Why Russia is Still Losing the Ukraine War
Author: Greg Valliere
April 4, 2023
THE BIG PICTURE is that Russia’s numerical troop advantage did not produce any breakthroughs this winter, with none likely in coming weeks. That conclusion is supported by several crucial developments:
THE U.S. AND NATO have not wavered. There’s been some grumbling from the left and right in the U.S. over spending on the war, but the center has held, especially in the Senate, with its outspoken GOP hawks. Sophisticated new tanks and other weapons from Western Europe will flood into Ukraine this spring,
NATO JUST GOT MUCH BIGGER with the addition of Finland, which adds 810 miles to NATO’s border with Russia. Moscow hardly has the resources to defend that border.
RUSSIA DIDN’T GET MUCH from China at the Putin-Xi summit. China offered some rhetorical support but Beijing seems reluctant to provide arms.
RUSSIA’S RELIANCE ON IRANIAN DRONES has had a modest impact. Most have been shot down; those that have killed civilians have simply made the Ukrainians more determined to fight on.
GROWING UNREST WITHIN RUSSIA: The killing in St. Petersburg of a militant Russian hawk three days ago sent a signal that the war is coming home to Russia. Some analysts believe Ukraine will strike into western Russia this spring.
THE WAGNER GROUP HAS BEEN DECIMATED: Once greatly feared, the far-right mercenaries have been massacred this winter, and relations between its leadership and the Kremlin are strained.
THE RUSSIAN ECONOMY IS PLUNGING, as huge deficits restrain spending and staggering numbers of young Russians leave for Dubai, Helsinki, Istanbul and other more hospitable locations.
RUSSIA IS FRANTICALLY SHORING UP its defenses in Crimea, the Washington Post reports this morning, in anticipation of the Ukrainian spring offensive.
ALL OF THESE FACTORS PROMPT US TO CONCLUDE that Russia is on the ropes, simply trying to hang on to the modest territory it has gained. The key, in our opinion, is plunging Russian troop morale — with its eerie similarities to World War I, when Russian conscripts fled from the trenches in 1917.
A TRUCE AND NEGOTIATIONS PROBABLY ARE NOT IMMINENT, but if the Ukrainian counter-offensive regains territory, Putin will be in grave personal jeopardy by summer. It is not far-fetched to conclude that Putin’s fate may be similar to the Czar’s.
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