It is six months since Russia launched its attack on Ukraine. Amongst the anniversary coverage two long reads by the Washington Post are in a league of their own. One, by Shane Harris, Karen deYoung, Isabelle Khurshudvan, Ashley Parker and Liz Slycovers, covers the
Even more sober sources, that also look at both sides of the fence would be advisable, i.e.::
Military Summary:: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCUnc496-PPmFZVKlYxUnToA
Also, there is no mention of the horrendous economic impact of the war and sanctions on the European population at large, with governments preparing for the scenario of mass uprisings and ready made blame - Russian agitation...
Totally delusional. Russia is winning both the military and economic wars with currently one hand tied behind its back. If they ever use both hands that will be the end of NATO and the EU. It will be the end of them in any case.
America’s strategy is working perfectly. The concept of Europe as a superpower Independent of the USA is over and the German/Russian trade relationship has been smashed permanently. This has been a goal of every US administration since the end of the Cold War. Trump enunciated this goal at the UN which made a lot of people angry but was in line with reality.
Pity the hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians dying for this goal.
Yet one more piece spinning the failures of Ukraine and NATO. It would have been smarter to take this from a world view, that of Russia and 80% of the world's populace who see this "prolonged war" strategy by Putin to do just what he has done... expose the US for the aggression it has, the bullying, the weaponizing of the dollar, freezing of assets and the forcing of all nations to take on additional inflation, while losing normal trade.
Putin is winning this on and off the battlefield. America is on borrowed time and "borrowed" is the perfect word. Zelenskyy is selling land to stuff more money in his pocket beofre his exit. Europe is the land of fools and the world sees it. The energy policy has reverted to coal , oil and gas... new fields being developed everywhere. People want to trade without having the dollar make them insolvent. China certainly is going to act in a very measured way after Taiwan and our Congress soiree. Best of all, Russians have but a decade to see the country start making extreme revenue thru shipping lanes and resource development. It's game over for the west, folks. And that also is of benefit as conflict will reduce once America is more of a regional power. Who doesn't want peace? Just the Americans and Brits.
There doesn't seem to be many here who believe in Ukraine's prospects, I will put it out there that I think they will win and that this analysis is unduly pessimistic.
Russia has captured next to none of the currently occupied territory through actual combat. The only major gains in the South were due to treachery and spycraft, which they cannot hope to repeat. And while the Russians do have a preponderance of materiel, their extremely top heavy logistics are also their downfall. In the North, without rail lines they failed spectacularly when forced to supply by trucks. Now in the South, Ukraine has succeeded in drawing Russian forces over the Dnipro to the Kherson region. This is only accessible by three crossings, two bridges and the dam, each of which Ukraine has been subjecting to continual HIMARs bombardment. So essentially at the cost of nothing but words, Ukraine has succeeded in either rendering strategically ineffective, or even vulnerable to encirclement, 15 more Russian Battalion Tactical Groups. Russian attempts to supply the region with pontoon crossings will be just as vulnerable, if not much more, and critically will not carry Russia's most important resource: railroads.
Russia still supplies their armies in pretty much the same way as 1914. Not only do the vast majority of supplies have to come by rail, but they don't even use modern containerization, or even pallets and forklifts! To bring in the supposed 60,000 shells Russia is firing a day, to make up for their lack of infantry combat ability, they have to have an army of people unloading thousands of crates by hand, and placing them into trucks. They then have been storing these in massive open air ammo depots, which for the last two months Ukraine has been blowing up with HIMARs with complete impunity. So even if Russia has 10's of millions more 152 mm shells in long term storage (which is doubtful), they will not be able to actually supply to them to the front anywhere indefinitely, because whenever they come within 40 miles of the front, it is not long before they are targeted. It is anyones guess how long these continual massive ammo detonations can go on, but at the very least they represent a strong deterrent to Russian grunts for being anywhere near ammo, which is not conducive towards effective military function.
So yes, Ukraine faces some stiff odds, but I don't think this report has done a sufficiently full accounting of the odds in their favor. The strategic map doesn't look so hopeless, nor is the Russian mass of artillery going unanswered. And while Putin has amply shown by his inaction that he doesn't believe the apathetic Russian public will accept full mobilization, Ukrainians have shown that a civilian economy in tatters will not stop them so long as they have bullets, food, and water. I think the morale is less Afghan National Army, and more Vietcong.
A NATO-Russia war is not in the cards. The alliance is already breaking down and winter will sober the EU and NATO. The US is not the “cock of the walk” that it once was. And it’s not, as the hawks cry out, because it lacks the will to go to war. The problem for the US is that post-Afghanistan, post-Iraq and I would even say post-Vietnam and post 9/11–the US can crow but it does rule the barn yard like it used to. If it went into outright war with Russia, that would bring in China.
The US would probably fare about as spectacularly well as it did in Iraq and Afghanistan and it would be devastating for the economies of all countries involved. The hawks are super excited to confront Russia (and beat Putin) as well as China. Biden would probably like that too. But some nagging voice is saying “might be a good idea to put a second or two more between thought and trigger”.
The weakening of the US empire is pretty obvious if one is honest enough to take a thoughtful look. Lots of weapons and still considerable financial dominance—thus the emphasis in weapons supply and financial “weapons” among the alliance against Russia.
But all empires come to an end, though extremely few realize it at the time. Remember the British Empire? Maybe better to just keep a less overt role than risk a gigantic failed military confrontation.
Russia’s calculation that the US is in a weakened position due to a series of war malfunctions may have been a cold Machiavellian appraisal by an insane megalomaniac, but it could also be shrewdly astute. He’s not winning, which is far better than some other possible outcomes.
Another element of the long game Putin is playing is the impact of the winter months on Europe, as well as Ukraine. How well will the European unity hold when the temperatures drop due to Natural gas cutbacks? And how will the Ukrainians respond to a winter where so many homes are damaged and unable to hold warmth?
Ukraine's allies need to get their shit together.
I am reminded of an old Kissinger quotation: "To be an enemy of America can be dangerous, but to be a friend is fatal."
Thanks for this excellent and balanced summary! Rare to find these days. Next would be constructive discussion of what a negotiated settlement could look like; lay out the various options and force a discussion about realistic terms before winter (and no more visits to Kiev by BoJo)
Biden has been timid - Russia is not going to use nuclear weapons, any leader who orders their first use will have their name up there with Hitler. Fears of escalation are over-rated and NATO has a 3-4 to 1 advantage except in tanks and artillery.
Biden blew it in Afghanistan - sadly billions worth of armamants are stranded there too. Bu The botched withdrawal there means Biden is not going to risk escalation before the November midterms.
NATO has fractures - Italy and Hungary, and even Germany, are wadffling or not fully on board.
What Biden needs to do is to assemble a "coalition of the willing" to quickly provide support to Ukraine - to be announced right after the midterms.
Putin is likely to tough this out - Ukraine is 1/4 their size and the war is on their turf and they cannot last too long before they will have to consider massive concessions. The US needs to speed up the conflict - even if it means US jets and troops are sent, or threatened if it does not end soon.
Instead of Kherson, Ukraine should be attacking towards Melitopol towards Crimea.
Ultimately Ukraine will have to concede much of Donbas and Luhansk - but Ukraine can only have peace if it joins NATO or at least has US troops and bases to ensure it is never again attacked.
A war of attrition will still be a victory for Putin and lead to Zelensky being seen as having failed.
Worse, if Trump, or even DeSantis, wins in 2024, it is game over for Ukraine. Biden needs to be aggressive in the 12 months after the midterms to get this done and over with in a way that sees Putin pushed back at least to the january lines, if not farther. Sadly he doesn't seem to have the guts or boldness - remember he was the one who didn't agree with the mission to kill Bin Laden and he has often made bad decisions. He is no Harry Truman or even JFK.
Just wait for winter.
The Ukrainian military and political leadership had been able turn the tide around and inflict devastating strategic losses on the Russian military. The Ukrainian military was able to quickly acquire the knowledge and expertise of the NATO & Western military equipment & weaponry in a very short timeframe and effectively use it against the Russian forces. The results are impressive and visible: Within days the Ukrainians will be able to take over Lyman and further penetrate the Lugansk/Donbass southern frontlines. Strategically this is a very important move. However, will Putin who feels cornered with his military failures use the tactical (smaller scale) nuclear weapons to change the course of the war? With the sham & fraudulent referendums it feels like Putin is all in… In addition, with forced mobilization of Russians it feels like Putin is playing this game with the usual Russian military playbook he utilized in Georgia, Chechnya, Crimea and Syria: win the war by spilling more civilian blood, inflict more civilian terror, rapes, murder of civilians and keep committing more war crimes to further inflict more fear and terror.
At this point the NATO nations should issue more direct and stricter threats against Putin and even consider closing the borders to the Russians who are escaping the country. These same people, the vast majority of them (75%-80%) supported Putin’s bloodshed and war vs Ukraine and now they also need to held responsible. They need to stay in Russia and protest there against Putin regime and not simply escape and claim refugee status, when they absolutely do not deserve it.
This war will end within few months or a year at maximum, however it might be possible that Putin feeling cornered utilizes the tactical nukes (vs strategic). This will be the last and final nails to his coffin and this will forever destroy Russia as a country. If Putin makes this strategic mistake, there will be no more Russia and instead of it we will have 10+ more independent republics. And maybe this is the best outcome for the world peace and long-term stability on the Eurasian continent?
This "analyse" from Tom Cooper is also very interesting food for thought regarding the Western view onto this conflict.
This feels a lot like WWI. A bunch of people hunkered down and unwilling to advance into artillery fire. It's very easy to draw parallels to the schliefan plan, race to the sea, and now stalemate.
And those were young virulent societies. Not depressed old soviet shitholes. Who the hell is going to go over the top for either side?
The blockade took years to weaken Germany, and it didn't have the equivalent of the CCP to supply it.
Why are we doing this? Can't we just divide Ukraine on ethnic lines and move on? That basically looks like the frontline anyway, and people would probably be happy about it once they got over their bullshit.
another well balanced piece and helps us realize that the narrative is just a concoction of propaganda and dreamed outcomes.The fact is Putin has much better sanctions and the most capable central banker in Elvira mistress of the dark---Russia cuts interest rates and the Rouble remains strong---hmmmm