Military Russia-Ukraine Scott Ritter

Scott Ritter: Why Russia Will Still Win, Despite Ukraine’s Gains

Russia is no longer fighting a Ukrainian army equipped by NATO, but a NATO army manned by Ukrainians. Yet, Russia still holds the upper hand despite its Kharkiv setback.
Working trip of the President of Ukraine to Kharkiv Oblast. President.gov.ua, CC BY 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

By Scott Ritter / Consortium News

The Ukrainian army began a major offensive against Russian forces deployed in the region north of the southern city of Kherson on Sept. 1. Ten days later, the Ukrainians had expanded the scope and the scale of its offensive operations to include the region around the northern city of Kharkov.

While the Kherson offensive was thrown back by the Russians, with the Ukrainian forces suffering heavy losses in both men and material, the Kharkov offensive turned out to be a major success, with thousands of square kilometers of territory previously occupied by Russian troops placed back under Ukrainian governmental control.

Instead of launching its own counteroffensive against the Ukrainians operating in the Kharkov region, the Russian Ministry of Defense (MOD) made an announcement many people found shocking: “To achieve the stated goals of a special military operation to liberate the Donbass,” the Russians announced via Telegram, “it was decided to regroup Russian troops…to increase efforts in the Donetsk direction.”

Downplaying the notion of a retreat, the Russian MOD declared that “to this end, within three days, an operation was carried out to curtail and organize the transfer of [Russian] troops to the territory of the Donetsk People’s Republic.

During this operation,” the report said, “a number of distractions and demonstration measures were carried out, indicating the real actions of the troops” which, the Russians declared, resulted in “more than two thousand Ukrainian and foreign fighters [being] destroyed, as well as more than a hundred units of armored vehicles and artillery.”

To quote the immortal Yogi Berra, it was “déjà vu all over again.”

Phases of the War

Russian bombardment of telecommunications antennas in Kiev, March 1, 2022. (Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine/Wikimedia Commons)

On March 25, the head of the Main Operational Directorate of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, Colonel General Sergei Rudskoy, gave a briefing in which he announced the end of what he called Phase One of Russia’s “special military operation” (SMO) in Ukraine.

The goals of the operation, which had begun on Feb. 24 when Russian troops crossed the border with Ukraine, were to cause “such damage to military infrastructure, equipment, personnel of the Armed Forces of Ukraine” to pin them down and prevent any significant reinforcement of the Ukrainian forces deployed in the Donbass region.

Rudskoy then announced Russian troops would be withdrawing and regrouping so that they will be able to “concentrate on the main thing — the complete liberation of Donbass.”

Thus began Phase Two.

On May 30 I published an article in Consortium News where I discussed the necessity of a Phase Three. I noted that

“both Phase One and Phase Two of Russia’s operation were specifically tailored to the military requirements necessary to eliminate the threat posed to Lugansk and Donetsk by the buildup of Ukrainian military power in eastern Ukraine. … [A]t some point soon, Russia will announce that it has defeated the Ukrainian military forces arrayed in the east and, in doing so, end the notion of the imminent threat that gave Russia the legal justification to undertake its operation.”

Such an outcome, I wrote, would “leave Russia with a number of unfulfilled political objectives, including denazification, demilitarization, permanent Ukrainian neutrality, and NATO concurrence with a new European security framework along the lines drawn up by Russia in its December 2021 treaty proposals. If Russia were to call a halt to its military operation at this juncture,” I declared, “it would be ceding political victory to Ukraine, which ‘wins’ by not losing.”

This line of thinking was predicated on my belief that “[w]hile one could have previously argued that an imminent threat would continue to exist so long as the Ukrainian forces possessed sufficient combat power to retake Donbass region, such an argument cannot be made today.”

In short, I believed that impetus for Russia expanding into a third phase would arise only after it completed its mission of liberating the Donbass in Phase Two. “Ukraine,” I said, “even with the massive infusion of military assistance from NATO, would never again be in a position to threaten a Russian conquest of the Donbass region.”

I was wrong.

Anne Applebaum, a neoconservative staff writer for The Atlanticrecently interviewed Lieutenant General Yevhen Moisiuk, the deputy commander in chief of the Ukrainian armed forces, about the successful Ukrainian offensive operation. “What really surprises us,” Moisiuk said, “is that the Russian troops are not fighting back.”

Applebaum put her own spin on the general’s word. “Offered the choice of fighting or fleeing,” she wrote of the Russian soldiers, “many of them appear to be escaping as fast as they can.”

According to Applebaum, the Ukrainian success on the battlefield has created a new reality, where the Ukrainians, she concludes, “could win this war” and, in doing so, bring “about the end of Putin’s regime.”

I wasn’t that wrong.

Soviet and NATO Doctrine

Russian military vehicles bombed by Ukrainian forces, March 8, 2022. (Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine/Wikimedia Commons)

War is a complicated business. Applebaum seems ignorant of this. Both the Ukrainian and Russian militaries are large, professional organizations backed by institutions designed to produce qualified warriors. Both militaries are well led, well equipped, and well prepared to undertake the missions assigned them. They are among the largest military organizations in Europe.

The Russian military, moreover, is staffed by officers of the highest caliber, who have undergone extensive training in the military arts. They are experts in strategy, operations, and tactics. They know their business.

For its part, the Ukrainian military has undergone a radical transformation in the years since 2014, where Soviet-era doctrine has been replaced by a hybrid one that incorporates NATO doctrine and methodologies.

This transformation has been accelerated dramatically since the the Russian invasion, with the Ukrainian military virtually transitioning from older, Soviet-era heavy equipment to an arsenal which more closely mirrors the organization and equipment of NATO nations, which are providing billions of dollars of equipment and training.

The Ukrainians are, like their Russian counterparts, military professionals adept at the necessity of adapting to battlefield realities. The Ukrainian experience, however, is complicated by trying to meld two disparate doctrinal approaches to war (Soviet-era and modern NATO) under combat conditions. This complexity creates opportunities for mistakes, and mistakes on the battlefield often result in casualties — significant casualties.

Russia has fought three different styles of wars in the six months since it entered Ukraine. The first was a war of maneuver, designed to seize as much territory as possible to shape the battlefield militarily and politically.

The operation was conducted with approximately 200,000 Russian and allied forces, who were up against an active-duty Ukrainian military of some 260,000 troops backed by up to 600,000 reservists. The standard 3:1 attacker-defender ratio did not apply — the Russians sought to use speed, surprise, and audacity to minimize Ukraine’s numerical advantage, and in the process hoping for a rapid political collapse in Ukraine that would prevent any major fighting between the Russian and Ukrainian armed forces.

This plan succeeded in some areas (in the south, for instance, around Kherson), and did fix Ukrainian troops in place and caused the diversion of reinforcements away from critical zones of operation. But it failed strategically — the Ukrainians did not collapse but rather solidified — ensuring a long, hard fight ahead.

The second phase of the Russian operation had the Russians regroup to focus on the liberation of Donbass. Here, Russia adapted its operational methodology, using its superiority in firepower to conduct a slow, deliberate advance against Ukrainian forces dug into extensive defensive networks and, in doing so, achieving unheard of casualty ratios that had ten or more Ukrainians being killed or wounded for every Russian casualty.

While Russia was slowly advancing against dug in Ukrainian forces, the U.S. and NATO provided Ukraine with billions of dollars of military equipment, including the equivalent of several armored divisions (tanks, armored fighting vehicles, artillery, and support vehicles), along with extensive operational training on this equipment at military installations outside Ukraine.

In short, while Russia was busy destroying the Ukrainian military on the battlefield, Ukraine was busy reconstituting that army, replacing destroyed units with fresh forces that were extremely well equipped, well trained, and well led.

The second phase of the conflict saw Russia destroy the old Ukrainian army. In its stead, Russia faced mobilized territorial and national units, supported by reconstituted NATO-trained forces. But the bulk of the NATO trained forces were held in reserve.

The Third Phase – NATO vs. Russia

Russian withdrawal from Kharkiv on Sunday. (Russian Ministry of Defense)

These are the forces that have been committed to the current fighting. Russia finds itself in a full-fledged proxy war with NATO, facing a NATO-style military force that is being logistically sustained by NATO, trained by NATO, provided with NATO intelligence, and working in harmony with NATO military planners.

What this means is that the current Ukrainian counteroffensive should not be viewed as an extension of the phase two battle, but rather the initiation of a new third phase which is not a Ukrainian-Russian conflict, but a NATO-Russian conflict.

The Ukrainian battle plan has “Made in Brussels” stamped all over it. The force composition was determined by NATO, as was the timing of the attacks and the direction of the attacks. NATO intelligence carefully located seams in the Russian defenses and identified critical command and control, logistics, and reserve concentration nodes that were targeted by Ukrainian artillery, which operates on a fire control plan created by NATO.

In short, the Ukrainian army that Russia faced in Kherson and around Kharkov was unlike any Ukrainian opponent it had previously faced. Russia was no longer fighting a Ukrainian army equipped by NATO, but rather a NATO army manned by Ukrainians.

Ukraine continues to receive billions of dollars of military assistance, and currently has tens of thousands of troops undergoing extensive training in NATO nations.

There will be a fourth phase, and a fifth phase … as many phases as necessary before Ukraine either exhausts its will to fight and die, NATO exhausts its ability to continue supplying the Ukrainian military, or Russia exhausts its willingness to fight an inconclusive conflict in Ukraine. Back in May I called the decision by the U.S. to provide billions of dollars of military assistance to Ukraine “a game changer.”

Massive Intelligence Failure

Russian military intelligence (GRU) headquarters, Moscow. (Hagidza/Wikimedia Commons)

What we are witnessing in Ukraine today is how this money has changed the game. The result is more dead Ukrainian and Russian forces, more dead civilians, and more destroyed equipment.

If Russia is to prevail, however, it will need to identify its many failings leading up to the successful Ukrainian offensive and adapt accordingly. First and foremost, the Ukrainian offensive around Kharkov represents one of the most serious intelligence failures by a professional military force since the Israeli failure to predict the Egyptian assault on the Suez Canal that kicked off the 1973 Yom Kippur War.

The Ukrainians had been signaling their intent to conduct an offensive in the Kherson region for many weeks now. It appears that when Ukraine initiated its attacks along the Kherson line, Russia assumed that this was the long-awaited offensive, and rushed reserves and reinforcements to this front.

The Ukrainians were repulsed with heavy losses, but not before Russia had committed its theater reserves. When the Ukrainian army attacked in the Kharkov region a few days later, Russia was taken by surprise.

And then there is the extent to which NATO had integrated itself into every aspect of Ukrainian military operations.

How could this happen? A failure of intelligence of this magnitude suggests deficiencies in both Russia’s ability to collect intelligence data, as well as an inability to produce timely and accurate assessments for the Russian leadership. This will require a top-to-bottom review to be adequately addressed. In short, heads will roll — and soon. This war isn’t stopping anytime soon, and Ukraine continues to prepare for future offensive actions.

Why Russia Will Still Win

In the end, I still believe the end game remains the same — Russia will win. But the cost for extending this war has become much higher for all parties involved.

The successful Ukrainian counteroffensive needs to be put into a proper perspective. The casualties Ukraine suffered, and is still suffering, to achieve this victory are unsustainable. Ukraine has exhausted its strategic reserves, and they will have to be reconstituted if Ukraine were to have any aspirations of continuing an advance along these lines. This will take months.

Russia, meanwhile, has lost nothing more than some indefensible space. Russian casualties were minimal, and equipment losses readily replaced.

Russia has actually strengthened its military posture by creating strong defensive lines in the north capable of withstanding any Ukrainian attack, while increasing combat power available to complete the task of liberating the remainder of the Donetsk People’s Republic under Ukrainian control.

Russia has far more strategic depth than Ukraine. Russia is beginning to strike critical infrastructure targets, such as power stations, that will not only cripple the Ukrainian economy, but also their ability to move large amounts of troops rapidly via train.

Russia will learn from the lessons the Kharkov defeat taught them and continue its stated mission objectives.

The bottom line – the Kharkov offensive was as good as it will get for Ukraine, while Russia hasn’t come close to hitting rock bottom. Changes need to be made by Russia to fix the problems identified through the Kharkov defeat. Winning a battle is one thing; winning a war another.

For Ukraine, the huge losses suffered by their own forces, combined with the limited damage inflicted on Russia means the Kharkov offensive is, at best, a Pyrrhic victory, one that does not change the fundamental reality that Russia is winning, and will win, the conflict in Ukraine.

Scott Ritter
Scott Ritter

Scott Ritter is a former U.S. Marine Corps intelligence officer who served in the former Soviet Union implementing arms control treaties, in the Persian Gulf during Operation Desert Storm and in Iraq overseeing the disarmament of WMD. His most recent book is Disarmament in the Time of Perestroika, published by Clarity Press.

23 comments

  1. Thanks, again, Mr. Ritter for your excellent analysis. I will add what I believe to be true. This long sought after “long war” between NATO (which is overdue for dismantling) has been a goal of the Clintons since the early nineties. Bill/Hillary hated Putin on sight and have intended to eventually come to a war with the goal of “regime change” in Russia, Putin replaced with another Yeltsin type sycophant bowing to US hegemonic policies. The Clintons are chortling with glee at this development.
    Also needing to be mentioned is the 15-point peace treatly in April between Putin and Zelensky that was shot down by the US. This war could have been over then, unlike where it’s heading now.

  2. I concede that most of what we hear from both sides of the Ukrainian conflict is propaganda. But I take issue with the level of military leadership that Ritter ascribes to the Russians.

    The official version of the Russian attacks on Kiev and Kharkov were that they were diversions to allow Russia to seize more territory in the south. But they were extremely costly in terms of losses of troops and equipment. The long backup of Russian vehicles on the route to Kiev, lacking sufficient fuel, ammunition and even food, does not suggest a competent junior officer leadership or clear command and control from the top.

    Nor have the Russians seemed to have revised their tactics to account for the lethal anti-tank weapons that the US has supplied.

    The Ukrainian military wasn’t much better in 2014 when they attacked the Donbas region. This is why they were fought to a stalemate by a smaller, less equipped foe.

    But since then they have been rearmed by the West and received extensive training from the US. They’ve also benefited from the vastly superior intelligence and electronic battlefield surveillance systems that we employ on behalf of Ukraine.

    In fact, this latest battle success appears to be designed by US “advisors” after this region was discovered to be a weak point in the Russian line.

    Between satellites, drones and who knows what else the NSA is employing, we seem to know almost everything the Russians are doing.

    This doesn’t suggest that Ukrainian forces will drive out the Russians by the end of the year. But it shows that high-tech weapons can inflict significant loses, which are bleeding the Russian forces.

    At some point, someone has to open back channels to arrange at least a cease fire, if not actual settlement talks. The question is will the US allow them to take place, or are we content to continue a proxy war without American casualties?

    1. obviously you comprehend nothing—of course the brilliant american military prevailed vs taliban…you not only distort facts you cannot understand Ritter’s description of Russian objectives—

  3. This goes all the way unfortunately.

    Worse, it is as clear as day and nobody seems to care.

    Nobody will lift a finger to stop it and once the mushroom clouds of nuclear hellfire begin the great death they will all ask in shock and horror, “How could this possibly happen.”

    Have a nice day.

  4. Brilliant analysis. I suspect that many serious generals in the west know this but have their hands tied.
    The time to start negotiations and peace discussions is now. I live in Scotland and always use this analogy. Imagine an independent Scotland and the year is 2050. China is now the worlds economic and military powerhouse. She has formed a powerful military alliance of countries called the ANATO. Scotland is keen on joining this body and asserting her independence from the former United Kingdom and especially England. England with a population of nearly 60million feels threatened against the smaller nation of Scotland.

    1. CLUARAN/THRISSEL

      Got to appreciate this one; thanks for the great analogy.!

      Might further analogies be the banning of the English language and a requirement for Scottish Gaelic and Scots (Inglis)? That residents of English descent who speak English in public be subject to personal physical threats?

      There were (and still are) western Ukrainians on the Nazi side. If the situation in Scotland were claimed to be like in WWII Ireland where a few people were so anti-English they sympathized with the Germans, more reason for English nervousness. The future English could then assert pro-Chinese has to mean anti-English.

    2. What a pathetic paranoid comment to make! Since when has England ever been afraid of the Scottish military? You have your head up your rear end if you believe this especially as the armed forces concerned are the BRITISH ARMED FORCES! 😀

  5. Ritter is correct. US involvement assures american humiliation; Russian objectives are now more ambitious. in the past week alone Ukraine has suffered 15,000 casualties. In the past 4 months Russia has suffered very few. Due to defense capacities far superior to american—buk, tors, panstyr, s-400/500 —US himars, etc are only effective vs civilian targets
    so far 7% of Russian military is in Ukraine and it should be expected that this will increase. That sanctions have enriched Russia is irrelevant. One does not need Macciavelli to know that “gold never wins a war”; USA is routinely defeated by small poor nations–Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Taliban, etc….Russia defeated Napoleon and USSR defeated Germany and Japan

  6. I think I’m inclined to agree with Spock.
    But I’ve got something else to say.
    The intelligence aspect of this war has just been clearly illustrated as Scott says. Russia clearly seems to have been incredibly unintelligent. Everyone knew but them. When all the facts come out it may prove different, if they ever do, but right now it looks like stupid.
    Stupid in intelligence gathering and stupid in SOP for their troops in Karkiv plus stupid in what they’ve done for their credibility in Karkiv when leaving so many people to the merciless Kiev/NATO forces.
    And intelligence is next door to propaganda.
    And they are not winning the propaganda war nor really trying that I can see.
    The root of this is that Ukrainians are dying for nothing.
    Clear, plain and simple. Nothing. They die for nothing. To profit the US is all.
    So why do they do it?
    They do it because they are fundamentally propagandised to believe the Russians (and, one supposes, the DRP and LPR) to be total monsters.
    From the link in Scott’s piece up there:
    “If we don’t stop them, they’re going to just rape and murder our people like they did everywhere else,” said Oleksandr’s roommate in the hospital, a 49-year-old conscripted soldier who asked to be called by his nickname, “Pinochet.”
    THAT’s close to the heart of the problem. That’s what needs addressing.
    Reputation.
    Already that reputation which is bad enough.
    And now a reputation of leaving friends in the lurch.
    Russia badly needs to show some signs of intelligence militarily.
    Putin is doing a wonderful job out in the civilian world, promoting Russia with the powers that be, commercially and politically adept and successful.
    But even he is not doing anything about the propaganda war within Ukraine and across the world.
    Yes, when he speaks at those conferences or such his speeches are very convincing and persuasive. But he does no more than that. And he doesn’t seem to have ordered any department to do it.
    What’s needed above all is to save lives, I think, why not?
    And that means address this misconception ( I assume it is a misconception?) as quickly and as strongly as possible:
    “If we don’t stop them, they’re going to just rape and murder our people like they did everywhere else,” said Oleksandr’s roommate in the hospital, a 49-year-old conscripted soldier who asked to be called by his nickname, “Pinochet.”

  7. Thoughts from a civilian.
    The Ukraine started this conflict with the bombing of the Donstk and subsequent death of 14,000 (or 16,000) civilians because Russian is the Donstk’s official language.
    They speak Russian. They act Russian. They are Russian.
    Nobody gave a damn the Ukraine did this. They did not give a damn about all the lost lives over what language the people of the Donstk spoke.
    This, to me, is incomprehensible.
    It wasn’t the Ukranian people that started this war.
    It wasn’t the Russian people that started this war.
    Russia extended the olive branch with the signing of the grain pact.
    Ukraine signed the grain pact, then bit the hand that offered it.
    The Ukranian president said he was not interested in a cease fire. He wanted everyone to come to rescue him.
    That’s easy to say when it’s others dying for you.
    He wanted to claim neutrality.
    That means others have to do your fighting fir you.
    Well, you cannot bomb and kill people and then claim to be neutral.
    President Biden said he did not care if the whole world starved in the quest to defeat Russia.
    I take exception to that. The world takes exception to that.
    Nobody wants to starve while vain men fight a war over a piece of land that clearly belongs to Russia and not Ukraine.
    Just saying.

  8. brogard farcical—you believe you can tell Russian how to act live or conduct denazification when you submissively can do nothing to address your #1 violent crime, non violent crime rape per capita all nations—you incarcerate more per capita than any nation in history—“only the least developed societies punish widely and severely”. Durkheim…no Eurpean nation or nation in western hemisphere allows capital punishment—USA worse than Saudi Arabia….why 31% diagnosed mentally ill—this excludes the vast numbers of axis 2 personality disorders…why since 2010 have americans consumed 80% 66% anti-depressants on earth? why onlyamericans consider a color to be depression—blue?
    “only in USA has nationalism carried with it the christian meaning of the sacred. the revelation of america serves to blight and ultimately preclude the possibility of fundamental social change”. Sacvan Bercovitch

  9. Ritter provided vital initial background information on war itself including capabilities training and sizes of Ukrainian and Russian military units which was vital to understand unprecedented scale of of Ukrainian war since WWII.

    However from April on Ritter became largely confused.

    Inadvertently turned from neutral observer of facts and sober judge of specific goals, intentions and strategic. Interests of both sides into quite biased advocate for Russia ending the intervention quickly and successfully with minimal political cost as she has all the capabilities and advantages to do that.

    This resulted in his criticism of not only Russian military battlefield performance but also RF general staff plans he had no knowledge of but was only guessing as perhaps compatible with his own agenda of how to Russia should fight this war.

    However I don’t blame Ritter for that as he seems to fall victim of Ukrainian and in part Russian psychological warfare or in other words total lies to deceive enemy emanating from General staff on all sides of this proxy war and that includes NATO command.

    The events in Izyum area in last 10 days is an example of Ritter’s confusion about complete lack of strategic importance of the area as far as SMO goals are concerned and the fact that for a month Russians were rotating out of the area prime combat troops replacing them with token militia units and militarized police of Russian National Guard with almost no serious defensive capabilities.

    The process of stealth withdrawal has been spotted by US intelligence just over two weeks ago and used to entice AFU to deploy reserve forces to the effectively undefended Izyum area simply for a propaganda stunt of another non existent victory of Ukraine over Russian forces as a campaign tool for new money and weapons from the west as well as for popular support in the west that was steadily declining.

    Ritter is praising NATO trained new Ukrainian troops as effective in defeating Russians in Izyum while forgetting that Russians armed forces already defeated and decimated 260,000 strong NATO Trained for eight years AFU by early April.

    And hence it was not brilliant training and command that resulted in some territorial gains but fact that AFU just slightly interrupted stealth process of withdrawal and repositioning of Allied forced.

    For last two weeks Russians knew that AFU concentrated at least 9000 men force to face less than 2000 lightly armed Alied defenders and did nothing.

    Even Russian bloggers openly provided evidence of new AFU deployment in Izyum area so it was broadly known in public and RF General staff knew that from its 1000 drones deployed along all frontlines daily.

    It clearly indicates that Russians set the trap luring AFU out of trenches and bunkers into unprotected areas to be obliterated by Russian air supremacy and long range and rocket artillery.

    And that what exactly happened although AFU partially countered that by the fact that they split into small , few hundred men groups and avoided attacking any of Russian firing points and instead moved around them with no combat engagement which made them mobile but easily defeatable with no offensive capability to break even weak Allied defense lines. And they did not.

    In fact almost no territory AFU regained in Izyum area via direct combat.

    Russian Allied forces just withdrew with only difficulty of having to safely evacuate almost entire civilian population who wanted, which prompted Russians to act to slow down AFU advances so evacuation could be completed before orderly withdraw of troops could be accomplished.

    Those NATO trained fresh AFU units, Ritter praises, showed no extraordinary military combat prowess, or superb offensive capabilities and most of all no superior command in Izyum campaign as they did not defeat and destroy in combat any of Russian units nor they performed this pseudo offensive in a way to preserve those newly NATO trained AFU units integrity, fighting capacity, combat readiness as they lost over 2000 men out of 9000+ combat group and most of military hardware involved. It was in fact total loss of combat power of the best AFU units.

    It hardly can be called a victory, not even Pyrrhic victory as they could easily and with minimal losses and much better propaganda impact take over the same territory by letting Allied forces to calmly evacuate population and slowly withdraw to new positions.

    The Izyum event is another example of Western recklessness with Ukrainian lives as they want to fight Russia to the last Ukrainian.

    Ritter forgot that SMO is not invasion but a massive police operation, not a war against Ukraine and hence only strategically important territory like in Kherson and Zaporozhye or Donbas is being defended by Russia.

    Ritter should judge Russian operations in such context and be careful in calling defeats or victories without awareness of specific and precise military objectives of both sides involved in combat.

    As Putin said in the beginning. Russia in not interested in taking over Ukraine but to diminish Ukraine’s combat capabilities so is no longer a threat to Russia and that was and is the plan that may easily take two to three years to accomplish amid lack of political settlement.

    1. Wow! Have you ever thought about a career writing Fairy tales? Have you been paying any attention to what is going on at the front lines? As we speak yet another Russian stronghold is being encircled with yet another defeat for the Russian army forthcoming!

  10. I wonder when Kherson falls will Ritter make another admission of error. Just because an assault is taking much longer does not indicate it has failed. One needs only look at the maps posted by the Russians about the Kherson region from early August to the ones they currently have posted to see the difference is slowly moving in Ukrainian favor. Breaking it down piece by piece would be a novel, suffice to say I disagree with Ritter on his assessment of the Kherson situation. It is a far from settled affair. One thing is obvious now however, Russia is on defense everywhere except the Bakhmut and Donetsk. Initiative is no longer Russian, it is Ukrainian.

    1. Well said! Thus far Scott Ritter had been proven wrong on every comment and so called “analysis” that he has ever made! According to the world of Scott Ritter The Ukraine was going to be crushed by the Russian Army within days of their invasion!

      Mind you, what do you expect from a man who associates with the likes of Gonzales Lira and has a conviction for paedophilia from 2011! It beggars belief that he was ever a US Marine as he is most certainly not of their ilk!

  11. THE NATURE AND RISE OF THE FAR RIGHT IN UKRAINE, AIDED AND ABETTED BY NATO

    ( full article in Counterfire)
    https://www.counterfire.org/articles/opinion/23294-neo-fascism-nato-and-russian-imperialism-an-overview-of-left-perspectives-on-ukraine-part-1
    https://www.counterfire.org/articles/opinion/23296-neo-fascism-nato-and-russian-imperialism-an-overview-of-left-perspectives-on-ukraine-part-2 >

    Lest this critical appraisal of Ukraine be misunderstood and to ensure the absence of any doubt, the starting point of this paper is a principled rejection of the dictatorial regime that was Stalinist Russia and of the autocratic and increasingly oppressive nature of the regimes which followed the 1991 collapse of the USSR. Equally assumed is a rejection of the dictatorial, extreme-right regime built by Putin, and revulsion at the crimes against humanity being inflicted on Ukraine.

    However, the cynical use of the far right across the southern Americas and Europe by both the US and its Nato allies to combat the development of socialism over the same period has been absent from the Western narrative. A long period of relatively stable liberal democracy in the West followed the Second World War. However, a blind eye has been turned to the steady development of the far right, expressed across a spectrum of major political gains – most notably in Hungary and France – to an extensive capture of key parts of the armed forces and of the state in Ukraine. This alone should raise alarm bells, and the prospect of these two developments joining in common cause should set off sirens. The fear is that liberal democracy may once again be walking blindfold into fascism.

    This paper assembles commentaries from a wide range of sources to identify the nature and motives of the parties to the conflict. Revulsion at the horrors inflicted on the Ukrainian people by Putin, for which he should be held personally responsible, should not obstruct an historical and political analysis of the drivers of the conflict, nor cause us to shy away from what may be uncomfortable conclusions.

    The contrast between the presentation by the Western press of the organisations of the Ukrainian resistance as models of liberal democracy fighting the forces of evil, and the reality of the depth of penetration into the Ukrainian establishment and armed forces of the neo-fascists is stark. Likewise, the expansion of Nato is presented as a simple issue of free choice by the new democracies following the fall of the USSR, whilst no serious attention is given to the active and often determined manipulation by the US of these states’ internal politics, usually backed by significant funding.

    Beneath the surface is a Western shift to the far right which is already removing core civil rights in Britain, France and Germany and extending mass impoverishment to the ‘developed’ west. The war is increasingly between right-wing power blocks, such that the outcome, regardless of the victor, will see major developments of neo-fascism. But as Enzo Traverso warns, these may take a different form to that of classic fascism’s mass rallies and blatant propaganda:

    ‘The fascism of the twenty-first century, “post-fascism” […] no longer needs mass movements or a more or less coherent ideology. It seeks to affirm social inequality and the subordination of the lower classes to the higher classes as unconditional, as the only possible reality and the only credible law of society.’

    Dismissing Putin’s dog-whistle allegation that Ukraine is a fascist state, and pointing to the fact that Ukraine’s president and previous prime minister are Jewish, should not cause us to fall for the crafted public image of the Azov Battalion and of its political arm, Svoboda, that they are not in the mould of classic fascism and antisemitism.

    The US and Nato are fully aware of the game they are pursuing, with the risk that pushing Putin to the edge would create a maelstrom, and with the cynical objective that he would attract all the blame. This is the marque of US foreign policy, played out over decades in South America, in the Middle East and Europe. America and its Nato allies are the historical and current drivers. Ukrainian and other socialists who castigate the Western left for not placing total blame on Putin are falling for the Nato narrative.

    This is not at all to dismiss the perspective of the Ukrainian left, which bases its position on the continuity of Russian imperialism from the time of the Tsars, through Ukraine’s imposed membership of the USSR and Stalin’s genocide to Putin’s oligarchy. This paper sets this history in the context of the contest between the US and Russia, in particular from the period following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, and identifies the US and Nato as the main drivers of the conflict, whose original agenda was the destruction of ‘communism’, and which subsequently has been to relegate the Russian block to an adjunct of the West, in pursuit of which they are prepared to risk nuclear war.

    There are signs that fascism is once again ‘haunting Europe’, with Azov placed to become its military epicentre. That the mainstream media together with the major political parties are silent on the development of the extreme-right infrastructure within Ukraine, and that instead of sounding the alarm, they function as Nato’s propaganda agency is mind numbing and truly criminal.

    To reference Ilya Budraitskis:

    ‘Russia itself is rapidly evolving towards a new form of fascism – the fascism of the twenty-first century, a frightening sign of a possible future to which extreme right-wing parties striving for power in various European countries could lead.

    In order to fight for a different outcome, we all need to reconsider the very foundations of the capitalist logic, which is quietly but persistently preparing the ground for a “move” from the top, which could happen in a heartbeat. The old and somewhat forgotten dilemma of Rosa Luxemburg, “socialism or barbarism,” has become an urgent reality for Russia and for the world since the fateful morning of the 24th of February.’

  12. Scott – I agree completely on your Russia/Ukraine analysis – what puzzles me is why the Biden Govt & NATO are going to such extreme lengths to “Provoke” Russia into a Nuclear War? What do they know and/or what is their plan to Defeat Putin and his Military ? It’s almost like the US Govt & NATO have some damning inside information on Russia or on the Russian Military which makes them confident they can easily Defeat Russia and walk away the Victors. Do they have moles in the Russian Govt & Military who have sabotaged or are going (on command) to sabotage Russia’s missile,computer systems etc or maybe does the US Military possess secret deadly weapons (maybe space weapons) that Russia just can’t defend itself against ? Finally is it possible that the NWO Zionists (who control the American and European Govts) actually want a Nuclear War To Destroy (Depopulate) the Northern Hemisphere or just it’s current Power Structure,in their Rabid Plan for Complete World Domination ?

  13. Are you mad? Russia’s losses were and still are far higher then those of Ukraine. Moreover, Russia has some structural problems that it can not remediate in the short term. The morale problem of it’s army, the backward command structure in it’s army, the lack of precision weapons and drones. So they can not win. And even if the still would win against all odds, they can never hold the occupied ground for long. Partisans are already making life hell for the occupiers. That will only get worse.

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