Dr. Salem Al Ketbi
Dr. Salem Al KetbiCourtesy

Many in the West are going around sounding the alarm about the danger of a beaten-down Russia in the Ukraine war. On the other hand, most Western politicians stress the “imperative” of breaking the Kremlin’s resolve in this clash. In a recent Bloomberg interview, former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger cautioned against pushing Russia into “resentful impotence,” as it could result in unforeseeable repercussions. He also highlighted that the dominant military mindset in the geopolitical realm could escalate the Russian-Ukrainian conflict into a full-blown global showdown, with the potential involvement of China and other nations.

The Ukraine situation is currently ramping up, but it’s mostly happening off the radar. Russia brags about annihilating newly acquired German Leopard tanks by the Ukrainian army, as per their Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. Prepared for the arrival of American F-16 fighter jets in Ukraine, Russia claims to have a fitting technological and military response in store.

The reality unfolds with the sight of decimated Western weaponry amidst Ukrainian forests, increasingly fueling the anger of Western capitals. This intensifies the inclination of the West/NATO to offer further assistance, aiming to bolster Ukraine’s prospects of dealing a blow to the Russian military.

The much-discussed Ukrainian counteroffensive, which has captivated global attention for several months, kicked off some time ago. Its initial outcomes defied the expectations of Ukrainian and Western pundits. A number of German Leopard 2 tanks fell prey to Russian lightweight Lancet drones, despite these not being specifically designed for tank destruction. These drones can only engage lightly armored vehicles and carry explosive payloads weighing no more than 3 kilograms. With a range of up to 40 kilometers and a low production cost, they have proven their effectiveness. Due to its diminutive size and exceptional ability to navigate at extremely low altitudes, the Lancet assumes an impactful tactical role.

The current state of affairs indicates a substantial shift in the conflict, now primarily pitting Russian weaponry against Western counterparts, carrying major implications for the military’s strategic equilibrium, the reliability rates of military industries and the interconnected aspects of arms sales and agreements. The dissemination of visuals portraying the obliteration of numerous Leopard 2 tanks, French-made AMX-10 tanks, as well as armored combat vehicles, including the American Bradley, has left the Western media astounded.

Let’s not forget the reports of Russia capturing two intact Leopard 2 tanks, which will be transported to Russia for thorough examination of their technological secrets and an assessment of their strengths and weaknesses.

There have been suggestions from some observers that the US will hold back on permitting Ukraine to deploy American Abrams tanks in the ongoing conflict. They fear that the tanks’ destruction could spell catastrophic consequences for the reputation of the American defense industry.

Speculations also arise regarding Germany’s support for Ukraine, with the possibility of scaling back or restricting the delivery of modern weaponry. This consideration stems from the losses suffered by Germany’s latest weapons on the Ukrainian battlefield, which would severely tarnish the reputation of German armaments. It is estimated that approximately 25% of the recently supplied Western weapons to the Ukrainian army have been destroyed.

A notable sign hinting at the impending failure of the Ukrainian counteroffensive emerged from British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly, who said that the attack by Kiev forces may not necessarily yield a swift or decisive military outcome in Ukraine. Underlining the possibility of a protracted duration, Cleverly stressed the importance for the West to be prepared in continuing their support for Kiev.

The looming prospect of Ukrainian military collapse has the potential to thrust the West into a direct clash with Russia. Gradually gaining traction in the West, this hypothesis is fortified by the scarcity of viable political alternatives capable of persuading the warring factions to explore different avenues. Furthermore, the recent setbacks endured by the Ukrainian army entice Russian military commanders to prolong the conflict, aiming to completely dismantle Ukrainian defenses and secure a military triumph in spite of extensive Western backing.

The Russian leadership will not tolerate their armed forces succumbing to defeat in Ukraine, even if it takes the use of nuclear weaponry. This conviction stands firm among the majority of experts and specialists. Nevertheless, in spite of this, the West persists in its pursuit of a military triumph over the Russian army, yet all forms of assistance rendered to Ukraine thus far have fallen short of achieving or even nearing this objective.

Consequently, the war turns into a ceaseless vortex of attrition, no longer solely concerning Ukraine, its territories, and its sovereignty. It has become intimately intertwined with NATO’s capabilities, having been enticed into offering nearly unwavering support to the Ukrainian armed forces. It is also intricately tied to the standing of Russian and Western armaments, their diverse origins and manufacturing processes, as well as military deterrence and the equilibrium of global power. Furthermore, it is linked to the reputation of these weapons themselves, alongside their capacity to uphold their market share and worldwide proliferation.

Importantly, this war is entangled with the burgeoning aspiration of the American side to neutralize Russia in the forthcoming clash with China. There exists a prevailing notion that a military victory over Russia would entail the downfall of Putin, leading to his disappearance from the Russian political stage. This, in turn, could plunge the country into a phase of turmoil from which it may not emerge until the contest for global dominance with China is settled.

The predicament spawned by this war is that the West comprehends fully the perils of a defeated Russia. Yet, simultaneously, it recognizes the far-reaching ramifications of Ukraine’s defeat and its implications on a global scale. Between these two suppositions, the West’s choices fluctuate, with everyone seemingly deferring their resolution to the circumstances and the unfolding of the war on the ground.

Dr. Salem AlKetbi is a UAE political analyst