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PJ Media
PJ Media
17 Feb 2024
Rick Moran

NextImg:Ukrainian Military Retreats From Stronghold Giving Russia First Clear Victory Since May

There's no hiding it any longer. Ukraine is losing the war and it's a legitimate question to ask whether any amount of U.S. aid can reverse Kyiv's fortunes on the battlefield.

Certainly, $61 billion will help. It will prolong the war and give Ukraine hope. But the writing has been on the wall since the war began. Russia is three times the size of Ukraine with better weapons. In a war of attrition, Ukraine is an eventual loser.

Russia has taken Ukraine's eastern stronghold of Avdiivka after what the New York Times describes as "some of the fiercest fighting of the war."

“Based on the operational situation around Avdiivka, in order to avoid encirclement and preserve the lives and health of servicemen, I decided to withdraw our units from the city and move to defense on more favorable lines,” Gen. Oleksandr Syrsky, Ukraine’s top military commander, said in a statement issued overnight.

With Avdiivka a pile of rubble and Russia suffering enormous casualties to take it, a military analyst might ask just what it is that Russia has "won."

Oleksandr Tarnavskyi, the head of Ukraine’s forces in the south, said there had been no choice but to withdraw, given Russia's advantages in numbers and equipment.

“In a situation where the enemy is advancing on the corpses of their own soldiers with a 10-to-1 shell advantage, under constant bombardment, this is the only correct solution,” he said in a statement.

According to U.S. military estimates, Russia has lost about 315,000 soldiers killed or wounded in the war. Ukraine doesn't reveal its casualties but the U.S. estimates that, as of August 2023, Ukraine has suffered about 190,000 casualties. 

Any victory by Russia saps the will of Ukraine's allies to keep supplying Kyiv with weapons. It doesn't matter to Vladimir Putin the cost of lives. Any victory is one step closer to Russia achieving its war aims.

The fall of Avdiivka will likely put even more pressure on House Speaker Mike Johnson to defy Donald Trump and bring a foreign aid package to the floor for a vote. Coupled with the suspicious death of Ukraine's opposition leader, Alexey Navalny, in prison, there is a growing sentiment to help Ukraine weather the crisis.

The GOP chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Mike McCaul, says Johnson is behind the eight ball on Ukraine funding, with the far right threatening to offer a motion to vacate the chair and kick him out of the speaker's office

“I don’t see anyway of getting out of Israel, Indo Pacific and eventually Ukraine coming to the floor. He’s either going to have to do it — put it on the floor himself — or it’s going to be by virtue of a discharge petition, which is a complete evisceration of his power, because it basically says we’re going to do this without the Speaker being in charge,” McCaul said.

The Democrats are readying a discharge petition but for Republicans, supporting Ukraine and supporting a discharge petition are two different things.

The Hill:

Lawmakers could “discharge” legislation if a majority of members signed onto a petition to release it – a difficult path that would require most Democrats teaming up with at least a handful of Republicans. While Republicans hold a slim majority, Democrats could lose members of their own party in a discharge petition vote over progressive opposition to sending U.S. military support for Israel.

McCaul said Democrats would struggle to win over Republicans, even if they are supportive of Ukraine.

“I think Republicans supportive of Ukraine wouldn’t support a discharge, because it’s really going around leadership altogether,” McCaul said.

Meanwhile, Vladimir Putin is winning. He's winning at a huge cost in lives and the Russian economy. But he's winning. And in war, the only thing that matters is victory.