[Discussion] Ukraine - Russian Invasion and Discussion

A place for aggregated discussions of a possible conflict, it’s implications and effects, news updates and personal accounts if any. If the expected conflict kicks off, I will change the title but the function will stay the same.

Axon wrote:

Cross post as it has impacts across the world and helps understand Putin's mindset. I'd really advise that you watch it. Really brought together a whole slew of information to show that Putin is paranoid about "Colour Revolutions" and stopping them. Very interesting.

Only a quarter through it, but good so far. It also reminds me that I really need to finish watching Timothy Snyder's online lecture series on the history of Ukraine.

So. there is a lot of denying going on about the Putin ist tott rumors from official Russian sources, but the story appears to actually have legs.

A Japanese facial recognition firm of some repute states that they have positively identified a "Putin" that appeared at the Moscow summit of developing nations as a body double. And competing narratives are emerging that he is 1) dead, 2) sick, and 3) just paranoid.

All three have their own proponents and all seem, oddly, plausible.

Yes, he has a history of paranoia, but sending a body double to negotiate and/or network with other heads of state including ones he really seems to care about seems to be something more driven by necessity than simply preference. I don't think paranoia counts as necessity.

He could very well be sick and need to project as healthy. This isn't so much for external consumption as internal. A weak Russian leader is historically a dead Russian leader. And there are lots of folks around him with knives out.

The most compelling and interesting argument is that he is actually dead. You would think that Alexander Rustkoy (Vice President) would have an interest in a speedy and legitimate transition, but, as you know, he is not the real second in command. When Putin went in for surgery, it wasn't Rustkoy but Igor Sechin (head of internal security) who took over in his stead.

Sechin is a close personal friend of Putin's, but he is also deeply unpopular among the oligarchs and siloviks. Moreover, Putin may personally like him, but he is also a Russian leader, which means his pattern is to weaken possible rivals politically. And weaken he has. He has made sure to stock his cabinet with folks who want Sechin dead despite marking him as heir apparent. And until Sechin can engineer a purge of his own, his chances of living long enough to rule are slim. The smart play would be to weekend at Bernie's just long enough to rid the Kremlin of folks who can hurt him.

In any event, the business of Kremlinology is mostly just fortune telling even in the most favorable of times. This is NOT the most favorable of times. That said, this space is getting extra spicy.

Whatever happened to Saddam Hussein's body doubles? They all went home and shaved off their moustaches?

Porn maybe? I heard they were pretty well hung



ISW wrote:

Ukrainian Commander in Chief General Valery Zaluzhnyi recently articulated the main factors that have brought positional war to the conflict and made mechanized maneuver difficult or impossible. The recent Russian offensive operations around Avdiivka in Donetsk Oblast, among others, have shown that the Russians are suffering equally from these problems. Zaluzhnyi’s assessment tracks with what many other observers of the war have also seen. The most salient of these factors include:

The pervasiveness of reconnaissance drones makes large-scale surprise impossible, and the effective creation by both sides of reconnaissance-strike complexes that merge reconnaissance and strike drones with artillery and other long-range systems makes visible concentrations of vehicles prohibitively dangerous;
Russian electronic warfare, particularly jamming of GPS signals and drone communications, on an unprecedented scale severely hinders Ukraine’s ability to make full use of Western-provided precision munitions that rely on GPS and undermines the effectiveness of Ukraine’s own drone systems;
Russian defensive works prepared over the course of many months and supported by extremely deep and dense minefields preclude rapid mechanized maneuver;
Limited Ukrainian air defenses and Ukraine’s lack of a modern air force allows Russian manned aircraft to operate in close support of front line units and to target Ukrainian tactical reserves and logistics nodes;
Limited Ukrainian long-range strike capabilities preclude the effective operational-level interdiction necessary to isolate the battlefield from Russian operational and strategic reserves; and
Inadequate numbers of tanks and armored vehicles, coupled with uncertainty about the future availability of replacements, require Ukraine to husband its mechanized forces rather than accepting the losses inherent in concentrated assaults in the current state of the battlefield.

The solution to these challenges does not require a major technological revolution by either side. On the one hand, Western arsenals already possess the weaponry necessary to address nearly all the challenges confronting the combatants in Ukraine. On the other hand, Russia’s full mobilization of its economy and society for war could counterbalance its technological limitations.

An expansion of Western aid to Ukraine, on the other hand, could well enable Ukrainian forces to restore maneuver to the battlefield on their own terms. Weapons exist in Western arsenals to destroy Russian electronic warfare systems. A US program is already underway to modify missiles designed to attack air defense radars to strike GPS jamming and similar EW systems, but EW systems are readily identified and located by their electromagnetic signatures in any case, and many sorts of munitions can kill them. Destroying Russian EW systems would increase Ukrainian forces’ ability to strike targets near the front precisely, disrupting Russian advances and setting conditions for Ukrainian offensive operations.

US policymakers must understand, above all, that the current positional war in Ukraine is not a stable or permanent reality inherent either in the nature of war today or in the relative balance of military power between Russia and Ukraine. Ending or significantly curtailing American military support to Ukraine will enable Russia to win this war on the battlefield. That would be a catastrophe not only for Ukraine, but also for NATO and for the United States.

A very long watch, but extremely informative all the way through.

One of my favorite parts is the observation that "For Germans, the nightmare is war. For Central Europeans, the nightmare is occupation". He goes on further to state that for Germans are so war averse that they have become allergic to the very idea of victory, like it is something distasteful or that they can never deserve it irrespective of how awful the alternative may be. The fact that the very real and unavoidable alternative to victory over Russia is an ever expanding Russian fascist dictatorship should be enough to exorcise German defeatism... but it isn't.

Long discussion but very informative.

Intercepted calls from the front lines in Ukraine show a growing number of Russian soldiers want out

In audio intercepts from the front lines in Ukraine, Russian soldiers speak in shorthand of 200s to mean dead, 300s to mean wounded. The urge to flee has become common enough that they also talk of 500s — people who refuse to fight.

As the war grinds into its second winter, a growing number of Russian soldiers want out, as suggested in secret recordings obtained by The Associated Press of Russian soldiers calling home from the battlefields of the Kharkiv, Luhansk and Donetsk regions in Ukraine.

The calls offer a rare glimpse of the war as it looked through Russian eyes — a point of view that seldom makes its way into Western media, largely because Russia has made it a crime to speak honestly about the conflict in Ukraine. They also show clearly how the war has progressed, from the professional soldiers who initially powered Vladimir Putin’s full-scale invasion to men from all walks of life compelled to serve in grueling conditions.

“There’s no f------ ‘dying the death of the brave’ here,” one soldier told his brother from the front in Ukraine’s Kharkiv region. “You just die like a f------ earthworm.”

The prospect of another wave of mobilization lingers, even as Moscow has been trying to lure people into signing contracts with the military. Russia’s annual autumn conscription draft kicked off in October, pulling in some 130,000 fresh young men. Though Moscow says conscripts won’t be sent to Ukraine, after a year of service they automatically become reservists — prime candidates for mobilization.

The AP verified the identities of people in the calls by speaking with relatives and soldiers — some of whom are still at war in Ukraine — and researching open-source material linked to the phone numbers used by the soldiers.

The conversations, picked up in January 2023 — some from near the longest and deadliest fight in Bakhmut — have been edited for length and clarity. Names have been omitted to protect the soldiers and their relatives.

The voices in these calls are of men who didn’t or couldn’t flee mobilization. Some had no money, no education and no options. Others believed in patriotic duty. One worked in a meat processing plant, cutting bone. Another worked at a law firm. A third, who worked as a roofer and later at a supermarket company, had a string of debts and had defaulted on his utilities payments, records show.

It is hard to say how representative these calls are of sentiment in Russia’s armed forces, but their desperation is matched by a spike in legal cases against soldiers in Russia who refuse to fight.

What’s happening in Ukraine is “simply genocide,” the soldier in Kharkiv told his brother. “If this s--- doesn’t stop, then soon we’ll be leading the Ukrainians to the Kremlin ourselves,” he said.

“This is just a huge testing ground, where the whole world is testing their weapons, f--- it, and sizing up their d----,” he went on. “That’s all.”

But there are other voices, too, of men who remain committed to the fight.

“As long as we are needed here, we will carry out our task,” a soldier named Artyom told AP from eastern Ukraine at the end of May, where he’d been stationed for eight months without break. “Just stop asking me these stupid questions.”

The Kremlin and Russian Ministry of Defense did not respond to requests for comment.

White House warns it is ‘out of money and nearly out of time’ to aid Ukraine

The White House has said it is “out of money and nearly out of time” to provide more weapons to Ukraine as it tries to ward off Russia’s invasion unless Congress acts to approve additional funding and support.

The warning, issued on Monday in a letter to congressional leaders, laid out how the government had already gone through about $111bn appropriated for Ukraine military aid.

“I want to be clear: without congressional action, by the end of the year we will run out of resources to procure more weapons and equipment for Ukraine and to provide equipment from US military stocks,” Shalanda Young, director of the office of management and budget, wrote in the letter, parts of which were published by the Hill.

The latest plea for money comes after the White House asked Congress to act on a $100bn supplemental funding request in October, arguing that it “advances our national security and supports our allies and partners”.

The request identified border security, allies in the Indo-Pacific, Israel and Ukraine. About $61bn covered money for Ukraine, which included $30bn to restock defense department equipment sent to support the country after Russia invaded in February 2022.

In the letter to leaders in the House and Senate, Young said a failure to provide more funding would “kneecap Ukraine on the battlefield, not only putting at risk the gains Ukraine has made, but increasing the likelihood of Russian military victories”.

Young added that there is “no magical pot of funding available to meet this moment.

We are out of money – and nearly out of time,” Young said.

The Pentagon, she said, had used 97% of the $62.3bn it received as of mid-November. And the state department had run through all of the $4.7bn in military assistance it received, including money for humanitarian assistance and economic and civilian security assistance.

“We are out of money to support Ukraine in this fight. This isn’t a next year problem,” she added. “The time to help a democratic Ukraine fight against Russian aggression is right now. It is time for Congress to act.”

Ukraine war: Soldier tells BBC of front-line 'hell'

Outnumbered and outgunned, one front-line soldier has given a sobering account of Ukraine's struggle to cling on to its foothold on the east bank of the vast Dnipro river.

Several hundred Ukrainian soldiers have made it there as part of a counter-offensive launched six months ago.

Under relentless Russian fire, the soldier spent several weeks on the Russian-occupied side of the river as Ukraine sought to establish a bridgehead around the village of Krynky. The BBC is not naming him to protect his identity.

His account, sent via a messaging app, speaks of troop boats blown out of the water, inexperienced reinforcements and a feeling of abandonment by Ukraine's military commanders.

It highlights growing tensions as Ukraine's defence against Russia's invasion grinds to the end of another year.

Ukraine's military told the BBC they are not commenting on the situation in that area for security reasons.

Ukraine war: Zelensky speaks out as US stand-off imperils war effort

Ukraine is facing some of its most difficult days since the start of Russia's full-scale invasion.

The much-anticipated counter-offensive appears to have stalled, and the US and EU are struggling to agree fresh financial and weapons aid. And the world's attention is diverted by the Israel-Gaza war.

After a package of help from the US became embroiled in wider Congressional squabbles, Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky warned that Moscow was waiting for the US and Europe to show weakness.

"Russia hopes for only one thing - that next year the free world's consolidation will collapse," he told a video meeting of Western leaders from the G7.

President Joe Biden appealed to Congress to "do the right thing". "This cannot wait," he said.