"Cheerleading versus shivers down your spine: what will the coming Ukrainian counter-offensive bring?"
Gilbert Doctorow (March 30, 2023)

To be sure, there are, among readers of my essays, a certain number of cheerleaders for the Russian side in the ongoing war in and over Ukraine. Some are keenly interested in the facts and the risks that each escalation in the conflict brings with it. Others are often quite ignorant about Russia and have no sincere interest in that country, any more than the Washington elites rooting for Ukraine care about the realities or the fate of that country. These folks are playing the Grand Chessboard, and their logic is ‘you cannot make an omelet without breaking eggs,’ by which I mean that the losses of the combatant sides are merely collateral damage in a much needed realignment of the World Order that takes America down from its pedestal. Quite apart from the cynicism that underlies such position-taking, it ignores that we may all become ‘collateral damage’ if one or the other combatant side miscalculates and touches off a nuclear war.

Meanwhile, I see that both Scott Ritter and Col. Douglas Macgregor continue their cheerleading of Russian forces with daily predictions of a rout of the Ukrainian army. They are both talking nonsense, and bring their fake news to very large Western audiences. Why do I say nonsense? Because no one really knows what the situation on the ground will be when the Ukrainians launch their counter offensive next month.

Both sides have imposed strictest secrecy on their current operations and plans for the coming couple of months. Though the Russians continue to make progress in their capture of Bakhmut and Avdievka, there is little movement elsewhere on the very long front. Both sides are engaged in minor sorties to find out weak spots in the defenses of the other side for purposes of the big battle to come.

In the past few days, Zelensky has played down the Ukrainian military potential for the purpose of squeezing more and more aid from the West and to make the possible Ukrainian breakthrough during the counter offensive appear all the more remarkable if it indeed occurs.

The Russians have been digging in, literally, with spades to fortify their defensive positions in a series of lines. The Russians are nervous over what the USA and NATO actually have dispatched to Ukraine, which they believe may be much more advanced than what the newspaper accounts are saying. Forget the tanks, which are a side show. The real threat is long range ballistic missiles and other weaponry that can reach into the supply depots, regional command centers and barracks of reservists in Crimea and the Russian oblasts bordering the Donbas.

Should Russian fears, which we hear set out in some detail on the daily talk shows these days, be justified and not merely a message to their own leadership to take maximum precautions and not to be giddy with success, then you and I should be very, very nervous. Why? Because if the United States indeed goes va banque and throws in as a further guarantee of success NATO piloted aircraft and battalions of infantry, then the possibility of Russians resorting to tactical nukes raises its head.

For some time now John Mearsheimer has been warning of the Russians resorting to nuclear weapons if they are too heavily pressed in the Ukraine war. I had been resisting his logic by pointing to the unique new conventional weapons like the hypersonic missiles that the Russians have largely been holding back until now but could throw into the battle if needed. After all, in principle, the Russians are fully capable of decapitating the Ukrainian political and military leadership by precision strikes on Kiev at any time of their choosing. However, that may itself be as risky in terms of relations with the USA and NATO as a nuclear strike in the field would be, and it would leave no one with whom to negotiate an end to the war.

And so, sadly and reluctantly, I take back my words about the impossibility of Russian use of nuclear weapons in the field. I have done this privately in a letter to Professor Mearsheimer. Now I do so publicly.

If US assistance to the Ukrainian counteroffensive goes over the top, we may all become collateral casualties of war, both here in Europe and on the mythically secure shores across the Atlantic.

For all of these reasons, I repeat the argument of the Appeal drafted by European Parliament deputies and published here a week ago: this war must end NOW, and imposing a cease-fire is the most urgent task of international diplomacy.

©Gilbert Doctorow, 2023

61 thoughts on “Cheerleading versus shivers down your spine: what will the coming Ukrainian counter-offensive bring?”

“no possibility of employing more military hardware”? You have not read my essay carefully. The USA has plenty left to throw at the Russians, and however good any air defense is, it cannot stop everything so there will inevitably be grave Russian losses if these weapons are deployed. “regular people in the West have had enough of autocratic, lying elites”? not from what I see around me in Belgium, Germany et al. Your France is the great exception, not the rule, and the street fighting is over social benefits in their country not over the war, which a majority of French still support, per polls. “settled in the streets of….Atlanta and Toronto” – this is totally wishful thinking. The Americans are comfy in their sofas and have no intention of taking to the streets. The Canadians are muzzled by an authoritarian government that, thanks to their Deputy PM Freeland, heiress to a line of Ukrainian collaborators with the Hitlerite regime, to Bandera and other scum, and thanks the large Ukrainian diaspora in their midst, is rock solid for a Kiev regime victory.

John Thurloe
Much of your reply is excellent and I endorse it. Canadians generally, are gullible, weak and stupid. However, I was amazed to see local farmers, shopkeepers and retirees head off to Windsor and Ottawa for the trucker’s convoy. And so was Trudeau. The path to public resistance is just non-resistance. Where I live there about 15 police with no back up possible. Note that in France a rate-limiting factor is that the police are simply worn out. They cannot remain on a high intensity of active duty for very long. Their gear wears out, management falls apart. And yet, if people keep out on the streets they can prevail by default.
The U.S military is next to worthless. Their hardware is old or junked up and logistically they are at an impossible disadvantage. The F-35 is incable of real combat. Plus, neither the U.S. nor the EU (or Canada) could or ever will be able to actually ‘mobilize’ their nations of fatties. As opposed to Russia with short supply lines, a population able and used to military molilization with a leader who has their confidence.
I grew up in Toronto’s Ukraine diaspora. Hell, I went to Plast. None of my old friends do anything more than shove a few dollars to the ’cause’, show up ceremoniously. Maybe once. Sure as hell don’t see any Toronto Ukies volunteering to fight or selling their house to donate the dough. They all know damned well who Freeland is. And so do I.

Dear Mr Doctorow,
I share all of your concerns and have much sympathy for your stance.
But consider this: people like President Putin are really highly intelligent, much more so than the Western “leaders”. If a president Putin says, as he did, that Russia is prepared “for anything”, then most probably that will be true. It may cost Russia a lot. It will cost NATO much more. The Russians won’t be foolhardy and they will use nuclear weapons only when pushed to the wall, whatever firebrand Medvedev says. Russia may lose a hundred tanks, NATO will lose all of its tanks. And as history shows again and again, Central Europe will eat itself, Poles against Ukrainians etc. I don’t think there will be a large offensive by anyone: the Russians keep slowly grinding, NATO keeps looking for reserves, no one believes in a bright future of Europe, no one has the energy for a sudden definite push but Russian patience will win in the end.

It may come as some small comfort to you that on the Russian side, the war journalists keep some human decency and express regrets for the vast majority of Ukrainian conscripts who will die in the coming weeks and days because they are sent to their doom by the Kiev regime. However, unlike you, they go on to say that they have no regrets for the deaths of the neo-Nazis nad cutthroat “mercenaries” from NATO who are in it for the pure pleasure of the kill. So your innocent and admirable pacificsm runs into a stone wall on that count.

Freedom Aus
I enjoy and respect your commentary Gilbert . I have studied for 48 years plus military history and my ancestors are military. I totally agree with your assessment – except Russia will Nuke the UK,USA,Germany – why bother with Tac nukes after the US demonstrated close nuclear bombing runs on St Petersburg and other Russian precious targets – sorry but I think this is it for Russia. Putin has been a joke in this war and has buggered the Russian armed response. I think if the Shit hits the fan -it will be taken out of his pathetic hands. I am not a fanboy of Russia but I totally respect them and despise USA with there Pedo LGBTQ+ culture and fake human rights while they have 2 million slave prisoners being feed sub human food ! They have destroyed Australia my country and turned us into a low wage Blackrock,Vanguard US shithole slave colony -Democracy -please what a joke. So Gilbert I think Mearsheimer is totally wrong as well

Except that over half of former Ukraine would countenance this.
there seems to be a confusion about Ukraine – it is a split country in civil war. But it is presented in the media as 100% behind Zelensky.
In the last fair elections when all parties were allowed to stand the pro-Russians dominated to Sejm and Yanukovych won. Yes 75% voted for Zelensky – but that was he was opposing the pro-war Poroshenko and his mandate was to ensure peaceful negotiations with Russia and to fulfill the Minsk agreements – the very opposite to his later policies (or rather the policies forced upon him by Nazis and Nato).
Remember much of the pre-2014 military went off to join the rebels which is why the remaining 2014/15 military got beat by rebels with no Russian forces assistance. Then the current military got “boosted” by the promotion of the Nazi militia into key positions.
Who is Ukraine – make your mind up – the W Ukraine minority? Or the majority who are pro-Russia or sitting here safely in London and EU?

Yes, I think Ischguet is off the money with his claim that the people of Ukraine support the war. Please see “The State of Ukrainian Democracy Is Not Strong” [https://jacobin.com/2023/02/ukraine-censorship-authoritarianism-illiberalism-crackdown-police-zelensky].
““Zelensky used the Russian invasion and the war as a pretext to eliminate most of the political opposition and potential rivals for power and to consolidate his largely undemocratic rule,” says University of Ottawa political scientist Ivan Katchanovski… treason and collaboration cases have exploded… Since OPZZh’s ban in 2022, a number of its leaders — including cochairman and close Putin friend Viktor Medvedchuk, but also officials who have made no pro-Russian statements since the war — have been arrested, exiled, and stripped of their citizenship. Some, including the OPZZh candidate who became mayor of Zelensky’s hometown, have been killed… “All Ukrainian journalists and bloggers who did not want to promote Zelensky’s version of ‘truth’ had to either shut up (voluntarily or under duress) or, if possible, emigrate… These names are added by a secret panel of unknown administrators, and the blacklist’s use as a resource for law enforcement — along with the involvement of a former SBU officer and its listing of the CIA’s headquarters of Langley, Virginia as an address…The site may be most notorious for labeling as “terrorist collaborators” and doxing more than five thousand journalists and others who applied for press accreditation to work in separatist areas in 2016, sparking threats against them and their families… Crackdowns on Russian cultural heritage — one of the policies that fueled civil strife in the country where many speak and ethnically identify as Russian — has intensified. The war has seen numerous regional and local bans on Russian products, and speaking and even learning Russian, so that by November, there were nearly no schools left that taught the language. June saw the Zelensky government create a special council to coordinate “the country’s movement for de-Russification”; parliament passed several laws curtailing Russian books and music. Fines for speaking Russian, even for the mayor of a Russian-speaking city, aren’t out of the question, while a leading university outright banned the language from its campus. This February, the government celebrated purging the country’s libraries of nineteen million books, some written in Ukrainian but from the Soviet era, and eleven million written in Russian.”
It’s a fascist hell hole.

Tsigantes, Eleni
I assume you’re located far distant from Ukraine to believe that the new state of Ukraine that emerged post-1989 from the Soviet wreckage is the true historic Ukraine. The new Ukraine of today incorporates large areas that were never Ukrainian but post-WW2 Soviet booty: a large chunk of Roumania; Carpathian Hungary; majority Roman Catholic Ruthenia in the west – Polish in living memory and ancestral home of the Bzrezinski family and Bandera – where Romanian, Hungarian and Polish are still spoken. Concerning the east and south, Ukraine oblast was enlarged by Kruschev in 1953 for Soviet administrative reasons by adding industrial Donbas (always Russian), Crimea, and all of Novorussia (again, Russian).
Only the landlocked part in the centre is historic Ukraine, comprising less than 50% of present day Ukraine. “Ukraine” in fact means border area / frontier land, please think about that! Since Russia grew out of Kievian Rus it is the SW border of Russia.
All this to say that far from “no country on the planet ….would countenance this” it is in fact difficult to justify Ukraine’s present bloated borders, especially when Kiev – for 8 long years – has waged low grade aggression against its polyglot foreign minorities to the west and full-scale war on Russian NovoRussia and Donbas to the south and east. Nor have the surrounding countries forgotten or forgiven the loss of their ancestral territories to Soviet “Ukraine”, nor toay forgive the targeted mistreatment of their displaced citizens.

michael burgwin
Sadly, the Collective West has made any possibility of a “ceasefire” moot. One cannot lie, lie, and lie some more, and then voluntarily confess to lying so that Ukraine can build up its military, and then expect Russia to trust that you will not continue to do the same this time. I would argue that the US Govt (my govt, vomit) is the bigger threat to use nukes because its war is so heavily dependent on ego/EGO. Russia seems to have some wiggle room, whereas the US has “bet the farm” at a time when it is internally propping itself on shaky and crumbling ground. Internal political power in the USA has made the Democratic Party to keep power out of the hands of Trump, the neocons are desperate to gift the oligarchs two big resource prizes (along wiith what they are best at: CHAOS, and the neolibs’ have forgottn the part about walking softly while carrying the big stick. I dont see Ritter and Macgregor as cheerleaders as much as they are realists trying to warn the US Govt and NATO that they have put themselves and the world on the precipice all based on the same kind of propaganda they employed during the virus that wasnt a virus lock up the free world campaign. Putin didn’t ask for this war, but the US Govt has done / continues to do everything it can to keep it going with no apparent or readily available way to disengage in a way that will save face.

Ritter and Macgregor are simply not listening to what the Russians are saying. Their appraisals are underinformed..

1. michaeldroy
(and you comments below)
It is certainly curious that the Russian media is very sceptical about all news and seem to be quite free of political pressure to print what the Kremlin wants. Whereas …..
It isn’t the Russians we need to be listening to when discussing what is happening in Ukraine. It is Ukraine – and the story out of Ukraine is very clear, huge deaths, little or no reserves, consistent failures in exploratory attacks on Russian lines. That is the story.
It is nice to see a national media revelling in its ability to say what it likes and express its own doubts. And you do an excellent job of explaining that. I wouldn’t say that that makes it more reliable than independent analysis.
(Note that Ritter, not MacGregor, became a huge doubter of Russia’s eventual victory last year when the HIMARS went in. So he does get stuff wrong. But it is not just Ritter or the smarter MacGregor. It is pretty much every independent analyst right now.)

James White
I enjoy your website and comments. I take a minor disagreement with your characterization of Scott Ritter and especially Col. Douglas MacGregor as cheerleading. Yes, of course there is fog of war. But mass audiences in the U.S. and Europe are continuously being fed straight propaganda that Ukraine is winning this war with Russia. Both Ritter and MacGregor have the direct military experience to fully grasp what is happening on the field. They understand the capabilities of the weapons being used, the tactics and the quality of the troops. Without their comments, it would be even harder to gain any type of idea about how the war is really going for both Russia and Ukraine. This war should never have been fought and it should end immediately. All Western pro-Ukraine propaganda only prolongs the needless death and suffering. If enough citizens of the West understood that sending arms and cash to Ukraine only extends the horrors of war in a losing cause, support for funding the war would end quickly. Only government Psy-Ops and media lies keep the daily death toll rising. You risk letting the perfect truth become the enemy of the plain truth.

James White
I certainly share your concerns about the U.S. and NATO growing more deeply involved in this conflict. Ukraine -is- finished in the sense that they were already finished once Zelensky made the suicidal choice to take up arms against Russia. Ukraine carefully conceals losses of their troops but they are clearly much weaker than they were when the conflict started. Western nations suffer from ADD and have the patience of a 3 year old. Everyone in the West wants this unpleasant war to end quickly but they demand a Ukrainian victory too. Putin is teaching Nuland, Sullivan, Blinken, Biden and the E.U. vassal heads of states a lesson in patience that ought to end in their complete humiliation. The greatest danger is that a desperate Biden may seek to create a diversion from his abject weakness and reckless foreign policy failure in Ukraine. Here is pathological liar Lloyd Austin yesterday spinning to Congress that ‘a Ukraine Spring counteroffensive has a very good chance of success.’ Right, and all Ukraine needs for that is another duplicate army to replace the one they have already squandered and more weapons and ammunition that no country in the West currently has in stock. This war will take as long as Russia needs it to take. Putin has shown restraint in prosecuting the war. Knowing that one day it will end and that Russian and Ukrainian neighbors will have to live together again. Such restraint is always reported by western media as that Putin is confused or weak. Unlike the Western jackals, he has read and understood history and knows that things take time. It is the shrill West that is wetting their collective pants while Russia methodically eliminates the threat of NATO’s meddling in Ukraine. All time is on Putin’s side in this ill-conceived hegemonic power grab by Nuland and company.

Paul Craig Roberts believes the USA fully intends to provoke a nuclear war and that Russia completely, completely, believes that. Russia is slow walking in Ukraine to have time to put more offensive and defensive system in play before that inevitable, in thier view, war happens. https://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2023/03/30/does-america-have-a-future-3/

Mr Doctorow,
I take great interest in your commentary, and thank you for offering it. I praise you for continuously re-evaluating your position; it shows an active and questioning mind.
Perhaps you have done a disservice to yourself by applying the term cheerleader to Messrs Ritter and Macgregor. Yes, their notoriety comes from their dissident views on the current conflict. I believe their assessments come from their experience and self. They are not alone in this “cheerleading”. Dima (MilitarySummary), Brian Berletic (TheNewAtlas) and others. I have followed this conflict in depth since the late phase of the civil war, trying to find useful information and understanding the biases implicit in the sources.
Your conclusion is the nail being directly hit on its head. I don’t think that’s gonna happen. Russia is committed to completing the return of the territories of the Donbas to their residents. It will take until Autumn to assault and claim Kramatorsk and Siversk. The big question is Kharkiv. Odessa is again an “apple of discord”, just as in WWII.
Russia is again proving, don’t attack her near or worst of all on her territory. History is repeating. Russia is building new defence lines in western Lugansk, norwestern Zaparozhia and western Kherson. Can Ukraine give up the rest of the Donetsk oblast? If so, then a political settlement is possible. Russia will have defended the people, taken most of Ukraine’s industrial capacity and made certain that it’s warm water port in Sevastopol is held.

“The Russian experts I watch discuss the war on tv are themselves very uncertain which way things will go once the offensive begins and THAT is the message I am bringing to the readers of these blogs.”
The Russians are hopeful pessimists, Dr. Doctorow.

The truth is that nuclear weapons make conventional warfare obsolete. No country can be expected to surrender its sovereignty in war without resrrving the right to employ its entire arsenal if that becomes necessary.
This is why the prospect of war between nuclear peers has been unthinkable except to those ready to condone nuclear war.
The relative size of the military budget of NATO’s members compared to Russia’s make it very plain that Russia regards its nuclear weapons, together with its highly developed air defence system as the centre of its defence strategy. To impose on Russia a pre-nuclear war with NATO is to invite a nuclear response; and that is clearly what NATO-dominated as it always has been by the US- wants.
To criticise Russia, in effect, for not being able to match the multi trillion dollar “Defence” expenditure, the close to six hundred million population and the much more developed-and unplundered-economic bases of Europe and north America is ridiculous. The country is a remnant of a Soviet Union which bankrupted itself attempting to match the military power of the entire capitalist imperial world over seventy years of unabated aggression.
If, as Gilbert prophecies, the US intends to keep pumping weaponry-increasingly weaponry that can be launched from beyond Ukraine’s borders and without Ukrainian participation- into the war, in order, presumably to advance its regime change in Moscow programme, it is inviting nuclear attacks on European targets.
The people of Europe ought to be apprised of this. And that is why Russia is insisting that the likelihood of it being forced into last resort defence is increased with every day that NATO continues to breach the peace negotiated at Minsk.

It is not only inviting nuclear attacks on European targets.. If they happen, they will take in the US mainland and the UK as well.

Duane M
If nuclear weapons made conventional warfare obsolete, the Ukraine war would not have begun or would have ended quickly. Because this is a war is between Russia and the US and always has been, and both sides know that. Zelensky knows it, too, I believe.
As far as direct war between US/NATO and Russia, it is my experience that the general public in the US believe either (a) Ukraine is winning the war and Russia will be defeated, or (b) US military power is overwhelming and Russia would never attempt to challenge it. Consequently, the only people I encounter who consider nuclear war a real possibility are those who read Gilbert Doctorow and the handful of other essayists who have both the background and the fluency to consider the very real (in my estimation) possibility that this war may escalate further into a nuclear nightmare. That includes the readers at Antiwar.com, Consortium News, Scheerpost, and others in the alternative media. Which is a small number of people.
You write that “the prospect of war between nuclear peers has been unthinkable except to those ready to condone nuclear war”. I disagree. The US has used the prospect of nuclear war many times over the past 75 years, in the same way a policeman uses his pistol every day: it is a visible reminder that this weapon may be used against you if you transgress our policies. And the US public has become so habituated to the idea of US military dominance that I read many comments in the New York Times and Washington Post recommending that the US launch nuclear missiles as a first strike against Russia. Those people seem quite ready to have a nuclear war. They are ill-informed, but seem numerous.
I concur with Mr. Doctorow that our situation is extremely delicate and that the Russian government recognizes this as well. I believe my own government (US) is in a bind and could wind up triggering a nuclear war even if most of the deciding individuals find the idea repulsive. That, in my view, is how things can happen in a political bureaucracy. Conditions can generate their own momentum.

tim rourke
Yes, Gilbert. I am a bit of a Russophile, but I am not a cheerleader for Russia in this war. As in, go Russia, go! Russians are fighting the fight against western imperialism for the whole world. However, it is not going to be so easy. Russia does have some limitations. In the end, no one can tell the Russians what to do. They are the ones in the ring.

Tsigantes, Eleni
The West / NATO is absolutely not the united Russophobic front most commentators assume. The apparently Russophobic NATO members eager to participate in Ukraine are first and foremost the Anglophone 5 Eyes / Echelon, followed by the historically nazi-supportive countries of northern Europe and the descendents of the old Polish- Lithuanian imperium. The rest of EU is not truly on board.
The populations of the Balkans and the Greek/Cypriot republics support Russia above 80%, the populations of Italy, Spain and France also show majority support.
The first group are despised hostages inside NATO – since civilisationally they are part of the Orthodox world and naturally aligned with Russia; the latter group have on the whole had friendly ties with Russia. Yes, despite Napoleon: it was Russia that preserved France as a country at the Congress of Vienna, negotiated by its foreign minister Capodistrias (a Greek). The Tsar and Capodistrias also guareanteed Switzerland’s independence, while Capodistrias wrote Switzerland’s famous constitution with Greece in mind.
There are many deep ties between these countries, unacknowledged today – or unknown.
Unacknowledged too is the false equivalence between the EU and the countries captive inside it. Brussels is simply the US’s administrative centre in Europe. The truth is that few EU countries truly like the United States, nor the AngloAmerican world, and most wish to break free of it.

I object most of all to your phrase “impose a ceasefire”: This echoes the language of the West, habituated to their own sense of entitlement and supremacy. International diplomacy has been euthanized, and there are no parties capable of imposing anything. I would gauge an uprising among the Ukrainian population and military a more likely event to impose anything. Pray for voices of reason to emerge.
It is true that no one knows the situation on the ground, except for people with General Staff level classified data, and nobody has any way to know what their thinking and considerations are. However the mood on Russian TV seems to me a poor barometer of anything objective, as poor as the mood on TV anywhere else.
I do not think that Russia believes it can field “nuclear weapons in the field” without all out war, in which case it makes more sense to use weapons on Washington, London, and Brussels than on the Ukrainian steppe. The same reaction could be prompted by striking the Russian depth, which would serve to galvanize Russian resolve and outrage. Russia could inflict rather a lot of damage on the other side’s homeland even without resorting to nuclear weapons, and this is the role of hypersonic weapons, not combat tasks on the steppe. It is NATO which will likely be sore pressed if it goes va banque and may then resort to their silly nuclear doctrines (escalate-to-deescalate, tactical nukes, lower threshold nukes, etc.).
The “minor sorties” is a mischaracterization of the fighting along a 1000 km front. The action along this front can result over time in the collapse of the front and inability to plug the gaps. All comparisons to previous military engagements are wide the mark: the nature of military engagement has been changed by ubiquitous intelligence and surveillance.

Very well said! I disagree with Doctorow’s thesis in the post, but applaud him for having the energy to start this conversation.
By the way, I’m finding myself to be a “Putin apologist”. He really seems to be doing things the right way, in my view. As James White said above, “Putin has shown restraint in prosecuting the war. Knowing that one day it will end and that Russian and Ukrainian neighbors will have to live together again. Such restraint is always reported by western media as that Putin is confused or weak.”
It’s a good thing that the Russia public and TV crowd are not all certain of victory. Contrast that with the mainstream media in the US which seemingly has a much higher degree of certainty that Putin is a Dr Evil style buffoon, and that Ukraine is winning.

Dan Lynch
As a thought exercise, let’s imagine that Ukraine launches some sort of attack that kills thousands of Russians — say a large barrack of troops, or perhaps even Russian civilians in a city — and Putin gives the green light to respond with tactical nukes. Exactly what would Russia target with tactical nukes, that could not be targeted with conventional weapons?
Nukes make sense if the goal is to wipe out a city, aka Hiroshima and Nagasaki. But wiping out cities was then, and still is, of questionable military value. To win a war, you need to wipe out the enemy’s military and put your own boots on the ground to maintain control of territory.
Tactical nukes might make sense used on a large assembly of troops — say if you could take out 100,000 or so enemy troops with one blow. But no such concentration of troops exists in Ukraine. Instead, troops are dispersed over a very long front. Plus, use of nukes at the front would contaminate Russia’s own land (the Donbass). I’m just not seeing a logical military role for tactical nukes in the current situation.
It seems to me the biggest obstacle to Russian tanks rolling across Ukraine is mines. Before Russia can advance, the land has to be de-mined, a slow process that often incurs casualties and exposes the advancing forces to enemy fire. Meanwhile, Ukraine is happy to send its troops within range of Russian artillery, so why should Russia advance if it can attrit the enemy along a nearly static front? The war of attrition is frustratingly slow and to an observer it often seems like a stalemate, but if it results in destruction of the enemy forces, isn’t that the name of the game?

1. detroitdan
Well said!
Gilbert really dug himself into a hole with this post, but it’s great to voice your concerns and have them addressed.
I’m an unabashed Putin supporter (“cheerleader”). As M. K. BHADRAKUMAR says (https://www.indianpunchline.com/russia-alone-can-already-confront-the-entire-west/):
‘The Ukraine war, paradoxically, is turning out to be a wake-up call — a war that can prevent another world war rather than engender one. China understands that Russia has single-handedly taken on the “collective West” and shown it is more than a match.’

Richard Gabrio
Hi Gilbert,
Agree that the Ukraine conflict – horrific as it already is, especially for Ukraine — can explode into something far worse, threatening us all. Putin’s decision to move Tactical nuclear weapons to Belarus sent a signal that nukes could be in the offing (also creating a bargaining chip for future negotiation) and maybe that will give the Poles et. al. pause. And Mearsheimer has been correct from the beginning about “whose fault” the war in Ukraine is, but, alas, those running the U.S. Empire are not rational and don’t think in realist terms.
It seems clear, having backed themselves into believing their own propaganda, U.S. policy makers convinced themselves that sanctions would result in Russia’s collapse. When the opposite occurred, the U.S. tightened the noose around Europe and the proxy war became as existential for the West as it is and has been for Russia – the big fight now is over the re-arrangement of power relations in the world: the U.S. wants to retain control and the Russians, Chinese and other major states want a multi-polar world stressing economic development, respect for sovereignty, etc.
Back to the war on the ground: I don’t think that military analysts like Macgregor and Ritter (add Brian Berletic, “Big Serge,” and others) are talking “nonsense” about Ukraine’s extremely dim chances given what is known about the equipment and men they’ve lost and the inability of the West to supply them with enough — to make a difference — of the type of weapons and ammo currently being used on the battlefield. This could be why all the talk about Ukraine’s Spring Offensive may be more than just “PR” by the West hoping to put off the inevitable. You may be right that the U.S. will escalate by providing Ukraine with more powerful, longer range missiles, in which case the danger level would rise substantially. Let’s hope not.
A cease-fire in place with no pre-conditions (other than what is already “Russian”) would be the tonic the world needs to stop the needless slaughter be sure. Zelensky would have to back off his ridiculous demands and the U.S. would have to stop the incessant vilification of Russia and demonization of Putin. Alas, the U.S. has no real diplomats (Burns now drinks the “Empire’s” kool aid”), and the Russians have zero trust as they’ve been endlessly burnt by the West. If only . . .
Anyway, I’ve followed you for years and very much appreciate your experience and insights, including “what’s happening” in real life in Russia! Keep on keepin’ on!
Dick Gabrio
San Anselmo, CA

Vladimir Putin: “If people in the media cannot decide whether they are in the business of reporting news or manufacturing propaganda, it is all the more important that the public understand that difference, and choose their news sources accordingly.”
Noam Chomsky: ”Any dictator would admire the uniformity and obedience of the U.S. Media.”
Maj. Ritter and Col. Macgregor have credibility on military capabilities and possibilities for me. Col. Macgregor obviously relies on contacts within the Pentagon for assessments of AFU weaknesses. No doubt, Maj. Ritter has similar sources, plus long experience with Pentagon liars. They both have formidable intellects and well organized opinions.
Zelenskiy is press-gang conscripting 16 and 60 year olds then pushing them into the front lines without any meaningful training. This obvious fact is a blunt admission Zelenskiy and the AFU army don’t have the demographic resources to provide trained troops. This is always a sign of impending defeat. The AFU had no support in 2014 when more than 90% of reservists refused AFU service. Eastern reservist units defected with all heavy weapons to Donetsk and Lugansk republican forces which then destroyed Bandera Nazi formations. They had no support in 2017 when 70% refused to be inducted, and 30% joined the Donbas republican armies.
Russia might have accepted a non-aligned Ukraine before negotiations were sabotaged multiple times by the White West. US-NAYOYO’s genocidal goal requiring Russian destruction now demands the demilitarization and de-nazification of Ukraine. Ukraine will forever be a nation tied to Russia. As a bonus, US-NAYOYO leadership and logistical preparation is revealed as incompetent. Western militaries are completely inadequate for defences of more than 3 to 6 months. This leaves our defences completely defined by American domestic politics, and nuclear retaliation.
US, UK sabotaged peace deal because they ‘don’t care about Ukraine’: fmr. NATO adviser — The Grey Zone — Aaron Mate — YouTube — Sept 27, 2022 — Mate interviews Col Jacques Baud on lost peace efforts and prospects for this war’s future.
1993: The Barry R. Posen Plan for War on Russia via Zombie State Ukraine — Mendelssohn Moses — The Postil Magazine
Ukrainian destruction was contemplated months into Clinton’s first year. Posen’s plan is an absolutely chilling strategy displaying callused indifference to Ukraine’s fate. An extremely accurate description of US strategy for Russian destruction using former Warsaw Pact countries as NATO forward bases. This plan describes using Partners for Peace, and NATO admissions as creeping threats to Russian security. This proposal is currently implemented in Ukraine now, and in eastern Europe since 1993. The author, Posen, describes the whole concept as “inherent irrationality”. No wonder Clinton and the Demo untermensch pushed this project hard. I can only assume the Republicans held out for China as their slice of the geopolitical pie.
Anatoly Antonov, Russian ambassador to the United States, “The emergence of tanks, bearing Nazi insignia, on the former Soviet soil unequivocally makes us aim at toppling the neo-Nazi regime in Ukraine and creating normal conditions so that the neighboring peoples in the region could live peacefully like in the old days.”
Russia has announced they will attack any source of intelligence, communications, weapons and supplies wherever found. NAYOYO is risking attacks on Poland, Rumania, and Slovakian bases, supply points, railroads and highways. Russia knows NAYOYO can’t defend Ukraine let alone mount an effective defence of Europe. Any attempt to respond militarily to Russian attacks would complete the destruction of European armies.
Biden’s War won’t freeze, inevitably or with God’s will. This war is about to get as cold as a grave. Russians have heard all the promises, watched treaties signed and quickly ignored with cynical lying contempt for peace and human rights. They know of racist genocides committed and planned because Washington’s announced plans demand the destruction of Russia’s leadership, economy, and territorial integrity. US promises, statements, and treaties are ass wipe whenever brief domestic political advantage demands selfish repudiation.
So it won’t be the vacuous opinions of irrelevant Westerners that define this war’s end. It will be blunt demands and brutal facts on the ground that define Ukraine’s public defeat. This war will end with NAYOYO humiliated, Russian tanks shaking the ground at western borders, and the Global South dancing drunkenly in the streets.

1. gilbertdoctorow
The other possibility which you blissfully ignore is that the US response to impending defeat is escalation that takes us to nuclear exchange, and we are all incinerated. Ladies and gentlemen: this Comment section has given ample expression to the various views we hold on where the war is headed. All further comments will be deleted.