Nothing like a coherent strategy emerged from 20 years of NATO’s war in Afghanistan; at best there were long lists of aspirations with no clear objectives or assessments of the resources needed to achieve them. But, two months after the Russian invasion, it looks very much as if the US and NATO are beginning to develop a coherent plan for Ukraine. Military strategy has been described as a synthesis of ends, ways and means. Last week, senior US and UK officials clarified the objectives – the ends.
[Note: This article is the opinion of the author. Some readers may agree with it while others only agree with aspects of it. We have republished it, without edit, from The Conversation as, as well as containing a lot of interesting information, it seems to indicate that the UK and US’s overarching aim is to destroy Russia rather than support the citizens of Ukraine whose needs and desires may not be the same as NATO’s aims.]
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by Frank Ledwidge, 3 May 2022
For some time, the US and NATO spoke of defending the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. On April 25, in a speech pledging to defend the “rules-based international order”, Lloyd Austin, the US defence secretary, announced that the US wanted Russia “weakened to the point that it can’t do things like invade Ukraine”. There should be no ambiguity about this. It is now US (and therefore NATO) policy to damage the Russian armed forces to a degree from which it will take a very long time to recover.
There are dangers in this strategic approach. For example, it is by no means clear that all NATO countries are entirely bought into Ukrainian (and US and UK) aims of completely restoring Ukrainian territorial integrity, let alone removing the Russian armed forces as a going concern. This provides the opportunity for Russia to open and widen rifts as the war drags on and a diplomatic settlement continues to appear remote. This was Serbia’s strategy during the far shorter and less intense Kosovo war. Then there is always the danger of Russian nuclear strikes in the event of “catastrophic” Ukrainian success – a small but increasing danger.
So much for the ends as stated. What of the means? The somewhat ramshackle Russian armed forces over the course of its misbegotten campaign have sustained many reverses. The worst by far was the passing by the US Congress of the Ukraine Democracy Defense Lend-Lease Act of 2022-2023, mandating US$33 billion (£26 billion) for various forms of assistance. Most of that help will take the form of weaponry and training to enable the Ukrainian army to destroy Russia’s military equipment and kill its soldiers.
To place this in context, the entire Russian defence budget for the current year is US$65.9 billion. Some believe that the Lend-Lease Act is an open-ended commitment by “the arsenal of democracy” to Ukraine which might encourage Russia to the negotiating table.
Finally, how will the west and Ukraine achieve their objectives? The first imperative on the battlefield, of course, is to secure success in the current main effort in the Donbas region. Russia is making local gains there, but is unlikely to achieve the breakthrough necessary to destroy Ukrainian forces.
UK-based military strategist Mike Martin argues that the current push is likely to “culminate” – or run out of momentum – in the next two to three weeks. After that, it seems likely that the Russian army will be in no state to resume the offensive any time soon. This will remain so, even if Vladimir Putin announces a mass mobilisation, as some – including the British defence secretary, Ben Wallace – believe he will.
Russia will find it very difficult to replace the troops and equipment it has lost in the short and medium terms. Indeed, British defence intelligence estimates that some of Russia’s more effective units will “take years to reconstitute”. Meanwhile, the Ukrainian army’s reserve system has allowed it to draw on human replacements far faster than Russia.
Bolstering Ukraine’s defences
Further, a remarkable transformation is taking place in Ukraine’s army amounting to its de facto military integration into NATO. As western equipment filters through to the frontline, NATO-standard weaponry and ammunition will be brought into Ukrainian service. This is of far higher quality than the mainly former Soviet weapons with which the Ukrainians have fought so capably. The longer this process continues and deepens, the worse the situation will be for the already inefficient Russian army and air force.
We have already seen the effect of superior NATO weapons systems on Russia’s tanks and aircraft. The die will really be cast for the Russians when they lose their traditional dominance in artillery. Recent transfers from NATO states, such as the Netherlands and France, in addition to US guns and artillery detection radar have been designed to accomplish exactly this. Similar processes are likely to take place with anti-aircraft weapons.
In the air itself, it is questionable whether introducing western fighter aircraft will take place in the short term, given the lead times for supply and lengthy training requirements of at least six weeks. It is clear though that such transfers are no longer ruled out.
In addition to guaranteeing a usually far higher quality of weaponry, commonality between NATO and Ukrainian equipment will ensure a broader set of suppliers and a far more efficient logistics system. It will also enable something rarely spoken about, a systematic training regime. Extensive systems for training Ukrainian troops are being set up in Poland and many other NATO states.
Prepare a counter-attack
All of this is likely to produce a situation, perhaps as early as June or July, when the Ukrainian army can counterattack to regain some of the ground it has lost. Some analysts, including this author, believe that a re-equipped Ukrainian army may be in a position to do this very successfully indeed.
But it is important never to forget the former US secretary of defence, [Marine General James Mattis], who said: “We may want a war over. We may even declare it over … But the enemy gets a vote.”
Nonetheless, as matters stand with the west having clarified its objectives and ostensibly provided the means to achieve them, the initiative is now with Ukraine’s defenders.
About the Author
Frank Ledwidge is a Senior Lecturer in Military Strategy and Law, University of Portsmouth.
After eight years as a barrister he was called up and served as a military intelligence officer in the Balkans and Iraq. In civilian life he worked for seven years with the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe as a Human Rights officer and eventually as the Organisation’s lead on torture prevention. After stints as UK government advisor in Helmand and Libya he completed his PhD at Kings College London and began work lecturing as part of Portsmouth University’s team at RAF Cranwell, delivering the academic component of training to RAF Officers and NCOs.
He is the author of several books on contemporary conflict, including ‘Losing Small Wars’ (Yale 2011/18), Investment in Blood Yale 2013), Rebel Law (2018) and Aerial Warfare, a Very Short introduction (OUP 2020).
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And I guess the Ukrainian people, including the ethnic Russians in Ukraine who are being slaughtered by the nazzees, are just cannon fodder, inconsequential pawns in this great game being played by faceless bureaucrats.
Exactly, NATO appears to care less about the people and more about expanding their control. I see this as yet more proof that UK and USA’s “save democracy and freedoms” is mere propaganda to try convince their populations their involvement in Ukraine is necessary for “good.” Hopefully this will wake some people up to question what’s really going on …
What, the 5 people that read it? If you want it to be noticed then you need to print it in the gutter press or put it on the tv.
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Sorry but this is probably the first article on the expose, that I disagree with and I do not think the author has any understanding of the reality in Ukraine. Russia has already won and almost completed their goals .. although their casualties are higher than expected, they are nothing really. Just my view.
What’s won? They’ve obliterated the ‘ukranian’ army and taken the bits of the ukraine that they need to prevent the uk/usa putting the missiles back, but the uk/usa will just put the missiles in poland or finland or any of the other puppet countries bordering Russia. This war will never end until the evil that is the ‘west’ is defeated, and that won’t happen until the ‘royals’, ‘lords’, ‘presidents’, ‘prime ministers’, etc are all at the end of a rope. It doesn’t bother them how long it goes on for — they’ll never run out of money or be cold or starving or in any danger whatsoever.
Do you think that the Russians haven’t game planned every move? Of course they have. They have invaded the Ukraine with 10% of their military. They can escalate in as many ways as they chose and primarily not militarily. The West who ran away with their tails between their legs from the fuzzy wuzzies in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria… The Russians do war. Europe will be humiliated.
You seem to be disagreeing with someone who agrees with you?
You are correct….I did make a seperate post but is not published yet
This represents a different take by The Daily Expose, which has seemed previously to be championing Russia and supporting its casus belli – ongoing conflict in Donbas, NATO candidacy, and biolabs.
I think this is more realistic. Russia apparently thought it could fulfill Alexander Dugin’s dream of extending its domain throughout the Black Sea coastline. It misread Ukraine’s strong desire not to be back under Russian domination – 3 1/2 centuries was enough.
Welcome the balance. And enjoy the tireless Rhoda Wilson.
Ukraine is a NATO proxy and its army is getting taken apart. Some clown in the US commented that the Russians will soon call up conscripts. The Russians pointed out that they can mobilise 3.5m before that happens.
[…] !!! Ukraine: NATO and US’s aim is to destroy the Russian military BY RHODA […]
Actually, with over 5000 nuclear missiles destroying the Russian military is really a stupid idea, especially the military personnel responsible for maintaining those missiles. If the US and NATO thinks for one moment that they are going to get a regime change in Russia that instill democracy this even more stupid. Destroying the Russian military will make the world a more dangerous place, because you need 3 super powers to keep the other 2 in check from launching nuclear missiles, who ever fires first will cause the other 2 to retaliate because they don’t know if there next to be attacked.
The j_w-cranian war is just another vietnam. It’s the j_w-sa and the j_w-k fighting Russia without actually fighting Russia. The Russians are 1000% in the right, unless you get your information from the bbc. Putin has stated before and during the war, numerous times now, that if Russia ever looks like it will be taken over by the j_ws then it will launch nuclear missiles. So whatever your warmongering owners do, you can’t win, and you shouldn’t win, because you are the aggressors. If your owners did win, then all of Russia would become a slave pit just like the j_w-k already is. Just like you’ve all conveniently forgotten the old people murdered by your owners, with not a mention of punishment of any kind heard anywhere anymore, you’ve all conveniently forgotten why Russia is doing what it’s doing in the first place. They’re doing what they’re doing to protect the Russians in the j_w-craine, to remove the bio labs that were creating poisons to drop on anyone and everyone in the world that is against the j_ws, and to destroy the nuclear missiles that your owners put there to threaten Russia. How on earth anyone in the j_w-k has the front to even suggest that Russia is in the wrong in any way is beyond me — but then this is the same country that tries to make out that the british empire was some kind of thing to be proud of (instead of the mass murdering slave trading a-hole that it was), and it’s the same country that to this day has ‘royal’ dictators and endless ‘lords’ and ‘sirs’ and all the other ‘titles’ poncing about as if they’re something other than steaming piles of poo.
China isn’t go to sit quietly by and let Russia be taken over by the crud in the west. If you’re actually reading the real news and not the state propaganda then you’ll know that Russia and China have made a whole slew of arrangements to handle any and all lies and cheats that the west tries to shove down everyone’s throats. The people in britain seem to think you’re only fighting the world’s biggest country, but you’re also fighting the world’s richest and most powerful country. Personally, I hope they nuke that cesspool london and it’s mirror image washington, but not before your pathetic navy and army have been wiped off the face of the earth. Every man, woman and child that is on the side of the owners of the uk and the usa are traitors to their country and to their people.
I’ve been following The Duran since the beginning of the Ukrainian situation. They cite their sources and are very careful to keep their analyses and comments within tne bounds of reason with clear evidence. Their take on the balance between Russia and Ukraine are quite different than is being proffered in this article.
They have highlighted the fact that the West (US & NATO) is at war with Russia and will fight to the last Ukrainian, while destroying the world’s economy with sanctions.
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This article is pure western propaganda from the bowels of Blight Broadcasting Corporation. It’s what we do best. Russia achieved its goals in the first 24 hours. Now it is the slow grind. The West needs the war to distract from a failing empire and also from more and more of their people dropping dead from the jabs. The Russians are daring the lapdogs – Poles, Balts, Romanians – to cross into the Ukraine and then they can be obliterated and NATO cannot invoke Article 5. Europe is toast, the empire is dying, Babylon will fall.
This is just nonsense, pushing the mainstream narrative, and he seems to have no understanding of modern geopolitics, does he not realise that there is no old Russian enemy anymore, during Yeltsin the West totally took control of Russia, and payed not even peanuts for it. Later on Putin, a graduate of Klaus Schwabs young leader program, was put in place, and surrounded by newly made western placed oligarchs. To not understand that this is a totally manufactured war, is simply not worthy of this publication. This is the new Afghanistan with all the same players. Look at all the people involved Zelensky with is 3 passports (Ukrainian Cypriot and Israeli) and 1.2 billion in overseas bank accounts (no money laundering scrutiny for him). Just look up Kolomoisky the oligarch who put him in place, (he also has very similar passports) and he funded the Azov the NeoNazi private army (why would someone of his religious beliefs do this?) And just look at all the oligarchs around Putin. Now why was the CIA training the Azov and why were Israel sending them arms? It’s time to wake up and smell the coffee, Ukraine is being balkanised and will be the training ground for the new wave of NeoNazis that will be used to destabilise Europe, just as they did (and are still doing) to the Middle East with Isis. There is a big reset agenda here and if you can’t see you really need to do more research. They’ve already used it to double the price of energy, billions more will be made on arms sale and god knows what they have planned for the rest of Europe.
This article is full of BBC propaganda. Ukraine has lost. The Russian approach is slow to reduce civilain casualties……they have won.
The 1st casualty of war is truth. For example the ‘ghost pilot’ who shot down numerous Russian Jets was pure lies, he never existed. This war was drummed up by the west against Putin who would not back down. How will it end… apart from getting civilians constantly in fear mode, on bikes, and willing to submit even more to Big Brother?
A good article, but something that most western analysts are missing totally, is the fact that Russia is not committing its entire combat forces to this conflict, whereas Ukraine is. Russia has a huge arsenal that it has not commited to this conflict, for varying reasons. Firstly it would be stupidity to do so given the aspirations of the US and Nato for Russian resources….which is the ultimate end game here, just as it was in 2014 but the good Ukrainians of the donbass rose against the US junta and stopped the conflict in its tracks. So Russia keeps its heavy weaponry and soldiers on standby. This is also an ideal training ground for combat soldiers that can then be rotated. The Ukrainian army does not have this luxury even with a fourth upcoming conscription in the works.
Another view is that Putin is intending to collapse the petrodollar. By dragging this war out he will also put much pressure on the haughty EU. Winter is coming and make no mistake; Russian oil and Russian gas is needed in Europe but the EU will ban it. How long will this be possible before the people of the EU rise against their leaders? It will happen. The politicians are out of step with the people they represent. Like I said, Winter is coming and winter plays into Putins hands.
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