Russia’s military looks like Keystone Cops. So why worry about nuclear weapons?

Commentary

Peter Zeihan

Geopolitical Strategist
Video Library |

If Russia’s military looks like the Keystone Cops in its invasion of Ukraine, why are Western nations working so hard to arm a nation under siege? Let me explain what in the world is going on here and why it’s all about keeping nuclear weapons out of the equation.

Early in the conflict, Russian President Vladimir Putin warned foreign powers he would use nuclear weapons against anyone who would meddle in Moscow’s attempt to bring Kyiv back into its sphere of influence.

My contacts in the Defense Department are not overly concerned that the Russians are going to escalate their attack to that point, but there is worry about Russian weakness.

The Russians have underperformed throughout this entire war, and it’s like they’ve unlearned all of the lessons that they learned from World War II and especially the Chechen conflict.

On March 16, the Ukrainians launched a very successful attack on the Kherson Airport and blew up all kinds of Russian aircraft on the ground. The Russians should have achieved air superiority in the first 48 hours of this conflict. There should be no Ukrainian jets in the air whatsoever. There shouldn’t be any drones flying. They have air defense coverage over almost the entirety of Ukraine in all of the conflict zones. And yet the Ukrainians are able to hit them with conventional forces over and over and over and over and over. This should not be happening.

And then there was that giant 40-mile long Russian convoy that was coming north from Belarus down to Kyiv but stalled because the vehicles ran out of fuel in one day, and then Russian soldiers ran out of food in three days. They had to leave on foot to go back to Belarus to find fuel trucks.

I mean, this is like Keystone Cops-level of logistics.

This level of just complete ineptitude across the entire military space for the Russians signals that they’re not nearly the threat that we always thought that they were.

If the Russians are showing themselves to be this weak, we now know that in any direct confrontation between American forces and Russian forces, the Russian forces are just gonna be obliterated. And that will leave the Russians with a very difficult choice to make.

Humiliating, horrible, strategic surrender, and withdrawal or escalate to the nuclear question?

And so the de facto position of the American military, the American government, and NATO in general is now that we have to shove as many weapons as we possibly can into Ukraine so that the Russians never can advance past Ukraine. We have to turn Ukraine into a killing zone so that American and Russian forces never actually face off. And so that the nuclear question is off the table.

Hey everybody, Peter Zeihan here coming to you from Colorado. We’re gonna talk about nukes today.

So, early in the Ukraine conflict, the Russians threatened NATO countries and neutrals on their Western border with nuclear attack should they intervene in the military action, as they call it, in their interventions in Ukraine, the Ukraine War, as everyone else is calling it.

Everyone I know that works in the Defense Department, they’re not dismissing the Russian threat, but they point out that this has been done over and over and over again. And on this specific instance, they’ve detected no change in how the Russians are managing their, their nuclear forces. There’s no change in alert status. They see no reason to think that the Russians are going to escalate to that level at this point. So they’re taking it seriously, but they’re not overly concerned.

The concern actually has to do with Russian extreme weakness.

The Russians have underperformed throughout this entire war, and it’s like they’ve unlearned all of the lessons that they learned from World War II and especially the Chechen conflict.

So the Ukrainians aren’t simply just carrying out gorilla actions against Russian forces. They’re carrying out conventional actions using vehicles and using air power.

On March 16th, the Ukrainians launched a very successful attack on the Kherson Airport and blew up all kinds of Russian aircraft on the ground. The Russians should have achieved air superiority in the first 48 hours of this conflict. There should be no Ukrainian ships, excuse me, should be no Ukrainian jets in the air whatsoever. There shouldn’t be any drones flying. They have air defense coverage over almost the entirety of Ukraine in all of the conflict zones. And yet the Ukrainians are able to hit them with conventional forces over and over and over and over and over. This should not be happening.

And I think that the, what really spooked the White House is that giant convoy that was coming north from Belarus down to Kia, this 40-mile long column of vehicles. It ran out of fuel in one day, and it ran out of food in three days. And the Russians had to leave on foot to go back to Belarus to find fuel trucks.

I mean, this is like Keystone cops-level of logistics.

This is making the Iraqis in the Desert Storm conflict back in the early nineties look competent.

This level of just complete ineptitude across the entire military space for the Russians signals that they’re not nearly the threat that we always thought that they were. And that’s a problem because it’s my position that the Ukrainians are not the primary target here. The Russians are expanding west to try to get to the gateway territories that allow access to the Russian space. They need to block the Bessarabian Gap, which means a conflict with Romania. They need to block the Polish gap, which means going all the way to Warsaw, and they need to get this surface, excuse me, the, the beaches of the Baltic Sea. So that means going into all three of the Baltic Republics. Romania, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia, those are all NATO countries.

If the Russians are showing themselves to be this weak, we now know that in any direct confrontation between American forces and Russian forces, the Russian forces are just gonna be obliterated. And that will leave the Russians with a very difficult choice to make.

Humiliating, horrible, strategic surrender, and withdrawal or escalate to the nuclear question?

And so the defacto position of the American military, the American government and NATO in general is now that we have to shove as many weapons as we possibly can into Ukraine so that the Russians never can advanced past Ukraine. We have to turn Ukraine into a killing zone so that American and Russian forces never actually face off. And so that the nuclear question is off the table.

And so to that end, we have seen a redoubling of efforts by the entire Western family of nations to arm the Ukrainians with whatever can be transferred. The U.S. Is leaning on countries in central Europe, countries that used to be Soviet satellites, to up and relocate as many of their Soviet area systems into Ukraine as possible. And discussions are ongoing about backstopping all of those with American equipment.

For the United States specifically, I think that single biggest thing that’s going to matter in the next month are Stinger missiles. When the war began, the Ukrainians had very, very few of them, only ones that had been forwarded on from the Baltic Republics.

Remember, the Baltics combined only have a population of, 7 million. So you’re talking just about a few dozen missiles, but now the Americans are shoving Stingers in the hundreds into Ukraine, and they’re only now starting to arrive, and that should generate a massive fatality rate among the Russian jets that are trying to operate in this space.

So this is going to get a lot worse, a lot quicker than any of us had ever thought, because now we’re trying to provide a fire break in Ukraine so that the Russians can never advance to the point that nukes come into contention.

So it’s not just the Russians who are engaging in civilian obliteration projects across the length of the country in order to destroy future gorilla possibilities. It’s now the West specifically trying to make sure that the Ukrainians can bleed the Russians everywhere in every possible combination of tactics to make sure that they can never move beyond that country.

This war is getting really nasty.

All right, that’s it for me until next time.

 

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