More to ignore, Book 46..........

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Ukraine Update: Amidst 'tactical withdrawal,' Russia suffers its worst day yet
kos

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Ukrainian soldiers man a defensive outpost with their battle buddy.

Yesterday was arguably Russia’s worst day yet, with losses in four key fronts and little to show for its renewed focus on the eastern Donbas front.

Let’s start with Kyiv, where Russia claimed to be tactically withdrawing from areas near the capital and Chernihiv to its northeast. Those two fronts faced some of the worst artillery and missile attacks of the war, which many took to mean Russia was full of shit. Not saying they’re not, but any tactical withdrawal is covered by artillery. It’s Military Tactics 101. You need to protect your forces when their backs are to the enemy. So are they actually pulling out? The indications are that at least in northeastern Kyiv, they are, and particularly up in Chernobyl. Though to be fair, those troops were sent directly to a hospital where they will die horribly of radiation poisoning. Seems like they dug trenches in the highly radioactive Red Forest, kicking up what shouldn’t be kicked up for the next 10,000 years. Ultimately, no territory changed hands, northwest of Kyiv. But to the east? A whole different story.

Ukraine is pushing hard against the Nova Basan salient, taking the towns of Ploske, Svitlynia, and Hrebelky on the approach to the last Russian-held towns in the entire region.

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Red means Russian held, orange is contested territory. Black are highways, green dots are railways.

The fight for Nova Basan was ongoing as I put this story (and myself) to bed last night. When those forces are eventually routed, Kyiv’s highway straight north to Chernihiv will safely open up, allowing for easier resupply and defense.

That Nova Basan pocket is what’s left of Russia’s effort to open up a second eastern front against Kyiv, in their spectacularly failed attempt to surround and capture the city. While the 40-mile convoy northwest of Kyiv got all the attention, it was this corridor from the Russian border near Sumy and Kyiv that truly exposed Russia’s logistical failures.

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It was around 350 kilometers (220 miles) from the Russian border to Brovary, on Kyiv’s eastern edge. If you look closely, not a single town on that highway was held by Russia, with Sumy being particularly glaring. Thus, Ukrainian territorial defense forces, drones, special forces, and local farmers feasted on tasty, exposed, under-protected supply convoys. Russia’s outpost on Nova Basan is all that’s left of that effort, likely running low on supplies, and facing imminent annihilation (or, if they’re smart, surrender). That entire orange tendril isn’t long for this war.

As noted, mopping up Russian forces from eastern Kyiv will allow free movement of troops and supplies north to Chernihiv, which is currently completely surrounded and under siege. (Watch this harrowing video of Russia shutting off the last escape route out of the city.) I had assumed that Chernihiv would have to wait for Nova Bosa’s liberation before Ukraine could move the forces up to bust the siege, but Ukraine had other plans, taking the town of Sloboda on its southeasternern edge.

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That north-south highway is now just one town away from being reopened. But of particular note, no one knows where those Ukrainians came from. They couldn’t have come up from Kyiv, the road is still blocked. Was it Nizhyn? The city is under constant shelling and there are Russian elements nearby. Did they punch out of Chernihiv? Who knows! Regardless of where they came from, it shows that Ukraine has reserve combat power available to deploy where necessary. Russia’s siege is now in trouble. So will Russia fight to maintain it, or will they really ease up on Chernihiv like they promised? We won’t have to wait long to get an answer. And heck, Ukraine might militarily take away Russia’s choice given their offensive momentum. Might simply be easier for Russia to withdraw and claim they did it for peace, instead of admitting they’re getting their ass whooped.

Next up are Sumy and Kharkiv, where this pocket of orange bugged me in my last update:

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This was the operating area for the famed “elite” 4th Guards Tank Division (GTD), which is no more. It’s been now confirmed that all remaining Russian forces in that area have slunk across the border back into Russia. That is now safe Ukrainian territory, with road and rail links between Sumy, Kharkiv and other key cities re-established.

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All that territory between Sumy and Kharkiv is cleansed of Russians. Those are some very pretty, clean lines of communication (supply)!

Meanwhile, Ukrainian forces repelled a major attack on the city of Malaya Rohan (details on my last update). While no new territory was captured, Ukraine claims of massive Russian losses (leading to the destruction of three Battalion Tactical Groups) are being corroborated by pictures and video (here, here, here, and here).

This victory is important for two reasons (besides Russia’s mass loss of equipment). One, it keeps Russian forces off of Kharkiv’s ass. Russia can shell the city with impunity from across its border, but ground forces haven’t had much luck. But perhaps more importantly, check out the map below:

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Izyum is Russia’s biggest target right now as it seeks to encircle the third of the Ukrainian army holed up in defensive trenches on the eastern Donbas front. I explain the importance of Izyum here, but in short, It’s a critical river crossing. And pushing south of it would also allow Russia to avoid that long, circuitous supply route to the city, with that eastern flank protected by the Embalse Oskil reservoir.

By holding that road, and the city of Chuhuiv to its southeast, Ukraine can put pressure on those supply lines and the overall salient, dramatically complicating Russia’s efforts in the Donbas front. As things are going, I suspect this Donbas front will increasingly dominate these updates.

Russia made no territorial gains on the Donbas front, though Ukraine’s defensive lines are under severe pressure, and it wouldn’t be surprising if the invaders finally notch some breakthroughs. It also wouldn’t be surprising if the lines hold. This is the only part of the country where Russia’s air force seems to be flying.

Now let’s go down to Mykolaiv area, where that ridiculous salient toward Kryvyi Rih is finally getting rolled back with the liberations of the small towns of Orlove, Zahradivka, and Kochubeyevka.

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There has been some pretty stupid Russian moves this war, like invading from four different axes while under-resourcing each one of those lines of attack. But the reach toward Kryvyi Rih was particularly, extra idiotic. Here was Russia, clearly focused on taking Odesa—a legitimately important military, strategic, and political target, and they’re wasting troops heading to a city they never had a prayer of taking given how strung out their forces had gotten?


If you remember, the left fork of that axis had hit the outskirts of Mykolaiv, realized they had nowhere near the troops to take a city of half a million, and continued north up the Southern Bug river all the way up to Voznesenks, where they got absolutely mauled by territorial defense forces and farmers, in a town with a population of 34,000. And somehow they were going to actually threaten Kryvyi Rih, a city of 635,000 with a similarly sized force?

By under-resourcing both lines of attack, both failed spectacularly. The Kryvyi Rih attack ran out of gas (likely literally) before even reaching its target. And that salient is now getting rolled back.

Meanwhile in Kherson, no major moves have been made toward the city or its airport. We do know that Russia is moving resources to an airfield southeast of the city, from which it could presumably harass and shell Kherson if it falls into Ukrainian hands. And that’s the tragic reality—that Kherson, spared by the likely treason of its mayor—will suffer the same tragic fate of so many other bombarded Ukrainian cities if and when it is liberated.

So to recap, Russia started its withdrawal from northwest Kyiv, lost territory in eastern Kyiv with a remaining pocket of Russia all that’s left in the area, and lost a key town for its encirclement and siege of Chernihiv. In Sumy and Kherson area, the remnants of the 4th Guard Tank Division straggled back to Russia, while Ukraine repelled an attempt to hit Kherson from the southeast. Russia suffered severe losses in life, material, and territory, and its supply lines to Izyum are now threatened. Finally, Russia’s stupid attempt to reach up to Kryvyi Rih is being rolled back.

Phew! Here’s hoping to more days like yesterday!
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Thursday, Mar 31, 2022 · 8:21:21 AM EDT · Mark Sumner
On the one hand, this looks like any other picture of a vehicle taken out by a drone, and by now any casual viewer has seen so many that it’s hard to tell them apart. But there are a few things worth noting about this particular little snippet of drone footage. First … what is that truck doing there? That line of trees doesn’t seem to represent a road, its just a line of trees. It’s not even clear how it got there, though some scuffs in the field to the left suggest it made a run across that field, seeking refuge in those trees. More tracks in the field a short distance ahead suggest that the vehicle had company at one point, but that others got out of there in a hurry — likely after their companion was suddenly hit by a drone-launched missile.

But that’s not the only thing.



Take a look at the fields. They’re not just very neatly plowed, some have been freshly plowed. What’s more, some of the fields are starting to green up nicely.


As it happens, there was an article just over a week ago in Successful Farming. that farmers in western Ukraine had started sowing spring crops. However, this is highly unlikely to be in western Ukraine. First, because it’s too flat, and second because there are no Russian vehicles to pound in that area. What’s in the fields in this view appears to be just what eastern Ukraine is famed for — lots of winter wheat. It was planted in the fall, germinated over the winter, and is now greening up nicely under the spring sun.

What seems to have happened here is that a group of Russian vehicles, perhaps separated from the remainder of a convoy, sought cover beneath those trees, only to get spotted and a fuel truck was taken out. Meanwhile, all around the action, the world’s greatest tractor battalion continued their other job.


 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Thursday, Mar 31, 2022 · 9:48:06 AM EDT · Mark Sumner
On Wednesday, both Germany and Poland made it clear they would not be paying for Russian gas in rubles as Putin had demanded. In Germany’s case, this announcement came immediately following a discussion between German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Putin.



But less than 24 hours later, Putin is once again signaling that rubles, and only rubles are acceptable.


Russia has said that because of Western financial sanctions over Ukraine, it plans to require payment for its energy exports - especially the gas that Germany depends on - in rubles rather than the usual euros or dollars from April 1.

But this seems a lot more equivocal than the Russian state media article makes it sound. For “unfriendly countries” — which is presumably everyone, with a very few possible exceptions, that procedure involves setting up a “ruble account” in a Gazprom bank. Those countries would then make a deposit into the account in euros or dollars, and Russia would automatically convert them to rubles.

It’s unclear how this procedure would boost the value of the ruble. It is clear that Germany refused to agree to even this procedure.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Mark Sumner
Mar 31, 2022 at 08:27:13 AM

This is the latest from the Kyiv Independent, which generally reflects the numbers being put out by he Ukrainian ministry of defense. The troop casualty numbers tend to be larger than those produced by U.S. or U.K. intelligence, but fairly closed to the combined killed / wounded totals from those sources.

The vehicle numbers are a lot higher than those reflected at Oryx, but that site only catalogs equipment that can be visually confirmed through photos or video on the internet, so it’s unclear which set of numbers of closer to being correct.

 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Ukraine update: 'Russian soldiers, short of weapons and morale, refusing to carry out orders'
Mark Sumner

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Fire and smoke set the night sky ablaze on the east side of Kharkiv. 30 March 2022.

On Wednesday, Jeremy Fleming, the head of the U.K. Government Communication HQ, made a series of statements about Russia, and Vladimir Putin that seem all to credible and reflective of where things stand 37 days into the unprovoked invasion.

“It increasingly looks like Putin has massively misjudged the situation,” said Fleming. “It’s clear he’s misjudged the resistance of the Ukrainian people. He underestimated the strength of the coalition his actions would galvanize. He underplayed the consequences of the sanctions regime. And he overestimated the abilities of his military to secure a rapid victory.”



Then Fleming went on to make a series of statements that would seem incredible—in the sense that they’re so outlandish, they could easily be interpreted as a psyop—were it not for the fact that there has been repeated evidence on the ground from multiple sources.

“We’ve seen Russian soldiers, short of weapons and morale, refusing to carry out orders, sabotaging their own equipment, and even accidentally shooting down their own aircraft,” said Fleming. “And even though we believe Putin’s advisers are afraid to tell him the truth, what’s going on, and the extent of these misjudgments, must be crystal-clear to the regime.”

The whole thing, says Fleming, was a vast “strategic miscalculation” by Putin, who has made this his “personal war” with the cost paid by innocent people in Ukraine, and mislead soldiers in the Russian military.

Fleming’s statements put him in a line of officials who are convinced that Putin is misinformed about what’s actually happening in Ukraine. That includes one U.S. official who said Putin “is being misinformed by his advisors about how badly the Russian military is performing and how the Russian economy is being crippled by sanctions because his senior advisors are too afraid to tell him the truth.”

This “Putin is ignorant” view seems to be based on the fact that, in spite of massive losses and devastation to the Russian economy, Putin continues to act as if Russia is winning this war. He continues to look for more troops to feed into the meatgrinder, continues to issue demands at the negotiating table that make it impossible for talks to progress, and continues to take actions that seem to have no result but the inexcusable loss of lives. This if-he-really-knew perspective also appears to hold out some possibility of hope—if only some of Putin’s advisers would only stiffen their spines and tell the boss what’s really going on, maybe he’d take reasonable action.

But the Putin is ignorant camp is being far too hopeful. The most likely situation is that Putin knows exactly how things are going in Ukraine. He knows exactly what’s happening to the ruble, the Russian stock market, and to prospects for future investment in his country. Putin knows.

Putin may be closing newspapers and cutting off TV channels, blocking social media and censoring the internet, but all that is to keep regular Russians from grasping the cause and scale of this disaster. Putin is not cut off from seeing every report of planes shot down, or soldiers surrendering, or entire columns of tanks shot down. He’s not sitting in a palace, waiting for an adviser to bring him notes on the war on a silver tray. Putin has the internet. He has access to outside media. There is nothing he could be told that he doesn’t already know.

The truth is that Putin is a monster. Has always been a monster. He’ll keep losing his own troops at a rate of 10-1 to Ukrainian losses. Because he’s a monster. He’ll keep shelling cities and killing civilians in an effort to gain the smoking ruin that was a city. Because he’s a monster. He’ll keep prosecuting this war right up until the last creaky tank is ablaze and the last missile has been driven through a kindergarten. Because he’s a monster.

No one should be waiting for Putin to smarten up. He’s already destroyed the Russian economy. He’s already shattered the illusion of competence that surrounded the Russian military. In every real sense, he lost the war in Ukraine in the first 48 hours. Everything he’s doing now is for a purely domestic audience. He wants something he can wave as a “victory” before an audience which is ignorant of the truth.

Putin likes it that way. You might even say he “loves the poorly educated,” because they can be easily manipulated. Keeping Russians ignorant gives Putin the only numbers he really needs.

 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Biden announces historic oil reserve release, along with other steps, to reduce gas prices

President Joe Biden is announcing an unprecedented release of oil from US reserves and taking steps to punish oil companies for not increasing production from unused leases on federal land, the White House says.

The steps are an attempt to reduce gas prices while also putting an onus on oil companies to increase supply. The dramatic step confronts what has become a looming political problem months ahead of the midterm elections.

"After consultation with allies and partners, the President will announce the largest release of oil reserves in history, putting one million additional barrels on the market per day on average -- every day -- for the next six months," the White House said. "The scale of this release is unprecedented: The world has never had a release of oil reserves at this 1 million per day rate for this length of time. This record release will provide a historic amount of supply to serve as bridge until the end of the year when domestic production ramps up."

The release would amount to 180 million barrels of oil.

Biden earlier in the month announced a coordinated release of oil from the reserves in conjunction with other nations. He also released around 60 million barrels in November, which he said at the time was the largest release from the reserve in US history.

Neither move had a significant effect on gas prices, which have continued to rise as global limits on Russian energy exports have caused prices to spike.

The United States consumes around 20 million barrels of oil per day, with global consumption hovering around 100 million barrels. Biden's planned releases would put more oil on the global market, potentially bringing down costs.

The President is also calling on Congress to "make companies pay fees on wells from their leases that they haven't used in years and on acres of public lands that they are hoarding without producing." For months, the Biden administration has publicly pushed back on the idea that regulations are holding oil producers back from more domestic production, pointing to millions of acres worth of land with approved permits for oil and gas production.

"Companies that are producing from their leased acres and existing wells will not face higher fees," a fact sheet released by the White House reads, "but companies that continue to sit on non-producing acres will have to choose whether to start producing or pay a fee for each idled well and unused acre."

Biden also will issue a directive to invoke the Defense Production Act to spur domestic production of critical minerals needed to manufacture batteries for electric vehicles and long-term energy storage.

The move from the White House adds critical minerals such as lithium, nickel, graphite, cobalt and manganese to the list of items covered by the 1950 Defense Production Act, a Korean War-era law allowing the President to use emergency authority to make large orders of a certain type of product or expand productive capacity and supply. It will allow the administration to support the production and processing of these critical minerals needed for a clean energy transition.


The Department of Defense will implement this authority, according to the White House, and will do so in consultation with tribal communities and using strong environmental, labor, and community standards.

Biden tackles a major political problem​

Tapping the reserve -- the stockpile of 600 million barrels of crude oil stored in underground salt caverns in Louisiana and Texas -- generally has only a limited effect on gas prices because of how much oil can be released at a time, but would act as a political sign that Biden is continuing to confront the problem.

Following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the US price of regular gasoline spiked, hitting a record high of $4.33 a gallon earlier in March.

Yet the current cost increases began months ago, as demand for oil increased while the coronavirus pandemic waned. The White House has voiced frustration that oil companies have not returned their production to levels from before the pandemic, focusing instead on paying dividends for investors.

There has been an internal debate among administration officials at how harshly to go after oil and gas companies for not ramping up production. Biden has chided them in previous remarks, but some officials believe a full-throated campaign against the firms could backfire.

Russia's invasion of Ukraine has provided Biden another foil. In remarks earlier this month, Biden sought to put the onus for the rising prices on the Russian President: "Make no mistake: The current spike in gas prices is largely the fault of Vladimir Putin." He has repeated the phrase "Putin's price hike" since then.

Governors across the US have been attempting to curb gas prices at the state level.

Last week, California Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom rolled out a $9 billion proposal to hand out $400 debit cards to drivers in the state to help soften the impact of the highest gas prices in the country. In Georgia, Republican Gov. Brian Kemp -- who is facing one of the toughest reelection races in the country -- signed a bill that will give $250 to $500 tax refunds to Georgians -- a move several of his rivals blasted as election-year politicking.


And as Democratic Gov. Janet Mills faces a competitive reelection campaign in Maine, she has proposed some of the most generous relief to qualified taxpayers in her state -- in the form of $850 checks -- to cushion the blow of inflation and gas prices.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Battle of Trostyanets after-action report: “Their infantry is cowardly.”
Lincoln green

In “Ukrainian Forces Recapture Eastern Town Near Russian Border”, RFE/RL’s Roman Pahulych reports on his visit to the east Ukrainian town of Trostyanets two days after it was liberated from the Russians (see kos’s report Tuesday). Trostyanets had been under Russian control for a month, since the very start of the Russian invasion, and it is a strategic location between Sumy and Kharkiv.

What struck me most about Pahulych’s report was not his images of abandoned Russian tanks, but his interviews of the people of Trostyanets. 21,000 people lived in Trostyanets before the invasion, and 15,000 still live there — these are mostly the people too poor to flee.

Of the Russian soldiers, one elderly woman said:

They were here for a month. They looted and were animals. They robbed and killed. Animals, that’s what they are. They didn’t care if it was children or old folks, they robbed everyone.

Pahulych also interviews a Ukrainian soldier, who says:

The Russians thought that their equipment would be their trump card. But their infantry is cowardly. They use armored vehicles to lead their attacks and the infantry follows. As soon as their vehicles pass through, we attack their infantry and they retreat.

Much of the town is now in ruins, and abandoned Russian tanks and other vehicles litter roadsides. The Ukrainian Regional Military Administration reported that Russian troops mined the local hospital before retreating; the Ukrainians sent a demining team to clear the area.

Trostyanets has long been a strategic location. During World War II it was occupied by Axis troops, an occupation that murdered the 1,000 Jews who then lived there. This occupation ended with the 1943 Battle of Trostyanets between the Soviet 10th Tank Corps and the German Grossdeutschland division, a battle won by the Soviets despite their inferior armor quality. Although the 2022 Battle of Trostyanets featured fewer tanks than the 1943 edition, it also resulted in the better-armored side losing.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Thursday, Mar 31, 2022 · 12:19:36 PM EDT · Mark Sumner
A even closer look at Izyum, that town 60 miles to the southeast of Kharkiv that looks to be the site of some major conflict.

The mayor of the town reports that it’s been over two weeks since humanitarian aid reached the town, and on maps it seems to be at the end of a Russian salient, completely inside Russian-controlled territory. That’s
almost true.

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Russia holds the north bank of the Siverskyt Donets River, while Ukraine holds the south

Those critical river bridges seem to be the line of demarcation between Ukrainian and Russian control. It’s the area south of the Siverskyt Donets River where 20,000 people have been holding out against Russian forces in an area that’s been described as simply “hell.” Russian forces have been above to move south along both the west and east of the town, bombarding it with artillery in an attempt to dislodge this little sliver of Ukrainian control that has halted the Russian advance, and blocked that long talked-about effort to connect with other Russian forces in the Donbas. It’s also likely that Russia can’t advance too close to the river on either the west or the east, because a quick look at the map shows that both of those areas are essentially marsh, unable to support armor or artillery.

So Russia sits on the north bank, hammering at this little plug of Ukrainian resistance, as it has done since the third day of the invasion. Izyum’s resistance has been critical to the survival of Ukrainian forces in the east. It still is.

On Thursday, images are appearing of both Russian and Ukrainian vehicles lost in the area of Izyum, but their exact location could be critical to deciphering what’s happening. Is Russia having some success in attacking across the river, or are Ukrainian forces managing to move down from the recently opened highway south of Kharkiv?

Stay tuned.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Ukraine update: 'As the tactics on the ground change, we need to change what we supply'
Mark Sumner

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A Ukrainian serviceman directs a handcuffed Russian soldier in Kharkiv. March 31, 2022.

On Thursday, U.S. Defense Department spokesmen indicated that Russia has withdrawn about 20% of the force originally sent in to capture Kyiv. How much of that is made up of soldiers who are suffering from radiation poisoning after occupying Chernobyl, digging trenches in areas of high residual radiation, and apparently stealing samples of radioactive materials from the facilities, isn’t clear. But those guys won’t be coming back soon; not to Kyiv, and not on any other front.

However, the Pentagon doesn’t think that Russian forces are moving out of the goodness of their hearts, or as a gesture of peace. They think that Russian forces are simply beat up, missing critical units, and out of supplies. So the Pentagon indicates Russian troops are pulling back closer to Belarus so that new supplies, new equipment, and whatever reinforcements are available can reach them. They don’t think that, in any sense, Putin has decided to “wind down the war.”
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Keeping the majority of their forces in the field means that Russia could make another stab at capturing Kyiv—especially if Ukrainian forces are redeployed to the east. They could also, as Markos detailed, fall back to a more defensible line and pull out more of their forces for use elsewhere. Or they could simply get destroyed by Ukrainian forces, something that’s more likely to happen when an army is in retreat.

But whatever is happening around Kyiv, and to the northeast by Chernihiv, there is no doubt that in prosecuting the next stage of this war, Ukraine has to go on the attack. It has to reclaim territory that Russia has taken near cities to prevent Russia from using those locations to continue shelling of civilian centers. It also has to prevent Russia from establishing a contiguous, well-defended block of territory in the southeast that would allow Putin to simply suck about a third of Ukraine right into Russia. As Markos has discussed repeatedly, Ukraine can’t do that on a diet of defensive weapons alone. All the human-carried anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons in the world won’t help Ukraine make the kind of extensive gains it needs to roll back Russia’s invasion.

But there is news today from the U.K. that represents a shift in the weapons the West is willing to ship to Ukraine.

U.K. Defense Secretary Ben Wallace stated, “As the tactics on the ground change, we need to change what we supply and try to meet Ukraine’s demands. There will be more lethal aid going into Ukraine as a result of today.” Lethal, in this case, means weapons that the U.S. would classify as offensive. And that’s exactly what the U.K. intends to send: long range artillery and armored vehicles.

What kind of armored vehicles this will include wasn’t made clear, though tanks don’t seem to be in the mix. However, with anti-air mentioned in the same press appearance, it could include systems like the AS-90 artillery system and the mounted version of the already-promised Starstreak anti-aircraft system.

The AS-90 has a range from 25-30km, putting it up there with Russia’s 2S19 Msta. The AS-90 is also instrumented and equipped for counter-battery fire, meaning it could be used to take out those Russian artillery installations. Most of Ukraine’s current artillery is the older 2S3 Akatsiya, which has a range under 20km. So, at the moment, the Russian Msta systems can outrange the Ukrainian Akatsiya. That means every time Ukrainian artillery fires, it opens itself to counter-battery fire from Russian guns firing from beyond their range. (Note that Ukraine also has some Msta artillery. Including 16 units captured since the invasion began.) A dozen AS-90 in the right place could help give Ukraine much needed parity when it comes to big guns.

Some mobile Starstreak or Rapier units could also help lend Ukrainian forces the protection against aircraft that will be necessary to allow Ukraine to extend far beyond less mobile anti-air systems, especially if they are still serving in a significant deficit in aircraft (i.e. no one has given them a fresh fleet of MiG-29s).

The U.K. also indicated that it might send some anti-ship materiel, which could make those repeated feints toward Odessa easier to dismiss. “They are obviously looking for equipment to defend its coastline because of Russian activity down there,” said Wallace, “and we will be looking to see what we can do.

To actually drive back Russian forces, Ukraine needs not just “defensive” weaponry, but the same kind of equipment it takes for any other military to gain and hold ground. This war may have already demonstrated that Rommel’s The Tank in Attack is long out of date as the bible of modern maneuvers. But that doesn’t mean an army doesn’t need transport, protection, and the ability to take down ranged weaponry. This move from the U.K. seems like a good step — so long as it’s just the first one.