It has been a year since the Russians began the process of shifting from a limited military operation to a full-scale war. After the Ukrainians withdrew from settlement talks in Turkey, the Russians realized the West was in it is for the long haul, so they had to adjust to this new reality. The first thing they did was appoint General Sergey Surovikin to take control of military operations in Ukraine. Then came a mobilization of 300,000 additional forces to support the war in the Ukraine.
What followed was a campaign of missile attacks on Ukrainian power plants, rail hubs and strategic infacilities. Then came the mass use of UAVs to overwhelm Ukrainian air defense systems. This was all part of the general shift from a quick conflict aimed at a negotiated settlement to a long grinding war of attrition. The purpose of this new Russian strategy was to slowly destroy Ukraine’s ability to conduct offensive operations with an eye on eventually destroying their military.
A year into this new war, the results are close to what many predicted when the Russians shifted to this model. The West lacks to military industrial capacity for this sort of warfare, so the supply of weapons to Ukraine has declined. Meanwhile, the Russians degraded Ukrainian air defenses to the point where they can now stage constant air raids on Ukrainian supply lines. The long talked about Ukrainian offensive has been indefinitely delayed as a result of these attacks.
It is hard to know what is happening inside Ukraine due to the tsunami of propaganda from the media and the volunteer army of regime toadies online. Trivial events are rolled up into glorious narratives that have no bearing on reality. When the Wagner forces captured the remaining high-rises in the city of Bakhmut, Western sources reported that Ukraine was staging a counter attack to encircle them. In reality the Ukrainians were simply staging a fighting retreat from their positions.
That said, it is becoming clear that the Ukrainians are in trouble militarily and the end may be closer than many realize. For starters, Zelensky now spends most of his time outside the country. Some have speculated that he thinks the end could come at any minute and would prefer to be elsewhere when it happens. For over a year he was doing zoom sessions from his bunker to entertain Western media. Over the last month he has found any reason to be outside the country.
General Zaluzhnyi, the man in charge of the Ukrainian army, has been mysteriously absent for over a month. One short video of him was released, after the Ukrainians put out a series of fake stories about his whereabouts. The man in charge of the defense of Bakhmut has also been keeping an unusually low profile. As with Zaluzhnyi, General Oleksandr Syrskyi was fond of entertaining Western media. Over the last month he has not made any media appearances.
Then there is the new tactic by the Ukrainians of launching drone attacks against civilian targets inside Russia. The first attack was a month ago that targeted the Kremlin before the big Russian holiday. Then there was the very weird attack on a border village with Ukrainians pretending to be anti-Putin Russian militants, using American equipment to stage an uprising. Last weekend, there was a wave of primitive drones sent at Moscow, with a few striking apartment buildings.
Of course, the weirdest thing to happen recently is the long running hype about a Ukrainian counter-offensive that was due a few months ago. It was supposedly set for March, but then was delayed due to weather. Then it was delayed until early May due to logistics and then delayed again for unknown reasons. Meanwhile the Russians have intensified their attacks on Ukrainian supply lines. Maybe one has to do with the other, but no one seems to be interested in the answer.
Maybe this is all 4-D chess, but the parsimonious answer is that things are starting to unravel in Ukraine. A year of increasing Russian attacks on Ukraine’s military industrial system has degraded their ability to fight. Two months ago General Milley said Ukrainian air defenses were near collapse. A couple of weeks ago a New Yorker pieced confirmed speculation that Ukraine was short of ammunition. The spike in Russian air activity over Ukraine suggests they now control the skies.
The weird behavior of Ukrainian leadership and the decline in activity by the Ukrainian military suggests their capacity to fight is critically low. The sudden use of insurgent-style tactics, championed by Kyrylo Budanov, head of Ukrainian intelligence, may signal a shift in Ukraine in response to reality on the ground. What Zelensky and his generals may be preparing for is something like what happened in Iraq. The military collapses, but in a way gives rise to an organized insurgency.
This may be the final play by Washington. The neocons have been circulating a Korean-style end to the war. The Russians keep and hold their positions and the Ukrainians, with Western support, hold their positions. There is no logical reason for the Russians to accept something they have for something they do not want. If they keep fighting, they will soon break the spirit of the Ukrainian army and prevent the West from resupplying them with new weapons.
On the other hand, if Washington turns the west of Ukraine into a launching pad for Ukrainian terrorist attacks on Russia, maybe the Kremlin is willing to consider a deal similar to the Korean solution. There is history for this. In the Second World War Ukrainian nationalist worked with the Nazis to attack Russia. Today’s Ukrainian nationalist consider Stepan Bandera, the leader of the nationalists during the war, as a hero and example to follow.
This shift would have several benefits. One it would give Washington an excuse for not dealing with the issue. Useful idiots like Lyndsey Graham could be counted on to call the terrorists “freedom fighters” as he did with ISIS. It would reduce the cost to Washington, as terrorism can be funded at a fraction of a land war. Primarily, it would require Russia to keep fighting after the Ukrainian army was defeated. You can see the appeal of this to the neocons.
It is unlikely that the Russians would accept a Korean-style partitioning of Ukraine, if it means NATO operating in the rest of Ukraine. The neocons probably assume this, so they will move ahead with their insurgency plan. Since this will no doubt spill into EU countries like Poland and Germany, which have millions of Ukrainian refugees now, this has the added benefit of keeping Europe dependent on Washington. Terrorist chaos on the border of Europe is good for the neocon cause.
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