The simple fact is that Putin can’t win in Ukraine. And I’m not the only one who’s saying that, US military leaders are saying that Putin has already lost the war in Ukraine, and so are NATO military leaders. But the genesis for Putin’s ultimate defeat in Ukraine is actually buried deep in history. And in Putin’s misapplication of that history.

If you want the basis of Putin’s plans for subjugating Ukraine, you have to go back in history. And I mean way back. Try going back some 100 years or more.

For more than 100 years, going back before World war I, even in all of the frenzied negotiations between countries leading up to the onset of the conflict, there was one wild card. The Russian Steamroller. That’s what it was actually called all the way back in 1912-1914. And it had a chilling meaning.

The threat that the Russian army imposed on the rest of Europe in those days, and even through World War II, was Russia’s ability, due to their size and population, to throw an unlimited amount of dispensable manpower into a war. Due to the inefficiencies in Russian logistics and transportation it took the Russians longer than other countries to mobilize, but once they started rolling, nothing could stand in their way. New troops just kept coming forward.

And that was Putin’s plan when he decided to invade Ukraine. After all, he had an army ore than five times larger than Ukraine’s, more artillery, armor, aircraft, and precision guided missiles than Ukraine. All he had to do was to keep throwing wave after wave of them at the Ukrainians, and resistance would crumble.

It didn’t work out that way. Mainly because the Russian military leadership is made up of morons. They mistimed their original offensive, leaving one week before the spring thaw began, and Russian tanks, transports, and artillery became bogged down in the mud. Under fierce Ukrainian resistance, the Russian soldiers ran, and the Ukrainians reaped the rewards of Russian trucks, personnel carriers, tanks, artillery, and ammunition.

But here’s the nub. When Putin went into Ukraine, he went in with more than 220,000 troops massed on Russia’s border with Ukraine, as well as the Ukrainian border with Belarus, a loyal Russian lackey. The operation was fucked up from the start. Putin didn’t even have the balls to tell his troops they were invading, he portrayed it as a military exercise. The first time Russian troops knew they were under live fire was when their comrades started dropping to the ground.

Putin’s Russian Steamroller approach was obvious. The more Russian troops that were lost, the more troops Putin kept pouring inland it has cost him. After one year of war, the estimates are that Ukraine has lost some 10,000 fatalities and 4,000 wounded in combat. But independent research shows that the Russians have lost somewhere between 200-250,000 killed and wounded in combat. That kind of loss ratio is unsustainable, even for Russia.

So Putin went Russian Steamroller. He called an extension of the draft, and called up another 200,000 18-45 year old makes for conscription to the front, along with asking retired veterans to sign on as well. This effort didn’t have quite the inspirational national movement Putin had imagined.

According to independent reporting and analysis, since Putin called up another draft class, more than 600,000-1 million draft eligible Russian males have fled over the borders of Russia to western countries in order to avoid conscription. Reporting shows that Russian males under conscription age have taken to things like breaking their own arms, or legs in order to avoid being called up. And there are multiple reports of Russian parents sending their conscription age sons off to relatives in far flung towns and villages to the east, to protect them from being rounded up for the draft.

And here’s where Putin’s grand Russian Steamroller strategy falls apart. As we speak, Putin is still trying to get his grand Spring Offensive underway in Ukraine. And what does his grand army consist of? The Russians still left standing after one year, the new, barely trained Russian conscripts rushed to the front, and Russian criminals released from prison with the promise of a full pardon in return for fighting, and even worse yet, paid mercenaries from Syria and the Middle East.

What could go wrong? After all, the secret of a successful army is a cohesive, coordinated unit, functioning under a skilled command structure. Ukraine, like the United States has a corps of non commissioned officers who are capable of making battlefield command decisions. The Russians don’t. That’s why their General loss ratio is so high, they have to keep going to the front. And if there’s anybody less likely to take to discipline and command than convicted criminals and paid mercenaries.

But it gets even worse for Putin and Russia. Because Ukraine is busy getting almost unlimited ammunition and munitions from the US and NATO, advenced surface-to-air missiles and precision artillery that can track where an incoming projectile came from, and providing GPS data to take out the artillery piece. Ukrainian soldiers are in the US being trained on the Patriot Missile System we’re providing the with, and the first group of four German advanced tanks rolled into Ukraine today, just the tip of the spear.

And Putin? He’s calling out Cold War relic MiG fighters, as well as the shitty T-72 tanks to be rehabbed and sent into combat. He’s taking hand-me-downs from North Korea, as well as cast off Iranian explosive drones that Ukraine so loves shooting out of the sky. And I have no doubt that if Ukrainian President
Zelensky cops a good enough pout, we’ll be training Ukrainian pilots of the F-16 before long.

Putin has already lost, and for a simple reason. There’s an old military saying, Generals always tend to fight the last war. And the only real war Putin has for reference is WWII, when the nearly unlimited resource of Russia manpower turned the Germans away from the gates of Stalingrad and Moscow. But as Putin is finding out to his detriment, While Russia may still have an almost unlimited amount of manpower, if that manpower isn’t motivated to fight, ‘re  boned. Here ended the lesson.

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  1. I have been marveling for one solid year now that Putin got himself into this mess. You remember the early days of this, with the bankers looking at him cross-eyed and the pronouncement a few months later (after you couldn’t get computer repair or buy a Starbucks) that the only booming industries in Russia were exit visas and coffins?

    Putin is killing his people and his country. Not Ukraine.

    • Ursula, I’ve been coivering this for the whole year now, ratings regardless, and I’ll continue covering it for the simple reason that it’s news…

      • Not just news, my friend, but news of world history import. There are only three stories in the world that matter today: Climate Change, Ukraine-Putin, China (everything related to Xi), and maybe, will the United States survive as a democracy? NOTHING else will matter in 200 years, but these three (possibly four). You are RIGHT to be focussed on one of those 3 or 4, Murph.

  2. They mistimed their original offensive

    I have heard that that was a political decision, rather than a military one. The story goes that Chairman Xi didn’t want the invasion to start until the Winter Olympics in China were fully finished.

    • I heard that too…Putin delayed the invasion for 12 days to allow Xi to bask in the glory of the Olympice, and that cost him 2 weeks of hard freeze to move his artillery…Which begs the question…What kind of idiot lets another dictator rule his inva

    • Yes, and although he delayed for Xi (China and Russia have been secretly conspiring in its attempts to weaken the US since the cold war days), once Trumplethinskin lost in November 2020, Putin knew his window of opportunity of invading Ukraine then all of Europe and ultimately bringing down the USA – was closing fast. Putin’s only experience was as an insulated KGB officer and even that was toward the end of the Russian failed invasion of Afghanistan. Most of the Russians with any military experience from that war were dead or too aged to assist with battlefield tactics. Putin is just as insane as Hitler. And equally as paranoid. There have monthly attacks attempting to take him out by anti-Putin Russians, so far unsuccessful – all were killed but several got through multiple layers of Putin’s FSB and electronic defenses. Good thing Putin’s dying of Parkinson’s and Cancer. He’s got 1-2 years left at most. Most worry-some is the more sick & desperate he gets the greater chance of his ordering the launching a nuclear attack.

  3. You’re correct that Putin’s plan was flawed from the beginning but there’s an additional factor you didn’t cover. The people of Ukraine. You mentioned going back a hundred years in history but it’s worth going back much longer. Russia has centuries of treating Ukraine as one of its Provinces and a history of brutalization & exploitation of their neighbor. In Russian thinking, and the way people there are taught all their lives Ukraine was created by Russia. The truth, the “Pravda” is that it’s the other way around. And Ukrainians know it. Although the two counties share significant similarities in language and culture it was roughly a THOUSAND years ago that Ukrainians wanting to stake their claim to new territory struck out eastward. Instead of the American “Go west young man” centuries before Europeans would re-settle this country the mantra in Ukraine was “Go east.” Over time, and with the distances and difficulty of long-distance travel being even more stark than the old days when white people spread to the American west the Ukrainians who created what would become Russia developed some new thoughts and customs, hence the differences (yet still reasonably similar) in language and culture. But make no mistake – it was Ukraine that created Russia and not the other way around.

    Russia has for many centuries suffered from a massive inferiority complex, but Ukrainians haven’t had that problem. Their national pride is a strong (and has long been) as any country on the face of this earth. And if they were forced into brutal submission at times just to stay out of the gulags or even survive, at best the typical Ukrainian resented if not outright hated Russia and Russian people in general! Of course, like any ex-KRB officer Putin swallowed the Russia propaganda whole. Hell, it was his job to help promote the bullshit and cover everything in sight with it! Like most of his fellow Russians Putin spent his life deluding himself with the notion that the average Ukrainian actually loved “Mother Russia” and that those who spoke against it were few in number and “agitators” or “subversives.” That Ukrainians longed for the day when they were fully part of Russia and had the kind of loyalty to Moscow that MAGAs have for Trump.

    Even Putin’s puppet President getting run out of Ukraine, barely escaping with his life as he fled back to Russia didn’t change Putin’s view. Nor the resistance to his proxy forces in the swaths of eastern Ukraine his proxy forces took over. Years of fighting and still Russia hadn’t put down resistance. But Putin simply refused to believe the truth about his neighbor. Even now I don’t think he’s gotten the proverbial memo. As with the invasion of Afghanistan, Putin and too many of his military advisors and commanders believe the population of the country they mean to rule will come round and support them, and blame the failure of that happening SOLELY on their grand military plan being badly executed.

    One might argue that that has in fact happened in Ukraine, BUT as has been noted the military plan itself was badly flawed (trying to take Kyiv and decapitate Ukraine’s Capitol and govt. in a few days by attacking down a SINGLE road – shades of Market-Garden in WWII) and just like in the old USSR that Putin has dreamed of rebuilding the top people saw one false readiness report of unit’s strength/capability after another. The real info. was gundecked just like back in the day.

    Most importantly, although much smaller the Ukrainian armed forces had shifted away from the Russian (Soviet) model towards a western style one with an ever increasing Corps of competent NCOs – something important you pointed out. Worse for Putin, all those years of fighting in those disputed areas in eastern Ukraine gave them plenty of Reservists with combat experience. Yes, early on they were scattered all over their country but due to the failure of the drive down that single road from Belarus (and the resistance at the airport that prevented Russia from gaining operational control) Ukraine got precious time to get organized. And as we’ve seen they had an inspirational leader to rally them, and no shortage of Ukrainians willing to fight the HATED Russians.

    Putin just can’t accept that Ukrainians not only don’t love him and Russia but instead feel HATRED. And that hatred grows with each atrocity. With each missile attack on civilian areas. Ukrainians see this war as a chance to once and for all teach Russia that they are NOT part of Russia and NEVER will be. And to instill in the average Russian and every person who aspires to leadership there a sure and certain knowledge that Ukraine will kick their asses up around their shoulder blades should they even start trying another takeover of Ukraine!

      • Thank you. I know I can be boring in both articles and comments as it’s my nature to want to dig into the weeds with details to provide readers with context. As for teaching, no. I’ve always loved history and while the internet has caused problems it is also if one is careful to vet sources like the world’s biggest library. Properly used it can be a university of sorts. When I separated from active duty my ex and I were living in Fairfax County, VA which at least then was noted for having one of the top public school systems in the country. I had two months of terminal leave and was hoping to wind up in a govt. job. An offer was made by the DC guy of the FAA for a Federal Air Marshal position and we had to wait for his boss to come down from NYC to make things official. And at that moment Reagan fucked it up and they weren’t allowed to fill any openings. (Bad timing on jobs seems to be the story of my professional life!) But right away I started subbing in the Fairfax public schools. Some Jr. High and some High Schools too. I taught different subjects but History was my favorite and one Jr. High teacher who needed a month off (her husband was a fellow jarhead) to go to Iceland to get things set up for their move there and she specifically asked I fill in for her the whole time. Frankly, I wasn’t all that impressed with the level of knowledge of students in this vaunted school system. I got a better education in my podunk midwestern town of 10l than the average student seemed to be getting in Fairfax County.

        When the FAA went bust the ex and I did talk about me going back to school and getting a teaching certificate. However in over six months of subbing I saw multiple instances of parent trying to get teachers disciplined or even fired for (“horrors!) giving Johnny or Suzie a B When that was the grade they’d actually earned. You could hear the yelling in the hall about a teacher ruining the kid’s chances of getting into some Ivy League school or other elite place. I knew I’d never last. (I was demanding which is why Gail wanted me to teach her class) Had we lived in a small town where parents still backed up teachers it’s likely that’s what I would have become.

    • Ukrainians, like the Irish, aren’t fond of their conquerers. They had their own history. culture, and language which Russia tried to replace. I seeso.many parallels to.the Ireland/UK relationship. The Russian speakers in the East are very much like the Protestants in Northern Ireland.

    • Yes – I read that the name Russia comes from the name of the tribe, the Rus, who were the main people in the Ukraine area & KIEV was their capital CITY multiple hundreds of years BEFORE Moscow was even a small village. There was nothing going on in what is now Russia then, all centered on Kiev, and that knowledge gives those descended from the original Rus people of Kiev much more claim to their origins than those sitting in Moscow. It’s no wonder we see Ukraine stand up & fight – they know their history – THEY are the original people of that area with a deep, deep history ! so I can see how putin could try to rationalize that Russia & Ukraine are one country – but he’s trying to take away from the original people their original homeland – they do not want to be part of what Russia has become !

  4. Ironically putin learned nothing from previous wars. One reason the Germans failed wasn’t just the sheer numbers of Russian soliders, but Hitler, like putin, ignored the obstacles of weather, especially the Russian winter. His troops didn’t prepare for the weather, weren’t equipped for the severity of the cold, and many died of exposure. Here in our history, according to David McCullough, in his epic book 1776, the main reason Washington was able to turn the conflict, after many losses, was the weather. Washington was trapped in mud and the British knew it. They decided to wait til morning to attack. Washington, being a gentleman farmer, noticed a freeze was coming and when it did, he was able to sneak the remainder of his army away in the night. He also created propaganda by setting up fires maintained by a few troops making the British think he was still there. In the morning when the British finally came, he and his army were gone. He then went on to reorganize his army and to the major victories that turned the momentum of the war. Arrogance ignores reality. A very bad trait for the commander of an army. Putin is a poster child for blind arrogance.

  5. “The threat that the Russian army imposed on the rest of Europe in those days … ”
    You seem to be speaking of the eve of WW1. Russia at that time belonged to the Triple Entente,
    that is, they were allies of France and Great Britain. So Russia was not regarded as a threat to “the rest of Europe,” but to Germany, Austro-Hungary, and the Ottoman Empire. Early Russian withdrawal from the war weakened the alliance and was thought to be a benefit to Germany. But because the Russian army had performed so poorly, their withdrawal didn’t help the Germans much.
    After that, the situation was radically different. Russia was in civil war, and the Czechoslovak Legion, Poles under Pilsudski), and yes, the American Expeditionary Force in Siberia, fought in both Ukraine AND Russia until 1920. Russia was regarded as a threat because of the communist revolution. But not until the 1930s could their military be seriously regarded as a threat outside of the borders of the former Russian Empire.


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