Remember when UK Defense sources were predicting Russia would be finished in 14 days? This was back on March 23:
Russian forces may only be able to sustain full fighting capacity for another ‘ten to 14’ days, senior UK defence sources indicated last night, after which Putin’s men will struggle to hold the ground they have already captured from Ukrainian troops. UK defence sources say that Kyiv has Moscow ‘on the run’ and the Russian army could be just two weeks from ‘culmination point’ – after which ‘the strength of Ukraine’s resistance should become greater than Russia’s attacking force.’ Advances across Ukraine have already stopped as Moscow’s manpower runs short.
Looks like General Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, did not get the memo. He told the House of Representatives a different story this week:
“It’s a bit early, still. Even though we’re a month-plus into the war, there is much of the ground war left in Ukraine,” he added. “But I do think this is a very protracted conflict, and I think it’s at least measured in years. I don’t know about a decade, but at least years for sure.
In other words, no one knows how long. I admit I was not a good prophet. I was overly optimistic at the outset. I assumed that Russia launched its “special operation” with more troops then it actually did. So, I have been wrong too. Took me a bit to see that Russia’s plan was not to proceed conventionally by occupying cities. I finally listened to Putin’s words and accepted his view that the objective is the demilitarization of Ukraine and the elimination of the Nazi minority that wields too much power over a weak government.
Which brings me to my dog analogy. If you are told there is a ferocious dog in a house and you do not hear any barking, even after you bang on the door, you are faced with a number of possibilities:
- There is no dog.
- The dog is a sound sleeper.
- The dog is not home but will be back soon.
Those in the West are being fed a daily supply of breathless reports about the fierce Ukrainian dog that is savaging the Russians but I do not hear or see any evidence of the big bark. Is there no dog? Are the Ukrainians sleeping? Or are they biding their time? Consider the following:
- Hordes of Western journalists were ushered into Bucha to record the horrors of an alleged Russian atrocity, but I have not seen any of those journalists on the frontlines with the Ukrainians who are actually fighting Russians.
- Russia has hit dozens of airfields, military bases and supply depots with Air Launched Cruise Missiles and other land based hypersonic missiles but the Western reporters are mute.
- Russia has control of most of Mariupol and only reporters embedded with Russia are reporting (and they are doing so from the front).
- The alleged atrocity uncovered in Mariupol was not reported until April 2nd, but had supposedly be carried out in the preceding two weeks. Why did U.S. intelligence fail to report on any of this prior to the 2nd? The U.S. has terrific capabilities with overhead satellites to capture action on the ground. It also can intercept Russian military communications, such as orders to execute civilians or cleanse a town. Do you think that General Milley and his press flacks would have hesitated to beat that propaganda drum? That is a dog that did not bark.
- Also worth noting that suburban towns surrounding Kiev reportedly taken back from the Russians did not show mountains of wrecked Russian armor or dead Russians littering the landscape.
- We have seen brutal images of Ukrainian forces murdering Russian captives. It was so bad that even Ukrainian officials had to go on TV to denounce the actions.
It would be one thing to have a news blackout, especially from the Ukrainian side, if the electrical power grids lighting up the country were obliterated. They are not. The lights are still on. The internet is still up and running as well it appears in most parts of the country. If the Ukrainians were stomping the life out of armed and armored Russian units I would expect a tweet or two from non-combatants in the area. But we are hearing none of that.
The destruction of the oil depots around Ukraine by the Russians cannot be ignored. Those attacks mean that Ukraine’s ability to send fuel is severely degraded. If there is fuel, the Ukrainians face the daunting task of trying to haul it to the army now trapped in the Donbas. Russia’s virtual control of the air gives the Russians a decided advantage in being able to destroy resupply columns.
Food, fuel and ammunition for weapons are critical for an army to remain a viable combat force in the field. This is another dog I don’t hear barking. We have seen no evidence that Ukraine has been able to resupply the army bogged down and in danger of being surrounded by the Russians. If the Ukrainians can pull off a resupply miracle then they might have a chance for delaying or even defeating Russia’s intent to secure the region.
But Ukraine has a bigger problem. Russia’s control of the southern coast of Ukraine means no more imports or exports:
Ukraine is one of the world’s top grain exporters, loading container ships that carry 12% of the world’s wheat supply and 16% of its corn.
That business is done for the foreseeable future. And Ukrainian farmers are not headed to the fields to plant. The Ukrainian Army has planted explosive mines in many of them. Truck convoys and railroad cars going to Poland cannot make up for the loss of container ships sailing from Odessa and Mariupol.
Then there is the import side of ledge. Here are Ukraine’s top ten imports:
- Mineral fuels including oil: US$7.8 billion (14.4% of total imports)
- Machinery including computers: $6.1 billion (11.3%)
- Vehicles: $5.5 billion (10.2%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: $5.4 billion (9.9%)
- Pharmaceuticals: $2.52 billion (4.7%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: $2.48 billion (4.6%)
- Other chemical goods: $1.3 billion (2.5%)
- Optical, technical, medical apparatus: $1.2 billion (2.3%)
- Iron, steel: $1 billion (1.9%)
- Rubber, rubber articles: $927.6 million (1.7%)
The ports are not open for business and Ukraine no longer has a Navy. Therefore Ukraine has no way to dislodge Russia’s stranglehold on its port cities unless NATO decides to intervene. This means nothing short of economic devastation for Ukraine.
Compare Ukraine’s Zelensky’s hysterical pronouncements against the stoic silence from Putin. I have seen no evidence that Putin is panicking. He is not the one begging for Western military intervention without regard to the implications of that request for the very survival of his government. Notwithstanding the heated, belligerent rantings of senile Joe Biden, U.S. and NATO military commanders appear to understand that Russia is dead serious about engaging any Western planes, tanks or troops that dare venture into Ukraine. Crossing that line puts nuclear weapons in play.
General Milley is wrong. This is not going to take years. Ukraine does not have the economic means to survive even if there is a military stalemate in the East. I guess Milley was too busy studying pronouns to take time to consider the economic disaster facing Ukraine. In six months, if he lasts that long, Zelensky won’t be begging for bullets. He will want bread.