"Crimea is a 'red line' for Putin": Dr. Jeremy Morris discusses Ukraine war developments with Wikinews
Tuesday, March 7, 2023
On February 24, the one-year anniversary of the start of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, top European Union foreign policy official Josep Borrell warned of an imminent, "massive" Russian offensive.
Wikinews contacted Dr. Jeremy Morris, Professor of Russian and Balkan Studies at Aarhus University in Aarhus, Denmark, for an interview. His responses last week are below.
In 2014, while affiliated with the University of Birmingham in England, Dr. Morris participated in a panel Wikinews interviewed on the Russian annexation of Crimea. The same year, he was shortlisted for the BBC Radio 4 program Thinking Allowed's Ethnography Award for his 2013 article Beyond coping? Alternatives to consumption within a social network of Russian workers, published in Ethnography.
His books include Everyday Postsocialism: Working-class Life Strategies in the Russian Margins, published in 2016.
Interview with Dr. Morris
Western foreign policy experts have talked much recently of a potential Ukrainian offensive to retake Crimea and whether such could succeed. What do you think?
((Jeremy Morris)) No one knows outside US intelligence because it is unclear how many usable troops Ukrainians can put into an offensive. Many emphasise high Russian losses, but Ukrainian losses are also very high.
((WN)) If you were Ukrainian leadership, what would your plan be for such an offensive? Are there are other regions you would attack first?
((Jeremy Morris)) I would not try to take Crimea before re-taking all of the Donbas. Crimea is easy to defend. Also Crimea is a 'red line' for Putin – an offensive would lead to significant escalation from [the] Russian side.
((WN)) Now, the same for Russia: how would you shore up defenses in the south-Kherson Oblast and Crimea-, while taking care not to leave exposed eastern regions such as the Donetsk and Luhansk?
((Jeremy Morris)) It's hard to imagine how big these fronts are. Until one side can really effectively use combined arms, there won't be a sustained move in lines. It's more about reserves and manpower because any offensive will result in mass casualties, as we've seen already.
((WN)) Do you think the West will donate fighter jets to Ukraine, as the latter has asked?
((Jeremy Morris)) This is probably inevitable, but will lead to escalation on [the] Russian side.
((WN)) Vladimir Putin announced on Tuesday Russia will suspend (but not withdraw from) the New START nuclear control agreement between it and the US. Do you think this is a bluff or a serious decision?
((Jeremy Morris)) It is a serious decision, but one taken from a position of weakness – [the] US can easily 'out-develop' new nuclear delivery vehicles and Russia’s advanced industrial capacity is much more limited than many think.
((WN)) How does the Russian economy look? Have Western sanctions had a tangible impact?
((Jeremy Morris)) On economy – yes, a serious effect on living standards. However, a high intensity [World War I]-style conflict could be sustained for many years by Russia unless Ukraine uses more advanced weapons and tactics.
- "Ukrainian forces continue to push back the Russians" — Wikinews, September 27, 2022
- "Russia launches full-scale invasion against Ukraine" — Wikinews, February 24, 2022
- "Wikinews interviews specialists on Russian intervention in Ukraine" — Wikinews, March 5, 2014
- Elena Giordano. "Russia to launch a massive offensive, warns EU's Borrell" — Politico Europe, February 24, 2023
- Casey Michel. "Here's How Ukraine Could Retake Crimea" — Politico, February 22, 2023
- Rob Garver. "Political Momentum Grows for Sending F-16 Jets to Ukraine" — Voice of America, February 21, 2023
- CBS News, Associated Press. "Putin says Russia suspending participation in New START treaty, last nuclear weapons pact with U.S." — CBS News, February 21, 2023
- Mick Krever, Katharina Krebs. "Former Wagner commander flees to Norway and seeks asylum" — CNN, January 17, 2023
- "Jeremy Morris" — Aarhus University, March 1, 2023 (source accessed)
- "The Ethnography Award Shortlist 2014" — BBC Radio 4, March 1, 2023 (source accessed)