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Why Russia isn’t winning in Ukraine If Europe steps up, this war is not a lost cause

Dusk or dawn for Ukraine? (Vlada Liberova/Libkos/Getty Images)

Dusk or dawn for Ukraine? (Vlada Liberova/Libkos/Getty Images)


February 23, 2024   11 mins

The assessments of Ukraine’s prospects in its war of defence against Russia, which enters its third year tomorrow, are noticeably less upbeat than they were last summer. Back then, the Ukrainians were riding high. Given little to no chance when Vladimir Putin’s army invaded, by November 2022 they had expelled his forces from the north and north-east of their country, as well as from the part of Kherson province on the Dnipro River’s right bank.

The current mood of pessimism stems partly from Kyiv’s failure to punch through Russia’s defences in the south during the summer-autumn counteroffensive of 2023. No less important has been the doubts about continuing American military aid. President Joe Biden’s request to Congress for another $61 billion in assistance for Ukraine — most of it military — seems dead in the water thanks to dogged opposition in the House of Representatives from legislators loyal to Donald Trump.

This is already having repercussions in Ukraine: the fall of Avdiivka last week, representing Russia’s greatest territorial gain in nine months, has been directly linked to dwindling supplies of ammunition. Zelensky referred to this shortage as an “artificial deficit” created by slow delivery of supplies, and continued military support from the United States, supplemented by Britain and Europe, could still help Ukraine regain momentum, even if not this year.

However, if American support falters or ceases, Britain and Europe have the power not only to keep Ukraine in the fight, but, eventually, to help it make the advances needed to reach a favourable negotiated settlement. The second of these two outcomes will require Europe to rethink its military role in ways that it has never had to do since the formation of Nato in 1949. But if it proves up to the task, the repercussions will extend well beyond this conflict. Before the invasion, Russia was widely heralded as one of the world’s two superpowers. In the event that Ukraine can regain at least some additional territory and bring the war to a satisfactory end, Russia will forever be seen in a different light: as a threat Europe can manage largely on its own.

The ground game

Ukrainian soldiers train in Donetsk (Jose Colon/Anadolu via Getty Images)

That said, there’s no denying that Ukraine’s 2023 counteroffensive failed. It didn’t break through the Russian-held part of Zaporizhzhia province (on the Dnipro’s left bank) to Tokmak (an important supply hub) let alone to Melitopol further south. Russia had prepared well to foil that gambit, relying on the kind of extensive, layered trenches and fortifications — the so-called “Surovikin lines” — not seen in Europe for a generation.

Moreover, Russia’s increased investment in drones helped batter Ukraine’s armoured and mechanised brigades, while the improved accuracy of its artillery and helicopter gunships disabled Ukraine’s American-supplied mine-clearing systems. Belying stereotypes of a rigid and hyper-centralised force, the Russian army also learned from its mistakes, adapting better electronic countermeasures against the US-supplied HIMARS missiles and Excalibur artillery shells. During my most recent visit to Ukraine, in December, a drone operator described the advantage Russia had acquired in FPV (first-person view) drone variants, and its vastly improved electronic jamming technology — its new Izdeliye-55 miniature FPV quadcopter, is reputedly all but immune to jamming.

Still, the fact that Ukraine — which lacked sufficient airpower, long-range missiles and general materiel — failed to retake swathes of territory during its counteroffensive remains the war’s “dog bites man” story. The true surprise is that Russia is not only still fighting Ukraine two years after invading it, confident of a quick victory, but that it barely shifted the frontlines in the whole of 2023. Its net gain was a bare 180 square miles (for comparison, Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital, covers 324 square miles), and that owed mainly to advances in and around Bakhmut, a town for which it fought for nine months, relying heavily on prisoners, a private army, and various militias. The conquest of Avdiivka similarly required four months of fighting and some 20,000 casualties, notwithstanding Russia’s massive numerical superiority in weaponry (8:1 in artillery shells, for example).

Despite Russia’s vast and continuing advantage in every measure typically used to assay military balance between states, it has failed to transform that superiority into juggernaut-like results. A vivid example can be found in the small beachheads Ukraine established in mid-November on the Russian-held bank of Kherson province, mainly in Krynky village, after a river crossing under heavy fire. Though Ukraine had only a small number of marines and no armour or artillery on site to speak of, it has preserved or extended the area it holds through repeated Russian assaults, killed numerous troops, and destroyed many armoured vehicles. All this from what a New York Times analysis painted as Kyiv’s Krynky “suicide mission”.

In Russian media, there is no such misconception: one military blogger lambasted the “idiots” who kept sending armour to Krynky, only to have “90%” of it destroyed; others demanded the sacking of Colonel General Mikhail Teplinsky, the army commander in Kherson. And Krynky is not an aberration — Russia’s equipment losses have been remarkably high elsewhere. Returning to Avdiivka, one single extended assault in November led to the destruction of 100 Russian tanks and 250 armoured vehicles.

Russia has also suffered many more casualties than one would have expected against a much weaker opponent: according to British estimates, 302,000 by late November plus “tens of thousands of deserters”. By contrast, US intelligence estimates around 70,000 Ukrainian troops had been killed and 120,000 wounded by last autumn. (This would bely Russia’s implausible claim, widely circulated, that 300,000-350,000 Ukrainian troops have died.)

The losses in some Russian units are devastating. Russia’s elite 155th Guards Naval Infantry Brigade was almost eviscerated when Russian commanders insisted upon their habitual “meat wave” assaults on Vuhledar — so high were the losses that the marines turned on their generals. A year into the war, the losses of the 155th at Vuhledar and elsewhere were so bad that the unit had to be reconstituted multiple times.

Russia’s overall equipment losses have also been staggering. The Oryx data base, which tracks destroyed, abandoned, or captured stock, lists as of mid-February: 2,735 tanks; 3,421 infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs); and 1,020 artillery systems. Tank losses have been severe enough to require the requisitioning of models dating back decades. Ukraine’s corresponding losses have been significantly lower: 742 tanks, 848 IFVs, and 472 artillery pieces. Russia had an overwhelming superiority in tanks when the war began but, because of these losses, by July the two armies were nearly at parity.

Some of Russia’s best weapons — the S-400 air defence system, the supposedly unstoppable Kinzhal ballistic missile, and Yastreb-AV counterbattery radar, which costs $1.5 billion and was destroyed soon after its first appearance — have not lived up to their vaunted reputation. Ditto the famed, top-of-the-line T-14 Armata tank, withdrawn from the battlefield soon after its debut. Western weaponry has been essential here. Without American and European tanks, air-defence missiles, anti-tank guided missiles, multiple rockets systems, and cruise missiles (the Anglo-French Storm Shadow/SCALP) Ukraine could never have withstood the Russian army’s assault, much less have inflicted such large losses on it.

Russia at sea

Russian sailors in the bay of Sevastopol (VIKTOR DRACHEV/AFP via Getty Images)

Perhaps even more surprisingly, though it lacks a fully-fledged navy, Ukraine has severely hampered Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, based in Crimea. Using missiles, aerial and naval drones, and commando raids, it has hit the Fleet and its infrastructure so many times (beginning with the triumphant early sinking of its flagship, the Moskva, in April 2022, using a homemade R-360 Neptune missile) that Moscow has had to relocate ships and submarines — in some cases all the way to Russia’s mainland Krasnodar region.

But Ukraine targeted the latter as well, damaging one Ropucha-class landing ship in August, before attacking the Black Sea Fleet’s Sevastopol headquarters in September, claiming to have killed 34 officers. The Storm Shadow/SCALP cruise missiles have been indispensable here and, in all, Ukraine claimed to have damaged or disabled about a third of the Fleet’s vessels: 25 ships and one submarine according to most recent figures.

These victories have had several repercussions, not least in sowing discord at the top of the Russian leadership. One attack early this month on the Crimean airbase at Belbek killed air force Lt Gen. Alexander Tatarenko, before Ukraine sunk another Ropucha-class landing ship (the Caesar Kunikov) using a swarm of sea drones, precipitating the firing of the Fleet’s commander, Admiral Viktor Sokolov, on 15 February. Any proper naval strategy these commanders might have developed has also been sabotaged. It has become much harder for Russia’s Black Sea Fleet ships to fire cruise missiles at Ukrainian cities, forestalling wintertime strikes on Ukraine’s electrical network.

Ukraine has also managed to maintain a sea corridor for food exports from its own Black Sea ports (even after Russia exited the Black Sea grain deal) despite persistent Russian attacks on its port infrastructure. Earnings from food have dropped significantly since the war started, but a blockade would have dealt the cash-strapped country a body blow. By January though, Ukraine’s seaborne exports (not just in grain, but all shipping) actually reached pre-war levels. 

“An army marches on its stomach”

New recruits of the Aidar Battalion (Wojciech Grzedzinski/For The Washington Post via Getty Images)

This aphorism, attributed by some to Frederick the Great and others to Napoleon, highlights how essential supplies from the rear are for success at the front — not just armour and artillery, but food, fuel, and medicine. Ukraine has done a remarkable job of starving Russia of these supplies. To take an example, the 12-mile-long Kerch Strait Bridge was under repair for months following the October 2022 truck bomb explosion engineered by Ukraine. They then attacked the bridge again last July, this time with sea drones. Though bridge’s railway tracks remained intact this time, the damage to the roadway necessitated lane closures until November. Fears of attack also led to traffic suspensions on the bridge at least three times in 2023.

Ukraine similarly struck the Chonhar Bridge, which connects north Crimea to Kherson province, last June, July and August. And other military-related Crimean sites targeted include Saky, Yevpatoria, and the Zaliv shipyard in Kerch. These strikes have disrupted supplies headed to Russian forces in the south via Crimea, the main conduit, forcing Moscow to rely more on the land corridor it created after the invasion between Crimea and south-western Donbas. Yet that passageway too has come under Ukrainian fire. On top of that, in January and February, Ukrainian drones struck Russia’s energy infrastructure — loading terminals, oil refineries, and storage sites — in the Baltic Sea, the Bryansk region, and in Volgograd and Ryazan.

A RAND analysis recently asked whether logistics would prove to be “Russia’s undoing in Ukraine”. This much is clear: an important Russian weakness has been laid bare. This week, Western officials claimed that Russia was suffering from severe shortages of ammunition and weapons of its own. And, apart from making it harder to sustain prolonged offensives, supply shortfalls have deprived new recruits of the basics — in some cases family members have had to provide essentials. Morale has therefore become a chronic problem for Russian commanders, and played a role in the Wagner Group’s June rebellion. 

A vision of victory

Zelensky meets President of the EU Commission Ursula von der Leyen (Ukrainian Presidency/Handout/Anadolu via Getty Images)

The Russian army is certainly not, as they say in Texas, all hat and no cattle. But, amid the negative coverage of Ukraine’s counteroffensive, its considerable flaws and failures have been overlooked. Still, the Ukrainian army’s successes would have been impossible absent the massive inflow of Western weaponry — some $100 billion since the invasion — and in particular the US capacity to send close to half, in dollar terms, of what its Nato allies have provided. But given the Russian army performance in Ukraine, the oft-heard claims that Ukraine’s defeat would expose Nato to attack has become dubious.

To be clear: Russia retains a formidable army that can still do considerable damage to Ukraine. What’s more, Ukraine’s vulnerability has increased because of the mounting shortages its forces now face and the uncertainty surrounding future American military assistance. Despite Russian losses, Putin has not seriously called for negotiations. On the contrary, he stated recently that the goals of the “special military operation” remained unchanged, would be pursued till victory, and that Western support for Ukraine would eventually dissipate.

Nor have the war’s human and material costs sparked sustained mass discontent among Russians, let alone threatened Putin’s grip on power. He seems confident that time is on his side. To push Ukraine into negotiating now would amount to decreeing its partition — and at a moment when Russia, despite assertions to the contrary, is hardly on a roll. That said, maximalist territorial goals — the ones originally advocated by the Zelensky government and its strongest Western supporters — will likely prove as unrealistic as betting on Putin’s political demise.

“To push Ukraine into negotiating now would amount to decreeing its partition”

But an outcome in which Ukraine retakes even more of the territory it has lost since February 2022 would still be a major victory and, if it comes to negotiations, Kyiv will be in a stronger position if it has gained more ground. It should demonstrate to Moscow its readiness to fight on: by mobilising its planned 500,000 new soldiers and breaking up the corrupt, murky, and intricate system that helps men dodge military service (you can find plenty of these fellows in Kyiv’s trendy restaurants). The Ukrainian army must reconstitute itself and adopt a strategy of what Mykola Bielieskov calls “active defence”; not mount a major offensive that would risk high losses in troops and materiel, something it can ill afford. Russia may have lost more soldiers than Ukraine, but it also has a far larger pool of military-aged men to draw from.

Further gains by Ukraine will require not only Congress’s approval of the 2024 aid package, but also Europe’s willingness to play a much bigger role. But, having long neglected its defence industries because of the ironclad American military guarantee, Europe cannot step in quickly. To take an example, the Europe Union was supposed to deliver one million artillery shells by March; so far it has sent half that amount and expects to meet its target only by the end of this year. At best, an increase in European help can keep Ukraine in the fight for the rest of this year so that a larger flow of weapons from Europe down the line will enable it to make bigger advances. That will not happen easily or quickly, which means that Ukraine is vulnerable in the near term.

But Europe does have the means to begin boosting military spending and investing more in its defence industries — and it should, if not only to gain a measure of strategic autonomy and reduce its generation-long reliance on America.

Sheer geography dictates that Ukraine’s fate will always matter more to Europe than it will to the United States, which will focus increasingly on China in the years to come. In addition to arming Ukraine, Europe should eventually take the lead in training and equipping Ukraine’s armed forces so that Kyiv has the capacity to adopt a policy of long-term, armed neutrality. Some describe this as the “Israel model”, though Finland’s defence strategy from the end of the Second World War until it joined Nato in April may be the better comparison. Alternatively, a subset of Nato states could guarantee Ukraine’s security, but on the understanding that any resort to force against Russia to defend Ukraine would not trigger Article V of the 1949 Nato Treaty, the commitment to collective defence. This would scarcely substitute for Nato membership, but it would give Ukraine more protection than armed neutrality.

If the uncertainty regarding future American military aid to Ukraine marks a turning point for Kyiv, it does the same for Europe. It is often said that Europe cannot organise defence arrangements of its own because a large, disparate collection of states cannot act in consort. But that is belied by the centralisation the European Union and its associated institutions have undergone. And the EU has already taken some steps toward arming Ukraine autonomously: the European Peace Facility, established in March 2021, has provided Kyiv more than $5 billion in war-related aid.

The political obstacles to greater European defence autonomy and the challenges of ramping up European defence industries are well-known — Europe’s leaders have never looked less united around its continental institutions. Yet given the combination of the shortages Ukraine faces, the doubts about continued assistance from the United States, and the prospect of Donald Trump’s return to the White House, Europeans ought to consider charting a new course, one that does not require them to dispense with Nato, but adapts it to the present. The impediment to such a change is not a lack of means, but the inertia created by an entrenched way of thinking that makes change seem impossible. The alternative risks not only Ukraine’s long-term future, but Europe’s too.


Rajan Menon is the Director of the Grand Strategy programme at Defense Priorities and a senior research fellow at Columbia University. His latest book is The Conceit of Humanitarian Intervention

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Skink
Skink
2 months ago

Bwaha. Cough.

Matt Hindman
Matt Hindman
2 months ago

Someone is trying to put a happy face on a complete disaster. It turns out when the cold hard reality of warfare collides with wishful thinking, reality always wins. Ukraine never had the men and equipment to squander in the incompetent ways it has. Look for a lot of finger pointing in the near future.

Martin M
Martin M
2 months ago
Reply to  Matt Hindman

The war was supposed to be over in a week, wasn’t it? After all, how could Ukraine resist the mighty Russian Army?

Matt Hindman
Matt Hindman
2 months ago
Reply to  Martin M

And “spring offensives” are not supposed to last until winter.

Jim C
Jim C
2 months ago
Reply to  Martin M

The war was supposed to be over in a week, wasn’t it?

“Supposed” by whom, exactly? The Russians never made that claim.
As it happens, the war pretty much was over in a few weeks; as testified by Israel ex-Prime Minister Naftali Bennet, who helped negotiations, Ukraine and Russia had agreed a peace deal in March… until our very own BoJo went over there and told Ukrainian leader-puppet Zelenskyy to continue fighting, because the West would ensure Ukrainian victory!
I wonder how both of them feel, looking back at that conversation.
One of the great lessons of history is: never trust the West to stand behind its proxies once it becomes inconvenient. Kurds, Marsh Arabs… it’s like Lucy holding the football for Charlie Brown.

Peter B
Peter B
2 months ago
Reply to  Matt Hindman

If anyone’s been incompetent in this war, it’s the Russians. Now that really is a disaster.
No one expected Ukraine to still be here back in February 2020 when Russia invaded. Some disaster for Ukraine.
It is you who needs to get real.

Fran Martinez
Fran Martinez
2 months ago
Reply to  Peter B
Michael Cazaly
Michael Cazaly
2 months ago
Reply to  Fran Martinez

Now that really is funny!

Unwoke S
Unwoke S
2 months ago
Reply to  Fran Martinez

Thanks for sending. Everyone should watch this Matt Orfalea compilation to see how MSM functions.

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
2 months ago
Reply to  Unwoke S

Rush Limbaugh said for decades that you could watch any TV news channel or read any of the major newspapers and get the exact same story, even down to the language used. He would frequently play audio of the talking heads doing just that. It was hilarious, but, being humorless corporate drones, they still do it – only with an added hyper-hysteria now.

Matt Hindman
Matt Hindman
2 months ago
Reply to  Unwoke S

I think this one by Orfalea is even better. It is just Nicolle Wallace being Nicolle Wallace but is probably one of the most instructive things you will ever see on corporate media.
https://youtu.be/KiflpK01mJU

Simon Boudewijn
Simon Boudewijn
2 months ago
Reply to  Matt Hindman

pretty face of evil

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
2 months ago
Reply to  Unwoke S

Reminded me of the compilation of talking heads back in 2015, saying that Trump will never be President. And this one from the MSM. Nothing that they said came true.
WATCH: The Biggest Media Meltdowns to Trump’s Win (youtube.com)

Simon Boudewijn
Simon Boudewijn
2 months ago
Reply to  Fran Martinez

The link is 10 minutes of every MSM idiot, and every main Neo-Con saying like a mass of sheep – that Ukraine is/will win. Wow, amazing – Lies, Lies, Lies..

Boris the creepy worm is in there many times saying it… Biden too…

Roddy Campbell
Roddy Campbell
2 months ago

Suggest you go back to your day job as a Pravda stringer.

martin logan
martin logan
2 months ago
Reply to  Fran Martinez

Er, February 25, not when the Ukrainians started dragging Russian tanks with their tractors…
Trolls never case to use troll ingenuity…

John Riordan
John Riordan
2 months ago
Reply to  Matt Hindman

Ukraine has “squandered” nothing. It has suffered losses and made mistakes, as is inevitable during a war. But what do you suppose would have been better? Unopposed Russian invasion, then occupation?

What alternative to fighting would you have decided upon?

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
2 months ago
Reply to  John Riordan

If the US hadn’t engineered the coup to unseat a duly elected president – this time in 2014 in a foreign country – there would never have been a war in the first place.

John Riordan
John Riordan
2 months ago

That’s hardly the point. It goes back even further than that, to the NATO expansion in the 1990s and the Minsk Accords, areas where the USA and Europe displayed almost clownish incompetence and geopolitical amateurism, but none of this is a defence for Putin’s military aggression.

The issue here today is whether Ukrainians should fight the Russian invasion, or not. It is absurd to take the position that they should not, no matter how much blame lies elsewhere for the situation.

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
2 months ago
Reply to  John Riordan

“defence for Putin’s military aggression.”
How many times – it’s not “Putin” who is the aggressor. It is Russia
And Russia’s “aggression ” is not about occupying Kiev, reforming the Warsaw Pact, attacking Latvia.
It’s about preventing the expansion of NATO, a hostile anti Russia group that is militarily much stronger and has shown willingness to launch immoral, unprovoked wars against others, such as Libya, Iraq….
Russia had no option but “aggression” after what happened between 2014 and 2020.
Ukraine had options though. They chose the wrong one.

John Riordan
John Riordan
2 months ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

All arguments like this miss the crucial point that the vast majority of European states would choose NATO over the Russian Federation and in many cases did so. NATO expansion was achieved through democratic consent in every case. This matters: it is not possible to compare NATO and Russia as if either choice would be morally neutral.

You cannot simply argue this in terms that compare the actions of the political classes on either side, as if the condition of the peoples governed in each case aren’t relevant. What the people actually want matters as well – more so, in the end, than do the desires of the elites.

The fact that NATO and the West are imperfect, make serious mistakes and are guilty at times of devious statecraft does not permit you to overlook the fact that actual military aggression resulting in hundreds of thousands of casualties is exclusively Russia’s fault. This matters.

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
2 months ago
Reply to  John Riordan

“the vast majority of European states would choose NATO”
Of course they would.
Problem is, NATO isn’t an economic union, trade zone etc.
It’s a military alliance dominated by US interests.
So if Russia’s neighbours freely join NATO, they are freely allowing a hostile military alliance to close in on Russia, and drastically weaken their defense in a future war.

So, you can either “freely’ allow expansion of NATO and give Russia no option but to strike first, or you can take cognizance of Russian concerns.

Katja Sipple
Katja Sipple
2 months ago

This is Russian propaganda and complete rubbish!

Micael Gustavsson
Micael Gustavsson
2 months ago

Stop lying. There was no coup.

Jim C
Jim C
2 months ago

Stop lying. It was a coup.

Micael Gustavsson
Micael Gustavsson
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim C

No it wasn’t. The earth is not flat because you say it is. There are real objective realities. The unfolding of events doesn’t become a coup even if you scream coup until you are blue in your face.

Jim C
Jim C
2 months ago

But I’m not claiming the “Revolution of Dignity” was a coup simply because I’m saying it, am I?

As you appear incapable of doing your own research, here’s a link to a brief overview of the West’s involvement in Ukraine (starting with CIA/MI6 support of Nazis Lebed and Bandera, seventy years ago) :

https://www.frontierweekly.com/articles/vol-54/54-40/54-40-US%20staged%20a%20Coup%20in%20Ukraine.html

None of its claims are controversial… though I doubt you’ll like being presented with evidence.

Here’s more (this time from Cato):

https://www.cato.org/commentary/americas-ukraine-hypocrisy#

martin logan
martin logan
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim C

So Is Macron illegitimate because of the Revolution of 1848?
Sorry, Yanook simply fled from his post as president…a situation prevailing in the history of almost every nation.
The Rada then picked a new head, and then held elections.
OF COURSE Russians feel cheated.
But REALITY cheats Russians every day.
They just need to learn to accept it…

Jim C
Jim C
2 months ago
Reply to  martin logan

The French revolution? In 1848? There are – as far as I’m aware – no claims it was fostered by a foreign power, and the Maidan coup was a mere 8 years before the Russian invasion, whereas 1848 is not even within living memory.

What a bizarre analogy.

Will Longfield
Will Longfield
2 months ago

It WAS a coup. Ukraine has been weak and corrupt and chaotic since independence and this was the result.

Micael Gustavsson
Micael Gustavsson
2 months ago
Reply to  Will Longfield

No. Just in case you are you are in good faith, this is a very short summation of what happened. Peaceful protesters were protesting against broken promises of the president. The president orders the police to fire at them. This brings out more protesters, and the president loses his nerve and flees the country. Ukraine is left without government, which is why it is easy for Russia to seize the Crimea. The democratically elected parliament appoints an interim government, which is what they are supposed to do in this situation according to Ukraines constitution. Within three months multiparty elections are then held for the presidency. As you see, no coup.
The presidential election in 2014 was won by Poroschenko, who then ran as an incumbent in 2019 and lost to Zelensky.

Michael Cazaly
Michael Cazaly
2 months ago

As Peter Hitchens said..”it takes a long time to organise a spontaneous demonstration”… it was a CIA coup, pure and simple…which is why the head of the CIA flew into Kiev the weekend after.

Micael Gustavsson
Micael Gustavsson
2 months ago
Reply to  Michael Cazaly

So which of the facts I mentioned above do you dispute? It was obviously not a coup.

Michael Cazaly
Michael Cazaly
2 months ago

“Say I slew them not…”
“Then you slew them not…but dead they are…”

Micael Gustavsson
Micael Gustavsson
2 months ago
Reply to  Michael Cazaly

So obviously you cannot deny even one of the claims I made above.

martin logan
martin logan
2 months ago

The war is simply an attempt by Putin and his gerontocracy to reconstitute an empire that was never more than half Russian.
You could see it was doomed in the 1980s, simply on the basis of demographics…

Will Longfield
Will Longfield
2 months ago
Reply to  martin logan

Russias demographics are not nearly as bad as Western Europe’s or Americas, where the awful birth-rate is actually FAR worse because half the births are to immigrants.

martin logan
martin logan
2 months ago
Reply to  Will Longfield

Oh, right, I suspect European and American cities will soon be ghost towns.
If demographics are so bad, why do they keep growing?
Answer: what made America a great power, people from every corner of the earth.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
2 months ago
Reply to  John Riordan

If you think history began two years ago, then that’s one outlook. However, there are others. Russian had no designs on either invading or occupying, but our incessant push to bring Ukraine into NATO was not going to be stopped. There was this thing called the Cuban missile crisis decades ago. Oddly, we didn’t just accept it and move along.

Juan P Lewis
Juan P Lewis
2 months ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

So Russia gets to decide what another independent country does? It wasn’t NATO pushing expansion, but Eastern European countries rushing to join NATO to avoid being invaded. They were right. Anyone not on NATO is invaded by Russia if they don’t do what Moscow wants.

Simon Boudewijn
Simon Boudewijn
2 months ago
Reply to  Juan P Lewis

Mexico, or Cuba, may not align with China and have their military bases and large missile systems installed there. This is known. Ukraine has always been the road to Russia by Western invaders.

martin logan
martin logan
2 months ago

“Kak izvestno”
Be careful of your phrases, geroi…
Seriously, being a big country, there are countless “roads for invaders.”
So, must Russia control Iran, Pakistan, India China and Japan, to guard those invasion routes?
But thanks for a glimpse in to Pure Russian Thought…

Jim C
Jim C
2 months ago
Reply to  Juan P Lewis

“So Russia gets to decide what another independent country does?”

Ukraine isn’t “independent”, though, is it? It’s utterly dependent upon Western support and finance, and has been for years. The government post the 2014 coup were installed by the US, and any opposition to Ukraine’s lurch to the West was effectively silenced by lawfare in the courts and Pravvy Sektor in the streets. Zelenskyy’s regime locked up opposition leader Medvedchuk in 2019 and banned his party for being “too” pro-Russian. Note the date was prior to the Russian invasion in 2022.

Furthermore, it’s surely up to the citizenry of NATO members to determine whether Ukraine can join… and I don’t recall being asked; do you?

Micael Gustavsson
Micael Gustavsson
2 months ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

The Cuban missile crisis where about the Soviet Union putting nuclear missiles on Cuba, not about Cuba being allied to the Soviets. NATO has not put nuclear missiles on the border of Russia.

JĂŒrg Gassmann
JĂŒrg Gassmann
2 months ago

The Cuban missile crisis hotted up when the Soviet Union responded to the US stationing of Jupiter rockets in Turkey, on the Soviet Union’s borders. The Soviet response was to station rockets in Cuba.
The resolution of the crisis was that the Soviets withdrew their rockets from Cuba, and the US withdrew its rockets from Turkey.
NATO may not have put nuclear missiles on Russia’s border yet, but NATO installed launch sites that can launch nuclear missiles. So far as Russia is concerned, there is no difference.

Micael Gustavsson
Micael Gustavsson
2 months ago

Of course they can but they haven’t. It is necessary to be able to do that for deterrence. But in order to show Russia that is is for deterrence that have not done so yet.
Ask yourself, why does every European country with free elections bordering Russia want to be part of NATO?

ChilblainEdwardOlmos
ChilblainEdwardOlmos
2 months ago

It’s amazing how so few are aware of this. The context concerning the Cuban Missile Crisis is pretty easy to read up on. Amazing, but unfortunately not surprising.

John Riordan
John Riordan
2 months ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

“If you think history began two years ago, then that’s one outlook.”

I would have thought my comments make clear that I think nothing of the sort.

Micael Gustavsson
Micael Gustavsson
2 months ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

The push for Ukraine to join NATO came from Ukraine, not from NATO.

Peter F. Lee
Peter F. Lee
2 months ago
Reply to  John Riordan

Sign a peace agreement.

John Riordan
John Riordan
2 months ago
Reply to  Peter F. Lee

Before you can sign a peace agreement you have to negotiate its terms, and if there is one thing Russia doesn’t like doing, it’s agreeing inconvenient terms. Russia’s problem – well, the Russia that exists under the Putin regime – is that it thinks it’s a superpower that can simply dictate terms. It isn’t, and it has millions of peasants whose lives it can sacrifice before learning that lesson, not to mention an economy that can be 40% harnessed to a war effort without serious internal political upheaval.

None of what I say here should allow you to conclude that I’m thinking in simplistic manichean terms here – I have plenty of contempt for the strategic stupidity of the West in general and the EU in particular since 1989. But politics is not the whole equation: no matter who’s to blame for creating the conditions for war, the reality is that Ukrainians are the ones bearing the consequences of the war that has now started. What “peace” do you think Russia will agree to that secures the safety and interests of 36million Ukrainians, who until very recently were hoping against hope that they were to join a Western bloc in which civil rights and limits to arbitrary power actually exist?

Personally, I would very much like to believe the core message of the article above: that it is actually a viable plan to support the Ukrainian defence to take a few more strategic positions off Russia and then get everyone around the table to hammer out a peace deal. But I doubt Russia will think it’s worth sitting down just because the Ukrainians took a few villages back. I hope I’m wrong.

Jim C
Jim C
2 months ago
Reply to  John Riordan

We already know what Russia would agree to, because the Ukrainians and Russians hammered out a deal a few weeks after the invasion, and the terms were: Russia gets Crimea, the Eastern oblasts had autonomy, and Ukraine would stay out of NATO.

And then BoJo flew to Kiev and… the peace deal was abandoned.

What did BoJo tell Zelenskyy? That the West would give all the support needed to take back the rebel provinces and Crimea? We may never know… but the result is hundreds of thousands more dead, and Ukraine in a weaker position than before, because I doubt Russia will now settle for just autonomy for the Eastern oblasts.

Russia has been a far, far more reliable oath keeper than the US, so I have no idea why people keep saying the Russians can’t be trusted. The US record for abrogating treaties goes back centuries… just ask a native American.

John Riordan
John Riordan
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim C

Really, I’d almost think you’d rather live in a Russian-controlled country than a western one.

These arguments always seem to obsess over the priorities and actions of the political classes in Russia and the West, but the reality is that hundreds of millions of people from the Nordic nations all the way down the Eastern bloc to the southeastern tip of Europe do not want to live in a country under Russian influence. Yes it is true that the West broke promises to Russia not to expand NATO eastwards, but it was populist pressure in those nations for NATO protection from Russia that drive that expansion.

And yes, in turn I agree that the West (and the EU particular) probably should have resisted this pressure, but to imply that the failure to do so was only about American policymakers being feckless and dishonest is really rather daft. It is more complicated than that, and your arguments are simplistic.

Jim C
Jim C
2 months ago
Reply to  John Riordan

Really, I’d almost think you’d rather live in a Russian-controlled country than a western one.

I fail to see how your “reply” is a rebuttal to anything I said, but OK – I’ll bite.
Would I rather live in a Russian-controlled country than – say – Western-controlled Ukraine? Well wouldn’t you? Ukraine has a median income a third of Russia’s, and is currently being destroyed. That’s what happens when a country’s “leadership” invites its great-power neighbour’s enemies to use it as a proxy.
The idea that the post-USSR countries joined NATO because they didn’t want to be under Russian influence is a simplistic argument itself. Russia demilitarised its entire Western front after the collapse of the USSR because it was naĂŻve enough to believe Western assurances of peace and goodwill.
Every country joining NATO brings a bonanza to the Western MIC because the new entrants have to be interoperable – which requires them to spend 2% their GDP on their military, much of which will go towards buying NATO-compatible weapons. And as much of this is financed through deficits, this also benefits our ruling financier class.
If you don’t believe the “leaders” of these countries didn’t directly benefit by agreeing to big-up the Russian threat to persuade their electorates to join NATO then I think you should seriously consider it. Literally tens of billions of dollars flowed as a result… do you genuinely believe some of that wasn’t bunged – either directly or through directorships/jobs – to the politicians who were in a position to enable/veto it?

Bret Larson
Bret Larson
2 months ago
Reply to  John Riordan

They are paying the iron price now. We will see if it’s enough.

Rob N
Rob N
2 months ago

Have to say I find those casualty figures unconvincing esp as artillery is supposed to account for most casualties and Russia has an undisputed huge advantage there.

Martin M
Martin M
2 months ago
Reply to  Rob N

The key with artillery is actually hitting the enemy. Firing into plots of land long ago vacated by the enemy doesn’t produce a lot of casualties.

Simon Boudewijn
Simon Boudewijn
2 months ago
Reply to  Martin M

who does that? Why?

Jim C
Jim C
2 months ago

Didn’t you hear? Russia, with a military doctrine that specifies twice as much artillery per footsoldier than NATO and their student Ukraine, doesn’t know how to use it. Apparently.
Martin has seen the videos of fields pockmarked with holes, and believes it when he’s told that i) they were empty fields when the shells exploded, and ii) all the shells were all Russian shells. Cuz vodka! And Orcs! And Democracy!

martin logan
martin logan
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim C

I could say something about “tube wear” and how most Russian artillery is decades or half a century older than any of Ukraine’s.
Or that the one advantage Ukraine has is in drones, for spotting their artillery.
But if Stalin did it, it must be still be true today…

Jim C
Jim C
2 months ago
Reply to  martin logan

I hate to tell you this, but Russian supply lines are much, much shorter, which means it’s far easier for them to swap out their artillery pieces for repair. I’ll admit they need to do this more often, but then that’s because they’re firing almost 10x as many shells.

Both sides have guided artillery shells, though both still rely overwhelmingly on “dumb” munitions, so in that regard it’s a wash.

Ukraine no longer has numerical (or even technological) drone superiority.

People think the fact that Russia has made few territorial advances is evidence of them not winning.

But it’s Ukraine that needs to take territory to win the war. Whereas for Russia to win, it needs to bleed Ukraine of its manpower, and keeping the front far Ukraine’s Western borders, where their materiel enters the country, means the UAF are obliged to ship it right across the country, putting huge pressure on their logistics and giving the Russians the opportunity to destroy it en route.

People who predicted an early collapse of the UAF were clearly very wrong, but unless there’s some serious change in the situation, it’s hard to see how they can win this.

martin logan
martin logan
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim C

A Korea-style armistice is certainly a possibility. But any significant Russian gains in future are unlikely.
And, unlike Korea, that leaves 80% of Ukraine in Ukrainian hands.
So for Russia, a complete loss…

Martin M
Martin M
2 months ago
Reply to  martin logan

Even if that happens, the “remainder” of Ukraine should be fast tracked into NATO.

Jim C
Jim C
2 months ago
Reply to  martin logan

But any significant Russian gains in future are unlikely.

ï»ż

Russia is currently winning. They’re winning in terms of casualties, and they’re winning in terms of territory. So why is it “unlikely” they’ll have no significant gains?
Regardless of how many weapons we send, unless NATO starts sending troops, Ukraine are going to run out of soldiers to wield them.

Martin M
Martin M
2 months ago

Russia does, because it is easier to pump a load of shells into the co-ordinates given to you by your superior that to say “Sir, the enemy have withdrawn from that position”. You get into less trouble mindlessly following orders.

Jim C
Jim C
2 months ago
Reply to  Martin M

I have no idea why you would think this. First of all, how would the person told to “pump a load of shells” at Ukrainians know better than their superior that the enemy have withdrawn?
Ukrainian soldiers have testified they’re being slaughtered by Russian artillery, which is accurate and relentless. Counter-battery fire occurs within minutes.

Graham Stull
Graham Stull
2 months ago
Reply to  Rob N

Weeb Union, one of the best independent sources on this war, believes the casualty count is about 2 Ukrainians for every 1 Russian. By these estimates I would count about a total UA losses of about 300,000 killed or wounded, and half as many for Russia.
But by April, the number of Ukrainians suffering from drug addiction or disease could dwarf the casualty numbers. Not so for Russia, because it is able to rotate out frontline troops and UA is currently not. So the real decider will be cold March mud.

Simon Boudewijn
Simon Boudewijn
2 months ago
Reply to  Graham Stull

The PTSD numbers will be absolutely HORRIFIC. Those having lived under endless artillery always do.

Boris and the Neo-Cons enthrall to the Military Industrial Complex – I hope you wake in the night suffering the terrors of what you have done for money – as these poor wretches you destroyed will….

Micael Gustavsson
Micael Gustavsson
2 months ago
Reply to  Graham Stull

But Russiais not rotating out its troops.
By what standard is weeb union a good source?

martin logan
martin logan
2 months ago
Reply to  Graham Stull

Of course, the fact that the pro-war Russian blogger committed suicide because he posted that 11,000 Russians died just in taking Avdiivka alone is irrelevant.
As is the fact that offensives take more lives than defence, and that most unsuccessful offensives (i.e. no breakthrough) have been launched by Russia itself.
If you see it on Telegram, it’s so!!

JĂŒrg Gassmann
JĂŒrg Gassmann
2 months ago
Reply to  Rob N

The BBC-Mediazona estimate is 45,000 Russian casualties:
https://en.zona.media/article/2022/05/20/casualties_eng
There are no independent estimates for Ukrainian casualties, but the occasional gaffes from Ukrainian media, quickly withdrawn and strenuously denied, suggest in excess of 500,000 KIA and over a million casualties (KIA and severely injured).

Matt Hindman
Matt Hindman
2 months ago

The big problem is it is easier to send more equipment and ammo then it is to replace casualties out of a limited recruiting pool.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
2 months ago
Reply to  Matt Hindman

The bigger problem is that we can’t trust any information anymore from anyone or anywhere. We live in a virtual truthless world, where everyone can make up their own reality and then report it.

martin logan
martin logan
2 months ago

Sorry, that’s 45,000 NAMED deaths in open source.NOt the Russian total by far.
The probable ratio is about 2 Russian dead for one Ukrainain, since Russians have been attacking in “meat waves” far more often.

Simon Boudewijn
Simon Boudewijn
2 months ago
Reply to  Rob N

”The Duran” Alexander Mercouris, Douglas Macgregor, Scott Ritter, Napolotano and many experts miles above this writer say Ukraine is nearing 400,000 dead – and for each 7 dead Ukrainians, one Russian has died. This is from actual studies of satellite graves, social media funerals, and body counts on the field…

I believe the above – actual experts.

Micael Gustavsson
Micael Gustavsson
2 months ago

You believe the Russia repeaters. Those who almost verbatim repeat Russian propaganda points.

Matt Hindman
Matt Hindman
2 months ago

That is the problem with this war. It is an all out propaganda blitz with so many well-crafted flavors to choose from. That is why what I have found to be the most helpful to figure out what is going on is our own version of Kremlin watching! Pay close attention to what American and Brit politicians say, how their predictions turn out, what they chose to focus on, body language and demeanor etc. Then compare that with the Russians. I bring this up because right now Western talking heads are in barely disguised panic and the Ruskies are looking really smug. Compare this to when Ukraine had several successful counteroffensives. American leaders were even “joking” about regime change in Russia while old Vlad was sacking useless generals left and right. Now we are smack dab in the middle of the early finger pointing stage.

martin logan
martin logan
2 months ago

You believe guys who have posted that Ukraine will fall in “two weeks.”
That’s now way over 100 failed predictions.

Samuel Ross
Samuel Ross
2 months ago

Each European country should pay, at MINIMUM, 2% of its GDP on defense and its armed forces. Full stop. Otherwise, it reminds me of a guy who bums out in your basement for 8 years, doesn’t pay any rent, and gets mad when you raise the subject with him.

Martin M
Martin M
2 months ago

Europe must come to terms with the fact that Russia will be its enemy for (at least) the next 100 years. It needs to prepare accordingly.

Graham Stull
Graham Stull
2 months ago
Reply to  Martin M

Why does Europe have to accept these terms? Qui bono?

Martin M
Martin M
2 months ago
Reply to  Graham Stull

Because it is a fact. Europe can either accept it, or keep being wrong-footed by an aggressive an expansionist Russia.

Simon Boudewijn
Simon Boudewijn
2 months ago
Reply to  Martin M

I do not believe this. I think Trump could prove it was Biden and the Neo-Cons of all EU, UK, and USA Uniparty – and that those days are done – if indeed the world does sweep those treacherous ones away – which it is looking it might. All needed is the MSM to lose their grip on the people and truth to come out – and Russia could be a good trading partner rather than an enemy. Peace make both sides safer and prosperous.

Martin M
Martin M
2 months ago

Russia will never be a good “trading partner”, because it is simply not a civilised country. What has it produced in the 800 years that it has been a nation? Apparently it has a couple of good composers and a couple of good authors, and that’s pretty much it. It led the Space Race for a few years, but quickly fell behind. The only other thing it has produced that has made a mark on the world is the AK-47.

Alexander Dryburgh
Alexander Dryburgh
2 months ago

So the best that can be hoped for is Ukraine to continue to take a pummelling through 2024 and potentially take back enough territory in 2025 to give it a better bargaining position at the negotiating table in 2026. And that’s a reason to be optimistic?
But then the HIMARs, the Leopards and the ATACMs were going to turn the tide. And let’s not forget the F16s which likely will play no role in this conflict because (as retired American F16 pilots have indicated) Ukrainian airspace is a no fly zone because of the network of surface to air defences which cover the nation.
All of that of course means either the U.S. eventually delivers on “doing whatever it takes” without ever specifying what it is and/or the Europeans getting their act together on arms production.
Whew! I was worried there for a moment.

Janko M
Janko M
2 months ago

The one thing that has been remarkable this war is that amateur analysts have produced wildly better analyses than any think tank “expert”. The casualty figures cited in this article should fill anyone with deep deep scepticism.

If Ukraine had lost “only” 70’000 men, would there already be an acute shortage of manpower? Truth is we did the cardinal mistake of over-promising to Ukraine and analysts should interrogate themselves why their wildly optimistic cheerleading did not translate into reality.

Micael Gustavsson
Micael Gustavsson
2 months ago
Reply to  Janko M

Ukraine has a shortage because the law says they can only draft people from the age of 27 and upwards. If they, like a lot of countries at war, started drafting people from 18 years and upwards, it would add a lot.

Nik Jewell
Nik Jewell
2 months ago

This war was a lost cause a few months after it began. It has only carried on for as long as it has in order for Blackrock to extract maximum profits from it.

Simon Boudewijn
Simon Boudewijn
2 months ago
Reply to  Nik Jewell

The entire point of this proxy war was so Blackrock and Vanguard could come in after Russia AND Ukraine were destroyed and under the guise of ‘Rebuilding’ them, steal all the resources like was done in the 1950s Middle East Oil.

They miscalculated and may have destroyed the West instead. But no worries, that is as good as Blackrock and Vanguard can come and ‘rebuild’ them and steal all the resources and wealth held by the once Middle and Working Classes.

So as the writer predicts – it will have a happy ending yet….well… at least for the ones who created and pushed this war, the ones who count….For the rest? Well, they will be destroyed – but you have to crack eggs to make omelets, and the Global Elite love their omelets….

Michael Cazaly
Michael Cazaly
2 months ago

Possibly this writer has missed the fact that the occupied tracts of land formerly part of Ukraine have now been declared part of Russia. Russia has stated that an existential threat to Russia will be met with the use of nuclear weapons.
Nobody in their right mind would believe that is a bluff, and risk destruction for the sake of the Neocon fantasy of dismembering Russia.

Peter B
Peter B
2 months ago
Reply to  Michael Cazaly

Pure fantasy.
Russia can claim whatever it wants. In fact, they are also laying claim to parts of Ukraine they have never occupied since 1991 and not just those they occupy. Check your facts !
Russia makes all sorts of foolish claims and demands. Like demanding NATO pull back from Poland in December 2019 (yes, that was an official Russian demand).

Michael Cazaly
Michael Cazaly
2 months ago
Reply to  Peter B

Which bit is fantasy? That Russia wouldn’t use nuclear weapons? Best of luck trying that one…

martin logan
martin logan
2 months ago
Reply to  Michael Cazaly

Oh, since they never have, even when they thought the West would use them (Able Archer) they MUST be serious now!
If there is no evidence–it MUST be true!!!

John Riordan
John Riordan
2 months ago
Reply to  martin logan

Russia is not the same now as it was then. The calculation is different.

martin logan
martin logan
2 months ago
Reply to  John Riordan

Agreed.
Putin & Co have much more personal; wealth to lose than any Soviet leader.
A man with a billion dollar palace isn’t a candidate for a suicide watch…

Michael Cazaly
Michael Cazaly
2 months ago
Reply to  Peter B

As for demanding NATO pull back from Poland, it was merely a demand that NATO comply with its promise that it would not move “an inch eastwards”. NATO then installed missiles in Poland “to counter the threat from Iranian missiles”…for anyone who ever believed that I have a bridge in London they can buy…
Russia was foolish to rely on Western promises. It won’t do so again and will create a cordon sanitaire between it and the West, by agreement or otherwise, as happened after WW2.
Ukraine’s best move is to become a neutral country like Austria, which has done rather well by it…and not become part of NATO as Sweden and Finland foolishly have.

Peter B
Peter B
2 months ago
Reply to  Michael Cazaly

I suggest you go and read the actual demands from the Russian foreign ministry. I am merely repeating (in my own words) what they said. Or perhaps they weren’t being serious ?
The age of cordon sanitaires and buffer states is long gone. Russia may still want to behave like an imperial power from the 1700s/1800s. But that world has gone. And it’s no longer a world power – if you can’t beat Ukraine after going all-in for 2 years, you’re not a world power any more. They can have whatever fantasy wish lists they like. But that doesn’t mean they’ll get what they want.
If Russia wanted to use nuclear weapons, they would have done so. You may not have noticed, but they have repeatedly threatened all sorts of escalations since they invaded Ukraine – and yet none of it has ever happened. They may be corrupt and incompetent, but they aren’t stupid.

Michael Cazaly
Michael Cazaly
2 months ago
Reply to  Peter B

It isn’t the Russians being stupid that is the worry…

martin logan
martin logan
2 months ago
Reply to  Michael Cazaly

Er, that promise (that wasn’t actually made) was to a Soviet Union TWICE as big as Russia.
And before Ukraine was an independent nation.

Micael Gustavsson
Micael Gustavsson
2 months ago
Reply to  Michael Cazaly

There never was any formal agreement from the west not to expand, only verbal statements from Bush seniors administration that they did not plan to extend NATO, which they didn’t. It is generally known that verbal statements of policy from one government doesn’t bind later government, only written treaties does.
Russia however did sign the Budapest memorandum 1994 which guaranteed Ukraines borders.

Peter B
Peter B
2 months ago

“To push Ukraine into negotiating now would amount to decreeing its partition”.
This is just so misguided. Ukraine will lose some territory from its pre-2014 boundaries. That’s inevitable. And indeed desirable for Ukraine to have fewer ethnic Russians/pro Russians within its boundaries.
So some form of partition is inevitable and necessary.
The only questions are a) how we get to that agreement, b) where the boundaries fall and c) producing a stable long term settlement where Ukraine is safe and free from Russian interference.
The scaremongering about Trump misses the point about his recent remarks. He intends to push both sides to come to an agreement. There is no plan to unilaterally drop support for Ukraine, nor in Trump pro-Russian or anti-Ukrainian. He just wants it over. Trump might be the best way to make progress here.

martin logan
martin logan
2 months ago
Reply to  Peter B

Putin isn’t ready for serious negotiations.
Just capitulation.
It will take more time for the latter.

John Riordan
John Riordan
2 months ago
Reply to  martin logan

I agree. Putin has no incentive to back down from his maximalist position. He faces no serious internal democratic opposition even while spending 40% of Russian GDP on this stupid war. Even a serious increase in Russian casualties on the battlefield probably won’t make any difference. I suspect that the Ukrainians might have more luck if they focussed on destroying Russian equipment than killing Russian conscripts.

martin logan
martin logan
2 months ago
Reply to  John Riordan

In the long term, it’s also in Ukraine’s interest that Russia’s demographic crisis gets much worse.
So the more dead, the less likely that Russia will have enough people for another war.

Graham Stull
Graham Stull
2 months ago

“The current mood of pessimism stems partly from Kyiv’s failure to punch through Russia’s defences in the south during the summer-autumn counteroffensive of 2023. No less important has been the doubts about continuing American military aid.”
Let me stop you right there. The pessimism comes from the fact that even through the veil of non-stop Western propaganda, it is now blindingly obvious to everyone what should have been known all along: i.e. that Ukraine was never going to win this war, absent direct military involvement by NATO of a kind that would almost certainly spiral into World War Three.
They are out of soldiers, out of ammunition and out of equipment to keep fighting. The only reason Russia isn’t advancing faster is because they have come to understand the nature of Current Thingism among Ukraine’s Western backers, and they are eager to not trigger too much panic in the West. A slow, steady grind doesn’t excite the flag-on-balcony brigade the same way, so Russia is pacing itself to win the war over the course of many months. They correctly anticipated that Ukraine’s social media reservists would get bored of muddy reports of positional fighting over already destroyed villages nobody can pronounce.
The endgame is that Russia will retake all of the disputed territories and impose a demilitarised zone for everything east of the Dnieper. That has been true for a while now; all the rest is message management on the part of Western media and the American Empire.

Peter B
Peter B
2 months ago
Reply to  Graham Stull

Genius ! So Russia is voluntarily losing masses of men and equipment “pacing themselves”. No doubt they planned a 3 year war at the outset and have cunningly lured everyone into a false sense of security ! You heard it here first.

Graham Stull
Graham Stull
2 months ago
Reply to  Peter B

Right, sarcasm aside. Here’s my prediction:
By September 2024 Russia will have captured Kherson, Zelensky will have fled the country, and the new government will be in negotiations with the Kremlin on the terms of a permanent ceasefire, which will include a DMZ up to the left bank of the Dnieper.
After the blame games (this is all Tucker Carlon’s fault!), distractions from the Paris Olympics with some culture war silliness and perhaps a new polemic around Muslim immigrants, the Western media will have largely moved on and most ppl won’t even know the name of the new Ukrainian leader.
What’s yours?

Walter Lantz
Walter Lantz
2 months ago
Reply to  Graham Stull

This echoes Mearsheimer’s prediction of a ‘hot peace’ interrupted on a more or less regular basis by ceasefire violations. At this point it’s difficult to dispute that theory.

Skink
Skink
2 months ago
Reply to  Graham Stull

Good prediction. The only question in my mind is whether Romania, Hungary and Poland will get their chunks.

Will Longfield
Will Longfield
2 months ago
Reply to  Skink

Hungary will probably occupy Zakarpatiya, Romania will take some border territories, to “protect the population” from the war. Russia will probably not care.
Poland’s position is more complex – Poland can theoretically lay claim to most of Galicia, but realistically the area is the heartland of radical Ukrainian nationlism and Poles were ethnically cleansed from there during World War 2. So they may just leave it be.

Micael Gustavsson
Micael Gustavsson
2 months ago
Reply to  Graham Stull

Why would Zelensky flee when he didn’t when the Russians where outside Kyiv?

Bruni Schling
Bruni Schling
2 months ago

Because then he was still deluded enough to believe in the Ukrainian victory with help from Nato

martin logan
martin logan
2 months ago
Reply to  Bruni Schling

Seems in a lot better position now than he was three days into the war.
Your post sounds more like like the prayer of a drowning man, than a prediction…

D Walsh
D Walsh
2 months ago
Reply to  martin logan

How the hell are they in a better position. They have lost 500K+ men. Most of the hardware the West sent them is destroyed

70K men signed up to the Russian army this month, meanwhile the Ukrainians are reduced to dragging men off the streets and forcing them to fight

It’s only going one way now

Micael Gustavsson
Micael Gustavsson
2 months ago
Reply to  Bruni Schling

Well, NATO didn’t believe in it at that time (which is why he was offer an airlift out). Zelensky himself seemed sure he would die, telling the leaders of the EU just before that it might be the last time they saw him alive.

Will Longfield
Will Longfield
2 months ago
Reply to  Bruni Schling

He will be toppled by the army.
Many of the senior military figures are basically Russians (Syrsky’s whole family lives in Russia, for example) and they’ll approach Russia with an offer to end the fighting with their “slavic brothers”. That will be hard for Russia to reject, given the family ties between Russians and Ukrainians at all levels of society.
There may be a revolt in Galicia where the Neo Nazi right is strongest, but that’s the best way Ukraine can retain at least some independence.

Peter B
Peter B
2 months ago
Reply to  Graham Stull

See my later comment in this thread about the long term settlement. The Russians will likely get to keep Donetsk, Luhansk and Crimea. And the Ukrainians should recognise they’re well rid of them. Russia will have to rebuild them (and pay for it). There will be no DMZ. No buffer states. Ukraine’s security will be guaranteed by the west, but likely outside NATO. Not sure quite how long that will take. 2025 earliest.
If you make patently ridiculous claims like countries voluntarily “going slow”, you’ve got to expect the ridicule. You’re better than that.

martin logan
martin logan
2 months ago
Reply to  Graham Stull

Thank you. O Great Swami !
Now simply show one past prediction of yours that has come true.

Will Longfield
Will Longfield
2 months ago
Reply to  Graham Stull

Agree that the strategic goals of Russia have to include Odessa and its land bridge to Transdnistria and Kharkov.
Kiev I think is an open question, although Russian propaganda has been promoting it as Russian city (which it is – everyone speaks Russian there).

Micael Gustavsson
Micael Gustavsson
2 months ago
Reply to  Will Longfield

Like everyone speaks English in Dublin and New York, so they should really be part of the U.K.

Roddy Campbell
Roddy Campbell
2 months ago

Make America Great Britain Again!

Bret Larson
Bret Larson
2 months ago
Reply to  Graham Stull

I think Russia is suffering more than you make out. Which doesn’t mean of course that they will call it quits. Wars are won by those who continue to fight. Russian defensive lines impede their advance in a similar measure to their effectiveness on Ukraine. I think the current lines will be hard to change one way or the other. Once they both have this understanding they can look to a resolution.

JĂŒrg Gassmann
JĂŒrg Gassmann
2 months ago
Reply to  Peter B

The facts suggest roughly the following sequence of events:
In late 2021, Russia was sounding the alarm bells, warning Kiev and the West to engage with Russia on the basis of the Minsk Accords (binding in international law) and the OSCE principles, or Russia would intervene militarily. The US rejected these approaches and dared Russia.February 2022 – Zelensky says at the Munich Security Conference that Ukraine would seek nuclear weapons (cheered on by Kamala Harris), and the Ukraine military gears up for a full-scale invasion of Donbass.24 February 2022 – Russia invades with its Zapad forces, quickly occupying parts of the southern oblasts and around Kiev. Purpose is to pin Ukrainian forces so they cannot reinforce the Donbass attacks, and force Ukraine to negotiate.The strategy is nearly fully successful – by March, Ukraine and Russia have initialled the Istanbul memorandum, which would have returned the status to roughly the Minsk Accords situation. Russia voluntarily withdraws from Kiev.Boris Johnson delivers NATO’s ultimatum to Ukraine: No peace. The Istanbul memorandum is shredded.Russia realises that it has a real war on its hands, for which it is not prepared. Russia abandons Cherson city and the Charkiv territories and switches to war mode. Russia begins setting up and training a fighting army, which will not be ready for combat before Spring 2023.

martin logan
martin logan
2 months ago

I guess losing territory is actually winning.
Genius!

Roddy Campbell
Roddy Campbell
2 months ago

That’s a very partisan view of what actually happened. Do you actually believe it?

Will Longfield
Will Longfield
2 months ago
Reply to  Peter B

Yes, but Russia isn’t “losing masses of men and equipment”. The 300,000 KIA figures provided by the UK MOD come from the Ukrainian government.
For most of the war Russia has carried out tactical retreats rather than risk high casualties and has avoided high-casualty blitzkrieg attacks. KIA figures for Russia are probably in the 60-65,000 range. For Ukraine, the numbers are over 200,000.

Will Longfield
Will Longfield
2 months ago
Reply to  Peter B

Russia attacked in 2022 because Western-armed Ukraine was preparing to attack the DPR and LPR and likely overrun them.
The invasion plan was cobbled together in a hurry and was not sufficient deal with Ukraine’s rebuilt military, which had planned for the invasion for months.
Russia had no other option but to strike when they did, but they bungled it – especially by failing to take Gostomel in the first days of the war.

Jeff Watkins
Jeff Watkins
2 months ago
Reply to  Graham Stull

In contrast to the long winded and disingenuous piece by Menon your summary is spot on and as you say below Russia will take back all “Russian” lands including Odessa and the West knows it.

martin logan
martin logan
2 months ago
Reply to  Jeff Watkins

I think a typical example of how Russians fail to use (or are just ignorant of) medieval evidence-based analysis.
To take Odesa you have to either:
A) Attack by sea with many landing ships and escorts;
Or
B) Cross the Dnipro under heavy fire with non-existent amphibious capabilities.
So how is Russia going to take Odesa if the Black Sea Fleet’s landing ships are at the bottom of he Black Sea, and all their trained Naval Infantry has been obliterated in the war?
Only by the Divine intervention of some Orthodox saint, I presume…

Michael McElwee
Michael McElwee
2 months ago
Reply to  Graham Stull

The West defined what “winning” means for Russia, while Russia itself had very different ideas about it. What we in the West suggested was disappointment after disappointment for Russia, was for Russia victory after victory. We in the West are at war with the facts.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
2 months ago
Reply to  Graham Stull

The article was measured, your response largely not, though with nuggets of truth here and there. American Empire – there IS no American “empire”! This is a pure Far Left and Right propaganda term which simply redefines language to suit itself. American hegemony, maybe what’s wrong with that? Empires have a unified political centre – is the EU part of it or not? Is therefore Hungary? Empires also tend to defend their territories rather than going out of their way to avoid war with an aggressor.

Even Europe has a vastly bigger economy.than Russia, let alone the US and could, if there was the political will to do so produce more armaments. The author only said this is possible, not that it would happen. The huge losses experienced by the Russians are obviously not part of a plan. And victory and defeat aren’t as clear cut as you say: the Finns were eventually defeated by the overwhelming numerical superiority of the Red Army. This enabled a large measure of Finnish independence, though not total, for many decades.

The West can certainly be justly criticised; wars are often not planned by anyone, as we should know from July-August 1914. However the “black and white” naive acceptance by some on the RW of almost every piece of Kremlin propaganda (corrupt Ukraine, obviously not an issue in Russia) is quite another.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
2 months ago
Reply to  Graham Stull

I suspect the casualty estimates quoted in media coverage are no more reliable than those the BBC reports in relation to Gaza. Why do people believe the combatants?

Andrew Boughton
Andrew Boughton
2 months ago

Another article based on false foundations. Post-Soviet Russia was an asset for Europe, not a threat, none of which this author seems to appreciate. But being such an asset and ally made Russia a very distinct threat to the US, which therefore incited this author’s view of things as a self-fulfilling prophecy. You get what you give.

Andrew Boughton
Andrew Boughton
2 months ago

Ta for the endorsements. As for the downvotes, either murdering bastards or victims of the murdering bastards.

Adrian Smith
Adrian Smith
2 months ago

Possibly paradoxically (though if it was really thought about in advance maybe not) technology has pushed warfare backwards from the manoeuvrist approaches that delivered stunning victories in WWII and later conflicts to WWI trench warfare, where whoever runs out of soldiers first, loses. That is as true for stunning Russian advances, as it has been for the counter offensive.
What is being proposed here is the definition of insanity – trying the same thing over and over expecting a different result.
It is easy to say with hindsight, but I did actually say it at the time too, the best opportunity to strike a deal that was most favourable to Ukraine was before the “spring” offensive started. Indeed I had hoped the delay in the “spring” offensive was secretly indicative that efforts to strike a deal were going on behind the scenes.
Given how much so many political leaders in Europe and America have “invested” in this (with Ukrainians doing all the dying), it would seem the best we can hope for is for Ukraine to not lose too much more until Trump can come in and make a deal, which won’t be nearly as good for Ukraine than what could have been achieved in spring of 2023.

Simon Boudewijn
Simon Boudewijn
2 months ago
Reply to  Adrian Smith

Not to mention that would have avoided the European Recession and the rise of the BRICS+ and all manner of crazy things.

Jim C
Jim C
2 months ago
Reply to  Adrian Smith

It’s almost as if “our” leaders are trying to get as many Ukrainians killed as possible.

martin logan
martin logan
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim C

Seem to be killing a lot more Russians though…

Rocky Martiano
Rocky Martiano
2 months ago
Reply to  Adrian Smith

Or what could have been achieved in April 2022 or under the Minsk Accords. Two years of slaughter and destruction have brought the Ukrainians back to where they were when Boris flew to Kiev. But with far fewer able-bodied men and far less viable infrastructure. War…what is it good for?

Walter Lantz
Walter Lantz
2 months ago

“In the event that Ukraine can regain at least some additional territory and bring the war to a satisfactory end”
A negotiated settlement that looks very similar to a deal that could have been signed two years ago sounds more like an awkward embarrassment than a ‘win’. Will such a deal silence questions such as why predictions of Russia’s certain military and economic collapse were so far off the mark? Russia couldn’t possibly sustain a protracted war (it was said) yet it seems that it’s the EU and the US that are getting wobbly. What about the strategic philosophy that we want Russia looking West and not East? How has that worked out? The BRICS alliance appears stronger than ever.
This US election year sees Biden leading the US in an expensive foreign entanglement that the pesky Trump can easily convert into votes. Then it’s suggested that the EU can be a game-changer. All they have to do is magically do what they’ve never done and transform itself into a group unanimously committed to military self-defense capability. I recall a Freddie Sayers interview with economist Louis Gave who opined that the West cannot win a two front war: fighting Russia and Climate Change. Events appear to have validated that view. Shipping boatloads of cash to Kyiv while the proles are increasingly turning to food banks and DIY dentistry, in large part due to economically disastrous Net Zero policies, is a hard sell.
Putin may or may not be crazy he certainly isn’t stupid. Yes, his invasion was loaded with miscalculations and mistakes but he’s prepared to play the long game and he’s confident the West isn’t.

Simon Boudewijn
Simon Boudewijn
2 months ago
Reply to  Walter Lantz

”Britain and Europe have the power not only to keep Ukraine in the fight, but, eventually, to help it make the advances needed to reach a favourable negotiated settlement.”

Never as favorable as before a shot was fired. Boris, presumably doing his leash holder Biden’s bidding, scuppered that. $200,000,000,000 Western Debt and getting towards a million dead and disabled was the fruits of his interference.

Blood smells like money to a Neo-Con warmonger, and Boris smelled it and loved it….

Fran Martinez
Fran Martinez
2 months ago

Coincidence that this just came out? https://youtu.be/e3F3owL3iQo?si=MRvQCvYBQomzpJPH

John Riordan
John Riordan
2 months ago

“Alternatively, a subset of Nato states could guarantee Ukraine’s security, but on the understanding that any resort to force against Russia to defend Ukraine would not trigger Article V of the 1949 Nato Treaty, the commitment to collective defence. This would scarcely substitute for Nato membership, but it would give Ukraine more protection than armed neutrality.”

This, I think, is something that would be welcomed by Russia – and NATO’s adversaries in general – as the start of a slippery slope in which the Article 5 principle is hollowed out over time to being mostly meaningless.

As to the rest of the article, it doesn’t deliver on the implied promise of the headline. How exactly does Europe first help Ukraine win (where “win” equals making a few significant advances and then sitting down for peace talks with Russia), and then develop a USA-independent European defence system that includes a credible nuclear deterrant against the world’s biggest nuclear stockpile?

And why on earth is the EU cited as an example of how European national cooperation can be effective? The EU is in the middle of testing that idea to destruction, and will in due course destroy any such conceit. The EU is a luxury that was only ever affordable when America paid for Europe’s defence and in a world where the West didn’t have powerful strategic adversaries.

Jim C
Jim C
2 months ago
Reply to  John Riordan

The EU is a luxury that was only ever affordable with cheap energy.

Douglas Hainline
Douglas Hainline
2 months ago

The key issue, which no one wants to talk about, it this: should Ukraine really, genuinely — and not as a rhetorical tactic — insist on recovering every square kilometer of its territory, or not? The author hints strongly that it shouldn’t, but avoids suggesting what it then should be aiming for.
What no one also mentions, or just coyly hints at, is that in the areas the Russians have overrun, there is far from 100% support for the Ukrainian side. Exactly what the sentiment is there now — after the invasion — is necessarily hard to determine. But before the invasion, there was substantial pro-Russian feeling.
So, here’s an honorable strategy for Ukraine: challenge the Russians to allow a UN-supervised referendum in the disputed areas: with Ukraine, or with Russia? If the Russians turn it down, this will weaken their case in the (admittedly feeble) ‘court of world opinion’. It would strengthen the Ukrainian case as well. If they permit it, then we’ll learn a lot.
They’ll probably reject it, as it would set a dangerous precedent for the non-Russian (mainly Muslim) territories which are part of the Russian Federation.
So … why not champion “The Right of Nations to Self-Determination”? Borders aren’t sacred. (The British wisely decided to let the Scots go, if they foolishly vote to divorce themselves from the English welfare t*t.) It’s a good idea, and has an interesting geneology as well.
[ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Right_of_Nations_to_Self-Determination ]

JĂŒrg Gassmann
JĂŒrg Gassmann
2 months ago

Did you deliberately link to a Wikipedia stub on Lenin’s work “The Right of Nations to Self-Determination”, or did you mean to link to the generic Wikipedia article “self-determination”?
“Self-determination” is an important principle in international law, and the UN’s focus in the first decades of its existence was self-determination in the form of decolonisation.
As so many principles of international law, it sounds great, but becomes more difficult to pin down as you seek precision. Also, international law does not offer a reconciliation with another important principle of international law, the permanence of borders.
There is also in international law no requirement of a referendum or plebiscite to found a claim for self-determination, just that a defined population stabilised on a defined territory authoritatively express that desire. Bearing in mind that Russia has already held referenda that were internationally supervised in Crimea and the four oblasts, so they’d understandably be opposed to the EU’s guiding principle that you vote until you get it right.

Micael Gustavsson
Micael Gustavsson
2 months ago

Please remind us who did this international supervision.

JĂŒrg Gassmann
JĂŒrg Gassmann
2 months ago

You can easily look it up – but ultimately, it is hardly relevant. According to the ICJ’s Kosovo decision, a referendum is not required, so e maiore minus it is not required that any referendum that is held should be internationally supervised.

Micael Gustavsson
Micael Gustavsson
2 months ago

You were the one who brought up Russias fake referendum in Crimea.

Jim McDonnell
Jim McDonnell
2 months ago

People tend to make way too much of the “failed counteroffensive.” The Ukrainians were expected to succeed at something we wouldn’t even attempt without a lot more air cover than the Ukrainians had or are ever likely to have. They need to build up their forces to the necessary level before they try another major ground offensive. I don’t expect them to try one this year.

Chauncey Gardiner
Chauncey Gardiner
2 months ago

“To push Ukraine into negotiating now would amount to decreeing its partition”
Agreed. And that is just what Zelenskyy and his Servant of the People party were elevated to do in 2019: cut a deal that would end a war in the Donbas that had been simmering since 2014. That deal would involving ceding the renege oblasti of Luhansk and Donetsk to Russia and giving up on claims to the Crimea.
Perhaps that deal is still within reach. Ukraine’s bargaining position may not improve going forward.

JĂŒrg Gassmann
JĂŒrg Gassmann
2 months ago

That was the essence of the Minsk Accords, which were made binding in international law through their endorsement by the UN Security Council.
Yet, by common admission of the German Chancellor, the French President, and the Ukrainian President, Ukraine always saw the Minsk Accords as a way to buy time for Ukraine to rearm to the point where it could launch an attack on Donbass and Crimea.
Zelensky could only have implemented the Minsk Accords if the US had supported him against his Nazis, who openly threatened that Zelensky would swing from one of the trees in Kiev’s main square if he tried. But the US didn’t, and so Zelensky caved.
There was another chance in March 2022, when Russia withdrew its troops from around Kiev (they were not chased out by the Ukrainian forces – Russia withdrew voluntarily) and both parties initialled the Istanbul memorandum. But Boris Johnson swooped in and delivered NATO’s ultimatum: No peace.
So we are where we are.

Simon Boudewijn
Simon Boudewijn
2 months ago

There is another article here that says Boris gave up his power job so he could be a voice for the ‘Little People’ (the article compared him to Tucker Carlson in that way,)

It triggered my gag-reflex…. Is Soros moving behind the scenes here? Or is it the WEF, or just the Uniparty Military Industrial Complex Neo-Cons?

I guess Unherd is learning the ‘Tall Poppy Syndrome’. It tried sticking its neck out and going a touch against the narrative – and got a bit of a smack-down perhaps….

Micael Gustavsson
Micael Gustavsson
2 months ago

Sorts, WEF. Why not go big and blame it on the Illuminati.

Micael Gustavsson
Micael Gustavsson
2 months ago

Soros, not sorts.

Martin M
Martin M
2 months ago

Or those lizard creatures. They really run everything….

Micael Gustavsson
Micael Gustavsson
2 months ago

Russia never implemented the Minsk accords.

JĂŒrg Gassmann
JĂŒrg Gassmann
2 months ago

Which part of the Minsk Accords was Russia’s to implement?

Micael Gustavsson
Micael Gustavsson
2 months ago

Russia was supposed to withdraw their occupying forces from the Donbas, and there were supposed to be elections there. In exchange the Donbas would get a great autonomy within Ukraine https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minsk_agreements

JĂŒrg Gassmann
JĂŒrg Gassmann
2 months ago

Wikipedia is not a reliable source.
Russia did not have any troops in Ukraine/Donbass (just like NATO currently has no troops in Ukraine). The troops defending Donbass were not Russian, they were Ukrainian units that had defected from the Ukrainian Army.
There was no structure of “first you do X, then we do Y” in the Minsk Accords.
Ukraine implemented none of its obligations under the Minsk Accords. There were many steps Ukraine could have taken that had no impact on the military situation in Donbass and that would have shown the Donbass that the Kiev government was serious about implementing the Minsk Agreements.
As it turns out, that was not how the Kiev government saw the Minsk Accords – for Kiev, the accords were just a device to get a ceasefire after its disastrous defeat in Debaltsevo, and to obtain time to rearm for a later attack – which has been confirmed by Ukraine President Poroshenko, German Chancellor Merkel and French President Hollande.

Micael Gustavsson
Micael Gustavsson
2 months ago

Russia certainly had troops in the Donbas, even if they weren’t official Russian troops (thus the cage language in the Minsk treaties about withdrawal of mercenaries and irregular trooos).Little green men like the first trooos in the Crimea. Putin even gave medals to Russian soldiers for fighting in the Donbas, while simultaneously denying that there were Russian troops there. All elections in the Donbas since the Russians marched in in 2014 have been at gunpoint to create local quislings. Se for example Girkin/Strelkov himself describing how he did it.

martin logan
martin logan
2 months ago

So you’re really saying that even the peace party of Zelensky couldn’t make a deal with Putin?
My, an own goal if there ever was one…

JĂŒrg Gassmann
JĂŒrg Gassmann
2 months ago

And that is just what Zelenskyy and his Servant of the People party were elevated to do in 2019: cut a deal that would end a war in the Donbas that had been simmering since 2014. That deal would involving ceding the renege oblasti of Luhansk and Donetsk to Russia 

No – this was not the Minsk Accords deal, and not the Istanbul Memorandum deal. The thrust of the Minsk Accords was for the Donbass republics to have a certain amount of cultural autonomy within Ukraine, such as the US States, the German LĂ€nder, the Swiss cantons, the constituents of Great Britain, and so many other regions have in culturally complex states. For the Maidan crowd, that departure from the purity of the Ukrainian identity could not be stomached, since Ukrainian identity is built not on inferior Slavic heritage, but on Arian heritage rooted in Scythian (or Viking) history.

Rocky Martiano
Rocky Martiano
2 months ago

So let me get this straight.
The author is proposing that Ukraine fights on for another two years (at least), with armour that Europe is currently unable to supply, incurring a further 70,000 casualties (although, like other posters, I consider that figure highly understated), in order to (possibly) gain a few extra miles of territory, that will enable it to negotiate a peace agreement that was on the table in April 2022? And this is to be considered a victory?
Ukraine has been sacrificed on the altar of US hegemony by a small cadre of neocon fanatics who have captured US foreign policy. There is no other interpretation of this proxy war (which began in 2014, not 2022) that makes any sense.

Martin M
Martin M
2 months ago
Reply to  Rocky Martiano

The good thing is that Russia is losing people and equipment too. Also, when the war is over, The West will pay to reconstruct Ukraine. Russia will have to sort itself out (and it will still be under sanctions).

JĂŒrg Gassmann
JĂŒrg Gassmann
2 months ago

The Russian armed forces are the ultimate Schrödinger phenomenon: At the same time as Ukraine is winning against a Russian army that is losing droves of untrained conscripts and the prison dregs in human-wave attacks, is haemorrhaging antiquated and overhyped equipment, and has been running out of ammunition since the war started, Russia is also this fearsome juggernaut that will sweep across Europe if the Ukrainian thin red line is breached.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
2 months ago

Britain and Europe have the power not only to keep Ukraine in the fight, but, eventually, to help it make the advances needed to reach a favourable negotiated settlement. 
Will it be anything like the settlement that the West scuttled nearly two years ago, long before a half-million Ukrainians have been killed and millions more had fled the country?

Simon Boudewijn
Simon Boudewijn
2 months ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

It will be not nearly as good – and the European recession caused by Boris blocking it – well that will keep getting worse.

How Boris is not in the Tower, and after a just trial, taken by Traitors Gate to the place decreed, Tyburn Dock, for his just reward – is beyond me.

Rocky Martiano
Rocky Martiano
2 months ago

I doubt Boris blocked it on his own initiative. He was actin under orders.

Dick Barrett
Dick Barrett
2 months ago

It is time for peace talks, and an end to this war with a compromise peace deal now.

Martin M
Martin M
2 months ago
Reply to  Dick Barrett

Putin doesn’t compromise.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
2 months ago

copium

Peter F. Lee
Peter F. Lee
2 months ago

quote “Britain and Europe have the power not only to keep Ukraine in the fight……”
Thanks to Pres. Trump’s efforts during his presidency and beyond.

Peter F. Lee
Peter F. Lee
2 months ago

It seems there could have been a peace agreement, even before war started, but NATO was too keen for war by using Ukraine as a proxy army.

Martin M
Martin M
2 months ago
Reply to  Peter F. Lee

To the extent that there “could have been a peace agreement”, it would have been about as watertight as the one Neville Chamberlain brought back from Munich.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
2 months ago

Has Russia shown it’s weakness to China? The first clash between Russians and Manchus was in 1651. The Russians reached the Amur River in 1847 and the whole of Siberia was ceded to them in 1858 and Vladivostock was founded in 1859.
Putin claims Ukraine but the Chinese claim to Siberia is far stronger, basically east of Lake Baikal. $4M Russian tanks have been destroyed by $25K NLAWS. Siberia is rich in the oil and minerals China needs. On present evidence Russia could do little to stop China taking back Siberia. Russia is a western country whether Putin likes it or not.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
2 months ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

Worse Siberia is ‘warming up’, and as you so correctly say the “Yellow Peril” want to overturn the ‘unequal treaties’ and take it back.
It is FAR more important than Taiwan.

Martin M
Martin M
2 months ago

There is a suggestion (and I can’t supply any evidence for it, but it seems plausible) that Russia has let it be known that if China invades, Russia won’t even meet the Chinese forces on the battlefield, it will just nuke major Chinese cities.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
2 months ago

First off, this is a tragedy. The deaths of so many young people on both sides is appaling. Honestly, I dont know where the guilt lies for this industrial scale murder. I try and stick to truths which are that 1)Putin is a thug and dictator but also very wealthy. 2) Boris johnson acted very strangely in skuppering this deal and then , if i remember rightly attending some bullshit climate conference ( hobnobbing with elites) shortly after getting kicked out of office. 3)The same elites (World economic forum etc.) didnt seem at all perturbed by this conflict and seem to care more about ” global warming” and ” disinformation” at their recent shindig . 4)America has no effective leader to negotiate and appear to be on autopilot. Noone know who is calling the shots at executive level ( they may as well have a child emporor as s senile one )
In any event everything has conspired against the ordinary working people of ukraine and russia and elites everywhere seem happy to to keep packing the ordinary citizens off to war. Who benefits ? Arms manufacturers in America and China in a political sense as their rivals crumble are distracted and possibly weakened by ongoing war.
I ,for one, pray for peace

Bruni Schling
Bruni Schling
2 months ago

Maybe this speech by retired Nato general Kujat helps to shed light on the entanglements in the readers’ discussion. He opens up the geo-political perspective for those of us who myopically focus on the Ukraine. There are bigger questions at play
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U21-RrB8E6Q&t=70s

martin logan
martin logan
2 months ago

The Russian troll/stooge version of reality is always great for a laugh.
Fact is, this is the low point of shells for Ukraine. Even if the US doesn’t cough up, there’s still quite a bit more coming from Europe etc.
That’s why Ukraine didn’t give up, even after losing Lysychansk.
And curiously, Ukraine has liberated most of the western Black Sea. Grain flows freely now to the countries that Putin was planning on starving, and blaming on the war.
But the main point has always been: every Ukrainian knows that–whatever his real loyalties, he will be considered a traitor by Putin’s forces. Same situation after WW2, which just led to a 10 year long guerrilla war.
However bad the situation gets, there never will be a significant Ukrainian movement to surrender to Moscow, any more than anyone wou0ld open their door to a known serial killer.
Just accept it, and you’ll sleep much better at night…

martin logan
martin logan
2 months ago

Rather hilarious assessments below, as usual.
Putin now has to maintain a state of constant war, a la Stalin.
He certainly cannot settle for just the four oblasts. Even a “demiltarized zone” just means he must conquer it in future.
Indeed, If he can’t take most of Ukraine, it means he’s lost the war.
Settling for only the east bank Dnipro area leaves Russia poor and powerless. Once the war ends, the inevitable recession will weaken, and then destabilize the regime.
Just as the sub-optimal results after 2014 pushed Putin to intervene in Syria, Libya and the Sahel, not taking all of Ukraine will just bring ever-increasing efforts to overturn the “Uni-Polar World.”
So, “The Gambler” won’t quite until he loses everything at the roulette wheel…

martin logan
martin logan
2 months ago

Factually, the only thing Putin can do now with his War Economy is continue to wage war.
So much for any “peace deal.”
If he tried to turn to a peace model, his 16% inflation and 7% interest rates would soon collapse the whole system.
Worse still, he also knows that Russian’s one product, arms, are now unsaleable to any other nation.
Who would be crazy enough to buy Russian tanks, fighters, AWACs and artillery that don’t work?!?