Stefan Romaniw: is Russia really winning in Ukraine?

#UWC news
January 2,2024 1473
Stefan Romaniw: is Russia really winning in Ukraine?

by Stefan Romaniw

First Vice President of the Ukrainian World Congress and Co-Chair of the Australian Federation of Ukrainian Organisations (AFUO)


The West’s military history illiteracy, its self-serving political players and duped appeasers all feed into Kremlin propagandists’ ability to spread the lie that Russia is winning.

A great many current political and media narratives dealing with the war in Ukraine are misleading and expose either the willful ignorance or mischievous political agendas of their authors. Russia is experiencing catastrophic losses in this war, despite the widely held belief in the West that Russia is winning.

Widespread public and media illiteracy in military history and strategy creates fertile ground for false and misleading narratives about this war, as falsehoods that are patently obvious to expert observers are accepted without question as fact. Russia’s very adept propagandists have played on this illiteracy for over a decade to promote their own agendas. Equally so, political players in the West intent upon appeasing Moscow, usually for self-serving reasons, have played much the same game.

For at least a century, the two dominant strategy themes in modern warfare between developed nation states have been “attrition warfare”, exemplified by World War I trench warfare and the World War II strategic bombing of Germany and Japan, and “maneuver warfare” exemplified by Germany’s World War II “Blitzkrieg” across Europe, or more recently the US invasion of Iraq.

Attrition warfare seeks to exhaust the enemy, and winners in this game inflict losses faster than losers do and replenish their own losses faster than a loser does. Maneuver warfare sees winners outplay their opponents with fast moving seizures of terrain, intended to cut an opponent’s lines of resupply and reinforcement, leaving land armies devoid of reinforcements, ammunition, fuel and food.

Both Russia and Ukraine have employed attrition and maneuver warfare strategies repeatedly in this war. Russia’s disastrous initial invasion plan, modelled on the 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia, was a classic maneuver campaign. Two years of fruitless strategic bombardment of Ukraine’s civilian infrastructure is a classic attrition campaign. Ukraine’s “Kupyansk Blitzkrieg” that liberated Eastern Kharkiv, was a classic maneuver campaign. Ukraine’s large-scale use of small kamikaze drones to kill Russian troops and armor, is a classic attrition campaign tactic.

The very popular claim of a “failed Ukrainian summer counteroffensive” willfully misrepresents the outcome of months of intensive fighting. While the advertised goal of liberating Russian occupied Eastern and Southern Ukraine was frustrated by delays in the supply of Western armor, artillery, ammunition, missiles, combat aircraft and training of Ukrainian recruits, and Russia’s use of minefields of historically unprecedented depth, Russia’s immense losses of personnel, armor and artillery have been no less unprecedented.

Russia’s desperate human wave attacks across the front, emulating Soviet World War II and Iranian 1980s tactics, have pushed Russia’s cumulative body count beyond 350,000, with a similar number of wounded and maimed. Most of the professional army Russia invaded with nearly two years ago no longer exists – its cadre of professional officers and troops dead or maimed, and its equipment either destroyed or captured by the Ukrainians, repaired and used against Russia.

Disbelievers should browse X (former Twitter) and view the many thousands of hours of gruesome Ukrainian drone footage showing Russian troops killed or being killed en masse, or suiciding rather than surrendering.

Russia is now scouring remote depots for 50-, 60- and 70-year-old tanks, armored vehicles and artillery pieces to make up for losses. Much of its recruitment effort is in non-Russian ethnic minority areas, and more recently, in former Soviet republics, Cuba, Nepal and Africa. The popular notion of Russia’s inexhaustible supply of men and materiel is simply nonsense.

Russia’s efforts to control the Black Sea have failed, under the onslaught of Ukrainian sea drones, and anti-ship and land attack cruise missiles. Much of Russia’s fleet has abandoned Crimean and Azov Sea ports and is sheltering in Novorossiysk.

Russia’s 22-month-long strategic bombardment campaign against Ukraine has also been a remarkable failure, with Ukrainian air and missile defenses destroying between 70 percent and up to 100 percent of inbound cruise and ballistic missiles, suicide drones and aircraft.

Ukraine achieved this with a fleet of relic 1980s Soviet fighters and surface-to-air missile batteries, and a smattering of modern Western supplied air defense systems. Emulating the 1944 British campaign to defend against Luftwaffe V-1 flying bombs, Ukrainian gunners using machine guns on 4WD SUVs are destroying up to 60 percent of Russia’s Iranian supplied Shaheed suicide drones.

The notion that Ukraine is a lost cause, and the West should force it to cede occupied territory to invading Russia, in a “land for peace” deal, is nothing more than “snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.” Cutting back on military aid to save money or appease Moscow is no less absurd.

Driving Russia out of occupied Ukrainian lands and bringing this war to a swift conclusion will require increased supplies of military aid, especially air power and long-range weapons, that Ukraine has been pleading for since the full-scale invasion began. To do that the West’s political leaders need to reject wholly the dishonest narratives that paint a dysfunctional colonial Russia as an invincible opponent.

Cover: Anatolii Stepanov/AFP via Getty Images

Donate Subscribe to our news