I’ve been following geopolitics as pathetically as a Boston Red Sox fan. I thought Putin would never invade. I was wrong. Putin believed Zelensky would flee. Putin was wrong. Everyone has gotten so much wrong.
I’ll explain the background of those who worry that trying to effect a “no-fly zone” would start World War III. (Update 3/9/22, I’m hoping that the U.S. pushing back on getting Polish fighters to Ukraine, is more evidence, that the Russian Air Force expects regime change and the U.S. is cooperating.)
Is Putin crazy? I don’t believe so (even if I find his actions reprehensible). No one predicted that everything that could go wrong, would go wrong.
What went wrong for Putin?
- Zelensky didn’t flee
- Russian special forces not being able to capture Zelensky (there will be movies about this in the future)
- Ukrainians (even Russian sympathizers) protecting their Southern cities
- Ukrainians preventing the blitzkrieg.
- Mud season beginning early in the North
- The seizing of Russian assets and removal from SWIFT
- Every Western country refusing to do business in Russia
- Shipping companies refusing to dock in Russia
- An effective Ukrainian propaganda effort
- The Russian Air Force holding back their advanced fighters and S-400s
If even one of those items above went Putin’s way we’d be in a different situation.
What gives me hope is the geopolitics surrounding Russia’s S-400 Missile System. Let me explain.
The focus of U.S. air strategy is a networked system of offensive assets, from satellites to F-35 fighters. Remember Skynet from the Terminator movies? The U.S. built it. Not joking. It’s designed to take out Russia’s S-400 missiles then advanced fighters.
The Russian strategy is a defensive system of ground based missiles with the S-400s. They are similar to the Patriot system.
In a confrontation, who would win, the U.S. or Russia? The F-35s or the S-400s? (A Covert Cabal video).
No one knows. .
Despite all the curiosity and the endless debates about F-35s and S-400s (Google it, if you doubt their importance), no sane person wants to get the answer to which one wins. Neither side would “win” without huge debilitating losses. No one understands that better than both the U.S. and Russian Air Force brass.
If the U.S. has the advantage, then short of nuclear war, Russia is powerless from U.S. conquest. Similarly, if Russia has the advantage, the U.S. is a paper tiger.
There’s a story that gives me hope. Early in the invasion a S-400 shot down a Ukrainian Su-27 on February 28th. Afterwards, the Russian Air Force has been rumored to have taken over management of the S-400 system and they are no longer firing them.
Every time an S-400 is fired the U.S. can learn more about its weaknesses. It gives more of an edge to the U.S. Similarly, if an F-35 tries to take out an S-400 it gives Russia intelligence.
Both the U.S. Air Force and Russian Air Force seem to have tacitly agreed to avoid confrontation in Ukraine. That means there will be limited air combat.
If Putin was in total control he would have commanded the Russian Air Force to take control of all Ukrainian air space. That he hasn’t shows either that the Russian Air Force isn’t going to risk its power over a “military operation” or Putin isn’t as irrational as the media makes him out to be.
Let me make another point, the failure of Russia’s invasion is one of tactics, not capability. One shouldn’t assume that if Russia withdraws from Ukraine that it is a win for the West. It is not. Russia did not use its advanced weapons. If the U.S. confronts Russia it will be with the Air Forces and Navies. Superpowers don’t fear tanks anymore.
It’s also rumored that one of Russia’s new Navy vessels, the Vasily Bykov patrol ship has been seriously damaged. That puts more pressure on Russia to end the war before more of its modern weapons are destroyed.
I just wish the U.S. would do more to give Russia a face-saving way to end the invasion. We still don’t know the potency of Russia’s Air Force. Hopefully our Air Force is telling the Biden Administration the importance of leaving some questions unanswered.