Peter Zeihan

Geopolitical Strategist

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Commentary

Ukraine preparing major counteroffensive

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Peter Zeihan

Geopolitical Strategist

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Ukraine is set to receive at least 60 F-16 fighter jets from allies in Belgium, Norway, Denmark and the Netherlands. Ukrainian forces have already begun employing the ATACMS artillery systems against Russian air defense batteries, with several recent successful strikes against the elite Russian Belbek S-400 air defense systems.

Watch the above video as Straight Arrow News contributor Peter Zeihan argues that these strikes are laying the groundwork for what may become a significant blow to Putin’s regime.


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The following is an excerpt from Peter’s June 18 “Zeihan on Geopolitics” newsletter:

Ukraine is gearing up for one of its most important offensives to date, but what makes this one so different from the rest?

The main driver of this offensive is a delivery of F-16s from NATO, which was preceded by some large arms packages from Europe and the U.S. Now this is all very exciting, but we’re still a little ways out from this going down. In the meantime, Ukraine will be laying down the groundwork to help ensure that this offensive can successfully break through the stalemate that has defined much of the battlefield this year.

So what does that groundwork look like? You can expect to see Ukraine ramp up its strikes on Russian air defenses all throughout the occupied territory and even deep into Russia and Crimea. This will (hopefully) allow the Ukrainians to establish regional air superiority and use those F-16s to their full capabilities.

It doesn’t mean Ukraine will be flying into Moscow tomorrow and ending the war, but cutting off Russian logistics in Crimea and other areas could cause significant losses to Russia — and Putin’s ego. Expect further updates once all of this kicks off.

Everybody, Peter Zeihan here coming to you from Colorado, it appears that we’re about to see a major offensive by the Ukrainians none the next couple of days or anything like that probably going to be a couple months off. But they’re definitely preparing the ground. What’s going on is that the Ukrainians are preparing to receive a large allotment of F sixteens from NATO countries. And that’s right on the heels of a significant arms package, one from Europe, one from the United States, that is allowing the Ukrainians to start to shape the battlefield. What we’ve seen in the last few weeks is the Ukrainians becoming much more aggressive, not just turning the Russian assault on Kharkiv in the Northeast into a killing ground for Russian troops, not only picking up the pace for some of the counter assaults, south of the NEPA river where there have been some battles where the Russians have suffered 20 to one casualty ratios. Those are actually the sideshow. The really big stuff in terms of military strategy is using MIDlet range rockets and missiles to go after Russian aviation assets deep within Russia in some cases, 500 miles from the border, and also throughout the Crimean peninsula going after anti aircraft batteries. Specifically the s three hundreds and the more advanced s four hundreds, the S four hundreds are considered the best in the world. And in at least the last two weeks the Ukrainians have taken out at least four batteries, one of which had only been up and running for a few days at the point where it was taken out. What the Ukrainians are doing are trying to deny the Russians as much air defense as possible before the F 16 arrive. Because if the Ukrainians can establish a regional air superiority or even just local just for moments, they can start using some of the training and some of the equipment that the NATO alliance provided them a year and two years ago. If you remember back to the first wave of counter offenses we had in 2022, and into 2023. The Russians really hadn’t fortified anything. So the Ukrainians were able to punch in take out a few specific nodes and then just chop up the Russians and 15 massive casualties and cause massive, not retreats routes from places like KEARSON, or near Karki if. But as the war moved on, the Russians started to take things a little bit more seriously and laid layer after layer after minds, building these multi layered defenses that the Crimson had to punch through NATO training for a lot of Ukrainian forces taught them how to use combined arms basically combined infantry, with mounted infantry, with tanks, with helicopters with missiles with aircraft. But but but the Ukrainians didn’t have the equipment to pull that off, most notably the airpower. So they’ve launched this big assault, but they didn’t have air power. And so the Russians were able to call in artillery strikes because they had maybe not air superiority, but the ability to deny the Ukrainians, the skies. And that made these subsequent counter offensive basically bogged down in even after a lot of casualties and a lot of equipment and a lot of time, the Ukrainians only made minimal gains. Well, what the Ukrainian are attempting to do this time is to prepare the battlefield. So they don’t have that airpower problem again, so that the new aircraft when they do arrive can operate in a less contested environment. And if that happens, then the Ukrainians can return the favor. And anytime the Russians tried to concentrate forces, they get hit with Ukrainian artillery rather than the other way around.

 

We have seen the Ukrainians basically get better and better at this without airpower, over the last few weeks, taken out any number of strategic radar systems deep within the Russian space. So if we get to the point in about a month, when these F 16 start to arrive, the Ukrainians might actually have regional air superiority over most of the peninsula. And at that point, cutting the remainder of the infrastructure links from Russia proper into the southern front should be pretty easy, because there’s really only two links left, you’ve got the Kirche bridge itself, which is already damaged. And then you’ve got a supplementary rail system that goes through occupied Ukraine on the southern coast, which is already within artillery range, what we’ve been waiting for to the war, this point is for the Ukrainians to use superior speed, innovation and reach in order to chop up the Russians logistical capacities, and basically isolate large pockets of troops and generate the sort of political humiliation that in the past has triggered a Russian climb down or maybe even a collapse of the government. I’m not saying that that’s what’s going to happen this summer. I’m gonna say that’s what the goal is, and with the way that they are preparing the battle space, it looks like we’re going to have some of these decisive conflicts later in this year, assuming for the moment of course, the Ukrainians proved to be as adept on the F 16. As they have been on everything else. Still a lot of moving parts. Still a lot of unknowns. But we actually do see things building to at least in Crimea, a bit of a head. That does not mean that the entirety of the war is over. I mean, hell, even if the Ukrainians were able to completely capture Crimea, Russia logistics going into the Donbass and eastern Ukraine are far more robust. This war is not over. But if you can trigger a global humiliation, in the past, about half of the Russian governments that have collapsed have been because of a major military defeat. And this is the first potential battle of this war that might fall into that category.

 

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