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Ukraine 14 - Back to the Mud


Maithanet
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So our main oil/gas company OMV (partially state owned) is supposedly setting up a rubel account at Gazprombank(in Switzerland).

Seems different from the original plan which was transferring money into an € account at Gazprombank that belongs to OMV and an conversion to rubel during the payment process (which is all handled by Gazprombank). I assumed that way both sides would have been able to pretend that they get what they want but that might not be enough for Putin anymore. The main German companies did go for the same approach afaik.

Let's see if Germany does the same.

A great way to disrupt the EU I guess. One of the smarter moves in this conflict by Putin I guess. :(

Edited by Luzifer's right hand
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12 minutes ago, SeanF said:

It never occurred to them that inflicting murder and starvation on a population meant there was no one to till the fields or work in the factories.

It also never occurred to them actively discouraging women, half their population, from entering into/staying in the workforce was a bad idea given so many men had to be deployed for the war effort.

They tried to Galvanize women to work but it was no bueno.

Ideology shouldn’t get in the way of practicality.

Edited by Varysblackfyre321
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Reports from Russian media (TASS, no less) that two Russians were arrested in Belgorod whilst sabotaging a transport facility, possibly the first confirmed reports of a Russian fifth column sympathetic to Ukraine.

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3 hours ago, Werthead said:

Meanwhile, NATO has agreed to treat Sweden and Finland as NATO members during their application and ratification process.

I have not seen that reported yet. Would you be willing to share a source?

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53 minutes ago, Varysblackfyre321 said:

How long would that take?

Not very long, this time around. If Sweden and Finland apply in May, they can probably be admitted on the next summit, which is 29-30 June. In the past it took usually 1-2 years.

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27 minutes ago, Ivan Tsarevich said:

I have not seen that reported yet. Would you be willing to share a source?

Here.

Quote

US defence sources told the outlet that Sweden and Finland would be treated as de-facto members of the security alliance for the duration of the application process.

 

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3 hours ago, Werthead said:

However, an assessment that even mobilisation won't help them:

That thread about mobilization really highlights something I've been emphasizing, which is that Russia is a waning military power.  They are relying on their huge stockpiles of tanks and vehicles, but as those get destroyed they are turning to older units that are increasingly outdated and in disrepair.  Likewise their stocks of missiles and UAVs are basically fixed as sanctions limit thier ability to make more.  And Russia's superior population only really takes effect with full mobilization + 6-8 months.  So even at the earliest, Russia is going to have a manpower shortage for the remainder of this year.  That's a long time.  Russia's military power is basically declining every day.  If they don't get a breakthrough soon (like in the next couple weeks) there is little chance they'll get one at any point this year. 

In contrast, Ukraine is still mobilizing the many, many civilians who volunteered back in February, but they are gradually getting trained up and onto the line.  There are plenty more Ukrainians who have not yet been selected but want to join the fight.  Combine that with NATO equipment steadily flowing in, and Ukraine does not need to husband its best stuff, they can use it and ask for more (and they're doing just that).  Ukrainian troops are getting training with better, more modern NATO equipment to replace their Soviet era stuff, whereas the Russians are dipping further and further back in time to replace equipment losses.  It feels like just a matter of time before the balance of power tips decisively in favor of Ukraine. 

It is an open question whether Ukraine will have the strength to push Russia out of all Ukrainian held territory (even leaving aside Crimea, which feels impossible).  But I think it is just a matter of time before Ukraine seizes the momentum, and when they do, it will be very hard for Russia to take it back. 

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Interesting. Fighting around Izium has been so harsh that one Russian BTG (237 Tank Regiment, 3rd Motor Rifle Division) has been forced to withdraw. It looks like two BTGs from the 76th Guards Air Assault Division have been sent to replace them.

Potentially significant: the Yakymivka rail bridge in Kherson Oblast, just SW of Melitopol, was destroyed this morning. That's one of the main rail links to Crimea, carrying supplies into the SW Donbas. It's not a huge bridge, it can be repaired, but it'll take a few days.

Interesting stuff on the effectiveness (or not ) of private mercenary forces in Africa, not just Russian ones.

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The United States is planning to offer $33 billion in assistance to Ukraine over the next five months. That's insane. That's half the total annual Russian military budget.

Michael Kofman doing a podcast here which is interesting. He is more sceptical of full mobilisation on 9 May, but acknowledges it is possible. He thinks a slow grinding-out victory, if slow, will encourage Putin to stick with the current strategy. If Ukraine starts winning, pushing Russians back set and Putin thinks he'll lose the Donbas, Putin is more likely to go to mobilise.

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6 minutes ago, Werthead said:

The United States is planning to offer $33 billion in assistance to Ukraine over the next five months. That's insane. That's half the total annual Russian military budget.

Michael Kofman doing a podcast here which is interesting. He is more sceptical of full mobilisation on 9 May, but acknowledges it is possible. He thinks a slow grinding-out victory, if slow, will encourage Putin to stick with the current strategy. If Ukraine starts winning, pushing Russians back set and Putin thinks he'll lose the Donbas, Putin is more likely to go to mobilise.

That is a fantastic amount of money.  I fully support sending a lot of aid to Ukraine and even I think that might be overdoing it.

As for strategy, given what we know about how long mobilization would take to make an impact (3 months to do anything at all, 8 months before it makes a big difference), is that strategy realistic?  For example, if Russia is continues making small gains for another few weeks but then in the second half of May starts losing ground, is mobilization a realistic option to save the situation?  It feels to me like the answer is no. 

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1 minute ago, Maithanet said:

That is a fantastic amount of money.  I fully support sending a lot of aid to Ukraine and even I think that might be overdoing it.

As for strategy, given what we know about how long mobilization would take to make an impact (3 months to do anything at all, 8 months before it makes a big difference), is that strategy realistic?  For example, if Russia is continues making small gains for another few weeks but then in the second half of May starts losing ground, is mobilization a realistic option to save the situation?  It feels to me like the answer is no. 

Not really. It allows the Russians to come back in force towards the end of the year, but the weather will be nonfavourable again (they'll completely miss the optimum operating period) and although they might have a lot of Russian soldiers carrying rifles, they're going to be still lacking tanks and vehicles. They'll still have a lot of air support but the PGM stocks will still be low and unlikely to be replenished at speed. Ukraine will have had a lot of time to rearm, rest and prepare for Round 3 by that point.

A cannier Putin would now pivot to making a diplomatic proposal via maybe Turkey to end the war and sell the establishing of the land bridge from Crimea to Donbas as a major victory. I don't think canny Putin is at the controls though. He might even call for general mobilisation and then pour almost untrained conscripts straight into the grinder and try to win through human wave attacks like it's WWI or something.

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Fears Are Mounting That Ukraine War Will Spill Across Borders

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/04/27/us/politics/ukraine-war-expansion.html

Quote

 

.... Now, the fear in Washington and European capitals is that the conflict may soon escalate into a wider war — spreading to neighboring states, to cyberspace and to NATO countries suddenly facing a Russian cutoff of gas. Over the long term, such an expansion could evolve into a more direct conflict between Washington and Moscow reminiscent of the Cold War, as each seeks to sap the other’s power.

In the past three days, the American secretary of defense has called for an effort to degrade the capability of the Russian military so that it could not invade another country for years to come. The Russians have cut off gas shipments to Poland and Bulgaria, which joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization after the collapse of the Soviet Union; Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, immediately denounced the move as an “instrument of blackmail.” Explosions have rocked a disputed area of Moldova, a natural next target for the Russians, and gas depots and even a missile factory in Russia have mysteriously caught fire or come under direct attack from Ukrainian forces.

And with increasing frequency, the Russians are reminding the world of the size and power of their nuclear arsenal, an unsubtle warning that if President Vladimir V. Putin’s conventional forces face any more humiliating losses, he has other options. American and European officials say they see no evidence the Russians are mobilizing their battlefield nuclear forces, but behind the scenes, the officials are already gaming out how they might react to a Russian nuclear test, or demonstration explosion, over the Black Sea or on Ukrainian territory. ....

 

Live Updates: Biden Asks Congress for $33 Billion to Help Ukraine War Effort
Speaking to the nation from the White House, President Biden said, “The cost of this fight is not cheap, but caving to aggression is going to be more costly if we allow it to happen.”

https://www.nytimes.com/live/2022/04/28/world/ukraine-russia-war-news

 

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37 minutes ago, Werthead said:

A cannier Putin would now pivot to making a diplomatic proposal via maybe Turkey to end the war and sell the establishing of the land bridge from Crimea to Donbas as a major victory. I don't think canny Putin is at the controls though. He might even call for general mobilisation and then pour almost untrained conscripts straight into the grinder and try to win through human wave attacks like it's WWI or something.

I agree that if Russia could negotiate a land bridge to Crimea, along with formal recognition of Donbas Republics + Crimea that would be a real win for Putin.  He would potentially be able to give back a lot of territory (Kherson, Melitopol, areas around Kharkiv), thus giving the impression of concessions.  That might spur some in Europe (Germany/Austria/Hungary) to start pressuring Ukraine to make a deal.  But the US, UK, Poland, Baltics are going to keep giving Ukraine weapons, so it's not like losing the support of a few NATO countries will really make a huge difference.

The problem is I'm not sure Putin is in a strong enough position to negotiate that.  Ukraine's recent statements are that they are not going to accept any loss of territory beyond Feb 22, and a land bridge to Crimea is a lot of very valuable territory (and the ruins of a major city in Mariupol).  Ukraine doesn't exactly hold the whip hand because Russia could always escalate and indeed annihilate Ukraine if it chose.  But the way the war is going, Ukraine has reason to think their situation will be better in June/July than it is today.  And they know it. 

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19 minutes ago, Maithanet said:

I agree that if Russia could negotiate a land bridge to Crimea, along with formal recognition of Donbas Republics + Crimea that would be a real win for Putin.  He would potentially be able to give back a lot of territory (Kherson, Melitopol, areas around Kharkiv), thus giving the impression of concessions.  That might spur some in Europe (Germany/Austria/Hungary) to start pressuring Ukraine to make a deal.  But the US, UK, Poland, Baltics are going to keep giving Ukraine weapons, so it's not like losing the support of a few NATO countries will really make a huge difference.

The problem is I'm not sure Putin is in a strong enough position to negotiate that.  Ukraine's recent statements are that they are not going to accept any loss of territory beyond Feb 22, and a land bridge to Crimea is a lot of very valuable territory (and the ruins of a major city in Mariupol).  Ukraine doesn't exactly hold the whip hand because Russia could always escalate and indeed annihilate Ukraine if it chose.  But the way the war is going, Ukraine has reason to think their situation will be better in June/July than it is today.  And they know it. 

I'm not sure on that. If Putin says the alternative is full mobilisation or escalation to a long, drawn-out conflict, maybe it would be accepted at least for a ceasefire. I do agree that Ukraine probably feels it can win a lot more, but I think they needs to start demonstrating that. Some suggestions that they've lost a little bit of ground around Kherson and Russia may be shifting some units west for a renewed drive to take all of Kherson Oblast.

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10 minutes ago, Werthead said:

I'm not sure on that. If Putin says the alternative is full mobilisation or escalation to a long, drawn-out conflict, maybe it would be accepted at least for a ceasefire. I do agree that Ukraine probably feels it can win a lot more, but I think they needs to start demonstrating that. Some suggestions that they've lost a little bit of ground around Kherson and Russia may be shifting some units west for a renewed drive to take all of Kherson Oblast.

I'm not sure about the situation in Kherson deteriorating for Ukraine.  The picture is mixed/unclear and has been that way for quite some time.  Just a few posts ago you mentioned the Yakymivka rail bridge being cut by Ukrainian forces. 

That said, it is possible that Ukraine would rather get peace rather than fight to the bitter end for every last kilometer of ground.  Their country is enduring so much suffering and every week increases the rebuilding challenge.  Kharkiv is virtually ruined and that's the second largest city in the country (or was anyway). 

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NATO forces in Romania have deployed some elements closer to the borders of Ukraine and Moldova in case of escalation.

UN Secretary General Guterres in Kyiv to speak to Zelensky. Apparently Guterres is now focused on "intense" talks with Zelensky and Putin to relieve the humanitarian situation in Mariupol.

5 minutes ago, Maithanet said:

I'm not sure about the situation in Kherson deteriorating for Ukraine.  The picture is mixed/unclear and has been that way for quite some time.  Just a few posts ago you mentioned the Yakymivka rail bridge being cut by Ukrainian forces. 

True. It's unclear what took out the bridge, it might have been those partisans operating around Melitopol. And there was that shelling around Kherson last night. If the Russians are gearing up for renewed efforts, clearly they haven't been fully successful so far.

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One of the Russian state TV shows last night was telling people not to worry if this escalates to a nuclear exchange because "we will all go to heaven." Cheery.

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