The Russian social networking site Telegram is filled with the complaints of soldiers sent to the Ukrainian front.
Despite the extreme cold, they have no blankets or warm clothing.
Many soldiers drink too much alcohol to endure the cold. Many of them fall asleep and get frostbite. There are not enough medical supplies, and more than 90% of the troops are sick.
It is not only cold weather gear and medical supplies that are in short supply. France’s AFP news agency reported on the devastation of the Russian military, citing U.S. Secretary of Defense William Austin.
The U.S. and European sanctions and the Ukrainian military’s latest weapons attacks on arms depots have led to an overwhelming shortage of ammunition,” Austin told AFP. Supplies to the front lines are already being disrupted. According to Secretary Austin, without supplies from North Korea and Iran, stockpiles are expected to run out early in the new year. There is a possibility that, out of necessity, they may have to use old artillery shells that are more than 40 years old and sitting in a warehouse.
Two Fearful Scenarios
The elite troops that the Russian military relies on have also been decimated.
The Wagner Mercenaries, a private military company founded by Mr. Prigogine, an oligarch who enjoys the trust of President Vladimir Putin, is also being decimated. They were famous for their brutality and were one of the few units that remained active even when Russian military morale was low.
But on December 11, Gaidai, the governor of Lugansk Oblast in eastern Ukraine, announced on social networking sites [Wagner] has successfully attacked the hotel where its headquarters are located. Half of the wounded are expected to die due to lack of medical supplies and treatment facilities. This is a huge loss for the Russian army.”
Without weapons and ammunition, “Wagner” suffered heavy casualties. According to the British Ministry of Defense, it is almost impossible for Russia to recapture the areas retaken by Ukraine. Conversely, there is a possibility that Ukraine will recapture the entire region. What will happen to President Putin, who has been backed into a corner? Itsuro Nakamura, a professor emeritus at Tsukuba University and an expert on Russian affairs, sees two possible scenarios.
One is that he will take desperate action. According to U.S. surveys, Russia, which is running out of weapons and ammunition, is likely to launch a final offensive at the end of January next year. But the quantity and quality of weapons are not sufficient, and conventional attacks from land and air will not be enough to damage Ukraine.
One possible option is a nuclear attack on the capital, Kyiv. This is a scenario in which nuclear weapons are used as a last resort to scorch the capital and bring about a cease-fire. President Putin turned 70 this October. In Russia, where the average life expectancy is said to be 65 years, he is in the elderly category. It would not be surprising if Vladimir Putin, feeling impatient, decides to take the plunge.
The second scenario involves Putin’s life.
The second scenario involves Putin’s life: assassination. If Putin hesitates to use nuclear weapons, hardliners who think he is too soft may take action. Putin has historically conducted most of his meetings online for fear of assassination or terrorism. Recently, however, he has been holding more face-to-face meetings and standing at a podium to make speeches. It appears as if he is preparing to be assassinated,” Nakamura said.
Early in the new year, President Putin is likely to meet his doom.
Photo: Vladimir Putin： Reuters/Afro