GUEST BLOG: Ben Morgan – Spring offensive, Russia’s quickest way to lose the war!

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This week discussion about the war in Ukraine has centred on a Russian ‘Spring Offensive’.   Furrow browed pundits spent the week worrying about Ukraine’s ability to withstand the might of Russia post mobilisation. We have heard lots of discussion about Russia’s historical disregard for casualties, about how Russian mobilisation will produce an enormous and unstoppable army.  That there will be attacks on Kyiv, Kharkiv, Zaporizhzhia and in the Donetsk.  And; that Russia needs to attack before NATO’s tanks arrive. Putin has played to the mob; sabre rattling and at the commemoration of the Battle of Stalingrad’s 80th anniversary making vague threats that have been jumped upon by main stream commentators.

The reality is that Putin is caught on the horns of a dilemma. On one side, he needs results; both politically and because when NATO tanks arrive the ground battle will change significantly in favour of Ukraine.  On the other hand, he needs time to build an effective military force.  A fact which is not well explained in main stream media. The aim of these columns is to help make these situations easier to understand.  

An inescapable truth is that wars are fought by a small group of people at the ‘tip of the spear’.  Mostly, by the infantry. The cold, tired, hungry foot soldiers that press forward on foot into enemy fire or hold ground by doggedly defending their positions.  The infantry is important because they are the only arm of service that can ‘hold’ ground. Artillery, missiles, aircraft and drones can attack troops on the ground but they cannot control; or hold that ground.  Tanks can punch through defences and destroy other vehicles but can’t slither into the sewers, buildings, ditches and other small voids in the landscape that could conceal an enemy sniper or anti-tank team.  Before the war Russia’s armed forces; army, navy, air force and strategic rocket forces totalled about one million people.  Of this total about 400,000 were in the army and of this total perhaps a third to a quarter were infantry, maybe less. 

Most credible estimates put Russian mobilisation at about 300,000 extra soldiers and (in very broad terms) if we accept that Russia has been able to maintain its normal recruitment cycle, the army is likely to have a total current strength of around 700,000.  Of which probably 3-400,000 may be deployed in the Ukraine campaign. In turn, taking into account natural attrition and demobilisations we can extrapolate that about a million Russians have served in the army since this time last year; of which probably 250-300,000 were infantry. 

And; this is the point at which the human questions need to be asked.  The most recent credible figure for Russian losses is that about 188,000 soldiers have been killed or wounded.  Pundits will tell you that “Russia doesn’t care about casualties”. An old trope, based on historical campaigns.  Russia’s vast population soaked up and destroyed two of the world’s most feared armies; Napoleon’s Grand Armee and Hitler’s Wehrmacht.  Both dictators beaten into submission by Russia’s willingness to sacrifice its people. 

However, war is a human activity and the simple fact is that over the last year roughly 1 in 5 Russian soldiers serving in the army (not the military as a whole) has been killed or wounded in Ukraine.  Further, the casualties are logically going to be concentrated in the infantry, the arm of service that always suffers the highest casualty rates meaning that about 1 in 2 or 1 in 3 Russian infantrymen may have been killed or injured in the last year. And; a sad fact of war is that the bravest die first. So at this stage in the war a large proportion of Russia’s existing junior leadership, experienced or highly motivated soldiers will be dead or recovering from wounds. The Russian army has been hollowed out; and no matter how many new soldiers are mobilised it will be very unlikely to be effective in offensive operations.  

It is a safe bet that NATO, Ukrainian and Russian staff officers (all with better information than me) have reached the same conclusion.  It is likely that NATO’s political leaders are ramping up support not because Ukraine needs it but because their military professionals are explaining this calculus to them and showing that Russia is beaten.  Ukraine, knows that it can make the war shorter with more NATO weapons so it is important that they maintain the threat of the Russian Bear; and more power to them because the shorter this war is, the less people suffer.  In Russia, the staff officers will be busy not telling their political masters, sweating and trying to figure out if there is a way around the stark mathematics of their situation. 

Gerasimov could still give Putin a victory, but it will take time and require an unconventional approach – ‘going backwards to go forwards’.  In my opinion there is no tactical margin in a major Russian offensive.  It simply burns resources that Russia needs, specifically trained and motivated infantry soldiers.  The soldiers that will train and lead the next waves of mobilised soldiers.  By defending the territory already captured; Russia would force Ukraine to make costly attacks against defended positions, using attrition to slowly wear down Ukrainian resources eventually forcing negotiations. Meanwhile, Russia could take time to pacify the captured areas and to let its army develop the capabilities that it needs to be effective in a modern conflict; ready for when NATO’s attention is diverted elsewhere and another better planned attack can be made.  

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Can Putin accept a solution like this?  

A Russian Spring Offensive will answer that question; and if he does need his offensive, what will it look like and where will it land? 

Even though Russia’s mobilisation is being talked up in the mainstream media, Russia does not have the numbers to launch any sort of multi-pronged assault.  Even in a worst-case scenario, with 400,000 soldiers committed this force it is still less the United States and its coalition partners deployed in the Invasion of Iraq in 2003.  And; Russia lacks air superiority, modern equipment and training so will need to rely on numbers at the decisive point. The first deduction therefore is that an offensive will be concentrated in one area.  

Determining where the attack will come involves considering a number of factors, the first of which is Russia’s strategic intent.  Obviously, Putin wants all of Ukraine but at the moment he needs to be more focussed and the key area that he wants to hold is Crimea. Strategically, this island has always been vital to Russia because it dominates the Black Sea; and on a personal level one of Putin’s great triumphs is the reconquest of Crimea.  Holding Crimea though requires Russia to hold the strip of Black Sea coast between the Dnipro River and Mariupol. This ‘Crimean Land Bridge’ provides a buffer for Crimea and an alternate land supply route if the Kerch Bridge is destroyed.  In military terms it is his ’vital ground’, if Ukraine holds it, Putin is unlikely to be able to hold Crimea; and if Russia holds it Ukraine is unlikely to retake Crimea. Therefore, our second deduction is that any offensive will have to contribute to securing the Crimean Land Bridge. 

The largest reported concentrations of Russian combat power in Ukraine are near Luhansk.  This city forms the landing pad for forces from Russia’s Southern Military District entering the eastern part of the country and these troops are then fed east into the fighting near Bakhmut, or south west to Donetsk.    Operations around Kharkiv and around Kremina and Svatove appear to be staged from Western Military District formations based north of Ukraine.  A build-up of forces near Luhansk, about 80 km west of Bakhmut is consistent with operations in the east aiming for Sloviansk and Kramatorsk the two large cities in Donetsk not yet held by Russia.  

However, we should be cautious about what we see reported in the media; because as both sides gird themselves for battle the amount of information that they make public decreases.  It is a safe bet, based on past experience that NATO intelligence knows exactly where every Russian unit is in Ukraine; and in Western Russia. The detail of United States intelligence that has been made public and Ukraine’s uncanny ability to hit ammunition dumps and kill senior officers tells us that Ukraine (supported by NATO) is winning the intelligence war.  So it is interesting that we haven’t yet seen satellite photos of Russian troop concentrations confirming Russia’s intentions.  We have seen images of Russian’s digging in across the Crimean Land Bridge from the Dnipro River to Melitopol and in Crimea itself, but to date no photos of Russian troop concentrations ready for an offensive.  Perhaps the Russians have got smarter at hiding their troops?  Or perhaps the Russians are too busy funnelling soldiers to the frontlines to defend against a Ukrainian offensive? Maybe though Ukraine knows exactly where Russian forces are concentrated and is keeping this knowledge secret as they plan to attack elsewhere?  We simply don’t know.   

If the Russians attack there are three likely options for the axis of their main effort: 

  • Pushing south-west towards Kremina; relieving pressure on the P66 highway and possibly aiming to retake Lyman. This town is a potential launch pad for an attack on Sloviansk and Kramatorsk from the north; or to push west towards Kharkiv. 
  • Pushing west, taking Bakhmut and establishing a launch pad for an attack on Kramatorsk and Sloviansk from the east. 
  • Attacking the area around Vuledhar, a small town roughly 80km north of Mariupol. Capturing it helps secure the north-east end of the Crimean Land Bridge, provides a buffer around the city of Donetsk and possibly establishes a launch pad for an advance into Zaporizhzhia.  An attack here could also be a ‘spoiling attack’, an offensive against a Ukrainian force preparing to advance towards either Donetsk or Mariupol. 

All of these axes of advance are close to rail networks, and the objectives are within about 60-100km of current Russian positions; or the distance that Russian logistics may be able to support an advance within.  It is possible that there could be attacks in other areas; but any attack on Kyiv or Kharkiv diverts effort from securing the Crimean Land Bridge and reduces troop numbers in the east and south which are areas of interest for Ukraine.  The key point is that we (the public) are very likely to see concentrations of Russian troops before the offensive hits. Unless, Ukraine moves first. 

Ukraine’s next move is likely to be an offensive isolating Crimea. Hence, the recent United States aid package that include extended range missiles for HIMARS.  Then later in the year, an assault into Crimea.  The new NATO tanks and infantry fighting vehicles are unlikely to be prioritised for this battle. An assault on Crimea will be a hard-fought, close-range battle in which artillery prepares the way for infantry who will have to fight through difficult terrain and heavy defences. Instead, the new vehicles will provide the mobility and firepower for re-taking the east.  

In summary, tension is building as both sides wait for the weather to turn. If Russia launches a large offensive, it will be defeated and the war will be shorter. The Russian army is a hollow threat even after its mobilisation.  The first part of the campaign cost Russian dearly, slaughtering its most important asset, experienced infantrymen.   An asset that any Russian offensive or defence needs to succeed. If politics forces the Russian army into an offensive, it will be costly and give Ukraine the opportunity to attrit Russian forces then counter-attack; as opposed to having to find a weak point in Russia’s defences and force their own attack.  Therefore, we are at a decisive point or time in the campaign when Putin’s ego will either hasten his army’s downfall or keep Russia’s campaign alive. 



100 COMMENTS

  1. Jackanory, Jackanory.
    I REALLY hope people are reading the other ‘sides views’ on this USA/NATO created disaster. Otherwise they’ll all be so shocked and surprised when NATOstan loose and ‘do an Afganistan’.

    • As a humble farmer in the middle of nowhere albeit with some experience in the ways of person kind I’d suggest we, and by ‘we’ I mean the rest of the world who’re content with the size and performance of their genitals, should crop dust all of Russia and all of Ukraine with proper MDMA.
      “How to Change Your Mind” https://www.netflix.com/watch/81164526?trackId=255824129
      Not much bad/evil/vile/profitable can come from crying while hugging.
      This is also interesting.
      Thirty years ago, David Holmes and Iain McCready’s event brought together communities who hated each other but needed to vent their fear: ‘Religion wasn’t a barrier any more’
      Sugar Sweet: the pilled-up rave that united Belfast during the Troubles
      https://www.theguardian.com/music/2020/jan/01/sugar-sweet-rave-united-belfast-david-holmes-iain-mccready?utm_source=pocket_saves
      Wars, being the wasteful evil they are, only make money for demons and devils. That, is all wars do. ( FYI. No. I’m not turning into a God Botherer. I’m writing using metaphors.) We’ve tried God and that got us nowhere so lets try drugs like methylenedioxymethamphetamine instead. Opposing armies upon seeing each other would fall about laughing then share flower arranging tips sounds like more fun than turning each other into mince to send home to their families, lovers and friends don’t you think? The greatest resistance to hugs and drugs will come from the weapons manufacturers and their soulless lobbyists rubbing themselves up against our politicians.

  2. The narrative from western media that Ukraine is winning this conflict and Russia is losing should literally be taken with a grain of salt. I was brought up with western media lies (Vietnam, Iraq wars, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Afghanistan, Yugoslavia) and a plethora of western media propaganda aggression towards states deemed undesirable to the west (USA) that has forever tainted my trust in anything favorably mentioned for the west especially in theatres of war.

    Russia is wrecking Ukraine as we speak. They are intentionally targeting their (Ukraines) infrastructure so as to render the Country useless to ‘NATO’. Mr Putin and Russian leaders before have recognized the buffer that Russia needs for security purposes to keep ‘NATO’ an aggressive western military alliance away from its borders. Crimea that has russian influence since the 18th century is also used as a major buffer against ‘NATO’ not so much because of the Black Sea which is important strategically for Russia but to control who parks their ships in the ‘Sea of Azov’. (A nuclear missile powered ship could fire a nuclear missile from the ‘Sea of Azov’ which would take 12 mins to reach Moscow)

    Russia ‘SMO’ now expanded with estimates reaching well past 600.000 troops means that Russia is now taking this conflict more serious than they were when they began in early 2022. IMO this war to the Russian is an existential threat to their very survival and losing isn’t an option. The problem I have with Ben Thomas views is that he hasn’t taken into consideration what will happen if Ukraine with the west help is successful in taking Crimea and pushing Russia back towards its borders?

    When you poke the bear it will retaliate a natural reaction. Why would any sane person aggressively promote actions against a nuclear powered state that has 1000s of NW and expect them not to retaliate if it’s very existence is threatened??? Remember Japan attack on Pearl Harbour? It was a suicidal mission but the Japs believed that their very existence was under threat so took extreme measure with ultimately lead to their demise. If Russia used a NW inside Ukraine you think that ‘NATO’ will respond????? Please be careful what you wish for!!

    • Yeah, it’s very much about the Russians’ beliefs about what’s going on. Surely though they understand no one is coming over their border? But what people will believe has been majorly disturbed by America’s psycho internal politics. We could guarantee their security or something, but the world’s greatest guarantee since WW ll is the inviolability of borders and the utter intolerance of conquest. That you overlook that says a lot. Apart from that you prefer a tyranny over a trending democracy.

      • ‘That you overlook that says a lot. Apart from that you prefer a tyranny over a trending democracy.’

        I don’t prefer nor referenced anything what you’ve described. Also you’re a teeny-weeny bit bias when describing Russia as an imperialist but forgot to mention USA imperialist.

        The USA (NATO) isn’t the good guy in this fiasco, remembering Putin gave plenty of space to settle this conflict peacefully (2 Minsk agreements) that Zelinsky with the west flagrantly dismissed since the overthrow of the elected PM of Ukraine ‘Viktor Yanukovych’ in 2014. Just a note that Israel is a democracy but practices apartheid so this virtue signalling of democracy is a red-herring.

        • Over you, Steve, on these points you raised. Prefer the great John Minto and the great guy from Levin whose name National Party politicians made a point of mispronouncing (yep, forgot). Even Trotter is good about immediate politics.

  3. America was beaten in Vietnam long before the war was ended. But decided to continue the senseless killing for no discernable advantage.

    “…..military professionals are explaining this calculus to them and showing that Russia is beaten.”

    Russia is in no position to mount any offensive, any attempt to do so courts devastating military failure.

    Just like the Americans were beaten in Vietnam long before the war was ended Vladimir Putin rather than admit his military’s defeat in Ukraine has hinted that Russia will continue with a long grinding war.

    My view: Russia cannot win a long war either.

    The anti-war movement in Russia may be cowed now, but a long war will see anti-war sentiment grow until the vast majority of the Russian people tire of the war and go onto the streets to demand its end.

    A sensible person would advise to cut their losses now. Give up all the occupied Ukrainian territory (including the land bridge), and sue for peace. And you may (possibly) retain Crimea. Continue with the war. And Ukraine will destroy the Kerch Bridge and launch an assault to retake the land bridge.

    • Pat, you’re comparing America and Americans with a civilized country, Russia, run by civilized, and human beings. Apples and oranges. This is just very disappointing and sad.

      • America is very civilised…mass shooting every week,huge numbers of homeless,40 million on foodstamps,has 25% of the worlds prisoners ,constantly at war,and comes up with presidents like Trump and…Biden.
        You can’t make this…up.

  4. Well though the internet provides ample opinion as to Russia’s intentions, capability and losses that varies from this presently expressed extreme to the other , interestingly the final expectations don’t seem to be so different.
    If Ben expects Russia to gradually push the Ukraine army back to the borders of the regions Russia has undertaken to take control of, Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson, ( and Crimea of course) and not attempt at least initially to advance further , which would be consistent with what they themselves have stated as intended, unlike such as above and most MSM that assumes , or rather wants us to assume that Russia intends to overrun all of Ukraine, then strangely we agree.
    The “spring offensive”idea seems strange to me. The majority of Ukraine’s East is part of the Black earth region . And as such is low lying flat deep peaty soil that gets impassible in the wet. The only times it would be passable for heavy machinery would be in the summer when it is dry and the depths of winter when it is frozen . In the springtime it will be wetter than any other time as the accumulated snowfall of all winter is melting. Why would anyone mount a spring offensive. Either the push will come in the winter , very soon in fact. or not till Summer.
    To sum up I think that the ideas expressed here and in most of the Western MSM that anticipate a spring offensive and an attempt to take ofer the whole of Ukraine are an attempt to depict Russia’s success as failure
    by assigning intentions to Russia that Russia never had and never stated.
    What I expect Russia to do is secure the boundaries of the Oblasts they have claimed, and then make some demands of Ukraine and the West that Ukraine must hold new election under UN supervision in the hope of having the Nazi component of government voted out, undertake not to join NATO but more importantly never to harbour American inter continental missile basses on Ukrainian soil. If they can’t negotiate that arrangement in a reasonable period , probably a year or so, then the advance will continue.
    Let’s see
    D J S

    • I might add that the huge call up of forces in Russia IMHO is not essentially to invade the remainder of Ukraine so much as anticipating the possibility that US / Nato will enter the war fully with Nato equipment and personnel .
      D J S

      • You strange people. For conquest and Putin. I’m so in awe of your insights. See how Trotter instantly turned from his pro-Russian story once they invaded.

  5. Great commentary Ben. Keep them coming!

    I didn’t know that Ukraine now has extended range HIMARS. That is a game changer.

    As you say, if the Russians do attack, the Ukranian will be forewarned and have time to set up defence in depth. At which point the Russians can attack and slowly bleed to death doing so. The Ukraine Army can steadily retreat into their vast country to reduce losses and the Russians will have gained a piece of largely worthless dirt at the cost of their remaining manpower.

    Recent photos of Putin show he is wearing body armour under his jacket, even in tightly controlled events with only his top echelon present. That’s interesting!

    • UPDATE:

      The Ukraine is getting the GLSDB glide bomb from the USA. These are a ground launched glide bomb with a 150km range using the HIMARS launcher they already have: A game changer because it puts most of Donetsk Oblast in range and the northern half of Crimea. This and NATO intelligence will make it very hard for the Russians to assemble before an attack and drive munition stockpiles much further away from the battlefield.

  6. What actually is the point of this article? That Russia won’t launch a new offensive any time soon, but will consolidate the land bridge?

    On that I would agree. General Gerasimov seems a careful man, and like Zhukov in WW2, can stand up to Putin. At least ensure that Putin will take his military advice.

    As I have noted in comments here for many months, the shape of the eventual ceasefire is becoming apparent. Russia will defend the Donbas, the land bridge and Crimea. It will probably take all the newly mobilised troops to achieve that, but in my view they can achieve this goal. Russia’s military capability, especially to conduct major offensives has been severely reduced, though it is by no means nil.

    The build up of Ukraine’s military is essential to forestall future Russian offensives, but in my view it is not sufficient for Ukraine to embark on major new offensives. Possibly no bad thing.

    Overall this would still be a Russian defeat, but not a humiliation. Yes, Russia will have got the land bridge. The price they will have paid by end of 2023 will be 200,000 dead. Sweden and Finland joining NATO. Probably, given everything, Ukraine also ultimately joining NATO. Perhaps with a condition that NATO forces are not actually permanently stationed in Ukraine. But nevertheless Ukraine gets the NATO guarantee. Suspicion about Russia for the next two decades, with likely restrictions on investment and oil and gas supples to Europe, which won’t put themselves into quite the level of energy dependence as in the last 20 years

    Overall the price paid by Russia is higher than what they have gained.

  7. BALLOONS! Really! Triggered by balloons!

    The USA has a $2 trillion dollar military defence force and 700+ military bases all around the world. And we find out that they’re suffering from Globophobia!
    The fear of balloons! Is an extreme, overwhelming and irrational fear of balloons. This phobia often includes extreme fear, anxiety or panic at the thought, sight, sound, touch and smell of balloons. However, in some people, globophobia only includes a fear of balloons popping. What a bunch of clowns!

    • The biggest spying threat faced by America is from Israel, not from Chinese balloons. From stealing the technology to create their nuclear arsenal in the 1960s, to spying on presidents of the United States in the 21st century, and more, Jewish agents working within the halls of power and serving the interests of the US’s “greatest ally” should be cause for greater concern than the so-called “ChiComs.”

      https://www.politico.com/story/2019/09/12/israel-white-house-spying-devices-1491351

      • antoine do you mean jewish or isreali and there’s a big difference
        also the state of isreal developed nukes in conjunction with apartheid south africa.

      • Very true. One hopes that the few decent human beings who happen to live into America (being born in America doesn’t make you an American, any more than being born in a barn makes you a pig) can overthrow those who control the American empire and who used it to murder millions in the Middle East, including 34 American sailors on the USS Liberty.

  8. Wayne, who is going to be supplying Nato’s weaponry?.Do you think the US is going to be able to ramp up its production of armour without Chinese and Russian titanium ?.Together they hold the vast majority of the world’s supply .Is Europe going to be able to remilitarise without cheap Russian energy driving its economy?
    Is Europe that united really?Croatia, Hungary and Turkey are looking a bit shaky as far as loyalty goes.I think we tend to have a slanted view on what the international community comprises .Russia is certainly not a pariah in the eyes of the middle east, Africa, India , China, Latin America, and several nations are now flocking to join Brics,the Euasian Economic Union and SCO, bypassing the World Bank and the IMF.
    America has probably over reached with its theft of Russian citizen’s assets, sanctions , capture of Russian foreign reserves and the freezing /control of Afghanistan’s Central Bank reserves .
    All of this has led countries to turn away from the US dollar and form warmer relations with Russia and China

  9. The war in Ukraine is a proxy war between Russia and the United Sates, with Ukraine merely the stage. For 100 years or more, US foreign policy has been directed towards neutralising and controlling Russia, including stealing its abundant resources. Connected to this goal is preventing Germany, Russia and “Eurasia” forming any kind of alliance that would shut out America and thwart its designs on domination and control of the region. Controlling Russia means they could also complete their encirclement of China.

    The trouble is, the United States is a fast-declining hegemon and thus it no longer has the ability to project power anywhere it likes, and in so doing, prevent countries like Russia from exercising their own sphere of influence and protecting their security interests. Russia invaded Ukraine to prevent the United States (under the guise of NATO) moving in completely, and thereby presenting an unacceptable threat to Moscow. We don’t have to favour war to see the logic of events (and it impossible to understand the events in one begins in February 2022: you need to go back at least to 2014, and even back into the Cold War era, and even to the era of Tsarist Russia, to fully and intelligently appreciate the entirety of issues).

    There was never any way Russia was ever going to lose in Ukraine, and they won’t lose now. Even the most powerful Pentagon think tank, the RAND Corporation, thinks it’s time for the United Sates to end its proxy war adventure in the Ukraine.

    https://www.rand.org/pubs/perspectives/PEA2510-1.html

    From the preamble: ““The costs and risks of a long war in Ukraine are significant and outweigh the possible benefits of such a trajectory for the United States. Although Washington cannot by itself determine the war’s duration, it can take steps that make an eventual negotiated end to the conflict more likely.”

    The ongoing attempts by the US to economically cripple Russia have backfired spectacularly, with the most serious effects being experienced by Western Europe. The “international community” that supports the US is a myth, primarily consisting of only Western Europe, North America and Australasia – the rest of the world supports Russia, and are forming alliances that shut out the Americans, so much so that the reserve currency of the US dollar (backed only by debt as it is), is in grave danger.

    If the United States is willing to sacrifice Ukraine out of pig headedness, then the conflict will continue. If they have any sense, they will see that, short of full and open US involvement in the conflict (which will lead to nuclear war), Russia is not going to be defeated in Ukraine, and that they will keep Eastern Ukraine.

    • “There was never any way Russia was ever going to lose in Ukraine, and they won’t lose now.” Antoine Forbes-Hamilton

      Said no other imperialist ever

      There was never any way France was ever going to lose in Vietnam, and they won’t lose now.

      There was never any way the US was ever going to lose in Vietnam, and they won’t lose now.

      There was never any way the USSR was ever going to lose in Afghanistan, and they won’t lose now.

      There was never any way the US was ever going to lose in Afghanistan, and they won’t lose now.

      • The only one of your examples where the countries are neighbours and cause an existential threat to the larger combatant is Russia/Ukraine.
        HENCE the HUGE difference in motivation and outcome.
        I DON’T recall ANYONE in the west saying USSR can’t/wont lose in Afganistan.

        • “HENCE the HUGE difference in motivation and outcome.” Keriman

          The Ukrainians are fighting to defend their country from a blood thirsty expansive imperialist power which oppresses its own people.
          The ‘HUGE’ difference in motivation is on the Ukrainian side.
          The Ukrainians will never surrender to the imperialist invader.

          Afghanistan is known as the ‘Graveyard of Empires’. Ukraine will be the graveyard of Russian imperialism.
          Because, whether this war is long or short.
          The Ukrainian and/or the Russian people, will eventually end this disgusting imperialist war.

          • Let’s see Pat.
            I believe you are wrong and Ukraine is PURELY a convenient NATO/USA pawn and they sadly will get ‘taken around the back of the bike shed’, even with ALL the NATO/USA help-staff-support they’re getting.
            The USA PURELY wants to weaken Russia, not give it cause to use nuclear weapons if it feels it is under an exostential threat, like the USA with Cuba missile crisis.
            This is caused, started and planned to be, by the USA/NATO.
            Just do some NON-western propaganda reading and it’s fairly obvious to all but the blind.

    • I have had my disagreements with Antoine on TDB, but his take here is good. I am not a Putin fan, the Russian people have to sort that one out.

      The Nazis could not defeat Russia in WWII on their territory–and–the yanks will not do it in Ukraine. There are some great photos online of Soviet troops hoisting flags in Germany showing what they were made of.

    • Audrey Forbes-Hamilton, Russia v. Ukraine is NOT a proxy war. It is primarily a civil war. Why don’t you study the history of the region before you make such blasé observations.

    • No, Ben has been rather accurate with his predictions so far. The pro Russian trolls here were confident Odessa would fall by Xmas 2022 and that Kherson would not fall and that mobilisation was unnecessary and would not happen. How did that work out? We are all speculating about the future but time will tell. Ben has done well and been more on to it than his critics. By the end of summer 2023 we will have a clearer picture!

      • IMHO, PURE projection on YOUR part.
        Make up an objective and then claim Russia failed because it didn’t ‘achieve’ it.
        Look at what’s happening on the ground and there is ONLY ONE winner, and it is Russia. t WILL get what it set out to achieve, and MUCH MORE, thanks to NATO clearly being a paper tiger.
        As soon as America gets ‘bored’ of having Europe commit financial suidice (for the benefit of the USA) and Ukraine runs out of kamakhazis’, then the next proxy war will start elsewhere.
        Taiwan?

  10. Looking forward to the spin when Russia decisively wins the war in the coming months (which I fully expect to happen), and Ukraine subsequently begs NATO for direct involvement (as in boots on the ground and US planes enforcing a “no-fly zone”). This may actually happen to avoid the “sunk loss fallacy” of all the 10’s of billions already burnt by the West in the Ukraine money furnace.

      • How do you know he is brainless and based on what do you claim he is a Putinist?
        One can see Russia wont lose and are clearly winning and NOT be a Putinist.
        One can differ with others and not have to be, brainless.
        So much for intelligent debate and sharing views and information, so we can try to come to a best guess, with the facts at our fingertips.
        Look in the mirror.

        • ‘One can see Russia can’t lose’. You are an even bigger idiot Keriman.
          Such statements are just stupid. The reality is that both sides will lose – 100,000 each approximately.
          The win will be when Putin is deposed and the siloviki are liquidated.

      • I’m not a “Putinist” whatsoever. I am a realist through. The reason I don’t buy into the Western propaganda surrounding this war is that I have a cousin married to a Ukrainian (thankfully no longer in Ukraine but is being updated by her family) who told me the war isn’t going anything like is being reported here. Russia is not going to lose this war, unless NATO directly intervenes (but I doubt there will be in any “winners” anywhere if that happens).

        • So where in Ukraine does your cousin’s wife actually come from? What’s more do you actually consider that she might be wrong? I have many Ukrainian friends and the vast majority would disagree with this woman.

    • All over by Christmas?

      The winner of the best pro-imperialist war quote.

      Drum roll…. Nitrium!

      “…when Russia decisively wins the war in the coming months (which I fully expect to happen)”

    • Logistics wins war mate, what I’ve seen of the Russian Military Logistic so far in the last 12mths they couldn’t organise a piss up in the brewery let alone a root a Chow Brothers Knock Shop.

      Now they are pretty much back on their original start line 12mths ago, expect in Sth’ern Ukraine.

      By rights & Military logic, the Russians should be in Livi by now but they aren’t & I wonder why?

      Numbers don’t mean much if you piss have poor Logistics, have the inability to Rise Train & Sustain your Combat Arms not only in Peacetime but in Wartime, Piss poor Doctrine (SOP’s/ TTP’s) a Corrupt Officer Corp with non existent NCO Corp which is the backbone to all Military Force & an Airforce that can’t even gain Air Superiority over Ukraine Airspace let alone Air Parity over Battlespace in certain sectors of the battlefield. Shit the Luftwaffe was still achieve Air Parity & in some cases Air Superiority over the parts of the Eastern Front right to the end of WW2!

      Russian, You’re got some big problems to overcome!

      Will Russian launch a Spring Offensive? I’m 50/50 atm because there is one major big problem with this assumption? That is the Ukraine Theatre Reserve Force Commanded by head of the Ukrainian Armoured Corp, which who btw led the Ukrainian Autumn Offensive & is an old Ukrainian Born Russian Armoured Officer who got fucked over Tsar Poots who later moved back to his homeland only to be fucked over again by Tsar Poots Toady President between 2010-2014.

      The Ukrainian Theatre Reserve has gone to ground (no it hasn’t be knock out btw), if Russian can’t locate this very large Combine All Arms Unit of Tanks, Panzer Grenadiers & Artillery. Then it’s likely Russia’s Spring Offensive could very will come unstuck, leaving Ukraine the initiative on the battlefield to exploit?

  11. The lesson from history! The invaders always loose.
    The Germans in Russia.
    The Russians and Americans in Afghanistan
    The Americans in Vietnam.
    The Germans in Europe.
    Etc
    And to all those wishful thinkers Russia will eventually loose in Ukraine, their determination have no equal.

    • Pierre February 6, 2023 at 7:15 pm
      “The lesson from history! The invaders always loose.
      The Germans in Russia.
      Pierre

      The invaders in this case being the Russian Federation.

      • Pat+O’Dea, an academic name ‘John Meisenheimer’ lay’s on the table an excellent argument in the conflict concerning Ukraine. He’s debating a pro NATO position and advocate ex Swedish PM Carl Bildt who works for a military think tank the Rand Corporation. It’s a 2 hour debate but worth it if you’re willing to hear another side?

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_aNMOEQ0248

        • John Mearsheimer in his own words:

          @ 51:23 minutes
          ….That is my view from the Russian perspective on how this has to end. They have to win. They can not afford to lose….

          @52:51 minutes
          ….Everyone basically understands, this is going to be a protracted stalemate. At least they think it’s going to be a protracted stalemate because there is no solution. 

          There is another dimension to this, the most worrisome of all, and that is Nuclear escalation. Russia thinks it faces an existential threat – what you think doesn’t matter.
          What happens if Nato succeeds.
          What happens, if we begin to roll the Russian army back in Ukraine and we are moving up to the borders of Russia. And when I say ‘we’, I am talking about the Ukrainian forces backed by Nato power. The Russians are likely to use nuclear weapons to rescue the situation. 
          This is a great power and it is facing an existential threat and its losing. You don’t think it’s going to think seriously, at least, about using its nuclear weapons. You can rest assured it is….

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_aNMOEQ0248

          I suppose that at least, unlike most other pro-Kremlin commentators, John Mearsheimer admits to the reality that Russia is losing the war. 
          Delivered in a belligerent manner and speaking by turns in a raised voice or in a menacing undertone, this disgusting arsehole repeats Putin’s threats that he will drop nuclear weapons on Ukraine, if Russia loses. Mearsheimer’s argument is that in the face of this threat we should abandon the Ukrainians to their fate.
          How ignorant can someone be?
          If Putin ever uses nuclear weapons in Ukraine, the Russian people will tear him a new arsehole and Putin knows it.

          • “John Mearsheimer admits to the reality that Russia is losing the war.”
            I don’i think he admits that at all. He is outlining the inevitable result of Nato putting enough resources into Ukraine, presumably a full out offensive with Nato military directly involved on the ground, succeeding in a Russian defeat. He does not even say that they would be defeated even in an all out war with Nato. He just states what would obviously happen if they were defeated in conventional warfare. There is no way of “winning ” a war against a nuclear armed power of Russia’s sophistication . Just as there is no wy of “winning” a war against the US. All you can chive is ashes.
            D J S

          • Pat O,dea, ‘I suppose that at least, unlike most other pro-Kremlin commentators, John Mearsheimer admits to the reality that Russia is losing the war.’

            Inferencing that John Mearsheimer is somehow pro Kremlin is BS
            John Mearsheimer has also been accused of being an anti-semite when speaking on Israeli Crimes against Palestinian thru Israeli lobby group in US politics . This is cancel culture that wants to stifle ‘Free Speech’. Try arguing the points that he raises instead of making false accusations. And he kicked Carl Bildt ass in this debate hands down. Did you actually watch the Vid in its entirety or just skim thru to get the points that resonates with your beliefs??

  12. I think the Ukrainians are going for the traditional approach – “…bleed them with bullets until they’ve got no blood left to leave…”, mainly because why would you volunteer to run into the bullets when the morons on the other side are prepared to run into yours. I suspect Putin had a reasonable point initially that Ukraine was really a fake country made up of Russians that had forgotten who they were. Putin’s army didn’t win quickly enough and now I suspect the fake country has become very real. The ability to trade slavic blood with each other will go on for a long time.

    Put this all together and it makes for a long war, eventually the West will get bored and put pressure on Ukraine to make peace and the Americans will satisfy themselves that they’ve achieved there objectives and give this their “blessing”.

    If this is the outcome (lots of ifs and buts to come!) then this is likely to be the most consequential American “victory” since the end of WW2. Consider what will have been achieved. Russia is defanged and isolated but the bear has put the fear of god into Europe. Europe will rearm and detach from Russian energy and be more than capable of dealing with whatever Russian basket case remains. Finland & Sweden join NATO, with Turkey probably ejected. US continues to pivot towards Asia this time with more space and time. China sits back and decides any foreign adventures aren’t really worth it for now. Pax Americana Take 2.

    All things considered probably not the worst outcome from an NZ perspective either, as we will have greater strategic space to continue to suckle on the Chinese teat without much consequence.

    Thanks should be offered to Darth Putin, in a roundabout way his stupidity and strategic vanity combined with his callousness in sacrificing russian youngster’s blood has probably saved the world from a far larger conflagration. Thanks should also be offered to the people of Nevada, Arizona and Pennyslvania because without them Trump would have remained in power and we would be in WW3 with nukes raining down there and every fucking where .

    We shall see.

  13. I wonder how everyone feels now about the boneheaded, unfathomable refusal of Nato/US to take Russia’s security concerns seriously .Oh the Russians are full of bluff they said, nah, they can just fuck off, what’re they gonna do?
    Well now we know they’re not bluffing, and yet we still have utter idiots bleating on about Russia bluffing, and how by escalating Russia will cave.
    Peaceful agreements were offered ,Russia’s concerns put forward .What did they get ?Promises that Georgia and Ukraine would join NATO.And who is NATO’s proclaimed enemy?
    Russia
    What did anyone expect?

  14. Proof that Russian neo-Nazis are involved in the Donbas – Igor Mangushev has been ‘assassinated’ by rival paramilitaries, possibly the Vagner Group. Mangushev was a notorious neo-Nazi who founded a mercenary group called ‘Yenot’

    • Wait, so a Neo Nazi was “Assassinated” by Wagner Neo Nazis? Son you need to get out more.
      Meanwhile in the really real world Ukraine is using chemical weapons, Seymour Hersh has outed the US for Nordstream and credible evidence is emerging the Far right was responsible for the sniper shootings during the Maiden.

      • Maidan to you Finngrin of little brain. The shootings were done by the Berkut who were representing the Russian FSB. Must you believe any right wing commentator who fits your confirmation bias?
        Go and read Mark Galeoti if you don’t believe about the infighting between Russian paramilitary groups. You might learn something.

      • And what’s more Finngrin, Seymour Hersh has zero credibility as a journalist. If you believe all his bs, then you are very gullible indeed!

        • Zero credibility? He has more credibility in his little finger than your “PHD” from Canterbury University.

          • Ho Ho Ho! Tall Poppy syndrome. You are just one of Putin’s useful idiots. Why is a Nazi not a Nazi because he was born in Russia? Oh wait! If they’re born in Ukraine they must be Nazis because Putin tells me so! Get a life Finngrin!

          • Hersh is in Putin’s pocket. He tried to block the Magnitsky Act in the US. If you don’t know what that is, and I suspect you don’t, read Bill Browder’s books which tell about how his lawyer Sergei Magnitsky was tortured to death in a Russian prison.

  15. I was against the war in Ukraine for eight years when our media and politicians ignored the fighting and killing,,,, they did not give a fig about civilians and children being bombed and shelled.

    70% of Ukrainians ,,, a HUGE majority voted for ‘Peace Deal’ Zelensky over Poroshenko ,,, they wanted and voted to stop the civil/ATO war that Poroshenko launched https://rumble.com/v23t8nw-toys-for-poroshenko-war-in-ukraine.html ,,,,and above all they wanted to avoid starting a war with Russia.

    Russia’s peace deal offer at the time of Zelenskys election was the same as it had been since at least 2008 ,,,,and that was;. a) Ukraine to be neutral and have neither Russian or NATO military forces within it’s borders ,,,
    b) Donbass and Luhansk jto remain in Ukraine (so not separatist),,, but no more discrimination and persecution against their language, culture and heritages. ,,,,
    c) Ukraine to be neutral and free to conduct trade with both the EU and Russia.,,,
    d) Crimea with the overwhelming support from it’s citizens is reunited and part of Russia for good ,,, it’s population does not want to be part of Ukraine ,,, but under normal relationships Ukrainians could holiday there like anyone else .

    Ukraine army losses have been high and it’s disturbing to see such large numbers of people who wished for peace have their lives ended or ruined ,,,all because Russia’s deal was apparently unacceptable,,.

    Ukraine War Report: How Many Losses?
    https://youtu.be/Bfj2c5racUY?t=893

    Mossad Leaks The REAL Ukraine- Russia Casualty Numbers. It’s Grim For Ukraine https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aWHv8VrHi00&t=184s

    Urban building fighting with Wagner assault troops would be more costly in Russian casualties and less of an imbalance in their favor vrs Ukraine,,, but despite recruiting 24,000 prisoners on 6 month contract’s Wagners force was still over 50,000 in Ukraine,,, they are very well equipped and lead….. But They are more expendable.

    Their next recruitment cycle is expected to top 30,000 ,,, and in exactly the same manner as sending in a couple of hundred western NATO tanks ,,, this will lead to more death and destruction going on for longer in Ukraine.

    I wonder how many of the 70% of Ukrainians who wanted a peace deal would have found the Russian proposal acceptable?? ,,, most I suspect .

    Wagner have released a movie which gets praise for being realistic in many aspects of modern warfare ,,, it’s message towards the end is almost anti-war,,,, and somewhat surprisingly it is not anti-Ukraine in any way.

    full movie here https://www.bitchute.com/video/eKUPd7Eetlyg/

    A review with footage from the movie https://youtu.be/NVM_hRj5Jpo

      • May I suggest it’s time to change your poster name again Gadfly? I recommend Rabbit as you continuously wander over threads leaving little nuggets.

        • Don’t know how Gads taking the news from surrounded Bahkmut, the acknowledgement of enormous losses. Cognitive dissonance probably. PhuD.

          • Doubt very much if Gadfly is actually a NZ citizen to be honest, Seems desperate for recognition and validation. I do pity the person that is so uninformed with a “PHD”

            • Look Finngrin, I have relatives both in Russia and Ukraine. What’s more I doubt whether you have ever set foot in a university and wouldn’t know what a PhD was if you fell over it.
              You really take the prize for ignorance. Do you know who Bill Browder is for example? You have given me no proof that you know anything beyond Putinist propaganda.

          • Bakhmut has little strategic value at all. It has become a political goal for Prigozhin who has been hurling his convicts at Ukraine’s defences. But he can’t recruit any more rapists or murderers because they have discovered that they will face certain death in Bakhmut if not from Ukraine then from their own officers.

            • Little strategic significance eh PhuD? Who knows? Supposedly clever guy like you needs to ask a question. How come Ukraine has and is bleeding itself dry there? How thick are you?

              • Simple Nick J. It ties down enemy forces so they can’t create mayhem elsewhere on other fronts but Ben or Wayne would be better informed on this than me. I am not a military man.

                  • They certainly know so much more about military matters than you Nick J and I know so much more than you about history and politics of the the region, so where does that leave you? A self opinionated ignoramus that’s what!

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