Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Ukraine - Some Thoughts

(Source Read Me!)
This is not a post from our Polish correspondent Paweł, I've just been doing some thinking lately about Eastern Europe. Quite frankly, to paraphrase the immortal Vince Lombardi -


Yes, what the Hell is going on "out there"?

In February of last year (2022), elements of the Russian Army crossed the border into Ukraine, fully expecting to finish the war in just a couple of weeks.

That was eleven months ago, the fighting continues, the Russian Army has been somewhat embarrassed in the field by the Ukrainian Army, the fighting rages on, and people are still dying.

Russia has called up another 300,000 men to replenish the ranks of the Army that went into Ukraine and the West is emptying the cupboard to supply the Ukrainian Army.

It's a mess, a giant geopolitical mess.

I was wondering just the other day, where is the United Nations in all this? Isn't that something they were created to prevent, deter, and/or reverse? (Rhetorical question, of course.)

Well unbeknownst to me, the UN did chime in on the Russo-Ukrainian conflict fairly recently. Back in October the UN voted to condemn the Russian annexation of the Sudetenland, er, I mean, certain regions in the Crimean. Full details here.

I noticed that the usual suspects abstained and the usual suspects voted "No" on the condemnation of Russia's (really, here you should read "Putin's") actions. But in typical UN fashion, nothing really came of this condemnation.

As for weapons and munitions being shipped to Ukraine by the West, whose paying for all that stuff? Ukraine can't afford it, maybe it's a example of FDRs' analogy  -

"Suppose my neighbor's home catches fire, and I have a length of garden hose four or five hundred feet away. If he can take my garden hose and connect it up with his hydrant, I may help him to put out his fire...I don't say to him before that operation, "Neighbor, my garden hose cost me $15; you have to pay me $15 for it."... I don't want $15--I want my garden hose back after the fire is over." (Source)

Of course, munitions, once expended, can't be returned. Tanks, self-propelled guns, trucks, etc., can be returned once Ukraine no longer needs them. But will Ukraine pay for their shipment back to point of origin, will Ukraine pay to have them refurbished (or replaced)? Again, rhetorical questions.

I would posit that the West has no real plan in Ukraine other than sticking a sharp stick in Russia's eye while saying "nyah nyah nyah nyah nyah, you can't touch me.²"

But what if Red China decides to get froggy over Taiwan, will we have enough stuff left over to deter that? I don't know, but it does make me wonder.

If you read the article cited as the source for the opening photo, you should realize that the tank (more properly armored fighting vehicle¹) is not dead. But once again it has shown its weaknesses when not properly used.

The infantry may not be glamorous, but you can't use tanks without their support. (Well, you can, but they're not coming back.)

Also the Russians are learning that you have to pay attention to logistics. Those infantry will be unhappy otherwise, they might even refuse to fight. I read about that here.

So yes, what the hell is going on out there?

Your thoughts?




¹ Tank was a code word coined in World War I to not give away what the British were building. Parts of the early tank looked like parts for a water tank, so ...
² Actually they can touch us, they still have a sizable stock of nuclear weapons, sure they may not all work, but they don't "all" have to.

68 comments:

  1. When the NY Times (and the rest of the usual suspects) try so hard to convince me that this "war" is totally the fault of Vladimir Vladimirovich, I take the position that there's something more going on that I won't learn about for another 50 -100 years (e.g. Roosevelt baiting the Japanese into WWII).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Will we ever learn the truth behind this? There is much about earlier wars that is still classified, not to protect national security but to protect the powerful families and interests who might be embarrassed by the truth.

      Delete
    2. In my lifetime, I have gone from unquestioning belief that FDR was a Great Man, to unquestioning belief that he was Evil.

      Delete
    3. We're tracking brother.
      Boat Guy

      Delete
    4. StB - We're on the same page. Though my belief is that many politicians are inherently evil.

      Delete
  2. The U.S. is sending munitions required for national security, and replenishing the stock will take years to accomplish. Somewhere there's a tipping point where the U.S. will not have enough and security will be more than compromised. This is foolish at best, and outright treasonous at worst.
    Personally, I think Putin knew enough about the illegal activities of the Ukraine, became more than concerned when N.A.T.O. became involved with the Ukraine, and realized critical resources where soon to be in the hands of foreign nations that could control Russia. With the addition of biological research in his back yard, he decided destroying what he couldn't control was better than the option he was facing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am still skeptical about the "biological research labs" operating under US control in Ukraine, but as more information comes to light about the Covid-19 pandemic the less skeptical I become. There are forces at play behind the scenes whose sole interest is power and wealth. "Satan laughing spreads his wings ..." as the song says.

      Delete
  3. Logistics wins big wars, which is why I suspect Leopard 2’s, Challenger 2’s and the Citroen 2CV* are most needed, as the first two are multi-fuelled but the Abrams is a gas turbine and has a whole different parts and service plan.n (* The Citroen 2CV was never offered by the French and is nothing like an Abrams - I’ve no idea how that appeared).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Gotta keep it simple for Ukraine is what I figure, logistics-wise.

      Delete
    2. There is the caveat that Leclerc, Leopard 2 and M-1 have smoothbore guns that can generally fire the same ammo while Challenger has a rifled gun which requires separate ammo.

      Delete
    3. I don't know for sure about the Leclerc but the Leopard and the Abrams use (or at one point used) the same gun, the 120 mm smoothbore developed by Rheinmetall. A quick Google search indicates that the Challenger couldn't use the same ammo. Good point GUS.

      Delete
    4. The other point is where are all these German Leopard 2 tanks coming from? Per Wikipedia (I know but it's a source everyone can reference) Germany had 312 in May 2022 with about 100 in maintenance. The thousands the Bundeswehr once had are long gone in the 'peace dividend' great panzer fire sale. The Czech Republic is getting 15 in exchange for tanks passed to Ukraine. Similarly Slovakia got 15 late in 2022 in exchange for BMP IFVs passed to Ukraine. Poland has about 250, some of which are in an upgrade program. Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and Turkey have perhaps 1,400 in total minus losses (Turkey) and units in storage. Rheinmetall has 42 ex-Swiss tanks in storage but have reported these would not be available until 2024.

      So, unless NATO and soon-to-be NATO essentially pass their armor in toto to Ukraine, are there enough to truly make an immediate impact? It would seem sensible for the Russians to be refurbishing their tank parks as well. Leopards are very good tanks but as was found by the Germans in World War 2, one very good tank can be taken out by three merely good tanks especially when the merely good tanks are operated by crew familiar with them and the very good tank's crew is getting used to it.

      Delete
    5. Another good point. Germans haven't been keeping up with their maintenance either.

      Delete
    6. As to the source of non-German Leopard 2, I just found this: https://abcnews.go.com/International/ukraine-expects-100-leopard-2-tanks-12-countries/story?id=96620510.

      So, with today's announcement about supplying Abrams, we have 31 Abrams, 14 German Leopard 2, 14 Challenger 2 plus another 100 Leopard 2 from twelve other countries totaling perhaps 160 tanks, i.e. slightly less than two American armored brigades. These will possibly be using two different type of fuel (JP for Abrams and diesel for Leopard and Challenger). The Abrams can run on diesel but not as well as on JP. As previously noted, they will also be using two different types of ammo as while Abrams and Leopard have the same smoothbore gun, the Challenger has a rifled gun. There is also the issue of operating multiple variants of Leopard 2 coming from many countries.

      It might be better logistically to ever so politely refuse the Challengers. Having separate ammo for just 14 tanks is not worth the problem.

      In any case, with comments from the US and Germany concerning the time to supply these vehicles and even assuming training is done concurrently with delivery preparations, I would expect the Russians to move up the timetable for their purported offensive to forestall any impact of these deliveries. .

      Delete
    7. Having different fuels, different ammunition, the Challengers should be refused. Logistical nightmare waiting to happen. You're right about the Russians too.

      Delete
  4. I doubt US will need munitions used up in the Ukraine against China in Taiwan scenario,
    One is definitley land war, another would be definitely naval in scope.
    Even if PRC can land enough troops to have chance of seizing Taiwan, they will totally depend on sea lanes of communication to keep them supplied with fuel ammo and even food. Logistics matter is one fundamental lesson that we can 100 percent sure we can get from Ukraine invasion.
    And were not sending much harpoons or torps to Ukraine. Yeah there was some needed to keep Russia from landing near Odessa, but nowhere near amount that would make difference in Taiwan scenario.
    Look at all this from reverse perspective: did Soviets at all hesitate to send any weapons - tanks, missiles, artillery - to North Vietnam to bleed US?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Never assume anything in warfare.

      Delete
    2. We need a whole lot more Naval cowbell for that Taiwan scenario. Not sure we're visiting the cowbell store enough.

      Delete
    3. That's a Tuna comment btw. Another Navy network glitch.

      Delete
    4. Aye, we need more Naval cowbell, I do believe we closed the cowbell store years ago and replaced it with a pipe dream store.

      Delete
    5. Tuna, Aye. (Navy network glitch? Must be a day which ends in "y.")

      Delete
    6. I would always hesitate to argue a point with you, but...
      PRC/Taiwan primarily as a naval war [logistics]: I still remember the Berlin Airlift.

      Delete
    7. If you think that conflict would stay local, then the Chicoms have already won.

      Delete
    8. Sheeit. Our "Navy's" got NO cowbell with the possible exceptions of SSN's. Have any of you been paying attention?
      Boat Guy

      Delete
    9. Yes, I live it everyday. But I was trying to keep it unclass.

      Delete
    10. BG - Every damn day, I get to see how the sausage is made. It ain't pretty and the sausage is rancid.

      Delete
    11. Tuna - Which is why I avoid getting into what I do for a living.

      Delete
  5. Sarge, my biggest concerns are money and strategy. For the record, the invading party is almost inevitably in the wrong (in this case, that is Russia).

    Money: All we hear about (here in the US at least) is financial aid (extending equipment to be covered in this) in a time when literally we cannot pay our debts. Not only is the money outgoing with no audits or controls, we then will have to spend additional money to replace said weaponry, if we can at this point either financially or industrially (to the FDR point, we are only the Arsenal of Democracy these days because we have a lot, not necessarily that we can produce a lot). And this will inevitably be followed by additional asks which likely the West (see aforementioned "unable to pay our debts) will be forced to finance. At some point this war will end, but the debts incurred will live on forever and the American taxpayer is the one on the hook - and by taxpayer, I mean the 51% of people that pay taxes, not the entire US population.

    2) Strategy: The Spartan army had a dictum that they would fight an opponent once, perhaps twice, but never thrice as the opponent would learn Spartan strategy (As a side note, this observation was hurled at King Agesilaus after the Battle of Leuktra in 371 B.C. by a dying Spartan as the Spartan Hegemony collapsed). The Russian offensive has not been what they expected or we expected - but now they have had 11 months to begin to work out the kinks and problems of an army that has not seen this kind of use in decades. Wars also increase the pace of technological development, and this battlefield is not only bringing technologies like small drone warfare into the fore, it is giving people that do not like the US a real time practice environment (Iran, North Korea, China, Turkey - looking at you).

    The other thing that is concerning about strategy is what the endgame might be. Like with any cornered animal or army, if you do not give them a way out they will fight to death; give them a path of retreat and they will likely take it. To date, I have not heard either side proposing an actual settlement that at least allows everyone to serious consider it and give that opening for retreat (argue with Sun Tzu, not with me). And even if we manage to end this, the open question of the Russia/NATO question will remain - and to Russian eyes, NATO will largely exist only and completely not to confront Russia, but to destroy it perhaps not now, but in the future.

    And longer all of this goes on of course, the longer and greater the chances of something truly escalating beyond anyone's control becomes.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Recently heard the Democrats want to remove the debt ceiling, spend, spend, spend!

      Delete
    2. DC is terrible at end games (or "exit strategies" if you will). If I was Russia, I wouldn't trust NATO either.

      Delete
    3. As to the debt ceiling, it's really the only thing politicians know how to do, spend other people's money.

      Delete
  6. "What the hell's going on out here?" Beginning with the dead-useless United Nations, Casey Stengel's sentiment of; "Can't anyone here play this game?" applies across the board to the situation in Ukraine and Russia; players, watchers and kibitzers. Then there's provocateurs, of which NATO appears to have a'plenty stirring the pot. For my nickel, the whole lot are not worth old "Cactus Jack's" "warm bucket of spit".
    Then there's China...
    Here on my "politics is local" level, Peru is undergoing protest marches, internal violence and resurgence of Maoist insurgents; "Sendero Luminoso-Shining Path". This followed the constitutional removal of a corrupt "socialist" president and succession by the elected vice-president. Meanwhile Peruvian pols are "jaw-jawing" with a seemingly untenable situation. Conflict with neighboring Bolivia is not out of the question.
    Summing up worldwide news, the lack of adults in the rooms of government is obvious.
    Meanwhile, the Band plays on as the "Doomsday Clock" measures time...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Where is General Pinochet when South America truly needs him?

      Delete
    2. Did not know what was going on in Peru, so I read up on it.

      Too bad our Congress doesn't step up the same way.

      Delete
    3. Sarge, I was not really paying attention to Peru either until The Ravishing Mrs. TB mentioned in passing that a trip she had planned later this year to Peru was likely to be canceled given the unrest. Paid a little more attention. There were actually tourists trapped at Machu Pichu because the issues. Assuming tourism, barely having come out of The Plague, will plummet again.

      Delete
    4. Things are not good there, I need to keep track of the world a little better than I have been doing.

      Delete
  7. Well, our ATM seems to be funding the upper echelon of the Uke's new homes and luxury cars pretty well. Even gave one enough money to go to Israel with his "retirement" fund, and build a house for the PM's parents, and a pretty decent shopping trip for the missus in Fwance. Yeah, we're helping alright.

    I finally realized what bugs me about one aspect of this: Russia today is not the USSR. They may want to resurrect it, but that ship sailed, sunk, imploded and burned. I don't think they have the ability to bring it back. And I really don't think nuking the world over the Crimea is worth it. The longer this mess goes on, the more I believe there is a nefarious reason for it. Wasted money to the Uke top end, kickbacks to the "elite" families over here (yeah Romney, Biden et. al.), and a warmongering group that scream out peace and pick fights every other drunk in the bar. If there is any truth to Richard measuring, I figure our politicos are doing that with foreign policy all day, every day (looking DIRECTLY at you Graham, you remind me of Lt. Fuzz throwing open his shirt and yelling "I AM A MAN" at Sarge).

    This seems to be a ridiculously dangerous puppet show. A warped version of The Wizard of Oz with millions of lives in the balance, and hopelessly unsuitable leadership at the controls. The hoi palloi that march along don't realize the oath to the Constitution isn't an oath to the .gov. Doom and Gloom. I need to go sit in the sunshine....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "I, juvat" having been appointed a LtCol in the United States Air Force, do solemnly swear to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the office upon which I am about to enter.
      So help me God.

      No end date to that oath stated or implied. Nor anything other objects to support mentioned other than The Constitution.

      Delete
    2. No end date on the Pledge of Allegiance we all said back in public school days either.

      Delete
    3. The criminals are in charge in nearly every country on the planet.

      Change my mind.

      Delete
  8. Does anyone still remember the anti Vietnam War slogan, "War is good for business; invest your son?" Long after a war is over some semblance of the truth comes out and it appears we were played for suckers. I've no problem with those who have sworn the oath (as I have) but have little confidence in the fidelity of our country's "leaders". That begs the question; do we have the leaders we deserve?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They ceased being leaders quite some time ago.

      Delete
    2. Somehow Country Joe & the Fish "Feel Like I'm Fixing to Die Rag" seems eerily appropriate.

      Delete
  9. Took the pretty much the same oath when I became a federal employee last century...."support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same:" No mention of an expiration date that I can find.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. At the time that I took the Oath, I wondered what constituted a "domestic enemy"? I don't wonder anymore.

      Delete
    2. We have many examples these days.

      Delete
  10. Well, in reference to Russia, Russia has been getting away with screwing over the Ukraine since the Soviet Union fell. I read somewhere, can't put my finger on it, that this is the 5th military action that Russia has taken against the Ukraine, and the first where the Ukraine has actually stopped and gained back land taken by Russia. Not to mention the Sudetenland movement of moving Russian citizens into eastern Uke and then having those supposedly now-Ukrainian citizens vote to become Russians or Russian puppets.

    This current war was going to happen. It was winding up half-way through 2020, as Putin saw the West basically hang itself over the Covidiocracy. Significant forces were built up in fall of 2021 by the Russkies and only Chairman Xi wanting his Olympics to not be interrupted kept the Russkies from jumping at the beginning of 2022.

    The difference between all those other military and quasi-military actions (including the outright seizure of the Crimea) is that, though the current Ukranian government may/most likely/is corrupt, it is less corrupt than previous years. Same with the military. Ukraine has cleaned up its internal act most aggressively in the last 5 years.

    Not going to say anything about the corruption that connects previous Uke administrations to members of past and current US administrations, but there's that, too. The same people who sold Uranium to Russia, who tried to run cattle ranchers off of century-old water and grazing rights and had their children hired as advisors to various Ukrainian and Russian firms are the ones that prospered monitarily from a weak and outrageously corrupt Ukraine.

    To top it off, Poland, Finland, Sweden and a few other countries looked at what Russia did, yet again, and went, "Holy Carp!!! What in the ever-lasting Lutfisk is Russia planning to do to us once they get control of the Ukrainian bread basket and all those water ports?" So arming, rearming, modernizing, keeping Ukraine in the fight has now become a serious case of national survival and interest by many European countries who have now realized that Big Brother America has been protecting them for a veeeery long time from the Russian Bear, and that the current administration in charge of the USA is nobody's friend (unless one spends significant amount of money buying favors with said current administration.)

    To top it all off, a lot of arms-buying countries are looking at what's going on in the Uke and seeing Germany and France and England drag their heels about providing equipment or access to modern equipment and gone shopping for modern stuff from not-Germany, not-France and not-England. Which leaves the USA, South Korea and Japan as the current arms-merchants for the free world. Way to go, Frogs, Krauts and Bulldogs. Way to go. Yes, it does most likely involve lots of graft and 10% for the big guy(s), but there's the fact that our stuff is still mostly the best.

    And, well, this didn't happen when we had a fighter in the White House, now, did we? Russia could have gone and done this 4 -5 years ago, but didn't. Wonder why?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have no doubts as to why they're doing it now. Pay the Xiden crime family (and their enablers) their fees and you can do whatever the Hell you want.

      Delete
  11. And, yes, I know that Russia has been screwing the Uke over for centuries, but I'm only talking about modern post-Soviet Russia. Though there are a lot of Ukrainians that still remember the Holodomor and the treatment of Ukrainians during and after the Great Patriotic War.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Russia screws their neighbors in order to protect the Rodina. They have this complex due to their being invaded so many times. It's not paranoia if someone really IS out to get you.

      Delete
    2. But it's when they're coming to get you because you've screwed them so many times...

      Seriously, Russia has been screwing with the Ukraine since the USSR broke up. Which continued provocation is one of the reasons countries kept asking to join NATO/OTAN. At this point, Russia needs to look in the mirror to see who to blame over this and the rearmament of Europe.

      Same with Communist China. They have nobody to blame for the rearmament of Japan and the continued arming of South Korea (due to ChiCom's puppet kingdom) and Singapore. Even the Philippines are allowing the US back and are trying to arm up in response to ChiCom threats to their fishing territories.

      Hell, Chile (the country, seriously) is arming up as a way to confront 'illegal' ChiCom fishing fleets.

      Delete
    3. Dictatorships are unable to learn from their mistakes, because, in their minds, they're not making any mistakes.

      Delete
  12. Hey Old AFSarge;

    When the war first started, I supported us rearming the Ukrainians, to bleed the Russians, but to see our "Betters" continually push dollars and munitions at the Ukrainians to secure their borders where ours are totally porous is laughable. We are sending munitions from our war stocks to help the Ukrainians, and how low will our larder go? Since the end of the cold war, Europe spend far less than the 2% mandated by treaty for their NATO commitment and blew off Trump when he called them on it. Now they are trying to rearm but it is hard, when their society has gotten used to all the butter, switching to guns is a trick. I have seen all the money we are sending to the Ukraine, how much of it is being "diverted: back here to certain interest and over to their interest rather than to what it was intended for. We are killing the value of our currency by our feckless spending, and of the munitions we are sending, I have seen reports that some of the munitions have been diverted to international arms bazaar because someone decided to pad their pocket rather than expend the ordinance on Russian equipment. Now we have China eyeballing Taiwan and do we have the munitions and intestinal fortitude to help then against the Chinese when the time come? I don't know.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. To answer your last question, no, we don't, not in this administration. Of course we probably won't have to fight the Reds, the Xidens will just sell Taiwan to mainland China, quite literally.

      Delete
  13. We are already in far deeper than we should be. We are also broke, deeply in debt, and our own war reserve assets are dangerously low. Yes, the UKR fighters are doing a good job, but their government is extremely corrupt, far more than our own. One has to question how much of our present involvement/investment is related to past corrupt dealings between UKR entities and some of our powerful elites.

    Mad Vlad's repeated threat to use nukes must be taken seriously, more so coming from a (reportedly) mentally unstable leader. (Mentally unstable leaders are a serious danger, wherever they are in power, not just Russia.)

    We are not, and cannot be the world's police, environmental or food supplier.

    Ukraine is mainly a problem for Europe to resolve.

    Frankly, national boundaries and power have ebbed and flowed all over the map, especially in Europe for millennia. Why must we sacrifice American blood or treasure to preserve those lines on the map drawn most recently as being the prefect solution to someone else's problems and cultures?

    Yup, war sucks for all involved. We do not need to be involved in this one, especially as deeply as we are now.
    John Blackshoe.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ich auch.
      The last time the U.N. accomplished anything was 1950. Full stop.
      Boat Guy

      Delete
    2. BG - And that was only because the Soviets were boycotting.(IIR)

      Delete
  14. Apologize for the lateness, but I (very) strongly believe that people are conflating Valdimir Vladimirovich' Russian Federation with Khrushchev's USSR; two entirely different mindsets. The Russian people may not have changed all that much, but Valdimir Vladimirovich doesn't think like a typical Russian.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I would not even begin to try and figure out what Putin thinks.

      Delete
  15. The question is not about war in Ukraine, but war in the US.
    How hard is it going to be to walk a few hundred agents across the border, supply them with cartel arms, and turn the US electrical grid into a smoking mess? Gonna be hard to do much war production with a blacked out starving population. Were I Putin, I would already have those guys in place. A few idiots shooting up a rural substation is one thing, some trained guys with specific targets , tools to do the job and tools to discourage repair crews is quite another. Plus they can collect unemployment and other benefits as they wait for instructions. (sar.)
    The stupid over educated fucks that think they are in charge have no concept of what an existential threat can inspire.
    Nobody that has has gone though life without being punched in the face has any business being a national leader.
    Because consequences are real.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Damned near every politician in office would be disqualified from holding office, based on your criteria.

      Yes, that's a feature, not a bug.

      Delete

Just be polite... that's all I ask. (For Buck)
Can't be nice, go somewhere else...

NOTE: Comments on posts over 5 days old go into moderation, automatically.