Russia, Losing Again

Writing in the Detroit Free Press Frank Richter, who taught international relations at Wayne State University and is a member of the World Affairs Council, exposes Russia’s fundamental failure in the Georgia war:

Russia’s invasion of Georgia came at a huge cost. The Russian causality rate was nearly 100 times the rate suffered by U.S. forces during the Iraq invasion. Russian media estimate the invasion force to number between 8,000 to 15,000 men, with 74 soldiers killed.

Russia has a long history of military disasters. Most of its largest neighbors have defeated Russia in war. For the Russian public, it is this memory of military misfortune that makes Moscow’s illusory victory over Georgia meaningful.

Napoleon’s Grand Army bested Russian soldiers in battle, finally taking Moscow in 1812. Only when the Russians burned down Moscow themselves to force a French retreat did the Russian winter defeat Napoleon. The Turks beat czarist Russia in the Crimean War, 1853-56. Japan bested Russia in a 1905 war ended by U.S. arbitration. Russia lost to Germany in World War I and was forced to cede Ukraine to the Kaiser. Even newly formed Poland licked Russia in a 1920 war, and tiny Finland humiliated the Soviets early in the Winter War, 1939-40.

The initial months of World War II saw hundreds of thousands of Russians surrendering to Nazi forces. Sure, the Soviets proved themselves adept at mopping up exhausted Polish and Japanese troops in the first and last days of WWII. But the Russians faced only token opposition from rear-guard soldiers already demoralized by the Nazi blitzkrieg and the American atomic bombings.

Even Russia’s Third World neighbor, Afghanistan, triumphed over Soviet armies in a 10-year war.

There is no question that Russian soldiers have shown extraordinary bravery in battle. Russia suffered horrendous causalities defeating Nazi armies in WWII. But Russian generals, tactics and equipment have often proved inept in warfare for centuries.

Moreover, Moscow’s invasion of Georgia has given its neighbors a reason to coalesce into an emerging anti-Russian alliance. The presidents of the Baltic States, Ukraine and Poland flew to Tbilisi to stand beside Georgia’s president, Mikhail Saakashvili, while Russian armored columns were just 40 miles away. Russia’s worried neighbors believed that they must hang together or hang separately — knocked off one at a time by Moscow.

In the fallout of the Russian invasion, Poland has finally agreed to station American anti-missiles on Polish soil, and Ukraine and Georgia may soon find themselves on the fast track for NATO membership. The Georgian adventure may merely have caused Russia to snatch political defeat from the jaws of military victory.

6 responses to “Russia, Losing Again

  1. Cluebat from Exodar

    My thinking exactly.

    No need to join NATO, the Europeans will only let you hang in the end.

    The region needs it’s own alliance.

    And bilateral deals with US.

  2. “Most of its largest neighbors have defeated Russia in war.”

    Erm… Really ?

    LA RUSSOPHOBE RESPONDS: It’s rather disturbing that you don’t even try to name an instance of Russian victory. World War I — massive, humiliating loss leading to regime change. World War II — if that’s “victory” (20 million Russians killed, whole cities erased, after betraying the allies and making a backroom deal with Hitler, not long after still more regime change), we’d hate to hear what you consider a “loss” to be.

    Erm . . . are you afraid to put yourself out there?

    • I’m sorry, man, but you already betray your ineptness in the third line of your responce, the one regarding World War I. If you had bothered to open a history text book, you might know that the process went like this “Regime change, leading to massive loss.” If you’d like to learn some history of the period, the treaty of Brest-Litovsk might be a good place to start. Then of course, we have World War II, which we fought alone against all the axis forces for 3 and a half years while your precious euro atlantic community cowered either behind the English channel of the Atlantic ocean. (Some food for thought: the Eastern Front was the most horrific battle ground in the history of man, where 20 million men clashed over a front 2,000 miles long. The Red Army won throught a mixture of superior and more durable technology (e.g. the T-34 tank, etc. ) and superior strategic skill by commanders such as Zhukov and Rokossovsky, who executed operations that forever went down in the history books and which are studied in military schools the world over even today). Please, dont give me any “betraying the allies”. As I recall, the Allies did their own share of betraying. Does selling out Czechoslovakia to Hitler in an attempt to protect themselves ring a bell ? Thus, you have no moral right to criticise our “backroom” deals. We did what we had to to buy time to prepare for the inevitable German agrression in a context where the western powers had already betrayed everyone and everything they had sworn to protect. And finally, last time I checked, singlehandedly eliminating %86 percent of the Wermaht, taking 3.7 million German prisoners and siezing Berlin was considered a victory in anybody’s book. Sorry to dissapoint you.

      In your exchange with Katerina, you asked for instances of Russian victory. Well, why dont we just take a look at a few.

      -Peter the Great defeated Sweden, the great power in that region, In the Great Northern War (1700-1721), making good use of the superior Navy that he had build up in the years previous.
      -On April 4th, 1242, Alexander Nevsky visited inglorious defeat on the Livonian Knights at the Battle of Lake Peipius.
      -In 1340, Dimitry Donsky defeated an Mongol Horde that greatly outnumbered him at the battle of Kulikovo.
      -From 1710 to 1792, the Russian empire fought at least 6 officially recognized wars against the ottoman turks, driving them from the Caucasus and the Caspian Sea basin and inflicting irreparable damage on their empire.
      -In 1812, the Russian Imperial troops fought Napoleon, the conqueror of all Europe, to a standstill outside Moscow and sent him packing back home, having sustained 246,000 casualties.
      -In 1939, Zhukov (soon-to-be architect of Soviet victories at Stalingrad, Moscow, Berlin, and elsewhere) eliminated the Japanese threat to Soviet Central Asia and our Monglian ally in a decisive strike at Khalkin-Gol. (16,000 Japanese were killed and 8,000 captured.)

      I could go on for a few more pages, but do I really need to ? You get my point, right ? hahahah

      It looks like you’re just a wee bit weak on your history. I’m here to help you see the light, so here’s a few names you might look up when possesed of some free time in between ranting about things you have no grasp of : Georgiy Zhukov, Alexander Suvokov, Kutuzov. Those are just a few, but they’ll give you a place to start.

  3. Nikita, have you been drinking too much vodka again? You’re right however that in WWII Russia didn’t betray its allies, quite the contrary. Russia’s ally, Nazi Germany, betrayed Russia by invading it. Up to that point Russia had indeed been a good and trustworthy ally to the Nazis. The Russians were only able to defeat the Nazis due to the weather, to Hitler’s madness and incompetence, and, most importantly, American support. You’re partly right about Americans and Brits not doing enough for much of the war, hence permitting the Russians to invade Europe and behave a lot worse than even the Nazis.

    However, historically, Russian “bravery” has been mostly manifested against unarmed civilians, in particular against women (Russians seem to have a penchant for rape). I can’t think of any instance throughout Russia’s 300-year history of any war won against an enemy of comparable might, without external help or the help of the weather.

    • hahahahahahahahah. That was good.

      You can’t think of an instance ? You don’t need to, my precious one. I’ve obligingly provided a selection for your humble enjoyment. You might peruse it. Tell me if you would like any more “instances.” I will kindly oblige.

      Yep, the Russians were only able to defeat the Nazi’s because they outproduced them, because we had superior reserves of manpower, becuse many of the peasant conscripted in the Red Army were used to living off the land, knew their way around weapons and could bear hardships that the Germans could not. I don’t need to go into the superior technology, you’re already well informed about that. If you had ever bothered to look at statisitics about frostbite and hypothermia casualties in German and Red Army divisions depolyed in the same area, say arond Moscow, you’d see that we were sometimes incapacitated to a greater degree by the weather than were German units. (e.g. there were sometimes more weather-related casualties in Red Army units than in those of their inglorious opponents, and yet, we still mounted an excelent offensive and drove back the Germans. You might also find that German units along some axes of advance were fought to a standstill long before the first snow started falling, let alone before high temperatures set in. It really is rather sad that you cling to this narrative, which incidentaly, is found only in a fraction of Werstern literature about the war.

      As for being allies to the Nazis, you’re going to have to take the prize on that count. The granting of Hitlers every whim, the dismantling of Czechslovakia and the subsidizing of German war production in the pre-war years deserve the first prize hands down. It’s funny how the Europeans and Americans knelt down before Hitler in hopes that he would spare then and turn towards the East, and were then angry when we signed a pact with Hitler to buy us time and put off the inevitable German aggression made even closer by Western appeasement.

      As for our penchant for rape, we happen to occupy the 41st slot from the front of the stats, comfortably behind an overwhelming majority of the Western world. When you do find an invading army that did not rape and pillage, you tell me, otherwise, don’t be a baseless idealogue, claiming that someone’s rape was somehow more damnable than rape commited by Germans, Americans, British, Japanese or another party.

  4. [Russia’s invasion of Georgia came at a huge cost. .. 74 soldiers killed…Russia has a long history of military disasters. Most of its largest neighbors have defeated Russia in war.]

    A very amusing view. Since there were lots of wars, Russia lost some of them, but in the end, **all** Russia’s large neighbours – Germany, Turkey, Imperial Japan, Communist China, Swedish Empire – were defeated by Russia/USSR, and so was a non-neighbour like Napoleon’s Empire. Other European powers – England, France, Germany, Italy – all suffered numerous defeats from their large neighbours on numerous occasions.

    About the US casualties during the Iraqi invasion:

    Iraqi invasion casualties

    Before the Iraq War, U.S. General Tommy Franks had famously said, “we don’t do body counts.”

    2003 invasion of Iraq

    Casualties and losses
    172 killed (139 US, 33 UK)

    The initial US and UK losses were small, because the Iraqi Republican Guards are terrible war fighters, unlike the brave Georgians, who fight like lions and who contributed some 500,000 soldier deaths to the Soviet defeat of the Black Plague of Nazi Germany. Horrible casualties came later, during the occupation of Iraq:

    Casualties of the Iraq War

    Iraqi casualties

    Iraq Family Health Survey 151,000 violent deaths. June 2006
    Lancet survey 601,027 violent deaths out of 654,965 excess deaths. June 2006
    Opinion Research Business survey 1,033,000 violent deaths as a result of the conflict. August 2007
    Associated Press 110,600 violent deaths April 2009
    Iraq Body Count 94,902 – 103,549 violent civilian deaths as a result of the conflict. December 2009

    U.S. armed forces – 4,373 dead as of January 17, 2010. As of April 6, 2009 there were 31,102 wounded in action.

    Let us all honour the memory of these selfless and noble American soldiers, who lost their lives in the service to their government and pray that the above number will never increase.

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