Tuesday, August 26, 2014


From little green men to big green tanks in Ukraine:

[The] armored column that appeared on Monday in the far south-eastern corner of Ukraine, where it abuts the Russian border, was unusual because the spot was far removed from any territory held by the separatists.

It was therefore difficult to see how the column could have appeared in Ukraine without having come across the Russian border, unless it made an amphibious landing from the nearby Azov Sea which is improbable given the number of heavy vehicles witnesses said they saw.

Also noted is the Ukrainian capture of some Russian soldiers. I imagine these guys honestly did cross the border by mistake.

But note, too, that the unit was on a three-day 70 kilometer road march exercise.

Nice practice which would get Russian units from the border to Donetsk, by coincidence.

The slow-motion, almost imperceptibly escalating Russian invasion of Ukraine is amazing, including how it is largely ignored by everyone but the Ukrainians fighting back.

I mean, what's the opposite of blitzkrieg?

UPDATE: Ukraine surely understands that failure to defeat Russia in eastern Ukraine invites future aggression from Russia looming over them:

Mr. Poroshenko said in his speech that Ukraine, which is nearly bankrupt, would nonetheless spend nearly $3 billion over the next three years to re-equip its army. “It is clear that in the foreseeable future, unfortunately, a constant military threat will hang over Ukraine,” he said.

Despite Germany's efforts to negotiate a ceasefire, Russia continues to escalate their involvement showing that Putin is not to be trusted on this. A ceasefire isn't meant to be a pause to negotiate a real peace but a time to rest and entrench in order to resume the conquest when Russia is in a stronger position and Western attention has wandered off.

Putin, in short, does not want peace in eastern Ukraine--he wants victory:

Any outcome that freezes the military situation in eastern Ukraine as it is today amounts to a win for the Kremlin: all Ukrainian territory not controlled by Kiev turns into “something other” and becomes the basis for eventual separatist claims.

However, President Putin in turns knows that any outcome that allows Kiev to reassert control over all its territory other than Crimea is a Kremlin defeat.

We must help Ukraine inflict that defeat on Putin:

The only way forward -- even if it is complicated and costly -- is to stand firm at Ukraine's side and help pursue a decisive victory. For that, the Europeans need to stop trying to tie Poroshenko's hands and undermining Ukrainian morale. They also need to be ready to impose additional sanctions against the Russians and provide more economic assistance to Kiev.

So far, Russia has had the call for whether the war escalates or not--surely greater Ukrainian efforts to reclaim their own territory can't count as "escalating" a fight.

Russian forces are now involved in the fight since proxies and patsy locals proved insufficient. Russian escalation seems guaranteed.

Ukraine needs to create the ability to escalate on their own. I suggest three options for Ukraine:

One, declare the port of Sevastopol closed and announce that the approaches to the port are mined. Ukraine should attempt to plant mines with whatever assets they can use--warships, civilian ship conscripted to service, and aircraft. It doesn't have to be a thick minefield--but it should be drizzled in to make sure there is always a threat to ships using the port.

Second, organize the ability to counter-attack Russia's holdings in Crimea.

Ukraine should strengthen their defenses across from Crimea in the narrow isthmus and behind that shield deploy artillery to bombard the Russian troops who hold that neck. Let's see if Russia can do a better job of knocking out rockets and artillery than Israel has when up against Hamas or Hezbollah.

Ukraine should gather up and deploy--with air defenses to protect them--long range missiles to strike Russia's Sevastopol base--the big prize of Russia's Crimea conquest.

If the fight gets this far, Ukraine should husband their air force for use in Crimea rather than throwing them into battle in eastern Ukraine into the teeth of Russia's air power and air defenses.

Third, Ukraine's western forces are pretty much out of the fight except for defending Odessa. These forces should plan for the invasion of Russia's enclave at Transdniestria in the west.

Perhaps Russia needs to worry a little more about what Ukraine can do to them rather than just calculating how much Ukraine can endure from Russia.

And of course, if Russia escalates to capture eastern Ukraine, Ukraine needs to make the region a bleeding ulcer for Russia by keeping resistance alive by pushing in to Russian-occupied eastern Ukraine special forces, National Guard troops, and supplies for locals--supported by Ukraine's regulars from outside (artillery and drone recon, for example).

UPDATE: Those fucking Russians:

On Tuesday, a number of Russian soldiers were reportedly captured in Ukraine just hours ahead of meetings between the Russian and Ukraine heads of state. Russia said they had wandered into Ukraine "by mistake" while on patrol. On Wednesday, however, Ukrainian officials said there were more Russian troops operating in eastern Ukraine, this time in army vehicles.

Stupid me. I gave the Russians the benefit of the doubt over Ukraine's capture of a small number of troops. I thought it plausible that they'd accidentally crossed the border. How dumb am I?

But no, the Russians are invading more overtly. We need to do what it takes to get arms to the Ukrainians and provide intelligence, logistics, and planning help.

This is a good start:

The Hungarian Ministry of Defence has announced that they’ve sold 58 T-72 tanks to a Czech company, Excalibur Defense Ltd., who has begun transporting them into the Czech Republic. ...

The right-wing Polish newspaper Rzeczpospolita believes that the tanks are destined for Ukraine, which has been looking for compatible second-hand Soviet-era equipment that they can use right away.

This fits what I've said all along--we don't need to sell large weapons to Ukraine because it would take too long to integrate them into Ukraine's military. Ukraine needs Russian-made weapons that Ukraine already knows how to use and maintain.