Russia can only win given its superiority. This self-evident mantra for Russia's historical mission according to the Kremlin is dictated by overwhelming numbers and means according to many Western military experts who probably know little or nothing about it. modern urban warfare - clashes with the facts, as we are going to argue here.
The decisive battle? The first day
Not for nothing, from the beginning, we have argued that the battle for Antonov airport, fought between the Russian special forces and the 24th Ukrainian rapid reaction battalion, trained for years by NATO, has decided the course to date. Of the war. Once more than a thousand of the best men were lost - Spetsnaz, Chechens, etc. - and finding themselves rejected, Moscow ended up being worn down between Bucha and Irpin with no hope of being able to attack Kiev. The recent Ukrainian counter-offensive on this front has highlighted all the material and tactical limitations of the Russian forces. In short, it has raised the impression among the military and politicians of the Free World that Russia just cannot win this damned war.
The problem of human resources
In the first place, he cannot win because he would have to conquer every city (Kiev, Kharkiv, Sumy and then maybe Lviv etc.) suffering every day in every single city hundreds - and in some cases even thousands - of losses (dead, wounded and maimed). as has been happening for two weeks around Mariupol and southern Donbass. From what follows not only a weakening of the home front, but a real breakup of battalions and departments. The fact that men and equipment have been recalled from the Far East and the Caucasus speaks volumes about the human resources problem afflicting the Russian offensive.
The problem of territorial control
Secondly, it cannot win because it would then have to maintain in place a force - very substantial - sufficient to face the resistance hidden among the rubble and ruins of every demolished city, to keep any residual population at bay - made up almost exclusively of adult men capable of carrying a weapon - or to deport tens of thousands of people to "ethnically cleanse" the territory. In any case, it is an effort beyond the capabilities of the forces deployed in the Ukrainian theater and, probably, for Russia tout court.
The wrong comparison with Grozny and Aleppo
Thirdly, it cannot win because the precedents in Aleppo and Grozny do not stand up to comparison, except in the misleading impression of effectiveness left on observers. We are talking about cities that represented, for the Islamic State and the Chechen resistance respectively, the only management and logistic centers, which were destroyed and the defenses quickly lost their cohesion and effectiveness. Anyone who compares these two cases to Ukraine does so in total ignorance of its extensive railway network, of its natural river and orographic barriers, of the size and urban structure of the cities to be taken, of the fact that the Soviets themselves rebuilt Kharkiv and the other inhabited centers destroyed by the Nazis thinking of a future siege. But have our experts, a bit like the Russian tankers, really never looked at a map of Ukraine?
The bloody taking of Mariupol
Fourthly, he cannot win, finally, because Mariupol is not repeatable and we are taught precisely by the enormous difficulties encountered by the Russians. Mariupol, in fact, is the only Ukrainian city of a certain size close to the Russian bases: yet, it is slaughtering the ground troops of Moscow so much that even the Chechens have preferred to stay out of sight. It seems evident that if Kiev had had sufficient forces, it could have doubled those present in the Donbass, which for a month have been keeping the combined pressure of the two separatist republics and the Russians at bay, and transform Mariupol into a new Alesia, hitting the besiegers from behind and forcing them to fight on both sides.
Escalation or nothing
Finally, it cannot win because Russia does not have the definitive weapon that gives the certainty of an unconditional surrender by the Ukrainians and because the front from which supplies can come, extended from Poland to Romania, is far from being put in place. safety. The more Moscow pressures, the more the Free World feels empowered to arm Ukraine. What today appears impossible, imprudent and unmanageable, will become reality tomorrow if Putin continues to push towards escalation. Unfortunately for him and for us, he cannot go back: he should explain to the Russians why the censorship and limitations of freedom continue, if all goes well and victory is near.
As you will have understood, the losses of the Russians are the central element of our reasoning: they wear down the units, put the morale of the troops to the ground, humiliate the credibility of the Russian armed forces, undermine the solidity of leadership roles and, ultimately, cancel over time, Putin's consent. And we have a full folder of these losses: as I write this, I have dozens of photos and videos in front of me that I cannot publish, given their extreme crudeness, greater than what the reader can imagine. There are dozens of convoys and positions of the Russian forces destroyed in Kherson, Irpin, Sumy, Mariupol in the last few days ... I repeat only what was reported by Belarusian medical personnel to Deutsche Welle last week, about men without limbs or eyes, nor ears, such as had not been seen since the wars of attrition of past times.
So when Komsomolskaya Pravda, echoing our article, speaks of nearly 10.000 dead and 16.000 wounded, perhaps it is silent about the victims among the Chechens, Wagner and the other paramilitaries, wiped out by the hundreds in the last four weeks and nothing adds to the impression that the attacks from the air on Ukrainian cities only serve to accentuate the impression of an "old-fashioned" war, fought by both sides with extreme brutality and where ending up among the prisoners is very rare.
It is in this scenario that many rumors of Kremlin purges chase each other among the top leaders of the Armed Forces and intelligence services. All this only confirms the impression that Putin quoted the wrong paragraph from the Gospel of St. John. We, who continue to consider the war as set up by Putin as a failure, would rather have quoted Caiaphas: "Only one man must die for the salvation of all the people".
PS But what if Russia wins the war easily tomorrow and you lose your face? So, the barber asked me at the beginning of March, in front of my certainties about the Kiev estate. The risk of losing my face, then as now, is small compared to the arrival of Putin's forces on the border with NATO and the enormous risks involved. If I'm right, the scenario is a nightmare. If I'm wrong, it's almost the same nightmare ...