October 4, 2022

CLAIRE BERLINSKI: Tannenberg Revisited.

The Russian plan—to seize Kiev with thunderclap suddenness, deposing the Ukrainian government and replacing it with a puppet regime—misfired. And as the weeks passed with Russian troops bogged down north of Kiev, it came to be realized that Putin’s legions were far less battleworthy than previously supposed. Confronted with the spirited resistance of the Ukrainian Army and people, the invaders faltered and recoiled. There were episodes of panic and rout. The Ukrainian countryside became littered with abandoned, burned-out tanks and vehicles: tangible, humiliating evidence of the Russian Army’s surprising incompetence.

It was tangible evidence as well of the faulty judgement of the aforementioned Western observers, many of whom lay a claim to military expertise. In the six months since the Russian Army’s defeat in the battle of Kiev became obvious, that evidence has continued to pile up. Stubborn resistance to the idea that Russia is losing the war may reflect a natural reluctance to admit that one’s judgement was at fault. Among the so-called nationalist conservatives, for whom V. Putin’s histrionic Russian nationalism touches a chord, it no doubt reflects ideological embarrassment: Their narrative of the Russo-Ukrainian War has been falsified. Others, perhaps the majority, may simply find it impossible to believe that a major world power, armed to the teeth, can be defeated in war by a much smaller country.

To all such prognosticators I would simply say, as I said at the time of the Battle of Kiev: Remember Tannenberg.

History buffs will want to read the whole thing.

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