Is Russia Winning or Losing in Ukraine?

Two tanks under a cloudy sky
two tanks under a cloudy sky

Below are some interesting facts about Russia and the Ukrainian war. I pulled them from recent mainstream media sources, so I cannot confirm whether they are accurate or propaganda, reflect wishful thinking, or are outright lies publicized by one side or the other. Still, when taken as a collective, it raises some interesting question.

Russian Missiles

Apparent Fact: After a couple of days of intense missile bombardments that struck some military targets, electrical utilities and many civilian targets, the level of the Russian bombardment has slowed. Some missiles fired at ground targets were deigned to be fired at airplanes or ships.

Putin said on Friday that there was no need for more massive strikes, despite saying these were in response to the bombing of the Kerch Strait bridge connecting Crimea and Russia.

Conclusion: As UK military analysts say, Russia may be running short on precision guided missiles, those capable of hitting within a few meters of their target, and they may be able to produce on a few every month. This makes it difficult to take out specific bridges, railways and other critical Ukrainian infrastructure. That may explain why Russia pulled back on additional strikes.

Using precision guide missiles and rockets such as the HIMARS, Ukrainians have does substantial damage to Russian supply lines, ammunition dumps, and other military targets, proving the effectiveness of this tactic and showing the importance of precision guided munitions in modern warfare. That Russia isn’t keeping it up may mean they are running low on such munitions, or maybe they are reserving them for use prior to their next offensive.

Apparent Fact: Ukraine claims to have shot down up to 50 percent of Russian missiles. The U.S. says Russia’s cruise missiles have a failure rate of 20 to 60 percent.

Questions: If that’s the case, then why is Ukraine desperately asking for more missile defense systems? Given the failure rate of their cruise missiles, should we expect their nuclear weapons to be any better? Does the Kremlin know that up to 60 percent of their missiles have failed in flight? Will knowing U.S. rockets and missiles are performing much better that affect Russia’s calculus for using nuclear weapons?

Drones in Modern Warfare

Apparent fact: Iranian drones appear to be succeeding in some cases where Russian cruise missiles fail, although they can also be shot down.

Conclusion: Drones play an increasingly important role in modern warfare. This includes kamikaze drones, drones that can launch rockets or drop bombs, drones used to gather intelligence and direct artillery fire, and even civilian drones.

Russia is behind the 8-ball with drones. China, Taiwan and other countries are noting this lesson.

Consider if having a drone make sense for you as a prepper.

Russian Tanks and Armor

Apparent Facts: The Ukrainians have captured and are now using several T-90 tanks, one of the most modern tanks in the Russian armory. They have also captured so many Russian arms and armor that Russia is now the largest single supplier of tanks and armored vehicles to the Ukrainian military, outpacing the U.S., UK, Poland and Germany. There is video footage of Russians reconditioning old T-62 tanks, which were built in the late 1960s, for use in the war.

Oryx reports the Russians have lost more than 7,000 tanks, armored personnel carriers, motorized artillery and other systems. While most are destroyed, the Ukrainians have captured hundreds, along with large quantities of ammunition.

Conclusion: Lots of Russian troops are abandoning their equipment and running away in the face of the Ukrainian counterattack. This means their retreats are haphazard and not orderly like you would expect if ordered by their commanders. Russian morale on the front lines remains low.

The Soviet-era ammunition it captured will allow Ukraine to use its old Soviet-era artillery, which had previously run out of ammo. While these are not as accurate as more modern weapons, Ukraine proved their value when Russian forces first invaded. Dumb artillery works just fine when tanks and armored personnel carriers line up on roads.

Are Peace Talks Possible?

Fact: While in Kazakhstan, Putin invited peace talks.

Conclusions: It may be possible that after having his nose bloodied, his pipeline damaged and a bridge destroyed, Putin is willing to talk. Or that might just be him trying to grab the high ground knowing tht Zelensky has said he will not negotiate with Putin.

Ukraine should hear him out. What’s the worst that can happen? If he insists on all four recently annexed regions remaining part of Russia, then the war continues. If he’s willing to go back to prior lines, then there’s a starting point.

Maybe Turkey and the UAE could step in and act as go-betweens.

What Happens Next?

The following is speculation on my part:

Ukraine will continue to make progress regaining ground as Russia retreats. Their progress will continue until winter makes the fighting more difficult. Both sides will then dig in and reinforce their lines. Ukraine will rest and resupply, rebuilding stretched supply lines, integrating all the captured Russian equipment, and putting in place any new weapon systems supplied by the West.

Russia will use the time to train the new forces it called up. They may send some to the front, but I expect they will send many to other military bases across Russia, while those troops head to the Belarus, Donbas and other frontline locations. As Russia shifts more supplies and people to the front, they will represent a target the Ukraine cannot ignore.

Russia will launch a new offensive earlier in the winter, possibly on New Year’s or another holiday. While Russia got a free pass across the border this February, that’s unlikely to happen again. The fighting will be heavier but Russia will make less progress and will again get bogged down in the spring.

If an attempt at peace fails, I think the only thing that could stop the war would be the resignation or death of Putin, Zelensky or Biden. Otherwise, we’re doomed to repeat last year with a few variations, and none of them for the better.