Since the first day of his disastrous war in Ukraine, Putin and his General staff have shown themselves to be military morons. He went in too late, spread his forces too thin, lied to his own troops about their aims, and worst of all underestimated the tenacity of the Ukrainians.

But his fatal flaw was in underestimating the will and support that the US, the UK, and the EU would go to to keep the Ukrainians supplied and in the fight. As a result, Ukraine now has better armor, artillery, anti-air defenses, missiles, and drones than Russia does. And more is coming.

When the US and EU started announcing sanctions, everybody moaned that it would take years for the effects to be felt in Moscow. Not so. By targeting materials and technology Russia would need to build replacement arms and equipment. As a result, Russia is now bribing foreign terrorists to fight, buying missiles from North Korea, drones from Iran, and is reduced to pulling Cold War era T-72 out of mothballs to send to the front.

When a country launches’ an invasion of another country, there’s a military term for it, it’s called Launching an offensive. When you stop advancing on any front, it’s called a stalemate. And when you start going back in the wrong direction, you’re in retreat. Russia has now burned through the first two, and full blown in category 3.

Ukraine just announced that they have liberated more than 1000 miles of land from Russia. Russia itself admitted that it’s pulling out of Ukraine’s 2nd largest city, Kharkiv, due to a heavy Ukrainian offensive. Ukraine has liberated more than 30 towns in the south, killing Putin’s dream of a land bridge between Crimea and Odessa. The only question left is whether Putin is smart enough to back out while there’s time, or if like Hitler, he will let his stupidity force the decimation of what’s left of his forces.

The Russians generally consider their greatest military achievement to be the successful defense in the sieges of Moscow and Stalingrad in WWII. And it was an impressive feat. But when you look at Hitler’s blunder in Russia in 1941, and the blunder Putin is about to make in Ukraine, the similarities are striking.

In 1941, Hitler planned his offensive into Russia to be a 4-6 week affair. Lightning strike and capture  Leningrad, Stalingrad, and Moscow. This would break Russia’s command chain, and would allow the Germans to reopen their supply lines, and resupply before bunkering down for the winter.

Russia didn’t play. They played hit-an-run, refusing to let Germany engage them in a decisive battle. They sucked the Germans deeper and deeper into the vast flat wastelands of the steppes.

And then winter arrived. The Germans had literally outrun their supply lines, and weren’t outfitted for winter. Hitler refused to retreat back to their supply lines, demanding they stand and fight. As a result, thousands of German soldiers froze to death, sucking the steam out of Germany’s spring 1942 offensive.

Fast forward to 2022. Putin also planned on a 4-6 week campaign, spread his forces too thin, flubbed or outran his supply chain, and underestimated the Ukrainians. They too played cat-and-mouse with Putin, pulling his forces into wide open areas, where Ukrainian artillery and missiles could devastate his A-team equipment.

And now, once again, winter is coming. And Putin’s army is no better prepared for winter than Hitler’s was. His supply lines are sketchy at best, and he has a supply chain problem Hitler didn’t have, a rations problem due to decades old meal supplies that are too rancid to eat. And Putin has one more problem that Hitler didn’t. Hitler’s troops were hundreds of miles into hostile territory, there was nowhere for them to run to. Putin’s troops have 3 different borders to safety to run to, Crimea, Belarus, and Russia’s own southern border.Russia already had a desertion problem in the opening weeks of the war, winter should worsen it.

History doesn’t repeat itself, but it sure does rhyme. I wrote months ago, when Putin pulled out of everywhere but the Donbas region to restock and reequip that Putin had lost. The turning point would come when the US and NATO had given Ukraine enough supplies, and enough of their soldiers were trained to use it. That time has come. The only question now is, how badly does Putin want to lose by? Don’t touch that dial.


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  1. I keep banging this drum but it’s worth repeating. It’s best to think of Trump’s reign, the Brexit mess and the shenanigans in Ukraine leading up to the invasion as one connected chain of events. How much pull Putin had in the first two is debatable. The effects are not.

    A USA under Trump’s thumb was less likely to get in Putin’s way. A UK disengaged from Europe seemed less likely to want anything to do with across the Channel. And a destabilized Ukraine was less likely to fight back. Yet NONE of Putin’s best case scenarios came to be and he pushed ahead anyway. He’s paying for that now.

    • Well, that’s going to require someone that Putin fully trusts* will be able to get close enough to Putin to NOT be able to prevent the “accident.” (Gods, that was a truly awkward sentence. I originally had the below sentence inserted as a parenthetical after “trusts” but moved it and the sentence STILL is an awkward construction.)

      *However you want to define “fully trusts”–authoritarian leaders don’t tend to “fully trust” many people, not even members of their own families.

  2. There’s a saying that sometimes you have to choose between losing little or losing big. I’ve felt that for Putin/Russia that became inaccurate months ago. Now, they are faced with having to choose between losing medium-large or losing huge. With each passing week they shift ever closer to the inevitable outcome of the latter – losing huge. And if things completely collapse over there which is possible? Think Romania and what happened with the Caucescues and their cohorts. Putin’s oligarch pals have to be getting nervous about a popular uprising, and with a devasted military, the remnants of which Russia will want as close as possible to China before THEY start getting ideas Putin’s crop of “haves” in Russia might turn into more than “not haves” like the Russian people, but dead not haves!

    • You kind of lost me with the “Think Romania etc” bit (not even really bothered by the misspelling of “Caucasus”). Russia still has its fingers in the Caucacus–well, Georgia, at any rate with South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Russia has been responsible for a peacekeeping force in Azerbaijan maintaining oversight of a corridor between Armenia and the Armenian-majority region of Nagorno-Karabakh but any other Caucasus-related issues are wholly Russian as the regions of Chechnya, Dagestan, Adygea, North Ossetia, Ingushetia and others are subjects within the Russian Federation (but were all involved to some degree in insurgent movements seeking full independence which have all largely grown dormant in recent years).

      The only issue I’m aware of that MIGHT impact Romania is the pro-Russian separatist movement in Transnistria, a small area of Moldova along the Dniester River on the border with Ukraine. But Romania and Moldova have both largely asserted their status as separate nations and while Romania has some concerns about Transnistria (as Russia inserted a “peacekeeping” force which has been pushing into Ukrainian territory and has been the main reason for Russia’s strikes on the city of Odesa), I haven’t really heard any other serious talk about Romania in the Russia-Ukraine War.

    • Denis, they can’t AFFORD huge…His dumb play has already cost him an estimated 40% of his total ground force capabilities…And with the sanctions, he can’t even rebuild what he’s expended…If he limps away right now and resigns, it will take a new government at least 20 years just to rebuild what he has squandered…

      • What Putin had in spades is cannon fodder, all drafted in from the outlands of Russia, from the endless stock of peasants who, traditionally, are sent in waves to die for Mother Russia. Trouble is that, nowadays, even those peasant lads have mobile phones and internet. Keeping them in line and ready to die ingloriously in Ukraine will be ever tougher for Putin’s decimated officer corps, most of whom are thoroughly disillusioned themselves.


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