From my 1812 Napoleon corollary, let's jump to 1940 where we can learn from yet another masterclass in military failure from the French.
We all know the Maginot line and remember learning as kids how unfortunate it was that France f*cked it up so bad for everyone else in WWII that Hitler almost won if it wasn't for America. Oh and the British helped too.
You can't blame them too much, their failure was simply a matter of assumption rather than military prowess.
They had assumed they would be invaded via the most obvious path that became especially obvious once the fortifications were in place.
No invading army in their right mind would charge head first into that but that's the French for ya. Put up all these defenses to feel tough when your fragile ego is still just as vulnerable as ever. (Sorry for any French in the audience… Cheer up, at least you're not Canadian).
What I'm getting at here in this drunk history lesson is that Putin's army is his Maginot Line.
He has bet all his chips, all his drunkards, all his prisoners, all his homeless and very frankly ethnically cleansed his own nation by sending minority populations en masse to die in battle while "re-populating" Russia with kidnapped Ukrainians who are placed to "whitify" these areas that he drained. (All points already highlighted in detail by various DKos authors over the past couple months, citations are a bit of a pain to dig up but it’s all there)
It's an age old story, kill off all the men and boys and you can enslave the women and indoctrinate the children. Throwing more white bodies into the gene pool is just a bonus for Putin.
But I digress, the main thrust of this story is to highlight how Putin has made the same assumption with his forces that France made with their wall.
That the enemy would have to go through it and wouldn't be able to go around it.
Also without realizing that the enemy is not stupid enough to throw everything they have at the "wall".
Yes Ukraine needs to continue pushing for every inch of territory but I'm starting to suspect the tactical frontal assault is only to scare the bejesus out of Putin who with recent negotiation pleas is clearly getting a bit hot under the collar seeing his army and ammunition all go up in flames.
Hell, China is already lickin their chops to finally acquire some of the vast natural reserves of Eastern Russia. The areas that now have quite sparse defense ripe for the pickin.
And Japan called. They want their islands back Russia. Forces quite thinned out there too.
The point is that nearly the entirety of the non-fully mobilized military is in Ukraine or supporting the effort there right now (and do we really believe full mobilization is what 900k troop at this point? Naw way man, not enough combat trained individuals and not enough time even if it was real full strength.
And Zelensky is just as aware as us that a full mobilization of an already increasingly unpopular war could ruin Putin for good.
When the "good ol' white boy" from Moscow, children of the fortunate, privileged and elite begin dying in droves, it's over. They'll have his hide.
So there Putin seems to have gotten himself into a little pickle, wouldn't you say?
That gives Zelensky a lot of leverage to make a ballsy play and give Putin a taste of his own Blitzkrieg.
In that map we see forces accumulating all along the Northern border and predominantly at two key points North and East of Sumy in particular that align with the two major highways, one leading to Kursk and one leading to Bryansk. Kharkiv has Belgorod covered.
If I widen that map a bit for you, you'll also see that Moscow itself is only about the same distance from Ukraine as Kyiv to Mariupol.
If we begin thinking multi-dimensionally it's easy enough to open the map a bit and put Russian territory in play. (Seriously though, why is no one even considering this option? All of our minds are seriously stuck in that highlighted border of Ukraine's shape and cities on a plain background)
But what about the nuclear threat?
Well Putin sure as heck can't nuke his own cities so I'd say Ukraine would have him by the balls on that one when an equal force to Putin's original in Ukraine bum-rushes Moscow.
Ukraine even has a very fresh lesson in exactly how not to take over a capital city and how to execute it much more effectively.
Same goes for artillery, Putin's hammer for all problems.
If 100,000 Ukrainian soldiers flood into Bryansk and setup defensive positions en route to Moscow, what is Russia gonna do?
Crash up against a well-organized military playing hardcore urban guerilla warfare in its own backyard and lose hard. Probably while inflicting massive casualties on their own civilians and trying to write it off as being Ukraine.
With no artillery or air support Russia wouldn't be able to do much at all (their air support is a turkey shoot anyway at this point). And the people as long as they were treated respectfully would not be so angry as to take up arms against Ukrainian soldiers (even early on in Ukraine there were plenty of videos of civilians interacting peacefully enough with Russian soldiers) who are merely temporarily commandeering, rather than destroying and erasing as Russia has done.
Russia is a purely offensive power and whatever’s left of their fighting forces isn’t likely to be able to put up much of defense. It completely neuters Putin’s core and only strength.
Ukrainian soldiers could then set to picking off Russian military targets from within these… let's just call them 'sanctuary cities' for fun while attrition, logistical and supply issues compound harder and harder upon Putin's military.
Putin could declare war any minute of course but Zelensky for that matter is equally justified to formally declare war on Russia any minute.
Would Ukraine start leveling Russian cities and massacring civilians? Of course not, but they could still de facto capture all three of the above nearby cities with little civilian casualties and likely little resistance after the initial border breakthrough.
Like seriously, how can Russian defend itself better than an eggshell crust around the border? It has everything invested in Ukraine.
They've bet EVERYTHING on the assumption that Ukraine wouldn't have the balls to invade them back (to be fair they actually bet everything on winning in 3 days but this is an extension of that mistaken assumption).
Even full mobilization would take months and couldn't happen near as quick to match Ukraine who has been in full mobilization mode for maybe years but at least since the start of the war.
Once Ukraine breaks through it could freely begin humanely (to the civilians) capturing cities as best they can, raising the Ukrainian flag within days while putting a knife to Putin's throat.
"Should we continue on to Moscow? Or can we have our lands back?"
You want a peace deal now? (So you have time to actually attempt reinforcing Moscow) Fine, we'll freeze the lines with more Russian territory than you have Ukrainian and get things sorted properly, on our terms.
How's that for a negotiating tactic?
If not, Putin definitely has to rush forces there from the already thin lines in Ukraine and around the empire, which in itself will make Ukrainian lands that much easier to take back.
Putin would be damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t, which is really the perfect kind of strategic move whether you’re playing war or chess.
It may seem improbable but then why else would Ukraine be accumulating substantial forces along a border far outside the main conflict zone? (Speaking of assumptions, I based this whole damn article on assuming that's what those big blue arrows in Northern Ukraine mean lol)
It's a gambler's bet for sure but it's one of the only seriously viable moves Ukraine could attempt to end the entire conflict at warp speed.
Stick it to Putin right where it hurts, true Blitzkrieg style.
"Ukraine just declared war on Russia! And it has already captured Belgorod, Kursk and Bryansk and is now threatening Moscow!? Ahhhhh!!!"
The collective heads of Russian milbloggers and tankies everywhere would explode!
The Russian public will revile and it'll be impossible for Putin to find enough makeup for this pig, let alone enough troops to stop a force that is looking at him like the Allies looked at Hitler in the final days of WWII.
Hungry for revenge. Against Putin himself.
How ironic would it be to see Putin as the one fleeing his capital city at the end of all this?
Likely chased out by his own people rather than the Ukrainian military.
Putin f*cked around, is he about to find out?
We can only hope.