In this interview, Scott Ritter, who has also served as a United Nations weapons inspector and was an outspoken critic of the war in Iraq, calls Russia’s military operation in Ukraine a “masterful, stunning military victory that will be studied for some time”.
US military aid to Ukraine has reached $53bn this year alone – compare to last year’s entire Russian defence budget of a relatively slight $43bn – and yet, Ritter argues, it is all too little, too late.
All the same, as that aid continues to appear on the battlefield in significant ways, it will lengthen the conflict, and raises questions about how Russia will proceed with the second phase of its operation.
How will Russia continue with its strategic objective of achieving a demilitarised and neutral Ukraine, when the USA is now providing real-time tactical intelligence allowing Ukraine to target Russian generals by name on battlefield, and when Poland is also mobilising battalions to send into the field?
On this last point, Ritter is unequivocal – Poland, a Nato-backed country, is engaged in an audacious and irresponsible action. As he puts it: “Poland has committed suicide.”
And what does this mean for Europe as a whole? Ritter again doesn’t pull any punches. The Russian ruble is as strong as it has been in recent history, and the Russian stock market is alive and kicking. Meanwhile, global gas prices have doubled.
The cost of diesel is already disrupting supply chains that run on thin margins of efficiency. Will transport costs be absorbed by the companies? By the truckers? Or transferred to the consumers? None of these offers a desirable outcome. As Ritter concludes: “Europe is on the verge of economic collapse”.