Christopher Miller Profile picture
Nov 21, 2021 23 tweets 8 min read Read on X
There’s rightly been a lot of concern about and attention paid to the Russian military build-up around Ukraine, and a lot of takes — some good, some not so good, some provocative — including ~that~ Politico op-ed that says the US should shove Minsk down Kyiv’s throat...
I don’t like that for many reasons, not least b/c it denies Ukraine agency over its future, reinforces Russia’s false theory that US controls Kyiv, and, well, just wouldn’t be accepted by Ukrainians. It’s unrealistic. But the piece (…) did something good…
It triggered an important discussion about the controversial Minsk accords and the ~8-year war in Ukraine more broadly. Today I’ve been catching up on some excellent and thought provoking threads by very smart people on this matter. What follows is sort of a thread of threads.
It’s always a good idea to read @APHClarkson on Ukraine. He understands the Ukrainian perspective well but I think he makes some solid points here on Putin’s calculus, too.
Then there’s @DrRadchenko, who’s got a sharp Russia-focused eye and encyclopedic Cold War knowledge. Here he considers a couple of Putin’s options and is skeptical of a fresh invasion.
You must always read analysis by @OlyaOliker. She’s got a knack for parsing the intricacies of East-West relations. Tl;dr she recommends to West, ‘stock-taking and some decisions about who’s willing to do what under various circumstances…then communicating results to Moscow.’
.@scrawnya also raises good points about how the West views Russia and vice versa, and how the former’s tired approach to Russian cyclical troop build-ups is “triggering” and has actually fueled Moscow’s actions. Time for something new.
She also points out how forcing Minsk down Ukraine’s throat will just not work. It was and remains a bad deal; it only works if Russia takes the first major steps.
In fact, everyone at least seems to agree Minsk accords are a bad deal and were signed by Ukraine with a gun to its head. I’d argue they at least worked in the short term in that they stopped serious bloodshed and more or less froze the contact line, turning the war static.
The problem of course has been that all sides have different takes on the steps in which Minsk should be implemented, so no progress. Without Russia going first in withdrawing troops, returning control of the Ukrainian border to Kyiv, or at least int’l peacekeepers, Minsk fails.
Now I’m getting into some of my own takes. Could Ukraine do some of the political provisions of Minsk as @scharap suggests in Politico? In theory, sure. In reality, not without serious internal backlash, not before the aforementioned Minsk steps by Russia. Otherwise non-starter.
I don’t know what the solution is. I think Putin will do what Putin wants to do — and I realize that’s a bit lame in terms of analysis but it’s true. This war could end if he decides it will end. Can anyone nudge him in that direction? …
Well, there are much harsher sanctions that could be applied by the West, moves against oligarchs, Russian govt, banking system… There are other things in the West’s and NATO’s tool chests that could but tried re: integration, membership. But West is apprehensive about all that.
As @andrewsweiss and @eugene_rumer wrote in this must-read piece, Ukraine is Putin’s unfinished business. There might be nothing that completely deters him there.…
And yet, I’m not certain Putin’s about to launch a full-scale invasion of Ukraine & that he’s prepared to accept the consequences of doing so — which will include sanctions (even if they aren’t as strong as many would like, they’ll sting some) & massive $ & loss of Russian lives.
Ukraine Brig. Gen. Kyrylo Budanov painted a grim picture of what a large-scale Russian attack could look like in this interview. (Small scoop inside too: He tells @haltman Ukraine has used US Javelins in combat. We haven’t seen footage, tho.)…
The map included in @MilitaryTimes piece shows what Ukraine’s preparing for should Russia invade by land, sea, air. Other scenarios exist outside this worst-case one. In any case destruction, loss of life would be huge. Kyiv, Dnipro, Kharkiv, & Odesa cities have millions of ppl. Image
Here, @RALee85 gives some detail on the Russian units that'd be involved:
Budanov said if a Russian assault coming it’s likely to be in Jan/Feb after months of laying groundwork. Winter war for UA/RU isn’t an issue; recall Debaltseve battle in Jan/Feb ‘15.
Ukraine’s military is much bigger and stronger than it was in 2014. And the Ukrainian population broadly is ready to resist in whatever ways they can. The country has lived prepared for war for the last 7.5 years, after all. This would be an incredibly bloody and deadly fight.
So where to end this thread? Here I guess, without an immediate solution. Sorry. But it’s great there’s a dialogue happening and potentially new ideas to consider.
One last note for the folks who always love to bring up the ‘If Ukraine had kept its nukes…’ argument. @steven_pifer is right:
Almost forgot one for the ‘But the Budapest memo said US & UK have to defend Ukraine’ crowd: the memo itself never provided security guarantees or obligations to protect Ukraine’s territorial integrity. It vowed to seek immediate UN Security Council action…
Add this piece to the reading list.

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More from @ChristopherJM

Jan 16
Hidden cameras in hotel rooms. Months-long surveillance. Leaked footage on a murky black PR website. Highly disturbing incidents targeting Ukraine’s top investigative journalists in recent days has many in Kyiv concerned about a re-emergence of bad-old-days-type antics.
Unsurprisingly, supposed chief editor of "Narodna Pravda," bogus black PR website that has gone after Ukraine's top investigative journalists who've been critical of govt, has no publicly available social accounts and her image appears to be AI-generated.
This situation stinks of Yanukovych-era attacks on journalists in Ukraine. And "Narodna Pravda" looks like merely the latest version of "Ukrainska Kryvda" back in 2013. Here's my report from back then. Lots of similarities.…
Read 7 tweets
Jan 12
“Ukraine is not alone, and Ukraine will never be alone,” Sunak told reporters inside the Mariinsky Palace, vowing that the UK would “provide the support Ukraine needs” if Russia “attacks again”.

Our report on Sunak's big Kyiv visit, w/ @LOS_Fisher.
"If Russia attacks [Ukraine] again," Sunak said, meaning with another large-scale invasion, the UK "will provide the support Ukraine needs, fast and reliable security support, modern weapons on land, sea and air, economic support, and sanctions that will have a price on Russia."
The deal signed by Sunak and Zelensky states that "in the event of an armed attack by Russia on Ukraine, at the request of any of the participants, the participants will hold consultations within 24 hours to determine the measures necessary to counter or deter the aggression."
Read 5 tweets
Jan 10
Another horrific Russian attack on a busy hotel in Kharkiv tonight. Video here shows the moment of impact in the strike on Park Hotel that injured 11 people, hospitalizing 9, according the head of the regional administration and Suspilne Kharkiv public broadcaster.
The aftermath of the attack on Park Hotel in Kharkiv, via Shapkina public broadcaster.
Park Hotel, like Kharkiv Palace Hotel previously hit by a Russian rocket, was popular along foreign correspondents and aid workers. Photos via Suspilne Kharkiv public broadcaster.…

Read 4 tweets
Dec 22, 2023
🧵An end-of-year thread. Since Russia’s all-out war on Ukraine began, many books have been written & more will be soon. I wrote one myself: The War Came To Us: Life And Death In Ukraine, which I hope you'll read. It provides a unique view of Ukraine & war going back to pre-2014.
Here’s what reviewers have said about The War Came To Us. And links to find the book here, in case you're in need of a last-minute Xmas or New Year gift:

My book aside, here are Ukraine books – new & pre-war – that I think are also insightful, fascinating, original. They're nonfiction & fiction. All have informed my understanding of Ukraine, its people, politics, culture, relationship with Russia, & provided important perspectives
Read 49 tweets
Sep 19, 2023
At UNGA Biden called Russia's war on Ukraine "an illegal war of conquest brought without provocation." Zelensky listened closely; Russia rep stared at his phone.

"Like every nation in this world the US wants this war to end. No nation wants this war to end more than Ukraine."

Biden: "And we strongly support in its efforts to bring about diplomatic resolution that delivers justice and last peace. But Russia alone -- Russia alone has the power to end this war immediately. And it's Russia alone that stands in the way of peace..."
Biden: "...because Russia's price for peace is Ukraine's capitulation, Ukraine's territory, and Ukraine's children. Russia believes that the world will grow weary and allow it to brutalize Ukraine without consequence."
Read 5 tweets
Jun 9, 2023
Ukrainians in flooded areas under Russian control and people trying to save them told me and @NastyaStognei that Moscow-installed authorities have left them stranded and blocked rescue efforts.

"Many people have drowned. Bodies have started to emerge."…
People in flooded areas under Russian control publish desperate pleas for help on social media. Volunteers collect them on an interactive map that now has more than 650 color-coded requests. Blue pins show those who can afford to wait for help, red denotes the most urgent cases. ImageImage
Among the hardest-hit towns is Oleshky. “Many houses in the lower areas of Oleshky, where my grandma lived, are old and partly made of clay and straw, which must have started disintegrating. It is only a matter of time before they will collapse.”…
Read 4 tweets

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