X Close

It’s time to send Nato troops to Ukraine After 75 years, the alliance is locked in the nuclear age

'Regardless of quality... the Russian army already outnumbers the Ukrainian, and the gap is becoming wider every day.' (Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

'Regardless of quality... the Russian army already outnumbers the Ukrainian, and the gap is becoming wider every day.' (Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto via Getty Images)


April 4, 2024   6 mins

In 1944, Leslie Groves, the US army general who managed the Manhattan Project, asked its chief scientist, J. Robert Oppenheimer, just how powerful their new bomb might be. Would it be 10 times as powerful as the largest bomb of the time, the RAF’s Tallboy “earthquake bomb”? Or 50 times, or even 100 times? Oppenheimer replied that he could not be sure — at the time, there were even fears that the explosive chain reaction might never stop — but he expected a bomb much more powerful than 100 Tallboys. Groves immediately replied that such a powerful weapon would not be of much use to anyone, because the “politicians” would never dare to use it.

In the short run, Groves was wrong, while Oppenheimer’s guess was correct. The Hiroshima uranium bomb was in fact more powerful than 1,000 Tallboys, with the Nagasaki plutonium bomb exceeding even that. But only five years later, Groves’s prediction came to pass. First the United States, and then the Soviet Union, and then each successive nuclear power came to the realisation that their nuclear weapons were too powerful to be used in combat. This has remained true in the decades since — all the way up to the invasion of Ukraine. For, despite Putin’s atomic sabre-rattling, he too is subject to the logic of Groves’s prediction. Decades after his conversation with Oppenheimer, a brief historical summary of nuclear war has much to teach us about the situation in Ukraine — and how victory might only be attainable there through much more conventional means.

The first test of the nuclear age came with the Korean War. In December 1950, hundreds of thousands of Chinese soldiers crossed the River Yalu to support their North Korean allies against the US. With America in immediate danger of losing tens of thousands of men, General Douglas MacArthur decided that he had to use nuclear weapons to stop the Chinese. By far the most respected US military leader of the time — he had led American forces in the Pacific from humiliating defeat to total victory, and then acted as Japan’s de facto Emperor in reforming the country — MacArthur expected Truman to assent to his superior military judgment. Instead, the answer was a flat no. MacArthur insisted, and he was dismissed.

Truman recognised that the nature of warfare had fundamentally changed since Hiroshima and Nagasaki. When he authorised those strikes, neither he nor anyone else knew that the explosions would also cause radiation fallout, which would sicken and even kill thousands of people miles from the site of the detonation. Moreover, in 1945, Truman was facing the prospect of losing many more American troops in the conquest of Japan than in the entirety of the Second World War up to that point. The Japanese really did fight to the last man, and still had 2 million troops to expend. Truman would have been thrown out of the White House if he had allowed the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Americans by refusing to use the bomb.

But five years later, the situation was very different. Facing catastrophe in Korea, Truman had the alternative of evacuating US troops to Japan if all else failed — and therefore never even considered using atomic weapons. Under the next president, his fission bombs evolved into thermonuclear fusion bombs at least 100,000 times more powerful than Tallboy. But that only made Truman’s “No” of 1950 even more definitive. Nuclear abstinence became the only possible choice for Americans and Russians alike, as the Cuban Missile Crisis precariously but definitively showed.

However, it would take much longer for this logic to develop into a definitive doctrine. Following the establishment of Nato 75 years ago today, and especially in the Sixties and Seventies, exhaustive efforts were made to extract some additional advantage from nuclear weapons and somehow gain the upper hand for the new Western alliance. So-called “tactical” nuclear weapons were made not more, but much less powerful, supposedly to enable their use on the battlefield. Their advocates claimed that they could provide firepower very cheaply, with small nuclear warheads replicating the effect of hundreds of howitzers. Both the US and Soviet armed forces duly acquired thousands of nuclear weapons: not only “small” bombs for fighter-bombers, but also bombardment rockets (some small enough to be carried in a jeep), anti-aircraft missiles, torpedoes, and even portable demolition charges.

But this illusion could not be sustained. Military planners came to understand that if US commanders tried to defend Nato territory by attacking invading Soviet forces with small “tactical” nuclear weapons, the Russians would use their own arsenal to destroy the defending Western forces. The same would apply for any attempt to replace conventional military force with nuclear weaponry. And so it was understood that, while nuclear weapons are a useful deterrent, they can only be used to strike back against a prior nuclear attack — and never to achieve any kind of victory. Thus in the Seventies, when the United States and the Soviet Union were engaged in the elaborate and highly publicised “Strategic Arms Limitation” negotiations, officials on both sides quickly agreed to quietly stop developing, manufacturing and fielding new “tactical” nuclear weapons, before equally quietly disassembling tens of thousands of these weapons.

But in the end, it was the newest nuclear powers, India and Pakistan, that conclusively demonstrated the redundancy of their own nuclear weapons for anything beyond reciprocal deterrence. In the Kargil War of 1999, which involved multiple full-scale battles and thousands of casualties, neither side attempted even a sotto voce threat of a nuclear strike. And this is still true today. When Putin‘s loudest attack dog, Dmitry Medvedev, started barking about the use of “tactical” nuclear weapons after the failure of the initial Russian invasion in 2022, it was only the least competent journalists and those obedient to Moscow who echoed his warnings. Eventually, after several months of this foolishness, Putin came out and said it: Russia would only use nuclear weapons only “when the very existence of the state is put under threat” — meaning by a corresponding nuclear threat.

The situation in Ukraine has turned again, but the same logic holds. Instead of frustrated Russians bogged down in their trenches, now it is the Ukrainian position that looks precarious. Kyiv presents this as a question of materiel, and continually asks for more and better weapons from the West. Yet while more guns and missiles could be sent, it is clear that what is forcing Kyiv to retreat step by step is not a lack of firepower, but a lack of soldiers.

Until this week, conscription in Ukraine only started at the age of 27, as opposed to the global norm of 18. Zelensky has now reduced this to 25; but with many Ukrainians exempted from service, his total armed forces amount to less than 800,000 active personnel. Ukraine is hampered by the age distribution of its population, with children and older people over-represented when compared to young men in the 19-35 age bracket. But its troop total is still too low for a population that exceeds 30 million by most estimates, considering that Israel can rapidly field an army of around 600,000 from a population of around 8 million. This means that, unless Putin decides to end the war, Ukraine’s troops will be pushed back again and again, losing soldiers in the process who cannot be replaced. Russia doesn’t even have to send its finest troops to achieve this — merely volunteer contract soldiers attracted by good pay, or Russian prisoners serving ordinary criminal sentences, recruited straight from their prison cells. Regardless of quality, though, the Russian army already outnumbers the Ukrainian, and the gap is becoming wider every day.

“Nato countries will soon have to send soldiers to Ukraine, or else accept catastrophic defeat.”

This arithmetic of this is inescapable: Nato countries will soon have to send soldiers to Ukraine, or else accept catastrophic defeat. The British and French, along with the Nordic countries, are already quietly preparing to send troops — both small elite units and logistics and support personnel — who can remain far from the front. The latter could play an essential role by releasing their Ukrainians counterparts for retraining in combat roles. Nato units could also relieve Ukrainians currently tied up in the recovery and repair of damaged equipment, and could take over the technical parts of existing training programmes for new recruits. These Nato soldiers might never see combat — but they don’t have to in order to help Ukraine make the most of its own scarce manpower.

Crucially, with China coming ever closer to an attack on Taiwan, the US cannot provide more troops than the roughly 40,000 who are already in Europe. Thus a momentous decision is in the post for the other Nato members, especially the most populous: Germany, France, Italy and Spain. If Europe cannot provide enough troops, Russia will prevail on the battlefield, and even if diplomacy successfully intervenes to avoid a complete debacle, Russian military power will have victoriously returned to Central Europe. At that point, Western European powers will have to rebuild their armed forces, whether they like it or not, starting with the return of compulsory military service. Perhaps in those circumstances, we might even witness an outbreak of nuclear nostalgia, foolishly harking back to the illusion that apocalyptic weaponry might be enough to keep the peace.


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

ELuttwak

Join the discussion


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


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

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

Subscribe
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

203 Comments
Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
D Walsh
D Walsh
3 months ago

“Nato countries will soon have to send soldiers to Ukraine, or else accept catastrophic defeat.”

And even if NATO send troops, the Russians will still win. fighting to the very last Ukrainian looks to be the plan

Graham Stull
Graham Stull
3 months ago
Reply to  D Walsh

Indeed. On the other hand, if Mr Luttwak hurries, he can complete basic training in time to join the disorderly retreat from Chasiv Yar.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 months ago
Reply to  Graham Stull

He will need a ton of steroids and probably an asthma pump.

Janko M
Janko M
3 months ago

How about no? A “catastrophic defeat” is still better than apocalyptic annihilation. Plus, I wonder if the author will go himself then or if he is just eager to send other people’s children to fight. The madness needs to end.

Martin M
Martin M
3 months ago
Reply to  Janko M

Putin can end it any time he likes, but unfortunately he is a war-mongering tyrant with a penchant for invading other people’s countries.

Janko M
Janko M
3 months ago
Reply to  Martin M

And because he is a war mongering tyrant we should precipitate a third world war which is likely to end in nuclear apocalypse? Instead of building future deterrence we would finish off our own understaffed militaries full of volunteers who will wonder how in the world we took them so for granted that we sent them to fight a nuclear power. And yes, I know many soldiers in NATO armies who acutely feel this way. Never forget that your sense of moral indignation is paid in blood by some poor bloke – at least be consequential and sign up then.

Mark Phillips
Mark Phillips
3 months ago
Reply to  Janko M

Ex-squaddy here and you are correct. We sign up so that we don’t have to fight. Sometimes we have to live up to our contract but only a f’idiot actively wants to go to war. We lose people all the time in exercise accidents so we are aware of the costs.

Martin M
Martin M
3 months ago
Reply to  Janko M

If we don’t deal with Russia now, we will have to deal with it in future. Yes, Europe’s militaries have been run down. Now is the time to build them up again. Russia will be “the enemy” for the remainder of the century at least.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 months ago
Reply to  Martin M

Do you by any chance work for BAE Systems?

Mike Doyle
Mike Doyle
3 months ago
Reply to  Martin M

The same was said about Vietnam (the domino theory). It was crap then, and it’s still crap today.

b blimbax
b blimbax
3 months ago
Reply to  Martin M

Permit me to rephrase your commit, Martin M:
“If we don’t deal with NATO expansion now, we will have to deal with it in future. Yes, our military is run down. Now is the time to build it up again. NATO/The West will be ‘the enemy’ for the remainder of the century at least.”
Okay, maybe it doesn’t work perfectly, but the point is to illustrate the lack of strategic empathy. It doesn’t work perfectly because Russia did not want to cultivate enmity between it and the U.S.-led west, it made repeated efforts to resolve serious issues in Ukraine and especially in the Donbas without dismembering Ukraine, it made efforts to develop a mutually beneficial strategic architecture for all of Europe, and it has no interest now in taking over all of Ukraine, let alone Poland or the Baltic states or Lichtenstein or . . .

Eleanor Barlow
Eleanor Barlow
3 months ago
Reply to  Janko M

There’d be nobody left – either military or civilian – to care about being taken for granted. Europe would become just one big nuclear wasteland. People need to educate themselves about Hiroshima and the more recent example of when the nuclear reactor at Chernobyl broke down in the 1980s.

Carlos Danger
Carlos Danger
3 months ago
Reply to  Eleanor Barlow

Hiroshima and Nagasaki are far from being wastelands. They are both beautiful, thriving cities today. They never were evacuated even after the atomic bomb attacks. All the damage and deaths occurred from the explosions themselves, not from lingering radiation.

Eleanor Barlow
Eleanor Barlow
3 months ago
Reply to  Carlos Danger

Nuclear weapons are a lot more powerful now than they were in 1945, and there’s more of them. I’m not willing for our governments to risk nuclear warfare, and I doubt if most other people are either, especially if they have young families. It’s only dumb warmongering idiots that are prepared to put all our lives at risk.

Carlos Danger
Carlos Danger
3 months ago
Reply to  Eleanor Barlow

I’m certainly not advocating the use of nuclear weapons. But I think you overdramatize the problem.

The MAD (Mutual Assured Destruction) theory had many in my generation worried that we were all going to die in a nuclear holocaust. Dr. Strangelove and all that. There was some truth to that. But the issue was more nuanced as well.

It’s rather like the use of nuclear power today. And climate change. Are there things to worry about with these problems? Certainly. Are they apocalypses hanging over our heads? Unlikely.

It is hard to know what to do in Ukraine. But better to soberly address the issue than to invoke the image of Europe becoming a nuclear wasteland when Hiroshima never came close to being that.

Martin M
Martin M
3 months ago
Reply to  Janko M

At the very least, the West should give Ukraine the missiles to bring down the Kerch Bridge, and set a significant portion of Russia’s oil producing facilities ablaze.

D Walsh
D Walsh
3 months ago
Reply to  Martin M

For some reason the Ukrainians and their foolish supporters are obsessed with the Kerch bridge, bringing it down would make zero difference

Martin M
Martin M
3 months ago
Reply to  D Walsh

It would be a blow to Russian morale, in the same way that sinking the Moskva was.

D Walsh
D Walsh
3 months ago
Reply to  Martin M

It’s a land war Martin, sinking boats for PR is close to pointless

Kyle Pelletier
Kyle Pelletier
3 months ago
Reply to  Janko M

What people fail to realize is that Russia carefully guards its true casus belli. The “expansion of NATO” is a seemingly plausible-enough reasoning that falls apart if closely examined. NATO obviously has no desire to occupy Russian soil — it’s a completely specious argument based on an appeal, sans rationale, that NATO is a warmongering alliance. A good rule of thumb is that if you don’t attack NATO, it won’t attack you. Yes, there were extenuating circumstances (perhaps a decent corollary would be that you shouldn’t allow organizations that fly planes into civilian buildings free reign in your country), but for the most part, it is completely true that unless you attack NATO, you will be left alone. The “NATO expansion” reasoning is the most-rigorous to which I’ve become aware over the last two years, and I find it flimsy and therefore likely untrue. But even if you believe this rationale… should you not be invested in stopping Russia in Ukraine? After all, Finland has just joined the alliance, which would put it next on the chopping block. If the threat of NATO “expansionism” is a sufficient casus belli, what is the actual, immanent “expansion”? We are obligated to aid in its defense.

Other given rationale includes denazifying a country run by a Jewish president, the musings of Yaroslav the Wise, and various target-marketed bylines which revolve around a traditionalist mythology designed to be appealing to culture-warriors in the West.

The point is that Russia’s real reasoning most likely has no reason to stop with Ukraine. In the absence of solid rationale, and in light of Russia’s constant, intentional attempts to muddy the waters in this respect, we must simply look at Russia’s actions to signify its intent. Its intent, as signified at the start of the war, was to blitz into Kyiv, depose the government, and annex the rest of the territory as it did with Crimea. Nothing else makes sense in retrospect of the physical actions Russia has taken in material reality. If an aggressive, expansionist country acquiring territory on European soil doesn’t get the klaxons blaring for you, I don’t know what will.

Maybe I’m just old-fashioned, but I don’t believe imperialist expansionism has any place in the 21st century. That, in and of itself, should be sufficient rationale to support Ukraine’s independent decision to resist the Russian invasion. It’s their decision, after all. We can harp on all we want about proxy wars but the basic fact is that it’s none of our business to tell a country what it should or should not do with respect to its national sovereignty. It makes me sad for the state of Western society that we’re increasingly unable to view anything outside the lens of our own myopic self-interest. What Russia has done is wrong. That used to matter to us.

Kyle Pelletier
Kyle Pelletier
3 months ago
Reply to  Janko M

What people fail to realize is that Russia carefully guards its true casus belli. The “expansion of NATO” is a seemingly plausible-enough reasoning that falls apart if closely examined. NATO obviously has no desire to occupy Russian soil — it’s a completely specious argument based on an appeal, sans rationale, that NATO is a warmongering alliance. A good rule of thumb is that if you don’t attack NATO, it won’t attack you. Yes, there were extenuating circumstances (perhaps a decent corollary would be that you shouldn’t allow organizations that fly planes into civilian buildings free reign in your country), but for the most part, it is completely true that unless you attack NATO, you will be left alone. The “NATO expansion” reasoning is the most-rigorous to which I’ve become aware over the last two years, and I find it flimsy and therefore likely untrue. But even if you believe this rationale… should you not be invested in stopping Russia in Ukraine? After all, Finland has just joined the alliance, which would put it next on the chopping block. If the threat of “NATO expansion” is sufficient casus belli, what is the actual, immanent “expansion” thereof? We are obligated to aid in its defense.

Other given rationale includes denazifying a country run by a Jewish president, the musings of Yaroslav the Wise, and various target-marketed bylines which revolve around a traditionalist mythology designed to be appealing to culture-warriors in the West.

The point is that Russia’s real reasoning most likely has no reason to stop with Ukraine. In the absence of solid rationale, and in light of Russia’s constant, intentional attempts to muddy the waters in this respect, we must simply look at Russia’s actions to signify its intent. Its intent, as signified at the start of the war, was to blitz into Kyiv, depose the government, and annex the rest of the territory as it did with Crimea. Nothing else makes sense in retrospect of the physical actions Russia has taken in material reality. If an aggressive, expansionist country acquiring territory on European soil doesn’t get the klaxons blaring for you, I don’t know what will.

Maybe I’m just old-fashioned, but I don’t believe imperialist expansionism has any place in the 21st century. That, in and of itself, should be sufficient rationale to support Ukraine’s independent decision to resist the Russian invasion. It’s their decision, after all. We can harp on all we want about proxy wars but the basic fact is that it’s none of our business to tell a country what it should or should not do with respect to its national sovereignty. It makes me sad for the state of Western society that we’re increasingly unable to view anything outside the lens of our own myopic self-interest. What Russia has done is wrong. That used to matter to us.

Stuart Maister
Stuart Maister
3 months ago
Reply to  Kyle Pelletier

The issue many people have missed is the huge mineral wealth of the Eastern Ukraine, which is the Donbas region +. Russia survives on natural resource exports. Its oligarchs have all been enriched by this. This is a big part of the prize behind the smokescreen.

Prata do Povo
Prata do Povo
3 months ago
Reply to  Stuart Maister

No, they are just blocking western access to it. There is very little in eastern Ukraine that the Russians need. Their focus is in the Artic and eastern part of the country, and it will continue to be so.
To cut Ukraine’s access to the sea also will block NATO from being a threat to Russia in the Black Sea, at least for a while.

Ian Folkins
Ian Folkins
3 months ago
Reply to  Kyle Pelletier

Serbia didn’t attack NATO. It still had Dutch NATO warplanes drop cluster bombs on civilian targets, killing dozens.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 months ago
Reply to  Ian Folkins

The Dutch really are a bit of a menace. Too much German blood perhaps?

First ‘they’ sell most their Jews ‘down the river’ in 1940-45.

Then ‘they’ behave like beasts in Indonesia* from 1945-48.

Then the deplorable incident you mentioned. Have I missed any others?

(* The the Dutch East Indies.)

William Edward Henry Appleby
William Edward Henry Appleby
3 months ago

Didn’t they chicken out of defending some Bosnian Muslim civilians, who were then murdered by the Serbian militia?

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-61855110

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 months ago

Yes I’m afraid so.

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
3 months ago
Reply to  Ian Folkins

And then we had the savage attacks on NATO countries by Libya and Iraq.

Russia managed to overrun parts of Europe on the rebound in 1814-15 and 1944-45, chasing a defeated enemy, in conjunction with allies.

But it is Russia which has generally faced invasion from the West, not the other way round.
And if Napoleon and the painter had started from Kiev, rather than a thousand miles back, Russia wouldn’t have survived.

But yes, they could trust NATO expanding all the way to it’s borders “they wouldn’t attack us, no way, would they?”

Dr Illbit
Dr Illbit
3 months ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

Yes, generally.

Generally, except for WWII, of course. And then the Cold War, of course.

But apart from those minor ‘Special Military Operations’, generally, yes.

laurence scaduto
laurence scaduto
3 months ago
Reply to  Kyle Pelletier

I image that Russia fears being too closely hemmed in by Nato; to the point that a defacto, unspoken extortion situation might prevail. “Lower the price of your oil or else…”
In any case, the drum-beat to war is not appreciated. It would be funny in a Python-esque sort of way, if so many learned experts weren’t pushing so vigorously for it.
I suggest you have a long talk with yourself about why, exactly, you’re so ready to send so many fellow human beings to their miserable deaths. Wouldn’t China take advantage of such? Are two Great Wars not enough?

Skink
Skink
3 months ago

Just another armchair warmonger. Ignore’em.

Prata do Povo
Prata do Povo
3 months ago

It is interesting you say it. Actually the EU is trying again to make Russia dependent on their market. The closure of the Red Sea to gas carriers and oil tankers is making the Russians selling more to the EU again. The Russians may fallow into the trap but the Idea is to make them sell unter the price cap. They are preparing to lower the cap even more and at the some time to fine the Russians for all typ of energy uncompliences.

Michael Cazaly
Michael Cazaly
3 months ago
Reply to  Kyle Pelletier

Indeed imperialist expansion has no place in the 21st century…so NATO shouldn’t have tried it. There was always going to be “blowback”.
Of course the USA suffered “blowback” on 911 but apparently learned nothing; the Bourbons spring to mind.
Britain should stay well clear of this total FUBAR.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
3 months ago
Reply to  Kyle Pelletier

Lots of people argue that we do indeed need to support Ukraine, but there was a path to a peace deal that was blocked by the U.S. and Britain. That’s when it stopped being the defence of Ukraine and a defacto proxy war.

Johannis Georg
Johannis Georg
3 months ago
Reply to  Kyle Pelletier

Hurry up and join the foreign volunteer troops of Ukraine, take your family with you, and fight this war, if you think it’s worth dying for it. WE, THE AVERAGE PEOPLE, ARE NOT GOING TO!!! Print this well in your perverted minds! Ukraine can go to ****, as well as NATO and the Western hegemony!! We just want to live in peace, even if it is a bad peace. Stop bothering trying to convince us that Russia is going to invade someone else, the majority of people not that dumb, as you can see from the vast majority of the comments here.
There wouldn’t be any war in Ukraine if the West wouldn’t have toppled the democratically elected government of that country, and then order the puppets it put in their place to go after everything that is Russian.
Not the Russians came with military bases and missiles close to U.S. borders, in Mexico and Canada, the West came to Poland, Romania, Baltic states, attempted Georgia, now Ukraine, and so on.
Not the Russians refused peace agreement in Istanbul, not they refused to implement the Minsk accords.
F*** OFF to Ukraine and die yourself if you think it’s worth it!

Prata do Povo
Prata do Povo
3 months ago
Reply to  Kyle Pelletier

Well you forget that this is a geopolitical war. The EU has long become a threat to the Russian state and its structures. This started even before Ukraine’s euromaidan coup. So the Russians realised that the world was shifting to Asia, what was clear actually in 2019 and should explain to whose interest the pandemic was for. The pandemic did not bring the expected, wished effect, actually it accelerated the process of Asia becoming the economic centre of the planet. 

As the Russia was target economically and politically as of Aug. 2021 for Russia, and being an Eurasian country, the choice was clear. The Russians learned with the 2014 sanctions, they learned how to become immune to them and prepared. Biden’s and Eu’s arrogance and stupidity precipitated the war. The Russians knew, as of 24th of Fev. 2022 that they were going to cut ties with the west for decades to come. In you praizeble text you clearly forget to analyse, how the decision to invade Ukraine has a major geopolitical context, and that the Russians are fully aware of the decision they made. On the contrary the Westerns were not fully aware of the consequences of its decisions in 20th of Fev. 2022 during the Munich Security Conference. A childish bunch of pseudo-security experts precipitated a war that they did not calculated the costs, neither the implications. 

The Russo-Ukrainian war accelerated the Teutonic shifts towards Asia not only economically but also politically. It is that political component that is fully new and the West was never supposed to conceded. It did it out of incapability to confront Russia. It did not need to do it, but hate and Hysteric behaviour lead to it. 

Why are the Russians doing it so slow? Because it goes towards their interests. They don’t really care how many km2 they get or lose in Ukraine. They are revenging their afghan war, the attempts of political interference in their country, the economical betray (from Germany) and blackmail. Look at them, they are not in a worse position that they were before. Their position in the Asian economical architecture is not better or worse than the one they had within the western economic architecture. Are they losing anything? Actually surprisingly Russia is growing while the western economies are shrinking.

You will argue, but the US is getting stronger. No, the US is canabilising the big European economies, France and Germany. In doing that, they are actually strengthening India and China. Some say India is intentionally being helped by the west to compensate for China. No, India was going to grow anyways. By doing that, helping India to grow, they are actually helping Russia even more. Because Russia’s intentions is to balance power in Asia.

Russia won the day they started the war. Each day the war lasts they win a bit more. What for would they want to go anywhere else? Western fixation with Ukraine does it all. You mean after the war some EU countries are afraid of the payback. Of course the should be. There is going to be payback. Can you imagine a country to conspire against the US and not receive payback?

So don’t confuse PAYBACK with imperial non-senses.

Alexander Polyanskikh
Alexander Polyanskikh
3 months ago
Reply to  Kyle Pelletier

”unless you attack NATO, you will be left alone” – that is obviously wrong. And this entire article proves this. Ukraine is not in NATO, but still NATO is trying to join the fight. Same for Israel and Palestine. NATO is a military tool used to threaten other countries that do what US considers not appropriate for them.

Dave Smith
Dave Smith
3 months ago
Reply to  Janko M

Not my grandsons war. This is just like in 1916. Send the young to slaughter in a war that they never started , are not involved in and never need. The old men of Nato and the war industry have a problem. It is not a problem for the young men and women of England. My sons would rebel rather than give up their sons. And you really need to believe this. You can count on us oldtimers as well. My family lost many in the last two wars. No more.

Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
3 months ago
Reply to  Dave Smith

And for what – A dead and decadent continent that has nothing to do with American life?

Andrew Holmes
Andrew Holmes
3 months ago
Reply to  Janko M

Why not state the obvious? Your position yields your life and mine to any thug in charge of a nation willing to threaten or use nuclear weapons. And thugs are always around. So as one thug sees the success of another, it becomes thug vs. thug, with the same kind of structure as the European 10th century, and possibly the same Armageddon you see should we oppose Putin’s thuggery today..

Johannis Georg
Johannis Georg
3 months ago
Reply to  Janko M

He can join the Ukrainian armed forces anytime, as a volunteer, to avoid the “catastrophic defeat”. He can, his family as well, and all the other warmongers. WE ARE NOT GOING TO FIGHT YOUR WARS!

Kent Ausburn
Kent Ausburn
3 months ago
Reply to  Johannis Georg

Just curious, when will become “your” war, and will you fight then? You likely won’t have any choice but to fight, unless you walk willingly into submission.

Edwin Blake
Edwin Blake
3 months ago

So last Ukrainian used up in the proxy war? Time to send in our young men! Damn the consequences, they are mostly deplorables anyway.
BlackRock sure is going to loose a lot of money on that Ukranian farmland they have in hock if the Ruskies take over. Can’t have that, push out the lobbyists and shills.

Stephen Feldman
Stephen Feldman
3 months ago
Reply to  Edwin Blake

Send in women
More competent

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 months ago

What? The Devils in skirts perhaps?

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
3 months ago

Women’s equality only exists until it’s convenient. And dying in war is something they prefer to leave to the patriarchy.

Martin Smith
Martin Smith
3 months ago

How about sending in the Alphabet Brigades? That should put the wind up old Putes and his Orthodox mates?

Paddy Taylor
Paddy Taylor
3 months ago

But when Iran gets the Bomb then all bets are off.

What rational, temporal argument can dissuade the zealot if they believe what they are doing is divinely mandated?

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
3 months ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

.

John Galt Was Correct
John Galt Was Correct
3 months ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

Exactly. I’m not worried about Russia. I’m worried about some lunatics in the Middle east using nuclear weapons and believing they are martyrs that will go to some kind of heaven for their sacrifice.

Paddy Taylor
Paddy Taylor
3 months ago

Islamic State famously declared to the infidels that “We love death more than you love life.’
Will several millennia of human civilization be obliterated by mindless religious fanatics believing they’re doing God’s work by hastening the end of the world?
You can reason with Russia, with China, even North Korea, but if Iran gets to be a full nuclear power, how long before someone in the regime supplies the terrorists with the capacity to reduce Tel Aviv, London or New York to rubble, and the martyrs to their heavenly rest?

Eleanor Barlow
Eleanor Barlow
3 months ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

Yes, I’ve long thought it a pity that the West didn’t invade Iran and turn it into a car park instead of Iraq.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 months ago
Reply to  Eleanor Barlow

Iraq was easier, and thus cheaper in both blood and gold.

Michael Cazaly
Michael Cazaly
3 months ago
Reply to  Eleanor Barlow

Iran has a large middle class who do not support the current religious government.
However they ARE Iranian and will actually fight for Iran against any power which attacks Iran…as Iraq found out, despite the encouragement of the USA.
The religious leaders aren’t mad. They know perfectly well that any use by them of nuclear weapons will end their rule.
In any event they would immediately lose the support of China and Russia which is essential for them to survive.

Eleanor Barlow
Eleanor Barlow
3 months ago
Reply to  Michael Cazaly

But the Iranian ruling class consists of a bunch of troublemakers, funding terrorism, poking their noses into the affairs of other countries and causing unrest.
And if the middle classes don’t support the theocracy, why don’t they overthrow it?

P Branagan
P Branagan
3 months ago
Reply to  Eleanor Barlow

I think Ms Barlow has a few typos in her comment. It should read:
‘But the US ruling class consists of a bunch of troublemakers, funding terrorism, poking their noses into the affairs of other countries and causing unrest.

If the middle classes don’t support the MIC, why don’t they overthrow it?’

Steve Shifflette
Steve Shifflette
3 months ago
Reply to  Eleanor Barlow

They have tried at least twice.

Caro
Caro
3 months ago
Reply to  Eleanor Barlow

Tried that. Remember Mossadegh? Shah « car park », Khomeini…?

Fafa Fafa
Fafa Fafa
3 months ago

This feels like throwing good money after bad. This war could and should have been avoided. The grand strategist professor’s argument is that “now that we have fucked this up royally for y’all, y’all have no choice but to continue us into the abyss because otherwise how would it look if we folded tent and sue for peace at THIS point?” Well, IMO it would look like “better late than never”. Otherwise it is going to be another Vietnam, another Afghanistan, hundreds of thousands dead, tons of infrastructure destroyed, weapons manufacturers further enriched, but eventually another hasty and shameful withdrawal many years later than it would have been appropriate. Vietnam still evoked nationwide protests, Afghanistan was much more quiet, Ukraine is off the radar of the pronoun-obsessed, who are the generation traditionally is known to rebel against the powerful.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 months ago
Reply to  Fafa Fafa

Time for that famous word of command :-
“RUN AWAY”!

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
3 months ago
Reply to  Fafa Fafa

Good point well made

Alex Carnegie
Alex Carnegie
3 months ago

Like some of Luttwak’s other articles, a sensible and incisive analysis is followed by a startling and implausible conclusion tacked on the end. I can not make my mind up as to whether this is just click bait or the use of a sophisticated rhetorical technique to undermine some of his fellow neo cons by exaggerating their arguments to the point of absurdity. In this instance I agree with his analysis of nuclear war but see no chance of an overt deployment of NATO forces (whatever is going on in a small way covertly).

Lancashire Lad
Lancashire Lad
3 months ago
Reply to  Alex Carnegie

If you look back over his articles for Unherd since the start of the Ukraine conflict (by clicking on his name) he’s ‘all over the place’, swinging from one point of view to another.

If he had one in the first place, he’s lost the plot.

Ben Notsay
Ben Notsay
3 months ago
Reply to  Alex Carnegie

Doesn’t he realise that it’s the very NATO expansion driving Putins ‘special operation’? Geez Louise. Putin is as much a mass murderer as Obama and every one that has come before and after him since WW2! Why not negotiate again, mr Luttwakkoff

Martin M
Martin M
3 months ago

Good! Some common sense at last!

B Emery
B Emery
3 months ago
Reply to  Martin M

Common sense would have found a diplomatic solution years ago.
Common sense would not have imposed sanctions or destroyed important gas pipelines.
Common sense would have made sure we were ready for war before we committed to it in the first place.
Common sense is dead and has been for quite some time.

Martin M
Martin M
3 months ago
Reply to  B Emery

A “diplomatic solution” like Neville Chamberlain’s “piece of paper”? There is no reasoning with tyrants.

D Walsh
D Walsh
3 months ago
Reply to  Martin M

Because its always 1939

BTW Martin, what if the Russians win, that must mean they are the good guys, right

0 0
0 0
3 months ago
Reply to  Martin M

This war is the result of the ‘reasoning’ favoured by our masters, whom we are not allowed to style ‘tyrants’ even though they determine what happens and what we are allowed to know about it.

B Emery
B Emery
3 months ago
Reply to  Martin M

Well I imagine some pieces of paper would be involved, that is what the UN is supposed to do – push pieces and pieces of paper around its massive gibbering bureaucracy to prevent a global conflict.
Literally hundreds of diplomats are being paid hundreds of thousands of pounds at the moment to fail miserably over and over again. I assume they thought ‘tyrants’ could be negotiated with at the time they set the un up or they surely wouldn’t have bothered with their let’s prevent a global conflict mandate?

Does anyone know how many diplomats are working on the russia/ ukraine conflict and how much it is costing us for them to fail?

Rocky Martiano
Rocky Martiano
3 months ago
Reply to  B Emery

There is certainly none of it rolling around inside the empty chamber that passes for Mr Luttwak’s brain. Grand strategist….my a**e.

Johannis Georg
Johannis Georg
3 months ago
Reply to  Martin M

Common sense = call for Armageddon?

Common sense would be for you and other such people with serious mental illnesses, such as the author, to go to Ukraine yourselves to fight the Russians directly, since you seem so determined to do so and see no other purpose for your sad existence on this planet. Do us all this favor, please, as well as the young ukrainians that keep being kidnapped from the streets to be sent to their senseless deaths for exterior interests. If you believe it is right to fight there, go do it yourself by joining the foreign volunteer corps.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
3 months ago

If Russia can hire mercenaries, why can’t Ukraine.

Martin M
Martin M
3 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Maybe they can get some Gurkhas. They know how to fight.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 months ago
Reply to  Martin M

They perform better in the jungles of the Far East, than the steppes of Russia.
Their performance in the Falklands was not outstanding.

Martin M
Martin M
3 months ago

The thing that separates them from most other soldiers is that they don’t fear death.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 months ago
Reply to  Martin M

‘Karma’ I think it’s called, mind you the Japanese are also very strong in this field.

However perhaps 30 years ago now the Gurkhas did murder one of their own white officers in Hong Kong which was not a good report.

Additionally from what I have ‘heard’ the British Infantry, particularly those between the age of 18-25* are NOT that bothered by death, and are also quite keen on having a ‘scrap’ if one is on offer!

(*After 25 the ‘dawn of reason’ comes and even worse they may have got MARRIED.)

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
3 months ago

I knew someone who was denied a commission in the infantry in WW2 at the age of 24 on the basis that by that age he had too much sense

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 months ago

Quite right too.

Paul Curtin
Paul Curtin
3 months ago

Having worked with them, on more than one occasion, I can definitely say you are very, very incorrect Charles.
The definitive good soldier I assure you.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

If they were recruited in the UK wouldn’t that be a Criminal Offence?

(Although perfectly acceptable in Gaza apparently, as recent events have all too brutally shown..)

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
3 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Ukraine is Nato’s mercenary.

Talia Perkins
Talia Perkins
3 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

Imbecile, Ukraine is the victim of Russian expansionism towards NATO and the rest of Europe, under Putin’s desire to recreate the Russian Empire and sphere of influence at it’s greatest extent.

Rocky Martiano
Rocky Martiano
3 months ago
Reply to  Talia Perkins

Russian expansionism towards NATO. Have you absolutely no concept of European history since the end of the Cold War?

Talia Perkins
Talia Perkins
3 months ago
Reply to  Rocky Martiano

I have a thorough understanding of it. Only Russia has been the aggressor.
Strelkov!

0 0
0 0
3 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

There have always been stacks of mercenaries fighting for the Kyiv regime, many of them paid for by our taxes. While this is largely kept out of our view it’s well understood in Russia and reinforces their conviction they face a generalised Western threat..

Citizen Diversity
Citizen Diversity
3 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

If Russia can send prisoners to the front line, why can’t the UK send the mad knife-wielders, lunatic crackheads and young thugs taking up space in Britain’s jails?
If Ukraine reduces the age of conscription, there must be more eligible Ukrainians living abroad who could now serve.

A D Kent
A D Kent
3 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

The Ukrainians have – they recruited a load of Tajiks (quite openly by the Ukrainian Embassy there). Wonder what happened to them?

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 months ago

Luttwak* is a belligerent fossil and as ever with that species, all too eager to send ‘legions’ of young men ‘over the top’.
Have we learnt nothing from 1914-18?

(*Born 1942.)

Paul Devlin
Paul Devlin
3 months ago

We could indulge Mr Luttwak’s mad fantasies by only conscripting young Jewish people, instead of the poor, undereducated and immigrant classes that are usually swept up for the wars of ubermensch like himself

Mark Phillips
Mark Phillips
3 months ago
Reply to  Paul Devlin

How about just sending him and his fellow fools instead?

Johannis Georg
Johannis Georg
3 months ago
Reply to  Mark Phillips

My point exactly! He could join the Ukrainian Foreign corps anytime, and fight for what he believes in, die there, if he believes that it is such important to avoid the “catastrophic defeat” that would damage Western “prestige”.

Caro
Caro
3 months ago
Tyler Durden
Tyler Durden
3 months ago

No, this buffer territory needs an east and a western country to give the Russian and Ukrainian nationalist populations fair representation as well as preserving peace between what NATO now deems to be two warring blocs.

Talia Perkins
Talia Perkins
3 months ago
Reply to  Tyler Durden

No. Russians in Ukraine who want to be ruled by Putin should decamp into Russia. Strelkov can hold the door for them.

Johannis Georg
Johannis Georg
3 months ago
Reply to  Talia Perkins

Too much useless talk, wasting time on the internet and no action from you against Russia. The time is now, to join the Ukrainian Foreign volunteer corps. Contact the nearest Ukrainian consulate and you’ll be on the frontlines with a one way ticket in a matter of days!

Adrian C
Adrian C
3 months ago

NATO troops to Ukraine? An idiotic statement, this war needs to end now firstly to stem the loss of life both Ukrainian and Russian. Neither side can win, this conflict has two logical outcomes a negotiated peace or a nuclear confrontation limited or global. I know which outcome I’d prefer. The author needs to spend a week on the front lines to clear his head….

A D Kent
A D Kent
3 months ago
Reply to  Adrian C

It simply is not true that neither side can win. The Russians will and the Russians are. They’re currently going through the processes of systematically turning off the electricity across the country, having taken a year or so with a ‘reconnaissance in force’ of targeting the transmission system (which can only be replaced by 330V systems that only the Russians produce). The RF have figured out defences for every one of the NATO systems sent from the javelins to HIMARS to Storm Shadows and, crucially, they’ve the national resolve to see this through (which comes in part from actually paying attention to the carnage the Ukrainians were inflicting on the civilians of the Donbas for the last decade).

They prepared for this by not entrusting their military industrial systems to the private sector and the whims of the financialised, rent-extracting, corporate captured system that passes for a ‘market’ in the West.
NATO may get involved, and wil cause great loss to the Russians if they do, but the RF will still prevail. They have the means and the will to do so.

Dr Illbit
Dr Illbit
3 months ago
Reply to  A D Kent

If by ‘national resolve’ you mean prisoners and peasants, yes, they have lots of those.

And as far as the means goes, as long as it suits Xi and Tehran, they will have the means. Hardly the most reliable of friends though.

Dr Illbit
Dr Illbit
3 months ago
Reply to  Dr Illbit

PS – the Russians couldn’t systematically tie a shoe lace

John Galt Was Correct
John Galt Was Correct
3 months ago

The thing with war is that you don’t win if not committed. Russia most certainly is. Ukraine is, but it’s Western backers are not and never fully will be. If NATO troops went in there en masse the Western public backlash to every body bag coming back will bring down the political establishment in every country involved.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 months ago

Is that caption photograph of the ‘second most terrifying thing on the battlefield’…..a woman?*

(*The first being an Officer holding a map.)

Mike Doyle
Mike Doyle
3 months ago

Upvoted for that last line.

Lennon Ó Náraigh
Lennon Ó Náraigh
3 months ago
Reply to  Mike Doyle

The *most* terrifying thing on a battlefield would be Washington neocon think-thank staffer saying “this time will be different, we can win this one…”

laurence scaduto
laurence scaduto
3 months ago

“… home by Christmas!”

Mark Phillips
Mark Phillips
3 months ago

His men would follow him anywhere, but only out of curiosity.

Lennon Ó Náraigh
Lennon Ó Náraigh
3 months ago

There is always a doomed war going on somewhere that the neocons would have western countries join.

Therese Feiler
Therese Feiler
3 months ago

How about drafting all the Ukrainians driving around in expensive cars in Berlin and Munich first? Eastern Ukraine doesn’t seem to be their first concern. Why should it be ours?
Luttwak shouldn’t just revisit the history of Vietnam and recent Afghanistan war, but also the Thirty Years War.
And btw, Ukraine is in Eastern, not Central Europe.
I’m appalled by Luttwak’s warmongering.

Talia Perkins
Talia Perkins
3 months ago
Reply to  Therese Feiler

Defense is not warmongering — I am only appalled by his apparent senility.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
3 months ago

How about realize that Biden enabling Putin, the obvious corruption of the West including NATO, and that Zele is an obvious WEF thug means hell no we shouldn’t be in this war.

Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
3 months ago

This POV is sheer insanity. The author should be the first to be recruited- then Europeans. Leave Americans out.

0 0
0 0
3 months ago

There is no way in which such decanting increased numbers of troops from European countries could do anything other than draw more Russian forces into Ukraine, accelerating the disintegration of that country and increasing the parts of it incorporated into Russia, while expanding the risks of a wider war.

There are clear signs now that because of the impossibility of any peace deal in which they could have confidence, Russia has begun destructing a broad defensive DMZ in Ukraine. The more NATO countries increase the threat level there, the broader this zone will need to be. The main losers will be the Western companies whose investments there will become unusable. And those Ukrainians who used to reside there.

Fran Martinez
Fran Martinez
3 months ago

Is the author completely crazy?

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
3 months ago
Reply to  Fran Martinez

Yes! He always was.

D Walsh
D Walsh
3 months ago
Reply to  Fran Martinez

He’s a neocon, there’re all like that

MARK MICHELINI
MARK MICHELINI
3 months ago

The war in Ukraine is not about “saving Ukraine” it is economics (money laundering) and politics (anti-Russia). The Neo-cons pushed to include Ukraine into NATO, Putin said that is a red line, period. The Neo-cons started this, now they want NATO to force the issue, why? Bring the parties to the table and end this. Stop sending Billions to a corrupt regime with the expectation that it is making a difference, it is not.

Talia Perkins
Talia Perkins
3 months ago
Reply to  MARK MICHELINI

“Putin said that is a red line, period” <– So what? Since when do we tolerate the like of him having veto on the actions of free people which are to our benefit, and no real cost to him?

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
3 months ago
Reply to  Talia Perkins

So you would have no issue with Russia, China, or Iran setting up shop in Mexico. Or if you live in Europe, you wouldn’t mind one of them doing likewise in the country next door, right? After all, since when do he and the others tolerate the likes of you having veto on their actions.

Talia Perkins
Talia Perkins
3 months ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

“So you would have no issue with Russia, China, or Iran setting up shop in Mexico” <– Did they invade? Or were they invited?

0 0
0 0
3 months ago
Reply to  Talia Perkins

Better him than you. Where are your actions of free people for our benefit? Nowhere near Ukraine.

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
3 months ago
Reply to  Talia Perkins

“Since when do we tolerate the like of him”
Who are you exactly?
It isn’t upto you, or the West, to “tolerate” Russia.
They withdrew from East Germany, Poland, Ukraine, peacefully in 1991.
In return, the West expanded NATO all the way to their borders.
The Russians have memories of 1812 and 1941, and we’re right to have concerns.
You can treat those concerns with contempt, but then you have to deal with the obvious outcome. And here we are.

Andrew Boughton
Andrew Boughton
3 months ago
Reply to  Talia Perkins

We were the ones who promised that if Russia withdrew from Berlin and shut down Warsaw in an orderly fashion we would not move NATO “one inch” towards Russia. But we didn’t put it in writing, so left ourselves free not to end the Cold War but finish it victoriously on our own terms. Now this. Great leadership.

Andrew Boughton
Andrew Boughton
3 months ago
Reply to  MARK MICHELINI

Bingo.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
3 months ago

The author has not one but many loose screws. If he’s that determined he can lead by example and go himself.

Michael McElwee
Michael McElwee
3 months ago

How about the US just keeping the promises it made to Russia, in which case there would be no war in Ukraine?

Talia Perkins
Talia Perkins
3 months ago

There were no such agreements. There are broken promises by Russia to respect Ukraine’s borders.

Strelkov!

Dennis Learad
Dennis Learad
3 months ago

Edward I would look for another job you have kak in your eyes, dillusioned I dont know what university you went to but certainly not the Life one. I would check the authenticity of any degree you have achieved from that university. The UK France Poland Germany love to bang the drum using their daddy the USA Warmonger. Lets see France for starters go toe to toe with Russia lets see them put 20,000 troops on Ukraine land and see what Russia does to them, however, we must have the dunderhead politicians and their families on the front line leadin the troops little Macron waving the French Flag a white cross on a White background, then the Germans toe to toe. NATO is a warmonger not fit for purpose, the EU and the UK have poked the bear and the bear is ready to go. You are not dealing with the USSR you are dealing with the Russian Federation a more civilised and organised Country, a country that has not invaded a country since 2008 and that is only the old USSR country. INDUSTRY want to trade with Russia its is the idiots and dunderheads and their foreign policies which 9 times out of 10 are being decided by outside sources. Try a fiction novel Edward this first one you have just wrote not bad for a starter!!

Mr Sketerzen Bhoto
Mr Sketerzen Bhoto
3 months ago

This guy would have us all burnt to a crisp. I’m sure that Luttwak was predicting a huge Russian collapse until recently. Why take him seriously.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
3 months ago

Tell you what Edward you go and show us how it is done

William Cameron
William Cameron
3 months ago

I am not a qualified military strategist . But this argument is irrational. If Ukraine cannot field enough men to hold Russia what possible use would NATO special forces troops be away from the front ?
Nuclear weapons result in the world being destroyed. If the russian leader is nuts and he faces losing of course the nutty leader would use them.
Definition of losing is Ukraine forces defeating Russian forces back to their own borders and into Russia.
So there are two military options to avoid nuclear war. Hold the current line in a military stalemate or let Russia take Ukraine.

0 0
0 0
3 months ago

There was always bound to be a partition of Ukraine when its government started attacking a huge chunk of its people. The only question is exactly where and how big a wasteland will there be on each side of it.

Ian Folkins
Ian Folkins
3 months ago

It’s time for the NATO/US neocons to accept that they made a catastrophic mistake in assuming Russia would collapse under the influence of the sanctions/asset seizure regime, take the loss, and stop exploiting Ukrainian nationalism to pressure Russia. Why make their ultimate defeat even more humiliating? Why continue to give licence to leaders who have demonstrated such poor decision making in the past?

William Cameron
William Cameron
3 months ago

What is this war for ?
It is to enable Putin and co to avoid having their stolen riches removed by the people.
Putin has made disloyalty to him treason – thus keeping his wealth. The quickest war to stop the war is to promise him and his wealth immunity .

0 0
0 0
3 months ago

Everyone makes disloyalty treason. Putin has at least turned sanctions hugely to the benefit of the Russian people. They enjoy increases in real wages, productivity, public and private investment we can only dream of. Our masters attack Putin to stop us learning from him.

Walter Lantz
Walter Lantz
3 months ago

IMO, Mr. Luttwak is missing the point. Ukraine is already a catastrophic defeat. It became such when Russia rolled across the border to augment their control of Crimea. The question for debate should be is it by design or incompetence.
Let’s start with the pre-invasion situation. Apparently the West lacked the will or ability either economically or militarily to convince Putin: “Stay on your own side of the line or else!”. Did the West completely misread Putin’s intentions and military capabilities? The common op-ed lines at the time claimed Russia’s rusty Soviet-era military was a paper tiger and losing the EU oil and gas business would bring certain economic disaster. It was said Putin wouldn’t survive politically. Russia would be shattered into pieces. Great Reset shills like Trudeau triumphantly claimed that the EU’s golden opportunity to “Go Green” had arrived.
So here we are. Putin is still in charge. Russia is still in Ukraine and on the plus side of the attrition equation. The EU ramped up coal use and buy their oil and gas elsewhere (just not from Canada). The BRICS (now apparently BRICS+T) is doing as well or better than anyone expected economically while the West racks up debt and record levels of food and energy insecurity. After Russia has bitten off what it wants the remnants of Ukraine will be a shattered mess that will end up as a perennial EU-financed basket case (Blackrock is counting on it).
The other shoe – or combat boot – to fall this year is the US election. There’s a very real chance that Trump will win. That would be the same Orange Man Bad that warned the EU about putting all their eggs in Putin’s petro basket and rudely criticized NATO under-spenders. Right now Ukraine supporters bemoan the delays getting Ukraine funds approved in Congress. They’ll come completely unglued if Trump tells the EU to stop whining and fix their own problems for a change, a move that would resonate well with a US electorate that places Ukraine well down the to-do list. Let’s not forget that a possible showdown with China is the real main event for the US anyway. (and don’t mention the Israel-Hamas war – I did once but I think I got away with it)
I’ll guess that most of us are by degrees mad, sad and perhaps a bit ashamed of what has transpired in Ukraine. However, the call for boots on the ground (“but only in safe jobs – honest!”) is born of frustration that the ability of the West to impose Rules-based International Order, and the willingness of the rest of the world to respect those rules, has been woefully over-estimated.

A D Kent
A D Kent
3 months ago
Reply to  Walter Lantz

Absolutely spot on Walter. It wasn’t just Putin though who said Ukraine was beyond a line, it was raised in the 80s by Jack Matlock (US Ambassador to Russia) and many times since from all manner of sources.

The catastrophic under-estimation of the Russians has a much longer historical heritage too. Thankfully for all of us who lived through the latter half of the 20th Century.

Samuel Ross
Samuel Ross
3 months ago

Well said, sir. Too much talk, not enough action by NATO. West Ukraine is not under attack by Russia.

A D Kent
A D Kent
3 months ago
Reply to  Samuel Ross

Yes it is and yes it has been by missile and drone for many months now.

Johannis Georg
Johannis Georg
3 months ago
Reply to  Samuel Ross

Been scrolling around the comment section for quite a while now, and just as I was thinking that there no imbec*le here to support this warmongering psychopath author that promotes what is basically the start of WW3… I have finally found you, Samuel Ross!
Samy, too much talk, wasting time on the internet and no action from you against Russia. The time is now, to join the Ukrainian Foreign volunteer corps. Contact the nearest Ukrainian consulate and you’ll be on the frontlines with a one way ticket in a matter of days!

Talia Perkins
Talia Perkins
3 months ago

No, that is not only unneeded but also stupid*. What needs to be done is to give Ukraine enough aid at one time they can drive the Russians out. There is no escalatiion short of NBC munitions which justify Russian strikes against NATO. Because the defense seems to have acquired quite an advantage such that maneuver is now fantastically costly — a la WWI trenches — that aid should include the R&D which restores maneuver . . .
. . . and for long enough to only the Ukrainian side.
*And I write that while somewhat pained to write, as I have and have appreciated many of your books.

Johannis Georg
Johannis Georg
3 months ago
Reply to  Talia Perkins

Or you and other people with serious psychiatric illnesses, such as the author of this global call for Armageddon, could go to Ukraine yourselves to fight the Russians directly, since you seem so determined to do so and see no other purpose for your sad existence on this planet. Do us all this favor, please, as well as the young ukrainians that keep being kidnapped from the streets to be sent to their senseless deaths for exterior interests.

Talia Perkins
Talia Perkins
3 months ago
Reply to  Johannis Georg

Wow! You are unable to read. Russia is the exterior interest in Ukraine. They should be made to leave by what violence is required to effect it, and that does not require NATO troops in Ukraine — it does require war material assistance from the non-pro-Russian world to do so.
What you need to do and can not do, is make the case Russia should re-acquire it’s empire.

Geoffrey Kolbe
Geoffrey Kolbe
3 months ago

“neither he nor anyone else knew that the explosions would also cause radiation fallout…”,
Not true. The height of the explosion was carefully calculated to minimise ground radioactivity – which is why Hiroshima and Nagasaki have been continuously inhabited since the bombs were dropped.

Robert Doyle
Robert Doyle
3 months ago

Because it’s draft age is higher than most countries Ukraine can’t field enough troops, so NATO should backfill?

Arthur G
Arthur G
3 months ago

Why would NATO ever need to send ground troops? If you want to intervene directly (which I don’t) why not just unleash NATO airpower? A few weeks of a sustained NATO air campaign and the Russians would crumble.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
3 months ago
Reply to  Arthur G

The Russians also have planes. And anti-aircraft capability. I don’t see many non-Ukrainians signing up to die for Ukraine.

Arthur G
Arthur G
3 months ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

The Russian Air Force is a joke. They barely fly in contested air space. In any case, the Russian air fields would be the first thing you destroyed in the air campaign, followed by suppressing their air defense. Iraq had a fully integrated Soviet Air Defense, which lasted about 45 minutes against a competent Air Force.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
3 months ago
Reply to  Arthur G

Okay, but keep in mind that this cuts both ways. When the first Russian counter-strike hits a NATO country, no one will be laughing.

Johannis Georg
Johannis Georg
3 months ago
Reply to  Arthur G

No air force can fly safely in contested space, by default. The Western propaganda is a joke. In the last decades, the West never had a war with any serious foe; they’ve only recently faced poorly trained and unmotivated goat herders, in flip flops, in the Middle East, armed with AKs and RPGs, or, at best, with vintage Soviet export versions of other systems.
But to keep the sales going, the Western industrial arms complex kept paying a lot of money for the advertising of their weapons, always claiming that they’re superior to those of the Russians, who were, in fact their competition on the arms market.
We’re currently seeing this “superiority” of every Western weapon sent to the Ukrainians so far. We’re seeing Leopards and Abrams’ popping up just like any other Russian tank. We’re barely seeing a Western cruise missile hit from time to time, from dozens that are being launched at Russian targets.
We are also seeing the Russian air force that you say is a joke, bombing the Ukrainians and Western mercenaries into oblivion, en masse. And Russian missiles scoring direct hits on the most advanced anti-air system of NATO, the Patriot.
We’re seeing the “pile of scrap iron” that we were told is the Russian industry, outproducing by quite a large margin the entire Western nations combined, while being under thousands of sanctions.
With each day passing, the Russians seem to get better, while the claimed superiority of the West proves to be nothing but cheap propaganda.
If you don’t believe all this, as I previously advised you, go to Ukraine and see for yourself. But stop idiotically asking for WW3!!

Wyatt W
Wyatt W
3 months ago
Reply to  Arthur G

Agreed. If you’re going to argue for NATO to directly fight Russia this makes way more sense. I don’t think the Russians could even shoot down F-35s…

A D Kent
A D Kent
3 months ago
Reply to  Wyatt W

The Russians wouldn’t need to. According to the Pentagon’s own figures the F-35s have a ‘full mission readiness’ rate of around 50%. Which is to say that at any one time only half of the planes are available to perform a mission. That’s in peace-time with full banks of spares etc. Oh and they’re actually rather useless too – check out the many reports at the Project for Government Oversight (pogo.org). They do alright against civilians in Gaza, but against the integrated RF AD systems, they’d be quickly attrited, even just by breaking down.

Wyatt W
Wyatt W
3 months ago
Reply to  A D Kent

“against the integrated RF AD systems, they’d be quickly attrited” Is there proof of this? I’d be interested in reading about it.
I could see issues if there were years of war, but surely even 50% of the few hundred the US currently has would be way more than enough to cripple Russia.

Caro
Caro
3 months ago
Reply to  A D Kent

Cold War I Pogo enjoycomment image

Johannis Georg
Johannis Georg
3 months ago
Reply to  Arthur G

Are you more than 18? It seems you’ve been playing too many video games, and you’re way off from the reality.
If you’re over 18, you can stop wasting time on the internet for so much useless talk and no action from you against Russia. The time is now, to join the Ukrainian Foreign volunteer corps. Contact the nearest Ukrainian consulate and you’ll be on the frontlines with a one way ticket in a matter of days!
We, the hugely vast majority of other people don’t want WW3 anytime soon. We can very well keep living even with a bad peace, and without a ukraine.

Martin M
Martin M
3 months ago
Reply to  Arthur G

Not only that, but some missiles that have sufficient range to hit ALL Russia’s oil producing facilities. Let’s see how Russia’s economy goes when it can’t sell anyone any oil.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
3 months ago

Nato countries will soon have to send soldiers to Ukraine, or else accept catastrophic defeat. 
Or saner heads will negotiate a settlement similar to what would have been agreed upon two years ago. The war machine’s blood lust is insatiable; there is no end to the amount of other people’s money and the number of other people’s sons and daughters that the warmongers are willing to use.
How many more Ukrainians must die in pursuit of this folly? How many more attempts will be made to goad the Russians into a larger conflict? History did not begin Feb 2022. There was at least a decade’s worth of activity pointing toward this, whether people want to acknowledge this or not. Enough. The kleptocratic laundry in Kyiv needs to be closed.

Martin M
Martin M
3 months ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

How many more Ukrainians must die in pursuit of this folly?
Good point! Far better that the Ukrainians surrender, and let the Russians murder them at their leisure!

David Barnett
David Barnett
3 months ago

What daft idea!
You want WW-3?
Do you know our hardware was shown to be inadequate in Ukraine?
Do you know our military is ill prepared for a real war?
Do you know we have pushed Russia (with all its natural resources that we need desperately) closer to China?
Do you really think we are in a position to win WW-3, even in if it were in our interests to go to war?

Citizen Diversity
Citizen Diversity
3 months ago

Getting desperate?
If the UK is neutral in this war, how can she suffer a catastrophic defeat?
The claim that NATO troops would not really die in this war if committed is rather like Churchill’s assurance that he gave the cabinet in 1914 that any future war with Imperial Germany would only involve the Royal Navy and be cheap in financial terms.
Having NATO troops sitting in the rear areas, sorting mail or doing the laundry or whatever ‘safe’ support jobs there are, is bound to draw unfavourable comment from the Ukrainians doing the filthy, miserable, and dangerous jobs on the front line.
If we are going to fantasise based on past wars, why wouldn’t NATO navies be used to blockade Russian ports as the Royal Navy did in the Baltic in the Crimean adventure in the 19th century?
Before 1914 there were fantasies about why another great war wouldn’t be possible. Now, apparently, we have to fantasise that a nuclear war isn’t possible because NATO cooks are working in the Ukrainian mess halls.
And what happens if the commitment of these NATO ‘support troops’ does not stave off the ‘catastrophic defeat’?
NATO has reached 75 by not getting involved in a major war with a major power. Does she want to reach 76?

Martin M
Martin M
3 months ago

There is a suggestion that (for example) British SBS troops are already involved in assisting the Ukrainians with their (so far incredibly successful) attacks on the Black Sea Fleet. That is the sort of think they could do.

David Walters
David Walters
3 months ago

Another useless, pointless Unherd article. Why bother to pay the subscription?

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 months ago
Reply to  David Walters

Then vote with your feet sir.

Martin M
Martin M
3 months ago
Reply to  David Walters

Let me hold the door open for you….

Eleanor Barlow
Eleanor Barlow
3 months ago

The writer is arguing for a significant escalation in the Ukraine war. Not in my name, thanks very much. A war once escalated to include NATO troops on the ground would lead to speedy and disastrous retaliation from Putin, especially if he got it into his head that NATO was attempting regime change in Russia. He might then feel he had nothing to lose by going nuclear.
Where are all these warmongers coming from that are prepared to risk all our lives without apparently a second thought?
Ukraine should have agreed to peace terms much earlier in the conflict by agreeing to let Russia keep Crimea in return for Russian troops being withdrawn from Ukraine. That was when Ukraine had the Russians on the run and would have had stronger bargaining power. Now it’s probably too late.

Martin M
Martin M
3 months ago
Reply to  Eleanor Barlow

Where are all these warmongers coming from that are prepared to risk all our lives without apparently a second thought?
Speaking personally, I was born when the Cuban Missile Crisis was at his height, there has been pretty much no time in my life when Russia hasn’t been “the enemy”. I doubt that will change this century. I think we need to keep that in mind in our dealings with Russia.

Eleanor Barlow
Eleanor Barlow
3 months ago
Reply to  Martin M

We can keep a wary eye on Russia without all this jingoistic warmongering and needlessly provoking Putin. Poke a bear and it’s likely to rip your head off.

Martin M
Martin M
3 months ago
Reply to  Eleanor Barlow

“Poking the bear” is to be avoided when the bear is sleeping. However Russia is already awake, and actively engaged in a war of aggression.

Stephen Feldman
Stephen Feldman
3 months ago

Absurd to send any HQ help or technical advisors until they draft a aila le men and women 18 up

John Tyler
John Tyler
3 months ago

Wow! The anti-western clones are out in force today!

Johannis Georg
Johannis Georg
3 months ago
Reply to  John Tyler

Wow, you’re an imbec*le advocating for WW3?
Too much useless talk, wasting time on the internet and no action from you against Russia. The time is now, to join the Ukrainian Foreign volunteer corps. Contact the nearest Ukrainian consulate and you’ll be on the frontlines with a one way ticket in a matter of days!

Carlos Danger
Carlos Danger
3 months ago

The atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were a big mistake. Japan was surrendering. The bombings were a terrorist attack that had no strategic value, aimed more at the Soviet Union than Japan. They were advised against by Dwight Eisenhower, Douglas MacArthur and all other military officers.

Why? As this essay explains, because they are too powerful. North Korea gains nothing from having them other than using them as a bargaining chip. Iran would be the same.