The Russian Army is in the process of pushing the Ukrainian military back from their territorial holdings in Crimea and Eastern Ukraine. As the winter presses on and the ground continues to freeze, a force of roughly 350,000 Russian conscripts has been assembled across the border in Belarus. Russian lines within Ukraine are being fortified.
Sure, the initial Russian invasion last year was defeated by Ukraine. Sadly, however, Russia has not yet been defeated—and it does not appear to be on the brink of defeat, no matter what the propaganda in the West says.
Meanwhile, at precisely the moment that the pro-Ukraine Twitterati are bulk-tweeting congratulatory exultations about all the winning that Ukraine is doing in places like Bakhmut, the Ukrainian defense there has lost something like 70 percent of its fighting capabilities in the last week.
This, as a variety of Ukrainian officials plead with their Western supporters to send more money, more heavy weapons, and even the fearsome M1 Abrams tank and/or Germany’s Leopard tank. These pleas undercut the key claim that we’ve all been living under in the West, which is that Ukraine was defying the odds and winning.
Certainly, Ukraine was winning. Although, with all due respect to Ukraine’s defenders, they pushed back a Russian invasion force last year that was barely 150,000-160,000 troops strong. It was an understrength, poorly led, and haphazardly-planned invasion force. Given all the aid the Ukrainians have received since 2014, if their defense forces did not repel that shambolic Russian invasion, none of the investment would have been worth it.
Things have changed, though.
The Ukrainian military has shifted away from its necessary defense of the Ukrainian core in the western portion of the country and has instead gone on the offensive. As Edward N. Luttwak has long argued, war is a dynamic process. It is a balancing act between offense and defense and when you favor one over the other—or just when you think you’ve successfully defended yourself and can now go on the offensive—things immediately begin working against you.
The Ukrainians have plunged too far into parts of the country that Russian forces have controlled at least since 2014. They’ve stretched what were already brittle supply chains to their breaking points. Trying to upend the unfortunate reality that Russia holds Eastern Ukraine and Crimea is a non-starter and will only ensure that the Russians will continue fighting and that they will hit back even harder.
A year ago, Ukraine could depend on consistent and reliable supplies from NATO flowing to its forces. Those days are over. After a year of conflict, the already dwindling Western stockpiles of essential heavy weapons have been nearly depleted. Thanks to America and the Western world’s obsession with deindustrializing itself for the last 50 years, there will be no replacements on hand for these systems anytime soon.
The Ukrainian defense needs to fall back and reconsolidate. And the problem for Ukraine is that once you get beyond that first line of defense—there are many unconfirmed reports indicating that Russian forces have already breached through in some areas—you start heading into flatland. There are military realities on the ground in Ukraine that the political fantasists in Washington simply refuse to acknowledge.
The Russians are preparing for a breakout. It might be too late to stop it now, but the West should try its hand at actual diplomacy to be certain that opportunity is gone.
It was always mind-boggling to me that, after Ukraine pushed the initial Russian invasion back, no truce was tried. Even today, though, the Russians have put feelers out to the intransigent West and Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has indicated his willingness to broker a deal between the two warring parties before things get totally out-of-hand.
Despite what the hardliners in Kiev and Washington say about reclaiming Crimea and kicking the Russians completely out of Eastern Ukraine, this is a delusion—one that will get many innocent people killed and likely end in the total collapse of the proto-democratic Ukraine state based out of Kiev.
So long as Moscow gets to keep the Russian-speaking provinces of Eastern Ukraine and, most importantly, maintains a permanent grip on the port of Sevastopol in Crimea, one of Russia’s only two warm water ports (the other being in Syria), Ukraine can survive and far scarier global conflict can be avoided.
NATO refuses to allow for Kiev to even countenance a truce with Moscow all while denying Ukraine the tanks that Kiev claims it needs (because these systems will be too few and arrive too late to make any real difference). Britain says it will donate a company of its Challenger-2 tanks (that’s around 14 tanks overall) and Poland has agreed to donate another company of its German-built Leopard-class tanks. Although, when these tanks will be delivered or if there will even be a Ukrainian Army left to receive them remains in doubt. That’s not very helpful, now is it?
Instead of stringing the Ukrainians along, why not help to end the fighting while there’s still a Ukraine left?
But working on a negotiated settlement is far too much for the Biden Administration and their lackeys in the “mainstream,” while the media keeps chirping in our ears that the war will end only when Vladimir Putin is overthrown and the Russian Federation is dissolved into its constituent parts. This kind of rhetoric stands in the way of a deal and leads to some pretty insane calculations in Moscow in response to these Western claims.
Presently, the balance of the war in Ukraine is clearly shifting in Russia’s favor. At the risk of evoking the ire of the massive pro-Ukraine troll farms on Twitter, I urge all sides to ratchet down tensions; to sit at a big, beautiful table, and make a deal.
Should Ukraine be defeated it will cease being an independent state. The NATO alliance will be called into question. Europe will fracture, with many nations falling under the sway of pro-Russian and anti-American elements.
What’s more, the United States will be fully pushed away from Europe and will suffer another humiliating defeat on the world stage when its Ukrainian proxy falls to Russia—a force we were assured by Biden and others was spent.
Still, there is a window to prevent all of this and allow for Putin to get that which he has held since 2014: Eastern Ukraine and Crimea. The rest of Ukraine—the best portion, the western side—can remain free and prosperous. It will take courage and probity from Western leaders who have a proven track record, unfortunately, of lacking these key qualities for effective statesmanship.
As Otto von Bismarck once quipped, “God has a special providence for fools, drunkards, and the United States of America.”