Who will win the Ukraine War and when?

Commentary

Peter Zeihan

Geopolitical Strategist
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For some military experts, the Russian’s hasty retreat from Kharkiv and Kherson signaled the beginning of the end for the Ukrainian war. But in recent weeks, as winter approaches, Russian missiles and drones have been pummeling Ukraine’s infrastructure, knocking out water systems and energy plants.

The European Union is delivering 40 huge generators, each capable of powering a hospital, but the International Rescue Committee warned, “Should there be large-scale outages for long periods of time, we simply do not have the resources to provide people in need with the assistance they will need.” Ukrainian President Zelenskyy wants to prepare citizens for what he predicts will be the “most difficult winter in the whole world.” But as Straight Arrow News contributor Peter Zeihan says, the outcome of the war won’t be decided over the winter. The big battles will happen in the spring, after everything has thawed.

Excerpted from Peter’s Nov. 28 “Zeihan on Geopolitics” newsletter:

Want to know when the war in Ukraine will end and who will emerge victorious? Unfortunately, I don’t have my magic 8-ball on me, but I can give you a timeline on when we should all be able to answer those questions – May.

Before we get there, let’s not forget about the path ahead. Both sides will come face-to-face with Mother Nature in all her glory – meaning mud, rain, snow, cold…all of it. The Ukrainians will have time to fix up those shiny new toys they captured. The Russians will push more and more troops to the front lines.

As all of those pressures compound over the next 5 plus months, both sides will be ready to duke it out come May.

Hello from snowy Colorado. One of the questions I’ve been getting a lot today is when we will know who’s going to win the Ukraine war and when it’s going to be over. 

I can’t answer that, but I can give you a time as to when we will know. And that’s going to be next to May. 

So there’s three things in play. Number one, the Ukrainians have captured a huge amount of Russian equipment first in the Kharkiv offensive, then in the Battle of Izium and then finally, most recently, in the battle of Kherson. 

Collectively, they have captured roughly double to triple the total amount of weaponry in terms of artillery and tanks and ammo that they had at the beginning of the war. So that is at least twice what NATO has transferred. So after a winter of doing a whole lot of deferred maintenance, we’re looking at the Ukraine military being roughly four to six times as powerful by next May, as it is now. Totally different sort of combatant.

Second, the Russians have mobilized and by May, they will have thrown at least 500,000 troops into the front lines. And yes, they will be badly trained. And yes, they will be badly equipped. And yes, they will be badly led. And yes, they’re just not going to do well. But there’s 500,000 of them. 

And you know what I call troops like this of this quality: Russian. There is not a single war in the entirety of Russian history where the first year of it looks any different from what we’re seeing right now. The first year is always an absolute shit show. And then the Russians mobilize and throw bodies at the problem until it just goes away. And half the time that works. So by the time we get to May, both sides will be ready for a real duke out. 

The other reason we have to wait for me is the weather. Now, Ukraine is primarily [unintell], particularly in the south and the east, which means that they don’t get a lot of moisture and what they do get happens in the fall, winter and spring. And when you’re talking about fall and the beginning of winter, that means a whole lot of mud that really slows down operations for all sides. 

It’s not that the war is going to stop. But in October and November, it’s muddy. And it’s just hard to move around with vehicles. When you get into December and January and February, the ground is frozen hard and you can do normal operations. And in that sort of timeframe, I expect the Ukrainians to do very, very well because they actually have more tanks in theater than the Russians do. And they’re certainly a lot more flexible with their supply lines. 

But then we have another mud season, when we get into March and April, as things start to thaw and you get the spring rains. That’s going to slow things down again, but by May, they’re both going to be ready to duke it out for real and it’ll be a very different sort of conflict. And if you’ve seen my previous videos, you know that Crimea is fully in play. So most of this fighting is probably going to happen in the Donbas, the Luhansk and Donetsk provinces. And that’s when we’ll know because it’s not going to take long for us to find out if the Russian’s numbers versus the Ukrainian’s quality is enough to move the needle one way or the other. So next May, that’s when we know. That’s it for me. Until next time.


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