It’s All Over But the Shooting— Russia has Lost the Fight It Itself Picked
It’s looking more and more like Russia isn’t just losing the elective war it decided to start in Ukraine, but has in fact already lost it.
Russia just doesn’t know it yet, because its heart and its brain (if it even possesses either) are disconnected from its limbs, which are flailing around, spraying blood from the place where extremities used to be. It’s just a matter of time now before it loses consciousness and expires.
Despite the paucity of reporting from the frontline, you can see kind of a general outline starting to emerge:
- Despite amassing all its forces in the eastern part of the country, Russia has barely made any progress. It kind of looked like it was advancing in places, but progress has been glacially slow at best. Ukraine may even be starting to roll back those gains. What there is no sign of in any of the informal reporting is a clear, sustained takeover of Ukrainian-held territory in the Donbas.
- Ukrainian forces continue to destroy Russian armor with incredibly precise artillery and drone strikes. I acknowledge that we aren’t seeing a representative sample of both sides’ fighting, but what I can say is: I’ve seen a lot of documented success on the Ukrainian side.
- Ukraine is striking targets you would think would be safe. How humiliating is it for Russia to be losing assets across the border in Russia? Russia has lost maritime assets (Ukraine has no navy). Ukraine hasn’t just sunk Russia’s battleship — it bombed Russia’s installation on the island that that very battleship told to surrender or die.
- Russia still hasn’t subdued all of Mariupol, and even worse for Putin — they keep trying. How much materiel has Russia wasted on Azovstal after Putin told his forces to seal it off and stop trying to storm it? An intelligent army would contain it and move on. Not Russia! It just keeps bombing away, when those bombs could presumably do a whole lot more good in the Donbas. And just what does it mean that the military is ignoring Putin’s publicly stated order to stop attacking the plant and seal it up so tight that not even a fly can escape? My theory: the chain of command is just that undisciplined, which is a pretty fatal flaw for executing effective strategy.
- Ukraine is getting intelligence and arms from other countries. Look at what they’ve done with pea shooters and Soviet munitions. Now they’re getting NATO gear. Lordy.
- Russia keeps losing generals.
It is a disaster in every way imaginable. I am no expert in the history of warfare, but I can’t imagine an aggressor has ever fared worse than Russia has in this, a war of its own choosing. It chose the place and the time. It should have had every advantage, and it is losing even worse than I could have ever imagined.
Russia has no good options for saving face. What once seemed inconceivable seems entirely possible now: Ukraine could chase Russia right out of every corner of Ukraine all the way through Crimea. None of that would surprise me now.
That leads me to the scary question waiting on the far side of a Russian defeat: what will Putin do in anger or frustration? What will his enablers be tempted to do? These are not rational men. If they were, they never would have attacked in the first place, and they would have found a way out of this mess after the horrific losses their army suffered in the failed attempt to take Kiev.