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Russians in a rut

Mar 17, 2023 | Featured, The View From Here - Walter Kish, Politics, News, Opinion, World

The war in Ukraine has ground down to a virtual stalemate at the moment, with the Russians stuck in a deep rut of their own making. Their idiotically naïve notion of a quick and decisive “special military operation” has been exposed for the farcical wishful thinking that it always was. The Russians have lost over 150,000 of their most experienced and capable soldiers killed and likely two or three times that number wounded, captured or missing. A good chunk of their arsenal of modern weapons has been destroyed, and they are starting to run short of missiles, tanks and other key military gear. Old, mothballed equipment from the Cold War era, is being dusted off and sent to the front as a desperate measure to fill the gaps, while the Russian military industrial complex struggles to manufacture replacements, hampered as it is by sanctions that prevent it from importing the key digital components that modern weaponry requires. To make things worse, the Russian military’s logistical system has proven to be woefully inadequate and unable to support any kind of sustained offensive.

The Russian military’s attempts at replenishing their seriously depleted ranks through conscription has exposed the incompetence and corruption that is endemic to most of Russian society. Raw recruits, most of them from Russia’s eastern ethnic regions, are rushed to the front lines poorly trained and underequipped, where they become little more than cannon fodder, dying by the thousands. Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of young ethnic Russian men have fled the country to escape conscription.

Russian military failures over the past year have conclusively demonstrated how inept Russian military leadership is. It is inflexibly hierarchical and unimaginative, with operational tactics that remain unchanged from the World War II era. They have proven to be utterly incapable of co-ordinated action between the various branches of the armed forces and despite a huge superiority in airpower, they have been unable to control the skies over Ukraine. The only area where they enjoy a clear superiority is in their inexhaustible supply of artillery shells that they use, not against military targets, but primarily to destroy civilian targets and infrastructure.

On the geopolitical and economic front, Russia’s losses are even more dramatic. The war has caused NATO, one of Russia’s perceived primary foes to become more united and stronger than ever. The vast majority of the world’s countries have chosen to support Ukraine, while Russia’s so-called friends and allies have been reduced to a handful of tinpot dictatorships like Iran, North Korea, Cuba and Belarus. Even China has chosen to sit on the fence and decline to provide Russia with any meaningful military aid. International sanctions have crippled Russia’s exports of petroleum products which were its biggest revenue stream. Foreign investment has plummeted and foreign companies have abandoned Russia, which will inevitably transform Russia into a third world country, aided and abetted by the fact that many of Russia’s best and brightest young professionals have been leaving Russia in droves for the West over the past decade.

Despite Putin’s best efforts at stifling dissent and opposition, there is a sharp increase in internal turmoil bubbling under the surface as Russia’s elite are becoming increasingly disenchanted with the continuing military failures in Ukraine, as well as the deteriorating quality of life domestically. Russians have historically been stoic and long-suffering, but there are limits to their patience, and many experts believe that the Putin regime is rapidly approaching the turning point where a quick and likely violent collapse is virtually inevitable.

The next few months will be crucial. Both sides are planning major offensives come spring which will likely prove decisive to the final outcome of this war. On this point, the Ukrainian military is in a much better position to win than the Russians. Ukraine’s conscription program has been far more effective than the Russian one. Hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians have been undergoing training by NATO experts to NATO operational standards for the past six months in preparation for the spring offensive. They have been equipped with the most modern western weaponry and technology. Their officer corps and their non-commissioned officers are far more capable, flexible and creative than their Russian counterparts. Perhaps more important though, is the fact that the morale and determination on the

Ukrainian side is especially strong, while many of the front-line Russian troops are beginning to realize that they are fighting for a corrupt cause and have little desire to “die for their country”.
Ukraine will triumph. It is only a matter of time, and that time is rapidly approaching.

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