The Real Reason Russia is Losing is Really Basic

Barry Gander
3 min readApr 11, 2022
Russian tanks moving westward in WW2 to fight the Germans.

My most embarrassing mistake on Medium was an article which predicted that Russia would not invade Ukraine.

I made that mistake because I knew too much.

I knew about things like military history and the dynamics of occupations.

Who would have guessed that Putin knew less than I did, and he therefore invaded just to spite me! Man has no shame.

There were, at the edge of the invasion call, some 250,000 Russian troops poised on the borders of Ukraine.

Now, recall that in WW2, in western Germany alone in May 1945, the U.S. Army had more than 1.6 million men. A portion of this became occupation troops for their section of Germany. They secured the roads, bridges, factories and everything else that signified “society”. This occupation force numbered about 400,000; one U.S. soldier for every 40 Germans.

Fast forward to the Kosovo engagement in 1999, and the same formula was followed: 50,000 troops for a population of 2 million, or one soldier for every 40 inhabitants.

That means that Russia should have counted on one million soldiers to occupy Ukraine, which has roughly 40 million people.

That doesn’t count the force to capture Ukraine — just to occupy it once the war was “won”.

If we go with the WW2 ratio, the 1.2 million Americans that dwindled down to 400,000 represent a ratio of 3:1. The invading force should have been three million Russian troops. They could have been cut to one million for the occupation.

This would jibe with the numbers in WW2, when 11 million Russians counter-attacked Germany, which had a population of 90 million (including its allies). The ratio between Germany then and Ukraine today is 9:4, so the 11 million men in WW2 makes sense in proportion to an army of three million needed today to attack Ukraine.

Instead, Putin started a war of conquest with 250,000 troops. About one-twelfth of the number he should have had.

His armies, at the start of the offensive, should have been so large that they formed a line of tanks, trucks, and armoured cars stretching back into Russia for 200 kilometres.

This is something that Stalin would have understood. He would not have blinked. You want three million? Sure. In fact, here’s another million from the reserves in the Far East.

That is why I got my calculation about the threat of war wrong. I saw that Putin did not have anywhere near the critical mass needed for a knock-out blow. And so at the time I thought to my self, idly, hey — no one would be so batspit crazy that he would launch a war with an army tid-bit so small that failure would be guaranteed!

I mean, who would do that?

Who as head of a big national government, responsible to the people, would make a decision that ludicrously wrong!

I am not surprised that Russia is doing badly. I am surprised that few people out there seem to be pointing out the elementary, historical math that unveils the obvious: WTF were you thinking, you borsch-guzzling moron?

Not that Ukraine doesn’t deserve applause and credit for standing up to the beet-breath monster; far from it. It takes a hero to defy the odds.

But I will bet, when the dust settles, that Ukraine actually had more troops engaged in the fight than Russia did. No doubt that Ukraine could certainly use more and better equipment. But having numbers, morale and determination is a sure bet against an enemy that can’t count.

When Putin finally leaves this mortal coil and bumps into his predecessor Stalin, what’s he going to stammer out? “I tried to take Ukraine on the Discount Plan…” You can imagine what Stalin would say.

Thank our stars that the old days of corporate communist efficiency have long gone.

Instead, we get the small dreams of a small man.

Who can’t count past 250,000.



Barry Gander

A Canadian from Connecticut: 2 strikes against me! I'm a top writer, looking for the Meaning under the headlines. Follow me on Mastodon @Barry