Russia now on defensive in Ukraine

Unique in an era of volatile international politics, the unswerving leadership and commitment of the Biden Administration, the U.S. Congress and our Western allies have put Russia on the defensive in Ukraine.

The war is far from over as Putin’s forces continue to use long-range weaponry to pound at what appears to be random selection of Ukrainian communities.

Russia has lost an estimated 75,000 troops to death or injury. That’s about half the number of its original invasion force. As in the Afghanistan war, Russian mothers won’t be silent about their grievous losses forever.

Despite the intense disinformation campaign of both sides, here are consensus results in a war where it is hard to tell who is winning or losing:

  • The U.S. – supplied HIMARS (High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems) are tipping the balance of the stalemated war. They are fired from 50 miles away, beyond the range of conventional Russian artillery, and are systematically wiping out supply depots and other military installations. They are destroying eastern bridges that Russia needs for resupply.
  • Western allies, especially Germany, Denmark and Britain, are following the American lead with major commitments of war materials for the stubborn Ukrainian forces. As with the steadfast and bi-partisan commitment of the U.S. Congress, the allies for the most part are not wavering. They have the muscle to outlast and outmatch Putin’s diminishing economic and conventional military resources. (Even before Russia invaded without cause, President Biden has continuously tapped the minds and experience of senior Americans most familiar with Russian thinking and strategy. That is not a simple assignment when dealing with a messianic madman.)
  • A mysterious explosion at the Russian Saki airbase in Crimea took out as many as a dozen fighter planes. The best assessment is that Ukrainian resistance fighters in the Russian-occupied Crimea carried out the devastating attack. The loss of planes and pilots reduces Russia’s ability to control the Black Sea.
  • Ukrainian leaders have publicly stated their intention to launch a counter-offensive in the southern Kherson region. That could be a head-fake or an initial step to retaking the Crimean Peninsula that Russia illegally absorbed in 2014. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy wants that territory back as part of any deal to end the war.

In summary, Russia is far from winning the ambitious war it started with expectations to quickly take over the Ukrainian government.

Further, it is paying a huge price outside the battlefield as its economy slides into reverse gear. It has become isolated from most other countries. Its trade relations have been sharply curtailed. Its European neighbors, like Sweden and Finland, have united to resist further Russian invasions, such as possible targets like the Baltic states.

Long and short, Russia is not winning this war.

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