17 May 2022

Ukraine -- light at the end of the tunnel?

A week short of three months into the war, there are some hopeful and intriguing developments.  Russian military bloggers with hundreds of thousands of followers have begun openly criticizing the military's incompetence, while this startlingly candid assessment of the war and the international situation was allowed to air on Russian TV (both links found here).  Either the regime is now losing control of the narrative domestically, or the public is being prepared for the shock of a more realistic picture of the crisis.

Even more startling, Putin seems to be backing down on his threats against Finland and Sweden for their efforts to join NATO.  Russia has allowed hundreds of Ukrainian fighters from the Azovstal steel plant to be evacuated, a break from its previous pattern of "agreeing" to such evacuations and then opening fire on those trying to flee.

Then there are the persistent stories that Putin is seriously ill with cancer.  Green Eagle suggests that this might be a ploy to legitimize removing him from power so that the disastrous war can be ended.

All this suggests it is just possible that Putin, or other forces in Russia who aspire to replace him, are trying to de-escalate the situation with an eye to eventually ending the war.  Anyone with access to unbiased information can now see that it is unwinnable.  The Ukrainians have pushed the Russians back from Kharkiv to the border.  The Russian offensive in Donbas is making little or no progress, displaying the same incompetence and logistical problems as earlier Russian efforts.  The regime has the power to drag out the war for months longer, but doing so would mean only more defeat or stalemate, more humiliation, more international isolation, more ongoing losses of troops and equipment (disastrously eroding Russia's military power) with no realistic hope of conquering Ukraine and a real risk of being driven out from the eastern and southeastern territory Russia has managed to occupy -- and more risk of a nuclear escalation which would wipe out Russia along with the West.  Finding a way out is clearly the only sane course.

After the war ends -- whether soon or months from now -- the West will need to continue providing aid on a large scale.  Two thousand high-rise buildings have been destroyed in Kharkiv alone, Mariupol is largely in ruins, and there is tremendous destruction all over the country.  The Ukrainians will have won a major victory for the whole democratic world, at enormous cost, and will have earned whatever help they need to rebuild.  Tens and perhaps hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian citizens have been abducted and forced to settle in Russia, for reasons still unclear; the sanctions should not be relaxed until they are allowed to return.  If isolationist or Putinist Republicans become dominant in the US government again, other democracies will have to step up and support Ukraine's recovery.  The important thing is that this devastated but heroic country not be abandoned after the fighting stops.


Blogger Sixpence Notthewiser said...

Vlad's war against Ukraine was a bully move from the jump. That he did not take into account the resiliency and valour of the Ukrainian people was his biggest mistake. The second one was to believe his own propaganda.
I seriously hope he has cancer. Oh, yeah. And I hope he dies a long, painful protracted death. They may be prepping the people for a de-escalation or a reality check but the thing that gives me most hope is that Vlad will be humiliated. Monster.


17 May, 2022 06:50  
Blogger SickoRicko said...

Thank you for this level-headed assessment, it calmed me down. At least for a while.

17 May, 2022 08:10  
Blogger Jimmy T said...

In regards to the photo at the top,"What a good doggie."

I found this war info resource a few months back. It's quite detailed, and seems accurate... https://www.oryxspioenkop.com/

Also, I may have posted the address to the Ukrainian English language newspaper here before, but if not here it is...


17 May, 2022 08:32  
Blogger yellowdoggranny said...

I try to be a peaceloving Pagan...but the flip side is the warrior Pagan..and in this case I'm the warrior Pagan and I hope he has cancer of the anus and penis..so there ..I said it.

17 May, 2022 08:54  
Blogger Mike said...

Paying to rebuild Ukraine. Three guesses whos going to pay for that. That alone should have encouraged us to give even more help like air cover.

17 May, 2022 14:26  
Blogger jenny_o said...

I hope things are de-escalated without going either the stalemate route or the nuclear route. Well, who wouldn't? But I have more hope of that after reading your post. And your final point was right on - Ukraine has paid an enormous price and it wasn't just for their country. As you said, the world must help them rebuild.

17 May, 2022 18:33  
Blogger Richard said...

Such a disappointment. This great genius has killed thousands of people and destroyed cities and villages. Now he has some strange cancer? My only question, what is taking so long? We were happy with Ukraine. We like them. They are not perfect, but they are friends . Last time i checked, Ukraine never bombed any country.

17 May, 2022 21:27  
Blogger Bohemian said...

Let us hope it ends soon and I hope the rumors of Putin's illness being a terminal one are True and he hurry up and Die.

18 May, 2022 22:28  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Sixpence: Believing one's own propaganda is a stunning mistake. Propaganda is a weapon. They don't test the latest new artillery on themselves.

Ricko: Well, it's speculative. Time will tell whether I'm interpreting things correctly.

Jimmy: Thanks for the Oryx link. I've been recommending The Kyiv Independent in my posts throughout the crisis; it's in the news section of the sidebar.

Granny: Any form of paganism in the old days that didn't include warriors wouldn't have lasted long. Not many people deserve cancer, but Tin-of-Pu certainly qualifies.

Mike: Sometimes circumstances create obligations. The problem with providing air cover is that it would have brought NATO forces into direct fighting with the Russians, with the result that the US, Russia, and Europe would probably be a wasteland of radioactive slag by now.

Jenny_o: Putin is the only one who's really personally invested in refusing to recognize that the invasion is a disaster. There must be plenty of powerful people in Russia thinking about how to get out of this mess.

Richard: I don't think Ukraine has ever attacked another country -- granted, it's had only a few brief periods of independence in its history, so it hasn't had much chance to do so.

Bohemian: Unfortunately, cancer tends not to be fast. Still, there's the possibility of sudden-onset lead poisoning.

19 May, 2022 01:39  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

At least not in recent times. Kyiv is older than Moscow, after all.

It depends on the cancer. Pancreatic cancer, like what recently took George Pérez, has about a 1 in 3 five-year survival rate. It's also fortunately rare.

19 May, 2022 04:49  
Anonymous Marc McKenzie said...

"The important thing is that this devastated but heroic country not be abandoned after the fighting stops."

Indeed. I feel that under a Democratic administration in the US--especially the one we have now--that won't be an issue. But as you said, if the GOP get back in charge, it won't happen. The next few elections are going to be critical, and we cannot afford to let the "both parties are the same!" folks get traction. On the other hand, we need to counter the GOP efforts to screw up voting.

Sorry for not having been here for a while, but with a full-time job and trying to ramp up producing art (as well as dealing with a relatively new Twitter account!) time is tight. But it is good to come back to read some excellent essays!

Also, remember that show I was raving about, FOR ALL MANKIND? It's coming back for Season 3 next month and I am beyond excited. This has to be one of the best shows on TV and it's also a unique "alternate history" saga that is moving more towards the science fiction angle. The trailer for Season 3 can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M4EOW9oqZ4k

20 May, 2022 11:10  
Blogger Martha said...

I do hope there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Your post is very hopeful, which is something we need to hear at this time!

20 May, 2022 11:22  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Marc: Unfortunately, given developments over the last year or two, I no longer find it possible to support the Democrats across-the-board either. I'll be looking at candidates on a case-by-case basis. But even if the Republicans get in, I think the risk of cutting off US help to Ukraine is minimal. The isolationist faction is a distinct minority among Republicans, and McConnell is clearly working to bring them to heel.

I can certainly understand your being busy -- I know your art is your main focus.

I saw a clip from For All Mankind a while back (the Lunar landing) -- it looked interesting. Thanks for the tip.

Martha: No one has a clear view of the future, unfortunately. But I do think these signs are hopeful. It must have dawned on even Putin by now that what he's doing is not working.

20 May, 2022 12:13  
Blogger Tommykey said...

"Tens and perhaps hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian citizens have been abducted and forced to settle in Russia, for reasons still unclear."

As has been said about some Trump administration/Republican policies, "the cruelty is the point."

Putin and Russian ultra-nationalists do not recognize or accept a separate Ukrainian identity, and so they are going to trample all over it, whether it is reducing Ukrainian cities and towns to rubble or dragging off Ukrainian citizens to Russia.

20 May, 2022 16:40  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

And in doing so they are likely to be prolonging those sanctions for a long time to come.

20 May, 2022 20:35  
Anonymous Annie said...

I wish I had your confidence that the Rs would continue to support Ukraine. It took a lot of effort for Biden, et al, to rebuild NATO, and the nativists are clearly restless, with Orban as their role model.

21 May, 2022 15:07  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Annie: Isolationist Republicans would not continue to support Ukraine, but isolationist Republicans are a minority among Republican politicians, and would not dominate a Republican government -- not unless the president was an isolationist, and maybe not then. Certainly McConnell has been making it clear the party as a whole does not stand with the isolationists.

22 May, 2022 01:50  
Anonymous Annie said...

I don’t want to belabor this, Infidel, but Mitch McConnell also made it clear that Donald Trump was responsible for the Insurrection and should not be in office—before he declined to vote to impeach him and obviously didn’t encourage such a vote—which could have spared us so much grief. I’m fairly sure Zelensky is concerned about our forthcoming elections. So much at stake for US and the world.

22 May, 2022 14:36  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Like most Republican politicians, McConnell is a coward who is afraid of going against the party's voting base (except occasionally on some issue of supreme importance to him). Most of the base strongly supported Trump at that time, so supporting an impeachment conviction would have meant clashing with the base over something which wasn't all that deeply important to him one way or another (Trump was always much less popular in Utah, which is why Romney has more latitude). The majority of Republican voters are supportive of helping Ukraine, though, which is why McConnell has felt free to take a much tougher public stance in favor of doing so.

Foreign policy is mostly under executive-branch control, so it's mainly an issue of what a Republican president's stance would be. Trump is an isolationist, of course, but he's very unlikely to become president again.

22 May, 2022 18:54  
Blogger Daal said...

absolutely - "The important thing is that this devastated but heroic country not be abandoned after the fighting stops."

23 May, 2022 21:00  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

I hope the American people will make sure that our leaders do the right things. And the same in Europe, of course.

24 May, 2022 00:34  
Blogger CAS said...

I like your photo! This is good news. It seems we might avoid destroying the world with nuclear bombs (at least in the near term). I just shudder to think of how much we are going to spend on further destruction before we can begin rebuilding.

24 May, 2022 13:34  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Unfortunately, when someone like Putin (or Hitler, Tojo, the Confederacy, etc) are willing to spend so much for evil purposes, there's no alternative but to fight to counter them, even though it leads to even more destruction in the short term.

24 May, 2022 20:15  

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