By Washington Examiner. Ukraine has both the political and popular resolve to liberate its territory. Thanks to the United States, Britain, Poland, and the Baltic states , Kyiv also has the economic and military means to believe it can achieve its ambition. In contrast, it is increasingly clear that Russia lacks the popular resolve to endure a bloody war. Equally important, Russia lacks the economic and military means to conduct a drawn-out war.
In the coming months, Vladimir Putin will thus be forced into one of two choices. He can end the war by ceding back those areas of Ukraine that his forces occupy. (Ukraine might allow Putin to keep at least some of Crimea under any ceasefire agreement.) Alternatively, Putin can escalate by using nuclear weapons in an attempt to end continued Western support for Kyiv and pressure President Volodymyr Zelensky into a Russian-favorable ceasefire.
What Putin cannot do, however, is continue to wage war in a conventional fashion.
Top line: Putin’s draft of at least 300,000 conscripts — possibly to rise to more than 1 million — cannot reverse his recent record of battlefield losses. That’s because those losses are not the result of manpower shortages per se, though that is a factor. Rather, Putin’s central problem is that his military lacks credible leadership and professionalism and is beset by low morale and terrible logistics . The scale of this challenge is underlined by the inability of Russian forces to conduct even orderly ground retreats, let alone combined arms offensives. As in eastern Ukraine, this has opened Russian lines to high-mobility Ukrainian flanking attacks, which enable Ukraine to retake vast areas of territory while forcing rolling Russian surrenders and abandonment of priceless equipment.
Putin’s logistics problem is only set to grow. Russia, after all, is rapidly depleting its stocks of artillery, missiles, bombs, and other weapons. This is to say nothing of the thousands of Russian tanks, armored personnel carriers, electronic warfare vehicles, air defense systems, and aircraft that Ukraine has captured or destroyed. The Kremlin is desperately attempting to hide this military supply chain crisis, but Western intelligence services are convinced that it is critical. Indeed, one need only look at leaked videos on social media that show Russian conscripts issued archaic rifles being told to bring their own sleeping bags to war. One need only look at the increasingly desperate calls by top Kremlin officials to bolster military production. One need only look at the increasingly ludicrous, if escalatory, rhetoric on Russian state media. (Read more from “Why Putin Will Soon Have to Choose Between Losing in Ukraine or Using Nuclear Weapons” HERE)
Vladimir Putin Set to Claim Wide Swaths of Ukraine After ‘Sham’ Referenda
By Daily Wire. Russian President Vladimir Putin is expected to annex parts of eastern and southern Ukraine on Friday, claiming that forced referenda across four occupied regions support Russia’s claim.
Western leaders are scrambling to respond to what many have condemned as a “land grab,” according to Politico. Putin’s move has raised concerns that Russia is committing itself to long-term conflict with Ukraine, and that a resolution to the war may be much farther off than European and North American leaders were hoping.
Russian state media reported Tuesday that Ukraine’s Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhia regions voted overwhelmingly to break with Ukraine and join Russia. The referendum, which local Ukrainian officials said was coerced by Russian soldiers, took place on September 23-27. The results in each region were strikingly lopsided in favor of Russia: 99% in Donetsk, 98% in Luhansk, 87% in Kherson, and 93% in Zaporizhzhia.
Putin said in a television appearance on Thursday that “the formation of a more just world order is taking place,” according to The New York Times. He did not directly address the expected annexation, which covers an area of roughly 40,000 square miles.
“Unipolar hegemony is inexorably collapsing,” he said. “This is an objective reality that the West categorically refuses to accept.” (Read more from “Vladimir Putin Set to Claim Wide Swaths of Ukraine After ‘Sham’ Referenda” HERE)
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