A difficult year ahead for Ukraine
February 10, 2024 1:16 PM   Subscribe

After a not very successful campaign in 2023 Ukraine is facing some difficult obstacles and tough choices in 2024. Inside is a collection of status reports and commentary on where the war is now.

In recent days, shakeups in Ukraine's top military leadership has grabbed the headlines: Tucker Carlson got a lot of attention for his interview with Putin: Some thoughts on the way forward: Developments in how the war is waged: Many voice concern over the scope and length of the wider confrontation: The war is still a terrible strain on the Ukrainian economy and civil society, and Support Ukraine Now has a number of ways for you to help.
posted by Harald74 (85 comments total) 55 users marked this as a favorite
 
Thank you for making the post and collecting those links. Here in the US, having a significant chunk of one political party be openly in the pocket of Putin is really embarrassing and is starting to cause major problems for Ukraine, and must be causing concern for the Baltic states.
posted by Dip Flash at 1:22 PM on February 10 [12 favorites]


Finland least of all, I suspect, as they have a strong tradition of kicking Russian ass. Plus I suspect that because of their application to NATO due to the invasion of Ukraine, Putin will increasingly reluctant to stand near upper floor windows.
posted by y2karl at 1:34 PM on February 10


How, historically, have stalemates been broken?

I don't see enough mil./$ support for Ukraine materializing to get a win devastating enough for Russia to withdraw.

I don't think either Putin or Zelensky croaking would affect the trajectory of the war in the short term. Both countries are vested in their side winning.

What can the west support beyond "not letting putin win" and "stasis expensive in blood and treasure"?
posted by lalochezia at 2:07 PM on February 10 [7 favorites]


If you've been following the chatter about the war lately, one statistic you might've heard over and over again is fairly stark. Currently, the Russian military is being supplied with triple-to-quintuple the number of artillery shells per month that the Ukrainian army is. This is partly because of the way the production cycles are lining up, but partly it's because US aid has been held up for so long, while North Korean munition factories have been increasing their output. Bloomberg got hold of a fairly starkly-worded document that the Ukrainian defense minister, Rustem Umerov, sent around to European colleagues. Here's the text of the Bloomberg article:
Ukraine has warned its allies that it is facing a “critical” shortage of artillery shells with Russia deploying three times as much firepower on the frontlines each day.

Defense Minister Rustem Umerov wrote to his European Union counterparts this week describing the massive numerical disadvantage his troops are facing as they try to fight off fresh Russian assaults. He said Ukraine is unable to fire more than 2,000 shells a day across a frontline that stretches for 1,500 kilometers (930 miles), according to a document seen by Bloomberg. That’s less than a third of the ammunition Russia uses.

Ukraine’s weapons shortages are growing worse by the day, Umerov added, as he urged his EU allies to do more to meet their pledge to supply a million artillery rounds. He said Ukaine needs to at least match the firepower deployed its enemy.

“The side with the most ammunition to fight usually wins,” Umerov said, according to the document.

The EU acknowledged on Wednesday that it will supply barely half of the shells it had promised by a March deadline, resolving to deliver almost 600,000 more by the end of the year.

Ukraine needs 200,000 155mm shells per month, the document says. Moscow is on track to get almost twice that amount, according to Estonian estimates, with about a million shells coming from North Korea.

At a meeting of defense ministers on Wednesday, the EU said it will have a capacity to produce 1 million rounds per year and expects to double that capacity to 2 million in 2025. The US is also ramping up production of shells in order to help Ukraine meet its needs.
One problem the EU has is simply there aren't very many munitions factories. For instance, one new Finnish factory will be providing a tenth of the increase just on its own.

That said, the EU is ramping up production, and if the US ever sorts itself out (admittedly a big if) that shell gap will shrink very quickly.
posted by Kattullus at 2:22 PM on February 10 [13 favorites]


North Korea has never had so much money flowing into its economy as it has had during this war. They are utterly thrilled and doing everything they can to be the manufacturing center Russia doesn't seem to be able to conjure within its own gigantic borders.

North Korea's recent stance that they no longer are looking toward peace with the South is a direct result of this cash infusion.
posted by hippybear at 2:26 PM on February 10 [8 favorites]


This pointless war will go on until another 1917 or (successful) 1991 happens in Russia.

It's up to the Russian people whether they want to be locked in with their club of 5 mates (Syria, North Korea, Belarus, Nicaragua) or return as first class citizens in the Zapadny mir.

It's a tougher row to hoe, defeating the security state run by totalitarians.
posted by torokunai at 2:27 PM on February 10 [3 favorites]


North Korean elites may be utterly thrilled but North Korean artillery shells are another story.
posted by y2karl at 4:07 PM on February 10


The BBC fact checkers are not doing themselves any credibility favors with "Catherine the Great in the 17th Century."

I very much wish the US was not bundling Ukraine aid with Israel because it risks splitting the American people on an issue that otherwise had widespread support.
posted by Gable Oak at 4:16 PM on February 10 [7 favorites]


Taiwan aid also.
"If the legislation ultimately passes the Senate, it will face an uncertain future in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, where Speaker Mike Johnson has indicated he could split the aid into separate bills."

4 of 8 comments thus far Inform that the United States is not meeting it's commitment. If the war in Ukraine is solely contingent upon the United States and Western allies supplying artillery shells, then this war is lost.
posted by clavdivs at 4:42 PM on February 10 [3 favorites]


Apparently our lack of machine tools is hampering our ability to increase artillery ammo production, which means we can blame Reagan with a straight face.
posted by credulous at 5:01 PM on February 10 [9 favorites]


Apparently we can't expand the factory that produces shells for Ukraine because it's in a national historic district.

Just something to bring up next time your neighbors start talking about landmarking.
posted by novalis_dt at 5:04 PM on February 10 [3 favorites]


It's a shell game.
ooo
posted by clavdivs at 5:23 PM on February 10 [2 favorites]


More on the seemingly contradictory assertions by the United States military industrial complex thus reaffirming that concentrating discussion on the United States in Foreign Wars being currently held is problematic.


from the Defense 1 Article.
"The U.S. already maintains large stockpiles of some key raw materials, such as the precursor chemicals for explosives, Bush said. But how much of other raw materials the U.S. should keep in reserve is an open question. “The issue is really stockpiling, Bush said, “It’s really a question of how much you can afford to do.”

from Defense News: "You have to produce enough explosives – either IMX-104 or TNT – to fill that many shells that fast and that production capacity does not exist in the United States by itself,” Doug Bush said during a Feb. 5 Center for Strategic and International Studies event in Washington. “We’re having to go overseas to allies. Luckily, we have many, [that are] highly capable.”

posted by clavdivs at 5:46 PM on February 10


Apparently we can't expand the factory that produces shells for Ukraine because it's in a national historic district.

I mean, we stopped caring about climate, this could be waived
posted by eustatic at 6:10 PM on February 10 [2 favorites]


~Apparently we can't expand the factory that produces shells for Ukraine because it's in a national historic district.

~I mean, we stopped caring about climate, this could be waived


Resulting in the one time in history that republicans will give a shit about preserving an historical district. They are dead-set on letting Ukraine die just because the orange one wants to be pals with Putin. It's reprehensible.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:22 PM on February 10 [9 favorites]


In brief, nobody knows how to make anytime anymore. lol
posted by jeffburdges at 7:01 PM on February 10 [2 favorites]


Even Forbes has been openly calling the GOP congresspeople obstructing Ukraine aid as Russia-aligned.
posted by 1adam12 at 7:30 PM on February 10 [5 favorites]


I very much wish the US was not bundling Ukraine aid with Israel

If we can give free weapons to Israel, we should compel Republicans to do the same for Ukraine or they need to explain to the public why they pledge allegiance to Putin and Russia over the United States.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 8:54 PM on February 10 [2 favorites]


"DOD Official Restates Why Supporting Ukraine Is in U.S. Interest."

And from the current DOD postion, like a musical,
"While supporting Ukraine is the right thing to do, U.S. support is about more than just Ukraine, Wallander said. "[Our support] is about the international order that keeps all countries and all populations safe, including Russia," she said."

It's all crazypants but, "As Ukrainian General Valerii Zaluzhnyi notes in his recent treatise, “On the Modern Design of Military Operations in the Russo-Ukrainian War: In the Fight for the Initiative,” there is a need for new concepts that “increase[e] the mobility of own troops” and ensure the “safe access to certain lines.”"

History Redux
posted by clavdivs at 9:00 PM on February 10 [1 favorite]


Thanks, Harald74. I thought the article by Gady and Kofman was really good. My takeaway from reading Cathal Nolan's "The Allure of Battle" is that most major wars turn into a contest of attrition. The West has much greater economic capacity than Russia does - but the bottlenecks in ramping up production of artillery shells are a huge challenge.

A couple articles from the Economist: posted by russilwvong at 9:20 PM on February 10 [1 favorite]


The latest from TFG: CNN: Trump says he would encourage Russia to ‘do whatever the hell they want’ to any NATO country that doesn’t pay enough
Former President Donald Trump on Saturday said he would encourage Russia to do “whatever the hell they want” to any NATO member country that doesn’t meet spending guidelines on defense in a stunning admission he would not abide by the collective-defense clause at the heart of the alliance if reelected.

“NATO was busted until I came along,” Trump said at a rally in Conway, South Carolina. “I said, ‘Everybody’s gonna pay.’ They said, ‘Well, if we don’t pay, are you still going to protect us?’ I said, ‘Absolutely not.’ They couldn’t believe the answer.”
Unlike his Russian counterpart Medvedev, Trump stand a real chance of being reelected, putting his crazypants pronouncements in a totally different light. This stuff and congressional waffling is not doing any favours for the US' image in the world, and by extension faith in the current world order.

Though he is correct that other NATO members should step up and pull their weight. A stopped clock etc.
posted by Harald74 at 10:28 PM on February 10 [5 favorites]


Tom Nichols in The Atlantic: If Russia wins
Ukrainian defenses are in danger of being destroyed and overrun because House Republicans refuse to provide ammunition and aid. If Russia wins this war, the consequences could be catastrophic.

...

The real danger for the U.S. and Europe would begin after Ukraine is crushed, when only NATO would remain as the final barrier to Putin’s dreams of evolving into a new emperor of Eurasia. Putin has never accepted the legitimate existence of Ukraine, but like the unreformed Soviet nostalgist that he is, he has a particular hatred for NATO. After the collapse of Ukraine, he would want to take bolder steps to prove that the Atlantic Alliance is an illusion, a lie promulgated by cowards who would never dare to stop the Kremlin from reclaiming its former Soviet and Russian imperial possessions.
posted by Harald74 at 10:48 PM on February 10 [2 favorites]


In the Putin interview, he says that Ukraine is to blame for the invasion like Poland was to blame for WWII. Which... *shrugs in utter lack of words and also Ribbentrop-Molotov*
posted by I claim sanctuary at 12:36 AM on February 11 [21 favorites]


Well, at least that saves us from making the comparison between Adolf Hitler and Vladimir Putin, since Putin has already done it for us.
posted by UN at 4:52 AM on February 11 [14 favorites]


(Anyone remember when Russia was invading Ukrainian "because Nazis"? That was so two years ago.)
posted by UN at 4:59 AM on February 11 [5 favorites]


i don’t think it’s emphasized enough how completely the “economic war” against russia has failed. their gdp is growing, they face no real obstacles to lng and oil exports and they seem to have had no problem sourcing the electronics and other materials needed to keep their war machines going. at the beginning of the war western boosters would not stop predicting the inevitable collapse of the russian military because they would run out of supplies due to sanctions and it’s clear that won’t happen. it’s much more likely that ukraine runs out of artillery shells or soldiers even if they continue to get US financial support than russia runs out of anything they need to keep fighting.

If Russia can keep fighting for the foreseeable future then what options are left? Ukraine almost certainly can’t keep the war going forever, and without western support they would probably fall apart pretty quickly. It seems like either NATO goes all in and deploys their forces or Ukraine slowly bleeds until peace seems like the only option. neither of these are good outcomes.
posted by dis_integration at 7:37 AM on February 11 [14 favorites]


I understand the impulse behind isolationism, but I cannot get it into my head why any American would regard Putin with favour.

TFG is right that NATO members have not been meeting their commitments for military spending, which puts the lion's share of alliance defense on the US. It's arguable that a stronger, better-defended Europe might have been seen by Putin as a greater deterrent.

I'm super-cynical about the world this year. A military stalemate in Ukraine benefits Russia.
posted by Artful Codger at 7:44 AM on February 11 [4 favorites]


I understand the impulse behind isolationism, but I cannot get it into my head why any American would regard Putin with favour.

Putin’s Russia is the America Republicans want.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 9:26 AM on February 11 [20 favorites]


Putin’s Russia is the America Republicans want.

They must imagine that they would be oligarchs in the new system. Because if you are an oligarch or otherwise on the good list, Putin's Russia is a pretty nice place. If you aren't, it's not so nice.
posted by Dip Flash at 10:01 AM on February 11 [4 favorites]


In my opinion, Democracy, Freedom of Belief and Free Market Capitalism all diffuse conflict by making the possibility of changing who is dominant in society possible without violence and destruction. Even if they make manifestly poor choices and outcomes, the ability for revolution to not always produce violent civil war gives them a leg-up over rival systems.

To people who are dominant in society or identify with that dominant faction, this can be viewed as a plus (when someone defeats me and mine, as always happens in every society, I and everything I care about does not get destroyed!), or as a minus (how dare they challenge my dominance!)

Putin's Russia was the result of a failed transition to Democracy, Freedom of Belief and Free Market Capitalism. It turned into (to be pithy) an autocratic fascist kleptocracy.

Now, in order to gather power, you have to really want to have it and keep it. So to many of these people, the fact that all 3 of those ban them from destroying their potential rivals is unacceptable. So they want to dismantle Democracy and replace it with one where they cannot lose power. They want to dismantle Free Markets and replace it where economic dominance can crush foes. They want to ban other Beliefs and ways of thinking and crush those who follow them with violence.

And then there are those who don't want the end-state, but they behave locally pushing towards that end state, and have been convinced (by themselves, or political philosophy) that global action should match local. The "I may be economically powerful, but I have no choice but to act in my short-term local self interest" fools and similar.
posted by NotAYakk at 10:08 AM on February 11 [3 favorites]


> In my opinion, Democracy, Freedom of Belief and Free Market Capitalism all diffuse conflict by making the possibility of changing who is dominant in society possible without violence and destruction

gifs are kind of cheugy or whatever but also that one gif of nathan fillion is just perfect for this occasion
posted by bombastic lowercase pronouncements at 10:28 AM on February 11 [1 favorite]


Don't worry, gang. Eric Schmidt of Google is making autonomous drone bombs.
posted by McBearclaw at 11:01 AM on February 11 [2 favorites]


At least he's making them for Ukraine. Starlink, however, has started appearing in numbers on the Russian side. Ol' Musky was very worried that Starlink could be used by Ukraine to escalate the war, let's see how this plays out.
posted by Harald74 at 12:36 PM on February 11 [7 favorites]


seemingly, progress on the aid bill.

Platoons to get counter-drone gear in two US Army divisions.
Joint Counter-UAS office says anti-drone gun trucks are also set for delivery to Ukraine soon.
posted by clavdivs at 1:22 PM on February 11 [2 favorites]


Artillery shell gaps are the discourse fodder of simpletons. The real galaxy brains are talking about kill ratios.
posted by Richard Saunders at 4:56 PM on February 11


Senate advances Ukraine aid bill despite Trump opposition:
The Democratic-led Senate voted 67-27 in a rare Sunday session to clear the latest procedural hurdle and moved the foreign aid measure toward an ultimate vote on passage in the coming days.

... The next Senate action is expected on Monday sometime after 8 p.m. EST (0100 GMT), when lawmakers are due to hold two procedural votes: one to adopt the foreign aid package as an amendment to an underlying House bill; and a second to limit debate ahead of a final vote on passage, which could come on Wednesday, according to aides.

The legislation includes $61 billion for Ukraine, $14 billion for Israel in its war against Hamas and $4.83 billion to support partners in the Indo-Pacific, including Taiwan, and deter aggression by China.
posted by joannemerriam at 5:51 PM on February 11 [3 favorites]


Russia spends between $500 million to 1 billion dollars a day on the war in Ukraine.

the United States spends roughly $900 billion a year on defense.

America spends on pets and pet supplies in one year 136 billion.
and on lottery, 108 billion.

what the f*** are these people thinking.
posted by clavdivs at 8:30 PM on February 11 [2 favorites]


Mod note: One, and some replies, deleted. 1) Don't make it personal. Also, 2) you are coming in strong from nowhere with a pretty uniformly rejected narrative that mirrors certain Russian propaganda and insisting that if others don't agree there's something wrong with them? Maybe you aren't weirdly trolling but it seems like you are weirdly trolling.
posted by taz (staff) at 10:21 PM on February 11 [11 favorites]


The always excellent history professor Timothy Snyder with a debunk of the Carlson interview.

In a talk with Tucker Carlson, Putin uttered sentences about the past. I will explain how Putin is wrong about everything, but first I have to make a point about why he is wrong about everything. By how I mean his errors about past events. By why I mean the horror inherent in the kind of story he is telling. It brings war, genocide, and fascism.

Putin has read about various realms in the past. By calling them “Russia,” he claims their territories for the Russian Federation he rules today.

Such nonsense brings war. On Putin's logic, leaders anywhere can make endless claims to territory based on various interpretations of the past. That undoes the entire international order, based as it is upon legal borders between sovereign states.
posted by Harald74 at 11:11 PM on February 11 [11 favorites]


On the more technical side of things, a summary of known Ukrainian long-range drones being used inside Russia, from H.I.Sutton.
posted by Harald74 at 11:15 PM on February 11 [2 favorites]


Fate of Avdiivka uncertain as Ukrainian forces defending it struggle with fortifications, resources (Kyiv Independent):
Among the most serious issues reported all along the front line is that Ukraine is facing a major personnel shortage – particularly in the infantry.

To reinforce infantry units after heavy losses, Ukraine has transferred soldiers from units specialized in artillery or logistics to infantry positions, according to the soldiers interviewed by the Kyiv Independent. This means soldiers deployed on the first defensive line may not even know the basic survival skills of an infantryman, which results in even more casualties.

Serhii, a 20-year-old artilleryman with the 59th, said that his originally 64-man artillery group had sent 15 men to the front line. He said most of them had been killed in their first days there. He attributes it to the fact they "knew almost nothing" about being in the infantry. Only four out of 15 survived.
posted by kmt at 2:04 AM on February 12 [4 favorites]


yeah this is not a battlespace where you want to run with WW-I era tactics.

with billon-dollar budgets nobody should be firing rifle rounds at the invaders.
posted by torokunai at 8:37 AM on February 12


Apparently we can't expand the factory that produces shells for Ukraine because it's in a national historic district.
I mean, we stopped caring about climate, this could be waived
Resulting in the one time in history that republicans will give a shit about preserving an historical district.
Hey, come on, be fair. All you'd have to do to get Republicans to care deeply about preserving a historical district is tell them "Robert E. Lee slept here."
posted by Flunkie at 5:12 PM on February 12


Unlike his Russian counterpart Medvedev, Trump stand a real chance of being reelected
Huh? I think he's been in an appointed (as opposed to elected) position for the past few years, but regardless, has Medvedev fallen out of favor?
posted by Flunkie at 5:25 PM on February 12


I regret not having said "as opposed to... ahem... elected"
posted by Flunkie at 5:26 PM on February 12


For president, that is. Only Putin is going to be president for as long as he's alive.
posted by Harald74 at 1:52 AM on February 13


It's not like they are or even ever were competitors for the presidency. They're allies, and even during Medvedev's presidency, he was widely viewed as being nothing more than the de jure puppet of the de facto ruler: Putin.

The only reason he was elected in the 2008 election was because he ran and Putin didn't. In turn, the only reason he ran and Putin didn't is because (at that time) the constitution forbade anyone from being president for three straight terms. Upon taking office, Medvedev immediately appointed Putin prime minister. Effectively, they had just swapped titles, nothing more.

As soon as Putin was legally able to run for the presidency again (i.e. the very next election, 2012), Medvedev declined to run for reelection and backed Putin. They once again swapped titles.

In the meantime (during Medvedev's de jure presidency), they changed the constitution so that future presidential terms would be six years, not four. This was widely viewed as having been done specifically for Putin.

We're now approaching the end of Putin's fourth term, i.e. his second second-consecutive term. But surprise surprise, the constitution has been changed again, and now presidents can serve for no more than four consecutive terms.

In the intervening years, Medvedev served as prime minister for a while longer, and then was appointed by Putin as the deputy chairman of Russia's Security Council. The just-plain-chairman chairman being Putin.

So framing Medvedev as the "Russian counterpart" to Trump, with the sole difference being that he doesn't "stand a real chance of being reelected", and therefore that his "crazypants pronouncements", as opposed to Trump's, aren't really important is at least technically true on some surface level, I guess, but it seems very, very misleading to me.

Medvedev was, sure, the president before Putin. But Medvedev neither is nor was Putin's presidential rival whom Putin defeated and is now looking to defeat Putin in turn. Not even close. And his pronouncements, sure, don't really matter as much as Trump's, but that's not because he doesn't "stand a real chance of being elected" to the presidency (which he's not even running for); it's because his pronouncements have never really mattered, not even while he was president. Except in the sense that they are proxy announcements of Vladimir Putin's.
posted by Flunkie at 12:11 PM on February 13 [6 favorites]


Syrskyi announces transition to new stage of war against Russia
According to Syrskyi, the main value for Ukraine is the lives of the military, especially those performing combat missions. Syrskyi states that Ukraine cannot afford to neglect the value of the lives of Ukrainians, acting similarly to Russia.

"We have transitioned from offensive actions to conducting a defensive operation. The goal of our operation is to exhaust the enemy, inflict maximum losses on them, using our fortifications, our technical advantages, in terms of unmanned aviation, EW systems, maintaining prepared defense lines," he says.

Syrskyi notes that this war elevates the importance of technological progress in the armed forces and the progress of armed combat itself.

"We are already seeing, and for us, this is not news, the use of ground robotic platforms. Modules that are remotely controlled, which make it possible to save the lives of military personnel. Thus, the war is entering a new stage," he says.
posted by UN at 1:57 PM on February 13 [3 favorites]


de jure puppet of the de facto

Yet another de n'importe quel user name.
posted by y2karl at 7:11 PM on February 13 [1 favorite]


Meduza: Ukraine says large Russian landing ship destroyed in strike
The Ukrainian Armed Forces (AFU) General Staff says that Ukrainian intelligence units have destroyed the Russian Black Sea Fleet’s large landing ship Caesar Kunikov. “At the moment of the strike, it was located in Ukrainian waters near Alupka,” the AFU General Staff said. Ukraine's Main Intelligence Directorate has published a video purportedly showing the destruction of the ship by naval drones.
I think this is the fourth ship if the Ropucha-class being sunk or functionally destroyed. They are important logistical assets for the Russians, especially when the bridge to Crimea is closed.
posted by Harald74 at 12:58 AM on February 14 [3 favorites]


Flunkie had issues with my flippant take on Medvedev as the Russian Trump, and wrote an excellent summary of what Medvedev's position is in his comment. All good stuff, and to clarify I'm only of the opinion that they are alike in that they both are shit-talking former presidents. I'll abstain from further comparisons in the future, they are both despicable human beings in their own right.
posted by Harald74 at 1:06 AM on February 14


Another refinery fire in Russia, this time the Gazpromneft refinery in Moscow. They are starting to accumulate - I wonder what the overall picture here is regarding refinery capability for the armed forces and surplus for export now?
posted by Harald74 at 1:15 AM on February 14 [1 favorite]


Meduza: Ukraine says large Russian landing ship destroyed in strike

There is now footage that looks to be from the drone attack itself, just like with the last sinking. (Link is to Reddit and is SFW, but that subreddit has a lot that is very NSFW.) It looks like the same tactics keep working, having a group of drones that zip in and hit the ships broadside. Unlike with the last sinking, this ship didn't seem to be firing at the drones.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:38 AM on February 14 [1 favorite]


> Meduza: Ukraine says large Russian landing ship destroyed in strike

it seems like ships are basically defenseless against drone attacks. slow moving, giant targets, no way to defend against cheap bombs that can fly low and fast (especially if they can send a few at once). they’re sitting ducks, which does not bode well for the american reliance on carrier groups. a few thousand bucks in consumer electronics and explosives and you can destroy billions of dollars in military hardware.
posted by dis_integration at 8:18 AM on February 14 [1 favorite]


What I'm about to say isn't news for anyone who's been watching their Perun, but the difference in artillery shell supply/number of artillery pieces/amount of artillery fires, while bad, isn't as bad as it appears on the face of it. The Ukranian forces are, as a general rule, using a greater portion of modern pieces that are more accurate, and doing much better on maintenance. Artillery barrels wear out fast under consistent use, and the Russians forces appear to be going for a high volume/lower tech/inaccurate approach compared to the Ukrainians.

That being said, Ukraine's allies can and should be doing much more to support them, and to hamper Russian logistics.
posted by LegallyBread at 8:18 AM on February 14 [2 favorites]


I'm curious if it's still true that Russian forces are using the older style impact detonating shells while Ukraine is using modern airburst shells along with a smattering of more specialized shells. The modern stuff being more damaging and lethal over a larger area in more scenarios.

It's still hard to overcome the sheer volume of shells Russia is able to fire. Getting Ukraine a high enough volume of shells that they can bombard enemy positions ahead of a ground assault should go a long way towards making Ukraine's assaults more effective with fewer casualties.
posted by VTX at 8:33 AM on February 14


There is a surprising (to me at least, only tangentially served with artillery) lack of airburst fuzes in this war. I thought they were ubiquitous.
posted by Harald74 at 8:39 AM on February 14


Some analysis of the sinking of the Caesar Kunikov from The Independent:

Retired captain Andrii Ryzhenko, a former veteran officer in the Ukrainian Navy, told The Independent the destruction of the Caesar Kunikov amounted to the fifth Russian Ropucha-class warship out of 13 to be badly hit since the full-scale invasion.

“This means that Russia now has very limited capability in the Black Sea. It also means logistics from mainland Russia are quite limited,” he said. “It is a small but important step to prevent Russian dominance at sea.”

He added that there had been some indication that the Ropucha-class had been carrying Iranian-made Shahed drones to Crimea from mainland Russia, in preparation for attacks on Ukrainian civilian cities.


The 13 ships in the class are not all based in the Black Sea, BTW, there seems to be only two left according to Wikipedia.
posted by Harald74 at 8:43 AM on February 14 [2 favorites]


Or maybe three, it's a bit confusing.
posted by Harald74 at 8:44 AM on February 14


it seems like ships are basically defenseless against drone attacks. slow moving, giant targets, no way to defend against cheap bombs that can fly low and fast (especially if they can send a few at once).

The ones they have been using repeatedly to sink Russian ships are basically fancy jetskis with ~500 pounds of explosives in the nose. The footage they have released from the attacks shows a group of drones approaching and zipping in ones and twos to strike the ships at vulnerable places (broadside and at the stern to disable the propellers). We don't see the unsuccessful strikes, and there must be times when the ships successfully defend themselves, but this time around the ship didn't seem to be putting out any real defensive fire at all.

How vulnerable western naval vessels are to this is doubtless a subject being looked at very intensely by the various navies, but the Russian ships appear to be very vulnerable and either don't have or aren't using successful countermeasures.

There is a surprising (to me at least, only tangentially served with artillery) lack of airburst fuzes in this war. I thought they were ubiquitous.

There was a point earlier in the war when Ukraine started using western artillery and shells, and all of a sudden the footage started showing accurate airburst hits. Prior to that, all the footage showed inaccurate, old-style artillery rounds that explode when they hit the ground.
posted by Dip Flash at 8:45 AM on February 14 [1 favorite]


How vulnerable western naval vessels are to this is doubtless a subject being looked at very intensely by the various navies, but the Russian ships appear to be very vulnerable and either don't have or aren't using successful countermeasures.

Literally the plan to attack the Death Star was to take in small fighters that were too fast for the surface mounted guns.
posted by hippybear at 11:41 AM on February 14 [1 favorite]


Also vulnerable: giant containers of oil. Russia gets hit again, this time in Kursk.
posted by UN at 11:34 PM on February 14 [2 favorites]


How vulnerable western naval vessels are to this is doubtless a subject being looked at very intensely by the various navies, but the Russian ships appear to be very vulnerable and either don't have or aren't using successful countermeasures.

Google tells me Russian is upgrading their anti drone tech. Logic tells me the over 18 drones shot at u.s. ship suggests they have adequate anti drone technology.
posted by clavdivs at 3:13 PM on February 15


Diána Vonnák in New Lines Magazine: Can We Laugh? On the Ground With Ukrainian Artists
Artists are in a complicated position across Ukraine, where the appetite for readings, stand-up comedy and theater has become enormous as people release tension and try to process what is happening to them. But there is often violence in the catharsis, and the line between humor that hurts and that which heals is often blurred.
...
“In the local stand-up scene, the best jokes were gone by the end of spring,” a historian and Lviv local who gave only his first name, Zhenya, remembered. When I asked what he meant by “good,” he replied, “Gore. No shame. Lots of corpses. But that isn’t funny after a while. It becomes gruesome. And people probably realized that the war is here for good.”
posted by Kabanos at 6:57 PM on February 15 [3 favorites]


A lot higher than we expected’: Russian arms production worries Europe’s war planners
As Ukraine has scrambled to source ammunition, arms and equipment for its defence, Russia has presided over a massive ramping up of industrial production over the last two years that has outstripped what many western defence planners expected when Vladimir Putin launched his invasion.

Total defence spending has risen to an estimated 7.5% of Russia’s GDP, supply chains have been redesigned to secure many key inputs and evade sanctions, and factories producing ammunition, vehicles and equipment are running around the clock, often on mandatory 12-hour shifts with double overtime, in order to sustain the Russian war machine for the foreseeable future.
While much of Europe worries about the cost of government spending on military aid.... Russia shows that that kind of spending drives the economy.
posted by UN at 10:24 PM on February 15 [4 favorites]


'NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg announced that NATO and Ukraine will create a joint analysis, training, and education center in Poland following the meetings of NATO Defense Ministers in Brussels on February 15.Stoltenberg stated that NATO will open the center in Bydgoszcz, Poland, which will allow Ukrainian forces to share their combat experience with NATO and train alongside their allied counterparts. Stoltenberg also stated that NATO had negotiated contracts with ammunition manufacturers worth $10 billion and that NATO needs to come out of peace time ammunition production to replenish NATO stocks and support Ukraine.[Stoltenberg added that European NATO members for the first time will collectively invest a total of $380 billion on defense in 2024, which constitutes two percent of all NATO members’ collective GDP.'
posted by clavdivs at 10:57 PM on February 15 [2 favorites]


Putin says he was not impressed by Tucker Carlson. Claims he would have preferred tougher questions, which I somehow doubt...
posted by Harald74 at 1:34 AM on February 16


Hey Kabanos, thanks for posting that article by Dia!* Her piece really resonated with me. The jokes are great, and it does shed some light on the place of humor in Eastern European life:
“It’s great to have war in the time of advanced tech,” she told the audience. “It’s like ordering a take-away: ‘Your rocket is estimated to arrive in 15 minutes.’ Might as well take a shower. Oh, no, a delay! Aren’t rockets so unreliable these days?”

The crowd giggled along and the two hours passed without tension. The audience’s laughter was cordial, and everything felt cozy if slightly lukewarm.

The comedy night stayed clear of jokes that could divide the audience. Hierarchies of suffering, men leaving the country, some Ukrainians holding on to speaking Russian — nothing potentially divisive was addressed. Instead, the message was simple: We are all in this together.

Thinking back on a year of intense conversations and listening to strangers, Slyvynsky suggested that jokes make one look at what would otherwise be ignored. Humor is a Trojan horse that smuggles in the stuff that will need serious debates and solutions.

“People can laugh at jokes when they are ready to at least acknowledge the existence of the problem thematized in a joke. When they aren’t, a joke can be traumatic,” he said. When it is not yours to acknowledge, you might feel awkward or stupid, he added.
Made me recall this article on political jokes from the communist period: Hammer & tickle - Prospect Magazine.

*Disclaimer: She's an old acquitance of mine from college. Had quite a turn coming from philosophy and classics to anthropolgy. She then spent 3 months in Nepal researching buddhist nuns before switching again for the anthropological history of Lviv. But now she's seems to be settled. For this and more, you can listen to this podcast interview, unfortunately only in Hungarian.
posted by kmt at 2:06 AM on February 16 [7 favorites]


Only tangentially related to the war, but the Russian Penitentiary Service reports that Aleksey Navalny is dead.
posted by Harald74 at 3:32 AM on February 16 [6 favorites]


I was insomniacally doomscrolling this am when that popped up all over my Chrome splash page panel. My mantra of late is It Only Gets Worse. Which is too true too often. This was one of those times.
posted by y2karl at 11:21 AM on February 16




FEBRUARY 18, 2024 Russian Armed Forces gained local air superiority during the battles in Avdiivka - ISW

FEBRUARY 19, 2024 Air Force: Ukraine shoots down 2 Russian fighter jets this morning and three Russian fighter jets, two Su-34s and a Su-35, were shot down on Feb. 17, the Air Force said.

That's six fighter jets in the last three days, if my math is correct.
posted by UN at 3:28 AM on February 19


I meant 5. Or let's just say a number between 1 and 10 [insert facepalm emoji].
posted by UN at 5:11 AM on February 19 [2 favorites]


Honestly, Ukraine's ability to deal with aircraft and war ships given that they don't really have an air force or a navy of any note is truly amazing.

After this war is over, the knowledge and strategies of Ukraine is going to be studied pretty widely.
posted by hippybear at 8:23 AM on February 19


...the knowledge and strategies of Ukraine is going to be studied pretty widely

Absolutely. Cynical me quickly zeroed in on how useful this war would be for revisiting the techniques and technology of conventional war in a "western" urbanized setting, a great opportunity to fire off everyone's old, soon-to-expire armaments, and an unmatchable R&D environment for new and less expensive technologies like drones. Jetskis with explosives!

Damn.
posted by Artful Codger at 8:44 AM on February 19 [1 favorite]


I meant 5. Or let's just say a number between 1 and 10 [insert facepalm emoji].

The Guardian is reporting it as a claimed six planes shot down.
posted by Dip Flash at 8:48 AM on February 19 [2 favorites]


HUR Confirms Death of Russian Helicopter Pilot Who Defected to Ukraine With Mi-8
28-year-old Captain Maxim Kuzminov seized control of a Russian armored combat Mi-8 helicopter and brought it safely to an airbase in the Kharkiv region in August of 2023.

Andriy Yusov, a representative of the Main Intelligence Directorate of Ukraine (HUR), confirmed to Kyiv Post the death of Russian pilot Kuzminov, who seized control of a Russian armoured combat Mi-8 helicopter and brought it safely to an airbase in the Kharkiv region back in August of 2023.

"We can confirm the fact of death," Yusov told Kyiv Post, providing no additional details.

According to Russian media, Maksim Kuzminov was shot dead, with at least five bullets in his body. He was found in an underground parking lot in the municipality of Villajoyosa, in the province of Alicante, Spain.
People worry about crossing 'red lines', meanwhile, is there a country in Europe left that hasn't endured assassinations on their soil?
posted by UN at 9:43 AM on February 19 [2 favorites]


Today Ukraine marks the Day of Remembrance of the Heroes of the Heavenly Hundred, remembering the 100+ protesters who were killed 10 years ago during the Maidan revolution.

If you haven't yet seen it, today's a good time to watch Winter on Fire: Ukraine's Fight for Freedom, a doc about Maidan. It captures the fierce spirit of Ukrainians, though it's particularly unnerving to watch it now with the knowledge of what is to come at them in the coming decade to try to annihilate their hope.
posted by Kabanos at 2:19 PM on February 20 [3 favorites]


Murz, Russian milblogger of note, has apparently committed suicide (sorry about the Xitter link). He was often publishing numbers and perspectives that the Russian authorities rather not see widely distributed, but had been keeping a low profile since the crackdown on negative portrayals of the SMO. But one of the last things he posted was the 16k casualty figure for the battle of Avdiivka.
posted by Harald74 at 1:13 AM on February 21 [1 favorite]


People worry about crossing 'red lines', meanwhile, is there a country in Europe left that hasn't endured assassinations on their soil?

Estonian security services, usually known for punching way over their weight, have arrested 10 people while investigating attacks on a government minister's and a journalist's cars, saying they believe the people were acting on behalf of Russian special services.

Latvian security service also detained a person in similar circumstances recently.

Russian state TV, former president Medvedev and even Putin himself have been talking about the Baltics as historically Russian lands. These kind of operations might increase if the Russians get their way in Ukraine. There have been bombings and other destabilisation operations earlier, and the Baltics seem set to be an arena where Russia gradually can test Nato resolve later.
posted by Harald74 at 1:24 AM on February 21 [4 favorites]


And speaking of the Estonian security services, you could do worse than read their recently released annual report (in English)
posted by Harald74 at 1:26 AM on February 21 [2 favorites]


The Ukrainian military has shot down another Russian aircraft. The Su-34 became the seventh enemy aircraft shot down recently, according to Air Force Commander Mykola Oleshchuk.

What's going on?
posted by UN at 3:48 AM on February 21


Can be several factors, one is that the RuAF operate closer to the front to deliver their new glide bombs, which by all accounts are quite effective. They are possibly calculating the odds there vs reduced Ukrainian air defence presence due to lack of missiles and their need to protect infrastructure and cities, and finding that they are willing to take the risk. There are also several commentators that think the Ukrainians' German-delivered Patriot systems, which are truck-mounted and more mobile, are used to make air defence ambushes here and there. And there's always the risk of friendly fire whenever Russian air defence is involved.
posted by Harald74 at 4:11 AM on February 21 [4 favorites]


Here's a little bit more from Meduza on the Murz suicide.
posted by Harald74 at 5:28 AM on February 21 [1 favorite]


There are also several commentators that think the Ukrainians' German-delivered Patriot systems, which are truck-mounted and more mobile, are used to make air defence ambushes here and there.

This is the speculation that I've been seeing a lot lately. I didn't even know that the Patriot system could be used to shoot down airplanes, until there were some Russian planes shot down that way over the sea last year. This is the article I remember, with a photo of a Patriot system with stencils on the side showing all the things it had shot down.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:14 AM on February 21


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