Around the world—in European capitals, in Washington DC, and even in Moscow—the outcome of the coming Ukrainian counteroffensive seems to have already been largely determined.
As recently as March, the director of national intelligence, Avril Haines, described a “grinding, attritional war in which neither side has a definitive military advantage.” Britain’s defense secretary, Ben Wallace, was recently quoted cautioning realism, saying, “There is not going to be a single magic-wand moment when Russia collapses.” The Russians believe much of the same, calculating that they can hold off Ukraine defensively and play the waiting game until launching another offensive when Western support has waned.
But what if all of this turns out wrong? What if Ukraine ends up routing Russian occupation positions relatively swiftly and effectively, with the Russian military in a hopeless retreat?
Given recent reporting, it is not altogether clear that the United States and its allies are fully prepared for such a contingency, which, although perhaps less likely than the alternatives, is not as unlikely as many may think; and if leaders are not prepared, they should start preparing now, so as to avoid finding themselves on the back foot in a crisis of significant consequence.
To start, there are a variety of reasons why Ukraine might perform better than expected in its coming counteroffensive effort.
Although its backers have not supplied Ukraine the same long-range missiles that allowed it to recapture Kherson and Kharkiv last fall, the West has nonetheless provided training, intelligence, and material capabilities key to a successful counteroffensive. This includes new air defense systems, 230 tanks, 1,550 armored vehicles, and drones capable of striking behind Russian lines. New Ukrainian units are also training in combined-arms techniques. Although such advanced maneuver warfare has previously proven difficult, even impossible, on the battlefield due to Russian communications jamming, overcoming previous limitations could provide Ukrainian troops a key advantage. The ultimate test will be if Ukrainian materiel and training can punch through or work around the dense defensive layers Russia has built up over the winter.
Moreover, it is not clear that Russia is actually prepared to successfully defend its gains in eastern and southern Ukraine. Although the Russians seem to be improving their ability to utilize drones and artillery fire, the competence of Russian commanders has been wanting since the beginning of the conflict. In addition, Russia lacks well-trained soldiers, has expended much of its cruise missile stores, has depleted ammunition faster than it can be replaced, and has experienced an astonishing one hundred thousand casualties since last December.
Lastly, that Ukraine might surprise the world should itself come as no surprise. Since the beginning of the war—when most observers thought Ukraine would last barely a week—Ukraine’s will to fight, its societal resilience, and its leadership have all demonstrated the critical importance of these difficult-to-measure factors in military success.
Despite the above, it appears neither Russia nor the United States believes the counteroffensive will be overwhelmingly successful. In internal meetings, Russia’s defense minister, Sergei Shoigu, has confidently emphasized that because it enjoys numerical advantages in personnel and equipment, Russia will eventually prevail. However, this is the same failed logic that underpinned expectations of a quick Russian victory at the beginning of the war. A sole focus on personnel and equipment neglects an adequate accounting of training, morale, logistical support, and leadership.
Additionally, Shoigu’s confidence in such discussions may be meant to appease Putin. A common weakness of tyrants is the uncanny ability to surround themselves with sycophants, a weakness of Putin’s which seems to have only grown with time.
The United States also appears to be preparing for stalled Ukrainian advances, as discussions within the Biden administration are already well underway to prepare the ground for related negotiations. This, more than anything, is the result of an increasing realization that Ukraine’s supporters cannot continue to supply armaments to Ukraine at needed levels without diminishing their own military preparedness.
Neither side, then, appears to be preparing for the event of a quick and cascading Russian loss.
If the counteroffensive is surprisingly successful, Putin will be forced to respond in one of two ways—negotiation or escalation. Given Putin’s belief in the value of a long-game scenario, his willingness to absorb significant costs, and the potentially disastrous domestic political consequences of unfavorable negotiations, it is more likely than not that Putin would choose escalation. In a situation where Russian forces are routed, Putin would face only two realistic escalation options: throw more human bodies at the Ukrainians or use a nuclear weapon.
In the case of the former option, Russia already appears to be preparing new rounds of mobilizations, with the Wagner Group restarting troop recruitment from Russian prisons. However, as was recently seen in Bakhmut and elsewhere, new Russian soldiers are poorly trained. Conscripts are thus often killed in droves—and not even the Russians have an infinite supply of human lives. New recruits could slow the tide of a Ukrainian advance, but if momentum is on Ukraine’s side, it may be unlikely these new recruits could decisively weigh in Russia’s favor.
That leaves nuclear escalation. Much debate has surrounded Russian nuclear doctrine, particularly when, how, and why Russia might choose to employ a nonstrategic weapon on the battlefield. Nonetheless, one aspect of doctrine Russia has been consistent on is that Russia would at least consider the use of a nuclear weapon if Russian territory is being attacked. Since its annexation of Crimea almost a decade ago, Russia very much considers Crimea part of the Russian homeland. Therefore, any serious threat to Crimea, at a minimum, runs the risk of nuclear use. This risk is significantly enhanced by an effective counteroffensive threatening Crimea in which momentum appears to be clearly with the Ukrainians.
Thus, the stakes of such a scenario are extremely high. Regardless of likelihoods, the United States and its allies must have a response prepared, which should reflect three imperatives.
Firstly, the United States must continue to signal to Russia that the consequences of using a nuclear weapon would be disastrous and likely involve direct US military intervention. The United States will be helped in this endeavor if China stands by its statements, as outlined in a recent twelve-point peace plan for Ukraine, that the sovereignty of all countries should be respected and a nuclear weapon cannot be used in the conflict. Importantly, China has stated it does not recognize Russia’s annexation of Crimea, blunting Russian arguments that a threat to Crimea might be considered a legitimate threat to the Russian homeland.
Secondly, the United States must use its leverage over Ukraine to ensure that Ukrainian forces do not advance into Crimea until an opportunity for negotiations has presented itself. Prominent media voices such as journalist Anne Applebaum and retired Lieutenant General Ben Hodges have consistently advocated for the retaking of Crimea, arguing that such a move would effectively end the war. This may or may not be true, but the risks of nuclear escalation do not today warrant such an aggressive strategy. The Biden administration’s unwillingness to provide Ukraine long-range missiles such as those used in last fall’s counteroffensive seems to confirm this hesitancy.
Thirdly, the groundwork for any negotiations must involve China, Russia’s only great power backer. The incentive for China is obvious. Working with the United States and the belligerent parties to end the war would boost China’s prestige and credibility in Europe at a time when many in the West are walking a tightrope on how, where, and when to engage China. This opens the possibility that China might be a fair partner in a peace deal, something Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, is now welcoming. Thus, in addition to preparing for other contingencies, the United States should find ways sooner rather than later to work with the Chinese on how crisis management might proceed in the event of a successful Ukrainian counteroffensive. This advanced preparation and communication will serve as a counterweight to the potential for catastrophic disaster.
Critics of this more hesitant approach will largely say that it is up to Ukraine when and how to proceed with military operations and when to negotiate. They will say, factually, that Crimea is part of Ukrainian sovereign territory and that reclaiming the peninsula would not just end the war but would also be the ultimate justice against Russian aggression. They will say that because Putin’s threats of nuclear use have so far proven empty they will remain empty.
Such criticisms, while to some degree valid, are dangerous and shortsighted. The use of a nuclear weapon would drastically change not just the war, but the entire world. Given what we know about Putin, it is in fact plausible that a tactical nuclear weapon could be used, particularly if Crimea is threatened by advancing Ukrainian forces. This threat, moreover, is amplified depending on how quickly momentum on the battlefield shifts.
That is precisely why preparations must be made now in case, once again, the world is surprised at Ukraine’s ability to fight back against Russian aggression.
Alex Betley works as an aerospace and defense consultant in Washington, DC. He holds an MALD from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University, where he was an international security studies research fellow and senior editor with the Fletcher Security Review.
The views expressed are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the United States Military Academy, Department of the Army, or Department of Defense.
Image: A Ukrainian soldier during training at Grafenwoehr Training Area, Germany, May 3, 2022 (credit: Sgt. Spencer Rhodes, Florida Army National Guard)
The Ukrainians do not have air superiority/supremacy – apparently quite the opposite. So is this going to be another Kursk 1943? … the Ukrainians launching a suicidal offensive expending themselves and the Russians then launching a major counteroffensive against a weakened Ukrainian Army getting all the way to the entire length of the Dnepr?
Remember that a basic reason for the Nazis' initial Ardennes offensive (Battle of the Bulge) *strategic* surprise success was our under-estimation of their offensive capabilities, let alone intent, and thanks to Bakhmut the Russians have had *plenty* to time to train and prepare their own conscripts who well know they'll be fighting for their lives.
Kyiv should instead settle for an armistice and permanent (strict neutrality) treaty in place NOW, while it/they can.
And what does MWI know about this claim going around the ether that in early March the Russians took out a command bunker deep under Kyiv killing 300 Ukr and NATO operations staff officers – did we lose any wargamers?? – planning the offensive? I've read claims that most NATO were British (which wouldn't surprise me at all) and Polish (of course) and that Kyiv delivered a list of American dead to our embassy.
If the Kinzhal vs. bunker claim is true, there should be no question the Russians will escalate, if the Ukrainian Army does have any success.
Thank you for the not so subtle view of the Kremlin's propaganda.
What matters is what the Russians say but what is objectively true … and fair. If the Russians are closer to that than we are … and in the case of Ukraine they are … it is to their credit and not to ours.
What matters is not what the Russians say but what is objectively true ….
The fact that you believe a NATO bunker with 300 NATO officers was destroyed in Ukraine duly informs all we need to know about the rest of your blatherings.
The report and the way it is being handled is consistent with the Kalibr missile strike on the anti-Assad command bunker in Aleppo in 2016, which broke the back of the resistance there.
And – in case you missed it – I was asking if someone (credible) could confirm that – or not. "junkmail" would not appear to be credible, either way.
>In March the Russians took out a command bunker deep under Kyiv killing 300 Ukr and NATO operations staff officers
This sounds so incredibly convenient and astonishing, you might as well believe anything they say about the war. Sure, and the same missile took out a shipment of HIMARS that just arrived?
I don't see the war has changed drastically after March, nor do I see reporting of the family members of these slain NATO officers mentioning they've lost contact to their loved ones (this always leaks out).
But let's wait and see. If the war continues unchanged and the bunker buster did kill 300 UA/NATO war planners… then we've proved UA/NATO is quite resilient and you might need a couple dozen more "hits" like that in Kyiv.
II'm sure that it would be impossible to hide the sudden deaths of a large number of British officers. It hasn't been reported. There haven't been any rumours here in the UK, not even the tiniest whisper of one. I think that claim originated in a Russian troll farm, & has absolutely no connection to reality.
The idea of 300 operations staff officers crowded into one bunker strikes me as ludicrously unlikely, BTW.
Aleppo Kalibrs in 2016 was "ludicrously unlikely" too, Paul. We shall see. Thanks for responding.
Neutrality for Ukraine did not work. They where invaded benig neutral. We will likely end up with something like Korea.
Fredrik from Sweden
The author's second point would be more realistic to consider options in the face of a successful Ukrainian offensive into Crimea…counting on U.S. influence to control the pace of such an event is optimistic, considering that Ukraine is fully aware of 1) U.S. and European reluctance to poke the nuclear-armed Russian bear, and 2) the binary solution set over Crimea — either the Russians leave, or they don't — and the likelihood that "negotiations" mean the latter. Thus if the Ukrainians sense an opportunity to push the Russians out of Crimea, little the U.S. says or does is likely to stay their hand.
Wow, I expected more from such a vaunted institution.
You know what will happen when Russia loses Crimea? Nothing at all. Putin will make up some excuse, claim it as a goodwill gesture, and move on
Cowering in the face of russia's nuclear threats is a 100% guarantee of nuclear war. On your knees today, on your knees forever. What's next, Poland? Lithuania? Get with the program, folks. Rewarding Russian aggression encourages more Russian aggression.
We signed a treaty that we would defend Ukraine's borders. What happens when our allies see that the signature of the United States of America is worthless? What happens when South Korea sees what a cowardly bunch Americans have become? They will arm themselves with nukes. Then Taiwan. Then Saudi Arabia. Then the Baltic Nations, perhaps Finland and Sweden. The world will see that the United States cannot protect them and that they must protect themselves. This is where nuclear war happens.
So either stop them now, or learn to speak Russian.
USN, 2000-2020, Russian area expert, BS and MS NIU
"So either stop them now, or learn to speak Russian."
Given that the Russian military can't even overcome a poorly armed neighbor, could this comment be considered a bit overwrought?
I hope to heaven the current folks in the USN are a bit more circumspect.
A brief life on a poisoned planet is not to be relished.
Ukraine is ultimately an independent actor. They make decisions knowing that we control their supply of weapons, and they are generally incented to avoid going against our wishes. That said, if they think they can end the war by taking Crimea – which I don't believe is a bad assumption – they very well might go for it regardless of what we say.
If I'm Ukrainian, I've spent the last 15 months watching thousands of fellow Ukranians die fighting an attacker while our weapon supply is "managed" to avoid too much success. If I had the opportunity to win/end the war, I'd be willing to take it, and my threshold for nuclear risk would be higher than for those outside of Ukraine.
We – the US – needs to decide that we're ok with Ukraine actually winning. We need to get comfortable and develop plans for a potential "catastrophic success". And we need to do what it takes to make Ukraine successful whether in the near or far future. There is a way for Ukraine to ultimately win, and I agree there is risk involved. A slow disintegration of the Russian regime is probably preferable, but like the article states, slow regime disintegration is hard to manage.
Great power border states are *not* "independent actors." Look at the 2021 assassination of Haiti's President Moise by Colombian mercenaries of the kind who have served us before – they even tried to get into the Taiwanese Embassy as a hideout afterwards! – when he tried to warm up to China for support against COVID and the gang anarchy.
What would/will we do, if Mexico decides to join an anti-US military pact with China and Russia? And the Mexicans seem to be getting angry enough to do that.
Border states should want their superpower neighbors to feel UNthreatened (by them) for their own security, as well as commerce and positive diplomatic relations and cooperation.
You’re assuming Russia is a great power.
The power to destroy a country such as the United States makes Russia a great power. Those who doubt that are fools
Given that it has taken them a little over a year to destroy a few small cities in Ukraine, I suppose you're right–they could probably do some real damage to the United States in a century's time.
I'll agree with Curtis claiming that Russia owns features to be described as superpower.
And according to some posting here Russia fails to destroy any of the major Ukrainian cities. But, there is one small but:
1) On those land called Ukraine live almost 40% russian speakers people.
2) The historic roots of Russia are in those land – in most Russian's mind this is a holy thing.
And, if this land was somewhere out there – than be sure that hell will come in Earth…
"The Biden administration’s unwillingness to provide Ukraine long-range missiles such as those used in last fall’s counteroffensive seems to confirm this hesitancy."
Firstly, they did not provide long-range missiles (Beyond the range of GMLRS, anyway) even in last fall's counteroffensive, so the phrasing here is odd. But more importantly, this is a false dichotomy. The unwillingness to provide those may be due to many things *other* than a fear of what might happen if Ukraine is poised to retake Crimea. I'd argue some are far likelier, particularly including that the US does not want to provide weapons that would facilitate striking deep into Russia's internationally-recognized territory. They have often made remarks to clarify the usage parameters of donated weapons, in some cases explicitly saying "Crimea is Ukraine", to indicate that attacks on Crimea are perfectly in-bounds with the terms of the provided aid. So I don't think it's likely at all that the Biden administration views Crimea this way, and certainly the hesitancy to provide long-range missiles does not confirm that hypothesized connection.
And judging by the missile attack on the Polish grain silos which Zelensky stubbornly/desperately tried to claim was by the Russians, Kyiv are cowboys who would happily escalate the war … and us into the war … with long-range, Russia-hitting weapons.
No one benefits more from direct US/NATO involvement in the war than does Ukraine.
Were I Zelenskyy, I’d jump at any false-flag plan to make the West believe Russia is directly moving against them.
A false flag attack by Ukraine would be an incredible risk. If discovered and published to the Western public it would end support for their cause immediately. It would not be worth it.
War itself is an incredible risk, especially a potentially existential one like that facing Ukraine.
I overreached when stating he’d “jump at any false-flag plan…” but I stand by the reasoning that an attack against the West that they can reliably blame on Russia is readily on the table.
How long did the American public believe early (debunked) propaganda like the “Ghost of Kiev” or the valiant “Russian Warship, go fuck yourself!” Snake Island garrison’s valiant martyrdom?
Any artifice need only last long enough for US/NATO to get into the game before the truth comes out. Admitting “I was wrong” is political suicide at that level. Public support will fade very quickly if the war drags on, regardless of who the public actually holds responsible, but voters have notoriously short memories and sentiment matters more than reality.
I’m not saying we should or shouldn’t get more involved; much of the damage of the two world wars could have been preempted with an earlier intervention, but no one benefits from such today (in the short-term) more than Zelenskyy.
Judging by Zelensky's stubborn, irrational insistence to try to (get us to) falsely blame the Russians for the Polish grain silo missiling some months ago, Kyiv is recklessly ready to take any risk.
He's just been to the Vatican apparently to try to get the Pope into the war on Kyiv's side. I suspect he was instead counseled to agree to an armistice and fair security treaty to end this extremely dangerous tragedy as soon as possible.
This is not only about saving Ukraine and their democracy – it’s about stopping future Russian aggression in other sovereign territories. Russia must be stopped. If the West doesn’t back Ukraine with the intent of forcing Russia out of Ukraine’s internationally recognized legal territory, the last 14 months have been a huge waste of lives and treasure. When you go to war, proxy or otherwise, you better be in it to win it at all cost. Russia’s been playing the nuke card since forever and I’ll bet not even Xi would stand for any such deployment. World history is an instruction manual to the future – use it wisely!
Take an objective look at the progression of (NATO) borders on the maps for the past 25 years. It's not the *Russians* who have been on the offensive. And according to George Washington University's National Security Archive, we did indeed promise the Russians not to move NATO east of Germany after the fall of the Soviet regime, when they were trusting us trying to democratize and de-militarize.
NATO hasn't been on the offensive, except in the heads of Russians. Haven't you heard of the fable of the sun & the north wind?
Russia has tried to prevent ex-Warsaw Pact countries & former Soviet republics from applying to join NATO by threatening them. Can't you see the obvious flaw in that approach?
How have they reacted to Russian threats? By hammering on NATO's doors shouting "Please, please, let us in!" Putin's been NATO's best ever recruiting officer.
That's blindingly obvious. Why don't you get it? All Russia had to do to stop its former subjects from applying to NATO was to be nice to them. But it never tried that. It encouraged (& financed, armed, & in some cases lent its armed forces to) separatists, & invaded two of them. Putin said he objected to NATO having borders with Russia – & chased Finland & Sweden into NATO's arms. It's so stupid I would't believe it if I hadn't seen it.
BTW, NATO's spent much of the last 30 years telling Ukraine "Sorry, but you don't qualify for membership at the moment", just as the EU has been telling Ukraine it isn't ready to join. Putin's invasion was for internal Russian reasons, to boost his popularity with a short, victorious & almost bloodless (for Russia) war. It was nothing to do with any threat from NATO. He got it wrong, & tens of thousands have died because of that.
Ukraine is much more significant for Russia, geopolitically, than is either Sweden or Finland. The comparison is very weak.
Chechnya would be a more apropos, though heterologous, example.
Perhaps you are unaware of the NATO war against Libya. NATO overthrew the Khadafi regime which led the country into complete free fall and failed state to this day.
Then you have the NATO intervention in Syria, and their civil war. We then have the Balkan Wars and of course, the US invasion of Iraq and then 8 year occupation of the country.
I spent 3.5 years in Iraq, all over a lie. Our invasion of Iraq was far worse than Russia invading Ukraine. A million Iraqis are dead from that war.
Russia is wrong for invading Ukraine. But we are likewise wrong to keep this war going when they can't win. Either we send our forces in to mocmve Russia back to the 2022 border with US Forces and Airpower, or push for peace and stop killing Ukrainians knowing thry can't win.
We can regroup, and push the Russians out in a few years.
It's interesting that the Minsk Accords never ever comes up in conversation about what is going on in Ukraine. It's not Russian propaganda that is overwhelming the signal, it is the refusal of the media and the various governments to acknowledge that Russia was/is the aggrieved party and was left finally with no recourse except special military operations.
The "progression of NATO borders" is not the result of a NATO "on the offensive." It is the result of people in those countries desiring freedom and democracy and hoping NATO will protect their freedom and democracy. People all over the world are tired of being oppressed by crooked thug leaders and want to join the 21st century.
"Advance into Crimea" and "nuclear escalation" are both treated very theoretically, even though the details of each are either known or can be postulated.
Ukrainian forces can't advance into Crimea until they've liberated southern Kherson Oblast, probably Melitopol as well, and will have severed Russia's land connection to Crimea. With that gone, and the bridge likely damaged, Crimea will be difficult terrain but logistically isolated; with no long-term prospect of remaining under Russian control. There might be negotiations, but I can't see Ukraine offering more than to allow Russians to evacuate Crimea under a white flag, and I can't see Russia accepting such a loss peacefully.
However, nuclear weapons aren't a panacea because there aren't really any tactical targets for them that would be have substantial effects against Ukrainian forces while not driving Western countries to escalate themselves. If Russia wished to threaten a countervalue strike against a city, they'd threaten first and there's a high chance that they'd be talked down — even if they successfully extorted the retention of Crimea now, holding that nuclear threat up indefinitely is probably impossible.
Functionally, I think Ukraine's offensive will quickly cut the land bridge to Crimea, but the actual retaking will be measured; Crimea isn't going anywhere. Russia will have a lot of time to go through the stages of grief, but ultimately they'll come up with a new propaganda line to explain why their flag won't fly over Sevastopol anymore. Nothing to panic about on theoretical terms, because there'll be plenty of time to watch it live.
The Russians – moderate but angry Medvedev especially – have now repeatedly said that *we* (the US and UK) are their real enemy in Ukraine, not (just) Kyiv.
Look at their nuclear threats in *that* – our – context.
They want to avoid nuclear contamination (upwind) in Ukraine – from blasts or from British Depleted Uranium (DU) munitions – if at all possible.
However, after all their sometimes vivid (on TV) nuclear threats, their nuclear threat credibility is less than zero, and I have on my various forums suggested (USMA 1947) Gen./SecState Haig's "nuclear warning shots" … safely out above the sea … to re-establish that … rather than unbelieved nuclear ultimatums and actual city-for-city nuclear exchanges outright.
Putin's "gradual escalation" war policy – based on the miscalculation on our side too that Ukrainians might quickly/easily surrender – was doomed to fail like ours did in Vietnam. Surrounded Leningrad during WW2 was a veritable starving concentration camp. His 2 year old brother Viktor he never knew died of malnutrition and diphtheria and both his parents nearly died. His mindset is very much that of a Child of Holocaust Survivors.
Putin like many of his generation fears another world war and has repeatedly hesitated to use or even just convincingly demonstrate the superpower Russia has, although if the Kinzhal vs. Kyiv bunker (like Kalibr vs. Aleppo bunker) report is true, it shows how dangerously desperate the Russians have become.
By the way, the Russians *have* civil defense. Irresponsibly – criminally – we don't, (for our families), except for our war-eager elites, of course.
How do you manage to squeeze so much excrement into one single post, must take years of training.
It’s also a mistake to categorize all nuclear weapons into the same group.
Tsar Bomba won’t be used. At least, not near Crimea where Russia needs the naval access. Then again, most nukes are not equivalent to a volcanic eruption.
If Russia’s calculus changes to where it’s more feasible to deny themselves and NATO any access to the plains north of the Carpathians rather than controlling it outright… some fear of Ukrainian overreach is reasonable.
Moscow understands the American political landscape much better than DC knows Russia. Americans simply don’t have the stomach for WWIII, and that grants Putin significant initiative. Yet, we didn’t have the stomach for either prior world war until our backs were to the wall – and we reclaimed that initiative rather quickly…. Even aging heavyweights hit pretty damn hard, and few know better than Russia just how hard we used to hit. The game is in stopping just short of us feeling that corner at our backs.
This sounds much like the self-deterrence our National Insecurity Council seems comfortable with.
War is not about comfort zones, except of course in Ukraine's case the red lines delineating safe and secure borders.
Most of the mobilized Moscovites may begin to realize it's not worth re-re-invading once they've been pushed out, and Ukrainians don't pursue. That message can be driven home, while it's up to Ukrainians how to proceed regarding Crimea. There's strong backing even from China and India for keeping the taboo on nuclear weapons intact during this brutal attempt to subsume a key European country.
As for sustainability of our supplies, (dumb) munitions aside, we have depots flowing over with the materiel it will take for Ukraine to win. Not so much more is needed, actually, but we have been withholding just that.
We have 4K+ Bradleys in active service, and an additional 2K (!) sitting around in depots. Once conceived and built to expel Soviet armies from Western Europe, only 109 have presently reached Ukraine, after cycling through German training grounds. We can well task more of them with helping to expel Moscovia from Eastern Europe today. The same goes for tanks and wheeled vehicles.
While our fledgling drone industry could capitalize on a good workout to grow rapidly. That Kill Chain begins in factories mass-producing loitering munitions and drones on a scale orders of magnitude beyond current efforts.
Being afraid of a Russian collapse is subtly telling everyone, which had had to endure Russian soviet demency (let alone what happened these last 20 or so years in bilateral or multilateral accords), to shut up & accept the unacceptable.
Pray tell – during the Cuban Crisis, why did everyone felt tense of imminent disaster, while at DEFCOM2, and still preparing an invasion force? Should historiographers conclude that the reason history hasn't ended in the '60s simply because the Russians (Soviets, at that time) favoured the crookedness of power, concubines, exclusivity, and intrigue, over fulfilling the Communist project of world revolution?
If Baker's transcript at Malta are the unspoken testament that the Soviet Union wasn't meant to collapse – this simply legitimises the Cekist & his ilk in what they're doing now, and what they've done in the past. If this is an underhanded acknowledgement…
If anything, if one's more afraid of a Russian collapse, then, all of the non-aligned & 2nd-party countries will have to focus on destructuring every top 5-10-15 countries on the planet, even if this would need centuries to prepare or less than that.
If there's fear in countries like Russia to collapse, then any rhetoric against any country, regardless of motives, will become null – including China, including the African continent, including South America, including Taiwan, including anything else.
We either live in our world – or in theirs. If we live in their world, we may as well switch off the lights.
But never again will it be taken at face value of anyone nor anything, and the next world-wide revolutionary project won't need to storm any institutional outpost facade. It'll turn kinectic & asymetric, since this appears to be the greatest fear, at the moment.
We either live in our world or in theirs, there's no middle. You don't negotiate with crocodiles, you turn them into boots or belts.
So far, the "Biden Administration"(a wholly owned subsidiary of Obama & Klinton Inc.), has been the epitome of vacillation. They make a well oiled weathervane in a hurricane look resolute. If NATO & the US continue hedging their bets with half measures and meaningless drivel disguised as rhetoric, then China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, et al will be the victors as the West sinks into oblivion in a "multi-polar" world. Unless history is written by the folks with a whitewash monopoly, they will all be remembered as blood soaked buffoons and cowards who could not operate an ice water stand in a hell without going bankrupt.
Had not the Biden Administration blown off Russian, written requests to discuss Ukraine and its potential NATO membership, this whole bloody war might well have been avoided.
Just another example of old Joe's foreign policy ineptitude.
"the United States must use its leverage over Ukraine to ensure that Ukrainian forces do not advance into Crimea until an opportunity for negotiations has presented itself"
Russia commits "aggressive war", the same action prosecuted in Nuremberg, and that "aggressive war" is to be tolerated until "opportunity for negotiations has presented itself"?
Goering et al are filing appeals!
Someone has been counseling Volodymyr Zelensky, wisely:
"Ukraine needs more time before launching its long-anticipated spring counteroffensive against Russian forces, President Volodymyr Zelensky said. Speaking to the BBC and European public broadcasters, Zelensky said the effort could proceed now “and be successful” but would incur an “unacceptable” level of loss."
Meanwhile, Britain is escalating the war intending to give Kyiv its long-range Storm Shadow missiles, claiming the Crimea is Kyiv's sovereign territory, not Russia's. My comment on Independent:
… except the Crimea is Russian sovereign territory according to the Russians (and a clear majority of Crimeans in 2014), so this will be Kyiv and Britain and its supporters attacking Russia itself … escalating us farther into World War 3 and probably getting Britain and its supporters *direct* retaliatory attacks from Russia.
As I asked/told LSE "Ideas" (anti-Russian propaganda) director Christopher Coker, here a few years ago, Britain has now become the West's North Korea.
And it's all going to blow up.
BlackArrow aka Lou Coatney
The British claim they have the backing of the International Fund for Ukraine – Denmark, Netherlands, Sweden, and Norway – and my younger children are here in Norway where, despite putting them in extreme danger like this, the government has allowed civil defense for everyone to fall into criminal neglect.
A fair peace and security treaty to the Russians would have been and still can be SO much easier and safer.
As to my analogy of the possible Ukraine offensive to the Battle of Kursk offensive Hitler and his generals by contrast foolishly went ahead with, as a very abstract simulation of deep field fortification warfare I give you my free little print and play game Postcard Kursk – rules not yet finished: http://www.CoatneyHistory.com/PostcardKursk.htm
The black frontline is so for both sides with 2 fortification lines facing the enemy to be in the hexes behind that.
<Meanwhile, Britain is escalating the war intending to give Kyiv its long-range Storm Shadow missiles, claiming the Crimea is Kyiv's sovereign territory, not Russia's. My comment on Independent:
… except the Crimea is Russian sovereign territory according to the Russians (and a clear majority of Crimeans in 2014), so this will be Kyiv and Britain and its supporters attacking Russia itself … escalating us farther into World War 3 and probably getting Britain and its supporters *direct* retaliatory attacks from Russia.>
You think that because the russians say Crimea is their sovereign territory it must be so? "clear majority of Crimeans"? (while under occupation by a hostile power, and with no suggestion that it was or could even pretend to be a valid representation of the wiil of the Crimean people)..please at least try to make serious arguments. Regardless of universal recognition of Ukraine's borders in 1991 ( including by russia)? Regardless of russian/western guarantees of Ukrainian sovereignty in exchange for their relinquishing their inherited nuclear weapons?
Your sympathies are sadly evident and undermine any valid points you may (or may not) have to make.
Also, if, as you claim, Crimea is russian territory not Ukrainian, why did the russians enter into a lease agreement with Ukraine for the use of parts of the Sevastopol naval facilities? Why would russia lease a naval base from another country if it's already their own territory?!!
The war is now spiraling out of control. Apparently because of Putin's subdued reaction to Britain's intention … already being fulfilled … of sending long-range missiles to Kyiv, Zelensky has just made a surprise visit to Britain where PM Sunak has now promised 100s more.
(Does this give credence to the report of British operations planners being killed in the Kyiv bunker in early March – is this retaliation?)
Is it just for NATO to decide when a member has gone renegade … outside NATO Article 5 collective defense protection?
Has Russia's Duma passed a resolution of recognition of Britain being in an Undeclared State of War against Russia?
People clearly don’t realize how dangerous Britain’s escalation of the Ukraine War – sending Kyiv long-range missiles – now is.
When Kyiv uses these to attack Russia … and the Russians and apparently the Crimeans (in the 2014 referendum) consider the Crimea to be Russia … it will be Britain and – if our governments have in fact approved this – its International Fund for Ukraine supporters Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, and Norway attacking, which can and I believe will trigger direct Russian retaliation against our countries.
And our civil defenses are completely unprepared to deal with this, recklessly and therewith criminally putting our families our children in extreme danger.
Every man, woman, and child should be able to get to a pre-arranged and stockpiled (fallout) shelter … under Norwegian not vigilante, mafia, etc. law protection … within 20 minutes, which is now impossible, except for our war-eager elites.
I argue that these two statements are equally true:
(A) "The use of a nuclear weapon would drastically change not just the war,
but the entire world." (Russian decision)
(B) "Giving up when facing nuclear escalation threats would would drastically
change not just the war, but the entire world." (Western decision)
As long as threats of nuclear escalation in Ukraine don't work, the world does not change. If Russia uses the weapon (A), or equally the West gives up ground under nuclear threat (B), the world changes.
Consequences of scenario A: 1) The war would not end. Using small number of tactical nuclear weapons is not end all scenario. 2) China and India are compelled to act strongly against Russia and isolate it. 3) Russia faces total isolation and economic collapse. 4) NPT-treaty may collapse unless the global reaction completely crushes and isolates Russia and demonstrates that nuclear weapon use against nonnuclear state is not winning strategy.
Consequences of scenario B: If Russian nuclear threat succeeds once, it will use the threat again. Russian neighbors from Ukraine to Kazakhstan realize that they need a nuclear weapon if they want to be safe. North Korea takes notes. South Korea might feel the need to build a nuclear weapon even more strongly than today. The decision affects Iran, Israel and number of other countries.
Given the two possibilities, I think option (A) calling Russian nuclear bluff
on Crimea is preferable. Use of nuclear weapons against Ukraine is Russian decision and the West should not try to prevent it by doing (B).
For Russia the benefits cannot outweigh the costs of of use of nuclear weapons. Only the West can make nuclear threats to pay off.
On LinkedIn, one Matthew Parker who claims to be an American "military volunteer" in Ukraine responded to me with this:
Lou, unfortunately your analysis is totally backwards, the Russian army has been decimated, we've been beating the hell out of it and bleeding it dry for the last three months.
We've already started aggressive probes and we have pushed them back over 10 kilometers alone in the last 24 hours, the prisoner count is somewhere in the 5500 and that is growing exponentially.
These British cruise missiles are allowing us to hit targets deep inside occupied territory and besides the psychological effect the actual material damage they're doing is catastrophic to the Russians logistics and command and control.
Thank you for responding, Matthew. I'll share your response with others. We shall see what happens.
But the British have gone beyond NATO Article 5 collective defense protection on this, so *any*thing can happen now.
'Hope you survive.
Lots of vouches for him on LinkedIn. Can anyone here verify him?