Sunday, Sept. 24, 2023 |
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Ukraine war is now Putin’s headache.
This month, Ukraine’s army has freed 1,200 square miles of captured territory, 30 villages and two major towns.
The success caused Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Lansbergis to declare, “Putin’s genocidal plan to wipe the Ukraine off the map is a failure…no more negotiations with terrorists. Those who doubted the Ukraine’s strength should be apologizing. Ukraine has defended us all, even when some didn’t believe they could succeed.”
There are few times in history where an awesome Goliath has been defeated by a David. In Feb. 2022, the Russian population was 140,000,000 people. Their standing army up to 900,000 men. Ukraine’s population was 44,000,0000 (reduced by 10,000,000 when war came) and 250,000 soldiers. Worse, they were equipped with old Soviet armaments and relied on makeshift weaponry like Molotov cocktails.
There are other statistics, but I’m sure you appreciate the disparity of power between Ukraine and Russia. On Feb. 24, Putin invaded with 250,000 of his best fighting men, 3,000 tanks, thousands of other vehicles, a huge, modern air force, and rockets in great numbers. The largest nuclear force in the world, 6,000 atomic missiles, were put on alert.
Western experts agreed that Russia would take Kyiv in a week, and the entire Ukraine in a short time. The invincible Russian army bogged down 50 miles from their start line, and could do no more than bombard Kyiv with rockets and artillery. In two months, Russians were running from west Ukraine. Why? Russia suffered a failure of logistics, troop morale, inept leadership, and faced a determined Ukrainian people. Herein lies the key to the defeat.
Instead of limited war, Putin opted for total war — terrorize civilians with death. Destroy homes, schools, hospitals, infrastructure. He waged a war against people — a serious mistake. War analysts at the beginning of hostilities discounted the value of the moral effect of success in the battlefield. Centuries ago, a great general, Napoleon Bonaparte, said the “moral (righteousness) is to the physical as three is to one.”
An analyst on war can’t just look at tanks, jets and manpower. The desire for freedom is the greatest motivator that the Ukrainians have.
A command society may order its mercenaries to suppress, but they can’t give them the desire to do so effectively. The moral is to the physical as three is to one. I believe the Ukrainians changed that number to six to one. They know they face the threat of extinction, and will fight to preserve their freedom.
Putin fled from Kyiv and declared he would attack in the Donbas, an area where Russia had supporters. The shift of strength and the bombardment tactic gave Russian forces slow, plodding success. Victories were achieved by obliteration of military and civilian targets. Meanwhile, America poured $14 billion of military aid into the Ukraine.
The Russian army is dependent on railroads for supplies. With the help of rail transport, the plodding approach caused Putin to declare victory in the Donbas in August. But weapons supplied by America, like the HIMARS artillery which could strike with unbelievable accuracy at targets 50 miles behind the front lines, were making a difference.
The Ukrainian army announced a counteroffensive in the south, aimed at the Crimea. From the northeast the Russians sent great numbers of troops south. Instead, the Ukraine army struck in the north and devastated the enemy. Ukraine Lt. Gen. Moishuk said, “Russian troops are not fighting back.” They are running away as fast as they can.
What happened to Putin’s army?
William J. Fernandez is a retired judge and Kapa‘a resident.
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