The Red Threat at Our Doorstep
“For the United States and its allies, it is a policy of containing Russia, with obvious geopolitical dividends. For our country, it is a matter of life and death, a matter of our historical future as a nation” – Vladimir Putin.
Russia dramatically underestimated several things, and it now finds itself backed into a corner. Any animal backed into a corner can become desperate and dangerous. First, Putin thought the Ukrainian people would broadly welcome the Russian army. The world overestimated the Russian army’s willingness to fight and their combat readiness. They talk a big game, but their equipment is in poorly maintained condition, old, and their soldiers are undisciplined and unmotivated. Second, the Kremlin assumed that this “special” military action would be quickly over, far before western forces could consolidate against them. In the early hours of the conflict, we now know special forces were sent into Kyiv to kill or capture Ukrainian president Zelensky. That special operation to decapitate the Ukrainian power was, obviously, unsuccessful. The war has lasted much longer than they had planned, and each passing day brings western allies closer together to combat Russian expansionism and aggression. Other countries on the fence about joining NATO favor the idea more with each passing day. A long-lasting war favors Ukraine and its newfound allies in the West. It doesn’t help Putin one bit.
So, what will Putin do next, and how might that impact our lives? There’s tremendous speculation, and a recent poll on the community tab of the City Prepping Youtube site revealed that many believe Putin’s next move will be either to use a tactical nuclear weapon on Ukraine, 32% of you, or the whole conflict will turn into a protracted proxy war between the US and Russia –34%. We can’t argue with either of those conclusions. This blog will examine those possibilities and other options Putin might take next and how it could impact your life and your preps. Let’s take a look…
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WHY UKRAINE IS WINNING
Russia launched a large-scale invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24. Before that and in anticipation of that, however, U.S. clandestine services well stocked the Ukrainian military with armaments. Before the invasion day of the 24th of February, the US had covertly supplied Ukraine with an unknown number of Javelins and Stingers. The Javelin is a shoulder-held anti-tank weapon that shoots heat-seeking rockets toward targets up to 2.5 miles away. It can send a 3-foot projectile through the side or top of an armored tank, and it has proven itself critical in stopping the Russian tank advance. It can even be controlled by a portable unit that looks like a video game console. The Ukrainian army was also covertly supplied with shoulder-held Stinger anti-aircraft missiles– the same weapon used against Soviet helicopters in Afghanistan. These two shoulder-held weapons allowed the smaller Ukrainian army to be completely mobile and incredibly lethal. The very presence of the American-made weapons creates panic among Russian troops, and the US had already sent hundreds if not thousands of them while Putin was still building forces on the border. The final count of shoulder-held and other small arms put into the hands of the Ukrainians may not ever be known, but they have been put to significant effect. Ukraine claims to have destroyed more than 800 tanks and 2,000 other Russian vehicles. This clandestine supply of mobile weaponry will go down in history as one of the most significant covert victories of the new Cold War.
Since Russia crossed the Ukrainian nation’s border on February 24th, Ukraine has also been overtly well supplied with body armor, helmets, rifles, radar systems, armored vehicles, helicopters, Switchblade explosive drones, and now dozens of howitzers with an estimated 144,000 rounds of ammunition. Ukrainian troops now have more than half of the 90 howitzers that the U.S. pledged them to help beat back a Russian attack in its eastern region–enough Howitzers to equip five battalions. The 155mm howitzer is the longest-ranged of the U.S. military’s indirect-fire guns, hitting targets up to 18 miles away. It will allow the Ukrainian army to pound away at the Russian army from miles away. Thus far, the Russian forces have been primarily mechanized forces of armored convoys. These weapons have had lethal consequences for these columns of armored vehicles, and where they have gotten through, Ukrainians armed with Molotov cocktails have had success.
So, if the first of Putin’s oversights was thinking that the Ukrainian army would be ill-equipped to handle a mechanized invading force, his second blunder was assuming that Ukrainians would welcome Russia and lack morale to combat Russian aggression. In fact, it has proven to be the reverse. Russian soldiers have lacked morale, discipline, and by their own omissions, are using outdated and poorly maintained equipment to wage war they don’t believe in fighting. Putin has revealed that the Russian fighting force was more bluster than capable of plunder. It raises serious questions about their cohesion and whether they would even be a challenge for better equipped and better motivated NATO forces.
All of this combines to reveal a Ukraine that is slowly winning. With each day that Ukraine survives, the Russian forces become weaker. So, what happens next? What does Putin do now to either encourage a victory or save face? He is increasingly more desperate to bring the situation to a winning conclusion for himself.
OPTION #1: ANNEXATION
There are several options for Putin right now that go from reasonable and spinnable to improbable and desperate. We’ll examine each. The first and most desirable at this point is for Russia to annex the contested conflict zones of the eastern region. Similar to Crimea, he can spin the annexation of these regions as a victory, claim that it was always his only objective in the special operations, and then retreat to Russia with his beat-up army and lick his wounds for another go at Kyiv in a few more years. Putin may have no option right now that is winnable, leaving him only this. The problem with this is that he already played this gambit in Crimea in 2014. It was unsavory to the rest of the world then when under the threat of rifle and rocket-propelled grenades, a Crimean parliament voted to become part of Russia. It only worked then because the Crimean invasion was unexpected and sufficiently confusing. After all, Russian troops wore no insignia, and the attack was so shockingly brazen to the rest of the world that they were slow to react with half-measures and what can now be considered light sanctions.
The rest of the world has swiftly reacted to Putin’s war this time. US and allies’ intelligence has been incredible. In November of 2021, the US shared information that Russian troops were moving to Ukraine’s border. Since then, intelligence services have exposed move after anticipated move, bringing them into the light and making it increasingly more difficult for Putin to surprise anyone. They have recently revealed Putin’s consideration of the option of annexation, which will diminish its credibility and can only leave any annexation to be seen as a farce by the rest of the world. As such, it won’t bring about an end to the fighting, especially when weapons and aid are flowing so well into Ukraine. Still, it is Putin’s most likely next move.
OPTION #2: PUTIN LOSES POWER
Putin’s own oligarchs and generals are increasingly dissatisfied with him, so they are likely a ripe source of information to covert western forces. Also, sanctions like never before seen have been implemented. Gas lines are being shut off. Oligarch assets are being seized and may be sold off to fund the Ukrainians. Import, export, travel restrictions, individual and financial sanctions have been implemented with great haste and with the blessing and support of most of the world’s countries.
Putin has tried to pivot out of these by cutting gas lines for countries that won’t pay in roubles, by switching as much as he can to a rouble-only economy, and other measures meant to shore up the currency. However, these are artificial measures, and Russia remains isolated from the majority of the world. Her inability to export what she produces, the failure of the country to import what it needs, and the Central Bank of Russia’s instructions to stave off inflation and the drop of the rouble’s value can only hold back the inevitable for just so long. The president of the Central Bank of Russia, Elvira Nabiullina, already tried to resign but was allegedly denied that possibility by Putin himself. Make no mistake about it, though, the Russian economy is being hit hard, even if it has shown that it can take a few punches. Buddying up to China alone will likely not be enough to deflect enough blows to remain on its feet.
Still, it probably won’t be enough to result in Putin being overthrown or removed from office. His grip over Russia is too complete. Any recent photo of him addressing oligarchs or even his own generals shows the great distance he sets himself apart from others. A coup isn’t likely when the people he trusts can’t get within 30 feet of him. The Russian people, for their part, aren’t expected to rise up. The rouble has been propped up artificially, so they aren’t feeling the economic pain at the moment that the oligarchs are feeling. Plus, if you so much as wear the colors of the Ukrainian flag, you risk being thrown in jail or simply disappearing. The Kremlin controls the information, and all other sources are outlawed. Putin controls and enforces the narrative. Though the people are wise that they are being played, they are also suspicious enough to believe that maybe the West is out to get them.
As every day goes by, however, where Ukraine remains Ukraine and continues to exact a heavy toll on the Russian, Chechen, and Bealrusan forces, the narrative of a special military operation to liberate Russians tormented by Nazis in Ukraine becomes less and less tenable. Putin grows a day older and a day more stressed. Maybe something will come of this option yet. Or, perhaps it will lead to a more desperate measure.
OPTION #3: PUTIN BROADENS THE FRONT
When pushed into a corner and unable to make significant strides in Ukraine when so many opposition armaments and aid are being pumped into the country, Putin is likely to seek to refocus the world’s attention away from Ukraine so he can encourage a few victories, thereby broadening the front to threaten other countries. Building Russian forces on the border of Finland, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, or through Belarus to Poland, or even towards Turkey, could result in the west being forced to turn its attention to these other possible fronts. Putin isn’t without significant complications here too. Before he could even turn his attention to the Baltic states, the US and NATO started sending massive amounts of additional military aid to these countries. Estonia, a small Baltic state bordering Russia, has also pledged €220 million in military assistance to war-torn Ukraine in recent months. The Baltic states and Poland have served as pass-through proxy entities to arm Ukraine. Bolstering them further would be easily accomplished, and they already are far superior to the Russian forces across the border.
Finland and Sweden potentially entering NATO will anger Putin to no end, but there isn’t much he can do about it but make threats. Both countries realize the future threat of Russian aggression and expansionism outweighs the Kremlin’s current threats. Putin’s war and its well-documented and publicized war crimes are driving these northern countries more and more into favoring an alliance with the rest of Europe. So, while broadening or threatening to broaden the front is definitely one of the cards that will be played in the coming weeks, it’s all just bluster now.
OPTION #4: SHOCKING USE OF ARMAMENTS
Allegedly, Russia launched one of its hypersonic missiles on a target in Ukraine. We use the word allegedly because there is some questionable proof that this happened. It’s also highly doubtful whether Russia even has any hypersonic missiles at the moment. They have a history of releasing information and claims of military might that has, thus far, been revealed just to be a lot of talk. The reality being exposed to the world is that Russia’s military is poorly maintained and antiquated. The question on everyone’s mind is whether they will be so desperate to use a nuclear weapon. The question then would be the target. Attacking any western ally would result in a reciprocal attack that would reduce Russia to ashes, so there’s no winner.
However, attacking Kyiv with a small nuclear weapon isn’t out of the realm of possibility. For Russia, it’s a justifiable act within the bounds of war. Though it has a hallmark of particular brutality, the Kremlin would justify the action by pointing to the United States’ use of atomic weapons to hasten the end of the Second World War. Putin’s actions have the most significant impact in these areas of diplomatic-global grayness. One thing holding him back from such a drastic decision would be that the prevailing winds of a nuclear weapon would spread radioactive ash across China, and China, the only possible ally in Putin’s fight, isn’t likely to take to kindly to that.
Still, the use of a shockingly powerful weapon in Ukraine sends a loud message to the rest of the world that Russia is strong and will take any measure at its disposal to defend itself. So, the possibility of Putin eventually going nuclear is more significant than one might have thought just two months ago.
Before this final option, though, it’s highly probable that Russia would instead engage its more conventional and superior air force in a campaign of indiscriminate carpet bombing. This is also highly likely as dozens of Howitzers come online in the Donetsk Oblast and other areas of the eastern front. Bombing campaigns would bring an entirely new dynamic to the conflict. The west’s countermeasures would be to scramble to get missile systems into Ukraine and to attempt to enforce no-fly zones. It drags out the war even longer and dangerously escalates it, but it does favor Putin. It creates a greater distaste in the west’s population and a greater fear that their own sons and daughters might be deployed in the war zone. Of all the scenarios thus far discussed other than annexation, Putin’s escalation to an aerial bombardment to create shock and awe is most likely. There would likely not be an immediate armed response, but it would further deepen the complications of the war crimes charges. It would further increase sanctions, isolating Russia entirely from the world stage. It likely would not be well received by the Russian people, assuming they ever had verifiable proof of it broadcast to them.
So, a shocking escalation is possible, though the nuclear option is the least likely scenario.
WHAT YOU SHOULD PREPARE FOR
These are merely the most prominent four variations when it comes to possibilities for the next chapter of this conflict. We suppose anything is possible, and Putin has proven himself to be unpredictable. If you were to prepare for one or all of these options, you should be doing the same basic things. First, you can expect global inflation to continue and for economies to stagnate, and trade to remain slow. We have recently highlighted on this channel how the lockdowns in China will impact inflation. We have covered how natural gas, oil, and coal are all increasing in price and why. We have covered why fertilizer will be in short supply, and harvest yields will be significantly lower this year. The bigger picture is more than just Russian and Ukrainian wheat and Sunflower Oil. It’s more than just the valves of Gazprom being shut off. We have also covered the global grain shortages and the grain hoarding activities of Russia and China. These individual problems combine to be larger than any one party or person– even more considerable than any government or collection of governments. These unique problems combine into one grand global predicament for which there isn’t an easy solution. There is one guarantee, though. You are guaranteed that prices will increase. The combined impact of the China lockdowns and the ongoing removal of Russia from the global markets will be felt far into this winter, even if they were entirely resolved today. Winter, by the way, favors Russia because it makes European nations desperate for heating fuels.
Globally, we should all prepare for continued shortages of some items and product scarcity. How that impacts you directly will depend on your nation’s level of affluence and your personal level of dependence on global supply chains. If there’s a shortage of sunflower oil because Ukraine can’t make and ship it, that might not be a significant factor for you. Sunflower oil isn’t on the shelves of many US grocery stores. You are more apt to see Canola or Vegetable Oil. Other countries, though, are highly dependent on that one oil, more so than other vegetable oils or olive oils. Likewise, a wheat shortage, absent panic buying, likely won’t be felt in the US other than as a reason to increase the price. Even if an actual shortage existed, likely, the American consumer would simply pivot begrudgingly to some other alternative flour. However, if your country is dependent on wheat from this Russian and Ukrainian region, the shortages will hit you hard. So affluence determines your country’s ability to pivot, and dependence and proximity determine how dramatic the impact is felt.
You should brace for a price increase. Prices rise on the mere threat of a problem. These price increases will include food, fuel, manufacturing, shipping, and pretty much everything you can think of because they are all so interconnected. Unfortunately, I don’t think anyone on the planet has seen the top end of the prices yet. And, if you aren’t feeling the price increases in your little piece of the world, it is either because your area has a high level of affluence or it is far removed from global supply chains and produces the majority of what it needs to function. Shortages and inflationary pressures can bring about problems other than simply higher costs. Political change, consumer frustration, elevated crime rates, and civil discord can all be the end resulting expression of higher prices. As a prepper, these pose another slate of problems and the possibility of runs on stores and the masses panic buying.
So you should be prepping what we continually tell you to prep: water, food, and grid-independent energy at the very least. You should also anticipate a more significant collapse of structures we are overly dependent upon. Find alternative sources for your resources. Learn new skills that increase your personal value. Grow something that will feed you or supplement your food supply. Prep for even worse to come because it is likely already on its way. Strengthen your finances and your health to ready yourself for even darker days ahead.
Right now, Putin is unable to win the whole country of Ukraine. He is having trouble even controlling the narrative. Putin will have difficulty justifying an annexation of the eastern regions of Ukraine, and he risks an escalation of the conflict with the rest of the world. He also won’t just simply retreat back to Russia’s original borders. Small bombings made to look like they are Russian separatists in regions near the conflict zone, as we saw recently in Moldova, will continue.
Further price increases are inevitable. The possibility of any concentrated cyberattack from Russia becomes less likely by the day. If that were an actual viable option, Putin would have pulled the trigger on it already. This doesn’t mean it is entirely off the table, but it is more unlikely by the day. One of the four options we have outlined here, or some combination of them, is highly likely. This drama will continue to unfold on the world stage far from our influence and direction, but that doesn’t mean we can’t prepare for the fallout.
We will see higher and higher prices. We will see some scarcity for a host of reasons. We may see an escalation to panic buying or even civil unrest. As we detailed earlier, much of what you will see will depend on your location, affluence, and dependence. What do you think Putin’s next move will be? Let us know in the comments below, and take a look at the China lockdown situation, as that might be an even more significant threat right now. We’ll link to that blog from this one.
As always, stay safe out there.
Video Card Links:
How to Prepare for Hyperinflation (And What To Expect Next) – https://youtu.be/Pl4SCe26f_k
What Could Happen if China Invades Taiwan? The Next Potential Global Conflict – https://youtu.be/3dd57Txa6u0
Link in comments to Community Tab: https://www.youtube.com/c/CityPrepping/community