The Horrifying Endgame in Ukraine

The Horrifying Endgame in Ukraine. By Jim Rickards.

Here is an example of a genre that is best characterized as Russian propaganda. Always spun as “Russia is very powerful and will win when it tries,” it spins every ambiguity with a pro-Russian “explanation”. Russian victory is inevitable, they say, so get on the right side of history.

Left unanswered is why the Russian invasion, objectively, has gone so poorly. Russian problems and misbehavior are ignored, as are the falsified predictions by these same people to date.

The Ukrainian advances that took place in late summer were against lightly defended positions that the Russians quickly conceded to conserve forces. The Russians were willing to give up the land so that they wouldn’t lose valuable men and materiel.

The Russians withdrew to more defensible positions and have been badly mauling Ukrainian attacking forces ever since. Ukraine has wasted incredibly large amounts of men and equipment in these futile and ill-advised attacks.

In all, credible reports indicate that AFU [Ukrainian army] casualties are nearing 500,000 and are increasing at an unsustainable rate. On the other hand, reports of 100,000 Russian dead are almost certainly wild exaggerations put out by Ukraine. The BBC attempted to verify these numbers and could only find about 20,000 confirmed Russian dead based on extensive searches on funeral notices, public records, etc.

So we can expect a Ukrainian collapse any day now? The Ukrainian Army only ever had 700k troops at best. We’ll see.

Western sources say that Russian casualties are approaching 200k dead and wounded, while Ukrainian casualties are somewhat lower because the Russians have been doing WWI style wave attacks into prepared positions across open ground, around Bakhmut, since August.

When the NATO tanks do arrive, they’ll likely quickly be destroyed by Russian artillery, anti-tank weapons and precision missiles. They’re good tanks, but far from invincible. For decades, the Russians have been developing powerful weapons specifically designed to destroy these NATO tank models. The Russians aren’t particularly worried about them.

Aside from that, tanks rely on effective air cover for protection, which Ukraine lacks. They’ll be sitting ducks on the battlefield.

So why are the Russian politicians so upset with the West for sending tanks?

Meanwhile, Russian forces have nearly encircled the city of Bakhmut, which is a major transportation and logistics hub, with several key roads and rail lines passing through it. It’ll probably fall to the Russians within weeks.

Losing Bakhmut will be a major blow to Ukraine, despite claims in the western media that it really isn’t very important. Ukraine’s entire 800-mile defensive line would probably begin to crumble, and they don’t have heavily fortified positions to fall back on. Ukrainian troops, while brave and competent soldiers, are exhausted and running out of supplies as it is.

Transport hubs are much more critical for the Russians, because they mainly use trains for transport. The Ukrainians rely mostly on trucks.

Major blow? Have you seen a map of that part of Ukraine? It’s vast and flat. Since Bakhmut will likely fall any month now, we’ll get to see if it makes much difference.

On top of that, it appears likely that Russia is preparing a devastating offensive with massive amounts of men, tanks, armored personnel carriers, artillery, helicopters, drones and fixed-wing aircraft.

This Russian army is not the same army that invaded Ukraine a year ago. It’s much better trained, led and equipped. It’s learned from the mistakes it made during its initial invasion last February. Ukraine shouldn’t expect them to repeat those mistakes.

Everyone’s saying it, so we’ll see. Until now the Russians just haven’t been really trying? There might be some truth to that.

Reality: Russian is demographically limited nowadays. It no longer has unlimited numbers of cannon fodder, like it did in WW1 and WW2. It has used up most of its best weapons, its best troops and trainers, most of its cold war era ammunition, and cannot build more sophisticated weapons.

By the way, Russia has every legal right to attack those NATO countries supplying arms to Ukraine. By supplying arms to a party to the conflict, they’ve given up their neutrality and have become, in effect, combatants. Russia hasn’t done this because it doesn’t want to bring NATO directly into the fight. But legally, it can.

Russia is still at war with Japan, too.

Russia has the most sophisticated air defense system in the world and is very capable of shooting down F-16s in large numbers.

In Syria, the Israelis have figured out how to neutralize the air defenses the Russians sold to Syria. Israel bombs Iranian targets in Syria almost with impunity, sometimes destroying Russian air defenses on camera. So maybe, maybe not.

This entire scenario is a long slow march toward nuclear war or the complete disintegration of Ukraine.

Nukes are more credible. Given the rest of their equipment, I’d guess about 20% of Russian nukes work (and about 80% of western ones).

As Ukraine disappears under a massive Russian onslaught, the U.S. will grow increasingly desperate. Its credibility is on the line after committing so much money, materiel and moral weight to Ukraine’s defense. …

Is the U.S. just going to throw up its hands and concede Russian victory? NATO may actually disintegrate in the face of such spectacular failure. So, we’ll probably double down.

Is that a prediction? Sounds more like the bluster of a frustrated leadership that hasn’t come to terms with reality yet. Anyway, we’ll know a lot more in six months.