The Forgotten War – 26 October 2023


Time was when war in Europe seemed unthinkable but then came Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. For a time, it was never off our screens and the lands plight on everyone’s lips. Now the carnage in Gaza dominates not just media reporting but political interests. Other than an atrocity, and even then, in the margins, Ukraine has almost become the forgotten war.

A Ukrainian summer offensive was eagerly anticipated by western military commentators egged on by armchair generals. According to them it would see the Russians rolled back and Putin either toppled or arrested and, on his way, to stand trial at the Hague, if not strung up on a Moscow lamppost.

Instead, winter nears, and the offensive has made very limited progress, if not stalled and with further Russian incursions in parts. Worse than that has been the cost for Ukraine it’s army and it’s people who are requiring to endure all this. Western equipment may have been provided but it still requires poor damn squaddies to man it; amongst them the carnage has been brutal. Britain continues to spout the number of Russian dead.

But what of Ukrainian losses. Reported figures are 70,000 fatalities according to US sources as quoted in the New York Times. But evidence from other sources according to Irish Historian Geoffery Roberts suggests a conservative estimate of 150,000-200,000 and some have even said it could be higher. Just as tragically the Wall Street Journal reporting that 20,000-50,000 Ukrainians have lost one or more limbs.

Ukraine’s being bled white with partially fit men now requiring to be mobilized. Meanwhile many other young men have fled abroad to avoid conscription. The idea that Russians were fleeing military service whilst Ukrainians all proudly marching to the front was always nonsense. Sophisticated weapons may have been flying in but the men just aren’t there.

American think tank Jamestown Foundation, connected to the American intelligence community, suggested that the Ukrainian population has shrunk from 30 million to just 20 million. Maybe an underestimate but millions have fled and of those remaining only so many can be mobilized, in a land devastated by war.

Russian losses have been far greater but the balance of power between the two states isn’t equal. As American military historian Michael Vlahos suggested comparison exists with the American Civil War in the contrast between two sides. One larger, with a bigger army and economy. The outcome largely preordained unless the smaller could flip support from powerful nations. The Confederacy sought British and French intervention, but they stayed out and the cause doomed, despite Robert E Lee and his troops.

No wonder Zelensky was doing the rounds of European capitals pleading for increased support and hoping for American or NATO intervention. But it’s not coming and with the focus now on the Middle East, even the supply of armaments in doubt. A modern-day Western Front ‘s just continued carnage for all.

If as former German Chancellor Schroder has suggested peace moves have been obstructed by the USA, that’s disgraceful. Hawks pushing from the side lines aren’t dying. Ukraine’s being bled white and it’s economy ruined. Peace and diplomacy must be pursued.

The absurdity’s that the war’s trigger of Ukrainian NATO’s memberships now abandoned. The Minsk Accords were the basis years ago for peace and need resuscitated fast.