International, Politics

Putin Has Lost the War in Ukraine

The build-up to the war went well for Putin…

But war is the greatest contingency. As all veterans know — and that includes the present writer — until the fighting starts, no soldier knows how he will react to combat, and still less which of his comrades will fight bravely and which will keep his head down, waiting for the noise to end. And that goes for war leaders too: in 1939 the mediocre dictator Ioannis Metaxas replied to Mussolini’s verbose ultimatum with a monosyllabic ohi — “no” — inspiring victorious fighting by the hugely outgunned Greeks. And now in 2022 Zelensky’s comedic turn as a TV President, followed by a respectable showing as an actual President, set the stage for his current act as an indomitable war leader, totally uncaring of the risk to his own life as the number one target of Russian under-cover killer teams.

After refusing Biden’s ill-judged offer to evacuate him (he asked for weapons instead) Zelensky declared that he would remain in Kyiv with his entire Cabinet to lead the fight for the city. That played its own undefinable role in inspiring Ukraine’s soldiers to resist no matter what: to hold the city of Kharkiv, close enough to the Russian border to have been within artillery range from the start, to defend Zmiinyi (snake) island in front of coastal Odessa, whose 13-man garrison came under overwhelming naval bombardment after impolitely refusing to surrender, to defend Mariupol the country’s eastern harbour, whose half a million inhabitants live less than 30 miles from the Russian border (but are holding out with the Russians still 15 miles away as of this writing), and on the Kyiv approaches through which the Russian army was supposed to swiftly advance on the city and finish the war in two days if not one…

The Ukrainian army did not run away, it did not surrender, it did not abandon its weapons to walk home, and neither was it quickly outmanoeuvred by the much better-funded Russian army, which has had the fuel, ammo, and replacement parts for much more intensive training than the badly underfunded Ukrainians. It turns out that motivation beats even training. Read more…

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