Scott Ritter: Russia’s victory over Ukraine is drawing near

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from RT:

Scott Ritter is a former US Marine Corps intelligence officer and author of ‘Disarmament in the Time of Perestroika: Arms Control and the End of the Soviet Union.’ He served in the Soviet Union as an inspector implementing the INF Treaty, served in General Schwarzkopf’s staff during the Gulf War, and from 1991 to 1998 served as a chief weapons inspector with the UN in Iraq. Mr Ritter currently writes on issues pertaining to international security, military affairs, Russia, and the Middle East, as well as arms control and nonproliferation.

In a war of attrition, grinding the enemy down is just the first part. Stretching what remains until it breaks is how you finish the job

As Russia’s military operation in Ukraine enters its 28th month, the conflict can be said to have gone through several distinct phases, all but one (the opening gambit) of which prioritized attritional warfare as the principal guiding military philosophy. For Western military observers, schooled as we are on what we deem the ‘modern’ military philosophies of maneuver warfare, the Russian approach to fighting appears primitive, a throwback to the trench warfare of conflicts past, where human life was a commodity readily traded in exchange for a few hundred meters of shell-pocked landscape.

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Upon closer scrutiny, and with the benefit of 27 months of accumulated data, the Russian approach to warfare emerges as a progressive application of military art that considers the totality of the spectrum of warfare – small-unit tactics, weapons capability, intelligence, communications, logistics, the defense economy and, perhaps most importantly of all, political reality. It is critical to keep in mind that while Russia may have entered the conflict facing a single adversary (Ukraine), within months it became clear that Moscow was confronting the cumulative military capability of the collective West, where NATO’s financial, material, logistical, command and control, and intelligence support was married to Ukrainian manpower resources to create a military capacity designed by intent to wear Russia down physically and mentally, to strategically defeat Russia by promoting the conditions for its economic and political collapse.

That Russia recognized this strategic intent on the part of its declared and undeclared adversaries early on is a testament to the patience and vision of its leadership. Outside military observers criticized Moscow’s inability to deliver a knockout blow against Ukraine early on, attributing this failure to poor leadership and even poorer military capacity on the part of a Russian military machine suddenly deemed incompetent. However, the reality was far different – Moscow was making the strategic transition from a peacetime military posture. It initially intended a brief conflict by compelling the Ukrainian government to the negotiation table (only to be thwarted by Ukraine’s Western partners, who chose to sacrifice Ukraine in the hope of strategically defeating Russia instead of opting for a peaceful resolution), to a posture capable of wearing down both Ukraine’s ability to resist and the collective West’s ability to sustain Kiev economically and politically.

From a military perspective, Russia’s strategic goal has always been the ”demilitarization” of Ukraine. Initially, this could have been achieved by defeating the Ukrainian military on the field of battle. Indeed, Moscow was well on the path toward achieving this goal, even after it pulled its forces back from around Kiev and the other Ukrainian territories it had occupied in the initial phases of the conflict. When Russia moved over to Phase Two, the objective was to complete the liberation of the Donbass region. The battles fought in May and June 2022 nearly brought the Ukrainian military to the breaking point – slow, grinding operations where Russia exploited its firepower superiority to inflict massive casualties on army with finite ability to sustain itself. Only the decision by the collective West to provide massive infusions of military resources – equipment, training, logistics, command and control, and intelligence – saved the Ukrainians. With NATO’s assistance, Kiev was able to rebuild its depleted military and go over on the counterattack, pushing Russian forces back in the vicinity of Kharkov and Kherson.

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