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Ukraine 15 - Si vis pacem, para bellum


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On that Moscow parade: Not only did Putin not make a big announcement, there were also to conspicuous absences. No Air Force, and no Gerasimov. Shoigu was there, though. 

As for the German Greens, the party leadership hasn't been pacifist since the days of Fischer. I hadn't known that their base still ist, though.

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Posted (edited)
6 hours ago, Loge said:

As for the German Greens, the party leadership hasn't been pacifist since the days of Fischer. I hadn't known that their base still ist, though.

As someone with a bit of an inside view... there may be a few loudly complaining at the top of their lungs, but those seem very much the minority. The article does a good job conveying what the reason is: The Greens see themselves as a party of human rights, democracy and peaceful coexistence respecting the Helsinki accords, but also fully support NATO as a necessary security screen. The party has been very aware that our system is a fragile thing that needs defending and have been for a very long time warning of Russian attempts to destabilize the west (I suspect in no small part due to being the main target of hostile propaganda campaigns). As such, the general atmosphere I see is a grim pragmatism about how these values are being threatened right now and in such a situation we are forced to make sure that Russia cannot derail the world of Helsinki any further than this with more with similar horrific military adventures in the future. Putin needs to be stopped now and forced back to the negotiation table.

Oddly enough, I have seen sentiments of "Will this tear the Green party apart?" or "I really didn't think they would take such a strong stance here!" from people who aren't politically aligned with them. So I guess there seems to be still a bit of a wrong perception going on with people assuming that the Greens need to stand for extreme Pacifism even though opposing Imperialism seems to be the common thread throughout.

Edited by Toth
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Posted (edited)

Sounds like the Ukrainian counter-offensive east of Kharkiv has moved north along the Donets towards the Russian border, liberating Rubizhne (not the larger town of the same name in Donbas). Some smaller towns nearer Kharkiv have also been retaken, some with Russian soldiers surrendering after effectively being cut off behind Ukrainian lines for a week or more.

Confused reporting of another counter-attack at Izium, with reportedly very heavy fighting.

The Russians are pushing hard the narrative that they stopped Ukraine from recapturing Snake Island. However, the Ukrainians are saying they've bombarded and destroyed Russian forces on Snake Island and not tried to retake it. Some Russian Telegram channels are backing the Ukrainian story, saying the Russian account is propaganda. Some confusion there.

It looks like some of the Russian landing craft and naval support vessels that were moved to eastern Russian ports on the Black Sea have moved back to Sevastopol. Some speculation they may decide to push for Odesa even if the land assault via Mykolaiv fails to make any ground, although that does sound ill-advised.

Edited by Werthead
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13 minutes ago, Werthead said:

It looks like some of the Russian landing craft and naval support vessels that were moved to eastern Russian ports on the Black Sea have moved back to Sevastopol. Some speculation they may decide to push for Odesa even if the land assault via Mykolaiv fails to make any ground, although that does sound ill-advised.

I've seen that talk too, but I don't understand the logic.  Why is having ships in Sevastopol indicative that an assault on Odessa is imminent?  Isn't Sevastopol Russia's main Black Sea port anyway?  And wouldn't Russia want those ships to be closer to Ukraine just in general? 

If the Russians attempt to take Odessa by sea without taking Mykolaiv first, it will be like an even less successful Dieppe raid.  Or if the Russians need a closer example, the December 1941 Kerch landings. 

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11 minutes ago, Maithanet said:

I've seen that talk too, but I don't understand the logic.  Why is having ships in Sevastopol indicative that an assault on Odessa is imminent?  Isn't Sevastopol Russia's main Black Sea port anyway?  And wouldn't Russia want those ships to be closer to Ukraine just in general? 

If the Russians attempt to take Odessa by sea without taking Mykolaiv first, it will be like an even less successful Dieppe raid.  Or if the Russians need a closer example, the December 1941 Kerch landings. 

Could be a sign of Russian desperation, or they are planning to launch a Mykolaiv-based offensive in the near future. They had moved the ships way off to the east so bringing them back may be significant, or psyops to maybe keep the Ukrainians pinned down in Odesa, along with the missile strikes today.

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I'm glad that I was wrong and it looks like Putin is not at least immediately pushing to escalate, though he's still talking pretty provocatively about NATO. 

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Posted (edited)

The intelligence and engagement is all over the place at the moment. The US seems to think that Putin has decided to draw out the conflict as long as long as possible to outlast Western resolve and possibly even their physical ability to reinforce Ukraine with weaponry. However, that seems like a dangerous gambit given that the conflict dragging on for months, killing yet more Russians, could haunt him at home. In addition, whilst Russia can probably sustain the casualties by rotating in this year's conscript intake without needing to mobilise (Russian losses have reportedly passed well over 32,000 with all factors included, which is a high loss but a definite slowing in the last month compared to the first two), it can't really sustain the equipment losses. The reports of tanks, artillery systems and vehicles being destroyed day by day is still very large, if not as huge as during the earlier stages of the war, and losing a couple more big ships in the Black Sea could degrade their long-range cruise missile ability. That said, Russia might been feeling confident that the Ukrainian forces in the mid-Donbas have been degraded and a breakthrough could take place before the Ukrainians are in a position to counter-attack in earnest (although the Russians are concerned about the Kharkiv front gaining momentum and the fact that Izium now seems to be contested again). 

What is interesting is that both Biden and Macron have said that Putin needs an "exit strategy" to close down the war. Biden isn't interested in giving Putin anything he can sell as a victory, whilst Macron is apparently more flexible, at least on giving Putin a diplomatic victory if not a physical one. The Germans, Poles and Baltics all seem quite sceptical of that being a good idea. However, Macron seems to have won over Xi Jinping, who today called on all sides to deliver a ceasefire for the first time (some noting that a ceasefire right now might benefit Putin more than Ukraine, though). Still, I suppose any movement at all on the diplomatic front is a good thing.

24 minutes ago, KalVsWade said:

I'm glad that I was wrong and it looks like Putin is not at least immediately pushing to escalate, though he's still talking pretty provocatively about NATO. 

I have seen a few Russian commentators suggesting that Russia cannot afford "to lose to Ukraine but would accept being fought to a standstill by NATO," suggesting that maybe a showdown with NATO could be used as an excuse to end the war and pursue a "woe is us, we have to rebuild" narrative afterwards. Obviously that would be extraordinarily dangerous, and the media saying it is the same lot pushing for an immediate invasion of Kazakhstan and possibly Saturn. Hopefully that idea doesn't have much traction (from a practical point of view, it seems bizarre).

Edited by Werthead
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7 minutes ago, Werthead said:

I have seen a few Russian commentators suggesting that Russia cannot afford "to lose to Ukraine but would accept being fought to a standstill by NATO," suggesting that maybe a showdown with NATO could be used as an excuse to end the war and pursue a "woe is us, we have to rebuild" narrative afterwards. Obviously that would be extraordinarily dangerous, and the media saying it is the same lot pushing for an immediate invasion of Kazakhstan and possibly Saturn. Hopefully that idea doesn't have much traction (from a practical point of view, it seems bizarre).

That's a reasonable point.  Russia cannot admit that it is unable to win a war against Ukraine.  But it will be a lot easier to sell a Victory in Name Only if Russia is fighting all of NATO.  If a significant portion of Russia believes that NATO is giving everything it has got to this effort, then a peace in which Russia gains basically official recognition of Crimea and a return to the Jan 2022 lines in Donetsk/Luhansk might be something they could sell as a win.

Then Russia can skulk off with their "everybody is always picking on me" attitude and continue their far more successful clandestine war with the West buying influence and politicians.

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Some interesting information here on youtube

Claims that the planes didn't fly at the parade because of an arson attack!!! rather than the weather. Also shows you a bunch of photos put up on Russian billboards to promote the war but are actually altered from iconic american photo's. The only way this makes any sense to me is if someone doing the marketing for the kremlin is having a joke at the Kremlins expense.

Anyway the clip above also includes the guys daily map updates with all the advances, I think this guy is actually my primary source of news on the conflict. 

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Posted (edited)

There are growing signs that the Russians are stripping the Donbas offensive to shore up the Kharkiv front (where only three under-strength BTGs are still on the line), and may bring in reinforcements from Belgorod (where 19 BTGs of mixed quality are reconstituting or assembling) to try to halt the collapse there. Both these moves reduce their offensive power in Donbas. There's signs that the Russians may now be considering focusing on an even smaller area of Donbas to try to achieve a limited success. According to Russian intercepts, some units are now refusing to attack and one Russian commander reports shooting insubordinate soldiers.

During heavy fighting yesterday the Russians lost 3 T-72s in one engagement and a second T-90M (the most advanced actually-in-combat tank in the Russian inventory) in another.

From other sources, it sounds like there have been repeated attacks, or at least raids, on Izium city and some parts of the city may either be back under Ukrainian civilian control or are at least no longer under Russian control. Apparently Ukrainian attacks on Snake Island have continued as well.

 

Edited by Werthead
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3 hours ago, Werthead said:

The Ukrainians have recaptured some vital war assets seized by Russia.

I really missed those in the Red Square parade.

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3 hours ago, Werthead said:

There are growing signs that the Russians are stripping the Donbas offensive to shore up the Kharkiv front (where only three under-strength BTGs are still on the line), and may bring in reinforcements from Belgorod (where 19 BTGs of mixed quality are reconstituting or assembling) to try to halt the collapse there. Both these moves reduce their offensive power in Donbas. There's signs that the Russians may now be considering focusing on an even smaller area of Donbas to try to achieve a limited success. According to Russian intercepts, some units are now refusing to attack and one Russian commander reports shooting insubordinate soldiers.

During heavy fighting yesterday the Russians lost 3 T-72s in one engagement and a second T-90M (the most advanced actually-in-combat tank in the Russian inventory) in another.

From other sources, it sounds like there have been repeated attacks, or at least raids, on Izium city and some parts of the city may either be back under Ukrainian civilian control or are at least no longer under Russian control. Apparently Ukrainian attacks on Snake Island have continued as well.

 

What a humiliation this has turned out to be.

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Russia will probably officially annex the Kherson Oblast in the next couple of weeks.

On the one hand, it is terrible news for the peace process, making any reasonable compromise pretty much impossible.

On the other hand, this would be a major misstep for Putin, since it would commit them to fight until the bitter end (either Ukraine's or Russia's), without giving them any way out. It also risks Crimea and makes it fair game for potential future Ukrainian counteroffensives - until now, Russia could plausibly say "Crimea is Russia proper, back off or we'll nuke you". This obviously cannot be said for Kherson which isn't even fully under their control.

Finally, it would remove all pretenses about what this war is really about - a colonial war of conquest, where one country takes land from another country by force of arms.

 

 

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Russian Donbas offensive may be ending, or at the least scaling back.  Based on Gorn's post above, Russia may be shifting their focus on holding the territory they've taken rather than expanding further.  

 

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1 hour ago, Maithanet said:

Russian Donbas offensive may be ending, or at the least scaling back.  Based on Gorn's post above, Russia may be shifting their focus on holding the territory they've taken rather than expanding further.  

 

But will Ukraine be able to switch to an effective offensive to retake lost territories? That's the issue. 

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5 minutes ago, Matrim Fox Cauthon said:

But will Ukraine be able to switch to an effective offensive to retake lost territories? That's the issue. 

Their counterattacks have been pretty effective thus far.  The success of counterattacks NE and NW of Kyiv is why the Russians pulled out of the entire northern part of the country.  The counterattack east of Kharkiv is a major factor in why the Dombas offensive seems to be ending, as the Russian supply situation is threatened.

That said, those counterattacks were small compared to the vast amount of territory the Russians now control.  It remains to be seen whether Ukraine has the forces for bigger counterstrokes.

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11 minutes ago, Maithanet said:

Their counterattacks have been pretty effective thus far.  The success of counterattacks NE and NW of Kyiv is why the Russians pulled out of the entire northern part of the country.  The counterattack east of Kharkiv is a major factor in why the Dombas offensive seems to be ending, as the Russian supply situation is threatened.

That said, those counterattacks were small compared to the vast amount of territory the Russians now control.  It remains to be seen whether Ukraine has the forces for bigger counterstrokes.

Because when Russia is on the verge of trying to annex Kherson, Ukraine will need some breakthrough in the south in order to avoid losing vast swaths of their sea border. 

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