Tuesday, February 14, 2023

Ukraine - The View from Poland, February Update

A soldier walks along Ukrainian armored vehicles blocking a street in Kyiv, Ukraine, Saturday, Feb. 26, 2022. Russian troops stormed toward Ukraine's capital Saturday, and street fighting broke out as city officials urged residents to take shelter. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky) (Source)
Not hearing much about Ukraine in the news in the U.S. (that I've noticed, of course I don't watch hardly any television, and stay away from the "major" news outlets online) but the fighting continues and the first anniversary of the invasion approaches. Lots of balloons and UFOs in the news though. Here's a new report from our Polish correspondent. (He touches upon the balloons and UFOs as well, not necessarily having anything at all to do with Ukraine, but interesting.)

Ewok report, eve of anniversary episode.

This is your humble correspondent, observing events in Ukraine and elsewhere concerning the biggest war in Europe since 1945.

1. The Leopard drama concludes.

Germans finally gave up under pressure from both US and the likes of Poland and Baltics. Leopard 2s are heading into Ukraine soon, along with token Challenger 2 (14) and Abrams (31) contingents. Supporting them will be at least 88 Leopard 1s (possibly more if either Turkey or Greece will be convinced to part with them).

The older 1a5 Leopards lack the heavy armor protection but have been modernised to have pretty much same advanced sensors, sights and stabilisation which means that they enjoy both target acquisition and accuracy advantage over most Russian tanks,

The tanks will need to be trained with the new Ukrainian crews, indeed as I write

Poland is already training Ukrainian tankmen.

2. Zelensky tours Western Europe:

Zelensky, having secured tanks pleads for modern fighters. Apart from look-down shoot-down capability to hunt cruise missiles, those would be possibly able to run gauntlet of Russian air defenses and finish off the damaged Crimea bridge. This together with longer range missiles like ground launched small diameter bomb (also in the newest US delivery list) breaking the railway links on the Azov Sea coast might see Russians supply lines to Crimea critically compromised (Russia is HEAVILY relying on railways for logistics, trucks are in short supply, and needed for the "last miles" from railheads anyway.

3. Russian Army gets ready for "Anniversary Offensive"

Eastern front in the Donbas seems to be the place, with elements of 3rd and 144th Motor Rifle Divisions, 90th Tank Division, and 76th Airborne Division spotted in the area.

It seems that after letting the Wagner Group bleed itself dry out of convicts recruited for the war, and weaken somewhat Ukrainians in the process, regular Army is wanting to do finally some combined arms offensive, with time moment chosen to either commemorate anniversary of war, or simply to get things done before March snows melting turn the steppe into sea of mud. And before western MBT arrive , too.

How will they fare, might be indicative of entire war course to come. If Russia one year into the war fails badly at combined arms offensive, this will mean pretty much they are incapable of learning and doomed to fail. If they succeed in major way, clearing rest of the Donbas of Ukrainian troops, Russia can declare victory and ask for peace. If they do some minor gains, but not enough to declare victory, expect more of carnage in the year to come, or maybe into more years to come.

4. Balloon d'essai.

This one will possibly impact Ukraine indirectly, as US will have to keep eye open on China and get ready for possible Taiwan war.

My US audience is better than me familiar with the whole saga of Winnie the pooh and USAF bees.

what made me go hhmm, is the follow up:

2 separate shootdowns over Alaska and Canada within 48 hours.

This seems to be much more massive operation by the Chinese, not one-off accident.

USAF was definitely told to this time take gloves off and go anti-Kaijiu mode - kill anything that comes from the Pacific and is not confirmed normal civilian flight.

That's all and I will keep eyes open for the developments in next weeks.

Paweł aka Ewok


  1. Thanks for the update Pawel, always look forward to them. A big question seems to be are there enough Ukrainians to train up in order to survive (more than one weeks' worth of infantry training) along with using Western designed weapons systems? That adage about Russia.....quantity having a quality all its own seems to be in play here again. Always welcome your insights Pawel especially with your country so close and I hate to say perhaps next on the target list.

  2. Echoing Nylon12's thanks, Pawel. The Flying Object extravaganza worries me if for no other reason that now that we are sensitized to it, the trigger finger will likely be far more eager to shoot first. This is the way something that should not be shot down gets shot down. Plenty of World War III novels start precisely that way.

    1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_Genetrix interestingly enough , US once used balloons themselves with relatively low effectiveness... As balloons drift with the wind, it is hard to direct them to precise area someone wants to intel on.
      What worries me is that China seems to be seeking data on targets within CONUS.
      This means any war starting in the future would definitely not be confined to WestPac.
      This, combined with massive ICBM fields China started constructing in their interior, might mean they move from countervalue minimal deterrence (aka targetting the cities to keep US from nuking own soil) to counterforce posture (aka thinking in terms of destroying US forces either as first strike, or as second strike option).
      Good news is that China seems to have not good enough satellite coverage of US, otherwise balloons would be not needed.

  3. Lots of training going on in the UK too Pawel. Tankies at a south coast venue for the Royal Armoured Corps. Lots of other training elsewhere too, but I don’t divulge this stuff anywhere. Best wishes. Geoff C.

    1. Oh thanks Geoff old chap!
      I am sure there is plenty of other training kept silent for a reason.
      I keep to the officially divulged stuff for same reasons as you.
      Best wishes to you as well.

  4. to my highly jaudiced eye, it appears as though we're in the very early stages of WWIII; someone please tell me I'm way off base.

    1. Nope. As anyone can notice, NATO forces keep outside battlespace over Ukraine, and Russians keep outside NATO space as well.
      It is proxy war very similar to one waged by Soviets against US in Vietnam, only with Russia with unenviable task of trying to use conscript masses to subdue highly patriotic nation getting constant stream of modern weaponry supplies by the other side. The similarity is more apt than Afghanistan, since there is regular government and army in place in Kyiv.
      Second Cold War is definitely a right term, since Putin's overly ambitious goal is reversing the loss of the first one.

  5. Thanks for the update Pawel! These are always valuable; especially since I don't pay as much attention to this theater.
    Boat Guy

  6. Some interesting news, Paweł. Dziękuję!

  7. Useful insights from a very astute observer. Thanks.

  8. Should we be worried that if Ukraine nearly wins this thing, that Putin might use nukes?

    1. I can't say with 100 percent surety either yes or no, since from the very beginning of the war was series of bad decisions
      But, from logical viewpoint the nuke usage doesnt make much sense:
      1. demonstrative strike versus empty area or at black sea - doesnt affect Ukraine at all, and global opinion would be more abhorrent of Russia rthan fearful
      2. tactical usage via low yield weapons against Ukraine frontline troops
      well, this one could help, but, frankly saying nukes are wasted at single batallions or companies... and nature of the nukes is that to expand cookie cutter radius twice you need 8 times more yield
      so, if 1 kt warhead has one click blast radius, for 2km you need 8 kt, for 4km 64 kt, for 8km 512 kt, you get the idea
      and to get rid of say, 50 battalions and punch a hole in the lines to push yopur own armor and mech infantry thru, you would need 50 nukes and thats lots of radiation and fallout even if low yields.
      US once calculated it would take 10,000 nukes to destroy Ho-Chi Minh trail. Go figure.
      About the only use I see for nukes in tactical role would be against tightly packed beachheads like D-day ones...
      3. Nuke city or 2 and threaten further destruction.
      Hiroshima-Nagasaki scenario. Too bad, this is almost guaranteed to invoke NATO direct retaliation and even conventional one would be disaster for Russia. Also, unlike in Japan case, the enemy is not already defeated conventionally in major way and having strong peace faction desperatelyt seeking excuse to make peace.
      4. Large yield nuke on Kyiv to decapitate country.
      As above, plus possible nuclear revenge by NATO, expulsion from UN and certain genocide trial for everyone involved.
      Scenarios 3 and 4 also risk that Putin will be, to poetically speak, strangled with his own chain of command. His officers would be likely to decide that it is better to eliminate CINC than risk total disaster for entire country.

  9. The West must be ready to be near the table when talks eventually begin, as it surely must?
    Geoff C

    1. The prerequisite for any peace talks is BOTH sides losing faith in direct victory. As it stands today, Putin still seems to believe he can put Russian flag over Kyiv, hang Zelensky and instalki own viceroy/governor. Zelensky believes he can expel Russia beyond 29014 borders


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Can't be nice, go somewhere else...

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