Ukraine war continuing into 2023
January 21, 2023 12:01 AM   Subscribe

The war has been going on for close to 11 months, and yesterday another donor conference in Ramstein was concluded. There has been significant support pledged the week leading up to the conference, but the thing on most observer's minds have been the German government's unwillingness to greenlight Leopard 2 tank donations or sales. No resolution was reached during the conference, but Germany stated that they ware looking into what stocks were available in-country, while stating that anyone is free to provide Leopard 2 training to Ukrainian crews. Providing fighter jets have seemed like a lost cause, but the Netherlands said that they were open to providing Ukraine with F-16s, re-igniting hope.

Highlights of the support pledged includes Estonia crossing the threshold of 1% of GNP provided in support, the US providing 109 Bradley IFVs and 90 Stryker wheeled APC among other things, Sweden donating 50 CV9040 IFVs and their ultra-modern Archer artillery system, Denmark sending their entire stock of field artillery, comprising 19 brand new CAESAR howitzers, the UK sending a dozen or so of their Challenger 2 tanks as well as AS-90 self-propelled howitzers.

In the meantime, Ukrainian infrastructure and civilian targets have been attacked weekly by Russian missiles, with a notable two week gap around Orthodox Christmas. In a recent development, Russia has stationed air defence assets on top of buildings in Moscow , among them the Russian Ministry of Defence. This is after Ukraine reported that they were near completion of their 1000 km range strike drone project.

Former Australian Army general Mick Ryan weighs in on the whole tank debate.

It has also recently come to light that Bulgaria, one of the poorest EU members and long perceived as pro-Moscow, secretly supplied Ukraine fuel and ammunition in the crucial early months of the war.

Two recent developments on the more judicial side of the conflict is that the US will designate the Wagner mercenary group as a "transnational criminal organization", and the EU assembly has passed a resolution 472-19 calling on the member states to back the creation of a special court to judge any war crime of aggression by Russia in Ukraine.

Actual developments on the fronts have been few lately, and on the scale of only city districts and villages trading hands.

The winter weather is not on the invader's side, with surprisingly mild weather in Europe, reducing the need for Russian gas, and cold weather inside Russia. However, civilians in Ukraine are suffering and Support Ukraine Now has ways for you to help.

As always, if you would like to discuss nuclear escalation, this is not the thread for that, and you are free to make your own FPP.
posted by Harald74 (175 comments total) 51 users marked this as a favorite
 
I know that there is a lot of civil society aid going towards Ukraine as well, such as the EU Generators of Hope program, French and Norwegian emergency bridges being installed, emergency vehicles and rescue equipment being sent and spare parts for the energy infrastructure, so if anyone has an overview of that please share.
posted by Harald74 at 12:09 AM on January 21 [1 favorite]


October 7, UK Ministry of Defence:

Ukraine has likely captured at least 440 Russian Main Battle Tanks and around 650 other armoured vehicles since the invasion. Over half of Ukraine's currently fielded tank fleet potentially consists of captured vehicles.

It's pretty embarrassing when Putin is donating more tanks to Ukraine than we are.
posted by adept256 at 1:55 AM on January 21 [32 favorites]


Today are the funerals of victims of the helicopter crash in Brovary on Wednesday - both government officials (including the top three at the Ministry of Interior Affairs) and teachers and children at the kindergarten they crashed into. Investigation is ongoing, though heavy fog on that day brings to mind the 2010 Smolensk catastrophe due to pressure for keeping to schedule over safety.
posted by I claim sanctuary at 4:17 AM on January 21 [2 favorites]


I don’t think there is a reasonable argument for denying tanks to the Ukrainian military. I think there is a reasonable argument that the Abrams isn’t the best choice, especially considering the wide availability of the Leopard across Europe. Instead, the US should be leading on other systems. Like maybe getting more HI-MARS into Ukrainian hands and giving them longer range rockets.

One thing I think we have learned is last-generation Western military tech is more than a match for the current Russian army. We do not need to send bleeding-edge technology. Russia simply isn’t capable of fielding and maintaining their army at the same level. There was concern at first that anything we sent would end up in Russian hands but those days and arguments are obsolete — the Ukrainians have proven themselves capable and deserve our full support.
posted by Big Al 8000 at 4:45 AM on January 21 [20 favorites]


The current wish list seems to have long range missiles for the M270 & HIMARS on top of the list, with tanks at #2. The Ground Launched Small Diameter Bomb (GLSDB) or ATACMS would be most welcome, it seems. We'll probably not be told about it until things go boom in the night.
posted by Harald74 at 4:51 AM on January 21 [1 favorite]


There is definitely no justification for European Nato countries not contributing Leopards to Ukraine but I think the US justification for not contributing Abrams is some garbage as well. The "our tanks are too sophisticated for Ukrainians" requires one to believe that US military has prepped for a world war by equipping itself with tanks that require an absurd amount of lead time before deployment. If it takes a year of training then the Abrams will quickly be useless in a serious war. Supply chain arguments are also weird. The Ukrainian army's built its mechanized force from museum pieces and battlefield scraps. I wouldn't be surprised if their mechanics could make the Buran flightworthy at this point.

Biden needs to call Germany's bluff even it is just sending a small symbolic initial tranche of 10-15 Abrams, even if they will be slow to deploy or of little use, in order to unlock NATOs ability to supply Leopards. In effect the target of those Abrams would actually be Europe's reluctance to lead on this rather than Russia forces and it would still be worth it.
posted by srboisvert at 5:00 AM on January 21 [9 favorites]


The German reluctance to send the Leopards is... something I have yet to find/see a rational explanation for. There's a bit of an undertone of trepidation about pissing off Russia, but I have a hard time believing that's still operational as an issue.

If anyone has read anything that comes close to making sense, I'm all ears.
posted by From Bklyn at 5:12 AM on January 21 [4 favorites]


Regarding the Abrams, I've learnt that the Australian army operates their fleet with diesel. Wikipedia:

The tank was built around this engine[112] and it is multifuel–capable, including diesel, gasoline, marine diesel and jet fuel[113] (such as JP-4 or JP-8). By 1989, the Army was transitioning solely to JP-8 for the M1 Abrams.[114] For logistical simplicity, JP-8 is the U.S. military's universal fuel powering both aircraft and vehicle fleets. The Australian M1A1 AIM SA burns diesel fuel, since the use of JP-8 is less common in the Australian Army.

So the engine was designed to use diesel. I was told that it used a helicopter engine that drank jet fuel. There is a big difference between driving up with a truck with some jerry cans and pouring diesel in, and getting an avgas tanker to wherever your tank is.

I will cite General Mark Ryan linked in the FPP here:

I have personal experience with this. I commanded an army combat brigade with M1 tanks in northern Australia. It is a very difficult physical environment (isolated, hot, rainy) with a small logistic capacity. But, if the Australian Army with its very light integral logistic footprint (and lack of tank strategic sustainment for the first decade in service) can run an M1 tank fleet in these circumstances, the Ukrainians definitely can!

I feel like there is a weird mix of elitism, infantalism and cowardice at play here.

You know what the Abrams was designed for? Fighting the Soviet Union. It began service in 1980.

Where was it going to fight the Soviet Union? Eastern Europe.

Where is the conflict now and what kind of force are they facing?
posted by adept256 at 5:14 AM on January 21 [16 favorites]


The Ground Launched Small Diameter Bomb (GLSDB) or ATACMS would be most welcome, it seems.

There's a big difference. Wikipedia:

Another system suggested for Ukrainian use is the SAAB-Boeing GLSDB. Each would cost $40,000 USD. [28] The price per unit for ATACMS is estimated to be well over $1M.[29]

Do you want 25 GLSDB or 1 ATACMS?

Trick question! They are both already paid for and sitting in stockpiles doing nothing.
posted by adept256 at 5:20 AM on January 21 [8 favorites]


It's worth paying attention to the specific capabilities of the equipment being sent, because it gives a pretty stark picture of what sorts of operations Ukraine and its allies are expecting to happen next.

In particular, the CV90 IFVs being sent by Sweden, which are capable of brutal direct fire against entrenched and/or armoured defensive positions. Most of the IFVs that have been used in this war to date are Soviet BMPs, generally equipped with 30mm autocannons firing conventional ammunition of various types.

The CV90 fires airburst ammunition which is linked to a laser rangefinder and automatically programmed as it leaves the muzzle. It can be fired over the top of a trench and set to airburst directly overhead. It can penetrate through armor and walls and burst on the other side. For an idea of what that sort of programmed airburst capability does to a trench system, watch this demonstration of the Mk44 Bushmaster II. Now bear in mind that's the 30mm version. What Sweden is sending is their own 40mm equivalent. Sweden never exported this, it only exists on their own CV9040s.

This isn't long range stuff. They're going to need successful combined arms operations to get these things right up to the front and then use them to push through. I hope that the Russians have the sense to fall back before that happens. This shit is technically impressive but it would be better if nobody ever had to see the results of using it.
posted by automatronic at 5:24 AM on January 21 [12 favorites]


The strongest argument for the Leopard over the Abrams is current location. As I understand it, any Abrams currently in Europe are attached to active-duty US forces — not sitting in mothballs. European forces, however, have both active and mothball fleets on hand. I don’t think any country is willing to sacrifice their current capability by donating active-use equipment (nor do I think they should be expected to) but retired/surplus equipment should absolutely be available for the Ukrainians.

Shipping hundreds of tanks across the ocean when a nearly equivalent tank could be sent by rail in a fraction of the time at a fraction of the cost makes very little sense to me.
posted by Big Al 8000 at 5:27 AM on January 21 [6 favorites]


The complexity issues with the Abrams aren't the real problem.

The bigger issue is that the Abrams makes something like 0.3-0.5 mpg, which is about twice the fuel consumption of the Leopard, even when burning its preferred jet fuel; it's probably even less efficient when running on diesel. That's a serious practical consideration. It's normally fielded with the entire logistical infrastructure of the US military behind it, and Ukraine doesn't have anything like the same capabilities right now.

The absolute last thing the US wants to see right now is the Abrams running out of fuel at the front lines as its supply lines are compromised, and ending up in the hands of the Russians.
posted by automatronic at 5:43 AM on January 21 [6 favorites]


No we are not, ask President Putin to withdraw his troops and we will all happily shut down the Ukraine army.
posted by sammyo at 5:54 AM on January 21 [17 favorites]


The German reluctance to send the Leopards is... something I have yet to find/see a rational explanation for.
...Germany refused to provide lethal weapons before the invasion started, reflecting a political culture rooted in part in the memory of Germany’s own history of aggression during the 20th century — including the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union.

“No German chancellor, of no party, wants to be seen out front in pushing a military agenda — you want to try all other options before you resort to that,” Kleine-Brockhoff said. "And therefore for domestic consumption, it is seen as a positive thing for a German chancellor not to lead on this, to be cautious, to be resistant, to have tried all other options.”

...But the cautious approach “drives allies crazy” and raises questions over whether they can count on the Germans, Kleine-Brockhoff acknowledged.

Berlin kept up its caution on the Leopard tank even after Britain announced last week that it would provide Ukraine its own Challenger 2 tanks.

The hesitancy isn’t just an issue between Berlin and Kyiv, since other countries would need Germany’s permission to send their own stocks of German-made Leopards to Ukraine. On Wednesday, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said Warsaw would consider giving its tanks even without Berlin’s permission.
German caution on Ukraine arms rooted in political culture
posted by y2karl at 5:59 AM on January 21 [3 favorites]


indica's comment betrays a misunderstanding of the stakes here. There are two places where the fight against fascism is absolutely critical right now: the US and Ukraine. A loss in either place would certainly threaten democracy anywhere else. Putin isn't Hitler, but he is a direct threat to Western democracies, and has been for over fifteen years.
posted by ivanthenotsoterrible at 5:59 AM on January 21 [30 favorites]


We don't insult each other on metafilter.

Everyone here wants the war to end. We want it to end in the Hague. We want the war crimes to be punished.

What we will never accept is the war ending with genocide. I believe I speak for all of us.

If defending freedom from tyranny does not suit you, I suggest you would not like the alternative.
posted by adept256 at 6:03 AM on January 21 [33 favorites]


No resolution was reached during the conference, but Germany stated that they ware looking into what stocks were available in-country,

"Looking into?" They don't have those figures right off the bat?
posted by tiny frying pan at 6:38 AM on January 21 [3 favorites]


I think we insult each other on metafilter quite a bit, it's just bad when when we do it.

In a thread where there's significant discussion about tanks, it seems off to use "tankies" to refer to the people whose opposition to US-led imperialism manifests as support for other powers' imperialism, but I don't know what else to call them. They're full of shit, but there's some kernels of truth in the shit that are worryingly persistent.

One worry I have is that the people getting richest of the fight against tyranny in Ukraine are using that money to support tyranny in their own countries. In the US, the military-industrial complex has been quite supportive of the fascist takeover of the GOP, and I suspect a lot of that money finds its way into supporting both propaganda which feeds our culture war, and into the coffers of the proud boys, oath keepers, etc.

It doesn't mean Ukraine shouldn't get military support, but I'd like to see more discussion on how this can be done while giving less rewards to the worst people on our side (who, of course, are huge crybabies and will whinge and threaten and berate anyone who doesn't give them everything they want).
posted by Jon_Evil at 6:48 AM on January 21 [13 favorites]


I'm extremely disappointed by Germany's dithering. It's a given they will get to the decision eventually, but for whatever reason they have to drag it out and frankly end up looking weak and ineffective first. I hope Poland goes ahead and gives the tanks without permission, and that other nations follow suit. What is Germany going to do, sue them?

But equally, I want the US to stop dithering on the long range missile requests. Get the Ukrainians missiles that can cover all of Crimea sooner rather than later.

Y'all are well and truly simps for the military industrial complex.

Personally, I want to see the war of aggression stopped and Russian military forces back across their own border. The best pathway to that would of course be if the Russian populace, both living in Russia and those who fled to other countries, were to stand up, say "not in our name," and remove their support from the war -- even a dictator needs the consent of the population generally, along with the specific cooperation of bureaucrats and elites. But that isn't happening, not at all. I can understand and sort of excuse the passiveness of those living in Russia given the level of repression, but the passivity of those who are now living in other countries is disappointing and shameful.

So if Russians won't remove their consent from the war, that leaves supporting the Ukrainians militarily, and that's where I want to see other countries (primarily but not exclusively NATO) step up further. Like everyone keeps observing, one of the surprising things about this conflict has been how much better western surplus and scrapheap supplies have been than the best Russia can field -- if Ukraine started getting actual current, cutting-edge supplies, it would be just that much more lopsided technologically.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:51 AM on January 21 [12 favorites]


We don't insult each other on metafilter.
But to my mind, although I am native here
And to the manner born, it is a custom
More honor'd in the breach than the observance.

Wm. Shakespeare
Hamlet
posted by y2karl at 6:51 AM on January 21 [27 favorites]


One wonders tho, could there be an unspoken and certainly unacknowledged goal appreciation of the 'western powers' to allow this to drag on exactly for the long term attrition on both parties?
posted by sammyo at 7:04 AM on January 21


They're full of shit, but there's some kernels of truth in the shit

I have never hated a cleverer metaphor more.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 7:11 AM on January 21 [7 favorites]


Tanks, not thanks
posted by chavenet at 7:14 AM on January 21 [2 favorites]


More honor'd than the breach than the observance.

"More honor'd in the breach than the observance"

I am politely correcting you, like an asshole.
posted by adept256 at 7:17 AM on January 21 [5 favorites]


the Netherlands said that they were open to providing Ukraine with F-16s, re-igniting hope.

This is the most important thing in terms of reframing the entire fight. Although if Gripens aren't going to happen, it should maybe be F-18s instead of F-16s. Twice as much engine maintenance, but a lot more rugged.

I've also been wondering if there should be some effort to get Antonov set up to manufacture whatever aircraft they can out of country. If it had been done immediately, they could be producing planes by now. Cruise missiles and such can be launched from modified transports, and Antonov could manage to license-build light attack planes at least. Especially with participation from Western contractors.

I wonder if Sweden is going to send any of the mortar-carrier versions of the CV90, the 'Mjolnir.' Those seem like they could be very effective in this war.

On the tanks, I'd like to see the Leopards go, and the Abrams if the logistical support can be reasonably provided all the way to the front. Or to protect Kyiv, if the talk of a new offensive there has truth behind it. That's a whole lot closer to repairs and resupply in Poland.

On the other hand, there are around 900 M60-A3s in Turkey and more scattered across Europe. 750HP v12 diesel, 105mm main gun. Tanks in this war aren't generally dueling other tanks. From the link:

Engine of the M60A3 can be replaced in field conditions within 4 hours. Newer M1 and M1A1 tanks were an entirely different matter; halts for maintenance occurred over either 30 miles traveled or 3-5 hours of constant operation, and were each over an hour long. Heat from the M1/M1A1's turbine also required a cooldown period (the operating temperature of an M1's engine compartment is in excess of 926°C) longer than the entire daily maintenance regimen of the M60A3, and even then all personnel handling parts in and from the tank were required to wear special heat-resistant gloves.

Ukraine also has plans on the shelf for putting a T-84 turret on an M-60 chassis, developed for Brazil by Malyshev in 2020 but not selected (as an alternative to the A3 upgrade) so fairly recently there were Ukrainian engineers familiar with it; though Malyshev's facility is/was in Kharkiv so who knows where those people are now.

In a thread where there's significant discussion about tanks, it seems off to use "tankies" to refer to the people whose opposition to US-led imperialism manifests as support for other powers' imperialism, but I don't know what else to call them

It's not off, the synecdoche is there for a reason and it's the same irony. They're mad because the tanks in question would be pointed in the wrong direction. Not because imperialism is happening; as somehow Russia is incapable of imperialism despite that its leaders are literally shouting about the Russian World and their True Religion. Or they should be Tankie-ing in favor of the tanks to be sent against Putin.

The complaints about war-profiteering are tossed off automatically, just like the GOP complaining about the nominal value of the equipment built into the announcement of the size of the aid packages, as if it were all being paid for out of pocket. The reality is that a lot of the stuff that is going that was paid for a long time ago, and the rest of it less long ago, and much of it was already replaced and in storage (at a cost) or being replaced and was going to need to be disposed of, in some cases expensively.
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:18 AM on January 21 [10 favorites]


a lot of the stuff that is going that was paid for a long time ago, and the rest of it less long ago, and much of it was already replaced and in storage (at a cost) or being replaced and was going to need to be disposed of, in some cases expensively.

Yes, but my understanding is that clearing out our old stockpiles of weapons is all the excuse the lobbyists need to get Congress to order new stockpiles of weapons.
posted by Jon_Evil at 7:34 AM on January 21


all the excuse the lobbyists need to get Congress to order new stockpiles of weapons.

You think they need an excuse? This relates to another argument: America is running out of weapons.

hahaha.
posted by adept256 at 7:38 AM on January 21 [4 favorites]


More honor'd than the breach than the observance.

"More honor'd in the breach than the observance"
"Huh?"
posted by y2karl at 7:42 AM on January 21 [1 favorite]


You have to think about newer military equipment in two different ways. Much like driving a car. It's not that hard to teach someone to use a tank or a howitzer or an anti-air missile. We do that all the time. But on the other side of that, there are ten times at least more people who do the fixing and maintenance on those things and that does take years of training.

The other older tanks that are just big diesel engines... they probably have enough people who can fix them and keep them running. Things like the Abrams and even the F-16s take a lot more well trained and skilled people to keep them flying or driving.

Mobile missile systems... not so much. The instructions for using a shoulder fired anti-tank missile are printed on the side and a smart teenager could fire one.

There has been plenty of time to train and build support for the hardware we've sold to other countries, they weren't in active conflict at the time, or we had mutual defense treaties with them. It's much more complex to figure out what could be sent to a country to help when they are in the midst of an active and ongoing conflict.
posted by zengargoyle at 7:45 AM on January 21 [3 favorites]


the excuse the lobbyists need to get Congress to order new stockpiles of weapons.

I think that has to be true to a certain extent, like when it comes to drawing on consumables that weren't close to expiring—notably the Javelin, and the other munitions being sent; but all the generational equipment upgrades and etc. were already happening.

The stuff we've been operating in recent conflicts is going into the depots, the M-113s had to go one way or the other. Older F-16s, F-18s, the A-10 fleet.....we're already committed to replacing them. Everyone is going to be getting rid of their M-60s. And the US only wants to keep so many Abrams. etc etc.

Drawing down the old stuff has also exposed certain embarrassing cracks and poor management, like with not being able to make more Stingers, and not having a ready replacement. That wasn't glamorous or profitable enough, apparently.

I think it's more the breakout of war itself, and seeing what happens when old tech tries to resist new that's going to drive procurement fever.
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:45 AM on January 21 [2 favorites]


The "our tanks are too sophisticated for Ukrainians" requires one to believe that US military has prepped for a world war by equipping itself with tanks that require an absurd amount of lead time before deployment. If it takes a year of training then the Abrams will quickly be useless in a serious war.

It's not "too sophisticated for Ukrainians" but "too demanding for Ukraine's logistics" and "meant to operate under American doctrine." I have no doubt if Ukraine had been training to operate the Abrams for years and had the US' GDP it could operate it as well as the US does; among a number of other things it can't presently do.
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:57 AM on January 21 [4 favorites]


Mobile missile systems... not so much. The instructions for using a shoulder fired anti-tank missile are printed on the side and a smart teenager could fire one.

Thanks! This was the infantalism I was talking about. I was trying to express it in a different way, but there's this assumption that there are no experts in Ukraine. Did you know that the Soyuz rocket was built in Ukraine? It was the only way to get to the ISS for a while.

These people aren't babies. They surpassed NASA. They had a better manned space program than yours. You think they can't drive a tank?
posted by adept256 at 8:01 AM on January 21 [2 favorites]


Ukraine is holding off WW3.

The plan was for Russia to flatten the Ukraine, roll up Georgia and Moldova, then start sending LGM into the Baltics. At the same time China could invade Taiwan and the US suddenly finds itself in a two front war trying to project power to opposite sides of the world at once. So we'd have all the powers with nukes bar NK, Pakistan, and India all fighting each other.

If my desire to give Ukraine all of the materiel it needs makes me a simp for the military-industrial complex then give me a fucking Raytheon hat and Lockheed Martin jersey because I don't want that alternative.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 8:05 AM on January 21 [48 favorites]


The instructions for using a shoulder fired anti-tank missile are printed on the side and a smart teenager could fire one.

And, all things considered, they usually are the ones who do.
posted by y2karl at 8:06 AM on January 21 [15 favorites]


They had a better manned space program than yours. You think they can't drive a tank?

They used to have a robust electrical grid, too. But right now they're using diesel generators in a lot of places (with more on the way,) and a notoriously fuel-guzzling tank might not be the best fit.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 8:14 AM on January 21 [8 favorites]


The "our tanks are too sophisticated for Ukrainians" requires one to believe that US military has prepped for a world war by equipping itself with tanks that require an absurd amount of lead time before deployment.

That's exactly what the US has done, and why it has huge military bases scattered across the globe, and a vast logistical network for moving crap to and from those bases from the US. Those bases contain, typically, enough materiel to sustain a "hot war" for just long enough for the gears of the logistics machine to start turning. (In particular, the Cold War era US bases in Germany generally housed what was regarded as a 'tripwire force', with what would be needed to deter or blunt a Soviet mechanized invasion of Western Europe long enough for the rest of NATO to get over there and really kick off WWIII.)

The issue with the Abrams in particular is that it's designed to be the tip of a very long logistical spear which goes back all the way to the continental US, where the turbine engines are made and refurbished. The engines are very high-strung, in the sense that they are absurdly powerful for their size and weight—they are effectively helicopter engines—but require frequent maintenance and overhaul. The US solution to this was to make them modular. They're part of a "power pack" that can be swapped out of the tank rapidly (using special equipment and accessory vehicles), and then sent back to large depots (quite possibly only in the US, I'm not entirely sure of the maintenance schedule) for work, while a new one is swapped in, and off the tank goes.

Without that constant logistical support, the Abrams will become a very expensive pillbox pretty rapidly.

The Leopard II, by contrast, uses a very conventional Maybach V12 turbodiesel engine, which the Ukrainians can probably maintain in the field and in depots much more easily. (They might even be able to swap it out for an indigenous diesel engine if parts availability is a problem; they are basically big industrial diesel engines and, to a first approximation, one is as good as another if it's in the same category of output power.)

So, while there may be an aspect of the US wanting Germany to lean forward while we "keep our powder dry", there are real reasons why the Abrams isn't a great choice for a lend-lease type arrangement. It's a thoroughbred, when what the Ukrainians need (or at least, what the West believes the Ukrainians need) is more of a workhorse.
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:16 AM on January 21 [24 favorites]


The amount of cheering for arms dealers here is shocking. Y'all are well and truly simps for the military industrial complex.

Adopting fashy bully terminology (simp) to promote your peace over freedom argument is certainly a fascinating choice.
posted by srboisvert at 9:28 AM on January 21 [31 favorites]


the excuse the lobbyists need to get Congress to order new stockpiles of weapons.

I think that has to be true to a certain extent, like when it comes to drawing on consumables that weren't close to expiring—notably the Javelin, and the other munitions being sent; but all the generational equipment upgrades and etc. were already happening.

The stuff we've been operating in recent conflicts is going into the depots, the M-113s had to go one way or the other. Older F-16s, F-18s, the A-10 fleet.....we're already committed to replacing them. Everyone is going to be getting rid of their M-60s. And the US only wants to keep so many Abrams. etc etc.


Not only this but deploying those weapons in Ukraine in a legitimately justified opposition to a military invasion will actually keep those weapons from going to the much worse places that sunsetting armaments usually go! Even if you want to be a flower child peacenik while Russian tanks roll over Ukraine you have to accept the consumption of massive amounts of already existing armaments from all over Europe and Russia will actually make much of the rest of the world safer at least temporarily until stockpiles are replenished. The tier two dictators are going to find it very hard to arm themselves with previously owned armaments for the next couple of decades because they are being used and destroyed right now at a rate that can't be quickly replenished. There just won't be a surplus for quite some time.
posted by srboisvert at 9:40 AM on January 21 [7 favorites]


Ukraine is holding off WW3.

It's a fair point. Ukraine is not the end of Putin's larger, long-term plan to destroy Europe — and Germany, particularly, whose reluctance to push back on Russia may lead to its end, and the end of many other democracies, if Ukraine cannot hold out.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 9:49 AM on January 21 [5 favorites]


I posted the following to the "We Have a Himars, Ho-Ho-Ho" thread last night after hearing the news out of the Ramstein conference. I'm re-posting it here in case anyone finds it useful, I hope no one minds too much. Apologies to non US-ian MeFites for the US-centric tone.

I'm waiting for the sequel to this where the Ukrainians have Leopard 2 tanks.

So, I'm sending out a new Resistbot message. If you'd also like to send this to your Congresspeople and the President text "SIGN PUMWTP" to 50409.
Please provide Ukraine with M1 Abrams tanks as soon as possible!

Please send M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine as soon as possible. Ukraine needs powerful modern tanks to resist and fight back against the Russian invasion of their country. In addition to the M1 directly providing Ukraine with increased capabilities, by providing these tanks to Ukraine we can also eliminate the excuses that Germany is using to avoid approving sending Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine. While it is sometimes argued that the M1 Abrams is not ideally suited to Ukraine’s needs, by providing them we can clear the way for Ukraine to receive the Leopard 2 tanks which would give them a great boost. The Ukrainians can decide how best to use the M1 Abrams and Leopards if they receive them both, but will be in a worse position if they receive neither. Therefore it is crucial that we do our part to give Ukraine the weapons they need.

I also would urge you to approve sending MQ-9 Reaper drones to Ukraine to increase their chances of succeeding in defeating the Russian invasion of their country.

Defending Ukraine is in the interest of the United States. A free, democratic, pro-Western Ukraine will be a valuable ally against authoritarian states like Russia who would seek to compromise our country after conquering Ukraine.

Thank you for your attention.
posted by Reverend John at 9:49 AM on January 21 [4 favorites]


indica: The amount of cheering for arms dealers here is shocking.

Sanna Marin at the WEF in Davos:
In the session with CNN journalist Fareed Zakaria and a live audience, Marin said the world must ensure that Ukraine wins its fight against Russia.

"We don't know when the war will end, but we have to make sure that the Ukrainians will win. I don't think there's any other choice. If Russia would win the war, then we would only see decades of this kind of behaviour ahead of us," Marin said.

"I think other countries are looking very closely at what is happening now in Ukraine. And if Russia would win, then it would send a message that you can invade another country, you can attack another country and you can gain from that," she continued.
It's clear that Putin won't be stopped if not by force. It's also clear that it has to be sufficiently overwhelming force to clear Ukrainian soil from the invaders, make sure they won't and can't try again, and especially the Wagner war criminals should best be entirely, utterly Götterdämmered.

If Ukraine needs NATO equipment to achieve that, and they do, so be it.
posted by Stoneshop at 9:53 AM on January 21 [18 favorites]


And, all things considered, they usually are the ones who do.

Frankly, this is the level of ease with which I would like any and all weapons systems I'm going to use while in the vicinity of people actively trying to kill me and I count myself a smart and competent 42 year old man.

Making weapons safe and easy to operate safely and effectively as possible is definitely what they should be doing.


That there are some weapon systems in the US arsenal that require massive logistical support that only the US military is capable of providing doesn't really surprise me. Folks in previous threads with first hand knowledge have written extensively about it. I also remember hearing about the relentless pace of operations from pilots that had flown in the first gulf war. They were able to get planes reloaded and re-fueled and ready for take off so fast the pilots were having a hard time keeping up.

I'm sure someone closer to it could tell us all about how the, what are we on now M1A3?, is a different beast than the M1A1 the Australians field. We did learn months back about how the modern PATRIOT missile system is now a completely different weapons system than what saw service on TV in the 90s. Surely the modern Abrams has little in common with OG Abrams from the 80s.

About the fuel thing though. They're turbine engines which helicopters also use. Chrysler fiddled with using them in cars in the ~60s and they'd run on a darn near anything. Supposedly they did a demonstration in France with engine running where they stacked champagne glasses in a pyramid on the hood, poured the champagne, and then emptied the rest of the bottle into the fuel tank. They get stupid hot, require some high precision manufacturing, and have to spin up a lot before they provide and torque so they didn't past a handful of prototypes. Some nut bars also use retired helicopter turbines in a ridiculous motor cycle that Jay Leno owns and example of. They're neat engines!
posted by VTX at 9:55 AM on January 21 [4 favorites]


Leno also owns the Chrysler Turbine.
posted by snuffleupagus at 10:03 AM on January 21 [2 favorites]


Frankly, this is the level of ease with which I would like any and all weapons systems I'm going to use while in the vicinity of people actively trying to kill me and I count myself a smart and competent 42 year old man.

Literally, back in the early 90's a couple of my roommates had been deployed to the first gulf war and came back with a spent anti-tank missile launcher. It's no harder to operate than a nerf gun. Most infantry use weapons are like this. Boot Camp and a week or two, train an eighteen year old who joined the military how to use. Same with guns and mortars and grenades and driving tanks and howitzers and all that. It's only the new stuff that is intended for extended use that requires more than basic maintenance to remain functional.

There was also the rubric from that time that Saddam wasn't prepared for nineteen year old Americans in Abrams tanks drinking a Coke while listening to Metallica and blowing shit up like a video game (BattleZone). The driving and shooting isn't the hard part. The Abrams just needs a lot of tender care from a lot of people pretty much every day to keep working.

Many of the other things in the arsenal can sit around for months and just need a handful of people who can point and shoot them after a small bit of training.
posted by zengargoyle at 10:24 AM on January 21 [1 favorite]


Harald74: In a recent development, Russia has stationed air defence assets on top of buildings in Moscow , among them the Russian Ministry of Defence.

Exactly what you want to do when you want the debris of a cruise missile kill to drop somewhere in Moscow itself, instead of on farmland or in woods well outside Moscow proper. One could think that given the distance between an Ukraine launch site and a Moscow target the Russians would have sufficient time to lob a few SAMs at an incoming threat. But maybe the new long-range cruise missiles those cunning Ukrainians have been building look just like Cessna 172's, as one of those had already managed to reach Red Square without being molested.

Russian Army learning from past mistakes? Who are you kidding?
posted by Stoneshop at 10:51 AM on January 21 [4 favorites]


The UK is sending tanks to Ukraine, so Scholz's foot-dragging by saying the US should send tanks over contradicts his earlier position that Germany wouldn't do it as an Einzelgänger. Not only that, since Poland and Finland also want to send Leopards, there would be at least four countries sending heavy tanks to Ukraine if Germany stopped blocking.

Frustrating for many here in Germany.
posted by UN at 11:13 AM on January 21 [4 favorites]


Literally, back in the early 90's a couple of my roommates had been deployed to the first gulf war and came back with a spent anti-tank missile launcher. It's no harder to operate than a nerf gun.

Considering Poland's track record with Ukrainian launchers I'm reminded of the old joke where the devil gives a German, a Russian and a Pole two steel balls each and asks them to amaze him. The German produces a marvel of engineering. The Russian designs heartbreaking juggling choreography. The Pole loses one and breaks the other.
posted by I claim sanctuary at 11:16 AM on January 21 [4 favorites]


I'm sure someone closer to it could tell us all about how the, what are we on now M1A3?, is a different beast than the M1A1 the Australians field

Ukraine would likely get the older M1A1. The newer Abrams variants have upgraded armor and it’s unlikely the US wants to risk Russia getting a closer look at it.

Coincidentally the USMC recently divested its M1A1s so there’s a lot of recently maintained hardware sitting around, ready for transfer to Ukraine if the political will is there.
posted by nathan_teske at 11:47 AM on January 21 [1 favorite]


The accusation of war profiteering actually should be the default assumption by now, if you are minimally left leaning. It falls on those with political, financial, or cultural power, and to some extent any vocal supporter of specific ways to fight the war using certain technologies to justify that in this case that corporate war profiteering is minimized in the long run, and preferably that measures to minimize/prevent this have been taken by the state in the public interest. Unfortunately the reality is that problem of the military industrial complex is systemic, in America the checks and balances against privatized but effectively subsidized advanced military contractors is structurally nonexistent. Hence the default, again.
posted by polymodus at 12:02 PM on January 21 [6 favorites]


The Pole loses one and breaks the other.

I was sure the punchline was going to be something like "the Pole's balls are stolen by the German and the Russian."
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 12:04 PM on January 21 [7 favorites]


The Russian invasion of Ukraine has certainly made it a lot clearer that we -- and by we, I'm speaking here about a whole set of countries, grouped in what might collectively be called a civilization -- do need to have a full range of up to date military equipment, and all the infrastructure to operate, manufacture, maintain and support that, because the alternative is that the Putins of the world will pursue conquest by violence, and go unopposed.

It doesn't follow however that this needs to be run as a private industry. In many cases, the major arms manufacturers are so closely intertwined with the state that the separation is practically a fiction, so why keep up the pretense? Having so much public money funneled into the pockets of shareholders just makes it all cost more. It would seem to make a lot more sense to nationalise the arms industry and make it a branch of the armed forces.
posted by automatronic at 12:46 PM on January 21 [11 favorites]


The accusation of war profiteering actually should be the default assumption by now, if you are minimally left leaning. It falls on those with political, financial, or cultural power, and to some extent any vocal supporter of specific ways to fight the war using certain technologies to justify that in this case that corporate war profiteering is minimized in the long run, and preferably that measures to minimize/prevent this have been taken by the state in the public interest. Unfortunately the reality is that problem of the military industrial complex is systemic, in America the checks and balances against privatized but effectively subsidized advanced military contractors is structurally nonexistent. Hence the default, again.

I don't understand how military spending reform reverses the Russian invasion of Ukraine though.
posted by srboisvert at 12:56 PM on January 21 [3 favorites]


It would seem to make a lot more sense to nationalise the arms industry and make it a branch of the armed forces.

What came to mind is Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace in my native Norway, owned 50% by the Norwegian state, which will promptly veto any shenanigans by the board. (Developer of the now famous NASAMS system, BTW)

Another way to handle it and not stifle creativity is how the Soviet Union did (really!), with several different national design houses in competition with each other. One example is where the T-72 comes from, where two different design teams each had a go at improving the T-62. Wikipedia has the story, which is quite interesting.
posted by Harald74 at 1:06 PM on January 21 [6 favorites]


An interesting thread about how German pussyfooting over Leopard sharing might actually serious damage Germany's position as the main battle tank supplier for almost all of Nato:

https://twitter.com/GresselGustav/status/1616723121238835200

Ukranian twitter users are starting to call Germany's promises of support and lack of follow though "Scholzing"
posted by srboisvert at 1:11 PM on January 21 [1 favorite]


One wonders tho, could there be an unspoken and certainly unacknowledged goal appreciation of the 'western powers' to allow this to drag on exactly for the long term attrition on both parties?

I definitely read pieces from both cynics and useful idiots to this effect in the earliest days of the war. It was predicted that NATO would give enough weapons so Ukraine could not lose, but not so much that Ukraine would win. The goal was to tie Russia up in a long, attritional war that would neuter their army and territorial ambitions.

I mean, at the time I wasn't sure NATO would give Ukraine anything at all, given they seemed to expect them to rapidly lose. But as the war has progressed, some of the otherwise inexplicable rationing of weapons to Ukraine does seem to fit the cynical predictions of stalemating Russia into a long, bloody conflict.

TL;DR: if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it is worth at least considering whether it is indeed a realpolitik duck.
posted by Rumple at 1:32 PM on January 21 [7 favorites]


what are we on now M1A3?

M1A2SEPv4 where SEP is apparently "system enhancement package." It reads a lot like they're really really trying not to have M1A3 because that sounds too expensive. See also them not wanting to call it the F-24 or whatever so they pretended it was the E model of the F-18.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 1:57 PM on January 21 [3 favorites]


Tangential but relevant piece about those who aim to remove Kadyrov, and how Russia's war in Ukraine has perhaps created an opportunity:

A Chechen Separatist Aims to Unseat Putin’s Man:
For Akhmed Zakayev’s wager to succeed, he has to defeat the real enemy — the legacy of Chechnya’s recent history

posted by Kabanos at 2:25 PM on January 21 [3 favorites]


Exactly what you want to do when you want the debris of a cruise missile kill to drop somewhere in Moscow itself, instead of on farmland or in woods well outside Moscow proper. One could think that given the distance between an Ukraine launch site and a Moscow target the Russians would have sufficient time to lob a few SAMs at an incoming threat. But maybe the new long-range cruise missiles those cunning Ukrainians have been building look just like Cessna 172's, as one of those had already managed to reach Red Square without being molested.


posted by Stoneshop

I suspect that the idea is for the building they want to protect to be protected, and the debris to land on an apartment block in the suburbs, killing eleven people and wounding fifty-three more. The destruction of the Moscow apartment block and the resulting highly publicized funerals would lead to ordinary guys on the ground enlisting to protect their country. But if the debris only destroys a tractor and sixty-four chickens it won't cause the same surge of enlistment.

I also suspect they'd be willing to lose a building or two of strategic importance to get the voluntary enlistment numbers up, but if the Wagner HQ in Saint Petersburg gets a direct hit they run the risk of having ordinary Russians merely nod, spit, say "It sucks to be Yevgeny Prigozhin."
posted by Jane the Brown at 2:26 PM on January 21 [5 favorites]


will actually keep those weapons from going to the much worse places that sunsetting armaments usually go

I've been wondering whether the rationing of armaments has to some extent been about worrying about what happens if this goes south. Lots of weapons could end up in bad places.

The other argument, which I've found persuasive, is that it takes time to build and then multiply competence on the platforms.

But still, I wonder... Are we afraid of what happens if there is an excess of weapons there if the good guys lose?
posted by sjswitzer at 2:47 PM on January 21 [2 favorites]


I mean, at the time I wasn't sure NATO would give Ukraine anything at all, given they seemed to expect them to rapidly lose. But as the war has progressed, some of the otherwise inexplicable rationing of weapons to Ukraine does seem to fit the cynical predictions of stalemating Russia into a long, bloody conflict.

TL;DR: if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it is worth at least considering whether it is indeed a realpolitik duck.


Except the war is extremely bad for European and UK economies. They are not feeling it in full because it has been a mild winter so far which let them stockpile gas to them through 22/23 winter with buying up all the LNG on the market but that's a single shot trick that can't be expected to work as well if the war continues into 23/24 because the market will price it higher accordingly and we also might not get another mild European winter. Time will increase the effectiveness of Russia's gas blackmail.

Increased fuel costs, increased travel distances due to closed air spaces, massive refugee influx, sanctions hurt Russia primarily but also hurt domestic businesses that traded with Russia as well as consumers that used goods supplied by Russia and Ukraine. All these things bite into Europe's economy. The OECD is projecting the EU's GDP growth for 2023 to be just a bit above zero. More than three points lower than 2022. That will be pretty harsh and could factor in domestic politics.

The real question to ask is "What's up with Germany?" and I think the answer is that they have had some social and economic integration with Russia (at least East Germany) since WWII and it carried over after the fall of the Berlin wall. There are generational and economic ties and Putin has poured money into the pockets of a lot of Germans, particularly some former German leaders who still hold a lot of clout and until last Feb had seats on Russian corporate boards.

I'm still genuinely confused by what Germany is even doing because there just doesn't seem to any logic to it. Maybe national psychic trauma from WWII?
posted by srboisvert at 3:02 PM on January 21 [7 favorites]


I'm still genuinely confused by what Germany is even doing because there just doesn't seem to any logic to it.

Germany is a country with few natural resources and a giant manufacturing sector that is entirely dependent on imported fossil fuels, not only to fuel production but also carbon compounds that can be created to make plastics and other compounds that in some cases literally only Germany is producing. Without Russian imported oil (they were warned about this decades ago), they have nothing there to drive their economy.

I don't know exactly how this would be feeding into Germany's decision process, but it seems like a valid point to bring up in this discussion.
posted by hippybear at 3:14 PM on January 21 [5 favorites]


"the US suddenly finds itself in a two three front war trying to project power to opposite sides of the world and a fascist insurgence at home all at once."
posted by CynicalKnight at 3:41 PM on January 21 [9 favorites]


One thing that has gone unsaid so far is that the Russian dupes in the US Republican Party are looking for excuses to dial back support for Ukraine now that they control the House of Representatives. The first argument they are making is that the US shouldn’t be expected to bankroll a foreign war (no, the irony of that argument isn’t lost on me). If Germany were to say, “spend” $6-$10 billion by sending (or allow others to send) tanks that are already sitting in Europe to Ukraine, it would help Ukrainian allies in the US to keep sending meaningful aid by demonstrating that all of our NATO allies are willing partners and are doing what they can.
posted by Big Al 8000 at 4:02 PM on January 21 [5 favorites]


I don't understand how military spending reform reverses the Russian invasion of Ukraine though.

That's a weak false choice and not the point. A lot of people are grappling with internal conflict over supporting the defense of Ukraine and the knowledge that this will be done largely by supplying arms at an enormous profit to people and entities we tend to consider malevolent in peacetime. Whether Ukraine wins or loses, the military-industrial complex wins, which, unless you're a war fetishist or a profiteer, is not good.

It's all the more challenging when Metafilter, ordinarily a refuge for people who grapple with these things, becomes military armaments fansite. I gotta say, when everyone is suddenly an expert on tanks and rocket launchers, it feels a little weird.
posted by klanawa at 5:21 PM on January 21 [13 favorites]


Over the last few years everybody became experts on epidemiology, political science with a specialization in the rise of autocrats, and modern eastern european history. Why not military engineering too?
posted by Justinian at 5:28 PM on January 21 [22 favorites]


I have to say, kianawa, nobody here in MetaFilter is enthusiastic about this war. None of us wanted it to start, all of us wish it were done. I feel safe saying that. I also feel safe saying that nobody here wants Russia to win because that has implications for world politics that extend well beyond this current conflict.

But war is what we have, because Russia is being a bad actor on the world stage.

If you, kianawa, have an alternative that can be workable, all of us would love to hear it.

Otherwise, we are discussing the reality of the situation, and not the ever elusive pipe dream of peace, which in my 50-odd years has never been on this planet. I wish it were. I wish the brotherhood of man would learn to love each other and work to support all human success while never working toward human defeat. But... I don't live there.
posted by hippybear at 5:45 PM on January 21 [11 favorites]


More honor'd than the breach than the observance

A belated D'o-fuckin-oh!
posted by y2karl at 6:55 PM on January 21 [3 favorites]


Whether Ukraine wins or loses, the military-industrial complex wins,

Seems prudent to try and unsure that Ukraine wins if it isn't going to solve the military industrial complex either way.
posted by Dysk at 7:22 PM on January 21 [11 favorites]


For those against sending arms to Ukraine: how do you see Russian control over the country playing out?
posted by UN at 8:19 PM on January 21 [1 favorite]


I've probably been as big a cheerleader as anybody for supply more and more powerful arms to Ukraine. However, I think there is something to be said for pausing a second and asking what the long term effects are going to be of policies that massively benefit the military industrial complex, and having some restraint on our enthusiasm. I think polymodus and klanawa raise valid points.

We can support defending Ukraine without shouting down the people who raise legitimate concerns.
posted by Reverend John at 8:56 PM on January 21 [6 favorites]


Because we've built 10,000* Abrams over the last 45 years, but the US MIC is going to metastasize if we give 100 to Ukraine.

* actual production number
posted by ryanrs at 8:59 PM on January 21 [6 favorites]


I'm still genuinely confused by what Germany is even doing because there just doesn't seem to any logic to it. Maybe national psychic trauma from WWII?

I don't think that's it. Most here either support or are 'not against' sending weapons to Ukraine. Two out of three political parties in the ruling coalition including their leadership support it and have been outspoken about defense support to Ukraine.

Even Scholz, at some point, gives his OK for weapons transfers — and has spoken for EU membership for Ukraine. .

It's impossible to know why the dithering. I've been watching this for a year now and I think it may be due to a character flaw in the top leadership of the SPD: they dig their heels under pressure. Apply more pressure, they become even more stubborn. So a general tendency to be cautious about sending arms turns into a total blockage when other politicians, allies or a Ukrainian ambassador demands they do so. They don't like being told what to do.

Maybe.
posted by UN at 9:04 PM on January 21


They are not feeling it in full because it has been a mild winter so far which let them stockpile gas to them through 22/23 winter with buying up all the LNG on the market but that's a single shot trick that can't be expected to work as well if the war continues into 23/24 because the market will price it higher accordingly and we also might not get another mild European winter.

The limiting factor in displacing Russian gas supplies is just how quickly Europe can suck LNG down from the rest of the world, not how much LNG the world has or how much it costs. Wilhelmshaven, Brunsbuttel, and Lubmin LNG terminals are up and running, Norwegian imports are up at the same time and even the US LNG export market is expanding on the back of the EU going from Russian pipeline to LNG so quickly.

Don't get me wrong, there are multiple separate problems going on in lower income countries because of this sudden LNG crunch that need to be addressed and quickly (Pakistan has had no offers for multiple tenders and is facing years of gas shortages for instance) but Europe is more than able to outbid everyone as more and more of their LNG import infrastructure comes online. This winter was Russia's only shot and Mother Nature gave them the middle finger.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 9:27 PM on January 21 [2 favorites]


This winter was Russia's only shot

Well, let's hope that's true. Putin has one card left to play, if all else fails.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 9:32 PM on January 21 [1 favorite]


Well, let's hope that's true. Putin has one card left to play, if all else fails.

No, he doesn’t. But this isn’t the thread for that.
posted by Big Al 8000 at 9:56 PM on January 21 [8 favorites]


If you, kianawa, have an alternative that can be workable, all of us would love to hear it.

You, hippybear, are clever enough to recognize that my comment is specifically about people who are struggling with the recognition that there is not an apparent better way.

Yeesh, it feels like some of you have been waiting a lifetime to unleash your glee for war. Your own government has denied you that satisfaction for decades and now Russia has given it to you in spades.

I'm incredibly disheartened by Metafilter right now.

Slava Ukraini, etc.
posted by klanawa at 10:03 PM on January 21 [4 favorites]


It’s hard to understand how someone so obviously thoughtful doesn’t get that such a broad and uncharitable characterization stings.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 12:28 AM on January 22 [11 favorites]


You, hippybear, are clever enough to recognize that my comment is specifically about people who are struggling with the recognition that there is not an apparent better way.

Consider the possibility that a lot of US also struggle with this, but have had that struggle and made our peace with this instance. We could keep performatively wringing our hands, but if we have made our peace, then why?

But to suggest that, at this point, this far into proceedings, that anybody not talking about how awful war is in every comment on the matter must be a cheerleader. No. A lot of us have significant misgivings. We've just also already had the conversations about that, and while the situation on the ground can and does change, the fundamental calculus that makes fighting this war the right thing to do has not. So why have that same conversation again about the latter in every thread?
posted by Dysk at 1:23 AM on January 22 [22 favorites]


I'm incredibly disheartened by Metafilter right now.

Thanks for painting us all as warmongers. This isn't the first time you've said this. I honestly don't know what you want from the rest of us. I've seen you in past threads declare you want Ukraine to kick ass. You get happy when they do. That's pretty much the same as what most people say in a typical Ukraine thread. What are people doing that offends you?
posted by Teegeeack AV Club Secretary at 1:28 AM on January 22 [4 favorites]


Also consider that some mefites are veterans, some work in the government, the MIC and related fields, and that might not have come up in other contexts, but now that there is a war to be discussed, they actually bring their experiences and knowledge to the table. It's not all fedora-wearing people that were "experts" on epidemiology a while back.
posted by Harald74 at 1:33 AM on January 22 [9 favorites]


Anyways, here's Timothy Snyder, american historien who specializes in the history of Eastern Europe, having an hour long conversation with Mikhail Zygar, Russian independent journalist, about Putin's and Trump's lies, "rashism", and whether Dostoyevsky is an imperial writer, among other things.
posted by Harald74 at 1:36 AM on January 22 [2 favorites]


... that anybody not talking about how awful war is in every comment on the matter must be a cheerleader.
it's this - it belies a wilful misunderstanding, which I choose to believe is a misunderstanding on my part.

Speaking of which, there was a good Anne Applebaum in The Atlantic about the whole stupid tank kerfuffle. On twatter there was a thread about this - reading it, I was struck at how damn well-nigh impossible it is to understand what the hell is going on, whether in German Gov circles, on the battlefield in Ukraine (somewhere I saw an article about how the 'Marder' vehicles (German) are proving instrumental in the successful fight against drones and etc.) or in the Kremlin. We have no freakin' idea what the hell anyone is doing, like, we still don't know who cut the pipelines, or blew up the bridge or assassinated Dugin's daughter and etc and etc. But at some point, the truth will pop out. In the meantime it's all speculation or/and propaganda.
posted by From Bklyn at 1:52 AM on January 22 [2 favorites]


Jane the Brown: I suspect that the idea is for the building they want to protect to be protected, and the debris to land on an apartment block in the suburbs, killing eleven people and wounding fifty-three more.

Still, a misfire or a guidance system failure like this is not something you want if the launcher is right on top of the building being protected. Or maybe they don't care, and consider they could easily spin such an event for propaganda purposes.

It's obvious you want the radars on top of a high-rise building if you want to place them within Moscow proper, but the launchers at ground level with a free trajectory south to west. Easier to reload and move if necessary.
posted by Stoneshop at 3:03 AM on January 22


This week's presentation from Perun:

How Politics Destroys Armies: Politics, Factions and Russia's War
posted by snuffleupagus at 5:16 AM on January 22 [2 favorites]


Yeesh, it feels like some of you have been waiting a lifetime to unleash your glee for war. Your own government has denied you that satisfaction for decades and now Russia has given it to you in spades.


Yeesh, it feels like your own ideology is blinding you to multiple realities.

Like that the US ('your own government') is not fighting this war, while it has indeed been engaging in non-stop conflicts in which "warmongers" have been able to "unleash their glee" for the two "decades" since 9-11.

Or that the right-wing conservatives who are usually the exponent of American militarism are against support for Ukraine, with all of the implications that flow from that...

Or what Russia winning would mean for the prospects for peace and war over the coming decades, or whether the MIC will be effectively re-affirmed through a new cold war, and with all else that hangs in the balance should broadening conflicts foreclose international cooperation on environmental and economic issues.
posted by snuffleupagus at 5:26 AM on January 22 [13 favorites]


Yeesh, it feels like some of you have been waiting a lifetime to unleash your glee for war. Your own government has denied you that satisfaction for decades and now Russia has given it to you in spades.

I'm not sure what you mean by "your own government," but if you mean the US or any of its coalition partners (like Canada, UK, Australia, most of NATO, etc), all of us in those countries have had decades of war in just Iraq and Afghanistan alone. They were shitty wars that mostly made people feel bad (aside from the fast early rah-rah successes), but they were wars nonetheless. I'm personally very tired of these ongoing wars that waste lives and resources.

But in this case there was a clear aggressor and I'm glad that the US and other countries are supporting Ukraine it its defense. And, it is satisfying to see that support used effectively. I want that support to be increased to the point where Ukraine is in a position to win or to negotiate an end to the war on its terms, and one of the key steps there is for Germany to stop dithering on the tanks, and for the US to greenlight longer-range missiles.

More generally, maybe as a non-expert I am missing something obvious, but it sure looks like Russia is destroying its own military power in a way I haven't seen a country choose to do in my lifetime. Not so much in their casualty rates (since their military culture doesn't seem to care much about that) but in the sheer volume of vehicles and equipment that they've been losing, faster than replacement is possible). Even if they "won" tomorrow (which appears to be impossible), they will still end up badly weakened.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:22 AM on January 22 [10 favorites]


Speaking just for myself, I was surprised to find myself enthusiastic about a war, but not shocked.

From my point of view, this isn't evidence that People Are Disappointing, but rather that absolute pacifism is a mistake. I'd thought that the US military was ridiculously overfunded, but I'm no longer as sure about that. I didn't realize Russia was a live threat.

As for arms dealers, maybe they aren't simply the bad guys if sometimes people need heavy duty weapons. It's not obvious to me that arms dealers always want wars. On the one hand, weapons get used up, but on the other, wars reveal the qualify of weapons.

I believe and still believe that this is a disaster for Russia, including a disaster for those who had no part in this war. I was shocked to get a little pushback here at the idea that Russia will need to be rebuilt as a result of the technological sanctions. Lots of people, deteriorating infrastructure, hostile climate. This is very bad even if the war doesn't come to Russia.
posted by Nancy Lebovitz at 7:39 AM on January 22 [4 favorites]


Understanding the War: On the Exceptionality of Russia’s All-Out War Against Ukraine
Nicolas Tenzer argues for the critical need to understand the Russian state, as it currently exists, as a total threat -- a total enemy:
The reality is that Moscow is not in a position to seek a balance with the democratic world. It does not set itself limits that could prefigure any compromise, even one that is not very acceptable to us, and the search for a give-and-take on the basis of which a more or less lasting peace could be envisaged. An allegedly “prudent” approach to Russia would be the worst form of imprudence—the history of the last twenty-three years bears witness to this—and any prospect of negotiations a fool’s game. To continue to hold such a discourse about the end of the war in Ukraine is a serious mistake, because it is part of the Russian hope of reaching a compromise, even if it is less than its initial ambitions. To make such remarks would be to do exactly what Moscow is looking for: to present itself as a supposed partner with whom it is possible to reach an agreement, to believe in its signature—which is constantly flouted—and to suggest that the Russian regime is not an absolute enemy. This would again trivialize its crimes. To pretend to give any credence to Russia’s supposed interests as expressed by the regime would be to question the fundamental principles enshrined in the international treaties drawn up in the aftermath of the Second World War. There is certainly no possibility of stability with a power that seeks instability through destruction.
posted by Kabanos at 7:46 AM on January 22 [18 favorites]


Unless there is some actual news about arms dealers doing something or something changes about the situation to provide an end to the violence, we can probably drop this massive derail about whether or not we're all anti-war enough for everyone else. It's a waste of time in a thread that is supposed to be about the war, not every mefite's feelings about it.

Let's please focus on news about the war and perspectives from those directly affected by the conflict.
posted by VTX at 7:56 AM on January 22 [16 favorites]


The "international criminal organization" designation stops short of "foreign terrorist organization." My understanding from reporting is that the Department of the Treasury already recognizes Wagner as a "proxy" for the Russian MoD for sanctions purposes, but whatever further steps this permits are good.
posted by snuffleupagus at 8:59 AM on January 22


I believe and still believe that this is a disaster for Russia, including a disaster for those who had no part in this war. I was shocked to get a little pushback here at the idea that Russia will need to be rebuilt as a result of the technological sanctions. Lots of people, deteriorating infrastructure, hostile climate. This is very bad even if the war doesn't come to Russia.

The problem is that Russia was already rebuilt with Western assistance once and it produced Current Russia. Iraq has been rebuilt with Western assistance and it built current Iraq. Afghanistan was rebuilt once and it produced current Afghanistan.

Unless there is enough support for a country to choose and maintain a real democracy on its own the assistance really isn't really going to fix things. Also the rebuild is often a reflection of absurd American ideologies rather than what a country's people actually want or need.

Anyways so far Russia is largely militarily untouched other than being cut off some goods which is merely a restoration of about 40 years of post-war status quo and likely barely effects the majority of the population which was already impoverished by their own government's policies.
posted by srboisvert at 10:44 AM on January 22 [4 favorites]






Good on the tanks. Wow to the jets. I guess the training they've had going on is getting close to being done.
posted by hippybear at 2:01 PM on January 22 [2 favorites]


Mud. Mulling that the warm weather we're having everywhere but Buffalo, literally the entire northern hemisphere has been tweaked by la nina(?) leaving most of the war bogged down, slowed down until after spring rains. And perhaps there are smart logistics folks timing the deliveries for when they'll be most useful.
posted by sammyo at 2:02 PM on January 22 [2 favorites]


A mud season that bottlenecks or immobilizes armor is a good time for air to show up.
posted by snuffleupagus at 2:18 PM on January 22 [1 favorite]


The only thing to watch is what is being done - the words are all smoke: Tanks are being delivered, jets are being delivered. I would not be surprised to find out that the pilots and tank crews have been training for months.
We're all mushrooms - despite all the open-source intel, there are still huge swaths that are perfectly opaque
posted by From Bklyn at 2:37 PM on January 22 [7 favorites]


the warm weather we're having everywhere but Buffalo

Apart from the three days either side of Christmas and a few days in November, it's been a very mild winter here in metro Buffalo too.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 4:30 PM on January 22


despite all the open-source intel, there are still huge swaths that are perfectly opaque

Exactly. Ukraine is the military-industrial complex being attacked, it was being attacked, politically and economically before the invasion. This: "In October 2018, speaking at the Atlantic Council in Washington, US Special Representative for Ukraine Kurt Volker said that the United States had lifted the arms embargo on Ukraine.This gave big boost to the international cooperation and development of private companies."


In the last 5 years, the U.S. has sold billions in arms to europe and more since invasion, esp. a lucrative deal with Norway, a weapons powerhouse itself.

Russia saw the writing on the wall and Putin slammed into it. What position is Russia in today, rank wise, in selling arms.
There is alot more that we don't know and I think it is geo-political mostly.
The U.S. Defense Budget and Russia’s War on Ukraine.

It’s Costing Peanuts for the US to Defeat Russia


United States Aid to Ukraine: An Investment Whose Benefits Greatly Exceed its Cost
by Tony "Slugworth" Cordesman.
posted by clavdivs at 5:25 PM on January 22 [1 favorite]


For the sake of a better thread than this one is becoming, since nobody else seems willing to back down, I hereby promise to try to read the best intentions in my fellow commenters’ words. I hope the rest of you can be persuaded to join me in this endeavor.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 9:48 PM on January 22 [6 favorites]


Witness! Enough epistemology, we do not need a deep dive into one anothers' psychology and motivations. Rerail please.
posted by Meatbomb at 10:47 PM on January 22 [4 favorites]


Mod note: A couple of comments deleted. If you want to discuss the Ukraine war, okay; if you want to attack / insult other members, please go do something else. If you'd like this discussion to focus on US weapon systems reform or war profiteering, rather than a general Ukraine news roundup thread, it's probably better to make a post about that. Thanks.
posted by taz (staff) at 1:06 AM on January 23 [11 favorites]


There is some noise surrounding the replacement of leadership of the VDV (Russian airborne forces), as they have been placed under a new commander from the regular infantry. The previous commander was apparently popular, despite the VDV being decimated during the course of the war. There are some laments from Telegram about that linked from the Twitter thread. Note that nobody is suggesting "pack up and go home" as a solution for the problem of more and more dead paratroopers...
posted by Harald74 at 1:32 AM on January 23


When will Putin give up Ukraine? Only when his inner circle forces him to stop from Olga Chyzh
- The observation that Putin's lack of democratic accountability to anybody other than a small number of elite figures who, in turn, rely principally on him for their own support. He thus has now particular need to pay attention to dead soldiers, a tanked economy or international disapproval and can instead try to play a strategic long game with Ukraine. While it is hard to make concrete predictions, mine is that Putin will appear impervious until very, very, shortly before it is proved he isn't
posted by rongorongo at 2:09 AM on January 23 [4 favorites]


rongorongo: He thus has now particular need to pay attention to dead soldiers

Sorry, but was 'now' meant to be 'no' here?
posted by Too-Ticky at 2:17 AM on January 23 [2 favorites]


A bit of levity
posted by Stoneshop at 2:26 AM on January 23 [2 favorites]


Sorry, but was 'now' meant to be 'no' here?
Correct - unfortunate typo. I suspect for Putin, the bad news is corrosive: he can still stand on the gradually rusting platform that gives him power.
posted by rongorongo at 2:30 AM on January 23 [3 favorites]


One consequence of the invasion of Ukraine has been renewed efforts by Azerbaijan to retake Nagorno-Karabakh, though hostilities haven’t broken out. The EU’s representative to the region, Toivo Klaar, announced overnight on Twitter that he’s in Armenia for a day of meetings today. Here are a few recent stories about the situation.

Renewed Armenia-Azerbaijan Conflict Underlines Russia’s Waning Influence by Anton Troianovski for the New York Times [archive]. Excerpt:
Since Dec. 12, the mountain road linking Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia has been blocked amid protests by Azerbaijani activists claiming to be opposing illegal mining operations in the area. Azerbaijan’s government has endorsed the protests; Armenians say Azerbaijan engineered them and criticize Russian peacekeepers for not keeping the road open.

“It can be seen that Russia’s resources in the region are becoming limited,” said Farhad Mammadov, a pro-government analyst in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan. “Russia is becoming weaker.”

The roadblocks are a new escalation in the bloody, decades-old dispute over an enclave home to tens of thousands of ethnic Armenians within Azerbaijan’s internationally recognized borders.

In Nagorno-Karabakh, supermarkets are stocked with little but alcohol and candy, and supplies of diapers and basic medicine are so low that residents post on Facebook in search of them, according to Tatev Azizyan, a local journalist. Starting Friday, people will have to present ration cards to buy rice, pasta, buckwheat or sugar.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has reshaped relations around the globe, perhaps nowhere more clearly than on the boundary between Europe and Asia, strengthening the hands of Turkey and Iran, now important sources of trade and weapons for Moscow, while undermining Russian influence in the Caucasus.
Thousands of Armenians trapped in Nagorno-Karabakh face humanitarian crisis by Taline Oundjian for France 24. Excerpt:
Supermarket shelves in the region are empty. On January 18, local authorities began issuing food coupons so that locals can access basic foodstuffs such as pasta, rice, sugar and sunflower oil.

Residents of Nagorno-Karabakh have set up bartering systems to deal with the shortages. “In the villages, people are trying to exchange eggs and potatoes for fuel. And the men will trade anything for cigarettes,” says Yana.

The population is anxious but calm, the young women say. “That’s because the famine isn’t here yet,” says Nina.
Analysis: Why tensions are high over a blockaded road in Azerbaijan by Jim Heintz for the Associated Press. Excerpt:
Two years after Azerbaijan and Armenia ended a war that killed about 6,800 soldiers and displaced around 90,000 civilians, tensions between the countries are again high in a dispute over a six-kilometer (nearly four-mile) road known as the Lachin Corridor.

The winding road, which is the only land connection between Armenia and the ethnic Armenian Nagorno-Karabakh region in Azerbaijan, has been blocked by protesters claiming to be environmental activists since mid-December, threatening food supplies to Nagorno-Karabakh's 120,000 people.

The dispute raises fears that new fighting could break out. It also could destabilize Armenia's chronically excitable politics. As well, it casts doubts on the competence and intentions of Russia, whose peacekeeping troops are charged with keeping the road secure.

Mountainous Nagorno-Karabakh, smaller than the U.S. state of Delaware, has significant cultural importance to both Armenians and Azeris. It had a substantial degree of autonomy within Azerbaijan when it was part of the Soviet Union. As the USSR deteriorated, Armenian separatist unrest broke out, later turning into a full-scale war after the Soviet Union collapsed.

Most of the Azeri population was driven out by the end of the fighting in 1994. Ethnic Armenian forces backed by Armenia took control not only of Nagorno-Karabakh itself but of sizable surrounding Azerbaijani areas.
More on internally displaced people in Azerbaijan in this Al Jazeera report from 2021 by Liz Cookman.
posted by Kattullus at 2:42 AM on January 23 [8 favorites]


Can't read this entire thread before work but I found this WSJ piece useful in fleshing out the German reluctance (should be a shareable non-paywall link but if not use https://archive.is/w5O7n):

Why Germany Is Reluctant to Send Tanks to Ukraine

In addition to political and historical concerns (the PR value to Russia in capturing a German tank, e.g.), there's also this:

More recently, defense executives and officials have been concerned about Germany’s ability to quickly deliver the tanks without weakening its own defenses.

Germany could potentially send to Ukraine around 14 Leopard 2 tanks that are destined for the Czech Republic and Slovakia as part of a backfilling deal, officials said. Beyond that, it has little to offer.

“Even if the decision were to be made tomorrow to send our Leopard tanks to Ukraine, the delivery would take until the beginning of next year"

...The company owns 22 retired Leopard 2 and 88 older Leopard 1 models that would need to be refurbished before they can be exported. The German military has refused to donate some of its own models, according to Defense Ministry officials, because its fleet is already plagued by technical problems and many tanks aren’t battle-ready.

posted by mediareport at 4:07 AM on January 23 [1 favorite]




Two takes on the "German Tank problem":

1) Protection of German Industry:
“Any country that would supply Leopard 2s to Ukraine is being offered U.S. tanks from its own inventory & a long-term industrial partnership as a substitute according to German industrial circles.

All countries sending Leos to 🇺🇦 will be lost to the German tank industry”


(original source: Neue Züricher Zeitung: Deutsche Panzerdebatte: Welche Rolle spielen amerikanische Rüstungsinteressen?)

2) Bundeswehr in shambles:
Last February, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced that the country was going to invest substantially in its military. But not much has happened since then. And now Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht has been replaced. DER SPIEGEL takes a closer look at what is ailing the Bundeswehr.

Der Spiegel: An Examination of the Truly Dire State of Germany's Military
posted by kmt at 4:58 AM on January 23 [4 favorites]


Neue Züricher Zeitung: Deutsche Panzerdebatte: Welche Rolle spielen amerikanische Rüstungsinteressen?)

This article somehow completely ignores the Ringtausch fiasco some months back — which was largely attributed to Scholz's foot-dragging. Of course Poland and other countries will look for new tank suppliers after that. It's a problem of Germany's own making and Scholz is only making it worse by delaying approvals and shipments now.

Swapping out old Soviet tanks sent to Ukraine by Poland with modern German ones was the original plan that Germany was given ample opportunity to deliver on.

IMO it's not right to blame it on Americans pushing their own interests. It's not their fault if our (German) leadership is completely incompetent.

You'd think Scholz would understand what to do based on Germany's own experience.
posted by UN at 6:01 AM on January 23 [7 favorites]


Also: if we don't have the capacity to build tanks fast and cheap enough for export as the article stated ... what is there to complain about if other countries choose to go with Korean or American tanks? There are no German industrial interests to defend if there's no German industry for anyone to be interested in.
posted by UN at 6:35 AM on January 23 [2 favorites]




Also: if we don't have the capacity to build tanks fast and cheap enough for export as the article stated

Poland signed the order for the K2 tanks in July, the first were delivered in the beginning of December. In military procurement circles, that's blisteringly fast. Practically overnight.
posted by Harald74 at 9:46 AM on January 23 [5 favorites]


World Nuclear News: IAEA teams in place at Ukraine's nuclear plants: The International Atomic Energy Agency's newly-established missions at Ukraine's nuclear power plants are not just symbolic, but signify the presence of internationally renowned experts who "will provide advice and technical support at this very difficult time", IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said.
posted by Harald74 at 10:23 AM on January 23 [2 favorites]


The Ukraine war has exposed Europe’s reliance on Russia’s railways for trade with China—including for the defense industry BY JONATHAN TIRONE, ALBERTO NARDELLI AND BLOOMBERG Fortune.com
Giving Ukraine modern tanks remains a key question facing Kyiv’s allies after a meeting of top defense officials in Germany on Friday yielded little progress. But perhaps the most exposed link in supply chains for producing such weapons runs on train tracks through the foe they’re trying to defeat.

Russia is at the center of a rail cargo route supplying Western arms manufacturers with a steady supply of metals needed to make the microchips, electronics and ammunition used in modern weaponry. Most of the so-called rare earth elements are mined in China. Russian Railways JSC and other carriers are hauling a rising volume of critical metals needed for Europe’s defense industry.

The volume of Chinese rare earth metals shipped on trains across Russia surged to 36,074 tons in the first nine months last year, more than double the amount transported in all of 2021, according to European Union data seen by Bloomberg News. The value of that trade rose by more than fourth-fifths, to €377 million ($408 million) through September.
posted by srboisvert at 1:15 PM on January 23 [3 favorites]


...The Kremlin now uses Gogol’s work as evidence that Ukraine and Russia share a single culture. (An essay about Gogol’s Russianness appears on the Web site of the Russkiy Mir Foundation, which Putin started in 2007.) According to a 2021 article by Putin, Gogol’s books “are written in Russian, bristling with Malorussian”—Little Russian—“folk sayings and motifs. How can this heritage be divided between Russia and Ukraine?”

In Tbilisi, the Gogol story I kept coming back to was “The Nose”: the one where Major Kovalyov, a mid-level civil servant, wakes up one morning with no nose. Fearing for his job and his marriage prospects, he hits the streets of St. Petersburg, searching for his missing proboscis. A carriage pulls up nearby. A personage emerges, wearing a uniform and plumed hat that denote a higher rank than Kovalyov’s. It is Kovalyov’s nose. “Don’t you know where you belong?” Kovalyov demands. “Don’t you realize you are my own nose! ”

The nose coldly replies, “My dear fellow, you are mistaken. I am a person in my own right.”

Read enough Putin speeches and Kovalyov’s attitude toward his nose starts to sound familiar. How dare a mere appendage masquerade as an independent entity? What cruelty, to separate the Little Russian nose from the Great Russian face! In “The Nose,” as in so much of the Russian literature that I had been revisiting, the interests of empire prevail. The police apprehend Kovalyov’s runaway organ “just as it was boarding the stagecoach bound for Riga.” Tellingly, the nose had been headed west.
Rereading Russian Classics in the Shadow of the Ukraine War
posted by y2karl at 1:47 PM on January 23 [12 favorites]


Interesting.

"Russia has a sense of itself as having a great destiny on the world stage, a rightful place as a world power, dictating things within it’s “sphere of influence” without being subject to international rules, norms, or opinions.

Nikolai Gogol expressed this sentiment in his novel Dead Souls, wherein he compares Russia to a speeding troika (3-horse sled), flying at top speed, hooves thundering like some divine power, other nations stepping aside in the wake of its charge..."

posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 8:52 PM on August 23, 2022
posted by clavdivs at 2:19 PM on January 23 [4 favorites]


From Forbes Ukraine: The Battles of the First Days that Prevented Ukraine from Breaking [Google translated]
(It's from December 28th but first time I've seen it - sorry if posted before.)

The author, Volodymyr Dacenko, has a twitter thread today on how Russian tactics have changes since the start of the war.
posted by Kabanos at 2:55 PM on January 23 [2 favorites]


... What cruelty, to separate the Little Russian nose from the Great Russian face! In “The Nose,” as in so much of the Russian literature that I had been revisiting, the interests of empire prevail. The police apprehend Kovalyov’s runaway organ “just as it was boarding the stagecoach bound for Riga.” Tellingly, the nose had been headed west.

I found it interesting to read this on the same day as watching "Why Russia Hides Countries Inside Its Borders" - so, there are not just the ex-soviet countries on Russia's periphery , like Ukraine, battling for their continued independence - but also 22 republics contained within the Russian Federation: we will have heard of Crimea, for example - but Adygea...Altai ...Bashkortostan...Yakutia, and the rest? These republics were set up as such under Lenin and with the idea that each would be largely independent. So Russia has many potential noses struggling for autonomy and battling for their continued existence against Putin's plans for centralisation - which he launched back in 2000. In American terms it is maybe as if each state were much more ethnically distinct from the others - with its own languages, as if those those potentially richer states were finding their wealth channelled towards federal government - and if the federal government itself was intent on wiping out the concept of separate states.
posted by rongorongo at 1:06 AM on January 24 [4 favorites]




Sure but did the Poles fill out the tank export request form correctly?

[One of a number of sarcastic/impatient commentaries in the German press. A few politicians here have said "Well we haven't had an official request from Poland" as if that was somehow the reason for the delays.]
posted by UN at 2:43 AM on January 24 [3 favorites]


UN - After having personally interacted with German bureaucracy, this somehow does not surprise me.
posted by jpziller at 8:47 AM on January 24


Germany will send Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine in addition to giving Poland the go-ahead to re-export theirs.
posted by UN at 9:59 AM on January 24 [18 favorites]


Presumably this also means Finland will be able to send Leopard 2-tanks to Ukraine. President Niinistö was in Ukraine just earlier today and reiterated Finland’s desire to do that.
posted by Kattullus at 12:02 PM on January 24 [1 favorite]


Don't mess with Finland.
posted by y2karl at 12:36 PM on January 24 [3 favorites]


In ancillary news, the ecological and geopolitical mplications in this report activated my spidey sense:

North Korea issues ‘extreme cold’ weather warning as mercury plunges to -30 degrees Celsius
posted by y2karl at 2:45 PM on January 24


Nick Schifrin of NewsHour claims:
US officials confirm to me the US will announce tomorrow sending approximately 30 M1 Abrams tanks, in coordination with Germany's announcing Leopard 2's can go to Ukraine.

The Abrams will be sent using Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI), NOT through Presidential Drawdown Authority, the officials confirmed. Which means when it comes to spring offensives, the focus will be on getting Ukrainians trained and operating the Leopard 2's.
posted by Teegeeack AV Club Secretary at 3:36 PM on January 24 [6 favorites]


A bit of corporate FAFO:

Wintershall’s empty bank accounts expose plight of western companies still in Russia
Parent group BASF’s €7.3bn writedown reveals flaws in historical German industrial policy
Wintershall Dea chief executive Mario Mehren spent much of last year defending its continued presence in Russia, where the BASF subsidiary was one of the last western companies still pumping oil and gas in the wake of Vladimir Putin’s assault on Ukraine.

But he revealed last week that the company was finally leaving, saying Moscow-owned Gazprom had taken control of the German company’s joint ventures in Siberia and emptied their shared bank accounts.

Almost €2bn of Wintershall’s cash had vanished, Mehren told German newspaper Börsen-Zeitung, accusing Gazprom of having “cleared” the accounts of its three shared gas and oil extraction businesses. Gazprom did not respond to a request for comment.
posted by srboisvert at 1:05 AM on January 25 [4 favorites]


CNN.com: Zelensky shakes up Ukrainian government amid growing corruption scandal

Is Zelensky cleaning house linked to the sudden release of tanks, and some positive signals of eventual fighter jets? Was it a precondition that they got their house in order first?
posted by Harald74 at 1:21 AM on January 25 [4 favorites]


There is also quite a lot of anti-corruption homework to be done when applying for EU membership, so this might be a consequence of that.
posted by Harald74 at 1:22 AM on January 25 [3 favorites]


In other news, Ukraine has further dismissals of senior officials accused of corruption, and it seems unlikely that the timing is a coincidence.
posted by automatronic at 1:23 AM on January 25


BTW, I'm pleasantly surprised that at least some of the Leopard 2s to be sent are the A6 variant, which has upgraded both armour, sights and cannon compared to the now somewhat long in the tooth A4 variant which has been promoted as the most likely candidate.
posted by Harald74 at 1:26 AM on January 25 [1 favorite]


Now that there is a near full NATO consensus on providing Main Battle Tanks I think everything in the conventional warfare arsenal is on the table. Tanks are big and noticeable so they are in the news and they can't really be secretly delivered. So we are hearing about them.

Long range missiles and guided artillery on the other hand could be delivered largely without notice as part of routine armament shipments and arrive at Russian destinations either in Ukraine or just over the Russian border in a surprise move. I fully expect in the next couple of months there are going to be some very big explosions at Russian airbases and ports that are thought to be outside the range of Ukraine's current weapons.

An additional motive beyond 'defense of European democracy' is going to be that both the US and Europe won't want to see too many of their donated Main Battle Tanks get destroyed. Perceived underperformance would be pretty bad for future sales. So I think they will have big incentives to give Ukraine the ability to defend the tanks with longer range weaponry to eliminate Russia's artillery and missile systems. Modern jets may also be on the table quickly for similar reasons.

Yesterday was a big shift in the nature of this war. The West is now in it to win it.
posted by srboisvert at 1:31 AM on January 25 [6 favorites]


It also seems like Switzerland is finally relenting and allowing re-export of ammunition to Ukraine. This is mainly the 35mm ammunition for the Gepard air defence artillery, which is not readily available from elsewhere. The Gepards are defending Ukrainian civilian infrastructure from drone and cruise missile attack, so increased ammunition supply will translate directly to less civilian deaths. It should not be a hard decision to provide this ammunition even if you're on the fence about supplying weapons in general, I feel.
posted by Harald74 at 1:32 AM on January 25 [8 favorites]


Long range missiles and guided artillery on the other hand could be delivered largely without notice as part of routine armament shipments and arrive at Russian destinations either in Ukraine or just over the Russian border in a surprise move. I fully expect in the next couple of months there are going to be some very big explosions at Russian airbases and ports that are thought to be outside the range of Ukraine's current weapons.

To maximise impact they should not be announced beforehand, no. The Russians are also learning during the conflict, and their logistics hubs and HQs are now located juuust outside the range of the current long-range artillery available to Ukraine. They should just wake up one morning to most of their gear being on fire, not have a few weeks notice to move it juuust outside the range of the new munitions.
posted by Harald74 at 1:36 AM on January 25 [3 favorites]


Task Force KleptoCapture in action:

Briton arrested after 'hiding Russian yacht by changing its name from Tango to Fanta'
The US Department of Justice (DoJ) claimed Masters ran a yacht company in Palma de Mallorca and managed Tango after initial sanctions were imposed on Mr Vekselberg in 2018.

Masters allegedly called Mr Vekselberg's yacht "the Fanta" to hide thousands of dollars from banks that would ultimately benefit the oligarch.
posted by srboisvert at 4:35 AM on January 25 [1 favorite]


Oksana Dutchak: Together We Stand: Enforced Single Motherhood and Ukrainian Refugees’ Care Networks
The structures of gender and economic inequality have placed a disproportionate share of reproductive labor on women in all societies, including in Ukraine. However, in the case of Ukrainian refugees, it seems more appropriate to speak not about this disproportionate burden, but about the phenomenon of enforced single motherhood, where the entire responsibility of reproductive labor falls on women’s shoulders.

In this article I analyze how reproductive labor is managed by Ukrainian refugees in the context of enforced single motherhood. I am particularly focused on the role that informal networks of support play. While being deeply gendered and depoliticized, these networks offer women a source of time, critically needed for social reproduction. How are these networks of support (re)created in and after displacement? How do they structure the lives and experiences of Ukrainian refugees? Which structures of inequalities stand behind them and how should these informal networks be evaluated from a political perspective? I will provide some preliminary answers, based on interviews with Ukrainian refugees, participatory observation and, well, my own experience of enforced single motherhood in refuge.
posted by kmt at 6:56 AM on January 25 [3 favorites]


And today is Zelenskyi's birthday.

Don't know if the first Leopard will be gift-wrapped, but it would be one of those gifts where you can easily guess the contents from the shape of the package.
posted by Stoneshop at 7:34 AM on January 25 [9 favorites]


John Ridge on Twitter
🇺🇸 Abrams main battle tanks being delivered to 🇺🇦 under USAI rather than PDA is an interesting development. A short 🧵on the possible explanations.
1/5


tl;dr he thinks they're probably getting new tanks from the factory.

CNN thinks it's either that, or the new tanks are for Poland with older Polish Abrams getting a refurb and going to Ukraine.

it would be one of those gifts where you can easily guess the contents from the shape of the package.

An AMX-10? Thanks anyway, Auntie France.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 10:32 AM on January 25 [4 favorites]




A Twitter thread by military analyst Rob Lee, who’s been linked to in Ukraine comment threads countless times, where he explains what these tanks mean for the war. Excerpt:
Ukraine's goal is to retake all of its territory occupied by Russia. Breaking through well-prepared defensive lines (and exploiting success) is difficult without significant combined arms advantages, and Ukraine is unlikely to have air superiority. 2/

Challenger 2, Leopard 2, and Abrams are more survivable and have better optics and fire control systems. That will give Ukrainian tankers an advantage in tank-on-tank fights and other engagements, and tank crews will be more likely to survive (and keep fighting). 3/

These new tanks also open up a new line of ammunition available to Ukraine, which is critical since they have been using tanks as artillery. Procuring 3 new types of tanks will be a logistical headache, but it will also give them more options for replacing future tank losses. 4/

Tanks will undoubtedly play a key role in Ukraine's future offensives as in Kharkiv and Kherson. The new tanks will increase Kyiv's chances for success but not guarantee it. They are just one component of combined arms, and can only partially compensate for other weaknesses. 5/

Personally, I think deliveries of new IFVs and APCs, like the Bradley and Stryker, are more significant than tanks because Ukraine lacks enough IFVs/APCs and the relative improvement of a Bradley/Stryker over BMP-1/MRAP is even greater than Leopard 2 over many Ukrainian tanks. 6/
In related news, here’s a video of the moment Zelenskyy found out that Germany had decided to send Leopard 2 tanks.
posted by Kattullus at 12:34 AM on January 26 [2 favorites]


Lockheed ready with F-16s as Kyiv allies revive debate over fighter jets. US-German tanks deal gives impetus for aircraft but Washington and Berlin rule out sending them
Frank St. John, chief operating officer of Lockheed Martin, the largest US defence contractor, told the FT that there was “a lot of conversation about third party transfer of F-16s” — whereby countries would re-export their US jets to Ukraine to defend its airspace. Lockheed is not directly involved in talks regarding the potential delivery of military aircraft to Kyiv.
However, St. John said the company was “going to be ramping production on F-16s in Greenville [South Carolina] to get to the place where we will be able to backfill pretty capably any countries that choose to do third party transfers to help with the current conflict”.
The White House has rebuffed Ukrainian appeals for modern fighter jets such as the F-16 out of fear they could be used to strike Russian territory. The US government must approve sales, or transfers to third countries, of American-made fighter jets, which means European countries would need political support from the Biden administration.
posted by srboisvert at 3:38 AM on January 26 [2 favorites]


So is Biden scholzing the jets now?
posted by UN at 7:26 AM on January 26


So is Biden scholzing the jets now?

That isn't a fair or valid comparison. There's a big difference between NATO armor helping to punch holes in the Russian lines in occupied Ukraine and US-made jets potentially conducting airstrike on Russian territory.

The US has not opposed transfers of Warsaw Pact-model fighters and fighter/bombers, because Russia has a lot less credibility in complaining about airstrikes conducted by their own aircraft.
posted by Gelatin at 7:35 AM on January 26 [2 favorites]


Scholzing began with helmets — anything more was too provocative. I'd argue that the difference between helmets and pretty much anything (ie Panzerfäuste) is greater than Abrams and F16s?
posted by UN at 8:43 AM on January 26 [1 favorite]


The US has not opposed transfers of Warsaw Pact-model fighters and fighter/bombers, because Russia has a lot less credibility in complaining about airstrikes conducted by their own aircraft.

Sure, but also the US doesn't have any actual or contractual authority to block such transfers, so it would look pretty silly if it tried.
posted by Not A Thing at 8:59 AM on January 26


The current major foot dragging from the US right now is about long range missiles, despite all the guarantees the Ukrainians have offered about not striking beyond their borders. We've already authorized a crap-ton of funding to train Ukrainian pilots on US aircraft, so that is in play and sooner or later they will end up with US aircraft. But the delays on the missiles are frustrating to see; I am hoping that more is happening behind the scenes.

Scholzing began with helmets — anything more was too provocative.

The amount of shaming that he requires at every step before advancing is phenomenal. The other day I saw it jokingly described as a kink of his, and while that obviously isn't exactly correct, it is a really weird dynamic. Everyone knows what will happen, and it eventually does happen, but only after a protracted and very public process that from the outside looks horrible for all parties.

While I feel that Germany could be doing much more to assist on the military front, they are one of the countries that has taken in huge numbers of refugees and that deserves a lot more recognition than it sometimes gets.
posted by Dip Flash at 9:00 AM on January 26 [8 favorites]


Two Turkish-owned ships hit by Russia. This hasn't been big in the news (no one killed), but it might be important
posted by Nancy Lebovitz at 11:21 AM on January 26 [1 favorite]


Sure, but also the US doesn't have any actual or contractual authority to block such transfers, so it would look pretty silly if it tried.

The US might have some leverage in that it could block sales of backfill F-16s and replacement parts to anyone who does stuff it doesn't agree with.

But if I were some other country, I'd quite possibly call that bluff, and just tell the US and Lockheed that I'd be happy to buy Eurofighter Typhoons to replace the F-16s, if that's how they want to be. That ought to send Lockheed's Government Relations people screaming all the way up Capitol Hill, and they have a lot of Government Relations people.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:30 AM on January 26 [1 favorite]


VOA: F-16 Deal Contingent on Turkey’s Support for NATO Expansion, Syria

We are doing exactly that kind of arm-twisting with Turkey. The US position is no F-16s if Turkey blocks Finland and Sweden joining NATO.
posted by ryanrs at 2:06 PM on January 26


give Ukraine the 16s then they could buy 35s and be state of the art, perhaps the fighters allocated for Turkey could go to Ukraine. Turkey lost those in 2019 and in 2020 the u.s. imposed CAATSA sanctions. Perhaps that's why Russia bombed those ships as some sort of warning.

"The Dutch case is instructive in understanding the Ukrainian appeals for the F-16, which can be understood at least in part as opportunism to get a hold of planes being phased out by European countries in favor of the newer F-35, before they're sold to someone else."
posted by clavdivs at 5:19 PM on January 26


We should try to revive the offer to buy those S-400s off Turkey, and offer Ankara a deal on Patriots and F-35s. Then we could keep a S-400 battery for ourselves for dissecting and analysis and send the rest to Ukraine to shoot down Russian hardware.
posted by Reverend John at 6:00 PM on January 26


That's insane. Turkey should never even see an F-35 until Erdogan is gone. Flying our newest stealth fighter in front of Russian air defense radars is not a threat you can take back.
posted by ryanrs at 9:32 PM on January 26 [4 favorites]


> Abrams main battle tanks being delivered to [Ukraine] under USAI rather than PDA is an interesting development

Yeah that's an interesting little twist.

(For those who don't have an ongoing interest in arms deals, basically that means the tanks are going to be purchased by Ukraine using US funds appropriated by Congress for that purpose, rather than coming directly from an existing US military stockpile via the President's direct order as Commander in Chief.)

Couple of thoughts: first is that maybe it's just a punt—it kicks the Abrams issue down the road, because the "purchase" process is so long and laden with red tape. (It doesn't have to be, of course—the process could conceivably move as fast as you could carry a piece of paper around or get the right people in a room—but it can be made to move at whatever speed is desired.) Second thought is that maybe it's creating a legal figleaf for the purposes of giving someone else an opportunity to save face.

I mean, if someone really wanted to, with a few hours practice in the mirror they'd probably be able to say with a straight face that: this was not the US giving tanks to Ukraine, it was merely General Dynamics Land Systems selling some of its fine products to the Ukrainian Institute (or maybe the American Institute for Ukraine, or the Ukrainian-American Friendship Club, or the Veterans of Russian Wars Booster Club; in any case a non-profit Washington DC corporation which might or might not have the same mailing address as the Ukrainian embassy), and at no time did the US Government own those tanks, ergo it could not have given them to Ukraine. (The fact that the Ukrainians basically went shopping using a giftcard from Uncle Sam, redeemable at any of America's esteemed defense companies, is beside the point.)

Seems a bit rules-lawyery to me, but I guess that's what diplomats do for a living?

Maybe it's a bit of both.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:34 PM on January 26 [12 favorites]


Occam's Pork Barrel: If they're really getting new production from GLDS — which is the first I've heard that intimated — it could be a way to get the some of the Republicans to STFU.

How President Trump Saved The Last Tank Plant In America (blergh) [Forbes 'contributor', 2018]

I had thought they were going to get the M1A1 'ODS' variant.
posted by snuffleupagus at 4:23 AM on January 27 [1 favorite]


A rare glimpse into covert arms sales world: How Western companies make a fortune on brokering deals for Ukraine
posted by UN at 9:34 AM on January 27 [3 favorites]


Last night, someone apparently saw an opportunity to express their dislike of Iran producing Shahed drones.

There are at least four plausible suspects, and about the same number of less-plausible ones.

And near Tabriz, northwestern Iran, a fire broke out at an oil refinery. Cause not yet known.

(The 5.9 earthquake in northwestern Iran at the same time was a natural disaster as far as anyone can tell)
posted by Stoneshop at 4:20 AM on January 29 [1 favorite]


Looks like Ukraine is getting most of their modern tank shopping list - the Ukrainian ambassador to France mentioned the total pledged is 321, where 300-500 were mentioned before as necessary to push Russians out. This is on top of about 260 T-72, modernised variants and armoured personnel carriers they got from Poland alone so far. The US was negotiating for additional armaments from Columbia (helicopters) and Brasil (ammo), but both refused. Newest appeals are for fighter jets, which does point to plans requiring air support.

And the International Olympics Committee is planning to let Russians compete in Paris in 2024 under the international flag again. Ukrainians disapprove.
posted by I claim sanctuary at 4:36 AM on January 29 [8 favorites]


A railway bridge near Svitodolynske, on the line between Tokmak and Melitopol was struck, reportedly with HIMARS. This is the only railway line from the east into Melitopol and the occupied part of Kherson Oblast, so as long as it's out of order it's road transport only, or by rail through Crimea.
posted by Stoneshop at 3:05 PM on January 29


Interesting thread on evolving tactics, here focusing on the 777s:

Thread by @CasualArtyFan on Thread Reader App
Can towed artillery still be an asset on the modern battlefield?

Let’s take a look at M777s, the most numerous 155mm system and NATO arty system in Ukraine today.

Ukraine has innovated in many ways to still make them relevant in the face of UAVs.

Here’s a recent video👇

1|16
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 4:26 PM on January 29


The netting defense against HE loiter drones seems like something that could conceivably be built directly onto artillery - like, retractable tops on convertible cars/ dustcovers on open-topped semis.
posted by porpoise at 5:17 PM on January 29


In procurement, 'readily built onto artillery' means 18 - 32 months. With optimism. Most of what is being sent it as is its most recent upgrade, and in the alternative to keeping and upgrading it again. And then further upgraded, in theater, with whatever field expedients are available.

At least, that's what they're telling all of us informed via news and commentary.
posted by snuffleupagus at 5:23 PM on January 29


(that is, for stuff developed in large numbers. UA (and Aerorozvidka) have shown they can iterate very quickly, but the scale there is presumably limited...)
posted by snuffleupagus at 5:40 PM on January 29


The US already has camouflage netting systems for their artillery. I've bought the used/surplus fiberglass poles for use as a portable antenna mast. So the artillery pieces should already have the basic building blocks for anti-drone netting.
posted by ryanrs at 7:47 AM on January 30 [1 favorite]


It's definitely available in some forms now—nets and the thermal masking stuff.

I'd be pretty amazed if they could come up with new variants of equipment integrating that stuff off the line and have it widely deployed within a year, but on the other hand this is different than any other conflict I've been around for.
posted by snuffleupagus at 9:25 AM on January 30


One thing I managed to sharpen during my conscription year was my elite camo netting erection skilzz. It's more trouble than it looks, snags on every little protrusion on the vehicle as well as everywhere on your personal equipment. The thing that is a bit odd (to me) is that I practiced that skill following around the very same howitzers that Norway donated to Ukraine last year.
posted by Harald74 at 12:14 PM on January 30 [4 favorites]


Biden answered simply "no" when asked if the US would provide F-16s to Ukraine, according to Financial Times. At this stage it doesn't signify much, but it might be a sign that US authorities want to play their cards closer to their chests regarding upcoming aid.
posted by Harald74 at 4:39 AM on January 31 [1 favorite]


Mark Hertling and other credible people also think the IFVs provided will be more important than the tanks in the coming offensives.
posted by Harald74 at 4:50 AM on January 31


Biden answered simply "no" when asked if the US would provide F-16s to Ukraine, according to Financial Times. At this stage it doesn't signify much, but it might be a sign that US authorities want to play their cards closer to their chests regarding upcoming aid.

I agree, and there's a distinction between the US directly providing airplanes and the US allowing another country to donate them in exchange for the US backfilling. But regardless, there's also a pattern of the US (and other countries) saying "no, absolutely not" about each new weapons system right up until they switch to providing it, so I take these kind of denials as basically meaning "no, not right now, but maybe later."
posted by Dip Flash at 6:14 AM on January 31 [1 favorite]


I think this underscores how important it is for all of us in western countries, especially the US, to keep contacting our political leaders and urging them to support Ukraine with all of the weapons they are asking for as fast as possible. I'm fine with them keeping quiet for geopolitical reasons, and even providing some disinformation to mislead the Russians, as long as the weapons to support Ukraine are on their way as fast as they can be provided and used by the Ukrainians.
posted by Reverend John at 4:58 PM on January 31 [6 favorites]


There is some reporting coming out that the next tranche of aid will include longer range missile systems. I really hope that is true, because it would expose much of the Russian back end to strikes.
posted by Dip Flash at 8:46 PM on January 31 [1 favorite]


That's a capability that really should not be announced beforehand, but come as a surprise.

Former Italian artilleryman Thomas C. Theiner on the GLSDB, if that is what it is.
posted by Harald74 at 10:53 PM on January 31 [2 favorites]


Jomini of the West has resurfaced (since September?) on Twitter with a roundup of January developments.
posted by Harald74 at 1:03 AM on February 1 [2 favorites]


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