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Why America Wins If Russia Invades Ukraine or Not

Ukraine Putin
Russian solider. Image Credit: Vitaly V. Kuzmin.

The current situation in Ukraine has the potential to unleash the horror of a high-intensity war on Europe. For Ukraine, it is potentially an existential crisis. For Russia, it could cause catastrophic losses at worst and a severe loss of face and deterioration in security at best. For Europe, it will cause more tension and exacerbate tensions between not just Europe and Russia but various members of the European Union and NATO who have different levels of exposure to Russia.

However, one power will benefit from any developments in Ukraine be it full-scale war, a Russian step down, or anything in between. That is the United States of America.

It has been evident since the mid-1990s that America and Russia would always maintain a somewhat hostile relationship.  The Cold War may have been over by 1991, but the significant difference in world views between Russia and America meant that rivalry and conflict were inevitable. And indeed, the US and Russia have engaged in classic great power rivalry be it over NATO expansion, missile shields, weapons treaties as well as in places such as Syria, Georgia, and Ukraine.

With the perception of a resurgent Russia in Syria, Georgia, and in spheres such as cyberwarfare and Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, and with the US perceived as faltering America needs some wins and to put the Russians on the backfoot.

Ukraine presents Washington with a massive opportunity to regain the strategic initiative and more importantly destroy Russian momentum.

What if Russia Invades?

Regardless of the military situation, a Russian invasion of Ukraine would be diplomatically disastrous for Russia. It would probably have dire economic impacts on Russia not just from sanctions but longer-term from Europe turning away from Russian gas and other investments. A Russian invasion or incursion results in a more impoverished, isolated Kremlin which suits the Americans fine.

In any military incursion, the Russians are likely to suffer casualties. The Russian military is large, but it does not have the same capabilities the America or its main allies do in terms of precision targeting, ISTAR, tactical communications and control, or suppression of enemy air defense. This is still a force based on essentially a World War 2 model of heavy armor and artillery.

Furthermore, Russia’s air force lacks the suppression of enemy air defense capabilities the US has such as the dedicated EA-18G and F-16 Wild Weasel squadrons operated by the US Navy and USAF respectively. Syria revealed the Russian air force to be still reliant on dumb bombing, instead of guided stand-off weapons. And despite its age, the Ukrainian air defense system is on paper still quite capable. Indeed, even America has never faced an opponent with such a large number of S-300 and Buk systems, even if they are older versions (Iraq’s AD system in 1991 was already largely obsolete with ancient systems such as S75, S125 and 2K12 Kub and its French-designed KARI management system compromised).

Thus any military incursion will cost the Russians dearly as they lack the capability to initiate a knockout strike and their tactics and equipment are essentially dated. Russian losses would result in a decline in Russian military capabilities which have been built up slowly over 20 years. This puts America as well as NATO in a better position without having to invest in additional combat capabilities.

Russia Guns

Russian President Putin. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

This leads to the next area that Russians lose out and America wins – any military losses could be a disaster for Putin and increase instability and potentially result in his downfall. Putin will have to refocus on maintaining the domestic situation whilst fighting a brutal war against dug-in Ukrainians.

What if Russia Backs Down? 

America also wins if Russia backs down. The first prize is Russia and Putin are humiliated as they are shown to be unable to manage what they have openly stated is a core security/defense issue vital to the future of the Russian state.  This also gives the US additional global esteem after the disastrous Afghan withdrawal and shows allies that the US is willing to support them against hostile powers.

The long-term prize is that Ukraine has fallen out of Russia’s orbit and can head towards NATO membership. Ukraine offers America and NATO some very plump opportunities. First, its airbases are very close to key Russian areas which means American F-35A tactical stealth fighters can strike Moscow. These jets are not currently nuclear-capable but will be in the future. Ukraine could host American nuclear weapons in a similar arrangement to what Turkey, Belgium, Germany, and other NATO states already do. As such Ukraine gives America a very potent first-strike capability, even if it relies on manned aircraft and not intermediate-range missiles.

Ukraine

Ukraine military. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

The other opportunity is the Black Sea especially if Russia returns to Crimea. If Ukraine and Georgia both join NATO, the Russian Black Sea fleet is hemmed in on three sides. If Crimea is returned to a NATO-allied Ukraine, then the Black Sea Fleet is basically worthless as it can easily be blockaded in its port at Novorossiysk. Russian trade in the Black Sea is then contingent on NATO/American goodwill.

Even if the Russians stay in Crimea, their hold on it is difficult. Already the Ukrainians are denying Crimea access to water. In any NATO-Russian War, the Crimean naval base would pose the Russians with more of a liability than an asset as it has no strategic depth and only has a single bridge linking it to the Russian mainland.

It is evident that Ukraine and Georgia becoming NATO states puts the Russians on the backfoot as it effectively contributes to surrounding Russia. And surrounding Russia by removing its pseudo-satellites also weakens the Moscow government.

Any decrease in Russian power, especially if done cheaply by expanding NATO, empowers the US which can then reallocate resources to a more critical Asian region where the US has been unable to create an effective counter-China strategy. However, if Russia goes to war in Ukraine, America still wins due to adverse economic, diplomatic, and military ramifications on Russia.

Denis Kosta studied political science and international business at the University of Tasmania, Australia.  He works in health business management but maintains a very strong interest in military and international affairs.

Written By

Denis Kosta studied political science and international business at the University of Tasmania, Australia. He works in health business management but maintains a very strong interest in military and international affairs.

25 Comments

25 Comments

  1. Commentar

    February 9, 2022 at 8:33 am

    America wins, whether europe turns into ashes (or into a pile of rubble), naturally.

    It was more or less the same result when genghis and his gang were expanding westward.But all good things must come to an end (in the end), and America’s possibly last-throw-of-the-dice gamble of pitting its highly vaunted air power against russia’s missile power will leave biden (US hitlet) grasping at straws. But then again, what else could hitlets grasp at during the final hour or the final battle orcfinal combat.

  2. Paul C

    February 9, 2022 at 10:09 am

    No American soldier should be put in harms way to feed our military-industrial complex just because politicians and millionaires aren’t making enough wealth or to deflect attention away from the illegal, foolish and damaging effects of the Biden administration. If Europe is worried about Russian actions in Ukraine then let Europe be the ones who fight about it. If the years of involvement in the Balkans taught us one thing it’s that we have no business in these wars of profit or religion.

  3. from Russia with love

    February 9, 2022 at 10:43 am

    it looks like the US merged ukraine as well as afghanistan and now they are feverishly trying to figure out why they won all the same 🙂 I wonder what version of victory will be after taiwan is drained? funny 🙂
    the article demonstrates that the author does not even closely understand what is happening in the region.

  4. from Russia with love

    February 9, 2022 at 10:51 am

    M60A3 Patton – Russian tank? ha ha ha 🙂 LOL who designed the article? you decided that only trash in the text is not enough and added trash in pictures? 🙂

  5. michael

    February 9, 2022 at 12:47 pm

    my PhD dealt specifically with potential Russian expansion expansion into Central Asia and Ukraine. I agree with the comment above this article shows that the author has no idea what he’s talking about, in regards to Nato. talking about Ukraine or Georgia ever being part of NATO is a pipe dream. talking about Russia ever giving back Crimea is also ridiculous.

    there is no outcome of this situation that will not harm the US standing and bolster Russia.

    I just finished writing an article about this. if anybody wants to read it they can email me [email protected]

  6. Rich

    February 9, 2022 at 2:32 pm

    How can a source that purports/aspires to be a legitimate player in the discussion of world military matters make such a glaring mistake in misidentifying an M60 as Russian? Are there no editors or review of any type? Reminds me of the time a couple of years back that a diagram of an M16 with a chainsaw bayonet made the rounds. Many on the anti-second amendment left thought it was legit and fell for it hook line and sinker. They looked like morons when they publicly denounced it. There was another time when an Iraqi woman showed a reporter a handful of 5.56 rounds that hadn’t been fired. They were still intact in the brass casings. She claimed that the “bullets” hit her house and the reporter published the account along with a pic of the ammo in order generate sympathy and anti-US sentiment. The only way they could have “hit” her house is if someone threw them against her wall! LOL. The reporter had no clue and neither did his editor. Just goes to show that you should have some semblance of an understanding of the subject matter you are writing about.

  7. Alex

    February 9, 2022 at 5:10 pm

    I wanted to write an answer. But we will see a “Russian” tank… Why not T-34 at least? I don’t even want to answer such educated people.

  8. Mr. Russian

    February 9, 2022 at 6:02 pm

    Ahahaha, so you changed a “Russian tank” to a “Russian soldier”? The guy on the picture is a policeman. Special forces but still a policeman.
    19fortyfive “experts” are showing unreachable depths of their expertise 🙂

  9. Denis Kosta

    February 9, 2022 at 8:06 pm

    michael, to be honest it doesn’t even matter if Ukraine/Georgia don’t join NATO. The US can have bilateral agreements with both countries. Even many US deployments to NATO countries are under bilateral agreements and not under NATO. Indeed proposed US deployments to Romania are done under this framework which means US maintains control over forces instead of them going under NATO command.

    The result is the same – Russia loses influence in its own backyard and is militarily weakened.

    Agreed Russia won’t give up Crimea currently. But at the same time US and NATO will never recognise Russia’s occupation of it. This will be a point of contention for years and if Russia gets weaker (especially possible once Putin is gone), it might well concede Crimea in the future.

  10. Slack

    February 10, 2022 at 12:52 am

    America has always invested in a formula for winning, although,admittedly there were a few aberrations or deviations (nam, afghan, kor).

    America’s time-proven formula for winning is sending huge numbers of weapons to foreign shores so that foreigners could tear at each other’s throats to America’s satisfaction.

    America has even sent it’s nuclear weapons abroad, such as Jupiter, Thor, Mace, Pershing doomsday nukes and today it stores B61 nukes in Europe. Tomorrow, America will send or plans to send it’s hypersonic weapons abroad such as AGM-183 and SM-6 Block IB which will act as catalyst for untold killings and destruction abroad.

    This is it’s winning formula.America’s time-proven winning formula.

  11. Kerry Grittner

    February 10, 2022 at 3:08 am

    If Wiki is correct, the state of the Ukrainian military is dire, lacking the hardware and expertise to do that which they need to do to bring this conflict to a successful conclusion.
    I share Rommel’s first three rules of warfare, yes the guy we had to read in American ROTC.
    1. Attack
    2. Attack
    3. Attack

  12. Michael

    February 10, 2022 at 7:07 am

    The author may not have been the person(s) who selected the inaccurate photos.

    The author’s opinion is as valid as the dozens of others who have weighed in on the current Russian / Ukraine situation. He may indeed be correct.

  13. Mario DeLosa

    February 10, 2022 at 8:55 am

    Commentar, you never fail. “America wins, whether europe turns into ashes (or into a pile of rubble), naturally.” Priceless! The article is indeed flawed, but its basic premise is sound. If Russia invades it will quite likely turn into a deadly tar baby for Putin that will cost him dearly. Ukraine is not just going to roll on its back and expose its jugular to the Russian bear. Every day that goes by Putin paints himself further and further into a corner that may not be able to get out of, but please go ahead, keep smoking your Marxist ganja.

  14. Lance Benson

    February 10, 2022 at 11:00 am

    The question is whether a Russian invasion of Ukraine would be Desert Storm 1991 or Finland 1939. Is it true that Russia lacks precision weapons 30 years after Desert Storm? If so, Finland is a possibility. If Russia has precision weapons, it will be hard for Ukraine to retain any fixed defensive weaponry.

    The greatest immediate cost Ukraine could impose militarily on Russia would be to sink its ships in the Black Sea. Does it have that capability?

  15. O. Burnette

    February 10, 2022 at 11:44 am

    Check your photo source for “Russian tank.” Your article completely lacks credibility. You can’t even get the most basic information correct. Embarrassing.

  16. Stefan Stackhouse

    February 10, 2022 at 1:47 pm

    If the US ends up being a “winner” in this affair, it will not be because our policy elites are so clever or skillful. Kaiser Wilhelm had it right long ago: “There is a providence that protects fools, drunks, children, and the United States of America”.

  17. Dan R.

    February 10, 2022 at 2:44 pm

    Putin’s belligerence and stupidity are practically shoving Ukraine into the arms of the West. The 2014 Maidan revolution had far more to do with frustration with endemic corruption in Ukraine as opposed to breaking away from Russia. If Putin had been smart, he would have acknowledged the frustrations of Ukraine’s people and offered support to the new government. Most Ukrainians would have been perfectly content to remain neutral at that point. But instead, the embittered little fool resorted to the old KGB playbook, started a war in eastern Ukraine, and has used every dirty trick in the book to try and undermine the elected government in Kiev. As a result, he’s managed to turn the country that should be Russia’s best friend into its most bitter enemy. The author is correct. No matter what happens, Russia loses out here.

  18. Ivan

    February 10, 2022 at 3:32 pm

    Fils de PUTE US crèver la gueule ouverte j’espère que les Russes vous donnerons une bonne leçon bande de salope….JE VOUS EMMERDE LES JOURNALISTES US ET OCCIDENTAUX…

  19. H.R. Holm

    February 10, 2022 at 8:04 pm

    You are either misinformed or do not understand Russian military doctrine as it extends back to the Cold War days. They do put a high premium on electronic warfare. Where do you think the Egyptians obtained the ability to take on the Israeli Air Force over the length of the Suez Canal back in the 1969-70 period? That was very much a battle of electronics. Ditto in 1973, when the SAM-6 was introduced. Don’t think that system did not depend on good electronics. I’ve seen some very reputedly capable Russian EW assets referenced in various places lately. Any conflict over the Ukraine that the U.S. (heaven forbid) somehow becomes involved in will very much be an EW battle. Russians do not fool around militarily. They cover every base they can. And, by the way, it is tanks and artillery that pave the way for the *taking of ground*. Maybe aircraft now can lead the way, but do you think for one moment that the Russians would tolerate American combat aircraft launching their weapons against Russian ground forces? And any nuclear-armed F-35s based in Ukraine would not last but one day before the entire Russian air force, if necessary, backed by many missiles, would come after them.

  20. Belisarius Strategos

    February 10, 2022 at 10:36 pm

    Mr. Kosta will do well to stick with his health career… Australia clearly needs all the help it can get, even from Mr. Kosta.
    Russia has already won by showing what it can do and is willing to do if cornered. Coercive diplomacy at its best; I hate to admit it… Further NATO expansion is off the table for the duration. European countries, Germany in particular, would not want a repeat of this situation, but with a heightened threat of conflict next time, just for the pleasure of supporting another round of gratuitous NATO expansion.
    However, Russia loses if it invades Ukraine… Putin is not stupid enough to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

  21. from Russia with love

    February 11, 2022 at 4:51 am

    Dan R.:
    “Putin’s belligerence and stupidity are practically shoving Ukraine into the arms of the West. The 2014 Maidan revolution had far more to do with frustration with endemic corruption in Ukraine as opposed to breaking away from Russia.”

    you definitely don’t understand the real state of things. In 2014, a coup d’etat took place in Ukraine, as a result of which one group of oligarchs seized power from another group of olegarches, but there is an aggravating circumstance. this coup was carried out by the forces of neo-Nazis who, as a payment for their services, gained access to the leadership of the country. Ukrainian neo-Nazis are by definition hostile to Russia no matter what Russia does. remember that when you talk about Ukraine, you are talking about the neo-Nazi regime that supports the United States, but not about the people living in this territory.The east of Ukraine is traditionally pro-Russian, and when the Nazis seized power in Kiev announced the ban on the Russian language, the east refused to obey this government. what did the Nazis do? they tried to kill those who disagree as they did in Odessa. Putin has nothing to do with this and he is criticized for this in Russia.
    face the truth – since 2014, the level of corruption in Ukraine has grown many times over, even the shadow of sovereignty has been lost by a country in which an American senator removes the supreme judge from office, power is in the hands of neo-Nazis who forbid speaking their native language and close the media, large-scale political repression and more than 10,000 killed in the Donbass. what about Putin? this was done by the United States, which invested 5 billion in “support for democracy” (Ukrainian Nazis) and supported the coup d’état.
    PS
    some compare Ukraine with Vietnam for the USA. they don’t know how right they are, but in this Vietnam, Putin will be Ho Chi Minh. 🙂

  22. Alex

    February 11, 2022 at 11:23 am

    First a “Russian” tank, now a Russian soldier in some strange uniform. Definitely not from 2022.

  23. L'amateur d'aéroplanes

    February 11, 2022 at 9:00 pm

    Ivan’s message in French is an insult that you can delete.

  24. Jurrr

    February 16, 2022 at 7:02 pm

    This is bullshyt, i cant stop laughing xD amierika won,

  25. Alex

    February 20, 2022 at 9:16 am

    Only one country in the world is trying to make money and that is the USA. Now I want to and I’m scared – after all, they can make the Canadian-Mexico Strait in response.

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