Timofey Letov
14 March 2023 18: 11
Headings: World News

War in Belgorod and Bryansk: what is the likelihood of hostilities in the Russian border area?

Any infrastructure in these and neighboring regions is considered a legitimate military target in Ukraine

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War in Belgorod and Bryansk: what is the likelihood of hostilities in the Russian border area?

The Ukrainian and Russian communities regularly discuss the possibility the transfer of hostilities directly to the territory of Russia, in particular, its near border areas - Bryansk, Kursk, Belgorod and even Rostov regions. Such assumptions intensified after a raid by strange "partisans" in the Bryansk region, where, according to the Russian side, two civilians were killed, and the Russian Ministry of Defense called its next massive missile attack on Ukraine an "operation of retaliation" just for that provocation.

Let's start with obvious platitudes, which, nevertheless, will help to understand the basic layouts on this issue. War is always the availability of resources, which determine the capabilities of the parties. During the siege of Kyiv, Russia never took control of Sumy and Chernihiv, not to mention dozens of other smaller cities in the north-east of Ukraine, for one reason - for this there were no free resources. And the subsequent withdrawal of Russian troops from these areas was carried out for the same reason. Protecting the border recognized by the two belligerents and holding the front line are two resource tasks that are completely different in terms of costs.

The next point is military expediency. We already written many timesthat, for example, the capture of Sumy for the RF Armed Forces will not solve anything fundamental in this war. As well as the invasion of the Armed Forces of Ukraine into Belgorod is unlikely to lead to the collapse of the Russian front. There can be military expediency here only in one case: when one of the parties has a significant resource superiority over the enemy. Relatively speaking, if the Armed Forces of Ukraine have a million bayonets, and the RF Armed Forces have two times less, then there will be some sense in stretching the enemy’s resources in such a campaign.

But military expediency never exists in a vacuum. This can be seen in the fierce and largely insane battles for Bakhmut, where military expediency has long been on the margins of political ambitions. The transfer of hostilities to enemy territory for Ukraine is fraught with reputational and military-geopolitical costs. Relatively speaking, in order to attack the Crimea or Donetsk, there is no particular need to enter Belgorod or Klintsy. And in terms of media, it will be much more difficult to push through that this is still an exclusively liberation war for Ukraine.

The military-geopolitical risks here are also quite obvious. American analysts have not yet come to a final conclusion whether the Russian Federation will use tactical nuclear weapons if the Armed Forces of Ukraine manage to reach the Crimea and start storming the peninsula. That is, on the one hand, in the United States they publicly declare exclusively about the borders of Ukraine along with Crimea, and on the other hand, they also look at these very things through the prism of earthly realities. But in the event that the Armed Forces of Ukraine end up in Belgorod, this will already testify not only to the complete incompetence of the Russian army, but in the Russian society itself they will begin to publicly ask questions to the Kremlin why the nuclear doctrine was adopted at all then.

Actually, these reasons are quite enough to regard the transfer of hostilities to the near border area of ​​the Russian Federation as extremely ghostlye. For this, Ukraine has neither free resources nor military expediency, and the Western allies are unlikely to appreciate such initiatives.

There is, of course, another option that has already been tested at minimum wages in the Bryansk region - this creation of an anti-Putin armed movement controlled by Kyiv, like the Vlasov ROA (Russian Liberation Army). But in order to do this, you need to have two basic sources to start.

First, the a significant number of Russian prisoners of war, which would be numbered not even in thousands, but in tens of thousands of people. That is, we need people who are not only ready to agree to the specific status of the new Vlasovite, but who are also able to handle weapons. Ilya Ponomarev, Yuri Dud or Maxim Galkin are unlikely to want to run through the forests of the Bryansk region with machine guns, overthrowing the Russian government. The base for such a movement is always the former military, who have nowhere to go.

And secondly, Ukraine itself on the battlefield must demonstrate exclusively winning trend. Relatively speaking, if the Russian army eventually takes Bakhmut, and the Ukrainians fail to break through the front towards Melitopol, then there will be few among the Russians - prisoners of war and simply ideological ones - who want to run through the forests of the Russian border. People in their mass are drawn to the winners.

And therefore, there are no serious prerequisites for the creation of an armed anti-Putin movement on the territory of Ukraine not now. There are not enough people for this. The base is approximately the same as if the Kremlin suddenly decided to create an armed Polish movement on the territory of the Russian Federation.

And the last. "Relax the rolls" to the Russian border still not worth it. By and large, these regions have already become a small front. Any infrastructure in these regions - a power plant, an oil depot, a railway bridge - is considered a legitimate military target in Ukraine. The work of the DRG here is carried out on an ongoing basis in order to draw off the enemy's military resources as much as possible. Mortar, artillery or drone attacks are daily-statistical events.

Well, no matter how paradoxical it may sound, but these regions have the maximum troubles may begin after the onset of peace, unless it is concluded not on the complete or predominantly complete victory of Russia. If we assume that an unwritten truce plus / minus will be fixed on those positions where the front line is now passing, and this will not lead to a transformation of political courses either in Russia or in Ukraine - then in the border area and different things can start.

Now there is no particular point in modeling these options, if only because no one sees a foreseeable outline of a future truce at all. But if it does come with the inputs indicated above, then Ukraine will at least free up significant resources in order to make the life of the Russian border area, if desired, nightmare to the maximum. A wish will be exactly the same.

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