Thursday, 23 February 2023 — The van says…
For all the bluster coming from the likes of Stoltenberg, hard facts will force hard decisions on the part of the collective West in the months to come. NATO helped to start a hot war, but everyone except the Russians are being left out in the cold.
Those regarding the situation in Eastern Europe objectively cannot have failed to notice that as fast as the Ukraine’s fortunes plummet, the begging from Kiev as well as the promises from the West soar. In spite of the hot air and pledges being banded around in the Western world, it is becoming increasingly clear that neither firearms nor fate favor Kiev as it moves into the future. This longer article shall examine how and why even the biggest moves by Zelenskiy’s Western allies will not alter the course of events in the Ukraine.
Matching Men and Machines
Any armed force is always a balance between equipment and those who operate it, neither one being of any use without the other. Wars through history have been won and lost through a lack of both, battles themselves balanced against the balance of human and material resources. This worked to a reasonable degree during the first months of the conflict, yet as the Russian armed forces have slowly ground away at their opponent, first weapons were eliminated, and as we have seen at Artemovsk, personnel have begun to be decimated. This is where the whole gameplan from Kiev to Washington begins to get gnarly.
The Great Giveaway
We have all become accustomed to the daily headlines from Western states concerning the latest gifts to Kiev, yet just like every freebie, there is a serious catch. Months of pledges have seen every ingratiated talking head making their donation to the Ukraine, yet despite the airtime given to these announcements, only a small number of these gifts have actually arrived. Worse still, precious few are due to arrive over the coming months. Much has been said about the tanks and armored vehicles that are due to be heading towards Kiev, yet one fact often overlooked is that only a small proportion of these assets are tanks. The most part of the endless convoys that we are told about are made up of personnel carriers and other jalopies from NATO’s distant past rather than equipment that can make a difference on the battlefield. Airtime may keep the war on track in political circles, yet in truth, it is little more than hot air. There are however other matters as regards these supplies. To understand how these affect events today, we must look to the recent past.
Menace through Missiles
Looking back to the Vietnam War era, Western nations had a very strong manufacturing base, they being able to rapidly manufacture the weapons they needed. As the decades passed, along with weapons relying ever more on high technology, both defense budgets (except in the US) and the industrial base began to decline, this meaning that not only did governments not hold the stocks they did before, but were incapable of producing or gearing up to manufacture the necessary materiel if circumstances required. Fast forward to five years ago, and with no threat in sight, aside from very tech-heavy systems, NATO members held critically low stocks along with extremely scant production potential.
Triumph through Tyranny
The last twenty five years have seen Pax Americana in all its ugliness, yet the ‘shock and awe’ tactics used to perpetuate US domination of global affairs have been based entirely around the judicious use of technologically-advanced and very expensive weapons systems. Rather than the extensive use of howitzers and ground operations we see employed in the current conflict, Western doctrine has revolved around very skilled personnel being able to hit enemies that cannot hit them back. The result has been devastation for those who opposed Washington’s will, yet the overall number of missiles spent has been very small. In short, the West has over the last fifty years largely come to rely on threats to get its way, yet on the occasions it has actually gone to war, a few weapons have been enough to get the job done. Fighting a proxy war in the Ukraine has however proved rather more difficult.
The Menace of Manufacture
Rather than this conflict being one where NATO could potentially overwhelm its opponent with a shower of missiles in a few days, the Ukraine presents a far trickier situation. First and foremost, Russia can hit back at its opponents, wherever they are in the world. Not only can it strike an enemy, but some of its weapons are even more effective than those used by the West. Secondly, it has the capacity to not only wage a conventional ground war, but to sustain it. This is one of the two lynchpins of the current conflict. After exhausting global supplies of Soviet equipment, the West has, to the chagrin of many, had to raid its own arsenals, Russia not only built up stocks, but has the capacity to replace munitions as they are expended. We can be sure that Moscow’s stocks are lower than they were a year ago, yet the last twelve months have seen the Kremlin ramp up production of all the materials it needs in the war. On the other side of the divide, after robbing its armories to supply Kiev’s insatiable appetite, Western governments are now realizing that it will take years to even begin producing the replacements it needs. As stated, that is one pivotal matter in the Ukrainian War. Now we need to look at the other.
A Paucity of Personnel
Through the first months of the war, Kiev has used ever-more draconian means to ensure that its armed forces had the personnel it needed. With Russian operations having been as effective as they were, this is now causing immense headaches for the Ukrainian military. Not only is there a severe shortage of front line troops, but its efforts to recruit more has meant that youngsters are being conscripted as well as press gangs marauding the streets in search of anyone who is not yet in uniform. This is terrible in itself, yet as Kiev attempts to fight a Western war on behalf of its NATO masters, other difficulties are already in sight.
Staff without Skills
It is common knowledge that the training being given to those entering the Ukrainian military is scant at best, yet as Kiev attempts to ‘Pivot to NATO’, the weapons it is receiving require a great deal of training and experience to operate effectively. From a Ukrainian perspective, not only is this a fight against Russia, but also a transitioning onto the Western model, and if personnel are to play any useful role at all, they need to be masters of the military materiel they operate. Two month crash courses and familiarization on equipment may serve some purpose when military staff are already versed in certain systems, but for new equipment or recruits with no experience, this is completely inadequate.
For all the bluster coming from Western capitals of an imminent Ukrainian victory, there are other, rather muted voices that speak more candidly of the near future. US military pundit Michael Kofman has written that due to the casualties that they are inflicting, Russian forces can in numerical terms gradually gain an advantage, a focus on the Donbass region then slowly moving westwards. In stark contrast to the frenzied attempts by Kiev to press-gang everyone into the armed forces, Russia has not yet called up many of its reserves. This not only demonstrates the effectiveness of its tactics, but those untapped resources could be used to great effect in bigger operations if necessary.
Hole in the Wall
This is all happening in real time however, and as Kiev attempts to shore up its Western wall against Russian operations, it also has to consider that the weapons promised by the West are going to be delivered piecemeal, the hundreds of tanks and armored vehicles arriving in batches; at the very moment that Kiev needs this kit the most, it must contend with not only a dearth of troops, but also acute equipment shortages with replacements only being drip-fed to Eastern Europe. The writing for the Ukraine is on the wall, yet the Western world is writing very different stories.
Few Weapons, but many Words
Western governments are as aware as the Ukrainians themselves of the predicament facing the country over coming months, yet after investing everything in the cause, the collective West is resorting to other tactics in order to keep Zelenskiy’s sinking ship afloat.
Hopes of Headway
The US administration in Washington is currently urging Kiev to ‘consolidate gains and perhaps launch its own counterstrike’, Politico reporting that the White House has told Zelenskiy to prepare for an offensive. Quite how an understaffed and under-equipped army is supposed to do so was not explained. This may however may be more due to waning support for the war in certain political circles in the US rather than for any other reason.
Hot Air from Hotheads
Recent days have seen Western leaders as well as Zelenskiy attending the Munich Security Conference, this being used as a vehicle to not only continue giving support to the Ukraine, but also as an opportunity for bigwigs to aggrandize their politics in front of an audience. Amongst the takeaways from this stage show, we had European Commission VP Josep Borrell (who shall be examined more closely later) stating that ‘We must accelerate military equipment to Ukraine, today with ammo, tomorrow with other kinds of arms’, US VP Kamala Harris saying that ‘The US will support Ukraine. And we will do it as long as necessary’ and most unsurprising, Zelenskiy being star of the show. He claimed that he will not compromise, but wait for victory, and went as far as comparing the war to the battle between David and Goliath, and that the Russian giant will fall this year. These are all very rousing statements for Western viewers, yet it is only words rather than weapons that the West has to offer the world at this juncture. There have been many more of these statements made, and the following chapters bring together much of the baloney that has been voiced of late. In spite of their length, they do need to be recited if we are to arrive at logical conclusions.
The NATO Narrative
Jens Stoltenberg, General Secretary of NATO claimed that NATO must arm itself comprehensively, modernizing its own armies and strengthening countries between Europe and the United States. He also indicated that it should prepare for a confrontation with Russia, which ‘will not end after the conflict in Ukraine no matter what happens.’ In simple terms, NATO now considers the defeat of Russia to be its primary concern, and it is words such as these that will shape Russia’s stance vis-à-vis the West in decades to come.
Additionally, NATO must continue to fully support Ukraine in order to prevent a Russian victory. ‘The risk of an escalation in conflict in Ukraine for NATO is incomparable with the danger of a Russian victory.’ What is even more worrisome is that NATO wishes to strengthen the resilience of Western society including the security of infrastructure, cybersecurity and dominance in the information sphere, which NATO calls ‘countering disinformation.’ Put simply, NATO is not only actively looking for conflict with Russia, but will declare an information war on the citizens of its own member states. Stoltenberg, attending the Bucharest Nine meeting in Poland, declared that (despite Russia not threatening NATO territory), ‘the NATO bloc will defend every inch of its territory.’
EU VP Josep Borrell may be considered highly in Brussels, yet he is not held in such regard elsewhere. His recent orations concerning current affairs may have gained a lot of airtime, yet they in reality make little sense. His ravings about arsenic are an excellent case in point. He claimed (in Spanish) that ‘the sanctions against Russia are “a slow-acting poison” made “based on arsenic” with “irreversible” effects for Moscow.’ The fact that Western economies are now suffering more than that of Russia seems to have gone unnoticed, as is the pressing matter of the Ukraine integrating within the Western European framework. His statement that ‘Ukraine has already become a member of European family, the decision simply needs to be institutionalized’ must be causing headaches for any economist or politician with their feet on the ground.
He went on to say that ‘Ukraine is receiving enough weapons but not enough ammo, EU must solve this problem within matter of weeks’, adding that ‘(the) EU must begin a technological Blitzkrieg in its industry in order to provide its armies with weapons and ammo.’
Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas is on record as saying that NATO countries must take control of Moscow and forcibly rewrite the mentality of Russian citizens so that the Russians will never be a threat again. Not satisfied with puppets such as Tikhanovskaya attempting to effect regime change in Belarus, leaders such as Kallas are becoming increasingly desperate as other measures such as sanctions simply do not affect the course of Russian affairs. The country has gone even further, proposing that EU member states establish a joint fund in order to purchase military equipment for the Ukraine. Charles Michel, president of the European Council however denied that this would be discussed, even in the face of the vastly depleted munitions stocks within the union.
Lunatics in London
British PM Rishi Sunak has claimed that the depletion of military stocks of Western countries to help Ukraine should not be viewed only negatively, as the equipment transferred to Kiev fulfills its main task in helping to weaken Russian Armed Forces. In contrast to statements made by other administrations however, the British have clearly stated that it is ‘unthinkable’ their troops will be sent to the Ukraine. Moreover, London has said that the country will only receive modern fighter aircraft once Russia’s military operation is over. Whether this is to reduce tensions with Moscow or that Sunak et al are afraid of shooting them down is open to question.
Other pearls of wisdom have seen German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock going round the twist, suggesting that Putin make a ‘360 degrees turn’ to change his policies. Furthermore, she said she is ‘opposed any territorial concessions from Ukraine.’
With all this said, we now need to make some conclusions after examining an abundance of material.
The fact is that resources, both human and material are dwindling at an alarming rate in the Ukraine, and there is little that the West can do. There is no doubt that munitions manufacturing will not be able to get into high gear until the middle of next year at best; Kiev’s sponsors are therefore left with the choice to either leave themselves defenseless in the case if a hot NATO war, or leave the Ukrainian cause out in the cold. All the while, the personnel situation from Kiev’s point of view simply become untenable.
On top of all of this, with a recession and sanctions boomeranging back on European economies harder by the day, it will be increasingly difficult for governments to justify spending billions on what is effectively a lost cause. As it stands today, Europe is footing the bill yet with no hope of the Ukraine kicking Russia in the ass.
This conflict was always about fighting Russia to the last Ukrainian, and as that day approaches, the Western establishment will have to take a very good look at the path that it has chosen to follow.
Rather than doing that, Western establishment envoys merely talk the talk whilst Kiev walks the walk towards eventual disaster. No effort is being spared to give every minute of airtime to the soundbites coming out of European capitals, yet it it will be weapons and not words that reshape both Europe and the world as a result of this conflict…
One thought on “Words but no Weapons”
We can reflect on the facts: Russia did not suddenly decide to invade Ukraine. It is next door and wants peace and harmony. The USA overthrew the Uke government in 2014 and the replacement governments refused for all the years since to follow a UN-sponsored peace deal. All Russia’s demands for security guarantees at the end of 2021 were ignored/refused by US/NATO. None of this is secret but the West pretends it has some sort of moral stance!!!!! Go Home Yanks, and all of NATO. YOU ARE OBSOLETE and contrary to peace.