Apparently, Vladimir Putin said this to the President of the European Union Commission, “If I want to, I can take Kiev in two weeks.”
If the United States had a real President, he would resound, “Go ahead, and try it. See what happens to you.”
The implication being that Putin would end up with a repeat of the large-scale partisan warfare the Soviet Union faced in the Ukraine after World War II, and that didn’t really end until Stalin died in 1954; except this time with the West funneling material aid to the Ukrainians through neighbouring countries like Poland. One of the lessons military history teaches us about guerilla insurrections is that their chance of success are greatly increased if they have a source of foreign support, support that the Ukrainian freedom fighters lacked the last time around. Occupy the Ukraine and Mr. Putin will spend years on the wrong end of asymmetrical warfare.
Many western commentators have remarked on the great increase in the professionalism of the Russian military since the military reforms of 2008 were enacted. What has not been evident so far to outside observers is that the professionalism of the Russian military has likely not extended past its elite units, like the 76th Airborne Division and the Spetznaz units of the GRU. These are exclusively the forces that have been employed in Georgia, the Crimea and eastern Ukraine – as well as Chechnya. Faced with a lengthy counterinsurgency campaign, Putin will be forced to rotate through conscript and reserve units.
When conscripts and reservists start dying en mass in the Ukrainian hellhole, Putin’s popularity will follow the trajectory of Leopoldo Galtieri – and early 21st century Russian government will follow the trajectory of the Russian Empire after the Battle of Tsushima Strait, and the Soviet Union during the Afghanistan debacle in the 1980’s.
If the United States had a real President, this would be made crystal clear to Putin. Unfortunately, the US currently does not have a real President, and, as Ralph Peters has pointed out, Putin has the current White House inhabitant’s number: zero.