Former Regional Power

Falling through the universe at the speed of life

By David Glenn Cox

The war in Ukraine was everything he never wanted and more. And the more he gets of it, the worser it gets for him. The war in Ukraine began as a special military operation. As in play it down, old-fashioned Soviet style decapitation invasion. It was going to be so easy they said, it’ll be over in a week they said, you’ll see!

The problem with trying to rebuild the Soviet Union is that you don’t have a Soviet one-party state to help you. Stalin is gone and Khrushchev (We will bury you!) he’s gone, and we will bury ourselves thank you. So even if they put on the big general’s coat with all those ribbons and pound the desk, nothing much will get done.

While trying to show the world how tough they were they showed the opposite. Catch 22 and insanity on the half shell, served up daily. Ordering the men to “dig in” in the radioactive soil of Chernobyl or flying too many close air support missions called in by panicked commanders. The Russians have lost 256 aircraft since February. They went into this war with every advantage possible.

It is important to remember with fighter jets; you can’t use them everyday like the family car. On paper you might have 1,000 airplanes, but at any one time only 600 are ready to fly. If you begin offensive operations, you still have your regular defense needs to take care of, plus the added maintenance of the more heavily used aircraft. There isn’t a realistic number for any modern air force where 256 aircraft lost in seven months works.

Not just in machines, but in the pilots and crews as well. A death sentence, fly until you die. Only ZERO days, since the last fatal accident. Just the other day an SU 25 went down on takeoff. A symptom of poor maintenance or tired equipment perhaps? They are living off of the Soviet stockpiles. Pulling out forty-year-old tanks and throwing a new paint job on the old girl, and wondering why she won’t do right?

Remember the forty-mile-long Russian convoy? They’re all gone. It doesn’t matter how many trucks you have if we don’t have any roads. Or there is only one road called “Ambush Alley” by the locals. And the country is crisscrossed with large rivers and streams. “How many replacement pontoon bridges did the army bring Yuri? It’s not going to enough.”

In the run up to the Ukrainian counter-offensive, the Ukraine’s have been busying themselves by destroying the bridges, so necessary to support and feed an army. It means nothing to the world, the destruction of some bridge over a river you can’t pronounce or have never even heard of. But if you are on the other end of that bridge, it means supper will be unfortunately delayed.

I read about a Russian command post. The officers didn’t trust the enlisted men. So instead sending out patrols, they used the soldiers they could trust to protect them from the soldiers they didn’t trust. Because there were no patrols sent out their positions were plagued by drone and artillery attacks. Another Vietnam a go, go except with cell phones. The Russians have learned there is no deadlier weapon in Ukraine than the cell phone.

After losing a couple of truckloads of Generals and Colonels, the Russian officers have learned to use their own cell phones sparingly, lest they meet Mr. Sniper cueing in on their location.

Gone are the encrypted communications and the fancy air defense units. Hyperbaric guns so feared at the beginning of the war are abandoned and left to the Ukrainians. Artillery units leaving self-propelled guns behind out of gas. Just as the US sunk the Japanese merchant fleet the Ukrainians have mercilessly gone after Russian logistics. So, when the Ukrainian counter offensive began, the Russians were already hungry and short footed.

Running away is the worst form of inventory control possible. All those tanks and guns, the tens of millions of dollars in hardware currently lost, will need to be replaced. But it can’t be replaced, this isn’t the old Soviet Union with infinite resources.

Putin grumbles about a general mobilization, but it’s only bluster to appease the crowd. Struggling to hold onto and resupply current positions. Putin threatens to send even more men (not Mormon) who will need even more supplies. If you think the first string was tough, wait until you see the Junior Varsity! Draftees and country boys all, anxious to avoid getting hurt at all costs. Basically, untrained hoodlums not to be trusted when handling firearms or drinking heavily.

In most prolonged wars, it becomes obvious who will win even before the battles are over. Like chess, you no longer have the power to resist and so must resign. Or if not resign, to put the pencil in the pencil sharpener and just grind it down to a nub, until it’s gone. The Russian are across the river in Kherson, the Ukrainians have destroyed all the bridges and the Russian are beyond supplies. Their only way home is to swim the river and wade through the Ukrainian army and winter’s coming.

Starve till surrender? Or fight and die senselessly in a lost cause for disconnected commanders, who don’t care much either way. “Checkmate.”

All that Vladimir Putin had hoped to gain has proved futile. Showing the world how tough Russia can be and instead showing the world how backwards Russia can be. The market for Russian military hardware is at an all time low. Putin blustered and warned Finland and Sweden to stay out of NATO until Putin invaded Ukraine. Then the choice to join NATO was academic, “either/or,” pay me now or pay me later.

Estimates say the Russians can carry on for no longer than a year at this rate. But carry on what? That doesn’t mean they can rock along as normal and then on the 365th day the bottom falls out. It means cannibalizing aircraft to keep other aircraft flying, so now you can double the number of aircraft out of service.

Recently an old Soviet era anti-aircraft system was relocated from the safety of St. Petersburg to the unsafe front lines of Ukraine. The Russians are moving men and equipment from safe areas in the rear. The second echelon of troops with their aged military equipment.

In simple military parlance, it means they ain’t got no more. They’re robbing St. Petersburg to pay Paul. They have shot their bolt and are no longer able to continue large-scale offensive actions. Their supply lines shattered, and their equipment and hardware scattered all over the Ukrainian countryside. The Russian Air Force neutered, and the Russian Army blunted, and the Russian Navy at the bottom of the Black Sea.

Turkey’s President says the Russians are anxious to end the conflict. I’m sure they are.

Russia will now take another step down from regional power to humiliated, former regional power. And who comes next after Putin?

“There are roads which must not be followed, armies which must not be attacked, towns which must not be besieged, positions which must not be contested, commands of the sovereign which must not be obeyed.”
― Sun Tzu

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