Everything we have is going to go to Ukraine until their needs are met.
June 20, 2024 11:02 AM   Subscribe

A round-up of links inside on the Russia-Ukraine war. Today is day 848 of the invasion.

Russia:
Russia wages a scorched-earth war in Ukraine with retrofitted bombs and new airstrips (AP)
Fire at drone-hit Russian oil depot rages for second day (Reuters)
Putin accuses NATO of creating a security threat for Russia in Asia (Reuters)

China:
Outgoing NATO chief says China should face consequences for backing Russia's war on Ukraine (CBC)
Ukraine peace summit is a ‘success’, China key to ending war: ambassador to Singapore (South China Morning Post)
China lobbying for its alternative peace plan ahead of Ukraine's summit, Reuters reports (Kyiv Independent)

EU:
EU passes 14th sanctions package in first major move against Russian gas (Kyiv Independent)
Romania to send Patriot defense system to Ukraine (Kyiv Independent)
EU envoys agree on more Russia sanctions. LNG imports are among the targets. (AP)

Japan:
Signing of the Accord on Support for Ukraine and Cooperation between the Government of Japan and Ukraine (Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan)
Japan to finance US$188 million technology transfer to Ukrainian business (MSN)

North & South Korea:
Russia and North Korea sign mutual defence pact: Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-un’s agreement raises western alarm about possible Russian help for nuclear programme (Guardian)
What’s known, and not known, about the partnership agreement signed by Russia and North Korea (AP)
Putin says South Korea would be making 'a big mistake' if it supplies arms to Ukraine (Reuters)

Ukraine:
Russian troops fail to advance as Ukraine garners military, financial aid (Al Jazeera)
Ukraine, Russia targeting each other's energy infrastructure (NHK World Japan)
Ukraine launches a national sexual assault registry for victims of Russian forces (CTV)

USA:
US to focus on deepening ties with Vietnam after Putin's Hanoi visit (Reuters)
Exclusive: Biden to ban US sales of Kaspersky software over Russia ties, source says (Reuters)
White House confirms Ukraine to get priority on air defense missile deliveries (Kyiv Independent; post title is a Biden quote from this article)

Aid: Fidelity Charitable list of organizations; UNICEF; Support Sellers in Ukraine
posted by joannemerriam (84 comments total) 43 users marked this as a favorite
 
Very complete. Thank you for this post.
posted by grubi at 11:15 AM on June 20 [11 favorites]


Another major recent development was the ~$50 billion loan to Ukraine financed by interest accumulated by frozen Russian assets. I'd rather we just start seizing the assets outright in a tit-for-tat fashion (e.g. if a Russian missile strike causes $10 million in damage, then we seize $10 million), but this is a lot better than nothing.
posted by jedicus at 11:35 AM on June 20 [12 favorites]


Amazing that this war has gone 282 times longer than Russia thought it would. Who would have guessed that people don't like have their country invaded?

The Russian/NK pact is interesting in the sense of how much it reflects that NK of all places is supplying Russian forces with weaponry, but concerning over spillover effects. Does this mean that NK will start sending troops over to Russia? If SK provides arms to Ukraine, would that be a tenuous casus belli?

Doubt it, but things get weird when you start having all these pacts.
posted by drewbage1847 at 11:36 AM on June 20 [2 favorites]


This ISW explainer is a great summary of the last year or so of the war, and why Russia is at long last, advancing.

TLDR, Ukraine with Western equipment: Winning, Ukraine without Western equipments: Not so good, getting pushed back, but still with the will and ability to fight back, and inflict significant damage on Russian operations.

Providing as much assistance as possible is very much in the USA's and NATO's best interests.... The delays have been more or less unconscionable. God help us all if 45 gets re-elected... I genuinely think he will stop all aid to Ukraine, and that's going to have disastrous consequences for Ukraine, world peace, and Western Europe safety and stability. Plus, of course, wherever else Russia decides to meddle/invade/bomb and loot/occupy.
posted by Jacen at 12:04 PM on June 20 [14 favorites]


It's telling that the second Ukrainian aid made it through Congress they put the brakes on Russian advances.
posted by drewbage1847 at 12:08 PM on June 20 [13 favorites]


So many pieces in motion worldwide, now. It’s genuinely frightening.
posted by Thorzdad at 12:10 PM on June 20 [6 favorites]


Somewhere between 350,000 (US est.) and 500,000 (UK and UKR est.) Russian casualties (killed, injured, or captured). This war could see over a million combined Rus/Ukr casualties before it is over. It boggles the mind. What a horror.
posted by gwint at 12:11 PM on June 20 [7 favorites]


I've been reading bits that Ukraine is pushing back and could advance, wondering what will happen if they manage to push all the Russians back over the original border? It's a pretty long border, will they need to keep shooting at the edge?
posted by sammyo at 12:13 PM on June 20


I mean in that unlikely scenario you would have to practice diplomacy. Shelling in the Donbass was exactly what led to this bloody conflict in the first place. As desirable as it is for the west to maintain an enemy to the east to dump military spending into, the only humane solution involves coming to the table.
posted by jy4m at 12:24 PM on June 20 [5 favorites]


Even with Western aid, Ukraine simply does not have the means to push Russia entirely off its territory, not with conventional warfare. They're too well dug in at this point. The only way Ukraine wins is some sort of Russian collapse; either the government collapses, the economy collapses, or military discipline collapses. And historically, that's arguably the only way Russia has ever lost a war, 1905 and 1917 being the prime examples.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 12:27 PM on June 20 [5 favorites]


jy4m: I mean in that unlikely scenario you would have to practice diplomacy. Shelling in the Donbass was exactly what led to this bloody conflict in the first place. As desirable as it is for the west to maintain an enemy to the east to dump military spending into, the only humane solution involves coming to the table.

Western countries are secondary players in the war. The main actors are Ukraine and Russia. The only role for “the west” in any negotiations is acting as allies of Ukraine or possibly guarantors of certain security arrangements.
posted by Kattullus at 12:32 PM on June 20 [10 favorites]


Shelling in the Donbass was exactly what led to this bloody conflict in the first place.

Russia invading its neighbor was what led to this bloody conflict.

the only humane solution involves coming to the table

The only humane solution is Russian forces withdrawing to Russia. All of them. All the way.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 1:02 PM on June 20 [56 favorites]


I've been reading bits that Ukraine is pushing back and could advance, wondering what will happen if they manage to push all the Russians back over the original border? It's a pretty long border, will they need to keep shooting at the edge?

My limited understanding that is almost all the EU and US material is provided on the condition that it not be used on Russian soil, barring some of their own Soviet surplus. If the AFU has their pre-war equipment in inventory, that can be used to hit Russian soil, but none of the new stuff can. This gives the Russians a lot of ability to mass forces, and operate air platforms, not far over their boarder, with relative impunity. It's a huge tactical advantage for the Russians that allows them to keep on making attempts on Ukrainian territory, as normally it's the huge numbers of fires in the theatres that prevents concentration of forces, which gives the defenders their particularly noticeable edge in this conflict.

Now this is from memory, so someone please correct me if I'm wrong. thanks.
posted by LegallyBread at 1:03 PM on June 20 [1 favorite]


I highly disagree that Ukraine cannot remove the Russian invader. Russia has and likely continues to have logistics problems. Western weapons are good at cutting logistics, and that's how Ukraine has (partially) achieved so many good victories already... Cut the food and weapons lines, Russia retreats. Repeat. Allowing Ukraine to strike military targets inside Russian international borders only hastens that effect. It doesn't matter how dug in the front lines are if you can't feed them, or worse (from Putin perspective) get them bullets.


And of course, the most humane answer is, as it always has been, that Russia goes home and stops attacking/invading/ harming civilians and damaging the environment and economy of a sovereign state, one it invaded without cause. The second is that the West provides all the equipment it can, to force and end to the war faster. Putin thinks he can hold his illegal gains, and doesn't care one bit about how many people suffer.
posted by Jacen at 1:04 PM on June 20 [11 favorites]


As desirable as it is for the west to maintain an enemy to the east to dump military spending into, the only humane solution involves coming to the table.

Western countries are secondary players in the war. The main actors are Ukraine and Russia.


100%. Westerners of all ideological stripes should resist the urge to make ourselves the main characters in this war (or in any war between two non-U.S. opponents, for that matter).

The narrative that makes the war in Ukraine into a proxy conflict between the U.S. and Russia is simply a retread of the old "Great Game" view of the world.

Countries like Ukraine -- or the various countries that have decided, of their own free will, to join NATO in recent decades -- are not mere pawns, destined to be controlled either by Russia or the West.

Portraying them as such is deeply patronizing, and a form of imperialist/colonialist thinking. It's dismaying that a certain portion of the left still chooses to frame this war in that way.
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 1:11 PM on June 20 [14 favorites]


Artifice, could you do me a courtesy and explain what definition of imperialism you're working with?
posted by jy4m at 1:34 PM on June 20


Portraying them as such is deeply patronizing, and a form of imperialist/colonialist thinking. It's dismaying that a certain portion of the left still chooses to frame this war in that way.

Nation states aren't individual human actors, and the idea that any state acts without some influence from the surrounding "great power" conflicts is not in step with reality. In Ukraine in particular, both Russia and the US have attempted to exert pressure to bring Ukraine fully within their sphere of influence. Pressure the Ukrainians have done an admirable job resisting for the most part, but which can't be completely eliminated from any full understanding of the situation. In particular, Ukraine is suffering from western support for far right nationalists during Yanukovych's government.

I pray this war ends soon in a complete Ukrainian victory. It is not only just and what is best for the people of Ukraine. It is what is best for the conscript soldiers being fed into this meat grinder by Russia's fascist government. Failure to support Ukraine is of help to no one by Putin and his masters.
posted by The Manwich Horror at 1:49 PM on June 20 [7 favorites]


Seems the don't shoot across the border restriction is slowly being dissolved.

US signals that it has expanded policy to allow Ukraine to counterstrike into Russia
posted by sammyo at 2:01 PM on June 20 [3 favorites]


There was a video a couple weeks ago from Anders Puck Nielsen about preventing Ukraine from striking targets in proper Russia territory with western weapons:

US weapons will give Russia significant problems

The relevant part is that, originally, this wasn't even a russian "red line", but a restriction decided by the western allies. Judging by what I read in the german press, it was about not beeing seen as active parties in the war, which might lead Russia to retaliate directly.
posted by LaVidaEsUnCarnaval at 2:35 PM on June 20 [2 favorites]


Shelling in the Donbass was exactly what led to this bloody conflict in the first place.

You are repeating demonstrably false Kremlin propaganda.
posted by nestor_makhno at 3:25 PM on June 20 [18 favorites]


Okay then, if you prefer: shelling in the Donbass which immediately preceded the invasion had nothing whatsoever to do with it, but I still regard it as a bad thing in and of itself, and my definition of peace involves not doing that. Happy?
posted by jy4m at 4:18 PM on June 20 [1 favorite]


you're referring to the February 17th shelling that bellingcat deduced fairly quickly came from Russian back fighters all the while Russian tanks lining up against the border.
you're absolutely right the Russians shouldn't do that.
posted by clavdivs at 4:36 PM on June 20 [14 favorites]


shelling in the Donbass which immediately preceded the invasion

What about invading a neighbor and taking their land (Donbas, 2014) which is a decade before the current incident. So Ukraine shelling Ukraine, oh but it was russia all along...
posted by sammyo at 4:49 PM on June 20 [4 favorites]


The only way Ukraine wins is some sort of Russian collapse; either the government collapses, the economy collapses, or military discipline collapses.

When you're looking to North Korea for potential support and assistance, I'm guessing total collapse isn't really impossible to contemplate.
posted by mazola at 5:27 PM on June 20 [4 favorites]


Ukraine will continue to advance until they destroy Russia's ability to wage war on them or they've agreed to some kind of enforceable peace.

At which point Ukraine would then presumably give whatever Russian land they held at the time.
posted by VTX at 7:38 PM on June 20


Like an ATM in a dangerous part of town.

Belarus is amping up ammo production.

Lithuanian Foreign Ministry believes Ukraine should be allowed to strike Belarusian territory
posted by clavdivs at 7:41 PM on June 20


And historically, that's arguably the only way Russia has ever lost a war,

There's also Afghanistan, but that was a complex case.
posted by ovvl at 8:49 PM on June 20 [3 favorites]


the ~$50 billion loan to Ukraine financed by interest accumulated by frozen Russian assets.

I absolutely hated this news when it broke, for the longterm implications on what it means for sovereign bonds and God help you if you fall outside the Western order. Not to mention when (not if) this war is done, note the terms - who's going to be on the hook for this? Not the western backers. Poor Ukraine, I can't fault them at all for having to go along with this.
posted by cendawanita at 9:10 PM on June 20 [2 favorites]


Its hard to see the Western governments forcing Ukraine to pay back the money connected to Russian assets that it was given and used to fight the Russian invasion. I think they're more likely to call it reparations. And barring a total Ukrainian collapse its hard to see Russia being in a position to force Ukraine to pay anything back.

As long as the West supports Ukraine either Ukraine will eventually gain the upper hand through either long slow attrition or a breakthrough, or there will be a long stalemate. I don't think Russia is likely to ever start making big gains again. I think this war is going to go on until the Russian public has had their fill of sending their young men to die stupidly in Ukraine. At that point there will probably be some negotiations and Russia may sue to keep some small portion of the land they've gained since 2014 depending on where the front lines are when the negotiations start and who has the upper hand.
posted by Reverend John at 9:29 PM on June 20


. I think they're more likely to call it reparations. And barring a total Ukrainian collapse its hard to see Russia being in a position to force Ukraine to pay anything back.

Yes. As to why I still think that that's no comfort: consider who will be in any position (in the current western political climate) to help support reconstruction of Ukraine, and in a way that doesn't leave sizeable development gaps for the unfortunately well-resourced local right wing and existing criminal relationships (as the enemy of my enemy etc maxim is at play) to take advantage of. As you say, a scenario where this is even a relevant concern will be when Russia collapses substantively or significantly - thus impacting the two socioeconomic entities even further.
posted by cendawanita at 9:39 PM on June 20


The western governments are not going to go asking Ukraine to pay them back. That’s not only unrealistic, it also ignores the value for the investment of supplying Ukraine. A significant portion of US aid to Ukraine is weapons and vehicles that were in storage, many of which were awaiting the scrap heap. There’s tangible spending as well. In return, Russia’s military capability has been drastically degraded, without NATO troops (aside from advisers or trainers here and there) being involved aside from delivery. F-16s? A few miles from me, there are hundreds of them sitting in the boneyard in the desert. Many of them are destined to be converted to target practice drones. These planes can easily be spared for Ukraine without much expenditure aside from restoring to service (which is cheap.) Furthermore, the US is getting to see the battlefield of tomorrow without being the ones caught in the crossfire. The evolution of drone warfare in this war has been eye-popping. Ukraine has homegrown weapons, drones that they’ve bought, and consumer grade drones repurposed into tank killing bombers. They’ve also been evolving anti-drone weaponry. Everything Ukraine is doing with drones, Russia is countering. Then Ukraine comes up with their own countermeasures. And back and forth. The amount of military knowledge that the US usually gets the hard way has been something that you can’t place a value on. They’re also learning how certain weapons systems work. Or in some cases, how they don’t. Russia has boasted about their “hypersonic” Kinzhal missile. Turns out that Patriot missile batteries aren’t having much problem reducing those Kinzhals to scrap.

Lastly, there are a lot of lessons from WW2 that are coming into play here. Instead of Russia just getting to roll in and take Ukraine, like Hitler in the early days of WW2 with the Sudetenland and then Poland, they’ve been held back. Had they conquered Ukraine in two weeks as expected, Putin would have set his sights on the next country he wanted to take over. (Also, they might have captured Kiev but they were never going to hold it. The populace was ready to turn that place into a hornets nest.) Zelenskyy said in the past that this war eventually ends at the negotiating table. However, when those negotiations take place and what they cover are up to Ukraine, not to western outsiders who want the war to end, and who are willing to give parts of Ukraine to Putin to appease him. When Ukraine is ready, negotiations can take place. Better yet, Russia could end this war tomorrow by deciding to GTFO out of Ukraine.
posted by azpenguin at 11:56 PM on June 20 [12 favorites]


Failure to support Ukraine is of help to no one
there's an elephant... [politico]
posted by HearHere at 12:06 AM on June 21 [1 favorite]


The term 'western outsiders' prefers to land on peace-inclined targets, so take care you don't get stung. It's because it tends to get confused by the military stripes.
posted by Ashenmote at 1:13 AM on June 21 [1 favorite]


I have no quarrel on the justness of the Ukrainian cause, and especially if anyone is partial to the Russian argument, that is still not a justification for their actions in the last decade at least. Because Zelenskyy is right, this needs to end at the negotiation table. I'm just conscious of the existing relationships and how postcolonial states get screwed, and considering how even now Russian corporate-state relationships are still extant in Europe, what more outside of it. For the purpose of my comments in this thread I am agnostic on the military analysis - I am very much dwelling only on the ramifications of the international finance and banking landscape with this move to utilise interests on Russian (sovereign) assets. You can't ask for a better demonstration that a unipolar system will be a risk for the textually ideological competitors or those wanting to "neutral" (whatever that means). Russia's delulu but not China, and they're an actual threat in the Pacific. The eruptions along geopolitical faultlines can't be normalized much, if you have any clout at all. (Of course this entire reading is independent of any moral dimension)
posted by cendawanita at 1:58 AM on June 21 [2 favorites]


>they’ve been held back.

the costs we're incurring support Ukraine will hopefully obviate having to do the same thing for Taiwan down the road.

Plus the money we've allocated is a rounding error on our Afghanistan nation-building adventure 2001 - 2020.
posted by torokunai at 2:30 AM on June 21 [2 favorites]


re: Putin says South Korea would be making 'a big mistake' if it supplies arms to Ukraine (Reuters)

I’m wondering if Russia didn’t contemplate South Korea having a response to Russia’s push to have North Korea give full support in their ‘sacred fight’ against Ukraine. It would not surprise me, in the sense of the classic "Putin: master strategist" meme.

Although it’s unclear whether or which weapons South Korea would send to Ukraine, I remember seeing reports of the South Korean military using auto-aiming robotic sentry guns. And this was something like 20 years ago. If South Korea chooses to support Ukraine with weapons, that could be a big deal.

I’ve seen speculation that North Korea could go as far as sending tens of thousands of soldiers to fight in Ukraine. Somehow this seems somewhat unlikely, since keeping people from seeing the outside world is how Kim Jong Un’s prison state works, even if that world is the Russian World … while Russia has been on a trajectory to turning into a gigantic North Korea, it’s not quite there yet. Of course there is a chance that Kim Jong Un, like Russia, wants to weed out undesirables in the meat grinder. This may not be completely out of the question.

Not surprisingly, Vietnam did not give Putin the same support for Russia’s war against Ukraine. Despite their differences, Vietnam will be made aware of the fact that China does not want Russia forming a strong military alliance in the east, even if that alliance would include China. The last thing they want is the logical consequences from South Korea, Japan and other neighboring countries (see: South Korea’s reaction here).
posted by UN at 2:37 AM on June 21 [5 favorites]


Technically South Korea is already contributing to supporting Ukraine - Poland went on a mad shopping spree in Seoul and sent just about all our previous gear to Ukraine.

Re rebuilding Ukraine, Europe is thankfully well aware of what a post war country needs and there's a reason Ukraine got EU approval to begin membership negotiations today (and Moldova too). I wouldn't be too worried about that part, we have too many construction companies hungry for new business.

What we need now is for the war to end like Soviets in Afghanistan - an ignominious pullback when the political cost of continuing it outweighs any possible gains. And giving Ukraine weaponry makes those gains less and less likely. So far the US just removed the restrictions on hitting Russian territory entirely, not just the border regions, and the Ukrainians promptly hit five different oil refineries in one night.

In better news, Kyiv Pride was last weekend, for the first time since the invasion! Kharkiv is under siege right now so no repeat of their Pride march in underground tunnels because they're in active use as bomb shelters, but they're doing a Pride picnic next week. To celebrate Pride, support the LGBT members of the Ukrainian army - they've got a lot of new gear including Combat Sodomite patches when you really want to weird people out.
posted by I claim sanctuary at 6:59 AM on June 21 [10 favorites]


That's a good point, about South Korea already being involved in that exchange with Poland. Still, this way Ukraine could be getting modern weapons directly, and South Korea is, it seems, not waiting around:

South Korea To Supply Ukraine With 155-mm Artillery Shells and Air Defense Systems
posted by UN at 8:19 AM on June 21 [3 favorites]


Vietnam will be made aware of the fact that China does not want Russia forming a strong military alliance in the east, even if that alliance would include China.


that's not a bad point and going back to the earlier Vietnam War where Russia and China cooperated together for material and troops for the North Vietnamese.

meanwhile, in Cambodia, "China's military shows off robot dog with automatic rifle mounted on its back"
posted by clavdivs at 12:56 PM on June 21 [1 favorite]


On the topic of war fighting technology:

Unboxing a Russian Turtle Tank
posted by UN at 11:05 PM on June 21 [2 favorites]


I get the impression that Putin and co. are still cautiously optimistic that they can win the war. They have assembled a set of international allies. Their defence industry continues to pump out massive amounts of arms. In addition, they still have massive stockpiles of Soviet weaponry. They have succeeded in carrying on international trade in the shadows. They continue to mobilize sufficient troops without going full war economy. And, most importantly, the Russians continue to advance all across the front. The only fly in their ointment is Western financing and arming of Ukraine. Putin is probably anxious to know the result of the American presidential election.

The Putinists are probably too well entrenched in power to respond to either domestic or diplomatic pressure to end the war. The only way to reassert a rules-based international order is to push the Russians back into Russian and squeeze them with sanctions until they return every single Ukrainian they kidnapped.

But that is a brutal burden to put on Ukrainian shoulders. We have just now started giving minimal quantities of arms, given the size of Putin's army. The West should now supply much better quality weapons to conserve Ukrainian lives.

Personally, I favour a massive surge of quality weapons. Destroy Putin's war infrastructure. Hasten the end of the war to save Ukrainian and Russian lives. But I have no idea how to treat the Russians after the war. Justice dictates that the Russians pay for all the damage they inflicted on Ukraine. But if Russia is forced to pay that bill, it will be so impoverished and resentful that Russian society will just stay in the thrall of Putin wannabes.
posted by SnowRottie at 8:03 AM on June 22 [3 favorites]


Starting in 2023, South Korea had already put their finger on the scale prior to North Korea by supplying artillery rounds to Ukraine, albeit indirectly with the US as an intermediary. The idea that South Korea is just reacting here really doesn't stand up to scrutiny.

I've only been paying attention in bursts (2014 Maidan Revolution, start of the 2022 invasion) but observers I trust have been putting Ukraine on the losing side of the war of attrition. It's very likely to end at the negotiating table, but you might not like the result.
posted by ndr at 8:07 PM on June 22


I don't think Russia can 'win' (for whatever victory conditions they may decide at a particular point in time) - reality is, they can occupy territory but they won't be able to subjugate the population. Even if there is a negotiated settlement, I can see asymmetric warfare continuing until Russia is forced to pull out (that might take years but Afghanistan, Iraq et al took years). Potentially Russia could relocate people from within Russia to captured territory but they'll need to clear the land of mine-fields and munitions before it can be productive.

Russia can't really afford to poke NATO because they'll loose any conventional conflict... all they can really do is hope to sow disinfo and disrupt/undermine bordering countries (which they've been doing for a couple of decades now) through influence own sabotage operations.

How will Russia respond to resistance/guerilla activity after a negotiated settlement? Exterminate everyone and/or start attacking Ukraine again? They just don't have the forces or will-power to hold the ground (post-conflict)... and if they do, they'll need to do something constructive with it, which again, I doubt they have the resources to accomplish. Possibly, they could wave the nuclear stick if they felt the fall of the occupied territory represented an existential threat to themselves but who would they attack? Using nukes to quell an asymmetric conflict or threaten backers of any resistance movement would (a) lead to global retribution (b) double-down on the visible weakness as they can't even hold what they've taken without resorting to big-red-button.

Globally, the conflict has shown Russia to be deeply flawed militarily, its really only the nukes keeping them at the top tier table. Everything else is falling apart (probably the nukes too).

What they do have, is an ability to grind out the conflict for a loooong time. Probably until Putin dies or is ousted.
posted by phigmov at 10:28 PM on June 22 [1 favorite]


Russia has a reputation of having the ability to fight a war of attrition for ages, which stems largely from the history of WW2, but much of it is based on an oversimplification of what went on then (things like the Red Army having hundreds of thousands of non-Soviet troops at their disposal, and the Soviets getting massive support from the United States, etc.).

Without delving into that, I haven't seen any non-Putin-friendly military economists who see Russia as having the ability to keep this war going indefinitely, so when I see comments about "observers I trust" without backing links, well, [insert side eye of scepticism]... The putinists need westerners to think they can keep this going so that they have a hope at forcing Ukraine to the 'negotiation' table (ie: force Ukraine to relinquish their land by contract).

In modern times, big empire-states have had an extremely poor track record at wars of conquest. The Soviets in Afghanistan, western countries in Afghanistan, the US in Iraq, France in Vietnam, China in Vietnam, the US in Vietnam, and so on. Sure, there are counter examples. But not at this scale.

Russia is spending extreme resources to maintain their current level of attrition in Ukraine. Ukraine is simply too advanced technologically, they can exert immense pain on Russia – including things like striking all those oil refineries and storage facilities in Russia. And these are capabilities that are increasing. See also: Ukraine functionally disabling Russia's Black Sea Fleet.

Russia is faced with dilemma that they themselves probably don't see (such is the hubris of neo-Stalinist imperial thought). If they continue their attempt at conquest of Ukrainian land, their losses dramatically increase. If they try to just maintain the land they already seized, Ukraine continues to improve, produce and import drones, robots, weaponry that they can use 'from a distance' for the attrition rate that best suits Ukraine.

This is how empires get destroyed.

The idea that South Korea is just reacting here really doesn't stand up to scrutiny.

This is either a red herring or a misunderstanding of my comment. I wrote that "master strategist" Putin, by deepening his alliance with North Korea, gave South Korea a reason to react with stronger support for Ukraine. I am not interested if Putin or Kim Jong Un feels they're justified in doing what they're doing, they're the aggressors here no matter how they want to justify their war.
posted by UN at 3:56 AM on June 23 [12 favorites]


when I see comments about "observers I trust" without backing links, well, [insert side eye of scepticism]...

Agreed. Meanwhile attrition continues:

Ukraine says it destroyed Russian drone base: Ukraine says satellite pictures show the destruction of a Russian warehouse used to launch Iranian-made drones and to train cadets. [BBC].
posted by mazola at 8:16 AM on June 23 [4 favorites]


Russia's ability to out attrite Ukraine stems from having almost 4 times the population and being able to fire about 5 times more artillery. The reality is that old fashioned artillery remains the principle source of firepower and the idea that Ukraine is miles ahead technologically is ludicrously out of touch. The point of attrition is Russia doesn't need to sustain the war indefinitely, they just need to outlast Ukraine. Russia is estimating to be spending 6% GDP on the war, which is hardly approaching full mobilization.
This is either a red herring or a misunderstanding of my comment. I wrote that "master strategist" Putin, by deepening his alliance with North Korea, gave South Korea a reason to react with stronger support for Ukraine. I am not interested if Putin or Kim Jong Un feels they're justified in doing what they're doing, they're the aggressors here no matter how they want to justify their war.
I'm questioning your analysis. Again, South Korea was already supporting Ukraine. So now they'll do it directly instead of through a proxy, so what? I'd take millions of artillery rounds from North Korea in exchange for that any day.

I think people ought to be more interested in the decision calculus of the other side; paying more attention decades ago might've been enough to avert what's happening in Ukraine today. Not paying attention and getting high on feelings of righteousness was how WWI happened.
posted by ndr at 4:31 AM on June 24 [1 favorite]


That’s not how World War One broke out. Every party in that conflict was paying too close attention to what everyone else was doing and being paranoid about it. That, coupled with Germany overestimating the capabilities of its armed forces in relation to that of their eventual adversaries, and underestimating their willingness to stand up to Germany, is the one paragraph version of how it started.

Which doesn’t actually sound that dissimilar to how the invasion of Ukraine started, with Russia in the role of Germany. Which isn’t surprising, since wars tend to break out when one party thinks the war is going to be easy to win, and worries that as time passes their advantage will diminish.
posted by Kattullus at 6:13 AM on June 24 [4 favorites]


I'd take millions of artillery rounds from North Korea in exchange for that any day.

I shouldn’t have laughed, but I did. It’s just such a funny thing to see written down. I can’t think of a single thing I’d like to receive from Kim Jong-un.

Anyway, it makes me think of a video that’s been circulating the internets recently. I’m sure some here have seen it: A Russian soldier is driving his golf cart somewhere behind the front. Littered along the dirt road: blown out armoured military vehicles, rusted scooby-doo vans, bomb craters, an old mattress. Wrecked vehicle carcasses are simply everywhere, left and right. A lonesome soldier on a dirt bike passes by. 'Our' driver, sporting his big bug-eyed goggles, passes three or four foot soldiers in rags. He passes an old 1980s Renault or Lada, roof chopped off, carrying another ragtag group of men, dusting up a dirt road. The Mad Max Army.

A personal package from Kim Jong-un will be well received, I am sure.

I don’t mean to dismiss the challenge Ukraine is facing or to imply that it’ll continue to be anything but a struggle, it’s a tragedy that they need to defend themselves from this mania. But it is fascinating, what the putinist arguments are these days.

Related: Marcus Keupp (Military Academy at ETH Zürich) was on a video interview (German language, auto-translation seems to be available) about attrition rates in the Russian military and how its affecting their war fighting capabilities.
posted by UN at 6:37 AM on June 24 [4 favorites]


Russia's ability to out attrite Ukraine stems from having almost 4 times the population and being able to fire about 5 times more artillery … Russia is estimating to be spending 6% GDP on the war, which is hardly approaching full mobilization.

From the same article:
By staking everything on rising military expenditure, the Kremlin is forcing the economy into the snare of perpetual war. On the one hand, that means it will be increasingly difficult for the state to continue financing the fighting in Ukraine without causing living standards to deteriorate. On the other, if there is a reduction in military spending, it will inevitably lead to a significant structural shock that will take considerable time to overcome. Either way, it will be ordinary Russians who pay the price.
That sounds a lot like Germany in WW2. And percentages aside, the Russian GDP is (was?) 2.24 tn USD vs the EU's 16.7 tn USD (add another 25.7 tn for the US).
posted by mazola at 8:24 AM on June 24 [4 favorites]


It's worth noting what they're getting for that supposed 6% (real number is likely much higher):

- barely any gains in Ukraine,
- the loss of hundreds of thousands of men,
- emptying of weapons they had in storage with nothing to replace it,
- an isolated economy and people
- a reputation in the gutter
- loss of their navy in the Black Sea
- much of their weapons industry exposed as ineffective hype,
- American and European weapons industry booming,
- an expansion of NATO
...and so on.

All of this for 6%! I guess there are positives too. Russia has a stronger alliance with North Korea, Belarus and Iran. Unfortunately, China and Vietnam don't even want to properly support Putin here.

Is 6% a good deal to destroy one's own country? Should it be more, less? I'm really not sure.
posted by UN at 11:50 AM on June 24 [6 favorites]


Russia's ability to out attrite Ukraine stems from having almost 4 times the population and being able to fire about 5 times more artillery.

What was the population ratio and ratio of artillery pieces between the US military and the NVA in Vietnam or between the Soviet Union and the Afghan Mujahidin?

Russia is fighting a war of choice, Ukraine is fighting a war of national survival.

Also, I suspect that South Korea (GDP ~1.76T, about double that of some EU countries which have been big donors to Ukraine) has the potential to supply a lot more assistance to Ukraine than they have up to now if they were motivated to respond to Russia expanding economic ties and assistance to the North Koreans.

Obviously the situation is complex and very dangerous for Ukraine and they absolutely could collapse and be conquered, especially without adequate support from the West. But simplistic analyses of the situation between Russia and Ukraine based on population sizes or just the resources of the two countries without factoring in the effects of Western support, the difficulty of attacking versus defending, and the difference between the motivations of the two countries seem pretty questionable to me.

If the West maintains a united front in providing Ukraine the assistance it needs, including generous aid of air power, armor, and artillery then Russia's long term prospects in Ukraine are pretty bleak.
posted by Reverend John at 1:57 PM on June 24 [7 favorites]


Seconding UN's analysis. Russia is spending >= 6% of its GDP to hold onto a whole lotta flattened scorched earth, and that 6% absolutely does not include replacement costs for lost assets as Russia is just ... unable to replace. Early warning AWACS style aircraft, tanks designed after 1975 (possibly 1965), stealth bombers, large warships.

Even if total peace were declared today Russia will continue paying out for a generation in both cash and opportunity costs.
posted by zippy at 5:17 PM on June 24 [5 favorites]


Russia’s arms exports fell by 53 per cent between 2014–18 and 2019–23 and it
accounted for 11 per cent of total global arms exports. It delivered major arms
to 41 states and 1 non-state armed group in 2019–23.

In 2019 the annual volume of Russian arms exports was at a similar level
to that in each of the preceding 20 years. However, the export volumes in
2020, 2021 and 2022 were at much lower levels than in 2019, and in 2023 the
volume was 52 per cent lower than in 2022. Another indication of the decline
of Russia as a global supplier of arms is that whereas 31 states received major
arms from Russia in 2019, only 14 did in 2022 and that number fell to 12 in
2023.

States in Asia and Oceania received 68 per cent of total Russian arms exports
in 2019–23, while Middle Eastern and African states received 13 per cent and
10 per cent respectively. Just under two thirds of Russian arms exports went
to three states in 2019–23: India (34 per cent), China (21 per cent) and Egypt
(7.5 per cent). India was also the largest recipient of Russian arms in 2014–18,
but exports to India decreased by 34 per cent between 2014–18 and 2019–23,
while exports to China decreased by 39 per cent and to Egypt by 54 per cent.
Algeria and Viet Nam were the third and fourth largest recipients of Russian
arms in 2014–18; however, exports to Algeria (–83 per cent) and Viet Nam
(–91 per cent) dropped significantly between the two periods.
Trends in International Arms Transfers, Stockholm International Peace Research Institute [PDF]

European arms imports nearly double, US and French exports rise, and Russian exports fall sharply
posted by UN at 3:14 AM on June 25 [6 favorites]


ICC issues arrest warrants for Russian officials over alleged Ukraine war crimes: Army chief and ex-minister of defence accused over missile attacks on civilian targets including power plants [The Guardian]
posted by mazola at 12:48 PM on June 25 [2 favorites]


That’s not how World War One broke out. Every party in that conflict was paying too close attention to what everyone else was doing and being paranoid about it. That, coupled with Germany overestimating the capabilities of its armed forces in relation to that of their eventual adversaries, and underestimating their willingness to stand up to Germany, is the one paragraph version of how it started.
The common thread to the chain of events leading up to WWI as it happened is that at every turn, the each of the belligerents viewed their own actions as justified, well-intentioned, and defensive and their opponent's as frivolous, provocative, and escalatory. AH sought a decisive military intervention in order to prove they were still a Great Power after being wronged by the assassination of the empire's heir backed by elements of Serbian military intelligence. Russia wanted to cement their reputation as protector of Slavs and their pre-mobilization stiffened Serbian defiance, which in turn fanned domestic nationalist fervor and raised expectations they would fight. The Serbia thought their cause of a Greater Serbia was self-evidently correct and blithely dismissed their own culpability in the assassination. France wanted to demonstrate their resolve and an opportunity to take Germany down a peg after 1870. Germany was convinced there would be war with Russia and wanted to fight while they still had the advantage, before Russia could finish modernization. Great Britain wanted to kick the question of Home Rule down the road by intervening in a continental war. The combined and interlocking choices made narrowed the decision space down the road, which is how the continent ended up with a war that all parties welcomed at the onset and regretted after it was done. If your read is that "WWI happened because Germany was belligerent" then you are missing the trees for the forest. There is a significant body of literature on the logic of escalation, part of it based on WWI, and it was that common understanding on both sides that helped keep the Cold War cold.
From the same article:

By staking everything on rising military expenditure, the Kremlin is forcing the economy into the snare of perpetual war. On the one hand, that means it will be increasingly difficult for the state to continue financing the fighting in Ukraine without causing living standards to deteriorate. On the other, if there is a reduction in military spending, it will inevitably lead to a significant structural shock that will take considerable time to overcome. Either way, it will be ordinary Russians who pay the price.

That sounds a lot like Germany in WW2. And percentages aside, the Russian GDP is (was?) 2.24 tn USD vs the EU's 16.7 tn USD (add another 25.7 tn for the US).
So take that to the logical conclusion - does that sound like Russia will give up soon or does it sound like they're committed? For reference, a total war economy in WWII is something like 90% spending. Ukraine's spending is about 37% of GDP, which is significant but less than you'd expect if national survival was really on the line. There's no question other countries could outspend Russia, but as to whether they're supplying Ukraine enough to make up the difference, I don't know if that's the case.
Obviously the situation is complex and very dangerous for Ukraine and they absolutely could collapse and be conquered, especially without adequate support from the West. But simplistic analyses of the situation between Russia and Ukraine based on population sizes or just the resources of the two countries without factoring in the effects of Western support, the difficulty of attacking versus defending, and the difference between the motivations of the two countries seem pretty questionable to me.

If the West maintains a united front in providing Ukraine the assistance it needs, including generous aid of air power, armor, and artillery then Russia's long term prospects in Ukraine are pretty bleak.
It works as a first approximation. Ukraine is a neighbor and Russia would say core interest, not like Vietnam or Afghanistan, which were peripheral. The bottleneck in any military is usually people, and they're much harder to replace than materiel. An "even" exchange ratio has to be greater than 3:1 in Ukraine's favor. There's some wiggle room depending on whose estimates you want to use, but it doesn't look like Ukraine has been achieving that. And since it seems like things are currently going in Russia's favor, why would they stop now? I also think many people confuse Russia's interest with the interest of it's decisionmakers. Having made the call, Putin needs some sort of win and will continue, regardless of whether it's good for the country as a whole.
I don’t mean to dismiss the challenge Ukraine is facing or to imply that it’ll continue to be anything but a struggle, it’s a tragedy that they need to defend themselves from this mania. But it is fascinating, what the putinist arguments are these days.
If you want to call me a Putinist, just say it instead of sniping passive aggressively. If you were interested in outcomes you'd be looking comparatively. You act as though one can make material outcomes true by merely cheering hard enough, so when somebody disagrees, of course they must be hoping for the opposite.
posted by ndr at 8:41 PM on June 25 [1 favorite]


If you want to call me a Putinist, just say it instead of sniping passive aggressively. If you were interested in outcomes you'd be looking comparatively. You act as though one can make material outcomes true by merely cheering hard enough, so when somebody disagrees, of course they must be hoping for the opposite.

I mean if you're going to write down all of the primary Kremlin talking points in use now: the west risking a world war by supporting Ukraine; Ukraine ending up at the negotiation table, because Russia can keep this going indefinitely; Russia having superior allies like North Korea...why not call those arguments putinist? I don't see the issue.
posted by UN at 12:24 AM on June 26 [2 favorites]


I think it would be better if we could permit people to disagree with the party line without assuming they are fascists.

It is entirely possible to be pessimistic about the war's outcome for Ukraine, or even to be critical of Ukraine or its allies without hoping for Russian victory or supporting Putin.

The war isn't going to turn on how pro-Ukrainian comments are on MetaFilter.
posted by The Manwich Horror at 3:14 AM on June 26


The war isn't going to turn on how pro-Ukrainian comments are on MetaFilter.

But in a way it will. Ukraine can succeed if they are supported. International support is contingent on domestic public support. Eroding public support is tactic of Russia and part of their expansive view of hybrid war.

Reading things like this (The West Is Still Oblivious to Russia’s Information War) I think it is important to counter Kremlin talking points when you see them. It doesn't mean everyone is a Putinist, but it is good to check what our ideas are, where they align, and where they might be coming from.
posted by mazola at 8:10 AM on June 26 [6 favorites]


So take that to the logical conclusion - does that sound like Russia will give up soon or does it sound like they're committed? For reference, a total war economy in WWII is something like 90% spending. Ukraine's spending is about 37% of GDP, which is significant but less than you'd expect if national survival was really on the line. There's no question other countries could outspend Russia, but as to whether they're supplying Ukraine enough to make up the difference, I don't know if that's the case.

Russia has made an unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, attempted to seize its capital, called its government "Nazis" and made clear that one of its war aims is replacing Ukraine's government, repeatedly denied the existence of a legitimate Ukrainian national identity, committed atrocities in Bucha, Mariupol, and other Ukrainian cities under their control, blew up the Kakhovka Dam, illegally annexed the territories it currently occupies and claims further territory that it doesn't currently occupy, all after illegally seizing and annexing Crimea and occupying the Donbas, and has been actively engaged in ethnically cleansing its occupied areas, deporting Ukrainian civilians including children and bringing in Russian citizens to the occupied territories. But you don't think that Ukraine is in a war of national survival because they are spending "just" 37% of their GDP on the war?

I'm sure that Russia is currently highly committed to succeeding in this conflict, and currently the Russian public is still willing to go along with the invasion. I don't doubt that for a second. It also took years for the US public to turn against involvement in Vietnam, and the Russian public to turn against involvement in Afghanistan, and the same for the US involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq. I suspect it will take several years squandering the national budget and of sons, fathers, husbands, uncles, cousins, and beloved friends going to Ukraine and dying and going and dying over and over before the Russian public as a whole starts to question whether they or their loved ones will be the next to go and be maimed or killed and question for what.

I do agree that up to now the allies of Ukraine haven't been as generous as they can and should be to help Ukraine be victorious in this war. Zaluzhnyi asked for, I believe, about 300 armored vehicles in late 2022 prior to the 2023 offensive, and only received in the neighborhood of 100. I also continue to find it incredible that we haven't blanketed Ukraine with Patriots and other modern air defense systems. Similarly, providing Ukraine with a significant number of modern fighter planes would go a long way to tipping the balance in their favor. I think a lot of the hesitation to be more generous can be attributed to the political resistance of some people in the West to stand up for Ukraine and against Russian imperialist aggression for whatever reason.

I think the best thing any of us can do is to contact our political representatives and encourage them to support Ukraine and give them more aid and resources.

Coming back to the comment that kicked a lot of this off, Peter Zeihan (though I tend to take his analysis with a grain of salt) seems to think that South Korea may significantly increase their aid to Ukraine in the near future in response to the Russian overtures to North Korea.
posted by Reverend John at 11:10 AM on June 26 [4 favorites]


Russia has made an unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, attempted to seize its capital, called its government "Nazis" and made clear that one of its war aims is replacing Ukraine's government, repeatedly denied the existence of a legitimate Ukrainian national identity, committed atrocities in Bucha, Mariupol, and other Ukrainian cities under their control, blew up the Kakhovka Dam, illegally annexed the territories it currently occupies and claims further territory that it doesn't currently occupy, all after illegally seizing and annexing Crimea and occupying the Donbas, and has been actively engaged in ethnically cleansing its occupied areas, deporting Ukrainian civilians including children and bringing in Russian citizens to the occupied territories. But you don't think that Ukraine is in a war of national survival because they are spending "just" 37% of their GDP on the war?

Not to mention Russia first struck against Ukrainian sovereignty ten years ago.
posted by grubi at 11:21 AM on June 26 [5 favorites]


Pyongyang Says It Will Send Troops to Ukraine Within a Month
Last week, President Vladimir Putin made an official state visit to the Democratic Peoples’ Republic of Korea (DPRK) – North Korea, his first for almost a quarter of a century. As part of that visit Putin and Kim Jong Un signed a so-called defense pact in the North Korean capital on June 19.

The military treaty states: “In the event that any one of the two sides is put in a state of war by an armed invasion from an individual state or several states, the other side shall provide military and other assistance with all means in its possession without delay.”

In response to that Pyongyang announced early this week that it will be sending troops in the form of a military engineering unit to support Russian forces on the ground in the Donetsk region. The troops are expected to arrive on the battlefield as soon as next month.
posted by UN at 12:28 PM on June 26 [3 favorites]


But in a way it will. Ukraine can succeed if they are supported. International support is contingent on domestic public support. Eroding public support is tactic of Russia and part of their expansive view of hybrid war.

I think for individual people, without a significant platform, trying to frame all our discussions as part of the war effort is needlessly restrictive, and also more than a bit silly.

I think we'd be better off to reject positions on the basis of their correspondence to reality, not who would like us to believe them. If a claim is used as propaganda, let's focus on whether it is true and in context, and not try to guess the motives of the person raising the point.
posted by The Manwich Horror at 4:31 PM on June 26 [1 favorite]


Agreed, and I try not assume motive.

But conversations do matter and some just make you scratch your head (saying in general, not necessarily about anything here).

At the beginning of the Russian invasion, back when I was still on Twitter, a number of known lefties suddenly began spouting the Russian lines, mainly that Ukrainians were Nazis and we shouldn't be supporting Nazis. I don't believe those folks would consider themselves Putinists and I have no idea what their motive was (if any), but I do wonder where they were getting the information that formed their sincerely held beliefs.
posted by mazola at 6:17 PM on June 26 [4 favorites]


Ukraine is winnable but not at the current rate of Western support. More importantly, there has been no appetite for an all out Ukrainian win among NATO allies. Instead, their support for Ukraine has been piecemeal, designed to damage Russia rather than give Ukraine what it needs. The trickle-in of Western munitions has given Russia the ability to adapt to each new development. Such as it is, there is no "gamechanger" left in the NATO arsenal. The only way Ukraine can win is with a massive ramp of logistical support from the West, but that just isn't going to happen in the current political climate. The current ramp of European artillery production isn't even enough to meet daily demand!

In my eyes, the most likely end of the war will be Ukraine formally ceding Crimea and at least one region in the Donbass as part of a peace deal with Russia. If history remembers this war at all, it will be as the collective failure of the West to do the right thing when push came against an aggressive dictator. I really, really hope I'm wrong, but I don't think you'll ever hear Ukrainian spoken in Mariupol again. We failed. Now it's just deciding what the world will look like after everyone picks up the pieces.
posted by lock robster at 11:10 PM on June 26 [3 favorites]


IMO there's zero chance of Ukraine ceding parts of Ukraine in a signed negotiation context. Even if they cannot dislodge the occupiers forcefully, there's simply no reason to. What, Putin is going to pinky swear not to restart Russia's special military operation after re-grouping and re-arming?

Russia fooled everyone once with their definitely not Russian 'little green men' when they took over Crimea. They did the same thing all over again when they promised they were absolutely not invading Ukraine the second time. Go through this again a third time? I'm not seeing it.
posted by UN at 2:38 AM on June 27 [4 favorites]


What's Putin's entire strategy here? Lebensraumski.
posted by grubi at 5:02 AM on June 27 [1 favorite]


New research from the Süddeutsche Zeitung and others on Russia's attrition rate, specific to tanks [archive.is]

Short summary: Based on satellite imagery of 87 military bases, they analyzed how many tanks Russia has lost. At the current rate, they're losing an unsustainable number of tanks and will essentially run out completely in 2-3 years. Some bases have already been cleared out. But it's difficult to predict exactly when all of them will. It will get more difficult to renew old tanks as the ones left in the depots are in worse and worse shape as the war goes on.

Russia is also producing some brand new tanks and material but not nearly enough to make up the difference. In 2023, 86% of the tanks Russia sent to the war were old refurbished tanks.

The article concludes that playing for time does not benefit Putin. It cannot continue to fight this war at this intensity indefinitely. It is therefore important for Ukraine, with western support, to increase Russian material losses, to increase pressure on the country.
posted by UN at 8:09 AM on June 27 [8 favorites]


A month old now but a relatively sobering assessment from Colonel Markus Reisner of the Austrian Military College. Hopefully Ukraine can hold the lines over Summer and push back.
posted by phigmov at 11:24 AM on June 30


But you don't think that Ukraine is in a war of national survival because they are spending "just" 37% of their GDP on the war?
I think Ukraine is acting like it expects some kind of settlement that doesn't end in unconditional surrender by either side. There is a range of outcomes between "Ukraine gets completely absorbed and ceases to independently exist as a country" and "Russia has (another) revolution and collapses". There's been more than a few proportionally more expensive wars fought that resulted in fairly small territorial changes. Obviously losing Donbass and Donetsk would be bad, but if the question is whether Ukraine can survive as a nation without them and retain some autonomy, the answer is probably yes. As you or somebody else has pointed out, the prospect of a long-term counterinsurgency in Ukraine is probably pretty unappealing to Russia.
I mean if you're going to write down all of the primary Kremlin talking points in use now: the west risking a world war by supporting Ukraine; Ukraine ending up at the negotiation table, because Russia can keep this going indefinitely; Russia having superior allies like North Korea...why not call those arguments putinist? I don't see the issue.
Thanks for the frank admission that you basically view everything in terms of getting the choir to sing from the same hymn sheet and that anybody perceived to not share the same views - after reading into a remarkable amount of things not present - is to be harangued as a heretic. Again, you are unable to distinguish observations, explanations, and analysis from advocacy. Once again, the information war framing rears it's head. Is something true? Who knows? Who cares! The Enemy said it, so it must be denied, not only as untrue but as beneath consideration. As a case in point, the supposed report that North Korea is sending troops is originally sourced from TV Chosun, who has a poor track record to put it mildly, and nobody has been able to actually turn up this supposed announcement.
posted by ndr at 10:56 PM on July 1 [2 favorites]


The Kremlin has been preparing the information space for eventual peace negotiations for already some time, essentially attempting to ‘own’ the peace narrative, by signalling Russia’s supposed openness to a peaceful settlement. Already in late 2022, early 2023, Russian leadership started to pivot their narrative to create the perception that Russia is fighting in Ukraine for peace and as soon as Ukraine surrenders, there would be peace. Essentially, pro-Kremlin disinformation outlets have been systematically pushing the narrative that Ukraine is the aggressor driving the war, not Russia.

Moreover, in pro-Kremlin disinformation narratives, the idea of ‘peace’ is inextricably linked to the calls for ‘accepting the new territorial reality’. This essentially means accepting the Russian annexation of Ukrainian lands as a reasonable pre-condition for peace. And if Ukraine or the West are refusing to accept this ‘reality’, they become the aggressors and the reason for prolonged war. The Kremlin’s efforts in this regard continued well into 2023 and 2024 to sustain the image of Ukraine and ‘the West’ as the aggressors.
The Kremlin’s disinformation narratives about the Summit on Peace in Ukraine from EUvsDisInfo, an EU project to track and inform citizens about Russian disinformation campaigns. The "give up land for peace" is an on-going effort that's been well discussed and discredited for what it is.
posted by UN at 12:18 AM on July 2 [4 favorites]


I don’t claim to speak for the Ukrainians on what kind of settlement would be acceptable to them or what territory they may or may not be willing to give up in exchange for peace. Speaking just for myself I would hope that as long as Ukraine is still willing to fight that we in the US and our allies would provide Ukraine all of the materiel and aid that they need to achieve the maximum success in their fight and put them in the best position to negotiate if they decide that negotiation is the appropriate action. The more favorable the conditions of a negotiated settlement are for Ukraine the better, and the more favorable they are for Russia the more likely it is that Russia and others will be encouraged to further similar aggression in the future, so it is in our interest to help Ukraine to the greatest extent possible.

I haven’t seen any suggestions by anyone I follow that the Ukrainians haven’t been spending enough on their defense.

I don’t think you’re a “Putinist”. I will note that your comment regarding what aid South Korea might give seems to suggest that you think that South Korea couldn’t give significantly more aid than it already is in response Russia’s strengthening ties with North Korea. That seems like a dubious position to me. You also seem to emphasize how committed Russia is to this war and describe it as a “core interest”, but seem very quick to think that Ukraine will just shrug off losing the Donbass and Donestk and its other territories. I’ll also note that the only part of my earlier comment you quoted was the part about the percentage of Ukraine’s GDP that they’re spending on the war, and didn’t address the long list of reasons I listed that Ukraine might be willing to continue the fight.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with laying out the case in Russia’s favor and against Ukraine’s success, but I do think its worthwhile considering the “information war” aspect of this conflict. You mentioned in an earlier comment that “observers you trust have been putting Ukraine on the losing side of the war of attrition “. I’d be curious to know who some of those observers are. I don’t mean to put you on the spot, in fact part of the reason I ask is because I’m interested in more skeptical analysis of the Ukraine war, as long as it is, as you describe, trustworthy. I’ll give you some of mine: The Institute for the Study of War, Anders Puck Nielsen, Perun, among others. I recognize that many of these voices are very pro-Ukraine, but I haven’t seen them downplaying real challenges for Ukraine.

But, given the information war aspect of this conflict, my biggest question to you is this: I see in your profile that you are apparently an American. Have you been in regular contact with your Congressional Representative and your Senators and the White House to let them know that you would like them to support Ukraine to the maximum extent possible? I think that is probably the biggest concrete thing we can do to help Ukraine get the best possible outcome in this unjust, unprovoked war against them.
posted by Reverend John at 9:58 PM on July 2 [6 favorites]


Okhmatdyt hospital, Ukraine's largest children's medical center, was hit by Russian missiles on July 8, President Volodymyr Zelensky reported.

"The hospital has been damaged by a Russian attack, people are under the rubble, the exact number of wounded and dead is currently unknown," Zelensky said.
These are the people Ukraine is supposed to surrender to, "for peace".
posted by UN at 2:50 AM on July 8 [7 favorites]


God have mercy.
posted by The Manwich Horror at 3:03 AM on July 8


Today in Warsaw, Poland’s Prime Minister @donaldtusk and I signed the Agreement on Security Cooperation between Ukraine and the Republic of Poland.

This unprecedented document includes a provision for shooting down Russian missiles and drones in Ukraine’s airspace that are fired in the direction of Poland. We are committed to implementing it. We will also cooperate on combat aircraft—both those already transferred by Poland and the possibility of transferring more in the future.

In our security agreement, we have formalized the formation and training of the Ukrainian Legion, a new volunteer military unit, on Polish territory. This unit will be trained in Poland and equipped by our partners.

Thank you for your solidarity with our country and people, and for all your support and assistance!

🇺🇦🇵🇱
Personally I think this is long overdue, not just from Poland but from other EU or NATO states — for anything aiming at Ukraine anywhere.
posted by UN at 10:41 AM on July 8 [6 favorites]


I don’t think you’re a “Putinist”. I will note that your comment regarding what aid South Korea might give seems to suggest that you think that South Korea couldn’t give significantly more aid than it already is in response Russia’s strengthening ties with North Korea. That seems like a dubious position to me. You also seem to emphasize how committed Russia is to this war and describe it as a “core interest”, but seem very quick to think that Ukraine will just shrug off losing the Donbass and Donestk and its other territories. I’ll also note that the only part of my earlier comment you quoted was the part about the percentage of Ukraine’s GDP that they’re spending on the war, and didn’t address the long list of reasons I listed that Ukraine might be willing to continue the fight.
I was pointing out the misapprehension that Russia had made a strategic blunder and was now really going to get it because South Korea would come to Ukraine's aid, the point was that South Korea had already been aiding Ukraine. I don't think Ukraine will "shrug off" losing Donbass and Donetsk (and it goes without saying Ukraine considers parts of their territory a core interest), but given the alternatives it might very well end up being the least bad option. The war has done wonders for Ukraine's political unity, but fracture lines still exist. Me pointing out their spending wasn't a judgment on their strategy but an illustration that the war has some way to go before reaching the WW2 analogies people love to make. For a "fun" fact, the average age of the Ukrainian frontline is over 40 because they're trying to preserve young people for the future of the country (and the other unstated reason is if tons of young people die, the war may become too unpopular domestically and people will push for peace).

If you want to win, you need some sort of theory of victory - in what position will the opponent recognize they can't win? After the 2023 Ukrainian counteroffensive didn't produce major gains the idea that they can just kick Russia out is dead, so that pretty much just leaves attrition, aka the longer this fight goes the more it favors us, so you might as well make your peace now. The problem with that is that it's not obvious that's the case here, for reasons already outlined (and it gets worse if you add in potential curveballs, like if Trump gets elected and just stops sending support). So you don't really have a theory of victory, just a vague hope that Russia will decide it's not worth it and sue for peace. Except Russia isn't acting like it yet. And maybe Ukraine will get enough help that they can turn the exchange ratio in their favor, but until that happens, everything else is moot.

Michael Kofman is the best analyst on the military side of things. I'm in a solidly Democratic area, my reps are already supporting Ukraine. And to put it bluntly, there are things I care more about domestically and internationally (e.g. global warming that could end up putting pressure on systems and triggering wars that make Ukraine look like a walk in the park or the Democratic Party's inability to put up organized, strategic resistance to the GOP). In case I haven't made it obvious yet, I think the most commonly circulated information war, disinformation, etc framing is less than worthless and is little more than a transparent attempt to shut down actual discussions.
posted by ndr at 8:20 PM on July 8 [2 favorites]


Well on that note I am relieved there are Americans and others who still do care. But sure, I guess I can see the temptation, if one lives far from the front: we've got other worries so why not give Putin and Kim Jong-un what they want? Sweep it under the rug: the dictators have more artillery.

And yet this is a fallacy. Overestimating the power of Russia is where Michael Kofman was wrong in some of his early predictions:
Scholars speculating on the shape of a prospective campaign in Ukraine tended to both overestimate Russian military capabilities and underestimate those of Ukraine. For example, writing on the eve of the Russian invasion, Michael Kofman and Jeffrey Edmonds envisioned an air campaign that would feature “hundreds of bombers as well as ground-launched cruise and ballistic missiles.” On the other side of the ledger, they argued that “Ukrainian air defenses are in short supply, and they would be unlikely to provide effective cover for most of the country’s ground troops. They would be quickly overwhelmed.”15

Overestimation of the Russians was paired with underestimation of the Ukrainians. As Kofman and Edmonds put it:
The Ukrainian military has substantially improved since 2014, thanks to Western assistance, and it has gained combat experience from the war in the Donbas. But the experience is largely limited to trench warfare and artillery skirmishes. Kyiv is still ill prepared for a renewed Russian invasion of this scale. Ukraine’s military is generally understaffed and has limited familiarity with warfare designed to surprise and disrupt enemies. Its armed forces are composed of thousands of conscripts with limited experience. Russian battalion tactical groups, by contrast, are filled with more skilled, contract servicemen. Ukraine’s air force is dated and stands no chance against its Russian counterpart.16
Both analysts also assumed that the Ukrainian forces would be unable to mount an “active defense” in a country as vast as Ukraine. In the likely event that the country was quickly overwhelmed, Kofman and Edmonds suggested that it could adopt “guerrilla warfare” tactics or, as a last resort, retreat into urban areas and draw Russian units into a costly urban warfare campaign.

The Fallacy of Overestimation is the embodiment of worst-case thinking. It flows from giving too much weight to an adversary’s strengths and one’s own weaknesses. It often features (consciously or unconsciously) in military thinking, where it is codified in “worst-case planning.” Similarly, intelligence assessments that seek to avoid strategic surprise can emphasize an adversary’s strengths and one’s own weaknesses. Although the Fallacy of Overestimation may sometimes be prudent, it causes statesmen and strategists to discard viable strategic options.17 For example, the overestimation of Russian military capabilities on the brink of Moscow’s attack on Kyiv yielded an unwarranted sense of fatalism that led policymakers to neglect preparing for the possibility that a Russian attack would not lead to a quick, decisive victory over Ukraine.
From Chapter Eleven Fallacies of Strategic Thinking in the Ukraine War Thomas G. Mahnken and Joshua Baker

This is not a criticism on my part on Michael Kofman, he is an expert and I for the most part don't disagree with what he has to say. But, the point is that this war isn't simply about counting shells or even just military tactic or strategy. Sure, it is about that, but it's also so, so much more. That's why many early predictions from western academics and politicians were so off and many continue to be so.

Nobody said it would be easy for Ukraine.
posted by UN at 7:33 AM on July 9 [4 favorites]


I should have noted the book title I quoted from in my previous comment for those interested:

War in Ukraine: Conflict, Strategy, and the Return of a Fractured World

The entire book is online and available as a PDF — and Michael Kofman is a contributor as well (Chapter 6)

ndr: And to put it bluntly, there are things I care more about domestically and internationally (e.g. global warming that could end up putting pressure on systems and triggering wars that make Ukraine look like a walk in the park

Honest question: if, as you say, coming wars the make Ukraine look like a cake walk — but the solution to this cake walk war is to ask others to give up ... How should we act when there's a much worse, much bigger war? Giving up when it's easy can only mean giving up when it's hard, right?
posted by UN at 10:35 PM on July 9 [3 favorites]


I've never said or implied that Ukraine should give up, you are putting words in my mouth. And there's a lot of assumptions embedded in that question that need to be clarified before there's any point in trying to answer it. For one, you seem to be assuming that there's going to be clear, identifiable sides of right and wrong and that we ought to be intervening directly. I think both are often questionable assumptions. Ukraine wasn't even the largest war of 2022, that was Tigray. In that case, which way should we have intervened?
posted by ndr at 1:25 AM on July 14


Ukraine wasn't even the largest war of 2022, that was Tigray. In that case, which way should we have intervened?

There may be various ways to define what the 'biggest' war is and that's part of the problem with trying to do this sort of ranking. So there's a 'bigger' war, meaning one should be less worried about a 'smaller' war. What is the purpose of this thought/argument?
posted by UN at 2:43 AM on July 14 [1 favorite]


Let's go with the common supposition that the Russian invasion of Ukraine is a humanitarian disaster and unacceptable violation of the rules of international conduct, that if not deterred and allowed to succeed, will result in worse wars and greater suffering down the line; I don't recall if you've explicitly spelled it out but it seems like what you're suggesting. With that view, should we not regard the hundreds of thousands of civilians killed, millions displaced, etc in Tigray - which outweighed human suffering in Ukraine at least in 2022 - just as significant and worthy of protection? If so and if you are an interventionist, the question then becomes how to intervene and the onus is on proponents to sketch out under what circumstances, how, by whom, to what ends, etc intervention should take place.
posted by ndr at 7:02 PM on July 17


You’re talking about intervention on moral terms. The US intervention in Ukraine is not about morality, it’s about strategic interests. The degradation of Russian military capability, plus being able to see everything they have in action, and being able to see and study the evolution of drone warfare has been the military bargain of the century for the US. Russia is not going to be able to project power for a while after this.
posted by azpenguin at 8:37 PM on July 17


Are you under the impression, ndr, that you are just talking to Americans? At least half of the most active MeFites in Ukraine threads live in countries that border Ukraine or Russia, or are from there.

You have the privilege of speculating about matters from afar, a privilege many of us don’t share. I realize it’s easy to think about wars simply in abstract terms, I do so often myself, but you’re not speaking to people who have that option.
posted by Kattullus at 2:05 AM on July 18 [4 favorites]


This Tigray thing is a derail. Make a thread about it if you want to talk about that specifically. If there's no new news, please just let the thread be instead of filling it with idle bickering.
posted by VTX at 8:51 AM on July 19 [2 favorites]


Trump vows to end war in call with Zelenskiy [The Guardian]: US Republican nominee tells Ukrainian leader that as president he would ‘bring peace to the world’

Dear god.
posted by mazola at 7:32 PM on July 19


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