Is there any possibility that Ukraine could win?

I’m not an expert on military matters. I don’t speak Russian or Ukrainian. I’m not in touch with anybody in Russia or Ukraine or the higher circles in Washington, D.C.

I’m a retiree with time on his hands, an Internet connection and a willingness to go outside official sources and consensus opinion in order to figure out what’s going on.

I’ve explained why I think Russia is winning its proxy war against the U.S.-led Western alliance.  I haven’t changed my mind, but that’s not to deny that Russia has weaknesses.

A Russian dissident pointed out that Vladimir Putin’s announced objectives in launching the war are not being achieved.

Putin wanted to push back NATO from its borders, but Sweden and Finland are de facto members of NATO.  He wanted to demilitarize Ukraine, but Ukraine is a heavily-armed military dictatorship.  He wanted to denazify Ukraine, but the neo-Nazi Banderite nationalists, previously a fringe group, are more powerful and popular than they have ever been.

Public opinion polls say Putin is more popular in Russia than Joe Biden is in the USA. But a strong minority opposes the war despite the risk of 15-year prison sentences.

The actual fighting in Ukraine is being done disproportionately by Russian-speaking militias raised in Ukraine itself, the Wagner Group private mercenary company and Chechens recruited by Putin’s warlord friend Ramzan Kadyrov.  The Russian government has tried to keep Russian draftees out of the fighting.

Russians as a group don’t seem to have anything against Ukrainians or any desire to go fight in Ukraine.  Large number of what you could call the professional-managerial class have left Russia to avoid the draft.

Also, while the cutoff of Russian oil and gas supplies has hurt the Western alliance, Europeans and we Americans have got through the winter better than I thought they would.

But taking all these things into account, I don’t think any of these things change the big picture.  Ukrainians, according to the military analysts I trust, are suffering much greater casualty rates than the Russian forces, and they are a smaller country to begin with.  Germans, French, Britons and Americans have even less desire to join. the fighting themselves than Russians do.

Although there doesn’t seem to be any great anti-war sentiment in the USA or Europe, there do seem to be rising protests against the economic hardships that are a byproduct of the sanctions war.  Cutting ourselves off from cheap Russian oil, gas and other raw materials has hurt us much more than it has hurt them.

Victory in a war of attrition is a product of two things – the degree of hardship suffered and the degree of will to endure the hardship.  If it is to be a war of attrition, Russia is in a better position to endure than the Western allies.  The Russians have more at stake, more of the resources needed to survive and the backing of China, the world’s leading industrial power.

One reason I think the Russians are winning is the increasingly reckless and desperate actions of Ukraine and the Western alliance.  These include the shelling of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant and the destruction of Nordstream pipelines.  

The most recent is the United Kingdom sending depleted uranium munitions to Ukraine.  The advantage of uranium is that it is heavier, and therefore more destructive, than lead.  But its toxicity and lingering radioactivity will leave a legacy of cancer and birth defects where it is used.  Ukrainians themselves will be the main victims.

Then there is the charge brought by the UK to the International Criminal Court accusing Vladimir Putin of a war crime for authorizing the evacuation of Russian orphans from the Donbas war zone.  

In theory, any nation that signed the ICC treaty is legally obligated to arrest Putin if he sets foot on their soil.  This makes peace negotiations unnecessarily difficult.  However, neither the USA nor Russia accept the jurisdiction of the ICC.

Colonel Oleksiy Dmytrashkivskyi, a spokesman for the Ukrainian armed forces, gave an interview to the Euromaiden Press saying that, although Ukraine is holding its own against Russia, it does not have the equipment needed for a counteroffensive.  The article said:

Neither the US nor NATO would ever consider starting an offensive against dug-in and prepared ground forces, supported by long-range fire, combat aircraft, and attack helicopters without being able to project overwhelming force in all three dimensions.

Most of the prerequisites for Ukraine’s successful counteroffensive will, however, not be in place before summer.  Some – including long-range fire, combat aircraft, and sheer numbers – might not be in place this year.

Some of the requirements are still being denied. If – or rather when – they agree to deliver long-range fire and aircraft – Ukraine will need months to qualify the operators and integrate the system into its joint forces. The inflow of weapons remains incremental and slow and continues to limit Ukraine’s ability to engage Russian forces. Some, like air defense, are awaiting production and will not arrive for years.

Again, I don’t claim to know what will happen next.  I thought the Russians might launch some kind of winter offensive, once the ground was hard enough to support their tanks, but evidently their leaders decided it was more advantageous to just continue to grind down the Ukrainian army while slowly destroying the electrical grid and other utilities.

How could Ukraine win?  One strategy would be to try to hang on until the Russians grow weary of the war, or until something turns up to change the situation.  

This was the strategy of the Japanese after 1942 and the Confederacy after 1862.  It didn’t work for them.  Despite the facts I noted in the early part of this post, I don’t think it would work for the Ukrainians.

Another strategy would be to ramp up the war so that the USA and Russia are waging all-out war without restrictions.  USA and Russia might destroy each other, but Ukraine would survive.

I wouldn’t blame Zelensky for being willing to sacrifice the USA to ensure the survival of his own country.  After all, U.S. leaders are willing to sacrifice Ukraine in order to weaken Russia.  But that’s no reason for us Americans to go along.

I don’t see any alternative but to sue for peace in Ukraine.  Better to do it sooner rather than later.


The Gathering Storm by Douglas MacGregor for The American Conservative.

What Ukraine needs to defeat Russia in 2023 by Hans Peter Midttun for Euromaiden Press.

The Cover-Up by Seymour Hersh.

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7 Responses to “Is there any possibility that Ukraine could win?”

  1. Fred (Au Natural) Says:

    Hanging on until the other guy gets tired and quits has worked quite a few times. Vietnam, Afghanistan, (How many times???) the Revolutionary War, all are excellent examples of this. Japan did not have another untouchable superpower bankrolling them like Ukraine or North Vietnam, or it might have worked. The defeat of the Confederacy was assured by Egyptian cotton.

    Can Ukraine win? It all depends on your definition of “win.” If by “win” you mean that the Russian invaders are all driven off Ukrainian soil, all the stolen children are returned and Russia is held to account for war crimes and the unprovoked attack, probably not. If by “win” you mean it continues to exist as a sovereign nation in some shape and not a Russian client state, I think that can be assured.

    Neither side’s maximalist objectives will succeed.

    It is entirely possible for either Russia or Ukraine to make big gains in late spring/early summer. The fight in Bakhmut only goes on because it pins the attacking force in place. Russians were taking far more casualties. Attacking entrenched and fortified defenders in an urban area is stunningly deadly for the offense. (Maybe it is intentional by the Russian MOD to destroy Wagner.) Ukraine will only fight there until it gives them no more advantage and then retreat to prepared positions on the high ground behind the city. They are not stupid.

    Russia has yet to demonstrate it can run a large combined arms offensive. Their recent catastrophic defeat in Vulhedar demonstrates this failure. They only appear capable of attritional warfare. Throwing more bodies into the mix doesn’t help Russia. Inexperienced troops can’t replace experienced ones. If you don’t send new heavy weapons proportional to the number of bodies, then they are just bodies. Russian artillery has grown weak, as has Russian armor. The troops complain bitterly about a lack of artillery support for their assaults.

    I’m predicting a frozen conflict with not a large change in the overall territory held.

    OTOH, if Ukraine’s summer offensive should make it down to Melitopol or any point on the Azov coast, things will go very badly indeed for the Russians. Fairly badly if they manage to get to Starobilsk in Luhansk province. I don’t see Crimea falling easily because the isthmus is very narrow and easily defended.


  2. wtfbuddy1 Says:

    I wish people were informed more about a “proxy war” versus an invasion of a sovereign country. Lets say Cuba/Columbia/Mexico invaded the US to rid it of white neo-nazi MAGA groups/nationalists because of their propaganda against these groups ( not white) because they want to save them. Would it be an invasion or proxy war?
    Ideology and propaganda sows the seed to the few/many who believe in it, soon they would turn on their own because the Far right is telling the message.
    Would the US take the proxy war/war on the offensive or just to the borders that were invaded? Would any other countries join with the invaders for support?
    Would the white neo-nazi MAGA groups/nationalists engage in Ethnic cleansing because of the invasion?
    Would the US call for Article 5 of the NATO Treaty to be used? and if so against who.

    The invasion of Ukraine is NOT a proxy war, many people believe it was started by the US, is there an example of this from the Euromaidan demonstrations. Every country is corrupt, so Ukraine is no different than the US/Britain/France, except the invader is the most corrupt dictator since Stalin.

    Side note – no proven medical investigation prove DU is bad, natural uranium is 0.72% radioactive and DU is 0.3% radioactive. If your worried about DU, if you survive the impact of a round, DU will be the least of your worries. Did you know that the US M1A1 variants have DU in their armor, probably in most commercial aircraft for balance, plus other application.

    Cheers and informed discussion is good, but suing for peace with russia will only work when the russian people wake the f*ck up.


  3. philebersole Says:

    The low level of radioactivity in depleted uranium means it is deadly only if ingested or inhaled. But there are many examples of troops and civilians who have been exposed to depleted uranium, as well as people who live in the vicinity of uranium mines, suffering elevated levels of cancer and of birth defects in their offspring. This is because they inhale tiny particles of uranium, which also is a chemical poison more toxic than lead.


  4. Milena Alien Says:

    “He wanted to demilitarize Ukraine, but Ukraine is a heavily-armed military dictatorship. He wanted to denazify Ukraine, but the neo-Nazi Banderite nationalists, previously a fringe group, are more powerful and popular than they have ever been.” – I wanted to know where this info came from, I am not sure it’s exactly right yet many people claim it.


    • philebersole Says:

      Milena, I visited your blog and read your post about the glories of Ukrainian culture. I sympathize with the Ukrainians. The war over Ukraine did not originate in Ukraine; it originated in a global power struggle between the USA and Russia. I hope for the sake of Ukraine, as well as all of us, that the war can end soon, but I don’t think that will happen.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. philebersole Says:

    I don’t know what part of this statement you want me to document. Is it the neo-Nazi background of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists and its founder, Stepan Bandera?

    The life and afterlife of Stepan Bandera

    Why are Nazis acceptable in Ukraine?

    Vladimir Putin’s stated goals of demilitarization and de-Nazification are a matter of record.

    So is that fact that the Ukrainian government has outlawed opposition political parties and suppressed trade unions. The country is under martial law, which is military dictatorship. So is the growing importance and popularity of the OAN as the key part of Ukraine’s fighting force.


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