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Intelligence Reports Point to a Surprising Conclusion in Ukraine
It is impossible to predict with certainty the outcome of the war now raging in Ukraine. But certain signs point to a surprising conclusion.
The 2022 Ukraine-Russia war was, from the beginning, not only a war of lethal weaponry, but it was also a war of words. When Putin introduced the word ‘nuclear’ into the conversation, the leaders in the West shivered in their boots. Their unwillingness to confront Russia, the unprovoked aggressor, exposed their weakness, and has cost thousands of lives that could have been saved had the leaders in the West acted with courage instead of fear from the onset.
When the Russians began moving their forces into Ukraine on February 23, the Ukrainians refused to fall back and be conquered. They fought furiously, spurred on by their President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Despite Russian threats on his life and invitations of safe passage out of the country, Zelenskyy set a heroic example by insisting on remaining in Kyiv with his family. He encouraged Ukrainian forces and volunteers to fight fiercely to protect their homeland. Ukrainians rallied around him and fight they did, in this David versus Goliath war. Now, well into the fourth week of the conflict, there is good reason to believe they can win.
More Than What the Russians Bargained For
Putin thought this Ukrainian adventure would be a slam-dunk – that Ukraine would fall in three or four days. But this war has already lasted for nearly a month, and it is still far from over.
The Russians have serious technical, logistical, and moral problems that prevent them from making progress on the ground. Their troops were sent to war with barely enough equipment to fight for more than a few days: three magazines of ammunition for their rifles, two belts of ammunition for their machine guns, and canned food with an expiration date of 2015. Their tanks are bogged down in the mud, and their equipment is breaking down. In Kherson, not far from Crimea, Ukrainians actually pushed Russian ground forces back 30 miles. And on March 19, Ukrainian troops announced that they had killed the fifth Russian General since the start of the war.
In the meantime, their soldiers are running out of food and fuel. Their machines of war are breaking down. Their morale is collapsing. When they are captured, they cry, and they tell the Ukrainians that they did not sign up for this war, that they had no idea what they were getting into when they were ordered, first into Belarus, and then into Ukraine. And they beg the Ukrainians for forgiveness.
The number of Russian casualties in Ukraine is not verifiable. Different sources provide widely different numbers. And there is a reason for this. When the Russians invaded Ukraine, not only did they bring tanks and APCs, they also brought mobile crematoria, so they could remove the bodies of Russian soldiers killed in action from the battlefield, and burn their bodies so they could not be counted.
The number of fallen Russian soldiers as of March 16 (as reported by Russian sources) was about 10,000, while the numbers claimed by Ukrainian sources show 15,000 Russian soldiers, and other estimates have been as high as 35,000. As many as 21,000 have been reported wounded, 11,000 taken prisoner, and 6,000 have deserted and turned themselves over to the Ukrainians. Whatever the numbers, the Russian casualties in less than four weeks have been catastrophic.
On the other hand, the damage to Ukraine’s cities and the citizens who lived there has also been catastrophic. On March 20, a police officer in the large port city of Mariupol described the damage there: “The city is destroyed,” he said, “It is wiped off the face of the earth,” and he begged the West to send them the weapons they need to defend themselves from these devastating airstrikes.
But despite the massive damage to cities and infrastructure from the air, on March 19, the British Ministry of Defense made this astonishing statement on Twitter: that the Ukrainian Air Force and air defense forces are, despite the Russian onslaught, “continuing to effectively defend Ukrainian airspace . . . . Russia has failed to gain control of the air and is largely relying on stand-off weapons launched from the relative safety of Russian airspace to strike targets within Ukraine . . . . Gaining control of the air was one of Russia’s principal objectives for the opening days of the conflict, and their continued failure to do so has significantly blunted their operational progress.”
U.S. Aid is Deficient
On March 16, President Joe Biden read a detailed laundry list of weapons that America would be providing Ukraine in this conflict on national television. He seemed quite proud of this accomplishment. But it did not include the jet fighters that Ukraine had requested, begged for, so they could counter the devastating Russian missiles from the sky. A Ukrainian parliament member Sviatoslav Yurash commented on Biden’s announcement, “All is welcome, all is needed, nothing is enough.”
From a strategic point of view, the President should never have made these numbers public. The enemy (who was most assuredly listening and taking notes) should never be given the details about how much and what kind of support America is giving to Ukraine. Some would say it amounts to “adhering to their Enemies, giving them aid and comfort”, which is the Constitutional definition of treason. At the very least, it is a terrible strategy that can only serve to benefit the Russians as they continue to lay siege to the citizens of Ukraine.
David vs. Goliath
The news coming from Ukraine is confusing at best. Accounts contradict each other. And the images are shattering. But despite all the confusion, it is nevertheless clear that little David is holding his own against the mighty Goliath. Russian troops are foundering in the field and may well be going down to defeat. The Russian military machine is failing, because despite the horrendous damage that its missiles are doing to Ukrainian cities and infrastructure from the air, and the terrible death toll it is taking among the Ukrainian people, Russian forces on the ground have so far failed to capture a single major city in nearly four weeks of fighting, and their losses are growing rapidly. Mariupol may be the first city to fall, but it may also be the last if Ukrainian forces can continue to prevail.
In Russia, Madness at the Helm
Meanwhile, back in Russia, Putin said, “Westerners are trying to cancel Russia . . . The West has torn off its mask of decency.” But it is the Russians who have been committing atrocities; it is the Russians who are targeting civilians in a war of demolition and murder. And it is the Russians who are blaming the West for their own crimes. This is just Putin’s way of justifying his possible use of a tactical nuclear weapon as Russia’s position becomes increasingly compromised on the battlefield.
In mid-March, Putin sent Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on a mission to China, but his plane was inexplicably turned around and returned to Moscow before it ever left Russian airspace. No one seems to know why. And Putin has just arrested nine generals for “misuse of fuel and supplies.” These would seem to be the actions of an increasingly paranoid leader who is losing control of his command.
As Putin continues to rage, blaming the West for the crimes that the Russian military is itself committing, he is raising the stakes every day and becoming increasingly isolated. The barbarity that Russian forces under Putin’s command have visited upon Ukraine are war crimes, crimes against humanity, and in opposition to every rule of war in the Geneva Conventions. The responsibility for the carnage and the indiscriminate destruction rests squarely on the shoulders of Vladimir Putin, whose lust for power and obsession with the return to the old Russian Empire and its vast holding of land seems to be driving him into madness.
He has surrounded himself with ‘yes men’ and brooks no criticism, and there is a growing agreement in the intelligence community that he may soon be the target of a coup. If that happens, Putin’s future is uncertain. In fact, he may have no future at all.
Assessing the Situation
Once beautiful cities in Ukraine are now largely destroyed, and thousands of civilians – men, women, children, the sick and elderly – have been murdered by Russian missiles – including the deadly hyperbaric missiles – that were fired directly into homes, hospitals, schools, and storehouses of food and water. The Ukrainians who remain in their country are now facing starvation, as well as death from the air. And, for the first time, the Russians have used hypersonic missiles, missiles that are capable of carrying nuclear warheads, that the Russians claim can travel five times the speed of sound.
Yet, despite all the Russian propaganda, the Russians are losing.
With all their bravado and determination to add Ukraine to Putin’s new Russian empire, they still cannot muster what is necessary to win, and they are destroying the country that he hopes to rule.
Vladimir Putin remains a champion of Russian human rights abuses and crimes against humanity. Although he denies this and puts the blame on the West, he is lying. As he pushes his obscene agenda on the civilian population of Ukraine, his war crimes are mounting up.
This war never should have happened. Russia’s scorched earth tactics and the growing human tragedy in Ukraine is one whose consequences may not be known for years. Putin has a lot to answer for. The landscape of this war is continually changing, and it is impossible to predict with certainty what the outcome will be. But the courage of the Ukrainian armed forces and their ability to hold off the Russians for nearly a month in what was intended to be a three-day war speaks volumes for the possibility of a Ukrainian victory.
But Ukraine still needs our help. President Biden needs to find the courage to be the leader he is supposed to be, to help our allies in Ukraine with the military equipment they have requested, begged for, and that they need to save their country. This does not mean risking American lives in the air over Ukraine. It means giving the Ukrainians the tools they need to defend themselves. If Biden does not, if he continues to hide behind platitudes and ignore their pleads, then Russia’s next target is likely to be Poland, a member nation of NATO, and that will be the real beginning of World War III.
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