Ukraine War, February 18: 2024 (Updated February 21, 2024): The potential intervention of a NATO member’s armed forces in Ukraine

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1) “Zur Ukraine übergelaufener russischer Hubschrauberpilot offenbar tot; Im August vergangenen Jahres flog ein russischer Pilot mit einem Mi-8-Armeehubschrauber in die Ukraine, Kiew zahlte dafür angeblich 460.000 Euro. Nun soll die Leiche des Mannes in Spanien entdeckt worden sein,” Der Spiegel, den 19. Februar 2024 (19.19 Uhr);

2) “Russian helicopter pilot overflowing to Ukraine apparently dead; In August last year, a Russian pilot flew to Ukraine with a Mi-8 army helicopter, Kiev allegedly paid 460,000 euros for it. Now the body of the man is said to have been discovered in Spain,” Der Spiegel, February 19, 2024 (7:19 pm);

3) Ronald Brownstein, “The GOP Has Crossed an Ominous Threshold on Foreign Policy; A new study of Republican attitudes helps explain why,” The Atlantic, February 18, 2024 (10:12 am ET);

4) Graeme Wood, “What Tucker Carlson Saw in Moscow; He never quite says what precisely he thinks Russia gets right,” The Atlantic, February 18, 2024;

5)  Anthony Loyd, “Ukraine cannot win without a bigger army; Western arms and money are vital but it will take more manpower to resist a revived Russia,” The Times, February 20 2024 (9.00pm);

6) Julian E. Barnes, Thomas Gibbons-Neff, and Eric Schmitt, “Hundreds of Ukrainian Troops Feared Captured or Missing in Chaotic Retreat; The fall of Avdiivka to Russia may be more significant than it initially seemed as Ukraine struggles with morale and recruitment, New York Times, February 20, 2024 (5:20 pm zEt);


The fall of Avdiivka in the Donetsk region of Eastern Ukraine, caused in large part by the Ukrainians running out of artillery ammunition, is an ominous sign of what may come in the Ukraine War.

The lack of artillery ammunition is a direct result of Republican opposition to Ukraine aid in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Ronald Brownstein points out that even the 20 Republican votes that enabled passage of a compromise bill providing Ukraine aid came from Senators over the age of 55, whereas younger and more recently-elect senators opposed the aid. This split, Brownstein reports, reflects growing isolationism in a Republican Party which is increasingly under the sway of Donald Trump.

The fall of Avdiivka also reflects an enormous strategic failure on the part of Joe Biden, the U.S., NATO countries, and other countries in the West, a failure to grasp the full significance of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the ultimate stakes in tge conflict, and the likelihood that the war will be drawn out and may last for many years.

This failure has led to a kind of war myopia, where leaders in the West assumed at first that a negotiated settlement could be reached in tbe relatively short term, and tgat consequently there was no urgent need to shift to a war economy in order to guarantee the the production of weapons and other munitions over the linger term.

A major consequence of thus failure has been that Ukraine does not at present have sufficient munitions–particularly artillery shells–to successfully prosecute the war.

There are of course a number of other factors which have led Ukraine and tge West to be in tge current situation.

Graeme Wood provides excellent insights into how well life seems to be going in Russia. Despite the international sanctions that have been adopted. and the fact that Vladimir Putin has moved the country to a war economy where factories are working 24/7 and turning out weapons and ammunition at an impressive rate, life in Russia for the average citizen seems surprisingly good.

Russia is on a war footing and apparently in a position to fight a long war in Ukraine, while NATO and other countries have failed to supply sufficient weapons and ammunition to Ukraine to maintain its recent level of activity against the Russians. Air defense systems like the Patriot Missile batteries will reportedly begin to run out of missiles soon, leaving Ukrainian cities unprotected against Russian missile attacks. There are far too few artillery shells.

The strategy of Joe Biden and the NATO countries has been a strategy to avoid defeat but not one to ensure victory, ss we have pointed out on multiple occasions.  In brief, the U.S. and its allies have prohibited the use of weapons it supplies against targets in Russia.

This makes no military sense, and can only be under understood as the product of Joe Biden’s exaggerated fear of Putin’s nuclear threats.

Up until now, the U.S. and its NATO allies have only tried to muddle through, helping Ukraine to avoid defeat. They have by and large failed to grasp the implications of a modern industrialized country like Russia adopting a policy of militarism and aggression, in a frontal challenge to tbe existing U.N.-Charter-based international legal order.

Two years on in the current phase of the war, they haven’t grasped the implications of Russia’s all-out attempt to overthrow the international legal order.

Suddenly, the militarization of space may be openly pursued, as Russia rejects all existing multilateral treaties prohibiting such military activities.

The collapse of the international legal order may come the same way Ernest Hemingway described how bankruptcy comes, in The Sun Also Rises:

“How did you go bankrupt?”
Two ways. Gradually, then suddenly.”

A likely consequence of Republican opposition to further military and economic aid for Ukraine will be to accelerate the timetable for what was always implicit in the war of Russian aggression against Ukraine:

The entry of NATO forces, or the forces of NATO countries, directly into the conflict.

The “Soectator War” could never be expected to go on forever,

With Russia’s manpower pool more than three times greater than that of Ukraine, it was always evident that Ukraine might run out of soldiers more quickly than Russia did.  In a war of attrition the manpower advantage would become increasingly important.  Russia always had the advantage in this regard.

With Russia’s industrial base, it was always apparent that on a wartime footing it could produce more munitions than Ukraine, and that if support from Ukraine’s allies ever faltered, a major advantage would pass to Russia.

Yet the stakes in the Ukraine war, not only for Ukraine but for the entire world, are simply too high for the U.S. and NATO countries to accept a Russian victory and annexation of Ukrainian territory acquired by military conquest.

If the situation become dire and Ukrainian defeat threatens, one or more NATO countries could move their armed forces into Ukraine. 

Should Russia then attack the territory the dispatching state, Article 5 of the NATO Treaty could become invoked, in which all members are required to come to the assistance of the attacked member state.

Russia could not argue it was acting in self-defense because it is engaged in a war of aggression,  Article 5 might then be invoked.

After that, who knows how events might develop?

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