of refugees, which can be in the hundreds of thousands or millions. “NATO member countries would have to share in this burden. It cannot be assumed that the countries of the eastern wing of the Alliance could do it alone. “