Russia Can’t Win War Of Attrition In Ukraine – OpEd


Over the nearly 300 days since Vladimir Putin launched his expanded invasion of Ukraine on February 24, the war in Ukraine has gone through two phases – a failed blitzkrieg and an extended conflict — and is now passing into a third – ‘a war of attrition,” according to Anatoly Nesmiyan who blogs under the screen name “El Murid.”

And while Russia might have had a chance to win the first where the attacker has the advantage or the second where its larger forces still are determinative, it has no chance to win a war of attrition because such a war depends on the resources of the sides – and in this conflict, Russia’s are an order of magnitude smaller (

“The outcome of a war of attrition can be predicted in advance,” he continues, “by examining the economic indicators.” The GDP of Russia and its few allies like Iran is only about six percent of that of the Western countries opposed to it, and Moscow lacks both the resources and the ability to exploit them that makes this imbalance even greater.

Consequently, El Murid writes, the outcome of a war of attrition is invariably a case of mathematics. The only question is how long it will go on. “Strictly speaking, a war of attrition will last until the collapse of one of the main sectors of the economy occurs. After that, everything will begin to crumble like an arch from which at least one stone has been pulled.”

That is why the West focused on Russia’s hydrocarbon industry, “fully understanding its significance.” But the West doesn’t want an uncontrolled collapse of Russia and so has not moved to “crush the Russian oil and gas industry with a sledgehammer.” Instead, it is doing so gradually rather than in one radical step.

Such an approach is also consistent with an even more important Western goal in the war: “the nuclear disarmament of Russia,” the commentator says. That is an entirely rational choice because, “for the first time in history,” a major nuclear power is “in the hands of people whose mental health raises very serious concerns.”

Unfortunately, the risks in this situation are great and increasing, in large measure because “a war of attrition cannot end in a peace treaty: it must involve elements of surrender by the most exhausted side,” a surrender that will be all too real whether it is explicit or somehow concealed behind a veil of agreements.

Everyone has an interest in arranging Russia’s defeat as “imperceptibly as possible” lest a more dramatic end lead to Armageddon. And what that means is this: barring the unexpected demise of Putin, this war will continue to go on another one hundred or even two hundred days, given that wars of attrition typically last at least that long, El Murid concludes.

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] .

One thought on “Russia Can’t Win War Of Attrition In Ukraine – OpEd

  • December 14, 2022 at 9:03 am

    Rightly, Russia Can’t Win War Of Attrition In Ukraine as long as US-NATO Western allies combine continue to support Ukraine. US caused trouble in 2014 by driving out an elected, sitting President of Ukraine and now US-NATO are conducting a proxy war on Russia through Ukraine . So the Ukraine war will see no winners and this war both the warring nations will be the ultimate losers. The risks are great and are to increase with the Gen Winter on Ukraine and Europe in particular.Hope the UN and the peace lovers are working towards a peace solutions to end this misery to the majority world.


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