What are we going to do when Ukraine is over?
Dr. Putin wants NATO to return to its 1979 borders. I suspect that NATO will comply because that was its original promise, and because it needs fuel and food to avoid economic collapse.
80,000 Belgians demonstrated against NATO in Brussels this week.
Someone once commented that Russian and US weapons are both very well made for their purposes. The purpose of Russian weapons is to kill the enemies of Russia. The purpose of US weapons is to enrich the shareholders of Raytheon, GE, Boeing and Lockheed. You could add that the purpose of European weapons is to keep businesses ticking over in various vital constituencies in Germany, France and Britain.
Its become very obvious that the nature of warfare has changed - or in many ways regressed - and western ways of war are entirely unsuited to the challenge. In some ways Nato is now like 1941 Japan, especially the Imperial Japanese Navy. A superbly equipped and trained military designed for one purpose only - swiftly and rapidly overcoming a perceived enemy at great distances. The problem is that if the enemy decides not to play ball and goes for a long war of attrition, its not just the military, but the entire political economy that is incapable of dealing with the challenge. With Japan it was a conscious choice driven by its own limitations, although I think with the US and Nato its a consequence of technological change, an obsession with high tech over mundane but effective options, and the industrial and political limitations facing those governments. Oddly enough, China in my opinion seems to be falling into exactly the same trap.
I keep waiting for someone in Europe to state what is entirely obvious. Ukraine is an economic and political basket case with no real strategic value to anyone but Ukrainians. Its only Washington armchair bound strategists who somehow think it was worth a possible nuclear war to arm it to its teeth. It seems to me that most European leaders have entirely lost the capacity to think clearly about strategic objectives. Everything is short term tactics and PR. Nato is now the dog that caught the car and has no idea what to do. Well, there are lots of three legged dogs walking around rural areas in my parts that could confirm its not a good idea.
The obvious ideal 'end point' is to acknowledge that most of Eastern Europe is economically, culturally and politically distinct from Western Europe, and its in everyones interest that a belt of countries from the Baltic to the Black Sea go their own way independently and sort things out between each other while Russia does whatever Russia wants to do. But how to get to there from here.... well, thats another story.
Thank you, Aurelien.
It may not surprise you that many older military veterans, not the corporate shills and chicken hawks one sees on the box, agree with you, which is one reason they are rarely on the air waves.
Although you rightly focus on NATO, your post applies equally to the EU27 and their former fellow member state. They have neglected for decades their industrial bases and infrastructure, so are unable to mount a challenge to rising economic powers, let alone Russia and its military, and rise to the occasion for the benefit of their citizenry.
Further to your recent essay on events not developing to the west’s advantage, you rightly highlighted the lack of planning. I would just add that there has been a decline in the quality of leadership for some decades. The passing of the generation of politicians who had experience of war had a bigger impact than forecast or, at the time, felt.
The "Lisbon to Vladivostok" free trade zone that was proposed in 2010 by Putin (in response to the trans-Atlantic free trade treaty then being discussed) will, I believe, eventually come, but it will require a new generation of political leadership in Europe which has a more clear understanding of what is in the true, long-term interest of the continent as a whole. In other words, politicians who look East, not West.
" Individually, NATO air-superiority aircraft and pilots are almost certainly superior to their Russian equivalents"
This is very probably not true.
Russian Su-35's in Syria were able to detect US F-22's, while not being detactable themselves. Furthermore, F-22's in Syria were able to fly only one flight per plane per week, giving much less flight experience to pilots. As for UK and French planes, they are far surpassed by Russian ones.
Nice article but dismissing the use of nuclear weapons by either side seems a bit unimaginative. Others have pointed out that this is a life and death struggle for the elites involved, whither the conclusion is warranted that nuclear weapons use is not only on the table but unavoidable. Just guessing but Norway is trying to ethnically cleanse the Russian settlement on Svalbard. Russia might mount a naval expedition to open access to the settlement. NATO thinking that it's relatively safe to use nuclear weapons in the vast empty expanses of the Arctic might do so. Things then escalate from there.
Directed here from MOA.
One of the reasons given for the collapse of the USSR was that they were forced to spend heavily on defence in response to Western defence spending.
Don't know how significant that factor was in reality but some US politicians were saying recently "We brought them down last time by outspending them. We'll do the same again this time round".
On the face of it that looks possible. The richest countries in the world, with a population of around a billion combined, should be able to spend enough on defence to stretch the resources of a poorer country with a population less than a sixth of that.
The advantages of an outspending policy are obvious. NATO forces are not as technologically advanced in some important fields. They are not well co-ordinated. The level of training, the level of operational readiness of many European countries, is markedly inferior to that of the Russian or American armies. European NATO is in no sense up to a full scale combined operations war.
Doesn't matter. NATO is for threatening, not for fighting. Put a man with only a rusty rifle on the Russian border and the Russians have to put a man in readiness on their side. Inferior troops might not be able to defeat better forces but they can certainly ensure that the other side has to spend on them.
There were no adequate units stationed on the Western Russia border in the '90's. No need, it was felt. By 2012 there were some (*). Now Shoigu is talking of deploying many more.
Presumably competition will escalate on R & D and production facilities for advanced weapons also, and for production and stockpiling of ammunition and equipment for more conventional armaments.
All demanding resources to be diverted from the consumer economy.
So on the face of it the West, with more money and more people, could be in a good position to adopt the old Cold War strategy. "Outspend the bastards!" and bring Russia down that way again.
But I think the US Senators thinking that way have got it wrong. It could now be the other way round.
1. I'm not sure that the reasons for the collapse of the USSR was excessive defence spending. It was more societal rot than spending more on tanks than fridges.
2. To threaten Russia to the extent that Russia had to greatly increase manpower levels it would be necessary to bring NATO closer to the old Cold War levels. As the article indicates, these were far higher than today. Where does that manpower come from and how can it be afforded? The Americans no longer have the manpower to garrison Europe as they did and they will not.
3. The Inspector General's report on German military preparedness showed a deficiency that would take ten to twenty years to remedy. My own country talks big on defence but looks unprepared to spend big. Many of the Eastern European countries are militarily negligible and in no position to spend on improvement.
4. The Ukrainian war has revealed an astonishing disparity between Western ammunition and equipment stocks and Russian. We no longer have the industrial base to alter this fast whereas the Russians are already up and running.
In the MOA article I came over from, "b" tears to shreds Stoltenberg's assertion that 300,000 more NATO troops will be available. In reality we do not have what it takes to threaten Russia sufficiently to force it to bankruptcy. But if the war mood among the general public in Europe, which is running at full tide in the UK and Northern Europe right now, forces the politicians even to attempt that, Russia will bankrupt <i>us</i>.
* ( in 2012, the Russian ground force presence in the western parts of the country was scant. Land
forces fielded the 6th and 20th Combined Arms Armies, with the latter one deployed in Mulino,
350 km (217 miles) east of Moscow. These two operational-level units generated field four
motor rifle brigades (MRBs) and two tank brigades.1 Even though two additional MRBs under
MD’s command provided supplementary firepower, maneuverability, and flexibility, it is fair
to say that this part of Russia was insufficiently protected. " https://www.cna.org/archive/CNA_Files/pdf/russian-forces-in-the-western-military-district.pdf)
I don't disagree. I think the US is about to lose dollar hegemony (accelerated by their terrible tactics of stealing other countries foreign reserves, over using economic sanctions as an economic weapon, putting developing countries in debt peonage, etc.) and that will be a huge blow to their wealth and influence. Their society, already badly divided, is in for some serious turmoil, and they're in for some very grim years (like Russia post Soviet Union). It's even odds on whether their democracy will survive.
What I'm saying is they have the resources (natural resources, population, technology, education etc.) to successfully restructure themselves as a regional (North American) power (rather than global hegemon). I'm just not sure that, as a nation, they have the collective fortitude to accept and do this. I fear the more arrogant and psychopathic among them may go nuclear instead of accepting the reality of their situation.
I think you're overlooking/underestimating the significance of the economic war that the West, in particular the US, has unleashed against Russia (and Iran, and to a lesser extent China) and is losing. (And which is not closely tied to the war on the ground in Ukraine.) Europe cannot sustain the economic losses and will be forced to sue for peace (probably in less than a year), i.e end embargoes and sanctions against Russia, and resume trade (especially for energy).
How will the US respond to the loss of its major ally? Military escalation? Completely infeasible as you correctly observe. For the US, that leaves only economic retreat and retrenchment (feasible, given its size and resource base, especially including its ally Canada, and to a lesser extent Mexico, but unpalatable) or the nuclear option (psychopathic, existential threat to life on the whole planet).
I'm less sanguine than you about the chance for the US to play nuclear roulette.
Re Finland, Sweden: possibly the Arctic zone is where most mischief will take place.
When the dust settles in this earth-born workshop, from it will emerge an order of refreshed sovereign nation states revering three brothers as leadership models for human civilization: India (wise), USA (pure), and Russia (strong).