Ukraine Is Winning?
Westerners like Joe Biden and Michael McFaul continue to assert that Ukraine is winning the NATO-Russia Ukrainian War. The reality is far different. The war could end this year with a complete collapse of the Ukrainian army and Maidan regime. This is not a certain outcome as yet but is possible if not this year then certainly in 2024 — in lieu of some negotiated end to war or at least the fighting — when Russian, Ukrainian and American presidential elections are scheduled. The election offing raises the stakes of the Ukrainian outcome, which is bleak for Kiev and Washington. Ukraine is running out of artillery shells and firing systems are suffering high attrition. The US has announced plans to produce 50,000 shells next year for Ukraine, but Ukraine is using 90,000 per month, ten times less than Russian and allied forces are using. Moscow has still to commit its newly mobilized troops in an all-out counteroffensive, but nevertheless Russian, Donbass, and Wagner forces are making major headway in three key areas, while Ukraine still is proving incapable of pushing back Russian forces, outside of the strategic retreats undertaken by Moscow in Kharkov and Kherson last year, with minimal casualties, even fighting.
On the ground, Ukrainian forces risk a full collapse east of the Dnepr. On the Kupyansk front in the northeast, Russia is winning the northern tactical battle, while a draw holds in the Novosyolovka operational battle in the center, but with Russia inflicting high casualties by artillery. The same picture prevails in the Stilmakhovo operational sector, with significantly less fighting. Some believe that Russia’s goal here is to take Kupyansk without destroying it in order to use it going forward as a base for further operations against Kharkov, and therefore the going is slow. On the Liman strategic front, there are four ongoing battles, involving the most critical one which Russian forces are winning and three in which there maintains a draw. The later includes the Stilmakhovo low level tactical battle, and the more substantial Chernopopovka and Yampolovka tactical battles, the last being one that Russian forces have devoted considerable resources but with few gains to show. Finally, there is the Serebryanko Forest tactical battle, which is 2-3 times more active than any of above. It is a decisive battle for the entire Liman Front that Russian forces will seek to use as a jumping off point for an encirclement of Seversk, a key Ukrainan stronghold. The battle of the Serebryanko Forest is a third to a half of the level of action and importance as Bakhmut. The level of daily losses often near those in and around Bahmut. Here as in Bakhmut, the Russians are winning.
On the Donetsk strategic front, the center of gravity remains Bakhmut, but a little noticed tactical battle around Avdeevka is of nearly equal importance. On this front, moving form north to south, there is a small still undecided small operational battle at Belogorovka. Bakhmut is being taken by Russian forces, where perhaps as many as 12,000 forces are now encircled by Russain ‘Wagner’ forces and have little hope of being extracted. They will likely surrender or die. In and around Gorlovka, which is under DNR control, there is persistent Ukrainian shelling with hopes Kiev’s forces can some day drive to Debaltsevo, where they were defeated in a crucial battle in 2015 in the ‘anti-terrorist operation’ declared against Donbass in April 2014. At Novobakhmutovka there is a very important tactical battle that Russian is winning and will help to decide the fate of Avdeevka, a stronghold of Ukrainian ultra-nationalists and neofascists such as Right Sector, the Ukrainian Volunteer Corps, and Azov. There, the quasi-strategic battle involves heavy Russian artillery fighting, including the use of new Russian thermobaric air bombs, along a broad front line of Russian attack. Ukrainian forces of an unknown number are in tactical if not operational encirclement. In Mariinka, Ukrainian forces have become more active than Russian forces, reversing the pattern of late last year, and Russian advance through the town has stopped. In Ugledar’s strategic battle, Ukrainian forces are holding after having pushed Russian forces out from the city’s outskirts earlier this year. Thus, on the eastern front (Kupyansk, Liman, and Donetsk) Russia is winning three of the four ongoing strategic battles: Serbryanka Forest, Bakhmut, and Avdeevka. Russia has lost for now in Ugledar.
In the south, on the Zaporozhe Front, there is little activity, infantry or artillery. Ukraine appears to have removed forces from there in preparation for a counteroffensive on Crimea through Kherson and in order to hold Ugledar, Avdeevka, and possibly Bakhmut. Russian forces appear to have deployed similarly in order to defend Crimea, attack Ukrainian forces in Kherson with artillery and reinforce troops near Ugledar. Kherson will likely become a focus again later this year. At present, Russian artillery is inflicting heavy casualties on the Ukrainian forces that moved in after the Russians withdrew last year. Some analysts believe that Ukrainian forces will be forced to abandon Kherson and that it will become a no man’s land of occasional commando battles before any prospective Ukrainian counteroffensive against Crimea, if one actually can materialize.
China Makes Its Move
The NATO-Russia Ukrainian War and ‘new cold war’ has forced China to make its move for world leadership earlier than it might have preferred. Indeed, Beijing probably counted on a long march through which it would become stealthily, almost unnoticed a, if not the lone global superpower. The first move was China’s diplomatic success in mediating the Iranian-Saudi rapprochement. This is one more sign that Beijing, capitalizing on numerous American miscues – beginning with Iraq continuing through Libya and Syria and finishing with the Obama administration’s official position of ‘leading from behind’ while acting in the standard neocon fashion in this region as in Russia’s neighborhood in Georgia, Ukraine, and elsewhere – is establishing itself as the leading power in this region, one far beyond its traditional sphere of influence and national interests. This will likely spur both Riyadh’s and Teheran’s further integration into the Sino-Russian-led institutional infrastructure of the ‘Rest’ – One Belt One Road, BRICS, Shanghai Cooperation Organization, and the Eurasian Economic Union – to counter the West as an alternative civilizational model anchored in Eurasia writ large, and more specifically in Beijing. In this, China will compose the music and Russia will help to conduct the orchestra. If one doubts this, another sign of this tectonic shift came but a week after the noted diplomatic success, when China’s Exim Bank, announced that it had concluded the first loan cooperation with Saudi Arabia’s largest bank, National Bank, to be conducted in RMB Yuan.
Now comes President Xi Jinping’s ‘journey of friendship’ to Putin in Moscow. This Sino-Russian summit may go down in history as the day the American century of hegemony ended and a multipolarity or bipolarity was established in the international system officially or at least symbolically. The visit comes at a pivotal moment in the Ukrainian conflict, as noted above, Russian-Western relations, and Chinese political life. Xi is kicking off his third term as Chinese leader with a strong symbolic gesture of support for Putin, whom has just been indicted for war crimes by Europe’s International Criminal Court (neither the US, Russia, or China recognizes the court’s authority). This is a Chinese slap in the face to European international human rights sensibilities. Xi and Putin are unlikely to announce any Chinese military role or assistance to Russian forces in the Ukrainian war for the time being, but if necessary, I repeat, China will not hesitate to keep Moscow’s ‘chestnuts out of the fire.’ At present, preparations for such military cooperation in Ukraine will begin behind the scenes. The visit itself and rhetoric emerging from it will issue a vailed threat of such assistance. This stick will be used to support the carrot of the Chinese initiative to sponsor or mediate Ukraine ceasefire negotiations. This raises the question of possible US reaction.
President Biden finds himself in a world of hurt, whether he notices it or not. If he is not in charge, then his Obama-era and globalist curators may notice a confluence of inconvenient events: (1) the Xi-Putin friendship summit; (2) Xi’s plans to end the Ukraine war that Biden apparently prefers would continue; (3) the Republican-led US House committee uncovering foreign bank accounts through which money was illegally funneled to his son Hunter and through him to then Vice President Biden (two days before news emerged that Biden plans to arrest former President Trump on March 22; (4) the collapse of two major American banks and the risk of a major financial crash on the order of 2008; and (5) the accelerating of de-dollarization among the Rest at the urging of China and Russia; and (6) the encirclements of thousands of Russian troops both in Bakhmut (Artyomevsk) and Avdeevka (Avdiivka). All this begins just as American presidential election campaigning is getting underway and risks an internal Democrat challenge to his presidency and/or a Republican ful sweep (White House, Senate, and House) in 2024 followed by criminal investigations of the Bidens, Obamas, and Clintons.
The smell of civil war is in the air in the US. On this background, can Biden afford a diplomatic defeat to his declared Sino-Russian ‘axis of evil’? Can he countenance a military defeat of Ukraine, staying his hand in the face of such and not sending in NATO? Can he continue to provide massive economic and military assistance should the US economy undergo a major crisis? These are challenging and pivotal decisions, and the Biden administration’s emotional immaturity, radical ideologization, paucity of intellect and imagination being saddled by ideology, and lack of strategic vision suggests nothing good will come from the Western side in response to the watershed Xi-Putin Moscow summit. A clue to how the Biden administration is likely to respond may be gleaned from the administration’s approach. Russiagate, the January 6th false flag operation, fake-based impeachment processes, and now the reported impending arrest of former president Trump – a measure unprecedented in the annals of American history and as law-based as the trumped up Russiagate and January 6th impeachment charges – is clearly an attempt to provoke radicals into actions that might be manipulated and used as a pretext to justify a crackdown on the Republican opposition. The radicals may be, as they certainly were on 6 January 2021, to be infiltrated and driven by FBI and other government agence provocateur. A similar but foreign rather domestic model for action is the Biden administration’s attack on the Russian-European pipeline designed to drive another wedge between Russia and Europe, making the latter more pliable on issues such as Ukraine, relations with China, and other questions. Neither of these models suggests a less than aggressive US response to the deepening Sino-Russian alliance, which may soon be formalized, and its symbol—the present Xi-Putin Moscow summit.
Muddying Nord Stream’s Gassy Baltic Waters
CIA leak to the New York Times claiming that a ‘pro-Ukrainian group’ blew up the Russian-European Nord Stream gas pipeline was a classic ‘muddy the waters’ op, which all intel services deploy to cover their tracks. Each intelligence service accuses the others of doing this; they all do it. The main tipoff that the article was a total fake is its elaborate emphasis on the non-participation of Zelenskiy or any official actors from Ukraine. In this way, the West could deflect suspicion to Ukraine without risking public support for the war. In addition, the logistics of the plot outlined in the article are fantastical: getting the quantity of explosives to or in Germany or Poland; getting the heavy mass of the explosives necessary for such a blast to the attack site on a small sailboat; the sailboat’s reaching the site without detection by NATO survellance; and much else.
EUROPE BOOKS, 2022
MCFARLAND BOOKS, 2021
MCFARLAND BOOKS, 2018
About the Author –
Gordon M. Hahn, Ph.D., is an Expert Analyst at Corr Analytics, www.canalyt.com. Websites: Russian and Eurasian Politics, gordonhahn.com and gordonhahn.academia.edu
Dr. Hahn is the author of the new book: Russian Tselostnost’: Wholeness in Russian Thought, Culture, History, and Politics (Europe Books, 2022). He has authored five previous, well-received books: The Russian Dilemma: Security, Vigilance, and Relations with the West from Ivan III to Putin (McFarland, 2021); Ukraine Over the Edge: Russia, the West, and the “New Cold War” (McFarland, 2018); The Caucasus Emirate Mujahedin: Global Jihadism in Russia’s North Caucasus and Beyond (McFarland, 2014), Russia’s Islamic Threat (Yale University Press, 2007), and Russia’s Revolution From Above: Reform, Transition and Revolution in the Fall of the Soviet Communist Regime, 1985-2000 (Transaction, 2002). He also has published numerous think tank reports, academic articles, analyses, and commentaries in both English and Russian language media.
Dr. Hahn taught at Boston, American, Stanford, San Jose State, and San Francisco State Universities and as a Fulbright Scholar at Saint Petersburg State University, Russia and was a senior associate and visiting fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the Kennan Institute in Washington DC, the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, and the Center for Terrorism and Intelligence Studies (CETIS), Akribis Group.