Now multiply that difficulty by millions of people, add in technologies that can make or break the lives of both individuals and nations, finally add in a large dose of chance and chaos. What you have is a recipe for history making events that can change the world. This is the situation that has developed in Ukraine over the past three and a half weeks. At the beginning of the year, no one would have thought possible the events that have happened in the Ukraine-Russia War. Now, the only thing certain is that there will be more uncertainty to come. The war is now well beyond any one person’s or nation’s control. How the situation plays out is as dependent upon unseen forces such as morale, willpower, and resilience. They now mean as much as logistics, soldiers, supplies and weaponry. At this point a wide range of outcomes are possible. Have trouble believing so? Just look at what has happened thus far.
Battles Within - The Believable & The Conceivable
Who would have believed that in the past twenty-four days Russia would lose ten percent of their troops in Ukraine. That their lightning strike towards Kyiv would turn into a long and drawn out affair. That they still cannot get into the center of Kyiv, where the historic heart of the city has been untouched up to this point. During the war’s first couple of days the eventual conquest of the Ukrainian capital was seen as a fait accompli. Who would have believed the Battle of Kyiv would turn into the Battles of Hostomel, Irpin, Obolon and other outlying districts. The Russian leadership thought all they had to do was decapitate the government and the Ukrainian people would fall into line. Who would have believed at this point that the Ukrainian government is only one of many problems for the Russians? That they will first have to figure out how to deal with the Ukrainian army, then they will have to figure out how to deal with the Territorial Defense forces, then they will have to figure out how to deal with the civilian population and then they will have to figure out how to deal with the government. And if all else fails, they will have to figure out how to deal with an insurgency.
From the Russian perspective, the conquest of Ukraine has gone from looking plausible to improbable. If or when the moment arrives that enough Russian soldiers believe victory is impossible, then there will be a decisive reckoning. Who would have believed that such an event would be possible? It started out seeming inconceivable and unbelievable. Now it looks conceivable and most importantly, believable. Who would have believed that the Russians at this point would have “control” of a single large city in Ukraine? That the citizens of that majority Russian speaking city (Kherson), would turn out in force each day to protest the Russian occupation. That marches would continue despite warning shots being fired in the air to disperse the protesters. That the citizens would refuse “humanitarian aid” from Russian forces. That masses of unarmed citizens would stand in the central square waving the Ukrainian flag. That the Russian leadership has even less idea of how to win the hearts and minds of Ukrainians, than they do of how to defeat the Ukrainian army.
Strategic Objectives – A Less Than Special Military Operation
Who would have believed that Kharkiv despite a massive bombing campaign would remain in Ukrainian hands? That Ukraine’s second largest city, a mere 40 kilometers from the Russian border would still be holding out. Who would have believed the Russian Army would have 6 generals and 6 colonels killed in action after just 21 days? I doubt the Russian leadership would have ever believed any such thing would happen. Who would have believed that Vladimir Putin would literally ban the word “war” from Russian discourse? That it was banned while he prosecuted a “special military operation” that so far has taken the lives of an estimated 14,000 Russian soldiers killed. That number is equal to all the Ukrainian soldiers killed since 2014 fighting in the Donbas region. Who would have believed that a convoy of Russian tanks and armored vehicles would stretch for 60 kilometers and stay in the same place for over a week? That Russian resupply vehicles would include civilian cars and trucks.
Who would have believed that some of the meals ready to eat (MREs) carried by Russian soldiers were out of date by up to seven years? That fresh MREs were being sold on the Russian version of Ebay, most likely by those who stole them and are now trying to sell them as a profit. Who would have believed that boys, not men would be among those the Russians relied upon to subdue Ukraine? That these boys were told they were going on military maneuvers, rather an unlawful invasion of a sovereign country. Who would have believed that those in the field tasked with carrying out the Blitzkrieg into Ukraine would not even be told their strategic objectives until after the war had started? That within a few days their entire reason for being in Ukraine had been shattered by their fellow Slavs. Who would have believed the nation most in need of denazification was partly responsible for the defeat of Nazism during the Second World War? That use of the letter Z would become synonymous with neo-Nazism.
The Course of Events - A Life Of Their Own
Who would have believed all the events that have happened in the Ukraine-Russia war in less than a month? Likely very few. The Ukraine-Russia war has taken on a life of its own. Vladimir Putin cannot control what is happening, though he is certainly still trying. Neither can any single person. Both sides for all their vast differences, are at the mercy of unseen forces beyond anyone’s control. If there is something to truly fear in war, something that transcends defeat or death, it is that after a war begins events take on a life of their own. War has its own logic that influences the course of events. Where those events lead no one knows, but in the coming weeks and months we will certainly find out.