The losses in manpower and machines of Ukraine have been absolutely enormous. As Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission has recently admitted, at least 100,000 Ukrainian troops have died and just about every military vehicle of importance that Ukraine had prior to February 24th have been destroyed.
Russia is now grinding down the combination of foreign volunteers, young and old men mobilised and barely given a month’s training plus western specialists. Russia has launched up to a dozen new military satellites in recent months which give them eyes on Ukrainian troop movements and potentially precise locations of artillery and large group movements.
The energy production capacity of Ukraine is nearing total degradation and once complete and the ground hard enough Russia will use a 500,000 strong army to sweep all before it in its upcoming winter offensive.
You have to wonder what the Ukrainians are banking on right now. Yes, they can keep throwing men forward, mostly at this point barely trained for a month, usually less. Men up to the age of 70. Women too no doubt. And what will they achieve exactly? They might hold back the highly trained Russian military with its far superior artillery power for a limited period. This is more or less great for that Russian military. Come on while we wait here and fire six times as many shells at you constantly decimating your numbers. Then we will move forward a bit and do the same all over again. This is why the Russian commander and that of Wagner talk respectively of ‘grinding down’ the Ukrainians and putting them through a ‘meat grinder’. So, what exactly can be achieved by Ukraine in these circumstances?
Okay, the USA and others provide greater financial support and more and better weapons. But this hasn’t worked in the past. No matter which supposedly ‘game-changer’ weapons have been given the Ukrainians Russia still manages to grind on. This is because Russia HAS to grind on… because it sees its very nationhood is at stake. Barack Obama said a number of years ago that Russia had, ‘escalatory dominance’. Russia has an enormous capacity to wage war. Its industry is now even more geared up to destroy Ukraine than before. Russia is not going to lose this. It cannot afford to and it has all the capacity it needs to do so. Sooner or later Ukraine will crack.
Delay in negotiating a settlement will have two consequences however. 1. Even more Ukrainians will die. 2. Even more Ukrainians territory will be lost. There is a third to add to these two. Ukraine is parcelled up into pieces, one taken by Poland, another by Hungary and a third by Romania. These are the realities. It seems the only reason that they cannot be faced by those pushing for ever more war is that they cannot face the humiliation of defeat. But it is coming… no matter WHAT they do.
Ukraine will certainly lose Bakhmut sooner or later. There is simply no way Russia will give up on the task of taking it. Too much hinges on this. Recent reports, including that of the commander of the Ukrainian ‘Svoboda’ unit, tell of horrendous conditions in and around Bakhmut with dead Ukrainian troops littering the fields and even the trenches themselves, trenches which flood on a regular basis. The local hospitals are receiving on average 150 casualties per day with amputations relatively common. Across the battlefield it has been estimated that Ukraine is losing between 500 and 800 troops each day. This is not sustainable. Russia will pound Bakhmut to dust to take it and in fact it suits the Russian military high command to do so as the object is to eliminate as much of the Ukrainian military forces as possible, to put them into a “meat grinder” as the head of Wagner has said. Sooner or later Bakhmut will fall.
The new Russian military satellites now have full oversight of the battle space. These were put in position over the last few months and the current strikes can be seen to have relied on the new satellite data that has become available.
Ukraine stands no chance of keeping anything much in the days and weeks ahead. Another 380,000 Russian troops are arriving with the most modern of weaponry at their disposal. Russia is readying its military for an overwhelming surge that will hit Ukrainian positions, logistic centres, repair shops, warehouses, arms dumps and quite possibly state command and control entities.
There is no possible way Ukraine can do anything very significant against what’s coming… especially as its western sponsors are realising the game is just about up and Russia is going to be the winner that takes all.
Russia attempted to find a peaceful way by which the mixed marriage Russian-Ukrainian population of eastern Ukraine could retain their language, pro-Russian culture and allegiances in the face of the president and government they by majority had elected, being ousted by means of an insurrection. The people in that region of Ukraine had expected that change would come through the democratic process, not through riot, or by any other means.
The events which took place on Maidan Square in Kiev therefore shocked and horrified them and they knew with some confidence what was to come. They knew for instance that those who had taken power were those who had failed to secure their positions by democratic means. They knew also that their language, allegiances, pro-Russian culture and indeed their lives were at threat and that henceforth they and their children down the generations would never again experience the ability to reliably cast their vote and have the government they favoured be elected to power.
In effect what had occurred in Kiev was a coup, and they knew it. In addition to all of the above they had seen various members of the United States political elite appear on the square exhorting those there to continue and achieve their goal of bringing the democratically-elected president and government down. A president who had announced that elections would be brought forward to a few months hence in which the entire matter of Ukraine linking ever closer to the European Union could be decided democratically. This was not to be. Instead many were to die including around fifteen policemen. I wonder if anyone reading this can imagine what the political elites of the USA would do if such a number of police officers were killed by similar insurrections in their country?
The people in eastern Ukraine read the writing on the wall and when the new authorities in Kiev said they were going to act against the Russian language every fear they had was confirmed. Were they to accept this new government forced on them and accept to that their already hated population (called ‘Moskals’ by the ultra-nationalists and most of the general public in western Ukraine, i.e. Russians) was not to be further excluded from any right to a democratic vote, their language itself and that of their children, and perhaps even the right to live at all? Of course not. They took matters into their hands by largely peaceful means, took over administration functions in their regions and demanded a level of autonomy that would guarantee their future rights.
Putin, when asked by the leaders of what became self-asserting republics, to let them join the Russian Federation, refused, stating they must remain within the boundaries of Ukraine but that he would work with others to attain for them the level of autonomy within Ukraine that they required. At the time of asking Kiev had sent its military plus the most violent of the Maidan militias to the republics and they had begun bombarding their villages, towns and cities.
Putin worked with Germany, France and the Ukrainian authorities on the autonomy issue to bring peace and reconciliation to the region. The Minsk Accords were agreed and ratified in 2015 and the next seven years were spent attempting to have them implemented. Ultimately the Ukrainian authorities stated they had no further interest in them. In the interim, from 2015 to 2021 NATO and others within the West has reinforced, trained and financed the Ukrainian army plus put in place massive lines of defence bordering the two regions.
During this period also a constant bombardment of the civilian populations of the two regions was carried out by the Ukrainian military and the so-called ‘Volunteer Battalions’ such as the ‘Azov Battalion’. There was scant, if any, reporting in the West of this latter fact.
When the Ukrainians said they were no longer interested in Minsk and the ex-president of Ukraine, Poroshenko, said it had merely been a ruse to let Ukraine re-arm Russia understood the situation. Then Zelensky, the current president talked of regaining Ukraine’s nuclear status and swore to take Crimea back by force. Then, there was a sharp rise in the shelling of the republics.
Putin saw that the peaceful means he had hoped would resolve the question of the Donbass region was no longer recognised by Ukraine or its western supporters. It was for these and other reasons, such as NATO pushing for Ukraine accession to it and with Ukraine having become a de facto NATO state, with nothing at all evident that might provide a peaceful path forward to resolve the thorny questions Minsk ought to have answered that Putin took Russia into Ukraine.