The enemy controls the sky, and its advantage in aviation compared with the Ukrainian one is more than ten times. We try to use each ammunition effectively; the enemy spends them in times more. Our allies gave us armed vehicles in numbers equal to two American divisions.
Our front line is 1500 km long, with hundreds of km2 of dense minefields and a powerful defense fortification of the enemy made of three defense lines. This is the reality in which the Ukrainian offense is going in the summer of 2023.
This is the reality, in which none of the Western armies did offensive operations, not even tried. According to their theory, it is impossible. The theory is really wise and correct; in such conditions, one should not do effective operations. But in reality, we just do not have the choice; therefore, offensive is our choice. And despite these conditions and conclusions of the theories, we continue offensive operations and each day gnaw out the next meters of our land. We slowly but surely destroy the next positions of the enemy from its first line of defense together with its defenders. And we come closer to the second line, which is even more dense.
Meantime, Harward professor of political sciences, who saw the war on TV mainly, takes a calculator and divides the distance to Sevastopol by the distance liberated by our army during a day. He concludes that it would take us around 16 years to deoccupy Crimea. He cannot understand that war does not have linear distances. Sometimes you need to break through 1 km for months, but further after the defense lines, there are hundreds of km which can be deliberated during a day if, of course, you broke through this first km. Everybody who has military experience will agree with this.
However, his thoughts are published by influential media, and it joins a number of other publications with the same conclusions. The allies, who did not provide us even one-tenth of the resources needed for offensive operations according to their military doctrines, are disappointed by the low speed of our operations, which “did not comply with their expectations”.
From the Ukrainian side, there were no high expectations. Nobody expected the repetition of the “Kharkiv wonder” of the last autumn because the conditions now are completely different. The enemy knew our potential directions of offensive operations (there are not so many of them). All 8 or 9 months, which we used for the collection of military resources from allies, the enemy dig tranches, constructed pillboxes from concrete, put mines, and prepared itself to beat back our attacks. Our task was almost impossible from the beginning, so the surprise is not in the slow speed of offensive operations, but in fact that it goes quite successfully (under theoretically impossible conditions) and the losses of our enemy are much higher than ours (which is again against the theory, which says different).
We have paradoxical situations when the atmosphere at the Southern and Eastern fronts is better than at the bloodless “Western front”. Ukraine has to combat a powerful informational attack, which defines public opinion in the world. It affects the military supply by the West and the time, how soon Ukrainians will be forced to “freeze the conflict”.
It can become the main problem, so we need to understand it and try to define the possible solutions.
One should mention that nobody prevented Ukraine from being prepared for this war. Ukrainians, all 8 years since 2014, when the war started, did not get prepared for the time when the scale of war will change. So now we need to ask allies for the ammunition instead of using our own. The same concerns military trainings.
Those 3 or 4 months, when Western media based on the intelligence data drew the arrows of the offensive operations of Russians, which were used in reality later, we did not want to believe in the reality of this war and did not give weapons to territorial defense in advance and conduct mobilization timely. As a result, all Ukrainian victories in this war are paid by much higher losses than they could be. Our full dependence on foreign aid and the need to liberate almost every fifth km of the country is not a fault of the West but a result of mistakes made by Ukraine.
However, last 16 months, Ukrainians in incredibly hard conditions do all possible and impossible and surprised the World many times with archived results. 1,5 years has passed since the time when Western experts pessimists gave Ukraine three days and optimists – three weeks. At present, false “red lines” in the heads of Western stakeholders are one of the biggest barriers on the way to Ukrainian victory.
Biden is against cancellation of NATO Membership Action Plan… The White House does not consider giving Ukraine long-range missiles… NATO does not have a consensus on the decision of the Vilnius summit regarding Ukraine… Transfer of military planes is not on the agenda…
Ukrainians see many such news each day. We are compared to David, who fights with Goliath. But at the same time, West puts rules regarding the size of the stones in a sling and the distance from each David can throw them – not to provoke Goliath for “escalation”.
The Armed forces of Ukraine got Western tanks – half a year after they could help to speed up the end of the war. They will get the planes after they will break through (or not) the fortification defense of the enemy without support from the sky. Cassette ammunition is taboo, АТАСМS – better not to ask, Predators – cannot be sold for any money. Even 30 Abrams remain a promise, which can become true (or not) in a few months after the current offensive operations.
Russians can bomb any area of Ukraine not protected by the three Patriots. But for Ukrainians, it is prohibited to cross at least for 1 m the border with Russia. For e.g., one can easily go around the defense line Svatove – Kreminna through Belgorod and come to the rear of Russians in the Lugansk oblast instead of breaking through it, losing thousands of lives. But, no, allies look at each our step towards the border. The only thing which Ukrainians can afford is hybrid operations by Russian volunteer fighters (although there was a scandal when a Belgian weapon was seen in the hands of such a volunteer) and sending hand-made drones, made in garages start-ups of Kyiv or Kharkiv during the missile attacks.
There is no line in international law limiting military actions at enemy territory. Americans could remember how their army bombed German cities and put nuclear bombs on the Japanese ones. At that time, for them, it would sound absurd to limit the war to their own territory. Moreover, transferring war to the territory of the aggressor was considered a prerequisite of the Victory. However, all these just arguments are broken by the only contra argument – unjust but unconquerable: Ukrainians need the support of allies, not vice versa. Here the discussion stops: Ukrainians can be right, but if they do not follow – they will have no ammunition, weapons, or money.
Russian can be horrible monsters, for them it is the same, who loves them and who hates. They do not depend on the delivery of armed vehicles, ammunition, or funds into the budget. Instead, Ukrainians need to be “more saint than a Rome Pope” and try not to lose shaky empathy of the West, which is the base for the military support and state budget of Ukraine.
So what is the problem? What is the origin of the absurd and illogical “red lines” which limit Ukrainians so much?
March of the Warger army in Russia made it obvious to the Western policymakers that russia was not that powerful. In reality, it is quite an unstable structure and can clash already soon. This perspective made a part of Western politics, which at present forms the position of the White House, finally taking off the masks and showing their real motivations.
Thomas L. Friedman, the recipient of three Pulitzer Prizes and one of the opinion leaders among democrats, wrote about this openly.
The main message for Ukrainians is in the last paragraph:
“If he (Putin) wins, the Russian people lose. But if he loses and his successor is disorder, the whole world loses”. (
The conclusion is clear. Of course, it is better if the Russian people will lose than “the whole world” (please notice that he even did not mention the Ukrainian people). The Putin’s victory and his regime prolongation are considered as less evil, and the alternative is described as chaos with the number of uncontrolled new regimes with the pieces of nuclear weapons in hand.
It seems this fear defines the limits to which the White House can reach in its support of Ukraine. And it seems we need to understand: the White House is scared of Ukrainian Victory and wants to avoid it accordingly.
This explains all the concerns in the aid delivery, which can seem strange, illogical, and inconsistent. In reality, this is quite a consistent policy, although it is myopic. The chorus of journalists and Harward experts who express “disappointment” by the speed of Ukrainian contra offense is a part of this policy.
The key point of the policy is the following: not to allow Putin to win – yes; to allow Ukraine to win Russia – no, because “the whole world can lose”. It seems that no rational argument can break these fears because irrational fears are one of the strongest human motivations.
One can appeal to the values of the Western world, but it will not bring the results. One can explain that such a position is not wise, that it is not a “pragmatic choice” but a fear of leaving the comfort zone. But West will need to leave the comfort zone anyway, earlier or later. So it is in its pragmatic interest to speed up the unbeatable Victory of Ukraine and be ready to take control over unavoidable turbulence in Russia. But Ukrainians told all of these and faced that the West is not ready to hear them.
I believe here there is a situation with deeply bound fears so that only another fear which is more powerful, can overcome them. So it is time to draw a picture of the possible future of Ukraine in case Ukraine will not win.
It is worth explaining to Mr. Borrell that he is not completely right when he says that without Western ammunition, Ukraine, in a couple of days, will lose the war and turns into a new Belarus”. Yes, Ukraine will lose, but not during a few days, but long months. During these months, hundreds of thousands of people will die, and around 15-20 million refugees join the camps in Europe. After this, Ukraine will not become a second Belarus, but a second Afghanistan, where just near the EU borders for decades, there will be a guerilla war with all “pleasures” for the neighbors.
It is worth saying to the Putin’s friend Orban that if his efforts to support Russian victory will be successful and Ukrainians, according to his prognosis, lose the war, the last action of our million army, hardened in the battle with the “second army of the world” can be to leave to the neutral European countries with all ammunition and vehicles and intern. The route of this retreat will lie not through the countries, which supported Ukrainians, but exclusively through Hungary. And one of the tasks of this army can be to ensure a safe corridor for millions of civil refugees.
It is worth explaining to all Harward - Pulitzer experts that Ukraine, forced to peace, part of which will remain under occupation, will not join NATO and EU. Nobody will invest in it, and it will become a tragedy not only for Ukrainians but a strong head pain for the West.
Left alone, Ukraine, despite the poverty, will invest all its resources into defense. It will make all efforts to make its own nuclear weapons and has a strong chance of being successful here. After Budapest Memorandum betrayal and the current war, Ukrainians have a full moral right to own the same weapons, whose presence in the hands of Russians scares Western leaders so much. The example of the Israil state inspires: the years of precise secret work, and now the Israil government jokes that “it does not own the nuclear weapons and if needed it can use it”. Ukrainians will do the same, and if the FBI manages to prevent this, at least the so-called “dirty bomb” can be hand-made in Ukraine, and nobody could stop this.
Ukraine will use all the methods to fight with poverty in case of no reparations and investments. Namely, it can become one of the world hubs of illegal ammunition trade as well as other goods not needed for the West, an illegal money laundry.
Maybe then it would be easier for the White House to let Ukraine be swollen by Russia as most probably Trump wanted to do? No, because Ukrainians are just too many to be killed by Russians even if we do not have our own country.
Millions of veterans with unique military experience and feelings of betrayal, without jobs and perspectives, will spread around the world to compete with Wagner or form their own illegal units compared to which Balkan and Italian mafia will look like kids.
Children of killed soldiers will grow as refugees in orphan houses in Europe. They will hate not only occupants but those ones, who betrayed them at a crucial time. And if reaching Moscow can be hard, the anger can channel into redemption to those who can be reached – to the Western policymakers who contributed to the Ukrainian defeat. If out of the expected 20 million of Ukrainian refugees, only 0,01% will become terrorists – avengers, it will be 2,000 people group deeply integrated in the Western society.
All these realistic pictures should be in the minds of the Western policy-makers, and it should be a more real nightmare for them compared to the very abstract “chaos in Russia”.
It should lead them to understand that the only way to avoid the nightmares is a victorious Ukraine, which with the support of the West, fully beat Russian troops, liberated all Ukrainians territories, entered NATO and EU, and in response, behaves polite, in a controlled way, following the rules of the Club and agreeing its actions with allies and investors.