[January 22, 2023] The United States must tell Vladimir Putin that he will not win this war, that we will ensure that happens, and that we will assist Russia in their withdrawal. Anything else from the West means we are now responsible for the death of tens of thousands of more soldiers and civilians.
[January 17, 2023] What will happen in the Ukraine War is unknowable. But we can look out and make some educated guesses. The U.S. military is monitoring this war closely and learning some valuable lessons. Here are some things we think will happen over the next few months.
We now know that the liberation of Crimea is the decisive phase of the Ukraine War. Ukraine must be made whole again after Russia’s capture and annexation of Crimea in 2014.
This Winter, the Ukrainians will be pounding away at the Russian logistics and transportation networks leading into Crimea. It’s been working well, along with Russia’s inconsistent ability to synchronize its supply efforts.
Ukrainian forces are already hitting targets inside Melitopol and Mariupol (southeast Ukraine, through which Russian logistics run) to sever the land bridge between Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine and the Crimean peninsula. That will be a critical part that leads to conditions for capturing Crimea, probably by Summer this year.
Using more sophisticated and lethal drones, partisans, and longer-ranged and more accurate weaponry from the West to disrupt the Russian transport system is the key, so the Russians cannot move new equipment, soldiers, supplies, food, and ammunition into Crimea.
The Russian Black Sea Fleet is still terrified of Ukrainian anti-ship missiles. The fleet hardly ever comes out, and Ukraine does not even have a navy. And because the fleet stays so close to Crimea, they are not much help in protecting Crimea. The Russian Air Force has also largely retreated from the skies over Ukraine and now only launched air-to-ground missiles from within Russia proper.
Retired U.S. General David Petraeus believes that Ukrainian forces have “achieved irreversible momentum.” There is no going back to where Russia has a significant advantage. Petraeus says he does not see any way for Russia to turn this around. There are still many months of hard fighting ahead, with Russia pounding innocent civilians with artillery and drone attacks. And the Russian mobilization will be inadequate to fill the gaps of losses with adequately trained, well-led troops.
The Russians still have not fixed the main problems within their command structure, logistics, transportation, and ability to conduct joint operations. As long as the West continues to provide Ukraine with what we said we would do, and the economic sanctions and boycotts remain in place, Russia will not be able to change the war’s momentum.
Even if Russia mobilizes another half a million men, they cannot magically put them on the battlefield and be an effective fighting force. There is no current effective training program for them or equipment to equip these forces.
Tactical nuclear weapon use by Russia is improbable because it would be ineffective in the course of the war, and its use will generate greater hostility to Russia. This would trigger further sanctions and possible criminal violations of war that the UN oversees.
The U.S. and NATO allies have yet to state publically that Ukraine can win the war. If they do, this will significantly boost Ukraine’s efforts on the battlefield. It is interesting to note that the Ukraine War has strengthened NATO, an unexpected benefit to the Russian invasion.
China remains a wild card in the war, at least superficially supporting Russia, but that may change since the Chinese are impressive fence sitters and fear losing face by being seen to back the wrong dog in the fight. Belarus is less of a wild card but may be a factor in the battle in northern Ukraine.
It is impressive what the Ukrainian forces have accomplished. Russian soldiers are paying a heavy price for this and will continue to pay.
No one knows how long the war will last or the consequences for Russia or Ukraine. But we know that Ukraine will never be secure or safe or able to rebuild its economy as long as Russia controls Crimea
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