I don’t know what the Russians are going to do in Ukraine and neither does anyone else outside of their high command. But there sure have been a lot of wrong predictions. Leaving aside the Western propaganda mill (of which more below), serious observers seem to get the timing wrong. We know the correlation of forces favors Russia but we expect things to happen more quickly. We agree that Moscow was expecting something shorter, less bloody and quicker at the beginning and was probably surprised by the resistance of the Kiev regime and NATO’s unhinged support. Therefore there was a re-examination and the call-up of further forces. Thus far we are in agreement – it’s the timing of the next step that we seem to get wrong.
I’ve been thinking about why this is so and I have come to the following conclusions. By now everybody who is paying attention knows that the Ukraine battlefield is part of a world war in which those who control the US empire are trying to hold onto their dominance. For those outside the NATO propaganda bubble there is general agreement that
- Russia is winning both in the Ukraine battlefield and the wider theater.
- Time is on Russia’s side.
First the Ukraine battlefield. The first aim in war is to destroy the enemy’s power and that Russia is doing, especially in the Bakhmut slaughterhouse. Kiev is determined to stand and fight here and the Russians are quite happy to let them do so – “artillery conquers and infantry occupies” – and that is what we see here. Slowly slowly the Russian forces advance over mountains of Ukrainian bodies. In the last week or so Russian forces have begun to advance on other fronts too. This grinding away can continue until Ukraine collapses because it is easier for the Russians to let the enemy come to them than go after them. Meanwhile Russian missiles destroy the infrastructure Kiev needs to continue the war. Time and developments favor Russia and there is no incentive to make “big arrow” movements.
On the bigger war the sanctions that were supposed to have crushed Russia have boomeranged and we have headlines like “Inflation in Europe is falling but food prices are rising” and hypothermia deaths in England. Inflation is falling because demand is falling and demand is falling because businesses are stopping because of the price of fuel. Germany’s PMI is declining. No one (except the bubble dwellers in NATO) should be surprised – you sanctioned the biggest energy exporter, biggest grain exporter and a big exporter of potash, did you expect prices to go down? Everything needs energy and everybody needs food. NATO unity wobbles with Turkey, Sweden and Finland. Hungary officially notices the sufferings of Hungarians in Ukraine. Partitioning Ukraine was contemplated. Macron suspects the US is intentionally weakening its European allies. Did Washington just sucker Berlin into going first – when exactly will the Abrams get there? NATO is now breaking into its active stocks (Estonia joins Denmark in sending all its artillery). (And, not that anybody is asking, who blew up Nord Stream?) Riots and protests all over Europe. What’s happening in Kiev? The longer this goes on the weaker Russia’s enemies become. So in the big war, time and developments favor Russia and there is no incentive to make “big arrow” movements.
Therefore Russia should keep doing what it’s doing and hold the big force in reserve – no reason to change anything – it’s attritting its enemies.
How crazy will NATO get? Its strategy is a total failure. “Crippling sanctions” haven’t collapsed the Russian economy, overthrown Putin or made the population rise up. Just the opposite – when even the Economist has to admit Russia “did a lot better than expected” you know it’s actually thriving. The wonder weapons – Bayraktars, Javelins, M777s, HIMARS, Gepards, Patriots and now tanks – have done nothing but prolong Ukraine’s suffering and make Wagner and Akhmat Sila into the best urban fighters in the world. What next? Can NATO reverse itself? Can it survive another defeat? Or, as Larry wonders, drive straight into the Grand Canyon? What new lunacy will it come up with when the tanks fail? (Can you imagine how unhinged the refrigerator babblers will become if these things work? CNN worries – “Think of the propaganda victory for Russian President Vladimir Putin if pictures emerge of disabled American tanks on a Ukrainian battlefield.”)
Therefore, I believe that the Russian high command is in a continual decision loop. Every morning it considers whether to continue the present strategy or start the “big arrow” move to bring it to an end before NATO does something irretrievably stupid. It’s a careful balancing process.
In short, the Russian high command will keep doing what it’s doing and hold back the reserve until it decides that the moment has come to end it. And that’s a decision that only it can make based on information that only it can know.
So, maybe the “big arrow” offensive starts tomorrow or maybe it doesn’t ever need to be started.