On Evidence So Far Ukraine *Wants* This a Lot More Than Russia Does
The manlet willpower battle has a winner
When Russia made its move on February 24 it demonstrated that it cares a lot more about the Black Sea coast and the plains of Ukraine than the USA ever could. Russia may be the lesser of the two powers globally, but Russia wants this particular region a lot more than the US does.
Russia has already sacrificed the deaths of 10,000 of its soldiers in a bid to determine the fate of this part of the world. It’s safe to say that is the sort of investment the United States is not ready to make — not for these distant and strange shores. On the contrary, the first thing the US did when it came to believe that Russia was poised to move was to evacuate and get the hell out of her way.
For Russia, the Black Sea coast was its reward for eight Russo-Turkish wars and centuries of competition against the Tartars of the vast Eurasian steppe. Whatever the region is to the United State it is not *that*.
Russia — because it is willing to go much farther to decide the fate of a region that means a lot more to it — ends up as the dominant actor locally. What you could do on paper doesn’t matter nearly as much as what you’re willing to bring to the showdown in practice.
Unfortunately for Russia, the US isn’t the only party it has to overpower. There is another actor who gets to vote on the outcome.
If the American reaction was to flee, the Ukrainian one sure as hell was not. Kiev’s reaction early on to distribute guns to civilians, to call on them to inform on the positions of the Russians, and to literally drag people from buses and impress them into military service may have looked cringey (especially from the comfort of a far-away sofa and with hindsight that Kiev did not have) and been unwise — but it betrayed the picture of a regime that was supremely determined to go the distance to try and survive.
On the other hand, while Ukraine was dumping 17,000 guns to civilians in Kiev, Putin was busy reassuring Russian parents that serving draftees would not be sent to Ukraine, and that officers who had ignored instructions to leave them behind would be hunted down.
Which of the two looks like the side that wants it more?
The Russians have trained conscripts available which they refuse to use. The Ukrainians are mobilizing left, right, and center, and have even damaged dams and flood walls to slow down the Russians.
The Russians may be flying the Soviet red and restoring monuments to Lenin, but it is the Ukrainians who are actually fighting like the Soviets.
Russia is obviously much more powerful of the two on paper, but Ukraine is fighting with a lot more of what it has. The result is not only that the war has receded into a stalemate, but that Kiev looks like the party that cares about possessing these regions and dictating their future a lot more than Russia does.
Russian willpower may have been sufficient to send the Yankees packing home, but Russia is now herself finding herself similarly out-efforted by Ukraine. Ukraine has less but it is using a lot more of what it does have. Exactly as if it possessed a level of determination and clarity that it wants to remain in control of the fate of places like Odessa, Kharkov, Nikolayev and Kiev that far exceeds anything in Moscow.
The simpleminded of the Russia backers are celebrating the alleged facts that Ukraine is now on its “sixth mobilization” and that it has already sustained “60,000 dead“. But if that is remotely true, what does that mean other than that Ukraine will go to distances for its war effort that Putin has hit the break at?
This is highly ironic since Kremlin launched the Ukraine expedition on the assumption that the opposition was scared and weak. That Ukrainian state would crumble on impact was treated as a real possibility and dictated the ill-fated march on Kiev.
Instead it is Putin who by refusing the military the manpower it needs has made himself look unresolute and has made Zelensky look like the Man of Steel himself. Stalin come-back-to-life would have likely determined that Kremlin has been usurped by soyboys and wondered as to why his true heirs are flying the trident and the Banderite red-black.
— — GEROMAN — The Zerbian – 👀 – (@GeromanAT) August 29, 2022
Meanwhile, if there is a historical analog for Putin it is the heels-sporting Bourbons and their Ancien Régime. Putin acts like an early modern monarch where wars are a private affair of the king and of the people in his employ and none of the people’s business. He has neither explained to the people what the war is about, nor did he sought to prepare them for it. Nor has he asked them to bear any sacrifices for it. On the contrary, he has promised them that they wouldn’t have to. Certainly not by having their sons sent to fight this allegedly super necessary and super existential war.
There is a strange duality in Russia right now that we last witnessed when the US was in Iraq. On the one hand, the state is involved in a major conflict that is exerting a heavy tax on the army and military families. On the other, society at large is instructed to carry on shopping.
Nor does Putin’s approach mean that Russia’s war is more sustainable than Ukraine’s. On the contrary. Russia’s deaths are far more concentrated on its military families, while Ukraine’s are far more spread out. Almost every one of Russia’s deaths falls upon one of only 250,000 officers and enlistees in the various land combat arms. Ukraine meanwhile is fighting with recent civilians thus distributing the deaths among the 7 million of its fighting-age men. Even if Ukraine really was losing 6 soldiers for every 1 Russian (and it isn’t) the arithmetic would favor Ukraine.
Putin has literally rolled back the clock to before 1792 and to before national citizen armies. He presided over the transformation of the post-Soviet military into a force that would rely on a mix of professionals and citizens, but now won’t use anyone not in government’s pay.
The price for this ‘kindness’ has been a heavy toll on the standing military, and a stalemate on the ground. The upside has been the lack of accountability. As long as normie Ivans are not bleeding out under fratricidal fire on the prairies of the Ukraine the Kremlin and its Sun King resident do not need to explain themselves.
What was gained (and lost) for the investment, why was the war started, and why is it being allowed to go poorly? Since you don’t have a son in the trenches it is the opinion of the Kremlin technocrats that you don’t get to ask this question. Russia’s fate on the Black Sea and in the Ukraine is theirs alone to play with.