On Wednesday, Russia once again tried to take the area north of the frontline town of Avdiivka. Russia’s actions, as they have on so many other days, resulted in a massive loss of men and equipment. The Ukrainian General Staff reported 95 attempted Russian advances over the past 24 hours—one of the highest numbers since the number of Russian assaults began to decline in March.
Of those 95 attacks, an astonishing 51 happened around the town of Avdiivka. Russian forces made another attempt to advance into Stepove on the north. They ran into Ukraine’s 110th Mechanized Brigade. What happened to them … I can’t show you. Or at least, I won’t show you here. But if you have a strong stomach, you can find out readily enough. The area north of Avdiivka has become the kind of killing field previously seen when the mercenary Wagner Group was hurling “meat waves” of prisoners at Bakhmut.
Only these meat waves are Russian soldiers—or what passes for Russian soldiers at this point. Because 90% of the force that Russia brought to Ukraine is already dead on the field.
As Reuters reports, on the same day that pro-Putin Republicans were doing their best to embarrass President Joe Biden and our nation with their shabby treatment of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, an intelligence source provided significant information from a recently declassified report.
According to the source, a U.S. intelligence report assesses that the Ukraine war has cost Russia 315,000 dead and injured troops. That’s almost 90% of the forces Russia had on hand when the conflict began. The report also assessed that in terms of personnel and armored vehicles lost, Russia’s military has been set back by 18 years. It has lost its most experienced troops. It has lost dozens of generals and thousands of officers. Russia will spend a generation recovering from the losses it has suffered already in Ukraine, and it’s losing more every day.
In recent weeks, MAGA Republicans and very serious pundits all seem to be in agreement that Ukraine has already lost the war and it’s just a matter of time until Vladimir Putin gets that long-delayed tour of Kyiv. Here’s an illustrative example featuring Elon Musk in three acts:
March 27, 2022: “I think the American government has done more than people may realize, but it is just not been very public. But it is important to do something serious. We cannot let Putin take over Ukraine. This is crazy.”
Oct. 4, 2022: “Redo elections of annexed regions under UN supervision. Russia leaves if it is the will of the people. Crimea formally part of Russia as it has been since 1783 (until Khrushchev’s mistake).”
Dec. 13, 2023:
Musk’s path seems to mirror that of a lot of supposedly knowledgeable observers, with the final step being nothing short of doing exactly what the Kremlin wants. This path is less reflective of MAGA Republicans and right-wing pundits because many of them were on board with Putin from the outset.
Republicans are happy for Putin, because they think a loss by Ukraine is a humiliation for Joe Biden, which they see as more important than national security. And Russia is absolutely ecstatic about Republicans blocking assistance to Ukraine.
Not only are pundits seemingly ready to cede the win to Russia, they are also crediting Putin with having the strategic insight to outlast the West by stretching the war out for years. Here’s some news for those people.
First, a prolonged war that is forcing Russia to steeply increase its military budget and draft hundreds of thousands more soldiers into the military is not some great plan by Putin: It’s a costly necessity forced on Russia because Ukraine refused to fold. Putin’s plan was to be in Kyiv in three days— but Ukraine won that fight. Then they won again in Kharkiv and again in Kherson. The ruined edifices of Bakhmut mark the only significant Russian victory in over a year … if you can call it a victory. Putin is not gearing up for a long war because that’s what he wanted. He’s doing it because his only other option is to slink home in abject defeat.
And it’s still not going to work. Russia’s capacity to rebuild its military is not even close to its rate of loss. The longer it stays in Ukraine, the weaker Russia becomes. Russians who are paying attention realize that there is no victory on the current path.
Next, when it comes to the biggest factor keeping either side from making serious progress in the past year, Ukraine may finally be nearing the technological development that will make breakthroughs on the ground possible again. According to Forbes:
It’s not for no reason the Russian assault on Avdiivka, a key Ukrainian stronghold in eastern Ukraine’s Donbas region, seems to be stalling out.
There are indications the Ukrainians have deployed their new drone and counter-drone strategy: targeting the radio-jammers the Russians use to ground Ukrainian drones while setting up their own jammers to ground Russian drones.
What’s generating that kill zone north of Avdiivka? A new kind of air superiority in a war where drones are increasingly the kings of the battlefield. If Ukraine can sustain this advantage in electronics and extend it to other parts of the front, the near-stalemate that has dominated since the fall of Bakhmut could be over.
And when it comes to the Republicans … stop listening to them for a moment, and listen to President Biden.
When President Putin launched his brutal total invasion of Ukraine in February of 2022 and Russian tanks rolled over the border toward Kyiv, there were those who thought Ukraine wouldn’t survive for a month. So, no one — no one should forget that for you to be here today — again today, nearly two years later, and for Ukraine to be standing strong and free is an enormous victory already.
Putin has failed — failed in his effort to subjugate Ukraine. The brave people of Ukraine have defied Putin’s will at every turn, backed by the strong and unwavering support of the United States and our allies and partners of more than 50 nations — 50 nations — in Europe and the Indo-Pacific.
Watching the treatment Zelenskyy received from Republicans this week was genuinely sad, and sadder still for the nation. But Ukraine isn’t about to lose this war. Russia is not about to win. And Putin’s supporters, at home and in the United States, are going to see a day when they regret the side they’ve chosen.