Ukraine–Day 57

“It is easy to get into war, not so easy to get out”. Chuck Hagel

“War should be made a crime, and those who instigate it should be punished as criminals.” Charles Evans Hughes

“One of the reasons it’s important for me to write about war is I really think that the concept of war, the specifics of war, the nature of war, the ethical ambiguities of war, are introduced too late to children. I think they can hear them, understand them, know about them, at a much younger age without being scared to death by the stories.” Suzanne Collins

We are closing in on 2 months of war for the Ukrainians…..and the conflict has shifted to the East…..

What Does Russia Want? The answer to the question is best approached in the context of time. The pre-invasion goals have certainly been modified. Perhaps the minimal goals of Russia were always set as a ‘land bridge‘ from the Russian border, through the Donbas region along the coast of the Sea of Azov to Crimea. Beyond that, are a host of objectives that the Russians had hoped to achieve.

And the Gas Fields? Was one of the objectives the vast gas reserves of Ukraine? The country has Europe’s second-largest known reserves of natural gas, about 80 percent located east of the Dnipro River. Krystyna Marcinek argues that the advantages of owning the Ukrainian gas fields appear too small to justify the costs of the invasion, are too hard to occupy, and almost impossible for Russia to exploit. “Russia Does Not Seem to be After Ukraine’s Gas Reserves”, RAND Corporation, April 11, 2022.

Donbas Offensive? There are numerous reports that the Russians have launched their long-awaited offensive for the capture of the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine. The past few days have seen an increase in artillery, rocket, and missile attacks. Attacks are taking place along a large front with some small gains made by the Russians. Thus far there hasn’t been a lot of ‘shock and awe’. Victory by May 9th? Some military analysts are suggesting that the next two weeks will see a major push by Russia to secure more territorial gains in Donbas – in time for the annual May 9 Victory Day parade.

Airpower. Ukraine’s air force is a little bit bigger now than it was a few weeks back. The shipment of airplane parts and components to Ukraine has helped them repair and put into service more airframes. The country started the war in the latter part of February with over 70 combat aircraft but has suffered some losses over the past two months. An increase of 20 aircraft is a significant event for the Ukrainians. “Ukraine Resurrects 20 planes with fresh spare parts”, Coffee or Die Magazine, April 20, 2022.

Maritime Activities. The fight over eastern Ukraine is, for the most part, a land war. However, one observer of the conflict argues that the U.S. and others are affected by “sea blindness”. He provides a detailed account of the ‘maritime war’ taking place within the larger context of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict. “The Russo-Ukrainian War at Sea: Retrospect and Prospect”, War on the Rocks, B.J. Armstrong, April 21, 2022.

Mariupol – Operation Cancelled? Victory Declared! In a public forum President Putin ordered his Russian troops to hold off on any clearing operation of the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol where the last of the city’s defenders (probably about 2,000?) are making a final stand. At least half of the Ukrainian combatants are wounded, with some still fighting. There are reported to be between 1,000 to 2,000 civilians – most of them women and children – in tunnels and bunkers underneath the huge industrial complex. Located on the Sea of Azov, the coastal city of Mariupol has been under siege by the Russians for almost two months. This city is situated along the coastal road network that would provide Russia with a land bridge between Russia and the Crimea. Read more in “Putin calls off storming of Mariupol steel plant, tells Shoigu to blockade it”, The Washington Examiner, April 21, 2022.

President Zelensky said on Thursday (Apr 21) that Ukraine is preparing to ‘unblock’ Mariupol through military or diplomatic means. It is doubtful Ukraine can relieve the city and break the Russian encirclement. The Russians will likely just attempt to ‘starve’ the remaining defenders out. The Russians have about 12 BTGs deployed in Mariupol – not clearing the industrial complex with free up some of these BTGs for the fight in other parts of the Donbas region.

Situation Maps.  Russia now has 85 battalion tactical groups (BTGs) in Ukraine, many of them committed to the Donbas offensive. The Russians have made only minimal gains in the Donbas region in the last few days. The Ukrainians have been successful in stopping Russian advances in the area around Izyum. War in Ukraine by Scribble Maps. Read an assessment of the Russian offensive campaign by the Institute for the Study or War (April 21, 2022). View more Ukraine SITMAPs that provide updates on the disposition of Russian forces.

Negotiations. Other than prisoner exchanges – last count there were six conducted – not much has happened in the way of negotiating an end to the conflict. On Thursday, the Ukrainian government announced another prisoner exchange. 19 Ukrainian POWs were released including ten soldiers and nine civilians – some of whom were wounded.

Refugees, IDPs, and and a U.S. Welcome. View the UNHCR Operational Data Portal – Ukraine Refugee Situation (Updated daily), https://data2.unhcr.org/en/situations/ukraine. President Biden announced a new process to welcome Ukrainians fleeing Russia’s invasion. It is called “Uniting for Ukraine”. Read a news release by the Department of Homeland Security on the topic (Apr 21, 2022).

Tanks. When the war started Russia’s military was cited as having ten times the number of tanks than Ukraine – many of them spread throughout Russia. The number of tanks that Russia invaded Ukraine with in late February certainly outnumbered those of Ukraine. But now it appears that imbalance has been modified. Ukraine now has (at least according to the Pentagon) more tanks in Ukraine than Russia. This is due to the huge armor losses Russia has sustained through combat, abandonment, or maintenance breakdown. Ukraine has been capturing damaged or abandoned Russian tanks, fixing them, and returning them to combat with Ukrainian crews. In addition, Soviet-era tanks are arriving from East European countries as well.

A Little Tank History. A museum and warehouse at Fort Benning houses some Russian tanks, some captured during the 1991 Gulf War. The Army’s Cavalry and Armor Collection allows soldiers to climb over and into Soviet-era tanks to learn more about them. “What this old Russian tank tells us about the invasion of Ukraine”, Task & Purpose, April 21, 2022.

Moscow’s Propaganda Spokesperson. A U.S. State Department news release highlights the role of Dmitri Peskov – a Russian who has served as Vladimir Putin’s spokesperson since 2008. He has played a key role in propaganda and disinformation campaigns over the decade and more. “Faces of Kremlin Propaganda: Dmitri Peskov”, U.S. Department of State, April 18, 2022.

‘Signaling’ – Russia and U.S. Methods. Putin has been ‘signaling’ to the West and United States that nuclear weapons may be a consideration if they escalate their support for Ukraine. While many are dismissing these threats as posturing, some observers are wondering if the West should do some ‘signaling’ of their own. And that perhaps the use of cyber operations could be a signaling response. However, some critics believe (the authors of this article) the potential implications of misperceptions surrounding cyber operations targeting nuclear systems during a crisis with a nuclear-armed adversary are simply too significant. “Cyber Signaling and Nuclear Deterrence: Implications for the Ukraine Crisis”, War on the Rocks, April 21, 2022.

Will Russia Step up Cyber Attacks? Now that the Donbas offensive is underway, many analysts believe that Moscow will increase its cyberattacks both in Ukraine and around the world. The U.S. critical infrastructure could be a future target according to the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA). Several recommendations were outlined by CISA to mitigate the Russian cyber threat. “Russia May Ramp Up Cyber Attacks as Putin Pushes into Donbas, U.S. Warns”, Newsweek, April 20, 2022.

Sanctions – Hurting Russia’s Military. The ability of Russia to resupply its forces has been diminished due to economic sanctions imposed by the West and other allies around the world. The Russian military has lost thousands of tanks and armored vehicles over the past two months – damaged in combat, abandoned, or down with maintenance issues. Some of the components and parts needed to restock these weapons systems are no longer available because of sanction-imposed supply chain issues. Howard Altman explores this issue in detail – “Sanctions Are Strangling Russia’s Weapons Supply Chain”, The War Zone, April 18, 2022.

Finland – No Longer Neutral? Finland’s parliament has begun discussing the implications and risks of NATO membership. Finland shares an 830-mile land border with Russia and has followed a pragmatic course in its relationship with Russia since the fall of the Soviet Union. However, the Russian invasion of Ukraine led to a huge shift in pubic opinion – with many supporting Finland joining NATO. (The Guardian, April 21, 2022).

Biden Meets Ukraine PM. Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal spent some time with President Biden in Washington, D.C. on Thursday (Apr 21). He is the highest-ranking Ukrainian official to visit D.C. since February 24th, the beginning of the war. No word on when Biden will visit Kyiv.

Relationships in Middle East are Realigning. The Russian invasion of Ukraine has prompted some deep thinking on the part of some countries in the ME. Among them are Israel, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates. Read more in “War in Ukraine is changing relations in the Middle East”, The Strategist, Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI), April 22, 2022.

Another $800 Million Package. On Thursday (Apr 21) the United States announced additional weapons will be sent to Ukraine. This latest weapons transfer will almost deplete the drawdown authority that the President has. More weapons packages will need to be authorized by Congress through a supplemental budget request. This latest package will contain more heavy artillery and tactical drones. About 50 Ukrainian soldiers are currently receiving training on the 155mm howitzers. This new authorization is the eighth drawdown of equipment from DoD inventories since August 2021 for Ukraine. (Defense News, Apr 21, 2022).

The new package announced on Thursday includes:

  • 72 155mm howitzers and 144,000 artillery rounds
  • 72 tactical vehicles to tow 155mm howitzers
  • 121 Phoenix Ghost tactical drones
  • Field equipment and spare parts

‘Ghost’ Drones for Ukraine. Over 120 Phoenix Ghost Tactical Unmanned Aerial Systems, manufactured by AEVEX Aerospace, are heading to Ukraine. The drones are similar to the Switchblade – small and quickly deployable. They can fly short distances and pack a small explosive warhead used to attack light vehicles and personnel. The United States has already delivered hundreds of Switchblade drones to Ukraine, including some training to Ukrainian soldiers. (Breaking Defense, Apr 21, 2022)

Norway to Provide AA System. The Norwegian government has decided to donate Mistral air defense systems to Ukraine. It has a range of up to six kilometers and is intended for use against low-flying aircraft. The Norwegians are providing their entire inventory of Mistral missiles – numbering slightly over 100. “Norway to donate air defence system to Ukraine”, Euractiv.com, April 21, 2022.

Spain Shipping 200 Tons of Weapons. Trucks, ammunition, and other types of war equipment are heading to Poland for an ultimate transfer to Ukrainian military forces. The Spanish Navy transport ship Ysabel is currently under way with 200 tons of equipment.

Mozart Group – Training Ukrainians. Andy Milburn, a former special ops Marine, is now the head of a newly-established private organization providing training to Ukrainian SOF and other Ukrainian military units. Read more in “I’m a Former Marine Training Ukrainians – the Russians Are Worse Than ISIS”, Newsweek, April 20, 2022. (Editor’s Note: changed “Wagner Group to Mozart Group”.)

Brinkmanship and Nuclear Weapons. For decades the U.S. had buried the thought of the use of nuclear weapons in Europe. But times have changed. Tyler Bowen argues that some serious thought should be given to the possibility of the use of tactical nuclear weapons in Europe. “Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine and NATO’s Crisis of Nuclear Credibility”, War on the Rocks, April 20, 2022.

Podcast – Helping Ukraine Win. Spirit of America founder and CEO Jim Hake discusses his entrepreneurial approach to providing private U.S. assistance in the form of non-lethal aid to Ukraine. The Truth of the Matter, CSIS | Center for Strategic and International Studies, April 19, 2022, 21 minutes.

“Are We Letting Putin Win?” Dr. Guy Millere, a professor at the University of Paris and author of 27 books on Europe, writes that Washington may be agreeable to giving Putin a small victory and an off-ramp to end the Ukraine War. Millere believes that the U.S. is more concerned with ending the war – even if Putin gets some of what he wants – at the cost of Ukraine. “Are We Letting Putin Win?”, Gatestone Institute, International Policy Council, April 21, 2022.

Another day ….same war……

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As Weapons Pour Into Ukraine

The hostilities foisted on Ukraine by Vlad the Invader and his ‘forces of evil’ the West has shoved numerous weapons up the butt of Ukraine….new missiles, anti-tank, anti-personnel, air support systems all donated with the hope that it will be a long war (at least that is the hope of the M-IC)…..

Since Russia invaded on February 24, the US pledged about $2.6 billion in military aid. According to media reports, President Biden is preparing to announce yet another weapons package for Ukraine that will be similar in size to the $800 million one that was announced last week.

More money more money…..

President Biden announced another $1.3 billion in aid for Ukraine. Of that amount, $800 million will go towards a new weapons package, and $500 million will go directly to the Ukrainian government for economic assistance.

The new package brings the total military aid pledged by the Biden administration for Ukraine since Russia invaded on February 24 to a whopping $3.4 billion. Including direct economic assistance given to Ukraine, the total aid climbs to $4.4 billion.

(antiwar.com)

Why would anyone want this war to be a protracted war?

Why do you think? CASH!

The war in Ukraine will indeed be a bonanza for the likes of Raytheon and Lockheed Martin. First of all, there will be the contracts to resupply weapons like Raytheon’s Stinger anti-aircraft missile and the Raytheon/Lockheed Martin-produced Javelin anti-tank missile that Washington has already provided to Ukraine by the thousands. The bigger stream of profits, however, will come from assured post-conflict increases in national-security spending here and in Europe justified, at least in part, by the Russian invasion and the disaster that’s followed.

Indeed, direct arms transfers to Ukraine already reflect only part of the extra money going to U.S. military contractors. This fiscal year alone, they are guaranteed to also reap significant benefits from the Pentagon’s Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI) and the State Department’s Foreign Military Financing (FMF) program, both of which finance the acquisition of American weaponry and other equipment, as well as military training. These have, in fact, been the two primary channels for military aid to Ukraine from the moment the Russians invaded and seized Crimea in 2014. Since then, the United States has committed around $5 billion in security assistance to that country.

According to the State Department, the United States has provided such military aid to help Ukraine “preserve its territorial integrity, secure its borders, and improve interoperability with NATO.” So, when Russian troops began to mass on the Ukrainian border last year, Washington quickly upped the ante. On March 31, 2021, the U.S. European Command declared a “potential imminent crisis,” given the estimated 100,000 Russian troops already along that border and within Crimea. As last year ended, the Biden administration had committed $650 million in weaponry to Ukraine, including anti-aircraft and anti-armor equipment like the Raytheon/Lockheed Martin Javelin anti-tank missile.

How Pentagon Contractors Are Cashing in on the Ukraine Crisis

There is one drawback that should be considered…..all those weapons and zero chance of tracking who gets them or just where they go…..

A US official said the White House has “almost zero” ability to track the weapons it is sending to Ukraine. So far, President Joe Biden has approved over $3 billion in arms shipments to Kiev. 

Speaking with CNN about the weapons, one source said, “we have fidelity for a short time, but when it enters the fog of war, we have almost zero. It drops into a big black hole, and you have almost no sense of it at all after a short period of time.”

The source said the US lacked personnel “on the ground,” making it nearly impossible to track the movement of weapons. Another source told CNN Ukraine was incentivized to lie to get access to more weapons, saying “It’s a war – every statement is an information operation, every interview. Every Zelensky appearance broadcast is an information operation.”

https://libertarianinstitute.org/news-roundup/white-house-has-almost-zero-ability-to-track-weapons-it-sends-to-ukraine/

The truth be known…,the US has NO idea where these weapons will wind up…..no accountability or responsibility….just shove the weapons up their butts and hope for the best….as long as the check does not bounce who gives a f*ck?

The same with every war.

Mark my words these ‘lost’ weapons will be used again.

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I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”

Ukraine–Shades Of Gray

This is an article from the Libertarian Institute….please see that it is not my op-ed…..

I have posted several posts that shines some light on the whole story of the Ukraine-Russia conflict most are not even covered by our crackerjack mainstream media….there is always more to the story than the media cares to report…..

If you’re looking for morality tales – clashes between the clearly good and the clearly bad – I suggest you look elsewhere than the geopolitical theater. There we find only conflicts between shades of darker gray.

This seems to have been the case throughout history. Empires and would-be empires vied with rival empires and would-be empires for territory, resources, taxpayers, and soldiers. No surprise: governments will be governments, and that’s not good. This is not to say the shades of gray did not differ at all, perhaps even significantly on occasion, but the objective was always, first and foremost, booty and control of people. The interests of commoners were rarely if ever the cause.

We see this in Russia’s war on Ukraine. Let’s be clear: Vladimir Putin and his Russian government freely chose to send military forces across the border into Ukraine. Their military personnel complied. They ultimately are responsible for their choices and therefore the death, injury, and mayhem that is taking place. (I make an exception for proven false-flag operations on the Ukrainian side, should any come to light.)

Now that the issue of primary culpability is out of the way, we can go on to talk about contributory culpability. I hope I’ve left little room for anyone to argue assigning contributory culpability to others is intended to let the Russian government personnel off the hook.

What sort of culpability do I have in mind? It’s on the order of setting a trap and loading it with bait in order to lure a target. Russia had to choose to step into it, but those who set the trap did not have to do what they did. Hence, they contributed to a terrible situation.

Many experts analysts have long pointed out that the U.S. government at least since the late 1990s has knowingly been provoking Russia by expanding NATO up to the country’s western border, incorporating most of the allies and some of the republics of the late Soviet Union. For years the US government and other NATO officials have talked publicly about inviting the former republics Ukraine and Georgia to join. Everyone knew that Ukraine was an especially sensitive matter because it had long been a buffer between Russia and states to the west, Poland in particular. The Soviet Union had been invaded three times in the 20th century, twice by Germany and once by Poland, both NATO members since the demise of the USSR.

Shades of Gray in the Russia-Ukraine War

I know you have your opinion on this conflict….all I ask is that you read the opinion and not just go off on some rant by reading the title (it is a lot to ask I know)…..

I believe inquiring minds want to know…..the problem is that Americans NO longer have an inquiring mind…..they have social media.

Any thoughts?

I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”