Contributing USMA Research Unit(s)

Mathematical Sciences

Publication Date

Fall 9-15-2022

Publication Title

Center for European Policy Analysis (Washington, D.C.)

Document Type



News commentaries, opinion pieces, and editorials tend to focus on the bigger picture. These outlets discuss the clash between political systems, the force ratio, and differences in macroeconomics, and seek to understand the leader’s intent. But the soldier’s view is much more personal —seeing a continuous stream of fellow soldiers die or suffer wounds for months on end; ordered to launch futile attacks the Ukrainians repel; suffering strikes from modern Western weapons with unprecedented effects when you least expect it; daily witnessing spirals of smoke from knocked out tanks, vehicles; barely any company commanders left alive along the front, while more senior officers worrying about HIMARS attacks hide in shelters far from the front; intermittent starvation due to a failed logistic chain; and on top of all this, a national leader in denial. These developments compound one another. A significant number of Russian units have now lost the will to fight (as on the Kharkiv front), placing greater pressure on those with a continuing esprit de corps, and ultimately paving the way for Russian defeat. It doesn’t matter whether Russia has lost 1,500 or 500 tanks; what matters is when Russian troops lose the will to fight. As units start to disintegrate, their casualties soar; Nazi Germany’s casualties on the Eastern front skyrocketed after the fall of 1943, when they lost the initiative and beaten units with intermittent supply and coordination straggled back towards the River Oder and Berlin. Ukraine’s current dual counteroffensive matters because it once again signals to Russian soldiers that their cause is lost, that there is no successful endgame, and that there is only pain and death in front of them. Putin’s grip over Russia is sliding away in slow motion, a drip-drip of authority that increases with every tank turret blasted into the Ukrainian sky. For an authoritarian regime, this is a disaster, and brings nearer the day when the military loses its fear of ignoring or disobeying orders, ceases to fight, and instead trains its disillusioned eyes on the man in the Kremlin who made this mess.