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Fear and Loathing in Ukraine

Fear and Loathing in Ukraine

By Todd Davis

Defeat in Ukraine doesn’t look pretty. Losing a war never is. Long rows of burned-out vehicles and villages reduced to rubble may be the topical features that stand out in a vanquished nation, but the scars from Ukraine’s defeat will run deeper. Bitter recriminations will be leveled at Western nations by people who were sold the narrative that Ukraine was an ally, the tip of the spear in a larger NATO campaign against Russia. NATO itself will be fractured, shaken to its core with the realization that everything it has been doing for the last three decades; little wars of colonization, asymmetrical conflicts across the Balkans and the Middle East, left it unprepared for a clash with a major power.

The Avdiivka Effect

Ever since the Russians captured Avdiivka the front lines have moved West. Although the Russians have called this stage of the war an active defense, a prelude to the offensive it plans to launch in the late spring or summer, the loss of one of Ukraine’s most fortified positions has been a tremendous blow to Ukraine’s defensive lines and, more significantly, its morale. 

Avdiivka had stood for a decade as a stronghold in Ukraine, a town converted into a fortress meant to supply and serve as a bulwark against incursions in Donetsk City. AFU forces within Avdiivka faced unprecedented attacks from Russian Aerospace forces as Ukrainian air defenses became exhausted. Told to hold fast, Ukrainian soldiers began to retreat on their own, and the retreat soon became a rout as hundreds of Ukrainians were captured and thousands killed streaming West from the broken city. New Ukrainian commander in chief of its armed forces Oleksandr Syrskyi retroactively ordered a withdrawal to cover the mess. But the damage was done. 

Since losing this pivotal battle in February, Ukraine has been retreating. Exhaustion has set in among the AFU with few reserves remaining to allow troop rotation from the front lines. The army has been hollowed out, most of the experienced and motivated soldiers are dead or maimed. Zelensky signed a new conscription bill calling up 25 and 26-year-olds for the draft and impressment into the AFU. This was a controversial measure in Ukraine as it has begun tapping into the country’s last remaining resource; young Ukrainians who represent its future, or what might be left of it after the war. 

Blueprint to Population Armageddon

 Russia is adding 30,000 soldiers, most of them volunteers, to its armed forces every month. The war, seen by Russians as a patriotic conflict, an invasion of Russia led and financed by NATO, is extremely popular in the Motherland. There are no more volunteers to fight in Zelensky’s army. Russia has achieved superiority all across the front in every conceivable military asset. It will launch an offensive when and where it chooses and that attack is going to be devastating, probably decisive. 

How long will Ukraine continue to resist? How long is it able? Recently 200 Ukrainians from the 25th Airborne Brigade surrendered en masse to the Russians. Soldiers can only take so much. With combat losses likely surpassing 500,000 Ukraine has been exhausted as a nation.

With proper diplomatic decisions, Ukraine could recover. Poland suffered catastrophic population losses in World War 2 and is now arguably in a position to be the strongest European military power in NATO. 

Ukraine can, and will, take 1,000,000 KIA before the war is over. The losses Ukraine is taking right now are more pointless than anything seen in modern history, yes more pointless than what occurred in World War One because every country in WW1 had a path to victory. 

Ukraine has no path to victory. It never did. Maybe, in the early months of the war, one could have argued that economic sanctions were going to pressure Russia to the peace table. After that failed, Ukraine never had a route to a win. There was never going to be regime change in Russia, that great false hope from the Western elites, and if by some miracle there were, Putin would only have been replaced by someone more hardline and eager to finish Ukraine more violently. 

Trapped in Rhetoric

From a military perspective, defeating Russia was always, literally, impossible once the decision was made to wage a conventional war over an insurgency. NATO wanted to fund an insurgency. Insurgencies can be sustained indefinitely. They are the meat and potatoes of forever war. But this was Ukraine, not Afghanistan. There are modern roads in Ukraine. Modern cities. Most importantly, there were plenty of people within Ukraine who identified as Russian. Ukraine likely couldn’t wage an insurgency because the areas in question disputed during the early conflict were decidedly pro-Russian. 

The horror of this war is that decisions were taken by Zelensky’s regime, political decisions, that had no grounding in fact. As time went on, it convinced itself of its own propaganda. Even worse, NATO decided to weigh in with its usual interventionism without responsibility. Hubris wouldn’t allow it to rationally evaluate the reality on the ground once it became apparent this was an artillery war that it had no capacity to fight. 

Now, Ukraine has no way out. It cannot win but it cannot negotiate. The Zelensky regime cannot survive what will be surrender negotiations with Russia after years of telling everyone it was winning. And make no mistake, Russia is now only interested in Ukrainian unconditional surrender. So more will die, this summer, throughout 2024, and in 2025 when Russia says the war will end. 

The best chance for peace has, for a while now, been for the Ukrainian people to remove Zelensky and sue for peace. They are so propagandized at this point that is not going to happen until Russia launches an offensive that makes it clear, as it did to the German homeland in 1944, that the war is lost. 

The Blame Game

Finger-pointing has already begun over who will be blamed for the coming collapse. Ukrainians are blaming the Americans, who haven’t sent any aid to the country in nearly six months, pointing to a 60 billion dollar package that has been held up in the US House of Representatives, mired in domestic political wrangling. That $60 billion cannot reverse Ukraine’s fortunes. It is like a bottle of snake oil from a frontier peddler. Drink this and all your ailments will be cured. $60 billion won’t bring back all the dead veterans that once made the AFU a formidable force. It won’t train newly conscripted 25-year-olds from Lviv who don’t want to fight the Russians. And it won’t buy air defense to stop Russian domination of the skies. 

Therein lies the secret to the war. If the US or the EU could buy weapons to send to Ukraine for $60 billion, $100 billion, or even $250 billion, it would. At this moment the EU would bury its citizens in decades of debt to avoid losing to the Russians. But there are no Tanks R Us stores. There are no mass reserves of missiles to buy. The West has deindustrialized itself sending factories and labor first to Mexico and China and then to Indonesia and Vietnam when a few more dollars of profit could be squeezed. Economic choices are now military realities.

Within America, there is a robust debate you don’t see in Europe. Republicans, the Trump-aligned ones anyway, are not willing to mortgage America’s future for Ukraine, which most of them now despise. These Republicans will blame Biden for losing in Ukraine. The Democrats will blame the Republicans. Both will argue about it through their proxies in corporate media then move on to the next topic, which is the election, and forget all about Ukraine.   


Kharkov, Ukraine’s second-largest city, has come under increasing attack from Russian Aerospace forces over the last six weeks. Situated within commuting distance from Belgorod, Russia the city will likely become one of the focal points for the impending Russian offensive. Twelve CIA bases operate within Ukraine with several of them likely clustered around Kharkov. Belgorod has come under attack from CIA-sponsored militias posing as Russian separatists. These attacks have come from Kharkov and Kharkov command centers. Russia cannot, and will not allow this state of affairs to exist continuing to pose a danger to core Russian territories. 

Aside from the practical decision to remove Ukraine’s ability to conduct terror attacks on Belgorod, taking Kharkov will be a blow that Ukraine cannot recover from. Russia will need approximately 150,000 soldiers to win the battle of Kharkov; an assault force of 50,000 and 100,000 to surround the city and blunt AFU counterattacks. Back in 2020, Russia began its SMO with about 150,000 men. Russia has expanded the size of its armed forces to such a degree that this number can now be focused in the Kharkov region alone. 

Losing Kharkov, permanently, will be a blow not only to national prestige but will emphatically demonstrate to even the most immersed NATO sycophants that the war is over. You can’t spin your way out of defeat in Kharkov on the Sunday news shows or with X tweets. Kharkov is the big prize for the summer and fall of 2024.

Election Angst

Foreign policy doesn’t often decide American Presidential elections. “It’s the economy, stupid” is simple, direct, and accurate. And yet, times are changing. People are increasingly motivated by social issues; abortion rights on one side, stopping the transgender movement on the other. 

President Biden has gotten the United States indirectly involved in two wars; another quagmire in the Middle East, and a debacle in Russia that has existential ramifications. Ukraine was at one time a luxury for Biden, an adventure in opportunism to remove Vladimir Putin and create a compliant, weak Russia that could be split up and absorbed into Western nihilism masquerading as democratic consumerism. Israel’s war, bordering on genocide, in Gaza, changed all of that. 

Biden no longer has the time for Ukrainian dilettantism. His left flank is in open rebellion over the way Israel is slaughtering Palestinians. Large segments of the electoral base will not support Biden because of his policy of financial and economic support for Israel. In contrast, Americans do not care about Ukraine. Americans don’t want to fight Russia. The Republican Party is in a cold civil war within itself over walking away from Ukraine altogether. Electoral politics no longer have any upside for Ukraine. 

Exit Strategy

Early in the war much of the media ruminated on how a face-saving exit strategy could be provided for Putin to get out of Ukraine. Those same stories now ask that question about the United States. Yes, there are still those desperate, bleating calls from Neocons, John Bolton’s and Mike Pence’s, the disgraced Liz Cheney or the beaten Nikki Haley, that we must support Ukraine and our Allies or dictators will, well do whatever. It’s all a talking point. The language of forever war. All this bravado has fallen on deaf ears, Americans no longer want to spend money propping up regimes 6,000 miles away. And they certainly don’t want to fight for them. 

That isn’t to say Americans will get away without a pound of flesh. Speaker Mike Johnson, having resisted the concentrated push from the executive branch, the defense lobby, Democrats, and the octogenarian Republican senators (any Republican senator under 50 opposes all further Ukraine aid) looks to finally be cracking. Can anyone blame him? One man cannot hold back the collective political power of all these loathsome warmongers. A Ukraine bill will finally pass Congress and American taxpayers will be required to send Zelensky off on one final ride toward Gotterdammerung. 60 billion is better than 1,000,000 dead. But it’s still 60 billion. Our 60 billion. And it won’t change the war. Not one bit. 

Ukraine is the Titanic. Too many compartments have been breached. It is going to sink. There is nothing that can be done short of enacting a draft within the United States and actively going into Russia to fight the war. No American president is going to do that. Ukraine is going down, that is a fact. And remember there aren’t enough lifeboats to go around. Not enough by half. The fall of Kiev will be Kabul and Saigon on steroids.

Unless the US gets out. Now. If we have to write a 60 billion dollar divorce check then maybe it isn’t wasted money after all. Passing this package needed mountains to be moved. Passing another after this seems unlikely, almost impossible. A sage President would use this opportunity to walk away. Ukraine is going to collapse anyway, better that it falls under Europe’s chaotic guidance than under the American umbrella. 

America does not owe Ukraine anything. Time to grab a lifeboat. Even if we have to reach into our overcoat and pay 60 billion for it.    

Todd Davis

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