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The emerging long term ramifications of the Ukraine War

With the war in the Ukraine now in the second half of its second year, with no clear outcome on the horizon, I thought it might be a good time to step back and look at what Russia’s invasion has wrought, not just on Russia and the Ukraine, but on the rest of the world, now and possibly into the long term future.

My goal in this essay is to look at the forest, not the trees, and to do so in very broad strokes, based on my experience as a historian who has taken this approach in all my histories.

First however it is necessary to give a short update on the war itself. In my previous two updates in April and July I concluded that the war was devolving into a stalemate, much like the ugly trench warfare of World War I. Nothing has changed that conclusion in the two months since July, a fact that is starkly illustrated by the two maps below, originally created by the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) and modified and annotated by me to highlight the most significant take-aways.

Comparing territories controlled by Russia and the Ukraine from November 2022 to the present
The striped pink regions are regions that Russia captured in its 2014 offensive. The solid pink regions are the territories it has captured and still holds since this new invasion started in February 2022.

As these two maps show, neither side has been able to make much progress since last year. In fact, though there have been small changes in the territory each side controls, those changes are so inconsequential they are hard to spot.

First the Russians attempted a winter offensive from November 2022 to April 2023, and made only marginal advances. Then the Ukraine followed with its own offensive campaign, beginning in the late spring and continuing through to the present. While it has made some small gains south of the city of Zaporizhia in the past month, those gains have been slow, difficult, and as marginal as anything the Russians achieved previously.

So what does this stalemate suggest for the broad long term future?

Russia and the Ukraine

Based on recent actions, I cannot see either side achieving a decided victory. Instead, their actions since November 2022 suggest that each is maneuvering to establish control over the regions it expects to keep when a settlement is finally negotiated. All of Russia’s offensive actions in the past year has been in the north, pushing west in an effort to reach the western borders of the Donetsk and Luhansk provinces. Meanwhile, the Ukraine’s main offensive effort has been in the south, pushing to recapture the light pink region south of Zaporizha.

Neither had gotten very far, but the focus of each effort lays out a potential settlement, whereby Russia keeps the territories captured after 2014, plus the Donetsk and Luhansk provinces, while the Ukraine regains the territories south of Zaporizha, excluding the striped area of the Crimea. This settlement might not occur by negotiation, but by an eventual ceasefire that stablizes these borders, much as the ceasefire in Korea has locked the border for more than seven decades between the North and South.

My conclusion here assumes that both sides eventually pull back from aggressive action, as both did for almost a decade after Russia’s 2014 invasion. There is no guarantee of that, however, especially because the Ukraine’s blood is up following the 2022 invasion. It has repeatedly declared it will not stop fighting until it regains every foot of territory. If so, then the fighting could drag on for decades.

Russia and the World

For three quarters of a century, following World War II, Europe and the west focused its entire European foreign policy around defending Europe from an invasion from Russia. Despite the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Russia was considered a viable military threat with the capability to sweep west and recapture control of the eastern European nations it had ruled during the Cold War.

The Ukraine War has now unequivocally told us that Russia poses no serious military threat at all. Its failure to conquer the Ukraine has revealed its military to be poorly run and corrupt, with a command structure that is so dishonest and disorganized and focused on power politics that it is unable to even form a coherent military invasion strategy. Moreover, Russia’s military hardware has faired poorly against the Ukraine’s, and worse, that hardware has now largely been destroyed.

Furthermore, Russia’s economy has been shattered by this war. Not only has it lost billions in foreign trade, the war’s cost is bankrupting the country while seriously damaging its infrastructure. While the Ukraine has also suffered, it is Russia that had had a reputation as a major power with a history of aggression. That reputation is now gone.

These facts should effect how the U.S. and Europe shape their foreign policy. The U.S. especially should consider reducing its military aid to Europe, since the threat from the east is largely defused. It still exists, but at a level that Europe should be able to handle mostly on its own, and in fact must.

Corruption in governments

The response of the government leaders in the West to Russia’s invasion has revealed them to be as poorly run, as corrupt, as dishonest, as disorganized, and as dedicated to power politics as Russia. Though providing strong support for the Ukraine initially made some sense — when Russia was still perceived as a dangerous worldwide threat — that reasoning died almost a year ago when it was clear Russia could barely hold its own against its tiny neighbor, despite a sudden invasion with it holding all the cards.

And yet, western leaders have shown no willingness to change their approach in any way. Biden and Europe still want to pour endless funds to the Ukraine, in an manner this is almost mindless and uncontrolled, and suggests that much of that blind support is not for intelligent foreign policy considerations but to make a quick buck by sending money to big military contractors who respond by giving politicians big campaign donations. (In the case of Joe and Hunter Biden, the evidence increasingly suggests these payments have been direct bribes and pay-offs, but the difference really is petty.)

The rot of this corruption truly stinks.

Similarly, the aid to the Ukraine has clearly poisoned its own political structure. People forget that Zelinsky was originally elected as a reform candidate, a former actor and outsider who would move to clean up the obvious bribery and corruption that dominated the past govenrment. All of that faded with the war and the arrival of vast sums from the west.

In fact, this war has well highlighted the overall rot that now permeates most western governments. We can chortle about the corruption in Russia and the Ukraine, but we really have little to brag about. Our governments no longer seem to be run by an elite class of well-educated and thoughtful individuals, but a gang of uneducated mobsters whose only goal is obtaining power and wealth, at the expense of anyone who stands in their way.

The dark future

To have so many governments ruled by such a mobster class reflects very poorly on the populations who elected them. The west is still dominated by the republican form of representative government, with those in power chosen by the general population. That the general population has been chosing so badly for so long and across many nations suggests that it has become as bad as these mobsters, and actually prefers such people as its representatives.

Thus, this situation gives us glimpse at the overall sad state of western civilization. For two thousand years humanity made slow and painstaking progress, beginning with the rise of Christianity after the fall of the Roman Empire and reaching its pinnacle with the Age of Enlightenment. Throughout that time the central core of that rise was a strong moral framework based on the Old Testament and the Bible and the ethics it demands from each person. That moral framework, while advocated most forcefully by religious leaders, was gladly accepted by society as whole, including all of its secular factions.

That moral framework is now gone. We now stand on the brink of a new dark age, ushered in by a society that sometime in the last half of the twentieth century began to abandon those religious values, so that today it no longer has any moral standards at all. How else can one explain a culture that thinks it is okay to mulitate and castrate little children, while letting looters run wild in the streets?

Thus, the power-hungry gravitate to positions of power, supplanting a steadily shrinking class of the truly civilized and aided by a population that doesn’t care any longer. Soon, it will be irrelevant whether that population cares or not, because the power hungry will grasp that power in its fist and wield it unmercifully. It will no longer ask for approval from the general population. It will grab, and hold, and never let go.

Can this dark future be prevented? Maybe, but it will take a dedication and a willingness to face sacrifices as brutal as the early Christians faced when the Romans fed them to the lions. And even if the civilized among us are willing to make that sacrifice, to recover our civilization is likely going to take generations. We likely facing at least one or two centuries of decline and collapse.

No matter. The fight for civilization must go on. How else is humanity going to eventually conquer the stars?

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On Christmas Eve 1968 three Americans became the first humans to visit another world. What they did to celebrate was unexpected and profound, and will be remembered throughout all human history. Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8, Robert Zimmerman's classic history of humanity's first journey to another world, tells that story, and it is now available as both an ebook and an audiobook, both with a foreword by Valerie Anders and a new introduction by Robert Zimmerman.

The ebook is available everywhere for $5.99 (before discount) at amazon, or direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit. If you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and the author gets a bigger cut much sooner.

The audiobook is also available at all these vendors, and is also free with a 30-day trial membership to Audible.

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  • mkent

    Thanks for this update. It’s good to be able to discuss this war with someone able to look at the bigger picture and not get lost in the day-to-day back-and-forth grind of the war. And kudos for being able to read a map, which seems strangely missing from many comments on the war.

    I would like to comment on a few points, however.

    ”Instead, their actions since November 2022 suggest that each is maneuvering to establish control over the regions it expects to keep when a settlement is finally negotiated.”

    This is true of Russia but not the Ukraine. After the first two weeks of this summer’s counteroffensive, Ukraine has become very strategic in the way it is fighting. They are not just going after random territory. They are going after strategic objectives in a long-term effort to re-capture all of their territory, including Crimea.

    For example, that salient into southern Zaporizhia places the town of Tokmak and the rail line that runs through it in the range of ordinary artillery. That has major implications for Russia’s ability to supply Crimea.

    Russia doesn’t do logistics the way we do logistics, which uses sea, air, and truck assets extensively. Russia uses primarily railroads for heavy logistics. Which means they can only mass power — infantry, armor, and artillery — near to where the train goes. Take out that rail line, and Russia is limited to the Kerch Strait Bridge — which has already been hit twice and is at about half capacity — and a highway running between Mariupol and Melitopol — which ties up their limited truck assets.

    If the Ukraine can advance a few more miles south, they’ll place that highway in GMLRS range. Then another hit on the Kerch bridge will cut off Crimea, Kherson, and Zaporizhia from re-supply.

    So it’s not the amount of raw territory that the Ukraine takes back in this summer’s counteroffensive that matters, it’s their ability to harm Russia’s logistics capability.

    ”It has repeatedly declared it will not stop fighting until it regains every foot of territory.”

    To put some numbers on that, in a recent poll only 5% of Ukrainians were willing to trade land for “peace.” 95% wanted to fight on until they had their whole country back. Only 20% were willing to trade eventual NATO membership to end the fighting. 80% we’re willing to fight on until Russia acquiesced to Ukraine’s NATO membership.

    This is an existential fight for them, and they are willing to fight for their survival. The West could learn a lot from them.

  • mkent: I agree with you in reference to the Ukraine, which is why I added the cavaet that it might not be willing to settle. And yes, I also agree that its strategic decisions have been routinely stellar throughout the conflict, once it recovered from its initial unpreparedness at the start of the invasion.

    That said, it still is a relatively small country compared the Russia, making any long term total victory difficult.

  • John Fisher

    A couple of related thoughts.

    First, I suspect that the globalist push to continue to support Ukraine has little to do with Ukraine and a lot to do with keeping both NATO and the EU from fracturing. Poland and the Baltic states regard Russia as an existential threat (rightly or wrongly) and without support for Ukraine from the West would probably actively intervene against Russia. Where Hungary, Romania, the Czech Republic and Slovakia would lean if this happened is anyone’s guess. Germany, France and the Mediterranean members of NATO would sit on their hands. Whether those entities should be allowed to fracture is an open question, but the globalists will do most anything to stop it.

    Second, the Russians have to balance pursuing their ‘short victorious war’ against the perceived threat from China. Some of their military resources cannot be committed without stripping their ‘eastern front’. When they reach the bottom of the available bottle they will likely be more willing to settle.

    I don’t see the end of this anymore than you do. The parts move but what the machine does is not seen.

  • madrocketsci

    To have so many governments ruled by such a mobster class reflects very poorly on the populations who elected them.

    Assumes facts not in evidence.

  • pzatchok

    There are two ends to this conflict.
    Both end with the Ukraine in NATO.

    One the present, or something close to it, is accepted and the rest of the Ukraine is accepted into NATO and they both stop attacking. Little chance of this because the Ukraine people will never agree to it,
    If the Ukraine will not stop attacking them Russia will own nothing more than a wasteland. All they build in the occupied territories will be burned by any means until the whole of the Ukraine is destroyed.
    Russia will have gained nothing but pain.

    Two if Russia gives up ALL it has taken since the Soviet break up. The boarders will be set back and the Ukraine will then join NATO. No more fighting.
    But Putin will not agree to this. He regretted down to his core the Soviet break up and wants it all back before he dies. He wants to be the rebuilding hero for Russia.

    If Putin is taken from power peace has a chance. Until then the war goes on until Russia starts loosing its old territory. Then the people will stand up and take him down without needing a military coup.

  • pzatchok

    One the present, boarder…….

    Forgot to proof read again.

  • Concerned

    “ We likely facing at least one or two centuries of decline and collapse.”

    Dark, depressing words Bob. Even if true with plenty of historical precedent. I mourn for my grandkids.

  • pzatchok

    Will America create great world leaders to bring peace in the next 200 years?

    Will the western nations in general do it?

    Or will the world shakers be from the rest of the world and not bring peace?

  • Concerned: You cannot imagine the pain I feel writing those words, being deep down in my uttermost soul an optimist who has dreamed since childhood of the possibility that a great free America would bring its values to the stars.

    I cannot see that happening now, or if so, not for many generations. (Read the last chapter of Conscious Choice to get a more detailed perspective).

  • Cloudy

    Both Ukraine and Russia (yes, Russia also) see this as a fight for survival. A fight for survival does help clean up corruption a bit since a corrupt official who is tolerated in peacetime may be lynched in an environment like this. Yes, Western Europe seems to me to be in a bit of a cultural decline. Woke ideology will do that. But decline is a matter of degree. Western Europe is still a far better place to live than Russia. It is less corrupt by every objective measure. It is largely still ruled by the people that live there. The same is true of the US. Europe could end up like Mandarin China, ruled by a stagnant bureaucracy. The US could end up like Russia. We are not there yet, or even close. We have just taken a few steps in the wrong direction. That’s all.

    Ukraine was more like Russia than the rest of Europe and was somewhat in flux. It could have been either like Belarus or like the Baltic states, or it could have been partitioned. Russia made the decision for them, however. Ukraine is now united against Russia. This war is Ukraine’s war of independence. It has solidified Ukraine’s identity as a nation. That is a powerful and positive thing for Ukraine, which has not ambitions beyond its internationally recognized borders.

  • mkent

    A few other points I’d like to make.

    ”The Ukraine War has now unequivocally told us that Russia poses no serious military threat at all.”

    That may be true, but it’s **because** of the aid the West has given Ukraine. The country would almost certainly have fallen without it, and the Russians would now be aiming their tanks at Poland, Finland, and the Baltics.

    It was the Stingers that stopped the air assault against the capital. It was the American Javelins and British NLAWs that stopped the armored assault on Kiev. It was the HIMARS launchers and GMLRS munitions that made the Kherson and Kharkiv counteroffensives possible. It was the American Harpoons (and Ukrainian Neptunes) that drove the Russian Black Sea Fleet out of the western Black Sea. It is the British Storm Shadows, French SCALPs, and American JDAMs that are making the Russians’ hold on the Sevastopol naval base untenable.

    These are reasons to increase aid and end the war sooner, not decrease it and force the war to drag on.

    ”It still exists, but at a level that Europe should be able to handle mostly on its own, and in fact must.”

    Europe is largely stepping up. The Baltics are donating 25% of their defense budget to Ukraine. Finland and Sweden are joining NATO. The Russians were (rightfully) terrified of *four* HIMARS launchers, so Poland ordered *500* of them. They also ordered 266 American M-1 tanks, 1,000 Korean K-2 tanks (though maybe not as good as the M-1, better than anything the Russians can put in the field), 672 K-9 howitzers, 96 Apache helicopters (making them the 2nd largest Apache operator in the world after the U. S. Army), American F-35 fighter jets, Korean FA-50 fighter jets, Patriot air defense systems, and Aegis Ashore missile defense systems.

    19 countries have joined the new European Sky Shield Initiative, an integrated multi-layered missile defense system using the mid-range IRIS-T, long-range Patriot, and exoatmospheric Arrow 3 missile defense systems. Procurements have already begun to put the system into place.

    NATO used to have 11,000 troops on its eastern flank bordering Russia and Belarus. Soon it will have 300,000.

    The fact is, because of the Russian invasion of the Ukraine, Europe is more united now than at any time since the fall of the Roman Empire. America must lead NATO, yes, but the idea that Europe isn’t defending itself doesn’t line up with current realities.

  • GeorgeC

    The social critic Matthew Arnold summed up this current situation circa 1850 in his poem Dover Beach.

    mkent: Yes impressive weapons but the west is in a demographic death spiral and has no border control as it decays from within.

    As it prepares to crucify mankind on a cross of carbon.

  • pzatchok

    The Ukraine is now training its solders and organizing it military to western standards and not the old Soviet standards Russia is still using. They are training their new officers all across the NATO nations, not just counting the pilots for their new aircraft.

    By the time this is done the Ukraine will have one of the strongest and most experienced military’s in Europe. When it joins NATO it will be a full and strong member ready to stand on the front line.
    But yes it will cost them dearly to do it.

    The Ukraine started this war without western arms and help. And they stopped the mighty bear.

    By the way.
    The first gulf war should have told Russia that their old tactics would no longer work against the west anymore.

  • Questioner

    The new atlas: “West Admits Russia Outguns Them as Ukraine Suffers Heavy Losses Amid Failing Offensive”

  • DJ

    Unless I have missed something, NATO, the European Union and the West are not gaining popularity throughout the world. Brics is going to get larger. The petro dollar will be subject to marginal use, meaning countries will be able to use other currencies. This then causes our economic situation to become full of perils. The winners here are the arms manufacturers and the investment firms that are geared up to “rebuild” Ukraine. And the way that will work is,
    1. We pay taxes
    2. The government gives the tax money to Ukraine.
    3. Ukraine gives the money to Blackrock or Vanguard or State Street.
    4. These funds then pay contractors that are going to do the work.

    If you substitute Raytheon and other arms dealers for Blackrock, Vanguard, and State Street, that is the way it is going now with the ammunition, tanks, and other armaments. And once this battle is over, the Ukraine government will continue to purge any Russians left on the Eastern Front.

    At some point, our antagonistic habits will bring this to our land. People will then (and only then) reconsider their views.

  • Questioner

    “The new atlas”: Update on the conflict in Ukraine for September 18, 2023

    – Ukrainian offensive operations remain stagnant along the line of contact with Russian counterattacks overturning what superficial progress they do make;

    – The Western media citing US and other NATO member state officials admits Ukrainian forces lacked the proper training to conduct a successful offensive;

    – As Western sources begin admitting to Ukraine’s catastrophic losses in men and materiel, they also admit Russian losses are near all time lows;

    – The collective West also acknowledges that the amount of ammunition and weapons Ukraine requires is beyond the West’s ability to provide both in the short and intermediate future;

    – In order to provide such levels of material support, the West would need to significantly mobilize its population, industry, and military, a prospect that isn’t even being seriously considered let alone planned;


    BBC – War in Ukraine: Is the counter-offensive making progress? (September 18, 2023):
    Mediazona – Russian casualties in Ukraine (Updated September 8, 2023):
    Guardian – West must focus on preparing Ukraine’s troops – or we will all pay the price (July 23, 2023):
    Wall Street Journal – The Secret of Ukraine’s Military Success: Years of NATO Training (April 2022):
    FT – The hard lessons from Ukraine’s summer offensive (September 15, 2023):
    NYT – Russia Overcomes Sanctions to Expand Missile Production, Officials Say (September 13, 2023):

  • brucewayne

    Zimmerman needs to hear what Peter Zeihan has to say about this war

  • Questioner

    Putin is a mastermind when it comes to strategy and action. He is far too smart for the current US regime, which will be shamed and defeated in Ukraine.

  • Curtis

    I think that you only see what you want to see.
    The origin of the conflict lies in the mistreatment of the ethnic Russians living in the regions now controlled by Russia. They also need those regions to ensure a firmer grip on Crimea and won’t give them up and will probably go on and take Odessa later this year and remove Ukrainian access to the Black Sea.
    Russia has not even mobilized to fight in Ukraine and is merely holding behind an impenetrable defensive line which rivals the German Siegfried Line. It is layered and deep and the Ukrainian offensives haven’t made it even into the first line much less the 3rd line.
    Russia’s little force has just fought the entirety of NATO to a complete standstill along a Russian implemented defensive line. In the. parlance of the military, NATO shot its wad and came up woefully short. The missiles are no good, the artillery is no good, the tanks are no good and so on.
    The Russian minefields all along the front are just about impenetrable but I think it is still possible for Russia to launch a new offensive anytime it wants to. This would once again take the form of a decapitation strike aimed at Kiev and Zelensky and his government.
    Alternatively, the Russians can simply destroy the 20th century remnants still standing in Ukraine and destroy the power stations and distribution along with the railroads and bridges. They still have plenty of ammunition, missiles and attack bombers.
    What I’d be worried about is the increasing likelihood of false flag operations that start destroying all those germ research centers or nuclear power plants in Ukraine. That will truly suck for Europe and perhaps us as well.
    BTW, you have to see to appreciate just how worthless 300,000 EU NATO troops can be. That would be 287,999 rear echelon types, 103 combat arms guys and 2 rusty tanks not given away to the Ukrainians. Oh? And the missing shortfall in the numbers? Those are the relatives on the military payroll who never show up anyway.

  • Quartermaster

    @Curtis, that’s BS and has been debunked many times over. Go to Peter Zeihan’s channel and get an education. He’s not always right, but it is obvious you need a lot of food for thought.

  • Snidely Whiplash

    The one perspective that I’ve never seen anyone else bring up is that it is well past time that all nations stand together on the principle that no nation has the right to invade another, under ANY circumstances. And any nation that does so will be crushed by the rest of the world in any and every way possible. Pipe dream, I know. But it’s the culmination of civilization and needs to happen.

  • Cotour

    Ah, Snidely, so compassionate and fair, you sound just like a “progressive”.

    Always dreaming about how things should be.

    History however has a different interpretation and message on the subject.

    Who are the most ambitious humans on planet earth today? The CCP / Chinese, The Russians, Brazil, the WEF, the U.N. all Authoritarians and all looking to divvy up the planet to install their version of how things should be as a stood down, diluted and castrated America is served up by those same ambitious “progressives”.

    It is like watching a school of piranhas feeding on a hippo.

    And that is not my interpretation of progress.

  • Andrew Winter

    How does this happen?

    An historian, who should know better, looks at the “forest” but not at the sky above the forest.

    The reason, and the only reason, this mess isn’t over with already is that neither side has achieved anything close to Air Superiority. How does a historian just forget that Air Superiority has been a necessary component of mechanized warfare since it was invented by Germany for World War Two.

    The completely ONE SIDED victory in The Gulf War was the result of the Coalition achieving total Air Supremacy in the month prior to the Ground Campaign. Which, as a result, lasted a whopping 100 hours.


    How did a historian forget that. You look at a forest you really NEED to see the CANOPY not just the forest of tree trunks!

    Russia had a five to one numerical superiority over Ukraine. Taking control of the air should have been child’s play. But it never happened and the Ukraine Air Force is still flying. But TheWest in their infinite stupidity refuses to help them with the one thing they NEED to kick Russia out. AIR PLANES.

    Here is what happened to Russian. For the historian who has forgotten the history of modern warfare.

    It seems that Russia just figured that Air Superiority was a “Capitalist Luxury” that they needn’t ever worry about. So they didn’t.

    ORXY confirms the loss of over 2300 tanks in Ukraine, with corresponding losses in all manner of ground force equipment.

    The Russian Federation Invaded Ukraine with 100 BTGs.

    Ten tanks per battalion. 1000 tanks. Ukraine has accounted for ALL of them, TWICE OVER.
    There is only one word in the lexicon of military terminology to describe this.


    Why? Because they committed their tanks without dealing with Ukraine’s Air Forces. Yeah the Germans pulled it off once or twice, but only because The Weather kept US Army tactical air power on the ground.

    More history. This is why Patton’s Christmas Miracle is called a MIRACLE. He issued a prayer to Third Armies troops during the campaign to relieve Bastogne. He prayed for ONE DAY. He got a week of clear skies.

    So you will not see anything in Ukraine that gains any ground that is NOT a slow methodical infantry CRAWL through prepared defenses until such time as one side or the other gets control of the air. Russia CAN’T they don’t even train for the mission. Ukraine could, given enough F-16s that the US is currently pulling out of mothballs for freaking LIVE FIRE TARGET PRACTICE.

    Seriously if one is looking at the Forest Instead of the Trees, please look UP at the Canopy. It’s kind of crucial to a forest to have a canopy. Without it the forest dies because photosynthesis won’t happen.

  • Rudy Spen

    Ukrainians have a right to live as they wish, under the government of their choosing, not Russia’s choosing, and they’re willing to die for that principle. This is the same as any Brit or any American would do. Ukraine will not submit to become a Vichy state, so why should we ask them to do so?

    Battlefield conditions are always dynamic, no campaign goes on forever, truces can be violated, interests shift. A stalemate is not a real battlefield situation, it is a negotiated one.

    Above all, we should always understand that freedom is never free. In expecting Ukraine to capitulate because of our collective sticker shock, have we all gone so soft so as to have forgotten the real cost?

  • Jim in Alaska

    When the fat lady finally sings, no matter who wins I suspect our duly appointed masters will be happy with the results.

    The money’s laundered, control’s established, narrative defined or redefined, still enough peons left to drudge another day..

  • markedup2

    Much to comment on here. First, let me add Perun to the list of people to listen to about what’s going on. He’s stunning.

    Ignore Curtis, he’s either a troll or so wedded to what he believes that there is no convincing him.

    For two thousand years humanity made slow and painstaking progress
    I’d like to add “non-linear” to the list of adjectives. A new Dark Age, while I’d much prefer to avoid it, does not imply the end of that progress. After all, in order to have a “new” Dark Age, one must have first had an “old” Dark Age and “we” made it through that.

    the west is in a demographic death spiral and has no border control as it decays from within.
    Without regard to whether or not that’s true, do not underestimate the last gasp of dying empires. See, for example, Russia invading Ukraine.

    The government gives the tax money to Ukraine.
    This is SO badly reported. We’re not giving Ukraine _that_ much cash. We’re mostly giving them stuff, to which accountants assign dollar amounts. In the majority of cases (e.g. lots and lots of stingers and cluster bombs; very few HIMARS and Patriots), we’re giving them old stuff that we were going to dispose of, anyway. We’re saving the cost of disposal and the accounts are tallying up replacement cost.

    Most of the money is being spent internally buying new stuff to replace the obsolete stuff. So, “The winners here are the arms manufacturers” is still true. An optimistic way of thinking about it is that it is “stimulus spending” that actually targets “shovel ready” projects. I don’t necessarily agree with that, but the money is mostly flowing around the US.

    the investment firms that are geared up to “rebuild” Ukraine.
    It’s way too soon for that. It’s worth keeping an eye on, but rebuilding is years, if not decades, away.

    so Poland ordered…
    Poland is ordering everything that is for sale, anywhere. Germany can’t be too happy about that, but there is very little they can do about it while they’re dealing with dunkleflaute in the dark.

    We are definitely living in interesting times.

    I recommend reading, but not necessarily believing, The Fourth Turning. At the very least, it is an interesting perspective.

  • Andrew_W

    Curtis: ”The origin of the conflict lies in the mistreatment of the ethnic Russians living in the regions now controlled by Russia.”

    In 2020 and 2021 there were less than 10 civilian fatalities in each year from active military operations, that’s on both sides.
    compare that to the 2084 civilians killed in in 2014 and 955 killed in 2015. The level of conflict in the Donbas had become very low, then Russia invaded, and with their artillery targeting cities, they took 10,000-20,000 civilian lives.

  • Andrew_W

    Go look at the city of Donetsk on Google maps, that city was under separatist control from 2014, it was very close to the line of control, within easy artillery range of Ukraine controlled territory. See if you can find any artillery damage whatsoever in that city.
    Now go and look at what Russian artillery did to the city of Mariupol, block after block of devistation.

  • jcp

    What I find fascinating about this post is that I disagree with just about every comment written. I see some people make a good point and then they go on to say something I think is total misinformation.
    Are they wrong, or am I?
    If I cut out a sentence here and there, I can come up with my current understanding but this feels so strange and new. I can only assume that the real winners of this war so far are the people creating all the propaganda.

  • jcp: Ah, so now I hope you can see why I came to my final conclusions.

  • Biglar

    A few inconvenient points:

    1. A stalemate assumes the two sides have roughly equivalent usable resources. This is clearly not the case – Russia has a much larger population, has its own military production versus Ukrainian reliance on the meager donations from the west, and has been inflicting disproportionately heavy losses on a Ukrainian military that it has significantly outgunned. This is a war of attrition – it will seem a stalemate almost right up to the time the Ukrainian military collapses.

    2. Russia isn’t getting weaker. This war has made it apparent that some Russian beliefs about effective war fighting were antiquated. But the Russian military tactics have gotten better, their weaponry has gotten better, and certain facets of the Russian military were already world class – it’s pretty clear that the main reason the Ukrainians haven’t been given US planes is that it would be bad for the US MIC if the planes ended up getting shot out of the sky by S-400s. Arab sheiks then might be less willing to spend a few billion per year on the latest models. The US has succeeded in forging a stronger Russian military and creating a template for how to fight NATO forces.

    3. Don’t think that all the tough guy talk about Ukrainians being willing to do whatever it takes to win back all of their territory is wise. Putin hears this and understands that any stalemated ceasefire only gives the Ukrainians time to rearm and try again. He also knows that Ukraine is already down to dragooning 58-year old men off the street. He will keep up the pressure until the war is won and the Ukrainian military is destroyed – it’s really his only choice.

    This is a dumb war that never should have been fought. Russia was never going to march on Poland if not stopped in Ukraine. This is an ethnic dispute between closely related peoples and NATO should have never stuck its nose into it. If Crimea and some other ethic Russian parts of Ukraine had peacefully (or even near-peacefully) reverted back to being part of Russia it wouldn’t have mattered much in the grand scheme of things except to save HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF LIVES. This entire part of the world is going to be massively depopulated in a few generations anyway. But the self-proclaimed geniuses of our foreign policy establishment couldn’t help themselves, they had to get involved. And now we are stuck with this disaster, for which our country will be harshly judged for a very long time.

  • Andrew_W

    Amazing how you blame the victim of Russian imperial aggression.
    Well, actually, not really, many people have bought into the Russian propaganda.

  • Questioner

    John Mearsheimer talks in a short about smart India and the truth about who is responsible for the conflict (the “West”) and who sympathizes with Russia, namely more than half of mankind.

  • Andrew_W

    Mearsheimer works on the principle that countries should be at the mercy of more powerful neighbors, that major powers have “spheres of influence” and that Ukraine is inside the Russian “sphere of influence”
    Those of us who believe countries should be under the control of their own people oppose Mearsheimer’s advocacy of imperialism.

  • Concerned

    Finally, someone (Biglar) with a true American perspective on this mess. This war should never have started, and a negotiated settlement needs to happen now. Not tomorrow, now.

  • Andrew_W

    “This war should never have started” it started with the Russian invasion.
    “and a negotiated settlement needs to happen now. Not tomorrow, now.”
    That was Rudolf Hess’s mission when he parachuted into Scotland. Fortunately the British weren’t interested in sacrificing Europe to the fascists.

  • Concerned: Not to disagree or agree with your comment, I must point out that Biglar however implied that somehow the west and the Ukraine started the war, which is intellectual dishonesty of the highest order. The policy of Biden was incompetent and helped encourage the invasion, but the blame for the war falls entirely on Russia, which instigated an invasion on an neighbor who posed absolutely no threat to it.

    One of the reasons I have little confidence in Russia’s abilities in this war is reinforced by many of the comments here of Russian supporters. Routinely they cannot analyze the situation objectively with raw honesty. Russia is never at fault. Russia is always going to win. Russia is pure as the wind-driven snow!

    I exaggerate, but I am only doing so to underline the reality. This inability to analyze the actual facts on the ground honestly here simply mirrors the same failures within the Russian government and military from day one of its invasion. The result has been a failed invasion that had to largely retreat after the first few months, then face almost two years of stalemate against a far smaller nation. Its military strategy has been confused and inefficient. It wastes its missiles attacking civilian targets that have no bearing on the battle on the ground. And it seems unable to establish a coherent command structure that isn’t riddled with infighting, personal politics, and corruption.

    To fix these issues requires blunt honesty. It appears the Russians still don’t have it.

  • mkent

    You know, in the first few days of this latest war the “Russia Stronk!” mindset might have made at least a little sense, but after 19 months of war, 18 of which Russia has spent advancing backwards, you’d think the propaganda would adjust to reality at least a little bit, but no.

    ”Russia isn’t getting weaker.”

    Russia has lost over 100,000 men, 3,000 tanks, 2,000 pieces of artillery, and 5,000 infantry fighting vehicles / armored personnel carriers. Those are not tactical numbers. Numbers that high are strategic. Russia is not just weaker but massively so.

    ”…certain facets of the Russian military were already world class – it’s pretty clear that the main reason the Ukrainians haven’t been given US planes is that it would be bad for the US MIC if the planes ended up getting shot out of the sky…”

    F-15s and F-16s have been fighting Russian fighter jets for years in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and a few other places. The result: The F-15 has an air-to-air kill ratio of 102 to zero; the F-16’s is 71 to zero. And the F-22 is a whole generation ahead of *them*.

    ”…by S-400s.”

    Just this past week *four* S-400 Triumphs have been destroyed by Western weapons in the hands of Ukrainians. And while Ukraine has early-model HARMs, they’re not integrated into the airplane’s weapon system and can’t be used in their anti-radiation role. Ukraine is using them as basically high-speed cruise missiles.

    NATO jets would use them in their intended anti-radiation mode, making them far more lethal against Russian air defense. Of course NATO jets would be carrying late-model HARMs, AARGMs, and AARGM-ERs, weapons a whole generation (or more) ahead of the early-model HARMs given to Ukraine.

    ”Russia was never going to march on Poland if not stopped in Ukraine.

    Russia disagrees. On the first day of this latest invasion, Belarusian president Lukashenko gave a briefing complete with maps to his security council on the Russian war plans, many of which involved his country. He then talked to the press afterwards and showed them the maps.

    The plan was for a southern strike to take all of Ukraine, Moldova, and eastern Romania and a “northern” strike through Belarus to take the Baltics and eastern Poland. This was confirmed about a month later in Russian state media by the deputy commander of Russia’s Central Military District. I put “northern” in quotes because that was the term Lukashenko used, but long-standing Russian doctrine has that as the central strike. The northern strike is to take Finland.

    There’s a reason Finland and Sweden abandoned 75 years of neutrality and immediately joined NATO, the Baltics sent 25% of their defense budget to Ukraine, and Poland began arming itself up the wazoo, and it ain’t because of an “ethnic dispute between closely related peoples.”

    ”If Crimea and some other ethic[sic] Russian parts of Ukraine had peacefully (or even near-peacefully) reverted back to being part of Russia it wouldn’t have mattered much in the grand scheme of things except to save HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF LIVES.”

    If it had happened peacefully nobody would care. But it didn’t happen peacefully. It happened through two military invasions of conquest that cost the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. That makes Russia’s actions not just wrong but evil.

  • The origin of the conflict lies in the mistreatment of the ethnic Russians living in the regions now controlled by Russia.

    Curtis, it sounded better in the original German re: the Sudetenland.

    Russia was never going to march on Poland if not stopped in Ukraine.

    Biglar, name one totalitarian expansionist that chose to stop on their own, versus being compelled to stop by either exhaustion of resources or the credible threat of force against them.

    Putin has previously expressed his desire to return the Rodina to its Soviet-era “glory” by expansion,

    Similarly, the aid to the Ukraine has clearly poisoned its own political structure. People forget that Zelinsky was originally elected as a reform candidate, a former actor and outsider who would move to clean up the obvious bribery and corruption that dominated the past govenrment. All of that faded with the war and the arrival of vast sums from the west.

    Or, I see Zelinsky taking what he’s being offered by the corrupt West with its hidden agendas, to support the fight for his nation’s life. Reminds me a bit of how Churchill took advantage of FDR’s quiet dissent from American isolationism in 1940-1941.

    Both Putin, and the globalist elites, need to lose.

  • Questioner

    US Can’t Deal with Defeat (September 21, 2023)

    By Michael Brenner (professor of international affairs at the University of Pittsburgh)

    “The illusion of eventual success on the battlefield (with its envisaged wearing down of Russia’s will and capacity) is founded on a mistaken idea of how to measure winning and losing. American leaders, military as well as civilian, are stuck to a model that emphasizes control of territory. Russian military thinking is different. Its emphasis is on the destruction of the enemy’s forces, by whatever strategy is suited to the prevailing conditions. Then, in command of the battlefield, they can work their will.”

    “In the U.S., the strongest collective memory of America’s wars of choice is the desirability – and ease – of forgetting them. So it will be when we look at a ruined Ukraine in the rear-view mirror, writes Michael Brenner.”

  • Andrew_W

    Questioner, in the ancient world the destruction of the capacity to fight and the destruction of the opposing civilian population were indeed widely used as strategies to gain victory, and indeed the Russian leadership today does place emphasis on those strategies. While in the West we see minimizing the destruction, especially of civilian populations, as laudable goals.
    You might see the more bloody ancient and present Russian way of achieving victory as desirable, most in the west doen’t, perhaps you’re working for the Russian leadership.

  • pzatchok

    The Russian(old Soviet) military leadership only sees one thing.
    As long as they are still in control of the military in Russia their philosophy and doctrines are winning. They have not lost.
    Even though in all other areas of the world those very same weapons, doctrines and structures have lost totally. China learned and changed. Russia not so much.

    Even though they have NEVER been attacked by the west they still claim they are winning a battle that has not yet happened.
    That is like claiming a sports victory long before the game is played.

    Lets look at Vietnam and North Korea.
    Both nations were fully financed and supplied by the Soviet Union and China. Even to the extent that we had to directly fight Chinese and Russian pilots over those skies.
    Yes the communists won both, sort of. But only because the western nations did not want a full on WW3.
    The old Soviet union and now Russian rely on this doctrine to stop the west from directly confronting them and possibly starting a WW3.

    Politically the shoe is now on the other foot. The Russians are on the aggressor side and the defenders are being supplied by the west. Its that view alone that will allow the west to keep supplying the Ukraine for the next ten years.
    Is Russia willing to actually force this into a direct and full conflict with NATO?

    What would the full and united might of the NATO forces do to the western side of Russia if pushed to it?
    Nuclear war? Russia will be the only ones firing those weapons off. And that would be the straw that breaks the camels back so to speak.

  • David K

    When Nikki Haley becomes president, I suspect that she will draft Elon Musk to lead the new cyber force and put one million armed Tesla bots with machine gun arms in Ukraine. No boots on the ground, they won’t need boots.

  • It’s hindsight, and was likely impossible, I know … but if we had insisted that the post-USSR Russia had established, as a primary and mandatory principle of their governance, respect for the life and liberty of their own people as the price of admission to the rest of global civilization, they would not be posing this threat.

    Nations that make respect for individual rights the Prime Directive of their governance, are not inclined to threaten other nations with the loss of theirs.

    Recently, America has posed more of a threat to others – though not exhibiting the totalitarian expansionism exhibited by Russia and China – by placing the aspirations of an elite few (inside and outside this nation) who Know Better™ and Care More™ over respect for those rights. Fortunately, we have not totally lost that respect. God help this world if and when we do.

    Putin, Xi and the Davosie … they all need to lose.

    They start losing, when we stop deferring to them as the Pedestaled Elite and take back our individual decision-making authority.

  • Questioner

    Weeb Union: “Russias impenetrable line”

  • Questioner

    The Ultimate Dissolution of NATO | Col. Larry Wilkerson

    Col. (ret.) Lawrence Wilkerson’s last positions in government were as Secretary of State Colin Powell’s Chief of Staff (2002-05), Associate Director of the State Department’s Policy Planning staff under the directorship of Ambassador Richard N. Haass, and member of that staff responsible for East Asia and the Pacific, political-military and legislative affairs (2001-02).

    Before serving at the State Department, Wilkerson served 31 years in the U.S. Army. During that time, he was a member of the faculty of the U.S. Naval War College (1987 to 1989), Special Assistant to General Powell when he was Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (1989-93), and Director and Deputy Director of the U.S. Marine Corps War College at Quantico, Virginia (1993-97). Wilkerson retired in 1997 and began work as an advisor to General Powell. He has also taught national security affairs at the George Washington University and is currently working on a book about the first George W. Bush administration.

  • Questioner: I don’t think you realize this, but your sole method of debate is a reliance on authority and titles. You constantly link to videos of others, citing their credentials. None of this ever addresses directly any point anyone else ever makes, one to one, in a direct discussion.

    Not tremendously persuasive.

  • Questioner

    Mr. Zimmerman:

    I see my main task as providing the readers of your website with true information about the war in Ukraine, namely information that you are withholding from them. Actually, you should cite exactly these sources and not dubious sources like the ISW.

    But at least with a delay of more than a year, you now seem to be slowly, very slowly, understanding that the Russians are waging a war of attrition against Ukraine and are not primarily – at this point – looking to gain territory on a large scale.

    I provide the sources here so that your readers can make their own judgment. But I want to ask something: Why are you only allowing some of my posts through? Why are you withholding videos from the Honorable Jeffrey Sachs?

  • Questioner: The Sachs link was approved. I am holding nothing back.

    As for your statement that ” the Russians are waging a war of attrition against Ukraine and are not primarily – at this point – looking to gain territory on a large scale,” that’s nice, but it comes after the Russians failed miserably at attempting to conquer all of the Ukraine. It seems that this war of attrition is now a nice rationalization for that failure. It also contradicts Putin’s continuing insistence that the final goal is to conquer the Ukraine.

  • Max

    The average life expectancy of Ukrainian sent to the front is about a half an hour, one in 10 return. Mercenaries hired to fight are fleeing in great numbers across the border.
    Russia claims huge numbers are surrendering after witnessing all the bodies left on the battlefield to rot(Russians are using drones to spot and target anything that moves and destroys it from 20 miles away)

    The first casualty of war is the truth, none of us should believe anything we’re being told. Unfortunately rumors, that could be true, are being acted upon.

    NATO has unofficially entered the war.–russia-claims-to-have-caught-german-soldiers-in-captured-leopard-tank.SkMs_e1gea.html

    Russia is being pushed into a corner, agreements and treaties with Russia are being broken as NATO advances on all sides. Can nuclear war be far away? There is no city in America that Russia cannot hit.
    An invasion of military aged men from China and Venezuela are coming across the border with nothing to lose. 2.4 million this year surpassing all of last year. The government shuts down at the end of this week, border patrols will cease… Congress was sent home for a good long weekend.
    Be ready for the unexpected, extra batteries may not be enough.

  • Questioner

    No, Mr. Zimmerman,

    You are completely wrong. It was never Putin’s plan to conquer all of Ukraine. His army, with which his operation began in February 2022, was far too small for that. There were about 150,000 men, if I remembered correctly. Putin hoped that this threatening gesture alone would bring down the Kiev regime. He was obviously wrong on this point, as we know, that didn’t happen. It then took a few months for the Russian army to adjust to these situation and reposition itself. Meanwhile, Russia had withdrawn from areas that it could not hold with the small army size at the time (Kharkov and Kherson areas).

    These apparent “successes” by Ukraine had created a false impression in the West about the real strength of the Ukrainian army, now in its third iteration. The previous versions have already been destroyed by Russia, resulting in several hundred thousand dead Ukrainian soldiers, which can be confirmed, among other things, by the analysis of satellite images with regard to fresh graves.

    A lot has happened since the Russians’ strategic partial withdrawal in March (Northern Ukraine) and September (Kherson) 2022 and the Russian army now significantly exceeds the Ukrainian army in the number of soldiers and equipment (the Russian advantage in artillery was always enormous), although not even all of the available men have been deployed yet. Russia dominates the battlefield and uses its style of warfare to crush the Ukrainian opponent, who has to accept enormous losses.

    NATO as a whole is also unable to produce the amount of ammunition that Ukraine would need to at least keep up with Russia. That’s a fact. Here Russia benefits from the fact that, unlike the West, it has retained its domestic industry. North Korea will also deliver several million rounds of 152 mm artillery shells to Russia.

    At this point in time, Ukraine has already inevitably lost the war, this is the unanimous opinion of many men of intelligence, experience and foresight such as Col Macgregor, Jeffrey Sachs, Mearsheimer, etc.

  • Questioner: I think I will let my many readers comment and respond to your claims here. I think it will be amusing to watch.

  • Questioner

    In this dramatic video, Mr. Sachs reports, among other things, how the USA has actively prevented a negotiated peace on several occasions. The last time was in March 2022, when negotiations between Russia and Ukraine with the help of Turkey were already well advanced. Such efforts were stopped by the US many years before the war began and diplomatic solutions have been suppressed by the US government since 2014 until today.

    Jeffrey Sachs Interview – The US and Ukraine – A Deeper Look

  • Questioner

    Prof. John J. Mearsheimer: Who Really Started Ukraine War?

    Judge Napolitano (Judging Freedom) interviews Prof. John J. Mearsheimer to this topic

  • Questioner

    Zelensky’s star is falling.

    Sky News Australia reports: ‘Catastrophically stupid’: Andrew Bolt unleashes on Justin Trudeau for Nazi incident

    Sky News host Andrew Bolt has slammed Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and House of Commons Speaker Anthony Rota for celebrating a Nazi soldier in parliament.

    The Ukrainian man who served in a Nazi (SS) unit during World War II received a standing ovation in the Canadian parliament.

    “What a disaster, because Russia is already crowing about this,” Mr Bolt said.

    “They’ve been saying that Ukraine is dominated by Nazis and fascists and all that.”

    Speaker Rota took full responsibility for the oversight and has since resigned from his role.

  • Questioner

    Mr. Zimmerman, are you learning something by this scandal?

    The Hill: “Canada Top’s Military General REFUSES To Apologize For Nazi Standing Ovation: Report”

  • Milt

    Strangely enough, Robert’s observations about the Ukrainian war becoming a World War I type stalemate seem to be echoed by the New York Times:

    Even stranger, their analysis seems to be completely at odds with all of the happy talk coming from the Biden Administration and its supporters. Is this another “Et tu, Brute?” moment for China Joe?

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