Saturday, 28 May 2022 — Moon of Alabama
Is reality setting in? Is that why a Washington Post reporter, who has been on the frontline in Ukraine, was allowed to write this?
[A]fter three months of war, this company of 120 men is down to 54 because of deaths, injuries and desertions.
The volunteers were civilians before Russia invaded on Feb. 24, and they never expected to be dispatched to one of the most dangerous front lines in eastern Ukraine. They quickly found themselves in the crosshairs of war, feeling abandoned by their military superiors and struggling to survive.
In mid February these people were still civilians in some town in west Ukraine. They then ‘volunteered’, to avoid a draft into the army, for the territorial defense forces with the hope to serve near their homes:
Lapko, built like a wrestler, was made a company commander in the 5th Separate Rifle Battalion, in charge of 120 men. The similarly burly Khrus became a platoon commander under Lapko. All of their comrades were from western Ukraine. They were handed AK-47 rifles and given training that lasted less than a half-hour.
“We shot 30 bullets and then they said, ‘You can’t get more; too expensive,’ ” Lapko said.
They were given orders to head to the western city of Lviv. When they got there, they were ordered to go south and then east into Luhansk province in Donbas, portions of which were already under the control of Moscow-backed separatists and are now occupied by Russian forces.
The men were put into a frontline ditch and have since been shelled again and again without any ability to respond. They then disregarded the orders from above and left. They have now be arrested.
The military values of such units was zero to begin with. Untrained men under command of an inexperienced civilian and with no real weapons have no chance to hold out against a professional military force like the Russian army.
That 60 or so of them got killed or wounded for no good reason is the responsibility of the servant of the corrupt (recommended), President Vlodomir Zelenski, and those ‘western’ politicians, like Boris Johnson, who egg him on.
But the biggest part of the responsibility for the life of those men falls to the Biden administration. It tried to push Zelensky to invade Donbas in early 2021. Back then Russia started large scale maneuvers and made clear that they would intervene. Zelensky got cold feet and pulled back. As the Carnegie Endowment’s Dmitri Tretin reported at that time:
In February , Zelensky ordered troops (as part of the rotation process) and heavy weapons (as a show of force) to go near to the conflict zone in Donbas. He did not venture out as far as Poroshenko, who dispatched small Ukrainian naval vessels through the Russian-controlled waters near the Kerch Strait in late 2018, but it was enough to get him noticed in Moscow. The fact of the matter is that even if Ukraine cannot seriously hope to win the war in Donbas, it can successfully provoke Russia into action. This, in turn, would produce a knee-jerk reaction from Ukraine’s Western supporters and further aggravate Moscow’s relations, particularly with Europe. One way or another, the fate of Nord Stream II will directly affect Ukraine’s interests. Being seen as a victim of Russian aggression and presenting itself as a frontline state checking Russia’s further advance toward Europe is a major asset of Kyiv’s foreign policy.
When the 2021 attempt had failed the Biden administration did not change its general plan as it is part of a larger strategy to push the ‘west’ into a new cold war with Russia and China. After the 2021 attempt on Donbas had failed the U.S. immediately prepared for a new attempt to provoke Russia in Ukraine in spring 2022.
The first instruction that Secretary of State Antony Blinken got from President Biden was to “reset” America’s alliances and partnerships abroad so that the United States could deal with the challenges ahead. That strategy would prove decisive in combating Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.
Blinken and other officials gave me new details this week, describing a series of behind-the-scenes meetings over the past year that helped forge the U.S.-led coalition to support Ukraine.
The Biden administration’s secret planning began in April 2021 when Russia massed about 100,000 troops on the Ukrainian border. The buildup turned out to be a feint, but Blinken and other officials discussed U.S. intelligence about Russia’s actions with leaders of Britain, France and Germany at a NATO meeting in Brussels that month. Their message was, “We need to get ourselves prepared,” a senior State Department official said.
The Ukraine threat got red-hot in October, when the United States gathered intelligence about a renewed Russian buildup on the border, along with “some detail about what Russian plans for those forces actually were,” Blinken said. This operational detail “was really the eye opener.” The Group of 20 nations were meeting at the end of October in Rome, and Biden pulled aside the leaders of Britain, France and Germany and gave them a detailed readout on the top-secret evidence.
“It was galvanizing enough that there was an agreement … to fleshing out the consequences for Russia if it went ahead with the aggression,” Blinken said.
Threatening sanctions can be an empty diplomatic ritual. But in December, Blinken and his colleagues began seriously discussing with allies what steps they would take. The initial venue was a Group of Seven foreign ministers meeting in Liverpool, England, on Dec. 11. The attendees publicly committed that there would be “massive consequences and severe costs,” Blinken remembered. As a result, he said, “when the aggression actually happened, we were able to move immediately.”
NATO military planning accelerated along with the diplomacy. Air Force Gen. Tod Wolters, the NATO commander, told me that his colleagues began preparing in December and January the “ground lines of communication” that would allow rapid shipment of arms into Ukraine. They studied entry points for supplies and other practical details. This weapons pipeline delivered Stinger and Javelin missiles before the invasion began Feb. 24 and has transferred huge numbers of heavier weapons since then.
That narrative is of course deeply misleading. The U.S. did not know of a ‘Russian invasion’. What it knew was that Zelensky, pushed by the U.S., would make another attempt to invade the Donbas republics with overwhelming force and that Russia’s leadership would have to react to such an assault on its compatriots.
The Ukrainian assault began on February 16 when over several days Ukrainian artillery increased its bombardment of Donbas by a factor of 40. Russia reacted to that and on February 24 preempted the planned ground assault.
The above part of Biden’s plan to provoke Russia into a war as a means to strengthen the U.S. position in Europe has worked well.
But how long will the coalition of the ‘west’ hold when inflation, energy scarcity and hunger set in? European unity is already falling apart with each country scrambling to fulfill its own energy needs.
Everyone can now see that the Ukraine, and with it the U.S., is losing the war. Meanwhile Russia is doing much better than anyone had expected.
What is Biden’s plan now as things fall apart? Escalating towards a wider war is an option but the risk of it is much higher than potential gains.
Still, for Biden it may be the only way he is willing to go.