Stratfor has published a series of maps showing different ways Russia could invade Ukraine with stronger force than previously shown. This would, of course, require actual troops who have been acknowledged by the Russian government, and not “little green men” on holiday.
When I shared this last night on Twitter, I got a lot of comments questioning the numbers used, and the points of attack that Stratfor thought Russia could use. There were also some discussions on where Russia could attack next. I have no answer to these questions. I am not a military strategist. My interest is more in why the Kremlin acts the way they do.
What Stratfor’s maps and explanations show is that a major escalation would not serve Russia’s interests at this time. They are after bigger game than just a land bridge to Crimea, or factories in Kharkiv, or further coastal access to the Black Sea.
Why exert more effort than necessary when the current state of affairs suits them just fine? A major show of force like the ones Stratfor suggests would be needed could bring down NATO on them (though I find this highly doubtful, it could still be a concern for the Kremlin).
But further than that, it would also put an end to the lie that Russia is still peddling to the West that what is happening in Ukraine is an internal conflict. Whether or not anybody believes them by now is a moot point. This is the lie they are telling, and the narrative suits them because it works.
Russia’s current mode of operation is working for them. Boots on the ground that they deny, terror attacks across Ukraine, financial blackmail, squeezing Kyiv with gas payments, and so on. This could protract the conflict, or bring it to an end that much faster. So there are a lot of factors at play as far as when and where this ends, but the I don’t see Russia changing their tactics in Ukraine any time soon.