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October 04, 2023

Ukraine - Fatigue Sets In

The increasing fracture of support for Ukraine not only destroyed House Speaker Kevin McCarthy but is also threatening the structures of the EU and NATO.

The Russian government had predicted that this process would happen:

The Kremlin said on Monday it believed a decision by U.S. Congress to pass a stopgap funding bill that omitted aid for Ukraine was a temporary setback for Kyiv, but forecast war fatigue in the West would grow and increasingly split opinion.
Asked about the U.S. development, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said he thought the setback for Ukraine was "a temporary phenomenon" and that Washington would clearly continue what he called its direct involvement in the conflict.

But Peskov, speaking after the party of Robert Fico won a weekend election in Slovakia pledging to end military aid to Ukraine, said that Moscow had long forecast that the West would grow increasingly weary of supporting Ukraine.

"Obviously, this (the U.S. setback) is a temporary phenomenon. America will continue its involvement in this conflict, in fact direct involvement," said Peskov.

"But we have repeatedly said before that according to our forecasts fatigue from this conflict, fatigue from the completely absurd sponsorship of the Kyiv regime, will grow in various countries, including the United States.

"And this fatigue will lead to the fragmentation of the political establishment and the growth of contradictions."

And so it plays out:

Cont. reading: Ukraine - Fatigue Sets In

Posted by b at 14:27 UTC | Comments (20)

October 03, 2023

Ukraine SitRep: Bad Demographics - End of Support

Via a Responsible Statecraft piece I came onto a EU study that tried to predict the future demographics of Ukraine's population.

The War and the Future of Ukraine’s Population

The study is from early 2022 and is based on Ukrainian casualty numbers from only the very first month of the war. Their worst case scenario was this:

Our third and fourth scenarios assume that the war will continue for a month or longer so that further casualties and refugees are expected. We assume the following casualties: 5,000 deaths among soldiers and 1,500 civilian deaths based on the current trends. There will be 5 million refugees, which is an estimate by UNHCR (UNHCR 2022a)

The real refugee numbers are twice as high and the casualty numbers, wounded and dead, are of course about 100 times higher than the study assumed. It was thus not worth the money that had been spend on it.

Still, some graphs in it are usable.

Yesterday I shortly discussed the op-ed by the former British Minister of Defense Ben Wallace in which he asserts:

The average age of the soldiers at the front is over 40.

He then urges the Ukrainian government to throw more young men into the meat grinder.

My response to Wallace was this:

The young Ukrainians are gone. They either have fled from Ukraine or are wounded, disabled or died. You can not mobilize what is no longer there.

Unfortunately the real situation is worse then I had thought. The EU demographic study included this graph:

Ukraine’s population by age and sex in 2020


The 'age pyramid' in Ukraine isn't a pyramid. In 2020 there was a huge lack of 15 to 20 years old people. They were simply not there. They never existed. The number of newborns around 2000 must have been horribly low.

The reason for that was likely the serious downturn of Ukraine's economy after it had separated itself from the Soviet Union.

Cont. reading: Ukraine SitRep: Bad Demographics - End of Support

Posted by b at 13:30 UTC | Comments (283)

October 02, 2023

The Average Age Of Ukraine's Army

Ben Wallace, the former Secretary of State for Defence of the UK, writes in the Telegraph:

Putin is desperately grasping at the final two things that can save him – time and the splitting of the international community. Britain can do something about both. We must help Ukraine maintain its momentum – and that will require more munitions, ATACMSs and Storm Shadows. And the best way to keep the international community together is the demonstration of success.

Ukraine can also play its part. The average age of the soldiers at the front is over 40. I understand President Zelensky’s desire to preserve the young for the future, but the fact is that Russia is mobilising the whole country by stealth. Putin knows a pause will hand him time to build a new army. So just as Britain did in 1939 and 1941, perhaps it is time to reassess the scale of Ukraine’s mobilisation.

Let us not pause for one day. Let us see this through. The world is watching to see if the West has the resolve to stand up for our values and the rules-based system. What we do now for Ukraine will set the direction for all of our security for years to come.

Think for a moment what the aside insert "The average age of the soldiers at the front is over 40" really means. Can Storm Shadows change that fact?

Roland Popp @RoPoppZurich - 5:43 UTC · Oct 2, 2023

Sollte stimmen, was Wallace da über das Durchschnittsalter an der ukrainischen Front sagt, 40 Jahre, dann sind die schlimmsten Mutmaßungen über Verluste weit übertroffen worden.
Paraguay 1870.

Translated from German by Google
If what Wallace says about the average age on the Ukrainian front is true, 40 years, then the worst assumptions about losses have been far exceeded.
Paraguay 1870.

Paraguayan War - Casualties of the war:

Paraguay suffered massive casualties, and the war's disruption and disease also cost civilian lives. Some historians estimate that the nation lost the majority of its population.

Ukraine ain't there yet. But looking at pictures of Ukrainian soldiers at the front Wallace seems to be right. If you are forty or above are you really still able to run, react and fight like when you were twenty? I am not.

The young Ukrainians are gone. They either have fled from Ukraine or are wounded, disabled or died. You can not mobilize what is no longer there.

A huge loss that will forever haunt that country.

End this war now!

Posted by b at 7:50 UTC | Comments (300)

October 01, 2023

Ukraine Open Thread 2023-229

Only for news & views directly related to the Ukraine conflict.

The current open thread for other issues is here.

Please stick to the topic. Contribute facts. Do not attack other commentators.

Posted by b at 13:42 UTC | Comments (139)

The MoA Week In Review - (Not Ukraine) OT 2023-228

Last week's post on Moon of Alabama:

Other issues:

Cont. reading: The MoA Week In Review - (Not Ukraine) OT 2023-228

Posted by b at 13:29 UTC | Comments (127)

September 30, 2023

Ukraine Open Thread 2023-227

Only for news & views directly related to the Ukraine conflict.

The current open thread for other issues is here.

Please stick to the topic. Contribute facts. Do not attack other commentators.

Posted by b at 14:18 UTC | Comments (180)

'The Source Of Russian Brutality' As Proven By Fiction

The currently "Most Popular" piece at the National Interest website has a somewhat intriguing title:

The Source of Russian Brutality
Russia’s military operates on a Soviet, totalizing view of war that ignores distinctions between soldiers and civilians.

That is of course news to me as well as to the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Right which is counting civilian casualties.

From 24 February 2022, which marked the start of the large-scale armed attack by the Russian Federation, to 24 September 2023, OHCHR recorded 27,449 civilian casualties in the country: 9,701 killed and 17,748 injured.

Meanwhile the military casualties in the war exceed several 100,000nds. Compared to any other modern war the ratio of civilian casualties to military casualties is thus extremely low. How is that demonstrating 'Russian brutality'?

So lets see what the author, one Ivan Arreguin-Toft, is alluding to:

One need not be an expert on international law to understand how Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in March of 2022 has violated the laws’ core principles. The Kremlin’s pretexts, the alleged violation of Russia’s “sphere of influence,” cited by, for example, international relations scholar John Mearsheimer, remain inadequate to justify the invasion of an internationally recognized sovereign state.

Russia's reason for the war is the threatened entering of its neighbor country Ukraine into an aggressive NATO.  The Secretary General of NATO recently said so. That may(!) be "inadequate" to justify a war. But what about a war over fake WMD claims in a country on the other side of the planet? Has any U.S. reason for waging wars ever been "adequate"?

On top of that, in its prosecution of an illegitimate war, Russia continues to practice war crimes—systematically and deliberately attacking noncombatants, including medical personnel and facilities. We may continue to debate whether allowing Russia to reclaim the USSR’s sphere of influence is acceptable as a tradeoff to prevent a global conflict. Still, there can be no question that Russia’s continual rape, torture, and murder of noncombatants is illegal and damages Russia’s reputation on the world stage. 

The question, then, is, what explains Russia’s behavior?

Those are strong claims. Strong claims require strong evidence. But the link under "continual rape, torture, and murder" does not go to any evidence. The link instead goes to an overview of the Geneva Convention. In fact - the whole piece does not contain ANY evidence of 'Russian brutality'. ZERO! NONE!

So without presenting any factual evidence, statistic or even anecdote the author simply claims that Russia's behavior is somehow different from others.

He is then off to find something that would explain his farcical claim.

Cont. reading: 'The Source Of Russian Brutality' As Proven By Fiction

Posted by b at 14:16 UTC | Comments (119)

September 29, 2023

After Pushing Gains By Ukraine NYT Notes Its Losses

The New York Times reporting on Ukraine seems inconsistent. It was all about gains and going forward:

But a week after the above a different headline appeared:

That headline is contradicted by the content of the piece.

As Antiwar summarizes:

Russian forces have gained more territory in Ukraine this year than the Ukrainian side despite the Ukrainian counteroffensive that was launched in June, The New York Times reported on Thursday.

The report noted that despite nine months of heavy fighting in Ukraine, only about 500 square miles of territory have changed hands this year. Russia has gained 331 square miles while Ukraine has gained 143, a difference of 188, which amounts to Russia’s net gain in territory so far this year.

Contradicting its headline the NYT graphics department admits as much.

Cont. reading: After Pushing Gains By Ukraine NYT Notes Its Losses

Posted by b at 10:01 UTC | Comments (175)

Open (Not Ukraine) Thread 226

News & views (not related to the war in Ukraine) ...

Posted by b at 9:24 UTC | Comments (111)

September 28, 2023

China's 'Shared Future'

The U.S. fears that China's growth will lead to a competition between the countries over hegemony on earth.

But China rejects hegemony. No only the one the U.S. is obviously trying to achieve but, more general, also for itself.

Yesterday the Global Times editorial pointed to a new guideline paper issued by China's State Council:

On September 26, China's State Council Information Office released a white paper titled "A Global Community of Shared Future: China's Proposals and Actions." Against the backdrop of the 10th anniversary of President Xi Jinping's proposal of building a global community of shared future, China has introduced the theoretical base, practice and development of a global community of shared future, and points the way toward a better future for the world. Anyone, be they are developing countries seeking to learn from China or individuals from Western countries who are interested in gaining a deeper understanding of China, will find inspiration in it as long as they approach it without biased views.
Human society is now facing a "life-or-death choice:" whether to enter into a vicious cycle of continuous confrontation and division or to seek a path of cooperation and win-win, ultimately allowing more than 7 billion people to have a better life. The whole world is searching for answers. This also confirms the highly prescient and forward-looking nature of the concept of a global community of shared future.
Today's world has become a community of shared future, with countries riding together on a ship of shared fate. A small boat cannot withstand the wind and waves, only a giant vessel can withstand the stormy seas. No matter how powerful a country may be, it cannot dominate the world alone and must engage in global cooperation.

As the white paper says, "This is an integrated world. Those who turn their back on it will have no place in it." In such a world, the true power that transcends time is contained in the silent and subtle ideas, just like the practical greatness demonstrated by the concept of global community of shared future.

The paper is available here.

It is 22,000 words long but quite readable. It is a recipe for a just and equalitarian world that will peacefully develop for everyone while allowing for a diversity of cultures and ideologies. It is thus building on China's decade old concept of a Community of Common Destiny for Mankind.

The most interesting part is probably this paragraph:

There is no iron law that dictates that a rising power will inevitably seek hegemony. This assumption represents typical hegemonic thinking and is grounded in memories of catastrophic wars between hegemonic powers in the past. China has never accepted that once a country becomes strong enough, it will invariably seek hegemony. China understands the lesson of history – that hegemony preludes decline. We pursue development and revitalization through our own efforts, rather than invasion or expansion. And everything we do is for the purpose of providing a better life for our people, all the while creating more development opportunities for the entire world, not in order to supersede or subjugate others.

Other strategic statements by China, like the one issued in 2013 that laid the ground for its Belt and Road program, had been dismissed when they were issued. But the record shows that China acts on such programs exactly as its papers promise to do. It profits from doing so.

Is its thesis in this new paper, that hegemony preludes decline, valid?

Should we therefore trust its claims that it rejects hegemony, not only of others but also for itself?

Posted by b at 8:54 UTC | Comments (409)