Putin Braces for Long War as He Plans New Offensive in Ukraine
Comment of the Day

January 27 2023

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Putin Braces for Long War as He Plans New Offensive in Ukraine

This article from Bloomberg which may be of interest. Here is a section: 

Putin’s confidence in his military’s ability to grind out a triumph - even at a cost of vast casualties and destruction - reflects a misreading of the West’s commitment to turn back his aggression, some insiders concede. The US and its allies have steadily stepped up weapons supplies to categories once considered off-limits.

Still, US and European military officials fear the conflict could soon settle into a World War I-style artillery fight with largely stagnant front lines, a scenario that could come to favor Russia, with its larger population and military industry.

Diplomatically, Russia has sought to win supporters among non-western countries with appeals for talks on a cease-fire. Even people close to the Kremlin admit those are hopeless at present, given Ukraine’s demand that Russia pull out its troops as a condition for any deal.

The minimum the Kremlin would accept would be a temporary truce that left Russia in control of the territory its forces currently hold in order to win time to rebuild its forces, the people said. Though short of the boundaries of the regions that Putin illegally annexed in September, that would still leave Russia with a large swath of land, linking the areas it occupied before the war. As a result, the idea is a nonstarter with Kyiv and its allies.

“Unless something changes, we’re looking at a war of attrition like World War I, which could go for a long time because both sides believe time is on their side,” said Andrey Kortunov, head of the Kremlin-founded Russia International Affairs Council. “Putin is sure either the West or Ukraine will grow tired.”

Eoin Treacy's view

The route to a Russian victory lies in a war of attrition. They have more artillery, shells and tanks than NATO so they estimate a long drawn out conflict will eventually favour larger numbers. Absorbing high casualties is part of that strategy. It worked for Iran against Iraq in the 1980s and Russia appears to be following a similar strategy.

The route to a Ukrainian victory, with NATO support, resides in the effectiveness of modern weaponry in destroying cold war era arsenals. The javelin anti-tank shoulder-mounted missiles, HIMARs anti artillery batteries and incoming main battle tanks are all aimed at using up Russia’s available inventory of armaments as quick as possible. Meanwhile the US military is looking to raise production of artillery shells six fold within two years. The speed with which NATO can replenish stockpiles will be the primary arbiter of how long the war can be sustained for and that is assuming public support does not wane.

Russians clearly believe they are in this for the long haul. That suggests prolonged demand for armaments. The iShares US Aerospace and Defense ETF is currently testing the upper side of a four-year range and a sustained move below the trend mean would be required to question potential for additional upside.

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