Russian offensive exceeds US expectations
WASHINGTON DC (Kurdistan 24) – The anticipated Russian offensive on Ukraine that began early Thursday morning has exceeded US expectations.
US officials had anticipated that Russia would attack Ukraine in stages, and it would test the international environment after each stage.
For that reason, Washington (as well as the European Union) held back on imposing the most serious economic sanctions that they could muster, saving them as a deterrent for future assaults.
Not Georgia 2.0
However, even now, Moscow appears to be targeting the entirety of the country. As former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told CNN, people had expected “Georgia 2.0”, a reference to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s attack on that country in 2008.
That war lasted just under a fortnight and resulted in two republics—Abkhazia and South Ossetia—breaking away from the Georgian government and falling under Russian control.
However, that brief war did not result in the Russian occupation of the entire country, and Clapper suggested that thinking in terms of the Georgian war 14 years ago had been a mistake.
Outlines of the Russian Assault
The Russian attack on Ukraine is “broad,” as The Washington Post reported on Thursday. It is being launched from “multiple directions,” and Russian forces are “bombarding cities, towns, and villages and advancing toward the capital, Kiev,” which has a population of three million people.
The moves are “clearly designed to take key population centers” and overthrow the Ukrainian government, a US defense official said, as the Post noted that Ukraine’s government was “democratically-elected” and “pro-Western.”
There have already been significant fatalities in the course of the attack, which is less than 24 hours old. Some 40 Ukrainian soldiers and “dozens of civilians” have died, the Post reported.
The Post underscored the enormous significance of the Russian attack, although its concern—and that of the defense official it cited—was Europe, while it ignored the Middle East.
“We haven’t seen a conventional move like this, nation-state to nation-state, since World War II,” the US official told the Post.
Of course, there is a more recent precedent. It is Saddam Hussein’s assault on Kuwait on August 2, 1990.
Putin’s Ominous Warning
At 5:45 AM on Thursday morning in Moscow, Russian state television broadcast a pre-recorded address by Putin. In that recording, he declared that he had “made the decision to hold a special military operation” in response to a request from the leaders of the Donbas republics.
Subsequently, Putin’s address was regularly rebroadcast throughout the day.
It included a vague and ominous threat. Putin told Western countries that they should not assist Ukraine, saying that those who did so would face a very serious response.
“To anyone who would consider interfering from outside,” Putin said, as he flagged his intended audience. “If you do, you will face consequences greater than any you have faced in history.”