The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Ukraine Update

Posted on | April 16, 2022 | Comments Off on Ukraine Update

Since the Russian invaders retreated from the vicinity of Kyiv, the war in Ukraine has receded in the headlines, even while the Russians are reportedly regrouping for new offensives in the east and south of Ukraine. Anyone looking at the map can see that Ukrainian forces west of Luhansk are in danger of encirclement from Russian advances, and the strategic question is how best to prevent that, while also preventing Russian forces from advancing westward toward Odessa.

First and most obviously, a Ukrainian counteroffensive eastward from Kharkiv would break the northern pincer of the Russian encirclement, and certainly we should expect to hear of major combat in that area during the next few days. Secondly, I would argue that Ukraine should make a counteroffensive southward in the area west of Donetsk. Looking over a map, I’d say such a movement should be based in Pavlohrad and drive south toward the port city of Berdyans’k on the Sea of Azov. Knowing nothing of the terrain or tactical situation in the area, of course, in making this suggestion I can only speculate on the prospects for success of such a counteroffensive. Yet it is obvious that Ukraine cannot win by remaining on the tactical defensive, and must shift to offensive offensive operations somewhere, so that the question is, where? If some of the forces that had been engaged in the defense of Kyiv can be shifted to the south, using Dnipro and Pavlohrad as their bases of operation, a push south toward the Sea of Azov certainly offers the potential to disrupt whatever further Russian offensives may be in preparation. Find a weak point somewhere and drive an assault column through that point, while sending infiltration teams to strike at the Russian supply lines.

While such a Ukraine counteroffensive is unlikely to drive all the way to Berdyans’k, the real point is to force the Russians to fight to defend their current positions, and to maintain their supply lines, thus preventing them from being able to mount further advances at their leisure.

So much, then, for what I think should happen. Now let’s get the BBC’s bullet-point summary of what actually is happening:

  • British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and 12 other politicians are barred from entering Russia over their “hostile” stance on the conflict
  • The UN records 1,982 civilian deaths since the start of the war, but warns the figure is an underestimate
  • One person was been killed and several wounded in missile strikes that hit Ukraine’s capital Kyiv earlier today, the city’s mayor Vitali Klitschko says
  • Russia warns of “unpredictable consequences” if the Western nations continue to supply weapons to Ukraine
  • US officials say two Ukrainian Neptune Missiles hit the Russian Moskva warship and there were Russian casualties when the ship sank. Russia says a fire onboard caused the sinking

Notice that none of this “news” about the war in Ukraine gives us any idea of how the battle is going at the front lines. From the very start of this conflict, this has been a persistent deficiency in coverage of the war, and one must search very hard to find any useful tactical reports about the fighting. CNN has this:

Russia has intensified attacks in several locations in eastern Ukraine including Kharkiv, Luhansk and Donetsk, according to Ukrainian military and regional officials. Russian forces appear to be striking areas of all three regions ahead of a planned ground offensive. Civilians have been urged to leave the regions. . . .
The Mykolaiv and Kherson regions in southern Ukraine have been under heavy shelling on Saturday, Ukrainian officials said in a statement.

So you can at least look at a map, find those locations, and get a general sense of where combat is happening. CNN also has this:

There is growing concern about the need to get more ammunition — and in particular artillery ammunition — to Ukrainian forces more rapidly as heavy ground combat against Russian units is expected to unfold in the coming days, according to a US official.
While the United States is shipping 18 155mm towed howitzers and 40,000 artillery rounds to Ukraine as part of the new security assistance announced by President Joe Biden’s administration this week, even that amount could be expended within several days, raising the prospect of Ukraine forces running out of ammunition, the official said.
During some of the heavy earlier fighting, Ukrainian forces fired up to thousands of artillery rounds in a given day, the official noted.
Going forward, the US believes the likely Russia strategy is to move weapons and troops into eastern Ukraine from their current positions just north, and then encircle and cut off Ukraine forces that are there, the official said.
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley are conducting daily phone calls with counterparts in the region to encourage them to ship more weapons and supplies to Ukraine as soon as possible.
Earlier this week, the Pentagon hosted the CEOs of the military’s eight largest prime contractors to figure out how to arm Ukraine faster.
The roundtable discussion, led by Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks, focused on the Pentagon’s objectives to keep supplying Ukraine with arms while also being able to maintain the readiness of US forces and support the defense of allies.

Democrats suddenly discover that the Military-Industrial Complex is necessary to the defense of democracies? Well, that’s a silver lining to the otherwise dark cloud of Ukraine’s fight for survival. My Dad worked 37 years at Lockheed-Georgia in Marietta, mostly on the C-130 flight line, so I always had a direct personal interest in America’s defense industry. The really great thing about defense manufacturing is, those are all good-paying union jobs — Dad was in the Machinists union — and you might think Democrats would see the value of supporting a strong defense, simply in terms of blue-collar jobs, but the left-wing hippie peaceniks have long since taken over the party. Quite conveniently, in terms of domestic politics, the demand for artillery ammunition in Ukraine will mean more work at the General Dynamics plant in Joe Biden’s hometown of Scranton. No doubt they’ll be adding overtime and hiring more workers in Scranton now, and the same will be true at many other munition manufacturers across the country, including the Iowa Army Ammunition Plant in the suburbs of Des Moines, where they make warheads for Javelin and Stinger missiles.

The Military-Industrial Complex will be ramping up production, and probably few of the newly hired workers will pause to consider the irony that they have Vladimir Putin to thank for their good fortune.



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