Staunton, July 29 – As Putin’s war in Ukraine enters its sixth month, a saying that became popular during the long years of the US war in Vietnam is becoming ever more relevant. Updated, that saying becomes: Ukraine is winning this war by not losing while Russia is losing by not winning. Over time, that become ever more important for both and the world as a whole.
Not only has Russia not won what it expected or even that as quickly as Putin predicted, but increasingly it is obvious that Russian victories are far less than they appear. Just as the US did not control places in Vietnam after 5:00 pm, so Russia doesn’t control places it acts as if it has conquered.
Ever more often, a Ukrainian underground is emerging to challenge what the Russians think they have won, something that has Russian troops looking over their shoulders and ordinary Russians questioning what the Kremlin is doing. And as casualties mount, Russians are being forced to ask what Putin thought he was going to achieve.
Not only has the death toll of Russian troops continued to rise, but the number of Russians going home with severe wounds and without the prosthetics they should have is rising as well, forcing ever more Russians to confront the true costs of Putin’s war of choice and to ask what was he thinking.
The Kremlin leader likely doesn’t care about the losses or even about the questions ever more Russians are certainly posing. But now it appears that the war is going to go on for a very long time; and each week, it now appears almost a certainty, Ukraine is going to continue to win by not losing while Russia and Putin as well will be losing by not winning.
No matter how powerful Putin and the Russian military appear, that is not a recipe for victory but ultimate defeat however powerful the Kremlin’s propaganda machine and however mistaken those in the West who still refuse to recognize that Ukraine may not be winning in the conventional sense but it is winning as the Vietcong and North Koreans did.
And not losing is very much a form of winning as the Vietnamese proved to the Americans half a century ago.