Saturday, May 28, 2022

An Update from the Ukraine Battlefield

The war in Ukraine has fallen off the front pages. For now, at least. Rather than use it to attempt to make a pathetic demented fool into a great wartime leader, our propaganda media is hard at work blaming white Republicans for the gun violence that has been proliferating, and not just in Buffalo and Uvalde. As always, with most of the media, the issue is how best to score political points for Democrats. 

One feels compelled to note that violence seems endemic to a nation that is divided against itself, where half the people hate the country, where patriotism is routinely derided, where public monuments are destroyed, where history is rewritten to deprive people of their national pride-- in short, there’s more to it than guns. And let's not forget, a nation where people believe that there is a special virtue in mutilating children.

Meanwhile, back in Ukraine, the war does not seem to be going so well for the Ukrainians. This might be one reason why we are not hearing so much about it. I will note, in passing, that I have remained skeptical about the glowing reports of Ukrainian success. It was too good to be true, and  you know what happens when something is too good to be true.

Anyway, the point of the propaganda exercise has been to make Joe Biden look good, so we maintain our skepticism.

For now, the dam seems to be breaking, with a piece in the Washington Post, explaining that things are not going so well for the Ukrainians. Since this counts as the first article in the mainstream media that runs counter to the party line, we pay it some serious attention.

Ukrainian leaders have projected and nurtured a public image of military invulnerability — of their volunteer and professional forces triumphantly standing up to the Russian onslaught. Videos of assaults on Russian tanks or positions are posted daily on social media. Artists are creating patriotic posters, billboards and T-shirts. The postal service even released stamps commemorating the sinking of a Russian warship in the Black Sea.

Ukrainian forces have succeeded in thwarting Russian efforts to seize Kyiv and Kharkiv and have scored battlefield victories in the east. But the experience of Lapko and his group of volunteers offers a rare and more realistic portrait of the conflict and Ukraine’s struggle to halt the Russian advance in parts of Donbas. Ukraine, like Russia, has provided scant information about deaths, injuries or losses of military equipment. But after three months of war, this company of 120 men is down to 54 because of deaths, injuries and desertions.

But Lapko and Khrus’s concerns were echoed recently by a platoon of the 115th Brigade 3rd Battalion, based nearby in the besieged city of Severodonetsk. In a video uploaded to Telegram on May 24, and confirmed as authentic by an aide to Haidai, volunteers said they will no longer fight because they lacked proper weapons, rear support and military leadership.

“We are being sent to certain death,” said a volunteer, reading from a prepared script, adding that a similar video was filmed by members of the 115th Brigade 1st Battalion. “We are not alone like this, we are many.”

So, the issue is Eastern Ukraine, not the capital city of Kyiv or the Western city of Lviv. Anyway, things do not seem to be going very well.

And then, there is Brazilian journalist Pepe Escobar, who writes like someone who favors the Russian side. Or else, of someone who is channeling the Russian mind. So, we are normally skeptical of Escobar and have resisted reported his analysis. And yet, after reading the Washington Post story, we confess that Escobar sounds more reasonable. See also, this slightly more optimistic, but still sober analysis, from The Week. And this, from Reuters, via the New York Post.

Escobar writes this:

Back in the real world, Russia, slowly but surely has been rewriting the Art of Hybrid War. Yet within the carnival of NATO psyops, aggressive cognitive infiltration, and stunning media sycophancy, much is being made of the new $40 billion US ‘aid’ package to Ukraine, deemed capable of becoming a game-changer in the war.

Is America’s $40 billion dollars going to save the day for the Ukrainians? Is it going to allow America to talk tough without taking any risks? Escobar has his doubts.

This ‘game-changing’ narrative comes courtesy of the same people who burned though trillions of dollars to secure Afghanistan and Iraq. And we saw how that went down.

Ukraine is the Holy Grail of international corruption. That $40 billion can be a game-changer for only two classes of people: First, the US military-industrial complex, and second, a bunch of Ukrainian oligarchs and neo-connish NGOs, that will corner the black market for weapons and humanitarian aid, and then launder the profits in the Cayman Islands.

A quick breakdown of the $40 billion reveals $8.7 billion will go to replenish the US weapons stockpile (thus not going to Ukraine at all); $3.9 billion for USEUCOM (the ‘office’ that dictates military tactics to Kiev); $5 billion for a fuzzy, unspecified “global food supply chain”; $6 billion for actual weapons and “training” to Ukraine; $9 billion in “economic assistance” (which will disappear into selected pockets); and $0.9 billion for refugees.

As for the question of whether Nato can assure Ukraine’s ability to export wheat, Escobar says that it will save the world from starvation:

Moreover, expect NATO this summer to come up with another monster psyop to defend its divine (not legal) right to enter the Black Sea with warships to escort Ukrainian vessels transporting wheat. Pro-NATO media will spin it as the west being ‘saved’ from the global food crisis – which happens to be directly caused by serial, hysterical packages of western sanctions.

Could it be that the sanctions are not such a good thing? Could it be that they are causing too much damage in the West. Escobar thinks that they are seriously hurting the German economy:

A key target being met with astonishing ease is the destruction of the German – and consequently the EU’s – economy, with a great deal of the surviving companies to be eventually sold off to American interests.

Take, for instance, BMW board member Milan Nedeljkovic telling Reuters that “our industry accounts for about 37 percent of natural gas consumption in Germany” which will sink without Russian gas supplies.

Does Washington have a plan? Escobar thinks that it does. It is going to fight Russia to the last Ukrainian:

Washington’s plan is to keep the new ‘long war’ going at a not-too-incandescent level – think Syria during the 2010s – fueled by rows of mercenaries, and featuring periodic NATO escalations by anyone from Poland and the Baltic midgets to Germany.

Last week, that pitiful Eurocrat posing as High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, gave away the game when previewing the upcoming meeting of the EU Foreign Affairs Council.

Borrell admitted that “the conflict will be long” and “the priority of the EU member states” in Ukraine “consists in the supply of heavy weapons.”

How does he assess the war on the ground? He is not cheerleading the Ukrainians, to say the least:

It’s always important to remember that Operation Z started on February 24 with around 150,000 or so fighters – and definitely not Russia’s elite forces. And yet they liberated Mariupol and destroyed the elite neo-Nazi Azov battalion in a matter of only fifty days, cleaning up a city of 400,000 people with minimal casualties.

True, Mariupol has surrendered, and the crack Neo-Nazi battalion has been destroyed. 

According to Escobar, American commentators, men with great military experience, are misjudging the events on the ground.

While fighting a real war on the ground – not those indiscriminate US bombings from the air – in a huge country against a large army, facing multiple technical, financial and logistical challenges, the Russians also managed to liberate Kherson, Zaporizhia and virtually the whole area of the ‘baby twins,’ the popular republics of Donetsk and Luhansk.

Russia’s ground forces commander, General Aleksandr Dvornikov, has turbo-charged missile, artillery and air strikes to a pace five times faster than during the first phase of Operation Z, while the Ukrainians, overall, are low or very low on fuel, ammo for artillery, trained specialists, drones, and radars.

What American armchair and TV generals simply cannot comprehend is that in Russia’s view of this war – which military expert Andrei Martyanov defines as a “combined arms and police operation” – the two top targets are the destruction of all military assets of the enemy while preserving the life of its own soldiers.

As for Mariupol, it was a major Ukrainian defeat:

Ukraine must have lost as many as 20,000 soldiers in and around Mariupol alone. That’s a massive military defeat, largely surpassing Debaltsevo in 2015 and previously Ilovaisk in 2014. The losses near Izyum may be even higher than in Mariupol. And now come the losses in the Severodonetsk corner.

We’re talking here about the best Ukrainian forces. It doesn’t even matter that only 70 percent of Western weapons sent by NATO ever make it to the battlefield: the major problem is that the best soldiers are going…going…gone, and won’t be replaced. 

Azov neo-Nazis, the 24th Brigade, the 36th Brigade, various Air Assault brigades – they all suffered losses of 60+ percent or have been completely demolished.

So the key question, as several Russian military experts have stressed, is not when Kiev will ‘lose’ as a point of no return; it is how many soldiers Moscow is prepared to lose to get to this point.

And now, Ukraine is facing another series of defeats. Again, we do not read about his in the American media, so we are somewhat surprised:

The imminent loss of Severodonetsk and Lysichansk will ring serious alarm bells in Washington and Brussels, because that will represent the beginning of the end of the current regime in Kiev. And that, for all practical purposes – and beyond all the lofty rhetoric of “the west stands with you” – means heavy players won’t be exactly encouraged to bet on a sinking ship.

As for the sanctions regime, Russia is now pivoting toward Asia, to sell energy especially to India and China. And, of course, to run transactions in rubles, not in dollars. As we suspect, one of the major casualties of this policy might very well be the status of the dollar as a reserve currency.

Escobar notes:

On the sanctions front, Moscow knows exactly what to expect, as detailed by Minister of Economic Development Maxim Reshetnikov: “Russia proceeds from the fact that sanctions against it are a rather long-term trend, and from the fact that the pivot to Asia, the acceleration of reorientation to eastern markets, to Asian markets is a strategic direction for Russia. We will make every effort to integrate into value chains precisely together with Asian countries, together with Arab countries, together with South America.”

And, Escobar concludes:

Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir “the new Hitler” Putin is in absolutely no hurry to end this larger than life drama that is ruining and rotting the already decaying west to its core. Why should he? He tried everything, since 2007, on the “why can’t we get along” front. Putin was totally rejected. So now it’s time to sit back, relax, and watch the Decline of the West.


IamDevo said...

And in other news being studiously ignored by our friends in the "media" because it fails to fit the preferred narrative, see:

Anonymous said...

"And yet, after reading the Washington Post story, we confess that Escobar sounds more reasonable." I trust nothing from the Washington Post (which I refer to as the WaPoo (it WaPoops) and the NYT.

Anonymous said...

IamDevo, as I see it, we have NO friends in "the media. It/they are untrustworthy."

Anonymous said...

Great Russian propaganda. This is what Putin dreams is happening. Rather than the reality of economic, military, and social decline and a historic drubbing of the Russian military.