Ukraine, What Would General Patton Do?
I am 110% against Putin’s Regime. However, I can’t ignore some difficult questions. I write to challenge my beliefs. These are worries NOT facts.
In boxing, if a challenger takes on a title-holder it’s generally accepted that the weaker fighter won’t get a win unless he delivers a knock-out. This isn’t a rule; there’s something about human nature that makes it so. Is Ukraine kidding itself that it can get a win through attrition?
At some point Ukraine might have to do what’s best for Ukraine — and that might inconvenience Western politics. That is, if Ukraine wants to win it will have to take the war to Russia.
Jake Jacobs and I have been exchanging emails before and since I published his piece under my account. It all began when I argued that once Ukraine becomes fully supplied with better-quality Western weapons it would push Russian forces out of Ukraine. More than that, Ukraine’s best-and-brightest are working with other like-minded technologists the world over.
But what if Ukraine has always had the ability to mount significant offenses? What if the new weapons won’t push Russia out without significant losses for Ukraine?
What if I’m romanticizing European resolve and high-tech weapons? What if the heroism and fighting savvy of small Ukrainian units is obscuring a weak government-run military?
Maybe Putin is right, this is no war. It’s morphing into Russia becoming the defender and Ukraine the unfocused insurgents. It’s becoming to look like 2014, just larger. That’s not good.
What are the signs of a conflict of insurgency?
Consider the following. Ukrainians have been intercepting cell phone calls from Russian soldiers. For example:
Apparently, the soldier told his girlfriend (GF) on a previous call that he had blown up a Ukrainian BMP which killed many Ukrainians. To say he’s unhappy that one million people who watch YouTube knowing this is an understatement.
From this call we learn that the girlfriend has since received death threats. Her address and that of her fiancé (Russian soldier) have been published. He’s very worried that Ukrainians will eventually find and kill him or those in his family. (I’ve pointed out these issues in my March 19th piece, “There’s Nothing Wrong with Neo-Nazis…That Shooting At Them Won’t Aggravate”. ) He’s also worried he might get killed by Russia’s FSB because it’s the FSB, who knows what they might think of his loose talk.
Here’s another tell-tale sign. This is a poster in Russian-held Kherson by Ukrainian partisans are out to get Russian soldiers.
A very clear message is being sent by Ukrainians to any Russian fighting in Ukraine. The days of surrender are over. We are in an ethnic struggle until our last breath.
We’ve heard many reports of Russian soldiers looting, raping and killing for near sport. How could Ukrainians not develop blood-lust?
Anyway, my point is that we don’t hear soldiers talking about a war between military units. It’s personal. That will weaken Western support.
The conflict may be headed to a type Putin perfected with Chechnya.
How much disruption might this cause?
Chechnya had a population of around 400,000 in 2000, or a hundredth the size of Ukraine. From Wikipedia “Western European rights groups estimate there have been about 5,000 forced disappearances in Chechnya since 1999.” Let’s double that. I think it’s reasonable to assume 500 people are killed each year, since 2000, from the second Chechnya war.
Ukraine has a population 100x that of Chechnya. Would anyone be surprised if thousands of Russians involved in the Ukraine war “disappear” in the years ahead? In short, the Russian soldier in that YouTube video has every reason to worry about his intercepted conversation getting him killed.
At first glance, a war that drags on appears bad for Putin, but is it? Europe wants the gas and other resources. In 2014 the EU found a way to get both the gas it wants and the world to ignore the situation in the Donbas.
Why can’t that happen again?
Yes, such a war-slog would be bad for many parts of Russia, from Siberia to Crimea.
However, Moscow and St Petersburg; Kyiv and Odesa in Ukraine — those places would return to normalcy. Everyone start your corruption engines!
Which brings us back to how the war is being fought.
If, for the sake of argument, Ukraine waged massive frontal assaults that pushed Russia back it would create a huge PR nightmare for Putin. Even if Russia was able to reclaim the territory later, the reputation of Russia’s military would be greatly tarnished. It would put more temporal pressure on Putin which could lead to his downfall. As it is, he is becoming comfortable again.
As the war drags on, Russia can argue that it only abandoned its positions near Kyiv.
Ukraine pushing Russia out of territory it has held for the past couple of months could not be excused away.
Such large-scale battles would keep the stakes high, forcing everyone to stay focused. As it is, Ukraine seems to be fighting Russia only when they advance, or when they’re motivated to cause trouble behind enemy lines.
Here is Jake speculating in one of his emails
That said UA is afraid IMO to employ its tanks en masse in a powerful mechanized maneuver force thrust. Such a pity especially considering UA tank numbers are greater today than the start of the war with donations and captures outnumbering losses (270+301):400.
Another thing is the two RF phases of this war. Phase 1 was to take Kyiv in a week and install puppet regime. RF forces attacking Kyiv deployed with riot control gear, rubber bullets, boxes of blank Russian passports, and parade uniforms. Yes, they had real bullets but no logistics train for resupply, not expecting a fight. They got their azimuths handed back to them! The RF “Oh sh*t we gotta change our doin’ stupid” is reflected in the second peak of the second graph. They wised up.
UA could win this but they’re letting RF dictate their battle plan vis a frontal war with artillery and UA is losing that duel. This is the age of satellites and drones. Know where the enemy arty is located. Pierce the front lines in a mass tank spearhead to attack and capture RF arty. Turn their own guns on them.
There is a misconception that manoeuvre warfare produces less casualties. Not so. It’s bloody. The purpose is to rapidly achieve greater results to end the bloodshed much sooner than later.
Think of it this way. An RF arty shell doesn’t hide, refuse to fight, or retreat. When used it hits. Meanwhile RF artillerymen are human. Firing away from behind the lines they are comparatively immune from hostile fire. So, take the battle to them and they will scatter like rats. If not — just as you said — the ammo truck arrives — they shoot it as fast as they can — then return to their dugout or hooch counting the days before they go home.
It’s like this UA: If you’re running out of 152mm ammo and your enemy has plenty — then go get it before they use it. Consider the math as a UA artillerist. My ammo that is in short supply comes from 500–1000 km distance when the nearest source is actually 50km distance some 25km behind enemy lines, but they were nice enough to bring it this far. Go get it.
Marine Gen Mattis in Afghanistan issued fuel test kits and pumps to patrol and attack teams to test and use enemy/local fuel instead of relying on soft-target resupply tankers. If you need fuel — go get it.
UA doesn’t have the means to fight a conventional war of attrition.
As much as I want Ukraine to win, we must look at the situation unemotionally.
I have a sneaking suspicion that Ukrainians fight when they feel like fighting. I haven’t seen any Ukrainian General speak to the press about the importance of beating Russia soundly (and quickly if possible).
I have thoughts along these lines: Ukraine, don’t be like NATO. Be like Napoleon, Patton, Montgomery, or even Alexander Suvorov.
What war has NATO ever won? Even Trump noticed that NATO’s chief accomplishment is talking big while spending little.
Some argue that every Ukraine military success is based on capitalizing on a Russian blunder. Many believe Russia is winning and will win.
Take the fight to Russia with thousands of men, hundreds of tanks, artillery, air force, drones. Do whatever it takes to drive them into the Black Sea. Make the right choices for Ukraine. Stop looking at the EU or NATO for guidance. They’re the last ones to seek advice from. They will sell you down the river; on that I’m sure.
Perhaps Ukraine has to strike hard and deep into Russia. Sure, the U.S. will get bossy and threaten the withdrawal of support. The EU will wring their hands. But my guess is that an aggressive Ukraine would then become friends of the U.S., the kind of friend, like Israel, you don’t need to babysit ;)
Ukraine, you can’t win by decision here. I wish it wasn’t so, but I fear it is.