An evil man (2) | Inquirer Opinion
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An evil man (2)

/ 04:30 AM January 30, 2023

For me, the assuredness of a Ukrainian win is based on one fundamental element: attitude. Demoralized, reluctant, inexperienced, forced-into-battle soldiers can’t win against a highly motivated, confident, skilled, well-trained, competent army that’s being increasingly well-equipped, with the equipment becoming ever more sophisticated. “Russian ground units have suffered from low morale, poor execution of combined arms, subpar training, deficient logistics, corruption, and even drunkenness,” said Seth Jones at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. He overlooked “rapists.” You can’t get much worse than that in describing an army. An army such as this has no chance of winning anything.

Where the risk lies is materiel. The West is running low on some of the weaponry and ammunition Ukraine needs, whilst Russia is turning to Iran and North Korea to try to find enough to feed the war. Obviously, you need guns, and the ammunition to feed it to fight, so who has enough will be critical in winning. The recent offers from the United States, the United Kingdom, and European nations to provide “tank-killer” fighting vehicles, plus more anti-tank weapons, including the highly advanced US Patriot System, to destroy drones and other aircraft, will provide further impetus to Ukraine’s recovery of its territories. But those weapons need ammunition, lots and lots of it. America is topping its stores of ammunition in South Korea and Israel and is boosting its production by 500 percent to give the Ukrainians an advantage they’re achieving. What is really needed though as the spring offensive approaches are tanks. Everyone was willing, but Germany (for reasons unknown) was reluctant. Until last week when they finally agreed to send Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine. Poland and Finland can now send from their stockpile, as can others. America will send its high-tech, deadly Abrams tanks, but not for some months. The Leopards need two-to-three months of training, but as that training has already begun, tanks could be in the field in time to counter an expected spring offensive from Russia. Critical will be how quickly countries can deliver. This is the game-changer Ukraine needed. A huge setback for Russia. Some 320 tanks have already been promised.

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The other war Ukraine is winning is the IT one. Ukraine has modern technological systems, partly supplied by the US, giving it a substantial advantage. As reported by a Bloomberg analyst, “Ukrainians quickly got their hands on elements of modern military communications—from US-made SINCGARS radios to satellite intelligence from Western militaries and private companies, which could quickly be passed on to troops on the ground via Musk’s Starlink terminals. Supplies of the heavy weaponry whose deadly work could be coordinated using these systems, though, have lagged. The Russian military has managed to use high-tech capabilities, too—for example, by using electronic warfare to fight off the threat of the vaunted Turkish-made Bayraktar drones.” But it’s more limited.

The general talk had been that the war would pause as winter set in. That has not been the case. Both armies have extensive experience fighting in wintertime, but you have to be dressed and equipped for it. The Ukrainian soldiers are well equipped for the cold, whilst the Russians are freezing in their underwear. With crap equipment (rusty rifles, bullet-proof vests that bullets go straight through, and soldiers who publicly say to their commander “I’ll spit on your collar”). They are cannon fodder, and they know it. Only fear keeps them fighting. It provides an opportunity to attack. And the Ukrainian soldiers have built a success momentum they’ll be unlikely to want to lose. As the snow fell and the ground froze, fierce fighting continued, with the Russian forces proving difficult to dislodge. When the Russians lose five soldiers in a platoon of 10, they immediately replace them with five reluctant conscripts. But there’s been an important shift, the defenders (the Ukrainians) are becoming the aggressors, as they fight to recover lost lands. The Russian advance has become a retreat. Or, at best, a stalemate as both sides maneuver to hold territory. The Ukrainians can readily lose Bakhmut should the Russians get there. Bakhmut is of no strategic importance, so Ukraine could withdraw with no important loss. But, as it is, they’re holding their ground.

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I don’t see dropping a nuclear bomb, even a “tactical” one as being on the cards. This is a highly irrational, desperate man but this is a red line he would have to be mad to cross. The threat is there, but it has to be low.

Russia’s drone attacks, which have increased in intensity, on Ukraine’s infrastructure intended to degrade the quality of life for millions of civilians in an effort to demoralize them have done the reverse, it has strengthened their resolve to resist. And has motivated the soldiers to fight even more fiercely when they see their families suffering.

The thing is this is not a war of Russia against Ukraine. It is a war thrust by Putin alone on much of the world. The Russian populace and military are reluctant participants. That “much of the world” doesn’t include China or India, two countries with leaders I no longer respect. This war on the world has led to food shortages, leading to the deaths of thousands. It has led to oil and gas prices going through the roof, triggering inflation levels not seen since the 2008 economic collapse. It has upset the delicate balance of the world order.

(More next week)

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