Ritter justifies his abrupt, overnight shift from triumphalism to deep pessimism for Russia in Ukraine by explaining that until now he thought that Russia was successfully intercepting US supplies before they reached the front:
And this is why I have radically changed my overall assessment, because I had been operating on the assumption that Russia would be able to interdict the vast majority of this equipment, but Russia has shown itself unable or unwilling to do this and– as a result– the Ukrainians are having meaningful impact on the battlefield.
But *why* was Ritter operating on the assumption that Russia would be interdicting most of these supplies?? What justification was there for this assumption?
I had been watching the Russian strategic war on Ukrainian rail since its April start and was able to conclude and chronicle that it wasn’t having an overwhelming impact. The Russian approach of striking electric substations would disrupt the rail for a few days at a time but then things would go back to normal.
- Russia in New Approach to War but the Clock Is Ticking
- Russia Has Launched a Strategic Campaign vs Rail but Still Won’t Target Railway Bridges Over Dnieper
- Russia’s Halfway War vs Ukrainian Rail Continues
- 57 Days and 1700 Missiles Into the War Russia Hits a Dnieper Bridge for the First Time
- MIRACLE! 69 Days and 2150 Missiles Into the War Russia Hits a Dnieper Bridge for the SECOND Time
If I was able to see the present Russian effort was insufficient why didn’t Ritter? Why could an ex-machinist see what an ex-“intelligence officer” couldn’t?
And if he couldn’t see that for himself why didn’t he read Anti-Empire and learn it here? Sounds like it would have saved him a ton of embarrassment.
In fact Ritter did a lot more than just assume that Russia would destroy nearly all of this American equipment in transit. He was actively telling his listeners that was indeed already happening. Something he now admits had been false the whole time.
I never paid attention to him, but a friend who did reports that Ritter was selling an elaborate fantasy where Russia had such amazing intel on NATO shipments that leaving the Dnieper bridges intact was clever 5D play to allow NATO supplies to come closer where they could be destroyed even more easily. (LOL)
Reality is that by now 15 planeloads are unloaded in eastern Poland every day. Russia has had success in destroying some of it on railway yards and in warehouses in Ukraine, but there is no indication it is destroying anything close to 15 planeloads a day. Far from it. Russia doesn’t have the surveillance capability to monitor every rail line, every train, and every warehouse, and the majority survives. If the Ukrainians are able to ship food, ammo and new units to the eastern theater — and we know that they are — then they are also able to transport NATO ammo and NATO gear to the same destinations. Indeed since civilian trains are still making routine and on-schedule trips as far as Lozova in the Donetsk region, how could they not?
It doesn’t make sense that Ukrainians could run civilian trains to Donbass, and keep over 20 brigades they have there more or less supplied (except at the very front, in Russian artillery range), but would be magically incapable of transporting foreign-provided gear alone.
Changing your mind on something is very rare in people and can be a sign of unusual and remarkable intellectual honesty. So in theory Ritter’s U-turn could be reason to praise him and take him more seriously than ever. Problem is his flip-flop happened overnight and without any warning whatsoever which in a commentator is the exact opposite of seriousness.
It’s one thing to gradually chronicle a development that eventually forces you to switch to a different overall position. But it’s an entirely different thing to keep saying there are no valid reasons to hold a position Y whatsoever, then one morning suddenly proclaiming yourself to now hold Y as correct because reasons.
That sort of thing means you’re not an analyst but a roulette wheel. What hot, sensationalist, and attention-grabbing take are you going to have tomorrow?
One day the Russian effort in Ritter’s take was brilliant and invincible, the next day it was all of a suddenly checkmated. One day there was triumphalism that glossed over every problem and denied any danger whatsoever — the next day everything was proclaimed lost.
Except that it wasn’t. Not in one day. If the Russian effort is now truly sentenced to a forever war as Ritter now claims, then the potential danger and signs of that already existed for quite some time. Signs that Ritter never alerted his audience to, but in fact actively denied even existed.
That’s the problem. It’s perfectly okay to be wrong on where things are headed. In fact, it is to be expected. What isn’t okay is making facts fit your narrative because you’re wedded to it.
When you switch on a dime then sadly that is proof that your “analysis” doesn’t proceed from honest reasoning and information-gathering but from your emotional state. It means that for some time you have been lying to yourself and to your audience.
The only thing Ritter’s abrupt flip-flop tells us is that from Monday to Tuesday his feelings underwent a radical shift, because the war itself certainly did not. One day he was wedded to a narrative, the next he no longer was. What’s the guarantee his reasoning will be more sincere and reality-based from now on?
Ritter also fails to grapple with the question of what his newfound understanding that Kremlin expected only light resistance and to deliver a knockout blow inside a month means for his claim that the drive on Kiev was a mere “supporting attack”.
How precisely was a campaign whose main effort was (allegedly) against the SE periphery of the country ever going to deliver a knockout blow that Ritter now asserts was the expectation?
If anything was going to deliver a knockout blow inside a month against limited organized resistance it wasn’t going to be the effort in the southeast (which was the real pinning effort) but only a stroll into the political capital.
…massive Russian intelligence failure over prewar assessments that organized resistance by Ukraine would be limited and easily overcome. Instead, the Russians were met by an organized, capable and determined Ukrainian military that has shown great resilience in defending against Russian attack.
Instead of a quick campaign of less than a month, Russia found itself in a drawn-out fight that required its military to alter its approach — pulling back from supporting attacks against Kyiv and Odessa in favor of a more singular focus on eastern Ukraine.
The failure of the invasion to deliver a knockout blow to the Ukrainian government has altered the political-military landscape in ways that neither Russia nor Nato predicted.
For the record I don’t think that Western aid has the kind of outcome-altering significance that Ritter assigns it. Not yet. As I said that would require the West taking on the burden of retooling and capacity expansion and so far there isn’t a sign of that. (As well as taking on greater financial obligations.)
Suddenly citing the significance of Western aid that was always a given sounds more like an excuse. A way to justify the abrupt shift that was really caused by loss of confidence in the prior triumphalist take for a whole host of complicated reasons and which had been marinating for some time.