The third stage of the war will not repeat the second. Many of the important variables can change greatly.
To be continued. Start here.
The author is convinced that in any difficult situation there comes a time when the awareness of the few should be replaced by the awareness of many (in small groups - even all). For example, infodemia is an inflection, but mass ignorance of the impending pandemic is even more devastating. This is the point of view of the author, which he traditionally does not impose on anyone.
5. The transition from myth to reality
The third stage of the difficult war is the stage of the inevitable transition from myths and heroics to reality.
Its beginning is already noticeable in many shades. This has already happened in the difficult situation around Azovstal. Noticeable for the necessary tactical retreats of the Ukrainian army. On the growing critique of individual or even systemic errors. It is increasingly acknowledged that the enemy is not as incompetent and cowardly as one would like to believe - to feel safer. After all, if the enemy is completely cowardly, the command is incompetent, and his weapons are shit on shit, then why does he surround, why does he attack?
According to Alexei Arestovich on the air of "Feigin Live" (quoted by Censor.NET), which was highly criticized: "According to unverified data, we lost the city of Lyman. The Russian army, it is necessary to check whether it captured it. It shows that there are very talented commanders who organized the operation correctly. This shows that the level of operational management and tactical skills of the Russian army has definitely increased . "
The average person does not want to take into account the fact that Putin's Russia has been waging almost continuous wars for 20 years. And it would be strange if they didn't learn anything. Or even in the conditions of the highest risks in the war with Ukraine, with the rapid cleansing of personnel who did not adapt to the new conditions, they were not able to train at all.
Of course, Russians lose in the experience of values or ideological component of motivation. They are not fighting directly for freedom or for their land. Although in Donbass many people welcome them. And this is part of the truth. On average, the Russian military does not care deeply about the revived cults of Lenin and Stalin, as well as all current leaders. With "greatness" it is more difficult, because in war it justifies everything.
Quoting Bulat Okudzhava:
And if something is wrong - not our business
As they say, the Motherland commanded!
it is so good to be innocent
Just a soldier, just a soldier.
The author served in the Soviet Armed Forces, where ideological work was put on a large scale, communicated with hundreds of people, saw thousands. Only a few were ideological.
But in addition to the factor of idea or ideological motivation, there is professional motivation . And it is present and cultivated in many divisions, often much more successfully than ideological . There is a sense of selectivity that makes many units to reaffirm their status over and over again, to go on principle .
And yet, wars are not won by heroes, and myth is not won by myth. It is a struggle of worlds inhabited mainly by ordinary people. This was discussed in Part 1 of the article.
And the third stage of the war begins to return to this reality - millions of ordinary people and their interests .
The BBC recently quoted Trump as speaking in Houston, where the former (how do you know if only he?) US president wondered why the US "has $ 40 billion for Ukraine" but no money to provide security in American schools. A reason to think for all those who expect that the fertile rain of hundreds of billions of dollars or trillions will easily fall on Ukraine.
The third stage of the war is visible, among other things, in the growing "confusion and staggering" in the Russian information environment, in the reaction of Putin and Lavrov to the accession of Finland and Sweden to NATO. To intensify negotiations with various participants over peace or a ceasefire, to unblock supplies of Ukrainian grain to avoid famine. According to more balanced estimates of politicians.
For example, in an interview with the Dutch channel NOS , President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky said : “I think that this whole team has been working for many years, and they are connected. They are connected by many things, many steps, many crimes. At least we consider it a crime, something that is happening against us. They are fastened. I'm not sure about Putin's regime change right now. I think they are all afraid of him. "
Exactly the same idea the author tried to convey in detail to the audience in a series of publications "Russia is playing back". If you have not read and it is interesting :), read. The beginning of the cycle here.
In the same Dutch interview, the President said: "For me, victory is the restoration of territorial integrity, absolutely all territories. I do not believe that we can completely restore our entire territory by military means. If we decide to go this way, we will lose hundreds of thousands of people. " .
I quote Vladimir Zelensky because these - more realistic accents - are important for society. And this is a worthy answer of a man who understands the responsibility for his people. And he is preparing to face the difficulties that await him in the most difficult post-war world.
Society must also be ready to accept reality. To do this, it has to be more reliably informed about the real situation. This article also serves this purpose. Most of it was written weeks ago, but has not been published. I hope now is the time to accept the wider reality.
Especially since in the third stage of the war , the sarafan radio will begin to sag propaganda, giving more and more leaks of reality into the internal mythologized space.
This is the stage when the whisper begins to spread more and more and gradually grows into a murmur . At first, we do not yet identify him as a conscious anti-war movement or a "petrel" roaring over the wave of war companions - unrest, riots, revolutions. This is still a question spreading through kitchens and trenches: "For what?"
In the third stage, there must be a point at which each side must follow the myth or reality . If both follow reality, a plot is possible with a decrease in the intensity of hostilities and the transition to any (formally declared, not formally declared) world. At this point , peoples and elites usually still have a chance to minimize the price for themselves .
If both sides, or one of them, follow the myth, the parties "will not meet" and there will be an even bigger, more dramatic and dangerous escalation. After that, stopping the war is not always realistic, because the price paid drags the war forward with the power of an accelerating locomotive .
This is a critical fork. The decision made on it can have more serious consequences than the actual decision to start a war, go to war, etc.
This is exactly what happened to Hitler in World War II. The myth hovered over him until a catastrophic denouement ensued. No warnings and calculations, no reports from the fronts, no number of dead soldiers killed by shelling and bombing of civilians brought him back to reality. The price for the Germans, for the elites, and for Hitler himself grew rapidly and many times over. But it was only really realized after the war.
The author does not believe in the common sense of the Russian elites who started the war, but he is convinced that these elites are guided by a sense of self-preservation. Topics about "hopelessly ill Putin", "Putin immersed in Dugin", etc., periodically launched by Russians. - the same favorite game in "Putin, who has nothing to lose. " This trick has been used so many times that it hardly needs to be given more importance than it deserves. That.,there is no point in discarding this information, there is no point in putting it at the head of the corner.
So. Russia 's elites have too much to go to another world with a light heart .
In case, however, the sense of self-preservation of Russian elites does not lead them to a timely awareness of the already emerging reality, the author considers it necessary to voice several problematic points that Russia can still put pressure on .
6. The struggle of the rear and the "total hybrid war." Creative and uncreative destruction.
The war waged by Russia against Ukraine and against the West was originally a hybrid. Lavrov called what is happening now a "total hybrid war . " Ok. It is better for Russia to know what it has unleashed. So, totality, hybridity, multidimensionality, will inevitably leave a deep imprint on everything that is happening.
Yes, all this was (and is): the use of refugees as a tool of pressure, gas and oil shortages, threats and manipulation in the information space, action in cyberspace, humanitarian crises and hunger, maritime blockade, destruction of infrastructure, "man-made" fuel shortages , provoking social discontent through unemployment and homelessness, etc. Not just tanks and missiles. Total multidimensional hybrid impact in real time.
Russia's multidimensional attack turned into a multidimensional return. Russia has already lit a wick. When it burns down to the first serious "claps" and more global explosion is a matter of time. But we are interested in Ukraine.
The peculiarity of the relative military balance of the third stage is that now each of the parties in all its glory inevitably faces all the unresolved pre-war problems, greatly hardened by the military aggravation. At the same time, neither side will be able to afford to ignore them. Because a war that is not stopped in any way at the beginning of the third stage requires extreme sacrifices from society .
It is difficult to disagree with Yuri Romanenko - Ukraine still does not have the tools to wage such a multidimensional war, such as a "military" cabinet.
Ukraine does not have a holistic vision of such a multidimensional war. And because, for example, the rules of the game in society do not change. Although this is a key element in system collisions. The organization, wherever an ordinary Ukrainian encounters it, does not change for the better. On the contrary, at every step we encounter obstacles and schemes erected out of selfishness. Despite the fact that the burden imposed by the war on society, on the ordinary Ukrainian citizen, is huge.
Before the war, Ukraine was faced with the choice of "creative destruction" (in Schumpeter's terminology, it is creative) or "non-creative destruction". But it made no choice, which one day inevitably triggers a scenario of unconstructive destruction from the outside or inside. That's what history teaches. And it will not make exceptions for any country, including Ukraine.
For 8 years, it has been heard from every box for days that "Putin will attack." At the same time, no real preparations were made for the war , even in many key areas. If we do not touch on the sensitive military sphere, it can be illustrated by the example of working with immigrants, with the economy. No clear algorithms for relocating people, no clear algorithms for relocating businesses , etc. has not been worked out. With the start of the war, society plunged into chaos. And saving the drowning, if you do not lie to yourself and people, was the work of the drowning themselves.
Most immigrants were helped only by grassroots self-organization, grassroots solidarity and large-scale assistance from the democratic world. But it is by no means the consistent work of our own state or the conscious activity of the ruling elites. Which is strange. Truth?
The war allegedly made it easier to choose between "creative" and "uncreative" destruction. Because Putin has openly begun the uncreative destruction of Ukraine.
But this is an illusion. The main legacy of the Russian Empire is the notorious "stealing" of Karamzin, and in Ukraine, it remains intact. It seems that as a result of fierce Russian shelling and bombing, no large-scale corruption scheme in Ukraine has suffered. Moreover, they have increased. The growing chaos breathed new life into the schematism, gave a new degree of freedom and a new scale of revelry.
Along with the indestructible Thefts and Schemes are Mess, Insensibility and other heirs of the Russian Empire. These are the main "Russified" names and titles today, which cannot be changed like plaques on houses. And they are still stubbornly trying not to say it out loud in high offices. Because it's too systematic, difficult, not always interesting, etc. But it's eating away day after day, depleting the rear .
But the system continues to operate in the spirit of pre-war Ukrainian monopolies (I will call it the "Throw Down" principle ) - with each deteriorating situation, they did not optimize, did not start spending and working smarter, and stupidly shifted the growing burden on the shoulders of consumers.
Participation in the "total hybrid anti-war" on the side of the West means that Ukraine will have to stop following hybrid approaches and practices . In the article "Patch for the hybrid world" in February 2018, the author wrote:
"Hybridity", in fact, has become a detonator, triggering huge reserves of global chaos . This has forced American elites to take the problem of hybridity with unprecedented seriousness. Clarity and rigidity turned out to be a natural solution ...
Ukraine receives significant military support (an important indicator of determination) from the United States. The most significant reforms that began - even if they were later put on hold - in Ukraine were carried out under the auspices of the United States ...
American policy, again, is becoming tougher, more concrete, and more focused on strict, responsible, "non-hybrid" compliance .
This is "bad news" for the current Ukrainian elites.
Everything that has been characteristic of deeply "hybrid" Ukrainian politics and economy for the last 26 years - corruption, semi-reforms, semi-democracy, semi-freedom of speech, semi-institutions, semi-criminal business and policy-combination, arbitrary interpretation of laws, non-compliance and "looping" lies on any occasion and the like - absolutely do not fit into the acceptable for today, tomorrow and the day after tomorrow for the United States picture of the world .
We are either changing the rules of the game to more modern, transparent, smart and fair, or we get a misunderstanding of partners, claims of European opponents of Ukraine's integration into the West and, together with the Russian cruiser, heading for a social explosion. But Russia has much more, still in high demand, natural resources to struggle with. And Ukraine is now almost totally dependent on outside help, which will not last forever. Therefore, not only smartphone applications, homes and cars must become smart, the state in the fast and difficult XXI century must become smart .
Against the background of the war, the problem is exacerbated, as the UN already predicts that "if the war lasts for a period of one year, then every ninth out of 10 Ukrainians may be below the poverty line " (Mirror of the Week, May 16, 2022).
Creative destruction is always a choice not against, but for. This is a conscious choice of another future, ie the choice of the formed image of a better future.
It is still (once again) not actually done because in strict practice, in real life tens of millions of Ukrainians are not realized and not manifested . So Ukraine will inevitably be face to face with him again. And there remains the illusory risk that uncreative destruction will continue by inertia. That the anger against Putin will, at some point, be unleashed inside the country.
This is a huge risk and will be an important sensitive point that Russia will try to put pressure on. The nuance is that effective counter-propaganda does not eliminate the problem. It requires vigorous changes and clarity in the country's vision, strategies, rules, manifested in tangible reality .
7. War of bridges and long-range systems
There is another point that should be understood not only by the military (they probably understand), but also by politicians and ordinary citizens .
At the time of writing, the Russian army has hardly crossed the line it could cross in the third stage of the war. If the Russian leadership "on the fork" chooses further escalation . It is not a matter of bombing the Pechersk Triangle (OP, Cabinet of Ministers, Verkhovna Rada), etc. It is also not about the use of nuclear weapons or strikes on nuclear power plants (the worst consequences for Russia itself in this case are obvious).
Even in the event of a clear failure at the front, Russia could try to inflict enormous damage with conventional weapons. The author refers to the bombing of bridges across the Dnieper, which has repeatedly called for "hot heads" in Russian publics.
And analysts are obliged to talk about it. And not just about the bombing of the Crimean bridge, although the Crimean bridge, of course, to speak "more grateful." But it, in turn, without changing the global situation for Ukraine for the better, can provoke the worst.
The plot with the "war of bridges" is completely in tune with the "total hybrid war" unleashed by Russia . Its risk is that if bridges across the Dnieper are lost, Ukraine will split in two. It is difficult to quickly compensate for the destruction of large bridges.
An example is the bridge over the Dniester estuary in the Odessa region, which was repeatedly attacked by the Russians. If the message of the press service of the Odessa City Council reflects the real situation, after the shelling in early May, the bridge did not work for 2 weeks. On the night of May 17, the bridge was attacked again. And the press service said that the bridge is so damaged that repair work will take a long time and expense. But now they are impossible, as well as the operation of the bridge . "
Significant damage to the bridges across the Dnieper sharply complicates the supply of troops and supplies to the left bank of fuel, goods for the population, etc. As well as the departure of refugees or the export of goods, crops, etc. from the left bank. That is, it complicates the military situation and provokes a humanitarian catastrophe.
Some of the measures that can be taken are military in nature and obvious. As it is - the maximum possible protection of bridges. But it also requires a significant amount of long-range air defense, long-range missile systems and aircraft, which could provide support to Ukrainian troops in the South and East, even if supplies of the required volume become impossible . And who will also be able to protect the civilian population, working enterprises, etc. Including acting from the other bank of the Dnieper (since in a protracted war on the left bank, such systems will gradually "knock out" or remain without sufficient ammunition).
I will not write separately about economic and organizational measures. It is clear that the East should, if possible, accumulate stocks of critical goods, medicines, spare parts, transport, etc. But it is also clear that the country is already working at the limit.
Therefore, only about the diplomatic. Ukraine must constantly raise the question that any (hybrid) actions aimed at (absolutely conscious in this case) deepening the humanitarian crisis and the suffering of the civilian population are a crime against humanity .
8. Risk of depletion
Since the war is being waged on the territory of Ukraine and the Ukrainian population is exposed to much greater suffering and stress, the risk of psychological exhaustion for the Ukrainian population is higher . Yes, motivation plays a significant role. But ... Now we can say this out loud, because the war of attrition has become a reality. Psychologists know the dynamics associated with stress (plus or minus the fact that in the picture below, the nuances may be different - the essence is the same).
In individuals or groups, the trajectory may be "shorter" in mass or stretch over time, may not reach exhaustion. But the mass dynamics will look something like "classic". The initial shock leads to the mobilization stage, followed by the resistance stage, then the depletion stage (which is already now, especially noticeable where the impact of stressors is intense).
Without understanding this, one can fall into the illusion that the army and society will constantly be on the same rise as in the mobilization stage. Or they will remain as stable as in the resistance phase . In fact, the dynamics will be different, as the depletion factor will be activated.
This factor is important and should also be taken into account.
9. Fear of peace and the question of a new attempt at annexation
Russia is afraid of peace in both basic senses. We must not lose sight of this fear. In Russia itself, peace with Ukraine is beneficial to one and not beneficial to another. We should not comfort ourselves with the illusion that the elites in Russia need peace much more now than we do in Ukraine. The author wrote about the timing factor in the first part of the article. Ukraine is depleted more and depleted faster. People who remember the last war sometimes said that the post-war years were worse than the war itself. Because of post-war famine and savage crime.
The recent theft with automatic weapons of 39 vehicles (34 motorcycles and 5 cars) in Kyiv is a pale shadow of what could begin if the economy and social sphere continue to collapse at the current pace. Not everyone in Russia is a fool, they understand such things.
At the same time, Russia is still facing a difficult fork . This is an answer to the question of the occupied territories and the new annexation . The temptation to annex the captured is huge, because it would give a cheer-patriotic picture akin to the "Crimean Consensus".
On the other hand, annexation inevitably leads to the transfer of large-scale hostilities to Russia. Which threatens to turn into a shock for Russian society. Yes, Russia will be able to launch a mobilization. But do Russia's elites want to take all the risks that come with it? For more information on such risks, see Part 4 of my publication, Russia playing back.
It is also obvious that the Western community, which has not swallowed the war in Europe, but has not done everything (!) In terms of sanctions, will react more than nervously and harshly to the new annexation. And the impossible today may become possible again tomorrow.
Therefore, as before the war, Russia is hesitant. And this is the moment when some difficult negotiations still have a chance.
That is why the fear of peace, which the Russian "party of war" will try to sow in the Ukrainian elites , is especially important .
This is, for example, the fear that as soon as the war (or its active phase) is over, we will have to build a new life. We will have to answer the question "Why (there were huge sacrifices)?" With something "weighty, rude, visible"? Changes will be needed, the scale of which must at least correspond to the victims. The current elites (not only the top ones) can fear and resist such changes. Including because before the war it didn't work out very well.
The answer in Ukraine "For the sake of the future (once and on condition) of membership in the European Union" will be clearly insufficient. Although this future is still hazy and many in Europe are trying to postpone it for decades.
Those elites (and not only) who have shown themselves to be powerful in wartime may fear that they will not be as effective in peacetime. A well-known, common and much-described phenomenon.
The moment of Ukraine's transformation into a European "war veteran" (a painful experience for many veterans, including in the West), which is gradually ceasing to be interesting to the outside world, may also be unpleasant. Even in such a sparing, but excellent series as "Brothers in Arms", one of the most impressive episodes is a story about how mundane the fates of the main characters after the war.
Some representatives of the elites (and not only) may be unwilling to part with the powers gained during the war, access to additional flows of money, goods, etc.
At the same time, part of the elites (and not only) can throw in, and the population supports the motive of revenge. To loop the exhausting situation. Revenge = new fights = new victims = even more revenge = new fights, etc. Thus protracted conflicts manage to last for decades.
This may give rise to a desire to prolong the war as much as possible . And this is exactly what will continue the old scenario of the growth of casualties, destruction and the impossibility of really moving forward quickly.
But so far we do not know when a world acceptable to our country will come. And so to the question "For what?" Ukraine must answer every day. Because a decent world and the question "For what?" always closely interconnected.