50 shades of grey zone - Politics Forum.org | PoFo

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"But the basic problem remains. Gray zone tactics on the border of Russia have not worked, and posturing has not resulted in the kinds of concessions Putin can brag about at home or abroad. The political problem for him at this point is that the concessions he needs from the United States to justify drawing down Russian forces must be tangible, especially in light of his very public efforts to mobilize Russian public opinion. De facto neutrality for Ukraine would achieve his nominal objectives, for the time being, but Putin will have no piece of paper or public declaration from Washington to show for his brinkmanship. Even more disconcerting for Moscow, Kyiv will continue its reorientation to the West, and gray zone conflict will continue indefinitely.

Putin may be able to snatch compromise from the jaws of quagmire. Yet, he may also be forced to fight by his own decision to escalate Russian coercive diplomacy by mobilizing the same forces that make invasion more feasible. Whereas gray zone conflict is attractive in lieu of war, war becomes more likely in a brinkmanship contest due to path dependence and uncertainty. A limited war might enable Putin to save face, but even limited wars must run some risk of turning into larger cataclysms. It would not be the first time that nations found themselves involved in a conflict that, ex ante, they seemed intent on avoiding."


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