Russian planning has been incompetent, based on the mistaken assumption that Ukrainians favor Russia,” American philosopher Francis Fukuyama writes in his column for americanpurpose.com.
I am writing this sheet from Skopje, North Macedonia, where I have been staying for the past week, teaching one of our Leadership Academy courses for development. Border surveillance in Ukraine is in no way visible in terms of the information available, apart from the fact that I’m in a late time zone and the fact that there is more support for Putin in the Balkans than in these parts of Europe. The point is that the rest of the world is in Serbia, and that means that Serbia accepts Sputnik.
I did my best and made some predictions:
Russia follows a complete defeat in Ukraine. Russian planning was incompetent, based on the erroneous assumption that Ukrainians were favorable to the Russian Federation and their troops would fall immediately after the invasion. Obviously, Russian soldiers were carrying parade uniforms for the victory parade in Kiev, not extra ammunition and rations. Putin has now added the bulk of his military to the operation – there are no huge reserves of forces he could bring in to add to the battle. Russian troops are stuck on the borders of various Ukrainian cities, where they face huge supply problems and constant Ukrainian attacks.
The collapse of their position is likely to be sudden and catastrophic, rather than occurring slowly because of a war of attrition. The army in the field will reach a point where it can neither be supplied nor withdrawn, and morale will evaporate. This is at least true in the north; the Russians are better off in the south, but these positions will be difficult to maintain if the north collapses.
There is no possible diplomatic solution to the war before it happens. There is no compromise that is acceptable to either Russia or Ukraine, given the losses that both countries have suffered so far.
The UN Security Council has once again proven itself helpless. The only useful thing was a vote in the General Assembly to help determine the bad or wrong actors in the world.
The Joe Biden administration’s decision not to declare a no-fly zone or help hand over Polish MiGs was the right one; it kept the mind in the cold during a very emotional period. Far better that the Ukrainians defeat the Russians on their own, depriving Moscow of the excuse that NATO attacked them, and avoiding all the obvious possibilities of escalation. In particular, Polish MiGs would not add to the Ukrainians’ capabilities. Far more important is the continuous supply of Javelins, Stingers, TB2s, medical supplies, communications equipment, and information sharing. I assume that Ukrainian forces are already supervised and supported by NATO intelligence outside Ukraine.
The price paid by Ukraine is, of course, enormous. But the most damage is caused by missiles and artillery, against which neither MiGs nor the no-fly zone can do anything. The only thing that will stop the carnage is the defeat of the Russian army on the ground.
Putin will not survive the defeat of his army. He gets support because he is seen as a strong man; and what can he offer when he demonstrates incompetence and is stripped of his coercive power?
The invasion has already done enormous damage to populists around the world who, before the attack, uniformly expressed sympathy for Putin. These include Matteo Salvini, Jair Bolsonaro, Eric Zemmour, Marine Le Pen, Viktor Orban and, of course, Donald Trump. The politics of war have shown their frankly authoritarian tendencies.
At present, the war has been a good lesson for China. Like Russia, China has built a seemingly high-tech military force over the past decade, but they lack combat experience. The pathetic performance of the Russian air force is likely to be repeated by the People’s Liberation Army air force, which is just as inexperienced in managing complex air operations. We can hope that the Chinese leadership will not delude itself about its own capabilities, as the Russians did when they contemplated the coming move against Taiwan.
Hopefully, Taiwan itself will wake up to the need to prepare to fight, as the Ukrainians did, and resume military service. Let us not predict defeat prematurely.
Turkish drones will become bestsellers.
Russia’s defeat will enable a new birth of freedom and rid us of the decline of global democracy. And the spirit of 1989 will live on, thanks to a group of brave Ukrainians.