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Nothing I Say Here Should Ever Be Confused With As Cheerleading for Russia

I’m just saying there are good reasons to think we’re foolish to believe that we have the power to defeat the Russians, much less control them.

5 min readJun 4


For more than a year, I’ve been following the war in Ukraine. For 15 months, I’ve looked at the war from many angles, through a few different lenses. I’ve said what I absolutely believed about the war. I believe the war is folly, on both sides, but mostly, on the West for thinking they could even use Ukraine as a proxy for a war with Russia. Here is the nugget of everything that I have ever said about the war:

The force required to stop Russia from continuing it’s Special Military Operation, or invasion, doesn’t exist.

For more than a year now, Russia has conducted military operations in Ukraine without corresponding opposition. The battle of Bakhmut should give us pause to consider what we’re willing to pay for a victory in Ukraine.

The Big Serge on Substack has been tracking the war and the history before the war. In his article, The Battle of Bakhmut: Postmortem, published on June 2nd, Serge gives us a detailed analysis of the action in a city that recently fell to the Russians.

Considering the amount of energy, manpower, and metal directed at the city, it turns out that it is strategically important or the battle would not have materialized there. For months, I’ve seen people asking why Russia would send so many people to die there, so many tanks and armored personell units to be destroyed there, and so many shells to be launched there. The battle of Bakhmut was won decisively by Russia. From Big Serge:

Adjudicating the Battle of Bakhmut is relatively easy when one looks at what units were brought to the table. Bakhmut burned through an enormous portion of the AFU’s inventory, including many of its veteran assault brigades, while virtually none of Russia’s conventional forces were damaged (with the notable exception of the Motor Rifle brigades that defeated the Ukrainian counterattack). Even the Pentagon has admitted that the vast majority of Russian casualties in Ukraine were convicts.