All militaries are incompetent to varying degrees due to regular militaries being huge apparatuses based on planned centralized command economy. This of course is breeding ground for incompetence and bureaucratic failure. Asymmetric warfare is precisely so effective because it is non-bureaucratic with a decentralized command structure. The IDF (Israel Defense Forces) is unique in the world in tolerating criticism of superiors and promoting decentralized initiatives. Who will win a regular war between two military apparatuses? In the case of the Ukraine-Russia conflict likely the one who is the least militarily incompetent. The Russian military machine has been revealed to be inefficient, incompetent, bureaucratic and with an unmotivated rank and file.
Russia finds itself at a critical juncture. China is building up a gargantuan military machine intended to conquer the thinly populated, resource-rich lands of Siberia and Central Asia as well as parts of the Middle East all the way to the Indian Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. Russia is no match for China and in 10 or 20 years will the Chinese military be even stronger, yes invincible. The members of the tripartite tactical so-called “alliance” of China, Iran and Russia are all smiles and pretend to be friends but the only thing that really unites them is rivalry with the United States. Actually, they are mortal rivals for hegemony. But for now they exhibit politically smiling faces to each other.
Russia finds itself in a quagmire in Ukraine where the Ukrainian military has quite effectively halted the Russian advance and inflicted heavy casualties on Russian conscripts. Russia’s rhetoric about a nuclear WWIII has a clear address in President Biden who has openly admitted to being afraid of war with Russia. Should the Russian threat be taken seriously? Obviously, no one can win a war involving the use of strategic nuclear weapons. However, Moscow calculates that limited use of tactical nuclear weapons may prompt Biden’s America to withdraw from Europe in the face of the Russian nuclear threat. Imagine if Russia were to use a tactical nuclear weapon against a target in say Poland and then threatened to use tactical nuclear weapons against America. The Russian calculus is that the “weak” Biden administration would then prioritize American interests over European interests and effectively hand over Europe to Russia. Would this work out for Russia? Possibly. Moscow and the entire international community has witnessed how an America fearful of Iran using biological weapons against major American cities is ready to sell out the vital national security interests of its Middle Eastern allies and capitulate to Iranian diktats despite Tehran apparently not even wanting an agreement.
The challenge now for Russia of course is reorganizing its military machine to remove incompetence and inefficiency which is easier said than done in the middle of full-scale war. Will Russia be able to get its act together and defeat the Ukrainian military? This of course is uncertain but seems highly unlikely. For now it appears that the Russian dream of conquering Europe is stuck outside Kyiv. The Russian gamble of confronting and threatening the West rather than aligning with the West against China is proving to be a dire miscalculation.
Nevertheless, the perception of the Biden administration being “weak” despite the only superpower being anything but weak is nevertheless highly dangerous as it incentivizes aggression by America’s adversaries. President Biden’s 2022 State of the Union address was meant to project strength in being articulated by an apparently energetic president but in fact did the exact opposite in reinforcing the image of the Biden administration as weak. Biden effectively took credit for the heroic Ukrainian resistance despite Biden’s America explicitly refusing to fight on the side of Ukrainian democracy. The sanctions of course harm the Russian people but do nothing to influence the course of the war. Rather, the sanctions reinforce Putin’s determination to conquer Europe for he has literally no other choice in the face of Chinese designs for Siberia. Without harnessing the economic strength of a Russian-conquered Europe will Russia be unable to match the future military strength of China. This is the simple calculus that President Putin faces despite various unsubstantiated claims of his ostensible personal motivations being founded in various alleged conditions (i.e. narcissism, autism and megalomania). There is every reason to believe that Russia remains a rational actor and that its actions in Ukraine and planned actions beyond are directed by the GRU (the Main Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation).
There is no question that the rest of Europe is next on the Russian list as evidenced by officially issued Russian threats and so the West must do everything possible to keep Russia preoccupied and prevent it from conquering the entire Ukraine; including particularly providing Ukraine with fighter aircraft.