Ukraine 1, Goliath 0

Diane Francis. Mar 28

Last week, a Russian soldier surrendered a tank to Ukrainian military forces after his team fled, in return for $10,000 and a lenient jail sentence. “He could not return home because his commander said he would shoot him and write it off as combat losses,” said a Ukrainian official. “He said the command of the troops was chaotic and practically absent. The demoralization was enormous.” Another mutiny occurred when Russian soldiers killed their commanding officer near Kyiv after half their comrades died. As Russian desertions increase, Ukraine offers $1 million to any Russian pilot who delivers a jet and $500,000 for a combat helicopter. NATO estimates that 40,000 out of Russia’s 190,000 troops in Ukraine have been killed, wounded, captured, or have gone missing in the first month of the war. So it’s not surprising that on March 25, Russia’s generals announced a retreat from Kyiv to the east and south.

Putin the butcher

Unfortunately, it is wishful thinking that Ukraine, or even Russia for that matter, can win this war. Hopefully, negotiations this week will yield a ceasefire. But Ukraine’s military gains led to Russia’s strategic shift. “The combat potential of the Armed Forces of Ukraine has been considerably reduced, which … makes it possible to focus our core efforts on achieving the main goal, the liberation of Donbas,” said Sergei Rudskoy, head of the Russian General Staff’s Main Operational Directorate.

This so-called “shift” may be a “head feint”, an attempt to camouflage failure in Kyiv or consolidation in order to grab the east and south to landlock and divide the country. Estimates are that one-fifth of Russian forces are no longer combat-effective — good news for Ukraine — but this is also bad news because Russia may shift to saturation bombing to flatten the entire place. This is why a no-fly zone must be erected and why Ukraine has stepped up calls for help, for a “mere” one percent of NATO’s missiles and anti-tank weapons, jets, attack helicopters, tanks, and advanced anti-aircraft systems. 

These military successes are due to the fact that Ukraine has turned itself into the world’s biggest “citizen army”. Nearly four million of its women, children, and elderly have evacuated thus far but left behind tens of millions more to fight. Consider the numbers: Russia’s invasion force totals 190,000, mostly young conscripts with lousy equipment compared to Ukraine’s army of 250,000 plus up to 700,000 more veterans and reserve forces who have been called up and have combat experience. Add to that, 34 million Ukrainians, 18 years of age or more, male and female, who are contributing to the cause. Of this, 10 million are more than 60 years old and many are healthy enough to bear arms, care for children and the disabled, or make meals and Molotov cocktails. Since the war began, thousands of foreign volunteers plus 250,000 Ukrainian men have returned from abroad to join the war effort. Even the country’s farmers have gotten into the fray, towing away Russian tanks, debris, and wounded soldiers.

Ukrainian meme about disabled or submerged Russian tanks or others towed away by tractors

Russia is now the butt of Internet jokes, even at home. Russian chess master and exiled Russian politician Garry Kasparov repeated one gag line making the rounds: “We are now entering day 24 of the special military operation to take Kyiv in two days.”

Ukraine has defeated Russia’s initial campaign to take over the country from three sides, but the war is stalemated not over, caution experts at the Institute for the Study of War and the American Enterprise Institute. Russia’s done best in the south and is close to establishing a “land bridge” between Crimea and Russian-occupied territory in eastern Ukraine. That mission will be accomplished if Mariupol falls, which hasn’t happened despite a barbaric siege and humanitarian disaster; if Mykolaiv falls but Ukrainians have counterattacked and are trying to drive the Russians out, and if Kherson falls but there’s still fighting there too. All three cities stand in the way of an attack on Odesa which, if successful, will landlock and economically cripple Ukraine.

Russia’s war for Ukraine’s east and south

Ukraine’s intelligence chief Kyrylo Budanov explained Russia’s shift in strategy: “After a failure to capture Kyiv and remove Ukraine’s government, Putin is changing his main operational directions. These are south and east. It will be an attempt to set up South and North Koreas in Ukraine.”

Reports today are that Ukraine is prepared to accede to the Russian demand of neutrality — providing Russia withdraws all its troops — in advance of talks between the two countries, to be held in Turkey this week. But military success, tougher sanctions, and an energy embargo are essential to take into talks, said Yuriy Vitrenko, a member of President Zelenskyy’s inner circle, in an interview with me in the Atlantic Council today. “We have to be winning militarily, and crippling his economy, for Putin to be reasonable in negotiations,” he explained.

Zelenskyy asks NATO to give Ukraine one percent of its aircraft and tanks. “It cannot be acceptable for everyone on the continent if the Baltic states, Poland, Slovakia, and the whole of Eastern Europe are at risk of a clash with the Russian invaders only because they left only one percent of all NATO aircraft and one percent of all NATO tanks somewhere in their hangars. One percent! And we do not ask for more. And we have already been waiting 31 days!”

It’s little wonder why Putin censored the lengthy interview Zelenskyy gave on March 27 to Russian media outlets, or why Putin sent mercenaries to assassinate Zelenskyy at the outset of the war. He’s the inspirational leader of a country, a fledgling democracy that has been abused for decades by Russia but that has weaponized itself to remain independent. Nearly 90 percent of Ukrainians believe they can win the war, but the reality is that this will happen only if they close their skies, continue to outmaneuver and outman the Russian army, succeed at the negotiating table, and get much, much more from the West.


  1. The genocide of Mariupol by putinazi savages must surely be a game-changer. Surely?
    NFZ now!

  2. “This so-called “shift” may be a “head feint”, an attempt to camouflage failure in Kyiv or consolidation in order to grab the east and south to landlock and divide the country.”

    This is a defeat. Nothing else.

    • Exactly. Satan’s goal was to denazify Ukraine by killing or kidnapping it’s leaders. Well, that would be Kyiv, where only a few mercs got in and nothing else. One other mention is that now that the filth has officially entered Ukraine Satan can no longer claim that there aren’t any Moskali in Ukraine, so they are ALL targets now. Ukraine has a different set of rules of engagement.

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