Just as we all knew that Russia would not easily allow a humiliating defeat of their proxy forces inside Ukraine, we now see the machine of a transplanted insurgency take root deeper. Russian volunteers with military training taking leave to go fight across the border. Taking with them often second tier weaponry from arms caches from mothballed stockpiles into another people’s country to help locals break away from the government they no longer consider legitimate. This allows the Russian government the deniability of saying “Hey these guys decided en masse to go help their ethnic brothers and we did not give them permission or weapons.”. But does Ukraine really have hundreds of tanks, trucks, artillery pieces, mobile SAM units, ammunition and military supplies to outfit tens of thousands of rebels? Where are the rebels capturing these equipment from, the hundreds of prisoners who surrendered and only a few thousand wounded soldiers they injured? The numbers don’t add up, and the only way to explain the discrepancy is Russian intelligence services are sending across commando forces to aid the rebels, even coordinate their battle strategy.
So Russia is driving this war to wreck Ukraine. What will the West do to counter this and make Russia pay a hard price? Economic levers are pressed and results are not effective. So an Afghanistan strategy needs to be devised. Poland, as Pakistan was in this scenario, needs to be the conduit of fresh arms and expertise in command and control with the Ukrainian Armed Forces. For one thing it is surprising Ukraine did not position veteran reserve troops in blocking positions in case of Russian invasion forces crossing over to flank and encircle their engaged combat troops in the Donbass. This is telling that the most capable forces are already committed and that Ukraine truly has a weak military capability remaining to deal with Russian reinforcements.
You cannot blame the Ukrainians for failing. They are using Russian designed weapons and battle tactics against forces who know exactly those capabilities and weaknesses. The entire country is covered with spies reporting troop movements, and social media and news outlets are not managed to hide activities in the rear echelons. Russia has the initiative for now, and Ukraine needs to take a few hits as it regroups. The West if they do not send covert military help, may see the Russian plan succeed in carving out a loyal feifdom of Novorossiya from Donbass to Crimea, effectively crippling Ukraine as a power in the region.
The clearest effort by Ukraine is to trap and capture whole units of Russian formations on Ukrainian soil intact, so unequivocally that denials by Moscow can no longer hold up by their lies to the world. And although Ukraine cannot withstand provocations turn full open war, they need to approach the strategy of fighting Russian forces on their territory using new tactics and methods. They should consult Finland and Western planning experts on how NATO would fight massed Russian troops and infiltration forces.
At some point soon the gloves need to come off and Donbass need to be reduced to utter ruin. Ukraine may need to recognize that if they fail to quell the rebels they have to make the region impossible for Russia to govern and incredibly costly to annex. Novorossiya will need to cost Russia hundreds of billions to repair and rebuild, bankrupting Moscow and amplifying sanctions and drain on Russian pensions and citizens. Hundreds more Russians must go home dead so hiding their activities killing in a secret war against another country can not be silenced by grieving families.
Lithuania and Poland will need to revisit their larger roles within NATO but partner up as regional friends of Ukraine and act. The worst that can happen is Russia attacks, and invokes Article 5. Russia talks nuclear reprisals but they know they cannot. All Europe is languishing in peacetime recession, which means people are bored and frustrated. Give them a reason to unite, rally against an external threat, and watch the sleeping giants like Germany, Norway, and France step up. Even the Romanians are itching to take back Moldova and push the separatists out of Transnistria. The Americans? We rather blast Russians than fight Islamic terrorists, easier to quantify tanks and cities smashed into smoldering ruin.