X Close

Why no one can end the Ukraine war Five hundred days in, both sides are caught in the same paradox

Rumbling on and on. (Muhammed Enes Yildirim/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Rumbling on and on. (Muhammed Enes Yildirim/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)


July 7, 2023   6 mins

At an otherwise newsy event last month, Jens Stoltenberg, the Nato chief, made a low-key administrative announcement: “We are working on a multi-year package with substantial funding
”

Not the stuff of headlines, but a rather sobering admission that, as the war approaches its 500th day tomorrow, there is no end in sight. Not this year, or next year or the year after. That should be deeply concerning, especially because, contrary to received wisdom, all those who really matter — the Ukrainians, Russians and the Americans — are actually trying very hard to end it.

For it is not true, contra widely held opinion, that Zelenskyy wants the world to support him forever as he completes a full Reconquista — including Crimea. His current offensive — the push towards the Black Sea to cut off Russian forces further west – is a clear demonstration of this. It was deliberately calculated to push Moscow to the negotiating table or risk losing tens of thousands of soldiers to captivity or death.

But Zelenskyy has consistently refused to spell out the fact that he has a “limited aim” of reaching a negotiated peace without Crimea. And he has done so for both military and personal reasons.

The military reason is straightforward and common to every war: to advance at all, Ukrainians on the front line cannot fight in a “limited” way. They must believe that their absolute commitment and self-sacrifice can end the war in victory.

The personal reason is that Zelenskyy is a Jew, as is his defence minister, Oleksii Resnikov. And like the countless Jews who fought for their countries up and down Europe in the last century, the pair remain suspect in the eyes of the Ukrainian ultra-nationalists who are commonly antisemitic.

It is, for them, no small irony that Ukraine should be led in its struggle for existence by two Jews since its founding hero, Bohdan Khmelnytsky, was Hitler’s only predecessor as a genocidally-antisemitic national leader; but instead of opprobrium, he has a city, a region, countless streets and Zelenskyy’s own Presidential Guard brigade named after him. Given the nationalists’ bigoted mistrust of the president, in spite of his stellar leadership from the first night of war, he cannot be seen to be a compromiser.

But, that’s just the subtext. Like everybody else who matters, Zelenskyy knows only too well that the war must end in a negotiation because nobody is going to march on Moscow to force the Russians to surrender. Talk of “regime change” may offer a seductive promise for some, but it mostly demonstrates a feckless over-optimism about its feasibility, while also ignoring the likelihood that Putin’s replacement will promise not peace but a more effectively prosecuted war. Prigozhin was applauded so enthusiastically in Rostov precisely because he called to fire the losers still charge; the Russians want generals who can march to Kyiv as Zhukov marched to Berlin in 1945. But that the Russians can keep on bombing Ukraine’s cities day after day, however sporadically and uselessly, is one more incentive for a ceasefire that will not be delayed by any dreams of Crimea.

Right now, Ukraine’s forces lack the power for a rapid march to the sea and suffer from equipment shortcomings. After finally obtaining German Leopard tanks, it turns out that Russia’s Kornet anti-tank missiles are truly excellent: neither the Leopards in the field nor the M.1 tanks promised by the US will do well against them. But even if this offensive cannot be truly successful, Ukraine’s strength is clearly rising which should be enough to push Russia to the negotiating table. For, just as Zelenskyy is wrongly accused of refusing a ceasefire because he wants too much, so, too, is Putin.

Yes, it is perfectly true Putin started the war determined to conquer Ukraine in less than a week, armed with the marvellously advanced “post-kinetic” war plan — all the rage in the US too —devised by his military chief, Valery Gerasimov. But from the bitter February morning when Putin discovered that Gerasimov and his FSB internal-intelligence chief — along with US, French and German intelligence — were utterly wrong, Putin has refused both of the alternatives available to him. The first was what to do what many believe he did last year: decide to fight in earnest. For that he would have had to declare war, and mobilise his two million reservists to invade with overwhelming military force, as opposed to Gerasimov’s for-show-only advance of 150,000 (including field dentists).

So why didn’t he? Certainly not because he feared nuclear retaliation — Chancellor Olaf Scholz had just declared that Germany would not even delay the planned opening of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline if Ukraine were invaded, let alone support Nato nuclear retaliation with the bombs stored on German soil. And Washington gave up long ago on “extended deterrence”, whereby nuclear weapons would be used in response to conventional attacks against US allies, let alone non-ally Ukraine.

But Putin did fear something just as powerful. Every Russian army unit, except for the fully professional airborne forces, includes 18- and 19-year-old conscripts, whose mothers would swiftly take to the streets across Russia and flood Red Square to vehemently protest if there were any more than a handful of casualties. Modern Russia is just as “post-Heroic” as any other low-fertility country where there are no spare male children to sacrifice for the nation’s glory (China has fewer than most). And Putin was not about to declare war and have his police battle Russia’s mothers. He not only refused to mobilise the Russian armed forces, he even banned the word “war” (ĐČĐŸĐčĐœĐ°, or voyna) from all official communications.

But neither would Putin just call it all off, blame the Kyiv assault on “neo-Nazi” provocations and quickly retreat. So instead of all-out war or no war, Putin has persisted with his “special military operation”, revealing in the process to the entire world that Russia does have something that no other country still has: full self-sufficiency. Unlike China, the Russian Federation is autarkic in food and fuel, and manufactures all that is needed to sustain its armed forces and civilian population on a war footing, even if they are short of a few luxuries. So all Putin needed to keep fighting till his enemies lost patience was manpower, and to keep his conscripts out of combat.

He also has roubles — which he is wielding. Right now, joining the Russian army earns one a â‚œ600,000 sign-up bonus, â‚œ204,000 a month ($2,296 today), and stellar death benefits: â‚œ5,000,000 from the President himself an additional 2-3 million from the regional government and a monthly widow’s pension of â‚œ25,000 a month. Enough have joined to provide the forces that dug and fortified the long trench lines now holding up Ukraine’s offensive, along with almost 200,000 of the recalled reservists, who get the same pay and benefits.

And there are still more newly enrolled Russian troops in the east, and in the formerly independent state of Belarus (the country that, in all but name, Putin did conquer last year). But while Putin could keep up a war of low-level attrition for a while, it cannot lead to victory. And now he has Elvira Nabiullina to contend with.

Nabiullina is the formidable head of Russia’s Central Bank. Already very highly respected before the war, she is now the hero of Russian public finance for having successfully controlled inflation — better, in fact, than the Bank of England or the US Federal Reserve. The word is that she is tapering the printing of roubles, not for fear of a greater national debt (Russia’s is much lower than that of the US or UK) but of inflation. For Putin, too, that is a greater threat than anything his troops can encounter on the battlefield. Inflation will quickly drown Russia’s poor, many of whom are scattered across the endless steppe of Russia with very few opportunities to earn their way around rising prices.

These Russians also happen to be Putin’s firmest supporters. That is why unmistakable signals have issued from the Kremlin that Putin is finally ready to consider a compromise. The final party longing for an end to the debacle is the US. Last week, CIA head William J. Burns hurriedly called his Kremlin counterpart, Sergey Yevgenyevich Naryshkin, to reassure him that the US had nothing to do with Prigozhin’s march to Moscow. That phone call is as good as evidence as any that, contrary to foolish Leftist fantasies, the Biden administration (fully backed by most Republicans) does not want Russia destabilised by this war. For it knows only too well that Russian power alone keeps the Chinese from absorbing the vast spaces of Mongolia, Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan — and that Russian weapons still flow to the only countries that actually fight the Chinese in recurring incidents: India on land and Vietnam at sea.

So here’s our paradox. Even though all three key parties want to end the war, the fighting still continues. Why? Because of a virtue that is also a sin. The Ukraine war is not an all-out war like the First or Second World Wars. It is a “limited war”, with US and Russian embassies still functioning in Moscow and Washington, US and Russian astronauts sharing space capsules, concerned phone calls by the CIA director when Moscow is briefly in turmoil. It is bound by reciprocal restraint. The Russians do not attack US aircraft and vessels bringing weapons to their enemy, the Americans do not supply weapons to Ukraine that can attack Russian cities. Putin himself has silenced threats of nuclear attacks by Russian hotheads, declaring that he would only use nuclear weapons if Russia were faced with imminent destruction — that is, inevitably, nuclear destruction.

In other words, the good news is that the Ukraine war is, a polite, “limited war”, just like those of the 18th century that were later envied in the terrible 20th century of all-out, unlimited wars. But the bad news is that as long as only the Ukrainians are under fire, none of the other protagonists has an impellent reason to end the fighting. So like the 18th-century Seven Years’ War, it risks dragging on for at least another 500 days.


Professor Edward Luttwak is a strategist and historian known for his works on grand strategy, geoeconomics, military history, and international relations.

ELuttwak

Join the discussion


Join like minded readers that support our journalism by becoming a paid subscriber


To join the discussion in the comments, become a paid subscriber.

Join like minded readers that support our journalism, read unlimited articles and enjoy other subscriber-only benefits.

Subscribe
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

57 Comments
Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Andrew Horsman
Andrew Horsman
10 months ago

Can someone please send a memo to all those blue-and-yellow-flag-flying English parish and district councils to let them know that their virtue signalling is now complete; that a negotiated peace is better than war; and that, in the real world of geopolitics, there are no “goodies” and “baddies”, just competing empires and corporate interests making out like bandits from an unwinnable war in which thousands of innocent people continue to suffer and die each day it goes on?

martin logan
martin logan
10 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Horsman

But looks like this coalition of “corporate interests” is a little larger than Russia’s.
I guess if the world is just a mass of undifferentiated incomprehensability, though, it really doesn’t matter.
Does it?

Ruth Holroyd
Ruth Holroyd
10 months ago
Reply to  martin logan

One BIG factor missing from the above. Ukraine hasn’t got an unlimited supply of troops. Unherd has another article from the Ukraine front line – ‘Dodging shells on Ukraine’s eastern front
and in this a front line commander explains how the quality of his replacement troops is falling as is there commitment. (He also wonders why his unit isn’t getting the smart new kit). So at what point do Ukrainian mothers start complaining that their sons shouldn’t be on the front line?
Ukraine is now the attacker and as even the US Generals admit, attackers are at a disadvantage, losses expected are 3 attackers to every 1 defender. I would imagine that may even be on the ‘optimistic side’. So is the West happy to fight to the last Ukrainian when basically this is a war over Soviet drawn borders in a post Soviet world. That NATO/US/EU exploited those facts is also a fact, and the serious literature (not most of the MSM) has acknowledged that for years. Many years even before 2014 and the NATO/US inspired coup in Ukraine that effectively started this ‘war’. Russia will not lose, everyone knows that if for no other reason than the US needing a Russia capable IF it ever happens, to hold a line against China. Though given the demographics of China as it stands, that is increasingly less likely despite the apparent attempt of Xi to become the new Mao.
Perhaps another winter, but colder will be the catalyst for peace as Germany, the paymaster of Europe discovers if closing 3 nuclear power plants after one of the warmest winters on record, and during which they still needed to buy up every available therm of LNG they could at prices that send Pakistan, Indonesia and others scrambling for coal as they couldn’t afford gas.
It would seem Putin isn’t a daft as the West paints him, as the West commits economic suicide with Net Zero. In fact read the BBC article by Shell’s boss. The people who rule us truly are incompetent morons IF they ignore Shell, and Putin’s smile will grow broader IF they do.

martin logan
martin logan
10 months ago
Reply to  Ruth Holroyd

Rather amusing. Nice try!
A few facts:
–3-1 counts–on a particular part of the front. You don’t have to have 3-1 everywhere.
–Ukraine has about the same population as France in WW1, and, like France has gone for total mobilization. Putin cannot and will not do that. His power rests on the fact that the Russian people are not affected by his foreign policy actions. As Luttwak rightly notes, he will never call for a total draft.
–Even Russia’s arms industry was geared to a gradual build up of its weapons. It cannot replace the thousands lost in the war. And since the only tanks left are T-55s, the thousands of MBTs in Western inventories can be sent as needed.
–As to Net Zero. In a few years you will be complaining about short-sighted politicians who didn’t heed the warnings
Because it’s never your fault.

Stephen Chandler
Stephen Chandler
2 months ago
Reply to  Ruth Holroyd

It is distressing to recognize the ongoing conflict in Ukraine and the challenges associated with efforts to end it. This article provides a sobering analysis of the situation, highlighting the challenges facing those seeking solutions. In such conflicts, understanding the tactical advantages gained from technologies such as night vision becomes imperative. The study described in the article https://www.agmglobalvision.com/the-role-of-night-vision-in-military-conflicts-2 the role of night vision in military conflicts sheds light on how technological advances can affect the dynamics of combat actions. By recognizing the strategic importance of tools such as night vision, we gain a deeper understanding of the complexities associated with modern warfare. As we continue to grapple with the complexities of conflicts like Ukraine, understanding military technology is critical to shaping informed debate and strategies for achieving peace.

martin logan
martin logan
10 months ago
Reply to  Ruth Holroyd

Rather amusing. Nice try!
A few facts:
–3-1 counts–on a particular part of the front. You don’t have to have 3-1 everywhere.
–Ukraine has about the same population as France in WW1, and, like France has gone for total mobilization. Putin cannot and will not do that. His power rests on the fact that the Russian people are not affected by his foreign policy actions. As Luttwak rightly notes, he will never call for a total draft.
–Even Russia’s arms industry was geared to a gradual build up of its weapons. It cannot replace the thousands lost in the war. And since the only tanks left are T-55s, the thousands of MBTs in Western inventories can be sent as needed.
–As to Net Zero. In a few years you will be complaining about short-sighted politicians who didn’t heed the warnings
Because it’s never your fault.

Stephen Chandler
Stephen Chandler
2 months ago
Reply to  Ruth Holroyd

It is distressing to recognize the ongoing conflict in Ukraine and the challenges associated with efforts to end it. This article provides a sobering analysis of the situation, highlighting the challenges facing those seeking solutions. In such conflicts, understanding the tactical advantages gained from technologies such as night vision becomes imperative. The study described in the article https://www.agmglobalvision.com/the-role-of-night-vision-in-military-conflicts-2 the role of night vision in military conflicts sheds light on how technological advances can affect the dynamics of combat actions. By recognizing the strategic importance of tools such as night vision, we gain a deeper understanding of the complexities associated with modern warfare. As we continue to grapple with the complexities of conflicts like Ukraine, understanding military technology is critical to shaping informed debate and strategies for achieving peace.

Ruth Holroyd
Ruth Holroyd
10 months ago
Reply to  martin logan

One BIG factor missing from the above. Ukraine hasn’t got an unlimited supply of troops. Unherd has another article from the Ukraine front line – ‘Dodging shells on Ukraine’s eastern front
and in this a front line commander explains how the quality of his replacement troops is falling as is there commitment. (He also wonders why his unit isn’t getting the smart new kit). So at what point do Ukrainian mothers start complaining that their sons shouldn’t be on the front line?
Ukraine is now the attacker and as even the US Generals admit, attackers are at a disadvantage, losses expected are 3 attackers to every 1 defender. I would imagine that may even be on the ‘optimistic side’. So is the West happy to fight to the last Ukrainian when basically this is a war over Soviet drawn borders in a post Soviet world. That NATO/US/EU exploited those facts is also a fact, and the serious literature (not most of the MSM) has acknowledged that for years. Many years even before 2014 and the NATO/US inspired coup in Ukraine that effectively started this ‘war’. Russia will not lose, everyone knows that if for no other reason than the US needing a Russia capable IF it ever happens, to hold a line against China. Though given the demographics of China as it stands, that is increasingly less likely despite the apparent attempt of Xi to become the new Mao.
Perhaps another winter, but colder will be the catalyst for peace as Germany, the paymaster of Europe discovers if closing 3 nuclear power plants after one of the warmest winters on record, and during which they still needed to buy up every available therm of LNG they could at prices that send Pakistan, Indonesia and others scrambling for coal as they couldn’t afford gas.
It would seem Putin isn’t a daft as the West paints him, as the West commits economic suicide with Net Zero. In fact read the BBC article by Shell’s boss. The people who rule us truly are incompetent morons IF they ignore Shell, and Putin’s smile will grow broader IF they do.

Michael F
Michael F
10 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Horsman

As someone who sponsored, I can safely say that not every Ukrainian flag was flown by virtue-signallers. Most of us were just happy to help fellow Europeans in need of homes. But we did this for them, and we have to respect their views on this war. Any compromise has to be for the Ukrainians to accept rather than for us to mandate because we can.

Dominic S
Dominic S
10 months ago
Reply to  Michael F

Sometimes people get so blinkered they have to be forced into a peaceful settlement.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
10 months ago
Reply to  Dominic S

You are the person who is blinkered. There is no ‘peaceful settlement’ while Putin controls Russian Media and broadcasts endless lies about NATO, Nazis and Ukraine. He can’t be rewarded for mass murder and a massive land grab let alone for his War Crimes. Either you work for one of his propaganda units or if you really are American, you are the most blinkered person posting in this forum.

Kat L
Kat L
10 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

This whole thing is not our business nor is it the responsibility of my children to pay off the massive debt accrued for it. It’s utterly ridiculous that this has gone on as long as it has.

Kat L
Kat L
10 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

This whole thing is not our business nor is it the responsibility of my children to pay off the massive debt accrued for it. It’s utterly ridiculous that this has gone on as long as it has.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
10 months ago
Reply to  Dominic S

You are the person who is blinkered. There is no ‘peaceful settlement’ while Putin controls Russian Media and broadcasts endless lies about NATO, Nazis and Ukraine. He can’t be rewarded for mass murder and a massive land grab let alone for his War Crimes. Either you work for one of his propaganda units or if you really are American, you are the most blinkered person posting in this forum.

Andrew Horsman
Andrew Horsman
10 months ago
Reply to  Michael F

Good on you, Michael, for opening up your home to people in need. To be clear, I wasn’t criticising you, or disrespecting anyone’s opinions. If our country had been illegally invaded, I’d have some pretty strong views about that, too. What I am criticising, though, are people – especially in positions of minuscule authority (your local parish councils, for example) – who think it is costless to signal support for one side in a war when actually what they should, in my view, be doing is providing actual local leadership by being resolutely and courageously in favour of peace and reconciliation rather than simply swallowing the pro-war propaganda. Or, if they don’t understand the complex ethno-historical-cultural-political realities surrounding the complex situation, at least simply staying well away from it all. I just think it is time to put those flags down now, please; and to perform any laudable acts of charity to strangers fully in private.

Dominic S
Dominic S
10 months ago
Reply to  Michael F

Sometimes people get so blinkered they have to be forced into a peaceful settlement.

Andrew Horsman
Andrew Horsman
10 months ago
Reply to  Michael F

Good on you, Michael, for opening up your home to people in need. To be clear, I wasn’t criticising you, or disrespecting anyone’s opinions. If our country had been illegally invaded, I’d have some pretty strong views about that, too. What I am criticising, though, are people – especially in positions of minuscule authority (your local parish councils, for example) – who think it is costless to signal support for one side in a war when actually what they should, in my view, be doing is providing actual local leadership by being resolutely and courageously in favour of peace and reconciliation rather than simply swallowing the pro-war propaganda. Or, if they don’t understand the complex ethno-historical-cultural-political realities surrounding the complex situation, at least simply staying well away from it all. I just think it is time to put those flags down now, please; and to perform any laudable acts of charity to strangers fully in private.

Dominic S
Dominic S
10 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Horsman

That’s been the case since before it began – if proper discussion of the matters at hand had taken place in the 1990s Russia and Ukraine (note their constant arbitrary attacks on Donbass since 2014) would never have been able to get dragged into this pointless and devastating war.

martin logan
martin logan
10 months ago
Reply to  Dominic S

Note the constant arbitrary attacks on Ukraine since 2014.
And Russia didn’t get “dragged in.” It did something idiotic and “invaded.”
Or do you seriously still think Putin’s attack was a master stroke?

martin logan
martin logan
10 months ago
Reply to  Dominic S

Note the constant arbitrary attacks on Ukraine since 2014.
And Russia didn’t get “dragged in.” It did something idiotic and “invaded.”
Or do you seriously still think Putin’s attack was a master stroke?

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
10 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Horsman

Ukraine isn’t an empire while Russia arguably is, and certainly has aspirations to become one again. You obviously didn’t read the article very closely; you seem to consider ending the war is in the easy gift of only one side in the conflict, and the one at that which has lost swathes of territory and terrible destruction because of an unprovoked aggression. Now why didn’t Churchill think of your brilliant solution? (Or for that matter the US in 1940-1 which provided desperately needed weaponry to Great Britain, as it is doing for Ukraine today.

Anna Bramwell
Anna Bramwell
10 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

Ukraine acquired vast amounts of Polish and to a lesser extent Hungarian territory at the end of a war where for three years they were a German controlled state run by nationalist hero Stefan Bandera. It is a multi cultural state. Every time I read about the beauty of Lvov/Lviv I remember why it is beautiful
..

Anna Bramwell
Anna Bramwell
10 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

Ukraine acquired vast amounts of Polish and to a lesser extent Hungarian territory at the end of a war where for three years they were a German controlled state run by nationalist hero Stefan Bandera. It is a multi cultural state. Every time I read about the beauty of Lvov/Lviv I remember why it is beautiful
..

Andrew Boughton
Andrew Boughton
10 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Horsman

Where is the considered, informed, talented peace movement of a century ago?

Stephen Chandler
Stephen Chandler
2 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Horsman

It is distressing to recognize the ongoing conflict in Ukraine and the challenges associated with efforts to end it. This article provides a sobering analysis of the situation, highlighting the challenges facing those seeking solutions. In such conflicts, understanding the tactical advantages gained from technologies such as night vision becomes imperative. The research described in article https://www.agmglobalvision.com/the-role-of-night-vision-in-military-conflicts-2 on the role of night vision in military conflict sheds light on how technological advances can affect the dynamics of combat. By recognizing the strategic importance of tools such as night vision, we gain a deeper understanding of the complexities associated with modern warfare. As we continue to grapple with the complexities of conflicts like Ukraine, understanding military technology is critical to shaping informed debate and strategies for achieving peace.

martin logan
martin logan
10 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Horsman

But looks like this coalition of “corporate interests” is a little larger than Russia’s.
I guess if the world is just a mass of undifferentiated incomprehensability, though, it really doesn’t matter.
Does it?

Michael F
Michael F
10 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Horsman

As someone who sponsored, I can safely say that not every Ukrainian flag was flown by virtue-signallers. Most of us were just happy to help fellow Europeans in need of homes. But we did this for them, and we have to respect their views on this war. Any compromise has to be for the Ukrainians to accept rather than for us to mandate because we can.

Dominic S
Dominic S
10 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Horsman

That’s been the case since before it began – if proper discussion of the matters at hand had taken place in the 1990s Russia and Ukraine (note their constant arbitrary attacks on Donbass since 2014) would never have been able to get dragged into this pointless and devastating war.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
10 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Horsman

Ukraine isn’t an empire while Russia arguably is, and certainly has aspirations to become one again. You obviously didn’t read the article very closely; you seem to consider ending the war is in the easy gift of only one side in the conflict, and the one at that which has lost swathes of territory and terrible destruction because of an unprovoked aggression. Now why didn’t Churchill think of your brilliant solution? (Or for that matter the US in 1940-1 which provided desperately needed weaponry to Great Britain, as it is doing for Ukraine today.

Andrew Boughton
Andrew Boughton
10 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Horsman

Where is the considered, informed, talented peace movement of a century ago?

Stephen Chandler
Stephen Chandler
2 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Horsman

It is distressing to recognize the ongoing conflict in Ukraine and the challenges associated with efforts to end it. This article provides a sobering analysis of the situation, highlighting the challenges facing those seeking solutions. In such conflicts, understanding the tactical advantages gained from technologies such as night vision becomes imperative. The research described in article https://www.agmglobalvision.com/the-role-of-night-vision-in-military-conflicts-2 on the role of night vision in military conflict sheds light on how technological advances can affect the dynamics of combat. By recognizing the strategic importance of tools such as night vision, we gain a deeper understanding of the complexities associated with modern warfare. As we continue to grapple with the complexities of conflicts like Ukraine, understanding military technology is critical to shaping informed debate and strategies for achieving peace.

Andrew Horsman
Andrew Horsman
10 months ago

Can someone please send a memo to all those blue-and-yellow-flag-flying English parish and district councils to let them know that their virtue signalling is now complete; that a negotiated peace is better than war; and that, in the real world of geopolitics, there are no “goodies” and “baddies”, just competing empires and corporate interests making out like bandits from an unwinnable war in which thousands of innocent people continue to suffer and die each day it goes on?

J Guy
J Guy
10 months ago

Another excellent analysis, even if it is somewhat depressing


Dominic S
Dominic S
10 months ago
Reply to  J Guy

Except it seems clear that the Americans have no genuine desire to end it – their military supplies industry is making a mint out of it, and a while back they sent Boris over to ensure that peace talks were scuppered.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
10 months ago
Reply to  Dominic S

Only Putin’s propaganda units say that about Boris. It’s entirely untrue and you are trying to cause dissent among NATO allies. There was NO possibility of peace as Putin has been actively planning the invasion and occupation of Ukraine since 2018.

Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
10 months ago
Reply to  Dominic S

Nonsense. The US arms industry is a minute fraction of the US economy. What the war has revealed is a stark realization of the inability to ramp production quickly. The years of peace have reduced a capability that may be needed. The portion of GDP allocated for the military has been declining for a long time.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
10 months ago
Reply to  Dominic S

“It seems clear” to the usual Anti- American rabble, whose ‘analyses’ are full of glaring contradictions.

The support to Ukraine is costing billions of dollars – this is of course the usual reason given for excoriating the US, which has been, for all its faults, pretty much the only obstacle to Russia indeed conquering Ukraine in short order.

But now, apparently, it is isn’t even costing them! Your comment is entirely the wrong way round – the supplies are costing the US taxpayer – unless they are to be completely depleted. Contrary to ‘Leftist fantasies’ the ‘military-industrial’ complex, while no doubt a powerful lobby, does not run the United States, and Joe Biden or whoever replaces him will be elected (or not) by the American people, who are notably not keen on foreign adventures or spending, any future Republican administration probably even less so.

andrew.iddon
andrew.iddon
10 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

Taxpayer debts are MIC profits – they have inverse rewards

andrew.iddon
andrew.iddon
10 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

Taxpayer debts are MIC profits – they have inverse rewards

Brian Cashman
Brian Cashman
10 months ago
Reply to  Dominic S

And not only that but as Ukrainian infrastructure gets destroyed American companies are waiting for the inevitable billions of foreign aid to be used to rebuild.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
10 months ago
Reply to  Dominic S

Only Putin’s propaganda units say that about Boris. It’s entirely untrue and you are trying to cause dissent among NATO allies. There was NO possibility of peace as Putin has been actively planning the invasion and occupation of Ukraine since 2018.

Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
10 months ago
Reply to  Dominic S

Nonsense. The US arms industry is a minute fraction of the US economy. What the war has revealed is a stark realization of the inability to ramp production quickly. The years of peace have reduced a capability that may be needed. The portion of GDP allocated for the military has been declining for a long time.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
10 months ago
Reply to  Dominic S

“It seems clear” to the usual Anti- American rabble, whose ‘analyses’ are full of glaring contradictions.

The support to Ukraine is costing billions of dollars – this is of course the usual reason given for excoriating the US, which has been, for all its faults, pretty much the only obstacle to Russia indeed conquering Ukraine in short order.

But now, apparently, it is isn’t even costing them! Your comment is entirely the wrong way round – the supplies are costing the US taxpayer – unless they are to be completely depleted. Contrary to ‘Leftist fantasies’ the ‘military-industrial’ complex, while no doubt a powerful lobby, does not run the United States, and Joe Biden or whoever replaces him will be elected (or not) by the American people, who are notably not keen on foreign adventures or spending, any future Republican administration probably even less so.

Brian Cashman
Brian Cashman
10 months ago
Reply to  Dominic S

And not only that but as Ukrainian infrastructure gets destroyed American companies are waiting for the inevitable billions of foreign aid to be used to rebuild.

Dominic S
Dominic S
10 months ago
Reply to  J Guy

Except it seems clear that the Americans have no genuine desire to end it – their military supplies industry is making a mint out of it, and a while back they sent Boris over to ensure that peace talks were scuppered.

J Guy
J Guy
10 months ago

Another excellent analysis, even if it is somewhat depressing


Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
10 months ago

OK, got the body armour on, here it comes:
Probably the only man on earth who can end this war is Donald Trump. Or possibly RFK.

Everyone knows what the end looks like: Russia gets Crimea and a land corridor to guarantee the water supply.

Why waste tens of thousands more lives getting there? Well, for the Washington and Wall St establishments the answer is obvious: money.

War, and particularly this war, as we’ve seen with the Bidens and FTX, is the best way they have to transfer taxpayers’ money into their own bank accounts. Billions at a time.

That’s why it will take an outsider in the White House to end it.

martin logan
martin logan
10 months ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

The “land corridor” seems to getting ever smaller. And filled with exploding ammo dumps.
Looks like folks in Crimea may be a bit thirsty for teh next, oh I don’t know, 60 years.
But if it does still come about, will if be more than 6 meters wide?

P Branagan
P Branagan
10 months ago
Reply to  martin logan

Herr Professor Logan – you’re a bit of a waffler. Just shut up and stop writing garbage.
You badly need about 12 months contemplative silence and fasting – after which you might realise it’s nearly always better not to show your ignorance.
Silence is golden and all that……

P Branagan
P Branagan
10 months ago
Reply to  martin logan

Herr Professor Logan – you’re a bit of a waffler. Just shut up and stop writing garbage.
You badly need about 12 months contemplative silence and fasting – after which you might realise it’s nearly always better not to show your ignorance.
Silence is golden and all that……

martin logan
martin logan
10 months ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

The “land corridor” seems to getting ever smaller. And filled with exploding ammo dumps.
Looks like folks in Crimea may be a bit thirsty for teh next, oh I don’t know, 60 years.
But if it does still come about, will if be more than 6 meters wide?

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
10 months ago

OK, got the body armour on, here it comes:
Probably the only man on earth who can end this war is Donald Trump. Or possibly RFK.

Everyone knows what the end looks like: Russia gets Crimea and a land corridor to guarantee the water supply.

Why waste tens of thousands more lives getting there? Well, for the Washington and Wall St establishments the answer is obvious: money.

War, and particularly this war, as we’ve seen with the Bidens and FTX, is the best way they have to transfer taxpayers’ money into their own bank accounts. Billions at a time.

That’s why it will take an outsider in the White House to end it.

George Venning
George Venning
10 months ago

There is a logical gap between the beginning and the end of this piece.
“contrary to received wisdom, all those who really matter — the Ukrainians, Russians and the Americans — are actually trying very hard to end [the war]”
“But the bad news is that as long as only the Ukrainians are under fire, none of the other protagonists has an impellent reason to end the fighting.”
Well hang on, apart from Ukraine the other protagonists are the US and Russia. But fighting will continue since the US, like Russia, has no reason to end it. Which rather undermines the opening assertion that the US is trying to end it doesn’t it? And it isn’t trying to end it because, as the final para concedes, it isn’t in the US interest for it to end.
The truth is that US could have forced the [cough] official protagonists to end the fighting at any time. The negotiated peace that would have resulted would have looked much the same at the outset as it would look today (or indeed in 500 days time).
The only question is how much death, destruction and sundry human misery you permit to occur before you get to that point. The cycnicism of the West’s approach to this conflict is breathtaking.

George Venning
George Venning
10 months ago

There is a logical gap between the beginning and the end of this piece.
“contrary to received wisdom, all those who really matter — the Ukrainians, Russians and the Americans — are actually trying very hard to end [the war]”
“But the bad news is that as long as only the Ukrainians are under fire, none of the other protagonists has an impellent reason to end the fighting.”
Well hang on, apart from Ukraine the other protagonists are the US and Russia. But fighting will continue since the US, like Russia, has no reason to end it. Which rather undermines the opening assertion that the US is trying to end it doesn’t it? And it isn’t trying to end it because, as the final para concedes, it isn’t in the US interest for it to end.
The truth is that US could have forced the [cough] official protagonists to end the fighting at any time. The negotiated peace that would have resulted would have looked much the same at the outset as it would look today (or indeed in 500 days time).
The only question is how much death, destruction and sundry human misery you permit to occur before you get to that point. The cycnicism of the West’s approach to this conflict is breathtaking.

Steve White
Steve White
10 months ago

There is another article on UnHerd about how the sanctions have backfired and Russia’s economy is outperforming Germany’s. Putin said early on in this Washington driven sanction commitment that Europe was committing economic suicide. Wars are won with strategy, not tactics.
It seems clear that part of the strategy for Russia has been to build huge defensive works, three-layer deep defensive lines, and then just wait for the continued effects of Europe’s own economic commitments to take effect.
Which a prestigious German think tank has stated that Germany is undergoing deindustrialization. So, NATO’s largest economy is not only hurting, but also undergoing the process of change. I think we need to wait and see what comes out of this NATO meeting on July 10th.
The war will end when the decision to stop sending money, (Something NATO doesn’t have any more of) military equipment and ammunition (Something NATO doesn’t have any more to spare) to Ukraine. 

Last edited 10 months ago by Steve White
martin logan
martin logan
10 months ago
Reply to  Steve White

That’s why the Russian RTS is firmly below 1000 (970, and falling).
Investors are so in awe of Russia’s economy they keep buying Russian stocks with negative dollars.
Ruble at 92/$ and falling…

martin logan
martin logan
10 months ago
Reply to  Steve White

That’s why the Russian RTS is firmly below 1000 (970, and falling).
Investors are so in awe of Russia’s economy they keep buying Russian stocks with negative dollars.
Ruble at 92/$ and falling…

Steve White
Steve White
10 months ago

There is another article on UnHerd about how the sanctions have backfired and Russia’s economy is outperforming Germany’s. Putin said early on in this Washington driven sanction commitment that Europe was committing economic suicide. Wars are won with strategy, not tactics.
It seems clear that part of the strategy for Russia has been to build huge defensive works, three-layer deep defensive lines, and then just wait for the continued effects of Europe’s own economic commitments to take effect.
Which a prestigious German think tank has stated that Germany is undergoing deindustrialization. So, NATO’s largest economy is not only hurting, but also undergoing the process of change. I think we need to wait and see what comes out of this NATO meeting on July 10th.
The war will end when the decision to stop sending money, (Something NATO doesn’t have any more of) military equipment and ammunition (Something NATO doesn’t have any more to spare) to Ukraine. 

Last edited 10 months ago by Steve White
Rupert Carnegie
Rupert Carnegie
10 months ago

Very lucid analysis but possibly too pessimistic about the potential for a deal by the end of the year. Both the early Cold War and the eighteenth century suggest limited wars do not need to go on for as long as seven years. Two scenarios:

a) Ukrainian Southern Offensive succeeds and reaches the coast thus cutting Russian land links to Crimea while threatening the Bridge. Putin would be motivated to do a deal to prevent Crimea becoming untenable; the Ukrainians privately (if not yet publicly) already regard this as an acceptable outcome. Would need an agreement guaranteeing Ukrainian grain exports through the Kerch straits. The point is that the Russians regard the Crimea as indisputably Russian and its loss would be politically destabilising to Putin, who would thus be forced to the table.

b) Southern Offensive fails. Both sides accept there is military stalemate because the pendulum has swung over and now favours the defensive (as in WW1) after a long period which favoured the offensive (WW2 to Gulf War). Further fighting pointless. Cease fire followed by an acceptance of the territorial status quo. War winds down though it may take longer to actually sign a peace deal (cf. Korean War).

At present, the second scenario is looking more likely.

Last edited 10 months ago by Rupert Carnegie
D Walsh
D Walsh
10 months ago

The spring offensive has failed

c) The Russians clear out the Donbass and take 4 more regions including Odessa

Last edited 10 months ago by D Walsh
martin logan
martin logan
10 months ago
Reply to  D Walsh

Just as Col MacGregor and Scott predict a Ukrainian collapse in three weeks.
Been doing that since the war began…
Again, I applaud anyone who can get clueless boobs to buy their phony elixirs.
That’s the essence of Capitalism.
But back on planet Earth, things are a mite different…

martin logan
martin logan
10 months ago
Reply to  D Walsh

Just as Col MacGregor and Scott predict a Ukrainian collapse in three weeks.
Been doing that since the war began…
Again, I applaud anyone who can get clueless boobs to buy their phony elixirs.
That’s the essence of Capitalism.
But back on planet Earth, things are a mite different…

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
10 months ago

This is a good and succinct summary. However, I think you haven’t sufficiently taken into account what the US banking and military establishment want. I suspect the war will go on as long as its profitable. Only last week the Pentagon had to admit that it could not account for $6bn of its spending.

martin logan
martin logan
10 months ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

Sorry, no. They said they had overestimated how much had been given to Ukraine, which meant they could 6 billion more, and still stay on budget.
But it’s more fun to just riff.
So go ahead!

Dominic S
Dominic S
10 months ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

I agree strongly with your reading of it.

martin logan
martin logan
10 months ago
Reply to  Dominic S

Sub-Marxist explanations (really just conspiracy theories) actually explain nothing.
Certainly not the drivers of the various leaders in charge.
But then that takes years of study, so never mind…

martin logan
martin logan
10 months ago
Reply to  Dominic S

Sub-Marxist explanations (really just conspiracy theories) actually explain nothing.
Certainly not the drivers of the various leaders in charge.
But then that takes years of study, so never mind…

martin logan
martin logan
10 months ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

Sorry, no. They said they had overestimated how much had been given to Ukraine, which meant they could 6 billion more, and still stay on budget.
But it’s more fun to just riff.
So go ahead!

Dominic S
Dominic S
10 months ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

I agree strongly with your reading of it.

Jeff Watkins
Jeff Watkins
10 months ago

Excellent analysis by Luttwak. Rupert I think the second scenario is more probable. However, Mcgregor and Scott Ritter may also be right ie The Russians taking all the land to the East of the Dnieper and the province around Odessa. Lets hope your prediction is correct.

Douglas Proudfoot
Douglas Proudfoot
10 months ago

Another possibility: The Russian Army suffers a World War I style supply collapse. Lack of politically reliable combat troops destabilizes Putin’s hold on power. Putin is forced to withdraw a lot of his remaining elite forces to maintain his grip on Moscow. US cluster munitions cause massive Russian infantry casualties when Ukraine uses them against trenches. Mobiks surrender in large numbers. Ukraine marches to the Black Sea coast, and destroys Kerch Strait Bridge, cutting off Crimea from Russian supplies.

Why is this possible, or even likely? Because:
1.Russia is running low on stockpiled useable equipment. The remaining equipment has been stored exposed to weather for 50 years. Rubber hoses and seals need to be replaced by hand. There was only 1 tank, a WW II T-34, at the May Victory day celebration on Red Square this year.
2. Russian elite forces have suffered more than 100% of their original strength in casualties and equipment losses since the war started. They ain’t what they used to be.
3. Unlike WW II, when the USSR got 40,000 Lend-Lease trucks and jeeps, Russia is short of trucks this time. They’re totally dependent on railroads. As the range of Ukraine’s rocket artillery increases with new equipment, Russian supplies need to be unloaded further behind the front line, putting more stress on the relatively small Russian truck fleet.
4. Russia scrapped its large training establishment after the fall of the USSR. At the start of the war, Russia stripped instructors from training units to fill out combat units. Most became casualties. There aren’t many training people left. Russia doesn’t have the capacity to train a large, Soviet style army.

Last edited 10 months ago by Douglas Proudfoot
D Walsh
D Walsh
10 months ago

The spring offensive has failed

c) The Russians clear out the Donbass and take 4 more regions including Odessa

Last edited 10 months ago by D Walsh
Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
10 months ago

This is a good and succinct summary. However, I think you haven’t sufficiently taken into account what the US banking and military establishment want. I suspect the war will go on as long as its profitable. Only last week the Pentagon had to admit that it could not account for $6bn of its spending.

Jeff Watkins
Jeff Watkins
10 months ago

Excellent analysis by Luttwak. Rupert I think the second scenario is more probable. However, Mcgregor and Scott Ritter may also be right ie The Russians taking all the land to the East of the Dnieper and the province around Odessa. Lets hope your prediction is correct.

Douglas Proudfoot
Douglas Proudfoot
10 months ago

Another possibility: The Russian Army suffers a World War I style supply collapse. Lack of politically reliable combat troops destabilizes Putin’s hold on power. Putin is forced to withdraw a lot of his remaining elite forces to maintain his grip on Moscow. US cluster munitions cause massive Russian infantry casualties when Ukraine uses them against trenches. Mobiks surrender in large numbers. Ukraine marches to the Black Sea coast, and destroys Kerch Strait Bridge, cutting off Crimea from Russian supplies.

Why is this possible, or even likely? Because:
1.Russia is running low on stockpiled useable equipment. The remaining equipment has been stored exposed to weather for 50 years. Rubber hoses and seals need to be replaced by hand. There was only 1 tank, a WW II T-34, at the May Victory day celebration on Red Square this year.
2. Russian elite forces have suffered more than 100% of their original strength in casualties and equipment losses since the war started. They ain’t what they used to be.
3. Unlike WW II, when the USSR got 40,000 Lend-Lease trucks and jeeps, Russia is short of trucks this time. They’re totally dependent on railroads. As the range of Ukraine’s rocket artillery increases with new equipment, Russian supplies need to be unloaded further behind the front line, putting more stress on the relatively small Russian truck fleet.
4. Russia scrapped its large training establishment after the fall of the USSR. At the start of the war, Russia stripped instructors from training units to fill out combat units. Most became casualties. There aren’t many training people left. Russia doesn’t have the capacity to train a large, Soviet style army.

Last edited 10 months ago by Douglas Proudfoot
Rupert Carnegie
Rupert Carnegie
10 months ago

Very lucid analysis but possibly too pessimistic about the potential for a deal by the end of the year. Both the early Cold War and the eighteenth century suggest limited wars do not need to go on for as long as seven years. Two scenarios:

a) Ukrainian Southern Offensive succeeds and reaches the coast thus cutting Russian land links to Crimea while threatening the Bridge. Putin would be motivated to do a deal to prevent Crimea becoming untenable; the Ukrainians privately (if not yet publicly) already regard this as an acceptable outcome. Would need an agreement guaranteeing Ukrainian grain exports through the Kerch straits. The point is that the Russians regard the Crimea as indisputably Russian and its loss would be politically destabilising to Putin, who would thus be forced to the table.

b) Southern Offensive fails. Both sides accept there is military stalemate because the pendulum has swung over and now favours the defensive (as in WW1) after a long period which favoured the offensive (WW2 to Gulf War). Further fighting pointless. Cease fire followed by an acceptance of the territorial status quo. War winds down though it may take longer to actually sign a peace deal (cf. Korean War).

At present, the second scenario is looking more likely.

Last edited 10 months ago by Rupert Carnegie
j watson
j watson
10 months ago

More and more it looks like Korea MkII. We just don’t know where the 38th parallel equivalent may settle. NATO guarantee almost certainly needed. Zelensky has to end of this year to see where he can get to before negotiation.
The intangible is whether Putin regime collapses as the Mafia bosses start to devour one another, but for now that domino has not toppled and Author very likely correct that NATO/US not seeking that outcome for stability and strategic reasons.

Anna Bramwell
Anna Bramwell
10 months ago
Reply to  j watson

I recently read McMafia, and was surprised that Russia wasnt mentioned, but that the focus was on Ukraine.

Anna Bramwell
Anna Bramwell
10 months ago
Reply to  j watson

I recently read McMafia, and was surprised that Russia wasnt mentioned, but that the focus was on Ukraine.

j watson
j watson
10 months ago

More and more it looks like Korea MkII. We just don’t know where the 38th parallel equivalent may settle. NATO guarantee almost certainly needed. Zelensky has to end of this year to see where he can get to before negotiation.
The intangible is whether Putin regime collapses as the Mafia bosses start to devour one another, but for now that domino has not toppled and Author very likely correct that NATO/US not seeking that outcome for stability and strategic reasons.

james elliott
james elliott
10 months ago

The *real* reason it won’t end any time soon is that it represents too much in projected profits for Black Rock and is too useful for the beer hall putsch being attempted by Schwab and the WEF.

Black Rock and the WEF want a long destructive war – and, for now, what Black Rock and the WEF want, they get.

How about an article that addresses that modern day succubus?

james elliott
james elliott
10 months ago

The *real* reason it won’t end any time soon is that it represents too much in projected profits for Black Rock and is too useful for the beer hall putsch being attempted by Schwab and the WEF.

Black Rock and the WEF want a long destructive war – and, for now, what Black Rock and the WEF want, they get.

How about an article that addresses that modern day succubus?

TheElephant InTheRoom
TheElephant InTheRoom
10 months ago

The US has played a very dangerous long term game with Ukraine, and also with NATO expansion. This war didn’t start in 2022 – you can go back even further than 1991. Sadly, the warmongering State Department has no reverse gear. (Sort of reminds me of Vietnam…) Only hope that there are some realists in Washington who can end the funding that is fueling the war and ultimately the death of hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian men and perhaps the country itself. Any cessation to the current madness probably will not happen until the change in the US Administration and the sacking of Victoria Nuland.

Anna Bramwell
Anna Bramwell
10 months ago

It started with the US led putsch in 2014.

Anna Bramwell
Anna Bramwell
10 months ago

It started with the US led putsch in 2014.

TheElephant InTheRoom
TheElephant InTheRoom
10 months ago

The US has played a very dangerous long term game with Ukraine, and also with NATO expansion. This war didn’t start in 2022 – you can go back even further than 1991. Sadly, the warmongering State Department has no reverse gear. (Sort of reminds me of Vietnam…) Only hope that there are some realists in Washington who can end the funding that is fueling the war and ultimately the death of hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian men and perhaps the country itself. Any cessation to the current madness probably will not happen until the change in the US Administration and the sacking of Victoria Nuland.

David FĂŒlöp
David FĂŒlöp
10 months ago

None of the knocked out leopards or bradleys fell victim to ATGMs.
Most of them were disabled by mines or artillery fire and could be recovered. Nobody ever suggested Western equipment was invincible, but a Leopard or Bradley crew is likely to survive their vehicles taken out of action while most Russian equipment doubles as a mobile incinerator when hit.

D Walsh
D Walsh
10 months ago

Plenty of them seem to have been hit by ATGMs fired by KA-52 attack helicopters, the Lancet drones are getting plenty of hits too, its not hard to find the videos

Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
10 months ago
Reply to  D Walsh

The tactics of Russia have improved but the numbers of KA-52 are declining. Worse pilots are getting killed who are hard to easily replace. Both sides are learning rapidly, as they must. Sad to see so many young dying.

Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
10 months ago
Reply to  D Walsh

The tactics of Russia have improved but the numbers of KA-52 are declining. Worse pilots are getting killed who are hard to easily replace. Both sides are learning rapidly, as they must. Sad to see so many young dying.

martin logan
martin logan
10 months ago

And since Ukraine retains the won ground, they can recover and repair the tanks, a la the Western Desert in WW2.

D Walsh
D Walsh
10 months ago
Reply to  martin logan

Yeah thats why the Ukrainians are begging for more tanks

You’re delusional

Last edited 10 months ago by D Walsh
D Walsh
D Walsh
10 months ago
Reply to  martin logan

Yeah thats why the Ukrainians are begging for more tanks

You’re delusional

Last edited 10 months ago by D Walsh
D Walsh
D Walsh
10 months ago

Plenty of them seem to have been hit by ATGMs fired by KA-52 attack helicopters, the Lancet drones are getting plenty of hits too, its not hard to find the videos

martin logan
martin logan
10 months ago

And since Ukraine retains the won ground, they can recover and repair the tanks, a la the Western Desert in WW2.

David FĂŒlöp
David FĂŒlöp
10 months ago

None of the knocked out leopards or bradleys fell victim to ATGMs.
Most of them were disabled by mines or artillery fire and could be recovered. Nobody ever suggested Western equipment was invincible, but a Leopard or Bradley crew is likely to survive their vehicles taken out of action while most Russian equipment doubles as a mobile incinerator when hit.

Campbell P
Campbell P
10 months ago

As to US continuance, it’s not so much the size of the MIC as a proportion of the US economy as it is the influence over the Administration of those who control it. As with Iraq, any excuse to invade and make money would do. With Iraq there was of course the ‘destabilising factor’, that is ‘the weakening of countries around Israel’ (You have only to look at the dual citizenships of the Administration of the time and their domestic commercial ties) but with Ukraine they are just happy to take the easy profit opportunity, less I’m missing another political motive?

Campbell P
Campbell P
10 months ago

As to US continuance, it’s not so much the size of the MIC as a proportion of the US economy as it is the influence over the Administration of those who control it. As with Iraq, any excuse to invade and make money would do. With Iraq there was of course the ‘destabilising factor’, that is ‘the weakening of countries around Israel’ (You have only to look at the dual citizenships of the Administration of the time and their domestic commercial ties) but with Ukraine they are just happy to take the easy profit opportunity, less I’m missing another political motive?

Sayantani Gupta Jafa
Sayantani Gupta Jafa
10 months ago

Excellent analysis.

Sayantani Gupta Jafa
Sayantani Gupta Jafa
10 months ago

Excellent analysis.

Talia Perkins
Talia Perkins
10 months ago

The war has not yet been won entire by Ukraine and may not be — but actually reclaiming every stitch of territory Russia has taken since 2014 is the Ukrainian goal, not a negotiated reward to Putin for the repeated Russian war crimes.

Talia Perkins
Talia Perkins
10 months ago

The war has not yet been won entire by Ukraine and may not be — but actually reclaiming every stitch of territory Russia has taken since 2014 is the Ukrainian goal, not a negotiated reward to Putin for the repeated Russian war crimes.

martin logan
martin logan
10 months ago

Putin is the author of his own defeat.
Nabiulina points out that Russia now has a negative balance of payments, which is why the rouble is at 93/$, and rising, while the RTS is at 970, and falling.
One of Putin’s many miscalculations about a quick victory was that it wouldn’t affect the world economy. The war has.
From now on he will have continually less revenue from a world which is in many places in recession–caused by his own actions.
A downward spiral that even peace won’t rectify.

martin logan
martin logan
10 months ago

Putin is the author of his own defeat.
Nabiulina points out that Russia now has a negative balance of payments, which is why the rouble is at 93/$, and rising, while the RTS is at 970, and falling.
One of Putin’s many miscalculations about a quick victory was that it wouldn’t affect the world economy. The war has.
From now on he will have continually less revenue from a world which is in many places in recession–caused by his own actions.
A downward spiral that even peace won’t rectify.

Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
10 months ago

Ukraine is likely to push the Russians out of the East if support continues. The best outcome might be for a return to pre-2014 conditions allowing Russian access to their long term leases in Crimea. Hopefully, Zelensky won’t be stubborn about that.

Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
10 months ago

Ukraine is likely to push the Russians out of the East if support continues. The best outcome might be for a return to pre-2014 conditions allowing Russian access to their long term leases in Crimea. Hopefully, Zelensky won’t be stubborn about that.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
10 months ago

This is the most depressingly hubristic statement by an American since Trump was shooting off his mouth as POTUS. The words “contrary to received wisdom, all those who really matter — the Ukrainians, Russians and the Americans — are actually trying very hard to end the war” encapsulates everything that is worst about the US. May I remind those who think this way that when Putin suggested he wished Russia to join NATO and was told there was a queue and conditions to be fulfilled, he said “I’m not waiting behind a lot of countries who don’t matter”. Do Americans posting here really want to align themselves with Putin, the closest thing we have to Hitler since WWII ? NATO has 30 members not ONE and the US doesn’t tell the rest of us what to do. This is a European war on OUR doorstep.

Mary Bruels
Mary Bruels
10 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

Which is exactly why I believe the US should NEVER have gotten involved in this mess. It’s a European war but the depleted European forces can’t handle it due to the fact that they allowed the US to do all the heavy lifting with military power over the years. Most of my friends all think we (the US) should not be involved but it’s the military industrial complex that’s calling the shots. Biden just goes along with them.

Mary Bruels
Mary Bruels
10 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

Which is exactly why I believe the US should NEVER have gotten involved in this mess. It’s a European war but the depleted European forces can’t handle it due to the fact that they allowed the US to do all the heavy lifting with military power over the years. Most of my friends all think we (the US) should not be involved but it’s the military industrial complex that’s calling the shots. Biden just goes along with them.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
10 months ago

This is the most depressingly hubristic statement by an American since Trump was shooting off his mouth as POTUS. The words “contrary to received wisdom, all those who really matter — the Ukrainians, Russians and the Americans — are actually trying very hard to end the war” encapsulates everything that is worst about the US. May I remind those who think this way that when Putin suggested he wished Russia to join NATO and was told there was a queue and conditions to be fulfilled, he said “I’m not waiting behind a lot of countries who don’t matter”. Do Americans posting here really want to align themselves with Putin, the closest thing we have to Hitler since WWII ? NATO has 30 members not ONE and the US doesn’t tell the rest of us what to do. This is a European war on OUR doorstep.

martin logan
martin logan
10 months ago

Interesting piece. But as Luttwak himself knows, wars are never predictable.
Whether or not Ukraine succeeds in its latest offensive, one thing is clear: the coalition is in a much stronger position than it was even four months ago. By next winter that will be even more true.
The Russian economy continues to decline, with both the stock market and ruble falling almost every day. That means Iranian drones are more expensive, as are all the foreign components needed for Russian weapons. Not a good idea for oligarchs to invest in London real estate, and neglect to rebuild Russia’s industry.
Better still, Russia’s leadership is in disarray, with its best leaders (Prigozhin, Surovikin, et al) under arrest or under a cloud. Meanwhile, the incompetents (Shoigu, Patrushev, Gerasmov, etc) are in firmer control than ever, meaning they will continue to make the mistakes that lost them half of the territory they filched.
Best of all, as Luttwak notes, Putin dare not mobilize Russia, a la WW2. His whole design has been to totally pacify society, so that he can do what he wants, and his oligarchs can grow rich without impediments.
The moment Russia fully mobilizes is the moment Russia disappears.
Meanwhile, F-16s and ATACMs are coming to Ukraine…
The only settlement that the Ukraine coalition could politically accept would be a return to 2014 borders (underpinned by a REAL, internationally supervised referendum), with Crimea demilitarized, and Ukraine in NATO.
Until that happens, the war will continue.

max redgers
max redgers
10 months ago
Reply to  martin logan

Regarding economies, leadership incompetence,strategic failures and political delusion those “in glass houses should not cast stones”….war of attrition is the name of the game ……and west, despite all of its reassurances and promises, cannot match monthly outputs of up to 3 million shells, 70-100 tanks (of any model) that Russia is regularly peaking, whilst sitting on a stock pile of cluster munitions that dwarfs the US stock pile by magnitudes.

My figures may be “wild” for/tosome…..but a browse of the utterances of pundits, fools and the insightful gives us a good estimation of who could, if pushed, see this through to some, if not satisfactory to any party, end.

What use are cluster munitions if you are on the offensive?…. Ukraine will roll on to them themselves on the road to Crimea.

Only effective offensive munitions are … conventional 155 mm shells that your advancing troops do not tread and lose their legs upon, which the west simply does not have to send to Ukraine. Ukraine currently lobes around 5000 -10000 a day, and the Russians now peaking at 20000 a day.

No I am not a troll, I try very hard to be agnostic in analysis, but sit firmly in Ukrainian’s camp… literally.

Russia does not have infinite military resources and assets, but more than the currently estimated 200 days of fighting capability/assets that Ukraine has as West’s “unto the end” support fails to keep up with Ukrainian’s losses.

As for manpower, an increasing majority of Ukrainians have friends or family killed or injured by this war, and few men willingly walk off the streets to sign up.

F16s and ATACMS , just as HIMARS, Storm Shadows, Leopards, Bradleys, M777s, Caesars and NATO standards, will not meet your expectations.

There are effective strategies and defences to counter them. Russian AD capabilities have moved on past F16s to counter more modern with over the horizon capability against Western fighters with more challenging abilities than F16s, whilst the logistical burden of diffuse standards and calibres will way even more heavily on Ukraine.

Further, where are these F16s going to fly from? They need “clean” runways, clean fuel and rigorous maintenance regimens. Maybe you are considering that they should fly from Poland or Romania? Are you going to sign up if chapters 4 or 5 are invoked when Russia strikes NATO territory? Or maybe send your son to walk across fields sown with……cluster munitions.

Wild promises and utterance will not, and have not put Ukraine in a war winning position. Think harder and more adroitly to put Ukraine in a war winning position, and stop sending crap and making unfulfillable promises.

Either step in or gear yourself up to defeat Russia, taking the economic and material pain to match what you expect of Ukraine.

Last edited 10 months ago by max redgers
max redgers
max redgers
10 months ago
Reply to  martin logan

Regarding economies, leadership incompetence,strategic failures and political delusion those “in glass houses should not cast stones”….war of attrition is the name of the game ……and west, despite all of its reassurances and promises, cannot match monthly outputs of up to 3 million shells, 70-100 tanks (of any model) that Russia is regularly peaking, whilst sitting on a stock pile of cluster munitions that dwarfs the US stock pile by magnitudes.

My figures may be “wild” for/tosome…..but a browse of the utterances of pundits, fools and the insightful gives us a good estimation of who could, if pushed, see this through to some, if not satisfactory to any party, end.

What use are cluster munitions if you are on the offensive?…. Ukraine will roll on to them themselves on the road to Crimea.

Only effective offensive munitions are … conventional 155 mm shells that your advancing troops do not tread and lose their legs upon, which the west simply does not have to send to Ukraine. Ukraine currently lobes around 5000 -10000 a day, and the Russians now peaking at 20000 a day.

No I am not a troll, I try very hard to be agnostic in analysis, but sit firmly in Ukrainian’s camp… literally.

Russia does not have infinite military resources and assets, but more than the currently estimated 200 days of fighting capability/assets that Ukraine has as West’s “unto the end” support fails to keep up with Ukrainian’s losses.

As for manpower, an increasing majority of Ukrainians have friends or family killed or injured by this war, and few men willingly walk off the streets to sign up.

F16s and ATACMS , just as HIMARS, Storm Shadows, Leopards, Bradleys, M777s, Caesars and NATO standards, will not meet your expectations.

There are effective strategies and defences to counter them. Russian AD capabilities have moved on past F16s to counter more modern with over the horizon capability against Western fighters with more challenging abilities than F16s, whilst the logistical burden of diffuse standards and calibres will way even more heavily on Ukraine.

Further, where are these F16s going to fly from? They need “clean” runways, clean fuel and rigorous maintenance regimens. Maybe you are considering that they should fly from Poland or Romania? Are you going to sign up if chapters 4 or 5 are invoked when Russia strikes NATO territory? Or maybe send your son to walk across fields sown with……cluster munitions.

Wild promises and utterance will not, and have not put Ukraine in a war winning position. Think harder and more adroitly to put Ukraine in a war winning position, and stop sending crap and making unfulfillable promises.

Either step in or gear yourself up to defeat Russia, taking the economic and material pain to match what you expect of Ukraine.

Last edited 10 months ago by max redgers
martin logan
martin logan
10 months ago

Interesting piece. But as Luttwak himself knows, wars are never predictable.
Whether or not Ukraine succeeds in its latest offensive, one thing is clear: the coalition is in a much stronger position than it was even four months ago. By next winter that will be even more true.
The Russian economy continues to decline, with both the stock market and ruble falling almost every day. That means Iranian drones are more expensive, as are all the foreign components needed for Russian weapons. Not a good idea for oligarchs to invest in London real estate, and neglect to rebuild Russia’s industry.
Better still, Russia’s leadership is in disarray, with its best leaders (Prigozhin, Surovikin, et al) under arrest or under a cloud. Meanwhile, the incompetents (Shoigu, Patrushev, Gerasmov, etc) are in firmer control than ever, meaning they will continue to make the mistakes that lost them half of the territory they filched.
Best of all, as Luttwak notes, Putin dare not mobilize Russia, a la WW2. His whole design has been to totally pacify society, so that he can do what he wants, and his oligarchs can grow rich without impediments.
The moment Russia fully mobilizes is the moment Russia disappears.
Meanwhile, F-16s and ATACMs are coming to Ukraine…
The only settlement that the Ukraine coalition could politically accept would be a return to 2014 borders (underpinned by a REAL, internationally supervised referendum), with Crimea demilitarized, and Ukraine in NATO.
Until that happens, the war will continue.