Another post that should start the chins a-flappin’!
Sarcasm aside this is just a hypothetical…..so please read it as so…..
Ukraine has won the admiration of much of the world in its defense against Russian aggression. Even in the Global South, whose governments have criticized the West’s selective morality and pressure to sanction Moscow, sympathy runs toward Kyiv. However, Russia, despite its botched initial advance, retains substantial military advantages. What if it wins the war?
This is not a popular question in Washington. Kyiv’s stout resistance, unexpectedly symbolized by Volodymyr Zelensky, has created soaring expectations. A combination of factors – Ukrainians fighting for their homeland, Western arms shipments, Moscow’s overconfidence, and other Russian blunders – enabled Kyiv to blunt the initial offensive and defeat Moscow’s drive on Ukraine’s capital.
However, Russia’s disastrous start proved to be merely the first act. Regrouping improved Moscow’s prospects. Vladimir Putin replaced deficient military leadership and shifted forces to concentrate on the Donbass in Ukraine’s east. Low morale and deficient logistics remain problems, and defending Ukrainian forces are well-trained and -motivated. But Russia’s advantages in mass and firepower should not be underestimated.
Although predicting a Russian victory would be foolish given the course of the war so far, an extended stalemate is possible and would constitute a de facto defeat for Ukraine, which is the battleground. Thousands likely have died so far, military personnel and civilians. An estimated 5.2 million Ukrainians have fled to surrounding countries and another 7.1 million people have been displaced internally – in total about 30 percent of the population. The World Bank estimates that the economy will shrink almost in half this year. Ukrainians are facing enormous hardship.
As long as fighting continues, even if limited to Ukraine’s east, these and other disruptions will continue. Those driven from their homes will hesitate to return if missile and air attacks continue and renewed Russian ground operations remain possible. Businesses cannot operate normally even outside of combat zones with territory occupied, safety compromised, and people away.
No one here is pulling for Russia to win this conflict….if we cannot look forward then we will always be looking back and scratching our heads.
War is war…there will be winners and losers….to ignore that fact is just plain silly.
Is there a comparison?
If you’ve been feeling pretty optimistic about Ukraine’s chance of vanquishing Russia, Michael O’Hanlon is here to burst your bubble. O’Hanlon, the Philip H. Knight Chair in Defense and Strategy at the Brookings Institution, allows that Ukraine has “performed amazingly well so far” in a piece for the Hill, but he doesn’t think it’s sustainable for the long term. To illustrate his point, he likens this war to another: the Civil War. O’Hanlon lays out the parallels, starting with the population ratio of the North to the South (taking into account just white settlers) of about 3.5 to 1; that’s in line with the Russia-to-Ukraine population ratio.
The military strength ratios are similar as well. The early battles of the Civil War—he calls out Manassas, Seven Pines, Fredericksburg, and Chancellorsville—were won by the “underdog,” too. The tide began to turn in September 1862 with the Battle of Antietam, writes O’Hanlon, and he shares Ulysses S. Grant’s assessment of the situation: “The enemy have not army enough.” O’Hanlon writes “the Confederacy probably still won more of the battles than it lost—though not all—but not by margin enough to compensate for its disadvantage in size or resources.” Yes, it’s possible that Ukraine could be the underdog exception, but in O’Hanlon’s view, it’s unlikely. He sees the best, if “unpalatable,” outcome as one in which Ukraine likely agrees to give up some of its territory.
(Read the full column, which compares the current situation to two other past invasions.)
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