There are some takeaways from the Vladimir Putin speech of the other day that need to be closely examined to understand the impact of it. Understand, I’m probably going to be doing more than one post on this topic over the next few days, but these are my initial reactions.

First, the number being bounced around is 300,000 troops being activated. Moscow’s ability to supply the troops they’ve already got is questionable at best, if we can take any meaning at all out of what we’ve seen in the Ukraine so far. That inability to supply his troops is also exemplified by going hat in hand to China and apparently coming up with little to show for it but Chinese platitudes.

Also,based on the evidence we’ve seen in the Ukraine thus far comes the idea that Russian conscripts are not necessarily the best troops, nor are they the most willing.. ( As it stands right now one way flights out of Russia are priced extraordinarily high, if nothing else, suggesting a lack of support on the part of the Russian population for Putin’s goals of empirical glory.)

I have not seen any recent intelligence as regards the Russian military but it seems reasonably safe to assume that they are still operating in the Soviet model, where in conscripts are told very little of their mission, treated like idiots, with non-commissioned officer’s not being treated much better. It’s been repeatedly suggested that this is a large part of Russia’s problem in Ukraine right now. I have no cause to doubt that. It would certainly mesh with the reports I’ve been seeing about a disgruntled Frontline military that doesn’t really understand why they are even in Ukraine.

Finally, even with minimal training, we’re talking about 6 months to a year before such troops are ready for deployment. Without such training, their effectiveness would be even lower than we have seen thus far.

I do not mean to suggest that this translates to Putin not being dangerous. Indeed I mean to suggest the reverse. His ignoring the problems that he faces in achieving his stated goals suggests a level of desperation that makes him more dangerous, not less, particularly given his nuclear capability, however hobbled by time and lack of maintenance that might be.

As for repercussions here in the states, the picture is far from clear. In all honesty, I have my doubts that the current administration is going to be able to handle whatever Putin comes up with. And that perhaps, is the most dangerous aspect in all of this. Putin understands this. It is no accident that he waited until Joe Biden was in the White House to make his move on the Ukraine.

It would be easy enough to suggest that the 300,000 he’s bringing up are replacements for the numbers of people he’s lost in the Ukraine, but I don’t have any numbers on those losses directly to hand, moreover I don’t know if I would trust those numbers if I had them. That assumes that the Russians would be telling the truth, which would be very uncharacteristic for the Russian military or for that matter the Russian government.

At the bottom line what we have here is a Russia that is less powerful than it was and yet more dangerous to the remainder of the world for at least the next few years or the unlikely event occurs that Vladimir Putin is deposed somehow. The odds on that happening I can’t calculate.

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