Things are not going as planned for Mr. Putin. The Ukrainian army did not seem to get the message that they were doomed from the start. Much less, the people of Ukraine are rising up to take up arms against Mr. Putin’s “Peacekeepers.” With an army of only 200,000 and another 300,000 as reservists, Ukraine has a sizable military, but nothing compared to the military behemoth of Russia, which stands at over 900,000 in its combined armed forces. What is more important is the massive imbalance of equipment. Russia has over 2800 battle tanks and outnumbers the Ukraine armor 3 to 1.
The overwhelming numbers are in Russia’s favor as to other equipment as well from transports, missiles, and aircraft to the naval warships that have also been brought to bear against the Ukrainians.
So how is this not a complete walk for the former KGB Colonel?
What he was not counting on is the will to fight. The Ukrainians have it, the Russian forces may not. Many of the soldiers Putin has committed to this misadventure are conscripted, under supplied and under paid.
Putin was sure Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelensky would flee the country once the Russian war machine made its move across the border but nothing like that happened. In fact, just the opposite. President Zelensky donned his camouflage uniform, put on his flak vest and joined his troops. He has stayed in the capital of Kyiv. He has taken to social media and regularly shows the people of Ukraine he is still there, and the government is still in place beside Putin’s best efforts.
Putin, on the other hand has been rarely seen and has remained for the most part isolated with a selected group of loyal cronies.
On the streets of Ukraine, the people, everyday people from beauty queens to actors and more have taken up arms. The Ukrainian government made it plain that anyone that wanted a weapon would be supplied one and people have taken up that opportunity.
What lies in wait for Putin and his Russian army is block to block, street to street, and house to house fighting against a populous defending their home as opposed to the Russian soldiers that have been sent to this fight and away from theirs.
Since this invasion started, the Russian army has captured not a single population center. They have not been able to advance into the capital with any real force as the Ukraine army and people are holding on and making it externally expensive for the Russian offensive to advance.
Also, and this is significant, Russia proper is seeing ever increasing protests against the actions Putin has embarked on. Thousands of people have taken to the streets and braved the beatings and arrest from the Russian police. There is even talk in some circles of a revolution to remove Putin. Russia is feeling the strain as it is increasingly isolated from the rest of the world’s financial markets.
In addition, if Putin started this because he was fearful of a stronger NATO and leery of NATO accepting Ukraine, he may have just instigated his worst fears. NATO seems to have finally gotten their act together and are supporting the Ukraine effort to remain free every way they can, short of direct conflict.
At home in Moscow, there are rumblings that Putin is not the same leader he once was. The rest of the world is questioning his mental stability and being the egomaniac he is, that must be unsettling to him.
This is a dangerous thought. Putin is said to have no reverse. He has placed himself in a corner where he must complete the takeover of Ukraine. It is reported that Putin has sent 400 mercenaries into Ukraine with the only objective of killing Ukraine President Zelensky in a bid to install a puppet government.
Defeat of the Russian army by an understaffed and under equipped military would show extreme weakness and mismanagement on the part of the Russian strong man. This may be why Putin put his strategic nuclear forces on combat ready alert. The thought of a conventional war that is not going well to be finished with a nuclear option is unacceptable. Any such action would most assuredly push the conflict outside the boundaries of Ukraine and directly into the NATO territory.
That would trigger a NATO response, according to Article 5. Article 5 is based on collective defense. Collective defense means that an attack against one Ally is considered as an attack against all Allies. The principle of collective defense is enshrined in Article 5 of the Washington Treaty.
What Putin has done is overextended himself. The supplies needed to sustain such an operation, one that has multiple paths and areas of attack is hard to support. Each theater must have its own logistical chain. Putin expected the war, “special military operation” to be over and done in a matter of hours or days. He did not prepare or plan for a protracted conflict. He did not count on the stamina and resolve of the Ukraine military much less the population that will wage an insurgency war on any occupying Russian military. He did not count on the 200,000 Ukraine military personnel being augmented by thousands of civilians joining the Territorial Defense Force. Their uniform is a yellow armband and a rifle, or a handful of Molotov cocktails.
The Ukrainian people are bolstered by stories of lone Ukrainian air force pilots shooting down multiple Russian fighters, true or not, it doesn’t matter. The story of the Ukrainian heroes is what emboldens the fight.
One account widely published all over the world is the encounter at Snake Island. In the video clip that is being widely distributed, a Russian voice warns the border guards that they will be attacked if they do not give up.
The border guards’ message to the Russians in the face of destruction went viral. Many comparing it to the famous response “NUTS!” a response that then-U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Anthony McAuliffe sent to Nazi forces who sought an American surrender during the Battle of Bastogne in World War II.
“I am a Russian warship,” a voice from the invaders says. “I ask you to lay down your arms and surrender to avoid bloodshed and unnecessary deaths. Otherwise, you will be bombed.”
The Ukrainians responded boldly before they were attacked.
“Russian warship,” came the reply, “Go f@ck yourself.”
If that does not say Putin has a problem, nothing does.