When It Comes to Conducting a War, the Kremlin Has Proven Its Incompetence
Paul Craig Roberts
To be clear, I respect Putin as a person. He is humane. He cares about life and civilization. He is a good person. In fact, he is proving to be too good of a person to be dealing with the venal and corrupt West, and he has no idea how to conduct a war.
Putin thinks, or thought, that Russia and the West shared common values. This shows how little Putin understands the West. The West is Washington, and the rest of the West are not independent countries but Washington’s puppets. None of Washington’s puppets represent their own citizens and neither does Washington. Washington’s values are measured only in dominance and money.
Washington is concerned only with its political, military, and financial hegemony over everyone else, including its own people who are waking up in each successive day in an ever tightening police state where the US Constitution is erased bit by bit, day by day.
The FBI has become a Gestapo for the Democrat Party. The Western media is a propaganda ministry for Washington. Truth that is inconsistent with the ruling official narratives is suppressed. The government and its presstitutes feed the people lies and tell them it is truth.
Putin gives speeches in which he shows that he understands this, but his actions do not reflect his understanding in his speeches. The distance between Putin’s words and his action is almost infinite.
The Kremlin had to be totally out of touch with reality when the Kremlin thought that its “limited military operation” in Donbass would be allowed by Washington to be limited. How anyone in the Kremlin could possibly have been this naive, this gullible, this uninformed is beyond my imagination.
How is it possible that the Kremlin could possibly have thought that after Washington went to the trouble to force Russian military intervention in Donbass, Washington didn’t intend to use it to greatly widen the war. Here we witness the total failure of Russian intelligence and the total failure of Russian understanding of the enemy with which Russia is at war. Indeed, it is not even clear that Russia understands that she is at war with the West. Here and there a Russian says so, but Russia’s actions belie any such understanding. The Kremlin is still trying to bail out Europe by supplying energy so Europe can continue its war against Russia. How does one understand this?
It has to be a first in History when a country at war supplies its enemies with the fuel with which to conduct war against itself. The Kremlin is begging Europe to please let us sell you energy so your war industries don’t have to close down. Could the Kremlin do anything else to make the Russian government look like the most confused government on earth? https://www.rt.com/business/564148-novak-nord-stream-supplies-europe/
Let’s put the origin of the ongoing and widening war in Ukraine in its factual context. In 2014 the American neoconservatives who dominate the American government overthrew the government in Ukraine while the Russian government, totally ignoring happenings in its backyard, was focused on trying to win Western acceptance as an Olympics host in Sochi. In other words, the Kremlin thought the Olympics was more important than Ukraine.
The Kremlin’s insouciance made Washington’s takeover of Ukraine a cake walk. Suddenly, the Kremlin was faced with Ukrainian neo-Nazis prohibiting the use of the Russian language and terrorizing and killing ethnic Russians who comprise the population of Donbass and Crimea, historical parts of Russia that Soviet authorities moved from the Russian province of the Soviet Union to the Soviet Ukraine province.
These Russian areas of Ukraine all voted by massive majorities to be reunited with their home country, but the Kremlin only accepted the application from Crimea, a part of Russia since the 1700s. The Kremlin accepted Crimea, because that is where the Russian Black Sea Naval Base is located, leased since the Soviet collapse, from Ukraine which was separated from Russia by the Soviet collapse.
By leaving the Donbass Russians hanging at the mercy of the US neoconservative coup, the Kremlin guaranteed a military conflict. The punishment the Ukrainian neo-Nazis inflicted on the Donbass Russians resulted in the creation of two independent republics: Donetsk and Luhansk. To defend themselves from being occupied by neo-Nazis, the two republics organized governments and militias. After loosing some of their territory to Ukrainian neo-Nazi militias, the Donetsk and Luhansk republics stopped the advance, but were subjected to artillery attacks for eight years on civilian housing that continue today.
Putin and Lavrov tried to pass the buck to the West and stupidly, although with the best intentions, tried to deal with the problem diplomatically, showing how little they understood the West. Putin came up with the impractical Minsk Agreement signed by Ukraine and the two Donbass republics and guaranteed by France and Germany.
Under the Minsk Agreement Donbass was to remain within Ukraine, but would have sufficient autonomy to have their own police force so they they could not be persecuted by neo-Nazi Ukrainian police.
It became clear almost instantly that Ukraine would not comply with the agreement it signed and that France and Germany would not enforce the agreement. Why the Kremlin thought two Washington puppet states would enforce an agreement that permitted Russia to escape a military conflict is beyond my imagination. That Putin spent eight years trying to save an agreement that never had any prospect shows how out of touch with reality the Kremlin is.
With this factual background, let’s come to the present conflict today.
When it comes to International Law, Putin is the only person in the world who abides by it. Certainly Washington doesn’t. By abiding by international law, Putin gives Washington every advantage in the conflict.
Under international law a Russian invasion of Ukraine is an act of aggression. So Putin was careful not to invade Ukraine, despite what you hear from the presstitutes. The two Donbass republics, belatedly recognized by Russia eight years afterwards, requested assistance from Russia to prevent their conquest by a large Ukrainian army trained and armed by the West that was poised to invade.
Perhaps at this point the Kremlin realized its mistake of failing to accept, as the republics begged, reincorporation into Russia in 2014. In February 2022, if the Kremlin allowed neo-Nazis to exterminate Donbass Russians, the Kremlin would loss all legitimacy with the Russian people.
In other words, Washington successfully maneuvered the Russian government into war that served Washington’s interest. As the West presented it, here was Russia the aggressor confirming Western propaganda. Here was Russia subverting Europe with energy dependence. Here was Russia rebuilding the Soviet Empire. Next Russia would be recreating the Warsaw Pac and extending it into Western Europe with Europe’s energy dependency on Russia. No one in the West listened to the Kremlin’s explanation.
With the official narrative set, Washington began supplying Ukraine with modern weapons, intelligence, and targeting information. When the Russian offensive paused, because Putin or the Russian military lacked the foresight to realize that an offensive required reserves, and as a result of this oversight, had no reserves, the US/UK trained Ukrainians began their own offensive, which has partially succeeded against the thinly protected Russian lines.
The Russian retreats, while awaiting reinforcements, have been presented in Western media such as the New York Times and the UK Telegraph as Russian forces fleeing the battlefield in terror, leaving behind their equipment.
This is not what is happening, but it is not the fact of the situation that matters but how the media explains the situation. The narratives created by Washington and its presstitutes create their own “facts.”
Putin and the Russian military unbelievably went to war with minimal commitment of forces and no reserves. The Russian forces simply lacked the manpower, given Putin’s limited commitment, to defend thin lines once Putin stopped the offensive and handed the initiative to Washington. This is one of the most stupid mistakes that a wartime commander can make.
What is actually happening is that the Kremlin in its totally incorrect reading of Washington had no idea that Ukraine would be supplied with endless modern weapons, intelligence, and targeting information. Not expecting this response, the Kremlin was not prepared for real war.
Even if the Kremlin had better understanding of the situation, the Kremlin has shown no comprehension of how to fight a war. We are now into eight months of a conflict that Russia could have settled in one week. And mighty Russia has been forced on the defensive with its lines retreating both in Kharkiv in the North and Kherson in the South. Wars that are perceived as being lost can lose their glory and support of the population.
To be clear, when the mobilized Russian reinforcements, which an intelligent military would have had on hand from the first of the conflict, are finally prepared for war, apparently sometime in December, the Russians will regain the lost territories, although the Ukrainians might have killed the inhabitants. But there is still no guarantee that Putin understands that Russia is at war with the US and Europe or what do do about it if he does understand it. The Kremlin’s spokesman says that the limited operation in Donbass will continue. If so and nothing else, the only possible conclusion is that Russia will be long suffering. A military that is prevented from attacking the communication and military infrastructure and most of the territory of the country with which it is at war cannot prevail. The Kremlin has been at war for eight months and has done nothing to prevent Kiev’s ability to fight a war. The Kremlin’s view that it is not at war with Ukraine and is only conducting a police action to remove Ukrainian forces from the Donbass is a self-deceiving idea that prevents the Kremlin from conducting a war.
To speak the truth, the Kremlin’s conduct of war is juvenile. A 10-year old kid could do a better job. Was the Kremlin even thinking when it thought it could conduct a war while leaving the opposing government perfectly secure in its conduct of the war? Russia has refused, to shut down the government in Kiev, thus allowing its enemy to conduct, unopposed, war against Russia. This has to be the first time in human history that a government at war has been permitted to operate as if it were not at war. There is no Russian attempt to destroy Zelensky, to shut down Kiev, to disrupt the communication and infrastructure of Ukraine.
Any country that conducts war in such a self-defeating way convinces its opponents that it has no intention of winning the war.
This perceived lack of Russian resolution enbolders the West to push Russia harder and to violate more Russian red lines. Violating Russian red lines means nothing to the West as Russia never does anything about violations of its red lines. Russian protests are nothing but meaningless Russian bluster, says the West.
Unless the Kremlin intends to lay down its arms and surrender to Ukraine and the West, the extraordinary weakness and irresolution that the Kremlin has shown in its “limited military operation” will encourage more aggression from the West and lead directly to the 3rd World War. Zelensky is already calling for preventative nuclear strikes against Russia. https://sputniknews.com/20221006/peskov-urges-entire-world-to-take-note-of-zelenskys-call-for-preventive-nuclear-strike-on-russia-1101582414.html
Apparently, never in Putin’s entire life did he ever learn to put his foot down. Putin seems to think it can be done with mere words, but it cannot. Putin’s hesitancy and toleration of provocations has undermined his credibility.
As the West has no fear of its opponent, Putin’s Goody Two Shoes behavior is bringing us Armageddon. The longer the war goes on, the more involved the West becomes, the greater the stake powerful interest groups, such as the US military/security complex, have in the war, and the less prospect for de-escalation.
By constantly showing irresolution, acceptance of extreme provocations, and shamelessly begging for negotiations, the Kremlin has convinced Washington that Russia is incapable of fighting. From Washington’s viewpoint, Russia is nothing to be feared, only something to be moved out of way.
It is extraordinary that the government of what is probably the most powerful military force in the world has convinced Washington that Russia is military impotent.
This is Putin’s achievement from trying to save the Donbass Russians without having to fight a real war.
Andrei Martyanov, the Saker, and Dmitry Orlov have seriously misled their pro-Russian audience. Martyanov and Saker stressed the superiority of Russian firepower and tactical operations, which was correct, but they ignored the built-in strategic failure of the Russian “limited operation.” Moreover, the Russian tactical advantage was reduced when the limited forces Putin had been willing to commit became too thin to protect the boundaries of the conquest, and modern weapons from the West and targeting information substantially reduced Russian firepower advantage.
Putin, having foolishly let the war go on month after month, a war that he should have competed in one week, gave the US and UK time to train a larger Ukrainian army and equip it with modern weapons. It should have been obvious to the Kremlin from day one that this was in the cards. Any time a war is drawn out the advantage passes to the side that is not constrained by self-imposted constraints. It is impossible to imagine Napoleon or the Wehrmacht fighting in such a constrained way as Russia is required to fight in Ukraine. If Stalin had fought in the way Putin is today, there would be no Russia.