What’s happening in Ukraine is not World War III. Or at least, it’s not the World War III anyone anticipated. But with every day that goes by, the importance of what’s happening in Ukraine and the scope of what’s at stake seem to increase.
When Vladimir Putin committed Russia to an invasion of their western neighbor, it wasn’t obvious that this would be a pivot point in history; one of those moments where the outcome affects international relations, world economies, and such apparently unconnected issues as the climate crisis for decades to come. Maybe it should have been, because all that is certainly clear now. Every day, as Russia pushes in more forces, and the West responds by abandoning any pretense when it comes to providing Ukraine with the weaponry to fight back, the do-or-die nature of this conflict becomes more clear.
If Russia is successful in achieving its stated goals of capturing eastern Ukraine and the Black Sea coast all the way to Moldova, it won’t just embolden Putin to keep up his brutal assaults on civilian populations as a tactic of war, it will put paid to the idea that the West can in any way hope to stop Russia without “getting their hands dirty.”
Ukraine is a nation with a population greater than California. It is being armed with every system that seems applicable in the effort to halt Russian ambitions. What should be clear, to the United States and every other western nation, two months into this conflict, is that if this isn’t enough to stop Putin, we will have to do it ourselves. We win this war, or we will get another.
So, every one of those nations has a huge stake in seeing that this is, in fact, enough.
As Markos has made clear for weeks, there’s almost no end to the things Russia is doing wrong. Whether it’s their graft-ridden chain of logistics, an incredibly top-heavy command structure, an organization structure that makes their units extremely fragile, or a simple lack of competence that limits the scope of their operations, Russia’s approach would get them flunked from any war college in the West. The only tactic they have been able to engage that has been by any definition successful is that they have committed war crimes at a scale and pace not seen since World War II.
Russia doesn’t have the ability to engage successfully with a peer military. It does have the ability to bomb the shit out of children, hospitals, and blind grandmothers. It has the ability to slaughter whole civilian populations and toss them into enormous mass graves. Russia can’t execute intelligent tactics to win battles in the field, but it’s perfectly capable of grinding forward with dumb tactics that pulverize cities and lives.
Unless, of course, someone makes them stop. Which is where we are now. Not “Does Ukraine have the weapons it needs to stand against Russia in a fair fight?” but, “Does Ukraine have what it needs to destroy Russia’s ability to kill civilians in their homes?” Which is a very different thing.
To stop the slaughter, Ukraine isn’t going to just need Javelins to halt the advance of Russian tanks, or Stingers to take down helicopters buzzing over Ukrainian territory. It needs armor, artillery, and air support—in the form of fighters, helicopters, and drones—that will allow it to eliminate the weapons Russia is firing into Ukrainian towns and cities. So when word comes that Ukraine now has more tanks in theater than Russia, or that the U.S. is sending another massive order of artillery their way, that’s just a start. There literally is no way we can give them too much.
To really win this thing, Ukraine can’t fight the Russian army to a draw or force them to halt their advance. Ukraine has to destroy the Russian army in a way that keeps it from committing mass murder of civilians, not just right now, but for a long time to come. That is a very big task.
What’s happening in Ukraine is not World War III. Except in the sense that it will define the world we all live in for a long time to come. Which … okay, maybe it is.
We saw video of at least two helicopters and multiple drones, which makes this seem like a pretty reasonable — if amazing — count.
How committed is the U.S. to the outcome of this fight? This committed.
The Ukrainian ministry of defense is reporting that Russia has occupied the towns of Stepne and Lozove west of Donetsk.
CNN is currently running an opinion piece stating that: “The two-pronged US strategy, to help Ukraine overcome the Russian invasion by imposing tough sanctions and by supplying Ukraine's military with sophisticated armaments, is likely to fall short. What is needed is a peace deal, which may be within reach. Yet to reach a deal, the United States will have to compromise on NATO, something Washington has so far rejected.”
The problem with this op-ed, which is repeated over and over, is that it seems to completely assume that Ukraine has no voice, or role, in the invasion of (checks notes) … Ukraine. The article then spends 90% of its time claiming that economic sanctions against Russia can’t work, claiming that most of the world is on Russia’s side, and insisting that if only the U.S. would give Putin what he wants, there could be peace.
Oh, it does say this:
Putin also would have to show a willingness to make concessions for negotiations to succeed.
That’s all the detail that’s ever offered in terms of what Putin should give up in exchange for NATO agreeing to, not just not go into Ukraine, but not expand anywhere.
Ukraine gets to say what it wants out of a negotiated peace, not the U.S. And giving Putin everything he wants to stop killing civilians should not be an option.
I’m not going to pretend to know what form of … artillery? Rockets? Drones? Are being used to strike these three targets with not just great precision, but seemingly within fractions of a second.
Listen to Jennifer Fernandez Ancona from Way to Win explain how Democrats must message to win on Daily Kos' The Brief podcast with Markos Moulitsas and Kerry Eleveld