When the war in Ukraine started about a month ago, I woke up every morning dreading the news that the Russians had taken Kiev and were in the process of installing a puppet regime.
Now, not so much.
It now looks, remarkably enough, as though the Russians may never take Kyiv. It certainly looks like they will never take the country as a whole, and probably not Lviv or the rest of western Ukraine. On the other hand, they may eventually take Black Sea cities like Odessa, and they’re clearly planning on bombing Mariupol into oblivion. Just yesterday they announced a change in objectives, claiming that they are now in the Donbas region.
In the meantime, several things have revealed themselves:
First, the Russian military is not nearly as fearsome as we all thought. There seems little likelihood that they will attack Poland or the Baltics, because they’re likely to get their asses handed to them by the well-trained and well-armed NATO troops.
Second, coordinated sanctions really can hit hard even against as big a country as Russia. If the sanctions hold for another six months, the Russian economy will be in a shambles. Which is not really a good thing. It may drive Putin out of power, but at the price of a lot of severe pain to ordinary Russians. Also, oligarchs of all shapes and sizes may now start working overtime to insulate themselves from sanctions.
Third, propaganda really still works. For now. With 11 million Russians having relatives in Ukraine, there have been a lot of stories of Ukrainians hearing from their Russian relatives that this really is a limited military operation designed to help the Ukrainians and protect them from a NAZIfied government. Of course, we’ll see how long that can hold. As those 11 million Ukrainians continue to report on what’s actually happening.
It’s estimated that the Russians may have lost as many as 7,000 to 14,000 soldiers, which is more than all the American soldiers killed in post-9/11 war operations. In the 11 years that the United States was fighting in Vietnam, the United States lost only 47,434 soldiers, according to official counts.
There is often a ratio of about 5:1 relative to the number of soldiers injured compared to the number of soldiers killed in modern warfare. So that could mean as many as 35,000 to 70,000 injured soldiers returning home to their families and able to report on what’s actually happening in Ukraine.
Eventually, the truth will out.
And finally, war in a country with nuclear power plants (never mind involving a country with nuclear weapons) really does change the risks. God willing we don’t have a meltdown 10 times the size of Chernobyl, making most of Ukraine uninhabitable and causing incalculable environmental damage around the world.