As reports broke on Wednesday concerning a new eruption of heavy fighting in eastern Ukraine, a picture took shape suggesting that Russian President Vladimir Putin is following a blueprint of expansionism that dates back thousands of years.
It’s a blueprint that warfare historian Victor Davis Hanson calls “invade, wait—and invade.”
In an article from this March, Hanson explained: “From Philip of Macedon to Napoleon, aggressors did not necessarily have a grand timetable for creating an empire. Instead, they went at it ad hoc. They took as much as they could at any given time; then backed away for a bit, if they sensed strong opposition was building—only to go back on the offensive when vigilance waned.”
Hanson points out that for many aggressors throughout the ages, including Adolf Hitler, this method of expanding territory was successful.
For modern Russia, the first part of that blueprint happened last year when Putin grabbed Crimea from Ukraine. After the annexation, opposition built from the Ukrainian government with some backing from nato and the United States. The West sermonized to Putin and slapped heavy sanctions on Russia. So Putin backed off.
Russia then repeated several iterations of “invade, wait—and invade” in parts of eastern Ukraine, mostly using unmarked forces to support Ukrainian separatists. The campaigns placed most of Donetsk and Luhansk under de facto Russian control. Then, since February, a ceasefire had quieted the Ukraine crisis considerably.
The new flare up of violence could mean that, for Russia, the middle part of the military blueprint—the “wait”—is over once again. It could mean Russia is ready to bring more of Ukraine under its control. If Moscow could take Mariupol, it could build an invaluable land bridge connecting the Crimean Peninsula to the rest of Russia.
But it is also likely that Russia’s advance could remain intermittent, murky and somewhat tenuous: Surprise the opposition—then endure their sermons, back off and bore them until their attention returns to Bruce Jenner and Climate Change. And after all is quiet, do it all again. Here a little, there a little. Invade, wait—and invade. ▪
Full article: Putin’s Plan in Ukraine: Invade, Wait—and Invade (The Trumpet)