NATO says Ukraine is a new ‘Afghanistan’ for Russia. However, a closer look at the situation reveals that NATO is being sucked into a conflict that it can’t win and that could shatter the alliance.
Earlier this week, Ukrainian leader and comedian Vladimir Zelensky visited the front lines in the separatist Donbass region that Ukrainian forces have occupied and tried to subjugate since 2014. Egged on by his NATO handlers, Zelensky called for no compromise with the Russian and rebel Donbass armies. He wants total victory and to push the Russians to the old border as in 2014.
While Russian aviation and artillery have overwhelming superiority, Zelensky somehow was able to visit the front. I’m not disputing that he was there. I am simply bewildered why the Russians didn’t take a swipe at Zelensky, at least to scare him. It’s almost as if Moscow wants him alive and in good condition.
Every day I review and study battlefield reports, videos and maps from both sides in the conflict. In the past 100 days, Russia has pushed the Donbass front line forward only a few miles. In contrast, Russia needed just a few weeks to take huge areas of the Kherson and Zaporozhye regions in (formerly) southern Ukraine. So why are things moving so slowly in Donbass?
First, thanks to NATO’s advisors, over the past 8 years the Ukrainian Armed Forces (UAF) have dug in and built formidable fortifications in Donbass, and they’ve committed their best troops to the rebel region. Ok, fair enough. But why can’t the Russians outflank and encircle the UAF? (See map below).
The second problem is that the UAF uses Donbass civilians as ‘human shields’. The UAF often takes up firing positions in schools, hospitals, shopping centers, grain silos and apartment buildings; trying to draw Russian fire on those positions in order then to scream of “war crimes”. We saw that happen in Mariupol, which is why the city suffered so much. (By the way, using civilians as ‘human shields’ is a war crime).
Still, despite those two factors, let’s look at the map below. The red is controlled by Russia and the light blue by Ukraine. Mixed red and blue stripes are contested. Shouldn’t it be possible for Russia to smash through the UAF’s rear and encircle it?
Why hasn’t Russia done that? Could the reason be something very unexpected and shocking? I might be wrong, and this is just my theory, but I have the impression that Russia wants to suck NATO into a slow and grinding war in Ukraine. I mean, doesn’t the configuration of the Donbass front line look like a perfect trap?
Next, look at the map below. You see Slovyansk? It’s a top UAF bastion in Donbass. If the Russians took that city, then the entire Ukrainian line would collapse. Also, Russian troops are already south of Izyum — 16 miles from Slovyansk. They’ve been there for two months. Why not push down the M03 motorway and take Slovyansk?
In Mariupol, even though the UAF used the local ethnic Russians as ‘human shields’, the Russian army pushed forward and took that city in a month. (Yes, there were high civilian casualties, tragically. But the neo-Nazi Azov Battalion had to be subdued.) Now, once again, my question — why aren’t the Russians in a rush to take Slovyansk?
Thanks to western sanctions, global energy prices are high, and Russia is reaping record profits. In fact, western sanctions aren’t hurting Russia as planned, which only further frustrates and enrages NATO leaders. Overall, Russia’s macro-economic indicators are solid, better than the heavily-indebted West that is plagued by high inflation. Russia could potentially fight this war for a few years; the West cannot.
I doubt the West can fight this war beyond the autumn, without suffering excessive economic damage that could turn into political defeat for ruling parties. Remember — important elections will be held in the U.S. in November, and Biden very much wants to brag that he “stopped Vladimir Putin”.
Also, let’s look at this war from Russia’s vantage point. The Kremlin understands that it’s a fight for survival. Biden and NATO have stated clearly that they want to crush Russia. In the past week, influential pro-Biden media, such as Bloomberg, have called for destroying Russia and breaking it up into a dozen republics.
While this plan is not new, previously it was only whispered in the halls of power; not in major media. (I personally heard about this in 2016 from people at the Atlantic Council, an influential D.C. think tank that’s leading the fight against Russia).
Well, Russia won’t be destroyed. Zelensky’s desperate rants are promoted by powerful western PR companies and without any critical analysis from the media. Zelensky and his handlers have created their own bizarre parallel universe that sadly many in the West believe. But in reality, Russia can attack and destroy NATO weapons well before they reach the battlefield. Those shipments must travel 1,450 km from Ukraine’s border with Poland to Donbass. They’re vulnerable.
Moscow wants to deal Biden and NATO a humiliating defeat in Ukraine. And it seems that Moscow is even goading NATO and its Ukrainian proxies: “Go ahead, keep sending men and weapons into the Donbass ‘cauldron’; we can deal with whatever you send; we’ll bog you down in a war on our border that you can’t win.”
NATO is committing a vast amount of weapons and money to defeat Russia. Again, if NATO doesn’t achieve its goals in Ukraine then political and social upheaval will follow at home. EU and American citizens are paying a heavy economic price for NATO’s war against Russia — runaway inflation and deteriorating living standards.
Biden and NATO are betting all their ‘chips’ on Russia’s ‘defeat’. Meanwhile, in reality, the UAF has little ability to stage a successful counteroffensive, let alone hold its line against the slow but steady Russian advance. Along the way, the Russians are capturing a lot of NATO weapons. Russian soldiers often post humorous videos of American weapons and mock Biden by ‘thanking’ him.
If Zelensky’s regime truly cared about Ukraine, then it would negotiate peace. If Europe and the U.S. truly wanted peace in Eastern Europe, then it would force Zelensky to recognize the right of Donbass and Crimea to choose their own destiny.
By the way, Crimea’s and Donbass’ yearning for independence from Ukraine is called the “right of self-determination”. The concept was promoted in 1918 by U.S. President Woodrow Wilson (a Democrat) in regard to the new countries of Central Europe.
Since 1918, the “right of self-determination” has been a fundamental principle of international law accepted by the global community. It is not subject to discussion. The only question that needs to be answered is: Why does the West think that Donbass and Crimea aren’t allowed this right. But that’s a topic for another day.
We are witnessing a great tragedy. Two predominantly Slavic nations with a common history and culture are fighting each other in a brutal war. In the end, however, geography can’t be changed — Russia and Ukraine are neighbors and must learn to live with each other. Eventually they’ll have to make peace.
At the same time, Moscow will never tolerate a hostile NATO in Ukraine. Over the past 800 years, the Teutonic Knights tried, the Poles tried, the Swedes tried, Napoleon tried, and of course, the Nazis tried. All of them tried to invade and defeat Russia.
The result was always the same — absolute and total failure. But Biden and NATO think they can buck this trend. They will soon see…