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May 24, 2023

Mearsheimers Latest Talk On The War In Ukraine

Yesterday the well known international relations scholar John Mearsheimer gave a talk (video, 1:33h) about the war in Ukraine to the Committee for the Republic.

Mearsheimer made two major points:

Ukraine can not win this war because the kill ratio in this war is in its disfavor. Mearheimer estimates that two Ukrainians die for one Russian soldier but says that many of his friends think that the ratio is more like 3:1 or 4:1. The reason for this is the WWI-style static war in which artillery is the most deadly weapon. Russia has an immense artillery advantage. During an offensive the attacker will often have more casualties than the defender. But in this war the Ukraine side has been (counter-)attacked most of the time while the Russians defended.

The Ukraine also has a much smaller population than Russia. The current ratio is about 5 Russians for 1 Ukrainian. With a much smaller population and much higher casualties the Ukraine will run out of able bodies way before Russia does.

Mearsheimer expects that Russia, which already has incorporated four Ukrainian oblast plus Crimea, will take another four oblast from Ukraine. (I predicted this on February 24 2022, the day the war began. Those eight oblast plus Crimea are historically Russian land inhabited by Russian people. During the last thirty years they have consistently voted for pro-Russian candidates while the people in west Ukraine consistently opted for anti-Russian candidates.) Ukraine will end up as a dysfunctional (and poor) rump state.

Mearsheimer says that there will be no peace agreement in Ukraine. The war is seen by both sides as existential. Ukraine insists of regaining territory it sees as part of the country. Ukraine wants security guarantees from the 'west' which Russia opposes. The problem of hyper-nationalism (fascism) on the Ukrainian side also makes peace impossible. Then there is the problem that Russia, after having been lied to over the Minsk agreements, has zero trust in any 'western' word.

Posted by b at 9:41 UTC | Comments (405)

May 23, 2023

F-16s To Ukraine

A few days ago U.S. President Joe Biden announced the training of Ukrainian pilots for the F-16 multirole fighter aircraft:

President Joe Biden told G7 leaders on Friday that the US would join in efforts to train Ukraine’s pilots on fourth generation fighter jets including the F-16s, a senior administration official told CNN on Friday.

This has obviously been in the planning for some time. The timing of the announcement at the G7 summit was simply chosen to maximize the propaganda value for Biden.

The process we have seen has repeated itself again and again. As pro-Ukrainian blogger (with no military knowledge) describes it:

This has clearly become a proxy war between Russia and NATO, supercharging the political considerations inherent to any war. Ukraine’s goal is to wheedle as much military aid as humanly possibly out of NATO, especially the United States. The United States’ goal is more complex: give enough aid to push Russia back, but not so much that its proxy war with Russia escalates into an actual one.

This dynamic has created a Hunger Games scenario where Ukraine is constantly playing to the cameras to cajole extra gifts from the wealthy sponsors who watch its every move over the internet in real time. I had decided against using this analogy until I saw Ukrainians themselves using it. There is something grotesque and sobering about finding yourself in this position, and writing about it. But it is what it is.

I had assumed that F-16 training had in fact already started several weeks back. The EU blabber mouth Josep Borrell now all but confirmed it:

Cont. reading: F-16s To Ukraine

Posted by b at 14:53 UTC | Comments (525)

May 22, 2023

Ukraine Open Thread 2023-123

I find this funny:

Michał Krupa @MGKrupa - 22:12 UTC · May 21, 2023

NATO: We will send F-16's to Ukraine!
Russia: Hold my beer

> In late October a Ukrainian Sukhoi-27 Flanker, Soviet-era fighter, was shot down by a long-range air-to-air missile (LRAAM) – the R-37M. This is not the first Ukrainian aircraft to be shot down since Russia’s invasion commenced in February, but it is nevertheless a significant feat for the Russian Air Force because the R-37M took down the Ukrainian Sukhoi-27 from a range of 217km (about 140 miles). This would make the kill the longest on record. The R-37M is a hypersonic long-range air-to-air missile (LRAAM) reportedly capable of reaching Mach 6 and striking targets up to 400km (250 miles) away.

 The R-37M has become virtually unmatched, with few potential rivals.Furthermore, it is reported that the R-37M was fired from Russia’s fifth-generation fighter the Sukhoi-57 Felon rather than the Mikoyan MiG-31 Foxhound, Russia’s primary interceptor. The possibility of a fifth-generation Felon executing a target from such a long range is not at all impossible; the Sukhoi-57 has a sophisticated actively electronic scanned arrays (AESA) radar system comprising of the solid state AN/APG-77 – with a range of at least 200km (125 miles); and the N036 Byelka radar which boasts a maximum range just under 400km (250 miles). <

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 14:31 UTC | Comments (447)

Media And Politicians Throw So Much Bullshit At Us That It Is Difficult To See Through It

Western media are feeding us bullshit. It is so strong that even western politicians, like the public, seem to believe in it. The reason is that it is increasingly difficult to detect the bullshit because there is just too much of it.

Gilbert Doctorow takes on the Western disinformation campaign especially with regards to the fall of Bakhmut:

[I]t is these censorious states and the mass media that carry their messages with stenographic precision into print and electronic dissemination who are the ones that day after day feed disinformation to the public. It is cynically composed and consists of a toxic blend of ‘spin,’ by which is meant misleading interpretation of events, and outright lies.

The many months long battle for the provincial Donbas city of Bakhmut, or Artyomovsk as it is known in Russia, has been described variously from on high in Washington, London and Berlin. When the likely outcome was unclear, the defense of Bakhmut was called heroic and demonstrative of the brave fighting spirit of the Ukrainians.

Casualty figures issued by Kiev and then trumpeted from Washington suggested that the Russians were stupidly throwing away the lives of their fighting men by using WWI style human waves of attackers who were decimated by the defenders. Russian lives are cheap was the message. The fact that Russian artillery on site outnumbered and outperformed Ukrainian artillery by a factor of five or seven to one was freely admitted by the Western propagandists as they pleaded for increased supplies to Kiev. They, nonetheless, issued casualty reports for the Russians that inverted the force correlation. It was assumed, obviously with reason, that the public was too lazy or too uninterested to do the arithmetic.

I had earlier taken on the nonsensical casualty claims:

Cont. reading: Media And Politicians Throw So Much Bullshit At Us That It Is Difficult To See Through It

Posted by b at 14:25 UTC | Comments (130)

May 21, 2023

Ukraine Open Thread 2023-122

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 12:48 UTC | Comments (427)

The MoA Week In Review - (Not Ukraine) OT 2023-121

Last week's post on Moon of Alabama:

Other issues:

Cont. reading: The MoA Week In Review - (Not Ukraine) OT 2023-121

Posted by b at 12:47 UTC | Comments (165)

May 20, 2023

Bakhmut Has Fallen - Artyomovsk Has Been Liberated

The so far largest battle of the 21st century ended today.

Bakhmut has fallen. Artyomovsk (the Russian/Soviet name of the city) has been liberated. This was announced today by the titular leader of the Wagner forces, Yevgeny Prigozhin, in a video posted on Telegram.

Why the Ukrainian leadership had decided to hold onto the city even months after the situation there was already in its disfavor is beyond me. The fight was decided by the numerical superiority of Russian artillery fire and the Ukraine had never a chance to top that.

The losses there for the Ukrainians amounted to 300 to 500 men per day over that last 5 months. That sums up to a total of 60,000 casualties. Ten days ago Ukrainian units, including the fascist Azov brigade, rolled up the Russian flanks north and south of Bakhmut to allow the Ukrainian troops in the city to flee west. That attack alone, only one or 2 kilometer deep, cost them some 1,600+ men and some 50+ armored vehicles.

On the Russian side the fighting in the city was largely done by Wagner troops. But they were never able to do it on their own. Russian military intelligence, artillery and logistics all played an important role in the fight.

The city has been destroyed but it will continued to exist as it is an important logistical hub with several rail and road connections running through it.

Mariupol, which fell/was liberated a year ago, is already being rebuild. In a month or two, when the frontline has moved away from Artyomovsk, rebuilding will start there too.

For a moment now the front line in Ukraine seems all around relative quiet.

It is not clear to me when or where a new operational move will start.

Posted by b at 13:32 UTC | Comments (474)

May 19, 2023

Ukraine Open Thread 2023-120

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 16:59 UTC | Comments (363)

The Arabs Are Reunited And Israel Is Out

Just ten weeks ago I was in awe. "This is huge!" I wrote about the surprising news of the restoration of ties between Saudi Arabia and Iran after mediation by China (and Russia).

With that it was obvious that the conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Yemen between Iran friendly and Saudi sponsored forces would be coming to an end. But no one predicted the speed with which that is now happening.

Today President Assad of Syria was welcomed back in Saudi Arabia to a summit of the Arab League.

Syria's Assad shakes hands, kisses cheeks with onetime foes at Arab League summit

Every handshake would count, and Syria's President Bashar al-Assad had plenty of them at Friday's Arab League Summit - along with hugs and kisses - from his onetime foes in the region.

As he strolled into the summit venue in the Saudi city of Jeddah on Friday afternoon, a beaming Assad extended his arms to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who grabbed them both and kissed Assad once on each cheek.

It was a symbolic moment, sealing Assad's reintegration into the Arab fold after being suspended from the League and isolated by most of the region for over a decade over his crackdown on protests against him.

Attempts by the U.S. and the neoconned foreign minister of Germany Annalena Baerbock to prevent this have failed. Even countries still somewhat hostile to Syria - Qatar, the United Emirates and Marocco - refrained from vetoing the step. Arab unity is more important to them than some out-of-area interests.

As Juan Cole summarizes:

Washington is now the skunk at the diplomats’ party. The Iranians were never likely to trust the Americans as mediators. The Saudis must have feared telling them about their negotiations lest the equivalent of another Hellfire missile be unleashed.
Where two sides are tired of conflict, as was true with Saudi Arabia and Iran, Beijing is clearly now ready to play the role of the honest broker. Its remarkable diplomatic feat of restoring relations between those countries, however, reflects less its position as a rising Middle Eastern power than the startling decline of American regional credibility after three decades of false promises (Oslo), debacles (Iraq) and capricious policy-making that, in retrospect, appears to have relied on nothing more substantial than a set of cynical imperial divide-and-rule ploys that are now so been-there, done-that.

Withe Arabs united Israel is now an isolated outlier. Salman Rafi Sheikh analyses the new situation it finds itself in:

Cont. reading: The Arabs Are Reunited And Israel Is Out

Posted by b at 16:54 UTC | Comments (136)

May 18, 2023

Ukraine Open Thread 2023-119

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 16:00 UTC | Comments (506)

Open (Not Ukraine) Thread 2023-118

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

Posted by b at 15:59 UTC | Comments (155)

May 17, 2023

Ukraine Open Thread 2023-117

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 16:17 UTC | Comments (315)

A Minus And Plus For The Debt Ceiling Crisis

The debt ceiling discussions in Washington may well be help President Biden's secret domestic agenda but it is hampering on of his foreign policy aims.

The New York Times economy columnist Paul Krugman is aghast that the Biden administration had not prepared for the obvious showdown with the Republicans:

As soon as Republicans took control of the House last November, it was obvious that they would try to take the economy hostage by refusing to raise the federal debt limit. After all, that’s what they did in 2011 — and hard as it may be to believe, the Tea Party Republicans were sober and sane compared to the MAGA crew. So it was also obvious that the Biden administration needed a strategy to head off the looming crisis. More and more, however, it looks as if there never was a strategy beyond wishful thinking.
[R]ight now I have a sick feeling about all of this. What were they thinking? How can they have been caught so off-guard by something that everyone who’s paying attention saw coming?

I am amused over this. Krugman seems to have believed Biden's election campaign talk about being 'progressive' or on the 'left'. Joe Biden was and is far from that. I for one would characterize him as a centrist with strong leanings towards the right.

The fight over the debt ceiling is arbitrary but a chance for Republicans to threaten some damage. The fear is then used to push for domestic policy concessions:

For those somehow new to this, the United States has a weird and dysfunctional system in which Congress enacts legislation that determines federal spending and revenue, but then, if this legislation leads to a budget deficit, must vote a second time to authorize borrowing to cover the deficit. If even one house of Congress refuses to raise the debt limit, the U.S. government will go into default, with possibly catastrophic financial and economic effects.

This weird aspect of budgeting allows a party that is sufficiently ruthless, sufficiently indifferent to the havoc it might wreak, to attempt to impose through extortion policies it would never be able to enact through the normal legislative process.

I do not for one moment believe that Biden is unhappy about that.

In the 1990s and early 2000s Biden supported bankruptcy reform that made it more difficult, especially for the poor, to get rid of debt:

Cont. reading: A Minus And Plus For The Debt Ceiling Crisis

Posted by b at 16:12 UTC | Comments (129)

May 16, 2023

Ukraine - Air Defense Lessons (Updated)

Updated below

This is factual:

Patriot Missiles Won’t Save Ukraine - National Interest - May 9, 2023

Patriot systems are limited to pinpoint defense of major assets and are designed to operate in tandem with air defenses engaging targets at higher and lower altitudes. Without these additions, Patriot will have too many threats to engage and the result will either be porous coverage that doesn’t protect its defended assets, or coverage that quickly subsides when Patriot runs out of interceptors.

Moreover, Patriot systems are themselves vulnerable. Operating a Patriot radar system gives away its location, making it an open target for Russian attacks. This means that Patriot is not a one-stop-shop for defending Ukraine’s military assets or its people.

Those facts were proven last night.

War Monitor @WarMonitors - 1:23 UTC · May 16, 2023

⚡️I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but after careful review of this video, it appears that the air defence battery (most likely patriot) tried to save itself, but failed. It most probably got toasted.
Embedded video


Those were expensive two minutes for the 'West':

Cont. reading: Ukraine - Air Defense Lessons (Updated)

Posted by b at 13:47 UTC | Comments (586)

May 15, 2023

Ukraine SitRep: Explosion in Khmelnytsky - Bakhmut Evacuation - Longer Range Missiles

In the early morning of last Saturday two large explosions (video) destroyed a large ammunition depot near the city of Khmelnytsky in west Ukraine.


This picture shows the depot before the strike:

Cont. reading: Ukraine SitRep: Explosion in Khmelnytsky - Bakhmut Evacuation - Longer Range Missiles

Posted by b at 17:23 UTC | Comments (368)

May 14, 2023

Ukraine Open Thread 2023-116

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 13:58 UTC | Comments (416)

The MoA Week In Review - (Not Ukraine) OT 2023-115

Last week's post on Moon of Alabama:

asad abukhalil أسعد أبو خليل @asadabukhalil - 1:05 UTC · May 14, 2023

I was treated all week to fawning articles about Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu in all West media (just as I remember reading laudatory articles in WSJ and NYT about a Lebanese drug dealer because he was running against Hizbullah). Today I am flooded on twitter with pro-Kılıçdaroğlu tweets

Other issues:

Cont. reading: The MoA Week In Review - (Not Ukraine) OT 2023-115

Posted by b at 13:57 UTC | Comments (194)

May 13, 2023

Regime Change Watch

Tomorrow there will be elections in Turkey and Thailand. In both countries the U.S. would like to see the current opposition win.

Recent pieces in the New York Times leave no doubt about that.

A Crucial Question in Thailand’s Election: Can You Criticize the King?
Liberal voters have intensified their scrutiny of the Thai monarchy in recent years. Conservatives have responded with a campaign to defend the institution at all costs.

An Erdogan Loss in Turkey Would Stir Relief in the West and Anxiety in Moscow
European leaders would be delighted to have “an easier Turkey,” while Russia could lose an important economic and diplomatic partnership should the Turkish leader lose power in Sunday’s elections.

Polls in both countries seem to be between all over the place and tight but my hunch is that the incumbents have a good chance to win.

If the results are to the favor of the current governments the U.S. may well use its well honed color revolution schemes to change the outcomes.

It has done so before, not only in Turkey and Thailand, but also in many other countries.

For a long time, the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has plotted "peaceful evolution" and "color revolutions" as well as spying activities around the world. Although details about these operations have always been murky, a new report released by China's National Computer Virus Emergency Response Center and Chinese cybersecurity company 360 on Thursday unveiled the main technical means the CIA has used to scheme and promote unrest around the world.
For decades, the CIA has overthrown or attempted to overthrow at least 50 legitimate governments abroad (the CIA has only recognized seven of these instances), causing turmoil in related countries. Whether it is the "color revolution" in Ukraine in 2014, the "sunflower revolution" in Taiwan island, China, or the "saffron revolution" in Myanmar in 2007, the "green revolution" in Iran in 2009, and other attempted "color revolutions" -- the US intelligence agencies are behind them all, according to the report.

The US' leading position in technologies of telecommunication and on-site command has provided unprecedented possibilities for the US intelligence community to launch "color revolutions" abroad. The report released by the National Computer Virus Emergency Response Center and 360 disclosed five methods commonly used by the CIA.

We therefore need to keep an eye open for new regime change attempts.

Posted by b at 16:31 UTC | Comments (182)

Ukraine Open Thread 2023-114

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 15:59 UTC | Comments (271)

They Are Propagandizing For Nazis But Won't Tell You That

At the start of the recent war in Ukraine 'western' media changed their mind about Ukrainian Nazi groups. What they had condemned over years in their headlines and pieces was first whitewashed and, when was not enough, simply eliminated from the context. As example I had pointed to the changing headlines and descriptions of the fascist Azov militia in the pages of the New York Times.

Mar 15 2019:

On his flak jacket was a symbol commonly used by the Azov Battalion, a Ukrainian neo-Nazi paramilitary organization.

Feb 11 2020:

Defenders of the Ukrainian Azov Battalion, which the F.B.I. calls “a paramilitary unit” notorious for its “association with neo-Nazi ideology,” accuse us of being part of a Kremlin campaign to “demonize” the group.

Mar 17 2022:

Facebook last week said it was making an exception to its anti-extremism policies to allow praise for Ukraine’s far-right Azov Battalion military unit, “strictly in the context of defending Ukraine, or in their role as part of the Ukraine National Guard.”

Apr 29 2022:

These scenes are from videos shared online in recent days by the Azov regiment, a unit in the Ukrainian military, which says they were taken in the mazelike bunkers beneath the sprawling Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, Ukraine.

As I had written previously:

What was once "a Ukrainian neo-Nazi paramilitary organization" which even the FBI said is notorious for its “association with neo-Nazi ideology” was first relabeled as merely "far right" before it became a normal "unit in the Ukrainian military".

In yesterday's report about some dubious Ukrainian military success near Bakhmut the Times has taken its next step which is to avoid mentioning Azov at all:

May 12 2023:

Videos released on Friday by Ukraine’s 3rd Separate Assault Brigade showed soldiers piling out of armored personnel carriers and assaulting a Russian trench. “Forward, forward!” a soldier yelled in the video, filmed on a helmet camera. The soldiers dived for cover as Russian fighters threw a hand grenade, then ran forward and threw their own grenade into a Russian bunker. The video could not be independently verified.

When one throws "Ukraine’s 3rd Separate Assault Brigade" into a web search engine one is likely to be pointed to Wikipedia which then reveals the complete name of that military unit:

Cont. reading: They Are Propagandizing For Nazis But Won't Tell You That

Posted by b at 15:53 UTC | Comments (60)