Take that good news on Ukraine with a grain of salt

Pittsburgh

Unauthorized violence

Jeff Himler, “Gunfire on Pittsburgh’s South Side sends 3 to hospital,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, June 25, 2022, https://triblive.com/local/gunfire-on-pittsburghs-south-side-sends-3-to-hospital/

Jeff Himler, “Pittsburgh man arrested after 3 wounded, officer shot during gunfire in Knoxville,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, June 25, 2022, https://triblive.com/local/2-wounded-officer-shot-in-knoxville-mount-oliver/


Ukraine

I am remembering Julia Ioffe deploying a “wood chipper” analogy, in which Russian forces would slowly grind away at Ukrainian defenses. I don’t think Ioffe is at her best in military assessments, but in this particular case, what she reported was consistent with pretty much everything I’ve heard since the beginning of the war, that Russian forces heavily out-man and outgun Ukrainian forces, that ultimately the Russians will likely prevail.[1]

Now I’m seeing another story, which I’m taking, and I think you should take, with a grain of salt. The argument here is that Ukrainian forces are being resupplied with technologically superior weaponry, that Russian forces are exhausting their artillery shells and digging into obsolete reserves, that in a matter of months, the tide of the war should turn.[2]

I’m skeptical because:

  1. This is so profoundly counter to everything else I’ve heard.
  2. I am remembering Western military assessments in both Afghanistan and Vietnam, which consistently predicted victory, even as defeat was inevitable. This latest story is based largely on—you guessed it—Western assessments.[3]
  3. With talk of “Ukraine fatigue” being all the rage lately, Ukraine’s advocates could surely use a boost right now, or, um, positive propaganda.

It’s possible my skepticism is unwarranted. Certainly everything we’ve seen of this war has been of Ukrainian forces magnificently outperforming expectations against all odds and of Russian forces dismally underperforming expectations and this assessment is consistent with that. It might be the case that this assessment is correct. I hope so.

But I’m sure as hell not betting on it.

Liz Sly, “Russia will soon exhaust its combat capabilities, Western assessments predict,” Washington Post, June 25, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/06/25/ukraine-russia-balance-of-forces/


  1. [1]Julia Ioffe, “Putin’s Wood Chipper,” Puck News, May 17, 2022, https://puck.news/putins-wood-chipper/
  2. [2]Liz Sly, “Russia will soon exhaust its combat capabilities, Western assessments predict,” Washington Post, June 25, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/06/25/ukraine-russia-balance-of-forces/
  3. [3]Liz Sly, “Russia will soon exhaust its combat capabilities, Western assessments predict,” Washington Post, June 25, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/06/25/ukraine-russia-balance-of-forces/

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