Stop It Already!
Thus moans reader Bill C.
Bill’s lament arises in response to a recent reckoning.
In that reckoning Mr. Rickards claimed Russia is winning the Ukrainian war.
And that claim of Russian victory blanched Bill’s nose:
Just so. Yet what “news” is Bill watching?
We must assume Bill’s news sources are what one might label “mainstream” organs.
These are the ABCs, NBCs and CBSs of this world. These are the CNNs, MSNBCs and Foxes of this world.
These are the New York Times, Washington Posts and USA Todays of this world.
All are hotly against the Russian side.
We would remind Bill: These are the news sources that gushed over the “Ghost of Kyiv” and the “heroes of Snake Island” as the conflict began.
The Ghost of Kyiv was a truly spectral phenomenon and the posthumous heroes of Snake Island who valiantly defied Russian surrender instructions not only lived but surrendered.
These are the news sources that claimed Russia was so bereft of microchips for its armed forces… that it was forced to scavenge them from household appliances.
These are the news sources that claimed Russia would be exhausted of cruise missiles by last spring… that its forces were so depleted of arms and ammunition that they were reduced to assaults with shovels… that Vladimir Putin is an immensely unpopular fellow in Russia… that Western sanctions have virtually collapsed the Russian economy into nonexistence.
Yet Russian cruise missiles continue to maraud Ukraine daily. Proliferating Russian artillery continues to land on Ukrainian heads. Vladimir Putin’s domestic popularity exceeds 80% — our spies have investigated. And even the International Monetary Fund projects the Russian economy to expand this year.
Thus the “news” falls into very serious question.
Has the war recently pivoted heavily in Ukraine’s favor, as Bill argues?
We are far from convinced that it has.
The preponderance of evidence — it appears — runs precisely the other way.
Nearly two months ago to the very day Ukraine undertook its grand spring offensive.
NATO-armed and NATO-trained, its forces would barrel through Russian positions.
Within weeks they would push clear through to the Sea of Azov… and bring poor Vladimir to his knees, sobbing and pleading for mercy.
Prodigious quantities of men and equipment went hurling against the Russian positions.
Two months later… prodigious quantities of men and equipment continue to go hurling against the Russian positions.
To what effect?
They have failed to penetrate even the Russian forward defenses.
Ukraine — and its NATO bosses — expected to crash through these forward defenses within days.
Two months in… there they remain.
It Only Gets Harder
In back of these forward defenses squat Russia’s primary defensive fortifications — with their elaborate trenchworks, “dragon’s teeth,” tank traps, etc.
If Ukrainian forces penetrate the forward positions they will encounter the first of such fortifications.
If by some miracle of God they run over this dense defense belt, they must then confront another behind… and another behind that one.
We might note that the spaces between each of these fortified belts are choked with landmines of the anti-tank and anti-man type.
Meantime, the armed forces of Ukraine are embarked upon offensive operations in the Bakhmut direction.
They appear determined to reseize the place from Russia, lost this March.
To this end they are assaulting the city’s flanks, north and south.
They have attained very modest advances to date. If they seize one pinprick village the Russians shortly rip it from their hands.
Any substantive penetration appears unlikely at this juncture.
In all, Ukrainian offensive operations this summer have proved a busted flush.
They have reconquered little ground — while enduring savage losses in men and equipment.
Credible estimates fix Ukrainian casualties near 21,000 in July alone.
They fix Ukrainian equipment losses — tanks, armored vehicles, artillery pieces, etc. — at over 2,200 across the same space.
Here we say nothing of June’s horrific losses.
Has Russia endured its own losses in men and equipment?
Most certainly it has — and these losses in men and equipment are likely substantial.
Yet Russia is bunched up in the defensive crouch.
And in war it is generally the attackers — in this case the Ukrainians — that withstand the greater casualties.
What is more, Russia is in superior position to make its losses good.
It boasts deeper reserves of manpower, ammunition and the armaments to shoot them off.
The president of the United States has in fact conceded Ukraine’s ammunition lacks.
Thus Bill’s claims that the war has pivoted heavily in the Ukrainian direction puzzle and perplex us.
Where is the evidence of it?
Who to Believe?
Bill claims, “This is also what I have heard from people currently in Ukraine that I have contact with.”
We hope Bill’s Ukrainian contacts are well. Yet are Bill’s Ukrainian contacts at the front? How do they discern the war’s direction from their locations?
Is it possible that they are victims of Kiev’s own propaganda campaigns?
By our own admission we are not present at the front. By our own admission we maintain no contacts in Ukraine.
Yet we do maintain access to the military maps updated daily, both Russian and Ukrainian.
None of these maps suggests a decisive Ukrainian pivot… or even a marginal Ukrainian pivot.
Even the official news organs above referenced acknowledge Ukraine’s offensive botchwork — at least in hushed and understated tones.
They may concede that the offensive is “slow going” or that progress “isn’t quite as great as hoped for” or some such.
They of course hold out hope of future wins. “The real offensive hasn’t yet begun,” they may bellow.
Yet none of them — at least to us known — claims the decisive Ukrainian pivot Bill cites.
Again we ask: Where is the evidence?
No Hard Feelings
In no way do we intend to demean or belittle Bill.
We are thankful that he is a reader. We are also thankful that he put aside the time to write us.
We note further that Bill’s comments were respectful. They lacked the acid typical of most objectors.
And Bill is under no bonds to accept what he reads in these pages.
He need not side with Jim Rickards on Russia, Ukraine or anything else for the matter of that.
This publication issues no claims of infallibility.
Bill may even be on the side of the angels. Russia did — after all — trespass into Ukraine.
We leave aside the whys and wherefores of it all.
A good fellow is generally for the trespassed against rather than the trespasser.
And Bill is for the trespassed against.
We even concede the possibility that Bill is correct. Correct, that is, that the war has pivoted decisively toward Ukraine.
Yet we request — with the highest respect — the documented evidence.
We will give it a look.
Remember What They Said About COVID?
Yet we might also remind Bill that the news sources that claim a Ukrainian pivot… are likely the identical news sources that claimed the virus originated in a Wuhan wet market…
That this virus represented a mortal menace to old and young alike, to the ill and healthy alike…
That mass lockups would “stop the spread”… that surgical masks would bar the virus from entry…
That hydroxychloroquine was the oil of a snake and that ivermectin was paste for horses…
That the vaccines would innoculate against illness and halt its transmission…
That these same vaccines were “safe and effective.”
How much of it proved true?
“If you don’t read the newspaper,” said the great scalawag Mark Twain, “you’re uninformed. If you read the newspaper, you’re misinformed.”
Given these choices… we prefer to be uninformed than misinformed…
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