Is the United States in a proxy war with Russia? Sergei Lavrov and Lloyd Austin seem to think so.

With heavy weapons like frontline tanks, multiple rocket launchers, 155mm howitzers, attack helicopters and updated anti-aircraft systems invading Ukraine and starting to reach the battlefield , the only thing missing from an all-out war between NATO and Russia are allied soldiers.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov responded to the upsurge in arms shipments this week by saying: “NATO, in essence, is going to war with Russia through a proxy and arming that representative “. Lavrov accompanied this with a few nukes, then said that NATO and the United States ran the risk of transforming the world war and involving nuclear weapons: “The risk is serious, real. It must not not be underestimated,” he said on Monday. night on Russian state television. “Under no circumstances should a third world war take place. There can be no winners in a nuclear war.”

No shit, Sherlock. Sixty-four days after Russia invaded Ukraine, the billionaires in power there are finally realizing that they may have made the proverbial mistake of biting off more than they can chew. On the same day reality appeared to slap Lavrov in Moscow, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, in a meeting with more than 40 NATO and non-NATO defense officials in Germany, announced a new US strategy aimed at degrading the Russian military so that it cannot threaten other nations with war in the future. “We want to see Russia weakened to the point where they can’t do the kinds of things they did by invading Ukraine,” Austin told reporters.

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President Biden backed the new strategy by announcing his administration was seeking $33 billion in military, economic and humanitarian aid for Ukraine, far more than the United States has committed to the conflict so far. “Either we support the Ukrainians as they defend their country, or we stand idly by as the Russians continue their atrocities,” Biden said Thursday at the White House. The Washington Post reported that administration sources confided that the new spending program “is designed not only to defend Ukraine, but also to weaken and deter Russia in a conflict that shows few signs of ending. “. not only in Ukraine’s survival, but also in a greatly weakened Russia.”

The new strategy reflects what has already happened on the ground. Russia’s attack on Ukraine has been crippled by clever tactics and counterattacks by the much less well-equipped and smaller Ukrainian military forces. An all-out assault on the Ukrainian capital of kyiv has been repelled, sending Russian forces retreating to safe havens on Russian and Belarusian soil where they had massed earlier in the year before their attack in late February. According to Ukrainian drone footage seen by the Daily Mail, fields that surveillance photos once showed lined with rows of Russian tanks, armored personnel carriers and supply vehicles are now littered with burned skeletons of the same military equipment .

Ukraine’s military announced last week that it had destroyed 839 Russian tanks, more than 2,000 armored personnel carriers, a mix of 393 self-propelled and towed howitzers, 108 multiple rocket launchers and 76 tank trucks. Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry said Thursday that 187 Russian military planes and 155 helicopter gunships were destroyed, along with 215 drones that the Russian military used for surveillance and as missile launching platforms. Not to mention the Russian missile cruiser Moskva, now at the bottom of the Black Sea.

Russia uses older T-72 tanks, but has also fielded newer, more high-tech and more expensive T-80s. The T-72 tank, in service since the 1970s, cost around $2 million each when new. T-80 tanks, also in service since the mid-1970s but since modernized, cost around $3 million. Russian armored personnel carriers (APC) cost around $500,000. All those photos you’ve seen of blown up and burnt out low-profile tracked vehicles that don’t have high caliber turret guns are APCs. No matter who counts, the Russian army seems to have lost thousands.

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Forbes reported this week that the initial Russian invasion force in February involved 120 battle tactics groups (BTGs), consisting of 85 armored vehicles each, or about 12,000 armored vehicles in total. Forbes considers the Ukrainian figures for Russian battlefield casualties to be “optimistic” and cites the open-source intelligence website Oryx as likely more accurate. Relying entirely on photographic evidence of destroyed, damaged or captured vehicles, Oryx reported on Tuesday that Russia lost 562 tanks and 1,200 armored personnel carriers for a total of 1,762.

Taking an average of the figures reported by Ukraine, Oryx and the Pentagon, Forbes concluded that Russia had lost between 2,000 and 3,000 of its armored fighting vehicles, which means that 20 to 25% of all the military force that Russia had initially deployed to the battlefield in Ukraine was knocked out. Based on the same sources, Forbes estimates that Russia suffered 15,000 battlefield deaths. Every soldier killed must be replaced and training soldiers costs real money. According to the Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC), it currently costs about $200,000 to recruit and put a US soldier through basic training. All soldiers continue their training in advanced courses, and some take up to two years to fully qualify in some specialties, making the real cost of transitioning a citizen from civilian life to combat readiness much more expensive. , regardless of which country spends the money.

No matter what numbers you accept, Russia is suffering heavy, costly and potentially unsustainable battlefield losses in Ukraine.

Whatever numbers you accept, Russia is suffering heavy and very costly battlefield losses in Ukraine. “Some units are much more devastated than others. We’ve seen indications of some units being literally, for all intents and purposes, wiped out,” a senior US defense official said during an early press briefing. of the month. “There’s nothing left of the BTG except a handful of soldiers, and maybe a small number of vehicles, and they’re going to have to be replenished or reapplied to others.”

Thus, the degradation of the Russian army is already happening on the battlefield in Ukraine. With $20 billion of the new Ukraine aid program earmarked for combat equipment, ammunition, supplies, military rations and other battlefield equipment, the United States appears to be employing a rope-to-dope strategy with Russia: getting them to throw as many of their military forces as they can muster into Ukraine and then spend them in the ground, just like the US did in the Cold War, when our military advances and spending ended up bankrupting the Soviet Union by blowing up its defense budget.

This strategy also depends on the effectiveness of Western sanctions against Russia. Every Russian tank, helicopter, fighter jet, rocket launcher and drone lost in Ukraine must be replaced. All modern military weapons make heavy use of computers, which need chips, and as we all know computers break and parts have to be replaced. Restrictions on the import of technology have been imposed on Russia as part of sanctions approved by the United States, NATO and other countries. Russia will no doubt try to find ways around the restrictions, but this will lead to delays, shortages and problems with repurposing dual-use hardware and software imported from countries that have not joined the sanctions. There is no dead time in wartime. Attacking enemies do not wait.

If the United States is in a proxy war with Russia, it is a war of attrition that will last for some time. To “degrade” Russia’s military capability is to slow down its ability to outfit and equip its forces. Vladimir Putin is learning a truth that has stood the test of time: if you take too big a bite on the battlefield, you will die. There are no Heimlich maneuvers in wartime.

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