Intermittent blogging continues.
KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Plant spokesman says Russian troops have begun shelling Europe's largest nuclear power station in Ukraine.
— Julie Pace (@JuliePace) March 4, 2022
Because one Chernobyl wasn’t enough.
In case you want to watch a livestream of a firefight between Ukrainian and Russian troops at a nuclear power plant here it is https://t.co/56azgCz4cz
— Task & Purpose (@TaskandPurpose) March 3, 2022
In Polish press, reports of sporadic and very amateurish (yet) attempts by Belarusians to sabotage their own railway lines to disrupt Russian military transports.
Reminder: this part of the world has a pretty long and distinguished tradition of partisan warfare.
4 March, 10:07AM:
Just hours before the TV address, Putin had phoned Emmanuel Macron to tell the French President that he has no intention of pulling back from Ukraine or watering down his security demands, will achieve his aims ‘whatever happens’ and will continue fighting until ‘the end’.
Macron’s aides said after the call that they believe Putin intends to take the whole country, and that the ‘worst is yet to come’ as the Russian attacks step up, and that ‘there was nothing in what President Putin told us that should reassure us.’
Mr Macron is said to have told Putin he is making a ‘major mistake’ and ‘lying to himself’. Macron said Russia would end up poor, weakened and under sanctions for a very long time.
‘There was nothing in what President Putin told us that should reassure us. He showed great determination to continue the operation,’ Macron’s aide said, before adding that Putin ‘wanted to seize control of the whole of Ukraine’.
But Putin does not control all the factors. Autocrats often tend to forget about the limits of their power.
— ISW (@TheStudyofWar) March 2, 2022
What are Russia’s short-term military objectives? There seem to be three:
1) cut Ukraine from the sea. By taking Marupol, Russian forces will have linked Donetsk with Crimea with a land bridge and closed off Azov Sea. The next step, having taken Kherson, is likely to be a drive east, possibly combined with a troop landing in Odessa, to take the Black Sea shoreline all the way to the Moldovan border.
2) take Kyiv, as a political and symbolic centre of the country, allowing Putin to install a puppet government.
3) take more of eastern Ukraine by any possible number of pincer movements from north and south, for example Kharkiv and Donetsk, or Kherson and Kyiv. This would leave only the headless western part of the country in the hands of legitimate Ukrainian authorities. Having achieved that, Putin can claim victory and either proceed to mop up the rest of Ukraine at a more leisurely pace or rest satisfied with his successes so far.
The unknown factors: continuing morale of Russian troops; the logistical problems of the Russian Army; the impact of Western military aid, particularly anti-armour weaponry; the impact of sanctions on Russian economy and society.
My friend Bill Roggio has a pessimistic take on the situation.