Putin is Playing a Strong Hand on Ukraine…as Long as He Doesn’t Invade

Photograph Source: Sergei F – CC BY 2.0

Doomsday predictions by the US and UK that Russia is about to invade Ukraine are rejected by military experts in Kyiv, who deny that the Russian army has the numbers or the equipment to stage such an attack.

“What we currently have,” writes Andriy Zagorodnyuk, the former Ukrainian defence minister, and military specialists, in a report by the Centre for Defence Studies in Kyiv, “is the military threat posed by about 127,000 Russian servicemen along Ukraine’s borders, in the occupied territories of eastern Ukraine, and in Crimea. This number has not increased since April [2021], and is not enough for a full-scale offensive.”

The report states categorically that Russian forces are not in a position to invade in the next two or three weeks and are unlikely to be able to do so in 2022. It points to the absence of ammunition and fuel along with field hospitals and trained up-to-strength military units essential to a modern army going to war. This negative judgement about the prospect of a Russian offensive is confirmed by Ukrainian ministers and defence officials who politely downplay the war hysteria in Washington and London.

Patrick Cockburn is the author of War in the Age of Trump (Verso).