More to ignore, Book 49..........

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Ten Thousan Marbles

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Ukraine update: Ukrainian artillery chips away at Russian forces as spring mud season arrives
kos

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A Ukrainian soldier, in a trench somewhere in Eastern Ukraine on the Donbas front.

Heavy rains have arrived across the two remaining axes in Ukraine—Kherson in the south and Donbas in the east. And with that, don’t expect much territory to change hands. This Canadian volunteer in the Ukrainian foreign legion is fighting around Kherson.



The rain is going to do a number on Russian morale, already rock bottom.



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That Canadian’s unit has night-vision gear, and they do their thing under the cover of darkness. No moon means it’ll be even darker. It’s a great way to degrade Russian equipment and morale, and the weather will certainly contribute, but no territory is changing hands. We’re seeing Ukraine’s core deficiencies in action—it now has the tools to defend itself against Russian attacks, and it can certainly harass the hell out of the enemy, but it lacks the air and heavy armor to go on the offensive against entrenched Russians.

I’m in the “armor is mostly obsolete” camp, but that assumes air superiority and massed artillery. If you can’t take out the big enemy guns from the air, or suppress them from afar, you have to charge them on the ground—and you need armor to make that happen. NATO is definitely talking about it, but dear god, there’s nothing left to discuss. Just f’n do it. Western weapons have already killed and maimed tens of thousands of Russian soldiers as Vladimir Putin stands helplessly by. U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin literally released a photo of him video chatting with Ukrainian special forces training in Mississippi on the Switchblade killer drone system. We’re already rubbing their nose in our indirect involvement. There’s not much escalation left in sending more and bigger guns at this point.

Meanwhile, out east, guess what Russia did? Yup. The same ineffective shit they’ve been doing. Drip-drip-drip attacks with one to two battalion tactical groups (BTG) because they are unable to turn on the full spigot and attack en masse.

The enemy tried to launch an attack in the directions of Dovgenke and Dmytrivka settlements with the forces of two battalion tactical groups, without success and returned to previously occupied positions.

Russia repeated this doomed and wasteful approach in three other places. This is what I just can’t square—we know Russia is massing its troops in the region, but if they really planned one major all-out assault, why are they willfully feeding men and equipment to the Ukrainian wood chippers today, instead of resting those soldiers, servicing their equipment, resupplying them, and planning something that might actually work. Given Russia’s inability to deploy more than a small number of BTGs at any given time, is this the future of this front? A handful of daily “probes” every day until Russia burns through all their BTGs or Ukraine runs out of anti-tank missiles, whichever comes first?

The rains over the next week will make a muddy mess of the battlefield, swallowing any vehicle stupid enough to go off road. Artillery won’t be affected however. A clever ambush would drop a few random artillery shells in front of a convoy, wait for the vehicles to veer into those muddy fields in a panic, and then helpfully take them off Russia’s hands, intact, for Ukrainian army requisition. Tractors would be helpfully standing by.

The mud will make it even easier for this kind of raid by Ukrainian special forces.



That’s the sanitized, cropped version of those pictures. Others show a field littered with Russian corpses. However, it’s dubious the entire BTG was eliminated. On paper, they have 10 tanks, 40 infantry fighting vehicles, and 800-1,000 soldiers. On the other hand, given how undermanned these BTGs seem, maybe a couple dozen corpses was truly all that was left of that unit.

Regardless, if Russian armored vehicles are
this vulnerable to guerilla-style attacks now, when they have at least some mobility, imagine when they’re unable to move. Men on foot or SUVs, with night-vision goggles in the dark, will have a huge advantage over blind Russians without air or direct artillery support.

As flashy as those special forces raids are, Ukrainian artillery is even more impactful. Remember, Izyum’s supply lines run perilously near Ukrainian-held territory around Kharkiv, within easy artillery range.


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That’s a lot of yellow Ukrainian-held territory on the western flank of that supply road down to Izyum, allowing artillery to set up and use both drone-guided and precision-guided munitions to wreak havoc on those roads. Look what artillery managed to do in just the last 24 hours:





This intercepted report from a Russian officer in Izyum says it all: “Once again, I would like to note the very precise work of the Ukrainian artillery and mortars. It is their worth that is the main deterrent. 99 percent of our losses are the result of artillery work. There are no bullet wounds at all.” The same officer begs his superiors to stop “the Syrian experience of traveling in kilometer-long dense columns along the roads.”

Who wants to place bets on whether anyone listens to this guy’s sage advice?
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Tuesday, Apr 12, 2022 · 9:04:44 AM EDT · Mark Sumner
Before you ask, there is an online site from the Ukrainian government to sell these stamps. However, as of Tuesday morning in the U.S. that site was so swamped with visitors that it can’t actually operate.



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TTM Translation....

‎On April 12, Ukrposhta presented and put into circulation the first postage stamps "‎‎Russian warship, idi ...!" under martial law. This phrase is the ‎‎response of Ukrainian border guards, defenders of snake island, to the Russian ship on the proposal to surrender on the day of the invasion of Russian troops in Ukraine on February 24 has become a symbol of courage and indomitable spirit of the Ukrainian people in the struggle against Russia.‎

‎In Kyiv, a special repayment with the stamp "First Day" took place in the Post Office with the participation of the General Director of Ukrposhta Igor Smilyansky and the author of the famous phrase, the defender of Fr. Zmiinyi Marine Roman Gribov. Simultaneously with Kiev, repayments of special stamps "Russian warship, idi ...!" took place in all regions of Ukraine. The participant of the special repayment ceremony in Lviv was the author of the sketch of the postage stamp and envelope "First Day", the winner of the national competition for the best sketch for the postage stamp of the Crimean Boris Groch. Boris's work attracted the largest number of votes – 8,000 users voted for it on Facebook and Instagram.‎

‎Until 2014, Boris lived in Evpatoria. After Russia's occupation of Crimea, he was forced to move to Lviv.‎

‎"‎‎Ukrainian philately during the war is a reflection of the events that our state and our people are experiencing. The phrase that inspired us to create a postage stamp has already become a symbol of the indestructibility of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, volunteers, theroborons, all Ukrainians in the struggle for their land and the independence of Ukraine. I am sure that letters with such a postage stamp will be happy to receive both Ukrainians and our friends from abroad. And today, in this postal way, we once again remind the occupiers that they should immediately get out of our land and follow their ship,"‎‎ said Igor Smilyansky, General Director of Ukrposhta.‎

‎Postage stamp ‎‎"Russian warship, idi ...!" issued by Ukrposhta ‎‎in two denominations - to pay for postal items in Ukraine (face value F, equivalent to 23 UAH) and to pay for shipments traveling abroad (face value W, equivalent to $1.5 US). ‎

‎The envelope "First Day" was issued to the brand, the circulation is 20 thousand rubles. Note.‎

‎You can buy postage stamps "Russian warship, idi ...!" at ukrposhta branches and in the philatelic online ‎‎store‎‎.‎

 
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Ten Thousan Marbles

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Tuesday, Apr 12, 2022 · 9:08:43 AM EDT · Mark Sumner
A Telegram post from the commander of Ukrainian forces at Kryvyi Rih indicates that Ukraine has retaken “more then 15” villages and towns west of the Dnipro in that area north of Kherson. It also says they are working to restore services, in particular electricity, to the area.

However, it’s not clear exactly which villages are involved or when they were recaptured. Likely these are the cluster of locations reported as being taken by Ukrainian forces last week.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Tuesday, Apr 12, 2022 · 9:56:08 AM EDT · Mark Sumner
In a speech delivered on Tuesday, Putin insists that Russia had “no choice” but to attack Ukraine. He also indicated that Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine were a “triune nation” and that “greater integration” would be necessary between Russia and Belarus. All of this reinforces the idea that Putin still plans the conquest of all of Ukraine, not just some fragment.

Belarus dictator Lukashenko also spoke to to offer what may be the oddest claim yet when it comes to Russia and its allies dismissing the brutal war crimes in Bucha. According to Lukashenko, people in Bucha were killed by the special forces of the U.K. government. He offered to provide the “car brands” in which the British forces arrived in Bucha.

In the speech, Putin also indicated that he had no faith that there would be any negotiated settlement with Ukraine.

 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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A 25-year-old native of the southern Kyrgyz city of Osh, Sardarbek Mamatillaev received Russian citizenship just a few months ago.

Mamatillaev says he recently received a summons from the local military office in Russia and suspects he may be sent to Ukraine to fight alongside Russian forces after receiving a not-so-vague threat.

“I was told I must report to the military office, otherwise my Russian citizenship could be canceled,” Mamatillaev told Cabar.asia......
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Ex-Trump lawyer still exploring ways to overturn 2020 election in 2022
Brandi Buchman

Some of the police officers attacked by the mob former President Donald Trump incited on Jan. 6, 2021 are only now regaining greater mobility in their bodies—461 days since the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

But according to a new report by ABC, attorney for Trump John Eastman took a meeting with a Republican state assembly official in Wisconsin just a few weeks ago. While there, Eastman pushed the official to overturn the 2020 election results by “reclaiming” those electoral votes that went to President Joe Biden.

The meeting was reportedly held on March 16 between Eastman and Robin Vos, the GOP speaker for the Wisconsin state assembly, as well as a number of pro-Trump activists, including right-wing activist Jefferson Davis. Davis has been a vocal advocate of election fraud conspiracy theories central to Trump’s push to overturn the 2020 results.

Other attendees reportedly included Douglas Frank, a friend to pro-Trump MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell; Shawn Smith, one of Lindell’s reported financial backers; and Ivan Raiklin, a U.S. Army Reserve lieutenant colonel with close ties to Michael Flynn, Trump’s disgraced former national security adviser and Q-Anon enthusiast. Raiklin’s political advocacy put him under an internal review by the Army in December 2021.

Lindell did not attend the meeting with Eastman, Frank, Smith, and Raiklin.

Eastman told ABC he would not discuss the meeting.

“By explicit request from Speaker Vos, that meeting was confidential, so I am not able to make any comment,” he said Tuesday.

An attorney for Eastman did not immediately respond to a request for comment by Daily Kos, nor did Vos.

The Jan. 6 committee declined to comment to Daily Kos on Tuesday.

For the last several months, the committee has been slogging it out in court with Eastman as he fought to keep thousands of emails away from the probe. He rebuffed an initial subpoena from the committee, but the probe maneuvered around him and subpoenaed his professional emails from his tenure at his ex-employer, Chapman University.

Ultimately, a federal judge cut Eastman’s obfuscation short and in the course of reviewing some of the attorney's emails, found information that led him to believe Trump and Eastman “more likely than not” engaged in a federal crime by trying to stop Biden’s victory from being certified.

Eastman’s March 16 engagement is not his first get-together with Trump allies or election fraud conspiracy theory peddlers since he was first subpoenaed by the Jan. 6 committee.

As noted by ABC, a month before his appointment in Wisconsin, Eastman was in Castle Rock, Colorado, meeting with activists bent on ousting the state’s Democratic secretary, Jena Griswold. Republicans in the Colorado legislature have been stumping hard on election fraud conspiracy for weeks to reverse their defeats.

All the while, Trump has continued to push bunk election fraud claims and call for new investigations by state officials.

A day after Eastman’s meeting with Vos, Trump issued a statement through his chief spokeswoman, Liz Harrington, on Twitter.

Vos “just said there was widespread fraud in the 2020 presidential election but that the state legislature cannot do anything about it. Wrong!” Trump said on March 17.

The twice-impeached ex-president continued: “If you rob the diamonds from a jewelry store, if you get caught, you have to give the diamonds back, votes should be no different.”

Trump demanded that Vos “do the right thing and correct the crime of the century—immediately.”

Meanwhile, the government watchdog group American Oversight has successfully sued Vos for access to tens of thousands of pages of emails from the Wisconsin state assembly. The oversight group was interested in reviewing the many inquiries that were made to the assembly about the 2020 election.

On Monday, the Wisconsin Examiner reported in-depth on Vos’ communications during that time. Many of the emails had been deleted,

Emails showed messages sent and received between Vos and Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani and other election fraud conspiracy theory-peddling lawyers like Victoria Toensing.

Giuliani was subpoenaed by the Jan. 6 committee this Jan. 18 for his records and deposition. The former New York City mayor was often the public face of Trump’s plan to install “alternate electors” and according to at least one prosecutor in the 2020 election battleground state of Michigan,
Giuliani also pressured him to seize voting machines and send them to Trump’s team.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Making Russian Disinfo Great Again: Delingpole, McIntyre, and Gateway Pundit Up To Their Old Tricks
ClimateDenierRoundup

Since Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, we’ve kept an eye out to see how climate disinformation channels have responded. By and large, it’s by blaming Biden, and organized denial and disinformation outlets like RealClear, Fox and Breitbart haven’t quite embraced Russian disinformation as whole-heartedly as they have other strains of deceptive content.

While Koch has been noticeably soft on Russia, its minions are largely staying on message, and away from off topic conspiracy theories. There are exceptions though, and they seem to have something in common: a history of receiving and rebroadcasting disinformation either exclusively or potentially of Russian state origin.

Gateway Pundit (an outlet that accuses school shooting survivors of being crisis actors) was founded by Jim Hoft (who’s banned from Twitter and demonitized by YouTube for election and Covid disinformation), was the first outlet we noticed that was running content questioning the “mainstream narrative” (reality) of what’s happening in Ukraine, with a noticeably pro-Putin bent.

In 2018, Gateway Pundit was one of the examples special counsel Robert Mueller’s office used to demonstrate American political media propagating Russian disinformation. In 2022, it’s carrying Russian state disinfo on biolabs, putting the right’s censorship conspiracies right in line with Russia’s interests against the “demons at Meta-Facebook,” and attacking Hillary Clinton and George Soros as “two of the most high-profile voices advocating a fight with Russia” as part of “a massive propaganda campaign” in Ukraine’s favor.

Gateway Pundit is running with the disinformation accusing environmentalists of being secretly funded by Putin (thoroughly debunked as a four-pinocchio whopper). It’s a bit behind the curve since it’s part of the disorganized disinfo ecosystem and not part of the fossil fuel industry’s organized denial apparatus.

The same goes for the rest of our examples. Mining executive Stephen McIntyre has a white whale-sized obsession with Michael Mann’s iconic hockey-stick graphs, and in the 00’s launched information requests into climate scientists’s emails about it. Then, a tranche of emails he was also after was posted, via an anonymous comment, to McIntyre’s climate audit blog. It was the first public leak of the emails that would be used to manufacture the Climategate controversy. The next place they were published was a comment on WattsUpWithThat, where they were hosted on a Russian server, and bounced around the denial blogosphere as they scrambled to cook up the conspiracy. The server connection is likely mere coincidence, but the similarities between climategate and Russia’s requested hacking and release of emails during the 2016 election have been well-documented.

These days, McIntyre is busy bringing his own special brand of auditing to Russian war crimes in Ukraine, which like Russian war crimes in Syria, he has Russia-friendly, consensus-conflicting opinions about, namely that the victims of Russian violence are actually the perpetrators.

It was James Delingpole who launched Climategate from niche narrative to mainstream though, with a Telegraph blog that was picked up on by BBC, Fox, and Drudge, cementing its place in the conservative pantheon of obviously false and long-debunked talking points, next to “Trickle-down economics,” “small government,” and “drill baby, drill.”

Thirteen years later, Delingpole is no longer afforded too many mainstream media posts. Instead, he’s occasionally blogging at Breitbart, but even that’s too good for his Russia takes: those are on his new-for-’22 substack.

Delingpole is also skeptical of the critics of his erstwhile Russian friends, asking exactly the questions Russian disinformation is designed to produce: “what if our [mainstream media] and politicians are exaggerating the threat? What if they are flat out lying to us, for ulterior motives, in much the same way they lied to us about vaccine safety and infection rates and the efficacy of masks and lockdowns?”

Before accusing Ukrainians of carrying out the civilian executions by Russian forces, just like McIntyre and Russian propaganda, Delingpole quotes extensively from a Putin-apologist’s take about how much restraint Putin has shown, and how “remarkably successful” Russia’s military has performed in this “limited war, designed to avoid killing civilians.”

But worry not, he knows it “will of course be dismissed as ‘Kremlin propaganda’. But it makes intuitive sense.” Ah! Of course! Delingpole’s defense for regurgitating what even he admits looks indistinguishable from Kremlin propaganda, because it just plain makes sense to him!

And why wouldn’t it? His post concludes with a warning that “we cannot allow ourselves to be brainwashed by the propaganda narratives of people who do not share our best interests. If we do, we deserve every bit of misery that they send our way for it makes us willing participants in their deception.”

It’s great advice, actually!

If only James would take it.

 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Ukraine update: Russia has issues with logistics and command, but there's one more factor
Mark Sumner

GettyImages-1239937041.jpg

Ukrainian artillery waits in the woods near Lysychansk in Luhansk Oblast. April 12, 2022.

We seem to be having Russian History Month. There has been the head of the Russian orthodox church reaching back 900 years to claim that neither Ukraine nor the Ukrainian church is “real.” Vladimir Putin has insisted that Ukraine is not a country because it “illegally left” the USSR. And on Tuesday, Russian diplomats insisted that Japan pay them back for gold supposedly stolen in 1920.

Over the last few weeks, Kos has written several times about the importance of logistics and how Russia’s issues on this front ensured that their plans to march into Kyiv didn’t just fail, but were doomed to fail. Kos has also taken a look at Russia’s multiple issues of communications and why it doesn’t have the experienced NCOs to hold together things on a tactical basis. Russia is also short of clear lines of command to maintain strategic goals, is saddled with a lot of poorly maintained equipment, and is utterly lacking in the intelligence necessary to predict the actions of their opponent at any scale.

On Tuesday, as ever more Russian forces are crowded into eastern Ukraine, President Zelenskyy desperately seeks the materials to keep his nation afloat, and everyone braces for a battle that will define the future. Let’s take a quick look at two battles where all those issues facing Russia were true. Except we’re not looking at Russia, we’re looking at the United States. And we’re not looking on the European steppes but at the Pacific Ocean.

On August 7, 1942, a massive U.S. fleet approached the islands of Guadalcanal, Tulagi, and Florida in the southern Solomon Islands. There the fleet successfully landed Marines, captured two airfields under construction, annihilated a small Japanese base, and drove construction workers into the jungle. After two days of hard fighting, U.S. forces stepped down from high alert on the evening of August 8. They had control of the islands, two large naval forces standing in the strait between Guadalcanal and Tulagi, a screen of destroyers guarding the entrance to the area, a carrier fleet providing air cover, and reconnaissance planes making loops to warn of any Japanese approach. The admiral in charge even expressed a wish that someone would attack, showing confidence in their position.

That night, a much smaller Japanese fleet sailed into the area under cover of darkness, opened fire on the southern half of the fleet, and either sunk or sent into flight every major ship. Then it turned to the north, did the same to the northern fleet, and escaped beyond small Savo Island after taking only light damage. On the U.S. side, four heavy cruisers were utterly lost. Another was seriously damaged and left adrift. Two destroyers were also left with serious damage, unable to continue the fight. 1,077 men were killed—almost as many as the Marines would lose on Guadalcanal over the course of that whole infamously terrible campaign. And all those troops onshore would be left without air cover, without cover from the sea, and short on supplies, setting up everything that was to come.

What went wrong? What didn’t. A U.S. spotting plane had seen the Japanese fleet—in fact, two planes spotted them while approaching. But those planes were under a different command. Since the naval operations were secret, the planes didn’t know the U.S. ships were off to their east and weren’t all that concerned about the course the Japanese fleet was taking. It took more than 8 hours for the first message to reach the U.S. ships. Even when it did, everyone misinterpreted what the spotting planes had seen.

It wasn’t just the planes that were under a different command. The naval fleet was actually split up among different admirals, and after the landing, the commander of the carrier fleet unexpectedly announced he was taking his ships and leaving the area. Surprised, the overall commander of the landing fleet called in his next in command for a conference. That next in command failed to put anyone in charge of the southern fleet, where he had been stationed, and no one bothered to notify the northern fleet of what was happening. In fact, no one bothered to notify the northern fleet that anything was wrong even after the Japanese sailed into the strait and attacked the southern fleet. The Japanese got to stage two separate surprise attacks because no one on the U.S. side thought to pick up a radio. And all during the fight, the two guys really in charge were somewhere else, complaining about the other admiral and the carrier fleet. They didn’t even see the action.

Command, control, logistics, communications … they failed every test. And the result may have added a year to the war in the space of just minutes.

What may seem stranger is that this battle came just after the resounding U.S. victory at Midway, a battle where combined groups of bombers operating from multiple carriers came together to sink three Japanese carriers and genuinely turn the tide of the war. How is it possible that the U.S. could be so coordinated at Midway and so utterly hapless at Savo Island? The answer is that it wasn’t.

There’s one more big factor in warfare that Kos hasn’t really discussed: luck.

As Kos has covered, Russia’s lack of NCOs, inexperienced soldiers, and top-heavy management style makes it hard for them to coordinate more than two or three battalion tactical groups (BTGs) at a time. In fact, most of Russia’s actions seem to be single BTGs, or even partial BTGs, being flung around Ukraine without the support they need to actually hold a position, or contest a position against dug-in opponents.

At Midway, the U.S. had exactly that same problem. The U.S. kept trying to get off waves of planes, but each carrier was having its own set of difficulties, resulting in planes going up in small clusters all morning, rather than forming a coordinated attack. A handful of fighters here. A slightly larger grouping of attack bombers over there. Some dive bombers who took a wrong turn and came from another direction.

None of it was working as designed, and the Japanese defenses took out these flights almost as soon as they arrived. Throughout most of the morning, not one bomb or torpedo reached a single Japanese ship, while several of the U.S. flights were wiped out to a plane.

However, that chaos turned out to be just what the U.S. needed. The Japanese had already launched half their planes and needed a 45-minute window to recover them, get them stowed away, and get another flight ready on deck. U.S. planes kept hitting them every time it seemed they were about to get that window. Not by design. By luck.

And when the Japanese finally managed to get all their planes landed, stowed, fueled, and re-armed for a response, that was when two separate flights of U.S. bombers—launched in different directions at different times—just happened to show up at once, hitting the Japanese fleet from opposite sides of the sky. Exhausted and frustrated by a morning of constant attacks, the Japanese watched as a handful of bombs went right through openings in the Japanese carrier decks and found all those planes. With their fuel. And their bombs. Japan lost three carriers, lost any chance at taking Midway, and may have lost the war. In about eight minutes.

That happened despite U.S. issues with command, control, and communication. Sometimes, things just do.

As all those tanks in the Donbas get ready to roll, just hope that Russia has all Savo Islands, no Midways.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Tuesday, Apr 12, 2022 · 4:09:37 PM EDT · Mark Sumner
As the importance of the upcoming fight in the Donbas becomes clear, the U.S. and other Western nations are increasingly ready to give Ukraine what it will take to see that this decisive battle, is a decisive Ukrainian victory. Russia is looking to cram enough hardware and firepower into the region that it overcomes whatever else they lack. But any attempt to move that hardware beyond current positions faces the same issues as every other Russian advance.

A lack of air superiority means Russian forces remains subject to attack. This is especially true when establishing a long salient across Ukrainian-held territory. The farther they go, and the narrower their advance, the more difficult it will be to maintain momentum and hold supply lines open.

Even without successful attacks on those supply lines, a lack of logistics and planning means that the farther Russian forces go, the more difficulty Moscow has keeping vehicles fueled and supplied.

Heavy rains in eastern Ukraine over the next two weeks could limit Russian movements to major highways. If that happens, the fight could come down to a dozen very small “fronts” each one of which is subject to intense fighting.

If rains end up stalling the Russian advance over the next few weeks, that will certainly give Russia time to bring in more forces, and perhaps patch up a few of the BTGs that were broken in the north. However, it also means more time for Ukraine to accept and integrate imported weapons.

And with every day, Western nations are more willing to give Ukraine anything that might be useful. After all, a decisive defeat in the Donbas is something that could all but end Russia’s territorial ambitions. That’s worth both heavy investment and substantial risk.