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Opinion
James Stavridis

If Russia Takes Ukraine, Insurgency Could Be Putin's Nightmare

The West should already be laying the groundwork for resistance forces if things take a turn for the worst. 

Loaded.

Loaded.

Photographer: Alexey Druzhinin/AFP/Getty Images

If Russia invades Ukraine, President Vladimir Putin will face an immediate and difficult choice: how far to go. Most analysts believe he will probably move forward with an invasion, but is likely to have his military stop within the pro-Russian enclaves of southeastern Ukraine. This would allow him to declare independence for the Donbas region and secure a “land bridge” from Russia proper to its annexed territory in Crimea.

But what if he decides to drive to Kyiv, and overturn the democratically elected government of President Volodymyr Zelenskiy? Putin has positioned enough firepower on the border — troops, tanks, missiles — as well as naval and cyberwarfare assets to conduct a shock-and-awe campaign similar to the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq.