More to ignore, Book 51..........

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Ukraine update: Pentagon thinks big Russian offensive is still to come, because so far this is lame
kos

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Ukrainian troops headed to the front lines with anti-tank hardware.

Exactly a week ago, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) concluded that “Russian forces will likely continue ongoing offensive operations in the Donbas region, feeding reinforcements into the fight as they become available rather than gathering reinforcements and replacements for a more coordinated and coherent offensive.” That’s exactly what seems to be happening now as Russia pushes broadly across the entire Donbas front lines, but exercises overwhelming force absolutely nowhere.

Ukraine has declared the start of the much-anticipated Russian offensive, but the Pentagon is less sure.



As the Pentagon sees it, Russia is merely softening up the frontlines for something bigger down the line. It could very well be that, because despite the massive artillery barrages, Russia’s gains have been minimal, mostly ground assaults repulsed by Ukrainian defenders. So really, more of the same, just at a higher intensity.

So why are they wasting men and material with these probes? Apparently, it’s what they do.



The source for this information is Oleksiy Arestovych, an advisor to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, and Dmitri helpfully translates his regular dispatches. (In fact, Dmitri’s Twitter account is one of the most informative around.) So according to Arestovych, Russians send a probe, see what happens. If Ukrainians blow up the cannon fodder? Good to know! That area is well-protected, let’s avoid it. But hey, this other advance received minimal resistance, and they lay down artillery to soften it up even more. And then? … Seriously, and then? With a competent military, you have a rear force that can then exploit the breach and push forward, taking additional ground while the original spear holds the breach open, protecting it from counter-attack. Here, Russia sends cannon fodder to die, and then sends some new cannon fodder somewhere else, and they’re laying artillery down the entire front anyway.

It’s so weird, it almost seems like fiction. Are Russians really that incompetent, stupid, and callous toward the death of their service members? And yet here they are, still probing, still losing men and equipment to drip-drip-drip attacks, even though their big offensive is supposedly underway. The spigot is yet to open. That’s why the Pentagon must think, “This can’t be it. There has to be more coming down the pike.”

All those troops being thrown into the wood chipper have to be replaced. And the Ukrainian General Staff has an ill view of them:

Separate units of the 103th, 109th, 113th, 125th and 127th [motorized] regiment operate. Their equipment was carried out during the forced mobilization of men from the temporarily occupied territories of Donetsk and Luhansk regions. The structurally-appointed regimes include up to 5 battalions counting about 300 soldiers each. Only 5-10 percent of the personal composition of the specified units have combat experience. The regiment management consists of officers of the armed forces of the Russian Federation. These formations have significant problems with providing weapons, ammunition and medicines.

So the result is forced conscripts like this guy, with no combat experience, zero training, and only 300 soldiers per battalion that are supposed to have 800 to 1,000. (Remember that when the Pentagon says there are 78 BTGs in Ukraine right now. They’re not all created equal.) Their purpose is cannon fodder in human-wave attacks, to see whether an approach is defended by Ukrainians. They are literally dead men walking. Their best chance of survival is mutiny and desertion … to the west. Russians soldiers pulled out of Kyiv certainly have zero interest in getting thrown back into the line of fire. Others in Donbas are refusing orders to advance to combat. (See here, here, here and here, here, here, here, here, and here.)

Assuming some sort of major offensive will at some point take place (still not convinced it will), its early results will determine the mid-term outcome of the war. If Russia advances and Ukraine is unable to hold, morale will increase and Russia will be able to manage some level of unit cohesion. But if they hit brick wall after brick wall, suffering horrendous casualties in the process, that army could disintegrate overnight. Endless parades of casualties, wet and cold from spring rains, and leadership that treats them as garbage take a toll. More artillery guns and ammo would further compound that misery. As Russia knows, artillery is a powerful psychological weapon, traumatizing more than it’ll ever directly kill.



With American, Dutch, and Canadian artillery starting to flow to Ukraine, their ability to return the favor is getting a huge boost in the coming weeks. Ukraine can withstand the barrages because they have no choice—they’re fighting an existential battle for their survival. But those Russian and Donbas conscripts? They don’t need this shit. They don’t see any Nazis.



As Mark pointed out earlier, Ukrainian forces are actually advancing in several locations, including the eastern front. This is not Ukraine on its back heels. This is a confident, aggressive, smart, and increasingly well-equipped defensive force using its superior intelligence, better-trained soldiers, and tactically smarter command (all the way down to the squad level with a real NCO culture) to bedevil an outclassed, outmaneuvered, and poorly motivated enemy.


Can Russia cobble something together to push harder? Maybe. Lots of war will still be fought. But Russia better hope this isn’t the actual massive offensive they’ve been promising. Otherwise, there’s not much war left.
 
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Ten Thousan Marbles

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Amazingly considering the odds against them, Ukraine’s airmen have more flyable fighters today than they did in early April, according to U.S. Defense Department spokesman John Kirby.

Kyiv’s air force has “more operable fighter aircraft than they had two weeks ago,” Kirby told reporters Tuesday.

Donations of airplanes, and airplane parts, made it possible. “I would just say, without getting into what other nations are providing, that they have received additional platforms and parts to be able to increase their fleet size,” Kirby said…
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Ukraine Update: The heavy weapons spigot has finally opened for Ukraine
kos

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M777 Howitzer artillery.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy:


“I like new questions,” he said. “It’s not interesting to answer the questions you already heard.” He is frustrated, for instance, by repeated requests for his wish list of weapons systems. “When some leaders ask me what weapons I need, I need a moment to calm myself, because I already told them the week before. It’s Groundhog Day. I feel like Bill Murray.”

Zelenskyy’s wish list isn’t a state secret.



The day after Zelenskyy released this list, President Joe Biden announced an $800 million package to Ukraine that included some of these items. Yesterday, we learned that less than a week later, the United States is close to announcing the next $800 million package, one that would boost the current American contribution to $3.2 billion in military aid since Biden took office, with no end in sight. As far as the United States is concerned, the floodgates are open, already checking off 155mm artillery (eight M777 howitzers and 40,000 shells), Armored Personnel Carriers (APC, 200 M113s), and 11 Mi-17 Russian-built helicopters that were supposed to go to the Afghan army but ... you know. In addition, the United States is delivering critically important anti-battery radar, which tracks the source of incoming artillery so it can be targeted and struck by Ukraine’s own guns, as well as 500 more Javelin anti-tank missiles, 300 more suicide drones, 100 Humvees, body armor, explosives, ad small arms.

If you checked in on the peanut gallery, you’d see people claim that the shipments are “too late” (it’s not, that's just dumb), that it’s “not enough” (of course it’s not, but that’s a week and a half’s worth, which is a lot), and lots of complaining that what Ukraine
really needs is aircraft. Well, sure, but the United States doesn’t have the Soviet/Russian aircraft it can already fly and service. Though …

Aircraft? What aircraft?

At yesterday’s Pentagon press conference, held by Press Secretary John F. Kirby:


Q: And you said earlier that the Ukrainians have now more fighter aircraft than they had two weeks ago. Can you give us ...
KIRBY: More operable fighter aircraft than they had two weeks ago.
Q: So can you give us an idea of—did they receive more? And an idea of how many? Dozens?
KIRBY: I would just say without getting into what other nations are providing that they have received additional platforms and parts to be able to increase their fleet size—their aircraft fleet size, I think I'd leave it at that.
Platforms and parts.
Q: What is a platform?

KIRBY: Platform is an airplane in this case. They have received additional aircraft and aircraft parts to help them, you know, get more aircraft in the air. Yes.

Those were very carefully chosen words to say “we’re not sending any aircraft, but, magically, they have more planes!” There have been long-aborted plans to have Poland and/or Romania send Soviet-era planes they’re phasing out, and “backfilling” those nations with shiny new American F-16s. The only way to interpret this is that Ukraine isn’t just getting some of those planes, but that they already did.



1) The use of the word “officially” is hilariously weird. Oh yeah? Officially? What about unofficially? Poland tried to pawn its Mig-29s to the United States, to transfer to Ukraine. It wanted to erase its footprints. The U.S. was like “LOL no.” So of course this transfer has to be off the books.

2) “New aircraft.” That’s some pedantic parsing, I know, but these aircraft are old.

3) They admit they have more operational aircraft, but go back to “we just got some spare parts” as a way to provide plausible deniability when Russia counts all the new MiGs Ukraine has back in the air.

A close reading shows zero inconsistency between the Pentagon and Ukraine’s statements.

Regardless, everyone agrees Ukraine has more aircraft than it did before. That’s progress on another items on Zelenskyy’s list. Now let’s start training pilots and ground crews on F-15s or F-16s, whatever is easiest to maintain. You know how there are civilian military contractors in war zones? They’re not all Blackwater mercenaries. Many are maintenance personnel. I’m now persuaded this would be a viable stopgap measure to both help maintain these modern aircraft, as well as play NCO and train Ukrainians to eventually take over the tasks themselves. I’d just want to make sure Ukraine had the hard shelters and air defense systems in place to protect these aircraft on the ground, because Russia would launch the remainder of its missiles if it had a chance to take them all out.

Note, Ukraine has “denied” the Pentagon’s claims, and I use the scare quotes there on purpose.

Artillery, and more artillery!


The current $800 million package had eight M777-towed howitzers and 40,000 shells, and people wailed, “It’s not enough!” No shit. That was the first batch. Biden said today that the U.S. was prioritizing sending more artillery, and the next $800 million package will undoubtedly expand on that order. Canada is also sending M777s, which makes things easier for Ukraine. Remember: Logistics and maintenance have to be as simplified as possible, so standardizing around fewer systems is ideal.

Furthermore, as much as I was hoping for the self-propelled M109, which essentially is an artillery gun on tracks, the U.S. must be paying attention to Russian woes in Ukraine, especially losing a great deal of their own self-propelled artillery guns to General Mud. Towed artillery is less likely to suffer from those problems. And all of NATO has loads and loads of 155mm shells. The Brits, for one, have already promised to supply Ukraine with 155mm ammunition. The Soviet-designed gear both Ukraine and Russia currently use are 152mm, and Ukraine is reportedly running low. Shifting to NATO-standard munitions should help.

Lithuania has sent nine of its D-30 howitzers, while Poland sent around 20 2S1 Gvozdika—but they use 122mm shells at a time when the bulk of Ukraine’s current artillery fleet uses 152mm and is likely moving to a 155mm standard. I have no idea how much additional effort it’ll take to supply these, but it certainly complicates logistics. Maybe they can be kept back, say, for Kyiv’s territorial defense forces, allowing the bigger guns (and their supply lines) to move east to the front lines.

Armored Personnel Carriers/Infantry Fighting Vehicles

The Ukrainian offensive around Kherson has stalled because it cannot penetrate a wall of Russia artillery. Unmounted, unprotected infantry are too vulnerable to blast shrapnel. As we’ve seen, the terrain is basically Kansas: wide open fields with few places to take cover. This is where armor comes in. Armored personnel carriers can rush troops forward while protecting them from the shrapnel of exploding artillery. M113s won’t stop anti-tank missiles or Russian tank hits, but they are not designed to do that. They’re designed to offer soft protection.

The U.S. opted to send old M113s rather than more modern M2 Bradley infantry fighting vehicles, which are currently being phased out. Maintenance concerns likely played a role in that decision, but it likely didn’t hurt that half the world fields the M113, once again making it possible for other nations to send their own stock without requiring Ukraine to learn to maintain and support yet another weapons system. Also, the U.S. has around 6,000 of these lying around. As long as Ukraine wants them, we can afford to pass them on.

Other countries are stepping up with their own contributions. The Netherlands promised “heavy equipment,” starting with “armored vehicles.” Given that their tanks are modern German Leopard 2s, and they only have 18 of them, we can safely assume that they’ll be sending one of the many APCs they currently field. I notice they have Bushmasters, which Ukraine just received from Australia. Would be convenient to standardize around those somewhat.

The Brits are sending 120 FV103 Spartans, the Czechs are sending 56 of their BMP-1 variant (which Ukraine already knows how to service), while the Poles are sending an undisclosed number of their own BMP-1 version.

Air defense systems


Eliminate Russia’s ability to fly aircraft over the battlefield, and the situation shifts dramatically. NATO has sent a whole buffet of shoulder-fired anti-aircraft systems, and they have been very effective at curbing Russia’s ability to deploy ground-support planes and helicopters over the battlefield. But they don’t have the altitude range to hit high-flying bombers and missiles. Those kinds of systems have incredibly heavy logistical and operational requirements. As I’ve written before, maintenance training for the U.S. Patriot system is one year, and that’s just for baseline knowledge. NCOs continue that education once new soldiers reach their units.

Thus, Ukraine has been begging Eastern European nations to part with their Soviet-era systems, which they already know how to operate and maintain. The only country to answer that call is Slovakia, which parted with a single battery of its long-range S-300PMU system, including 45 missiles. The United States has temporarily backfilled the donation with an American Patriot system, which will stick around until Slovakia learns how to operate their own. It is critical that Ukraine get more such systems, capable of shooting down incoming missiles, if it intends to seriously rebuild its air force. Ukraine needs to protect its air fields.

Bulgaria has one S-300 battery, Greece has 32 launchers and 175 missiles. And that’s it for long range systems. However, there are more options in the medium-range category, with several friendly nations fielding variants of the Buk air defense system, which Ukraine already operates. While the S-300s have a range of up to 90 kilometers, the Buk can defend out to 30 kilometers and altitudes of 14 kilometers (40,000 feet)—totally adequate for airfield and other critical infrastructure anti-missile defense. Finland has some in storage in “operable condition.” Allies also have the 9K33 Osa system, also used by Ukraine, with a similar range of 30 kilometers, and an altitude of 12 kilometers. The system is operated by Bulgaria, Greece, Poland, and Romania.

The British don’t have any Soviet-era systems, but they are stepping up with their Stormer system equipped with Starstreak missiles:



Starstreaks are particularly deadly because they don’t home in on heat signatures, so they can’t be fooled by most aircraft countermeasures (mainly, flares to distract the missiles). These will be helpful on the Donbas front lines, where Russian ground-attack aircraft dare to operate, close to friendly airspace.

Multiple Launch Rocket Systems


I’ve seen some people demand the United States give Ukraine American M270 MLRS, to which I say, NO ****ING WAY. This is my very specific area of expertise. They were a beast to maintain and support. They were constantly broken down in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. I can’t imagine what they might look like 30 years later. There are better alternatives.

The Czechs have delivered at least 20 RM-70s, which are based on the Soviet-era GRAD MLRS, which Ukraine already operates. Meanwhile, Poland has sent at least 20 of its own GRADs.

Tanks


Poland has reportedly sent over 100 T-72M(1)s, though the Poles are in no hurry to publicly confirm it. Unlike other nations, Poland seems to want to keep its major weapons transfers quiet, even if leaks are inevitable:



The Czechs have promised 12 more T-72M1s. These are old variants, and Ukraine wants more modern gear. But there is hope that they can be quickly upgraded with modern optics.



Western tanks are problematic for several reasons, mostly dealing with logistics. It’s one thing to have civilian contractors work on aircraft in Ukraine’s west. It’s another to have them on the eastern front lines servicing complex modern battle tanks. American M1 Abrams battle tanks use jet fuel and burn 3 gallons per mile (not a typo). It’s complicated enough getting regular diesel to the front lines.

The good news is that several NATO allies have T-72s currently being phased out: Bulgaria (430), Czech Republic (around 630), and Poland (around 1,000).

Conclusion


While Ukraine hasn’t gotten everything it wants, the spigot is now open, with heavy armor (tanks and armored personnel carriers), aircraft, artillery, MLRS, and air defense systems finally flowing into the country. No one aside from the Germans and the French seem particularly worried about Russia’s reaction, and worrying about it seems quite quaint these days. Russia has watched impotently as NATO has flooded Ukraine with the very weapons that have killed or injured tens of thousands of Z invaders.

And yes, we are all eager for more, and it will never be enough, but the logistics of the operation—already impressive—are dramatically improving, reflected in the quickening pace of new American military assistance packages. Meanwhile, other allies are finally coming online, like Italy, which approved weapons shipments on Monday.

Germany approved $2 billion for Ukraine to “go shopping,” but inexplicably still won’t directly deliver weapons, and France is lagging. But with Biden pushing hard, hopefully they’ll deliver in a bigger way. They certainly seem to understand that they’ll shoulder the bulk of the burden of Ukraine’s reconstruction, but the longer this war lasts, the higher that bill will be. It will save them money in the long run to engage more actively in Ukraine’s defense.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Mistral is a very short-range air defence (SHORAD) missile system that can be used from vehicles, surface ships, and helicopters, as well as in a portable configuration. Development of the French portable missile SATCP (sol-air à très courte portée), which later became the Mistral, began in 1974......
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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FQy9riiXMAoPXOe


FQy9sXIWQAMLsGP


FQy9tBeXoAoodEG



Igor Vsevolodovich Girkin (Russian: И́горь Все́володович Ги́ркин, IPA: [ˈiɡərʲ ˈfsʲevələdəvʲɪtɕ ˈɡʲirkʲɪn],; 17 December 1970),[2] also known by the alias Igor Ivanovich Strelkov (Russian: И́горь Ива́нович Стрелко́в, IPA: [ˈiɡərʲ ɪˈvanəvʲɪtɕ strʲɪlˈkof]), is a Russian army veteran and former Federal Security Service (FSB) officer who played a key role in the Annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation, and later the War in Donbas as an organizer of the Donetsk People's Republic's militant groups.[3][4][5] Girkin led a group of militants into Ukraine where he participated in the Siege of Sloviansk. During the battle he increased his influence and ultimately became the de-facto military commander of all separatist forces in the Donbas region, which was confirmed by Donetsk People's Republic prime minister Alexander Borodai who appointed him as official Defense Minister.[5][6][7]

Girkin, a self-described Russian nationalist, was charged by Ukrainian authorities with terrorism.[8] He has been sanctioned by the European Union for his leading role in the armed conflict in eastern Ukraine.[9] Ukrainian authorities have called him a retired colonel of the GRU (Russia's external military intelligence organisation).[9][10][11]

In 2014 he reportedly believed that the "liberal clans" (liberal part of Russian elites) must be destroyed in favor of "law enforcement" ones.[12][13] On 28 May 2016 he formed the Russian National Movement, a political group in favor of "uniting the Russian Federation, Ukraine, Belarus, and other Russian lands into a single all-Russian state and transforming the entire territory of the former USSR into an unconditional zone of Russian influence."[14]


According to some sources Girkin is an alleged war criminal.[15] On 19 June 2019, Dutch prosecutors charged Girkin for murder in the shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17,[16][17][18] and issued an international arrest warrant against him.[19]......
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Trump's 'Solution' to the War in Ukraine is to Appease Russia and Quash Any Criticism of Putin
News Corpse

trump-putin.jpg


This week Russia is escalating their genocidal assault on the people of Ukraine with an offensive in the eastern region of Donbas. It is already producing more of the atrocities and war crimes that Russia been committing for the past several weeks. The United States and it allies throughout the world are united in condemning Russia's actions and are coming to the aid of the brave Ukrainians.

However, Donald Trump is continuing to whitewash Russia's invasion and is offering advice that is repugnant and only serves to benefit the Russian aggressors. In a tweet posted by his Twitter ban defying spokes-shill, Trump said that...


“It doesn’t make sense that Russia and Ukraine aren’t sitting down and working out some kind of an agreement. If they don’t do it soon, there will be nothing left but death, destruction, and carnage. This is a war that never should have happened, but it did. The solution can never be as good as it would have been before the shooting started, but there is a solution, and it should be figured out now—not later—when everyone will be DEAD!”

Notice that nowhere in this comment does Trump ever mention the savagery and inhumanity of what Russia is doing to innocents in Ukraine. He doesn't acknowledge that Russia initiated the invasion against a peaceful neighbor. To Trump this a merely a negotiable difference of opinion that can be resolved by reaching a compromised settlement wherein both parties make concessions.

That's a position that is typical of Trump's transactional approach to everything. He believes that bullies should get what they want just because they demand it. It's also a position that leans heavily in favor of Trump's pals in Russia who have no claim whatsoever to any accommodation by Ukraine. Why should Ukraine be forced to capitulate to the Russian marauders?

Notice also that nowhere in Trump's comment does he even mention his BFF, Vladimir Putin. Trump has a long history of favoring Putin over his fellow Americans, especially President Biden. Trump viciously maligns Biden as a "radical" who is trying to "destroy" the country, and who is not fit for deliberations. But he thinks that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy should be compelled to sit down with the murderous heathen, Putin, and make "some kind of an agreement." Trump doesn't (can't) explain what that agreement might look like. But when he previously offered his assessment of the situation it devolved into an entirely irrelevant and inane rant about windmills. That's right. Windmills!

In 2019 Zelenskyy visited the White House to seek military aid from the U.S. while Russia was already supporting a separatist movement in Eastern Ukraine. During that meeting Trump brazenly lied about the differences between the military support given to Ukraine by President Obama and himself. Then, as now, Trump suggested that Ukraine's problems with Russia could all be solved if they would just "get together" with Putin.

Remember, Trump was impeached (the first time) because he tried to hold military aid hostage in order to coerce Zelenskyy to fabricate dirt on then-candidate Joe Biden. You can tell what Zelenskyy thought about Trump's advice by the look on his face when Trump said that...


"I really believe that President Putin would like to do something. I really hope that you and President Putin can get together and solve your problem."



So Trump has been arguing Putin's side in this conflict for at least three years. And his latest tweet is proof that he's still doing so. He still thinks that Ukraine should be making concessions to their enemy. And he still refuses to articulate even the slightest criticism of Putin.

What's worse is that the Republican Party is going along with Trump on all of this. Which ought to be more than enough reason to vote every last one of those anti-American cretins out of office before they decide that the U.S. should be making concessions to Russia too.
 

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