Putin has devastated Russia


I am torn on the Ukraine war. I think Putin is 100% in the wrong and that Ukraine fighting in self-defense is both just and generally good for the West.

I also believe that we have taken our eye off the much more important conflict, still a Cold War, with China. The fate of Ukraine is a moral issue but not of strategic importance to the West, whatever hype is used to gin up our support. Putin’s army is done, and it is clear that it didn’t have far to fall even before the invasion.


The Russian army is, if anything, even more ineffectual and corrupt than the old Soviet army. It literally cannot feed and clothe its own troops, and in some cases, it cannot arm them. It currently poses no threat other than nuclear to any NATO country.

How bad off is Putin’s military? This bad:

That tank you see in the Victory Day Parade, which celebrates the defeat of Nazi Germany (which is the sole major victory the Russian Army has had since…defeating Napoleon, perhaps?), is a T-34.

An 83-year-old T-34 tank. World War II vintage.

Victory Day parades have traditionally been used to emphasize Moscow’s military might, showing off modern tanks, missiles, aircraft, APCs, and the precision marching of highly skilled troops.

The 2023 parade, on the other hand, had little of any of that stuff. No flyovers. No massive arrays of modern vehicles. It was the display of an utterly defeated power that can’t even posture effectively.

Vladimir Putin’s annual Victory Day parade in Moscow meant to showcase Russia’s military might failed to impress Tuesday, with critics poking fun at the lone World War II-era tank that was seen rolling forlornly through Red Square.

The event celebrating Soviet Union’s victory over Nazi Germany in 1945 was a drastically pared-down affair compared to years past, featuring a mere 8,000 soldiers — the lowest number since 2008.

Even the procession in 2020, at the height of the COVID pandemic, featured some 13,000 soldiers. Last May, more than a month into the invasion of Ukraine, 11,000 troops took part in the parade.

This time, there was no fly-over of fighter jets, and the entire event lasted less than the usual hour.

Instead of phalanxes of modern battle tanks thundering through the center of Russia’s capital, a lone 83-year-old T-34 tank flying a red flag trundled through Moscow’s main square under Putin’s watchful gaze.


I have no idea whether the rumors of Putin’s ill health are true or not, but I think we have more than adequate evidence of the ill health of the Russian regime.

Ever since World War II Russia has been a third-world power with nuclear weapons. It had massive reserves of tanks and conscript soldiers, but the military itself was always hollow, fit only to defeat tiny powers and scare civilians. Its Air Force is an Air Farce, and most of its weapons are more scary on paper than in reality for any decent military. They can kill indiscriminately, but that is no match for a real military.

Alex Hollings of Sandboxx did a series on Russian Air Power and makes it clear why Russia, with a vastly larger Air Force than Ukraine, has been utterly ineffectual in the war.

Russian pilots never really learn how to fight in combat. There is inadequate training, their aircraft are ill-maintained, and the capabilities of those aircraft are overblown. Put into the hands of skilled pilots with training they would still be dangerous, but this is a military that can’t maintain trucks.

The Russian military has always relied upon mass, not finesse, strategy, good tactics, or even the most basic level of competence. Yet in Ukraine, they couldn’t even mobilize their mass, which is much smaller today than in Soviet times, because their logistics are…nonexistent.

Modern warfare between peers or near peers is all about coordination and combined arms. We see the sophistication of the weapons, but they are only the final point in a sophisticated kill chain that involves skill, coordination, communications, intelligence, and logistics. Combatants make up a small fraction of any military, and all those fancy weapons are merely tools.


Militaries are systems of systems, filled with highly skilled people. The best aircraft in the world is useless if it is a hanger queen or has an ill-trained pilot.

The Russian strategy of mass cannot work in the modern world, and the current Russian military situation demonstrates that fact. With thousands of tanks in operation and reserve at the beginning of the war, they now are forced to use a single T-34 as the representative of their armored combat fleet in their Victory Day parade.

A military that depends upon mass to win battles has been so devastated that it can’t even produce enough mass to impress in a parade anymore.

Russia is done as a military power. It may never recover under this regime.

The real question is has the price we have paid to accomplish that been worth it? If we can restock our armories to deter a Chinese aggressive move in Taiwan, perhaps the answer is yes. However, if China uses our depletion of military stockpiles in Ukraine as an opportunity to move on Taiwan before we can rebuild our own military power we will rue the day we decided to send some of the most effective weapons to Ukraine.

Beating Russia back is something that deserves to be put into the “win” column, but doing so was never vital to American interests.

Losing a conflict over Taiwan would be a devastating blow to both the US and the world economy from which it would take decades to recover.

Let’s hope the modest victory in Europe doesn’t come at the cost of a major loss in the Pacific.


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