Saturday, 4 June 2022 — Moon of Alabama
Colonel Markus Reisner of the Austrian Army presents the current state (vid) of the war.
Two of the facts he mentions were new to me.
The Ukrainian army has moved seven brigades of its Territorial Defense Forces from the west into the area east of the Dnieper. If these were fully maned each will have had some 3,000 soldiers. That are a lot of troops but they are pure infantry without heavy weapons and with extremely little training. Col. Reisner also showed a collection of 15 videos in which members of such and other units describe hopeless situations, declare a retreat or call out their commanders for neglect.
Morale is so bad because those troops do not fare well.
Yves Smith, with a wonderful Daily Mail style headline:
A very long established contact forwarded this message from a former senior US military official:
Just in from an Army Colonel in the building:
“Spoke to someone today who said that the Ukie basic training is 10 days and then off to the front. 65% casualty rates. At least double or more the losses of the Russians but you don’t hear anything about it.”
I very much doubt that Russian units, the way they are currently fighting, have casualty rates of more than 10%. Russia is regularly rotating units in and out to give them some rest and to let them replenish. It is a classic Russian artillery war now and infantry only comes in when the Ukrainians are already defeated.
As this permanent grinding continues the Ukrainians will soon reach a breaking point.
The Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), Germany’s foreign intelligence agency, fears that Ukrainian resistance could even be broken in the next four to five weeks. In a number of classified briefings in recent days, BND analysts have noted that while the Russians are moving much more slowly than they did at the beginning of the war, they are able to conquer small bits of territory each day. The BND thinks it possible that Putin’s troops could bring all of the Donbas under their control by August.
In a German language interview Col. Reisner explains what that ‘breaking’ of Ukrainian resistance would mean (my translation):
“Four mobile rocket systems, that’s pure symbolic.” – Jun 4 2022 – N-tv
Q: You spoke of a chain reaction that could develop on the Ukrainian side.
A: The danger is that general panic will break out in the pocket and the soldiers will try to retreat to a favorable line that is easier to hold. If this is done in an orderly manner, that would be a line east of Sloviansk and Kramatorsk. But if panic breaks out, that last line could be much deeper, at the Dnieper.
That moment would allow for a Russian ‘deep operation’ in which a second echelon of fresh Russian troops would break deep into the rear of the Ukrainian army on the west side of the Dnieper, wreak Ukrainian supply lines and chase down remaining resistance.
Some grown-ups recognize what is up.
Jeffrey Sachs, a professor at Columbia University who served as an adviser to three United Nations secretaries-general, said that “it is in Ukraine’s interest to return to the negotiating table, which it has refused to do since late March”.
“I believe that the US should recognize that it acted irresponsibly in pushing for NATO enlargement into Ukraine and Georgia,” he told China Daily.
The unpalatable truth in Ukraine – Andrew Latham / The Hill
[T]hat leaves only one other conceivable outcome: a fragmented and partly dismembered Ukraine, neither fully part of the West nor entirely within the Russian sphere of influence. A Ukraine fragmented in that the whole of the Donbas and perhaps other territories will be left beyond Kyiv’s control; partly dismembered in that Crimea will remain part of Russia (at least in Russian eyes); and not fully part of the West in that it will not be free to join NATO or even to have a meaningful partnership with the EU. Simply put, this outcome is not only not impossible, it’s not even improbable.
How the war will end … – June 3 2022 – Gilbert Doctorow
To be specific, from the very beginning the number one issue for Moscow as it entered upon its military adventure in Ukraine was geopolitical: to ensure that Ukraine will never again be used as a platform to threaten Russian state security, that Ukraine will never become a NATO member. We may safely assume that internationally guaranteed and supervised neutrality of Ukraine will be part of any peace settlement. It would be nicely supported by a new reality on the ground: namely by carving out several Russia-friendly and Russia-dependent mini-states on the former territory of East and South Ukraine. At the same time this solution removes from the international political agenda many of the accusations that have been made against Russia which support the vicious sanctions now being applied to the RF at great cost to Europe and to the world at large:there will be no territorial acquisitions.
If Kiev is compelled to acknowledge the independence of these two, three or more former oblasts as demanded by their populations, that is a situation fully compatible with the United Nations Charter. In a word, a decision by the Kremlin not to annex parts of Ukraine beyond the Crimea, which has long been quietly accepted by many in Europe, would prepare the way for a gradual return of civilized relations within Europe and even, eventually, with the United States
Welcome on board Gilbert:
Disarming Ukraine – Feb 24 2022 – Moon of Alabama
Looking at this map I believe that the most advantageous end state for Russia would be the creation of a new independent country, call it Novorussiya, on the land east of the Dnieper and south along the coast that holds a majority ethnic Russian population and that, in 1922, had been attached to the Ukraine by Lenin. That state would be politically, culturally and militarily aligned with Russia.
For economic reasons I later added a bit to that:
Novorossiya roughly includes the red and yellow areas in the above map. It also includes the valuable Soviet developed iron ore mines and factories of Kryvyi Rih west of the Dnieper river.
Iron ore from Kryvyi Rih, coal from Donbas, oil and gas from the eastern coast and the port of Mariupol together constitute the heavy industry that was the economic heart of Ukraine. Together they would constitute a viable and even well off country with 80+% of the GDP Ukraine previously had.
Russia can now afford go slow with this project. Time is on its side. Oil and gas prices are up. For Russia the war is monetarily neutral to profitable. The ‘west’ is already disunited. As the result of its sanctions on Russia its economies will slip into stagflation with social unrest just around the corner
Over time the urge for lifting the self-defeating sanctions will only increase the west’s acceptance of Russia’s solution to its NATO problem.