“Full-scale Invasion”

Map of Ukraine, Including Crimea, and Neighbors, Including Russia

Subject: “Full-scale Invasion”
Date: Tue, 30 Jan 2024
From: John Evans <evansinamerica@aol.com>

[John Evans is an American former diplomat who served as United States ambassador to Armenia.]

David, like you, I have been struck by the near-universal adoption of this phrase. I believe its original intent may have been to distinguish the February 2022 events from the earlier 2014 take-over of Crimea and Russian support for the Donbas separatists, but it is misleading. First of all, the current Special Military Operation really is a limited use of Russian might, compared to what a real “full-scale” war would be. If Moscow truly wished to destroy Ukraine, there would be no holds barred. All the bridges in Kiev would be down, along with the glass roof of the parliament that Masha mentions, and much more (think Gaza). Second, the users of the phrase seem to wish to say that wicked Russia is pulling out all the stops, whereas Putin has repeatedly insisted that he does not consider the Ukrainian people an enemy; presumably, especially if it is true that Russia wants to conquer all of Ukraine (which I do not believe), Russia would not want to wreck the whole place. In reality, Putin’s insistence on the terminology SMO is closer to the reality: he wanted to pull off a quick coup de main that would have taken out the current ruling group, but that effort was jinxed in part because of Western intelligence and the downing of the transports that were supposed to have delivered the Russian airborne troops to Hostomel. At this point, the phrase “full-scale invasion” has become a thoughtless reflex, even though it is seriously misleading thousands of readers. And this is happening without the assistance of artificial intelligence.