June 13, 2022

Ukraine Fears Defeat; If Ukraine is Defeated, We Will Pay Even Greater Costs (Financial and Human) in the Future

Ukraine Fears Defeat – If Ukraine is Defeated, we will be Fighting Putin with even Greater Costs

Ukraine Fears Defeat; If Ukraine is Defeated, We Will Pay Even Greater Costs (Financial and Human) in the Future

The reality of Putin’s war on Ukraine, Europe and the United States seems – to me – to be lost on far too many, including western governments.

Despite all the support given to Ukraine a consistent reality has been too little, too late and that is sadly true today.

Putin has multiple dimensions to his war, and he is pressing on every front.

The scorched earth military offensive including the genocide is there to see by simply looking. The propaganda is finding even more traction in any number of venues. And his Stalin-like famine initiative is finally getting the attention it has long deserved.

With innocents dying in many countries, prices rising in others Putin intends to wear down opposition.

Indeed, one can see compassion fatigue appearing in several forms – some leaders and commentators are back to urging negotiations, compromise and worse. Some charities trying to provide humanitarian aid reporting contributions falling off.

This all presents very real danger – if Putin is not defeated (the sooner the better) the ramifications and costs (monetary and human) will grow and be with us for years. No settlements or compromises will stop Putin in his pursuit of his malevolent objectives. He has to be stopped.

Below I set out important two articles. The first is by Timothy Snyder who explains Putin’s plans to use hunger (famine) to achieve the backing off of western support for Ukraine.

The second was led by a banner headline story on the front page of today’s Wall Street Journal reporting on Ukraine’s fear of defeat if military aid is not received now.

I urge your consideration of both. And it would be good if federal office holders and candidates were made aware of your on-going support for Ukraine to be able to win this war.


Putin Has Ukraine War 'Hunger Plan' to Destabilize EU With Refugees: Snyder


Yale University history professor Timothy Snyder argued Saturday that the Black Sea blockade caused by Russian President Vladimir Putin's war in Ukraine "is meant to generate refugees" and potentially lead to instability within the European Union.

"Putin's hunger plan is also meant to generate refugees from North Africa and the Middle East, areas usually fed by Ukraine. This would generate instability in the EU," Snyder wrote on Twitter.

The ongoing war has caused Black Sea ports in Ukraine to shut down, threatening food supplies and challenging a number of nations that heavily rely on the country since it's one of the world's largest grain exporters.

Snyder also warned that if the Russian blockade continues, "tens of millions of tons of food will rot in silos" and millions of people in Africa and Asia "will starve" as a result.

Putin 'Blackmailing the World

Ala Stoyanova, the deputy governor of the Ukrainian city of Odessa, made a similar warning about the consequences of grain products piling up at Ukrainian ports due to the blockade, and therefore fueling food shortages across parts of the world.

"It is his aim, I think, to make these poor countries starve from hunger without this grain. When he blocks our ports, by this means he is blackmailing the world," the deputy governor told The Telegraph about Putin in an interview published last month.

Above, large cranes are harvesting Ukrainian grain from a ship on March 9 in Bari, Italy.PHOTO BY DON

On a normal day, around 3,000 container loads of grain would arrive by train at Odessa and other Ukrainian ports where they are kept in vast silos, according to The Telegraph.

Meanwhile, nearly 276 million people worldwide have been experiencing acute hunger since the beginning of this year. However, that number could increase by another 47 million people, specifically in sub-Saharan Africa, if the war continues.

Last month, speakers at a United Nations' Security Council meeting warned that Yemen, Nigeria, South Sudan, and Ethiopia are among the countries at risk of increased food insecurity, stemming from the lack of grain exports.

Additionally, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) also recently warned that many would be "marching towards starvation" worldwide unless Ukrainian ports reopen.

Mass Death Needed for Russian Propaganda

The professor on Saturday also expressed concerns about starvation in some parts of the world, adding in a series of tweets that Russia has a "hunger plan" in which Putin would prepare to "starve much of the developing world as the next stage in his war in Europe."

"The horror of Putin's hunger plan is so great that we have a hard time apprehending it. We also tend to forget how central food is to politics," Snyder said in one tweet.

In predicting the Russian president's goals and plans, Snyder also noted that "most horribly, a world famine is a necessary backdrop for a Russian propaganda campaign against Ukraine. Actual mass death is needed as the backdrop for a propaganda contest."

The Wall Street Journal

Ukraine Fears Defeat in East Without Surge in Military Aid

Russia advances in Donbas region as U.S., allies prepare to discuss new heavy-weapons supplies for Kyiv

A Ukrainian serviceman peers out of a tank in the Donetsk region, where Russia has seized towns. REUTERS

By Yaroslav Trofimov and Stephen Fidler

Updated June 13, 2022 6:13 am ET

The war in Ukraine has turned into a grinding artillery contest where Russia is steadily gaining ground thanks to its overwhelming advantage in firepower. As the U.S. and allies gather Wednesday to discuss fresh military aid to Kyiv, Ukraine’s fate will largely depend on how fast and in what quantities these heavy weapons arrive. [While one can, and I have, applauded much of what Washington has done these last few months the sad reality is and has been that it has not done enough and certainly has not been timely in what it has done. “the U.S. and allies gather Wednesday….” Bottom line – the United States can act quickly when it decides to do so and it has not decided to do so. In this war the key for the outgunned Ukrainians is to have the right weapons in the right place at the right time. The weapons are no mystery, the place is clear and the time was yesterday. We are letting Ukraine and our own current and certainly long-term national security interests down. RAM]

Without a broad and rapid increase in military assistance, Ukraine faces a defeat in the eastern Donbas region, Ukrainian officials warn. That would pave the way for Russia to pursue its offensive to Odessa and Kharkiv after regrouping in coming months, they say, and potentially all the way back to the capital, Kyiv, after that. [This must not happen. RAM]

Western officials and analysts question whether Russia has the wherewithal to achieve this, even if it makes further gains in the Donbas area. They say Russia’s military has been severely battered in the war, and might lack the manpower and equipment to advance beyond the Donbas region soon.

Yet Russia still enjoys a significant superiority over Ukraine in artillery and armor. Ukrainian forces estimate that they have one artillery piece per 10 to 20 Russian ones on the front lines, with each of these guns allotted only a fraction of the ammunition at the Russian gunners’ disposal. As a result, every day that Western heavy-weapons supplies are delayed is measured in hundreds of Ukrainian casualties, they say.

Artillery shells litter the ground near a destroyed Russian military vehicle in southern Ukraine.PHOTO: GENYA SAVILOV/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES

While Kyiv was initially cagey about its losses, unwilling to dent the population’s morale, Ukraine’s government now acknowledges that the country’s military is losing between 100 and 200 soldiers killed in action each day, with about five times that number injured daily.

“In this war, the victory will be with the side that has more and better weapons. And, if Ukraine doesn’t obtain enough weapons in time, it will bleed out,” said Anton Gerashchenko, an adviser to Ukraine’s interior minister. [And, as I have written several times, those “better weapons” should have a range capable of hitting the back line Russian artillery now pounding Ukraine’s positions. The current Washington-imposed range to be provided simply cannot be justified rationally. RAM]

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is slated to host the third Ukraine Contact Group conference of defense ministers and top military officers from North Atlantic Treaty Organization members and other allies and partners in Brussels on Wednesday, looking into how best to help the Ukrainian military at this stage of the war. [“How best” – it is not rocket science – it has to do with rocket delivery. RAM]

U.S. Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Colin Kahl said the Pentagon is mindful of the risk involved in sending a U.S. guided-rocket system to Ukraine, but that it has assurances from Kyiv that it will not use it to strike Russian territory. [Who dreams up these conditions? They certainly are contrary to Washington’s representations when it first started providing weapons. Then Washington said there would be no conditions attached to what it provided. The degree to which Putin influences – controls – the Washington approach is staggering. RAM]

At the start of the month, President Biden released $700 million in new weapons deliveries to Ukraine, the first slice of a $40 billion aid package authorized by Congress that includes as much as $19 billion in military assistance. That would bring the total to $5.3 billion of U.S. weapons supplied to Ukraine since the invasion. The U.K., Poland, the Baltic states and other allies have also made weapons deliveries. [Really important to keep in mind the difference between the $40 billion and the $19 billion for needed military assistance including weapons. RAM]

These weapons, particularly the antitank and antiaircraft missiles, played a critical role in enabling Ukraine to withstand the onslaught on Kyiv in the first weeks of the war, precipitating a Russian withdrawal from northern Ukraine in late March. Moscow has reorganized its forces since then to focus on seizing all of the Donbas region, using heavy artillery to blast its way from one town to another.

Military vehicles set for delivery to Ukraine filled the hold of a cargo ship in Antwerp, Belgium, last month. PHOTO: JOHANNA GERON/PRESS POOL

Russian President Vladimir Putin in February recognized the independence of the Moscow-created proxy states in the Donbas area and no longer acknowledges the region as part of Ukraine. He also began issuing Russian passports and introduced the ruble in occupied parts of southern Ukraine’s Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions, where Russian-appointed authorities say they are working on referendums to annex these territories to Russia.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has said that the war won’t end until Russia withdraws from all the territories it occupied since the invasion began on Feb. 24. If Ukraine is sufficiently armed to defend itself, this goal is realistic, some Western military experts say. [The decision on when the current war ends should be Ukraine’s decision to make and if it determines that should be after all Russians are out of Ukraine’s sovereign territory – so be it. But no one should ever think Putin will stop before and until he is stopped. RAM]

“I do believe that by the end of this calendar year the Ukrainian forces are going to drive the Russian forces back to the Feb. 23 line,” said retired Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, a former commander of the U.S. Army in Europe who is now with the Center for European Policy Analysis. But to achieve this, he said, Ukraine must get enough Western long-range artillery and rocket systems, as well as the necessary ammunition. “If we fail to do that…then this is going to go on for potentially years,” Gen. Hodges said.

Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak published a wish list of weapons Monday that he said would help Ukraine end the war, including 1,000 howitzers, 300 multiple-launch rocket systems and 500 tanks.

“We are waiting for a decision,” he wrote on Twitter. [Actually worse – they are waiting for delivery and lives are being lost during the wait. RAM]

Russia has suffered extensive losses in the conflict, with Western governments estimating that as many as 20,000 Russian soldiers have been killed—and multiples of that number injured. Kyiv has put the number of Russian fatalities at 32,000. While Moscow stopped updating its toll after acknowledging 1,351 military fatalities on March 25, many more individual death notices came out after that, including for several generals and commanders of battalions and brigades.

Oryx, an open-source intelligence platform, has documented visual evidence of Russia losing 767 tanks, 422 armored fighting vehicles, 116 armored personnel carriers, 64 towed and 121 self-propelled artillery pieces, 79 multiple-launch rocket-system platforms, 46 helicopters and 31 warplanes since the invasion began. The real toll is likely higher as not all the losses can be documented.

A destroyed Russian tank near Kyiv, Ukraine. Russia’s military has been battered, but it still holds superiority in the war. PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER FURLONG/GETTY IMAGES

Unlike Ukraine, which can count on weapons supplies from the West, Russia has limited ability to replenish its stocks, especially as its military industry is hampered by Western sanctions. [Wait – stop! “Ukraine, which can count on weapons supplies” - - that wording is much too positive. Indeed, that wording it ignores the very reality captured in the headline accompanying the article. RAM] In recent weeks, the Russian military has started to send into battle obsolete T-62 tanks because so many of its more modern tanks have been destroyed by Ukrainian artillery and drones. “I believe that the Russians are actually exhausted,” Gen. Hodges said.

Despite such setbacks, Moscow retains a huge advantage in armor, artillery, aircraft and missiles over Ukraine, said John Herbst, a former U.S. ambassador to Kyiv now with the Atlantic Council think tank in Washington.

“The terrain in the east favors those Russian advantages. It’s open. There is no question that the Russians have made incremental gains in the last few weeks,” he said.

Ukraine, unlike Russia, doesn’t have the capacity to manufacture ammunition for Soviet-legacy heavy weapons that make up the bulk of its forces, and is running out of stocks, Ukrainian officials say. While artillery shells and mortars can be procured in Eastern Europe, the shortage is particularly acute for multiple-launch rocket systems such as Uragan and Smerch.

At the current rate of advance, absent a sizable increase in Western weapons deliveries, it would likely take the Russians until August or September to take all of the Donbas region, Ukrainian officials estimate. While economic sanctions have made life more difficult for Moscow, especially when it comes to securing Western technology, high oil prices mean that Mr. Putin can afford to continue the war. [He will not stop until he is stopped – period, end of discussion. He has to be stopped. RAM]

Ukrainian servicemen run for cover in the city of Lysychansk, in eastern Ukraine.PHOTO: ARIS MESSINIS/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES

Russia’s current-account surplus rose to $110.3 billion in the first four months of the year from $32.1 billion in the same period last year, according to the central bank. The International Monetary Fund forecasts that Russia’s economy will shrink this year by 8.5%, while Ukraine’s will shrivel by 35%. Russian missile strikes have systematically targeted Ukraine’s industrial facilities, oil refineries and transport infrastructure, while a Russian naval blockade has prevented most exports of Ukrainian wheat. [Wheat/grain - Putin’s other route to win. See Snyder’s article above. RAM]

If Russia secures the Donbas region, Mr. Putin might pause the offensive to regroup and rearm, Ukrainian officials estimate. A cease-fire that some European politicians are proposing, and that would maintain Russian control over southern Ukraine, could last several months or even years.

But that pause would be just a prelude to a fiercer assault, they say, as Mr. Putin’s strategic goal—seizing Kyiv and eliminating Ukraine as a sovereign state—remains unchanged.

“They will keep going until someone stops them,” said Ukraine’s former defense minister, Andriy Zagorodnyuk, who advises President Zelensky’s government. “Some people still think that the Russians can be stopped with talks, with concessions. No, they can only be stopped with weapons—of which we are not receiving enough. This is the crux of the problem.”

After initially refraining from supplying Ukraine with Western heavy weapons out of fears about Moscow’s reaction, the U.S. and allies in late April began to ship NATO-standard 155 mm artillery systems and 155 mm ammunition, with more than 100 of these guns already reaching the battlefield. Poland has also shipped hundreds of Soviet-designed T-72 tanks, while the U.S. and the U.K. are preparing the transfer of some long-range multiple-launch rocket-system, or MLRS, platforms. [There we are again – “preparing” – we are back to the right weapons, right place at right time!!!! And the time is now! RAM]

Yet, amid the most intensive military conflict that Europe has witnessed since World War II, those supplies haven’t been anywhere near sufficient to offset the thousands of weapons systems that Russia has poured into the Donbas front.

Trostyanets, Ukraine, after Russia withdrew from northern Ukraine to focus on seizing the eastern Donbas region.PHOTO: ALEXEY FURMAN/GETTY IMAGES

Officials in the West have been cautious—analysts such as Gen. Hodges and Mr. Herbst say too cautious—about increasing support for Ukraine lest it lead Russia to escalate its offensive, for example by using battlefield nuclear weapons. The critics doubt such a step would aid Russia strategically in the campaign.

The NATO artillery systems—particularly the Caesar self-propelled guns provided by France—are much more accurate than most guns in Russia’s arsenal. This means that a Ukrainian artillery battery can achieve with one or two shots the same result for which Russian gunners expend dozens or hundreds of shells.

But, with the maximum range of as much as 25 miles, according to Ukrainian officials, these artillery pieces remain vulnerable to Russian Smerch MLRS platforms that can hit from as far as 50 miles away.

Ukrainian officials have been asking the U.S. and allies for Western-made MLRS platforms since the war began, but it was only this month that the Biden administration decided to send four high-mobility artillery rocket-system, or Himars, platforms and guided multiple-launch rocket-system rockets with a range exceeding 40 miles. The U.K. has agreed to supply three M270 MLRS systems with a 50-mile range.

While Washington has indicated that the four pledged Himars are just an initial tranche, the U.S. hasn’t specified the time frame and scope of future deliveries. “They are giving us four pieces, but what is needed is a couple of hundred. We don’t know how many more will come, when they will come, and so we cannot plan ahead—which is a problem,” said Mr. Zagorodnyuk.

Ukrainian forces deploy a multiple-launch rocket system in the Luhansk region.PHOTO: GLEB GARANICH/REUTERS

The Russian advances in the Donbas region have been relatively slow, with Russian forces battling for the town of Severodonetsk, the administrative center of the Ukrainian-controlled Luhansk region, since early May.

Yet, since withdrawing troops from Kyiv and the rest of northern Ukraine to focus on the Donbas region, Russia has managed to score significant advances, seizing the towns of Popasna, Kreminna and Rubizhne in the Luhansk region and Svyatohirsk and Svitlodarsk in the Donetsk region. With the exception of Svitlodarsk, which Ukrainian forces abandoned to avoid encirclement, almost all the areas taken by Russia have been rendered largely uninhabitable by shelling.

In a rare admission of how Russia is pursuing this war, Maksim Fomin, a military officer in the Russian proxy force in the Donetsk region who blogs under the pen name Vladlen Tatarsky, wrote that Russian artillery is inflicting wholesale destruction because of its inability to pinpoint Ukrainian defenders. [“destruction” – words matter – insert “atrocities” and “genocide” – buildings and infrastructure fall but people die! RAM]

“Instead of a concrete target, the strikes target an entire neighborhood or forested area,” he wrote. “As a result, the advancing units are suffering losses, and cannot move forward until the entire area resembles a moon crater."

Ukraine says that between 100 and 200 of its soldiers are killed in action each day.PHOTO: PAVLO PALAMARCHUK/SOPA IMAGES/ZUMA PRESS

The opening comments and parenthetical comments are Mr. McConnell's and do not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S.-Ukraine Foundation or the Friends of Ukraine Network.