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Putin steps closer to the edge

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A month ago we wrote

Scrapping the grain deal, and blasting grain storage facilities, looks like a serious blunder … This all looks to me like the potential for a grotesque Putin mis-step coming along soon. As critical Russian commentators have been quick to point out, a de facto Russian blockade of Odessa will drive Ukraine to export via the Danube. Now: much as Russian historians love to recount the Battle of Izmail, do they really plan to blockade the Danube, arguably Europe’s greatest river linking 9 countries (mostly NATO members), 4 national capitals and a large amount of trade? Really? Article 5 looms large here … Putin’s capacity for cocking things up on the world stage has known few limits since 2021: he’d better pause now, before crashing forward on this new path. I can’t guess what he’ll do next

Well it rather seems I did, because a day or so ago Russia bombarded Izmail, with drone debris crashing into Romania.  The latter (a NATO member, obviously) is hosting a lot of allied military resources right now, including UK fighter aircraft that fly top-cover for Black Sea reconnaissance, and very regular border patrols by the US Navy and Italian Air Force.  All the triggers are there.

This is, however, as nothing compared to the protective shield around the Polish areas bordering Ukraine.  The weight of anti-aircraft / anti-missile defences there is like nowhere else on the continent of Europe.  People have often mused – including BTL hereabouts – as to why Russia doesn’t interdict the large daily flows of munitions across the Polish border.  Well they might try: but it wouldn’t be easy.

There’s a case to be made that things are ratcheting up to something very tense this coming winter.  It used to be a rule of thumb in ancient Greece that no city-state could survive a second winter after its lands had been ransacked two summers in a row – which might be in Putin’s mind.  

He might also like to recall that Athens successfully** devised a solution to this: significant use of imported goods along heavily-defended lines of logistics.



** Yeah, yeah, I know that eventually Athens lost to Sparta.  But that was imperial over-reach born of monumental, buccaneering hubris. 


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