Author Topic: Ukraine  (Read 141641 times)

Crafty_Dog

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The Meatgrinder Report
« Reply #1450 on: November 04, 2023, 05:25:12 PM »


Crafty_Dog

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GPF: Ready for negotiations?
« Reply #1452 on: November 06, 2023, 12:47:02 PM »
Ready for negotiations? The U.S. and European governments have held talks with Ukrainian officials on possible peace negotiations with Russia, according to a report from NBC News. The talks have reportedly included conversations over what concessions Kyiv might need to make to reach a deal amid concerns that the war has reached a stalemate and that Ukraine is running out of troops. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy acknowledged in an interview with NBC News over the weekend that the situation on the battlefield remains difficult and again called for more support on air defense.

Crafty_Dog

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DougMacG

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Re: WHOA!!!
« Reply #1455 on: November 08, 2023, 06:38:34 AM »

Crafty_Dog

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A pro-Russian opiner
« Reply #1456 on: November 13, 2023, 02:34:39 PM »
Wild Day as the Ukrainian Game of Thrones Revs Up!
SIMPLICIUS THE THINKER
NOV 13

 




READ IN APP
 
The Ukrainian project is starting to come undone at the seams. What began as hints of brewing conflict has now turned into a full rift between the Ukrainian leadership and military staff.

A storm of new reports paint a dismal picture of a final desperate scramble for power.


⚡️ Minister of Defense of Ukraine Rustem Umerov is preparing submissions for dismissal :

- Commander of the Joint Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Sergei Naev (may become one of the main defendants in the case that concerns the defense of the Kherson region in 2022);

- Commander of the Operational-Strategic Group of Troops "Tavria" Alexander Tarnavsky;

— Commander of the Medical Forces of the Ukrainian Armed Forces Tatyana Ostashchenko;

This was reported by Ukrayinska Pravda with reference to sources in the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine.

And:

Rumors are beginning to circulate that a major purge of the MOD is imminent. The new Minister of Defense Umerov is preparing proposals for the dismissal of the commander of the Medical Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine T. Ostashchenko Commander of the Operational-Strategic Group of Troops "Tavria" Alexander Tarnavsky Commander of the Joint Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Sergei Naev. Earlier today, ex-People's Deputy Borislav Bereza, citing sources in the State Bureau said that Naev and the commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Valery Zaluzhny could be served with suspicions (of crimes).

Here’s Bereza’s post referenced above:


Keep in mind, in such a flood of reports it’s nigh impossible to corroborate or verify them all, but taken as a whole they represent a general sense of the urgent escalation happening behind the scenes.

From Rezident_UA channel:

Ukrainian sources write that Andriy Ermak will allegedly try to coordinate with the Biden Administration the replacement of the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Zaluzhny, who is not satisfied with the Office of the President.

It was Zaluzhny who refused to begin the second stage of the counter-offensive with crossing the Dnieper and proposed to go on the defensive instead of offensive actions.

So Yermak/Zelensky are trying to coordinate with Biden to get rid of Zaluzhny, while other forces coordinate with Zaluzhny to boot Zelensky?

Ihor Mosiychuk, former Rada deputy and former Azov Battalion deputy commander, released a series of videos today speaking on the subject, which I’ve compiled below. He appears to confirm Yermak’s trip to DC to boot Zaluzhny:


In fact the drama and intrigue is coming to such a boil as to reach levels of absurdity most of us have never seen. A People’s Deputy in the Ukrainian Rada, Dubinsky—who happens to be in a major quarrel with the above Mosiychuk, as well—released this statement today on his official social media accounts. He openly calls Yermak “the real president of Ukraine,” begging Tucker Carlson to intervene, and even confirms yesterday’s wild theory that Zelensky is trying to contact Trump in order to get him to “unblock” Ukrainian aid via the Republican party which Trump is perceived to control:

I am publicly addressing journalist Tucker Carlson, who will not be afraid to cover the topic of political persecution of the only politician and former journalist in Ukraine, who openly spoke about corruption of the country’s senior officials and the facts of theft of US financial assistance through the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, in which deputies of the Servant of the People Party and officials of the Office of the President are involved.

Now the real president of Ukraine named Yermak is in the United States trying to convince the American government that there is no corruption in Ukraine, and to blame the theft committed by him and those from his circle on the scheming of “Kremlin agents.” He is also trying to arrange a telephone conversation between Zelensky and Trump in order to gain support in Congress for aid to Ukraine, which he and Zelensky are plundering.

I am the only one talking about this corruption, which is supported by numerous facts and journalistic investigations, and it is for this that they want to put me in jail on yet another trumped-up charges.

By joining our forces, we will be able to reveal to the world the truth about the gang of swindlers who captured Ukraine. Reveal the Ugly Truth that Yermak and Zelensky and their associates are trying to hide.

And low and behold, now there appears to be a treason case against Dubinsky who is said to have been visited by the SBU. Mosiychuk shortly released a new video claiming Dubinsky is under house arrest on orders of Yermak, presumably for the statements above, and that he’s under suspicion of being a Russian GRU agent with codename ‘Buratino’.


Are you shaking your head yet?

Continuing, last time I had referenced the Ukrainian ex-General Marchenko’s recent comments vis a vis Zaluzhny—which Mosiychuk also references above. Now you can see for yourself how in Ukrainian society, suddenly it’s becoming quite fashionable to begin conditioning viewers to the acceptance of Zaluzhny as president. Here on a popular network the host and Marchenko openly float the idea:


He says God grant that Zaluzhny becomes president, and they would both very much like that to happen. Do you see what’s happening, folks?

Now, there’s word that the CIA Director himself, William Burns, is heading straight to Kiev on Nov. 15th, under the obviously logical explanation that the purpose of the urgent visit is to convince Zelensky to freeze the conflict. Read the astute analysis below:

On Wednesday, November 15, CIA Director William Burns is scheduled to visit Kiev. The chief American intelligence officer will try to convince Zelensky that it is necessary to temporarily freeze the conflict and for now refuse to return lost territories by military means.

That is, in fact, Burns suggests Zelensky commit political suicide, because a truce and a freeze mean the complete and final collapse of his career. If the President of Ukraine agrees, there will be a carrot waiting for him: an honorary pension in Europe or the USA. If he refuses, they will use the whip: the Biden administration will turn on the spigot of military and financial assistance.

Most likely, Zelensky will refuse and will become a problem for the United States. And they know how to solve them; the history of South Vietnam will not let you lie. In principle, Burns’ visit is the last chance for Zelensky to return to the track of American politics. His resistance will mean that the US will begin to pursue a “freeze” line using more stringent methods.

Another thing is that this “freezing” is a temporary phenomenon. Any American administration - Biden, Trump or the bald devil - will never give up such a bridgehead on the borders of Russia, which is today's Ukraine. Its appearance is a great foreign policy success for the US. And Washington will fight to preserve it.

The US needs a pause in the war in order to solve its internal problems, put out the fire in the Middle East, try to find a status quo with China, and at the same time re-equip the Ukrainian army. Therefore, the war will continue in any case, the only question is with or without a break. Well, Burns will leave Kiev with nothing. But he will give Zelensky a black mark.

Recall that just yesterday a new ‘bombshell’ article from WaPo tried to sneakily pin the NordStream blame on Zaluzhny, by way of some stooge ‘taking orders’. It went out of its way to state that Zelensky ‘had no knowledge of what was happening.’


Interestingly, people pointed out how the information in the article was not particularly new, as an article from long ago had already outlined the same theories. So why resurrect this now?

It appears obvious that two competing factions are trying to outdo each other in the sphere of Western media. Zaluzhny fired his shot in the unsanctioned Economist piece, and it would seem that Zelensky backers are doing their own parallel counter-work.

So let’s summarize recent developments:

Zaluzhny’s aides are deleted, one by assassination

Large-scale new ‘house cleaning’ of entire general staff is reportedly announced from Zelensky’s side

Major media campaigns from both sides push urgent narratives of stalemates, Zaluzhny implying the war will be lost, and an eye-opening exposé on a ‘isolated’ and ‘messianic’ Fuhrer-bunker version of Zelensky

Zelensky suddenly cancels presidential elections, likely sussing the plan to promote Zaluzhny as challenger

Money spigot has still been turned off for the foreseeable future, with no realistic plans on horizon at the moment

Ukraine now catastrophically losing on virtually every front of the war, set to soon lose another major, strategically critical city

Many influential voices like Arestovich now openly push ceasefire

The ‘grim reaper’ CIA director set to pay visit, which only happens on eve of some major pivot or escalation. Diplomats and Foreign Secretaries are sent to ‘discuss options’ or ‘negotiate’—CIA directors are sent to deliver final threats of action

Now, much of the foregoing information is already being discussed elsewhere. But the one chief question no one else seems to be asking is the most critical of all: if factions in the West intend to replace Zelensky with Zaluzhny, then what is the actual purpose? What do they intend for Zaluzhny to do or accomplish that Zelensky cannot?

Some haven’t thought this through, and just assume that “Zaluzhny is a strong leader” and therefore is being made to replace Zelensky so that he can whip the military into shape and win the war. But why would Zaluzhny need to be president to do that? He’s already the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces and that’s literally his job description.

So, logically speaking, the only possible explanation I can see making sense is that Zaluzhny is being chosen to sell the ceasefire to the people. Such a thing would sound more acceptable from the standpoint of a military leader and strategist who can explain that the situation is hopeless without time to recover and replenish the forces with an armistice. And more importantly, to sell it to the troops. Coming directly from the general the troops respected would make it far more palatable than coming from the sniffly, jonesing, headcase-in-cargo-pants.

But the problem is, this clashes with Zaluzhny’s own Oped where he pushed for more weapons and more war, and didn’t seem keen to accept any ceasefires, but simply warned that this would be the case if nothing was done. Of course, he could potentially twist that into complying with both antipodes by proposing that all those newfangled arms and robots he requested in his piece could be provided during a ‘temporary détente’, particularly one sold to the public with the added flair of some kind of NATO candidacy guarantee, etc.

This is speculation, but on simple logic, I can only assume that Zelensky’s brewing initiative to cleanse the ranks is aimed at getting rid of all ‘collaborators’ who may already be party to a growing Zaluzhny-helmed conspiracy to oust him. In short, he may be trying to decapitate all Zaluzhny loyalists to prevent the seizure of power by armed military coup in the near to medium-term future.

For the record, this announcement came from Alexey Goncharenko, high ranking deputy of the Verkhovna Rada:


On his official Telegram with over 250,000 subscribers he posted:

This week there will be procedural actions against the generals. Bankova makes her move.

And this was backed, as stated earlier by ex-Rada deputy Bereza who stated his own sources in the State Bureau of Investigation have corroborated the coming purge:

: Ex-Rada deputy Borislav Bereza throws in with Goncharenko. Says high level military firings are imminent based on his "sources within the State Bureau of Investigation"

Recall Russian intel bigwig Patrushev’s recent statement that there are people ‘waiting in the wings’ ready to take over power in Kiev, hinting at a coming military coup.

Today, soldiers from AFU’s 28th brigade said they’ll take up arms if Zaluzhny is arrested:

💥💥💥Ukrainian militants speak in defence of Zaluzhniy

The AFU men from the 28th brigade said that if the commander-in-chief is arrested, they will take up arms to rescue him💥💥💥

⚡️As they say, stock up on popcorn!⚡️


One final interesting observation is the angle of ‘corruption’ has been pushed very heavily by involved players. We’ve spoken about this before but there’s a reason MSM articles began to appear over the past couple months once again accusing Ukraine of being corrupt, and Zelensky specifically, airing various bits of dirty laundry on his regime.

Then Arestovich began to season the stew with a constant string of attacks, specifically, against Zelensky’s “corruption” and how this is the main issue plaguing Ukraine.

El Mundo:


Now, with his new pledge of support for Zaluzhny, ex-General Marchenko actually cited corruption as the main reason for this support; reminder:

Maj. General of the AFU Dmitry Marchenko believes that Ukraine needs a president with the experience of the French army Charles de Gaulle, who will defeat corruption, and this could be the commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian troops Valery Zaluzhny - RIA Novosti

So it’s clear that the corruption angle can be used as the main tip of the spear against Zelensky, but the second part is that it could also potentially be used as one of the reasons to pause hostilities. For instance, Zaluzhny could take power and say “we cannot win this war with the vast corruption the previous Zelensky regime has bequeathed to us, so let us take this détente to clean up all the mess that Zelensky left, and in a couple years we’ll emerge as a glorious, sparkling European Nation™, by way of both EU and NATO membership, etc. It can be argued that it will take some time to clean all the deeply embedded rank corruption in all layers of the state which Zelensky putatively left.

Here’s one astute analysis on this angle:

More and more experts and heads of intelligence services around the world are inclined to think that without the removal, including by force, of the top military-political leadership of Ukraine in the spring of 2024, the process of Ukrainian settlement will not begin.

The list of those subject to care or arrest includes from 10 to 25 people who must absorb all the toxicity of the current political realities.

From the failure of the Istanbul agreements and the explosions of SP-1 and 2 to the death and emigration of 18 million citizens of Ukraine. While this option does not suit only the UK, active discussions on this issue have begun in the USA.

Since the summer, Europeans have been actively discussing the topic of corruption in the highest echelons of power in Ukraine. The Stratfor company conducted its measurements among top officials of the USA, Great Britain, Canada, Turkey, EU, UAE, Saudi Arabia on the topic “how would you feel about the forceful scenario of the departure of President V. Zelensky and his entourage?” The data showed that if the loss of Zelensky at the head of Ukraine leads to a long-term settlement of the Ukrainian-Russian armed conflict, 62% are ready to allow such a solution to the issue.

In connection with the understanding of these realities, the percentage of video messages from Vladimir Zelensky in a deranged state from a room with white walls will only increase.

But then there is one final part to the equation. All this only takes into account Ukraine’s angle, with the assumption that Russia will play ball and agree to a ceasefire. Let’s say Zaluzhny wrests power and follows the playbook as described above, then heavy international pressure on Russia to sign a ceasefire begins. And what if Russia says, unequivocally, no? That’s when things will truly get interesting, because I don’t think the West has thought that far, nor has any plan for what to do after that point.

The only thing that can happen then is either Zaluzhny, being the supposed pro-grunt sympathetic general that he is, could betray the West and effect a total surrender to Russia in order to save hundreds of thousands of more Ukrainian lives, or he will have no choice but to basically become Zelensky 2.0, taking the former leader’s place as doomed steward to the Apocalypse of Ukraine, taking the sinking ship down with him as Russia simply overruns and destroys what’s left of the stricken rump-state.

The only question is what will be the breaking point? One idea is that Avdeevka will be the straw on the camel’s back. Not only will it be difficult for Zelensky in general to cover up for that failure, but even the forces waiting to ramp up the coup against him may be awaiting that final moment so they can use his failure of Avdeevka to rachet up all the propaganda of ‘failure’ as a final blow to oust him. We can likely expect a torrent of articles and engineered resistance against him in that case.


The knives are out!


So that being said, let’s turn briefly to Avdeevka itself to see how close we may be to such a moment.

Latest updates indicate Russian forces have briefly switched to the southeastern direction and have made several important breakthroughs of as much as 700m into the industrial sector at the SE edge of the city proper:



Here’s how those battles actually look at the moment in that exact sector:


Meanwhile the north is consolidating its new gains into Stepove and the outlying ‘steppe’ of fields.


From Ukrainian sources:


The situation continues to get worse for Ukraine. They’ve resorted to fakes and provocations, as usual, posting videos of Russian losses from mid-October. Despite this, one frontline Russian source said that the losses are currently 1:8 in Russia’s favor:


Whether we believe that or not, the fact is Russia is advancing daily and it’s looking no different than the Soledar-Bakhmut slow-constriction process.

I’ve seen a recent pro-UA article claiming that coming winter conditions will be either equally bad for both sides, or even worse for Russia. That makes no sense; winter conditions will clearly be worse for the AFU because particularly in winter you need a constant supply of things like oil and gas for heaters, generators, etc. Food becomes more critical because human bodies burn much more calories each day in the cold. All these things under extreme pressure due to supply line fire control means the entrenched and surrounded Ukrainian defenders will be in excruciatingly miserable conditions.

Additionally, complete defoliation of tree cover will give even clearer line of sight to Russian fire-control capabilities and allow easier identification of enemy positions to pound out.

That being said, Russia is in no particular rush and is likely enjoying the current meltdown happening amongst Ukrainian leadership. At this pace Avdeevka could still potentially hold out another 2-3 months, depending how hard Russia presses in. Particularly if Ukrainian reports are accurate, which say according to their side that Russia does not yet have full fire-control over that one main MSR


They claim Russia has partial control by attempting to strike vehicles with FPV drones, something I discussed last time. But that’s not a highly secure or dependable form of fire-control. They still need to get closer to establish director LOS for true FC systems like ATGMs, tanks, or laser guided mortars, etc.

But at the rate things are going, it sometimes feels like it’s a race between Avdeevka and Ukraine as a state itself, as to who will collapse first.

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Crafty_Dog

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ccp

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Re: Ukraine
« Reply #1458 on: November 14, 2023, 08:09:52 AM »
"does Haley get this?"

good question

is Donbas worth another Vietnam or endless Afghanistan war?

Maybe to Ukraine but not to me or us IMHO




G M

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Re: Ukraine
« Reply #1459 on: November 14, 2023, 08:19:40 AM »
"does Haley get this?"

good question

is Donbas worth another Vietnam or endless Afghanistan war?

Maybe to Ukraine but not to me or us IMHO

https://www.forbes.com/sites/kavyagupta/2023/08/08/how-nikki-haley-built-an-8-million-fortune-and-helped-bail-out-her-parents/?sh=51daf39b7b4c

https://www.leefang.com/p/nikki-haleys-sudden-wealth-rooted

Nimarata "Nikki" Haley

Nimarata: From Hindi, meaning "Daughter of the American Military Industrial Complex". Probably.

Crafty_Dog

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Re: Ukraine
« Reply #1460 on: November 14, 2023, 10:15:52 AM »
The Haley thread is the place for that, not here.  This is the Ukraine thread.


Body-by-Guinness

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And You Thought the Archduke Ferdinand Thing was a Mess …
« Reply #1461 on: November 14, 2023, 07:02:15 PM »
I am astounded by what a hall of mirrors the Ukraine has become. The ostensive narrative is the US is there as part of a noble effort to assist the little guy in the face of Russian aggression, though that aggression likely would not have occurred had in not been for the threat of a new, potential, NATO member, namely Ukraine, adjoining Russian territory (or, for that matter, if Trump has seen a second term as, despite Progressive fables, he has credibility Biden lacks on the intestinal fortitude front, witness all the "Russian mercenaries" he had smoked in Syria). And it would not surprise me at all if Neocons embraced the whole admit-Ukraine-to-NATO notion in part to allow dotty, creepy uncle Joe to show he’s not soft on Russia like that wretched Donald Trump was, even though those with a firmer grasp of the international obvious made clear Russia would never allow a NATO member state to adjoin its territory.

And hey, I doubt dotty, creepy uncle Joe’s handlers took much swaying despite the warnings of those with a grasp on the obvious as the handlers had a flank to nail down: Ukraine (among other) corruption. Can’t have creepy, dotty uncle Joe succumbing to Hunter’s hamfisted shakedowns for the “Big Guy” and thus letting that awful Donald Trump say “I told you so” or, worse yet, return to the White House. So they opt instead to conceal past corruption with, wait for it, more corruption! But just because these folks ignored the obvious re Russia and backed the presidency of a dotty, creepy, corrupt septuagenarian on the fast track to the memory ward Joe, it doesn’t mean they are stupid. Completely.

Well maybe it does. But not 100 percent! They are at least smart enough to know that when concealing corruption with more corruption some sort of sleight of hand is required lest the credulous plebes catch on. And when palming cards on such a grand scale, garden variety half naked lass distractions simply won’t do: they need a freaking good v. evil war to serves as their version of buxom babe in spike heels and a g-string shaking her ta-tas as the deck gets stacked. How ‘bout that you people able to embrace the obvious, they figured, we’ll take your warning, raise you with the “free” world’s stock of munitions, and make lemonade out of your putative lemons, and no one will notice the corruption behind the curtain. See? We ain’t all dumb….

Of course corrupt Ukrainians can gaze past the curtain they helped raise, and know how to play the game: take the billions tossed toward their war effort, skim some off the top for their rainy day funds, kick some back to those that control the spigot just so they aren’t tempted to reduce the flow, all the while keeping the trump card in more than one sense up a sleeve: end the gravy train, or let the Russians win, and there might be some ‘splaining to do, most likely before the next election. It's not like any auditors are gonna wander around a war zone, and should one accidents aren't difficult to arrange.

What could possibly go wrong, beside other geopolitical foes less gullible than the average MSM reporter noting the house of cards being erected, grasping that the US has committed its munitions reserves to a new Big Muddy far removed from its strategic interests, all while being putatively led by a brain dead kleptocrat unable to navigate a press conference, let alone a significant geopolitical crisis? Add for grins and giggles an immense national debt, an intentionally porous border, an also intentionally non-productive underclass made so to inspire reliable voting behavior, institutions across the American landscape that at least half the population no longer trusts, among numerous other structural, institutional, and ethical crises facing the nation, and a geopolitical enemy would be a fool not to exploit it.

And when they do, and if we should survive the reckoning that ensues, and should those that emerge do so sans the illusions foisted by our political leaders and those in the media carrying their water, let’s hope the seeds of a republic as originally envisioned by this nation’s founders survive, and further hope that the justice those founders would visit upon all who brought us here land hard on all who deserve it.


 
« Last Edit: November 15, 2023, 07:16:34 AM by Body-by-Guinness »

Crafty_Dog

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George Friedman: Remember Ukraine?
« Reply #1463 on: November 21, 2023, 05:44:24 AM »
ovember 21, 2023
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Remember Ukraine?
By: George Friedman

Some of you may remember Ukraine. Just a few months ago, it was all the talk. Since then, war has broken out between Hamas and Israel, a potentially game-changing summit took place between the United States and China, and Elon Musk grabbed headlines again. Between the tragic and the absurd, we have somehow managed to routinize the conflict in Ukraine.

Routinizing Ukraine is not unreasonable; the war has trended in that direction. There have been many battles involving advances and retreats. But none of the movements or battles have been decisive, which means Ukraine continues to fight for its survival. None of the fears the participants had about entering the war in the first place are illegitimate. And the stakes – a potential redefining of Europe – technically remain in place.

Wars in which all sides have reasonable fears are the most dangerous. No side can quit, and until one side achieves an overwhelming advantage and imposes a new reality, the war must go on even if the losses are difficult to endure. Absent an overwhelming advantage, compromise becomes necessary, but it can be equally hard. In this war, there are still expectations that Russia will destroy the Ukrainian army and force the U.S. to silence its guns. This has not happened. The primary reason is that Russia is short on troops, and since drafting them into service is extremely unpopular, Moscow has had to improve its recruitment, relying on large bounties for enlistees – some 12,000 rubles ($137), according to the Atlantic Council – and asking for donations from a sympathetic public to purchase equipment. Mints are a major weapon of war, and it’s unclear if Moscow is printing any more money. The fear of inflation is likely a consideration.

Things are difficult for Ukraine too. The army has had little success in the field lately, and Poland has blocked trucks from crossing its border with Ukraine. This is not trivial. Poland has been deeply anti-Russian for years, has been one of Ukraine’s strongest supporters, and agreed to be a base for U.S. and European weapon transfers into Ukraine. Poland has not abandoned Ukraine entirely; the source of the border dispute is a perception that Ukrainian carriers are unfair competition for their Polish counterparts. In peacetime, this is a reasonable issue. In wartime, it is not. How much this will affect the Ukrainian economy is unclear, but it will certainly affect morale, and it will likely make the U.S. wonder whether its de facto supply depot will allow weapons to go to Ukraine in the coming months. (For its part, Russia will correctly see this as a sign of weakness.)

It is in this context that U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin arrived in Ukraine to declare that Washington still stands behind its ally. Though the exact purpose of Austin’s visit is unclear, it’s never a good sign when an ally has to declare its continued support under unknown circumstances. In truth, Austin is there in his capacity as a Cabinet member and political figure, not a general, and speaking on behalf of his government, he will likely note that Ukraine is in as bad a position as Russia. They are losing options – both in their desired outcomes and in their ability to wage war.

And though I don’t have any personal knowledge of the matter, I assume Kyiv will try to negotiate an end to the conflict. I suspect this would not be a problem for many Ukrainians. The end of the war would have to give Russia some increased buffer zone without bringing it too close to the NATO countries on the border with Ukraine. Ukraine will not win, nor will Russia. Clearly there are talks underway at some level between Russia and the United States. Whether my solution has merit is dubious. That we are near the end of the war (expressed in months) is not. Perhaps the world’s relative indifference to Ukraine and Russia will send a signal to both.

Crafty_Dog

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Where are the M1 Abrams?
« Reply #1464 on: November 23, 2023, 08:10:44 PM »
IIRC the military advised these weren't really necessary, that they used jet fuel instead of normal tank fuel or something like that but the Germans said they weren't sending their tanks (Leopolds?) unless we sent Abrams.  TARFU.

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/why-ukraine-hasn-t-been-using-its-dozens-of-powerful-us-abrams-tanks/ar-AA1kpLcU?ocid=msedgntp&pc=DCTS&cvid=2789a6ec47ba4ee9b99191f933a0c8ea&ei=29

ya

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Re: Ukraine
« Reply #1465 on: December 02, 2023, 12:12:55 PM »
Ongoing discussions between Ukr-Russia, per Seymour Hersh

"Russia would be left with unchallenged control of Crimea and, pending an election to be held under martial law in March, with essential control of the four provinces, or oblasts, that Russia annexed last year: Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia, and the still embattled Kherson. In return—in a concession not foreseen—Russia, that is, Putin himself, would not object to Ukraine joining NATO."

« Last Edit: December 02, 2023, 07:18:25 PM by ya »

Crafty_Dog

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Re: Ukraine
« Reply #1466 on: December 02, 2023, 12:20:51 PM »
Off the top of my head that seems rather workable.

DougMacG

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Re: Ukraine
« Reply #1467 on: December 03, 2023, 07:55:46 AM »
Thanks for posting the map with it ya. The geography of those regions makes sense for Russia.

Free, fair, secret ballot elections in those oblasts under (internationally supervised) martial law could determine their future allegiance, that makes some sense.

The concession of NATO membership for the remainder is a big deal for Russia.

Do we want (remainder of) Ukraine in NATO?   

We get the obligation of defending them in exchange for their help defending us, (if Canada attacks)?

I see it in deterrence, Russia stops there, but if it happens we are bound by treaty (Article 5?) to defend the member state?


Crafty_Dog

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Re: Ukraine
« Reply #1468 on: December 03, 2023, 08:55:44 AM »
The Ukes into NATO would seem to give a plausible guarantee against further Russian adventurism.



Crafty_Dog

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Re: Ukraine
« Reply #1470 on: December 05, 2023, 02:34:14 AM »

DougMacG

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Re: Ukraine
« Reply #1471 on: December 05, 2023, 05:38:37 AM »
Can someone access this please?

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2023/12/04/ukraine-counteroffensive-us-planning-russia-war/

STALEMATE: UKRAINE’S FAILED COUNTEROFFENSIVE
Miscalculations, divisions marked offensive planning by U.S., Ukraine

By Washington Post Staff
December 4, 2023 at 6:00 a.m. EST

(Illustration by Emily Sabens/The Washington Post; Amanda Andrade-Rhoades for The Washington Post; Gavriil Grigorov/AFP/Getty Images; Simon Wohlfahrt/AFP/Getty Images; Demetrius Freeman/The Washington Post; Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post; Ed Ram for The Washington Post; iStock)

On June 15, in a conference room at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, flanked by top U.S. commanders, sat around a table with his Ukrainian counterpart, who was joined by aides from Kyiv. The room was heavy with an air of frustration.

Austin, in his deliberate baritone, asked Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov about Ukraine’s decision-making in the opening days of its long-awaited counteroffensive, pressing him on why his forces weren’t using Western-supplied mine-clearing equipment to enable a larger, mechanized assault, or using smoke to conceal their advances. Despite Russia’s thick defensive lines, Austin said, the Kremlin’s troops weren’t invincible.

This is the first of two parts examining the Ukrainian counteroffensive that launched in June. Read the second part, describing how the counteroffensive unfolded, here.
Part one:
Reported by Michael Birnbaum, Karen DeYoung, Alex Horton, John Hudson, Isabelle Khurshudyan, Mary Ilyushina, Dan Lamothe, Greg Miller, Siobhan O’Grady, Kostiantyn Khudov, Serhii Korolchuk, Ellen Nakashima, Emily Rauhala, Missy Ryan and David L. Stern.
Written by Missy Ryan.
Over three months, reporters in Washington, London, Brussels and Riga, Latvia, as well as in Kyiv and near the front lines in Ukraine, spoke to more than 30 senior officials from Ukraine, the United States and European nations to examine the military planning behind the counteroffensive and how that contributed to the operation failing to achieve its goals. The Post spoke to former Russian service members who had fought in the war, as well as Russian war bloggers and analysts.
Washington Post reporters, photographers, news assistants and security advisers drove hundreds of miles throughout Ukraine to speak to soldiers and government officials for this series. Journalists made numerous front-line visits in the Zaporizhzhia and Donetsk regions, including in embeds with combat units within five miles of Russian forces.
End of carousel
Reznikov, a bald, bespectacled lawyer, said Ukraine’s military commanders were the ones making those decisions. But he noted that Ukraine’s armored vehicles were being destroyed by Russian helicopters, drones and artillery with every attempt to advance. Without air support, he said, the only option was to use artillery to shell Russian lines, dismount from the targeted vehicles and proceed on foot.

“We can’t maneuver because of the land-mine density and tank ambushes,” Reznikov said, according to an official who was present.

The meeting in Brussels, less than two weeks into the campaign, illustrates how a counteroffensive born in optimism has failed to deliver its expected punch, generating friction and second-guessing between Washington and Kyiv and raising deeper questions about Ukraine’s ability to retake decisive amounts of territory.

As winter approaches, and the front lines freeze into place, Ukraine’s most senior military officials acknowledge that the war has reached a stalemate.

This examination of the lead-up to Ukraine’s counteroffensive is based on interviews with more than 30 senior officials from Ukraine, the United States and European nations. It provides new insights and previously unreported details about America’s deep involvement in the military planning behind the counteroffensive and the factors that contributed to its disappointments. The second part of this two-part account examines how the battle unfolded on the ground over the summer and fall, and the widening fissures between Washington and Kyiv. Some of the officials spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive deliberations.

Key elements that shaped the counteroffensive and the initial outcome include:

● Ukrainian, U.S. and British military officers held eight major tabletop war games to build a campaign plan. But Washington miscalculated the extent to which Ukraine’s forces could be transformed into a Western-style fighting force in a short period — especially without giving Kyiv air power integral to modern militaries.

● U.S. and Ukrainian officials sharply disagreed at times over strategy, tactics and timing. The Pentagon wanted the assault to begin in mid-April to prevent Russia from continuing to strengthen its lines. The Ukrainians hesitated, insisting they weren’t ready without additional weapons and training.

● U.S. military officials were confident that a mechanized frontal attack on Russian lines was feasible with the troops and weapons that Ukraine had. The simulations concluded that Kyiv’s forces, in the best case, could reach the Sea of Azov and cut off Russian troops in the south in 60 to 90 days.

● The United States advocated a focused assault along that southern axis, but Ukraine’s leadership believed its forces had to attack at three distinct points along the 600-mile front, southward toward both Melitopol and Berdyansk on the Sea of Azov and east toward the embattled city of Bakhmut.

● The U.S. intelligence community had a more downbeat view than the U.S. military, assessing that the offensive had only a 50-50 chance of success given the stout, multilayered defenses Russia had built up over the winter and spring.

● Many in Ukraine and the West underestimated Russia’s ability to rebound from battlefield disasters and exploit its perennial strengths: manpower, mines and a willingness to sacrifice lives on a scale that few other countries can countenance.

● As the expected launch of the offensive approached, Ukrainian military officials feared they would suffer catastrophic losses — while American officials believed the toll would ultimately be higher without a decisive assault.

The year began with Western resolve at its peak, Ukrainian forces highly confident and President Volodymyr Zelensky predicting a decisive victory. But now, there is uncertainty on all fronts. Morale in Ukraine is waning. International attention has been diverted to the Middle East. Even among Ukraine’s supporters, there is growing political reluctance to contribute more to a precarious cause. At almost every point along the front, expectations and results have diverged as Ukraine has shifted to a slow-moving dismounted slog that has retaken only slivers of territory.

“We wanted faster results,” Zelensky said in an interview with the Associated Press last week. “From that perspective, unfortunately, we did not achieve the desired results. And this is a fact.”

Together, all these factors make victory for Ukraine far less likely than years of war and destruction.

The campaign’s inconclusive and discouraging early months pose sobering questions for Kyiv’s Western backers about the future, as Zelensky — supported by an overwhelming majority of Ukrainians — vows to fight until Ukraine restores the borders established in its 1991 independence from the Soviet Union.

“That’s going to take years and a lot of blood,” a British security official said, if it’s even possible. “Is Ukraine up for that? What are the manpower implications? The economic implications? Implications for Western support?”

The year now stands to end with Russian President Vladimir Putin more certain than ever that he can wait out a fickle West and fully absorb the Ukrainian territory already seized by his troops.

Gaming out the battle plan
In a conference call in the late fall of 2022, after Kyiv had won back territory in the north and south, Austin spoke with Gen. Valery Zaluzhny, Ukraine’s top military commander, and asked him what he would need for a spring offensive. Zaluzhny responded that he required 1,000 armored vehicles and nine new brigades, trained in Germany and ready for battle.

“I took a big gulp,” Austin said later, according to an official with knowledge of the call. “That’s near-impossible,” he told colleagues.

In the first months of 2023, military officials from Britain, Ukraine and the United States concluded a series of war games at a U.S. Army base in Wiesbaden, Germany, where Ukrainian officers were embedded with a newly established command responsible for supporting Kyiv’s fight.

The sequence of eight high-level tabletop exercises formed the backbone for the U.S.-enabled effort to hone a viable, detailed campaign plan, and to determine what Western nations would need to provide to give it the means to succeed.

“We brought all the allies and partners together and really squeezed them hard to get additional mechanized vehicles,” a senior U.S. defense official said.

During the simulations, each of which lasted several days, participants were designated to play the part either of Russian forces — whose capabilities and behavior were informed by Ukrainian and allied intelligence — or Ukrainian troops and commanders, whose performance was bound by the reality that they would be facing serious constraints in manpower and ammunition.

Russia held these Ukrainian teens captive. Their testimonies could be used against Putin.

The planners ran the exercises using specialized war-gaming software and Excel spreadsheets — and, sometimes, simply by moving pieces around on a map. The simulations included smaller component exercises that each focused on a particular element of the fight — offensive operations or logistics. The conclusions were then fed back into the evolving campaign plan.

Top officials including Gen. Mark A. Milley, then chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Col. Gen. Oleksandr Syrsky, commander of Ukrainian ground forces, attended several of the simulations and were briefed on the results.

During one visit to Wiesbaden, Milley spoke with Ukrainian special operations troops — who were working with American Green Berets — in the hope of inspiring them ahead of operations in enemy-controlled areas.

“There should be no Russian who goes to sleep without wondering if they’re going to get their throat slit in the middle of the night,” Milley said, according to an official with knowledge of the event. “You gotta get back there, and create a campaign behind the lines.”

Ukrainian officials hoped the offensive could re-create the success of the fall of 2022, when they recovered parts of the Kharkiv region in the northeast and the city of Kherson in the south in a campaign that surprised even Ukraine’s biggest backers. Again, their focus would be in more than one place.

But Western officials said the war games affirmed their assessment that Ukraine would be best served by concentrating its forces on a single strategic objective — a massed attack through Russian-held areas to the Sea of Azov, severing the Kremlin’s land route from Russia to Crimea, a critical supply line.

The rehearsals gave the United States the opportunity to say at several points to the Ukrainians, “I know you really, really, really want to do this, but it’s not going to work,” one former U.S. official said.

At the end of the day, though, it would be Zelensky, Zaluzhny and other Ukrainian leaders who would make the decision, the former official noted.

Officials tried to assign probabilities to different scenarios, including a Russian capitulation — deemed a “really low likelihood” — or a major Ukrainian setback that would create an opening for a major Russian counterattack — also a slim probability.

“Then what you’ve got is the reality in the middle, with degrees of success,” a British official said.

The most optimistic scenario for cutting the land bridge was 60 to 90 days. The exercises also predicted a difficult and bloody fight, with losses of soldiers and equipment as high as 30 to 40 percent, according to U.S. officials.

Key findings from our reporting on Ukraine’s counteroffensive
arrow leftarrow right
The United States was deeply involved in the military planning behind the operation. Ukrainian, U.S. and British military officers held eight major tabletop war games to build a campaign plan.
U.S. and Ukrainian officials sharply disagreed at times over strategy, tactics and timing.
The Pentagon wanted the assault to begin in mid-April to prevent Russia from continuing to strengthen its lines. The Ukrainians hesitated, insisting they weren’t ready without additional weapons and more training. The counteroffensive began in June.
U.S. military officials were confident that a mass, mechanized frontal attack along one axis in the south of Ukraine would lead to a decisive breakthrough. Ukraine attacked along three axes, believing that would stretch Russian forces. Ukraine abandoned large, mechanized assaults when it suffered serious losses in the first days of the campaign.
The wargame simulations concluded that Kyiv’s forces, in the best case, could reach the Sea of Azov in the south of Ukraine and cut off Russian troops in 60 to 90 days. Ukrainian forces have advanced only about 12 miles. The Sea of Azov is still far out of reach. Ukraine’s top commander now acknowledges that the war has reached a “stalemate.”
End of carousel
American military officers had seen casualties come in far lower than estimated in the major battles of Iraq and Afghanistan. They considered the estimates a starting point for planning medical care and battlefield evacuation so that losses never reached the projected levels.

The numbers “can be sobering,” the senior U.S. defense official said. “But they never are as high as predicted, because we know we have to do things to make sure we don’t.”

U.S. officials also believed that more Ukrainian troops would ultimately be killed if Kyiv failed to mount a decisive assault and the conflict became a drawn-out war of attrition.

But they acknowledged the delicacy of suggesting a strategy that would entail significant losses, no matter the final figure.

“It was easy for us to tell them in a tabletop exercise, ‘Okay, you’ve just got to focus on one place and push really hard,’” a senior U.S. official said. “They were going to lose a lot of people and they were going to lose a lot of the equipment.”

Those choices, the senior official said, become “much harder on the battlefield.”

On that, a senior Ukrainian military official agreed. War-gaming “doesn’t work,” the official said in retrospect, in part because of the new technology that was transforming the battlefield. Ukrainian soldiers were fighting a war unlike anything NATO forces had experienced: a large conventional conflict, with World World I-style trenches overlaid by omnipresent drones and other futuristic tools — and without the air superiority the U.S. military has had in every modern conflict it has fought.

“All these methods … you can take them neatly and throw them away, you know?” the senior Ukrainian said of the war-game scenarios. “And throw them away because it doesn’t work like that now.”

Disagreements about deployments
The Americans had long questioned the wisdom of Kyiv’s decision to keep forces around the besieged eastern city of Bakhmut.

Ukrainians saw it differently. “Bakhmut holds” had become shorthand for pride in their troops’ fierce resistance against a bigger enemy. For months, Russian and Ukrainian artillery had pulverized the city. Soldiers killed and wounded one another by the thousands to make gains measured sometimes by city blocks.

The city finally fell to Russia in May.

Before-and-after images of the destroyed Ukrainian city of Bakhmut

Zelensky, backed by his top commander, stood firm about the need to retain a major presence around Bakhmut and strike Russian forces there as part of the counteroffensive. To that end, Zaluzhny maintained more forces near Bakhmut than he did in the south, including the country’s most experienced units, U.S. officials observed with frustration.

Ukrainian officials argued that they needed to sustain a robust fight in the Bakhmut area because otherwise Russia would try to reoccupy parts of the Kharkiv region and advance in Donetsk — a key objective for Putin, who wants to seize that whole region.

“We told [the Americans], ‘If you assumed the seats of our generals, you’d see that if we don’t make Bakhmut a point of contention, [the Russians] would,’” one senior Ukrainian official said. “We can’t let that happen.”

In addition, Zaluzhny envisioned making the formidable length of the 600-mile front a problem for Russia, according to the senior British official. The Ukrainian general wanted to stretch Russia’s much larger occupying force — unfamiliar with the terrain and already facing challenges with morale and logistics — to dilute its fighting power.

Western officials saw problems with that approach, which would also diminish the firepower of Ukraine’s military at any single point of attack. Western military doctrine dictated a concentrated push toward a single objective.

The Americans yielded, however.

“They know the terrain. They know the Russians,” said a senior U.S. official. “It’s not our war. And we had to kind of sit back into that.”

The weapons Kyiv needed
On Feb. 3, Jake Sullivan, President Biden’s national security adviser, called together the administration’s top national security officials to review the counteroffensive plan.

The White House’s subterranean Situation Room was being renovated, so the top echelons of the State, Defense and Treasury departments, along with the CIA, gathered in a secure conference room in the adjacent Eisenhower Executive Office Building.

Most were already familiar with Ukraine’s three-pronged approach. The goal was for Biden’s senior advisers to voice their approval or reservations to one another and try to reach consensus on their joint advice to the president.

The questions posed by Sullivan were simple, said a person who attended. First, could Washington and its partners successfully prepare Ukraine to break through Russia’s heavily fortified defenses?

And then, even if the Ukrainians were prepared, “could they actually do it?”

Milley, with his ever-ready green maps of Ukraine, displayed the potential axes of attack and the deployment of Ukrainian and Russian forces. He and Austin explained their conclusion that “Ukraine, to be successful, needed to fight a different way,” one senior administration official closely involved in the planning recalled.

Ukraine’s military, after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, had become a defensive force. Since 2014 it had focused on a grinding but low-level fight against Russian-backed forces in the eastern Donbas region. To orchestrate a large-scale advance would require a significant shift in its force structure and tactics.

The planning called for wider and better Western training, which up to that point had focused on teaching small groups and individuals to use Western-provided weapons. Thousands of troops would be instructed in Germany in large unit formations and U.S.-style battlefield maneuvers, whose principles dated to World War II. For American troops, training in what was known as “combined arms” operations often lasted more than a year. The Ukraine plan proposed condensing that into a few months.

Instead of firing artillery, then “inching forward” and firing some more, the Ukrainians would be “fighting and shooting at the same time,” with newly trained brigades moving forward with armored vehicles and artillery support “in a kind of symphonic way,” the senior administration official said.

The Biden administration announced in early January that it would send Bradley Fighting Vehicles; Britain agreed to transfer 14 Challenger tanks. Later that month, after a grudging U.S. announcement that it would provide top-line Abrams M1 tanks by the fall, Germany and other NATO nations pledged hundreds of German-made Leopard tanks in time for the counteroffensive.

A far bigger problem was the supply of 155mm shells, which would enable Ukraine to compete with Russia’s vast artillery arsenal. The Pentagon calculated that Kyiv needed 90,000 or more a month. While U.S. production was increasing, it was barely more than a tenth of that.

“It was just math,” the former senior official said. “At a certain point, we just wouldn’t be able to provide them.”

As Ukraine flies through artillery rounds, U.S. races to keep up

Sullivan laid out options. South Korea had massive quantities of the U.S.-provided munitions, but its laws prohibited sending weapons to war zones. The Pentagon calculated that about 330,000 155mm shells could be transferred by air and sea within 41 days if Seoul could be persuaded.

Senior administration officials had been speaking with counterparts in Seoul, who were receptive as long as the provision was indirect. The shells began to flow at the beginning of the year, eventually making South Korea a larger supplier of artillery ammunition for Ukraine than all European nations combined.

The more immediate alternative would entail tapping the U.S. military’s arsenal of 155mm shells that, unlike the South Korean variant, were packed with cluster munitions. The Pentagon had thousands of them, gathering dust for decades. But Secretary of State Antony Blinken balked.

Inside the warhead of those cluster weapons, known officially as Dual-Purpose Improved Conventional Munitions, or DPICMs, were dozens of bomblets that would scatter across a wide area. Some would inevitably fail to explode, posing a long-term danger to civilians, and 120 countries — including most U.S. allies but not Ukraine or Russia — had signed a treaty banning them. Sending them would cost the United States some capital on the war’s moral high ground.

In the face of Blinken’s strong objections, Sullivan tabled consideration of DPICMs. They would not be referred to Biden for approval, at least for now.

Can Ukraine win?
With the group agreeing that the United States and allies could provide what they believed were the supplies and training Ukraine needed, Sullivan faced the second part of the equation: Could Ukraine do it?

Zelensky, on the war’s first anniversary in February, had boasted that 2023 would be a “year of victory.” His intelligence chief had decreed that Ukrainians would soon be vacationing in Crimea, the peninsula that Russia had illegally annexed in 2014. But some in the U.S. government were less than confident.

U.S. intelligence officials, skeptical of the Pentagon’s enthusiasm, assessed the likelihood of success at no better than 50-50. The estimate frustrated their Defense Department counterparts, especially those at U.S. European Command, who recalled the spies’ erroneous prediction in the days before the 2022 invasion that Kyiv would fall to the Russians within days.

Some defense officials observed caustically that optimism was not in intelligence officials’ DNA — they were the “Eeyores” of government, the former senior official said, and it was always safer to bet on failure.

“Part of it was just the fact of the sheer weight of the Russian military,” CIA Director William J. Burns later reflected in an interview. “For all their incompetence in the first year of the war, they had managed to launch a shambolic partial mobilization to fill a lot of the gaps in the front. In Zaporizhzhia” — the key line of the counteroffensive if the land bridge was to be severed — “we could see them building really quite formidable fixed defenses, hard to penetrate, really costly, really bloody for the Ukrainians.”

Perhaps more than any other senior official, Burns, a former ambassador to Russia, had traveled multiple times to Kyiv over the previous year, sometimes in secret, to meet with his Ukrainian counterparts, as well as with Zelensky and his senior military officials. He appreciated the Ukrainians’ most potent weapon — their will to fight an existential threat.

“Your heart is in it,” Burns said of his hopes for helping Ukraine succeed. “But … our broader intelligence assessment was that this was going to be a really tough slog.”

Two weeks after Sullivan and others briefed the president, a top-secret, updated intelligence report assessed that the challenges of massing troops, ammunition and equipment meant that Ukraine would probably fall “well short” of its counteroffensive goals.

The West had so far declined to grant Ukraine’s request for fighter jets and the Army Tactical Missile System, or ATACMS, which could reach targets farther behind Russian lines, and which the Ukrainians felt they needed to strike key Russian command and supply sites.

“You are not going to go from an emerging, post-Soviet legacy military to the U.S. Army of 2023 overnight,” a senior Western intelligence official said. “It is foolish for some to expect that you can give them things and it changes the way they fight.”

U.S. military officials did not dispute that it would be a bloody struggle. By early 2023, they knew that as many as 130,000 Ukrainian troops had been injured or killed in the war, including many of the country’s best soldiers. Some Ukrainian commanders were already expressing doubts about the coming campaign, citing the numbers of troops who lacked battlefield experience.

Yet the Pentagon had also worked closely with Ukrainian forces. Officials had watched them fight courageously and had overseen the effort to provide them with large amounts of sophisticated arms. U.S. military officials argued that the intelligence estimates failed to account for the firepower of the newly arriving weaponry, as well as the Ukrainians’ will to win.

“The plan that they executed was entirely feasible with the force that they had, on the timeline that we planned out,” a senior U.S. military official said.

Austin knew that additional time for training on new tactics and equipment would be beneficial but that Ukraine didn’t have that luxury.

“In a perfect world, you get a choice. You keep saying, ‘I want to take six more months to train up and feel comfortable about this,’” he said in an interview. “My take is that they didn’t have a choice. They were in a fight for their lives.”

Russia gets ready
By March, Russia was already many months into preparing its defenses, building miles upon miles of barriers, trenches and other obstacles across the front in anticipation of the Ukrainian push.

After stinging defeats in the Kharkiv region and Kherson in the fall of 2022, Russia seemed to pivot. Putin appointed Gen. Sergei Surovikin — known as “General Armageddon” for his merciless tactics in Syria — to lead Russia’s fight in Ukraine, focusing on digging in rather than taking more territory.

In the months after the 2022 invasion, Russian trenches were basic — flood-prone, straight-line pits nicknamed “corpse lines,” according to Ruslan Leviev, an analyst and co-founder of the Conflict Intelligence Team, which has been tracking Russian military activity in Ukraine since 2014.

But Russia adapted as the war wore on, digging drier, zigzagging trenches that better protected soldiers from shelling. As the trenches eventually grew more sophisticated, they opened up into forests to offer better means for defenders to fall back, Leviev said. The Russians built tunnels between positions to counter Ukraine’s extensive use of drones, he added.

The trenches were part of multilayered defenses that included dense minefields, concrete pyramids known as dragon’s teeth, and antitank ditches. If minefields were disabled, Russian forces had rocket-borne systems to reseed them.

Unlike Russia’s offensive efforts early in the war, these defenses followed textbook Soviet standards. “This is one case where they have implemented their doctrine,” a senior Western intelligence official said.

Konstantin Yefremov, a former officer with Russia’s 42nd motorized rifle division who was stationed in Zaporizhzhia in 2022, recalled that Russia had the equipment and grunt power necessary to build a solid wall against attack.

“Putin’s army is experiencing shortages of various arms, but can literally swim in mines,” Yefremov said in an interview after fleeing to the West. “They have millions of them, both antitank and antipersonnel mines.”

The poverty, desperation and fear of the tens of thousands of conscripted Russian soldiers made them an ideal workforce. “All you need is slave power,” he said. “And even more so, Russian rank-and-file soldiers know they are [building trenches and other defenses] for themselves, to save their skin.”

In addition, in a tactic used in both World War I and II, Surovikin would deploy blocking units behind the Russian troops to prevent them from retreating, sometimes under pain of death.

Their options were “either to die from our units or from their own,” said Ukrainian police Col. Oleksandr Netrebko, the commander of a newly formed police brigade fighting near Bakhmut.

Yet, while Russia had far more troops, a deeper military arsenal and what one U.S. official said was “just a willingness to endure really dramatic losses,” U.S. officials knew it also had serious vulnerabilities.

By early 2023, some 200,000 Russian soldiers had been killed or wounded, U.S. intelligence agencies estimated, including scores of highly trained commandos. Replacement troops who were rushed into Ukraine lacked experience. Turnover of field leaders had hurt command and control. Equipment losses were equally staggering: more than 2,000 tanks, some 4,000 armored fighting vehicles and at least 75 aircraft, according to a Pentagon document leaked on the Discord chat platform in the spring.

The assessment was that the Russian force was insufficient to protect every line of conflict. But unless Ukraine got underway quickly, the Kremlin could make up its deficits inside of a year, or less if it got more outside help from friendly nations such as Iran and North Korea.

It was imperative, U.S. officials argued, for Ukraine to launch.

More troops, more weapons
In late April, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg made an unannounced trip to see Zelensky in Kyiv.

Stoltenberg, a former Norwegian prime minister, was in town to discuss preparations for the NATO summit in July, including Kyiv’s push to join the alliance.

But over a working lunch with a handful of ministers and aides, talk turned to preparation for the counteroffensive — how things were going and what was left to be done.

Stoltenberg — due the next day in Germany for a meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group, a consortium of roughly 50 countries providing weaponry and other support to Kyiv — asked about efforts to equip and train Ukrainian brigades by the end of April, according to two people familiar with the talks.

Zelensky reported that the Ukrainian military expected the brigades to be at 80 or 85 percent by the end of the month, the people said. That seemed at odds with American expectations that Ukraine should already be ready to launch.

The Ukrainian leader also stressed that his troops had to hold the east to keep Russia from shifting forces to block Kyiv’s southern counteroffensive. To defend the east while also pushing south, he said, Ukraine needed more brigades, the two people recalled.

Ukrainian officials also continued to make the case that an expanded arsenal was central to their ability to succeed. It wasn’t until May, on the eve of the fight, that Britain announced it would provide longer-range Storm Shadow missiles. But another core refrain from Ukraine was that they were being asked to fight in a way no NATO nation would ever contemplate — without effective power in the air.

As one former senior Ukrainian official pointed out, his country’s aging MiG-29 fighter jets could detect targets within a 40-mile radius and fire at a range of 20 miles. Russia’s Su-35s, meanwhile, could identify targets more than 90 miles away and shoot them down as far away as 75 miles.

“Imagine a MiG and a Su-35 in the sky. We don’t see them while they see us. We can’t reach them while they can reach us,” the official said. “That’s why we fought so hard for F-16s.”

American officials pointed out that even a few of the $60 million aircraft would eat up funds that could go much further in buying vehicles, air defenses or ammunition. Moreover, they said, the jets wouldn’t provide the air superiority the Ukrainians craved.

“If you could train a bunch of F-16 pilots in three months, they would have got shot down on day one, because the Russian air defenses in Ukraine are very robust and very capable,” a senior defense official said.

Biden finally yielded in May and granted the required permission for European nations to donate their U.S.-made F-16s to Ukraine. But pilot training and delivery of the jets would take a year or more, far too long to make a difference in the coming fight.

Kyiv hesitates
By May, concern was growing within the Biden administration and among allied backers. According to the planning, Ukraine should have already launched its operations. As far as the U.S. military was concerned, the window of opportunity was shrinking fast. Intelligence over the winter had shown that Russian defenses were relatively weak and largely unmanned, and that morale was low among Russian troops after their losses in Kharkiv and Kherson. U.S. intelligence assessed that senior Russian officers felt the prospects were bleak.

But that assessment was changing quickly. The goal had been to strike before Moscow was ready, and the U.S. military had been trying since mid-April to get the Ukrainians moving. “We were given dates. We were given many dates,” a senior U.S. government official said. “We had April this, May that, you know, June. It just kept getting delayed.”

Meanwhile, enemy defenses were thickening. U.S. military officials were dismayed to see Russian forces use those weeks in April and May to seed significant amounts of additional mines, a development the officials believed ended up making Ukrainian troops’ advance substantially harder.

Washington was also getting worried that the Ukrainians were burning up too many artillery shells, primarily around Bakhmut, that were needed for the counteroffensive.

As May ground on, it seemed to the Americans that Kyiv, gung-ho during the war games and the training, had abruptly slowed down — that there was “some type of switch in psychology” where they got to the brink “and then all of a sudden they thought, ‘Well, let’s triple-check, make sure we’re comfortable,’” said one administration official who was part of the planning. “But they were telling us for almost a month … ‘We’re about to go. We’re about to go.’”

Some senior American officials believed there wasn’t conclusive proof that the delay had altered Ukraine’s chances for success. Others saw clear indications that the Kremlin had successfully exploited the interim along what it believed would be Kyiv’s lines of assault.

In Ukraine, a different kind of frustration was building. “When we had a calculated timeline, yes, the plan was to start the operation in May,” said a former senior Ukrainian official who was deeply involved in the effort. “However, many things happened.”

Promised equipment was delivered late or arrived unfit for combat, the Ukrainians said. “A lot of weapons that are coming in now, they were relevant last year,” the senior Ukrainian military official said, not for the high-tech battles ahead. Crucially, he said, they had received only 15 percent of items — like the Mine Clearing Line Charge launchers (MCLCs) — needed to execute their plan to remotely cut passages through the minefields.

And yet, the senior Ukrainian military official recalled, the Americans were nagging about a delayed start and still complaining about how many troops Ukraine was devoting to Bakhmut.

U.S. officials vehemently denied that the Ukrainians did not get all the weaponry they were promised. Ukraine’s wish list may have been far bigger, the Americans acknowledged, but by the time the offensive began, they had received nearly two dozen MCLCs, more than 40 mine rollers and excavators, 1,000 Bangalore torpedoes, and more than 80,000 smoke grenades. Zaluzhny had requested 1,000 armored vehicles; the Pentagon ultimately delivered 1,500.

“They got everything they were promised, on time,” one senior U.S. official said. In some cases, the officials said, Ukraine failed to deploy equipment critical to the offensive, holding it in reserve or allocating it to units that weren’t part of the assault.

Then there was the weather. The melting snow and heavy rains that turn parts of Ukraine into a soup of heavy mud each spring had come late and lasted longer than usual.

In the middle of 2022, when the thinking about a counteroffensive began, “no one knew the weather forecast,” the former senior Ukrainian official said.

That meant it was unclear when the flat plains and rich black soil of southeastern Ukraine, which could act as a glue grabbing hold of boots and tires, would dry out for summer. The Ukrainians understood the uncertainty because they, unlike the Americans, lived there.

As the preparations accelerated, Ukrainian officials’ concerns grew more acute, erupting at a meeting at Ramstein Air Base in Germany in April when Zaluzhny’s deputy, Mykhailo Zabrodskyi, made an emotional appeal for help.

“We’re sorry, but some of the vehicles we received are unfit for combat,” Zabrodskyi told Austin and his aides, according to a former senior Ukrainian official. He said the Bradleys and Leopards had broken or missing tracks. German Marder fighting vehicles lacked radio sets; they were nothing more than iron boxes with tracks — useless if they couldn’t communicate with their units, he said. Ukrainian officials said the units for the counteroffensive lacked sufficient de-mining and evacuation vehicles.

Austin looked at Gen. Christopher Cavoli, the top U.S. commander for Europe, and Lt. Gen. Antonio Aguto, head of the Security Assistance Group-Ukraine, both sitting next to him. They said they’d check.

The Pentagon concluded that Ukrainian forces were failing to properly handle and maintain all the equipment after it was received. Austin directed Aguto to work more intensively with his Ukrainian counterparts on maintenance.

“Even if you deliver 1,300 vehicles that are working fine, there’s going to be some that break between the time that you get them on the ground there and the time they enter combat,” a senior defense official said.

By June 1, the top echelons at U.S. European Command and the Pentagon were frustrated and felt like they were getting few answers. Maybe the Ukrainians were daunted by the potential casualties? Perhaps there were political disagreements within the Ukrainian leadership, or problems along the chain of command?

The counteroffensive finally lurched into motion in early June. Some Ukrainian units quickly notched small gains, recapturing Zaporizhzhia-region villages south of Velyka Novosilka, 80 miles from the Azov coast. But elsewhere, not even Western arms and training could fully shield Ukrainian forces from the punishing Russian firepower.

When troops from the 37th Reconnaissance Brigade attempted an advance, they, like units elsewhere, immediately felt the force of Russia’s tactics. From the first minutes of their assault, they were overwhelmed by mortar fire that pierced their French AMX-10 RC armored vehicles. Their own artillery fire didn’t materialize as expected. Soldiers crawled out of burning vehicles. In one unit, 30 of 50 soldiers were captured, wounded or killed. Ukraine’s equipment losses in the initial days included 20 Bradley Fighting Vehicles and six German-made Leopard tanks.

Those early encounters landed like a thunderbolt among the officers in Zaluzhny’s command center, searing a question in their minds: Was the strategy doomed?
(end of part 1 of 2)

STALEMATE: UKRAINE’S FAILED COUNTEROFFENSIVE
In Ukraine, a war of incremental gains as counteroffensive stalls

By Washington Post Staff
December 4, 2023 at 6:00 a.m. EST

(Illustration by Emily Sabens/The Washington Post; Wojciech Grzedzinski for The Washington Post; Staff Sgt. Jordan Sivayavirojna/U.S. National Guard; Sasha Maslov for The Washington Post; iStock)

ZAPORIZHZHIA, Ukraine — Soldiers in the 47th Separate Mechanized Brigade waited for nightfall before piling — nervous but confident — into their U.S.-provided Bradley Fighting Vehicles. It was June 7 and Ukraine’s long-awaited counteroffensive was about to begin.

The goal for the first 24 hours was to advance nearly nine miles, reaching the village of Robotyne — an initial thrust south toward the larger objective of reclaiming Melitopol, a city near the Sea of Azov, and severing Russian supply lines.

Nothing went as planned.

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How we reported on Ukraine’s counteroffensive
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This is the second of two parts examining the Ukrainian counteroffensive that launched in June. Read the first part in the series, which looks at the military planning for the operation, here.
Part two:
Reported by Michael Birnbaum, Karen DeYoung, Kamila Hrabchuk, Alex Horton, John Hudson, Mary Ilyushin, Kostiantyn Khudov, Isabelle Khurshudyan, Dan Lamothe, Kostiantyn Khudov, Serhii Korolchuk, Greg Miller, Serhiy Morgunov, Siobhán O’Grady, Emily Rauhala, David L. Stern, and Missy Ryan.
Written by Isabelle Khurshudyan.
Over three months, reporters in Washington, London, Brussels and Riga, Latvia, as well as in Kyiv and near the front lines in Ukraine, spoke to dozens of Ukrainian officers and troops and over 30 senior officials from Ukraine, the United States and European nations to examine how the counteroffensive unfolded on the ground, and the widening fissures between Kyiv and Washington. The Post spoke to former Russian service members who fought in the war, as well as Russian war bloggers and analysts.
Washington Post reporters, photographers, news assistants and security advisers drove hundreds of miles throughout Ukraine to speak to soldiers and government officials for this series. Journalists made numerous front-line visits in the Zaporizhzhia and Donetsk regions, including in embeds with combat units within five miles of Russian forces.
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The Ukrainian troops had expected minefields but were blindsided by the density. The ground was carpeted with explosives, so many that some were buried in stacks. The soldiers had been trained to drive their Bradleys at a facility in Germany, on smooth terrain. But on the mushy soil of the Zaporizhzhia region, in the deafening noise of battle, they struggled to steer through the narrow lanes cleared of mines by advance units.

The Russians, positioned on higher ground, immediately started firing antitank missiles. Some vehicles in the convoy were hit, forcing others behind them to veer off the path. Those, in turn, exploded on mines, snarling even more of the convoy. Russian helicopters and drones swooped in and attacked the pileup.

Troops, some experiencing the shock of combat for the first time, pulled back to regroup — only to attack and retreat, again and again on successive days, with the same bloody results.

“It was hellfire,” said Oleh Sentsov, a platoon commander in the 47th.

By day four, Gen. Valery Zaluzhny, Ukraine’s top commander, had seen enough. Incinerated Western military hardware — American Bradleys, German Leopard tanks, mine-sweeping vehicles — littered the battlefield. The numbers of dead and wounded sapped morale.

Zaluzhny told his troops to pause their assaults before any more of Ukraine’s limited weaponry was obliterated, a senior Ukrainian military official said.

Rather than try to breach Russian defenses with a massed, mechanized attack and supporting artillery fire, as his American counterparts had advised, Zaluzhny decided that Ukrainian soldiers would go on foot in small groups of about 10 — a process that would save equipment and lives but would be much slower.

Months of planning with the United States was tossed aside on that fourth day, and the already delayed counteroffensive, designed to reach the Sea of Azov within two to three months, ground to a near-halt. Rather than making a nine-mile breakthrough on their first day, the Ukrainians in the nearly six months since June have advanced about 12 miles and liberated a handful of villages. Melitopol is still far out of reach.

This account of how the counteroffensive unfolded is the second in a two-part series and illuminates the brutal and often futile attempts to breach Russian lines, as well as the widening rift between Ukrainian and U.S. commanders over tactics and strategy. The first article examined the Ukrainian and U.S. planning that went into the operation.

This second part is based on interviews with more than 30 senior Ukrainian and U.S. military officials, as well as over two dozen officers and troops on the front line. Some officials and soldiers spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe military operations.

Key findings from reporting on the campaign include:

● Seventy percent of troops in one of the brigades leading the counteroffensive, and equipped with the newest Western weapons, entered battle with no combat experience.

● Ukraine’s setbacks on the battlefield led to rifts with the United States over how best to cut through deep Russian defenses.

● The commander of U.S. forces in Europe couldn’t get in touch with Ukraine’s top commander for weeks in the early part of the campaign amid tension over the American’s second-guessing of battlefield decisions.

● Each side blamed the other for mistakes or miscalculations. U.S. military officials concluded that Ukraine had fallen short in basic military tactics, including the use of ground reconnaissance to understand the density of minefields. Ukrainian officials said the Americans didn’t seem to comprehend how attack drones and other technology had transformed the battlefield.

● In all, Ukraine has retaken only about 200 square miles of territory, at a cost of thousands of dead and wounded and billions in Western military aid in 2023 alone.

Nearly six months after the counteroffensive began, the campaign has become a war of incremental gains. Damp World War I-style trenches lace eastern and southern Ukraine as surveillance and attack drones crowd the skies overhead. Moscow launches missile assaults on civilian targets in Ukrainian cities, while Kyiv is using both Western missiles and home-grown technology to strike far behind the front lines — in Moscow, in Crimea and on the Black Sea.

Ukrainian spies with deep ties to CIA wage shadow war against Russia

But the territorial lines of June 2023 have barely changed. And Russian President Vladimir Putin — in contrast to the silence he often maintained in the first year of the war — trumpets at every opportunity what he calls the counteroffensive’s failure. “As for the counteroffensive, which is allegedly stalling, it has failed completely,” Putin said in October.

Training for battle
On Jan. 16, five months before the start of Ukraine’s counteroffensive, Gen. Mark A. Milley, then chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, visited soldiers with the 47th, just days after the unit arrived at the Grafenwoehr Training Area in Germany.

Milley, trailed by staff and senior military officials based in Europe, zigzagged across a muddy, chilly training range, bantering with Ukrainian soldiers and watching as they fired on stationary targets with rifles and M240B machine guns.

The installation had been used to train small groups of Ukrainian soldiers since 2014, when Russia invaded and illegally annexed Ukraine’s Crimea Peninsula. In anticipation of the counteroffensive, the effort was scaled up with one or more battalions of about 600 Ukrainian soldiers cycling through at a time.

In a white field tent, Milley gathered with U.S. soldiers overseeing the training, who told him they were trying to replicate Russian tactics and build some of the trenches and other obstacles the Ukrainians would face in battle.

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Key findings from our reporting on Ukraine’s counteroffensive
arrow leftarrow right
The United States was deeply involved in the military planning behind the operation. Ukrainian, U.S. and British military officers held eight major tabletop war games to build a campaign plan.
U.S. and Ukrainian officials sharply disagreed at times over strategy, tactics and timing.
The Pentagon wanted the assault to begin in mid-April to prevent Russia from continuing to strengthen its lines. The Ukrainians hesitated, insisting they weren’t ready without additional weapons and more training. The counteroffensive began in June.
U.S. military officials were confident that a mass, mechanized frontal attack along one axis in the south of Ukraine would lead to a decisive breakthrough. Ukraine attacked along three axes, believing that would stretch Russian forces. Ukraine abandoned large, mechanized assaults when it suffered serious losses in the first days of the campaign.
The wargame simulations concluded that Kyiv’s forces, in the best case, could reach the Sea of Azov in the south of Ukraine and cut off Russian troops in 60 to 90 days. Ukrainian forces have advanced only about 12 miles. The Sea of Azov is still far out of reach. Ukraine’s top commander now acknowledges that the war has reached a “stalemate.”
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“The whole thing … for them to be successful with the Russians is for them to be able to both fire and maneuver,” Milley said, describing in basic terms the essence of the counteroffensive’s “combined arms” strategy, which called for coordinated maneuvers by a massed force of infantry, tanks, armored vehicles, engineers and artillery. If this were the United States or NATO, the operation also would have included devastating air power to weaken the enemy and protect troops on the ground, but the Ukrainians would have to make do with little or none.

The 47th had been selected to be a “breach force” at the tip of the counteroffensive and would be equipped with Western arms. But as Milley made his rounds and chatted with Ukrainian soldiers — from young men in their 20s to middle-aged recruits — many they told him that they had only recently left civilian life and had no combat experience.

Milley kept silent. But later, in the meeting with U.S. trainers, he seemed to acknowledge the scale of the task ahead. “Give them everything you’ve got here,” he said.

The 47th was a newly created unit tabbed for the training in Germany. Ukraine’s military leadership had decided that more-experienced brigades would hold off the Russians during the winter, while fresh soldiers would form new brigades, receive training abroad and then lead the fight in the spring and summer. More than a year of war — with up to 130,000 troops dead or wounded, according to Western estimates — had taken a heavy toll on Ukraine’s armed forces. Even the most battle-hardened brigades were now largely composed of drafted replacements.

About 70 percent of the soldiers in the 47th didn’t have any battlefield experience, according to one senior commander in the brigade.

The 47th’s leadership was also strikingly young — its commander, though combat-hardened, was just 28 years old and his deputy was 25. Their youth had been billed as an advantage; young officers would absorb NATO tactics unaffected by the Soviet way of war that still infused parts of the Ukrainian military.

Some of the Ukrainian soldiers thought the American trainers didn’t grasp the scale of the conflict against a more powerful enemy. “The presence of a huge number of drones, fortifications, minefields and so on were not taken into account,” said a soldier in the 47th with the call sign Joker. Ukrainian soldiers brought their own drones to help hone their skills, he said, but trainers initially rebuffed the request to integrate them because the training programs were predetermined. Drone use was later added following Ukrainian feedback, a U.S. official said.

The U.S. program had benefits, Joker said, including advanced cold-weather training and how to adjust artillery fire. But much was discarded once real bullets flew. “We had to improve tactics during the battle itself,” he said. “We couldn’t use it the way we were taught.”

U.S. and Ukrainian officials said they never expected that two months of training would transform these troops into a NATO-like force. Instead, the intention was to teach them to properly use their new Western tanks and fighting vehicles and “make them literate in the basics of firing and moving,” a U.S. senior military official said.

No order to attack
When soldiers from the 47th returned to Ukraine in the spring, they expected the counteroffensive to start almost immediately. In early May, the brigade relocated closer to the front line, hiding their Bradleys and other Western equipment in the tree lines of rural Zaporizhzhia. The 47th’s insignia on vehicles was covered up in case locals sympathetic to Russia might reveal their location.

But weeks passed with no order to attack. Many in the unit felt the element of surprise had been lost. The political leadership “shouldn’t have been announcing our counteroffensive for almost a year,” said one unit commander in the 47th. “The enemy knew where we’d be coming from.”

Milley and other senior U.S. military officers involved in planning the offensive argued for the Ukrainians to mass forces at one key spot in Zaporizhzhia, to help them overcome stiff Russian defenses and ensure a successful breakthrough in the drive to Melitopol and the Sea of Azov. The Ukrainian plan, however, was to push on three axes — south along two distinct paths to the Sea of Azov, as well as in eastern Ukraine around the besieged city of Bakhmut, which the Russians had seized in the spring after a nearly year-long battle.

Ukrainian military leaders decided that committing too many troops to one point in the south would leave forces in the east vulnerable and enable the Russians to take territory there and, potentially, in Kharkiv to the northeast.

To split the Russian forces in Zaporizhzhia, Ukrainian marine brigades at the western edge of the neighboring Donetsk region would push south toward the coastal city of Berdyansk. That left the 47th and other brigades, part of what Ukraine referred to as its 9th Corps, to attack along the counteroffensive’s main axis, toward Melitopol.

The plan called for the 47th, and the 9th Corps, to breach the first Russian line of defense and take Robotyne. Then the 10th Corps, made up of Ukraine’s paratroopers, would join the fight in a second wave pushing south.

“We thought it was going to be a simple two-day task” to take Robotyne, said the commander of a Bradley Fighting Vehicle who goes by the call sign Frenchman.

Mining all approaches
Days after the counteroffensive launched, Oleksandr Sak, then the 47th’s commander, visited a Russian position his troops had captured. He noted anti-drone guns, thermal imagery scopes and small surveillance drones, among other abandoned materiel. “I realized the enemy had prepared,” he said. “We didn’t catch them off-guard; they knew we were coming.”

Also left behind were posters with Russian propaganda. One showed an image of men kissing in public with a red “X” over it, next to an image of a man and woman with two children. “Fighting for traditional families,” the poster said.

Sak also found a map that the Russians had used to mark their minefields. For just one part of the front — about four miles long and four miles deep — more than 20,000 mines were listed.

Ukraine is now the most mined country. It will take decades to make safe.

“I wouldn’t say it was unexpected, but we underestimated it,” Sak said. “We conducted engineering and aerial reconnaissance, but many mines were masked or buried. In addition to those by the front line, there were mines deeper into enemy positions. We passed enemy positions and encountered more mines where we thought there were none anymore.”

A chief drone sergeant in the 47th said that only on foot did they find remote-detonation traps, describing their discovery as a “surprise.”

U.S. military officials believed that Ukraine could have made a more significant advance by embracing greater use of ground reconnaissance units and reducing its reliance on imagery from drones, which weren’t able to detect buried mines, tripwires or booby traps.

The Zaporizhzhia region is largely composed of flat, open fields, and the Russians had chosen what high ground there was to build key defenses. From there, soldiers and officials said, Russian units armed with antitank missiles waited for convoys of Bradley Fighting Vehicles and German Leopard tanks. A mine-clearing vehicle always led the pack — and was targeted first with the help of reconnaissance drones.

“We constantly faced antitank fire and destroyed up to 10 Russian antitank guided missile systems per day,” Sak said. But, he added, “day after day, they pulled in more” of the systems.

Some 60 percent of Ukraine’s de-mining equipment was damaged or destroyed in the first days, according to a senior Ukrainian defense official. “Our partners’ reliance on armored maneuver and a breakthrough didn’t work,” the official said. “We had to change tactics.”

Within a week of the start of the counteroffensive, teams of sappers would work in twilight hours, when it was light enough for them to de-mine by hand but not so bright that the Russians could spot them. Once they cleared a small pathway, infantry would follow — a slow, grueling advance one wood line at a time.

Often, when Ukrainian soldiers reached a Russian outpost, they would find that it too had been booby-trapped with mines. And rather than withdraw, Russian forces held their positions even under heavy artillery bombardment, meaning the Ukrainians would have to engage in close combat with small arms to advance.

Throughout the Zaporizhzhia region, the Russians had deployed new units, called “Storm Z,” with fighters recruited from prisons. The former inmates attacked in human waves called “meat assaults” and were used to preserve more-elite forces. Around Robotyne — the village the 47th was supposed to reach on the first day of the counteroffensive — they were mixed in with Russia’s 810th Guards Naval Infantry Brigade and other regular army formations.

“Robotyne was one of the toughest assignments,” a member of the 810th engineering unit said in an interview with a pro-war Russian blogger. “We had to go all out to prevent the enemy from breaking through. As sappers and engineers, we had to mine all approaches both for infantry and their vehicles.

“The famous Leopards are burning, and we tried to make sure they burn bright.”

Fleets of drones
Early in the assault on Robotyne, a Russian machine-gun nest carved into a building was preventing Ukrainian infantry from advancing. A drone company within the 47th sent up two modified racing drones strapped with explosives. One glided through a window and exploded. Another, guided by a pilot with the call sign Sapsan, spiraled into another room and detonated the ammunition inside, he said, also killing several enemy soldiers.

It was an early high point in the use of small drones like pinpoint artillery. Drone operators — wearing a headset that receives a video feed from the drone in real time — hunted for armored vehicles using first-person-view drones, known as FPVs. FPVs are so precise and fast that they can target the weak parts of vehicles, such as engine compartments and tracks, operators say.

Video from Ukraine's 47th Separate Mechanized Brigade shows highly maneuverable racing drones strapped with explosives hitting targets. (Video: The Washington Post)
But Russia is also deploying fleets of the same hand-built attack drones, which cost less than $1000 each and can disable a multimillion-dollar tank. Unlike artillery ammunition, which is a precious resource for both Russia and Ukraine, the low-cost, disposable FPV drones can be used to hit small groups of infantry — navigated directly into trenches or into troops on the move.

Evacuating the wounded or bringing fresh supplies to a front-line position also became harrowing and potentially deadly tasks, often saved for nighttime because of the threat of drones.

“At first, our problem was mines. Now, it’s FPV drones,” said Sentsov, the platoon commander in the 47th. “They hit the target precisely and deal serious damage. They can disable a Bradley and potentially even blow it up. It’s not a direct explosion, but they can hit it in a way to make it burn — not only stop the vehicle but destroy it.”

U.S. military officials, drawing on their own doctrine, called for artillery to be used to suppress the enemy while mechanized ground forces advanced toward their objective.

“You’ve got to move while you’re firing the artillery,” a senior U.S. defense official said. “That sounds very fundamental, and it is, but that’s how you’ve got to fight. Otherwise, you can’t sustain the quantity of artillery and munitions that you need.”

But Ukrainian officials have said the ubiquity and lethality of different types of drones on both sides of the front line has been the biggest factor preventing the Ukrainians or the Russians from gaining significant ground for months.

“Because of the technical development, everything came to a standstill,” a high-ranking Ukrainian military official said. “The equipment that appears on the battlefield lives for a minute at the most.”

Chaotic battlefield conditions
The 47th claimed the liberation of Robotyne on Aug. 28. Air assault units in Ukraine’s 10th Corps then moved in, but have been unable to liberate any other villages.
« Last Edit: December 05, 2023, 05:58:39 AM by DougMacG »

ccp

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Re: Ukraine
« Reply #1472 on: December 05, 2023, 06:45:44 AM »
Once again we see that Russians are good at wars of attrition.


DougMacG

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Re: Ukraine
« Reply #1473 on: December 05, 2023, 07:27:01 AM »
Once again we see that Russians are good at wars of attrition.

So Kamala had this right, a big country invaded a little country...

Putin's big head fake to Kiev and Odesa, and all the whining about NATO overstepping, he ended up getting exactly what he wanted (orso it looks at this point) .

I haven't read the long Wash Post story yet.  Looks like a serious, well researched, accurate piece - by the same people who won a Pulitzer Prize for a complete BS story about Russian collusion they never retracted.
« Last Edit: December 05, 2023, 08:11:19 AM by DougMacG »

Crafty_Dog

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Re: Ukraine
« Reply #1474 on: December 05, 2023, 10:02:56 AM »
Pravda on the Potomac not being on my regular reading list  :-o I only know of the piece because Laura Ingraham discussed it in some detail last night.

ccp

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when warfare fails send in the lawyers for lawfare
« Reply #1475 on: December 06, 2023, 08:41:26 AM »
 :roll:

funny first time we have seen Garland in the news for few months:

https://www.yahoo.com/gma/justice-department-announces-war-crimes-151249992.html

Do not worry Zelensky - American shysters to the rescue!


Body-by-Guinness

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They All Moved Away on the Group W Bench
« Reply #1476 on: December 16, 2023, 10:52:34 PM »


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WSJ: How to make Russia Pay
« Reply #1478 on: December 18, 2023, 05:07:04 PM »
second

How to Make Russia Pay for Ukraine
Lawmakers in the U.S. and Europe work together to seize and redirect frozen sovereign assets.
By J. French Hill and Lulzim Basha
Dec. 18, 2023 5:51 pm ET



The world must stand united in the common goal to help Ukraine in the face of Russia’s illegal aggression and Vladimir Putin’s growing geopolitical threats throughout Europe. That’s why we, as two legislators on both sides of the Atlantic, have joined forces to make Russia pay for Ukraine’s long-term reconstruction consistent with the norms of international law.

In November, House Foreign Affairs Chairman Michael McCaul’s legislation, the REPO for Ukrainians Act, passed the committee 40-2. It would seize all Russian sovereign assets in the U.S., namely Russian central-bank reserves frozen at the Federal Reserve. An equally strong, complementary effort is proceeding through the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. PACE’s Political Affairs Committee unanimously adopted a memorandum last week on the confiscation of Russian state assets.

Any national legislation must meet three objectives to ensure the best possible outcome for Ukraine. First, the U.S. must play a leadership role by working in close coordination with allies. Washington is doing so, advancing legislation that President Biden should sign into law whenever it arrives on his desk. Since only an estimated $8 billion of the roughly $280 billion in frozen or immobilized Russian sovereign assets are in the U.S., full multilateral cooperation is critical for success.

Second, legislation should maximize the potential monetary benefits to Ukraine at no cost to taxpayers. Two easy fixes could improve the U.S. legislation and be a model for others. All sovereign and state assets, including state-owned enterprises, should be defined clearly and included in any final legislation, not only central-bank reserves. Language in the House bill limiting the seizure to “dollar denominated” Russian assets or “wholly owned” state-operated enterprises should also be deleted. Minority shareholders can be protected separately.

Third, lawmakers should provide mandatory authority to the executive branch to seize and vest title and interest in the Russian assets for Ukraine’s benefit. That would avoid legal uncertainties and be supported by the international law of countermeasures.

The Council of Europe in May established a Register of Damages Caused by the Aggression of the Russian Federation Against Ukraine at The Hague, to which the U.S. is a signatory. The contemplated international funding mechanism and claims tribunal are referenced in both pending U.S. legislation and PACE resolutions and need to be enacted soon.

Given the urgency of helping Ukraine, the U.S. and Europe must present a united front against Russia by acting sooner rather than later. Mr. Putin must pay for his aggression and war crimes. Strong legislation to seize all Russian sovereign assets is a start.

U.S. action would send a compelling signal, urging the West to bolster its collective effort in support of Ukraine’s fight for its sovereignty, territory and democracy as Europe’s bulwark against Russian aggression. Collective action now would also put other authoritarian nations on notice that there are significant financial consequences under both international law and new national legislation for wrongful acts against sovereign countries.

Mr. Hill, a Republican, represents Arkansas’s Second Congressional District. Mr. Basha is a member of Albania’s Parliament


Crafty_Dog

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WSJ: Ukraine may have to accept cease fire
« Reply #1480 on: January 03, 2024, 08:39:14 AM »
Ukraine May Have to Accept a Cease-Fire
The good news is it would open the door to eventual EU and NATO membership.
By
William A. Galston
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Jan. 2, 2024 12:55 pm ET


The word “crisis” is overused, but it accurately describes what Ukraine faces as 2024 begins.

According to a recent report in the Washington Post, troops on the front line are running out of ammunition. Artillery shells are being rationed, forcing the Ukrainians to cancel planned assaults and making it hard to hold defensive positions against Russian attacks. A press officer for a Ukrainian battalion recently said that ammunition shortages had forced his unit to reduce its rate of firing by 90% since the summer. “We lack everything,” a member of another unit said. Although his comrades are highly motivated, he added, “You can’t win a war only on motivation.” He doubted they could hold their position much longer.

As Ukraine struggles, its allies dither. Congress went home for the holiday without resolving the legislative impasse over continuing U.S. aid for Ukraine. Hungary’s pro-Russian leader vetoed the European Union’s proposed $52 billion assistance package. If these logjams aren’t broken soon, Ukraine’s ability to sustain the war, its economy, and the basic functions of its government will be jeopardized.

This is an all-hands-on-deck emergency. If negotiators can’t reach a deal by the time the Senate reconvenes, President Biden must get directly involved. There is little doubt that an agreement would include provisions on immigration that many Democrats won’t like, but that’s the price he must pay for allowing the situation at the southern border to spin out of control. Meanwhile, European nations must muster the political will to provide Kyiv with country-to-country aid if bribes and threats can’t force Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán to end his opposition to the EU plan.

The West also must seize frozen Russian central-bank assets in Western financial institutions and use them for Ukraine’s benefit. In November, the House Foreign Affairs Committee advanced a measure to do this by a vote of 40-2, and a similar proposal received unanimous support from a European Parliament committee. Until recently, senior Biden administration officials had expressed concerns that seizing Russian assets would set a precedent with unpredictable consequences. But as Ukraine’s plight has worsened, the administration has intensified discussions with European allies about a coordinated strategy to redeploy Russian assets on Ukraine’s behalf, with a target date of Feb. 24—the second anniversary of the Russian invasion—to reach an agreement. Mr. Biden should spare no effort to ensure the success of these talks.

Even if aid for Ukraine is renewed, it is essential to consider a realistic ending for the war. Ukraine’s insistence on regaining all the territory Russia has seized since 2014 is understandable and legally impeccable, but events over the past year have made it clear that this goal can’t be achieved anytime soon. Ukraine’s vaunted counteroffensive failed as Russia’s reinforced defenses held. Russia’s economy has proved more resilient than expected, and it is ramping up military production much faster than Ukraine and its allies. The conflict has exposed the hollowing out of the West’s defense industrial base, in Europe especially and to a considerable extent in the U.S. The West’s collective inability to provide Ukraine with the artillery shells it needs is evidence of neglect that will take years to remedy.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky recently disclosed that Ukraine’s military leaders wanted to mobilize an additional 500,000 troops, which would require unpopular changes to Ukraine’s draft laws and additional outlays of $13 billion. While Russian President Vladimir Putin has also been mindful of political considerations, Russia’s manpower pool is about four times the size of Ukraine’s, and its economy is nine times as large.

Recent reports, which Mr. Putin hasn’t denied, suggest that he is ready to agree to a cease-fire along the current battle lines. Although he is unwilling to retreat, these reports indicate that he had shelved his aim to dominate all of Ukraine.

There are good reasons to be skeptical that Mr. Putin has pared his ambitions in Ukraine, which are part of his plan to reconstitute the Soviet empire, the collapse of which he has termed the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century. Still, Western leaders should explore whether he is serious about ending the fighting. It would be unwise to assume that public opinion in the West will indefinitely support an open-ended commitment to a conflict that has settled into a stalemate.

A cease-fire wouldn’t imply recognition of Russia’s territorial claims, and it would open the door to measures that would anchor Ukraine to the West, including eventual membership in the EU and North Atlantic Treaty Organization. In the meantime, Russia’s frozen assets could be used to reconstruct Ukraine.

This arrangement would be a bitter pill both for the Ukrainians, who are passionate about regaining all their territory, and for Mr. Putin, who fears the prospect of a new power linked to the West on Russia’s border. But it is the only realistic path to a lasting peace in Europe.


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WSJ
« Reply #1482 on: January 07, 2024, 01:52:54 AM »
https://www.wsj.com/world/russia/heres-how-the-russian-and-ukrainian-war-efforts-compare-in-10-charts-1cf9a74f?mod=world_lead_pos2

Some good charts in the article that will not appear here:

============================================


Here’s How the Russian and Ukrainian War Efforts Compare, in 10 Charts
Vladimir Putin is wagering he can outlast Western support for Ukraine—if he can keep Russia’s war machine running
Summer 2023
Current
0
2,000
4,000
6,000
8,000
10,000
Ukraine
Russia
By Georgi KantchevFollow
, Anastasiia MalenkoFollow
 and Elizaveta GalkinaFollow
Updated Jan. 6, 2024 12:12 am ET

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TEXT
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Almost two years after Russia invaded Ukraine, the conflict has reached a pivot point.

Western financial help and ammunition supplies for Ukraine are running low, while public support is showing some cracks. Russia, with its larger population, has so far withstood the worst of Western sanctions and ramped up its war economy for a prolonged fight.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is now betting he can outlast the West’s support for Ukraine and make a decisive breakthrough if Russia’s economy can keep ticking over.

Here’s a snapshot of the state of the war:

Military capacity
Russia’s military budget, at over $100 billion for 2024, is the highest it has been since Soviet times, growing by more than two-thirds from last year. Its manufacturing capacity has also overcome initial shortages to help Moscow’s war machine churn out weaponry for a lengthy campaign, often at the expense of civilian production.

Russia
Ukraine
2019
'20
'21
'22
'23
'24
0
25
50
75
100
$125
billion
Ukraine is also investing in domestic military production capabilities, but it is no match for a much larger Russian military-industrial complex running at full steam. Kyiv could fall further behind as Western support dries up.

Russia invaded in Feb. 2022
War-related
Other
2019
'20
'21
'22
'23
75
100
125
150
175
Equipment and manpower
Though U.S. estimates suggest Russia has suffered 315,000 killed or injured since the start of the war—nearly 90% of its prewar fighting force—its population was around 3½ times as large as Ukraine’s before the invasion, giving it a battlefield edge. Tens of thousands of inmates have been released from its prisons to serve the war effort, while some 300,000 reservists have also been mobilized.

Russia
Ukraine
2015
'16
'17
'18
'19
'20
'21
'22
0
10
20
30
40
50
million
For Ukraine, a shortage of manpower is becoming a major issue, with authorities in Kyiv now scrambling to find ways to get more fighting-age men to the front lines.

Economy
Russia’s economy has ridden the wave of sanctions better than the West expected, thanks in large part to how it has redirected oil exports to China and India and evaded price caps through a shadow fleet of tankers. This lifeline has helped Russia switch to a war economy and find alternative sources for components it previously bought from the West.

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Russia invaded in Feb. 2022
2021
'22
'23
0
5
10
15
20
$25
billion
Still, the Russian economy is facing challenges. Inflation is growing, while years of low birthrates, combined with an exodus of fighting-age men to the front lines or overseas, have depleted its labor force, worsening its longer-term outlook.

June 2018
'19
'20
'21
'22
'23
0
1
2
3
4
5
million
In the short term, Ukraine is in a more precarious position, with Western assistance dwindling and concerns growing over how U.S. attitudes might change after the 2024 presidential election. Without sufficient support, Ukraine may have to resort to painful spending cuts or even printing money to fill its deficit—something that would pose a grave risk to the health of its economy.

Russia invaded in Feb. 2022
Budget deficit & debt repayment needs
Foreign financing
2022
'23
0
2.5
5.0
7.5
$10.0
billion
Politics
Though public support for Ukraine in the West remains high, there are growing concerns in Kyiv about the depth of U.S. commitment. A Pew Research Center survey of U.S. adults found that the percentage of people saying Washington is providing too much support rose to 31% in December from 7% at the start of the war. Support for Ukraine, though still high, also shows signs of fading in the European Union, opinion polls suggest.

Mar. 2022
May '22
Sept. '22
Jan. '23
June '23
Dec. '23
0
25
50
75
100
%
Too much
About right
Not enough
Not sure
In Russia, Putin continues to command broad support and has jailed critics and silenced antiwar voices. He is expected to win another six-year term in power in March’s presidential election.

Russia invaded in Feb. 2022
2021
'22
'23
0
25
50
75
100
%
Approve
Disapprove
No answer
Ukrainian polls show continued opposition to territorial concessions and consistently high trust in the military, even as President Volodymyr Zelensky’s trust levels have registered some declines.

Russia invaded in Feb. 2022
Aug. 2021
'22
'23
0
20
40
60
80
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%
Trust
Don't trust
Difficult to say
Write to Georgi Kantchev at georgi.kantchev@wsj.com, Anastasiia Malenko at anastasiia.malenko@wsj.com and Elizaveta Galkina at elizaveta.galkina@wsj.com


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« Reply #1484 on: January 07, 2024, 02:51:20 AM »
third

Pentagon’s Ukraine Coffers Run Dry, Threatening Kyiv’s Grip on Its Territory
Funding for more weapons and ammunition is held up in fight over border policy; ‘We’re out of money’

Russia in recent days has launched some of the war’s biggest missile attacks; damage Jan. 3 in Kyiv. PHOTO: ANATOLII STEPANOV/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES
By Lindsay WiseFollow
, Ian LovettFollow
, Doug CameronFollow
 and Nancy A. YoussefFollow
Jan. 7, 2024 5:30 am ET

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The Washington stalemate over U.S. policy at the southern border is beginning to reverberate on the Ukraine battlefield, where Kyiv’s troops are running out of ammunition and the Pentagon says it can’t provide more without emptying its own arsenal.

In recent weeks, the Pentagon has run out of money to send more hardware and ammunition, just as Russia intensified its ground assaults and missile and drone attacks on Ukraine. The White House has asked for $45 billion to fund security assistance for Ukraine, but Senate Republicans are demanding border-policy changes in return.

“We’re out of money,” Pentagon spokesman Maj. Gen. Patrick Ryder said Thursday.

Short of congressional approval of more funding, the White House can either dip into the Pentagon’s arsenal with no guarantee the gear will be replaced, or leave Ukraine to rely on its own growing but still small arms industry and European allies.

Total: $25.9 billion
2022
'23
0
10
20
$30
billion
Without an influx of weapons and ammunition, Ukraine could soon find itself in a dire situation. Ill-equipped to defend the 600-mile front, Ukrainian generals would have to choose between giving ground or sending outgunned troops into the trenches without artillery cover. In either case, Russia would be well-positioned to take more than the 20% of Ukraine’s territory it already holds. Officials in Kyiv and Washington warn that if Russia succeeds, other authoritarian leaders around the world would be emboldened by what they would perceive as U.S. weakness.

Ukraine’s counteroffensive last summer gained little ground in the country’s southeast at heavy cost. In October, as Ukraine ran low on shells and manpower—and Washington’s attention seemed to shift to the Israel-Hamas fighting in Gaza—the Russians went back on the attack.

Moscow has mobilized Russia’s economy for war against its much smaller neighbor, and Russia’s superior firepower is already yielding results. Its forces are consolidating control over Marinka in eastern Ukraine, a town of a few thousand inhabitants before the war that has been reduced to rubble by Russian bombardments.

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Assault operations paused
The Pentagon’s dwindling funds have led the U.S. to trim the size of packages for Ukraine, and Ukrainian soldiers said they started to notice a shortage of artillery a few months ago.

“We’ve stopped all assault operations in the area,” said the 31-year-old commander of a drone squad working near Robotyne, a village on the southeastern front retaken by Ukrainian forces over the summer. “We’re focused on holding our ground and defending positions.”

Meanwhile, Russia has repeatedly demonstrated the need for Ukraine to have a stocked arsenal of air-defense missiles: A barrage of 99 missiles fired Tuesday was the second significant salvo in less than a week, after one of the largest missile attacks of the war the previous Friday.

Ukraine
Russia
Summer 2023
Current
0
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In all, the U.S. has already provided around $44 billion in military assistance. That volume of arms transfers isn’t worked into the Pentagon’s regular annual budget, so the administration has relied on supplemental budgets passed by Congress, akin to those that funded the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Pentagon warehouses have been the biggest source of weapons for Ukraine. In addition, the U.S. has paid military contractors for missiles, shells, specialized vehicles and other systems to send directly to Ukraine. The Pentagon has authority to transfer about $4.2 billion in weapons from the U.S. arsenal to Ukraine, but no money to replenish those stocks. There are no imminent plans to announce additional aid packages, defense officials said.

Ukraine still has some U.S. arms on the way: Defense companies are continuing to sell Kyiv weapons paid for with U.S. tax dollars under the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative.

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As of late November, RTX, formerly known as Raytheon, and Lockheed Martin had secured the largest portion of the $27 billion spent by the Pentagon on new contracts to arm Ukraine and refill the U.S. armory. RTX said it still expects another $4 billion in Ukraine-driven contracts over the next two years on top of the $3 billion already secured.

‘We’ll do the right thing’
The supplemental request under debate on Capitol Hill totals $110.5 billion to fund security assistance for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan. Most of the roughly $45 billion earmarked for Ukraine would run through 2025; it includes $12 billion for direct sales of weapons, $18 billion to refill Pentagon and allied stockpiles and around $4 billion to boost domestic production.

“I’m confident that ultimately we’ll do the right thing,” Sen. Todd Young (R., Ind.) said shortly before lawmakers headed home for Christmas.

Although a bipartisan group of negotiators in the Senate missed an initial end-of-year goal to reach an agreement on border-policy changes to unlock more Ukraine aid, the lawmakers met remotely over the Christmas recess and resumed meeting in person in the Capitol last week. The group has reached agreement on some issues but continues to haggle over several key provisions, according to people familiar with the conversations.

Even if senators can pass a border deal, it’s uncertain if or when the House might take it up.

House Speaker Mike Johnson (R., La) will be constrained by a narrow two-vote GOP majority. Johnson, who visited the border last week, has said that any deal on Ukraine aid was contingent on changes in U.S. immigration policy largely outlined in a border-security bill passed last spring by the Republican-controlled House. The bill would continue building former President Donald Trump’s border wall, reinstate a policy requiring asylum seekers to wait in Mexico and make it nearly impossible to claim asylum at the southern border.

The lead Republican negotiator in the Senate, Oklahoma Sen. James Lankford, has warned that the House border bill can’t pass his Democratic-led chamber.

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS
Is the U.S. doing enough to support Ukraine? Why or why not? Join the conversation below.

On the front in Ukraine, with shells running low, artillery gunners can’t fire on small groups of enemy soldiers, enabling Russian troops to approach Ukrainian lines and threaten entrenched infantry. The Ukrainians are adapting by using explosive drones in place of artillery to strike Russian vehicles and infantry. The drones are cheaper than shells and more accurate, but less powerful and more labor intensive.

“They have 140 million people. We have 40 million. They have stores of Soviet weapons—even if they’re not great, they still fire,” said Serhiy Knish, a 55-year-old veteran who left the military in November. “Aid from the West is why we can still stand as a country.”

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400K Weapons Sent to Ukraine Can't be Accounted For
« Reply #1485 on: January 12, 2024, 04:04:04 PM »

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« Last Edit: January 13, 2024, 08:04:12 AM by Crafty_Dog »


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The Minsk Agreements
« Reply #1488 on: January 21, 2024, 05:46:44 AM »

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ISW: Uke drones really fg with Russians
« Reply #1490 on: January 24, 2024, 06:07:37 AM »
The following is from Gen. Keene's Institute for the Study of War. I respect Gen. Keene and find this site to be an ongoing source of quality open source intel. Recommended!

Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, January 23, 2024 | Institute for the Study of War (understandingwar.org)

Russian milbloggers claimed that Russian forces are struggling to compensate for Ukrainian drone and rear-area strikes at the level necessary to break out of positional warfare. A prominent Russian milblogger stated on January 23 that Russian forces need to figure out how to break out of positional warfare but that Russian forces are unable to concentrate in numbers sufficient to break through Ukrainian lines because Ukrainian forces strike all force concentrations larger than a battalion.[10] The milblogger claimed that Ukrainian forces target Russian force concentrations even in near rear areas. The milblogger reported that Ukrainian forces still target small Russian groups of one-to-two infantry companies and of 10 armored vehicles with drone strikes, preventing Russian forces from even reaching Ukrainian forward defensive lines. The milblogger complained that Russian forces’ only solution thus far has been to attack with 10-20 dismounted infantrymen with armored vehicles supporting at an “extreme” distance behind the infantry. A Kremlin-affiliated milblogger responded in agreement with the first milblogger, claiming that Ukrainian technological advancements have made it difficult for Russian forces to concentrate several divisions in a discrete geographic area without Ukrainian forces detecting the force concentration.[11] The milblogger emphasized that Russian forces need to both obtain indirect fire superiority over Ukrainian forces and overhaul Russian command-and-control (C2) to break out of positional warfare. The milblogger stressed that Russian forces on the frontline need to be able to quickly communicate to minimize the time between spotting and striking a target and that this change will only occur with a significant change in C2 processes

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Arrests in $40 Million Defense Funds Theft
« Reply #1491 on: January 28, 2024, 12:41:50 PM »


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WSJ: A New Strategy can save Ukraine
« Reply #1493 on: February 05, 2024, 06:06:45 AM »


A New Strategy Can Save Ukraine
Kyiv should focus on defense, depend less on foreign aid, and threaten Russia more in Crimea.
By Stephen J. Hadley and Matthew Kroenig
Feb. 4, 2024 11:48 am ET




The war in Ukraine has reached a critical point. The goal remains for it to emerge as an independent, prosperous country within internationally recognized borders and able to defend itself. That will require accelerating the delivery of advanced weapons and technology and pursuing a new military and diplomatic strategy to defend Ukrainian territory, increase Ukraine’s defense production, enhance its air defenses, and step up attacks against Russia’s supply lines and vulnerable military position in Crimea. If the Biden administration embraces this approach, it could address congressional reluctance to provide more aid to Ukraine absent a clear strategy.

Ukraine’s 2023 spring counteroffensive was less successful than many had hoped, giving Russian forces time to dig in behind trenches and minefields. New tactics, such as using drones to spot armored vehicles and precision weapons to destroy them, have offered the Russian invaders a defensive advantage. The West’s willingness to aid Ukraine isn’t guaranteed, especially in the face of gridlock in Washington. The war of attrition favors Russia, given its advantages in industry and manpower and Vladimir Putin’s high tolerance for casualties.

To account for these realities, Ukraine and its supporters should pursue an adapted strategy with five major elements.

First, Ukraine’s military effort should focus more on defense. Kyiv needs to maintain the territory it still controls even as it prepares for counteroffensives. This includes Odesa, which provides access to the Black Sea—vital to Ukraine’s economy, which depends on exporting grain to international markets. Ukrainian forces should establish fortified defensive lines and use advanced sensors and drones to prevent future Russian land grabs.

Second, Ukraine needs to reduce its dependence on foreign assistance. Ukraine has a robust defense industry that is producing more weapons than before Russia’s 2022 invasion. Kyiv has signed more than 20 agreements with foreign partners for joint maintenance and production of weapons, giving it increased industrial capacity domestically and abroad. The German company Rheinmetall and Turkish firm Baykar plan to build facilities in Ukraine to produce tanks and drones, respectively. But the U.S. lags behind. Washington should foster joint ventures with Ukraine’s defense industry by helping U.S. defense firms mitigate the risks of doing business in a war zone and reducing regulations, including restrictions on technology transfers under the International Traffic in Arms Regulations.

Third, the U.S. and others should help Ukraine build an enhanced air- and missile-defense network. Ukraine needs to defend itself from Russia’s brutal air campaign. Western allies should reallocate Patriot batteries from other parts of Europe to Ukraine and cooperate with Kyiv to develop low-tech, low-cost defenses against drones and other battlefield weapons.

Fourth, Ukraine should target Russian supply lines in eastern Ukraine and western Russia. This would disrupt Russian logistics and complicate Moscow’s effort to consolidate its territorial gains. The U.S. and Europe should let Ukraine use the weapons they supply to target Russian forces in Russia that are attacking Ukraine. The same should apply to Russian supply lines and logistics.

Fifth, Ukraine should step up the threat to Russia’s vulnerable military position in Crimea. This should include long-range strikes as well as special operations against Russian forces, bases and supply lines. Why the Kerch Bridge to Russia remains standing is a mystery.

To enable these strikes, the U.S. and Western supporters should provide Ukraine longer-range weapons with larger payloads and lift their prohibitions against using these arms for attacks on forces and logistics inside Russian territory. Germany should immediately provide the Taurus missile, and the U.S. should deliver the 190-mile-range Army Tactical Missile System, or ATACMS. That wouldn’t meaningfully deplete U.S. stockpiles, as America has a substantial inventory and an active production line and is phasing out the system in favor of the more sophisticated, longer-range Precision Strike Missile. In addition, Western supporters should provide Ukraine with F-16 aircraft armed with high-speed antiradiation missiles to suppress Russian integrated air and missile defenses and allow Ukrainian missiles to reach their targets.

Crimea may be the most important center of gravity in this war. Mr. Putin can afford to cede villages in the Donbas, but losing the peninsula would be a major blow. It may be the only way to persuade him to wind down the conflict.

We doubt this approach would result in a negotiated peace treaty or even a formal cease-fire agreement. It could nevertheless result in a de facto stalemate with an active but static line of contact between the two militaries and far less combat. This would save lives and give Ukraine breathing space.

Many in Ukraine and the West would object that this would also give Russia breathing space, which it could use to prepare its next effort to subdue and absorb Ukraine. The multiyear defense commitments to Ukraine being developed by the U.S. and other Western countries would reduce this risk.

Ukraine still recalls the 1994 Budapest Memorandum, in which Kyiv surrendered its nuclear weapons in exchange for bilateral U.S. and U.K. security assurances. That failed to deter Russia from invading. Given that unhappy experience, Kyiv can be forgiven for wanting more today—namely, membership in the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

NATO membership is off the table at least until there is a stable line of separation between Ukrainian and Russian forces and reduced conflict. It would have to be clear that incorporation into NATO wouldn’t put the alliance instantly at war with Russia or commit it to any Ukrainian military effort to recover territory occupied by Russia. But the international community would continue to recognize such territory as Ukrainian under international law.

These are sensitive issues, but analogous ones were overcome when West Germany joined NATO in 1955. In our view, only the prospect of NATO and EU membership would give President Volodymyr Zelensky and the Ukrainian people the assurance that Russia would be deterred from taking over more of Ukraine. It also would furnish the political cover needed to accept an outcome that leaves Russian forces temporarily in possession of Ukrainian territory.

NATO membership for Ukraine must reflect complete consensus within the alliance. Noticeable divisions at Bucharest in 2008 suggested to Mr. Putin that NATO wouldn’t come to Ukraine’s defense, inviting his 2014 invasion.

Supporting Ukraine isn’t an act of philanthropy. If Ukraine and the West falter, Russia may succeed in conquering Ukraine. Mr. Putin wants to restore the Russian empire—a revanchist ambition that may drive him to invade a NATO member. The result would be war with NATO and the U.S., something no one should want.

Mr. Hadley chairs the Atlantic Council’s international advisory board. He served as White House national security adviser, 2005-09. Mr. Kroenig is vice president and senior director of the Atlantic Council’s Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security and a member of the Congressional Commission on the Strategic Posture of the U.S.

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GPF: Rumors of a big reshuffle
« Reply #1494 on: February 05, 2024, 07:38:29 AM »
second

By: Geopolitical Futures
Reshuffle. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy confirmed rumors that he may soon replace the popular commander-in-chief of Ukraine’s armed forces. In an interview with an Italian TV channel, Zelenskyy said the country’s top leadership needs a reset, not only in the military but also in government. Anonymous sources close to the president and within the military said that in addition to top commander Gen. Valerii Zaluzhnyi, Zelenskyy may replace Chief of the General Staff Serhii Shaptala.

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Ukraine: Time to Lick Wounds and Declare Victory
« Reply #1495 on: February 08, 2024, 11:11:35 AM »
Piece argues it's time to negotiate an end to the war. I think the Finnish example makes for an apt analogy.

Ukraine Should Negotiate an End to the War with Russia and Justifiably Claim Victory
February 8, 2024
By IVAN ELAND

Also published in Inside Sources Tue. February 6, 2024   Show More »
Russian leader Vladimir Putin, despite his public swaggering, has privately signaled support for a settlement in his war with Ukraine that would freeze current battle lines, according to former Russian officials close to the Kremlin and U.S. and international officials who have received Putin’s offers.

After a failed recent counteroffensive and less certain continued U.S. and European assistance, Ukraine should accept negotiations that could require it to give up territory but nevertheless credibly claim victory in the war against Russia.

Understandably, after Putin’s unnecessary and brutal invasion of Ukraine, which has purposefully killed many Ukrainian civilians, President Volodymyr Zelensky and other Ukrainian leaders are still pledging to fight until they regain all their lost territory. Yet, Ukraine’s uncompromising position, which demands that the Russian military withdraw from all Ukrainian land and pay for damages, is untenable.

Even if the war ended today, and existing battle lines became future national boundaries, the magnitude of Ukraine’s victory should not be forgotten. Recent news reports have focused on the failed counteroffensive and the vicissitudes of Western aid. Still, Ukraine, a country much smaller in population and much weaker in military power than invading Russia, not only repulsed the initial Russian attack but has succeeded in clawing back territory in previous counteroffensives in Kherson and the northeast region of Ukraine, after which Putin licked his wounds and made a prior entreaty for a ceasefire in the fall of 2022.

The Ukrainian military has fought tenaciously, and the civilian population has valiantly endured many intentional Russian attacks and depredations that should be deemed war crimes. In short, Ukraine has nothing to be ashamed of.

Instead, Ukraine can be satisfied that it has inflicted severe pain on Putin and Russia—for example, catastrophic casualties, erosion of military capability through destroyed equipment, economic pain and the destabilization of Putin’s rule, as indicated by an aborted coup against his government.

Despite the calm exterior of a former KGB operative, Putin is likely livid at the horrific performance of his generals and vastly overrated military. And in the negotiations, perhaps Ukraine could regain more of its territory.

In the future, Putin, in his created kleptocracy, cannot be sure that, once again, any “much improved” military will be just another shell for corruption and, therefore, incompetence on the battlefield. Even if current battle lines become frozen, Putin, despite his show of arrogance and despite the fears of other Eastern European countries, will likely be deterred by this black eye from using his badly decimated army to invade any NATO country or engage in other substantial mischief anytime soon.

Ukraine is not the first smaller country to best the big Russian bear in a conflict. In 1939, Russia invaded Finland. Like the Ukrainians, the Finns fought hard and effectively to preserve their country from Russia’s larger army. Although Finland had to give up some territory, it prevented Russia from erasing Finland from the map. Today, the world perceives that Finland won the Winter War against Russia. Bearing this out, Finland became a prosperous, non-communist country living in the shadow of an imperially oriented great power.

Ukraine should keep the Finnish example in mind when assessing the costs and benefits of continuing to fight this bitter war. A pragmatic conclusion should question the sensibility of continuing the bloody fight and suffering many more casualties in an unlikely, and even quixotic, effort to regain from a dug-in Russia the Russian-speaking areas of eastern Ukraine, which may well prefer to be in Russia.

A measure to help both countries save face and sell a negotiated settlement to their own publics would be to conduct legitimate, internationally monitored referenda in Crimea and east and southeast Ukraine (unlike Putin’s early sham referenda in those areas) to allow the people there to genuinely determine the country they want to call home.

For Ukraine, the future of continued war looks dismal; the future, if peace is restored, looks much brighter. Ukraine made inroads in being able to start the application process for becoming a member of the European Union—its ticket to future prosperity and becoming part of the West. As it did with Finland after 1940, the world will regard the outcome of this war as an unlikely but courageous victory for Ukraine in preserving its sovereignty against a hostile great power aggressor.

Ending the war rapidly, despite some loss of territory, is the ticket to getting its economy rapidly on the road to prosperity.

 
IVAN ELAND is Senior Fellow at the Independent Institute and Director of the Institute’s Center on Peace & Liberty.

https://www.independent.org/news/article.asp?id=14824

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Re: Ukraine
« Reply #1496 on: February 08, 2024, 11:18:03 AM »
not clear why Biden et al push Netanyahu for cease fire and negotiate

but do not with Zelensky.




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Re: Ukraine
« Reply #1497 on: February 08, 2024, 11:47:36 AM »
not clear why Biden et al push Netanyahu for cease fire and negotiate

but do not with Zelensky.
Zelensky conceals embarrassing relationships, facilitates graft, and participates in "help hide the billions" shell games.

Netanyahu does not.

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Re: Ukraine
« Reply #1498 on: February 08, 2024, 03:00:43 PM »
"Not clear why Biden et al push Netanyahu for cease fire and negotiate but do not with Zelensky."

Some quality rhetorical pugilism there!