July 3, 2022

UKRAINE: IS PUTIN WINNING HIS WAR?

Published 19th May, 2022

This is the question many are asking
But following the Russia-Ukraine war in the last two months, it will be wise to make your conclusions from the events on the battle field and other related events that have contributed in the last two months

No 1: Putin’s Objectives
Putin has changed his objectives on more than three occasions
This is because he has been unable to achieve them as planned
No wonder there was talk of sacking high ranking intelligence chiefs last month

The first objective was a change in government following beliefs Zelensky would abandon Ukraine with his family
Yes, Zelensky the comical actor that became a President and many thought had played into the hands of Western powers, Europe and the US. Unfortunately Zelensky refused to flee Ukraine even after Putin repeatedly refused to pick his calls at the onset of the war, he has however been able to rally Ukrainians from all over the world to come back home to fight for their country
He has been able to rally Europe and US to send him weapons he desperately needs, though many have come late, it is evident that the war is taking a different course

Secondly Putin changed the objective to take over the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, arrest Zelensky and plant his stooge just as he has done in Belarus, did this work? NO

After almost a month of camping outside the capital which first started with the over 30kms long convoy heading to Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital, the Russian soldiers could not enter Kyiv as their effort was futile, the Ukrainian army which has been at war since 2014 at the Donbas region, amassing enough grit and experience was a hard nut to crack

The Russians had to abandon their positions for a new offensive in the Eastern front

The Fall Of Mariupol
Some look at the fall of Mariupol as Russia’s ability to dominate Ukraine easily but they forget that this came with Putin’s next objective after abandoning his two initial objectives which the Russian Army had been unable to accomplish

Mariupol is separated by the Kalmius river from Russia and in the range of heavy enemy artillery
With a population of almost five hundred thousand, Mariupol was one of the most beautiful cities in Ukraine and the 10th largest in the country

While Putin changed his objective following a fierce Ukrainian resistance on other fronts, the new objective was create a land corridor from occupied Crimea through Mariupol to Donbas and Luhansk regions where his sponsored separatists were doing their jobs

Just like the atrocities in occupied Bucca, the Russians thought bombing Mariupol which was heavily defended by the Azovstal regiment was key, they leveled the city killing thousands of non-combatant civilians, a crime well recognized by international conventions but did Putin care? No, just like past experiences in Georgia and Chechnya showed Putin would do anything to achieve his objectives

However it is good to count Russia’s loses at this time, losing over 25 senior commanders including over 7 generals, losing it’s star flagship among it’s blacksea fleet; the Moskva to a country that does not have a navy does not suggest all is going down well with the campaign, over two hundred crew men still remain unaccounted for

Now the campaign has exposed the weakness of the Russian military, the whole of Europe is now asking the same question, is Russia still a super power?

Just like 48 year old General Valerii Zaluzhnyi, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine had been telling his country in the last few years, his prediction became true, the Russian war would come upon them, reforms in the Ukrainian military from operational and command structure, adopting a NATO style bottom’s up approach was yielding results, compared to the soviet style Russian Top to Bottom approach which was dropping down generals like empty bottles of beer

Communities taken by Russia in the first three days of the campaign were being taken back one after the other, target supply lines, give unit commanders a certain level of autonomy to make decisions on the field though not deviating from their primary objectives, these decisions helped commanders at the top to reassess general decisions passed to unit commanders, target logistic hubs and supply lines, cut the power of the enemy and ensure he does not have capacity to inflict any harm, this was Ukraine’s focus

Thousands of tanks which rolled in Ukraine, if not being decimated by American stingers were being abandoned by Russian soldiers because of lack of fuel and rations. The Ukrainians were simply targeting their logistic hubs, no hungry soldier will have the ability to fight in a foreign land, no tank no matter had sophisticated their weaponry was would move without fuel
Indeed General Valerii is a genius…

As at today, Ukrainian forces have not only pushed Russian soldiers out of it’s 2nd largest city of Kharkhiv but have driven them back into Belgorod

The Russians had attempted to encircle Kharkhiv after amassing a large force in Belgorod, began shelling but at this moment Kharkhiv remains firmly in Ukraine’s hands

Belgorod administration are even accusing the Ukrainian’s of shelling Belgorod though this remains far from Ukraine’s objective which is not offensively entering Russia but defending it’s territory

Unlike in the early days of the campaign when Zelensky needed to make the call to Putin, Zelensky has proven not to be the comedian many take him to be, he is actually now negotiating from a position of strength and has told Russian negotiators that any settlement that includes a forfeiture of any Ukrainian territory will not be even considered at all, don’t forget that Ukraine dismissed Russia’s call twice to surrender Mariupol, Mariupol might be gone for now in terms of infrastructure, but Ukraine are more confident of rebuilding in the future

Are Western Sanctions Working?
This has been the biggest question pro Russia pundits have asked in the last few weeks

Putin had been planning this campaign for years so had prepared for sanctions thinking it will have no effect on Russia, however Putin was wrong, sanctions don’t have immediate impact but overtime will cripple the Russian economy and their ability to wage war

Russia makes 285 million dollars a day from Europe for selling oil and gas. This Revenue will be cut off as several countries have expressed their readiness to end Russia’s oil and gas dependency and dominance, yes Russia will see new markets maybe in the East but I tell you, they cannot and will not be as lucrative as what it makes daily for now, so just in a matter of months, they will lose their ability to keep their economy going

Besides some think the sanctions are only going to affect the Russian economy but a big no, they do not estimate it’s effects on Russia’s military capabilities, Russia needs to continue manufacturing heavy artillery to keep it’s war going

Russia is a super power today because of it’s big weapons, those keenly following the campaign have now confirmed that following intense bombardments of Ukraine’s cities, Russia is running out of stock of heavy weaponry which cannot be replaced in the near future as they need components from other countries and cannot access them because of the sanctions

Russia is now resorting to Soviet era missiles because it has run out of modern precision guided artillery

This was one of the ultimate intents of US and NATO, wait them out, when they no longer have the capacity to inflict heavy damages then crush the head of the snake

Now the whole of Europe is united against one enemy because of an aging leader who did not want to outlive the glory days of the Soviet era

Warsaw pact countries are now turning to NATO for security guarantees

If Russia invaded Ukraine because of NATO membership which was a big fat lie but just an excuse it claimed, what will it do to Finland that has an 80 mile stretch border with it but has been preparing for a showdown with Russia since the end of the second world war.

The Finns are no pushovers, they have invested in their military in the last few years

Finland’s constitution mandates every male Finnish citizen between 18-60 years to undergo a mandatory military service, interested women are also eligible to apply, so what they lack in size, considering their population is about 5.5 million in number, they possess in capacity

Now look at the actual numbers, 2021 estimates claim males between the ages of 18-59 in Finland amount approximately to 2.74 million persons, so we are talking about 2.74 million persons already trained to shoot a gun and understand military command and drills, we have not added the women yet, no wonder NATO says Finnish membership will boost it’s military capabilities. Yes Turkey has shown resistance to Finnish membership to NATO but we know that all this can change on the dialogue table, respect Turkey’s reservations and prove to them you will be their partner

The Finnish I will tell you are ready for war.

Not only that, Finnish government has agreed to increase it’s defence spending by over 2 billion euros, an approximate $2.2 billion dollars following the war in Ukraine

So let us see how Russia will protect that very long 80 mile border with Finland after sending almost 195 thousand soldiers into Ukraine that has not achieved any significant progress

There is absolute no gainsaying that with a rapidly increasing defence budget and one of the largest and strongest artilleries in Europe, Finland will undoubtedly add to the military muscle of the NATO alliance, all this was catalyzed by Putin’s infamous gamble in Ukraine

I just wonder if Putin will have the balls to stage a campaign against Finland

What we are gradually seeing is an end to the Soviet era of domination, Putin needs to save face, someway, somehow, he needs to end his military operation (hic) in Ukraine and shamefully retreat back into Russia but this time without Crimea, Donbas, Luhansk and even plans he had for Transnistra in Moldova

Did US and NATO Mislead Ukraine?
Anyone who tells you Ukraine was misled by the US and NATO does not understand international politics and war, this was the best opportunity for the US to weaken its arch enemy Russia and annihilate their military machine which for many years had sent shivers down the spine of many nations, without firing one bullet from an American soldier

The US knows that the battlefield in Ukraine must not end in a truce, it is either Russia goes down now or never

Billions of Russia’s assets have been frozen due to sanctions, they will help rebuild Ukraine. Many never estimated the Ukrainian resolve to be as fierce as they have proven in the last two months but we always forget they came from the same offshoot with Russia

Ukraine has become the most popular country and the most celebrated in the last two months, receiving both military and foreign aid in trillions, yes thousands have died but their death will not be in vain

Some say the war could have been avoided, yes, not from the US side but from the Russian side if Putin had not played into the hands of the west

It was Putin that played into the hands of US and NATO and not vice versa, that is why one must never be predictable, for people like Putin, they only see what they want to see and hear what he wants to hear

American Philosopher Avram Noam Chomsky says “You are responsible for the predictable consequences of your actions”, true, Putin must take responsibility for his actions and gaffe in Ukraine

Some think because he has never had military experience and the Russians have never fought a direct military campaign, they have only been involved in crushing smaller countries and using proxies to create problems before any eventual military campaign

The truth is the media shy General Valerii Zaluzhnyi will be the hero of the campaign after it is over because he has used a smaller, less equipped Ukrainian military to subdue a once feared super power like Russia

US, EUROPE, NATO Alliance
The war in Ukraine definitely changed many things especially the perception of Russia worldwide, Europe has become more united, Ukraine has demystified Russia’s super power status and NATO has become bolder

One year ago, no country in the world would ever think of having a direct or indirect showdown with Russia, even the U.S

We are talking about an age long enemy of the United States, the Russian military machine was avoided at all cost thus the initial restraint by NATO and her allies at the start of the war to avoid a conflict with Russia, no one wanted to be the country that will dare face superpower + Nuclear power Russia

But in all sincerity, is it the same today? I don’t think so

Even former Soviet era countries like Czech are already sending Russian made tanks to Ukraine

Let’s not get the facts wrong, Russia continues to have a bigger, more equipped military than Ukraine… many expected it would run down Ukraine in a matter of days however it has been unable to

The atrocities in Bucca and several other towns initially occupied by Russian forces will be remembered for many years to come, those in Mariupol and now in Odessa where indiscriminate bombings are targeting civilian populations shows Russia is getting more desperate to achieve any objective it can to save face

Towns like Kherson that has been under Russian occupation have met stiff resistance from the populace thus Putin’s inability to conduct a sham referendum like the one conducted in Crimea after it was annexed in 2014 shows Russian forces have had a difficult time taking over full administrative control of the town

So the question which was once asked at the beginning of this opinion piece after putting together all events that have played up since the commencement of the war is…

Is Putin Winning his War in Ukraine?

Written by Amadin Uyi, a journalist from Abuja
amadin2000@yahoo.com

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