“Ukraine will win.” Some variation of this has become the unofficial mantra of U.S. policy toward the Ukraine war, asserted in countless columns, interviews and speeches, ones often pledging open-ended U.S. commitment to the Ukrainian war effort and chiding policymakers for not sending greater quantities and more escalatory types of weapons.
It was partly on this basis, in fact — that with enough support, Ukraine could militarily defeat a Russia weaker than many thought — that then-UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson [stupidly] urged against peace talks early in the war. . .
Yet this central claim of an almost certain Ukrainian military victory over chastened Russian forces is asserted in the absence of one key measure of the military situation: verifiable battlefield losses. From the beginning of the war until now, Ukraine has, like Russia, treated its casualties as a state secret, one so closely guarded that not even U.S. intelligence and officials, who advise the country’s leadership on military strategy and assist in war planning, know exactly how many Ukrainians have been killed and wounded over the past year. This is even though, as one Ukrainian officer told the Wall Street Journal in a recent piece about the grinding battle for the city of Bakhmut, “the war is won not by the party that gains territory, but by the party that destroys the armed forces of the adversary” . . .
The lack of public awareness of Ukrainian casualty levels raises a number of thorny questions: Are frequent predictions of certain Ukrainian military victory more fanciful than grounded in reality? Is the American public being misled into backing an escalating military commitment on false pretenses? Has Ukrainian leadership itself, as a result, been incentivized to set unrealistic military objectives that have helped to prolong the death and destruction ordinary Ukrainians have suffered? And has it helped create a political climate in the United States opposed to diplomatic solutions?
We may soon find out. According to the Washington Post, even Ukrainian officials are now questioning their forces’ ability to launch a successful counteroffensive after the losses they’ve taken, with many of the most experienced fighters taken permanently off the battlefield. (Read more from “The U.S. Is Supporting a Policy of Brutal Attrition in Ukraine Based on Incomplete and Skewed Western Coverage” HERE)
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