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The Notion That Ukraine Will Execute a Decisive Defeat of Russia is a Fantasy

Let’s game this out.

6 min readDec 5, 2022


Ukraine is not likely to give Russia the boot anytime soon. Yes, they will have some victories. And they will push back against Russia here and there.

No one with good intelligence from the ground in Ukraine believes that either side will score a decisive win. White House officials admitted as much, months ago. General Mark Milley, the highest-ranking military officer in America, short of the president, is even less optimistic.

This war started in 2014, not February of 2022. The invasion was prompted in part by intense shelling in the Donbas region that occurred just days before the invasion. Russian President Vladimir Putin said that it was a special operation, and he seemed to think it would only take a few days, maybe weeks to reach his objectives. He offered several peace plans before and after the start of the invasion.

It didn’t go very smoothly, and that prompts me to consider a parallel.


I recall what happened after the start of America’s invasion of Iraq. “Shock and Awe” was the jingo of the day. The war was going to be quick, smooth, and easy. It was only going to take a few days, maybe weeks. It was not.

The Iraq war lasted seven years. Military contractors and mercenaries had a blast (not all of them survived). The weapons trade thrived. To this day, hundreds of millions of dollars of equipment and cash are still unaccounted for.

We had destroyed Iraq’s army. We had destroyed a considerable amount of their civil infrastructure. 900,000 people died. And once the army was gone, America became responsible for defending the bounty of natural resources in Iraq.

If we destroy Russia’s army, as some people fetishize that we should, someone will have to defend the natural resources of Russia. Russia is not Iraq. Compared to Iraq, Russia is huge. The manpower required to defend that territory from all challengers is probably more than any single country (other than Russia) can muster.

“But Scott, we don’t want to completely destroy Russia’s military! We just want them to leave Ukraine!”