April 8, 2022

GEORGE FRIEDMAN: How the Ukraine War Will Likely End.

The Russian army today seems disorganized, unimaginative and uninspired. The deployment of force, preparation of logistics and command of the battlefields on all levels simply wasn’t there. This was a different sort of Russian army, a bureaucratized one, one more afraid of the czar than of losing to the enemy. Putin demanded a rapid defeat of the enemy. But to rule by strength, you must see clearly and strike decisively at the center of gravity.

Ukraine had no center of gravity, only a widely dispersed light infantry force that provided no single point to destroy. Although that may seem like guerrilla warfare, it is not, and Ukraine surprised its enemy with resilience and unpredictability. The attacker can respond with brutal attacks on the population, but that leaves the Ukrainians with no choice but to fight. The Russian army wasn’t designed for this war, hadn’t planned for this war and has only brutal counter-civilian action to take. And Putin will take it.

The problem, then, is that Putin cannot stop, nor can he reach an agreement with Ukraine that he will keep. Every deal – except for surrender by the enemy – is a revelation of weakness on the part of a weak country and a weak ruler. The only alternatives are ineffective action because the force he sent to war was the wrong force from a country that didn’t have the right one.

He can reach a genuine cease-fire, but if he does, he’s finished. Not being able to defeat the Ukrainians, and held in contempt by others, destroys the myth of his power. Continuing the war endlessly reveals the same thing. As this goes on, Putin’s primary task is to pretend that the defeat is not happening because anything less than victory is a defeat. Every agreement must end in betrayal, and as it happens with guerrillas, they get stronger the longer the war drags out.

A crucial question is whether Russia has strategic reserves. The army has been in the field for over a month, in weather that is still cold, at the end of a logistical line that is problematic. It has been fighting a highly motivated, mobile light infantry force familiar with the terrain. It cannot go on indefinitely. Russia has to rotate its forces. Strategically, it must send more. Instead, it is executing a bloody withdrawal. You don’t fight for the same ground twice unless you have to.

This means that Putin’s war plan is shattered. The resistance has been effective and his troops need a relief he cannot provide.

It’s a tough world. It’s even tougher when you act stupid.

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