Is Joe Biden, on the eve of the NATO Summit in Vilnius, trying out for a part in the musical, GREASE?
Shanga, shanga, waddle di doodle wop?
Ukraine’s attempt at a Hail Mary (the football play not the Catholic prayer) victory by seizing swaths of territory from the Russians is a failure. The Russians have intercepted every move and Ukraine’s negligible advances are counted in single digit kilometers along with piles of Ukrainian corpses and burned out hulks of Western supplied tanks and armored personnel carriers.
Yet the West is struggling to come to grips with the reality and persist in peddling the delusion of a stalemate. Samuel Charap, a senior Political Scientist at Rand Corporation, wrote a piece published in Foreign Affairs on June 5 that grudgingly conceded the war in Ukraine is “Unwinnable.” But he only got it half-right. He wrote:
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 was a moment of clarity for the United States and its allies. An urgent mission was before them: to assist Ukraine as it countered Russian aggression and to punish Moscow for its transgressions. While the Western response was clear from the start, the objective — the endgame of this war — has been nebulous.
But it is now time that the United States develop a vision for how the war ends. Fifteen months of fighting has made clear that neither side has the capacity — even with external help — to achieve a decisive military victory over the other. Regardless of how much territory Ukrainian forces can liberate, Russia will maintain the capability to pose a permanent threat to Ukraine. The Ukrainian military will also have the capacity to hold at risk any areas of the country occupied by Russian forces-and to impose costs on military and civilian targets within Russia itself.
Charap is a prime example of the failings of political science as a “science.” He ignores the evidence that Russia, unlike Ukraine, has enormous capacity to achieve a decisive military victory over not only Ukraine, but NATO. Ukraine and NATO are running out of artillery shells, cruise missiles, tanks and combat air craft. More importantly, Ukraine is drained of competent, trained soldiers that can operate those weapon systems.
The situation for Russia is the exact opposite. With each passing day Russia’s trained manpower increases along with soaring production of tanks, hypersonic missiles, artillery shells, mortars and drones. Russia is degrading Ukraine’s combat capability and has not yet launched its own offensive using the full weight of the Russian ground and air forces.
NATO has not stomach to let Ukraine join its club. Germany, along with denouncing Biden’s decision to supply cluster munitions to Kiev, declared that any decision about Ukraine joining should be postponed. Hungary and Bulgaria also have signaled their opposition to letting Ukraine get membership status. France is on fire and Macron does not appear to have the political heft to advocate for Ukraine and the pro-Kiev government in the Netherlands is kaput:
The Dutch government has collapsed after failing to reach an agreement on curbing immigration. Prime Minister Mark Rutte said Friday that his government would tender its resignation to the Dutch king, triggering new elections to be held in the fall.
Russia has little incentive to entertain a negotiated end to the war that does not include Ukraine surrendering Odessa. The biggest obstacle is that no country in NATO has the political clout and credibility that Putin can trust to deliver a viable agreement. Turkey did itself no favors with Russia by violating the agreement to hold AZOV leaders until the end of hostilities and calling for Ukraine to be admitted to NATO. Erdogan released the captives back to Kiev, where they received a heroes welcome from Zelensky. I think this further poisons the well for any serious negotiations. Russia’s experience with the Minsk I and II agreement has convinced Putin and his national security team that the West is an untrustworthy partner.