Oh, Cassandra, thy curse still holds true


A member of a Kyiv Territorial Defence unit guards a barricade close to the eastern frontline on March 05, 2022.

When someone is called “a Cassandra,” is usually just means that they’ve gained a reputation for predicting a bad outcome for some event. But that’s not at all what the curse given the original Cassandra was about. Cassandra’s torture was that she could accurately predict the future, but no matter what she said, no one would listen to her.

Back on Febuary 2, three weeks before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine  Mikhail Khodarenok, a retired Russian colonel and former military commentator for RT, wrote an essay for the Russian military site NVO. A few days later, the site Russian Defense Policy posted a translation.

Under the headline “Of rapturous hawks and hasty cuckoos,” Khodarenok warned about the consensus that had formed in Russia.

“In Russia’s expert community recently a sufficiently powerful opinion has taken root that it won’t even be necessary to put troops on Ukraine’s territory since the armed forces of that country are in a pathetic state. Some pundits note that Russia’s powerful first strike will destroy practically all surveillance and communications systems, artillery and tank formations. Moreover, a number of experts have concluded that even one crushing Russian strike will to be sufficient to finish such a war. Like a cherry on top different analysts point to the fact that no one in Ukraine will defend the ‘Kiev regime.’”

Khodarenok then systematically explains that this kind of attitude is completely at odds with the real situation in Ukraine, which doesn’t hate their own government but does hate Moscow. He warned that even the Russian-speaking parts of Ukraine have absolutely no interest in being part of “New Russia.” He then goes on in detail to explain how Ukraine can’t be taken out by a fast first strike, that expectations that Russia will have air superiority based on events in Afghanistan or Chechnya ignore the strength of Ukraine’s Air Force and anti-aircraft systems, and that Ukraine’s military is far from in “a pathetic state” and should not be treated lightly. And as to expectations that the West will stay out of any fight:

“Now as concerns assertions that western countries won’t send a single soldier to die for Ukraine. We have to note that most likely this will be the case. However this hardly excludes in the event of a Russian invasion massive assistance to the [Ukrainian military] from the collective West with the most varied types of arms and military equipment and large volume supplies of all kinds of materiel.”

Khodarenok forecasts “some reincarnated lend-lease in the form and likeness of the Second World War from the USA and countries of the North Atlantic alliance will begin,” that the Western nations are together to a degree that Moscow doesn’t want to see.

Finally, after warning again that predictions of a swift victory are ill-founded, he provides this conclusion.

“And finally, most important. Armed conflict with Ukraine now fundamentally doesn’t meet Russia’s national interests. Therefore it’s best for some overexcited Russian experts to forget their hat-tossing fantasies. And, with the aim of preventing further reputational damage, never again to recall them.”

Oh, Cassandra, they curse still holds true.

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