De grote verliezer van het spel is Europa, niet dankzij Poetin, maar dankzij het geliefde Angelsaksische spelletje van verdeel en heers en wie niet voor me is is tegen mij, met nu als spelers Joe Biden en Boris Johnson. Ze wisten Frankrijk en Duitsland, lees Macron en Scholz, wederom op de knieën te dwingen met onverwachte steun van een gillende keukenmeid in de persoon van de Duitse minister van BuZa. Ze is alvast vlijtig begonnen met het voeren van de door haar bedachte groene feministische politiek, ver buiten de realiteit van het spel dat door de grote jongens wordt gespeeld. Bij haar lijkt een andere Duitse te verbleken, die zegt te staan voor Europese belangen en zich hult in de kleuren van de Oekraïense vlag.
Geel en blauw, de kleuren van de Roomse kerk…
Was Putin Right All Along?
HOW RUSSIA JUDGED US BETTER THAN WE JUDGED OURSELVES
As the war in Ukraine continues to grind on, it is time to start asking if Mr. Putin was right all along. Since the start of the war that shocked the world Russia’s strategy hinged on the fact that the West would grow bored of the conflict and turn its attention elsewhere. Spring brought a groundswell of support for Ukraine in the form of punishing sanctions, materials, intelligence and an intense public focus. But as spring slowly turns to summer it seems like that support is beginning to wane, just as Putin predicted.
The West is facing intense economic headwinds as stimulus money dries up and inflation sets in. Meanwhile, Russia has shown a surprising amount of economic resiliency since sanctions kicked in. McDonald’s pulled out of Russia only to see its storefronts rebranded as a Russian company. Russians can still eat hamburgers only now the corporate profits stays inside its borders. Russian car manufacturers are restarting Soviet-era programs aimed at making vehicles independent of Western parts. Life goes on.
Meanwhile, Ukraine continues to suffer a series of growing setbacks in its efforts to stem the Russian tide in the East. In April, Western media outlets and so-called experts were claiming that Russia could not physically win the war. Now it appears not only that Russia might win but that it will probably win.
If Russian forces manage to crack the last bastion of Ukrainian resistance at the key city of Severodonetsk it will effectively control the entire Donbas region. A victory here will give Russia time to regroup, reinforce and retool for the next phase of the war. Securing the Donbas will give Russia time and space to focus on the critical port city of Odessa and essentially make Ukraine a landlocked nation.
How did this happen? It turns out the war is starting to unfold in a way that Mr. Putin predicted. While his ambitious push to decapitate the Ukrainian government and seize Kyiv early failed, the war has settled into a more familiar pattern and one that benefits Russia most of all.
Banking On Western Apathy
Putin knew that if he could wait out the initial flurry of outrage from the West that the storm would pass. Modern outrage culture has been punctuated by intense periods of nearly overwhelming attention and anger followed by a pivot to the next new thing. Ukraine made headlines as President Biden visited nearby Poland, conscious voters handed the country a win in the international Eurovision Song Contest and Ukrainian flags flew from mailboxes from Dallas to Berlin. But that support is waning due in large part to a series of other issues and atrocities unfolding around the world.
Americans began wondering if the $40 billion Congress sent to Ukraine could have been better spent at home after a horrific shooting at a Texas elementary school. News outlets started pushing the Ukraine conflict down the lists in favor of headlines talking about inflation, interest rates and a looming recession. Gas prices are at an all time high in the United States and property prices are cooling throughout the Western world. There are other problems blooming closer to home that is tying the hand’s of politicians when it comes to Ukraine. Who wants to hear about Ukraine when people are struggling to pay their rent?
The blistering opening salvo of sanctions has echoes of Hitler’s summation of the Soviet Union in 1941. “We have only to kick in the door,” Hitler said, “and the whole rotten structure will come crashing down.” That seems to be the attitude that many people had regarding the level of sanctions being imposed on Russia at the time. Yet, now as it was then, the structure did not come crashing down.
While President Biden has feebly tried to tie the growing economic woes at home to Mr. Putin the connection, and the outrage, is rapidly losing steam. All the while, Russia continues to make gains in Ukraine while Americans gear up for the midterm elections this November.
Russia’s Kind Of War
Throughout history Russia has shown a surprising willingness to commit itself to seemingly hopeless fights. The Soviet Union regrouped after a disastrous 1941 and 1942 on the Eastern Front. Russia threw itself into a hopeless war in Afghanistan for a full decade. Russia annexed Crimea in 2014 and patiently waited to press for more territory for nearly eight years. Many things in the world have changed since 1900 but Russia’s ability to throw men, money and equipment into battlefields month after month has not.
A grinding war that stays out of the headlines is exactly the kind of fight Russia is equipped to win. They will keep at it regardless of casualties and isolation for as long as it can. Some people callously claimed Russia could not sustain a war in Ukraine for more than a few months but it is likely that Russia can fight for a year or more.
Mr. Putin knew this. Some people at the Pentagon know this. But many people who were quick to put a Ukrainian flag in their Twitter bio did not know this. And probably still don’t know this.
Russia has more manpower, better military equipment and a larger economy than Ukraine. Ukraine has already been bombed to oblivion and their infrastructure is completely in shambles. Aside from a few ambitious strikes at border camps Russia has suffered no material damage from the war. So far the war has been entirely fought inside Ukraine. Western media likes to point the number of outdated tanks that have been blown to pieces in Ukraine but Russia can always build more. Ukraine can’t.
The Great, a black comedy on Hulu about life in 18th century Russia, perhaps sums up this phenomenon in the clearest possible terms. When facing the prospects of a long and bloody war with neighboring Sweden Emperor Peter The Great intoned the following:
There’s 30 million of us, and only two million of you.I don’t care if four million of us have to die to kill two million of you. We’re Russian. We don’t give a fuck
how many of us die.
The words might be satire, but the inspiration for them are not.
Understanding Us Better Than We Understand Ourselves
For weeks, experts screeched that Mr. Putin was mad. They said he lost his mind during COVID isolation. Pundits openly laughed on TV and said that he had made a grave miscalculation. Others claimed that he is dying and wanted desperately to secure his legacy before he quickly passes into the good night. So far none of that has been born out. Western media proved that it did not understand Mr. Putin. Instead, Mr. Putin proved that he knows us better than we want to admit.
The West is getting bored. Average citizens care more about the price at the pump than alleged war crimes in Ukraine. And you can’t really blame them. When prices rise, when 401ks drop, when the availability of cheap consumer goods dries up, when the specter of a recession comes into the room, people tune out. Putin knows this.
You can’t blame people for paying attention to issues close at home in favor of issues far away but that is exactly what Putin was banking on. And it looks like he was probably right.
Westerners always believe that they are ready to commit themselves to a long fight. In moments of intense passion they feel like their well of outrage and compassion is limitless. It is not.
When the temperatures drop this winter and fuel prices are squeezing people’s ability to stay warm it is likely Russian gas will start to flow once more.
When Russia consolidates its control of Eastern Ukraine people will slowly come around to the new normal. Russia annexed Crimea eight years ago with little fuss and they have only consolidated their position in the time since. No one is marching around with signs demanding the return of Crimea because other issues superseded that unfortunate fact.
Accepting The Inevitable
Unless something changes dramatically, it is unlikely that Ukraine will be able to dislodge Russia from the Donbas region. Ukraine does not have the ability to launch a counterattack, they don’t have the manpower. They were unable to quash an open rebellion in this same region that was simmering since 2014. Unless the West commits itself to far greater material support Russia’s gains in the country will likely hold pat. Even if we send in more drones and more missiles it might not be enough to stop the thousands of troops that are physically on the ground.
Meanwhile, Ukraine is moving sensitive information out of the country. They are turning civilian vehicles into combat platforms and they are now starting to admit real losses. None of this sounds like a country that feels like it is winning. Despite cries that Ukraine will fight for every inch of territory it has lost that probably is not realistic.
America has always been willing to fight for Ukrainian freedom to the very last Ukrainian. Just don’t expect them to jump into the fight.
Deep down Ukraine knows this. Americans will never admit it but they know it too. Putin has always known this.
And perhaps it is time to admit that he was right about us all along.
15 juni 2022