Russia is winning, and here’s why

I never thought Russia would invade Ukraine. When it did, I thought President Putin had made a big mistake.

My reason was that I thought that if Russia invaded Ukraine, it would get bogged down in a quagmire war, as it did in Afghanistan in 1979-1989.

But it hasn’t turned out that way. Rather than being a quagmire for Russia, it has turned out to be a sinkhole for Ukrainian lives and NATO military equipment.

Russia has been preparing for this war since 2014, or maybe 2008. It has created war industries capable of supplying artillery shells and missiles as fast as they are being used up. It is using strategy based on leveraging its quantitative superiority in artillery and missiles to maximize Ukrainian casualties and minimize Russian casualties

The United States and other NATO allies are supplying expensive, high-tech weapons that are hard to use and in limited supply. They are stripping their own arsenals to prop up Ukraine.

The situation reminds me of an article written years ago by a management expert named Clayton Christiansen about disruptive innovation.  The idea was that high tech companies become so focused on the high-performance, high-margin and high priced end of the market  that they are disrupted by competitors who concentrate on the cheap and reliable.  Russia is using a disruptive military strategy.

A report by Britain’s Royal United Services Institute says that the United States and other NATO allies are depleting their stockpiles of munitions and do not have the manufacturing capability to quickly replace them.

It says annual U.S. artillery production would last only two weeks of combat in Ukraine.  In a recent war game involving U.S., U.K. and French forces, the U.K. forces exhausted national stockpiles of critical ammunition after eight days.

The United State shipped 7,000 Javelin missiles to Ukraine, about one-third of its stockpile, with more shipments to come.  Lockheed Martin produces about 2,100 missiles a year, although it might ramp up to 4,000 in a few years.  Ukraine claims to use 500 Javelin missiles every day.

A 2018 report for the U.S. Department of Defense described the weaknesses of the U.S. armaments industry.  These included a lack of skilled workers, a lack of manufacturing investment and dependence on foreign suppliers for crucial components and for raw materials.

The Russian superiority in firepower is devastating.  A writer for the Marine Corps Gazette, quoted in the previous post, say the barrages are equal to the most intense shelling in battles of the two world wars.  

Here’s a machine translation of a post by a Ukrainian soldier on social media.

What is there to lose, what else can be taken from me on the sixth day of my personal hell, in Pisky, a kilometer from the first street of Donetsk, Ukraine? The bodies of those who were dearer to me than my family are lying under the heat in the trenches, broken by 152 caliber. As I wrote earlier, 6,500 shells per damn village in less than a day.

It’s been six such days already, and I can’t imagine how even a small number of our infantry survived in this barrage of enemy fire.

No, I’m not whining.

Two mortars 82 and 120 are working on our side.

Sometimes they wake up and “sneeze” two artillery barrels in the direction of Donetsk.

We hardly respond. There is no counter-battery fire, from the word go, the enemy puts artillery shells in our trenches without any problems, dismantles very strong, concrete positions in tens of minutes, pushing our defense line without pause or minimal rest.

The day before yesterday, the line broke, and a river of 200 or 300 [killed/wounded] was poured.  I will not publish any statistics, it is forbidden in our country, but you have no idea the number and percentage of losses.

This is a hell of a meat grinder, where the battalion simply holds back the onslaught with their bodies.

For almost a week, we have been waiting for at least some kind of help that would hit the enemy’s artillery, we, I repeat, are being fired with impunity with everything that the Russian military system is rich in, their aviation was working today.

Here’s a quote reportedly from an American serving with the Ukrainian armed forces.

[I’m] former U.S. Military.  Seen and been around some pretty decent combat before but not like this, man. Not even close. The Taliban was very amateurish in firefights and their IDF, if any, wasn’t very accurate.  Don’t get me wrong, the fights were tough and we had some zinger days, but nothing like facing a uniformed enemy. There are jets and drones here bombing us constantly. Tanks, BTRs, BMPs, everything you can think of, they’ve brought it here… Here I get to be the guy sneaking around bushes and tree lines taking pot shots at troops and tanks. And here they get all the cool vehicles, air cover, and IDF.  In a weird way, it’s given me a new respect for our old enemies.

I can’t help but respect the courage of these troops.  I sympathize with their plight.  But I don’t see any reason to think that their situation is going to be fixed by shipping more and better weapons.  I don’t see any good reason to keep pushing them into the Russian meat grinder.

George Orwell once wrote something to the effect that a nation would suffer less from a slaughter of a cross-section of its people, male and female, young and old, than it would be a slaughter of an equal number consisting only of its most healthy, patriotic young men.  That’s what Ukraine faces.

There are other factors.  For one thing, there’s no way of telling how many of the high-tech weapons shipped to Ukraine actually get to their destination.  For another, Ukraine is virtually bankrupt.  

I don’t think that Ukraine, whatever the outcome of this war, will easily recover from it, demographically or economically.  Whatever the outcome, the USA will have a heavy moral responsibility to help Ukraine recover.

Then there are the economic sanctions that were supposed to bring Russia to its knees.  They’ve backfired.  They’re hurting the European nations more than they are hurting Russia.

Maybe I’m overlooking something, but I don’t see what it could be.


The Return of Industrial Warfare by Alex Vershinin for the Royal United Services Institute.

Assessing and Strengthening the Manufacturing and Defense Industrial Base and Supply Chain Resiliency of the United States , a report by the U.S. Department of Defense (2018)

Ukraine Sitrep – On the Ground Report – Ukrainian Frontline Collapses by ‘Bernhard’ for Moon of Alabama.

U.S. volunteers fighting in Ukraine face a unique psychological toll by Janna Mantua for Task & Purpose, a news and opinion site for members and veterans of the U.S. armed forces.

Ukraine needs more than just weapons.  It needs a strategy by Ethan Brown for Task & Purpose.

New Batches of Ukrainian Troops Quitting the Fight As Russia Grinds On by Larry Johnson for A Son of the New American Revolution.

Russia on the Ropes, Part 13; Really by Larry Johnson for A Son of the New American Revolution.

Original CBS documentary on Ukraine military aid.

Why Ukraine needs a debt ‘jubilee’ by Maximilian Hess for Al Jazeera.

In Actual Russia, No Sign of Sanctions by Ted Rall for the Unz Review.

Europe’s Energy Crisis May Get a Lot Worse by David Wallace-Wells for The New York Times.  Another version.

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3 Responses to “Russia is winning, and here’s why”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    Russia is NOT “maximizing Ukrainian casualties.” If it were, the conflict would be over already because they would have crushed all their adversaries with disregard for the civilian population, leaving nothing in Ukraine to defend. Russia has used an approach that offers aid to Ukrainians, and among the latest reports is that Ukrainians are fleeing to Russian held territory. This episode is a case of US/NATO aggression that commenced in 2014 with a violent coup conducted by Obama, Biden, Hillary Clinton, and Victoria Nuland, who has been rewarded for her efforts with a promotion within this administration. The coup government proceeded to wage war on Russian speaking Ukrainians for 8 years, until Russia at last said, “Enough!” The Biden administration is using this sinkhole for US manufactured arms as a strategy to wage war on Russia, until the last Ukrainian. We are governed by a crime syndicate.


  2. Fred (Au Natural) Says:

    The Russians are not ten feet tall and made of steel. They are extremely short on manpower, their logistics are a joke, and after 6 months, they still haven’t got air superiority. They are getting low on precision-guided munitions, and their fleet is neutralized. They attacked under the impression that they’d be welcomed and instead encountered a determined and skillful enemy.

    If you think the attack on Kyiv was just a distraction, you’re smoking something strong. It failed. The Ukrainians didn’t buckle, and the Russians retreated after heavy losses.

    No commander who is not suicidal would attack with less than a 3-1 combat superiority. And you cannot pacify a hostile country the size of Ukraine with so few bodies. The Russians don’t have those numbers. So we have a stalemate in which the attacker cannot help but suffer far worse casualties than the defender. A combination of US satellite and airborne intel platforms, poor Russian comsec, and Ukrainian civilians in occupied territories has given the Ukrainians an almost godlike ability to cancel generals and command bunkers and ammo depots.

    “Steady Russian progress” exists mostly in the mouths of Russian sock puppets. The front lines are almost identical to those of 3 months ago. Soon it will be fall, the land will be wet, and nobody will be going anywhere. It looks more like WWI in the Donbas than anything else. OTOH, Kherson looks like it could be at risk.

    IMHO, the Russian tide is very near its peak. If I were the Russian commander in Kherson, I’d be worried.

    All frontline soldiers go thru hell. Their friends can die, and hardship is at every turn. You won’t hear the Russian equivalent because they hide such things.


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