Ukraine War thread.

  • Crimea and the Black Sea Fleet in Russian- Ukrainian Relations.

    Here's a discussion paper from 1995. Of particular interest are the parts where it discusses early Russo-Ukrainian relations, and how Russia never came to terms with the existence of an independent Ukrainian state following the dissolution of the USSR. Some excerpts:

    In Kiev in November 1990, Boris Yeltsin and Leonid Kravchuk signed a friendship treaty in which Russia and Ukraine recognized each other as sovereign states. It was a tactical alliance between two provincial leaders, who were demonstrating their opposition to Gorbachev's rule and fostering the disintegration of the Soviet Union. In a referendum on December 1, 1991, more than 90 percent of the Ukrainian population voted for independence, and within a week, Yeltsin recognized Ukraine's independence unconditionally.

    Since that time, Ukraine has been an independent state, though many Russians are reluctant to recognize that fact. The prior integration of Ukraine and Russia for more than three hundred years has brought about very strong political, ethnic, economic, cultural, demographic, and psychological challenges to Ukraine's independence. The "elder-younger" brother syndrome and the propagation of Russian culture and language as "higher," as well as a historically-claimed Russian mission civilisatrice have produced a paternalistic Russian view of other peoples of the former Soviet Union, particularly Ukrainians and Belarussians.1 These historical stereotypes, built up over centuries, are unlikely to disappear overnight. According to Roman Szporluk, "most Russians apparently never took the "Ukrainian Question" [whether Ukrainians are an independent ethnic entity with a right to national sovereignty or if they are just one ethnic branch of a larger, Russian ethnicity] seriously, and, accordingly, regarded the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic as a fiction. They continued to think of Ukraine as a part of a larger and more real Russia."2 Most Russians, including powerful decision-makers, can hardly reconcile themselves with the idea of a free and independent Ukraine. The threats of Russia's attempts to re-absorb Ukraine were acknowledged as late as 1992 by US Ambassador Strobe Talbott who commented that:

    The brutal fact is that many Russians -- notably including Russians that we would consider to be good guys, liberals, reformers -- in their government, do not accept the independence of Ukraine. And Ukrainians know that. That is one reason why Ukrainians know there is no state on the face of the earth that has more need for security guarantees against Russia than Ukraine.


    Opposition to an independent Ukraine has been expressed in the statements or actions of numerous Russian politicians, which are aimed at either the re-creation, in some form, of the old Soviet Union, or re-establishment of Russian hegemony in the region. The most extreme statements against Ukrainian independence have come from Russian nationalist parties and organizations. The most significant representative of the radical imperial nationalists is Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the head of the Liberal Democratic Party. According to Zhirinovsky, there is no Ukraine and there is no Russian Federation; there is only one big Russia.4 Despite his eccentricity, Zhirinovsky clearly represents a trend in Russian nationalism which is anti­-reformist, chauvinistic, revanshist, and anti-Western in nature. Sergei Baburin, one of the leaders of the National Salvation Front, was quoted in May 1992 as telling the Ukrainian Ambassador in Moscow that, "either Ukraine reunites with Russia or there will be war."5 Of great concern in Ukraine are trends within the Civic Union, a coalition of the "industrial lobby" headed by Arkadiy Volsky, the Democratic Party of Nikolay Travkin, and Communist Party of Russia, headed by Gennadiy Zjuganov, such as difficult economic, political and even military pressure used against Ukraine if it does not voluntarily reunite with Russia.

    On the whole, Yeltsin has been quite careful to avoid making statements which could evoke negative reaction in Kiev, but it is quite obvious that he has not welcomed Ukraine's independence. Yeltsin has been quoted as saying that, "Russia reserves the right to review the borders with those republics that declared themselves independent."6 Sergei Stankevich, President Yeltsin's political adviser, suggested to Western diplomats in the spring of 1993 that they not bother opening embassies in Kiev as they would soon be downgraded to consulates. Stankevich also cautioned against establishing political-military ties too close to Ukraine. A senior official in the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry replied that, "Russia's attitude toward its neighbors can now be compared to Germany's in 1939. "7

    Many Western observers and Russian politicians have argued that concerns about extreme' statements or actions emerging from Russian politicians are exaggerated or unjustified. However, most observers, scholars, and politicians in Ukraine feel otherwise. "It cannot be stressed strongly enough that without Ukraine, Russia ceases to be an empire," states Zbigniew Brzezinski, "but with Ukraine suborned and then subordinated, Russia automatically becomes an empire."8 The Ukrainian political elite shares these considerations and opposes the idea of any Russia-centered "confederation." Russia, with its imperialist mentality, could be viewed as the natural, historical enemy of an independent Ukraine, and there is no reason to believe that in the near future Russia will abandon its traditional view of Ukraine as an integral part of Russia

  • Quote
    Unconfirmed report in the @Daily_Express @marcogiann suggests \uD83C\uDDF7\uD83C\uDDFARussian SSGN RFS Kazan was detected by RAF P-8A Poseidon on June 5 off west coast of Ireland.

    (Kazan subsequently arrived in Havanah on 12 June)
    Navy Lookout (@NavyLookout) June 16, 2024

    the sub kazan is falling apart in cuba, the outside hull is peeling back making it loud as hell underwater.
    david D. (@secretsqrl123) June 17, 2024


  • Some in my extended family were worried about the Soviet naval flotilla sailing around the US and docking in Cuba.

    I told them not to worry; half would have a very extensive stay in port for repairs.

    Looks like my crystal ball is working just fine.

  • Glad they are finally listening to Trump..

    NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg announced today during a speech to @TheWilsonCenter that over 20 of NATO's 32 members will spend over 2% of GDP on defence this year.

    In 2014 that number was just 3. In 2022 it was still just 7, and 11 last year in 2023.

    The full-scale…
    — Colby Badhwar \uD83C\uDDE8\uD83C\uDDE6\uD83C\uDDEC\uD83C\uDDE7 (@ColbyBadhwar) June 17, 2024

    Russian Invasion of Ukraine has finally woken up the rest of the Alliance, except for Canada. Per


    , Prime Minister Trudeau is the only NATO leader that has not committed to a timeline to reach 2%.


  • A very Russian story..

    \uD83D\uDEA8\uD83D\uDC47?? A Moscow court indicted in absentia, the commander of the 138th anti-aircraft brigade of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Colonel Dzyaman, for shooting down the Russian AEW&C A-50 aircraft.

    On February 23, it was shot down near Taganrog by Ukrainian weapons. At that time, 10…
    PS01 (@PStyle0ne1) June 17, 2024

    10 crew members died, and the Russians falsely claimed it was a friendly fire accident, a falsehood largely repeated by 'Twitter experts', some even questioning the plane destruction despite overwhelming evidence.



    Very amusing to see Russia explicitly claim that Ukraine destroyed the A-50U on FEB 23 while video of the incident fairly conclusively shows either a Russian Buk or S-300P/400 firing on the A-50U
    — John Ridge \uD83C\uDDFA\uD83C\uDDF8 \uD83C\uDDFA\uD83C\uDDE6 (@John_A_Ridge) June 17, 2024

    lol, it may have gotten hit by both sides. smiley_abused.gif

  • Let's hear it for Poland, which is already near 4%.

  • Is Russia's Window for Gains this Summer Narrowing?
    Michael Kofman dropped into WOTR HQ to chat with Ryan about the war in Ukraine. From Russia's culminated offensive on Kharkiv, to battlefields of the Donbas,...


    The overall offensive was anticipated but started earlier than anticipated.

    Ukrainian lines weren't well prepared, but Ukraine recovered, sent reserves and stabilized the line.

    Russia mostly attacked with 2 corps, and that was mostly dismounted infantry, so it was not a force intended to achieve a breakthrough. The point was to create a buffer zone to threaten the city with artillery.

    The line stabilized sooner than most people believe. It also didn't lead to a surge of attacks in places like Chasiv Yar which was expected.

    Why didn't more come of it?

    - Russian ambitions were limited around Kharkiv

    - Russians under resourced it

    - Ukrainian forces at first didn't respond great (This is why commander of Kharkiv Operational Group was fired, investigations into 125th etc.) but Ukraine recovered and stabilized quickly.

    How significant was USA's policy change allowing Ukraine to strike into Russia (3:30)

    A small segment of Russia's airforce is responsible for the glide bombs. There is currently no cost efficient method of dealing with glide bombs: intercepting is difficult and foolhardy; F16s are unlikely to make a real difference here (especially this year).

    The best way to counter this threat is to strike the Russian air force bases that have glide bombers. This means striking into Russia. The current change in itself is not really a big deal as it isn't feasible for Ukraine to wait to get attacked, stabilize the situation, then ask USA if they can strike back each time. This eventually needs to become "Ukraine can strike x miles from the border" and this is a step towards that.

    Can't Ukraine use French/UK/Ukraine missiles? Why do they need to use USA's?

    He thinks that it is unknown what restrictions are actually in place. He doesn't think Ukraine ever needed permission to hit Russian aircraft over Russia. He thinks that despite "cheeky" media announcements, UK/French long range systems likely still do have restrictions.

    What else is happening along the front? (7:00)

    Chasiv Yar stalled out for a long time, but Russia recently has been seen in the eastern edges of the city.

    The "drive from Avdiivka" also stalled out, and he suspects this will resume soon as well.

    Kofman asks if the Russian offensive will consist of a series of incremental gains over the summer to put them into a better position in the fall, or will there be a more significant breakthrough?

    Russia's offensive

    So far the Russian offensive has been underwhelming. Kharkiv died out quickly, and it's worth noting the situation was never as precarious as the media portrayed.

    Kharkiv did come at a bit of a price though: it pulled reserves and units which could have been used to help rotate the front line.

    “[UKRAINE is] essentially robbing force reconstitution in order to attain stabilization at the front line."

    While Ukraine was able to restore the line, it came at the cost of time needed to regenerate combat strength.

    "For this year do you think we've passed the period of greatest vulnerability?" (9:00)

    "I wouldn't be cavalier about it, I think it'll be clearest in July. But if you look at shipments of ammunition, the front steadily stabilizing (in most places, Ukraine is stretched thin some places still), Ukraine's recent efforts to significantly increase mobilization, then we're likely passing out of this period once we get to July or August or thereabouts."

    Overall trajectory

    Russia's general plan is to threaten Ukraine on a broad front, with their two main areas of effort at Chasiv Yar and Pokrovsk. Kofman is at the point where he is ruling out some of the worst case scenarios because it's clear that Russia will struggle to achieve a breakthrough.

    However... this war does not come down to who controls the next 10km of Donbas. The most important issues now is getting enough air defense or suppressing Russia's air strikes. Russian production of missiles has increased notably, and Russia's damage to Ukraine's infrastructure this Spring was significant, hurting Ukraine's defense production and causing issues that will become important for Ukraine's economic viability due to critical infrastructure going into Winter. These issues are becoming more important to the war than the front lines.

    Black Sea Fleet (12:00)

    This was Ukraine's big success last year. The Black Sea Fleet did not have a ton of stuff to do. It's ability to launch missiles was minimal. It wasn't able to deny Ukraine access to the Black Sea.

    This wasn't so much a big win militarily, it was a big win because it allowed Ukraine to maintain its economic viability. By showing that Ukraine could strike Russian shipping and Russian ports (with missiles and drones) Russia and Ukraine reached a detente. Russia could continue striking Ukraine's port infrastructure and Ukraine's shipping in the Black Sea but has not chosen to do so, meanwhile Ukraine has shied away from attacking Russian infrastructure as well until recently. This points to there having been a tacit detente in the Black Sea because unrestricted naval warfare is a negative sum game. It could result in escalation where everyone loses. For Russia it was more important to maintain access to the Black Sea than it was to deny it to Ukraine. Ukraine forcing this situation onto Russia is a major victory.

    Mobilization on both sides (14:30)

    Ukraine's mobilization numbers are probably improving but there's no hard data on it.

    Russia's pace is likely trending negatively. If last year they were recruiting 30k a month, it's probably 25k now, but no one knows the real numbers yet. The overall point is that whatever the real numbers are they're down a significant amount, but it's not as if it's no longer an issue.

    Manpower is Ukraine's #1 issue this year. It will take the rest of this year just to recover from this deficit of combat infantry.

    Evans: The politics on this issue remain "totally fucked" and Zelenskyy won't put his name on this and they're still having a problem with getting recruits.

    Kofman: There needs to be a vision. "We're just going to hold and incrementally retreat" is not a vision. What are people going to fight for? There is no theory for success at the moment. It's being worked on, but it's not stated publicly. The previous theory of victory was an attempt to achieve war termination on favorable terms by gaining decisive leverage through threatening Crimea because in theory Putin valued this more than anything he occupied in Ukraine. Conditions are unlikely to be there to try for this outcome again. It's also unlikely that destroying S300s in Crimea is going to get us to accomplish this goal.

    We're transitioning from a war with some decisive battles to a war of attrition and hopefully that will not become a war of exhaustion.

    Evans: [UKRAINE] needs to sell a new vision soon enough that the training pipeline (which will take at least 6 months) can be put in place and Ukraine can regenerate forces and go on the offensive.

    Kofman: Ukraine military has to balance 2 imperatives: stabilize the front and regenerate combat power.

    They're both impressed by how much Ukraine has slowed Russia down.

    Fortifications were built poorly or built in the wrong places, or arrayed incorrectly. This happens when hurrying and contracting things out.

    pieces Kofman likes on the war (19:30)

    Ukraine Needs More Than Crisis Management
    Its security depends on long-term commitments from the West.

    RUSI, Black Bird Group, FOI (Swedish defense agency).

    What will happen this summer? (20:30)

    Either sustained pushes by Russian forces, or a more concentrated effort at either Chasiv Yar or Pokrovsk. Russia maintains strategic initiative this year, but as Ukraine stabilizes, the war turns into strikes against critical infrastructure, and how best to defend against the other's strike campaign.

    Kofman would love to know actual numbers for mobilization on both sides. He says it's also a constant debate on what is left in Russian storage and what Russia's true production rates are.

    Russia is clearly trying to conserve their armored equipment, and that is because they realize they are on a negative trajectory and this will be a major constraint for them next year. Even if manpower and artillery aren't an issue next year, this clearly will be.

    For Ukraine the question is manpower and funding. If Ukraine can do more sustainment and maintenance locally in Ukraine then it will also be in a better position.

    Finally the military needs to figure out what its short term and long term needs are so it can start to get an idea of what its long term capabilities will be. They need to learn to "not rob the future for the present." The present always take priority in a war but we've been in a long war now for quite some time.

    Evans: "And Ukraine might have just one more shot at an offensive if Trump is elected."