By Dr. Dmitry Radyshevsky
Anonymous analysts in the KGB (now called FSB) have leaked sensational revelations: they were kept in the dark by Putin’s top brass about the planned invasion of Ukraine. They were told that the Russian troops were being amassed on the borders to put pressure on the West. No one ordered them to calculate the possible scenarios of a full scale invasion. Putin in his secretiveness has outsmarted himself. Exactly like Stalin did in 1941.
As it turns out, not only were the Russian soldiers told they were being transported to the military exercises while being lead into an invasion of Ukraine, but the famed FSB Analytic Department (credited for surprise, swift and almost bloodless annexation by Russia of Abkhazia and Crimea) was kept in the dark as well. They were not ordered to calculate all the possible risks of a full scale war in Ukraine.
The Department could argue that if they had been given that task, they would have at least outlined for Putin the following scenarios and concerns:
The best scenario for Russia would have been a blitzkrieg – which had to be planned completely differently. But even that would have been a bad option. If Russian Special Forces had seized all the key buildings in Kyiv in the first day of the “operation”, and arrested Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and other top government officials, and forced them to give orders to the Ukrainian Army to surrender – then yes, the resistance would probably have subsided to the minimum level. In theory. But what’s next? Even with this best-for-Putin scenario, there was an unsolvable problem: with whom would Russia negotiate?
If Zelenskyy was to be assassinated or arrested, with whom would Russia sign “peace” agreements? Should Russia have brought back the pro-Moscow, former Ukrainian President Victor Yanukovich, ousted by a popular revolt in 2014? In that case, in order to keep him in power, Russia would have needed to keep a huge occupation force in Ukraine; otherwise Yanukovich and his supporters would be hanged within minutes after Russian troops leave.
Keep Russian occupation of Ukraine indefinitely? Practically impossible. Russia simply doesn’t have the manpower to keep Ukraine under a prolonged occupation. Even with minimal resistance from the locals, Russia would need 500,000 or more soldiers in Ukraine for 5-10 years. But Russia cannot announce a general mobilization to provide these additional 500,000 soldiers for two reasons:
First, large-scale mobilization will further undermine the political, economic, and social situation inside Russia.
Second, Russia’s logistics in Ukraine are already overstretched. “If we drive a many times larger Army contingent into Ukraine, what will we get?” asks FSB. “Ukraine has a huge territory. The level of the Ukrainians’ hatred towards us is going through the roof. Our roads simply won’t be able to handle such supply caravans, especially endangered by guerrillas – everything will come to a standstill.”
Resistance and Losses. FSB argues that they could have warned Putin of the possibility of a stiff Ukrainian resistance bolstered by the NATO-supplied modern anti-aircraft and anti-tank systems. They also could have warned him that the Russian Army might lose, in a month or two, the number of soldiers they’ve lost during 10 years in Afghanistan: 15,000.
Russia’s losses in Ukraine are not verifiable but they are estimated to be already between 5,000 and 10,000. Russian troops are demoralized. Not only were they kept in the dark about the invasion until they were transported into Ukraine, they are denied even a proper burial. Bodies of the slain Russian soldiers, mainly the 18-19-year old inexperienced conscripts, are not sent home for a proper burial, but are burnt in the mobile Russian army crematoriums. This is another totally anti-Christian act of Putin, in addition to slaughtering fellow Ukrainian Christians. For Putin, who poses as a defender of Christian faith, it’s another blow to his image.
Boosting the offensive with more troops and more fire power will make he number of civilian losses go up exponentially – and resistance to the Russian army will also increase. The Russian Army’s attempts to enter Ukrainian cities with infantry have failed so far. FSB Analytics would remember the assault on Mosul: urban warfare is messy.
Keeping Ukrainian cities under siege is also a bad option. European cities can hold under siege – and even function – for years, especially with humanitarian convoys from other European countries, which would stream to Ukraine. The Balkan wars of the 1990s is the latest example.
The FSB argues that Russia has until June to resolve the Ukrainian problem. By June, as the anonymous FSB analysts warn, Russia’s economy will be totally ruined and Putin may try to resolve an existing problem by creating another, bigger problem. In this case Putin may indeed initiate a military conflict with the EU to force them drop part of their sanctions. That could indeed ignite a Third World War.
FSB could have warned Putin of all these repercussions if Putin had not repeated Stalin’s mistake of paranoid secretiveness and megalomaniacal self-confidence.
Russian historians, who briefly gained access to the KGB archives during Yeltsin’s thaw, have determined that in 1941, Stalin was preparing the Red Army for the surprise invasion of Europe. Stalin’s plan was to outsmart Hitler, pacify him with the infamous Molotov-Ribbentrop pact and the huge Soviet economic and military aid to the Nazi Germany that was stipulated in the pact, and then suddenly attack Hitler in July 1941, cutting through Europe and occupying all of it, up to the shores of La Manche, and possibly taking Britain as well. (In Putin’s Russia, simply referring to the massive archival evidence that Hitler had preempted Stalin’s attack is a criminal offense).
Soviet spies warned Stalin that Hitler planned exactly the same thing – a surprise attack on the USSR. Stalin ignored the warnings, did not prepare the Red Army for a defensive war, only for the offensive war, and did not task his generals and analysts to calculate the scenarios of Hitler’s invasion. Stalin outsmarted himself: Hitler attacked the USSR on June 22, 1941 and it cost the Soviets millions of lives, including millions of Soviet Jews who were exterminated in the Soviet territories occupied by the Nazis.
Putin is not Stalin: he is not an obsessed ideologue bent on conquering the world and turning it communist. Ukraine is not the Nazi Germany and Putin is not on the defensive, but on the offensive. But the Kremlin pattern remains: the leader’s paranoid secretiveness, even from his own spooks, has lead Russia into disaster.
Dr Dmitry Radyshevsky is a Moscow-born Harvard-educated Israeli-American theologian, political analyst and writer. Author of “Universal Zionism” and “The New Maccabees”. He’s the founder of Jerusalem Summit – a think-tank dedicated to uniting the free world around Jerusalem and developing a joint strategy against the twin dangers: “Man without God” of Post-Liberalism and “God without man” of totalitarian states’ Statism and Islamism.