Despite of the fact that the author of this article is very skeptical of the stuff like "13 ways to quit smoking" or "8 reasons for eating eggs for breakfast" there are really 9 reasons telling us that full-scale invasion is not possible.
Reason 1 - it does not make sense
A war means continuation of the politics but with a bit different instruments. That's it. After recognition of the Ukrainian elections and shaking hands with the Ukrainian partners in Minsk there is only one real way left for Moscow to promote its politics of pressure - performing a take-over in Kiev, making the government non-legitimate in the eyes of Ukrainians resulting to the real civil war. All other actions could be considered only as a half measures. All current actions of Russia in Eastern Ukraine are just an ugly attempt of legalization of what has been stolen in terms of territories, an attempt to make us sit down at the negotiating table.
What particular goals could be reached by Russia with military actions?
Quelling resistance of 40 mln country? That's not even sounds funny. 30-40 thousands of people on pickups totally destroyed Syria can gather after 4 years of exhausting war. Dog-poor small Bosnia after a couple of years of assault was able to hold Sarajevo in isolation with no heavy weapons, a couple of mortars and dozens of tanks and armored vehicles.
Russia can invade up to the Dnipro river or even Lviv. But no one in the modern world will recognize annexation - just take a look at Northern Cyprus, Kuwait, East Timor, Abkhazia or South Ossetia. The future of any occupied territory is poverty and similar consequences.
What issues Russia might resolve after even the most victorious war? Does it remove LNG terminals for natural gas in Northern Europe or somehow influence US plans to gain 20% of EU market of hydrocarbons by 2020 (with the devastating effect on Russian economy)? Or probably sanctions for Crimea, support of Syria and MH-17 will be gone? Or maybe Brent price will go much higher than $40/barrel?
Despair and dust. Of course you can try to make a picture on a TV showing how Putin save Russians here and there or threat to "take measures" after recent provocations in Crimea but in reality none of the key challenges Putin currently facing with can be solved by full-scale military invasion to Ukraine.
Reason 2 - Math is the queen of sciences
Currently Armed Forces of Ukraine, Border Guard and National Guard constitute 350 thousands of people. It does not include troops of MIA, new police assault units, part of SBU, volunteers and paramilitary organizations.
Even before the mobilization either partial or general. Another 200 thousands - ex participants of Anti-terroristic operation (ATO). Many of them probably will not go to the East again or will not be able to due to medical reasons , but many of them will, not to mention volunteers.
Did you noticed any rollout of Russian penetrating force of at least 500-600 thousand close to Ukrainian border? Not to mention all necessary infrastructure in the empty steppe of Rostov and Voronezh regions (Russian regions bordering with Ukraine) - not current two divisions but thousands of warehouses with 30-60 days stock, long lines of moving fuel-servicing trucks, convoys with provisions and ammunition. Building of jump-up bases, transfer of paramedical units from Siberia to the border, settlement of tactical hospitals and shifting FSB and police forces closer to the border for clearing operations. Especially considering the fact that Russia must keep some of its troops in Chechnya, Abkhazia and Ossetia, in Armenia and in any other place where Russia has already inflamed the war.
Do you know how it should look like? Please, remind the Operation Desert Shield - convoys up to the horizon, thousand tonnes of cargoes and munitions, excavators, building camps, intensive flights of cargo aviation. Did you noticed anything similar to that on the Russian-Ukrainian border now.
Reason 3 - "efficiency" of the Russian war machine
Russians are not able to supply their expeditionary military forces in Syria - they have been building an airbase for monthes and purchasing used civil ships for their convoys. And this just for the forces consisting of a couple of thousands of soldiers, 30-50 aircrafts and 20-30 helicopters that are not able to detect preparations of the light infantry attack on pickups in the 5*5 sq. km area.
Russians are not able to stop the light infantry attack announced a week beforehand via social media - rebels do not hide in the holes under aviation fire but wedge away light armored troops of the enemies on the critical front sectors. Aviation regiment and cruising missiles launches are not able to isolate battlefield, to destroy supplies and not able to hit battle-orders of rebels for the two whole weeks. What other facts do you need to know in order to feel the "efficiency" of Russian troops?
However affairs of "young republics" DNR and LNR are not going well too. Both capitals of these republics are within the hitting area of Ukrainian artillery, reachable by any kind of reconnaissance; distance from Spartak (frontline village) to Putilov district of Donetsk can be covered by tanks within 10 minutes. Situation in the Eastern Ukraine for the pro-Russian separatist is still very painful - everything is held only due to the financial infusions and general management of RF. Ukrainian Armed Forces are looming large over the communications of the hybrid army and upon any serious escalation Ukrainian artillery will just smash off all the governmental buildings of the "young republics" including MGB (proxy of KGB in USSR). Surprise - ugly junta after more than 2 years of conflict still did not destroy the buildings in Donetsk where "new government" is located.
Reason 4 - sanctions
Sanctions are working. There are still plenty of pressure methods - from bank accounts and real estate in the Western world to long suffering "South Stream". The volume of Russian-Ukrainian trade dropped to negligible 8% and continue to decrease taking away the last chance from Russia to influence Ukraine. At the same time Ukraine still hold the pipeline and in a couple of forthcoming years neither "South" nor "Northern" or any other "stream" will not be able to substitute it.
Reason 5 - Ukrainian Army
Taking into account all critics of the Ukrainian army overall we must admit that it's development went on the one possible right direction - creation of mixed motorized infantry units as a basis. Such actions as isolation of the battlefield, setting up the strongholds system, frequent rotation of mobilized soldiers finally led to a positive results. Currently Ukraine possesses 24 general military brigades (by the way Russia has a bit more than 50). And the fact that one-fourth of them are motorized, light armored infantry and mountain brigades is not a bug - it's a feature of modern Ukrainian army. Anti-aircraft mounts on BTS-4, ZIL-131 equipped with ZU-23/2, TOWs on the pick-ups, "Maxim" machineguns and mortars produced in Brezhnev era - all this is from the previous century, that's true.
On the other hand with current Ukrainian military budget, we would not be able to afford such quantity of military brigades. Ukraine is producing 50-70 APCs per annum and this is obviously not enough for equipping 24 brigades. But the approach mentioned above that presumes use of previous era weapons inherited from the USSR allows to address the challenges Ukraine is currently facing with.
Ukraine is in parity with Russia in terms of military trainings considering the fact that Russia has twice more brigades. Ukrainian anti-air defence forces are more powerful that anywhere in Eastern Europe including Poland and density of battle orders with man-portable SAM missiles and systems like "Strela" and "Osa" will not allow the enemy to act on low and middle-altitudes but only from the top.
Ukraine possesses up to 80-90 4th generation interceptors which can be treated as rather significant air force in the region considering that it has a growth potential - almost every month you can notice repaired or renewed items. Ukrainian General Staff does not plan to run a Ukrainian flag up on Rostov - it's goal is to tie up the enemy and increase the price of potential invasion to a maximum level.
Reason 6 - help of the Western partners
It is always surprising that Ukraine being a top-10 weapons exporter in the world ask Canada and Poland (countries that are far away from the top) for military stuff. Attention Ladies and Gentlemen, even now all military stuff that still remained in Ukraine will be sufficient for the 3rd World War. Frankly speaking we started suffering deficit in some particular positions as some ammo, VOG-25 grenades and probably barrels. But all other is in a strong surplus.
And what about the Western world? Western countries have very utilitarian view. The average quantity of the TOW launches in Syria by all of the participants that are supplied by Turkey and Gulf countries equals to 50-60. Ukraine has already made much more. For the last two years Ukraine demothballed more artillery systems than it supplied to Iraq and Lebanon together. What kind of weapons does Ukraine need else?
US representatives articulate the right statement that supplies of lethal weapons to Ukraine will lead to the split-off between allies. Europeans are very scared of the conflict escalation with millions of refugees and unpopular economic decisions.
Therefore all stuff that will be supplied to Ukraine have all chances to be delivered to Donbas with an escalation threat. It's not the high time for that now unfortunately... However, there is one distinctive moment in all this process - Ukraine has been already supplied with 40 artillery radars, more than 70 drones, hundreds of Falcon radios, plenty of excavators, mine lifting robots, more than thousand of night vision devices. And very simple question: "How many pickups did Ukraine already received?" And there is no clear answer from the open sources... 10 here, 40 there and another 100 there, 35 to Border Guard, some to the National Guard, some to police and so on and so force. Thus an estimation made on substituted data can equal to overall 400-500 items. Even though currently there is no possibility to determine how many of this staff is used for military training and which part is already in the frontline.
Reason 7 - time
In 2014 Crimean focus was possible only due to the fact that there were already Russian military bases in the peninsula that were used for implicit accumulation of the warfare and manpower. Currently they need one month as a minimum from the beginning of mobilization to the first shot.
Anyway we are talking about the invasion to the 40 mln country with demobilized army, few airborne brigades and National Guard aside the "red zone", with 80+ interceptors and ability to mobilize hundred thousands of people. It is proved that army boots from Canada, uniform from Poland, C-ration from Norway and generators from Australia will be available within a couple of weeks.
In case of invasion the enemy needs to make a powerful strike in order not to be bogged down in the Crimean Isthmus as well as near Sumy and Kharkiv. It presumes assault landing, deep airforce operation and 60 days of intensive offensive inland operation with the goal of destroying Ukrainian industry and military production.
Assault of Mariupol, large power plants on the East and attacking Kharkiv are very serious things and no one will start such campaign in a month before slush and mud-locked roads. If there was no escalation during the summer campaign, ther is 90% guarantee that it would not occur in early Autumn.
Reason 8 - economy
There were many discussions and talks on this already. The situation is pretty simple. Asad has lost 70% of the territory. All ammos, spare parts and oil refinery plants are now responsibility of Russia and Iran. Third year in a row rebels can enjoy such trophies as Russian anti-tank missile launchers "Konkurs", thousands of ammos and even T-90 tanks. Moreover Asad is as far from the victory now as he was 3 years ago, when he had Idlib in his possession.
Would Russia be able fighting a couple of low intensity wars participate in the full-scale campaign in Ukraine? The answer is obvious.
Just one figure to remember. When Putin in 2014 asked the Russian Parliament for the acceptance of use of the army in Ukraine the Russian stock market dropped down by 10%. Any inland operation with strengthening of sanctions, natural gas transit blockade and full devastation of all economic connections would mean the total collapse for the remaining export-oriented Russian economy. And Russia does not have another one.
Reason 9 - society
There will be no piece. Even in case of the counter-revolution in Ukraine (which is unlikely to happen) or another swung of electoral pendulum in favor of Russia (which is even more unlikely that previous statement). Just because of the fact that Ukraine has thousands of veterans and thousands of people that had lost business, residence and future in the East.
I will not tell you a bullshit about the guerrilla war, bombs made from saltpeter and other stuff just because there will be always those in this war who would be eager to deliver pickups and weapons here from the Eastern Europe. We can receive tickets for assembling mortars in our basement workshops, we can mobilize trucks of Ukravtodor (Ukrainian road agency) for military purposes and many other things.
We can't do just one thing - surrender. There are too many Ukrainians holding uniforms in their wardrobes. These people learned how to overcome rigors of service, these people learned how to kill. Killing betrayers and collaborators is not harder than killing aggressors and separatists - there will be no piece on the Moscow terms. There is no difference between separate peace and war, there is a choice between South Korea and Syria. 54 parallel or battle for Aleppo in Ukrainian format. Russia would not be able in a foreseeable future neither to invade in Ukraine nor push up to the capitulation by pressure. This is a well-known fact for both Russian and Ukrainian decision makers.
I don't know why people are discussing different theories like "traditional invasion after Olympics" (like it was right after Olympic games in Sochi in 2014) or Russian habit to begin the offensive operations in August and other philosophical concepts. I just know for sure that for the money Russia lost because of the sanctions and war it would be able to make up a new Crimea near Rostov and turn it to Florida. If they had have even the small chance not to be under sanctions, not to lose hundreds or thousands of their people in the positional warfare and have a long chance to solve all their problems by invasion, they would have been done that in 2014.
There will be no invasion, there will be constant Karabakh or Transnistria. Russian military-political genius did not invent anything new except of putting spokes in the wheels of its neighbors and sponsoring separatism. There could be an attempt of another strike in the ATO area and attempt to expand the "red zone", could be another spin of economical pressure or introduction of visa regime but not the full-scope invasion.
The last European Empire is approaching to its natural ending and sooner or later we will celebrate this unforgettable event.