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Ukraine - Superthread

This post is about what Ukraine needs to finish the war. It is a bit of long one.

First the state of the war in the Bakhmut and Vuhledar regions as presented by "Regular" soldiers - and you can take that regular any way you want.

The 93rd's name comes up regularly in Bakhmut - It is a prewar mechanized brigade that is one of the Ukrainian's "fire brigades" that has fought successfully in Kyiv, Izium and Kharkiv and now in Bakhmut. It has been rotated in and out of Bakhmut from time to time. Morale seems pretty good.

The concept that Bakhmut is holding, and possibly even mounting local counter-attacks is plausible.

Now a word from a local. Kyanin has been doing daily reports from Bakhmut as well. Sometimes he goes "off message" and has to get "professional" help to come in alongside him to get him back on track.

He has a continuing record of existing, holding and noting that things are difficult even as he toes the party line at the end of every video - "Everything will be Ukraine".

The first time I remember Kyanin going off track he complained about Reznikov saying that Ukraine did not need Mavic Drones. He was clear that the Mavics were the only things he trusted to give him situational awareness. Shortly there after Magyar's Birds made their first Bakhmut video about their work. And Reznikov was on reassignment watch for a few weeks which he survived politically through his efforts at Ramstein.

The second time he went off the rails he was complaining about local command and saying that they needed a proper "modern" General, specifically he asked for the Battle of Hostomel commander. Shortly thereafter the "Witch of Bakhmut" made a couple of videos with him where she did most of the talking.

This is the third time he has departed from the script, to my knowledge.


1 We're still here
2 Things are difficult
3 Thank God for the 93rd
4 Thank God for the Training given by the 93rd. It improves survival rates among the Territorials, National Guard and other local units.
5 The army is working as an effective institution - everything from the 93rd and Magyars Birds, through the arty to the logistics and meds.
6 He needs more ammunition and better weapons - all the way down to his new Automat rifle with good optics.
7 The West needs to deliver more ammunition and more weapons faster.

8 The REMFs in Kyiv are screwing us over and all need to be replaced

The 8th point I take as an example of things improving. If he has time to grumble he isn't as worried about getting his head shot off in a trench.

But - it points to a different morale area that may be more important - especially if it is a widespread conversation among those not being shot at.

Which brings me to my final point.

I suspect Kyanin got his wish with respect to his request for a new commander

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Sunday fired a senior military commander helping lead the fight against Russian troops in the country’s embattled east but gave no reason for the move.

In a one-line decree, Zelensky announced the dismissal of Eduard Moskalyov as commander of the joint forces of Ukraine, which are engaged in battles in the Donbas region.

Zelensky mentioned Moskalyov in a daily address on Friday when listing the military commanders he had spoken to. Moskalyov had been in the post since March 2022, shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine.

After Kyanin's latest "moan" the 93rd videos were posted to supplement his and Reddit posted its first Dancing Soldier video in a while.

So I take Kyanin at his word.

He needs relief.
He needs training.
He needs conventional small arms and lots of ammunition.
He needs lots of fire support and lots of ammunition.
He needs situational awareness.
He needs this to be over.

Most of all, he needs a Command that he can trust.

Another manual for life.
Always think of this book when I see giant tv screens hanging on the wall in peoples homes.
Seems Ukraine is doubling down on Bahkmut. Apparently they announced reinforcements, and I'm seeing multiple ''combat tweetters'' getting deployed there.
I've been making much of the UK's Alliances Europe's North and East through JEF

Brexit was Britain vs the EU with Paris in the driver's seat. Even the countries that supported Britain in principle weren't prepared to oppose France and its German puppet in practice. This left Britain with a couple of gaping sores - French fisherman, immigrants from France and the Northern Irish Protocol.

Rishi Sunak has now managed to put a bandaid over the NIP for now. That, in my opinion, was only possible because of Mad Man Boris and his Foreign Secretary Liz Truss. Boris may have frightened his own establishment but, again, in my opinion, he frightened Vlad more. And, concurrently, gave comfort and cover to not just the Ukraine but also to Sweden and Finland as well as to Poland, picking up allies, many in the EU, from Scandinavia, the Baltic and the East along the way.

Ambrose E Pritchard apparently shares my views.

The EU has discovered that it needs Britain more than it thought​

Brussels faced a revolt over its scientific alliances
AMBROSE EVANS-PRITCHARD28 February 2023 • 3:56pm

Vladimir Putin is the Godfather of the Windsor Framework (Edit - agreement on revising the Northern Ireland Protocol) . Full-scale war in Europe for the first time since 1945 is what has made it possible to detoxify the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Few people are aware that the UK extended its world-class cyberwarfare deterrent to the whole of Eastern and Central Europe at the outset of the conflict, raising the stakes for the Kremlin if it tried to take down their critical infrastructure with cyber attacks.

Nor are they aware that the UK extended a solidarity guarantee to Sweden and Finland very early and at a critical juncture, offering de facto Article 5 protection even though they were not in NATO. But the significance of this was not lost on the governments of these countries, and they have a voice in EU affairs through multiple channels. (When Vlad started talking tactical nukes Boris very openly armed its nuclear boats and put them to sea)

Commission pettifogging over the trade of seed potatoes and sausages from one part of the UK to another had become surreal. “Only Putin will be happy,” said Polish premier Mateusz Morawiecki last year, calling for an end to the distraction. (of the NIP)

Events vindicated the British view that Putin could be checked and that Ukraine should be backed to the hilt. That put us in tight alignment with front line states, the Nordics, and Holland. The divide was not between the UK and the EU: the line of cleavage is and was within the EU.

Much wishful thinking in Paris, Brussels, and the Monnet nexus of integrationist think-tanks has been ruthlessly exposed
. The war has dashed hopes of a European defence and foreign policy “superpower” emerging now that the EU is no longer held back by Britain, acting in eternal character as de Gaulle’s Trojan Horse for the Americans.

Little has come of Emmanuel Macron’s “European sovereignty” or his defence condominium with the Germans. As soon as matters became serious, Berlin turned to Washington. Olaf Scholz is buying new F-18 (F-35) fighter jets from the US, undermining the Franco-German FCAS joint fighter project. The Italians are working on a new combat aircraft with the UK and Japan.

“Of the momentum that Brexit was expected to give EU security and defence policy, not a peep can be heard,”
said Le Monde Diplomatique. Mr Macron has drawn the inevitable conclusion and buried the hatchet over Brexit, something easier for him to do with the calm and amenable Rishi Sunak. The Entente is back. The French and the British are destined to be comrades, as they have since the 1850s in the great questions of diplomacy.

Personally, I am stunned by Mr Sunak’s deal on the Protocol. As Lord Mandelson said, it is “as good as it gets”. David Davis on the other side of the Brexit bench called it a “spectacular negotiating success”. Indeed it is.

It settles a bone of contention with the Biden White House. It should unlock pent-up business investment by foreign firms, although the Government could unlock a great deal more if it abandoned the coming rise in corporation tax to 25pc and acceded to the CBI’s plea for full expensing.

Yes, the European Court remains in the shadows, (Problematic) but governing a reduced sliver of the Acquis, with no “reach-back” into British economic policy through state aid rules. The larger political point is that Brussels no longer wishes to use the Protocol to demonstrate hegemonic power. That episode is over.

The deal clears the way for Britain to rejoin Horizon Europe for science and research, and the nuclear Euratom programme.
Or, put differently, it allows the EU to extricate itself from a destructive policy that was doing serious harm to European science and was leading to a generalised revolt by research institutions and universities against the Commission itself. Brussels discovered that in sanctioning the UK, it was sanctioning Europe.

Let us be clear what happened. Horizon is a genuinely pan-European scheme. British participation is written into the original Brexit text. Until yesterday, the EU was refusing to fulfil its legal commitment.

It has been holding science hostage,
using it as a political pressure tool. It has done the same to Switzerland, kicking the Swiss out of EU science in order to punish them for other sins – a move described as “absurd” and “almost spiteful” by one leading figure in European research.
Was it Moscow-educated Maroš Šefčovič, the Commission’s Brexit enforcer, who chose to weaponise science? Whoever it was, he or she did not understand the nature of cross-border cooperation in research, or the pivotal role of British and Swiss institutions in Europe’s scientific ecosystem.

“It’s a punishment for all of us, a punishment for Europe, a sadomasochistic decision,” said Professor Antoine Petit, head of the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) and a member of the Stick to Science campaign that includes ten Nobel laureates from across Europe. He says CNRS alone was involved in over 1,000 projects with UK or Swiss researchers under the last round of the Horizon scheme. “Every domain will be impacted by this decision,” he said.

Grants have been blocked. Projects are in limbo. Suddenly, scientists on the Continent find themselves on the wrong side of a political barrier when dealing with the European Bioinformatics Institute in Cambridge or the Torus fusion labs in Culham.

The European University Association said EU research policy had become "arbitrary and obscure: the Commission can no longer claim to be the adult in the room”. The universal cry from European science has been to stop this folly immediately.

Britain is not a poor relation in this domain. It has the highest ranking universities in Europe by far. It has big beasts of funding research such as the Wellcome Trust and Cancer Research UK. Without British (and Swiss) participation, Europe risks being relegated to a second-tier backwater in global science.

Michelle Donelan, the UK’s Science and Technology Secretary, upped the ante earlier this month, letting it be known that this country was preparing (reluctantly) to activate its “Plan B” and switch to new scientific alliances.

“We are more than ready to go it alone, working with science powerhouses like the US, Switzerland and Japan. I will not sit idly by while our researchers are sidelined,” she wrote.

Horizon is an excellent programme – the sort of Europe that the British always wanted – but it is excellent for a reason. European scientists were so disenchanted with the Commission’s research directorate – top-down, bureaucratic, glacially slow, and run by ideologues who micromanaged the use of funds – that they drifted away in the early 2000s and formed their own cross-border network. It became the European Research Council.

The Commission learned a hard lesson. It changed its fundamental approach to science and brought the dissidents back into the EU family. The ERC and Horizon have together evolved into a European success story precisely they are sui generis.

It is entirely desirable that Britain should retake its place in this structure. This is not because it needs hand-outs from Brussels. The Government has pledged to match the pre-Brexit levels of research grants whatever happens. Horizon is valuable because it is the glue that holds everything together in European science collaboration.

The moral of the Horizon saga is that the EU needs the UK more than Brussels supposed in the first flush of post-Brexit triumphalism, just as it needs the UK more than it ever imagined to prevent Putin reconstituting the Russian tsarist empire.

Mr Sunak had the personality and good judgement to seize the moment, and so did Ursula von der Leyen. Hats off to both of them.

Well done to Sunak but I remain convinced that it was only the madness of Boris that enabled this.
I have to agree... time is not on the side of Ukraine:

The Biden administration is wrong: Time is not on Ukraine’s side​

As the Ukraine war enters its second year, the Biden administration is pledging to support Kyiv for “as long as it takes.” That language is calculated to send a message of resolve to Russian President Vladimir Putin, but it’s not what Ukrainians want to hear. Though they’re fighting valiantly, Ukrainians are also suffering greatly — and they are begging the West to help them speed up the war, not settle in for an endless slog.

Just a few days before the anniversary of Putin’s unprovoked invasion last year, Biden visited Kyiv and made a rousing speech in Poland promising that the West “will never waver” in the fight for freedom and democracy. A few days earlier, Vice President Harris took the stage at the Munich Security Conference to declare America’s endless commitment to the Ukraine effort.

“The daily agony of war will persist,” she said. “But if Putin thinks he can wait us out, he is badly mistaken. Time is not on his side.”

Nearly all the Ukrainian officials I met in Munich respectfully disagree. It’s not just about weapons (although they insist that more and better weapons are badly and quickly needed). These Ukrainian officials say they’re worried that the Biden administration’s stance could undermine support for Kyiv’s strategy, which is to accelerate the war effort now and avoid a protracted stalemate.

For them, an endless war means a win for Putin and the loss of their country as they know it.

“We are very grateful for the support that is coming, but there is one phrase that makes us very concerned,” Ukrainian member of parliament Yelyzaveta Yasko told me. “Many leaders right now are saying, ‘We will support you as long as it takes.’ And we feel this phrase is quite dangerous.”

Biden’s messaging signals that the West is psychologically and politically preparing for a long war. But Yasko told me the window of opportunity for winning is closing. Russia’s attacks on Ukrainian infrastructure, energy production and agricultural facilities are taking a brutal toll on the economy. The Ukrainian military is incurring heavy losses.

The deepening destruction means Ukraine will become even more dependent on the West in the future and reconstruction will become exorbitantly expensive and difficult. The longer the war goes on, the less industry Ukrainian refugees will have to return to.

Ukrainian member of parliament Oleksii Honcharenko told me victory must see Ukraine emerge as a healthy democracy with a functioning economy, or it will all be for naught. This is why, he says, the war must be won this year.

“If the war goes on for several more years, and then there is victory … it will be a Pyrrhic victory,” he said.

Ukrainians are also keenly aware of the war-weariness among citizens in the United States and Europe. As Ukrainians know only too well, Putin doesn’t have to take the opinions of his citizens into account. Biden, by contrast, has a political incentive to see this conflict end sooner rather than later.

“Do you really want another forever war?” asked Honcharenko. “The war should be finished this year. That should be the message.”

Biden administration officials rightly tout the enormous amount of military aid that has been provided to Ukraine and take credit for maintaining unity among NATO allies. But the White House’s fear of escalation with Russia has hampered its willingness to give Ukraine the things that Ukraine says it needs to win the war this year.

The Ukrainians are asking for longer-range missiles, advanced drones, more air defenses and lots of tanks, as well as fighter aircraft. The Biden administration’s pattern over the past year has been to withhold the types of advanced weapons Ukrainians are asking for, fearing escalation, and then, when Putin escalates anyway, provide them later.

Former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine William B. Taylor Jr. told me the risk of Putin deciding to expand the war beyond Ukraine at this point is “very low,” given the state of Russia’s battered army.

“The delay in providing the weapons costs lives, because if we provided the weapons, that could shorten the war,” he said.

By providing Ukraine with just enough weaponry to fight to a medium-boil stalemate, the Biden approach is seen by many Ukrainians as an intentional strategy to nudge Ukraine toward negotiations. Ukrainian officials maintain that talks are possible only when Putin feels more pressure.

The first thing you will hear from any Ukrainian is “Thank you.” Ukrainians are not ungrateful or greedy — they are trying to survive. But their desperation is increasing. “As long as it takes” must not become an excuse for a lack of urgency. By next year’s anniversary, there might not be a Ukraine to save.

Seems Ukraine is doubling down on Bahkmut. Apparently they announced reinforcements, and I'm seeing multiple ''combat tweetters'' getting deployed there.

Interesting, since as this article from the National Post states President Zelensky is stating that Ukrainian forces may have to withdrawal:

Ukraine signals it may be forced to abandon Bakhmut to Russians​

Less than three weeks after declaring Kyiv would not surrender the eastern city, Zelenskyy said his forces won’t hold it 'at any cost and with everyone dying'

Author of the article: Bloomberg News Aliaksandr Kudrytski and Marc Champion
Published Feb 28, 2023 • 3 minute read

(Bloomberg) — Ukrainian officials are signaling that the besieged eastern city of Bakhmut may soon be impossible to defend as Russian troops level the area.

“The enemy is gradually destroying everything that can be used to protect our positions, for reinforcement and defense,” Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a video address Monday evening.

The top commander in charge of Ukraine’s ground forces, Oleksandr Syrskyi, described the fighting in Bakhmut as “very tense.” The Kremlin has deployed some of the best-trained assault units from the Wagner mercenary group to break through Ukrainian lines and encircle Bakhmut, no matter the losses, he said on a military Telegram channel.

As Moscow intensifies its campaign on the eastern front, the tone from Ukrainian officials on the embattled city marks a reversal. Zelenskiy declared on Feb. 2 that Kyiv won’t surrender Bakhmut. Less than three weeks later, he said his forces won’t hold the city “at any cost and with everyone dying.”

A high-intensity fight for the city in the eastern Donetsk region has been underway since August, making it one of the longest sustained campaigns to seize any single town since Russia launched its invasion just over a year ago.

Recent videos published by the Ukrainian military show a landscape of charred buildings and random remaining occupants gathering snow to melt for water. Bakhmut’s population plunged from 70,000 before the war to fewer than 6,000 as civilians fled the approaching front line.

The focus on Bakhmut has puzzled many military observers, including some defence ministries among Ukraine’s allies. The city isn’t considered a significant logistics hub and would offer limited strategic advantage to Russian forces once won.

U.S. authorities have advised Ukraine to play for time as heavy weaponry, especially tanks, are due to arrive, according to a senior official who declined to be identified. To gather resources for a spring counteroffensive in the south, Ukraine may have to surrender Bakhmut, European officials have said.

The area nevertheless has seen some of the war’s highest casualty rates as the town gained symbolic importance. That has raised the political stakes around Bakhmut’s capture in ways reminiscent of last spring’s three-month siege of the port of Mariupol, a much larger and strategically more important city about 200 kilometers (124 miles) to the south.

Capturing Bakhmut would be a step toward Russia seizing all of Ukraine’s Donbas region, which President Vladimir Putin declared part of Russia — in addition to the claims on the southern Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions — in the wake of illegal referendums in September.

For Ukraine, the goal is likely to weaken Russian forces in urban combat, while maintaining enough fresh reserves of its own to launch a counter-offensive in the spring, backed by newly arrived heavy weapons from the West.

Should Ukraine decide to withdraw, its troops are likely to fall back to prepared defences close to the city, in effect straightening the front line.

The most effective element of Russia’s offensive has been the Wagner group of Yevgeny Prigozhin, often referred to as “Putin’s chef.” The campaign became tangled in his bitter power struggles with the formal command of the Russian armed forces.

Wagner’s tactics have represented a departure from conventional Russian methods, as Prigozhin added thousands of inexperienced prison convicts to his forces, offering them exoneration once their service was complete. Wagner used them to front small infantry assault teams, backed by reduced artillery cover, to attack on foot in multiple waves. The UK defence ministry has estimated that 50% of the former prisoners sent to Bakhmut were killed in the process.

Interesting, since as this article from the National Post states President Zelensky is stating that Ukrainian forces may have to withdrawal:

Gotta remember psyops is everywhere in this fight. If they plan to hold, but hint they will leave, Russia may commit more forces thinking they have almost won, and do something dumb. The opposite can also be true
Gotta remember psyops is everywhere in this fight. If they plan to hold, but hint they will leave, Russia may commit more forces thinking they have almost won, and do something dumb. The opposite can also be true
"Never interrupt your enemy when he's making a mistake" - Napoleon Bonaparte

The Russians may level Bakhmut only to find the same positions they were hammering are now theirs to defend. The Ukranians draw the Russians further away from their logistical and fire support, have a fix on the Russian objectives, turn that pocket into a cauldron of precision fires, sweep up what's left once the ground dries out in April/May.

Many ways to skin the cat. Not all of them are going to be discussed during a press call.
As @Humphrey Bogart has been pointing out Bakhmut itself it’s a major goal. It’s the hills to the West of it, as they offer a pretty commanding view of the surrounding areas and would mean a significant hole in the UKR line.

That said, I don’t think we should underestimate Ukrainian strategy, as well as their IO work.
As @Humphrey Bogart has been pointing out Bakhmut itself it’s a major goal. It’s the hills to the West of it, as they offer a pretty commanding view of the surrounding areas and would mean a significant hole in the UKR line.

That said, I don’t think we should underestimate Ukrainian strategy, as well as their IO work.
Command the hills behind Bakhmut and you can launch an offensive on Slovyansk & Kramatorsk.

It's set piece warfare. Similar in some respects to the Italian Campaign in WW2. There are so many fortifications built up by both sides now that there really isn't an opportunity for a large breakthrough.

Capturing the entirety of the Donbass is one of Russia's major Military objectives.

Good video on possible options for both sides: