Astonishing as it seems, when this issue of Armas sends, the war in Europe will be under thirty-six hours old. Less than a day and half, and yet enough time to have written a whole book of epics: The armor clash at Chernihiv. The defense of the Antonov airfield. The last stand at Snake Island. The eerie combat in the Chernobyl dead zone. The woman who told the Russian soldier she met to put seeds in his pockets, so that when he laid down to die, sunflowers would spring from the Ukrainian earth.
If the expectation was that Ukraine would fold on day one, then the expectation is disappointed. Twelve hours ago, as this is written, I was impressed at what looked like a Russian mastery of the American way of war: blitzkrieg plus precision plus a coordinated rapidity that baffles and overwhelms the foe at first contact. But appearances are just that. The Ukrainians survived the onslaught in remarkably good order, showing themselves no longer the rickety state that was humiliated in 2014-2015. The armed forces did not disintegrate. They cohered, and they resisted. Eight years ago, Ukrainian units simply melted away, dissolving in panic or demoralization. Now, we have a single report of a single Ukrainian fighter jet fleeting to Romania. It is the only one, and its pilot is no doubt shamed, because everyone else is staying, and fighting.