On Escalations and Annexations
This war is nowhere near over
At the beginning of this war I made a prediction:
Big Winner: USA
Small Winner: Russia
Big Loser: Ukraine
Small Loser: EU
I think that this call has held up pretty well seven months into the conflict. Some might disagree.
One fact about this war that has made itself quite obvious is that it is far from over. Russia has boxed itself in/been boxed in by stating that Ukraine is an existential matter for their own national security. That means that defeat is unacceptable to them. On the other side, the USA smells blood in the Russian water and sees a golden opportunity to not only drain Moscow economically and militarily, but also to topple its government. With its proxy Ukrainian forces receiving a big boost in morale after expelling Russian forces from Kharkov region, the Americans see no need for negotiations as the Ukrainians are willing to shed more blood for their own cause, one that nicely complements overarching US strategic goals (even though they are not perfectly aligned).
This past week has seen two significant escalations play out: the sabotage of the Nordstream gas pipelines, both 1 and 2, and today’s annexation by Russia of the Ukrainian regions of Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia, and Kherson. These are the most important developments in this conflict since the initial invasion back in February of this year.