I just listened for a mix of Scott’s discussions, regarding his new vision of the events on the ground in Ukraine. And I wanted to make some counterpoints.
First of all, I have to say that Scott was trolled very hard since his change of harts (of a sort). I’m not talking about disagreements with his views by the other notable analysts and contributors in the alternative media. What has triggered him are the part of the public which is as crazy and close-minded as the other side. At least that is what I think. If so, his reaction is understandable — trolls are trolls, no matter what side they are on. Others, while not trolls, have been concentrating on Scott’s personal vices (alleged or not — doesn’t matter) or misfortunes. I personally think it has nothing to do with his analysis, and thus shouldn’t be presented as a critique against him at all.
That being said, I do think he makes a number of basic mistakes in his analysis. I will touch on a few bigger points.
The question of western financial/military support for Ukraine
Scott is talking about the $50B figure. Then he acknowledges that not all of this is intended for weapon purchases for Ukraine, but only a small part. He gives a figure of $9B, if I’m not mistaken. Well, the problem is that the price of the weapons supplied is determined by the US. Namely the military-industrial complex (MIC) and the Pentagon. We can guess, those prices are not market prices. Probably, much of the junk, as Scott himself was acknowledging, which was supplied, while being at the end or even past its shelf-life, was priced as a new. The reason is known — US and EU is dispensing of the old weapons, and acquiring new ones instead. So they can profit twice: first by not paying money to utilize end-of-life weaponry (the transportation expenditures are financed separately, so there is no loss here), and the second time then they get a new weapon system instead, financed by the US government, in exchange for the one they sent to Ukraine.
If so, do those billions are actually going for purchasing weapons and equipment for Ukraine, or are they going for purchasing new weapons and equipment for the West?
Now, not all of the supplies are old junk. But! The great portion of the weapons supplied are. “Smart” or guided weapons aren’t cheep, and Javelins, Stingers and similar missiles were supplied in thousands, maybe tens of thousands. Actually, as I understand, NATO is out of all of its old junk in this department. So, practically, the US and EU financed the restocking of their own arsenals.
The same goes for old eastern and western-block heavy weapons, like aircraft, tanks, armored personnel carriers etc. All, or almost all, of it is junk. But, then reporting hundreds of tanks, APC’s, IFV’s, artillery pieces, and dozens of fixed and rotary wing aircraft — how much would it cost on paper? And how much would a replacement by the more modern western analogues cost? Ukraine doesn’t bargain — the prices are set by the countries which supply the junk. So there you have billions of dollars right there — a junk in reality, but profit for MIC’s and defense ministries who participate in “supplying” the Ukraine (while in reality modernizing their own militaries, and writing bills to US and EU countries).
Some of the supplies aren’t junk by any means, but their price to efficiency coefficient is very low. For example, a M777 howitzer cost hundreds of thousands of dollars if purchased frim the US. While a Soviet or NATO-vintage self-propelled howitzer could cost much less, while being much more effective in the Donbass. The reason is M777 is a specialized gun, intended to be very light-weight, so to be transportable by the heavy helicopters. This requirement make it not only pricier than some regular old gun, but also less effective in most of conditions.
And finally, some of the weapons and systems are modern and well suited for Ukraine realities. But, they are priced for the Western militaries. In general, western military equipment will be some two times (or even more) more expensive than that of the Eastern MIC’s, just because it made in countries with cost of living few times higher. So, higher salaries, higher material costs, higher profit margins… The result is $1 in Russia on Ukraine can buy maybe 3 times of the military products that the same $1 can buy in US or Germany.
If we combine all the above, the $9B Scott Ritter is talking about wouldn’t get any close to the $40B of Russian yearly military expenditures he estimates. So it isn’t a “game changer”, because it adds nothing new of any significance to the game. My analogy is a chess game, there whites lost one pawn, while blacks lost 4 pawns, 2 rooks, two bishops, one knight, and a queen. And then blacks were gifted additional knight by outside player. Is this a game changer? No, it isn’t.
Yes, the war would be prolonged for some weeks, and Russians would lose maybe a few hundred soldiers and civilians as a result. But it makes no difference at all. All the Russians schemes of employing militias, mercenaries, only professional soldiers, slow-moving tactics — all are intended to give Russia a lot of reserves for any escalation and a very high tolerance for combat losses.
The West has understood this. That is why the weapon supplies are now turned from a stream to dripple, and soon will be no more than symbolic gesture. Many thousands of Stingers and Javelins turned into a few hundreds of howitzers, which turned into a dozen of MLRS/HIMARS, which will turn into two launchers of Harpoon missies and maybe a few UCAV’s a few months later.
The Western training had been going on in Ukraine for 8 years, in the peace time, without any restrictions of the war. All whose who have been trained, are nearing their defeat in the Donbass, and consequently in the entire Ukraine. Scott’s argument that the new money that will come would somehow enable Ukrainians to erect a formidable force in a few months time, has no basis. They would be lucky to get a small fracture of what they managed in the years before. They would not have the support and maintenance infrastructure in place, as they have before.
I can speculate, based on my feelings alone, that Ukrainians losses are order of magnitude higher than that of Russian military and allies. So, assuming Ukrainians lose 500 soldiers a day on average, Russians/militias/mercenaries lose maybe 50. And as long as the war continues, Russians will learn lessons and implement them, thus reducing their losses and killing more Ukrainian soldiers. Russians are slow learners, but they do learn. Their weak spots in tactics and equipment is being remedied constantly. So if they need more and better UAV’s, they will get them along the line. And not 4, like Ukrainians may get, but “40” in the same period of time.
So, while the military support and supplies for Ukraine are slowing down, on the Russian side the effect will be opposite — it will speed up. For any month that passes, if Ukraine would lose (let’s say for example) 10% of its military capability, they would recover (with western support) maybe 5%. While Russians will receive new weapons, men and develop suitable tactics, improving their combat effectiveness by, let’s say, 15% (owing to their strong budgetary figures, intact MIC which will receive a flow of money, rising moral, natural selection in the military command structure, etc., etc.)
So, in conclusion, I believe Scott Ritter isn’t wrong, but he isn’t right either. I believe the problem with his analysis, is that he only sees one side of being supported, supplied and trained, while the other being only depleted. In fact, Ukraine is the one which is being depleted, and to some extend the collective West along with it, while Russia is the one which is growing and strengthening in this war. The longer they will fight, the better military they will get in the result. It would have been much nicer for Russia in the near term, if Ukraine army had collapsed in the first week of the war. But in long term, this is an investment in strengthening Russia while weakening the West. Russian losses will be accepted by the Russians as a fair price for the victory over the West. And Ukrainian losses will serve to weaken any resistance to the Russian influence in what would remain of Ukraine.
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