War tends to shake or shatter assumptions, each day making the previous day's speculations obsolete. Still, I will finish this quick post with some ruminations about what may come next.
But first, let's go back - way back - 6 weeks or so to this posting from the Institute for the Study of War November 12, just after Russian forces performed their humiliating retreat from Kherson.
"Russia’s withdrawal from Kherson City is igniting an ideological fracture between pro-war figures and Russian President Vladimir Putin, eroding confidence in Putin’s commitment and ability to deliver his war promises. A pro-war Russian ideologist, Alexander Dugin, openly criticized Putin—whom he referred to as the autocrat—for failing to uphold Russian ideology by surrendering Kherson City on November 12. Dugin said this Russian ideology defines Russia’s responsibility to defend “Russian cities” such as Kherson, Belgorod, Kursk, Donetsk, and Simferopol. Dugin noted that an autocrat has a responsibility to save his nation all by himself or face the fate of “king of the rains,” a reference to Sir James Frazer’s The Golden Bough in which a king was killed because he was unable to deliver rain amidst a drought. Dugin also downplayed the role of Putin’s advisors in failing to protect the Russian world and noted that the commander of Russian Forces in Ukraine, Army General Sergey Surovikin was not responsible for the political decision to withdraw from Kherson City. Dugin noted that the autocrat cannot repair this deviation from ideology merely with public appearances, noting that “the authorities in Russia cannot surrender anything else” and that “the limit has been reached."
The entire Russian Nationalism ideology pushed by A. Dugin and so many of the bombastic elements now threatening Putin's right is an assertion that Ukrainians are just Russians who have been suckered into a delusion of nationhood and who will be much happier once they snap out of it, after being forcefully brought back into the embrace of the czar.
Indeed, pragmatically, if Ukrainian sense of nationhood was at all weak before this war, this war has cemented their sense of identity like nothing else could. Even if RF forces plowed all the way way to the Polish border, all they would win for themselves is the agony of an endless partisan war of liberation and hate that would last until the invaders were ejected and reparations paid. After which, the ill will would take many decades to subside.
The PRAGMATIC EFFECTS are as important as any of Dugin's et. al. ideological incantations. Those effects so far are making every Putin pretext for war (mostly lies beforehand) more real, not less, every day.
...and the absolute determination of a now unified Ukrainian people to never again be ruled by Moscow, even if it means marching there to insist.
Those delusions are being disproved, once again.
But what would be the best possible outcome for the world and human destiny?
That will be if some FSB(KGB) guy calculates the value of the blackmail files they are using to control 100+ orgy-party traitors in DC, (as alluded by Madison Cawthorne) and offers those files (maybe to Soros) in exchange for a private island somewhere... or else JoBee takes my advice and breaks up the ring at our end, with clemency offers. See Political Blackmail: The Hidden Danger to Public Servants.
== Other Putin Self-fulfilling prohecies ==
We have some pretty good leaders, now… though dunces at the art of polemic. I wrote POLEMICAL JUDO because the battlefield of memes and facts may be one of the most important in this struggle to save and advance enlightenment civilization. So let me offer some riffs regarding Ukraine that might resonate as pithy and memorable … and that you have likely never heard said as clearly, by any of our paladins out there. I couch them as TAUNTS aimed at the god-emperor of the Foxite right, Vladimir Putin. (And yes, taunts are what get through to MAGAS, like it or not.):
==The one way out of this mess ==
There is only one way out. To waken the mesmerized Russian citizenry, whose stolid reflex is to rally behind and believe their Strong Man. So, let's invite 1000 of them - chosen at random from old utility bills in all provinces - to come investigate claims of Ukrainian 'nazis' and to ask citizens of blasted Ukrainian cities if they will ever view themselves as "russian." Have them join commissioners from Ukraine and developing nations, tallying war crimes and interviewing front line troops at random locations on both sides.
Don't fret the expense! Because - in fact - Putin won't allow this to actually happen. He can't.
And THAT is the way out. Cornering and showing VP unwilling to trust his own people with in-person truth seeking. THAT fact will be one he cannot hide. And it will be his undoing.
Otherwise, the Russian populace with their tradition of out-suffering their enemies, will slog after him and his pet milbloggers straight into hell.
== a final speculation ==
Shall we believe ISW?
"Ukraine's Main Military Intelligence Directorate (GUR) Chief Kyrylo Budanov stated that fighting in Ukraine is in a deadlock on December 29. In an interview with BBC, Budanov stated that “the situation is just stuck” and that both Russian and Ukrainian troops lack the resources or ability to move forward."
Sorry, I don't believe it. This armchair general thinks (or rather speculates) otherwise.
Instead I expect both sides are right now awaiting frozen rivers, which will enhance mobility...
... and dense fog, in order to blind the other side's drones and sensors and vision.
One side likely thinks that general obscurity will blind spy satellites, drones and manpads, thus enabling a massive tank-and-foot groping-forward assault, like in the December 1944 Ardennes Offensive.
The other may believe they can see through fog. Especially with systems provided by allies. In which case, we may see a particular tool-of-rapid-maneuver employed meaningfully for the first time in this struggle.
I guess we'll see if I'm just waving a sci fi what-if. As if my speculations matter an iota in a world whose future is being forged by villains and heroes.