Russia On Course To Lose Its War In Ukraine – OpEd


A year ago, few could imagine that if Russia invaded Ukraine, it would leave with anything less than a military victory although even then some did point out that such a victory would be Pyrrhic because Moscow would find itself incapable of integrating its conquest under the rule of the Kremlin.

But now ever more people in Ukraine, in the West, and in Russia itself are talking about the possibility that Russia can lose the war and discussing what Moscow needs to do to prevent that defeat from having even more serious consequences for the country. The latest to do so is  Sergey Shelin (

The Russian commentator says that he made what for him is “an unexpected discovery: the Russian Federation really has a serious chance of losing this war and thus being thrown back to its historical borders.”

“Until now,” Shelin says, he had thought that Ukraine was “struggling to fight on an equal footing and that only with luck would it be able to attack in any serious way.” But now, keeping things equal in that sense is at best the most the Russian Federation can even hope to aspire to.

He writes: “I was preparing an article about the material side of the war, about the war as a struggle between two military economic machines. It is not yet ready and will not be published very soon. But here’s what I see in the entire set of numbers – at the level of these machines, the Russian Federation simply has no trump cards.”

Putin hasn’t spent more than the opposite side has and thus does not have an army better than the Ukrainian one. Instead, it is worse quantitatively as well as qualitatively. And given Ukraine’s allies, if the Kremlin leader were to double his spending on the military, the other side could easily counter.

As a result, Shelin says, Moscow does not now have and can’t achieve “the strategic advantage needed for an offensive war.” It has enough for a defensive one but not the other and so will be forced gradually or even quickly to retreat from what it now holds given the existing balance of forces.

For there to be any other outcome, he continues, Moscow will need a stroke of luck or a radical change in Ukraine itself or in its allies. And those who talk about a nuclear strike need to remember that such a move “will not go unanswered.” In this situation, the Kremlin should be suing for peace rather than acting as if it can win in the end.

Paul Goble

Paul Goble is a longtime specialist on ethnic and religious questions in Eurasia. Most recently, he was director of research and publications at the Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy. Earlier, he served as vice dean for the social sciences and humanities at Audentes University in Tallinn and a senior research associate at the EuroCollege of the University of Tartu in Estonia. He has served in various capacities in the U.S. State Department, the Central Intelligence Agency and the International Broadcasting Bureau as well as at the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Mr. Goble maintains the Window on Eurasia blog and can be contacted directly at [email protected] .

2 thoughts on “Russia On Course To Lose Its War In Ukraine – OpEd

  • February 2, 2023 at 4:23 am

    I concur, the economic resources and variety of much more modern weaponry, available to Ukraine, is overwhelming, and means Ukraine has an inevitable probability of defeating and pushing back the Russian invaders from Ukraine.

    The only puzzle, bearing in mind Russia’s reputation as a chess playing power, is the insistence on pursuing an invasion, which has no hope of defeating an overwhelming coalition.

  • February 2, 2023 at 6:49 am

    No matter how much NATO-US hypes up the Russian threat to Europe, it is impossible for many Western nations to sacrifice their own interest to become active participants in NATO’s plan to defeat and destroy Russia. Differences Exist.France and Germany consider a future European security architecture involving Russia in some form. France, Germany, Italy, Belgium and Spain don’t expect Ukraine to take back Crimea, and they see the inevitability of a negotiated solution and the durability of Russia as a neighbour. For the East Europeans, security is about defending themselves against Russia and that is why the East European nations want the NATO to defend Ukraine. “If Ukraine is not ‘Armed to the Teeth’ to ensure a Ukrainian victory by the West and capable of retaking its territory, including Crimea, then Russia would destroy Ukraine”. This war will have no Victors but only Losers on all fronts.


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