Espreso. Global

On the real and fictional war plan

29 January, 2024 Monday

One of the most speculative topics in recent months is "show us the plan"


This is what opponents of aid to Ukraine say, from Trumpist Republicans to radicals on the European right. From Russian agents in Ukraine to the "unrestrained" opposition, this is even carelessly speculated about when it comes to mobilizing the front and the rear. 

Usually, it is about demands to say "when will it all end", "until what point will Ukraine be at war", "when are the peace talks". Sometimes there are attempts to rationalize to "how much weapons and money Ukraine needs to win". Or something else like that.

At the household level, it's something like "when I can return to normal life", "when I can stop being afraid of the military commissar" or "when I can leave this concentration camp" (yes, there are assholes who say that about Ukraine). 

The truth is that this is all a chimera. Because war is a state of maximum unpredictability in tactics and very illusory certainty in strategy. If someone had told the generals of Europe on August 1, 1914, how the First World War would go, they would have twisted their finger at their temples and said that they had already booked a resort for Christmas. Christmas 1914.

And in the end, nothing went according to the plan.

All the calculations turned out to be wrong, and the plans were worthless. Because no one could have foreseen and calculated the impact of the demographic explosion, the fact that the German advantage in heavy artillery would not have the desired effect against France, no one calculated that Belgium would not fall in three days, and the Entente underestimated the extent to which the Second Reich was able to withstand a war of attrition. 

Our war is the same. The Russian plan has failed. And Western calculations have failed. Even Zaluzhnyi's calculation that the Russians had a psychological limit to their losses beyond which they would not go turned out to be a bit naive. Then another story came into play: the inertia of thinking. After the success in the Kharkiv region (unexpectedly large-scale) and Kherson, many thought that the Russians would continue to act as they had been acting. And their army would only degrade. It is quite possible that if our arms supply partners had at least kept up with the promised pace, this would have been the case, and the Russians would not have had time to recover before the summer campaign of the Ukrainian Armed Forces. Although they did not solve the systemic problems. 

Now, many people's inertia is working the other way. For example, "the counteroffensive failed" (although it was more of a failure than a success) and "the Russians are pushing on," "that's it, now we are doomed." When the trend reverses, it will be interesting to read how posts of despair evolve into victorious ones again. 

In short. There will be no plan with dates and milestones. There will be no plans with arrows either. Because this matter is generally very situational and looks beautiful only in a history textbook 30-50 years after the events.

It will be something like this:

  1. Ukraine and Russia are at war, producing weapons. The West provides weapons and money to Ukraine, and Russia's partners sell something to it. 
  2. Both economies are suffering from the war, and the Russian economy is also suffering from sanctions. As time progresses, both societies are tightening their belts and mobilizing further.
  3. Both societies are gradually accumulating fatigue from the war, from losses, from the erosion of the existential content of this war. More and more people are asking the question "what's the point of all this," and these questions are increasingly a product of emotional exhaustion. 
  4. At some point, the parties either get exhausted and start negotiating, or someone wins, or event X happens in one of the countries and everything goes according to the "black swan" scenario and someone falls. 

That's the real plan. In the middle of this process, there are a lot of small plans and hopes, most of which are doomed to fail. But the main thing I would advise everyone, especially those who are trying to keep the framework of life "until 24.02": leave the idea that you can live during the war outside the war

You will either have to find yourself an occupation, job or service that connects you with the war. Or it will find you on its own terms. In the Defense Forces or in the rear. You will not be able to stay away in any case. The sooner you realize this, the sooner you will leave bad thoughts behind and the more likely it will all end well. 


About the author. Yuriy Bohdanov, publicist, specialist in strategic communications in business, public administration and politics.

The editors do not always share the opinions expressed by the blog authors.

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