“Has Putin blinked first? The standoff between Russia and Ukraine entered its acute phase a month ago. Since January, Russian forces on the ground have probably doubled their strength, to nearly 200,000 troops. They also have many thousands of separatists and mercenaries (including the notoriously brutal Wagner group) operating in the Donbas region. “Exercises” in Belarus have now been extended indefinitely. The arsenal of airborne, land and sea-based missiles, heavy artillery and other ordnance now assembled in the vicinity of Ukraine is the largest in postwar European history.
So why is the invasion not already under way? Putin reportedly sees himself as the greatest Russian leader, along with Peter the Great and Stalin. He has been scheming to undermine, dismember and digest Ukraine for more than a decade. But he seems to be hesitating on the brink of grasping the prize. Is the Generalissimo willing to wound but afraid to strike? Is Putin a coward?
On paper, the balance of forces overwhelmingly favours the Russians. The open plains and steppes that make up most of Ukraine favour the attacker — one reason why this unfortunate country, doomed by its geography and history (“Ukraine” means “borderlands”), has been invaded and fought over so many times in the 20th century. In the 21st, military technology makes the concept of Blitzkrieg (“lightning war”) if possible, even more lethal. Even without using nuclear weapons, the Russians could destroy Kyiv, Kharkiv, Odessa and other major cities while scarcely risking losses of their own.”
Comment: My SWAG is that losses have been so bad that even he hesitates and there is the question of his health. pl