by Robert M. Traxler
The war in or on Ukraine is on the back burner for the media, not a lot of hard-hitting reporting and analysis. I am pleasantly surprised that the Russian bear is being held and some analysts say losing the war. It is the Russians to lose; larger and better equipped at the start of the war, it appeared the Ukrainians were doomed to defeat in short order.
Two factors gave the Ukrainians an edge. One was a logistical disaster on the Russians’ part; feeling that it was going to last a week or two at the most, they failed to establish a proper resupply chain. War is 95% logistics and 5% battle, in the words of General Douglas MacArthur. All lost causes can be summed up in four words: “too little, too late.”
The second factor was a strong sense of nationalism on the part of the Ukrainians. Russia made the tactical error of underestimating their opponents’ resolve; Russians look at Ukraine with a good bit of disdain, and history has always seen the Russians victorious and the Ukrainians suffering millions of dead at the hands of the Soviet Socialists.
We need to remember that two-thirds of the world’s population support the Russians in this war or are neutral. China is the Russian lifeline, propping up the economy along with Argentina, Cuba, North Korea, Iran and Belarus, even India, to name but a few military/economic allies of the Russians.
The planners in the Kremlin feel that the west will tire of the war and stop supporting President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and the Ukrainian military. Without this strong support the Russian military will overwhelm their enemies with sheer numbers. The Russians have lost a reported 1,000 main battle tanks, a large number, but they have 10,200 to 22,710 on hand. The higher number counts the older less capable vehicles like the T-34, T-54/55; however, many are the excellent T-72s, T-80s and T-90s, and they can produce more or purchase more from China.
An unreported result of this war will be the lack of Ukrainian grain, 11.3% of the world’s supply, normally purchased by many third world nations. The much-ballyhooed shipments from Ukrainian ports are but a fraction of the grain normally exported to Africa and other areas that cannot feed their population. Ukrainian exports are down 46%, resulting in a pending worldwide shortage.
If reports are true, the Russians are calling up 300,000 from what we call the Individual Ready Reserve, veterans with prior service but not current up to date training. The reports are that they will be given two months of refresher training and sent into battle; 134,500 conscripts will also be added to the force. This will give the Russians quantity, but not the quality-trained physically fit experienced warriors serving in cohesive units that are needed to win this war. Reports of Russian men fleeing to other nations to avoid the draft may be true, but remember estimates go as high as 100,000 Americans fled the United States during WWII to avoid the draft, and WWII was a very popular war.
The reports of President Putin preparing to use tactical nuclear weapons are in my opinion just hype. The entire world would come down on them if they did, even the Chinese and Indians would abandon them, leaving only the most hardcore socialist nations like Iran, North Korea, Cuba and Belarus to support their economy. It would be a disaster for the Russians, and President Putin is just not that stupid.
Let’s not kid ourselves. President Putin still has a 67% to 79% job approval rating in Mother Russia; he is not just liked but loved, mostly by Russian women, his strongest supporters. President Clinton famously said if he had a 60% approval rating, he could do anything he wished; President Putin is firmly in control and can do pretty much anything he wishes, and the people will support him.
Taking a deep dive into one recent Ukrainian offensive operation impressed me with their intelligence and resolve. An attack in the area around Kharkiv targeted two large Russian logistics facilities. The Ukrainian forces kept mission focus during the battle and doggedly punched through all five Russian defensive belts and captured or destroyed enough of all nine classes of supply to stop a Russian offensive before it was launched.
We should not kid ourselves — the odds are with the Russian Federation, and the average Ivan and Sofia are behind President Putin and support the war. Annexing parts of Ukraine will give them the all-weather land access to Black Sea ports that Russia has deemed vital going back to Ivan Grozny or Ivan the Terrible, 1547 to 1584.
I break with many of my conservative friends and feel the best way and most cost-effective way to contain President Putin and Russian expansionism is to aid the Ukrainian people. My opinion.