The West must be prepared for a long Ukraine war

This is no time for back-slapping. Vladimir Putin is preparing for extended battle, marshalling more troops and materiel

17 February 2023 •

French President Emmanuel Macron speaks at the 2023 Munich Security Conference (MSC)
Emmanuel Macron at the 2023 Munich Security Conference CREDIT: Johannes Simon/Getty

The Munich Security Conference bills itself as the pre-eminent forum for debating the most pressing challenges to international security, a moment for leaders to confront brutal truths about the world today. In Munich last year, however, a sense of unreality reigned. The meeting took place just days before Vladimir Putin launched his invasion of Ukraine. Russian forces had massed on the country’s borders, but some in the highest circles of diplomacy did not seem convinced that he would follow through on his threats. They had persuaded themselves that the Kremlin could still be talked down, leaving President Volodymir Zelensky to warn of the ghost of appeasement and of the need to learn the terrible lessons of history.

One year later and world leaders, including Rishi Sunak, Ursula von der Leyen and Emmanuel Macron, are returning to Munich. But what has the West really learnt in the year since the Ukraine war began? There are, of course, reasons to be hopeful. Putin has turned out not to be the master strategist many had once believed him to be. Nato has shown itself to be far more than a relic of the Cold War. Belatedly and fitfully, Germany has started to shoulder its responsibilities as one of the leading nations in Europe.

But we are still paying the price for the attitude, prevalent since the collapse of the Soviet Union, that Western militaries could be shrunk without consequence, with defence budgets diverted into welfare spending. So small is the RAF’s fleet of combat jets, the UK now finds itself unable to meet President Zelensky’s request for planes without damaging its own security. Jens Stoltenberg, the secretary-general of Nato, gave an alarming warning this week that the West is running out of ammunition, with Ukraine’s consumption outstripping our ability to produce it. We will have to wait until the Budget next month to find out if the UK Armed Forces will receive the extra money Ben Wallace believes they need.

Few Western leaders, meanwhile, appear willing to take the difficult decisions necessary to improve their countries’ resilience to external shocks. In Britain, this is most obvious in the case of energy. The Government has bailed out consumers and businesses, largely protecting them from higher bills, but it has done little to improve domestic energy production, particularly of gas. The country was lucky to avoid widespread blackouts this winter.

The West has made progress towards adapting to the new world wrought by Russia’s invasion, but this is no time for back-slapping. Putin is preparing for a long war, marshalling more troops and materiel and putting his economy on a war footing. This crisis is very far from over.


  1. The kremlin murder gang believes it is winning. Unconstrained by morals or conscience, it is a static fascist dictatorship unencumbered by the inconvenience of meaningful elections.
    Despite losing 200k orcs; dead or crippled, the putinazis now have well over twice the amount of orcs inside Ukraine than they did last February, with many more still to come. Intel believes that 97% of the putinazi army is in Ukraine.
    It does not matter how badly trained these orcs are, or how poor their equipment is, they are a massive threat because of the huge numbers; already enough to crush most armies in Europe.
    The Soviet mentality is clear in Bakhmut: these savages don’t care how many civilians they murder; in their primitive brains the more the merrier. They do not mind taking gigantic losses; their orcs are expendable. What they are doing is killing huge numbers of Ukrainians; which they see as their chance to decimate the Ukrainian army, which is a much more finite resource.
    To prevent further loss of life, the allies should and really must provide air cover for the defenders.
    We had better accept the fact that a large scale offensive is coming and if putler succeeds in taking all the Donbas, he will be back in Kherson ready for another go at the south coast. The bastard is in no hurry.
    A really urgent rethink is needed by the allies.

  2. Another conference filled with politicians who love to hear themselves speak, who think they are God’s gift to humanity and accomplishes absolutely nothing. Just reinforces the public sentiment that politicians are simply blow hearts. You want to do something asswipes, get a gun go to the front and get your ass shot. Then just maybe then you may actually understand and maybe become a contributor to humanity.

  3. The West is like mafia land; it is resistant to learn from past mistakes. If it were to finally allow Ukraine to get the weapons it’s been asking for, for several long, excruciating months, we could be close to the finish line, or this horror could already be over. But, no, instead, Ukraine can’t have this, can’t have that, and those are out of the question.
    The West’s strategy is completely ridiculous. Well, actually, there is no strategy. You have some politicians who flat out refused to send anything, then they send a lot. Then, you have others who send stuff early and quickly, and now are applying the brakes. Some send a little of this, and some send a little of that. Some send them now, some send them months later, and others never send some things that they promised. Some say go for it, liberate all of Ukraine, including Crimea, while others say, no, taking Crimea is not a good idea. Some say attack mafia land, while others shit their pants by the mere thought.
    This methodology has nothing to do with unity, it has nothing to do with foresight, with courage, with determination or with strategy. It’s a circus show.

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