Ukraine–Day 23

We are close in on one month of this conflict and it appears that, according to the news outlets, Russian is resorting to punishing the civilian population as they move on (slow as the move is)…….

Today’s update SOF News…..

Russian Campaign Update. The Russian offensive has, for the most part, taken a temporary break. One cause for this appears to be constant counterattacks that keep the Russians off balance and the interdiction of resupply lines that interrupt the flow of fuel, food, and ammunition. There were small advances attempted in a few locations.

Belarus. The Russians used the country to the north of Ukraine as a staging area for the invasion forces. It continues to transit supplies and personnel south across the Belarus border. Air strikes and missile launches are coming from Belarus as well. The Russian dead and wounded are moved north into Belarus and then on to Russia. Belarus troops have not yet joined the fight. There are concerns that Russian and / or Belarus units in Brest (southwest Belarus) could strike south across the border to interdict the east – west supply lines of communications (train and vehicle) in western Ukraine.

Fight for the Skies. The Russians have launched over 1,000 missiles into Ukraine – most from Russia and some from within Ukraine air space. The Russians have still not attained air superiority. The Ukrainians continue to press for a no-fly zone and for fighter jets. They are receiving record numbers of shoulder-fired ground to air missiles that are effective up to 11,000 feet.

S-300. The Ukrainians are hopeful that some more sophisticated weapons like the S-300 air defense system (see photo above) will be provided by some East European nations (Slovakia?). Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin was in Slovakia on Thursday (Mar 17) and Slovakia’s S-300s was a topic of conversation. Slovakia will pass its S-300s to Ukraine if they are backfilled with air defense weapons from the United States.

No Fly Zone. During his speech to the U.S. Congress on Wednesday (Mar 16) the Ukrainian president made a plea for NATO to implement a no-fly zone over Ukraine. Administration officials cite the dangers of starting a larger war, one with an adversary with nuclear weapons, as the main reason for not establishing a no-fly zone. Raphael S. Cohen argues that we shouldn’t rule it out completely in “Why It Could be a Strategic Mistake to Rule Out a No-Fly Zone Policy”, RAND Corporation, March 16, 2022.

Deadly Ukraine Skies. The Russian Air Force (VKS) is simply never meant to fight the way Western air forces do. It isn’t just the Stinger, Igla, and other air defense weapons systems that threaten Russian pilots. A dangerous combination of doctrine, training, and equipment are also partly to blame for the heavy losses of the VKS. Many of the Russian air support strikes for its ground troops are conducted at low levels – leaving them exposed to the numerous MANPADs available to the Ukraine military. There are other factors at play – one is the ‘supportive role’ of the VKS in a military campaign – it isn’t designed to attain ‘air supremacy’. Another factor is the type of bombs the Russians have – they have more ‘dumb’ bombs than ‘smart’ bombs. This means they have to fly at lower altitudes for accuracy and they can’t launch many standoff weapons due to a lack of targeting pods. “Why the skies over Ukraine have proven so deadly for Russian pilots”, by David Roza, Task & Purpose, March 17, 2022.

Maritime Activities. An amphibious landing force on several ships is still positioned in the Black Sea off the coast of Odessa. There is the possibility of a future landing of a substantial element of Russian naval infantry. The Russian blockade of Ukrainian shipping continues.

Ukrainian Defense (and Offense). Ukraine officials say that over 320,000 Ukrainians have returned to their home country. Most of them are men. The Ukrainian military launched a number of counteroffensives against Russian positions in the vicinity of Kyiv – principally in the suburbs of Irpin, Bucha, and Hostomel. A Ukrainian offensive is also taking place in the vicinity of Kherson – currently held by the Russians.

Missile Strikes on Lviv. A location near the Lviv International Airport has been bombed. Reports say several Russian cruise missiles struck a nearby aircraft repair facility in the western city of Lviv on Friday morning (Mar 18). Some reports say there were 6 cruise missiles launched from the Black Sea.

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. Other than some shelling, the city itself is not under attack. Lines of communication with the rest of the country are still intact from the southerly direction. The main avenue of attack on Kyiv remains from the north and northwest – one that is about 15 kilometers from the city center. The attack from the east is stalled and is about 30 kilometers from the city center. To the east the major town of Brovary remains in Ukrainian hands.

Kharkiv. The second largest city of Ukraine is Kharkiv located in the northeast of the country. It is constantly under artillery, rocket, and missile attack. The Ukrainian forces continue to hold the city. Many believe the Russians are trying to demoralize the city’s inhabitants with the indiscriminate shelling on residential areas.

Mariupol. Located on the Sea of Azov, the coastal city of Mariupol is under siege by the Russians. This city is situated along the coastal road network that would provide Russia with a land bridge between Russia and the Crimea. The Russians struck a theater where hundreds of women and children were seeking shelter. Authorities say that 130 survivors have been recovered from the wreckage and that recovery efforts are continuing. Some reports say that between 500 to 1,000 people had been sheltered in the theater. The city is encircled and has been cut off from electricity, water, gas, mobile networks, food, and medical supplies. It is being shelled every day. Up to 80 per cent of the residential buildings have been destroyed.

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.

Situation Maps.  War in Ukraine by Scribble Maps. Read an assessment and view a map of the Russian offensive campaign by the Institute for the Study of War.

Biden and China. President Biden is expected to speak with President Xi on Friday (Mar 18). The U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken says the message from Biden is that China should not support Russia. The conversation will also touch on competition between the two countries as well as other issues of mutual concern. Putin’s war in Ukraine has negative and positive consequences for the rulers in Beijing. “Beijing’s goals and Putin’s war are meshing in nasty ways”, The Strategist, Australian Strategic Policy Initiative (ASPI), March 18, 2022.

Switchblade Drones. A drone recently developed by the United States and used by U.S. special operations forces is being sent to Ukraine. One hundred of the Switchblade drones are being sent, with the possibility of more in the future. Costing about $6,000 a piece, they are able to be carried in a backpack and flown by an operator to its target. The drone comes with a warhead and used by crashing into the target.

Super Yachts. A number of big yachts owned by rich Russians are being seized around the world. The most recent one is a 443-foot yacht worth $600 million taken by Spain. It is part of a crackdown on oligarchs that support Vladimir Putin and his invasion of Ukraine.

Insurgency Scenarios. Prior to the February 24th invasion there was a lot of speculation on how the conflict would end. Most national security observers noted that the Russians would score a quick win, seizing most or all of Ukraine. Some went on to describe different types of insurgencies that might take place in the aftermath of the war. Emily Harding is one who analyzed ‘the future’. Read her thoughts on the topic in “Scenario Analysis on a Ukrainian Insurgency”, Center for Strategic & International Studies, February 15, 2022.

IO – a Decisive Role. Russian has locked down access to almost all social media platforms, to include Facebook and Twitter. It has also blocked access to news media like Radio Free Europe and some independent Russian news services. It has passed laws that criminalize the spreading of “fake news” with up to 15 years in prison. However, Ukraine and the west can fight back in the information operations arena. “Keeping Russians Informed about Ukraine Could Help End This War”, The RAND Blog, March 14, 2022.

Humanitarian Effort in Ukraine. Prior to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, United Nations agencies and other international organizations had a limited presence in the country. There were about 34 international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and nine UN agencies in the country prior to February 24th, most of them in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. Now they are busy establishing and scaling up humanitarian efforts in Ukraine. Learn how the NGOs and UN agencies are regrouping and now providing assistance. “In Ukraine, building an emergency aid response (almost) from scratch“, The New Humanitarian, March 17, 2022.

Refugees. As of March 18, over 3,000,000 refugees have left Ukraine according to data provided by the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees (UNHCR). The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has published its March 17 Situation Report (PDF, 9 pages).

Women Fighters in Ukraine. Most media coverage of women in Ukraine falls into three different stereotypes. The peacemaker, the victim, and the pseudo-soldier. “The Mystique of the Female Soldier: Portrayals of Ukrainian Women in Western Media”, by Sarah Keisler, Georgetown Security Studies Review, March 15, 2022.

More to come…stay tuned…..

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It’s Putin’s Fault (Why Not?)

Inflation is soaring in this country, maybe the world, and now we have a brand new excuse…..It is Putin’s fault.

Just Stop It!

Let’s be honest…..2021 was a banner year for the oil industry alone…..

While millions of working people have been hurt by surging gas prices, a new analysis out Tuesday shows that 25 of the world’s biggest fossil fuel corporations collectively pulled in an “eye-popping” $205 billion in profits last year—and Big Oil is exploiting Russia’s war on Ukraine to charge even more at the pump in 2022 and advance its financial interests.

(commondreams.org)

We here in the US blame so many others for our growing problems…..for the GOP it is Biden’s fault or Clinton or Dems…..the Dems along with Biden are blaming the Ukrainian conflict and Putin as the culprit….

“Today’s inflation report,” US president Joe Biden told us on March 10, “is a reminder that Americans’ budgets are being stretched by price increases and families are starting to feel the impacts of Putin’s price hike.”

It’s the latest in a long line of dodges on the causes of US inflation, which took a dive in early 2020, then began its steady climb toward the current official rate of 7.9%.

The first explanation was that inflation increases were “transitory.” That explanation made sense. Or would have, anyway, if Congress and the Biden administration had brought government borrowing and spending levels back to pre-COVID-19 levels. Instead, they decided to go bigger. When the causes aren’t “transitory,” the effects won’t be either.

Because Biden and Congress were unwilling to rein in borrowing and spending (requiring the Federal Reserve to continue flooding the economy with newly created money), new excuses were required.

Next came “well, if you really think about it, inflation is GOOD – look, higher wages!” And, the US Labor Department did report an average pay increase 4.7% in 2021. But since prices jumped by at least 7%, those “higher wages” actually amounted to significant pay cuts.

(antiwar.com)

Inflation is caused by increasing the money supply faster than society increases its production of goods and services for sale. Everything else is an effect, not a cause.

Vladimir Putin came to Biden’s rescue and gave him yet another lame excuse to draw out pain instead of facing, and acting on, the truth.

Keep in mind that inflation was high before the invasion of Ukraine….and now Biden has an excuse he can use to the benefit of the greed of corporations.

All this ‘found’ cash over a $1 billion to send to Ukraine will just add to the deficit and give the GOP a weapon to be used in campaigns…..and the next Congress will have to face this question and the debate to cut social services will be the game of the day.

In other words the people of the US will pay the price for all our ‘support’ for Ukraine and their struggle against Russia.

For Christ sake…..stop worrying about a world away and start caring about your neighbors for they are far more important.

Sadly most of this will fall on deaf ears for few Americans actually care about their neighbors or their countrymen.

It is pathetic!

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“lego ergo scribo”

How The West Can Assist Ukraine

There are way too many, in my opinion, that are calling for all out war with Russia…..since I am a staunch antiwar individual I will not support any armed involvement in the conflict between Ukraine and ‘Vlad the Invader’…..

But what can the West do to support and aid Ukraine in their fight?

Across the world, political leaders and ordinary citizens have condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. At the same time, there seems to be basically no chance that the United States or any other major world power would send its troops to fight on the Ukrainians’ behalf — for the simple reason that doing so could plausibly lead to a wider war, and even nuclear conflict.

The question then becomes: What can America and its allies do if they continue to rule out direct intervention?

The answer is quite a lot, much of which — though by no means all — is being done already.

The basic Western strategy has been to make the war more painful for Putin: Supply the Ukrainians with weapons while imposing crippling sanctions on the Russian economy. These measures are designed to shift Putin’s cost-benefit analysis, making the war costly enough that he’ll look for some kind of exit. In broad strokes, experts say, it’s a sound strategy — one that can still be escalated, albeit within certain bounds.

“The West has to keep going full speed in the current direction,” says Yoshiko Herrera, a political scientist who studies Russia at the University of Wisconsin Madison. “Right now is not the time to let up on pressure.”

At the same time, Washington and its allies need to think more carefully about their endgame.

https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/22958725/ukraine-russia-us-nato-sanctions-military-aid-protest

My problem is that the US has found $800 million for aid to Ukraine…..with growing poverty and hunger in this country some of that cash would be better spent here helping struggling Americans.

That aside there needs to be a debate on foreign policy instead of always a knee jerk reaction with military hardware…..now is the time for such a debate…..as hard as it may be…..

Conflicts that we now think of as uniting the country were still political. Americans were torn over what to do in World War II, for example. Congress passed a series of neutrality acts in the 1930s, and these isolationist policies were responsible for America’s late entry into the war. And, of course, unity sometimes came at a price. The U.S. government’s steps to punish anti-war speech during World War I, for instance, are good examples of going too far with the idea that dissent is inherently harmful to war efforts.

The reality is that foreign policy has always been contested — and, more often than not, linked to questions of identity and ideology. But debates about war are so interwoven with our larger culture-war politics now that most questions of how to handle military conflict have been largely reduced to partisan scoring. And that’s a problem — not because we need to get back to some bygone bipartisan era, but because real dissension is vital in a democracy, especially in matters of foreign policy. 

The seeds of war politics’ merging with culture-war politics arguably date back to the late 1960s, when anti-Vietnam War protests overlapped with civil rights protests and other social movements that challenged the existing social order. Over time, conservatives and liberals diverged in their attitudes toward the war, especially as liberal elites began to criticize it. Starting with the 1968 presidential election, being anti-war became more closely associated with being a liberal Democrat. And the accusation that George McGovern, the 1972 Democratic presidential nominee, was all for “acid, amnesty1 and abortion” helped solidify this cultural connection.

Why It’s Important To Debate Foreign Policy Even In Times Of Conflict

Time for a real debate before it is too late for a solution other than going to yet another war.

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“lego ergo scribo”