As far as the war in Ukraine is concerned, we often risk losing sight of the essential: that is, we forget that Russia is a poor country (less than half of Italy is rich per capita) and the Russians number just over one hundred and forty million, compared with the 450 in Europe and 330 in the United States. For a total of eight hundred million. An elephant weighs about twenty-five times more than a lion: how do you expect the lion not to give way to him when he is given water? In the Ukrainian conflict, everything depends on the will of the US elephant. If she leaves, the lion will take over. But not before.
Of course, one shouldn’t take things to the extreme of falsifying them. A champion facing a mediocre boxer will win, but perhaps with a bloody eyebrow. So yes, the United States and Great Britain have had huge expenditures and Western Europe has had more than a few annoyances but, indeed, we have to ask ourselves: how much is this war costing Moscow? Were we to know exactly this financial burden, we would probably find that its situation for Russia is absolutely tragic.
Washington has allocated and spent about forty billion dollars on Ukraine, and just a few days ago it decided to spend another thirty-eight. Plus what Europe has paid. And if we include humanitarian aid, we go well over one hundred billion dollars, perhaps we are around 120. Even if Russia had spent only half of it, it would be a mortal drain. Especially if we think that Russian spending affects about 143 million inhabitants and takes those sums from a miserable GDP (less than that of Italy only) while the western one is spread over almost a billion fairly wealthy people. That fifty billion would be a sledgehammer to land a giant, and Russia is not.
Moscow has inherited from the Soviet Union an enormous quantity of weapons (especially tanks) and has used them liberally in this war but what it has saved in arms it has paid for in human lives: because the obsolete tanks have been destroyed hundreds and hundreds from the modern anti-tank weapons of the Ukrainians. Russia had a huge stockpile of missiles, but it has practically exhausted them. The Ukrainians suffered massive damage from these missiles, but they shot down more of them than they landed. Those missiles are expensive and now, even if he buys them from “friends”, soon the Patriot anti-missile missiles will make it difficult for him to access the Ukrainian skies. Russia began with air domination (because the Ukrainian air force was very small) but today we no longer hear of Russian air raids on Ukraine. And soon the tragedy of dark and cold should end.
Putin forgets that with each of his raises, the West, being infinitely richer, can double the stakes. By attacking power plants and the civilian population, Russia has outraged the world and caused America to turn a blind eye to Ukrainian attacks on Russian territory. It is even said that, without shouting it from the rooftops, it will provide weapons to strike deeper into Russia. Already the Patriots have a very worrying range for the Russians. What goes around comes around. Putin is making a mistake if he thinks Americans are tame. He should study more about the history of the Second World War.
All considerations point in the same direction. We see precisely every single dollar (or euro) we spend because of this war, every annoyance we get from the rise in gas prices (back to pre-war price levels) and it seems to us that Russia instead has no problem. In reality, the real difference is that we have a free press and we feel pissed (and then there is no room in hotels for Christmas trips) while Russia does not have a free press, and nobody lets us know how much the quality of life has dropped in that country. Not to mention the approximately one hundred thousand soldiers who have already died, and the others who continue to die to reconquer Bakhmut: without success.
Instead of seeing him as a pain-free and contented warrior, the Russian people are sincerely mourned. Not only does he suffer, and a lot, but he is forbidden to complain or tell us what great difficulties he is facing. And much will still suffer in the future if it does not shake off the yoke of the dictatorship. The current reality can be explained very simply. It all depended on a blunder by Putin. Thinking that the West would not react, he wanted this war and now risks losing it. Losing with it the power and perhaps the life. So he continues to force his country to fight it in view of a victory that, according to current data, he should not achieve. This is the tragedy of dictatorships. But perhaps dictatorship in Russia is no coincidence: it seems rather an endemic disease, eternally resurgent. The Russians have always had bad leaders and when they had one with democratic leanings, like Gorbachev, they execrated him and considered him a traitor to the Fatherland. You can wish him well, but remain skeptical.