Australian news, and some related international items

The War Situation Has Developed Not Necessarily to Ukraine’s or the West’s Advantage But They Plan to Negotiate When They’ve Turned Things Around a Bit

 naked capitalism,  by Yves Smith,

ust because Russia has been slow and methodical about grinding up Ukraine’s army and materiel in Donbass does not mean that there’s reason to think Ukraine can turn its losses around with generous applications of Western funding, weapons, and hopium. And on the economic war front, even though Russia has taken a hit, it seems to be making surprisingly solid progress in adjusting, while conditions in the US and Europe look to be worsening, and at an accelerating rate.

Admittedly, the press, presumably reflecting the readings of military experts, has greatly reduced coverage of the conflict now that even generous applications of porcine maquillage can no longer hide that things are going from bad to worse for Ukraine. A very long established contact forwarded this message from a former senior US military official:

Just in from an Army Colonel in the building:
“Spoke to someone today who said that the Ukie basic training is 10 days and then off to the front. 65% casualty rates. At least double or more the losses of the Russians but you don’t hear anything about it.”

Recall that Scott Ritter, early on in his many detailed analysis, said that if one side was consistently inflicting casualties at a higher rate than the other, even at a ratio of say 1:1.2, the side with the lower losses would prevail.

Recall also that Ukraine has not made a single significant offensive since the war began. The most it has been able to achieve are small tactical gains that don’t amount to anything over time.

……………………………….. Truth be told, Western officials and the media are increasingly acknowledging that Ukraine can’t win this war, and therefore the two sides need to negotiate a peace. But to invoke a saying I heard in Venezuela, “They have changed their minds, but they have not changed their hearts.” The US and NATO have consumed so much Ukraine Kool-Aide that they are light-year away from what a realistic settlement would have to include. And that’s because they still can’t admit to themselves that Russia is wining, and at this rate, will have taken Odessa before Zelensky will even be willing to cede Donbass. For instance, look at this key statement from Joe Biden’s New York Times op-ed earlier this week:

We have moved quickly to send Ukraine a significant amount of weaponry and ammunition so it can fight on the battlefield and be in the strongest possible position at the negotiating table

Why should Ukraine keep fighting and losing more men and suffering more damage? Why not sue for peace now? Biden’s unstated assumption is that if the US pumps enough air into the leaking Ukraine balloon, it will be in a better position than it is now. That can come about only by taking territory back or by inflicting huge losses on the Russian side. In what universe is that a likely outcome?

There are also complicating factors on the Russian side. One is that the Russian population regards Putin as too dovish and would much rather have the Ukraine matter be as settled as it can be via this war. That argues for taking more territory, certainly the entire Black Sea coast, probably Kharkiv and perhaps even securing the Dneiper save perhaps hard by Kiev.

A second matter is that many of the “liberated” or expecting to be liberated territories seem to want to join Russia, and not be independent friendlies or part of a Novorossiya (this may be realism as well as romanticism; they are too small to go it alone). One reason for this expectation is that at least some members of the Donbass militias are continuing to fight for the Russian cause in neighboring oblasts, here Kherson. 

Recall that Putin was not happy when the two breakaway republics declared independence in 2014, and he had to push them in the Minsk Accord negotiations to accept staying in Ukraine,……………………………………………..

 the Guardian get credit for admitting that Russia is winning the economic war – and Putin is no closer to withdrawing troops. However, economic editor Larry Elliott’s contains a lot of hand wringing and falsehoods, like the claim that Putin “weaponized” food. But notice that his closing section calls only for “a deal” not a rollback of sanctions. And it’s the sanctions that are hurting the collective West:

If proof were needed that sanctions are not working, then President Joe Biden’s decision to supply Ukraine with advanced rocket systems provides it. The hope is that modern military technology from the US will achieve what energy bans and the seizure of Russian assets have so far failed to do: force Putin to withdraw his troops.

Complete defeat for Putin on the battlefield is one way the war could end, although as things stand that doesn’t appear all that likely. There are other possible outcomes. One is that the economic blockade eventually works, with ever-tougher sanctions forcing Russia to back down. Another is a negotiated settlement.

Putin is not going to surrender unconditionally, and the potential for severe collateral damage from the economic war is obvious: falling living standards in developed countries; famine, food riots and a debt crisis in the developing world.

The atrocities committed by Russian troops mean compromising with the Kremlin is currently hard to swallow, but economic reality suggests only one thing: sooner or later a deal will be struck.

Perhaps Elliott didn’t want to stick his neck out too far by saying ending at least some of the sanctions would be necessary. But the failure to call for that means that politicians with no skin in the game like Ursuala von der Leyen will continue trying to escalate. It doesn’t matter that it isn’t working. These officials have convinced themselves that eyepoking the evil Putin will bring down Russia. They need to heed the oracle’s warning to to Croesus: that if he attacked the Persians, he would destroy a great empire. That empire was his own.

June 9, 2022 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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