Scott Ritter's Radical Reassessment: Ukraine and Taiwan
Hard on the heels of the US appeal for a ceasefire, or possibly just before it, we have Scott Ritter providing what he himself terms a “radical reassessment” of the shape of things in Ukraine. As a bonus, he also gets into a fairly detailed assessment of the strategic situation with China and Taiwan.
The full video of the interview is about 1:15 long:
The full interview is stimulating—including the first part that deals largely with nuclear disarmament and possible first strike issues—but I’m linking below the section that involves Ritter’s radical reassessment. It runs from 43:00 - 1: 11. I found it riveting, and I hope you will, too.
Now, before we get into it, the timing could be important. The interview was live streamed on Saturday morning. You can tell from the fact that no mention is made of Lloyd Austin’s phone call to Sergei Shoigu, with the US call for a ceasefire, that none of the three participants were aware of that develop as they spoke. Would that have changed Ritter’s radical reassessment? I’m not sure. As matters stand, here’s what Ritter discusses:
Russia has made a mistake in that they have allowed new weapons to reach the Ukrainian front lines. He specifically mentions US 155mm howitzers. He specifies that the full 90 complement hasn’t gone operational, but he states that this is what is behind the Russian pullback around Kharkiv—to deal with the greater range of the US howitzers Russia, he says, would need to redeploy from Donbass. Rather than do that, they’ve given the US howitzers more space.
This situation won’t change the outcome in the Donbass, says Ritter—for the time being, this difference is marginal. But it spells trouble for the future. Russia can’t allow this to continue, and that could mean an escalation—even full mobilization. Ritter goes into quite a bit of detail, but it seems to me that there could be room for questioning his radical reassessment in some respects—both from the military standpoint as well as from the economic standpoint. As for the China/Taiwan situation, Ritter is convinced of two things: 1) China fully backs Russia, and 2) China is in a good position with regard to Taiwan. Lots of interesting discussion, including the Solomon Islands situation.
OK, before we get to the Ritter “radical reassessment segment, some quick Twitter updates that may play into Austin’s phone call but, regardless, are relevant to Ritter’s remarks:
This could be important:
To understand this next tweet, you have to realize that this former Polish official—er, former official, he’s still Polish—is calling for the “demilitarization” of part of Russia! Do you think that caught Moscow’s attention? The only way to demilitarize a part of Russia is to defeat Russia militarily. Do you want Poland calling the shots on that one? Do you want Zhou or his inner circle calling the shots? BTW, Kaliningrad is named after Mikhail Kalinin. Bear this in mind when Ritter comments on Poland and the Baltics:
And so, finally, we come to Ritter’s “radical reassessment—which I’ve tried to cue to 43:00:
Might I suggest that Putin has achieved all his initial aims. This said, he may find it in his interest to maintain the status quo indefinitely, as it seems to provoke the opposition to act irrationally.
Really interesting interview. My takeaway is the question "Why have the Russians failed to interdict the arms shipments?" Should not be difficult given their capabilities. Not doing so leads to much greater potential headaches. But is a full mobilization of Russian forces immediately needed for Ukraine or in the eventuality that Finland becomes part of NATO? I am skeptical.
I found it especially interesting when Ritter says that China would prefer not ever having to go to war over Taiwan as long as it does not decide to declare independence - and that the status quo is mutually beneficial for both of them. Based on history and other readings I believe him. If China controls the seas in the region (and it is well on its way) it will also control Taiwan. I also agree the Chinese have thrown their lot in with Russia. Seems quite clear and is logical given the Biden admin actions and stated intent.