Russia vs. Ukraine: Why and How the war might end
Using the guidance found in the U.S. Naval War Collegeís seminal work: Sound Military Decision (1942), letís examine Vladimir Putinís decision to invade Ukraine. What was Putinís war Aim? Was it to recreate the map of Czarist Russia? Was it to capture thousands of Ukrainian children to reverse the ever-declining number of Ethnic Russians? Or both? And were those Aims realistic, and worth thousands of lives, and worth awakening a sleeping NATO, and worth putting Russia, once again, outside the family of civilized nations?
Apparently, on February 22, 2022, Putin thought his relatively small armored convoy driving south out of Belarus would be welcomed by throngs of Ukrainians. Instead the convoy met stiff armed resistance. On day five, Putinís convoy ran out of petrol. On day seven, Putinís convoy ran out of food and water. On day eight, many starving Russian soldiers dismounted and walked back north to Belarus.
Letís compare what Putin did with Sound Military Decision: "...whether the aims of policy are possible of attainment, policy may, beforehand, determine largely the success or failure of military strategy. It behooves policy to ensure not only that military strategy pursues appropriate aims, but that the work of strategy be allotted adequate means and be undertaken under the most favorable conditions."
Discovering his troops were unwelcome, Putin switched to a War of Annihilation. But when Ukrainian armed forces, supplied by NATO and the U.S., proved too strong, Putin switched to the traditional Russian War of Attrition, relying on Russiaís huge advantage in natural resources and on Russiaís ability to slowly reduce Ukraineís infrastructure to dust. In other words: Putin would have to destroy Ukraine in order to have it.
But Putinís own dubious health and the steady decline in the number of Russiaís military-age males militate against the timely winning of a War of Attrition. The Russian men and women who fought WWII and the Cold War are either dead or too old to fight. Alcoholism, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, and Abortion used as a means of contraception, have Russiaís population in an irreversible downward spiral. Consequently, there are no generations of fighting men and women beyond the generation Putin has now at hand. Ergo: In terms of young fighting troop strength, it is now or never for Putin.
Russian use of nuclear weapons would leave the Ukrainian land mass uninhabitable for centuries, meaning, again, that Putin could destroy Ukraine but could not occupy Ukraine.
If we look at the balance of conventional forces between Ukraine and Russia, Russiaís declining fighting-age male population versus Ukraineís ever-growing number of NATO-trained troops plus mountains of U.S.-supplied munitions, suggests Ukraine might withstand the Russian onslaught and emerge minus a couple of Russian-speaking provinces and having renounced all claims to Crimea.
History also tells us European wars pause in winter, then wait for the crops to be planted, and then resume warfare in late spring. If History is correct, the Russians will launch a major offensive in May. Maybe both parties will ask for a third party to referee the traditional European negotiated settlement. But for U.S. and the worldís commerce interests to be satisfied, all nations engaged in peaceful commerce must have Freedom of Navigation across the Black Sea.
Suggested reading: Sound Military Decision, U.S. Naval War College, 1942. The End of the World is Just the Beginning: Mapping the Collapse of Globalization by Peter Zeihan, 2022. Video: "Peter Zeihanís Shocking Predictions on China, Russia, and the Ukraine War," 2023. https://zeihan.com. The History of Warfare by John Keegan, 1993.
©2023. William Hamilton."Central View," is always free at: www.central-view.com