“This week marks the seven-month anniversary of the beginning of the war in Ukraine, something that is still going on and isn’t talked about quite as much anymore. The day that war began, which was February 24, two things were very obvious. The first was that there was no way the Ukrainian army would be able to win a decisive military victory over Russia and the reason was simple. Russia is too big. Ukraine is too small. The Russian military is many times the size of the Ukrainian military. Plus, of course, it has nuclear weapons.
Russia itself is the largest country on planet Earth. It’s got a relatively huge economy for the region and it’s got 145 million people who live there. Ukraine has a population of about 40 million. It’s the poorest country in Europe. It’s got an average annual income that is much lower than Albania’s.
So, just by looking at the most basic Wikipedia level numbers, it was clear right away that if Ukraine wanted to remain a sovereign country and of course, all of us wanted that for Ukraine, Ukraine was going to have to reach some kind of negotiated settlement with Russia. Pitched battles were not going to do it. Now, that’s not a moral judgment. You can root for the Ukrainian military all you want, but it’s still a fact and there’s no getting around it.
The second thing that was immediately evident about this war was how unusually destructive it was and was going to be. It wasn’t just Ukraine that was getting pummeled, though it certainly was. It was the entire Western economy, including our economy. Russian energy fuels Europe. A recession in Germany was certain to lead to a recession here and in the months since, it has, a bad one. The longer this war goes on, inevitably the poorer everyone is going to be, with the exception probably of Vladimir Putin.
“We are breaking things that are very hard to rebuild. Again, this was very obvious the first day of the war. You weren’t allowed to say it at the time. Anyone who did was denounced as a Russian spy. But it was still clearly true and the Ukrainians certainly understood it. Back in April, according to an account in Foreign Policy magazine, negotiators from the governments of Russia and Ukraine met secretly and “appeared to have tentatively agreed on the outlines of a negotiated interim settlement to end the war.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting on the country’s transport industry via a video link in Sochi, Russia May 24, 2022. (Sputnik/Mikhail Metzel/Kremlin via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS – THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.)
The terms of the deal were simple. Russia would withdraw its troops from Ukraine. Ukraine would promise not to join NATO, so each side would get the thing that it wants most simple and effective, and it might have worked.
But the Biden administration adamantly opposed this settlement. Biden’s advisers didn’t just want the Russians to leave Ukraine. That’s what they told us they wanted on television, but no. Biden’s advisers wanted a total regime change war against Russia, apparently to avenge the election of Donald Trump, which they believed Putin was responsible for, and they were willing to fight to the last Ukrainian to get it.
On April 9 of this year, the White House dispatched its hapless cutout, then British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, to Kyiv, according to Ukrainian news media, Johnson communicated two messages to the Zelenskyy government, “The first is that Putin is a war criminal. He should be pressured, not negotiated with and the second is that even if Ukraine is ready to sign some agreements on guarantees with Putin, the West is not.”
In other words, who cares what the Ukrainians want. America and the U.K. demand total war with Russia, regime change war with Russia and of course, the Ukrainians caught in the middle had no choice but to concede. So, days later, the peace negotiations fell apart. This was virtually unreported at the time, but it was the turning point in the war in Ukraine. This was the moment where the goal changed from restoring Ukraine to what it was before the invasion – and that seems reasonable to everyone in the West – to something very different, to a war designed to topple Vladimir Putin, just like we toppled Saddam Hussein and then hoping for the best afterward. That is clearly insane and dangerous, but that’s where we are and from that point on, everything changed and that is how we got to where we are today, which is the closest we have ever been to nuclear conflict in history.
This week, President Zelenskyy of Ukraine gave an interview to the left-wing newspaper, The Guardian and in it, he casually called for the United States to nuke Vladimir Putin. “The other nuclear states need to say very firmly that as soon as Russia even thinks of carrying out nuclear strikes on foreign territory, in this case the territory of Ukraine, there will be swift retaliatory nuclear strikes to destroy the nuclear launch sites in Russia.” Parse that, and we’re quoting, “as soon as Russia even thinks of carrying out nuclear strikes” – meaning before Russia actually launches missiles – “the U.S. needs to launch nuclear weapons against Russia.” In other words, we need to launch nuclear weapons now. Why now and how do we know that’s what Zelenskyy meant? Because the Zelenskyy was responding to this warning from the Russian government on Wednesday.
PUTIN: I want to remind you that our country also has various means of destruction and for separate components, more modern than those of NATO countries and when the territorial integrity of our country is threatened, to protect Russia and our people, we will certainly use means at our disposal. It’s not a bluff.
“It’s not a bluff,” says Putin, who we are told is insane, so we probably should take it seriously. He is, after all, running a country with the largest nuclear arsenal on the planet and he’s talking about using nuclear weapons if the West continues to threaten Russia’s territorial integrity. It’s a conditional warning and, of course, threatening Russia’s territorial integrity was never part of the deal. Right? You remember this? It’s why you wore a Ukrainian lapel pin or put a Ukrainian flag in front of your house. Ukraine was invaded. The point was to kick the Russians out. That seems reasonable by any standard of fairness and decency, but that’s not what the Biden administration is pushing for. They’re pushing for toppling the government of Russia and once again, hoping that everything will be fine after that, someone better will somehow take over. “He’s bad. Let’s kill him.” Heard that story before?
Comment: He had that “hapless” soul MacGregor on to back him up. All DM was willing to say was that there have always been fringe groups in DC who claim to think that limited nnuclear war is possible. Pretty sad, Doug. Sad.
“Vladimir Putin has secretly approved a law that will send a further one million men to fight in Ukraine, a Russian newspaper reported on Thursday.
“If true, the target is more than three times higher than the 300,000 number that had previously been circulated and is likely to exacerbate fears of conscription among ordinary Russians that have seen mass protests and people massing at borders to leave the country.
Novaya Gazeta, an independent Russian newspaper-in-exile, on Thursday quoted an unnamed Kremlin source saying that the target number of one million men is written in Point 7 of Mr Putin’s mobilisation order – a part that was redacted from publication.
The unnamed Kremlin officials said the number had been revised several times and that the Russian military insisted on it being classified.
When asked about the redacted figure, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov confirmed that it contains the mobilisation target but cited Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu statement on Wednesday that Moscow was only going to call up 300,000 people.”
Comment: Fleeing to Mongolia? I thought that Putin was no longer a KGB man in his mind. I was wrong. He does not understand that Russians are not going to continue to accept being herded to death and mutilation in Ukraine? He is a fool. He can’t understand that ordinary Russians will not allow themselves to be cattle pushed into the slaughterhouse in Ukraine to be butchered by actual soldiers, Ukrainian soldiers. He is a fool.
He may actually be crazy enough to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine. pl
Russia released 215 prisoners of war, 205 Ukrainians and 10 foreigners, in a prisoner swap on Sept. 21, according to Andriy Yermak, the head of the President’s Office. The released POWs include 108 members of the National Guard’s Azov regiment, some of whom defended Azovstal, a steel plant that was the Ukrainian military’s last stronghold in Mariupol, Donetsk Oblast, before the city became entirely occupied by Russia in May.
Among the released Ukrainians are 124 officers, including high-profile commanders such as lieutenant colonel of the National Guard of Ukraine Denys Prokopenko, Azov deputy commander Sviatoslav Palamar, as well as the commander of the 36th marine brigade Serhii Volynskyi, who were the faces of the Azovstal defense.
According to Yermak, 10 foreigners who fought for Ukraine were also released under the swap. They include foreign soldiers who were illegally sentenced to death by Russia’s proxies in the occupied territories of Donetsk Oblast.
Yermak said that under the deal, Ukraine got 200 prisoners of war in exchange for Viktor Medvedchuk, Ukraine’s most high-profile pro-Kremlin politician and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s former right-hand man in the country. Medvedchuk was arrested in April on the charges of high treason.
Separately, five top commanders of the Azovstal defense were exchanged for 55 Russian prisoners of war, whose names weren’t revealed. The five commanders were delivered to Ankara in Turkey. According to President Volodymyr Zelensky, the condition is that they will stay in Turkey “until the war ends.”
Comment: Perhaps this was why Putin delayed his announcement of mobilization for 24 hours. His mobilization order and his threat of nuclear war, of which he is not bluffing this time, certainly overshadowed the news of the POW release. Still, the Russian and Separatist war bloggers went batshit over the news.
Besides Medvedchuk, who are the 55 Russians in this exchange? Putin must want them back very badly to give up 215 Ukrainians in exchange. The Russians aren’t saying. Tis a puzzlement.
The above title is an old shorthand for the essence of Ground Power. Artillery is all the (guns above 105 mm as well as missiles, and rockets) that support with fire maneuver units (armor and infantry) in combat.
In American doctrine, artillery units and their weapons are rarely attached solely to any particular maneuver unit. The artillery is instead considered a pool from which fires can ban be assembled for a particular fire strike. To that end, the relationship of each artillery unit to a particular maneuver unit is described as “Direct support,” “general support,” “general support reinforcing,” and “reinforcing.” These taskings reflect the priority of support accorded to particular maneuver units.
At some senior level in the field there exists a thing called a “Fire Support Coordination Center” (FSTC) where the reins of all these artillery units come together and where fires can be massed against individual target sets perhaps in what is called a “Time on Target.” It should be intuitively obvious that the longer the ranges of the weapons, the more fires can be massed from any set of positions.
Hey! With this system you can fire in one direction and then the FSTC can switch the fires to a completely different direction. Once again, it should be obvious that this is very applicable to the situation in Ukraine.
C’mon Joe, give’em ATACMS. pl
Comments: BTW what Putin actually said was “For those who threaten us with nuclear weapons, we might retaliate if they use them.” pl
V. Putin has announced the mobilisation of Russias reserves. According to Putin, this will be a deliberate, unhurried, process.
Comment: Col. Lang was right. The Russians appear to have bitten off more than they can chew. Conventional wisdom is that the Russian plan B is now being executed – the Donbas will be absorbed into Russia after a referendum in the next few days.
The outcome of that, from a Russian perspective, is that any further Ukrainian attacks will be construed as attacks on Russia herself. That allegedly leaves them free to interdict NATO resupply operations in NATO countries.
As for a calm unhurried mobilization, I suspect not. I am reminded of the opening scene in ”Enemy At The Gates”
The Russian plan apparently was to hold at the Oskil River and anchor that defensive line at Lyman. Seemed like a reasonable plan… for a while. Ukrainian forces crossed that river at Kupyansk and appear to be heading towards Svatove and the R-66 highway, the last great MSR into Kremenna, Severodonetsk and Lysychansk. I think Chuck Pfarrer is a little too optimistic in those three blue arrows bearing down on Svatove. However, it is likely that Ukrainian reconnaissance elements are ranging that far forward. That’s exactly what happened in the initial advance towards Kupyansk.
The lead elements of the four brigade Kharkiv strike force were two sabotage-reconnaissance battalions of the Kraken Regiment, a volunteer Azov unit that began forming back on 24 February in Kharkiv. The core of this unit are veterans of the original Azov Regiment. It also includes a number of foreign volunteers. They are equipped with artillery, D-30s and D-20s, mortars, drones and mostly wheeled light armored vehicles. There’s a video of a 50 cal equipped Humvee manned by an American making the rounds. They also have quite a few pickups, SUVs and vans for transportation. This hodge-podge of a unit was quite effective in pushing the Russians away from Kharkiv earlier in the summer as an assault force and are performing quite well in this offensive as an armored, albeit lightly, cavalry screen.
Further south, the Ukrainians are also keeping up the offensive pressure. Yarova, northwest of Lyman and Bilohorivka, east of Lyman, have fallen. The Russians at Lyman will have to withdraw once again or risk being surrounded. Russian bloggers are saying that the Kremlin has issued orders for no more retreats on this front. Seems the generals don’t think their units are capable of retiring in good order. If that’s true, and the Russians try to adhere to that order, there will be a lot more Russians in the bag. However, I don’t think the Russians on this front have the discipline and morale necessary to stand their ground. Maybe they can form a coherent defensive back at Staroblisk. But they better hurry or the Ukrainians may beat them to it. Of course, that means abandoning Severodonetsk and Lysychansk. It also means the Russian’s summer gains and more will be gone, gone except for all the casualties and destroyed/captured equipment. That’s going to be tough to spin in both the Kremlin and the blogosphere.
Comment My compliments to Russian IO, recruited agents of influence and “running dogs.” You all ae doing a great job of “keeping your pecker (nose) up.” You are doing a lot better job than the RA and auxiliaries are doing in Ukraine. I don’t know how many target platforms you are working, but I receive ten times as many draft comments as the number that I let be published. Kudos.
“Considered a relatively risky operation, requiring discipline to keep from turning into a disorganized rout or at the very least doing severe damage to the military‘s morale.”” wiki
I have read that the Russian forces on the Kherson Front are considering withdrawing to new positions to their rear. They should think that through clearly. A withdrawal under combat conditions before an enemy that has recently tasted victory and is full of “piss and vinegar” is the most severe test of the discipline and unit cohesion of the withdrawing force.
Russian forces continue to prioritize strategically meaningless offensive operations around Donetsk City and Bakhmut over defending against continued Ukrainian counter-offensive operations in Kharkiv Oblast.
Ukrainian forces liberated a settlement southwest of Lyman and are likely continuing to expand their positions in the area.
Ukrainian forces continued to conduct an interdiction campaign in Kherson Oblast.
Russian forces continued to conduct unsuccessful assaults around Bakhmut and Avdiivka.
Ukrainian sources reported extensive partisan attacks on Russian military assets and logistics in southern Zaporizhia Oblast.
Russian officials continued to undertake crypto-mobilization measures to generate forces for Russian war efforts.
Russian authorities are working to place 125 “orphan” Ukrainian children from occupied Donetsk Oblast with Russian families.
Comment: The Russian chain of command appears to be incapable of making rational decisions. Whether this is due to their own ignorance of military science and art or political interference in command decisions is not clear.
In spite of Russian ineptitude IMO, it is critical for Ukraine to consider if it has enough resources in the Kharkiv sector to allow it to attack south to achieve encirclements without exposing what might be a vulnerable flank to the east.
What looks like an emerging total collapse of Russian forces in Ukraine will continue to develop if continual pressure is maintained. pl
ON BOARD THE PAPAL FLIGHT FROM KAZAKHSTAN — Pope Francis on Sept. 15 backed Ukraine’s right to defend itself from Russia’s violent, seven-month-long invasion, and, for the first time, appeared to lend his support to other countries that are supplying Ukrainians with arms and war material. “To defend oneself is not only licit, it is also an expression of love toward one’s homeland,” Francis told reporters during the seven-and-a-half hour flight back to Rome following a three-day trip to Kazakhstan.
Francis characterized the decision of other nations to supply arms to Ukraine as a “political” calculation that “may be morally acceptable” under the right conditions. But he cautioned: “It can be immoral if done with the intentions of making more war.”
While the pope backed Ukraine’s right to self-defense, he also reiterated his earlier calls for dialogue between Russian and Ukrainian leaders. “I don’t exclude dialogue with any power that is at war, even if it is with the aggressor,” he said. “It may smell, but one has to do it.”
While both the Vatican’s secretary of state and its foreign minister have previously offered a cautious justification for supplying weapons to Ukraine, the pope’s remarks marked the first time he had directly addressed the question.
Francis spent three days in Kazakhstan, a Central Asian nation and former member of the Soviet Union that shares a 4,700-mile-long border with the Russia Federation, as a participant in the 7th Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions. The Congress gathered global interfaith leaders to promote coexistence and anti-extremism among world faiths.
During his first day in the country, Sept. 13, Francis blasted the war against Ukraine as “senseless and tragic.” On the following day, the pope criticized religious leaders who seek to justify war and violence, which was widely viewed as an implicit criticism of Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill, who has used religious language to justify his support for the invasion.
Comment: So it seems Putin and his war is enough to piss off the Pope. Back in the early 80s I remember the rumors of Jan Pavel II entertaining the idea of leaving the Holy See behind and joining Solidarność when it went underground to join the battle to free his beloved Poland. Would have been a hell of a statement. As it was, I also remember when the Pope visited Poland and General Jaruzelski was shaking like a leaf when he greeted him at the airport.