“Ukraine will ultimately win the irregular war with Russia” Brandon Webb

“The first scenario about is the most likely scenario given Putin’s record as a cold and calculated leader who has ambitions to restore Russia to its USSR size and glory. However, in just about any of these scenarios Ukraine is very likely to win in the end

How come? 

Because wars in this part of the 21st Century are no longer conventionally fought and won with the traditional army of tanks planes and infantry fighting battles. They are dispersed, asymmetric, and happen in the shadows of city streets and on the internet. 

An interconnected economy means Putin faces sanctions in a modern world where global banking and supply chains can be turned off with a keyboard click rather than bombers destroying his factories and railroads and submarines sinking his merchant ships to cripple his ability to make war.

History has also taught us that a small, motivated insurgency can outlast and beat back a much larger adversary. It’s why guerrilla warfare occurs so often in the world today. It’s because it works.

A country like the United States may be able to extend the length of an insurgency but as we saw in Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq, they are all but impossible to defeat. ”

Comment: Last night Larry Johnson and I discussed the subject of his piece today. I agree that an advance to the line of the Dnieper has always been the most logical objective for the present war. If Putin had limited his ambition to that, the world political situation would be much different. But he did not. What it is that Putin thinks he is doing messing around in the space around Kiyiv remains a mystery to me. It remains true that the size force available to him up there is inadequate for the task of subjugating a city the size of Kiyiv unless the Ukraine government decides to meekly surrender. That seems unlikely.

Is widespread resistance likely after Russia reaches its actual objectives? I think so. pl

Ukraine will ultimately win the irregular war with Russia | Fox News

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39 Responses to “Ukraine will ultimately win the irregular war with Russia” Brandon Webb

  1. Christian J. Chuba says:

    If Putin leaves Kyiv alone and comes to terms with the Zelensky govt, he can achieve a tolerable peace. If he tries to replace the govt, it will be as you say and I will be left wondering where Putin has been in the past 20yrs.

    Putin gave all of these great speeches on Libya, Syria, and Iraq about the need to preserve existing govt institutions. If he turns around and tries a regime change operation then I will question his sanity.

  2. Babeltuap says:

    BBC segment on Ukraine 2019. Their justice system is rotten to the core. A lot of that going on these days globally. Even if they do retain power what do they win…meh:

    https://youtu.be/pkGbnplg308

  3. Sean says:

    The Russian perspective, shared by probably Putin and the majority of the Russian population, is that there is a giant “deprogramming” challenge ahead of them. They view the post 2014 Ukrainian population as victims of a cult, basically. The whole of Ukraine has been Bandera-ized or Galicia-ized since 2014, but with a change in media, a coming to grips with 2014-2022 excesses (they would put it as war crimes and cultural genocide), they can bring Ukrainians to their senses.

    I’m sympathetic to Russia, but I think this will be a tall order. Maybe Putin and enough of the Russian population think it’s worth it, a baked in 10 years minimum of isolation from the greater West, huge expenditures necessary in Ukraine, etc, are worth reuniting the Russian world. The North thought it was worth it after the American Civil War. And Russia has a small model of success – chechens went from Russia’s greatest mortal enemies in 1999 to probably this war’s main heroes from a Russian perspective. Crimea is also totally pacified, if there were a free and fair referendum I have no doubt people there would choose to stay with Russia.

    Still, if I look at things objectively, I think it is more likely than not that Russia will fail in turning Ukrainians into something like Bavarians in Germany (this was Putin’s own analogy). There is too much attraction in the West, I would also choose being a Poland over being a poor province of Russia, if it were a choice available to me personally.

    • Tom67 says:

      Sean, that is right on the money. There are big areas in Eastern Ukraine where they either don´t care whether they are ruled from Moscow or from Kiev or would prefer the Russians to the Neonazi batallions that have been installed there to keep any dissent down. I would specifically count Odessa among the places where they are in all likelihood sick and tired of being part of Ukraine. All these places voted for Selensky because they though he would reign the crazies in. But he didn´t because he couldn´t. The “Right Sector” and “Azov” threatened violence and Selensky caved.
      But in the rest of Ukraine things will be viewed very differently and the analogue with Bavaria shows where the difference lies. My father was a proud Bavarian and my grandfather and all my paternal ancestors where officers who were fighting for the Bavarian king. But there was never any doubt that Bavaria was a part of first the Holy Roman Empire and then the German Reich. Germany has a long history of federalism and even though there were quite a few wars for primacy within Germany it never occured to anybody that Bavarians were not also Germans. There is no official Bavarian language (except dialogue in various Bavarian dialects), no Bavarian spelling and of course no Bavarian literature. All that exists in Ukraine since the 19th century Putin is very wrong if he imagines that Lenin created the Ukrainian nation. In reality Lenin acknowledged that part of the reason of the downfall of the Czar was the attempt to russify all the various nationalities. He went a different path by installing communism as the uniting ideology. As a precaution against an upsurge in Ukrainian nationalism the Communists incorporated “New Russia” (steppe regions including the Donbass which were conquered in the 18th century and peopled predominantly by Russians) into Ukraine. As “New Russia” was the demographic heavy weight among the Ukrainian regions all governments since the Nineties have been dominated by men from the East.
      That worked fairly well until 2014 when Western Ukrainian ultranationalists with the help of the West managed to take over. The secession of the Donbass weakened the former “New Russia” within Ukraine to the point that the whole country started to pivot West. That is the cause of the mess we are in now. The Dnepr isn´t the hoped for dividing line. It is unfortunately more complicated than that. And Kiev is a mighty symbol all by itself. That is where Eastern slavic civilisation started and also the mother city of Russia.
      I don´t see a good way out. Probably everybody needs to exhaust themselves (the West economically and Russia militarily and politically) before a solution can be found.

    • Bill Roche says:

      If you think Putin is pulling Ukraine back from fighting which started in the Donbass in 2014 you are missing the real show. If Putin successfully forces himself on Ukraine, it will not forgive Mother Russia b/c of the money Moscow spends on Kiev. “Here honey, now pick yourself up and put on your dress back on. It wasn’t so bad was it, and look at all the cash Moscow is going to give you”. Ukrainians culture is similar to Russian, but different and they don’t want to be Russian. Here is the crux of the issue that most slavs (except the Russians that is) understand, Poles, Stones, Lats, Litvaks, Ukies, Czechs, Slovaks, Hungarians, Romanians, Moldovans, Bulgars, and Finns, are happy being who they are. They don’t wake up every morning hoping that “today my true Russian heart will be set free”. Putin’s efforts are about a man w/one last chance to restore Great Russia over all the subordinate “Little Russias”. He is not trying to turn the clock back to 2014 but 1914!

  4. A.Pols says:

    Somehow, I think probably the Dnieper is where the Russians will stop, maybe they’ll have to invest Kiev as well. While widespread guerilla war would be expected in the amalgamation comprising the western part of Ukraine (It happened right up until the early fifties after WW2), I somewhat doubt it would play a big part in the east. Furthermore, I submit that long term occupation by Russia isn’t part of their long term plan; maybe an accord specifying neutrality is in the cards along with absorption of the Donbas into the Russian Federation or forcing recognition of them on Kiev and the termination of hostilities directed against them. In the fullness of time all of this should become clearer, but in the meantime we wait.

  5. jld says:

    Meanwhile some true Americans fell for “Russian Propaganda”. 🙂
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KfaAyiP8Wuc

    • LeaNder says:

      Russian fake news?
      … The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) killed Denis Kireev, a member of the Ukrainian delegation at the talks with Russia. This was stated by the deputy of the Verkhovna Rada Alexander Dubinsky , RIA Novosti reports. .

      Presumably, Kireev was suspected of high treason, tried to resist arrest and was killed. Officially, the Ukrainian authorities have not yet confirmed this information.

      Until 2014, Kireev worked in the banking sector, was a member of the governing bodies of Oschadbank and Ukreximbank. Later he was engaged in the management of private funds. Why the office of the President of Ukraine decided to include him in the delegation at the talks is still unknown. …

      https://lenta.ru/news/2022/03/05/sbu_kireev/

  6. Leith says:

    I agree that there is no way Putin can win a guerrilla war in Ukraine. Tanks are not going to terrify the Territorial Defense Forces (TpO). And most of those Ukrainian Army troops stranded east of the Dnieper will join the irregulars. Arms resupply will be a problem, but not unsolvable.

    Putin will try to win by flattening major cities like Poltava, Dnipro, Kharkiv (he already started there), and others. That will only harden the resolution of the resistance. As good as the Russian assistance was to Assad in Syria, the salafi headchoppers still control more than half of Idlib and even have a small foothold in Latakia. Putin will need mass infantry formations to occupy and control that part of Ukraine east of the Dnieper (which looks to be maybe 40% of Ukraine land area). Putin has no friendly Ukrainians there other than the LNR and DNR militias. But they are mostly foreigners and cannot control that much area even with their terror tactics. Maybe he will import more Chechens and Serbs to do the dirty work?

    On the other hand I’m no strategic wunderkind. I had thought wrongly earlier that a] Putin would not invade, & b] if he did he would be happy with the Donbas and maybe a landbridge to Crimea.

    • jld says:

      Why would Putin need to win a guerrilla war anymore than he does in Georgia?
      A frozen conflict seem perfectly fine with him, that’s what he did in Donbass for 8 years, he got likely upset with too much “agitation” of the Azov crowd.
      May be that wasn’t such a good idea…

      • Leith says:

        JLD –

        Putin will have to do something to stop the slaughter of Russian occupation troops. Why would he not? I don’t follow that logic.

        • jld says:

          You missed my point.
          There will be NO occupation troops in the “wild side”, no more than in Georgia.
          And for cross border mishaps, punitive strikes once in a while will do and may not even be needed for that long.

          • Leith says:

            JLD –

            You may be right. Putin will probably use Chechens, Serbs, other Donbas militias, and Wagner’s mercenaries as occupiers wherever he can instead of Russian Army or Rosgvardia troops. God help Ukrainian civilians then.

            BTW what and where is the “wild side” you mention?

          • jld says:

            Leith
            😀 😀 😀
            You have an amazing ability of “non understanding” which probably required much training and practice.
            When I said “NO occupation troops” I meant NO occupation troops whatsoever of any ethnicity or nationality and the “wild side” is the leftover Ukrainian controlled part (likely West of the Dnieper) as opposed to Novorossia.

          • jld says:

            Leith
            “God help Ukrainian civilians then. “
            God should already care to help Ukrainian civilians now, because they are shot by Azov thugs when they try to escape.
            https://twitter.com/belounis_samia/status/1498010441905098752

          • Leith says:

            Maybe so. But it was Chechens that shelled the evacuation corridor.

            I’m hearing now that some Ukrainian irregulars are rubbing their bullets with hog fat in anticpation of Chechen occupation.

    • Fred says:

      Leith,

      “… the salafi headchoppers still control more than half of Idlib …”

      I wonder what the USA and Turkey had to do with that outcome. If I recall it was discussed here at length.

      • Leith says:

        Fred –

        Turkey had quite a bit to do with it.

        Our CentCom airstrikes took out much of the Nusra Front and HTS leadership in Idlib with whenever they could find them. Too bad Russia let them be because of Putin’s attempt to hijack Erdogan out of NATO.

    • AngusinCanada says:

      Leith, it appears to me the Russians are taking pains to not flatten cities, no?

  7. Alves says:

    Maybe the plan is to destroy the current government and then mostly move back to the other side of the river. They can repeat that as many times as they see fit, as long as they control the air space and the frontier.

    The fact that it pushes a lot of ukrainians out of the country might be a plus in the russian book too.

  8. EoL says:

    well, it doesn’t seem that long term occupation is Russias goal. There is no decapitation of the leadership, no massive destruction of cities, just a slow invasion, with “cauldrons” to single out the azov/nazi types from the average ukranian soldier. Kherson’s fall is another piece of evidence. Another piece of evidence is the on going negotiations with the Ukranian leadership whilst an attack and slow envelopment of the capital is ongoing. War is merely the continuation of politics with other means, and it seems that Russia is following the historical tradition of von Clausewitz (which checks out with history anyway)

  9. TTG says:

    pl,

    Not only is widespread resistance likely, it’s baked into Ukrainian law and defense strategy. This is the first line of Ukraine’s law “On the foundations of national resistance.”

    “This Law defines the legal and organizational principles of national resistance, the basis of its preparation and conduct, the tasks and powers of the security and defense forces and other entities defined by this Law on the preparation and conduct of national resistance.”

    The resistance has already been planned and prepared for. The Territorial Defense Forces (TDF) are a large part of this resistance. The Ukrainian SOF will swim in this sea of resistance. Both the TDF and SOF are already in action behind the Russian’s lines. It won’t stop. And this is in the Russian speaking easternmost parts of Ukraine.

    • Barbara Ann says:

      TTG/Colonel

      Do you see what is coming as potentially worse than Afghanistan was for Soviet Russia?

      • Pat Lang says:

        Just as bad.

      • TTG says:

        Barbara Ann,

        I would say at least as bad. Lithuania resisted for 50 years, 10 years in active combat, before regaining her independence. That was with absolutely no support from the West. Ukraine is considerably larger with a much larger population and scads of support from the West. Open support and who knows what covert support is/will be provided. Putin’s Russia will be sucking bilgewater for quite some time.

  10. JohnH says:

    Irregular war has probably been Washington’s strategy (at least fallback strategy) all along…provoke Russia until they involve themselves in a quagmire. The recent buzz word for this is to “diminish” Russia. I was surprised that Putin actually invaded, knowing the outcome of many recent quagmires. But the advantage that he does have is the fact that people in much of Ukraine and Russia speak the same language, unlike the quagmires the US has gotten itself into. That plus the fact that most Ukrainians have not thrived economically since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Many of those who did have probably already fled the Europe, and many of those refugees have marketable skills.

  11. p s c says:

    Ukraine lacks the high birth-rate and extreme poverty of places that have had successful insurgencies such as Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam. Ukraine’s flat terrain and Russian ruthlessness are also why any insurgency will fail.

    Ivan will not build schools, clinics, and try to win the hearts and minds with LGBTQ seminars and Drag Queen shows.

    Ukrainians of military age will emigrate to the west and the brave few who try to fight on will be killed or sent to Siberia.

  12. Ed Lindgren says:

    The Russians have been down this road before in having to deal with an insurgency or guerrilla war in the Ukraine.

    Soviet Russia, in the years immediately following the end of World War II in Europe, had to deal with the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA). The UPA had been fighting the Germans, but once they were out of the picture, the UPA turned their guns on the Soviets.

    It was a costly battle, but after years of combat (lasting from 1945 until the early 1950s), as well as offering some economic reforms, the Soviets put down the UPA.

    Both the CIA and MI6 supported the UPA.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ukrainian_Insurgent_Army

    • Leith says:

      Bandera was the top political leadership of the UPA. He had them fight against both the Nazis and the Soviets, plus murder Jews and Poles.

      • Ed Lindgren says:

        Kim Philby, in his autobiographical memoir ‘My Silent War’ devoted a couple of pages to Bandera.

        According to Philby, there was quite a squabble between the CIA and MI6 (SIS) over the usefulness of Bandera as an asset. The CIA wanted to give Bandera the boot, while the Brits wanted to keep him on.

        Philby ended this brief discussion with the following:

        “Some eight years later, I read of the mysterious murder of Bandera in Munich, in the American zone of Germany. It may be that, despite the brave stand of the British in his defense, CIA had the last word.”

        Source: Kim Philby, 1968, My Silent War: the Autobiography of a Spy, Grove Press, page 202

        • Leith says:

          Ed Lindgren –

          Thanks for that reference. I’ll try to get a copy.

          By many other accounts Philby was correct about the MI-6/CIA squabble.

          But he was wrong about the killing. It was a KGB assassin that used a cyanide spray pistol to execute Bandera. He also executed Lev Rebet, another Galician Ukrainian involved with the UPA, again using the cyanide pistol.

  13. Deap says:

    What degrees of talent necessary for a “victorious Ukraine” has already skedaddled across the border and into the EU as refugees?

    Not unlike the Cuban talent drain into Florida and quickly in to to top levels of US government and infrastructure. Host country’s gain; Cuba’s ultimate loss.

    As a relatively new country, but with far more diverse ethnic roots contained in its single border, who exactly are the Ukrainian patriots staying behind and willing to die for this recently cobbled together motherland?

    • TTG says:

      Deap,

      Since the invasion started, 80,000 Ukrainians returned to Ukraine. They are almost all men of military age. The refugees are predominantly women, children and the aged. The men stayed behind to fight. Of course, they had no real choice. The Ukrainian government closed the borders to military age men. Ukraine has been independent Ukraine since August 1991. Any Ukrainian under 30 has been born in an independent Ukraine. Patriotism and hatred for Russia has increased dramatically among Russian speaking Ukrainians in the eastern and southern oblasts. Bombing one’s home elicits that kind of response. Ukraine is not lacking for patriots ready to defend their country.

      • Ernst Waldenfels says:

        I would sincerely doubt that people in the East are patriotic Ukrainians. Some might be but not the majority. Don´t forget that despite pervasive censorship and intimidation nationalist parties never stood a chance in great parts of the East. One should also not forget the atrocities and murders commited by various Ukrainian ultranationalists in the East. The famous one was the killing of more than 50 people in the union building in Odessa. And there were quite a few more like that albeit at a smaller scale.

        • LeaNder says:

          Patriots and nationalists are pretty much the same? But can be threatened by ultranationalists, who in turn are similar to the the anti-nationalist-patriots killed in the union building in 2014?

    • Barbara Ann says:

      Deap

      Replace the word “Ukrainian” with “American” in your final paragraph and read it again. I think this may help answer your question.

    • Bill Roche says:

      Your comment about “cobbled together” is pejorative isn’t it. But consider the Brits, Americans, Dutch, Chinese, and Russians are also cobbled together. There are other examples but I think I’ve made my point. Ukraine is a new country but its not for lack of trying. Ukrainians tried for autonomy in the late 19th century but the Czar stopped them cold. Ukrainians tried for nationhood after WW I but the Bolsheviks (mostly Russian Jews) stopped them cold. Ukrainians thought (and other “little Russians” too) they had achieved independence from the “great Russians” in ’90 but it looks like Putin, after 30 years, also intends to stop them cold. If Putin questions the “vintage” of Estonia and Latvia, would you also question whether they have not been around long enough to qualify as real nation states? In my doddering old age I’ve become interested in the early days of the American republic. America was no sure thing until after 1815 and that was 32 years after 1783. How many other states do not meet your standards for established nations. Are Finland, and Moldova too new to be considered established? Pls correct me if I misread you but I take your comments as prelude to the notion that “there is really nothing to Ukraine after all so why such a fuss. Those “little Russians” belong to Mother Russia anyway so the world should just buzz off. Am I right? So let me assert some basics to the issue of Russian invasion of Ukraine. Ukrainians “identify” (that’s the in word these days right) as an independent nation of predominantly slavs, distinct from and not inferior to Russians who live largely to their east. They have never threatened a neighbor in their thirty years of independence and enjoy their independence as much as any nation state in the world. They d/n make war on Russia, Russia made war on them.

  14. fakebot says:

    Are the Russians intent on taking Ukraine fully or are they posturing for the sake of strengthening their perceived position in ongoing negotiations?

    Also, would Russia be prepared to launch a nuclear assault on those parts of Ukraine that continue to resist? They seem to have a point to prove with their nuclear threats.

    And finally, could some of the elements we back in Ukraine come back to haunt us like some did in Afghanistan?

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