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The collective minefield
Two months into the counteroffensive and only days after NATO’s beano in Vilnius, Isabelle informs us, belatedly, that the Armed Forces of Ukraine does not yet possess the equipment necessary to negotiate mines Russian invaders have been planting for the last six months in the Zaporizhia direction of the front. Andrew at The New York Times says the same, adding that Ukraine’s army is also hindered by a lack of air support and the deep network of defensive structures the Russians have built.
The reports illustrate the annoying asymmetry between what Ukraine says it needs and what has actually been provided, belying the widely-held delusion among policymakers in Kyiv and its anglophone cheerleaders that there exists a magical military cupboard stocked with everything necessary to prevail against what Ivan Krastev* has called “the collective Putin.” This is obviously not the case.
The important point is to recognize that we need a fundamentally new set of ideas where the war we are in is waged endogenously. We have to theorize about foreign and domestic warplanners and refine our notions about Ukraine’s subjectiveness, or agency, as well as the capacity of the country’s leaders for reflexivity and self-awareness.
Last week, outside of NATO, the largest, most powerful liberal democracies of the world, also known as the G7, reaffirmed their commitment to Ukraine’s defense, but not to its victory, whatever that turns out to be.
In other news, the House Judiciary Committee published a 26-page preliminary report about how at least one moron at the Federal Bureau of Investigation worked hand in glove with Ukraine’s State Security Service (SBU) to take down social media accounts at the start of the Kremlin’s all-out invasion.
It’s a special kind of stupidity that would lead anyone to trust anybody/anything connected with the SBU since, er, 2019. Recall Russian agents appointed to agency by Z facilitated Russia’s attempt to decapitate Kyiv from the north and unimpeded occupation of parts of Zaporizhia and Kherson regions in early 2022. Russia then mined the areas, which Ukraine has so far unsuccessfully de-boobytraped.
[…] It was not Putin but the “collective Putin” (a mystical figure including, among others, Alexander Lukashenko, the dictator of Belarus) that decided the outcome of the crisis. Putin the individual was irate and humiliated by Wagner’s betrayal and went on TV threatening “to be harsh.” But the “collective Putin” concluded that it would be wiser to negotiate with the rebels and find an exit strategy. We now know Putin met Prigozhin and other Wagner commanders on June 29. For someone obsessed with treason and betrayal, this was a bitter pill to swallow. - Ivan Krastev (Financial Times, July 11, 2023)
The biggest obstacle to Ukraine’s counteroffensive? Minefields. Areas in front of Russian defensive strongholds in the south and east have been densely mined (The Washington Post, July 16, 2023)
Small, Hidden and Deadly: Mines Stymie Ukraine’s Counteroffensive. To gain ground, Ukrainian forces have to make their way through a variety and density of Russian land mines they never imagined (The New York Times, July 16, 2023)