The next time you hear a retired U.S. General who commanded U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan belittle and dismiss the Russian military as incompetents, remind yourself of two uncomfortable facts — Afghanistan and Ukraine are almost the same size in terms of land mass and the U.S. failed to defeat a bunch of Afghani goat herders who had no air power or artillery. The United States and NATO poured billions of dollars into Afghanistan and failed to vanquish the Taliban, who easily took control of Kabul in August 2021. These clueless generals remind me of Kevin Kline’s character in the film, A Fish Called Wanda:

In Ukraine, Russia continues to advance from the east and the south, chewing up Ukrainian brigades and steadily advancing against stiff fortifications, despite fighting a de facto NATO force that is flooding Ukrainian forces with NATO munitions, artillery and armored vehicles. Moon of Alabama provides an excellent summary of NATO performing hara kiri, er I mean, “its disarmament mission.”

France to send an extra 12 powerful Caesar howitzers to Ukraine

French Defence Minister Sebastien Lecornu’s announcement that France will send 12 additional Caesar howitzers to Kyiv is “clearly important for the Ukrainians, particularly the Caesar artillery system”, said FRANCE 24 Chief Foreign Editor Robert Parsons.

“They’ve been very successful in Ukraine, so the Ukrainians will be delighted, I am sure, to get another 12. I think that brings that total to over 40 now, closing on 50 Caesars in Ukraine.

France has only 77 Caesar howitzer left. Others though are worse off.

Estonia Sending All Its 155-mm Howitzers to Ukraine

Estonia will donate all its 155-millimeter howitzers to Ukraine as part of its most extensive military assistance yet.

The package, previously reported to be worth 113 million euros ($122 million), is expected to boost Kyiv’s defense capabilities amid continuing Russian aggression.

Estonia currently operates 24 NATO standard FH-70 towed howitzers.

Apart from the howitzers, Tallinn will send thousands of 155-mm artillery shells and hundreds of Karl-Gustaf anti-tank grenade launchers.

The frantic effort to supply Ukraine with NATO weapons while cleaning out European stores sure sounds like a I Love Lucy sketch, but there is nothing funny about this. Many of the European NATO members are busy helping Russia achieve its objective of demilitarizing Ukraine (and, serendipitously, NATO itself).

This is good news for Russia. Although on paper (in terms of gross numbers of military personnel) NATO outnumbers Russia, its actual ability to deploy ground troops is quite limited. (Note — the numbers on the following graph represent ground, naval and air force personnel.)

Turkey, for example, represents the second largest military force in NATO but in light of its warming relations with Russia is unlikely to provide any troops to fight Putin’s forces. The numbers for France, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom are very misleading. Sky News reported this on Monday:

A senior US general has privately told Defence Secretary Ben Wallace the British Army is no longer regarded as a top-level fighting force, defence sources have revealed. 

They said this decline in war-fighting capability – following decades of cuts to save money – needed to be reversed faster than planned in the wake of Russia’s war in Ukraine.

“Bottom line… it’s an entire service unable to protect the UK and our allies for a decade,” one of the defence sources said.

This leaves NATO with few good options. If NATO decides to mobilize ground forces and send them to Poland and Romania, Russia is not likely to sit back and wait for them to strike. A NATO mobilization would likely be viewed in Moscow as an existential threat and Russia has the conventional weapons to deal with that threat.

War fighting is a messy, complicated, resource intensive activity. The conflict in Ukraine is exposing NATO as an impotent anachronism. If Russia prevails in Ukraine the raison d’etre for NATO will be in question.