Mariupol, Ukraine
Mariupol, UkraineReuters

Germany has just agreed to send a large number of German-made Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine. The United States is preparing a multi-billion dollar aid package for that battered country, one which will include longer-range missiles, equipment for Patriot air defense systems, precision munitions, and Javelin anti-tank weapons.

And precisely now, the prospect of a Ukrainian defeat is finally being admitted in the mainstream.

"Russia is likely to emerge from this war not only militarily ... but politically victorious," is the conclusion of an opinion piece in the German-language Welt. "Russia has so far destroyed 60 to 70 percent of the critical Ukrainian infrastructure. It's inconceivable that Kiev will receive sufficient air defense systems ... to stop the Russian orgy of destruction."

Furthermore, with electricity now scarce, fixing the extensive damages becomes more and more of a challenge. But Ukraine is not just short of energy and materiel. The army is also facing a manpower crisis.

"The longer the war drags on, the more Ukraine is running out of soldiers. It is already ... in its eighth wave of mobilization, with men over 60 now being sent to the front."

Ukraine is set to receive its new tanks, all 140 of them, by the end of March. Experts assess that Russia has as many as 4,000 tanks being readied for battle and predict that the fiercest fighting is yet to come. The author of the article in Welt visualizes that fighting ending in a crushing defeat for Ukraine, with ceasefire negotiations resulting in the country being barred from NATO membership for the foreseeable future, and its membership in the European Union put on the back burner.

As to why this is happening, after long months during which world leaders insisted that Russia must never be allowed to win, the article suggests that those same countries are fearful of escalation and weary of war. "Anyone who talks to Western diplomats hears more and more often about ... hopes for a quick ceasefire." If so, why are they continuing to arm Ukraine? "One can only suspect a strategy is at work here."