Clint Ehrlich Profile picture
Mar 3 19 tweets 5 min read
SITREP - Day 8: Most analysts think the odds of a ceasefire are increasing in Ukraine.

They have it exactly backwards.

We've actually moved closer to the nightmare scenario where Kiev is simply leveled. 🧵
The Russian military is still in a strategic position to win the war.

They've already surrounded Azov Battalion at Mariupol, and they're on their way to encircling Ukraine's forces in the Donbas.

If this were a strategy game, you'd *really* want to play as Russia.
The fall of Kherson today, a city of 300k people, will mark a turning point in the war.

The Ukrainian forces barely put up any resistance, and the city was spared.

The message to other cities is clear: Fight and be leveled or surrender and be treated kindly.
It's not just the psychological impact of Kherson's fall that's important though – it's also the geography.

Ukraine is now almost entirely cut off from the Black Sea.

The Russians only have to take Odessa in order to transform Ukraine into a landlocked country.
The goal of the Ukrainian forces in the Donbas will now be to "punch out of" the attempted RU encirclement.

But even if they can split the blades of the near pincer, the Russians can spring a *second* and *third* pincer on them.

They have multiple paths to bisect the country.
If the Russians had accomplished all of this quickly and with low casualties, maybe they would be in a mood to negotiate.

But the humiliating struggles they've experienced, which have been broadcast around the world, change the political calculus.
Russia no longer has the option of looking like a magnanimous victor by accepting a negotiated ceasefire.

If President Putin accepts something like a conditional surrender that preserves the integrity of the Ukrainian government, that will be spun as a defeat for Russia.
It may sound paradoxical from the outside, but Russia's *tactical defeats* now make *strategic victory* imperative.

To preserve Russia's aspiration to be a superpower, there must be no doubt at the end of the war who the victor was.

It must be Russia. By a crushing margin.
It's critical to remember the domestic messaging that was used to introduce this conflict to the Russian people.

President Putin framed it as the sequel to the Second World War – a new struggle against Fascism on Russia's border, which threatened the country's very existence.
We should expect the Russian state to use a quantity of force proportionate to the claimed threat from Ukraine.

Many analysts are missing this. They are the same people who missed that Russia would invade, because they ignored President Putin's words then too.
It is irrelevant that, to outside observers, Ukraine is not a neo-Nazi state.

That is the *thesis of the conflict* from President Putin's perspective.

To understand what Putin will do, you have to look at the war through through his eyes – even if his vision is distorted.
How would you bring a neo-Nazi state to heel if your initial attempts at an invasion backed by precision strikes stalled?

You would escalate the use of force. Instead of surgical attacks, you would turn to borderline strategic weapons.

That is what Russia is doing.
We've seen the use of MLRS rocket artillery, a horrifying platform that kills indiscriminately within a large target area.

Ukrainian forces survived so long in the early days of the war because Russia was reluctant to use heavy artillery. No longer.

Similarly, we've seen Russian forces using a combination of artillery and heavy airstrikes in Kharkov.

Large sections of the city appear to have been leveled.

We have to pray that civilians were already evacuated – or the casualties will be immense.

The million dollar question is whether the Russians will use the same heavy-handed tactics in Kiev.

There's actually a simple answer: They don't want to, but they will if they have to.

Laying siege to a city of 3 million could be the ugliest part of the war.
This raises a troubling moral quandary: Are we really helping the Ukrainians by encouraging them to fight?

I am awed by their bravery. It's fun to cheer on an underdog.

But if the end result is watching it get viciously torn to pieces, was it really worth it?
There's a real risk that we're selling the Ukrainians a false bill of goods– just like we did when we promised them NATO membership.

They keep asking for a NATO no-fly zone because they know they can't win without it.

We aren't going to give it to them. Where's that leave us?
The end result of all of our cheering and all of our weapons deliveries could be a repeat of the Second Chechen War.

The Chechens fought even harder than the Ukrainians.

They inflicted horrifying losses on the Russian army, against all odds.
What did it get them? A Russian siege of their capital that laid it to waste.

This was Grozny after the war. This is what so much Chechen bravery achieved.

If the Ukrainians keep fighting hard, it's what will happen to Kiev. All while we cheer them on from the sidelines.

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More from @ClintEhrlich

Mar 5
The life of another "disloyal" lawmaker is under threat in Ukraine.

Nestor Shufrych was detained on questionable charges by vigilantes and handed over to Ukraine's security services.

Photos of him in custody imply he was threatened with beheading. 🧵 Image
Officially, Mr. Shufrych, a People's Deputy of Ukraine, was arrested for taking photos of a Ukrainian checkpoint.

It is claimed, implausibly, that he was acting as a spy passing information to the Russians. Image
In reality, it's clear that his detention is based on his politics.

That was made obvious in his rough interrogation by Ukraine's successor to the KGB (the SBU).

Here, he's being threatened for public statements in which he called for an end to the war in Donbas.
Read 4 tweets
Mar 4
Canada is now "holding Russia accountable" by detaining a charter flight full of its citizens.

If you wanted to sleepwalk into WW3, this is how you'd do it.
Canada's sanctions only apply to Russian *owned or operated* aircraft.

The Minister of Transportation says this was simply a charter flight carrying Russian nationals.

If that's true, this is kidnapping + air piracy.

Canada needs to *immediately* clarify the legal basis for detaining the charter flight.

What they have said so far is NOT sufficient.

If they have a legitimate justification, tell the world -- before Russia starts detaining Canadians.
Read 4 tweets
Mar 3
Intense Russian strike in Kharkov.

Likely a Kalibr cruise missile, since the jet engine appears to go silent upon impact.
Another angle of the latest Russian strike on Kharkov.
Fiery aftermath of the latest Russian strike on Kharkov.
Read 5 tweets
Mar 3
There are reports on social media of restaurants around the world banning Russians.

This discrimination has no place in a civilized society.

Random civilians should not be blamed for their government's wars.🧵
A restaurant in Greece allegedly bans Russians.
A restaurant in Portugal says "No service for Russians."

The sign says they'll only be served stone soup. "Bon Appétit!"
Read 9 tweets
Mar 2
Ukrainian paramilitaries are abducting and killing officials viewed as insufficiently loyal -- with tacit support of the government.

If this were happening in Putin's Russia, it would be the #1 story in America.

But we stay silent about the murders, because it's our ally.
This is the official post from a senior Ukrainian governed official celebrating the mayor's abduction and extra-judicial killing.

I've redacted the photo of the corpse.

He boasts that there's "one less traitor to Ukraine," thanks to the actions of "unknown patriots."
If you don't believe me, go to Telegram and read the statement yourself using Google Translate.

But be warned, you'll see the photo of the victim.

He appears to have been bound with duct tape at the time he was executed.…
Read 6 tweets
Mar 2
MUST WATCH: American on the ground in Kiev reports rapes, murders, and looting after the government hands out military weapons to criminals.

"The Zelensky regime has gone insane."
For people asking for proof: We've seen video from the ground in Kiev multiple nights with non-stop gunfire.

It was widely assumed at the time those were Russian troops, but it turned out they hadn't entered the city.

This guy's explanation is the logical one: criminal gangs.
We've also seen video of the Ukrainian government handing out rifles to civilians.

And President Zelensky specifically stated that convicted criminals would be *freed from prison* to fight the Russians.

So yes, this guy is biased against Zelensky, but his story 100% checks out.
Read 9 tweets

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