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Startegic situation and outlook

 
Max Beckhaus
(@max-beckhaus)

War is a test of will and logistics.“ Ex. US General Ben Hodges

 

Military situation:

 

Naval:

  • The Russian navy cannot block Ukrainian ports anymore nor operate in any relevant Ukrainian waters.

  • Ukraine has basically won the naval war, as defined by making the black see fleet a none factor.

 

Air:

  • Air defense systems dominate the sky on both sides

  • Drones, Fighters and Helicopters can mostly only operate effectively close to the front line, if at all

  • Russia retains deep striking capabilities with missiles

 

Ground:

  • 3 Phases

    • I) Russian offensive, failure in the North, successes in the south and east

    • II) Stalemate

    • III) Ukrainian Counteroffensive with successes in south and east

    • therefor Russian combat power sank relatively to Ukrainian combat power

  • Ukraine has retaken around 50% of the area taken by Russia in the early days of this hot phase of the war.

  • Russia still occupies ca. 20% of Ukraine

 

 

Military outlook:

 

It is unlikely for Ukraine to liberate all of Ukraine “anytime soon”, US Gen. Milley (see above).

 

I believe Ukraine will retake Crimea by next summer”, Ex. US General Ben Hodges.

 

Russia is loosing this war.”, Anders Puck Nielsen, danish military analyst for Russia.

 

Why Russian combat power sink relatively to Ukrainian combat power and can it be changed?

Russia:

  1. The quality and the number of combat ready Russian equipment is degrading constantly. → This won´t change.

  2. Russian problems in generating combat capable manpower. → Russia is trying to address this with mobilization.

Ukraine:

  1. Influx of western logistics → The west may reduce or increase support.

  2. Ukrainian mobilization started immediately → This won´t change.

 

Air:

Western support will close the Ukrainian sky sooner or later. Ukraine may even get a upper hand in the realm of drones and use its small air force to more effect thru western missiles, than Russia can use its larger one.

 

Ground:

The ground war will stay dominated by artillery with the pendulum swinging in Ukrainian direction. A major issue will be the supply of ammunition:

Ukraine:

  1. Soviet standard: Ukraine went thru a major ammunition crisis in spring/summer due to low stocks. Supply is improving thru build up production on a low level.

  2. Western standard: The west will probably be able to support the amount of equipment sent, though a ammunition drought is not out of the question due to low stocks to start with.

Russia:

Russia had vast stocks of ammunition. It is running low on precision ammunition and will run into broad ammunition problems due to the enormous consumption sooner or later.

 

The nuclear “bluff”:

Ukraine liberated a capital of a “Russian” Oblast. There was no nuclear answer.

China and India called Russia out.

USA threatened openly with painful retaliation.

The nuclear “bluff” is pretty much of the table.

 

Forecast:

Russia is out of military options. If mobilization and retreat to favorable defensive positions cannot stop the Ukrainian advance, it will loose militarily.

It seems unlikely but not impossible that Russian mobilization and retreat can offset the underlying trends without changing western support.

 

Economic Situation:

Ukraine:

  1. Economy will shrink by around 40% and my start growing by next year if the sky can be secured.

  2. State finances are kept afloat by the west.

Russia:

  1. The real economic situation is unclear, since Russia reports less numbers and the credibility of those released is in question. Last estimates put Russia at -4% or more GDP for 22 and about the same for 23. The effect of current mobilization, future waves, fleeing work force and oil sanctions/price cap from December on makes 23 forecasts difficult. Inflation is very, very high, living standard is dropping fast.

  2. Russian state finances are highly dependent on gas/oil income, both of which will be extremely low next year. Russia can´t borrow money internationally and the “war chest” is depleting rapidly. Russia will be “bankrupt”, sooner or later and will have to resort to drastic measures then.

 

The test of will:

The Ukrainian will is out of the question. It will continue with the war until either Russia left all of Ukraine or any hope of liberating more land is gone.

There is probably no off ramp for Putin left. Therefor Russia will continue fighting as long as it has any considerable part of Ukraine occupied or major changes take place within the Kremlin and or Russia. The later becoming more likely the worse the war looks and the longer it takes due to the economical and financial decline.

 

Conclusion:

Since I am German, I would strongly advice not to count on Russia ever giving up. Especially not, since Ukraine won´t march to Moscow like the Allies did it with Berlin.

The western will to support Ukraine is therefor the key to the outcome and length of the war. If it stays the same, I would hope for Ben Hodges estimate to be right, that Russia will basically be beaten by next Summer.

I may look into the western will more closely in another post, if anybody is interested.

In the moment I would say: There is a trend towards the formula “Russia has to leave all of Ukraine” but I fear that there are hard restraints concerning hurting the own capabilities, and some restraints concerning costs and fear of escalation.

 

Ressources:

ISW https://www.understandingwar.org/

Perun https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCC3ehuUksTyQ7bbjGntmx3Q/featured

Anders Puck Nielsen https://www.youtube.com/c/AndersPuckNielsen

Western and Ukrainian Press/Twitter

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Topic starter Posted : November 24, 2022 18:41