Ukraine–Day 14

Two full weeks into the invasion of Ukraine by ‘Vlad the Invader’…..

The news is pretty much the same everyday……Ukraine is fighting back hard…..civilians are paying the price….refugees are flowing out…..and Zelensky keeps trying to shame the West into action…..

Russian Campaign Update. Most military analysts believe that the offensive to take Kyiv will begin in the next 24-96 hours. The Ukrainian government estimates that 12,000 Russian soldiers have died. U.S. intelligence agencies believe the number is between 2,000 and 4,000 killed. Whatever the figure is, it is higher than many expected, and the weekly losses have overtaken the rate the Soviets experienced in Afghanistan. The Russians have fired nearly 670 missiles at targets in Ukraine, half from Russia and the other half from inside Ukraine. About 70 missiles have been fired from Belarus and a few coming from the Black Sea. The conditions of the terrain over the next six weeks will not be conducive to off-road traffic – given the melting snow and muddy conditions. In addition to road conditions, inept planning and execution, and stiff resistance by the Ukrainians, the Russian logistics system seems to be lacking in providing supplies, ammunition, and fuel for the frontline units.

Fight for the Skies. The absence of the Russian air force in this conflict continues to be the topic of speculation. There was no ‘shock and awe’ campaign to destroy the Ukrainian aircraft on the ground and the Ukrainian air defense system is still operational. Experts had expected the invaders to use their planes to pick off Ukraine’s forces at will. In the last ten years the Russians have gained around 440 new fixed-wing aircraft as well as thousands of drones. The Russians have held back the air force over the past two weeks. “The curious case of Russian’s missing air force”, The Economist, March 8, 2022.

Maritime Activities. There has been relatively no maritime activity in recent days. There are about 10 to 11 LSTs amphibious ships in the Odessa region. In the Baltic Sea region, NATO is on the frontlines with the Russians. A precondition for decisive ground action against Russia is control of the Baltic Sea and the air above it. With Putin’s Russia on the near horizon, Baltic countries must organize in anticipation of a threat. But the area’s complex geography creates a challenge when confronting the Great Bear. “Solve the Baltic’s Geography Problem”, Proceedings, U.S. Naval Institute, March 2018.

Kyiv. The capital city of Ukraine is considered the primary objective of the Russians. The Capture of Kyiv would allow Russia to put in place its puppet government. The routes out of the city for evacuation of civilians are likely going to close in the next 24 hours, if it has not happened already. That would also affect resupplying the city with food, ammunition, weapons, and reinforcements as well. The city’s infrastructure remains functional in some capacity. Electricity and communications are still working. Traffic between the left and right banks of the Dnieper River are still flowing over two bridges. Currently the Russians hold positions to the west, northwest, and east of the city. The Russians are closer to the city in the west and northwest, farther away in the east.

Kharkiv. The second largest city of Ukraine is Kharkiv located in the northeast of the country. The Russians have not yet encircled the city. Any forays into the city by the Russians have been rebuffed. It is experiencing heavy shelling by the Russians.

Mariupol. Located on the Sea of Azov, the coastal city of Mariupol is under siege by the Russians and isolated. This city is situated along the coastal road network that would provide Russia with a land bridge between Russia and the Crimea. Evacuation of civilians through the humanitarian corridors could not be accomplished. In addition, humanitarian aid could not enter the city. The civilians are in a desperate situation, lacking food and other essentials necessary for survival. Mariupol is completely disconnected from the electrical grid – and has been since March 2nd. The city is not completely surrounded at this time. The Russians have continued shelling, but are not advancing, likely waiting on reinforcements and supplies.

Mykolayiv. Located on the west bank of the Dnieper River close to the coast of the Black Sea, Mykolayiv is a strategic objective for the Russians that is on the road to Odessa located further west along the coast of the Black Sea. March 8th saw the city experiencing some heavy shelling. Odessa, the third largest Ukrainian city, has still not been attacked.

Refugees and IDPs. There are thousands and thousands of internally displaced persons. Some have fled to western Ukraine. Over 2 million refugees have crossed the border into Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, or Moldova. The western city of Lviv has reached its capacity to house displaced people. Those who arrive are directed to ‘mobile centers for temporary stay’.

SITMAPs. The Institute for the Study of War has published its latest (Tue, 8 Mar) situation map and campaign assessment of the conflict. More maps are available for viewing at The New York Times.

How are the Ukrainians Doing? MG (Ret.) Mike Repass, former commander of Special Operations Command – Europe (SOCEUR), is interviewed by Howard Altman (Managing Editor of Military Times), about how the Ukrainians are fighting against the Russians. He says the Ukrainians have received good training from NATO conventional and special operations forces trainers over the past several years. “How long can Ukrainians keep up the fight?“, Military Times, March 7, 2022.

Stingers in Ukraine. The Russian helicopters are getting shot down by Ukrainian MANPADS and surface-to-air missiles. One of the helicopters used by the Russians is the Mi-24 gunship, and despite its armor, it has proven vulnerable to Ukrainian air defenses. Read “Death by Stinger: How Russia’s Helicopters Are Getting Torched in Ukraine”, 1945, March 7, 2022.

Aeroflot – Staying Home. The Russian flag carrier Aeroflot is cancelling almost all of its international flights – except those flights going to nearby Belarus. Sabre, the global distribution system that processes ticket purchases, has removed Aeroflot from its system. “Aeroflot cancels international flights”, flightradar24, March 5, 2022.

Thermobaric Weapons. There are numerous reports of the deployment of the Russian TOS-1A thermobaric multiple rocket launcher. These weapons are intended for mass casualty and mass destruction. Learn more in “What Are the Thermobaric Weapons Russia is Accused of Using in Ukraine?”, Coffee or Die Magazine, March 7, 2022.

TCCC in Ukrainian. The Tactical Combat Casualty Course has been translated into Ukrainian. The course was developed by the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians (NAEMT). The document was translated by the Global Surgical and Medical Support Group (CSMSG). The Ukrainian TCCC document can be downloaded at this link.

Fight Like a Ukrainian. The conventional army of Russia is vastly superior in numbers of personnel and quantity of airplanes, helicopters, tanks, armored personnel carriers, and other weapons. To go toe to toe with the Russians in a conventional fight is not to Ukraine’s advantage. However, irregular warfare against convoys and rear echelon units and a defense of the urban centers is where the advantage goes to the Ukrainians. Mark Kimmit, a retired brigadier general, says that the Ukrainian military needs the weapons and tactics of an irregular conflict, not a conventional war. “Ukraine, Fight Your Fight – Not Their Fight”, Defense One, March 7, 2022.

RT America – Cancelled! A US cable news channel controlled by the Russian government is ceasing production and laying off all its employees. DirecTV – the news channel’s biggest distributor – dropped the channel on Tuesday. And Roku has done the same as well. RT (or Russia Today) has been banned in Canada, Australia, and by the European Union. “Kremlin’s US News Network RT America Shutters in Wake of Ukraine Invasion”, Coffee or Die Magazine, March 7, 2022.

Polish MiG-29s – On and Off Again. For a few weeks one of the big topics of conversation was the possibility that Polish fighter jets would be transferred to Ukraine. Various statements by NATO, the U.S., and Poland have been confusing and perplexing. On Sunday, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that plans for Poland to send fighter jets to Ukraine have gotten “the green light” from the U.S. Then the denials surfaced. But once again, the MiGs are in the news.

On Tuesday the various news outlets reported that Polish MiG-29s would be transferred to U.S. control at Ramstein AB in Germany and ultimately transferred to Ukraine. This according to a news announcement by the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The U.S., which had seemed supportive of the idea of Poland transferring the jets to Ukraine, immediately backtracked on the Polish proposal. It seems, at least from what is known now, that the U.S. was okay with Poland transferring jets to Ukraine; but not that enthused of having them turned over to the U.S. and then flown to Ukraine. Apparently the U.S. was okay with Poland assuming the risk of Russian retaliation; but not so keen on experiencing that itself. (Surely there is more to come out about this story!)

“Poland, after consultations between the President and the Government, are ready to deploy – immediately and free of charge – all their MIG-29 jets to the Ramstein Air Base and place them at the disposal of the Government of the United States of America.”

Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs, March 8, 2022

Oil and Big Macs. President Biden announced that the United States would no longer buy oil from Russia. The U.S. is joining other nations around the world in this move. Russia depends on the revenue generated with the shipment of gas and oil for its economy. Other nations depend on Russia’s oil as well, so it isn’t a one way street. Under the category of hitting Russia ‘Where it Hurts’: McDonald’s, Starbucks, KFC, Pizza Hut, and Coca-Cola will be pausing sales in Russia after coming under pressure to respond to the invasion of Ukraine.

Snippets of News. The KC-135 aerial refueling aircraft that were going to Greece (announced on Mar 8) will now be going to Spandahlem, Germany. The Ukraine international legion is now 20,000 men strong. The ‘internationals’ will be able to obtain Ukrainian citizenship if they want it. Read about the factors behind the newly found desire of Europe to confront Putin. The United Nations watchdog has lost contact with the safeguards monitoring systems at Chornobyl. According to the International Atomic Energy Agency (Mar 9) the systems have stopped transmitting data. Liam Collins points out four factors that have contributed to the Ukrainian military going from ‘decrepit’ in 2014 to ‘surprisingly strong’.

SOF in Ukraine – And International Legal Considerations. The Russians are using a host of specialized units – intelligence and military in their invasion of Ukraine. Some are wearing uniforms while others are not. There are ‘irregulars’ on the Ukraine side that are just barely wearing identifiable markings as a combatant. There is some international conventions that cover these circumstances. Ken Watkin, a retired Canadian officer, explains more in “Special Forces, Unprivileged Belligerency, and the War in the Shadows”, Articles of War, Lieber Institute West Point, March 8, 2022.

Nukes – Saving Putin from Defeat? If Russia didn’t have nuclear weapons the situation in Ukraine and Europe would be vastly different. Certainly there would be a ‘no fly zone’. And Polish MiGs would likely already had been transferred to Ukraine. And a number of other escalatory actions would likely have been take by NATO. But Putin has his nukes and he has threatened to use them. “Can Ukraine be saved without triggering a nuclear response?”, The Strategist, Australian Strategic Policy Institute, March 9, 2022.

The End of Putin? In a long, detailed essay Brian E. Frydenborg lays out the reasons why Putin has gone too far – not just in the eyes of the world but those of the Russian people. He examines the many things that have gone wrong with the Russian invasion of Ukraine and believes that the Russian people will lay the blame fully on Putin’s doorstep. “The Beginning of the End of Putin? Why the Russian Army May (and Should) Revolt”, Small Wars Journal, March 8, 2022.

“For too long, Russians have fed Putin’s maniacal, anachronistic ambitions; now is the time for them to act—for soldiers to inspire citizens and citizens to inspire soldiers—to free the world of a madman; waiting may prove fatal for the Ukrainian state and far too many Ukrainians and Russians fighting in the current tragedy created by Putin. This war in Ukraine is not the first tragedy foisted upon the world by Vladimir Vladimirovich, but let us all—especially the Russian Army and people—ensure it will be his very last.”

Troop to Task Estimate. Dr. Ben Connable, a senior nonresident fellow at the Atlantic Council and adjunct professor of security studies at Georgetown University provides us with a detailed examination of the Russian forces needed to accomplish the strategic goals and objectives of Putin. “Russian Occupation of Ukraine Troop-to-Task Estimate”, Real Clear Defense, March 9, 2022.

Countering Russia. The U.S. and Europe are banking on international censure and the costs of a long war will convince Putin that he should halt his offensive and pull back from the newly conquered territories of the Russian army. Consideration should be given to additional measures: like cyber, electromagnetic, and information operations. And some attention should be given to supporting a post-invasion resistance movement. Andrew Milburn outlines additional steps to think about in “Checking Putin: How to Counter Russia in Ukraine”, Modern War Institute at West Point, March 8, 2022.

Two weeks into the invasion…..the common belief is that this will be a lengthy ordeal for the Ukrainian people.

I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”

 

It’s Gonna Hurt!

Our dear president made his daily speech on the reactions to the invasion of Ukraine by ‘Vlad the Invader’……he explained the newest round of sanctions against Russia…..

The idea had been percolating for days, and it became reality on Tuesday: “We’re banning all imports of Russian oil and gas and energy,” President Biden said Tuesday at the White House, per CNN. “Russian oil will no longer be acceptable at US ports, and the American people will deal another powerful blow to Putin’s war machine,” he said. Bloomberg had reported the news before the official announcement, and the Wall Street Journaland the AP were among the early ones to confirm. Coverage:

  • The ban: The ban affects Russian oil, natural gas, and coal, per Bloomberg. Russia accounts for about 10% of US energy imports, notes the Hill. Allies in Europe, which are far more dependent on Russian oil than the US, have so far ruled out taking this step, notes Axios. The move is “one of America’s most far-reaching actions to penalize Moscow” since the invasion of Ukraine started, per the Washington Post.
  • Congress: The White House had been under pressure to act because Congress is already considering legislation, reports Politico. “I’d love for President Biden to do it on his own,” said Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, who has put forward a bipartisan proposal with GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski. “It needs to happen.” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also has voiced support for such a ban, and the White House risked being seen as lenient toward Vladimir Putin if it didn’t move first.
  • Political risks: All of this carries risks for Democrats and Biden, according to the Hill. A ban is expected to contribute to record-high gas prices going even higher, and it could give Republicans a boost in efforts to open up protected areas for drilling.
  • US wallets: Biden acknowledged the hit to American wallets. “The decision today is not without cost here at home,” he said. “Putin’s war is already hurting American families at the gas pump,” said Biden, adding that “with this action (the price of gas) is going to go up further.” But “I’m going to do everything I can to minimize Putin’s price hike here at home.” The US has been reaching out to Venezuela as a potential source of extra oil. Other options include Saudi Arabia and even Iran, per Bloomberg.
  • On the conflict: In regard to the invasion, Biden declared: “Ukraine will never be a victory for Putin. Putin may be able to take a city, but he’ll never be able to hold the country.”

You think food prices are high now….you ain’t seen nothing yet.

Not to worry us peasants will be paying more for everything and yet the CEOs will still enjoy their cold champagne and multi-million dollar bonuses while the rest of us struggle daily.

There is a reason that oil companies buy Congresspeople and this is one of those times.

Sorry to pee on your parade but this so-called ‘free market economy’ is killing the middle class.

When will the American people wake up to the oligarchs in this country?

JUst wondering.

I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”

‘International Legion’ For Ukraine

This post is for all those Adrenalin junkies  that need a thrill to feel alive.

Believe me there is no better way to satisfy your daily need for a fix than to have some son of a bitch shooting at you with the intent to kill.

That said…..

Shades of 1936 and the International Brigades most notably the Lincoln Brigade….

The Lincoln Brigade?

During the Spanish Civil War (1936-39), almost forty thousand men and women from fifty-two countries, including 2,800 Americans volunteered to travel to Spain and join the International Brigades to help fight fascism. The U.S. volunteers served in various units and came to be known collectively as the Abraham Lincoln Brigade.

Since Russia has invaded Ukraine the government has sent out a call of international fighters that ware willing to come and help defend Ukraine from ‘Vlad the Invader’….

Ukraine’s government has started a website to recruit foreign volunteers to an “international legion” to fight invading Russian troops, following repeated calls by President Volodymyr Zelenskiy for outsiders to join in his country’s defense.

His office announced the website’s launch on March 5 and said, “foreigners who want to help Ukraine can find a detailed, step-by-step instruction on the website on how to join the just fight with the aggressor.”

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said more than 20,000 people from 52 countries have already volunteered to fight in Ukraine, where they will serve in a newly created international legion. He did not say how many of the foreign volunteers have arrived in Ukraine.

“The whole world today is on Ukraine’s side not only in words but in deeds,” Kuleba said on Ukrainian television Sunday night.

He did not name the home countries of the volunteers, saying that some of them forbid their citizens from fighting for other countries.

For those that are so motivated….a few things that you need to know…..

In order to join the International Legion of Defense of Ukraine, it is necessary to: apply to the Embassy of Ukraine in your country with an intention to join the International Legion of Defense of Ukraine and specify what documents and clothing (equipment) are needed or recommended; to pass an interview at the Embassy with the Defense Attaché and get a visa with the consul; Submit an application to enlist for voluntary contract-based military service in the Armed Forces of Ukraine; after that the legionnaire will receive instructions on traveling to Ukraine, the necessary documents and equipment.

For more information….

Foreigners who want to help Ukraine can find detailed step-by-step instructions on how to join the fair fight against the aggressor at https://fightforua.org/.

Just a thought here….I do hope that after this conflict ends and these fighters return home hopefully they will be better treated than those of the International Brigades when they returned to the family and country in 1939 after the Spanish Civil War.

So if you are an adrenaline junkie drop your parachute, climbing gear and winged suits and grad a rifle and make a difference.

If you decide to help then there are few things more you need to do….

The federal government has advised US citizens not to travel to Ukraine—but those who decide to do so anyway should leave behind a DNA sample and a will, and designate power of attorney before they go. That’s the advice from the State Department as of Tuesday, NBC News reports. It also advised any Americans headed there to put in place personal security and communication plans, and to make sure important documents and login information have been shared with loved ones in advance. The recommendations come after a report last week that 3,000 US citizens have applied to join “the International Legion of Territorial Defense of Ukraine,” recently formed by President Volodymyr Zelensky.

I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”