by UnHerd Staff
Monday, 21
March 2022
Video
17:38

Bill Roggio: Who is really winning the war in Ukraine?

The analyst tells Freddie Sayers that the media is giving a misleading picture
by UnHerd Staff

Getting an accurate picture of who is winning the war in Ukraine has become increasingly difficult in the information age. Log onto Twitter and there are images of burnt out Russian tanks being towed away by Ukrainian farmers and hostage-style videos featuring Russians POWs expressing regret over the invasion; meanwhile, Western news outlets are littered with tales of doughty Ukrainian protesters sending the Russian enemy into retreat and Kyivans discovering a newfound unity in the face of war.

But is this a fair depiction of what’s really occurring on the ground? As Bill Roggio, a leading military analyst at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, tells Freddie Sayers, there has been a lot of boosterism for Ukraine in the media, which he says is creating a misleading picture of events. While it is understandable for Western media to be focusing on pro-Ukraine stories, it risks creating an illusion of success before such success is real — something that occurred last summer in Afghanistan. “We have to be careful not to fall into a situation where our coverage matches our desires,” Roggio says. This is especially difficult when information coming from the Russian side is so tightly controlled.

It is only by looking at the maps of territory, Roggio argues, that we can track the Russian advances with precision. Here, it becomes clear that the Russians are making progress, albeit slowly, and taking over significant terrain on all its fronts. Currently the Russians have forces building around Kiev and are building inroads into the Luhansk Oblast and Mariupol. Even though the Russian strategy may be difficult to understand, we should be careful before saying that it is failing…

Watch the full interview above.

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David B
David B
2 months ago

“While it is understandable for Western media to be focusing on pro-Ukraine stories”

I’m not sure this should be remotely true. Surely a studied neutrality and a striving for objectivity should be the basic rule of news.

Last edited 2 months ago by David B
Dennis Boylon
Dennis Boylon
2 months ago
Reply to  David B

Lol. This has never been true and is not possible in war.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
1 month ago
Reply to  David B

What is needed is to decide which facts are vital to understanding which way the war is going in the Ukraine.
In early September 1940, the key facts were lack of pilots and that airfields were being destroyed quicker than they could be repaired. As Dowding said ” Our young men will have to shoot down their young men at rate of 4 to 1 “. By late September 1940, the fact which was important was that Britain was building more Hurricanes and Spitfire than were being shot down.
In 1942, the fact which would win or lose the war was that a greater tonnage of shipping was being sunk than was being built and this did not change until early 1943.
What are the key facts in Ukraine? Is it area controlled, number of tanks ( T90s, 80s or 72s), armoured cars, batteries, communication centres being destroyed or Russians killed or wounded or days left of fuel, food or ammunition. It may be that Ukraine can destroy food at greater than it can be replenished. Once Russian soldiers are on 1500 calories/day or below their ability to fight will decline rapidly and after two days without any food, troops are walking wounded. Or is it fuel? Russian tanks use petrol which is easy to destroy.
If Russia moves to a siege warfare it will make them vulnerable to attack. Artillery use shells which have to be stored close to the guns which could be easily destroyed by missiles.
As they say amateurs discuss tactics and professionals logistics. What are they resources which are vital for Russia to keep fighting and can they be replenished?

Sharon Overy
Sharon Overy
2 months ago

There does seem to be a species of magical thinking at play – a belief that narrative really does shape reality, which is very PoMo, and that questioning it somehow helps Putin. Magic again, presumably.

J Bryant
J Bryant
2 months ago

Thanks for this interview. Mr. Roggio provided a much more nuanced and, I suspect, realistic analysis than anything we can find in the msm. I particularly enjoyed the discussion about possible Russian strategy in Ukraine and that occupation of the entire country is not Putin’s ultimate goal.
Even though the Ukraine war has not ended, we are, in many ways, already moving beyond it. The big story are all the geopolitical changes the war has set in motion.

GA Woolley
GA Woolley
2 months ago

The Russians have not used their massive superiority in intelligence, ground and air forces, and sustainable combat power, at all effectively. This suggests that the Russian general staff were not involved in planning and preparing, and rather than a carefully prepared and resourced operation, to a defined strategy, it was hastily mounted, poorly focussed, and politically directed. It failed to achieve the hoped for objectives, and now Putin is reduced to grinding down civilian centres, and calling on expensive, and unnecessarily capable, weapons systems. As for encirclement, the Russians long lines of supply and communication with its advanced elements are vulnerable to interdiction; with good Western-supplied intelligence on Russian strength and dispositions, the Ukrainian forces which appear to be cut off could in fact reverse the situation by severing the forward units from the logistic support.

Tom Watson
Tom Watson
2 months ago
Reply to  GA Woolley

All plausible; we’ll have to wait and see I suppose.

Dennis Boylon
Dennis Boylon
2 months ago

Once again Freddie trying to bring some sanity to the table. As the executive editor why are most of the authors picked to publish parroting msm narratives. Hardly “unherd”. Covid was about 50/50 which is why I started reading. War fever against Russia is about 100/1

Last edited 2 months ago by Dennis Boylon
Joe Donovan
Joe Donovan
2 months ago

“The Russians took Stalingrad.” Really? The Germans failed to take it.

Hersch Schneider
Hersch Schneider
1 month ago
Reply to  Joe Donovan

‘..held Stalingrad’ surely?

Joe Donovan
Joe Donovan
2 months ago

At least half of Russia’s military forces have been committed to this dubious little adventure. What forces are left to defend Russia’s 8000 miles of borders with China, Kazakhstan and Mongolia? You may say that they are pals, but …

Chris Eaton
Chris Eaton
2 months ago

Who cares about maps? The salient point is that if Russia were as strong as they bluster to be then this war would have been over 2 weeks ago. Putin has done far more to illustrate his regime’s weaknesses than show its power.

Tom Watson
Tom Watson
2 months ago
Reply to  Chris Eaton

What they bluster about, and what they actually think, are two very different questions.
It took the Germans a month to conquer Poland in 1939, and that was with the Soviets joining in after 2 weeks to help them out. Failing to conquer a country of 35 million people in a month when it’s fighting back harder than anyone (even the Americans!) expected, and being supported from abroad with huge amounts of money and materiel, is not exactly an embarrassing level of weakness to be shown to have, even if you have tripped up over your own logistics. Afghanistan illustrated America’s weaknesses; doesn’t mean they’ll lose the next war they fight.

Last edited 2 months ago by Tom Watson
Chris Eaton
Chris Eaton
1 month ago
Reply to  Tom Watson

You don’t have to conquer every last square mile of a country to defeat it. The fact that they underestimated Ukranian military power and resolve only enhances my point.

Iris C
Iris C
2 months ago
Reply to  Chris Eaton

I would suggest another assessment of the Russian army’s activities in Ukraine.
There is no doubt that weapon arsenals and airports (through which foreign weaponry was being imported) have been destroyed but Russia is a military super-power, closely aligned to Ukraine in language and social history – including marriage and extended families within both countries – so it could be that the army has had instructions to respond to attacks but not to initiate them unless provoked, Putin looking towards the future and a peace settlement which will be accepted by the majority of the citizens.
.

Chris Eaton
Chris Eaton
1 month ago
Reply to  Iris C

How do the war crimes Russia has evidently committed fit into that?

Vilde Chaye
Vilde Chaye
1 month ago
Reply to  Chris Eaton

What I worry about is the “winter war” scenario. Finland repulsed the initial Russian invasion, but eventually was ground down and succumbed. I’m not saying that will happen here, but it’s certainly possible. Of course the situations are entirely different; Putin is no Stalin (a wannabe, sure), and the Ukrainian determination to defend their homeland is impressive (but then, so were the Finns). The West should be doing everything it can to support the Ukrainians short of sending troops, and that includes stopping the gas imports. This man and his territorial ambitions must be stopped.

Joe Donovan
Joe Donovan
2 months ago

The Institute for the Study of War reports today that Russia is calling up reserves up to age 65 and issuing to some of them bolt-action rifles first manufactured in 1893. Does that not speak for itself in terms of panic and desperation?