Ukraine Likely to Lose Unconventional War with Russia

“A lot of people in Ukraine don’t feel the same alarm that some people in the West feel,” explains expert Joseph Humire

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As an incessant mortar shelling intensifies in the Lushanka and Donetsk regions of eastern Ukraine, fearing to succumb to a provocation, Kiev has instructed troops to restrain themselves and not to reciprocate artillery fire.

In the last week, while the Department of State and Ukraine’s own president warned of an imminent invasion by Russia, Vladimir Putin assured that some troops would be withdrawn from south of the border.

Despite the Russian president’s words, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) says there is no evidence that Russia is withdrawing troops from the Ukrainian border.

El día viernes en las regiones de Donetsk y Lushanka sufrieron fuego de artillería. (EFE)
On Friday the Donetsk and Lushanka regions came under artillery fire. (EFE)

As Russia continues to deny its intention to invade Ukraine, a mortar shell hit a school in the town of Marinka in Donetsk province, injuring two teachers who were on the premises.

Although for the West the imminence of war has become more present than ever, Dr. Joseph Humire director of the Center for a Secure Free Society (SFS), is skeptical about that possibility.

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“A lot of people in Ukraine don’t feel the same alarm that some people in the West feel, it could be because they live with this threat permanently,” Humire explains, adding that “Putin needs to use a lot of military force to capture Ukraine and, in part, it’s not in his interest to do that. One hundred thousand military on the border is not enough to occupy a country like Ukraine.”

“Putin uses military force to blackmail and impose certain narratives and I think he succeeded,” explains the center’s director. Moreover, he believes that Russia has already achieved its goal of preventing Ukraine’s inclusion in NATO. While countries such as Poland support the Slavic country joining the alliance, other countries such as Germany have reservations about it.

In order to destabilize the border, Putin uses components of hybrid warfare such as cyber attacks and the use of drones, although there have also been reports of Ukrainian soldiers being killed on the border by snipers, indiscriminate shelling, and sponsorship of separatist militias.

Un escalamiento de hostilidades entre Rusia y Ucrania podría comprometer la construcción del gasoducto Nord Stream 2, que llevará gas a Europa. (EFE)
An escalation of hostilities between Russia and Ukraine could compromise the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, which will carry gas to Europe. (EFE)

“This is going to be a permanent thing. In a way the military escalation was gradual, but the press treated it as if it had happened overnight,” explains Humire who believes that there is not going to be a de-escalation on the border, but, on the contrary, the border will remain constantly militarized.

Joe Biden warned that there will be serious consequences for Russia in case of a war with Ukraine, such as taking it out of the Swift interbank system, or canceling the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline. However, for Humire, Russia anticipates these consequences.

“They have prepared for this kind of actions, they knew that this could happen when the United States and the European Union (EU) withdrew Iran from the Swift system in 2012, to Russia it seemed an economic crime and it came out very strongly against the West” explains the specialist.

For the expert on Russia: “they have practically started to prepare themselves to be able to move money, they do not use the Swift system, they depend on cryptocurrencies, they depend on China’s banking system.”

The Kremlin approached Beijing, which despite having cold relations with the West, would in practice continue to have access to international credit markets, in addition to having a significant demand for energy that Russian gas seems to be willing to meet.

La frontera entre Rusia y Ucrania continuará militarizada, mientras que Rusia librará una guerra híbrida en territorio ucraniano. (EFE)
The border between Russia and Ukraine will continue to be militarized, while Russia will wage a hybrid war on Ukrainian territory. (EFE)

“Countries like Germany have not prepared or diversified enough in case Putin decides to cut off hydrocarbon supplies. The price of oil is rising and a conflict in Ukraine could trigger the price of gasoline and that mostly favors autocratic regimes like Iran and Venezuela,” Humire explains about the West’s passivity in the face of what has happened in Ukraine.

Despite Russia’s threat to Ukraine and to Europe’s energy supply, for the expert, Russia continues to depend on the support of other countries contrary to the interests of the West: “Russia is part of an alliance, Russia does not operate alone, they plan these measures with their allies, which are Beijing and Tehran.”

“Russia conducted military exercises with China, they are not isolated only in their region, that is why they are establishing themselves in Latin America, in countries like Venezuela,” concluded Humire.

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