Larry Johnson
A Son of the New American Revolution (June 9, 2022)

A 2019 RAND study (Overextending and Unbalancing Russia), like most Western plans erected on the whim that Russia’s economy “is comparatively small and highly dependent on energy exports”, saw Ukraine as “[Russia’s] greatest point of external vulnerability”.

That assumption is now being tested and it doesn’t look as if it’s Russia that has been sucked into the Ukrainian quagmire.

After 100 days of war Russia controls, to quote Ukrainian President Zelensky, about 20% of Ukraine’s territory and is inflicting 500-600 casualties per day. The Russians are methodically grinding the Ukraine Armed Forces out of existence. And it’s unlikely that they are suffering many casualties – for them the shells are going out, for the Ukrainians the shells are coming in.

We keep hearing about “wonder weapons” that will turn the war around. First there was the Turkish Bayraktar drone. But a large, not very fast, not very high-flying target is no great challenge for Russia’s air defense armory and we don’t hear much about them now. The fifty-plus fighter planes never appeared. Saint Javelin was another disappointment according to Ukrainian prisoners. Today’s wonder weapon is the 155mm gun and there’s a full court press on NATO members to dig them out and ship them off. Near me there is a military facility with a M109 “gate guard” and I’m waiting for it to be packed off to replace the ones destroyed the other day. The Russians turn out to have another “pencil” for the Western “space pen” and the vaunted M777 uses a lot of titanium. Titanium!!! NATO should have kept them – there may no more when these are gone.

Wars always consume more ammunition than expected. And so it is here. In mid-April it was estimated that the US had sent about a quarter of its stocks of Javelins to Ukraine – “about three or four years to replace the missiles that have been delivered so far“. Since then more have gone. Stingers too. Stockpiles are being reduced so quickly that at least one well-informed Western soldier thinks the West has pretty much reached the limit of what it can send.

As to the Russians, the Second World War experience is so baked into their minds that they know that they can never have too much ammunition. Back in March “senior UK defence sources” said Russia had only another two weeks left. Less said a US general. “Bogged down” by logistics failures at the end of March. Don’t hear much of that these days – every day the Russians carry out hundreds of fire missions and the Calibers and Iskanders keep coming.

The Western supply idea is pretty absurd anyway – modern weapons need lots of training and lots of spare parts and the 155mm guns need all their ammunition supplied as well. All this stuff, that isn’t destroyed by an Iskander the moment it arrives, then has to get to the east of Ukraine. Not much does. Perhaps the most idiotic example is the German Gepard – two 35mm guns and radars in a turret on a Leopard chassis. State-of-the-art fifty years ago, it’s hard to imagine what use it could be in Ukrainian hands. (And, apparently, it takes a full year’s training to use.)

And where are these things going anyway? In a country as corrupt as Ukraine it’s not surprising that we hear stories of Javelins for sale. Who’s tracking them? Nobody. No wonder Interpol is concerned.

So we have to ask the experts in RAND who is really overextended and unbalanced? Every day brings Europe closer to a cold and hungry winter. Everybody has learned now how important potash is but who knew that Russia was a major supplier of neon and what it was used for? And wasn’t the ruble supposed to be rubble? “European nations are paying heavily for the sanctions imposed on Russia“. Meanwhile Russia’s raking in the money. Maybe people who think that Russia has “nuclear weapons and oil wells and nothing else” aren’t the shiniest turnips in the basket and shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near a decision.

At the end, when all of NATO’s weaponry has been shipped to Ukraine to be stolen, captured or destroyed, those crafty Russians will be able to just cruise down the highway to Warsaw, Berlin and Paris. They know the way, they’ve been there before.

And if they bring heat and food they will probably be welcomed.