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Does Zelenskyy Have Putin on the Ropes?

Does Zelenskyy Have Putin on the Ropes?

Any day now, the Ukraine military will mount an official counteroffensive against the Russian military.  The OFFICIAL counteroffensive that is.  It appears that there is already ongoing preparatory action taking place to soften up the Russian war machine.

Some military experts see the battle over Bakhmut as an initial phase of the pre-offensive offensive.  To justify its claims of a highly touted Spring offensive, Putin had to put all his effort into the minimally strategic city of Bakhmut.  Furthermore, Putin had to rely heavily on the mercenary Wagner Group to shore up his overextended and underperforming military.  The commander of the Group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, has expressed his dissatisfaction with the Russian military in the strongest of terms.  Even as they claim victory in Bakhmut, Prigozhin is reported to be concerned about getting surrounded by the Ukrainian forces in the region.

That may be the reason that Prigozhin has announced the withdrawal of his troops from Bakhmut.  That will leave the defense of the city up to the Russian military, which Prigozhin conceded will not be able to hold the city. He went on to criticize Putin’s handling of the war, and expressed his belief that Ukraine would likely win.  Some analysts believe Prigozhin is angling to be Putin’s successor.

Bakhmut was a lopsided battle with all the odds in Russia’s favor.  But rather than cede that ground to Putin, the Ukraine military put up a major defense of the city.  

While it was not a winning the initial battle for Ukraine, they forced Russia to expend a lot of resources – human and weaponry – on what in retrospect seems to be a pyrrhic victory.  Russia lost major military resources and an estimated 100,000 wounded or killed soldiers – resources Putin needs against the yet-to-come official Ukrainian offensive.  And now the city will be essentially surrendered to the Ukrainian military.

It is unlikely to be a coincidence that there is a sudden increase in rearguard actions and incidents on Russian soil.  There were two drone attacks on the Kremlin.  They were not a serious threat to Putin, who is bunkered in his office.  They did, however, serve as a symbol of a counteroffensive to the heart of Moscow.  It demonstrated that Putin’s enemies – whether Ukrainian or domestic – can reach the Kremlin.

More recently, there was a fire at the Russian Ministry of Defense.  Despite the obvious presence of smoke, the official Kremlin line is that there was no fire.  From outside observations, it appeared that there was a small fire on one of the balconies of the MoD.  What can be said is that no one in the building – or the building itself – was significantly impacted by the incident.  Perhaps this was just another symbolic attack to show that Putin’s enemies are not 400 miles away.

More important have been the more serious attacks on Russian assets on both sides of the Ukrainian/Russian border.  In a major cross-border attack, pro-Ukrainian Russian fighters mounted a two-day attack on Belgorod – causing considerable damage to military assets, buildings, and infrastructure.  It was described as the “most brazen” attack on Russian soil since the onset of the Russian invasion.

The attack was carried out by one or two anti-Putin Russian organizations – the Free Russia Legion and the International Legion.  Both took credit and have indicated that their goal was to destabilize the Putin government and draw military resources from the frontline.

Putin has accused Ukraine of promoting and organizing the attack.  Ukraine has disavowed any involvement.  Uh huh!  However, it was planned and carried out; it revealed a major vulnerability and weakness in the Russian offensive and defensive operations.

While Belgorod was a major event, there have been literally hundreds – perhaps thousands – of organic or spontaneous domestic attacks on Russian facilities.  They have ranged from firebombs to general vandalism.  Since Russian media censors prevent the reporting of these events, a precise number cannot be confirmed.  However, there are sufficient indications from witnesses and Western reporting to believe that the number of self-motivated attacks is significant and widespread.

In addition to the physical damage, these attacks tend to counter the propaganda from the Kremlin as to the purpose of the invasion – and its progress.  They reveal increasing domestic dissatisfaction with Putin’s dirty little war.  

Russia is also more vulnerable to direct Ukrainian attacks when the counteroffensive launches.  There has been a softening of the ban on attacking inside Russia by Western allies.  It now allows for attacks on military installations and assets inside Russia that are directly associated with the war effort.  In addition, Ukraine is being provided with long range missiles that can reach a hundred and fifty miles into Russia – not enough to reach Moscow but enough to attack Russian forces and facilities along the border.

The recent agreement by NATO nations – not the United States, however — to give Ukraine fighter jets is a significant game-changer.  Given the sophistication of Western weaponry, this could essentially ground the Russian air force.

It is entirely possible that the upcoming counteroffensive will be the beginning of the end for Vladimir Putin.  The man may be on the ropes.  We can only hope so.

So, there ‘tis.

About The Author

Larry Horist

So,there‘tis… The opinions, perspectives and analyses of Larry Horist Larry Horist is a businessman, conservative writer and political strategist with an extensive background in economics and public policy. Clients of his consulting firm have included such conservative icons as Steve Forbes and Milton Friedman. He has served as a consultant to the Nixon White House and travelled the country as a spokesman for President Reagan’s economic reforms. He has testified as an expert witness before numerous legislative bodies, including the U. S. Congress. Horist has lectured and taught courses at numerous colleges and universities, including Harvard, Northwestern, DePaul universities, Hope College and his alma mater, Knox College. He has been a guest on hundreds of public affairs talk shows, and hosted his own program, “Chicago In Sight,” on WIND radio. Horist was a one-time candidate for mayor of Chicago and served as Executive Director of the City Club of Chicago, where he led a successful two-year campaign to save the historic Chicago Theatre from the wrecking ball. An award-winning debater, his insightful and sometimes controversial commentaries appear frequently on the editorial pages of newspapers across the nation. He is praised by readers for his style, substance and sense of humor. According to one reader, Horist is the “new Charles Krauthammer.” He is actively semi-retired in Boca Raton, Florida where he devotes his time to writing. So, there ‘tis is Horist’s signature sign off.

13 Comments

  1. frank stetson

    Larry doing his comedy sketch again……remember UKRAINE: BIDEN’S WAR OF WISHFUL THINKING?

    Amazing how he waxes Putin poetic pending punishing counterattacks and yet can’t man-up to mention Biden’s part in all this.

    Biden is the one who allowed allies to train and ultimately provide US F16’s to Ukraine. Come on man, you’ve got a emotional problems on this one. BIDEN BIDEN BIDEN.

    Russia to put tactical nukes in Belarus, but I know, little nukes no bother Larry.

  2. larry Horist

    Frank Stetson …. You want me to credit Biden for being always too little, too late. Actually, I have an upcoming commentary on Biden that expresses my opinion. I am sure you will not like it.

    • Frank Stetson.

      Did I say credit?

      I would settle for factual.

      How can you run a story about Ukraine and F16s and not mention Biden? But you did.

  3. Randy Moore

    Great article Larry, just like all your articles. I believe we’re going to see some heavy changes in the Ukraine war this year, hopefully with Russia making a leadership change to stop their young men from dying needlessly. Ukraine and Zelenskyy have shown incredible grit and will to fight. The Ukraine story will be required reading for future military historians

    • Tom

      Excellent comment. You are so very right!!

      • frank stetson

        At this point, if I was betting, I would guess that Putin has to go if the war will ever end without a Ukrainian total defeat. I don’t think his culture will allow him to pull back and remain in power.

  4. Mike f

    Larry, Had to chuckle as I recall your posts on the war in Ukraine from earlier in the war. Wonder how many of your readers recall those? For anyone who has forgotten, a synopsis would be “I wish you well Ukraine, but it’s just a matter of time till Russia conquers you”. So much for the all seeing prognostication Larry. Of course you don’t want to give Biden any credit, but the support from the IS and NATO (and a lot of Ukrainian moxie) is what has kept them going. Sure, you can say we should have done more, but I guarantee that if either of the two leading contenders for the Republican nomination in 2024 had been in office, there would have been much less (especially with geniuses like MTG nipping at their heels…)

    • Tom

      Yes I do remember. I think Larry is personally rooting for Ukraine but tempers his enthusiasm with a dose of reality. The issue was that the Russian army failed Larry. The Russian army had poor planning and rotten equipment that was well beyond Larry’s and our ability to conceive. I also was rooting for Ukraine because of my heritage. But if Ukraine would have been a stock on the Dow, I probably would have held my purchase for a little while as well.

    • larry Horist

      Mikef …. More lies. This tine it is an invented quote. That was not my prognostication. Like many, i was concerned that without massive support from the United States and NATO, Ukraine could have fallen. Zelenskyy has been getting missive help from NATO — less so from the United States. Britain, Poland and the Baltic nations have all asked Biden to do more. Biden engages in tough talk by used his power to LIMIT military aid to Ukraine. No jets No tanks. No offensive weapons. No attacking inside Russia. Limited sanctions on Russia despite his claim of complete sanctions. More talk with limited action. Yes … Biden gradually did more — but that was under pressure from NATO Allies. And Biden is still not up to NATO-level support. In a recent CNN report, they highlight Ukraine’s NEW weaponry — tanks from Germany, advance rocket launchers from Britain, planes from Poland. Despite his talk, Biden has not been all in for Ukraine. And when you and Frank attack my opinion, you are attacking the opinion of all those generals I see on MSNBC and CNN.

      You close with your personal hypothetical — and probably wrong, as usual. The Republicans in Congress have been giving Ukraine everything Biden has requested — and would like approve more if Biden would not prevent it. I think that is also true of most Democrats in Congress.

      • Frank stetson

        Larry : it’s not mike and I; it’s almost anyone who questions you, has a different opinion, or corrects you with proof even and you have a hissy fit crying that they’re reading your mind, creating doppelgängers, making stuff up or using msm.

        Wah, mike’s a liar, toss Frank in, wah. You attack me, you attack my sources I don’t source, wah.

      • Mike f

        Larry, Larry, Do you not know the difference between a quote and a synopsis? Apparently not. I did not quote you, but rather have a generalized review of what you had previously said. I dislike you telling me that I am lying and then proceed to prove with your own words that I wasn’t. Such ignorance on your part! And while congress has been generally supportive of aid to Ukraine-I was talking about the two idiots who lead in the presidential race-another misconception on your part (senility is taking its toll on you). Both have indicated they want much less support for Ukraine. So there tis-if you can’t read and understand people’s comments, you really should give this up…

        • larry Horist

          Mikef … I do know the difference, but you apparently do not. A synopsis does not require QUOTATION MARKS. You put something in quotes and then say it is not a quote. And then instead of admitting your error, you double down on you stupidity.
          You must have taken the same course in English that Adam Schiff took. You know, the guy who opened a hearing with a phony quote.

  5. Tom

    I think if Putin doesn’t do something drastic and quick, he will have a civil war or revolution on his hands. It does appear that Putin is on the ropes but I would not count him out yet. I personally hope he is very on the ropes; however, his replacement could be worse. I would rather see a very damaged Putin in power than a new Russian hawk like Prigozhin. And lets not forget that Biden made sure to keep China in checkmate on this one! Which may be why China is willfully dumping so much dirt on Biden now.

    Frank is correct, Biden has sent armaments and supplies. And I will add that he has kept China out of supplying Russia. So three cheers for Biden! Hip hip for Biden! Hip hip for Biden! Hip hip for Biden!!

    Larry is correct as well. In the beginning the very good reason for not sending in the latest tech weapons was nobody was sure of the Ukrainian resolve. But after they proved themselves on the battlefield, and repeatedly proved their courage and consistently passed the “test of resolve” Biden should have accelerated the flow of tech weapons. He was a bit slow. However being slow just may have avoided WWIII. Time will tell.

    I was pretty sure personally of Ukrainian resolve because half of my family is still in Poland and many Polish families share the atrocities of their “Soviet Era”. Polish and Ukrainians have many co-mingled families. Nobody wants to go back to that because millions died. We Poles remember and pass the history of when Stalin slaughtered over 22,000 Polish ranking military and educated people and left Poland with nothing more than peasants to work the fields, and then took their best hams and other foods which they continued to do all the way up to Leck Wolensa. And we pass on the Bolshy invasion before that. And we pass on the Stalin designed famine in Ukraine commonly called the Holodomor. I heard these stories as a kid and passed them to my child – we will never go back to that era!

    So I think when everything is placed on the scales, the arrow still points in favor of Biden’s handling of the situation. But he did so as a joint Dem-GOP effort. And much of this was possible because Biden did heal the international and NATO divisions that Trump created, lets give him some credit for that! This does go to show what we can do when we work together and heal our divisions!