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Crimean Chess

Crimean Chess

Russian T-90M, its most advanced tank on the battlefied in Ukraine was destroyed by possible artillery strike.

Russia seemed to have pulled back many of its forces to the eastern regions of Ukraine in order to consolidate the takeover of the eastern regions of Lugansk, Donbas and the surrounding area. It is difficult to measure what the end goal of the Russian forces may be at this point. Ukraine’s response in moving forces south to retake Kherson and moving their forces protecting Kyiv into the area around Kharkiv may lead to quickly shifting battle lines or produce a stalemate as Ukraine takes to the offensive. The fate of many of Russia’s armoured units may burden Ukraine’s forces if Ukraine chooses to enter fortified urban areas that are filled with anti-tank equipment that has proven very effective against BMPs, T-72s, T-80s and even T-90s, systems that both Russia and Ukraine use in this conflict.

While modern tanks and weapons systems started the conflict, many of them were beaten by Cold War era technology with significant numbers and tactics to defeat modernised tanks and aircraft. Much of the success in this conflict comes from a tradition of defending the territory with weapons designed mostly for defense. The advanced missile technology developed over generations was built around keeping a Second World War type invasion out of the Soviet Union, with Ukraine being the most likely battleground for the fate of the Soviet Union. Taking out Ukraine’s Servant of the People and his Cabinet was never a simple task, and Ukraine was designed as the best defense structure in the world in the 1990s apart from Moscow itself.

What seems to be occurring is that Moscow will want to claim some sort of victory and will try to keep the eastern regions and maintain its hold on Crimea. Ukraine’s push to retake Kherson and protect the flank around Odessa is important as Russia may try to bottleneck Ukraine’s Black Sea access, which would mean Ukraine would become landlocked and will suffer economically in the long run as a result. While Poland has made agreements to help Ukraine remain competitive as an export economy by proposing a shared customs regime and opening its northern sea access to Ukraine in good faith, a Russian move to dominate the Ukrainian coast is likely a strategic long term goal besides claiming Eastern Ukraine for Russian backed forces.

The weakening of Russia’s view worldwide will likely have a massive effect on Putin and Russia if countries surrounding Russia see them as a Paper Bear. If Russia ends up losing Crimea for example, there is little keeping Putin in office after that act. Countries that are dependent on Russia’s protection will likely be challenged further as well. Actions in the Caucasus region may flare up as they did recently between Azerbaijan and Russian backed Armenia. India may try to source more of its defense equipment from France or other NATO allies as confidence in their T-90MS tank force diminishes with pictures of burning T-90M being shown in Ukraine.

China, that always shared a border with Russia in a Cold Peace may look to consolidate old conflicts with the knowledge that the PLA could likely stand up to modern Russian equipment in the field. The conflict in the Middle East will likely have the biggest result, as Russian forces supporting President Assad in Syria may have to re-engage in the region with less funds, less equipment and less of an appetite for the loss of young Russian soldiers in a foreign war. Iran’s S-300 systems and first generation TOR missiles may no longer be seen as the threat they once were, and knowledge in defeating those systems will leave a gap in their air defense.

Much of the prolonged conflict may simply be a result of saving face where losses have become hard to spin as a point of national pride. Diplomacy may serve the world well here as stability becomes questionable from Europe, through the Middle East towards much of Asia. A perfect storm of negligent policy decisions has lead to tragedy, applying further such policy decisions to quell the first fire will make it much worse. What is a universal truth in 2022 is that voting matters, as these issues will certainly affect your daily life to some degree.



Richard Basas

Richard Basas, a Canadian Masters Level Law student educated in Spain, England, and Canada (U of London MA 2003 LL.M., 2007), has worked researching for CSIS and as a Reporter for the Latin America Advisor. He went on to study his MA in Latin American Political Economy in London with the University of London and LSE. Subsequently, Rich followed his career into Law focusing mostly on International Commerce and EU-Americas issues. He has worked for many commercial and legal organisations as well as within the Refugee Protection Community in Toronto, Canada, representing detained non-status indivduals residing in Canada. Rich will go on to study his PhD in International Law.

Areas of Focus:
Law; Economics and Commerce; Americas; Europe; Refugees; Immigration