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Putin's War on Ukraine Begins Its 21st Year

Austin Bay on

Last week's column made the case Vladimir Putin's war on Ukraine began in 2004 with a covert attempt to subvert Ukraine's 2004 national election and install a Putin puppet. Putin failed. Suddenly, the Russian despot had a czarist nightmare on his border -- a food-exporting Slavic state with democratic aspirations and high-tech expertise.

In February 2014, using bullets and bayonets, Russian forces seized Crimea and then annexed the region. That was a definitive act of physical (kinetic) war, complete with killed and wounded. With annexation, Russia also claimed Ukraine's Black Sea natural gas fields.

In April 2014, a slow war began in eastern Ukraine, a fitful but deadly battle fought by Russian proxy forces and the Kremlin's special operations troops.

In 2022, Putin escalated to full-scale conventional war.

February 2024: The current front line in eastern Ukraine froze in late 2022 and early 2023 when Ukrainian forces recovered half of the territory Putin's Kremlin seized.

Ukraine's summer 2023 counteroffensive sputtered. Why? As a tank officer, I blame lack of close air support by manned aircraft providing flexible close air support (CAS). CAS was vital to German blitzkrieg; it is integral to U.S./NATO AirLand Battle. Newer buzzwords exist, but basically, flyboys bomb them and stun them, and then tanks and armored infantry bust the gaps as artillery and air shred them.

 

Call it Combined Arms Warfare.

The Biden administration navel-gazed when Ukraine requested F-16 fighter-bombers. F-16s may arrive this year. Blame Biden.

February 2024: Stalemate? Yes, but get an honest grip. Two years ago, how many experts would have bet their Beltway sinecure that Ukraine would have emerged as a nation in arms, defeated Russia's assault, and then shoved Russian invaders east to create a stalemate in eastern Ukraine?

Front-line stalemate and attrition warfare are accurate descriptions, but the terms obscure the horrendous casualties Russia suffers in order to occupy 5 cratered kilometers.

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