Lunacy That Is Ukraine

AS the war between Ukraine and Russia enters into another month….the news is pretty much the same from day to day….but we report anyway…..

Looks like the US Congress has approved yet another waste of cash, $40 billion to be exact, and I ask to what end?

$40 billion Ukraine aid package galloping through Congress, Biden has finally found his bipartisan project and he’s willing to risk a recession, refueling the pandemic and nuclear war to get it…

Rand Paul has never thought clearly about economics, and the relation between his morality and his partisan politics is not the subject of this column. No one needs a reminder that Rand Paul is an Ayn Randian “libertarian.” That is deadbeat and misses the crucial point in this timeline of events. Entirely. The brute fact remains that Rand at least raised the question of public accounting of a vast war budget. When there was a bipartisan stampede to approve the recent 40 billion dollar Ukraine war budget, his dissent was crucial in delaying automatic approval.

The more pointed and timely question is why Bernie Sanders went AWOL, along with the entire Progressive Caucus in Congress. Whether any of them belong in any school of Marxism whatsoever is a side issue. What matters most is whether they pursue a practical policy of peace. Do they raise the ground floor of social democracy across public policies such as health care, housing, and education? Bipartisan war budgets that expand from year to year have the sure consequence of strip-mining public funds away from basic social goods and services.

Congress Approves 40 Billion Dollar Ukraine War Bill

Sorry I do not see where this waste will end this war.

But not to worry Biden wants to send even more cash and equipment to the war effort…..

The Pentagon announced Thursday that President Biden authorized another $100 million weapons package for Ukraine, bringing the total military aid shipped to the country since Russia invaded on February 24 to $3.9 billion.

The Pentagon said the latest weapons package includes 18 155MM Howitzers, 18 tactical vehicles to tow the Howitzers, AN/TPQ-36 counter-artillery radars, field equipment, and spare parts.

The Biden administration started sending Howitzers to Ukraine in April, marking a significant escalation in US military aid. The US also started training Ukrainian troops in Germany and elsewhere in Europe to use the Howitzers and other advanced equipment.

The $100 million authorized on Thursday came from a drawdown authority that allows President Biden to ship weapons from the Pentagon’s stockpile directly to Ukraine. The $100 million package exhausted the remaining drawdown funds left from the $13.6 billion in Ukraine aid that was part of a spending bill President Biden signed in March.

(antiwar.com)

Some thoughts on this conflict as we enter into yet another month…..

I expect the war will go on for awhile until the generals and politicians get tired of it. An international antiwar movement with significant numbers could hasten that moment. One does not demand peace because there’s a war on. Indeed, that’s why one demands peace. The movement against the Vietnam war was organized and expanded while the war escalated, not before or afterwards.

Since the example of the USSR arming Vietnam is being used as a reason to support arming Kyiv by some on the left who support NATO arms shipments, I think it is useful to turn that comparison upside down, as it were. This argument understands that Ukraine’s history is much longer than South Vietnam’s was and that it does meet criterion for a nation (we’ll leave my distaste for nationalism out of the conversation). However, it rejects this element of the left’s argument that the war is a Ukrainian anti-colonial struggle.

I would argue that modern Ukraine’s situation is closer to that of what Washington named South Vietnam than Vietnam in general That country was nominally independent, but fiercely determined to stay in the sphere dominated by Washington. In fact, its very life depended on Washington’s largess. Modern Ukraine has a different genesis, having been established in the wake of the disintegration of the USSR. Since then, its government has switched back and forth between favoring the Russian economic sphere and that of the US-dominated west. Since the US-assisted overthrow of the elected government in 2014, the government in Kyiv has given itself to the latter. It is firmly in Washington’s grip, even making its desire to be part of NATO an article in its most recent constitution. Of course, this came with a price. While it seems unlikely that Zelenskyy and his government knew that the price would include the destruction of many of its cities and the deaths of thousands of Ukrainians, there were certainly those Ukrainians who understood this possibility.

Some Thoughts on the Russia-Ukraine Conflict in Week Number Twelve

So Putin’s war to keep NATO from expanding to its border has resulted in a nation (Finland) on Russia’s border, a stone’s throw from Putin’s hometown, applying to join NATO. NATO, which had pretty much been left for dead in Europe after the Yugoslavian wars, suddenly has been resurrected, flush with weapons, money and a re-branded raison d’être. Putin now has the permanent threat on Russia’s border that he can use to justify a tightened grip on power and a build-up of weapons Russia can’t afford. The Ukraine war benefits all the players, except of course average Ukrainians and the ethnic national conscripts in the Russian Army who have been pushed forward as Javelin missile fodder on the frontlines of the fighting.

Putin is just repeating history with Ukraine…..

Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly invoked World War II when justifying the invasion he launched of neighboring Ukraine 10 weeks ago. For the Russian public, the Soviet victory over Germany in 1945 remains a source of immense pride. Putin’s allusions to that event have helped him bolster public support for his latest war. He has claimed, for example, that Ukraine is ruled by Nazis and that soldiers of the Russian army are seeking to “de-Nazify” Ukraine and defend the Russian homeland against nefarious external forces.

Putin’s assertions about Nazis in Kyiv are baseless, but there are striking analogies between the way the USSR’s Red Army operated during World War II and the way the Russian army is operating currently against Ukraine. These analogies, far from reflecting favorably on either the Red Army or today’s Russian army, underscore the deeply immoral nature of Russia’s war in Ukraine.

https://www.wbur.org/cognoscenti/2022/05/04/russians-invasion-ukraine-overtones-wwii-mark-kramer

I do not know if a agree with the ‘nazi’ thing….after all Zelensky incorporated the fascist Azov Battalion into the Ukrainian militia …so there is a grain of truth in the accusation from Putin.

The press and the admin spend an inordinate amount of time in demagoguery of Putin….which in my opinion is a waste of energy….why?  It is an excuse for actions that smell a lot like propaganda (to me)…..

Using Wimbledon as an example….

Chris Bryant, the British MP who chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Russia, appears to be either a fool or knave. He confuses banning Russian tennis players from Wimbledon with defeating Moscow in war. And demagogues anyone who questions punishing people who have done nothing other than be born in Russia.

Russia’s attack on Ukraine was unjustified and has had hideous consequences. But it isn’t the only terrible tragedy that occurred in the world. Indeed, the morality asserted by Britain’s Lawn Tennis Association, which is banning Russian and Belarusian citizens from its tournaments, most importantly Wimbledon, is highly selective.

Demagoguery Won’t Stop Moscow’s Aggression: West Should Stop Sacrificing Principles in Ukraine’s Name

Finally a thought on the ‘popular’ meme of the nukes…..

Despite this, an intellectual fad of the Cold War era was to “think about the unthinkable,” to “war game” or plan for various nuclear “exchanges” resulting in the deaths of hundreds of millions of people, even to imagine that there could be a “winner” of such a war. Remarkably, in the context of the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war, that fad is returning today as pundits write articles that suggest the US needs to show the Russians it is willing and able to fight and win a nuclear war, as an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal argued on April 27th of this year.

Such suggestions are madness.

Don’t Think About the Unthinkable

Just a few thoughts on this Friday…..

I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”

Ukraine–Day 82

As the war in Ukraine drags on and on….the news gets slimmer and slimmer…..but I will try to keep my readers as up to date as I can and retain my sanity.

Russia is now in Day 82 of its 3-day ‘special military operation’. Russia invaded Ukraine to weaken the NATO alliance, topple the Ukrainian government, install a puppet government friendly to Russia, and to seize a significant amount of Ukrainian territory that would make it a land-locked country economically dependent upon Russia. Thus far, the only significant gains are additional territory captured in the Donbas region and the establishment of a land bridge from the Russian border along the eastern side of the Sea of Azov, and on to Crimea.

Ground Situation. The Russians have failed to achieve significant territorial gains over the past month. The ground that has been seized resulted in huge losses in personnel, vehicles, and equipment. The Russians are lacking key enablers such as drones, night vision goggles, and bridging equipment – and is experiencing low morale and combat effectiveness. The Donbass offensive has stalled. The Russians had planned to use Izium (Google Maps) as a base from which to push further west into Ukraine; it has a significant amount of troops in the city and and surrounding area. Now the city is in danger of encirclement by the Ukrainian forces. The Pentagon estimates that there are about 105 Russian battalion tactical groups in Ukraine (as of May 13).

Analysis by John Spencer. A retired military officer and now military analyst is interviewed about his perspective of the Russian invasion and how it may end. He says Russia had a decent plan but military incompetence led to total failure. “Has Russia been beaten? This military expert says that moment is coming soon“, Salon, May 10, 2022.

Fight for the Skies. The air space is still contested. Ukrainian fighters are still flying. Aircraft is hindered by the presence of multiple air defense systems of the Ukrainians and the Russians. Most Russian aircraft are operating within Russia’s borders and launching air to ground missiles at targets in Ukraine within range of the Russian territory.

Maritime Activities. Dr. Basil Germond, a professor at Lancaster University, UK, is an expert in naval and maritime affairs. He analyzes Russia’s use of naval forces in the Ukraine war, its aspiration to control the northern coast of the Black Sea from the Russian Federation borders to Moldova, and its desire to dominant the Black Sea. “Ukraine War: The Limits of Traditional Naval Power and the Rise of Collective and Civilian Seapower”, E-International Relations, May 10, 2022. Snake Island is still in the news. Read “Why the battle over Ukraine’s Snake Island matters for the world“, GZERO, May 12, 2022.

Moskva. The Ukrainian military published audio from the Russian flagship of the Black Sea, the Moskva, that was attacked by missiles and that the crew needed to be rescued. The ship sank on April 14th after being struck twice and began tilting on its side.

Russia and the Enemies Within. There are deepening rifts between the Russian military and the Federal Security Service (FSB) over the failures of intelligence and military incompetence on the battlefield. Some members of the Russian military suspect that the FSB may be working against the Kremlin’s efforts to win in Ukraine. (Radio Free Europe, May 8, 2022).

Russian Attacks Stopped. The news of the Russian offensive in eastern Ukraine is mixed. There are some reports that attacks by the Russians that have made some minimal gains. However, many attacks have not gained much territory at all. Some estimates put the Russian loses at one third of the ground forces since the invasion took place on February 24th.

Russian Unit Destroyed at River Crossing. A number of Russian armored vehicles were destroyed and personnel killed while attempting to cross Siversky Donets River on May 11th over a pontoon bridge. Apparently the Russian vehicles were gathering in a tight group at each end of the bridge and caught in an artillery barrage. There are reports that a significant part of a battalion’s worth of vehicles (as many as 80) were put out of action. Over 400 Russian soldiers were killed or wounded. About 550 troops of the 74th Motorized Rifle Brigade tried to cross the river at Bilohorivka in an attempt to encircle Ukrainian forces. “Russia takes losses in failed river crossing, officials say”, Military Times, May 13, 2022.

Ukrainian Tractor Brigade. The John Deere’s of Ukraine have been providing a significant service to the Ukrainian military. As Russian tanks, self-propelled artillery and rocket launchers, and other armored vehicles are disabled or abandoned the farmers of Ukraine have been coming to the rescue. The ‘Tractor Brigade‘ has been both cleaning up the battlefield and bringing valuable tank and armored vehicles to Ukrainian military repair shops where they are put back into action; but this time against the Russians. The Ukrainians now have more tanks than when the war started. The Russians – not so much. (Twitter, May 15, 2022).

Kharkiv Counteroffensive. The second largest city of Ukraine, Kharkiv, is an area where the Ukrainians have been successfully pushing the Russians back. For several days, the counterattacks have resulted in more territory liberated from the Russians. There are reports that the Ukrainian troops defending Kharkiv have pushed some Russian troops across the Russian border (Reuters, May 16). This is putting some of the logistic supply lines of the Russians in jeopardy further to the south. The battle for the city of Kharkiv may now be over. View a detailed map of the Kharkiv battle zone. (Twitter, @IAPonomarenko, May 15, 2022).

Mariupol – Defenders Still Holding Out. As of Sunday (May 15), the Ukrainian defenders continue to hold a small section of the city in the steel factory known as Azovstal. A large convoy of from 500 to 1,000 cars and vans carrying refugees from Mariupol arrived in the Ukrainian-controlled city of Zaporizhzhia on Saturday (May 15). There are approximately 1,000 Ukrainian defenders still fighting; many of them wounded. The fight for the city began over 80 days ago with 3,500 Ukrainian defenders from the National Guard’s Azov Regiment, 36th Marine Brigade, and other units. There is no medicine left and the wounded are operated on with no anesthesia. Turkey has offered a sea evacuation for wounded Ukrainian fighters; but Russia has refused the offer. (Reuters, May 14) Nearly 90% of the city has been destroyed with over 20,000 residents believed dead due to the house-to-house fighting and massive bombardments by the Russians. The city, once holding over 500,000 residents, is situated along the coastal road network that will provide Russia with a land bridge between Russia and the Crimea.

Missile Attacks on Lviv Oblast. On Sunday (May 15) several missiles struck military facilities in the Lviv region. Other than these periodic airstrikes, the city is operating under conditions of normalcy. Gas and fuel shortages persist.

Situation Maps.  War in Ukraine by Scribble Maps. The UK Ministry of Defence provides an update situational map of the Ukraine battlefield (May 15). View more Ukraine SITMAPs that provide updates on the disposition of Russian forces. And while we are discussing maps – NATO in 1990 vs 2015.

CRS Reports on Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine. The Congressional Research Service (CRS) has been publishing reports periodically on various topics of the Ukraine War. These CRS reports are listed in this six-page PDF published on May 13, 2022.
https://crsreports.congress.gov/product/pdf/R/R47054

Panzerfaust 3. An antitank rocket that has it roots in fighting the Soviets in World War II is now being used against the Russians again – in Ukraine. This shoulder-fired weapon has made an impressive showing against Russian armored columns. With its Simrad Optonics sight and targeting mechanism, the Panzerfaust can engage targets up to ranges of 600 meters. The weapon costs about $11,000 and rounds are around $300; an inexpensive option for destroying Russia’s best tanks. “Panzerfaust 3: The Cold War Weapon Wrecking Russian Tanks in Ukraine”, Historynet.com, May 5, 2022.

Refugees, IDPs, and Humanitarian Crisis. View the UNHCR Operational Data Portal – Ukraine Refugee Situation (Updated daily), https://data2.unhcr.org/en/situations/ukraine. Since May 11th over six million Ukrainians have fled their country since late February. The people leaving are predominantly women, children, and the elderly.

Negotiations. There is not much progress in the current state of negotiations. Turkey, France, and other nations are attempting to restart the dialogue; but not with much success. Some evacuation of civilians has taken place as a result of agreements between Ukraine and Russia; but many do not happen due to Russian targeting of the evacuation routes to safe areas to the Ukraine interior. Turkey has indicated they would assist in the evacuation of the remaining Ukrainian fighters in Mariupol; but Russia isn’t agreeing.

Worldwide Food Supplies Affected by Ukraine War. The impact of the Russia-Ukraine war on global food supplies is being magnified by nations imposing bans on food and fertilizer exports to preserve stocks for their domestic needs. The financial crisis of 2008 around the world led to nations doing the same; which then contributed to food shortages in nations that traditionally import food. This led to food riots in many parts of the world, to include the Middle East. Wheat importing nations include Turkey, Egypt and several African countries. Russian and Ukraine provide about a third of the world’s wheat and barley as well as other agricultural products. David Uren provides the details in “Food supplies squeezed by Ukraine war and trade bans”, The Strategist, Australian Strategic Policy Institute, May 16, 2022.

Russia and InfoWarfare . . . Just Not That Good at It. Jeff Schogol says that “Russian memes are working about as good as Russian tanks.” Prior to kicking off its “mega-sized Charlie Foxtrot in Ukraine”, the Russians were widely regarded as masters of deception and propaganda. Jeff points out the many flaws in the aggressor’s IO campaign in “Russia actually isn’t as good at information warfare as everyone thought”, Task & Purpose, May 11, 2022.

Cyber and InfoWar Failure. In 2008 the world was distracted with the Beijing Olympics. Russia took advantage of this distraction with an attack on Georgia. Russia conducted cyber-attacks, a media campaign to form the narrative, and military action to “come to the aid of the South Ossetians” in Georgia. In 2022, Russia calculated that the world, distracted with the 2022 Winter Olympics and COVID-19 pandemic, would ignore its invasion of Ukraine. This time, however, Russia’s cyber and information campaigns, did not perform effectively. Read more in “How to Terminate Russian Disinformation”, Europe’s Edge, CEPA.org, May 12, 2022.

Telegram. The popular messaging service has about 500 million active users and is used by many in Europe and around the world. It has become a source of information about the Ukraine war for many – on both sides of the conflict. It was founded by Pavel Durov and his brother – both of St Petersburg, Russia. Pavel now lives in Dubai, having fallen out of favor with the Russian regime. (Business Insider, March 28, 2022).

CRS Report on “Hacktivists”. Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine a growing number of nongovernmental hackers have conducted offensive cyberspace operations against Russia. Ukraine’s volunteer “IT Army” is comprised of thousands of hackers from within Ukraine and from other countries. there are some legal considerations that should be factored in by hacktivists from the United States. “Hacktivists and the Ukraine-Russia Conflict: Legal Considerations”, CRS, May 13, 2022, PDF, 4 pages.
https://crsreports.congress.gov/product/pdf/LSB/LSB10743

Finland and NATO. After much talk the past several weeks, Finland has officially announced that it will apply for NATO membership. Finnish President Sauli Niinisto and Prime Minister Sanna Marin made the announcement at a joint news conference on Sunday (May 15). The Finnish parliament will consider the decision over the next several days. Finland shares an 800-mile border with Russia – so the nation is pragmatic about its defense. Despite a small population of about 5.5 million, the nation can actually field a large army of 280,000 once fully mobilized. The cornerstones of its national defense posture is conscription and a large, well-trained reserve. Its army is equipped with modern weapons systems bought from several countries. Read more about the Finnish defense forces in “What Would Finland Bring to the Table for NATO?”, War on the Rocks, May 9, 2022.

And Sweden? In the next several days we may see news reports of Sweden deciding to join NATO; some media outlets say that May 17th is the big day. Sweden also shares a border with Russia. Sweden’s ruling Social Democratic Party says it is in favor of joining NATO. This reverses its decades-long opposition. And Switzerland? Could neutral Switzerland lean closer to NATO?

Blinken Meets with Ukrainian Foreign Minister. Secretary of State Blinken met with Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba on Sunday (May 15) during the G7 and NATO ministerial. (DoS, May 15). The G7 Foreign Ministers’ issued a joint statement on Russia’s war against Ukraine. (DoS, May 14, 2022).

Austin Speaks with Russians. On Friday (May 13) Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin spoke with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu urging an immediate ceasefire in Ukraine.

NATO. The Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Sunday (May 15) that Russia’s war in Ukraine is not going as the Kremlin had planned. He says that Ukraine can win the war.

“Russia failed to take Kyiv. They’re pulling back from around Kharkiv, their major offensive in Donbas has stalled. Russia is not achieving its strategic objectives.”

U.S. Ukraine Supplemental Aid Bill. The flow of equipment to Ukraine by the United States may very well be interrupted if the $40 billion bill is not passed by Congress. Senator Rand Paul is currently one of the reasons it has not been passed. Attempts to insert language authorizing the Afghan Adjustment Act failed. The bill has been passed by the House of Representatives.

Ukraine Democracy Defense Lend-Lease Act. The Institute for Economic Research and Policy Consulting provides a detailed examination of the recent legislation signed by President Biden that allows a constant flow of military aid to Ukraine. (May 10, 2022).

More US Troops to Europe. The United States will begin an additional deployment of troops to Europe to replace those forces sent to Europe earlier this year. One of the units to be replaced will be an element of the 82nd Airborne Division; to be replaced by 101st Airborne Division elements. Around 10,500 personnel will be sent to various East European countries in a one-for-one replacement plan. “Pentagon Announces Deployments to Replace Forces in Europe”, DoD News, May 13, 2022.

Modern Resistance. Russia’s aggressive actions over the past two decades have forced Baltic and Nordic states to examine their defense posture, assess critical gaps, and take action to fill the gaps. One strategy that has emerged is the resistance operating concept – where all segments of the population engages in total defense strategies based on peacetime social resilience and war time resistance. Sandor Fabian, a former Special Forces officer in the Hungarian military, provides us with a detailed account of this new concept of resistance – something the Ukrainian people have demonstrated in their remarkable performance against the Russian aggressors. Read “Modern Resistance – Learning from Non-Western Examples”, Journal on Baltic Security, May 12, 2022.

Podcast – The State of Play in Ukraine. Two national security analysts who are following events in Ukraine closely discuss the current situation in Ukraine. Rob Lee, FPRI Senior Fellow and Michael Kofman, of the Russia Studies Program at CNA, are interviewed by Aaron Stein. Foreign Policy Research Institute, May 13, 2022, 50 minutes.
https://www.fpri.org/multimedia/2022/05/the-state-of-play-in-ukraine/

Siberia – What’s the Future? Some international analysts are viewing the poor performance of the Russian military in Ukraine as a sign of the decline of the ‘Russian ’empire’. Just as the 10-year war in Afghanistan helped lead the way to the disestablishment of the Soviet Union; it is possible that one of the end results of the Ukraine War and other misadventures may cause the decline of Russia as a nation along with a redefining of its borders. Russia’s control over Siberia – the size of the U.S. and India put together – is only 157 years old. China plays the long game. It is a population-rich and resource-poor nation; while Siberia is population-poor and resource-rich. The China-Russia border is almost 3,000 miles long and is the legacy of the Convention of Peking of 1860. China’s population outnumbers Russia’s population by 10 to 1. Read an article first published in 2015 on this topic in “Why China Will Reclaim Siberia”, The New York Times, January 15, 2015. (Subscription).

Ukraine War, Weapons, and Australia. Defense experts in Australia are looking at the novel way that weapons are being used by the Ukrainians against aircraft, tanks, and armored vehicles. They believe valuable lessons can be learned from the war that would modernize the Australian military to be able to fight in the future. “Australia must learn defence lessons from Ukraine”, The Strategist, Australian Strategic Policy Institute, May 16, 2022.

The more resources there is the longer this war will last….

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I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”

Ukraine–Day 74

“Only the winners decide what were war crimes.” Garry Wills

“Nothing can justify war.” Isaac Rosenberg

“In our Country… one class of men makes war and leaves another to fight it out.” William Tecumseh Sherman

Would Monday (May 9) see a general mobilization announced by Putin on Victory Day? An escalation of the war by Russia could give the Russian forces momentum in the Ukraine War in future months, but the risks would be enormous. A mobilization would be admitting that the ‘special military operation’ has not gone well and could ignite domestic opposition. (The Washington Post, May 7, 2022, suscription). The annual spring conscription for the Russian armed forces is now being conducted. (Aljazeera, May 5, 2022). Some visitors went to Ukraine over the weekend – to include Premier Trudeau from Canada (Kiyv area) and First Lady Jill Biden (western Ukraine).

Russian Generals – Getting Killed on the Battlefield. Senior Russian commanders are visiting the frontlines in an attempt to fix the difficulties in command and control and to take personal leadership of operations. This has led to high losses of general officers in the conflict. (UK Ministry of Defence, Twitter, 8 May 2022). Read more in “Why Russia has Suffered the Loss of an ‘Extraordinary’ Number of Generals”, Lobo Institute, May 8, 2022. See also a report on news that the United States is passing intelligence to Ukraine that helps it target Russian senior commanders. “Officials Push Back on Report US Intel Helping Ukraine Target Russian Generals”, Lobo Institute, May 8, 2022.

Ground Situation. The Russian advances in eastern Ukraine over the past few days have been minimal. They have lost territory in the Kharkiv region due to Ukrainian counterattacks.

Fight for the Skies. The Russians are paying more attention to Ukrainian airfields in recent days. By hitting the airstrips with long-range rockets the Russians hope to destroy Ukrainian aerial capacity and establish air superiority. The air space remains contested and the Ukrainians are still very effective with their air defense capabilities. The Russians also have some significant air defense coverage over Ukraine; especially in the east. Most air strikes by the Russians are conducted in the Joint Forces Operations Area or JFO – basically the Donbas region. Mariupol also is a location where there are a lot of Russian air strikes.

Maritime Activities. An amphibious landing force on several ships is still positioned in the Black Sea off the coast of Odessa to land a substantial element of Russian naval infantry. According to Ukrainian officials, Turkish-supplied TB2 drones have destroyed two Russian patrol craft in the Black Sea. (The War Zone, May 2, 2022). Ukraine has struck Snake Island in the Black Sea with Su-27 Flankers, hitting multiple targets. (The War Zone, May 7, 2022). There are unconfirmed reports that the Ukrainians have hit and damaged a Russian frigate in the Black Sea.

The Russian blockade of Ukrainian shipping continues. Chuck de Caro argues that the delivery of US Navy Mark-VI’s could make a difference in the Black Sea. Read “Ukraine: Think Naval War“, Small Wars Journal, April 29, 2022. Sources of info on the Russian navy: Russian Navy – News and Analysis. A weekly analysis with graphics.

What is Victory? Public support in the United States and allied countries is critical to the outcome on the battlefield. The war is heading into a protracted fight – and the need to manage allied cooperation unity and public opinion in the U.S. and other allied countries will become a priority. A big question remains – what is victory? “As war grinds on, the definition of victory remains murky”, The Washington Post, May 7, 2022. (subscription)

Azov Battalion. The unit is made up of like-minded volunteers with a mission to protect the Donbas region from the Russian invaders. “Ukraine: What is the Azov Battalion?”, Forces.net, May 5, 2022.

Ukrainian SOF and Their ATV Tank Hunters. Ukrainian special operations forces are using a specially outfitted ATV to attack Russian tanks. It is mounted with a Stugna-P anti-tank guided missile. This is a Ukrainian produced ATGM that can pierce through armored targets. It is estimated that the ATV and missile costs about $32,000 each unit. “Ukrainian Special Forces Have “Stug-Buggies” Out Hunting Russian Tanks”, SOFREP, May 5, 2022.

Intelligence Sharing. The Department of Defense has acknowledged that they have been sharing intelligence with the Ukrainians. Recent news reports say that intel passed to the Ukrainians have helped in the targeting of Russian generals (lots of them have died thus far) and Russian naval vessels in the Black Sea. Queried during press conferences on these reports, DoD spokesman John Kirby has said he would rather not get into the details.

M777 Howitzer Training. As of Friday (May 6) over 220 Ukrainian soldiers have received training on guns recently provided to Ukraine. In addition, there are about another 150 currently in training for the M777 Howitzer. (Wikipedia) The vast majority of the M777s are in Ukraine now; a number which will soon total 90.

Phoenix Ghost Training. A newly developed drone will soon be in Ukraine. About 20 Ukrainian soldiers are currently undergoing training on the UAS system.

Kyiv. The U.S. embassy staff and U.S. Charge d’Affaires Kristina Kvien arrived in Kyiv on Sunday (May 8).

Kharkiv. The Ukrainian’s counteroffensive in the area around Kharkiv is having some success. They are retaking territory as they move outwards from the city’s limits. The Ukrainian forces may soon approach the Russian border.

Mariupol. According to numerous news accounts all women and children have been rescued from the besieged city of Mariupol located on the coast of the Sea of Azov. They were evacuated from a steel plant on Saturday (May 7) where the last of the Ukrainian defenders are gathered. Elderly civilian men were part of the evacuation. The United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross negotiated the civilian evacuations from the steel plant. The Russians conducted another assault on the Ukrainian positions on Saturday (May 7). “All women and children rescued from besieged Mariupol steel plant”, Washington Examiner, May 7, 2022.

There is an attempt to negotiate the evacuation of the remaining Ukrainians at the Azovstal steel plant – including combatants, wounded soldiers, and medics. This is being referred to as the second phase of the evacuation. The commander of Ukraine’s 36th Marine Brigade has made an appeal to the international community for the evacuation of the remaining soldiers from Mariupol.

Mykolayiv and Odessa. One big question is whether or not the Russians will try to move west towards Odesa and perhaps to the Moldova border. Both cities continue to experience missile attacks. 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. View more Ukraine SITMAPs that provide updates on the disposition of Russian forces.

Negotiations. More prisoner exchanges have taken place over the weekend. Ukraine has received a mix of military and civilians who had been captured or detained by Russia.

Refugees, IDPs, and Humanitarian Crisis. View the UNHCR Operational Data Portal – Ukraine Refugee Situation (Updated daily), https://data2.unhcr.org/en/situations/ukraine.

Future Scenarios. There are a number of scenarios that could play out on May 9th. Putin could announce victory in Ukraine, state that Russia has achieved its primary objectives – liberation of additional areas of Donbas, a ‘land bridge’ from Russia to Crimea along the coast of the Sea of Azov, and control of the southern end of the Dnieper River allowing Crimea to once again enjoy the flow of fresh water to the peninsular. On the other hand, Putin could announce a general mobilization with the aim to continue the attack on Ukraine in the future – securing more of the Donbas region and extending its control of southern Ukraine by pushing towards Odesa and Moldova, denying Ukraine of any coastline and seaports. Some commentators think Putin may declare war on Ukraine, upgrading the conflict from a ‘special military operation’ to that of war.

Funding for Ukraine. As of late April 2022, the Biden administration had submitted to Congress two emergency supplemental requests to address the crisis caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. There is relatively broad congressional support for further emergency supplemental funding for Ukraine – but the proposal from the Biden administration has become more complicated due to the inclusion of other funding request not related to Ukraine. For instance, the request includes money for the Afghanistan Adjustment Act (AAA), which many lawmakers are still trying to sort out. In addition, the Democrats want to add $10 billion in funding for Covid vaccines and treatment. The Democrats see an opportunity to spend money on non-Ukraine related issues due to the Republican support for Ukraine. The Republicans prefer to have a ‘clean bill’ that will pass quickly and not delay needed assistance for Ukraine. Read more in a report by the Congressional Research Service entitled Supplemental Funding for Ukraine, CRS IN11877, May 2, 2022, PDF, 4 pages.

Sanctions on Ukraine. The Russian economy is worse off across a range of metrics since Putin ordered the invasion of his neighboring country. Russia’s economy will likely contract by almost 9% in 2022 and inflation will probably get as high as 24%. Unemployment will also increase. There will also be some significant impacts on the global economy. Read more Russia’s War on Ukraine: The Economic Impact of Sanctions, Congressional Research Service, CRS IF12092, May 3, 2022, PDF, 4 pages.

More U.S. Actions. The Department of State released a Fact Sheet detailing a series of actions to promote individual accountability for human rights abuses by the Russian Federation. It has instituted a new visa restriction policy and actions against Russia’s maritime fleet. (DoS, May 8, 2022).

Ukraine Supplemental Appropriations Act. On March 15th new legislation was signed into law that allowed for U.S. stocks to be replenished – making up equipment shortfalls due to equipment being sent to Ukraine. Last week about $1.45 billion was transferred to the Army and the Marines to procure replenishment stocks of Stingers, Javelins, and other key material. Another $5.4 billion is requested in the Ukraine Supplemental currently being considered by Congress. Communications gear, totaling $61.4 million, has been sent to Ukraine.

Switchblades. About 100 small attack drones were delivered to Ukraine. More are on the way. There are plans to deliver a total of 700 Switchblades. According to Pentagon sources, there is $17.8 million allocated to Switchblades for Ukraine in the Ukraine Supplemental Appropriations Act.

$150 Million More. The U.S. Department of State released a press statement saying that more money will be used to provide military assistance to Ukraine. The equipment will come from U.S. military equipment stocks (referred to a ‘drawdown’). This is the ninth drawdown of U.S. stocks to provide assistance to Ukraine. (DoS, May 6, 2022). According to a DoD statement it includes 155mm artillery rounds, radars, and electronic jamming equipment. (DoS, May 6, 2022).

Russia Hypes Polish Invasion of Ukraine. Russian state media and pro-Russian social media channels have spent some time the last few weeks asserting that Poland, along with NATO allies, may invade western Ukraine in an attempt to seize and annex western regions of Ukraine. This would be under the guise of ‘peacekeeping’ or ‘humanitarian action’. “Explainer: The Kremlin’s ‘Polish Invasion’ Narrative”, Centre for Information Resilience, May 6, 2022.

Russia’s Victory Day – May 9th. In Russia, a celebration of the Russian victory over Nazi Germany in the Second World War takes place every year in early May. A big event in Moscow to commemorate the day is a military parade. Many observers once noted that President Putin would take this occasion to announce victory in Ukraine as well. He will likely point to the liberation of ‘oppressed Russians’ in the Ukrainian Donbas. “What is Russia’s Victory Day and could it affect the war in Ukraine?”, Forces.net, May 6, 2022.

Russian Nukes Against Ukraine? Julian Spencer-Churchill examines four scenarios of tactical nuclear weapons use by Russia. “Four Important Thresholds of Russian Nuclear Weapons Use in Ukraine”, Real Clear Defense, May 9, 2022.

Ukrainian Welcome Mat, but the Afghans? Many human rights advocates hail the administration’s response to the exodus triggered by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. But others feel deeply frustrated that those left behind in Afghanistan have not received equal treatment. “Biden welcomes Ukrainian refugees, neglects Afghans, critics say”, The Washington Post, April 28, 2022. (subscription)

Compiling these reports is a time consuming process and the news is sparse these days….that is why it is so many days in- between

I will continue to write these posts as long as the info is there to make it possible.

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Then There Is The NATO Thing

First of all my thought on NATO……I think that once the USSR collapsed and the ‘republics’ started breaking away then NATO should have been abandoned….after all NATO was suppose to be a deterrent to any expansion by the USSR and once it was gone then NATO was not needed. Replace it with some sort of trade bloc.

Then under Clinton the organization started its Eastward expansion….basically at the behest of the M-IC…..my opinion this started what could be seen as provocation of Russia and they bit at the worm dangled in front of them. (Please notice I said ‘could be seen’…before the idiotic diatribes begin)

Ukraine is dominating the news these but let’s look back at the early days of the 21st century……

A widespread misconception of NATO’s relation to Ukraine has been sustained by silence in news sources and falsehoods by pundits. According to this myth, the NATO-Ukraine connection, prior to Russia’s current horrific invasion, was a matter of Ukraine’s asking to join and NATO’s not saying “No.” In fact, over the last fourteen years, NATO’s conduct has gone far beyond openness to eventual admission, in engagements that have included extensive and expanding joint military operations in Ukraine. This involvement, which was accompanied by US efforts to shape Ukrainian politics, does not in the least affect Putin’s moral responsibility for the carnage he is inflicting. But awareness of this history should affect vitally important assessments of the proper response.

In 2008, William Burns, then U.S. ambassador to Russia and now CIA director, cabled from Moscow, “Ukrainian entry into NATO is the brightest of all redlines for the Russian elite (not just Putin) …I have yet to find anyone who views Ukraine in NATO as anything other than a direct challenge to Russian interests.” As Burns’ cable suggests, Ukraine has distinctive geopolitical significance for Russia. It is the next-largest country in Europe, after Russia, dominates the northern border of the Black Sea, and has a 1,227-mile land border with Russia. Nonetheless, at the end of the 2008 Bucharest NATO Summit, when expansion to Russia’s borders was virtually complete, NATO, led by the US, declared agreement on its completion: “We agreed today that these two countries [Ukraine along with Georgia] will become members of NATO.” In 2011, a NATO report noted, “The Alliance assists Ukraine … in preparing defence policy reviews and other documents, in training personnel, … modernising armed forces and making them more interoperable and more capable of participating in international missions” — international cooperation that had already included a joint Black Sea naval exercise with the US.

The Backstory of NATO, Ukraine and Putin’s Fears

Now NATO wants to expand even more…this time it is Finland and Sweden.

NATO being a war-hawk institution is pushing for a quick inclusion of these states…..

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Thursday that Finland and Sweden would be embraced with open arms should they decide to join the 30-nation military organization and could become members quite quickly.

Stoltenberg’s remarks came as public support in Finland and Sweden for NATO membership mounts in response to Russia’s war in Ukraine. Media speculation in the two countries suggest the two might apply in mid-May.

“It’s their decision,” Stoltenberg said. “But if they decide to apply, Finland and Sweden will be warmly welcomed, and I expect that process to go quickly.”

https://apnews.com/article/russia-ukraine-europe-sweden-finland-jens-stoltenberg-82ae8eb0585656995c9b7041d84828bf

I have a problem once again….this expansion will further act as a provocation and could lead to even more conflicts down the road.

There are reasons that this process should be stopped here and now…..

Almost eight decades have passed since the end of World War II and Europe remains helplessly dependent on America. Yet U.S. officials are celebrating the expected application by Finland and Sweden to join NATO.

The Washington Blob doesn’t seem likely to be satisfied until every country on earth relies on the U.S. for its defense.

The accession of these two nations — which would be rapidly granted as war rages between Ukraine and Russia — is being presented as strengthening the alliance. However, the U.S., alone or in conjunction with its 29 NATO allies, many of which appear to field militaries mostly for show, would handily defeat Moscow in any continental contest.

That was evident even before Russia’s botched invasion of Ukraine. Now, two months into a conflict that was supposed to have overrun the latter in a few days or weeks at most, no one imagines that Moscow retains more than a shadow of the Soviet Union’s conventional military capabilities.

In truth, NATO expansion has never been about American security. Rather, it was meant to expand Washington’s defense dole in the name of promoting regional stability.

So why should Americans increase their defense load now? The U.S. should stop adding new members to the transatlantic alliance and instead prepare to turn Europe’s defense over to Europe. Here are nine reasons to keep the door closed to Finland and Sweden.

Nine reasons why NATO should close the door to Sweden and Finland

Let’s be honest….since the mid-1990s NATO has NOT been about American security but rather to make the world dependent on our defense industry….American weapons are big business.

Time for this expansionist mindset to be put to bed….war is never the answer and preparation for it should be secondary.

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Ukraine–Day 67

“We know more about war than we know about peace, more about killing than we know about living.”  Omar N. Bradley

“War is a tragedy. It’s not pretty, and in my opinion, there are no winners. Everybody’s a victim, from the one who’s suffering pain to the person inflicting it.”  Edgar Ramirez

“What is more immoral than war?” Marquis de Sade

The war continues…..just moved further South and East…..

Russian Mobilization. There is some speculation that the Russians may announce a general mobilization. Although not immediately available, this additional manpower could be a major factor several months from now. The history of Russian wars over the last two centuries reveals that the current war in Ukraine may last significantly longer than a year. Russia will most likely default to a strategy of attrition on the battlefield; with its vast advantage in population, it can mobilize more soldiers than Ukraine. “The History of Russian Conflict Behavior Tells Us That the War in Ukraine Will be Long”, Real Clear Defense, April 29, 2022.

Ground Situation. Russian units that were based in the Kyiv region and northern part of Ukraine have been repositioned to the Donbas region. Many are understrength and are being merged into new units. By focusing activities in the Donbas region the Russians will concentrate their forces, shorten supply lines, and simplify their command and control structure. The Russians are gradually intensifying the offensive in the east of Ukraine along the entire front.

Ground attacks are preceded by artillery and rocket strikes. The movement has been incremental – as the maneuver units are ensuring that the arty and rockets have sufficiently weakened positions that they are attacking. In addition, the ground units are ensuring they don’t get too far of their logistical support. The Russian advance is occurring from three directions – the north, east, and from the south. The US DoD is estimating that the Russians have 92 operational battalion tactical groups (BTGs) in Ukraine. Not all BTGs are fully manned. Estimates of the total of BTGs in the Russian army range from 168 to 184.

Missile Attacks Continue. As of Friday (Apr 29) the Russians have launched over 1,950 missiles against targets in Ukraine (DoD estimate). The preponderance of the strikes were against Mariupol and the Donbas region. Western Ukraine, Kyiv, and Odesa are experiencing some missile strikes as well – mostly against logistical and supply centers, transportation nodes, and electrical producing plants.

Putin to Have Surgery. Russian President Putin will be undergoing a cancer operation in the ‘near future’, possibly just after the May ‘victory parade’ to be held in Moscow. While in surgery his powers will be exercised by Security Council chief Patrushev. There are news reports that Putin has abdominal cancer and Parkinson’s.

Russian CoS Wounded? General Valery Gerasimov may have suffered a slight leg wound as a result of a Ukrainian rocket attack on a Russian command post in Izyum, Ukraine on Saturday (Apr 30). Some news reports indicate that he may have left just prior to the attack. Up to 30 Russian officers were killed in the attack.

Artillery. All types of big guns are arriving in Ukraine. These long-range weapons will be extremely important for the type of warfare to be conducted in the Donbas region where the lines of the conflict are more clearly defined – many of them established over eight years of conflict. The artillery will assist the Ukrainians in defending territory, countering Russian artillery and rocket fire, and during counterattacks or a general counteroffensive. The long-range artillery will prove to be decisive in this ‘new phase’ of the war. The United States, Canada, and France are providing artillery that fire the 155-mm round. The M777 towed howitzer 155-mm has a range of 25 miles (Excalibur precision guided munition or PGM rounds) while the Russian D-30 122-mm has a range of 18 miles. “Western artillery surging into Ukraine will reshape war with Russia”, The Washington Post, April 30, 2022.

U.S. Training Ukrainian Military in Germany. Personnel from the Ukrainian military are being introduced and trained up in Germany on equipment that the U.S. is providing to Ukraine. This equipment includes artillery, armored vehicles, and radar systems. About 160 members of the Florida National Guard were part of the Joint Multinational Training Group in Western Ukraine and were ordered out of Ukraine prior to the Russian invasion. The unit is now in Germany and have reunited with Ukrainians to continue training. Ukrainians are being trained in three different locations in Europe, Germany being one of the locations. “U.S. Troops Train Ukrainians in Germany”, DoD News, April 29, 2022.

Ukrainian SOF Describe Battle for Key Airfield. In the opening hours of the Russian invasion 30 attack helicopters appeared over the horizon approaching the Hostomel airport located northwest of Kyiv. Ukrainian special operations forces and other units quickly surrounded and defeated the Russian SOF units that had landed and they were dispersed. What followed was two more months of heavy fighting. Two Ukrainian SOF members describe fending off the Russians and appeal for more weapons and support from the West. (The Globe and Mail, Apr 22, 2022).

Kharkiv. The Ukrainians have launched several small counterattacks out of Kharkiv city and are lessening the partial encirclement of the city by the Russians. The villages of Verkhnia Rohanka, Ruska Lozova, Slobidske, and Prilesne have been liberated from Russian control. Kharkiv is Ukraine’s second largest city located in the northeast of the country.

Mariupol. Members of the 36th Separate Marine Brigade and the Azov Regiment are still holding out in the Azovstal plant. 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. Twenty civilians are reported to have been evacuated to Ukrainian held territory from the Azovstal plant on Saturday (Apr 30). About 100 people were evacuated on Sunday (May 1). There are reports that more evacuations will take place on Monday (May 2). There are over 600 wounded in a Ukrainian field hospital in the Azovstal plant.

Kherson – Rubles, Lenin, and a Referendum. Starting on Sunday (May 1) the Russians have begun the process of changing the local currency of the occupied city of Kherson to the Russian ruble. The introduction of the Russian currency is meeting some resistance from the city dwellers who are entering their third month of Russian occupation. There is speculation that the Russians will introduce a referendum asking Kherson residents if they want to declare independence from Ukraine; the result of which is a foregone conclusion. The Russian occupiers have erected a statue of Lenin that had been removed in February 2014 in the wake of the pro-Western EuroMaiden Revolution. The only safe route for leaving Kherson is south through Crimea and then into Russia, on to Georgia, and then flying to Europe. It is becoming evident that the Russians intend to stay. “Ukraine war: Resistance to Russian rouble in Kherson”, BBC News, May 1, 2022.

Mykolayiv and Odessa. The fighting is continuing in the Mykolayiv region. The Russian continue to shell the populated areas in this region; but have not made any noticeable advances on the ground. 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. View more Ukraine SITMAPs that provide updates on the disposition of Russian forces.

Negotiations. Another prisoner exchange took place on Saturday (Apr 30). Seven military and seven civilian prisoners were released to Ukrainian custody.

Refugees, IDPs, and Humanitarian Crisis. View the UNHCR Operational Data Portal – Ukraine Refugee Situation (Updated daily), https://data2.unhcr.org/en/situations/ukraine. The UNHCR has registered 5,468,629 refugees as of April 29th. Poland has taken in over 3 million Ukrainians. As of Friday (Apr 29) 1,289,000 Ukrainians have returned to Ukraine.

 

Nukes in Kaliningrad? Russian officials have been warning the West and the Baltic states on their ‘interference’ with the Russian ‘special military operation’. They have warned of the dangers of escalation with threats of nuclear retaliation. One of those threats is the movement of nuclear weapons into Kaliningrad as a counter to increased support of Ukraine by Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia, and Poland. However, according to some military analysts, the Russians have kept nukes in Kaliningrad for years. “Lithuanian officials puzzled by Russia’s threat to deploy nuclear weapons in Kaliningrad”, LRT.it, April 14, 2022.

American Killed in Ukraine. Willy Joseph Cancel, a former U.S. Marine, has died while fighting alongside Ukrainian forces a week ago on Monday (Apr 24). He was reportedly employed by a military contractor. The DoD spokesman, John Kirby, indicated that he believes the company was not contracted with the DoD and the DoD does not have any contractors working in Ukraine. He served in the Marines from 2017 to 2021. After his service with the Marines he was employed as a corrections officer in Tennessee. He had also worked as a volunteer fire fighter in New York. He was 22 years old and leaves behind a wife and young child. “Marine veteran killed fighting in Ukraine, relatives say”, Marine Corps Times, April 29, 2022. Read also, “Combat death puts spotlight on Americans fighting in Ukraine”, Military Times, May 1, 2022. Many Americans in Ukraine are not fighting, but rather assisting in providing humanitarian assistance. “Deliveries to Bucha: US Army veteran trucks aid to battle-scarred Ukrainian towns”, Military Times, April 29, 2022.

Two British Volunteers Detained by Russians. The non-profit Presidium Network said that two UK citizens were detained at a checkpoint in southern Ukraine on Monday (Apr 24). The two captured aid workers were working independently but were in touch with the Presidium Network. They were trying to rescue a family from a village south of the city of Zaporizhzhia at the time of their capture. The two men had crossed into Russian controlled territory. “Ukraine war: Two UK aid workers captured by Russia, says NGO”, BBC News, April 29, 2022.

Russia’s Cyber Attacks. Heather Dinniss, a senior lecturer at the International Law Centre of the Swedish Defence University, examines the history of Russian cyber attacks against Ukraine. She covers the years pre-ceding the February 2022 invasion as well as during the past few months. “Military Networks and Cyber Operations in the War in Ukraine”, Articles of War, Lieber Institute West Point, April 29, 2022.

Report – An Overview of Russia’s Cyberattack Activity in Ukraine, Microsoft Digital Security Unit, April 27, 2022. Read the 21-page PDF here.

Russian Cyberattacks Against US. With the immense support provided to Ukraine, national security observers have feared that Russia would mount some significant cyberattacks against the United States. “Feared Russian cyberattacks against US have yet to materialize”, Defense News, April 29, 2022.

False Flag Operation in Transnistria? Russia is calling attention to a series of explosions that took place in the breakaway region of Transnistria, Moldova. Western nations believe it is a false flag operation to give cover to more Russian involvement in Moldova. About 1,500 Russian troops are stationed in Transnistria. “Russia Further Sows Justification for Potential Transnistria Offensive as Ukraine Warns of ‘False Flag’ Operation”, Forbes.com, April 28, 2022.

Finland – Soon to be a NATO Nation? Due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine the status of ‘neutral’ nations in Europe may very well change – perhaps within weeks or months. Finland is acutely aware of the threat posed by Russia – it fought the 1939-1940 Winter War against the Russians . . . finally agreeing to a truce that resulted in a territorial loss for Finland. Emily Rauhala describes the steps that Finland is taking to deter Russian aggressive moves on its borders. Some reports state the Finland will apply for NATO membership on May 12th. “How Putin’s brutal war in Ukraine pushed Finland toward NATO”, The Washington Post, April 30, 2022.

Nancy Pelosi Visits Kyiv. House Speaker Nancy Pelois and five other Democratic members of the U.S. House of Representatives visited Ukraine and met with President Zelensky on Sunday (May 1). Their next stop will be in Poland for more meetings. (Axios, May 1, 2022).

EU Oil Embargo. Member states of the European Union are finalizing plans to enact an oil embargo against Russia. Europe’s biggest oil supplier is Russia, providing about one-quarter of the bloc’s yearly needs. The Europeans will make up the shortfall from other sources including Nigeria, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, and Persian Gulf countries.

$33 Billion Aid Package. President Biden is asking Congress to provide billions more in aid to Ukraine. The money would provide military equipment, economic assistance, and humanitarian aid.

US Lend-Lease Bill. The US House of Representatives passed a bill that will speed up weapons supply to Ukraine. The Ukraine Democracy Lend-Lease Act of 2022 was passed by a vote of 417 – 10. The bill will by pass some of the bureaucratic procedures that have slowed down weapons shipments. The ten NO votes were all Republicans.

Denmark and Polish Weapons. The Danes are handing over 25 Piranha III armored personnel carriers (APCs) to the Ukrainians. The vehicle is made by the Swiss company MOWAG and is a highly regarded APC. Denmark is also providing 50 M113 tracked APCs and some M10 mortars with thousands of rounds. The Poles are sending over 200 T-72 tanks to Ukraine.

Stingers – Dwindling Stocks. The CEO of Raytheon, the manufacturer of the Stinger anti-aircraft missile, says that it could take a year or more to make more weapons for countries that donated them to Ukraine. The company won’t be able to ramp up production for the Stingers until 2023. The U.S. Department of Defense hasn’t bought a Stinger in over 18 years and the components for the missile are no longer commercially available. “Raytheon chief warns of delays in replenishing Stinger missile stocks”, Politico, April 26, 2022.

M113 APCs. At least five states are sending M113 armored personnel carriers to Europe to be given to Ukrainian forces. At the request of the Department of Defense, the governors of West Virginia, North Carolina, Missouri, Ohio, and Indiana are sending over 200 of the APCs to Europe. The DoD stopped buying the M113s in 2006. The APC will offer Ukraine transportation for its infantrymen and protection from small arms fire and artillery. As a tracked vehicle it will be able to traverse in fields and on dirt trails. The M113s are still operational and have had upgrades through the years. “US National Guard’s aging battle taxis find new use in Ukraine fight”, Defense News, April 29, 2022.

Abrams Tanks Needed by Poland. The transfer of weapons and ammunition has been a lifeline for the Ukrainian military. Anti-tank missiles, anti-aircraft missiles, artillery, APCs, drones, and other types of equipment has been flowing into Ukraine. Poland will be buying 250 Abrams tanks, which will allow it to send its older T-72 tanks to Ukraine. “To Help Ukraine, the Administration Needs to Get Abrams Tanks to Poland Faster”, Real Clear Defense, April 29, 2022.

EUCOM’s Role? United States European Command (EUCOM) has been playing a key role in tracking logistics and transportation of military equipment to Ukraine. Headed up by a U.S. two-star Naval officer from EUCOM’s J-4 logistics directorate, a special staff with 15 donor nations ensure the swift delivery of weapons into Ukrainian hands. “What is EUCOM’s Ukraine Control Center?”, Air Force Magazine, April 29, 2022.

Russia and War Crimes. The level of evidence available on Russian war crimes in Ukraine is compelling. The Russian military has a manual describing in detail what a war crime is and provides clear guidance to military commanders on the battlefield. “Russian Leaders Know They’re Committing War Crimes. Their Laws of War Manual Says So”, by Evan Wallach, Lawfare Blog, April 25, 2022.

U.N. Peacekeeping Force for Ukraine? It sounds unlikely but, following precedent established during the Korean conflict in the early 1950s, it could be done. “Time for a U.N. Peace Enforcement Operation in Northern Ukraine?”, Lawfare Blog, April 27, 2022.

Economic Warfare. Aaron Klein examines the economic impact of the multiple levels and varieties of sanctions that have been imposed on Russia. He warns us that the real damage to Russia’s economy from sanctions will take time. When assessing the progress of economic warfare, patience is important. “Multiple battlefields in time and space”, Brookings Institute, April 29, 2022.

America’s War. The United States is playing a leading role for a new coalition of nations that are supporting Ukraine and weakening Russia. In the initial days of the Russian invasion the U.S. response was measured, mostly in an attempt to not provoke Putin further with hopes that he would halt his offensive. Now that the full intent of Putin is known (we think) the U.S. has significantly stepped up its support of Ukraine. “Ukraine Is Now America’s War, Too”, by Robin Wright, The New Yorker, May 1, 2022.

Consequences of Russia’s Aggression. The geopolitical and military landscape of Europe and Asia has changed dramatically as a result of the thus-far, failed Russian invasion of Ukraine. After two months of fighting, some long-term outcomes can be predicted. “Geostrategic Consequences of Russia’s War Against Ukraine”, The RAND Blog, April 26, 2022.

I see many people making light of the situation in Ukraine…..that needs to stop…war is ugly and no amount of levity will make it otherwise.

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Ukraine–Day 63

“Many intelligence reports in war are contradictory; even more are false, and most are uncertain.” Carl von Clausewitz

“In every war zone that I’ve been in, there has been a reality and then there has been the public perception of why the war was being fought. In every crisis, the issues have been far more complex than the public has been allowed to know.” John le Carre

“For governments at war, the media is an instrument of war or an element in war that is to be controlled.” Bruce Jackson

The fighting continues….the refugees suffer…..and the equipment pours in……death and destruction prevails…..

Today let us take a look at the so-called Russian offensive…..

This is a report compiled by the Institute for the Study of War (ISW)……

Russian forces have adopted a sounder pattern of operational movement in eastern Ukraine, at least along the line from Izyum to Rubizhne. Russian troops are pushing down multiple roughly parallel roads within supporting distance of one another, allowing them to bring more combat power to bear than their previous practice had supported. Russian troops on this line are making better progress than any other Russian advances in this phase of the war. They are pushing from Izyum southwest toward Barvinkove and southeast toward Slovyansk. They are also pushing several columns west and south of Rubizhne, likely intending to encircle it and complete its capture. The Russian advances even in this area are proceeding methodically rather than rapidly, however, and it is not clear how far they will be able to drive or whether they will be able to encircle Ukrainian forces in large numbers.

Russian forces on the Izyum axis likely benefit from the absence of prepared Ukrainian defensive positions against attacks from the Kharkiv direction toward Donbas. Ukraine has prepared to defend the line of contact with Russian-occupied Donbas since 2014, and Russian troops continue to struggle to penetrate those prepared defenses—as shown by repeated Russian efforts to take Avdiivka, just north of Donetsk City, or to advance through Popasna, just beyond the original line of contact.

Russian troops continued to attack Ukrainian defenders in Mariupol, including in the Azovstal Plant, despite Russian President Vladimir Putin’s claims that there is no more fighting in the city. Ukrainian forces likely still hold important positions beyond the plant itself, and Russian forces continue to fight outside the plant, bomb the plant, and assault positions near the plant. Putin’s order not to chase Ukrainian defenders into the tunnels and catacombs of the facility evidently did not preclude continued efforts to secure at least the entire perimeter of the plant and likely also the important M14 highway that runs along it to the north and northwest.

Russia is staging false-flag attacks in Transnistria, Moldova, likely setting conditions for further actions on that front. The two motorized rifle battalions Russia has illegally maintained in Transnistria since the end of the Cold War are not likely sufficient to mount a credible attack on Odesa by themselves, nor are the Russians likely to be able to reinforce them enough to allow them to do so. They could support more limited attacks to the northwest of Odesa, possibly causing panic and creating psychological effects to benefit Russian operations in the south of Ukraine.

Russia may also seek to destabilize Moldova itself, however. Comments by the head of the Donetsk People’s Republic and other Russian officials and proxies raise the possibility that Putin might recognize the self-styled Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic (PMR) in Transnistria as he recognized the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics. The PMR could then ask for additional Russian protection, and Putin could attempt to send some additional forces or capabilities to Transnistria. Any such activities would greatly raise tensions and fears in Moldova and neighboring Romania, putting additional pressure on NATO, possibly giving Putin a cheap “win,” and distracting from Russia’s slog in eastern Ukraine.

Continued indications that Russian forces intend to hold referenda to establish “people’s republics” in occupied areas of southern Ukraine raise the possibility that Putin intends to unveil an array of new “independent” “people’s republics” as part of a Victory Day celebration. The forecast cone is wide, and there is as yet no solid basis to assess one path as much more likely than another. But the false-flag attacks and Russian and Russian proxy reactions to them are alarming, and it behooves NATO and the West to consider the most dangerous courses of action and prepare to meet them.

Keep in mind that this group has major defense funding so their analysis maybe a bit skewed.

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Ukraine–Day 60

“The real war is not between the West and the East. The real war is between intelligent and stupid people.”    Marjane Satrapi

“War’s not black and white; it’s gray. If you don’t fight in the gray area, you’re going to lose.” Marcus Luttrell

“The first panacea for a mismanaged nation is inflation of the currency; the second is war. Both bring a temporary prosperity; both bring a permanent ruin. But both are the refuge of political and economic opportunists.”    Ernest Hemingway

2 Months on and the tagline is that Russian “Phase Two” has begun…..

Russian Campaign. Several days ago the Russians, as they retreated from the Kyiv area and northern region of Ukraine, announced that the first phase of the ‘special military operation’ was complete and that they would begin the second phase of the operation. This was the securing of the Donbas region. Most military analyst have concluded that the second phase has begun.

The Russians have strengthen their position in the Donbas region with the intention of taking as much territory as they can. As of Friday (Apr 22) they had up to 85 battalion tactical groups in the region. The was a brief pause in attacks on the remaining defenders of Mariupol and reports of a humanitarian convoy leaving the city on Saturday (Apr 23). The Ukrainian military has stopped several Russian small scale advances on the Donbas front and assesses Russian units as not properly organized and suffering from low morale.

The current Russian offensive may further exhaust and deplete Russian units. The stage would then be set for limited counterattacks by Ukrainian forces – units that are receiving constant and timely resupplies of tanks, armored vehicles, artillery, weapons, ammunition, medical supplies, and other military equipment for its fully-mobilized population. The Russians are now conducting forced mobilizations of Ukrainian citizens in the occupied areas of the Kherson, Zaporizhia, and Kharkiv oblasts. This action is in violation of Article 51 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Russian Push to Transnistria and Moldova? A Russian military commander mentioned on Friday (Apr 22) that Moscow aims to establish a land bridge from Crimea to Transnistria (Wikipedia). The breakaway republic in Moldova (Google maps) already has Russian troops.

Transnistria has been a self-proclaimed republic since 1991. It has a small population of about 500,000. There are an estimated 1,500 Russian troops based in Transnistria. The population region has not been overly supportive of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – straddling the fence on the issue. “What is Transnistria, and will Russia advance towards Moldova?”, The Washington Post, April 22, 2022.

Mykolaiv and Odesa. For the Russians to establish control of the Ukraine coastline of the Black Sea they would have to take Mykolaiv and Odesa. Although that might be a hope of Russia, most military analysts believe that Russia doesn’t have the combat power to make that happen. The Russians have failed to take Mykolaiv – which stands in the way to the capture of the Black Sea port of Odessa.

And Crimea? In fact, the Russians may find themselves on the defensive in the area north of Crimea. Ukrainian pressure could be mounting on the Russians currently occupying Kherson. If the Ukrainians re-take Kherson then perhaps Crimea could be next. The destruction of a key bridge connecting Crimea to the Russian homeland is a game changer. The bridge is the connection that passes over the Kerch Strait. Brian Frydenborg examines this scenario in detail. “How Ukraine Can Take Back Crimea from Putin’s Reeling Russian Military”, Real Context News, April 24, 2022.

Fight for the Skies. Turkey has closed air space to the Russian military and civilian aircraft heading to Syria. This will prevent the movement of Syrian fighters into Russia and subsequently to Ukraine. Russian missile attacks against Ukrainian cities continue. Repair parts ship to Ukraine by other nations have helped its fighter jets stay operational. Mi-17 helicopters provided by the United States have increased its tactical lift capability as well as ground attack from the air.

Maritime Activities. An amphibious landing force on several ships is still positioned in the Black Sea off the coast of Odessa to land a substantial element of Russian naval infantry. The Russian blockade of Ukrainian shipping continues. Although there are naval infantry on the amphibious landing ships they may be just a diversion to keep Ukrainian troops in the Odessa area fixed.

Objective Zaporizhzhia? Russian soldiers may be trying to push to the industrial city of Zaporizhzhia (Google maps) located on the Dnieper River. Russian units are pushing north from territory they currently occupy in southern Ukraine. But the Ukrainian 128th Separate Mountain Assault Brigade is on the path to the city. “Dug in on the front lines, Ukrainian soldiers fight to repel the Russian onslaught”, by Michael Schwirtz, The New York Times, April 22, 2022.

Mariupol. Some 200 survivors of the besieged the coastal city of Mariupol left on buses over the weekend and in a few private cars. They are now sharing their harrowing story of constant bombardment by Russian troops. They were the first civilians to depart the city in over two weeks. By nightfall four buses had reached the southeastern town of Zaporizhzhia about 140 miles north of Mariupol. Subsequent attempts of departures through the humanitarian corridor were halted due to Russian shelling. There are continuing reports that Russia is forcibly deporting Ukrainian citizens from Mariupol to Siberia, many going to Vladivostok. The Azov Battalion and 36th Separate Marine Brigade – both vastly understrength and with many wounded – continue to hold a small section of the city – with probably about 2,000 fighters. “Mariupol survivors, dazed and exhausted, describe horrors they endured”, The Washington Post, April 21, 2022.

Situation Maps.  War in Ukraine by Scribble Maps. View more Ukraine SITMAPs that provide updates on the disposition of Russian forces. Read an assessment of the Russian offensive campaign by the Institute for the Study of War (Apr 24).

Negotiations. Russian and Ukraine have been having ‘virtual talks’ in the past few days. Negotiations were held on April 21-22. Ukraine says it will pull out of peace talks if the Russians kill Ukrainian troops captured in Mariupol. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that the negotiations are stalled and that Ukraine has not yet responded to the latest version of Russian proposals. United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will visit Moscow on Tuesday (Apr 26) to meet with Putin and FM Sergey Lavrov. He will then visit Ukraine on Thursday.

Refugees, IDPs, and Humanitarian Crisis. View the UNHCR Operational Data Portal – Ukraine Refugee Situation (Updated daily), https://data2.unhcr.org/en/situations/ukraine. The number of refugees fleeing Ukraine to neighboring countries is decreasing according to the UNHCR. Thus far, over 5 million refugees have left Ukraine, most of them arriving in Poland. Warsaw is currently “at capacity” for the acceptance of new refugees from Ukraine.

OSINT, IO, and Ukraine. Toby Armour examines how open source intelligence or OSINT has changed over the past several years and the impact it is making in the Ukraine War. OSINT has been playing a role in the forming of the narrative and in the information operations arena. It is also having an impact on the recording Russian atrocities and war crimes in Ukraine. “The Russian Invasion Highlights the Impact of OSINT”, Lobo Institute, April 23, 2022.

TikTok – Swaying Young People. It is more than just a place to watch quick dance videos. Now the social media platform is an integral part of the information operations landscape – used by both sides of the conflict. “Disinformation Campaigns Skewing Young People’s View of War in Ukraine”, Voice of America, April 15, 2022.

Russia’s Internet Research Agency and Crimea. Dr. Sarah Morrison, an information security and risk analyst, examines the information operations of Russia during 2014 when it invaded and occupied Crimea and parts of eastern Ukraine. “The Use of the Russian Troll During Crimea”, Small Wars Journal, April 18, 2022.

Finland – Excelling at Cyber. An international competition between cyber-defense professionals was recently held in April 2022. The winner of the Locked Shields 2022 exercise was Finland. A joint Lithuania-Poland team took second and an Estonia-Georgia team took third. “Finland wins NATO cyber defense competition”, C4ISARNET, April 22, 2022.

Explaining ‘Ruscism’. A new word has evolved due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. It is now found in Ukrainian news media as well as social media. It roughly translates to “Russian fascism”. Timothy Snyder, a professor of history at Yale University, explains in “The War in Ukraine Has Unleashed a New Word”, The New York Times Magazine, April 22, 2022.

U.S Officials Visit Ukraine. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited Kyiv, Ukraine on Sunday (Apr 24). This follows the visits by many European nations by Presidents and Prime Ministers to Kyiv. No word on when President Biden will visit Ukraine. Austin stated that Russia had suffered significant losses and that the Pentagon would continue to provide weapons to Ukraine to keep those losses coming. Austin conducted a brief news conference along the Polish-Ukrainian border. “Secretary Blinken and Secretary Austin’s Travel to Ukraine”, DoS, April 25, 2022.

Brink to Kyiv? The U.S. may reopen its embassy in Kyiv and will likely nominate Bridget Brink – the current U.S. ambassador to Slovakia. She has been working in the Slovak Republic since August 2019 and is a career member of the Senior Foreign Service. Much of her experience with the Department of State is in East Europe and Central Asia.

Embassies to Reopen. The United Kingdom and Spain are reopening their embassies in Kyiv. They had been evacuated and moved to the western Ukrainian city of Lviv when the Russians invaded in late February. Fifteen embassies have reopened in Kyiv. Apparently, the U.S. Department of State is playing is safe, with no immediate plans to move back to the capital city.

Ramstein Meeting. Forty nations have been invited to a meeting that will feature Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin on Tuesday (Apr 26). This is not a ‘NATO’ meeting, as it includes many nations not members of the NATO alliance; however most NATO members will attend. “Long-Term Ukraine Aid to be Discussed at Ramstein Meeting”, Air Force Magazine, April 22, 2022.

WVNG Providing APCs. The West Virginia National Guard is going to provide armored personnel carriers for use by the Ukrainian military. Following a request by the Department of Defense, West Virginia will give some M-113 APCs as part of the drawdown of U.S. DoD inventories to support Ukraine. The APCs will assist in the movement of squads of infantrymen across the battlefield while providing protection from small arms fire and artillery blasts. (Office of the Governor, WV, Apr 22, 2022).

More Weapons. Some Milan anti-tank missiles (Wikipedia) and Ceasar self-propelled howitzers (Wikipedia) will soon arrive in Ukraine. The Netherlands plans to send some self-propelled howitzers to Ukraine as well. Canada recently sent four M-777 howitzers to Ukraine. (CBC News, Apr 22, 2022).

US Field Hospitals? Members of Congress have sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin asking the military to provide field hospitals and other kinds of medical assistance for civilian casualties in Ukraine. John Kirby, the Pentagon spokesman says there is no planning going on at the Pentagon at the moment for setting up field hospitals.

SAS in Ukraine? Russia Investigates. There have been several media reports that the British Special Air Service has members in Ukraine. Moscow announced on Saturday (Apr 23) it was launching a formal probe into the alleged role of Britain’s SAS on the ground in Lviv. These claims follow the capture of two Britons who were fighting with Ukraine in Donbas. Russia says that “mercenaries” will face death if captured. “Russia investigates rumours of British SAS troops on the ground in Ukraine”, Mirror, April 23, 2022.

British Training. Ukrainian military members are being trained by British forces in Poland as well as in the United Kingdom. The training is on equipment that Britain is providing to Ukraine. “Britain reveals Ukrainian soldiers are training locally”, Defense News, April 22, 2022.

Private Volunteer Groups. There are a host of private volunteer organizations that are providing aid and assistance to the Ukrainian people. Some of them are crossovers from the Afghan evacuation effort. One of them, Fill the Needs, has been operating since 2008. The organization is now assisting food kitchens in Ukraine providing help to internally displaced persons (IDPs).

Finns Prepare – Just in Case. The country of Finland – with a small population of just 5.5 million people – is training up reservists for an eventual conflict with Russia. It has fought wars with Russia in the past. Finland was invaded by Russia in 1809 and added to the Russian empire. In 1917 Finland regained its independence. In 1939 it was invaded by Russia once again and fought the ‘Winter War’. That war ended in a peace treaty once Finland agreed to cede 10% of its territory. Finland is now considering membership in NATO after seeing Russia invade Ukraine. “As Finland considers NATO membership, citizens mobilize for an invasion by Russia”, Los Angeles Times, April 24, 2022.

Belarusian Railway Workers and Sabotage. A clandestine network of railway workers, hackers, and dissident security forces wreaked havoc on supply lines in Belarus. Russian forces who entered Ukraine from Belarus assumed they could depend on the country’s extensive rail network for the movement of supplies and reinforcements. The Russians didn’t anticipate that railway workers in Belarus would contribute to the logistical chaos they experienced during the Ukrainian invasion. One tactic was the disabling of the automatic signaling system which slowed railway traffic to a snail’s pace. One of the groups, called the Community of Railway Workers, received information on Russian movements and locations of key railway infrastructure from Belarus railway employees. Another group, called the Cyber Partisans, is formed of exiled Belarusian IT professionals. The Belarusian Interior Ministry has decreed that damaging railway infrastructure is an act of terrorism that carries a 20-year prison term. “The Belarusian railway workers who helped thwart Russia’s attack on Kyiv”, The Washington Post, April 23, 2022.

Russian Trenches of Bucha. Ryan Hendrickson – a retired Special Forces soldier – is in Ukraine providing updates on the conflict via his Twitter account. He recently visited Bucha – located to the northwest of Kyiv and toured some of the now abandoned Russian positions. Watch a 2-minute video he took of bunkers, trenches, and living areas of the Russians. (Twitter, Apr 22, 2022).

This thing just gets uglier and uglier…..and now a new direction….to the East.

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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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“lego ergo scribo”

 

 

Ukraine–Day 57

“War is just a racket. A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of people. Only a small inside group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few at the expense of the masses.” Smedley Butler

“There is nothing glamorous or romantic about war. It’s mostly about random pointless death and misery.” Jon Krakauer

“No protracted war can fail to endanger the freedom of a democratic country.” Alexis de Tocqueville

According to the president of Ukraine phase 2 of Putin’s invasion has begun…..

The long-expected major Russian offensive in eastern Ukraine is now underway, with Russian forces trying to push forward along a front around 300 miles long, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Monday. “We can now say that Russian forces have started the battle of the Donbas, for which they have long prepared,” Zelensky said, per Reuters. Ukrainian forces have been bracing for an attack in the area since Moscow started withdrawing its troops from northern Ukraine, including the Kyiv area, last month. “The second phase of the war has started,” said Andriy Yermak, Zelensky’s chief of staff.

The long anticipated Russian offensive to capture more territory in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine has begun. Initial reports began surfacing on social media on Tuesday (Apr 19) and confirmed by the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense the same day. The Russians hope to defeat the Ukrainian forces in eastern Ukraine, capture more territory, and enter into negotiations from a position of strength. The Donbas region is known for its industrial assets, including coal mines, metals plants, and machine-building factories. The offensive is reported to be along a 3000 mile front extending from northeastern Ukraine to the country’s southeast.

“Another phase of this operation is beginning and I am sure it will be a very important moment in this entire special operation”.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov

Specific Russian Goals. According to a NATO official the four main goals of Russia are: 1) capture the Donbas region, 2) control the ‘land bridge’ from Donbas to Crimea, 3) control Kherson on the Dnieper River ensuring a freshwater supply to Crimea, and to 4) acquire additional territory for use as a buffer zone or for bargaining chips in future negotiations.

The Russians will likely advance on Ukrainian forces in the Donbas region from three sides: the north, east, and south. The best scenario for the Russians is to conduct a pincer movement that would encircle the Ukrainian forces in eastern Ukraine, cutting off their supply lines from the interior of Ukraine. The Ukrainians will need to launch a series of small spoiling attacks that will prevent Russia from building up forces that would then advance on the Ukrainian positions. The Pentagon reported that 11 more battalion tactical groups (BTGs) arrived in the Donbas region; bringing the total number of BTGs to 78. Of these 78, about twelve BTGs are committed to the defeat of the remaining defenders of Mariupol.

Read more in “How to Win the Battle in Eastern Ukraine”, by Benjamin Jensen, Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS), April 14, 2022.

Ukrainian Air Assets. According to a Pentagon briefing on Tuesday (Apr 19) the Ukraine air force has increased their available ‘operational’ aircraft due to the provision of ‘additional platforms and parts’ by other NATO countries. The U.S. assisted in part of the transportation of these aircraft parts and components. The Ukraine government has denied that it received ‘aircraft’, saying that it only received aircraft parts.

More Recon Drones. The Ukrainians will be receiving over 100 Quantix Recon Unmanned Aircraft Systems from AeroVironment. These drones and the associated training are being donated to Ukraine by the U.S. manufacturer. (BusinessWire, Apr 19, 2022).

“As the Ukraine military’s fight to protect their homeland and defend their nation’s freedom against Russia’s invasion intensifies, their need for solutions that can offer force protection and force multiplication capabilities continues. This donation will provide operators with a tool that can fly undetected by enemy forces and unaffected by radio frequency jammers to deliver accurate and rapid reconnaissance of remote, inaccessible areas of the dynamically changing battlefield.”

Wahid Nawabi, President and CEO of AeroVironment, Inc.

“Using the actionable intelligence gathered by the Quantix Recon, operators can conduct quick mission planning and verification to help keep Ukrainian ground forces out of harm’s way. AeroVironment is honored to support the people of Ukraine,” Nawabi added.

The Turkish Drone in Ukrainian Skies. The Turkish Bayraktar TB2 is making a name for itself in the Ukraine War. This lightweight low-tech armed drone carries four small laser-guided munitions and can cruise for about 24 hours. It costs about a sixth of the Reaper’s US$32 million price tag. The TB2 is wreaking havoc with Russian tanks, artillery pieces, and short-range air defense systems. The armed drone has also seen great success in the Nagorno-Karabakh War in Azerbaijan and the conflict in Ethiopia. Turkey has about 140 of the TB2s and is conducting research and tests on new drone prototypes. Read more in “Has Turkey become an armed drone superpower?”, The Strategist, Australian Strategic Policy Institute, April 19, 2022.

Norwegian MANPADS. The Norwegian Ministry of Defense announced on Wednesday (Apr 20) that it is providing 100 Mistral air defense missile systems to Ukraine. It is currently being used by the Norwegian Navy. It is a lightweight man-portable launcher and is operated by a one or two person crew. (Army Recognition, April 20, 2022).

Donbas and Russian Airpower. Compared to its initial operations around Kyiv and in the southwest of Ukraine, Russia likely has a measure of localized air superiority in the Donbas region. Ukraine’s medium- and short-range mobile surface to air missile systems have slowly been taken out. The Ukrainian SA-8s and SA-11s have to be positioned close to friendly lines to be effective and cover friendly troops; and they have been reduced by ground attacks and by drones as well. The Russians appear to lack sufficient stocks of precision-guided munitions for battlefield use. This means the Russian pilots will need to employ tactics requiring them to acquire targets visually and then to fly in a stable approach in a dive. This is a tactic that will expose them to the numerous MANPADS that the Ukrainian ground forces are employing.

The lack of ‘targeting pods’ (like the U.S. Sniper pod) and the limited training time afforded to Russian pilots will also detract from the Russian air force’s effectiveness. While the Russians will enjoy localized air superiority, it is unlikely to produce decisive results on the battlefield for Russia. Justin Bronk explains this in detail in “Russia Likely Has Local Air Superiority in Donbas, but it May Not Matter”, RUSI, April 19, 2022.

The United States is sending unmanned surface vessels (USVs) to Ukraine to beef up its coastal defense capabilities. The USVs are capable of a variety of missions. These include extending Ukraine’s surveillance out further away from the coastline, sweeping for mines in the waters, and possibly to directly attack Russian ships. Read more in “Mysterious American robotic ships headed to Ukraine”, FEDSCOOP, April 15, 2022. The topic of maritime neutrality in the Black Sea is explored by David Letts in “Maritime Neutrality in the Russia-Ukraine Conflict”, Articles of War, West Point, April 18, 2022.

Mariupol. The siege of the encircled coastal city of Mariupol continues with a small force of Ukrainians fighting from a defensive pocket. Most of the Ukrainian defense is centered above and below ground at the Mariupol Azovstal Iron and Steel Works. The plant occupies four square miles of the city’s waterfront. It was one of the largest metallurgical factories in Europe. The plant and its network of underground tunnels is serving as a shelter and base for fighters of the Azov Battalion, 36th Marines, and members from other Ukrainian ground units. The city had a pre-war population of 450,000; it is estimated that about 100,000 civilians remain in the city. “How a Mariupol steel plant became a holdout for the city’s resistance”, The Washington Post, April 19, 2022. See also “Surrounded Mariupol Commander Begs for International Help to Evacuate”, Daily Beast, April 19, 2022.

The Battle for Kyiv. How the Russian forces were beaten into retreat from the capital city is detailed by Oz Katerji. Moscow’s plan was to encircle and capture Ukraine’s capital within a matter of days. What would follow would be the apprehension, detention, and probable killing of Ukrainian politicians, journalists, human rights activist, government officials, and senior military officers. The author of this article, who was in Kyiv on the eve of the invasion, describes how Ukraine’s smaller army could inflict the humiliating blow against the Russian army. Read more in “How Ukraine Won the Battle for Kyiv”, Rolling Stone, April 2022.

Situation Maps.  War in Ukraine by Scribble Maps. View more Ukraine SITMAPs that provide updates on the disposition of Russian forces.

Refugees, IDPs, and Humanitarian Crisis. View the UNHCR Operational Data Portal – Ukraine Refugee Situation (Updated daily), https://data2.unhcr.org/en/situations/ukraine.

Prisoner Exchange. A fifth prisoner swap has taken place. 76 Ukrainians were released – 60 service members and 16 civilians.

Russia’s Brain Drain. The Ukraine War and its associated sanctions are going to have a massive impact on the high-tech economy of Russia for years to come. The Russian Ministry of Defense has been heavily involved in research in the artificial intelligence field. This effort may come to a screeching halt due to lack of funds and human talent. “Russia’s Artificial Intelligence Boom May Not Survive the War”, Defense One, April 15, 2022.

The Importance of Morale. Daniel Karr and Jacob Ware collaborate in an article to highlight the role that morale plays in conflicts – whether it is a conventional fight or any insurgency. “Hearts Not Minds: Morale and Inspiration in Insurgency and Territorial Defense”, Modern War Institute at West Point, April 14, 2022.

“Understanding the history of morale’s role in insurgencies is essential for analyzing the ongoing war in Ukraine and developing sound policy options for what could be a drawn-out conflict. But one thing seems clear: Russia will struggle to win its war in Ukraine if its troops do not want to be there.”

Artillery – A Big Ukraine Requirement. With the shift of operations to warfare in open spaces – as opposed to defending cities – the Ukrainian military will find itself outclassed on the battlefields of eastern Ukraine. The NATO members states can fix this – if they provide Ukraine with the artillery and anti-air systems to correct this capability deficiency. Michael Jacobson, a Department of the Army civilian field artillery capability analyst and LTC in the U.S. Army Reserves, provides a detailed explanation in “What Artillery and Air Defense Does Ukraine Need Now?”, War on the Rocks, April 15, 2022. See also “Ukraine’s Ability to Withstand Russian Artillery Critical to Fight for Donbas”, The War Zone, April 19, 2022. And this as well . . . “Biden promises more artillery to Ukraine to fight off Russian invaders”, The Washington Times, April 19, 2022.

And More on Artillery. The Pentagon confirmed that it is sending 18 x 155 artillery pieces and 40,000 artillery rounds to Ukraine. In addition, a ‘training package’ will be conducted for Ukrainian military personnel in an adjacent country. This is a ‘train the trainer’ scenario. The training is expected to take place within ‘days’. The Pentagon believes that the training will be minimal as most artillery pieces are ‘the same’; the Ukrainians are familiar with the Soviet bloc 122-mm D-30 Howitzer. Read more in “Biden vows to send Ukraine more artillery as Congress pushes for military aid czar”, Defense News, April 19, 2022.

Canadian Troops to Poland. Ukrainian refugees may find themselves being provided assistance from humanitarian assistance efforts by Canada’s military. The Canadian unit is set to depart from the Canadian Forces Base Trenton in Ontario. Prior to February 24th (the day Russia invaded Ukraine) Canada had 260 military trainers in Ukraine. They were moved prior to the invasion to Poland and assisted for a few weeks with humanitarian assistance before being redeployed back to Canada. “Canadian troops heading to Poland to help Ukrainian refugees”, CP24, April 14, 2022.

Germany – Letting Others do the Heavy Lifting? A new chart that depicts government support to Ukraine by donor GNP shows that Germany is slacking off when compared to other nations. Germany ranks tenth among European nations in amount of aid provided. One would think, given its relative size and wealth, that it would contribute more. (Ukraine Support Tracker, March 27, 2022).

Militias in the Russia-Ukraine War. By now most observers of the Ukraine War have become familiar with the Wagner Group and the Azov Battalion (or brigade). Less well known are other groups on both sides of the conflict – such as the Dnipro Battalion, and Chechen Kadyrov militia. Read more in “Ukraine war: the key role played by volunteer militias on both sides of the conflict”, The Conversation, April 13, 2022.

NG to Eastern Europe? There are roughly about 2,000 National Guard troops currently in Europe. Many more may be headed that way. “National Guard discussing possible deployments to Eastern Europe”, Military Times, April 19, 2022.

Three Future Scenarios for Ukraine. The next phase of the war may see some success for Russia. The country’s leaders are learning from their mistakes of the first six weeks of the conflict and making adaptations. Attritional warfare may favor the Russians – with their population base and numbers of artillery pieces and ballistic missiles. Frank Hoffman, a retired Marine infantry officer and defense analyst, envisions three possible scenarios for the future of the conflict in “What Comes Next in Ukraine: Three Scenarios”, Modern War Institute at West Point, April 14, 2022.

(1) The Ukrainians could embark on a general counter-offensive that would likely cost much in personnel and equipment and ultimately fail to achieve any strategic goals.

(2) The Russians could go on the offensive – striking from the north and south – with the aim to capture east Ukraine to include the city of Dnipro and encircling Ukrainian forces in the east. In addition, they would attempt to take Odessa, thus depriving Ukraine of a coastline and seaports.

(3) The conflict could settle into a war of attrition, resulting in a stalemate or ‘frozen conflict’ with Russia keeping the limited gains it has achieved along the coast of the Sea of Azov, areas north of Crimea, and in the Donbas region.

ReportRussia’s Nuclear Weapons: Doctrine, Forces, and Modernization. Congressional Research Service (CRS), April 18, 2022. (updated).
https://crsreports.congress.gov/product/pdf/R/R45861

Russia’s Failure. The few decades have seen Russia announcing to the world the many areas where they have reformed and modernized their military forces. However, all that ‘modernization and reform’ hasn’t shown up on the battlefield. Alexander Crowther spells out the many deficiencies of the Russian military campaign in Ukraine. “Russia’s Military: Failure on an Awesome Scale”, Europe’s Edge, April 15, 2022.

Is the Tank’s Time Coming to An End? Probably Not. The successful employment of anti-armor weapons by the Ukrainians have blunted the usefulness of armor in the Ukraine War thus far. This has caused a reexamination of tank warfare and predictions of a big change in future warfare. David Johnson, a retired Army colonel, examines the history of the tank and the many predictions of the end of the tanks supremacy on the battlefield. “The Tank is Dead: Long Live the Javelin, the Switchblade, the . . .?”, War on the Rocks, April 18, 2022.

Russian Defense Industry. The war in Ukraine has damaged the reputation of Russian weapons manufacturers. It weapons have not performed up to standard. The Russian tanks have not performed well and neither have its aircraft or air defense systems. In the past, Russia has had good success in exporting its weapons systems. But now countries will find that the availability of Russian weapons for export will significantly decrease, the ‘moral stain of working with Moscow’ will push countries to other suppliers, and the performance of Russian weapons is now questionable. “The Russian Defense Industry: A Distressed Brand”, by Dr. Can Kasapoglu, Hudson Institute, April 15, 2022.

Justice in Ukraine? Maybe Not. Most wars end in a negotiated conclusion. The current Ukraine-Russia war is likely to have the same result. Most analysts see talks to end the war centered on strategic, political, and territorial issues. Russia is committing terrible war crimes and there is a worldwide call for accountability. The truth of the matter is most Russians from Putin down to the lowest-trigger puller will escape punishment. Hugh Smith, a retired professor of law and war ethics, explains why in “Justice may have to be sacrificed to end the war in Ukraine”, The Strategist, Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI), April 20, 2022.

Panel Transcript – The Struggles of the Russian Military in Ukraine. Gen (Ret.) Philip Breedlove, Mark Galeotti, Beth Sanner, and Janine Davidson discuss the state of Russia’s military and the effect on the war in Ukraine. Council on Foreign Relations, April 14, 2022.
https://www.cfr.org/event/struggles-russian-military-ukraine

It is a shame that all this work goes unread…. but as a geek about war I try to help….most people do not want help for they will let bastard news sources tell them what is what.

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Ukraine–Descent Into Darkness

“War is God’s way of teaching Americans geography.”  Ambrose Bierce

Three months ago not many Americans could locate Ukraine on a blank map and now they all have a ‘learned’ opinion.

So many have just accepted the war raging in Ukraine…..few bother or even care that there was some sanity in the madness….

About here I need to add a disclaimer to avoid any confusion accusations.

I am by NO means trying to justify the brutality and barbarity of the invasion of Ukraine….just that there is always more to a story than is known or covered by the media in its rush to break news.

Another lingering question is ‘why Ukraine’? There have been other horrific events in the period since the end of the Cold War in the early 1990s, including Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan, Myanmar, and Palestine yet no comparable clamor for criminal justice and punitive action. Certainly, a part of the explanation is that the Ukrainian victims of abuse are white and European, and global media was mobilized effectively by the West and by the related international prominence accorded to Zelensky, the embattled Ukrainian leader given unprecedented access to the most influential venues on the global stages of world opinion. It is not that the empathy for Ukraine or support for Zelensky’s national resistance is misplaced, but that it has the appearance of being orchestrated in ways that other desperate national situations were not, and thus give rise to suspicions about other, darker motives.

This is a concern because these magnified concerns have acted as a principal way that the NATO West has gone out of its way to make the Ukrainian War about more than Ukraine. The wider war is best understood as occurring on two levels: a traditional war between the invading forces of Russia and the resisting forces of Ukraine coupled with a geopolitical war between the U.S. and Russia. It is the prosecution of this latter war that presents the more profound danger to world peace, a danger that has been largely obscured or assessed as a mere dimension of the Russia/Ukraine confrontation. Biden has consistently struck a militarist and confrontational note in the geopolitical war, demonizing Putin while neglecting diplomacy as a way to stop the killing, and atrocities, in effect, allowing the war on the ground to continue because of the higher stakes of grand strategy. If this two-level perception is correct in appreciation of the different actors with different priorities, then it becomes crucial to understand that in the geopolitical war the U.S. is the aggressor as much as in the traditional war Russia is the aggressor.

Why Ukraine?

Is NATO the culprit?

George Kennan, the intellectual father of America’s containment policy during the cold war, perceptively warned in a May 1998 New York Times interview about what the Senate’s ratification of Nato’s first round of expansion would set in motion. “I think it is the beginning of a new cold war,” Kennan stated. ”I think the Russians will gradually react quite adversely and it will affect their policies. I think it is a tragic mistake. There was no reason for this whatsoever. No one was threatening anybody else.”

He was right, but US and Nato leaders proceeded with new rounds of expansion, including the provocative step of adding the three Baltic republics. Those countries not only had been part of the Soviet Union, but they had also been part of Russia’s empire during the Czarist era. That wave of expansion now had Nato perched on the border of the Russian Federation.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2022/feb/28/nato-expansion-war-russia-ukraine

Further reading…..

I was there: NATO and the origins of the Ukraine crisis

https://www.vox.com/22900113/nato-ukraine-russia-crisis-clinton-expansion

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