There has been much ink spilled chronicling the many Russian military blunders and failures over the past year – and there has been no shortage of genuine examples to highlight. Concurrently, there has been even more eagerness to laud the Ukrainian Armed Forces (UAF) for their tenacity and battlefield successes – and plenty of genuine examples to cite. The net result in Western media has been a clear impression that Ukraine will eventually prevail.
A Sober Assessment of the War Between Russia and Ukraine
A sober, unemotional, and balanced assessment of the war, however, reveals the situation is likely far more perilous for Kyiv than is commonly believed. Given recent comments by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, U.S. Gen. Mark Milley, however, many may be forgiven for thinking a Ukrainian victory is inevitable. On Tuesday the general said that “Russia has lost” the war already. Putin’s forces have, he flatly declared, “lost strategically, operationally, and tactically.”
Beyond the understandable desire in the United States to demonize Russia and sanctify Ukraine, the overall reality of the war at the one-year mark is much more complex.
When Putin ordered his forces to illegally invade Ukraine on February 24 last year, many believed (myself included) that Russia’s superior firepower, years of reported military modernization, and larger force would defeat the UAF in a few months or even weeks. The Ukrainian military, which had spent eight years building defensive positions and perfecting strategies designed to inflict high casualties on a Russian invasion, proved fierce and tenacious in effectively fighting from multi-layered defensive positions.
What few foresaw was that in the decade prior to the outbreak of war, Russian modernization and military reform had been mostly a sham, hiding a tactically deficient, operationally inadequate force – even from its top leaders, including Putin. They had built a “Potemkin” military that looked good on the outside but was full of rot on the inside. That rot was evident in the opening rounds of the war at the tactical level but was fully revealed in September when Ukraine launched two successful counterattacks, one in Kharkiv province and one in Kherson province.
Russia had been focused for months on the Kherson attack, and initially thwarted Ukraine’s attack. But while Putin’s forces were focused on Kherson, Commander of the UAF Gen. Valerii Zaluzhny secretly built up forces in the Kharkiv region and overwhelmed a badly outnumbered Russian force, seizing thousands of square kilometers of territory back. In desperation, Russia diverted reserves to stem the tide in Kharkiv – which made their troops in Kherson suddenly vulnerable.
Russian commander of forces in Ukraine, Gen. Sergey Surovikin, made the controversial decision to abandon Kherson city without a fight, move his forces to the east side of the Dnipro River, blow the bridges to prevent the UAF from following him, and live to fight another day. This he successfully did by mid-November. In fact, the Russian decision to withdraw from Kherson without a fight (and the similar decision to withdraw from Kyiv and Kharkiv early in the war), highlights the different strategies taken by each side through the war’s first year, and may have a real impact on the fighting in 2023.
Since April of last year, Russian General Staff appears to have prioritized fighting for objectives or cities for which they calculate they have a reasonable chance of winning. When the Russians believe the cost of attacking or defending a given site is higher than the potential gain, they have demonstrated a willingness to abandon the battle and reposition forces elsewhere. Putin’s forces did that by withdrawing from Kyiv, Kharkiv, and Kherson in 2022. Ukraine, in contrast, appears to have adopted the concept of defending every inch of its territory, no matter the cost.
This tendency was first observed in the city of Mariupol in which the Ukrainian General Staff refused to withdraw, even when it became clear holding the city was untenable. Thousands of Ukrainian troops were ultimately killed, wounded, or captured. Similar dynamics played out last summer when Ukrainian troops fought to the last in Severodonetsk, Lysychansk, and recently in Soledar.
In each city, the UAF refused to withdraw. In each case, they fought valiantly and bravely, but sacrificed enormous numbers of troops killed and wounded, eventually losing the cities as well. A similar dynamic is presently playing out in Bahkmut, as Ukrainian troops continue refusing to withdraw, even as Russian forces get closer to closing off the last remaining road supplying the city. As Ukrainian and Western leaders discuss potential spring offensives for the UAF, the battle performances in 2022 highlight a little-discussed trend that should worry Kyiv.
Ukrainian forces have been successful in pushing back Russian forces three times in the war thus far: the April withdrawal of Putin’s armor from Kyiv and Kharkiv, the September rout of Russians in Kharkiv, and the November withdrawal of Surovikin’s troops from Kherson city. In each case, Russia redeployed and established new lines of defense in order to prioritize attacking in other zones. But in those areas where the Russian General Staff chose to stand and fight, Ukraine has not defeated them: Mariupol, Severodonetsk, Lysychansk, Soledar, and likely soon Bahkmut.
What Happens Next?
If Ukraine harbors any hopes of driving Russia out of the Donbas or of launching an offensive to take Melitipol, they will have to do something they have thus far not done in this war: force Russia out of the territory for which it has chosen to stand and fight for. That is a tall task. Clearly, much new weaponry has been promised by the West and will begin showing up in numbers this April and May. But Russia, too, continues to expand its forces and equipment.
Anything in war is possible, and in time Russian troops may get worn down faster than the UAF. But Ukraine faces unenviable difficulties and we must be clear-eyed about the prospects for Zelensky’s troops in 2023. There is likewise no guarantee Russia will defeat the Ukrainian army, but Gen. Milley’s claim that “Russia has lost” the war already is far from the truth.
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Author Expertise and Experience:
A 1945 Contributing Editor, Daniel L. Davis is a Senior Fellow for Defense Priorities and a former Lt. Col. in the U.S. Army who deployed into combat zones four times. He is the author of “The Eleventh Hour in 2020 America.” Follow him @DanielLDavis.
February 17, 2023 at 4:58 pm
At least he gets a bit deeper into admitting he made mistakes. But then he continues to make more mistakes trying to give himself cover for predicting Ukrainian failures.
In Severodonetsk, Lysychansk, Soledar, and Bahkmut…the Ukrainians have inflicted HUGE casualties on the Russians, and kept Russian forces so busy there that they cannot do much of anything elsewhere…or if they do, they are understaffed at it.
In Severodonetsk and Lysychansk in particular the Ukranians conducted a fighting retreat and forced the Russians to fight uphill as the Ukrainians repositioned at Bakhmut and Soledar.
Many a military man with a better track record of accuracy than Davis have argued that that the Ukrainian fight in these four cities made the other counter offensives possible by sapping Russian manpower and equipment strength. That and the way the Ukrainians lured the Russians in Kherson to transfer forces from other areas like Kharkiv.
As well, Davis conveniently overlooks the Vuhledar area where Russia has tried three times with massive offensives and failed miserably each time. Losing thousands upon thousands of men in this one area.
Davis has also overlooked Kreminna where the Russians stood and fought and Ukraine is now in the western edge of the city, even with allthe mud that came early and stayed longer than just about any other winter on record. There is quite a bit of back and forth in this area, and the fact that this has been just about the warmest winter in Ukrainian history means the mud wont allow for a proper advance off roads until summer
The US military brass has for weeks been advising Ukraine to hold off on their own next counter offensives until the new equipment arrives, and they are trained to use it all. Not to mention coming up with a proper plan that makes best use of their assortment of new equipment.
The US has also been coy about when the GLSDB will arrive. The UK has been discussing giving Ukraine longer range missiles like Storm Shadow.
If they can actually get deliveries and training timed right, a fair prediction would be to see the Ukrainians take a similar approach that they did in Kherson: a series of long range missile strikes against Russian bases and logistics nodes all around occupied Ukraine and north Crimea, along with softening up the fixed defenses the Russians have laid on the way to Melitopol.
Until then, the Ukrainians cannot be faulted for playing a lot of defense to inflict more massive casualties on Russian advancing forces to soften them up for when Ukraine is ready to counter attack at the time and places of their choosing.
Have a liberating day.
February 17, 2023 at 5:07 pm
Ukraine has been building up its forces. It will soon be able to undertake offensive operations. The Ukrainians lured the Russians into punching themselves out at Bakhmut and other places. Ukraine was on the defensive – successfully – in 2022 and now things are shifting slowly to the offensive. Russian strength is getting lower and lower. Conscripts are realizing Russia uses them as dead men walking. Russia had a dramatic deficit of 25 billion dollars in January. If this keeps up, Russia will be bankrupt by the end of the year and will be totally unable to fight in Ukraine. Russia is going to lose, and Milley is right.
February 17, 2023 at 5:08 pm
It is extremely important that air, sea and ground forces cooperate with each other but the UAF does not have much of anything left. At the same time, the leaders of the free world wants to win a conventional war against the Red giant. Good luck with that. Time has always been in the Red giant’s favor and it looks like it still is.
February 17, 2023 at 6:29 pm
Davis is with Ukraine, but only by tongue. He basically wants to withhold any real aid and let Russia wipe Ukraine out so he can say there was nothing we could do. He thinks the best course of action would be for Ukraine to beg Russia for peace. He has made all this clear in his previous articles. He has steadfastly said that Russia will win. This is why all the Russian trolls on this site love Davis so much.
So it is no surprise that he can’t accept when Milley saying Russia has already lost. But the thing is Milley is right and Davis has always been wrong. Milley isn’t saying that the war is over. But you just have to look at Russian tactics to realize the truth that he is talking about. The human waves are a response to desperation and hopelessness. Russia is fighting in the manner of a military that has already lost and therefore has nothing left to live for. But this style is not one of giving up, just one of giving up hope. They know they can’t even take Donbas, but if they can take a few centimeters they can at least tell their commanders they have some success. Putin he hears only that they made some success. So he thinks if they keep it up they will win. Davis, he is so set in his own beliefs he can’t get out and see the bigger picture, that would force him to admit he is wrong. He has way too big of ego for that. So instead he continues to be wrong.
But there is a larger truth here and one that western countries like the US need to wake up to and quick. If we don’t continue to support Ukraine even more than we are, Russia can pull victory out of defeat. Ukraine is only winning now due to the support we have given them. If we stop with that support, Russia will eventually turn the tables. And they won’t stop there. I have since the beginning stated that Russia wants to regain all the lost regions of the Soviet Union. Recently this has been stated by Russians themselves as they stated they would retake eastern Germany.
So Russia is losing and we absolutely must ensure they loose or they will not stop. It is time to give Ukraine Apache helicopters and F-16 fighters. Time to put a real end to Russia’s military. This is the only way to peace. Russia has shown it must be destroyed. It is nothing but evil.
February 17, 2023 at 6:34 pm
There were no intense battles in the Kharkov direction, as well as in the Kherson direction, the Russian troops withdrew practically without a fight. Why Russia left its previously occupied positions is a good question.
As for the weakness and decay of the Russian army, these words are based on the delusion that the army of Ukraine is the army of a third world country.
In fact, a high-powered military machine has been created in Ukraine in recent years. In terms of its power, on February 24, 2022, the Ukrainian army alone was able to overturn the entire eastern flank of NATO and reach Germany along the way, off rolling out the Bundeswehr and not even slow down, the Armeds Forces of Ukraine would not even chews of the Polishs army.
February 17, 2023 at 6:41 pm
Sorry Mr Davis, but I cannot take your call to be “clear-eyed” seriously, not after a year of reading your columns in which you were wrong time and again.
I am a teacher, and I try to teach my students the difficult but important skills of really reflecting upon one’s mistakes and learning from them. It seems these are skills you also need to work on.
Until you do that, I see little value in weighing what you write, and I will only read it for entertainment purposes, as I do now.
February 17, 2023 at 7:49 pm
Dan should write for Zero Hedge where the target audience there would eat up his anti-freedom and defeatist rhetoric!
February 17, 2023 at 8:35 pm
I don’t agree with everything that Davis says but I sure do enjoy how much he pisses the warmongers off. Keep doing what you are doing, man.
February 17, 2023 at 8:49 pm
Russia has already lost. Even if they conquer Ukraine, it will take decades (at least) for them to overcome the loss of talent from educated Russian engineers, programmers etc. running off to Georgia, Turkey, Cyprus, Europe etc. Putin’s dream of a new Soviet Union is up in ashes.
February 17, 2023 at 8:56 pm
How much BS can one person write?
February 17, 2023 at 9:19 pm
Anybody who thinks Ukraine can win the war is delusional. Russia is in this to win it. Western lies and wishful thinking is not going to change the facts on the ground. The corrupt UAF and their gangster leaders are no match for Russia, UAF has been decimated to where they have to grab 16 years old boys on the streets and send them to the front.
Good riddance to Zelensky and his gangster friends. You are paying the price for the western neoconservative design for euroasia.
February 17, 2023 at 9:25 pm
Gary Jacobs says, …”a fair prediction would be to see the Ukrainians take a similar approach that they did in Kherson: a series of long range missile strikes against Russian bases and logistics nodes all around occupied Ukraine and north Crimea,….”
I like plan that quite a bit. My thought is Crimea is the real prize. Whoever owns Crimea when it’s over is the winner. In particular, Sevastopol is the crown jewel.
I doubt it will happen, but my thought would be to deploy literally thousands of guided airnmunitions from cruise missiles to weaponized toy drones to launch a long range, long term air siege on Crimea before one Ukraine soldier touches foot there. Especialy, Sevastopol must be turned to rubble and every boat there, coming or going sunk to the bottom of the Black Sea.
Whichever country has Crimea when the war ends, is the winner, in my opinion. Ukraine would need to significantly change their resource allocations to successfully retake the peninsula. Also, they need much, much help not only with war materials, they will need boots on the ground from ally volunteers, thousands.
The Battle for Crimea, if it happens, will be a major historical battle to be studied for a very long time.
Last thought, …where’s Patton when you need him?
February 18, 2023 at 12:07 am
Ukros are kaput.
In 2023, Russia will bang the living daylights out of zelenskiyy and his vicious neo-nazi cohort which is backed by US-NATO, the modern-day version of yesteryear’s notorious Tripartite Pact.
Why’s that bound to happen.
Because the global fascismo forces are bringing in modern panzers like Leopard 2s and Challenger tanks and even F-16 jets.
What’s next ?
Dementia-addled biden’s balls and his totally uselessly slack sardine ?!?!
Ukros are finished because they preferred to enslave themselves to US, the ???? monster (DEVIL) !
Walter Louis Johnson
February 18, 2023 at 12:16 am
It has been said that by failing to defeat Ukraine as planned in the first 2 weeks and suffering such high losses, that Russia has already lost strategically. Even if it were to seize all of Ukraine, which I do not think NATO will even allow without directly confronting Russian troops militarily, what it would have is an extremely expensive reconstruction task because of the infrastructure and buildings damaged. I would call such a victory a Pyric Victory.
Russia losing carries much of the same costs for Russia, but at least then like with Iraq it would most likely be able to pay reconstruction over long time payments as Iraq did for Kuwait damage.
February 18, 2023 at 1:38 am
This is an excellent article.
February 18, 2023 at 2:26 am
Cheburator: “There were no intense battles in the Kharkov direction, as well as in the Kherson direction, the Russian troops withdrew practically without a fight. Why Russia left its previously occupied positions is a good question.”
And why did Russia abandon ~ 500 tanks? Unlikely to be a goodwill gesture, eh? Seems like it had to be a “run for your life or lose it” situation.
February 18, 2023 at 2:40 am
Russia has lost in the sense that a “superpower” should not be struggling this hard to take Bahkmut which is strategically dubious is the first place. Even if Russia eventually took the entire Ukraine ultimately, this would still be a massive failure since it completely exposes Russia as unable to match conventional forces of NATO. I know a lot of “experts” expected Ukraine to roll over within a week. Time for them to admit they were wrong.
February 18, 2023 at 5:31 am
The West hides all the successes of Russia. Russia on the offensive. Russia, with its historical tradition of victories, will never allow itself to be defeated. If Russia loses, then all countries will lose and humanity will cease to exist.
February 18, 2023 at 6:08 am
Once again we shall see if Ukraine is sucessful for the 4th time.You really are on the wrong side of history.The longer this war goes on the more you loose credibility.
February 18, 2023 at 9:34 am
People don’t realize that Ukraine not winning will ultimately split NATO and destroy it. Russia only need to hold current positions to be considered a win.
February 18, 2023 at 9:58 am
Elon, and the rest in the ‘tank’ for Russia…
LoL, Russia just launched another large offensive, and over the last 4 weeks they have barley taken any more land…and what they have taken has come at cost of massive casualties.
In their main effort at Bakhmut, Ukraine appears to have pushed back in the southern suburb of Ivanivske and stabilized that area. Bakhmut is unlikely to fall anytime soon.
This has been the pattern for months in Bakhmut: The Russians make some advances, Ukraine plays flexible defense, inflicts large casualties, and then push the Russians back. It’s become something of a fool’s errand to count the yards of land exchanged on a day to day basis.
The Russians have made gains taking Soledar, but it’s a pyrrhic victory as there is another ridge of high ground overlooking Soledar. So the Ukrainians withdrew, and can now fire at will from a tactical advantage. If the Russians try to take that high ground, they will lose another mass of men, and then there is another ridge behind that one. Rinse and repeat.
Meanwhile news comes that the US has finished training the 1st batch of Ukrainians on the Bradley IFV. The next batch begins shortly. Leopard 2 training has begun, and so on. As the Ukrainians prove capable of handling western tanks and IFVs, dont be surprised to hear more deliveries announced. Poland just announced they will send Mig 29s, as long as there is a group of countries providing jet fighters.
As if on cue, a bipartisan group of US lawmakers – republicans and democrats, just sent a letter to Biden urging delivery of F16s. In our polarized politics, it’s hard to get them to agree on anything.
Defeating Russia’s brutal brand of imperialism isnt a hard sell.
Have a liberating day.
February 18, 2023 at 10:24 am
When Davis writes,
Given the comments of war supporters:
Only city & territory capture will make any difference in the perception of war supporters about “who is winning.”
Despite General Milley’s statements, there are also statements from various WESTERN sources that Ukraine is running low on ammo. No mention of this development in Davis’s article.
But it’s not only Ukraine running low on ammo, but NATO countries are running low on ammo, including the United States (the stated reason the U. S. is not sending long range missiles to Ukraine).
And this production shortage is not situational, but structural… ramping up production rates takes time… more time than is commonly understood.
Military production capacity is not part of Col. Davis’s bailiwick, granted, but it will play a significant and, indeed, possibly strategic & decisive role in who ultimately prevails on the battlefield.
Again, only clear cut battlefield victories of cities & territories will convince one side or the other the war is lost.
This Spring should provided the necessary clarity on the battlefield.
February 18, 2023 at 11:05 am
Hard to imagine an absolute victory by any side Russia, USA, Ukraine, NATO etc. If Russia takes over Western Ukraine they may have a never ending insurgency and if Ukraine takes over the east they may have a never ending insurgency. The only realistic victory for Russia is to only take over the mostly Russian speaking provinces and declare victory and there is no realistic victory for Ukraine even if they take Sevastopol. Without a working peace treaty all sides have forever problems. They might as well do what they should have done in the first place, negotiate the peace.
February 18, 2023 at 11:53 am
God bless people in the world.
In the socialism warfare made by socialism parties, our weapons and tactics are better than Communist Party, but the strategy of socialism is evil, and our weapons and tactics cannot make up for our strategy disadvantages. Since World War 1, socialism parties win the socialism warfare, and the prices of grain continue to increase. People can only restrain the rise of wheat prices by increasing production, but they need pesticides, breeding or genetically modified food. However, people who believe socialism oppose pesticides and genetically modified technology, but they don’t know that pesticides and genetically modified food are the symbol of socialism and planned economy.
Many people deny that Biden believes socialism. However, from Presbyterian, Wilson, Roosevelt, Truman, to Biden, wars participated or instigated by Democratic Party cause inflation and depression, then some people call inflation and depression as hard landing, but the inflation caused by war is the reason for the next battle. So Biden, Putin and other people will continue to implement socialism policies and the planned economy.
In the Ukraine socialism warfare, Putin has stopped some farming in Ukraine and caused future food shortages for people in Africa and the Mediterranean. This is a future political problem for Africa and Central Command. But from campaign to presidency, Zelenskyy implements socialism policy, and makes most people in Ukraine don’t want to oppose Socialism Russia but could only rely on foreign aid, they are like EU and East Asia. Until today, Zelenskyy and other Presidents don’t confess their wrong behaviors in the sight of God.
From those causes and effects of war in history, we know how war changes politics, and is changed by politics. The long-term danger caused by socialism warfare is our risk. Socialism warfare is not a new model war. Karl Marx changes the sin to be the worship of people, so he teaches people to destroy God’s grace, beautiful earth and happy life.
God bless America.
February 18, 2023 at 1:51 pm
I want to begin this comment by clarifying that I never supported this Invasion because I think it was uncalled for. But I’m so disappointed by the commentators on every Davis article released. I should assume that most of you live in the West which is proclaimed as a egalitarian democracy unlike my Nigeria democracy. My disappointment is you people always want to be listened by everyone but not Russia, ie Rt, Sputnik were blocked, such is democracy & freedom of speech. Analysts & political enthusiasts should listen to both sides of the conflict. This truth is in the middle
February 18, 2023 at 1:55 pm
The argument by pro western commentators looks this way: Ukraine won the war. Ukraine losses is 1-6 to Russia. Us never had even close to this in Invasion of Iraq. And US is a super power unlike Russia which is not.
February 18, 2023 at 2:01 pm
Pro Western commentators try to portray Russia military as corrupt as the army of my country Nigeria. Pls let’s be realistic & without bias. You people are telling the world that Ukraine military is killing & defeating Russia even more than Nazi Germany managed. This is in 2023
February 18, 2023 at 4:49 pm
Once, when Ukr become past, some of commentators should read own posts.
Ukraina will be the past, in six month or a year. Western part aroud the Lvov and Rovno will be some kind of future Ukraina, maybe!
February 18, 2023 at 9:19 pm
You almost had a point about why the US is not providing ATACMs. But your post is still only a tiny fraction of the story. As is your notion the west is running low on ammo.
But it makes sense you would try to cling to it in an attempt to undermine support for Ukraine. Still an epic fail. It makes me laugh that you are so fond of blaming NATO for everything under the sun… and now you want to pretend you actually care about NATO supplies running low?? Riiiight.
That said, I can still crush your pretense of making a point about ATACMS and ammo on their own terms.
On ATACMs, there has been more than 1 reason given for why they are not being sent to Ukraine. The best answer is actually to manage escalation as ATACMs is a 4000lb ballistic missile with a mach 3.5 terminal velocity. The destructive force of it would likely cause Russia to escalate further, and allow Putin to present it as propaganda to the gullible Russian population [and people like you] as Russia being an underdog.
As well, the U.S. Army terminated the ATACMS program in 2007, ending the ability to replenish stocks.
Furthermore, ATACMs is in the process of being replaced by PrSM. PrSM aims to increase range of HIMARS launches to more than 500km, Whereas ATACMs max range is 300km. + Two PrSMs are designed to fit in each of the existing ATACMS pods.
For Ukraine GLSDB is a fine consolation prize as its range covers just about all of occupied Ukraine from Kherson to almost the Russian border as well as a large portion of Crimea.
The UK has also been considering giving Ukraine Storm Shadow. That would pack an extra punch with longer range than GLSDB, but not nearly the same destructive forces as ATACMS.
As for the west running out of ammo, that’s only true for certain items, and it should be seen as a wake up call to ramp up production….not cower in the face of Russian aggression. + the US would never fight the way Ukraine is. We would use massive airpower, and we have not been giving Ukraine any JDAMS, JASSM, LRASM…or other missiles like Tomahawk, SM6, SM3, among many others.
As well, many countries are stepping up their production of what Ukraine is using. Especially Germany’s Rheinmetall. It may take them a few months to significantly increase tank and artillery production, but they’ll get there. According to a Rheinmetall official, “you might be able to do the calculations and say we need 15, 20, 30 percent more munitions and that will take us, say, six months more to get to”. He was referring to what would be a feasible plan when they sit down to work on a production strategy.
With the ultimate goal of 500,000 each of 155mm artillery and 120mm tank rounds by the end of 2024 as I recall. They are also seeking a license to produce GMLRS rounds for HIMARS.
And that’s on top of the US and several other countries ramping up production of various types of ammo.
It’s perfectly fine to channel concern into expedited action. Hysterics are unwarranted. Especially since the main purpose of most of that ammo was always to defend against Russian aggression anyway. It’s actually serving its intended purpose.
One of the other things you “conveniently” left out is that US military brass also stated that they are training Ukraine on maneuver warfare to make best use of the new tanks and IFVs they are about to receive so they dont continue with an artillery duel…and that type of warfare would require less artillery rounds.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin himself recently said this:
“We are working with the Ukrainian soldiers in various places throughout Europe to emphasize additional training on maneuver…so that as they place more emphasis on maneuver, and shaping the battlefield with fires and then maneuvering, there’s a good chance that they’ll require less artillery munitions.”
I lost track of how many times I have mentioned Ukraine needing GLSDB to shape the battlefield as they prepare for their next counter offensives. Add in Storm Shadow and some more HARMs, and Ukraine will be in a good position to shape the battlefield for when the mud hardens in early summer.
Have a liberating day.
February 19, 2023 at 5:10 am
Davies misses that when people say Russia lost they refer to its initial goal.
In addition he does not realize the Russian Army is not designed to be a war machine but a money machine to a corrupt Russian elite. That is why it failed initially.
Now it is being transformed into a political machine it was under Stalin. A meat grinder for those ‘demographics’ that are dispensable. An information machine for creating loyal ultranationalists. A security force for controlling those in command. Because in Russia people in command are considered more dangerous than any enemy.
Unlike Stalin Putin now is not fighting a war of numbers with itself being in a logistically favorable position. Unlike Stalin Putin is unable to dominate the information space. Unlike Stalin Putin started the offensive. That is why Russia has failed to teach its goals. That is why the war turned into damage control – or as Russian logic dictates – maximizing Ukraines damage as to compensate for that.
February 19, 2023 at 10:18 am
I guess it all depends on how you define winning and losing. Reports are that the U.S. DoD does not necessarily think that retaking Crimea is necessary to win this conflict, at least in the short term. There may be similar DoD opinions with respect to the LNR/DNR.
To an untrained observer, both sides appear to be losing.
Still searching for explanations why it was so easy for the initial Russian offensive to advance from Crimea and occupy the majority of the Kherson oblast within just four days. Where were the UAR defenses? Was there majority support within the populace for the Russian invaders?
February 19, 2023 at 12:35 pm
“A sober, unemotional, and balanced assessment of the war…”
Got this far and laughed. I haven’t read anything Dan Davis wrote that’s close to that, yet, and this still doesn’t meet the standard.
February 19, 2023 at 7:44 pm
Bahkmut has hundreds of miles of salt mines that are one hundred or more meters below the ground. It is a weapons depot of massive proportions possibly containing millions of rounds and AKs. This is no cake walk…and it could very well end the Russia’s advance. Russia is going at it systematically and it will take a lot of time one way or the other. On the other hand if they succeed they can easily take the rest of Eastern Ukraine unless the tanks and what not make it there first.
February 20, 2023 at 1:20 am
Anyone with a brain cell knew Russia was going to win this. The western governments are slowly realizing it`s over. Apparently some of the commentors on here have not figured that out yet.
February 20, 2023 at 1:30 am
The optimism of the commenters reminds me of an old saying:
“He who judges war on casualty figures of only one side may end up with skewed impression of the fighting.” – Confusious
February 20, 2023 at 1:35 am
Gary Jacobs says fighting to the last minute or past the last minute in various cities has allowed Ukraine to inflict significant losses to the Russians.
But Ukraine military people have consistently not hidden the fact that they are at a large disadvantage in artillery rounds. And yet by fighting to the last in cities they inflict large casualties on the Russians and presumably, not themselves?
February 20, 2023 at 3:48 am
Poor poor western military analyst. You don’t understand that Russia do not need to conquer the territory. Only we have to do is to grind down NATO proxy military forces (Ukraine).
Just recognize this task and all prediction ties right places
February 20, 2023 at 12:30 pm
1) Ukraine is now a country with a destroyed industry. Factories producing weapons and repairing armored vehicles have been bombed. If the supply of weapons from NATO countries stops, Ukraine will fall in a few weeks.
2) The initial patriotic impulse of Ukrainians has dried up. Now men of military age have to be caught on the streets, because Ukrainians by all means evade receiving summonses to the army. In the first months of the war, Ukrainians were really determined and went voluntarily. Now mobilized soldiers are being thrown into a brutal meat grinder near Bakhmut almost without preparation. All Ukrainian audiences are full of similar stories: a man was drafted into the army, after a month of training he was sent to the front and he dies after 1-2 weeks. Shooting Ukrainian cemeteries from a drone amazes with its area. At the same time, Russia, having put some fresh forces into action (to strengthen the defense in the second or third line from the front), is still training and coordinating some of the units from those mobilized who were called up last fall. That is, people study for almost 5 months. They will be much stronger soldiers than those who were seized against their will on the street and forcibly thrown into the trenches.
3) Ukraine reports the destruction of a large amount of equipment. However, no one can say how many of the “destroyed” tanks, infantry fighting vehicles and artillery were real, and how many were imitation. The United States used inflatable models of tanks, planes and other weapons during the Normandy landings. Russia also has special troops to deceive the enemy, they can also deceive drones by heating part of the layout as if the equipment has an engine running. Real equipment is masked makimally and inflatable models are masked so that reconnaissance from a drone or from space could fix them as if the soldiers had done a bad job of masking. Forcing the enemy to spend expensive high-precision ammunition to destroy inflatable cars is a wonderful deal. Everyone is fine. The Russians are saving some of their equipment and soldiers. Ukrainians can report to the West about how they are effectively destroying Russian tanks and ask for more money and more weapons.
February 20, 2023 at 3:05 pm
Russia has lost at least 100,000 soldiers over the last year and has only been able to secure 20% of Ukraine.
Even if Russia takes 100% of Ukraine, they would soon have to cut and run because they couldn’t afford the occupation. The Occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s bankrupted the USSR; occupying Ukraine is far more expensive.
February 21, 2023 at 3:18 pm
The best estimates for Russian losses suggest around 20,000 deaths. Thats 20,000 more than Russia would have liked, since unlike Ukraine, Russia appears to actually value it’s young men.
You can believe whatever the narrative tells you to believe if you like. But if you want to understand whats happening in Ukraine and were the conflict is actually going, you need to find alternative sources of basic information.
It’s not easy and discernment is always required. But a good place to start is to not listen to anything the main stream media in the US of UK say. Or better yet, assume that everything they say is projection.
Sir Winston the Nazi Slayer
February 21, 2023 at 5:30 pm
“Thats 20,000 more than Russia would have liked, since unlike Ukraine, Russia appears to actually value it’s young men.”
One would think that if Russia valued the life of its young men, it would have launched a campaign that has killed thousands of them.
February 21, 2023 at 7:52 pm
For the west, it’s Vietnam in 1967 in Ukraine..
Pinocchio’s nose keeps growing longer.
February 21, 2023 at 7:53 pm
“We will support Ukraine for as long as it takes.”
As long as what takes?
That is the question.