The More the West Supports, the More Ukraine Loses Its Lands

The Liberty asked a former U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel, who had served in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and is well aware of the reality of the disconnect between government information and media reports from the reality of the battlefield, to analyze the war in Ukraine(as of July 7th).


Daniel L. Davis


Daniel L. Davis is a Senior Fellow for Defense Priorities and a former Lt. Col. in the U.S. Army who deployed into combat zones four times. He is the author of “The Eleventh Hour in 2020 America.” Follow him @DanielLDavis1.

Interviewer: In the article you co-authored with Ms. Gabbard, you pointed out that policies in Kyiv and Washington seem to ignore battlefield realities.

Also, in your latest article There Is No ‘Magic Bullet’ That Can Turn The Tide For Ukraine, you pointed out that the more Ukrainian Armed Forces continue fighting, the more Zelensky’s troops will be killed, and more Ukrainian cities will be turned to rubble. You also shed light on the reality that Russia will almost certainly win a tactical victory, stating “the harsh truth is that the longer Zelensky and his Western supporters continue pursuing unrealistic objectives, the more likely Ukraine eventually suffers an outright military defeat.”

I believe this point is crucial because it seems that President Zelensky and President Biden think that if they can win popularity, then they can also win the war. But that’s not the case. So firstly, could you tell us the reason why you decided to raise an alarm over the current situation in which the U.S. is getting much too involved?

Lt. Col. Davis: I have more than 20 years of experience in the military, having served in both the Iraq wars and then two tours in Afghanistan. I have fought in high intensity armored combat, been a trainer of foreign military personnel, and engaged in classic counterinsurgency. I have a lot of direct experience on modern battlefields and I have a pretty good understanding of what’s going on in Ukraine, as many of the battles taking place there are on terrain similar to what I maneuvered over in Germany for years. Sadly, I also have experience seeing how some of our military and civilian leaders tell the American public and Congress misleading information, stating that wars were going well, even though reality clearly indicated otherwise.

I’ve seen so many times where people want to say, “Ukraine can win this.” and “Ukraine can keep fighting so we need to send them more weapons,” I cringe when I hear such things because my combat experience tells me that a Ukraine victory under current circumstances represents such an unrealistic possibility. Because so much in war is based on just fundamentals and just practical things, and a balance of power and a comparison of forces. We can try to spin things all we want, but the battlefield outcomes are not subject to “messaging.”

It’s like a lot of people are thinking these days, “Okay. Well, the Taliban was grossly inferior to the US military, and yet they won,” or the Viet Cong in the Vietnam War were inferior to the US and yet they won. Or to the Mujahideen, to the Soviets, etc. So, people in the West keep observing all these weaker powers win, so they conclude Ukraine can win too. Well, that’s a fundamentally different kind of war. Now, when you’re talking about the force on force, the Ukrainian Army, the Russian army, and any kind of state-on-state conflict really since 1914, there are the fundamentals that are at play related to the type of weaponry, the number of troops you have, the number of trained troops the other side has, the ability to sustain combat operations, and logistically sustain ammunition, fuel, food, etc. So taking into account those factors, you assess how each of them-how it affects each state. And when I see that the overwhelming advantage in nearly every military fundamental lies with Russia, I mean, it’s just almost mathematical. It’s a near impossibility that Ukraine can continue to resist against those odds and eventually prevail.

Now, they did really well in the first battle, especially the one north of Kyiv. They kept Russia from coming into the capital city because Russia made some disastrous tactical mistakes. But in state-on-state conflict, it’s not just about who wins a battle; it’s about who wins the war. And when you look at the cumulative advantages that Russia has in air power, artillery, industrial capacity, logistics, the ability to produce fuel, and to get those supplies back and forth from the factories all the way up to the front line, and then you look at the Ukrainian side, you realize they have almost none of those advantages. They have no airpower to speak of, just a handful of sorties here and there. Their air defenses are already degraded and can’t even stop Russia’s up to 300 sorties per day and are rarely able to shoot down a Russian fighter aircraft. All of Ukraine’s industrial capacity, for the most part, has been destroyed because Russia has missiles and precision guided munitions that Ukraine doesn’t even have.

And there’s been like 2,400 - or something like that - launched since the beginning of the war. Ukraine has no answer for any of those. But these things are destroying factories, they’re destroying depots, they’re destroying storage facilities, barracks, I mean, all throughout Ukraine. You take all those factors combined, and any non-emotionally involved person would rationally say, “There is just no practical way that Ukraine could ever win.” And if Kyiv continues to fight, all they’re going to do is keep dying and losing yet more territory.

So as someone who has experienced combat and has studied the situation and can quantify why things are the way they are, I felt an obligation to write on this and continue saying it over and over in the hopes that at some point enough people will pay attention. Because otherwise, the only impression people have is that told by the Western media, in the US and UK in particular, where there is so much talk about optimism and positivity and how Ukraine is going to launch a “million-man” offensive in August, etc. And they’re going to turn around and say “Look at all these casualties Russia has had. They’re going to fall apart at any minute. They’re incompetent. Their leaders are terrible. They’re unmotivated. They don’t even obey orders. Some of them refuse to fight.” All these things make it sound like everything’s going the way of Ukraine. And I know that in terms of the arc of war, it’s just not true. So I thought I’d better do something about it. And that’s why I’ve written the things that I have.

Interviewer: I see. could you give me more detail about this point? Since the fact that if Ukrainian Armed Forces continue fighting Russia will almost certainly win a tactical victory is really crucial and actually, very difficult to understand especially for the West.

Lt. Col. Davis: So today, President Zelensky of Ukraine reiterated again his declaration that he is absolutely not going to cede any land to reach a negotiated settlement with Russia (as of July 7th). He said that again today. In Moscow, Putin said today that, “The longer you wait to make a negotiated deal, the worse it’s going to be for you.” And he said, “There are all these people that keep saying that Ukraine thinks that they’re going to defeat Russia. Let them try.” Because he knows what he has, he sees the same thing I do. And he sees the same thing on the ground, and of course, he knows quite a bit more than I do. But just from seeing the actual results on the field, he knows that he can defeat Ukrainian Forces. So he’s very confident with that. And he knows that while he doesn’t want to pay in blood for all of that territory he’s trying to get through negotiations, there is little chance that he’s going to stop short when he knows that continuing the war will conquer more territory.

So today, as of right now, Ukraine still possesses Kharkiv in the north (as of July 7th). They still possess Odessa in the south. So they at least have some access to the Black Sea coast. And they possess most of the Donetsk Oblast right now. That’s not going to be the case much longer. If they continue with this fiction that at the end of the summer they’re going to turn things around and start to go on the offensive, they’re very possibly going to lose one or maybe even all three of those areas – Kharkiv, Odessa, and the remainder of the Donetsk Oblast - by the end of the fall. Now then, let’s just say that it’s the 1st of January right now, and you look backwards and then you see Kharkiv is gone, Odessa is gone, all of Donetsk is gone. In fact, most of Ukraine up to the Dnieper River is gone. And all of the Black Sea coast, all of the Azov sea coast is gone. Now then, at that moment, if you could go back in time to July the 7th and say, “You know what, let’s make a deal now, and I keep all of that, that would seem like a really good outcome at that time. The reality, of course, is once the territory has been lost, it is very nearly impossible to get it back. The best chance Kyiv will ever have to retain possession of those areas is by making a negotiated settlement now.

And look, Kyiv has a deal with the European Union for accelerated application for EU membership. So they have a path over the future to rebuild all that they have lost, to make a good economy, to have a good quality of life, to build their armed forces back. Declaring neutrality doesn’t mean that you surrender to the Russians. Nothing close to that. You still maintain full control of your armed forces and full defense of your territory, etc., as long as you have territory. But one of the things that the senior leaders of Ukraine keeps saying over and over is that they are winning. For example, when they withdrew from Lysychansk they said it was because they were conducting a fighting withdrawal which they called “a successful military operation” because “we’re buying time and imposing a cost on Russia for each of these territorial acquisitions so that when we get enough of the Western arms in place at the end of August next month, then that’s when we’ll go on the offensive.”

But when you take a look at the cumulative list of everything that the West at large has promised or delivered already to Ukraine, it’s a fraction of what’s needed to enable an army to go on a theater-level offensive. I mean, there’s not enough total equipment coming. There’s I think less than 200 artillery pieces, 200 some-odd of the old tanks, and what, 12 or 15 (multiple) rocket launchers. And they need 300 such launchers! So far no more has been promised at this point and that isn’t anywhere near enough to justify a claim of launching an offensive.

Meanwhile -and this is a point I really want to make sure people understand -even if you somehow manage to get all of that equipment, it wouldn’t be enough to turn the tide against Russian forces.  There was a really good analysis that I saw earlier today conducted in the United States, and it showed that if we equipped five combat brigades worth of Ukraine, it would take like 60% or so of all of the armor vehicles in the US inventory in some categories. Of course, it is unrealistic to believe the U.S. would surrender that much equipment because we’re never going to deplete our own inventories that we may one day need to defend our own country and arm our own army. But even if Biden somehow chose to give that equipment to Kyiv, it would still be like about 30% of what they would need to even have a chance. You would have to have -I wrote something earlier during the war (Counterattack – How Ukraine Can Drive Russia Out (Part III: Building an Offensive Army) – 19FortyFive) – about 75 battalion tactical groups, which is probably somewhere in the order of 15 brigades. So that’s one third of what they would need to have a viable chance at a successful counteroffensive. Even the West in total is highly unlikely to ever give Ukraine the thousands of modern combat vehicles that would be required to launch a major counteroffensive.

So when you see there’s no help coming, when you’re fighting and losing people in each of these Donbas cities to try to delay the Russian advance – and you know the equipment necessary to launch an offensive isn’t coming – what’s the purpose of continuing to fight? What are you buying time for? Because there’s no salvation coming over the horizon. There’s no cavalry coming to your rescue, and there’s not enough equipment coming for your troops, and ― this is the last point here – even if somehow magically we did give all of those weapons, there’s nobody to man them because Ukraine has already lost the vast majority of its trained troops.

I mean, they’re losing two, three hundred people per day. Up to 1,000 total casualties every day. And they’re being replaced by conscripts and people who’ve never even been in the military. And very oftentimes, as you see reports coming in now pretty frequently from the western side, that there are troops that, in some cases, about 20%, have never even fired a weapon until they get into combat. That’s how little training they have. They’re just giving them the least that they can and shipping them to the front. And you’re talking about truck drivers, school teachers, butchers. They don’t know anything about war, and yet they’re thrown immediately into the battle against front-line Russian troops. And it’s just unconscionable. And to me, it’s immoral for the leadership of Ukraine to throw their troops into a battle they can’t win when the fundamentals show that they don’t have a rational chance of succeeding.

Interviewer: So true. You also presented your outlook on how this war could escalate toward the nuclear threshold, stating, “The world is already at a greater risk of nuclear war than at any time since the 1962 Cuban missile crisis.” Do you think the statesmen in Kyiv and Washington realize this knife-edge situation?

Lt. Col. Davis: Well, let’s take that in two parts. For Kyiv, they’re not concerned about escalation at all. They don’t care anything about that because they know that they have a foreign army in their country right now. They want to do anything to draw the West in. I mean, they’ve been saying from the beginning that they wanted a NATO no-fly zone. They would love for NATO to become allied with them and to fight with them, of course. And I understand that. I mean, who wouldn’t? If your country is being invaded by another country, you will do whatever it takes to try to get help.

So I get that. But the other side of that equation, the United States, I don’t think that there’s enough understanding of what the potential of nuclear escalation means anymore; what a nuclear bomb detonating on our soil would mean. You could really see the difference from the way the United States responded to the 1956 Soviet invasion into Hungary (I wrote about this analogy about three months before the war: 1956 Hungary and 1968 Czechoslovakia: Lessons for Taiwan and Ukraine Today? – 19FortyFive). At that time, Western people were just as upset about that invasion as they are today, but you heard, at that time, the then Vice president Richard Nixon, saying, “We’d like to help you, but we’re not going to risk a nuclear war with Russia over this.” And the American people understood that. So the 1956 invasion was a relatively short action and was over quickly. We didn’t get involved. We certainly didn’t do all the things that risk conflict with a nuclear superpower as we are today. But it eventually played out, and everybody went on, and we know what happened after that (obviously it was bad for Hungary, but the war didn’t escalate and no one else was drawn into war). The Soviets put down the rebellion, and years later, Hungary finally got their own freedom. But the war didn’t escalate anywhere, and no one was going to risk it.

At that time, 1956, that was only eleven years after people observed what nuclear explosions could do, how they could literally destroy entire cities. That was very fresh on everybody’s mind at that time. That’s not the case anymore. August 1945 is so far in the distant memory that today’s leaders, they just seem oblivious to the grave risk. They just don’t seem to, I mean, other than, categorically, yes, nuclear weapons are bad, but they don’t seem to understand that they’re taking risks with a nuclear-armed country. They’re trying to see how far they can go, seeming to think, “How far can we go? How much can we get involved and not trigger a nuclear strike?” They’re playing with it. And in my view, that shouldn’t even be on the table. We shouldn’t even be playing with those kinds of possibilities. We should avoid them like we did in 1956. But instead we want to say, “All right. How many rocket launchers can we give Ukraine? How many missiles can we give them?” And all these are resulting in Russian soldiers being killed, and we don’t know how long that can go on until Russia finally says, “Okay. You’re now at war with us. You didn’t pull the trigger, but you gave them the launchers, you gave them the rockets, and you likely gave them targeting data, and you are now killing our soldiers.” And especially if they, for example, if instead of eight launchers for the launchers, let’s say we send 30 or 50. And now, all of a sudden, it’s actually making a tactical difference on the ground because the Ukraine military would then have saturating fires. Well, you can see that Putin may say, “Okay. You have escalated this. Now I’m going to escalate myself. Now I’m going to start firing into civilian areas of Kiev,” or some other counteraction. “So I’m going to shoot your depots on the Polish side of the border where you’re preparing all these things so that we can knock them out before they get there.”

To him, that would be logical, but to us (the West), now you struck NATO territory. Now all of a sudden, it’s potentially NATO against Russia, which of course, like I said, that’s what Kyiv wants because they want help. But something like that - if things just escalate, and tit for tat, and they escalate, the war could get bigger. And then you never know when someone makes a mistake, someone makes a bad decision, and now all of a sudden, there’s a potential for nuclear war.

Because I’ll tell you flat out, if there is any kind of Article Five activated on the part of NATO and they take any action towards Russia, I think the chances of Russia responding with tactical nuclear weapons are highly likely, not merely possible. Because now Russia would recognize it’s one against 30 (members of NATO). There are 30 nations against them. You see how much trouble they have fighting with the one country of Ukraine. There is no chance they could win a conventional war against 30. They couldn’t compete except with nuclear weapons. And that’s why I think it’s so foolish for us to keep this war going because it just continues the chance that a mistake or a miscalculation leads to escalation, and a nuclear device gets used.

Interviewer: Can I ask you about NATO’s membership as well? How do you see adding Finland and Sweden to NATO?

Lt. Col. Davis: Yeah, I actually just wrote something on this a couple of days ago on the NBC News site (Turkey allows Sweden-Finland NATO membership. That’s too bad for the U.S.). And it’s not necessary. Now, it depends on who you’re asking. If you’re asking Stockholm and Helsinki, of course, they think it’s a great idea. According to reports, Biden is the one who asked them to make the request. But from their perspective, you can certainly see, “Yeah, I mean, man, I got Russia out here. It’d be great to have NATO over my shoulders so if Russia ever did do anything to me, I’ve got 31 other countries on my side.” So for them, it makes sense because that does add to their potential security. But for us and the other members of the existing NATO, all it does is add more risk because right now, we have 29 other countries that if they have any kind of conflict with Russia, it drags us almost immediately into a war. Now NATO is going to add two more nations, one of whom is on the border with Russia. So the chance of conflict or, again, accidental miscalculation or a mistake or just bad decision leading to war, goes up. Anything could happen.

And if something happens on the border between Russia and Finland, now then people in the United States, 10,000 miles away, potentially have to go to war for that. And why should they go to war for that reason ― that’s something that’s localized ― any more than we should go to war because of what’s happening between Russia and Ukraine right now? But by expanding NATO, all you do is add to Russia’s fears because fear of NATO is what drove them to this war in the first place. And now then, you’re going to add two more nations to NATO and another one directly on the Russian border, which is what caused them to go to war once. And I don’t know that just adding Finland by itself would prompt Russia to go to war. I suppose it’s possible that Russia could say, okay, before you’re actually enter into the alliance and you have Article Five, maybe they would take action first before they’re actually the treaty member. I don’t know. I haven’t heard anything indicating they would. But that’s a risk that we take, that Russia would try to forestall that. But I see lots of risk, and other than for Finland and Sweden, I don’t see any benefit for the United States or the other members. It doesn’t make any of us any safer.

Interviewer: NATO branded Moscow the biggest “direct threat” to Western security and agreed to plans to modernize Kyiv’s beleaguered armed forces. Could you tell us your view on this?

Lt. Col. Davis: I mean, on a surface level, I understand. I mean, there’s a war going on and that’s why we’re expanding NATO further, which as I said, I think it’s a bad idea, but I mean, at least on a visceral level there is some logic to such expansion. But I think officially branding Russia an enemy is a mistake because where do you go from there? Even after the war concludes, and at some point it will, then what? You’ve already declared that Russia is now the enemy and the biggest security threat. So how do you repair relations with them? Because look, even in the Cold War, even during the ’62 Cuban Missile Crisis, we still had to have an engagement with Moscow. I mean, even when Khrushchev was the premier or even Stalin , we still had to engage with Russia because we needed to in certain areas. And again, I think we’ve forgotten, historically, how things have been before, and there’s too many people that don’t want to have any association with Russia and think that you can just shut them out, but you can’t. If you ever want peace in Europe, you can’t just shut out Russia because they’re too big. They have a huge nuclear stockpile and they have a massive energy production capacity that everybody else in the continent needs. You just can’t shut them out. You have to find a way to live together. And declaring them an enemy, I think all it does is complicate things for us after this war is resolved.

Interviewer: I see. Could you give us more detail about the following sentence in your article: “U.S. interests are not identical to Ukraine’s”? I believe this is also crucial because Japanese people seem to think like Japanese interests are just identical to Ukraine.”

Lt. Col. Davis: Yeah, Ukraine’s interests are clear and valid. They have been invaded. They want to repulse this invader or stop this attack and repulse and get him out of their territory. That’s their primary interest. And that is completely rational and reasonable and understandable. That is not a vital national interest of the United States, however, because we are not at war with Russia. And so our interests are to prevent the war from spreading into the NATO alliance because that could draw us into a war.

So we have an interest in not going to war directly against Russia, and we have an interest to make sure that NATO doesn’t get sucked into a war with Russia. We have an obligation to defend our alliance and our country against an attack. If Russia initiates an attack against us, then absolutely we’ll fire back. But our interests are to prevent that from happening and to protect our people’s security and economic prosperity, and to protect their opportunities to continue having economic vitality going into the future – and freedom from having to fight a war. That’s not Ukraine’s interests. Those are our interests, and they’re very different, and they require a different reaction. Ukraine is obligated to do everything they can either to fight the war or to have a negotiated settlement to end it so that they stop the killing of their people. Our people aren’t being killed, and we need to make sure that continues to be the case.

Interviewer: Could you tell us your outlook as to what is a realistic and reasonable cease-fire line?

Well, right now that’s not even on the table. Putin basically said today that he’s willing to talk about it, but only if Ukraine is willing to meet his demands, which are largely the same demands that they issued before February 24th, similar to the same demands they made on March 29th in Istanbul. And they’re largely the same today, which is Ukraine has to declare military neutrality, declare they will never join NATO, and that the Donbas and Crimea are not coming back to Ukraine. Those are the three primary issues which they have been seeking all along.

But the difference is, if Ukraine had made the decision to negotiate prior to February 24th, there likely would have been no war at all. Ukraine would still own Mariupol. The Black Sea coast would still be open, and all their people would be alive. If they had made the deal on March 29th, they still had Mariupol on March 29th, Severodonetsk, Lysychansk, Popasna, Izyum, all of those were still in Ukraine control. Now they’re all in Russian control. So because they didn’t make the deal then, now that they have a worse situation. And the longer it goes, more cities are going to keep falling: Seversk, Soledar, Bahkmut, Slovyansk and Kramatorsk could all be in Russian hands before the end of next month.

So Ukraine is saying they’re not going to do a ceasefire because they claim, “Oh, that’ll just help Russia build up its forces for more offensive.” I mean, that’s theoretically possible, except that already the Russians are beating you by the day and driving you further and further back. So they don’t need that time. You do. That’s the other side, if Ukraine declared or was willing to talk a ceasefire, it’s they who benefit the most by gaining time to build up defensive forces. It would help them a lot more than it would help Russia. But they don’t seem to want to do that. So until Zelensky sees a need for a ceasefire, you can’t even talk about one because they don’t want it.

Interviewer: Can I ask you about Biden’s administration’s Russian policy? Even if a cease-fire is achieved, the U.S. may not change its hard line against Russia and may continue to consider overthrowing Putin’s regime. In response, we fear that if China, Russia, North Korea, and other anti-U.S. states work together against this, building a bloc economy like the one in the last war (World War II) and dividing the world, the power of the Western nations could be reduced further. How would you evaluate this scenario? What do you think about the changes in the international order that would result from war?

Lt. Col. Davis: Yeah, I think that there’s a serious concern about that. And it’s not even just those handful of nations you mentioned, but there was ―I believe it was a Pew poll that came out earlier this week ―I think it was that in terms of who do you view favorably in the whole Asian region, the US or China (Across 19 countries, many see growing influence of China | Pew Research Center)? Many nations viewed China as more positive than the United States – but a record number of countries viewed China’s influence growing more than the US. Because they see all these things we’re doing, and they especially see our economic reactions to Russia, etc., and they’re starting to see that the United States, in their view, may not be that reliable anymore because I mean, look, they see what’s happening in Europe right now. All of these sanctions that we put on Russia are having a rebound effect on Europe and on the United States. It’s sent our gas prices skyrocketing. Food prices skyrocketing.

It’s having even more impact on the inflation that was already at a 40-year high. And this autumn, it’s going to be even worse in Europe because when you cut all of the Russian gas off, and they’ve used up all of the gas they had in storage tanks, it’s going to be a problem. This fall there’s not going to be enough gas in Europe to meet demand because all ― whether it’s Qatar or the United States putting liquefied natural gas to try to help them out ― it’s not going to be enough. It won’t be enough. And so that’s going to have an even bigger drain on the European economy and make the cost for what they have go up for heating, for electricity generation, which of course, also has compounding problems for the economy.

And there’s going to be a lot of Europeans at that time who start saying, “Hang on, why are we doing this again? Russia is no threat to me in Italy,” for example, or in probably most of the rest of Europe; France, Germany, Spain. Russia is not going to invade any of those countries. They’re not going to invade anybody – not because they shouldn’t; not because we don’t want them to, but because they don’t have the military capacity. Even if Putin had the secret desire to try to possess European states, Putin would be constrained because he knows that he can’t successfully take on 30 members of NATO in a conventional fight, which is what he would face if he attacks a single NATO state due to Article 5 provisions. One thing that works in our favor: Putin is not suicidal and isn’t going to take action that would see him defeated in war.

But there is so much hatred of Russia in the senior-policy-level people of the United States and little willingness to see any outcome other than to hurt Moscow as much as possible. And it doesn’t matter what party. They’re almost uniformly in so much hatred of Russia that they can’t imagine lessening the pressure on Russia, even if doing so might be part of the path to ending the war and ending the killing of Ukrainian people. So basically, these sanctions are going to stay in place no matter what. Even if there’s a ceasefire, even if there’s a negotiated settlement, it would be really hard for me to imagine Washington or Brussels agreeing to relieve these economic pressures until it gets demanded by Western European countries – which is very possible once the pain of the sanctions rebound imposes a severe enough pain on the citizens of Western Europe.

And that’s what I think we may see. Like you see all these countries in Asia, they’re watching all this and they’re thinking, “Okay. We understand that there’s a chance that at some point, Taiwan is going to fall to China. And is the US going to do the same thing to Beijing? Are they going to put big sanctions on China that’s going to affect our economy?” And you can see where they would think, “I’m not sure we’re going to support that kind of action, especially if it negatively impacts our economic health (especially if they don’t view China as a military threat to them).”

India is the biggest example of that right now. India is buying all kinds of Russian gas and oil, and they’re not willing to go in with us on the sanctions. So that’s a big, big deal because of how big their market is. And they’re not willing to just say, “Okay, whatever you say, the West, we’ll just do what you tell us.” They’re not doing that. Other people or other nations are watching that and they’re seeing, “It’s working out okay for India.” So you can imagine where in time more states are going to be looking somewhere besides the United States for their economic security or their opportunity, or where they would not have as much risk for their economy if the US sanctions Beijing. And we don’t give enough consideration to that. And I think that the trend is going in a bad direction for us, and we really need to change course quickly or we could be harming our own interest, which I believe is already happening.

Interviewer: President Zelensky said the reconstruction of his war-battered country is the “common task of the entire democratic world,” and laid out a $750 billion recovery plan. But if Ukraine and the U.S. decided to end the war sooner, the damage should have been less. Could you tell us your view on President Zelensky’s demand?

Lt. Col. Davis: Yeah, he’s been doing this from even before the war started and all during it by trying to make this about Europe. “Oh, this is for your security. We need this for your defense.” No, it’s not. It’s not for European security. It’s not for European defense. He wants to make it that way so that everyone feels a compulsion to keep giving him all the equipment that he asks for, but it’s not. And him saying it’s so is, I think, starting to fall on more and more deaf ears as people realize ― when they see how bad Russia has performed conventionally, militarily – that the European security is not being threatened by a conventional Russian invasion.

Now Putin’s troops are still succeeding against Ukraine, but Ukraine’s military is not a fraction as good as NATO’s. So people can see that Russia is having a hard time beating one country on their border. The Russian army sure isn’t going to be able to attack the whole west. I mean, they physically don’t have the forces for that. And now then, they’ve been badly damaged by the fight against Ukraine, so they’re even less of a threat. It’ll take Moscow a full decade to overcome that damage. So Europeans are starting to realize that Russia poses no conventional threat to Europe. The only way Russia poses a threat to NATO is if we escalate the war – and that’s when it’s potential for nuclear weapons to be used, tactical nuclear weapons on the soil of other European states. But that will only happen is if we continue pressing the matter and continue the risk that whether by miscalculation or mistake, the war escalates and we end up in a direct clash with Moscow.

Interviewer: It is reported that what is called “Ukraine Fatigue” is growing in the West. As an American, how do you see the present atmosphere in the U.S.? I mean, what do you think grassroots American people think about Ukraine?

Lt. Col. Davis: Yeah, most people in America they just reflexively don’t want any country to be invaded. So without understanding what went into it and what happened and what actually drove Russia, all they see is Russian tanks rolling into Ukraine. They see missiles flying everywhere. So they don’t like it, and they’re against Russia for that reason. But American people are also not for getting involved in this war. So they’re like, “Yeah, we can help you guys out,” but at first it was as if everybody in America wanted to put the Ukraine flag on their Facebook profile. They wanted to tweet out support and all this kind of stuff. And you saw there was an interesting study done maybe two weeks ago, I think it was, where they tracked social media engagement and the cable news network cycle, how many stories are on Ukraine, etc., and they were both off the charts in February and March. Then they started coming down in April, and then they started coming down even further in May and then in June, and now it’s even less than that. And my own experience matches that exactly because I was on TV four or five times a day for the first six weeks of this war. Then it turned out to be maybe seven or eight times a week, and now it’s three to five times in a week. I now do as much TV in a week as I did about half a day earlier because now the public has gotten bored with that story and has moved on.

The More the West Supports, the More Ukraine Loses Its Lands
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