Ukraine and America

Ukraine's defense has been bold and admirable; they have shown us that the Russian forces, even their elite forces, are structurally and doctrinally weak. Russia is almost certain to win, but it is paying a huge price for it. Americans would never accept losing two companies of the 82nd Airborne en route to seize an airfield they never reached; nor having deployed airborne and special operations units to another airfield, only to see them wiped out. The losses of tanks and mobile infantry are already staggering. Yesterday some pundits were speaking of how Putin would press on to seize the rest of Eastern Europe, which he plainly couldn't do with 150,000 troops; today, it's clear that he will be grateful if he manages to swallow, let alone digest, what he has undertaken.

Having said all of that, Lee Smith has an important point on how America has led Ukraine to the bleeding point. It's a long piece, but needs to be considered: the basic lesson is that our intelligence agencies played them for their own advantage, and used them to destabilize other states -- and of course the hated Trump administration, impeached over Ukraine but the administration that actually gave them the weapons they needed to fight Russian tanks. 


james said...

An observation you might find interesting:

Christopher B said...

The unintended consequence of the US 'bribing up' (to use Peter Zeihan's formulation) the Western Cold War coalition with economic incentives and trade policy was the creation of a global elite that are basically grifters who have been trying to maintain its zombie existence for the past generation. They rule countries without feeling any of the loyalty that should flow up and down the chain to maintain the legitimacy of even an autocratic ruler. They have more in common, and feel more loyalty towards, the people they rub elbows with in Turtle Bay or Davos than those in the streets of their capital cities, and it's not limited to leaders outside the US (see the fences going back up in DC as we type). Unlike Xi, Putin (and Trump) doesn't play along with grift and so must be stomped on when he gets out of line. It's nice to see Zelensky breaking the mold but his evident nationalism is likely part of the reason for the ambivalent response of the Biden administration. I suspect he could have done a deal like Ghani and skeddaled.

Grim said...

He was invited several times, most recently yesterday by the US. He replied, “I need ammunition, not a ride.”

Assistant Village Idiot said...

@ James - interesting observations from Trent.

Grim said...

Yes, very. There’s a use still for the 82nd, but maybe not against enemies with ballistic missiles and powerful warheads. Mostly we’ve used them as rapidly deployed police forces these last decades.

We’ve learned a lot this week. I still think Russia will win, but the only way that they can is intense brutality vs Kyiv.

E Hines said...

Russia is almost certain to win, but it is paying a huge price for it.

I'm not sure I see the relevance of this. Biden-Harris, also, is insisting that Putin "will pay a price" for invading Ukraine. But in the end, Putin will have Ukraine, cheaply or expensively. It's suboptimal to try to imply, as Biden is so desperate to do, that prices we'd pay or not are the prices Putin is willing to pay or not. He doesn't have our logic or our value sets. He doesn't care about the price, he wants the prize.

Re Telenko's observations at James' link: I'm not sure how immobile an Iron Dome system is, or an Arrow.

There's always a use for an 82nd AD or an 18th Corps; they're light infantry, and they have very critical uses. They just need to be targeted properly and not over-optimistically used.

The F-35 (and the F-22 before it) are useless in virtually any role. They're enormously overpriced and undercapable boondoggles that would have made outstanding prototyping and OT&E platforms if left to that.

The real risk, it seems to me, is that Putin, who's already threatened nuclear strikes against nations that intervene, might do that. And he has that old (possibly updated to account for new weapons systems) Soviet nuclear war doctrine that lays out how to fight one and win it.

I agree with the underlying premise of that doctrine, but we no longer have the defenses necessary to win it.

Eric Hines

E Hines said...

...the only way that they [Russia] can is intense brutality vs Kyiv.

So far--and it's way too early, so it's idle speculation--Kyiv and Kharkhov are beginning to resemble Stalingrad. A lot here will depend on how willing the West, particularly the US, is to actively support Ukraine.

So far, with the wrist slap sanctions and the counter-Russian tongue clucks, the Western governments are just acting like fans in the coliseum stands cheering on the mayhem down in the sand.

Eric Hines

Gavin Longmuir said...

Eric Hines: "Kyiv and Kharkhov are beginning to resemble Stalingrad."

That is one interpretation. Another interpretation is that Russian forces are following the old Stalinist rule -- Lead with the bayonet; if you encounter resistance, choose another path.

Militarily, there is no need to fight block to block in Kiev. Simply knock out the power plants and the water treatment plants and wait outside. The fact that Russia is not taking that obvious approach suggests they are trying to decapitate the Ukranian regime without doing too much damage to civilians. The surprisingly low reported casualties so far would tend to support that.

If the Ukrainian regime does not cry uncle, and if the West continues to stoke the flames of conflict, there could be a major shift in the Russian plans and a major increase in casualties.

Why is no-one from the West trying to negotiate a cease fire?

Grim said...

Stalingrad involved force levels an order of magnitude larger than Russia is deploying for the whole country. They can’t do it with what they brought without shelling every block until resistance collapses.

Even then, we’ll have to see if they can take a city the size of Kyiv. When we took Iraq we had over 300,000 forces, and it only has one real city. We meant to have even more, but Turkey jerked is around at the last minute on 4ID’s deployment.

Grim said...

Militarily, there is no need to fight block to block in Kiev. Simply knock out the power plants and the water treatment plants and wait outside. The fact that Russia is not taking that obvious approach suggests they are trying to decapitate the Ukranian regime without doing too much damage to civilians

I agree that the point of the Kyiv strike was decapitation. That seems to have failed. Force posture is too light for a siege, but the destruction isn't even necessary -- like all cities, Kyiv can't last but a few weeks without constant food shipments. Destroying plants you'd have to rebuild would be expensive compared to just bringing in more troops, throwing up a ring, and waiting.

Christopher B said...

I'm not entirely sure Russia has a few weeks. Steve Hayward @ Powerline found this info from an article out of Europe (Last portion of Loose Ends 155)

Can Europe survive without Russian natural gas? Here’s a data-rich article out of Europe from late last month (i.e., before hostilities commenced) that concludes:

Looking ahead, there are three scenarios:

If Russia and all other suppliers continue to supply at current levels, implying historically high levels of LNG imports, and natural gas demand remains in line with the 2015-2020 average, then EU-wide storage would hit a low of approximately 320 TWh in April 2022.

If Russia cuts supplies at the beginning of February, storage would reach a minimum level of 140 TWh in April 2022.

If, in addition to Russia cutting supply, the weather is extremely cold, then EU-wide storage will be empty by the end of March 2022.

Therefore, in the short-run and taking the EU as an aggregate, the bloc will likely be able to survive a dramatic disruption to Russian gas imports. . . But, should a halt of Russian gas be prolonged into the next winters, it would be more difficult for the EU to cope.

My read on that is that the Euros might be in a position to put some real sanctions on Putin fairly soon, as they will be near the end of the critical winter heating season. I'm seeing people reporting that Germany has moved from only providing non-lethal aid to authorizing supply of Stingers from their inventory as well as RPG-equivalent anti-tank weapons from their inventory and the Dutch, and has dropped their full veto of removing Russia from SWIFT though they still want to limit sanctions to specific Russian banks.

It might come down to a race to see if Ukraine capitulates before sanctions really start biting the Russians.

E Hines said...

Why is no-one from the West trying to negotiate a cease fire?

With whom? How do you negotiate with someone who has no interest in negotiating? How do you negotiate with someone who's goal is the destruction of your nation and who doesn't care in the slightest what price he has to pay to achieve that destruction?

Why would Ukraine want to negotiate? That nation is fighting for its existence. Anything short of total victory is, at best, a diminution of their nation, and more likely, the destruction of their nation. Any sort of cease fire just gives Russia time to rest, refit, resupply, and renew its effort to destroy Ukraine.

Eric Hines

Assistant Village Idiot said...

I think the US should be doing something, and that something is encouraging the rest of Europe to stand up. even helping them do so.

Our main Romanian charity is taking in refugees from the Ukraine starting now.

Grim said...

Russia has a stated diplomatic solution, one in which Ukraine would be declared neutral and demilitarized. I gather that so far at least that’s unacceptable to the people of much of Ukraine.

E Hines said...

It should be an unacceptable "solution." Putin's definition of "demilitarized" is "you belong to me. And so you have no need of weapons."

Eric Hines

ymarsakar said...

Grim, take your own advice. You are being fed disinfo.