Chairman of the Joint Chiefs-of-Staff Mark Milley has predicted that the conflict in Ukraine will be a long war – possible years to come. That may be the most pessimistic assessment to date by any military authority. It also means that Putin wins.
Virtually all of Putin’s problems and military shortcomings are contemporary and fixable. In fact, the mere size of his military means that he can keep replenishing personnel and equipment far more than can Ukraine. The soulless Putin sees no difference between losing a tank or losing 100 soldiers. Both are expendable to his ambitions.
It is an unfortunate fact, that the longer the Ukraine war goes on the less involved and supportive will be the alliance of pro-Ukraine nations – including NATO, the European Union, and an assortment of democratic nations around the world. Over time, Russia and the world will adjust to the sanctions – and some nations may move to lift them. Less committed nations will engage with Russia on a business-as-usual basis. The longer Putin remains undefeated, the more durable he will appear – and be.
While a coalition of nations are sending a large cache of arms to Ukraine – that flow of weaponry will be more difficult and more expensive to maintain as time goes by.
Based on the current assessment of the situation, a long war would be due to Putin’s desire to swallow all of Ukraine. Without serious military intervention, it is likely that Russian troops will gain control of eastern Ukraine – more than the Donbas Region.
If Putin does have control over the eastern one-third of Ukraine, the only reason for a “long war” would be to advance to the east – to topple the Zelenskyy government in Kyiv and place Russian guns on the border of NATO.
The only way to prevent Putin from eventually annexing all of Ukraine is a victory within the next six to eight months. And that would take military intervention by NATO and the European Union. It would mean doubling and re-doubling the flow of weapons – including more offensive weapons … and those jet fighters.
But even that may not be enough. The western nations would have to make it clear to Putin that he either withdraws completely from Ukraine or he will endure NATO involvement. It would not be a declaration of war on Russia, but limited military actions against the invading forces – and those installations attacking Ukraine from inside Mother Russia. It would mean invoking a no-fly zone over Ukraine.
The threats of a nuclear reaction should not dissuade NATO. Those who see the war escalating to a global earth-destroying humanity-ending Armageddon have watched too many 1950s war movies. At most Putin COULD use smaller low-yield tactical nuclear weapons. If he was convinced that even such limited use would put Russia … Moscow … the Kremlin in the crosshairs of a reprisal attack, he would probably not bring nuclear weapons into the battle.
I have consistently written that sanctions would be ineffective in deterring Putin. Even arming the Ukrainian army has not caused Putin to blink. In fact, he has consistently and methodically escalated his attacks. Despite those sanctions – and despite the setbacks on the battlefield – Putin has proven to be more determined than ever to win the war and take Ukraine as the spoils.
If the west allows the Ukraine war to go on for a long time, it will bear the major responsibility for yet another Putin success. If he gets away with his insane and brutal ambitions in Ukraine, he has every reason to covet a lot more of the free world geography – and to implement his ambitions with future warfare.
Defeat means Russian troops out of ALL of Ukraine – and Mother Russia pays reparations. It is too late for a face-saving off-ramp for the Madman of Moscow. While the western leaders speak of the existential necessity of defeating Putin, they have not put their military where their mouths’ are.
So, there ‘tis.