In my last essay, I argued that the war between Russia and Ukraine was likely to turn into a stalemate because the Ukrainians had already picked most of the low-hanging fruit in terms of counteroffensives, the Russians had at least temporarily solved their manpower problem with mobilization and both sides were going to reduce the intensity of their operations due to a lack of ammunition for some critical weapon systems, although things were more worrisome for Ukraine especially in the long-run. But I did some more digging and it made me a bit more optimistic about Ukraine’s prospects. There are also recent developments that portend well for Ukraine, although I think many people exaggerate their significance. So I wanted to write a post-scriptum to that essay in which I will explain how my views have changed. I will keep this relatively short, at least by my standards, if only because I came down with a bad case of flu that took me down for most of last week and I’m still recovering. Given my tendency to write very long essays, maybe some of you will come to wish that I caught the flu more often. As always when I talk about military stuff, keep in mind that I’m no military expert and that I’m learning as I go to make sense of the war, so it’s entirely possible that some of the things I say are mistaken.
Both of these pieces included an impressive compilation of open source info, including numbers, and I agree the expectation of stalemate is the most likely outcome. One thing I’d add is the possible effects of Iranian drones and missiles, which will exacerbate Ukraine’s air defense problem. There are of course ways to deal with that issue too--electronic countermeasures, more AA guns, etc--but the constant move-countermove dynamic contributes to stalemate as an outcome. Offensive ops require a serious margin of advantage in effectiveness, and it’s hard for me to see either side obtaining it.
“ the rate of consumption in that war has made NATO members realize their inventories needed to be much higher in case of a large-scale conflict”
I’m confused about that part - who would the conflict be with? NATO vs Russia, where Russia directly attacks the EU? That’s basically WW3 and nothing will matter except nukes. Russia invading some other non-NATO country? Something else?
My own view is that Russia is fucked unless it uses nukes.
I can't see Ukraine ever running out of manpower, equipment, or morale as long as the west supports it. And I don't think the west will ever stop supporting it.
That doesn't mean that Russia should use nukes. I guess it depends on how Putin views the war. Maybe he should just give up a leave, swallow his pride so he doesn't destroy the world. Either way he might as well get busy living or get busy dying.
And obviously I personally hope Russia doesn't use nukes, and wanting to avoid that is why I (futility) wish we would stop supporting Ukraine.
I know there are people who think they could punish or defeat Putin if he uses nukes. Maybe if he does it really dumb, which I wouldn't put past him. But if he just irradiated every transport node in Ukraine and irradiated any base in NATO that launches a strike against Russia, WTF are we going to do? Climb the escalatory ladder until the whole world is destroyed? To determine if Kiev or Moscow incompetently rules over some destroy villages in the Donbass?
Madness, utter madness.