May 30, 2022

Memorial Day Tributes

On This Memorial Day Weekend Remember and Honor Our Fallen American Soldiers -- And Also Those in Ukraine Fighting and Dying for Their Freedom, and Ours

Memorial Day Tributes

So much has been happening in Russia’s war on Ukraine and relating to the war – much of which is quite troubling – that it has been hard to keep up.

To mention just two serious concerns, I start with the on-going intentional brutality of the Russian war making the reality inescapable that the atrocities are essential components of Putin’s war plan. Others have written about this but it is a fact that must be kept in the public consciousness. Words like “intentional and methodic war crimes” really doesn’t capture the horror and the words lose their sting as days pass by.

Next is the troubling and more frequent appearance of western views that the end of the war should be negotiated on terms President Zelenskyy and the people of Ukraine have made clear are unacceptable.

It is Ukraine that has been attacked, it is the people of Ukraine who are dying to defend their (and our) freedom, it is for the people of Ukraine to decide how to end Putin’s genocide.

It is in our interests and our duty to provide Ukraine what it needs to defeat the Russian Federation.

By now even the densest critics should grasp why Ukraine matters. One example - Finally the media and slow-to-reality analysts see the extraordinary impact Ukrainian agriculture has on the world. They still may not be able to grasp that Putin’s war on Ukraine is part of his much larger campaign against the West, but its impact on the world’s food supply (and prices) seems to be registering.

Of course there remain public officials and scary candidates who preach against assistance to Ukraine. Among other things they look aghast at $40 billion legislation knowing but ignoring that the details in the legislation matter.

But set aside the dollar-to-dollar analysis and consider the critical reality.

That money should be considered in light of the value of helping Ukraine degrade Russia from an on-going military threat to its neighbors and the West to military irrelevance. Without a Ukrainian victory consider the cost of containing Russian ambition and aggression over the next ten years. Cutting back now and allowing Putin win or not be defeated and regroup will end up costing trillions in the future. The cost-benefit analysis is overwhelmingly in Ukraine’s favor.

Before setting out a Reuters article about the United States “considering” providing Ukraine with M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems I have to comment on a comment from Putin’s clerical puppet, Patriarch Kirill, reported in Thursday’s The Wall Street Journal. There are so many things Kirill says that can be trashed without effort but early in Thursday’s article he said what too many accept without thought, ““It was we who broke the back of fascism, which would have conquered the world if not for Russia.”

Throughout the lifetime of the Soviet Union – and in too many minds today – “Soviet Union” and “Russia” were and are synonyms. Not only is that a gross error but suggesting Russia won, even on the Eastern Front is flat wrong.

Estimated Losses for Each Soviet Republic

Soviet Population Military Civilian Total Deaths as %

Republic 1940 Dead Dead Population

Armenian SSR 1,320,000 150,000 30,000 180,000 13.6%

Azerbaijan SSR 3,270,000 210,000 90,000 300,000 9.1%

Byelorussian SSR 9,050,000 620,000 1,670,000 2,290,000 25.3%

Estonian SSR 1,050,000 30,000 50,000 80,000 7.6%

Georgian SSR 3,610,000 190,000 110,000 300,000 8.3%

Kazakh SSR 6,150,000 310,000 350,000 660,000 10.7%

Kirghiz SSR 1,530,000 70,000 50,000 120,000 7.8%

Latvian SSR 1,890,000 30,000 230,000 260,000 13.7%

Lithuanian SSR 2.930,000 25,000 350,000 375,000 12.7%

Moldavian SSR 2,470,000 50,000 120,000 170,000 6.9%

Russian SFAR 110,100,000 6,750,000 7,200,000 13,950,000 12.7%

Tajik SSR 1,530,000 50,000 70,000 120,000 7.8%

Turkmen SSR 1,300,000 70,000 30,000 100,000 7.7%

Uzbek SSR 6,550,000 330,000 220,000 550,000 8.4%

Ukrainian SSR 41,340,000 1,650,000 5,200,000 6,850,000 16.3%

Unidentified 165,000 130,000 295,000

Total USSR 194,090,000 10,700,000 15,900,000 26,600,000

Exclusive: U.S. and Ukraine discuss danger of escalation as new arms extend Kyiv's reach

By Phil Stewart and Idrees Ali

[Keep in mind it is Washington that is preoccupied with escalation, still letting Putin control the thought process. Time to break the cycle – think for yourselves/ourselves. RAM]

U.S. Marines load an M777 towed 155 mm howitzer into the cargo hold of a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III transport plane, to be delivered in Europe for Ukrainian forces, at March Air Reserve Base, California, U.S. April 21, 2022. Picture taken April 21, 2022. U.S. Marine Corps/Cpl. Austin Fraley/Handout via REUTERS.

WASHINGTON, May 26 (Reuters) - As the United States and its allies provide Ukraine with increasingly sophisticated arms, Washington has held discussions with Kyiv about the danger of escalation if it strikes deep inside Russia, U.S. and diplomatic officials tell Reuters. [Over-and-over Washington wrings its hands over Ukraine possibly escalating. The focus should be on making sure Ukraine has what it needs to get Russia out of Ukraine. Does someone have any evidence of Ukrainian expansionism? Give us a break. RAM]

The behind-the-scenes discussions, which are highly sensitive and have not been previously reported, do not put explicit geographic restrictions on the use of weapons supplied to Ukrainian forces. But the conversations have sought to reach a shared understanding of the risk of escalation, three U.S. officials and diplomatic sources said.

"We have concerns about escalation and yet still do not want to put geographic limits or tie their hands too much with the stuff we're giving them," said one of the three U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity.

President Joe Biden's administration and U.S. allies have been increasingly willing to give Ukraine longer-range weaponry, including M777 howitzers, as Kyiv battles Russia's invasion forces with more success than American intelligence officials had predicted. The Pentagon's announcement last week that Denmark will provide Ukraine with Harpoon anti-ship missiles would further extend Kyiv's reach. [“extend Kyiv’s reach” – think about it. Russia can pound Ukraine from afar and if Ukraine cannot reciprocate what does Ukraine have left after Russia has “soften up” the opposition and decides to move forward. We would never attempt to conduct a war against a heavily armed opponent without corresponding capabilities. RAM]

After initially forecasting Ukraine would be overrun by Russia's much bigger military, American officials have recently voiced hopes that Ukrainian forces can win the war, and want to arm them to do so. [Initial forecasting was a colossal failure – an embarrassing one. American officials had no experience fighting for their freedom – they had been comfortable and safe for generations upon generations. The people of Ukraine, on the other hand, are only 30 years from Soviet oppression controlled from Moscow, shortages of everything, unable to worship freely, a trip to the Gulag for a slip of the tongue – they know repression and had now experienced freedom and were going to and are fighting for a freedom they understand and cherish. RAM]

U.S. officials say the Biden administration is even considering supplying Kyiv with the M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS), which depending on the munitions can have a range of hundreds of kilometers. [The United States and the West have spent an inordinate amount of time “considering” what to provide. Had we come to appropriate conclusions much earlier this war might have already been over with thousands of humans still alive. What is done is done but let us stop “considering” and start delivering.  RAM]

But U.S. intelligence has also warned about growing risks, particularly given a mismatch between Russian President Vladimir Putin's apparent ambitions and the performance of his military. The coming months could put the war on a "more unpredictable and potentially escalatory trajectory," Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines told a Senate hearing this month.

The United States, by design, is not directly combating Russian forces but Pentagon commanders are in constant contact with Ukrainian leaders and have provided critical intelligence that has allowed Ukraine to target Russian troops, on land and at sea, U.S. officials have said. [Let us not overstate our intelligence sharing. Noted and appreciated the sharing has improved significantly of late but lets not rewrite history. RAM]

A second U.S. official, also speaking on condition of anonymity, said Washington and Kyiv had a shared "understanding" about the use of certain Western-provided weapon systems.

"So far, we've been on the same page about the thresholds," the official said.

Ukraine's defence ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned the West that supplying weapons to Ukraine capable of hitting Russian territory would be "a serious step towards unacceptable escalation," according to remarks published on the Russian foreign ministry website on Thursday. [Sure, it is probably appropriate to include stupid and predictable comments from the chronic liar Lavrov, but at this point his noxious “unacceptable” statements are really tiresome. Let us just accept for the record that Ukraine’s doing or being capable of doing anything Russia is already doing is unacceptable to him. RAM]


Russia has attacked Ukraine's capital and locations far from the front lines of fighting. But Ukraine has not reciprocated with attacks on a major Russian city or carried out strikes deep inside Russia, including on military targets such as weapons manufacturers or supply hubs far from the border.

Russian officials have repeatedly accused the Ukrainian military carrying out cross-border attacks, including on a fuel depot in the city of Belgorod. It justified its invasion of Ukraine partly on the premise that Ukraine was a threat to Russia -- an idea that Kyiv and the West reject. [An idea that was and is preposterous on its face. RAM]

In what one diplomatic source said was a clear indication Kyiv understood the sensitivities of any cross-border action, Ukraine has declined to confirm any involvement in those alleged incidents. The United States also has not commented.

The U.S. sensitivities came into public view in April, when the Pentagon cited U.S. intelligence warnings about the risk of a military escalation between Russia and the NATO alliance if the United States transferred fighter jets to Ukraine.

Democratic Representative Jason Crow, who visited Ukraine in the past month and spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, said he was not concerned about escalation risk and that Ukraine would use the weapons being provided in the south.

Three months into the conflict, Russia is focusing its campaign in the south after a failed attempt to capture Kyiv.

"We should reiterate, as we do in all cases, that these weapons should be used responsibly," said Crow, a veteran Army Ranger who sits on the Armed Services Committee and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence in Congress.

"But I'm less concerned about the issue of escalation than making sure that Ukrainians can win now and push back the Russian forces." [He has that right – the job Ukraine wants to complete is getting the Russians out of Ukraine. Enough with the worry about them wanting to add territory. Ukraine is not Russia. RAM]

The first U.S. official said Ukraine had plenty of targets to hit inside Ukraine, and that was the goal of obtaining longer-range weaponry from Western allies.

Douglas Lute, a former U.S. ambassador to NATO and retired Army lieutenant general, agreed Ukraine has enough Russian targets inside Ukraine to worry about.

But he acknowledged the risk for escalation and political division inside NATO should Ukraine strike deep inside Russia. [Good grief these people are preoccupied with Putin’s false narrative. It is like he leads their thinking around in circles. RAM]

"It would spark a divisive debate inside the alliance. And, of course, the alliance doesn't want that. And neither does Ukraine," Lute told Reuters.

One remaining question is whether Ukraine could change its strategy if the war takes a turn for the worse, perhaps using U.S.-provided weaponry in ways not originally intended.

"There could be scenarios where the Ukrainians are backed into such a corner that they feel they have to escalate further, but we haven't seen that yet," the second U.S. official said. [Note to Washington deep thinkers – worry about Russia and skip dreaming up things to worry about Ukraine doing. Focus on the mission! RAM]

Reporting by Phil Stewart and Idrees Ali; Editing by Mary Milliken and Daniel Wallis


The opening comments and parenthetical comments within the article are Mr. Robert McConnell's and do not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S.-Ukraine Foundation or the Friends of Ukraine Network. Robert A. McConnell is a co-founder of the U.S.-Ukraine Foundation and Coordinator of External Relations for the Foundation’s Friends of Ukraine Network. He is Principal of R.A. McConnell and Associates. Previously, he has served as head of the Government Advocacy Practice at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, Vice President – Washington for CBS, Inc, and Assistant Attorney General in the Department of Justice during the Reagan Administration.