Thoughts with Richard Bleil
There is a lot of news to unpack tonight from the Ukraine. Putin’s war, the war supported by Trump and many of his Republicans, is not going well. I say “Putin’s war” because, if the news reports are accurate, it seems that he is now fighting a war on two fronts.
The news tonight actually started a week or two ago when the Ukraine started its counter-offensive against the occupying Russian troops. This counter-offensive has been making remarkable progress in a very short period of time, in some places actually pushing the Russians all the way back to the border. As they regain control of cities lost in the initial invasion, there is mounting evidence of an excessive number of war crimes and atrocities. The Russians have been leaving behind equipment and supplies as they flee.
All along I predicted that the Russian army would suffer tremendous losses. There is an old truth that it will cost the invading army about four times the number of troops as the defenders. With modern mechanized warfare, I’m not sure if this is still true, but the idea is that the invading army is traveling in the open, making them easier targets, and wearier than the defenders who have only to dig in and resist. The Russians made incredible gains early in the conflict, but evidence suggested that those victories came at great cost. The exact numbers have never been settled on, but it seems that the losses still lie heavily on the invaders.
Today, Putin has called for hundreds of thousands of “reserve” troops for a renewed push. From the news I’ve been reading, these “reserve” troops are basically a draft, civilians being called to fight. The Ukraine war has been sold by the state-run news programs as glorious, but there has always been those who resisted and protested the war. As in their war in Afghanistan, the bodies of sons just kept coming back for burial in numbers that don’t quite make sense based on the state news stories. It’s perhaps made worse today with the internet, as news from external news sources have (much to the dismay of Putin I’m sure) been leaking in with a far bleaker picture than the official news.
When I say that Putin is now fighting the war on a second front, I mean one of popularity. On his announcement of the “reserve” fighter activation, hundreds of people were arrested for protesting across Russia. What’s more, flights out of Russia have been sold out as people try to flee the country to avoid the reserve service. Inside of his own cabinet, politicians are starting to cautiously speak out against him.
Early in the Ukraine invasion, some politicians in the Republican party spoke out against supporting the Ukraine and argued that the nation rightfully belonged to Russia. I find it interesting that those same politicians are being silent as Russian troops lose the ground they had once gained. But we cannot discuss President Biden and the great (yes, I said great) job he has done. Putin’s war put its military very close to NATO nation borders. While people were calling for the US and NATO to send troops to help defend the Ukraine, he recognized the dangers of a hot shooting war against two of the world’s superpowers. Had an American pilot shot down a Russian fighter, it would have too easily escalated into all out war, potentially another world war with a great danger of turning nuclear. Providing money and weapons to the Ukraine was about the most support we could have provided. In providing these supplies, we did get to see how they operated against the Russian military, even if not being operated by American hands, and they were instrumental in the Ukraine successes.
Now, Putin, of course, is again making rhetoric about the nuclear capabilities of Russia, but mainly a statement warning other nations not to put nuclear weapons in the hands of Ukraine. Apparently, Putin and his family are feeling less secure now as the Russian protests against the war increase. Hopefully, somebody has an exit strategy if Putin should lose office, or if Ukrainian troop regain all of the occupied lands. It will be easy for the Ukrainian people to want to keep pushing into Russia in retribution, but this would be a bad thing. We need the war to end, to improve security of the Ukraine, and demonstrate the dangers of aggressive actions by tyrants. In the end, we also need to rebuild the damaged international trade, which is the surest way to ensure lasting peace.