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Ukrainian resistance won’t outlast Russian will

May 06, 2022

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Peter Zeihan

Geopolitical Strategist

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Ukraine is putting up a good fight against the Russians, particularly with help from the U.S., according to recent reports. However, that does not mean that Ukraine is likely to outlast the Russians. Straight Arrow News contributor Peter Zeihan believes–despite some historic defeats for the Russians–the Russians will overwhelm the Ukrainians.

Back in 1853 to 56, we had something called the Crimean War. We had some early industrializers, most notably the Brits and the French, who were going to war with a technically lagging power: the Russians in Crimea. New things were introduced. Artillery, for example. The French and the Brits also were producing sufficient steel en masse that they had metal ships versus the Russians’ wooden ones. All that steel allowed the invading forces to have lots and lots of long range rifles versus the muskets of the Russians. The French and the Brits also had things like early medical, industrial technologies that allowed them to have sanitary hospitals so that fewer or their troops troops would die.

At the end of the war, it was basically seen as a humiliation of the Russians. They were defeated at almost every turn. They couldn’t even build railways to their own places, whereas the Brits and the French, because of their command of things like steel, could. And so eventually we had the French and the Brits scooting around on rail within Russian territory, faster than the Russians could. Humiliating defeat. And it sparked one of those on again, off again, modernization pushes after the war that we see in Russia from time to time.

Now, the point of all of this is that the Russians always are on the back foot when it comes to technology. And sometimes they can rally like in World War II or against Napoleon. And sometimes they can’t like the Crimean War, but they will never stop unless they have to, unless they’re forced to. In the Crimean war, the war finally ended because the Russians literally couldn’t get troops to the front fast enough to make a difference. And at the end of the day, they lost a half a million soldiers. We’re nowhere close to that with this today’s conflict.

The Russians see this as an existential crisis and no matter how many casualties they take, they will fight until they can’t. So we are only in the very opening act of this conflict. We have a long way to go, regardless of whether the Ukrainians can hold the line or not. This is going to last months, probably years.

Hey everyone. Peter Ziehan here coming to you from San Diego where it’s of course a criminally beautiful day. So I have to spend it all inside. Anywho. I wanted to talk a little bit about how the Russians are doing during this war. It’s not going great for them. The Ukrainians seem to be more nimble, have better logistics, are better able to absorb tech. And it’s that last piece that reminds me of other things that have happened in Russian history.

We’re seeing the Ukrainians adapting to new technical changes, especially when it comes to drone warfare and better intelligence in a way the Russians just seem incapable of mirroring, or even adapting to at this point.

It still doesn’t change my overall assessment that ultimately the Russians are going to overwhelm the Ukrainians. We’re now involved in an artillery dual in Ukraine’s east, and it’s open, and it’s flat and there’s nowhere to hide, and stingers are of less use.

And this is the sort of war that the Russians actually trained for, excel at. I don’t think it’s gonna be a great couple of weeks for the Ukrainians moving forward, especially into May.

But the seeming technical ineptitude of the Russian forces is more than a minor issue.

It’s also reflected in Russian history. So back in 1853 to 56, we had something called the Crimean War. And the specifics of how it got set up are not really the big deal here. The point is that we had some early industrializers, most notably the Brits and the French who were going to war with a technically lagging power. The Russians in Crimea. New things were introduced. Artillery, for example. The French and the Brits also were producing sufficient steel en mass that they had metal ships versus the Russians wooden ones. All that steel allowed the invading forces to have lots and lots of long range rifles versus the muskets of the Russians. The French and the Brits also had things like early medical, industrial technologies that allowed them to have sanitary hospitals so that fewer or their troops troops would die.

At the end of the war, it was basically seen as a humiliation of the Russians. They were defeated at almost every turn. They couldn’t even build railways to their own places, whereas the Brits and the French, because of their command of things like steel, could. And so eventually we had the French and the Brits scooting around on rail within Russian territory, faster than the Russians could. Humiliating defeat. And it sparked one of those on again, off again, modernization pushes after the war that we see in Russia from time to time.

Now, the point of all of this is that the Russians always are on the back foot when it comes to technology. And sometimes they can rally like in World War II or against Napoleon. And sometimes they can’t like the Crimean War, but they will never stop unless they have to, unless they’re forced to. In the Crimean war, the war finally ended because the Russians literally couldn’t get troops to the front fast enough to make a difference. And at the end of the day, they lost a half a million soldiers. We’re nowhere close to that with this today’s conflict.

The Russians see this as an existential crisis and no matter how many casualties they take, they will fight until they can’t. So we are only in the very opening act of this conflict. We have a long way to go, regardless of whether the Ukrainians can hold the line or not. This is going to last months, probably years. Okay. That’s it for me until next time.

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