Austin Bay

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.

Enter politics. The usual leftist media suspects have resurrected their usual language for short-term political gain.


“No-win war” — heard that a dozen times last week. This classic thrice: “another endless war.” That Vietnam-era anti-war cant became unilateral disarmament religion in the 1970s and 1980s when lefties bewailed the Cold War as fatal darkness powered by “capitalist greed” and doomed to end in nuclear annihilation.

Ukraine is now in an endless war. Heard that four times in the last four days.

The Beltway press dubbed Afghanistan endless, calling it America’s longest war and missing the fact the Korean War began in 1950. Korea ain’t over. No peace treaty on the Korean peninsula.

Biden didn’t end Afghanistan. He fled in demented, spineless confusion, and now it’s an Islamist terror base.

Unfortunately, some of the Cold War-era conservative stalwarts have indulged in Endless War lingo and applied it to Ukraine.

Why? Answer: All politics are local. (Footnote: Aristotle used politics to describe how Greek city-states tried to create order out of human chaos.)


U.S. stalwarts are righteously angered by the Biden administration’s criminal disregard for U.S. borders and immigration law. The Biden administration utterly fails to defend our country against an invasion sapping America’s economy, undermining America’s social safety net and destroying our political culture.

If you accept my 2004 covert action start date, Putin’s Ukraine War is entering its 21st year. Cable TV/vapid Beltway media calculation is two years.

The 2014 Crimea annexation scared Finland and Sweden. On Feb. 20, the Swedish government announced it will give Ukraine another $682 million in military aid. Since February 2022, Sweden has given Ukraine about $2.14 billion in military aid.

In 2014, Sweden still pretended it was a Cold War socialist-holier-than-thou-oh-you-American-warmongers neutral.

2024: Finland’s in NATO. Sweden will become NATO’s 32nd member.

Adding a new country requires unanimous consent by all alliance members.


In January, Turkey’s parliament approved Sweden’s application. On Feb. 20, Hungary’s governing Fidesz Party announced the Hungarian parliament would approve Sweden’s bid to join the alliance by the end of the month.

For Putin’s destabilizing, warmongering Russia — this is a huge strategic political defeat.

Number of U.S. military personnel lost in combat against Russian aggressors to achieve this strategic defeat: open-source number is zero.

Austin Bay is a syndicated columnist and author.

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