What Happens If Ukraine Loses? That's The Real "Cost Question" For The West
While the Ukrainian counteroffensive is mainly happening on the Southern and Eastern fronts, the struggle for Ukraine's future is also being waged on the "Western front," where more aid is desperately needed. Here, Kyiv needs to convince even the most resistant allies that a Ukrainian defeat would leave the European Union and the U.S. much weaker on the global stage.
KYIV — From the outset, the objective of the Ukrainian counteroffensive bordered on the impossible. Ukraine faces a formidable 1,500-kilometer-long front, vast areas filled with dense minefields spanning hundreds of square kilometers and a complex, three-tiered defense system. Russia still has vast air power superiority, boasting a ten-fold advantage in the skies.
The reality we face leaves us no alternative; we have no choice but to press forward. As we continue our offensive, we are defying all expectations. Every day, we make steady progress, clawing back our land, recapturing positions and dismantling enemy strongholds. Gradually, we are eliminating the first of the three enemy defense lines from the map, inching closer to the second line, which is likely to be more densely fortified.
What is remarkable is not the fact that the counteroffensive is progressing slowly, but rather that it has already achieved a degree of success, considering the seemingly insurmountable circumstances. So we are witnessing a paradox where the situation on the Southern and Eastern fronts is better than on the bloodless, but no less important, Western front.
The latter is governed by public opinion, which, in turn, directly affects the supply of vital resources to our side. Additionally, it determines how soon we will be forced into a disadvantageous "conflict freeze."
This is possibly our main concern, so it is worthwhile to understand the essence of the problem and try to find possible solutions.
Strange "red lines"
First and foremost, let us set aside our emotions and discard the idea that we will be "abandoned by our allies." We have no one else to rely on as allies, and we cannot alter their perspectives or make them fully understand our experiences, empathize with our struggles, or think exactly as we do.
Let's also compare the amount of assistance given to us with the amount of assistance we provided to the people of Syria or the people of Chechnya during the Russian bombing campaign. This way, it becomes clear how one can look at our tragedy with such indifference: we considered the tragedies of others with the same attitude.
Their shameful prohibition on taking the war to the enemy's territory further compounds our challenges.
Let's also not forget that it was not our allies who prevented us from preparing for this war. For some reason, even as war was underway on our territory (since 2014), we were not preparing for a full-scale invasion. As a result, we find ourselves in a situation where we must now request ammunition from our allies, even though we could have possessed an ample stockpile of weapons, equipment and ammunition, along with a well-prepared army reserve, within eight years.
So, let's not blame Joe Biden, Donald Trump or U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan. We got to where we are today, completely dependent on foreign aid and needing to liberate a fifth of our country from the occupiers, because of our mistakes. Only then did the strange "red lines" set by the West add to our problems.
As we strive to achieve the seemingly impossible, these "red lines" represent the greatest hindrance to our victory. The stance taken by the leaders of the United States is crucial, as it determines whether we get supplied with aircraft, long-range missiles, and other necessary resources. Additionally, their shameful prohibition on taking the war to the enemy's territory further compounds our challenges.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy Visits Odesa Maritime Academy, July 2, 2023, Odessa Oblast, Ukraine.
Afraid of victory
The Wagner insurrection in Russia has finally made it obvious to Western politicians what we have known for a long time: the Russian state is not only not omnipotent, but is a house of cards that may soon collapse. This realization has made the decision-makers in the White House take off their masks and show their true motivations.
The New York Timescolumnist Thomas Friedman, a three-time Pulitzer Prize winner, regarded as an influential thinker in the Democratic Party camp, wrote: "If (Putin) wins, the Russian people lose. But if he loses and his successor is disorder, the whole world loses."
Reading it, we can imagine that we are reading the thoughts of Sullivan or Biden. Friedman’s narrative presents Putin's victory and the preservation of his regime as the lesser of two evils, with the alternative portrayed as chaos where a bunch of rogue regimes possess portions of Russia's nuclear arsenal.
This fear sets the boundaries for the level of support the White House is willing to provide us. It's time to acknowledge an extremely unpleasant fact: our primary ally is afraid of our victory and wants to avoid it.
I am afraid that since we are dealing with a deeply ingrained fear, it can only be overcome by an even stronger fear. We might need to introduce “horror scenarios” into our argument, against which a potentially divided Russia would not look like the worst alternative.
This will not only be a tragedy for Ukraine but also a real problem for them.
It is worth explaining to our friend (chief EU diplomat Josep) Borel — and here “friend” is used sincerely as he really does his best — that he is not entirely right when he says that without Western weapons supplies, Ukraine "will lose the war in a few days and turn into a new Belarus." Yes, we will lose, but not in a few days, but in many months. Hundreds of thousands will die during these months, and another 15-20 million will join refugee camps in Europe. And then we will not become a "second Belarus" but a "second Afghanistan," where a bloody guerrilla war would persist for years, right at the doorstep of the EU.
It is worth telling our adversary, (Hungarian prime minister Viktor) Orban, that if his efforts to help Russia achieve victory suddenly prove successful, and Ukraine loses the war, as he predicts, the final command to our million-strong, battle-hardened army will be to retreat to neutral European countries, not passing through countries that helped Ukraine, but exclusively through Hungary.
It is worth explaining to all these Harvard-Pulitzer "experts" that Ukraine, forced into a "non-victory" situation and a ceasefire, where a part of its territory would remain under occupation, will certainly not be able to join NATO and the EU, and no one will invest in it. We must make them understand that this will not only be a tragedy for Ukraine but also a real problem for them.
Despite its poverty, an undefeated but abandoned Ukraine will invest all available resources into the war, including efforts to develop nuclear weapons, with a high chance of success. If the CIA manages to prevent this, then the so-called "dirty bomb" will be built in almost every basement in Ukraine, and no one will be able to do anything about it.
Without reparations and investment, we will also have to combat poverty by any means necessary, including becoming a hub for illegal weapons and other “undesirable” goods trade.
A million veterans, possessing unique combat experience and feeling betrayed, without jobs and prospects, will travel the world to compete with the Wagner mercenary group or form criminal groups that will make the Balkan and Italian mafias nervously smoke in the hallway.
Meanwhile, the children of fallen soldiers will grow up as refugees in European orphanages, harboring not only resentment towards the occupiers but also those who betrayed us during crucial times. Since reaching Moscow will prove arduous, their anger will be directed towards revenge against those within their reach—the Western politicians who once contributed to our defeat.
If even a hundredth of a percent of the anticipated 20 million Ukrainian refugees transforms into vigilante terrorists, they will possess a well-integrated underground force of two thousand individuals. Such a force would surpass al-Qaeda in its capabilities.
Evacuations from Pokorvsk in Ukraine as fighting intensifies in the Eastern part of Ukraine, July 15, 2022, Pokorvsk, Donetsüka Oblastü, Ukraine.
All of the Friedmans, Sullivans, Bidens and others should imagine these nightmarish scenarios. They must comprehend that the only path to avoid such horrors is for Ukraine to achieve victory, by defeating Russian forces with Western assistance, reclaiming all territories, joining NATO and the EU and adhering to the rules of the "club," exercising control, and coordinating actions with allies and investors.
We have already exhausted the potential of compassion.
Naturally, our government cannot openly convey all of these messages, but other communication channels could deliver these messages. Official spokespersons, press outlets, and expert communities could shed their fear of irritating our allies and inform them about our version of the potential "apocalyptic mess."
Undoubtedly, this approach will not generate more affection toward us. However, we have already exhausted the potential of compassion, and we cannot solely rely on the noble sentiments of well-intentioned individuals. To achieve victory, we require more, and much more.
It is time to engage with those who hold negative views towards us, to communicate with them through the one driving force that truly motivates them: fear.
If we can't reach an agreement in a good way, we'll have to talk in a bad way. After all, we have no choice. We need to win.
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