After listening to Ukraine President Zelensky last night and watching him and President Biden gush over each other at their press conference I am convinced that the Biden administration feels that they are fighting and winning a proxy war against Russia and that this will make up for the disaster that was Afghanistan.
The resources to support Ukraine are approaching $120B. Biden went out of his way to say that the Patriot Battery that is going to Ukraine is defensive in nature. An argument which might be true in that the Patriot missiles only engage air targets and thus are defending against those targets. However when one digs a little deeper into the upcoming Patriot deployment the escalation becomes readily apparent. The system has a range of 100 KM which, depending upon where located could reach out and cover part of the Russian air space. One battery will protect a small (relatively) area—Kyiv for example. Once deployed the battery will become a prime target for Russian cruise missiles and will thus require short range defenses of its own. Why shoot a $3.5 M missile at a $30K cruise missile, if you could detect it?
The biggest escalation that is suggested by the Patriot deployment is the requirement to deploy US troops and/or technicians for an extended period to train the Ukrainians and maintain the system. (It takes over a year to train Patriot crew members and maintenance personnel can take longer. Either the missiles won’t be deployed in the next 12 months, or they will go to Poland or somewhere nearby-Poland? Or US personnel will be placed at risk in Ukraine. The last two of these options are clearly escalatory.
At the same time the Germans and Moroccans are providing tanks to Ukraine. The US is to begin training Ukrainian battalions in Germany—most likely combined arms training at Hohenfels. The Russians, of course, are not sitting still. The are refurbishing older tanks. They are drafting at least 300.000 new conscripts that will be the cannon fodder for this coming Spring’s battles. These new formations will be supported by Iranian built drones and possibly Chinese weapons and ammunition.
The war is not any where near over! But how long can Ukraine’s manpower continue to fight? There are about 460,000 men who reach military age each year. The Ukrainian losses would seem to support an indefinite war, but…..
The most worrisome aspect of the continuing gradual escalation of the war is how the conflict can terminate. Zelensky said last night that there was a huge desire for revenge on the part of the Ukrainian people and therefore a compromise with the Russians is not likely. Of course, this suggests, in addition to leveling the cities and their power and utility systems, the Russians may have to do something else to overcome the Ukrainian will to resist. Huge battlefield victories are not likely. The path to nuclear weapons becomes much more evident in this scenario. Can the US, France and Great Britain continue to deter Russia? (Readers should review my previous article “Will Russia us nuclear weapons over Ukraine?” Or can a stalemate or continued small Ukrainian victories result in a putsch in Russia. And MOST IMPORTANTLY would a putsch result in a less bellicose Russian leadership? There are many Russian generals who enjoy the power and life style that Putin has allowed them in exchange for their support. How easy would it be for them to be convinced to give that life style up?
The uncertainty involved in finding a route to conflict termination suggests that this war can only escalate to reach a termination point where one side or the other says it has had enough. The Biden administration is betting that its support of Ukraine will cause such a termination point to be reached sooner rather than later and the cold war like deterrence of the use of nuclear weapons will carry the day. The administration then will try to make themselves out to be the heroes of the post-World War II era. It defeated the Russian bear more dramatically than did Ronald Reagan. This will then be played to justify all of the leftist social and economic agenda items. They will argue that they know best—see we destroyed the Russian bear without using US military forces.
This is a scary scenario for me to present at this time of the year and I look forward to an active discussion.
Merry Christmas and Chanukah to all and may we all have a prosperous and happy New Year.