Upheaval in Sri Lanka and spiking global energy prices are the result of Russia’s new strategy in Ukraine. By causing international shocks, Russia hopes to overawe the West once again, both presenting it the prospect of a winter energy shortage and stoking crises in the developing world. The West should respond not only by arming Ukraine and toughening sanctions. It must also break the Russian Black Sea blockade.
Russia’s military strategy in Ukraine appeared to fail resoundingly. However, its objective was never to conquer Ukraine conventionally — 200,000 men was grossly insufficient to subjugate the largest country wholly in Europe. Russian intelligence, as has been well documented, badly mistook Ukrainian combat capacity and willpower: The Ukrainian army did not collapse, nor did Zelensky flee.
Yet the purpose of Russia’s offensive was never the conventional conquest of Ukraine. Rather, it was meant to demonstrate Russia’s supposed overwhelming power, shocking the West enough to preclude NATO unity and support. Russia sought to exploit the West’s growing self-doubts as it played on previous biases, particularly the conventional wisdom that Russia’s assault would be sufficiently ferocious to overwhelm Ukraine within hours. The Donbas offensive has the same purpose. The Russian military is demonstrably incompetent and struggles with basic operational skills. Yet it has an overwhelming matériel advantage, a historical penchant for saturation offense, and a callous indifference to civilian lives and the lives of its own soldiers. Hence its grinding offensive in the Donbas creates the impression of an inevitable Russian advance.
Read the rest at National Review.