The Crimea Crisis

Discussion in 'The Near Abroad' started by José Moreira, Feb 28, 2014.

  1. AKarlin

    AKarlin Generalissimo Staff Member

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    Here is my amateur armchair generalizing, copied from Facebook:

    I'm almost certain it won't happen, but it's always fun to consider these what-if military scenarios.

    Namely, Ukraine vs. Russia.

    In terms of numbers, it will be about 100K vs 150K - Russia has more, of course - 300K in the ground forces - but can only devote a certain percentage of its forces to one theater (so divide by two for air and armor too). Ukraine will of course try to call up reservists, but their military worth is negligible and in any case the reported response rate (1.5% from the Orange provinces) is minimal anyway. Most of Russia's soldiers here will be kontraktniki; most of Ukraine's soldiers are its last crop of conscripts, halfway through their one year draft, and a sprinkling of professionals.

    As many people have pointed out, the loyalties of these troops - especially in the east - are questionable. Even a few cases of desertion can wreck morale across the board.

    For all intents and purposes Ukraine now has no navy.

    It has 120 modern fighters, but of these, only 40 can be classed as active. Russia has 500, of which almost all are active. Due to budget problems, Ukrainian pilots have enjoyed fewer flight hours than Russian ones, and as such will also be less experienced. Russia will have total air superiority after the first few days.

    Tanks are the one area in which Ukraine isn't totally outmatched. Ukraine has around 350 of what can be considered active, modern MBT's. Russia has 1,300, plus a further 1,500 upgraded T-72's. Ukraine also has many T-72's, but they are all rusting away in storage and will be unusuable. It does have 700 active upgraded T-64's, yet even upgraded, they are still rather obsolete.

    The critical big unknown is Ukraine's air defense. If it holds its own, then Ukrainian and Russian armor can clash on equal ground, at least for some time. Georgia's air defense, likewise Soviet legacy, wracked up an impressive (for their small scope) set of kills in 2008. A lot will depend on whether the Russians have managed to draw lessons from that episode. If however it turns out to be ineffective, then Ukraine's armor will consist of smoking hulks of metal within two weeks, and Russia's entrance into Kiev within the month.

    I am assuming no NATO intervention, which is politically very unlikely even in this extreme case. In any case, it will take months to effect the necessary buildup, by which time - even in the best case scenario for Ukraine - the campaign will have been long over.
    José Moreira likes this.
  2. Drutten

    Drutten Collegiate Secretary (10th class)

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    In terms of aerial assets, the Ukrainian AF has ~40 frontline fighters as you say, and another ~30 tactical ground attack aircraft. All of these, save for a miniscule amount (4-5 pcs) of upgraded MiG-29's are old.

    Russia has many more as you have noted, which holds true even if you only count the (to the Ukraine) neighboring military districts. These are not only more numerous, but also in better condition. But even though they use the same types of aircraft to a large extent, there are other great differences in terms of what exact variants are around. Most of Russias Soviet-legacy combat aircraft have been heavily upgraded, and on top of that there is nowadays a sizable force of newly builts.

    Just as an example, look at the most potent fighter Ukraine has, the venerable Su-27:
    UkrAF: Roughly 16 legacy Su-27S, Su-27P, Su-27UB in flyable condition at present (1985-1991, rather crude by modern standards).
    VVS: Roughly 200 Su-27's, out of which more than half have been heavily upgraded to Su-27SM2-3 standard since 2004. On top of that they have insofar fielded ~35 newly built Su-35S, the ultimate iteration of the Su-27 design.

    It's the same situation across the board, plus all the stuff that the VVS has and Ukraine does not (strategical bombers, 4½ generation tactical bombers, dedicated interceptors etc).

    If there'd be a war and if it'd be gloves off (i.e. let's march on Kiev), I would guess that Russia would begin with theater ballistic missile strikes (Iskander and what have you) together with cruise missiles, to defeat Ukrainian air defense and destroying most military airfields, before flooding the airspace with air superiority fighters and beginning proper airstrikes on more mobile targets.

    Uh, you know, it makes me feel a bit uncomfortable writing about this. De-escalation and peace is what I want to see. I certainly hope this kind of internet speculation stays on the internet.
  3. José Moreira

    José Moreira High Commissar Staff Member

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    http://voiceofrussia.com/news/2014_03_11/Two-US-drones-allegedly-shot-down-in-Crimea-5071/

    A US unmanned reconnaissance aircraft has allegedly been shot down over Crimea, the Novosti Kryma (News of Crimea) online newspaper reports.

    The drone was allegedly surveilling Crimean troop positions over the Turetsky Val block-post, the newspaper quotes a Cossack source as saying.

    The unsanctioned aircraft had been spotted by Crimean self-defense forces and Berkut policemen.

    Another, heavier, drone, a two-engine one, has been allegedly shot down and fell outside the block-post’s area.
  4. john smith

    john smith Collegiate Registrar (14th class)

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  5. Carlo

    Carlo Ship Secretary (11th class)

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  6. john smith

    john smith Collegiate Registrar (14th class)

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    1. Support For The Sovereignty Integrity Democracy And Economic Stability Of Ukraine Act Of 2014

      Haven’t watch it but reading previous excerpts from Rand Pauls op-ed regarding Putin I can image the tone of the discussion.
  7. José Moreira

    José Moreira High Commissar Staff Member

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  8. Carlo

    Carlo Ship Secretary (11th class)

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    US and EU respond with sanctions:
    http://rt.com/news/sanctions-russia-eu-us-338/
    Considering that Russia passed recently a law forbidding officials from having assets and properties abroad, these sanctions mean almost nothing - they just won't be able to travel to the US and EU.
  9. José Moreira

    José Moreira High Commissar Staff Member

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    From Stratfor:

    Several options are now available to Russia.

    First, it can do nothing. The government in Kiev is highly fractious, and given the pro-Russian factions' hostility toward moving closer to the West, the probability of paralysis is high. In due course, Russian influence, money and covert activities can recreate the prior neutrality in Ukraine in the form of a stalemate. This was the game Russia played after the 2004 Orange Revolution. The problem with this strategy is that it requires patience at a time when the Russian government must demonstrate its power to its citizens and the world. Moreover, if Crimea does leave Ukraine, it will weaken the pro-Russian bloc in Kiev and remove a large number of ethnic Tartars from Ukraine's political morass. It could be enough of a loss to allow the pro-Russian bloc to lose what electoral power it previously had (Yanukovich beat Yulia Timoshenko by fewer than a million votes in 2010). Thus, by supporting Crimea's independence -- and raising the specter of an aggressive Russia that could bind the other anti-Russian factions together -- Putin could be helping to ensure that a pro-Western Ukraine persists.

    Second, it can invade mainland Ukraine. There are three problems with this. First, Ukraine is a large area to seize and pacify. Russia does not need an insurgency on its border, and it cannot guarantee that it wouldn't get one, especially since a significant portion of the population in western Ukraine is pro-West. Second, in order for an invasion of Ukraine to be geopolitically significant, all of Ukraine west of the Dnieper River must be taken. Otherwise, the frontier with Russia remains open, and there would be no anchor to the Russian position. However, this would bring Russian forces to the bank opposite Kiev and create a direct border with NATO and EU members. Finally, if the Russians wish to pursue the first option, pulling eastern Ukrainian voters out of the Ukrainian electoral process would increase the likelihood of an effective anti-Russian government.

    Third, it can
    act along its periphery. In 2008, Russia announced its power with authority by invading Georgia. This changed calculations in Kiev and other capitals in the region by reminding them of two realities. First, Russian power is near. Second, the Europeans have no power, and the Americans are far away. There are three major points where the Russians could apply pressure: the Caucasus countries, Moldova and the Baltics. By using large Russian minority populations within NATO countries, the Russians might be able to create unrest there, driving home the limits of NATO's power.

    Fourth, it can offer incentives in Eastern and Central Europe. Eastern and Central European countries, from Poland to Bulgaria, are increasingly aware that they may have to hedge their bets on Europe and the West. The European economic crisis now affects politico-military relations. The sheer fragmentation of European nations makes a coherent response beyond proclamations impossible. Massive cuts in military spending remove most military options. The Central Europeans feel economically and strategically uneasy, particularly as the European crisis is making the European Union's largest political powers focus on the problems of the eurozone, of which most of these countries are not members. The Russians have been conducting what we call commercial imperialism, particularly south of Poland, entering into business dealings that have increased their influence and solved some economic problems. The Russians have sufficient financial reserves to neutralize Central European countries.

    Last, it can bring pressure to bear on the United States by creating problems in critical areas. An obvious place is Iran. In recent weeks, the Russians have offered to build two new, non-military reactors for the Iranians. Quietly providing technological support for military nuclear programs could cause the Iranians to end negotiations with the United States and would certainly be detected by U.S. intelligence. The United States has invested a great deal of effort and political capital in its relations with the Iranians. The Russians are in a position to damage them, especially as the Iranians are looking for leverage in their talks with Washington. In more extreme and unlikely examples, the Russians might offer help to Venezuela's weakening regime. There are places that Russia can hurt the United States, and it is now in a position where it will take risks -- as with Iran's nuclear program -- that it would not have taken before.

    (...)

    The most likely strategy Russia will follow is a combination of all of the above: pressure on mainland Ukraine with some limited incursions; working to create unrest in the Baltics, where large Russian-speaking minorities live, and in the Caucasus and Moldova; and pursuing a strategy to prevent Eastern Europe from coalescing into a single entity. Simultaneously, Russia is likely to intervene in areas that are sensitive to the United States while allowing the Ukrainian government to be undermined by its natural divisions.


    The full analysis is here:

    Russia Examines Its Options for Responding to Ukraine is republished with permission of Stratfor.
  10. José Moreira

    José Moreira High Commissar Staff Member

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    Statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan on the referendum in Crimea

    With regards to the referendum of 16 March 2014 in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, Kazakhstan reiterates its commitment to the fundamental principles of international law in accordance with the United Nations Charter.

    The referendum held in Crimea is seen in Kazakhstan as a free expression of will of the Autonomous Republic's population while the decision of the Russian Federation under the existing circumstances is regarded with understanding.

    We support peaceful ways of settlement of the crisis in Ukraine and believe it should be done by means of negotiations under the aegis of the United Nations and other reputable international organizations.
  11. Carlo

    Carlo Ship Secretary (11th class)

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    It seems that Kazakhstan is taking no stance in the issue - it says that the Crimean referendum is democratic, but also that the settlement of the crisis should come from the UN (where of course the Crimean secession will be vetoed by the US, UK and France). It seems a repetition of the scenario after the South Ossetian war, the former Soviet republics with good relations with Russia (like Armenia, Belarus and Kazakhstan) won't take sides.
  12. Carlo

    Carlo Ship Secretary (11th class)

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    I would like to ask everybody in this forum: do you think the annexation of Crimea was a good idea, at least in such a fast manner? In my opinion, it wasn't. That Russia took Crimea out of Kiev's control, and that this region made a referendum, all this is perfectly understandable. But to move so fast towards annexation is something I don't understand: we don't know how much the current Ukrainian government will last (probably not much), and it puts even the mildest pro-Russian politician in a difficult situation, making the possibility of a more East-leaning government in Kiev something way more unlikely now. Except for the very pro-Russian population in the East and South, everybody in Ukraine will probably unite to support the government against Russia. The South Ossetian and Abkhazian declaration of independence was inevitable after the 2008 war, but I can't see the Ukrainian central government trying to take back Crimea by force: despite being bigger, Ukrainian armed forces are way worse equipped and prepared than Georgian, their morale is lower, and they even can expect an important number of desertion in case of an armed conflict with Russia. For me, the most rational would be what Patrick predicted in Anatoly's blog (http://darussophile.com/2014/03/after-the-referendum/), Russia should have taken a few months to answer to Crimea's referendum, claiming how complicated such a move is (integration of political structures, taxes, currency, energy and utilities, etc), and wait for how things would develop in Kiev, before making such a radical and irreversible move. Am I missing something here?
  13. gbordakov

    gbordakov Office Registrar (13th class)

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    I think it is a bad idea and a tragedy. And it is not because I am pro-Ukrainian. They would call me ultimate Russian imperialist. The very word Україна (Borderland) is treasonous for me. If there exists Україна then it is in St. Petersburg or in Vladivostok and definitely not in Kiev. If they don't like Малороссія (Little Russia) then let them be called Корінна Русь (Indigenous Rus). I agree with Kuraev http://diak-kuraev.livejournal.com/638851.html on assessment of these events. I have the same questions/problems: Is Rus now loosing Kiev? How does Russia prevents NATO missiles appearing in Chernigov? How does Rus protects its compatriots in Donetsk/Odessa or in Poltava or even in Lvov? Is it really the end of Rus? Who is Mr. Putin, is he not a hidden Western agent? I was very disappointed with this referendum rush and hoping till the end that there will be postponement and negotiations in line with what Patrick suggested. Did not happen. Seems like politicians are trapped in course of unfolding events. Of course I don't have a real feeling of events in Russia, don't even live in Russia (live in Texas) and definitely very far from political circles. But Kuraev noted that Patriarch Kirill did not attend Putin's speech parliament session, ROC sent Metropolitan Juvenaly to such seminal event. So apparently my feelings on these events are shared.
  14. José Moreira

    José Moreira High Commissar Staff Member

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    Perhaps there is a feeling that the longer this drags on the worse the problems with sanctions will become. The USA and EU will have to escalate sanctions to avoid losing face. These sanctions now are meant to avoid annexation. Once the issue is settled there will be less pressure form immediate sanctions and maybe the focus will return to Ukraine and the horde of journalists will return to Kiev.

    Bordakov, I think you are right when you say politicians are trapped. There is no way the EU and USA can avoid imposing sanctions. There is no way for Putin to go back now and return Crimea to Ukraine. So all they can to is try to make this as quick and painless as possible.

    Personally I have to support the right of the Crimeans to decide. Would they haver had a chance to decide by themselves without this military action? I don't think so.

    Was is a fair referendum? Probably not, but I accept the final result as valid anyway. If all legal niceties were respected my country would not be independent today. Most nations got their independence by the force of arms.

    I also notice that those who object on several legal grounds are not proposing any alternative that would let the Crimeans exercise their right to self-determination.
  15. Carlo

    Carlo Ship Secretary (11th class)

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    Putin has undoubtedly always acted in accordance to his country's interests, and he is one of the very few truly sovereigns left in the world. What I fear may happen, perhaps, is hubris: Russia has advanced so much in all aspects in the last 15 years, that the greatest danger is that Putin and his government feel emboldened. The hurried Crimea annexation may be one such act of hubris.
  16. Carlo

    Carlo Ship Secretary (11th class)

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    [​IMG]
    I wonder what is written in Japanese above. Can it be Tymoshenko's threats against Russians?
  17. john smith

    john smith Collegiate Registrar (14th class)

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  18. Carlo

    Carlo Ship Secretary (11th class)

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  19. PCO VolgaTrader

    PCO VolgaTrader Collegiate Registrar (14th class)

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  20. PCO VolgaTrader

    PCO VolgaTrader Collegiate Registrar (14th class)

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