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Conversation with the New York Times: This is not just Putin's war


On December 16, the American media "New York Times" published a long article "Putin's War" (Putin's War), pointing out that the Russia-Ukraine War has lasted for more than 10 months, and Russia is facing the biggest strategic disaster after the disintegration of the Soviet Union.

On December 16, the American media "New York Times" published a long article "Putin's War" (Putin's War), pointing out that the Russia-Ukraine war has lasted for more than 10 months, and Russia is facing the biggest strategic disaster after the disintegration of the Soviet Union. Even Putin (Vladimir Putin) both admit that the war did not go as planned.

In order to find out why the Russian military's combat power is not as good as expected, the authors extracted relevant information from hundreds of Russian government emails, invasion plans, military account books, and propaganda instruction documents, and interviewed grassroots soldiers and senior officials of both Russia and Ukraine. , and even had a dialogue with Putin's cronies, and finally compiled this long report.

This article has been widely disseminated on the Chinese Internet recently.

A careful study of the content of the article can be divided into six parts as a whole. The first three parts first describe the various embarrassments of the Russian army in Ukraine, including the fact that the grassroots soldiers were ignorant of the overall situation at the beginning of the operation, the aid firepower was delayed, and the supplies could not last for a long time. wars, soldiers’ random use of mobile phones leading to location exposure, etc.; then focus on criticizing Putin’s self-willedness, pointing out that the “contemporary tsar” is too indulged in cronies’ flattery, and easily started wars without consulting experts in detail. He also believes that the Russian army will be able to Quick victory, Ukraine's will to resist collapsed; followed by the disclosure of serious corruption within the Russian army, saying that the contemporary "Potemkin village" (Potemkin village, meaning fake engineering and construction) can be seen everywhere, so that the army is golden and jade, and it is ruined.

The last three parts focus on the suffering of combatants and the Russian people in the war. First, it exposes the shortage of equipment, insufficient training, and heavy casualties of the Russian army on the front line; The losses were so great that its head, Yevgeny Prigozhin, had to "tour" from prison to prison, giving recruiting speeches to prisoners and ordering brutal extrajudicial executions of deserters; then revealed details of desperate recordings of frontline soldiers , the dissatisfaction and complaints of the sanctioned tycoon, the content of the dialogue between the mother of the soldier who died in battle and Putin, etc.

In short, this report observes the Russian military's troubled progress in Ukraine and attempts to explain it with the first-hand information collected, while exposing the "noise" of war exhaustion in Russia.

However, while the whole story makes sense, a huge narrative gap is ambushed.

Russian President Vladimir Putin inspects the Crimean Bridge on December 5.


Focused Russian army lost

First of all, showing and explaining the defeat of the Russian army is the core focus of the article.

According to the authors, Putin's wrong decision-making and the long-term corruption of the Russian military led to many mistakes in the early stage of the operation and caused Russia to suffer heavy casualties in the long-term war.

In all fairness, the above inference does have some truth.

After all, judging from the military deployment and negotiation conditions at the beginning of Russia's operation, Moscow has indeed preset a "quick victory" script.

At the military level, after the official start of the "special military operation" on February 24, the Russian side first used missiles to strike a large area of ​​military installations in Ukraine, and then sent ground troops to launch offensives from Russia, Donbass and other directions, forming a In the situation of synchronous operations in the northeast, east, and south of Ukraine, at the same time, Belarus went south by way, and went straight into Kiev, the capital of Ukraine, to form a siege.

However, the Russian army’s first wave of offensive only mobilized less than 50,000 troops, but opened up a thousand-kilometer front in Ukraine. Obviously, the purpose of strategic deterrence was more than actual occupation, in order to force Ukraine to sit on the negotiating table and agree to Russia’s opening terms of negotiation.

At the negotiation level, Russia first proposed four ceasefire points on March 7: demilitarization of Ukraine, recognition of Crimea as belonging to Russia, recognition of the independence of Donetsk and Luhansk, amendments to the constitution to remove the text of joining NATO and Give up joining any alliance; when the foreign ministers of Russia and Ukraine met in Turkey on March 10, Russia proposed six more truce conditions: first, Ukraine gave up its request to join NATO and maintain a neutral position, and Russia will guarantee Ukraine's security; , make Russian the second official language of Ukraine, remove all restrictions on Russian; third, recognize Russia's sovereignty over the Crimea Peninsula; fourth, recognize the "Donetsk Republic" and "Luhansk Republic" Independence; fifth, de-Nazification of Ukraine, banning extreme nationalist, Nazi and neo-Nazi parties, abolishing existing laws that glorify Nazis and neo-Nazis; sixth, demilitarization of Ukraine, Ukraine completely abandons offensive weapons and becomes demilitarized nation.

On December 5, in the town of Bucha, Ukraine, the damaged Russian tank was covered with snow.

(Getty Images)

The above conditions obviously assume that Ukraine will agree to become a second Finland for the sake of peace.

But judging from the results, Putin really overestimated Ukraine's "brotherhood with Russia". In reality, Kyiv not only did not give up military resistance, but also proposed negotiation conditions: unless the Russian army withdraws from Crimea and all Russian-occupied territories , otherwise Ukraine would not agree to the negotiations.

As a result, the Russian army could only transfer to Donbass to start the second phase of operations, and the stalemate in the negotiations has continued to this day.

However, the article discusses the context of the Russian army's "defeat", which seems to deliberately avoid two major realities.

First, the article repeatedly criticizes Putin's mistakes in decision-making and the serious corruption of the Russian army, which led to the defeat of the war, but avoids talking about another important fact: although NATO has not sent troops, it has actually participated in the war.

At the beginning of the Russian military operation, Europe and the United States did not think that Volodymyr Zelensky could persist, so they only provided a small amount of military aid and arranged various evacuation operations; however, as the Ukrainian army showed its will to resist, NATO discovered bloodletting Taking advantage of Russia's opportunity, it began to increase the amount and level of assistance, from the Stinger, Hippocampus all the way to the Patriot, and its intelligence and investigation system has actually entered the field to support, making it difficult to hide the large-scale mobilization of Russian troops.

Although this war is called the Russia-Ukraine War, it is actually an overall war between Russia and Ukraine, NATO and its vassal groups.

Second, under the background of the overall atmosphere of the article, the Russian army seems to have only several postures, such as retreat, heavy casualties, location exposure, insufficient training, and logistics shortage; The army has retreated from Kharkov, Kherson and other places, and the area occupied by Russia is still much higher than before the outbreak of the war in February 2022, not to mention that these areas are mostly the most elite industrial belts and coal and steel producing areas in Ukraine, including The Zaporozhye Nuclear Power Plant, which originally supplies 20% of Ukraine's electricity.

The performance of the Russian army was indeed not as expected, but while the article ridiculed Moscow, it left readers with a bigger question mark: How can such a discomfited army still occupy a large area of ​​​​Ukraine?

The Ukrainian army has not been able to drive out the Russian army so far. According to the standard of the article, wouldn’t it be more embarrassing than the Russian army?

If so, what is the point of discussing the embarrassment of the Russian army?

On April 18, in Kharkov, Ukraine, Yana Bachek cried for his father Victor Gubarev (79 years old) who died in the bombing, while his partner Yevgeniy Vlasenko and his mother Lyubov Gubareva comforted him.


The neglected global picture of war

The above questions can be answered by the core tone of this report: this war is "Putin's war" and "the biggest strategic disaster Russia has faced since the disintegration of the Soviet Union."

In other words, because the report intends to emphasize Putin's shortcomings and Russia's embarrassment, it has to avoid NATO's assistance and ignore the larger overall situation of the war.

Indeed, the protracted war will inevitably damage Russia's political security.

If the final ceasefire agreement only consolidates the four regions that have entered Russia, although Putin can declare internally that "we have protected our compatriots", it is obviously far from the goal of demilitarization and de-Nazification at the beginning of the war; Forced to bear the pain of the death of his father and brother and the bitter fruit of economic sanctions, Putin's accumulated support in the first two decades of his administration may collapse due to this war, leading to the early arrival of the "post-Putin era".

But let’s face it, this ultimate war is not just “Putin’s war” and not just a “Russian catastrophe.”

Judging from the actual battle damage and the difficulty of riding a tiger, this war is even more of a war between Ukraine and NATO, and it is a huge catastrophe for Ukraine.

As mentioned earlier, Ukraine is not only a belligerent, but also a battlefield. Now it has lost its eastern industrial belt, coal and steel belt, and nuclear power plants that can provide 20% of the country’s electricity. Many infrastructures in the country have been bombed by the Russian army. , the post-war economic scale will not be able to recover as before; and in order to wage a war of attrition with the Russian army, Ukraine can only be forced to mobilize the whole country and gather vitality. However, once the vitality is exhausted, it will not be able to regenerate quickly.

On December 21, in Washington, USA, Zelensky delivered a speech to the US Congress.

He reiterated that Ukraine would not surrender and thanked the U.S. for aid, saying "your money is not charity, it is an investment in global security and democracy." (Getty Images)

When the Russo-Ukrainian war broke out, Ukraine had 43 million citizens, 5 million of whom were conscriptable men.

But a total of 14.3 million Ukrainians have fled their homes amid the fighting, with another 9 million in Crimea or other Russian-occupied territories, according to the United Nations.

As a result, the population of Ukraine today has shrunk to about 20-27 million, a ratio that would leave the country with fewer than 3 million male recruits.

Today, about 1 million people in Ukraine have been conscripted into the army. Although there are still a million people who can be mobilized, this is tantamount to eating enough food and hollowing out Ukraine’s economic production base. Even if Ukraine can regain lost ground, future reconstruction will inevitably face extremely difficult situation.

In addition, NATO countries have also been backlashed by war.

Soaring energy prices and inflation have caused people's living costs to rise sharply.

Although the United States did not directly send troops, it gradually repeated the dilemma similar to Vietnam and Afghanistan. That is, the war continued for a long time, and there were internal voices to promote talks. For example, Mark A. Milley, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, once said in an internal meeting He advocated that Ukraine's military achievements have met the reasonable expectations of the United States, and suggested that Ukraine "take it as soon as it is good" and negotiate with Russia to consolidate gains.

However, this proposition was constrained by various factors such as political correctness, early investment, and internal struggles, and ultimately failed to become a majority. As a result, Washington could only continue to upgrade aid as the flames of war spread.

To a certain extent, the emergence of voices promoting talks is precisely because they were not convinced by reports such as "Putin's War" and were satisfied with the defeat of the Russian army between the lines. He is well aware of the long-term combat power of Russia, that is, given the size gap between Russia and Ukraine, "hit to the last Ukrainian" may be able to bleed Russia in large numbers, but it is extremely difficult to drag Russia down, or even retake Crimea and other countries. Russian land.

In this context, as long as the investment of the United States exceeds a certain critical point, the marginal returns will begin to diminish. Therefore, the negotiators advocate "accept as soon as it is good", in order to maximize the national interests of the United States, but the White House is still noncommittal. .

However, the war will end one day. According to the logic of the text of "Putin's War", the ending may be the shattering of Putin's myth and the catastrophe of Russia.

But from a realistic point of view, Russia’s foundation is still there, and under the trend of the times of multi-polar order and east-west decline, Russia can still find international space and cooperation opportunities for the country’s economic recovery. Without Putin, Russia can still Moving forward; however, Ukraine has lost a large number of vital forces and a large area of ​​the lost eastern essence belt, but it has seriously emptied its resilience. Even if there is a ceasefire in the future, I may have to rely on international assistance to gradually repair the ruined walls under the flames of war; Europe and the United States are currently The rising voice of the talks also proves that this war is not only a disaster for Russia.

As mentioned in the article, the Russian army did not perform as expected and made many low-level mistakes. However, the content of the report avoided the great suffering that is unfolding in Ukraine and will be intensified.

The "New York Times" did take pains to collect a lot of first-hand information, so that readers who could not go to the front line can also get a glimpse of the real situation on the battlefield, but the situation and atmosphere it created obviously has a certain distance from the real overall situation of the war.

At the end of the day, this isn't just Putin's war after all.

In the article "Putin's War", what do the authors think caused the defeat of the Russian army?

Putin's arrogant decision-making and the long-term corruption of the Russian military.

What phenomenon can't be explained by "Putin's War"?

How can the Russian army, which is so embarrassing in its writing, still occupy a large area of ​​​​Ukrainian territory.

Under the flames of war, it announced the expansion of its military to 1.5 million: Why does Russia fight a war of attrition with Ukraine and expand its military to 1.5 million? Russia still cannot win the Ukrainian war?

Stepping into the reality of the Russia-Ukraine war in 2023: stalemate?

Peace talks?

Who will win the energy war?

What is the most likely outcome of the Russia-Ukraine war after Zelensky's visit to the United States?

Source: hk1

All news articles on 2023-01-05

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