Friday, February 24, 2023

'Flashpoints' Ahead In And Around Ukraine - Is 'Transdniestria Next?

SitRep 2/23: Putin, Prigozhin, PMC's and PMR's

Well, strap in to your seats, folks, things are heating up and we’re in for a wild ride. 

Putin’s big address came and went. And depending who you ask it was either a dud or full of eerie portent. The speech mostly focused on banal domestic and economic matters, hardly mentioning the SMO—at least not with the fiery rhetoric some of us expected.

However, there was an important theme laid out by Putin which confirms certain things we mentioned previously. Namely, that the focus of Russia will be on the human development of its people, its culture and values, and that Putin will not allow the country’s spirit and operations to be overshadowed by the SMO, or to fall into the trap of letting Western Atlanticist powers use the SMO to degrade the social fabric of society.

In short, in many ways this speech seemed to signal a firm taking of a stand on one side of the two poles of: full blown war, militarization of society, restructuring of the social/national consciousness around war and militarism.

And that of the second option: continuing the status quo of society ‘as is’, and not letting the war detract from important socio-economic and human-index development.

Now, one can hear the grumbles already. Many a deflated observer were hoping for a firebrand declaration, mass mobilizations and a barrage of threats against NATO/U.S. Well, to some extent you got them, just in Putin’s usual underhanded, ‘nod-and-a-wink’ demeanor. Not only did he announce the seminal suspension of the START III Treaty, which paves the way for all sorts of new nuclear developments and testing, but, also nonchalantly explained that Russia will continue taking more territory if U.S. continues sending longer-ranged weapons. Medvedev too fired a shot across the bow later that day with the threat that, ‘Russia can use nukes to defend itself’ against the West.

Rumors already swirled, last month, that Russia would ‘soon update its nuclear doctrine’ (not confirmed) to include the ability to use nuclear weapons not only in the scenario of ‘existential crisis’, but also that of 1. a mass-casualty terror event on Russian soil 2. critical Russian infrastructure being struck 3. Russian strategic infrastructure being struck (which has already happened, when Ukraine struck Russia’s strategic airbase holding the nuke-carrying Tu-95’s last year).

And what Putin said was true—the reason he gave for the suspension of the START III treaty was that the U.S. helped Ukraine strike the Russian strategic nuclear bases of Ryazan and Engels Airbase. The Tu-143 Soviet jet-powered drone used was proven by Russian investigators to have been modified with the technical help of U.S. engineers, likely in the area of the guidance system (adding GPS ability, etc).

After all, Putin announced a 43% hike to defense spending last year, but it seems there could be an even bigger ‘shadow budget’ taking shape beneath the surface. And this would be a good sign: that Russia is taking war-time armament and industrialization far more seriously than Putin’s lowkey speech implied.

Ultimately, we need to wait and see how Russia truly responds in this next ‘Phase’ to judge whether Putin is committing to the so-called ‘status quo’ slow-grind, or whether it’s just an act disguising far more serious preparations.

Another thing Putin’s speech subtly confirmed is the likely focus of Russia’s troops on securing Russian territory. Not only Donbass, but specifically Russian territory proper, from long range missile strikes. This jibes with what we outlined in a previous report regarding Putin’s #1 task and priority being that of securing constitutional Russian lands, which would necessitate the prioritization of liberating Kharkov, Sumy, and Donbass in order to push AFU forces back far enough that their long range systems can’t strike Russian soil.


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