If the Western media are to be believed, Russian forces are being decimated while the Ukrainian army is inexorably advancing towards victory. However, a more sober view of reality paints a different picture.
Russia is never as strong or as weak as it seems, and in this sense the US-Russian war being fought over Ukrainian territory, with Ukraine providing the dead and Europe the economic suicide, can be summarized as the war in which both sides underestimated the enemy.
The first to underestimate the enemy was Russia. Indeed, its initial blitzkrieg, whose aim was never to conquer Ukraine but to break the Ukrainian will to fight and intimidate its government to achieve a quick capitulation, failed when it met with unsuspected resistance. The biggest surprise was a belligerent Europe that facilitated massive arms deliveries and agreed to wildly self-harming sanctions. Putin certainly did not count on the EU’s suicide (nor Ukraine’s).
As can be deduced from the initial small number of troops sent to the theater of operations, the Russian strategy was not focused on consolidating territorial gains but on weakening the offensive capacity of the Ukrainian army and seeking its surrender with as little fighting as possible (Sun Tzu: “the supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting”).
Initially Ukrainian capitulation would have likely implied not joining NATO, respecting the Minsk Agreements signed under the auspices of France, Germany and the OSCE on the autonomy of the Donbass (breached by Ukraine, with US support) and accepting as fait accompli the bloodless annexation of Crimea by Russia. Let us remember that in the last 250 years Crimea always belonged to Russia and only passed to Ukraine in 1954 as an internal administrative gift from Khrushchev within the USSR itself.
Putin was – and perhaps still is – counting on a change of government in Ukraine. The key then was to distinguish between the Ukrainian people and the “Kiev regime” and to minimize civilian casualties in a Slavic country labeled as “brotherly”, avoiding indiscriminate bombardments or the destruction of urban centers as far as possible.
Thus, contrary to what the Western media claimed, Russia never entered Ukraine in blood and fire or with a strategy of shock and awe – as the US did in Iraq and Afghanistan, for example, or Russia itself in the second Chechen War.
Even now that it has begun to show that it can destroy in a few days a significant part of Ukraine’s civilian infrastructure (and that if it had not done so until now it was because it did not want to), Russia has continued to use precision bombing. It does so not out of humanity, but out of strategy.
If Russia underestimated its adversary at the beginning of the conflict, the US has underestimated the capacity of Russian resistance to its battery of sanctions.
Indeed, the sanctions imposed by the USA (United ‘Sanctions’ of America) and by the EU, in their tail-wagging, dog-like obedience to the American master, have not led to the collapse of the Russian economy. Despite the illegal freezing of its foreign exchange reserves (a dangerous precedent), Russia expects to have a recession of only 3% of GDP, its inflation remains at 12% (lower than that of half of the EU countries), its unemployment rate is around 4%, its expected budget deficit is 2% of GDP with a public debt of 12% of GDP and the ruble is still higher than at the beginning of the war.
These damages can be described as slight and the arsenal of sanctions is already exhausted: Russia continues to sell its raw materials to the rest of the world that has not supported the West in this conflict (90% of the world’s population), and Russian companies are buying at bargain prices the assets that Western companies are forced to abandon by political imperative.
The other objective was to weaken Putin and bring about regime change, a specialty as American as the hamburger. However, Putin remains hugely popular in Russia, where support for the “special military operation” exceeds 72% even after the mobilization. The xenophobic Russophobia set in motion by the West seems to have served to galvanize such support.
In conclusion, both the economic sanctions (which have done far more harm to Europe than to Russia) and the hope that the Russian autocrat would be ousted have failed.
Where do we stand in the war now? The casualty figures acknowledged by both sides are unreliable, and the Russian casualty “estimates” provided by Western authorities should be taken with skepticism, as they are offered purely for propaganda purposes.
This is not new. When during World War II Germany overwhelmed British troops in Yugoslavia and Greece in 1941, British newspapers wanted to soften the effect of the defeat on public opinion by implying that the Germans had paid a very high price for their victory.
Thus, they “estimated” German losses at more than a quarter of a million men, while the British government reduced the figure to “about 75,000”. Statistics later showed that the Germans had suffered barely 5,000 casualties. That is how coarse wartime propaganda is.
With the same skepticism we have to take the string of grotesque media claims: the mass demonstrations in Russia against the war, the extreme weakness of the Russian army (which contradicts the also ridiculous claim that Russia intended to conquer half of Eastern Europe after Ukraine) or the cancer and Parkinson’s disease of a Putin mentally affected by covid isolation (an icy KGB colonel losing his mind for “isolating” himself between the Kremlin Palace and his dachas!)
Also falling into the same puerile category would be the always evil characterization of the Russians versus the saintliness of the Ukrainians, the possibility of using chemical or nuclear weapons, and a long etcetera, a string of nonsense that, precisely because it is nonsense, gets the enthusiastic support of journalists.
The potential use of a “tactical” nuclear weapon, recently recycled, does not make much sense. Before that, we would see carpet bombing and the reduction to rubble of entire cities to undermine Ukrainian will to fight.
Besides, nuclear missiles are not usually dropped just on the other side of the fence, i.e. next to your border, nor against a “brotherly” people, nor where your own troops are. They are deterrent weapons against distant enemies and against attacks that pose an existential danger to the country and are much more useful as a threat than as a reality.
In Ukraine the wide fronts oblige to disperse the forces and allow ephemeral victories if one side concentrates them adequately. Even so, they have been more or less stable for months, with the exception of the pyrrhic Ukrainian “counteroffensive” in the north, which managed to gain a few kilometers of depth at the cost of suffering heavy losses, and the Russian withdrawal across the Dnieper River at Kherson, advanced weeks ago by the new Russian commander-in-chief in Ukraine, General Surovikin.
It often seems that Ukraine wants to win the propaganda war rather than the war itself. Russia lost the initiative months ago but seems to have adapted its tactical objectives to a new, more realistic strategy. At this point it is in no hurry and seems to accept the trade-off of losing a little territory in exchange for preserving its troops and methodically “grinding” (sic) the attacking Ukrainian units sent to the slaughter.
With a defensive strategy the Russian army is unbeatable. Moreover, winter is approaching, which in that area means below freezing temperature highs for almost three months in a row, and Russia has always had General Winter on its side. Who has the fuel? How will the Ukrainians cope with the steppe cold?
The failure of Russia’s initial strategy and its slowness to acknowledge it are a thing of the past. Russia has called up 300,000 reservists, although the real figure is known only to them. There has been talk in the West of the logical unpopularity of this draft, but do you think that in Ukraine young people are rushing to enlist in the recruitment centers? What percentage of the Ukrainian people living abroad has returned to their country to defend it?
The brave is beaten by the reckless, the reckless by the unpredictable, and the unpredictable by the implacable. It is impossible to believe in a Russian defeat defined as a retreat to the pre-February borders: if the implacable Putin cannot afford to lose, he will not lose.
Russia enjoys the advantage of proximity, has three times the population of Ukraine, is considered the world’s second largest military power (Ukraine was number 22), has far greater reserves than Ukraine and is far more motivated than its real adversary, the West, which is already suffering from war fatigue.
In addition to General Winter, Russia also has General Inflation on its side and the fragility of the lies on which Western intervention has relied on. In short, Russia is less weak than it appears and Ukraine less strong than we are led to believe. The attack on the Crimean bridge is an example of Ukrainian weakness: it could not attack it with missiles, rockets, planes, or helicopters, but with a pathetic truck bomb.
Let us contemplate for a moment a hypothetical alternative scenario. The peak of Western military aid is long past, and a part of the weapons sent has been lost in the quagmire of Ukrainian corruption to end up in the hands of criminals and terrorists, as Finland has denounced.
Ukrainian troops are exhausted and would have brought all reserves to the front to achieve a minimum victory that would allow them to improve their negotiating position and continue to cultivate the wishful thinking of victory in Western public opinion.
In its own country, the Ukrainian government, probably as corrupt as the previous ones, would find itself between a rock and a hard place. On one side would be those who want peace, horrified at the destruction caused by the immoral folly of the government, a pawn of the USA. On the other would be the fanatical supporters of “victory or death”, whose neo-Nazi past or present perhaps explains Israel’s repeated refusal to help Ukraine.
The new Russian troops, fresh and under a new command, could be massing for a winter counteroffensive that would exhaust the Ukrainian army by breaking its will to fight and defining the new borders. Probably the Dnieper River would mark the border in the south (two thirds of the Kherson region lies to the east of the Dnieper).
The US would be aware of the possibility of a collapse of the Ukrainian front in this scenario and would be pressuring the Ukrainians to negotiate. Simultaneously it could be threatening the Russians with sending ground troops into Ukraine if their counteroffensive is too successful.
To justify to their own public opinion such a dangerous direct involvement, the US government would need a propaganda push like Bucha. They have plenty of practice, from the sinking of the Maine for the Spanish-American War to the Gulf of Tonkin incident for the Vietnam War or the “discovery” of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
This would make sense of Russia’s pre-emptive complaint to the UN about the alleged preparation of a Ukrainian false flag attack with an explosion of radioactive materials for which Russia would be blamed with the usual media hullabaloo.
I do not know whether this will be the real state of affairs or not, for “the art of war is based on deception” (Sun Tzu). In modern times, deception in battle is joined by the constant lie of propaganda, so, as freedom and truth go hand in hand, if we want to preserve our freedom we will have to maintain an axiomatic skepticism towards the official versions of power and the media. After the covid, do you still need to be convinced?
 After Mobilisation, Do Russians Still Support the War? – The Daily Sceptic
 Liddell Hart, Historia de la Segunda Guerra Mundial I, Caralt 2000, p. 159.
 Ukraine attempts to attack, Russia grinds down enemy forces — commander – Military & Defense – TASS
 Kharkiv Climate, Weather By Month, Average Temperature (Ukraine) – Weather Spark
 2022 Military Strength Ranking (globalfirepower.com)
 Finnish Police: Weapons Bound For Ukraine End Up on Europe’s Black Market – The Moscow Times