Thursday, March 26, 2015

Helping Themselves

Ukraine, as I've long said, doesn't need the hassle of getting American tanks when they have plenty of their own that can be put into the field. Sadly, our help to fill gaps falls short of actual help.

Strategypage describes the efforts:

Ukraine is refurbishing existing equipment with Ukrainian resources. Emphasis is on armored vehicles, which Ukraine has lots of. Most are elderly, but little used in the past but still effective. The best tanks available to Ukraine right now are 250 T-64BMs and 350 T-64BVs. Ukraine also has 1,000 older T-64B tanks in storage. Only the T-64BM and T-64BM are operational and are in use with the Ukrainian Army. The Since 2007 Ukraine has been upgrading about one of the older T-64Bs to the T-64BM each month. This costs about $600,000 per T-64B. Ukrainian arms factories are also building the T-84 Oplot-M tank and fifteen are already in service and another 40 are to be ready by the end of 2015, and 120 more in 2016 at a cost of $3.7 million each. All this is possible because Ukraine contained many Soviet era armored vehicle plants and inherited them when the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991.

The Poles could be of use to Ukraine in upgrading these tanks. Other former Warsaw Pact nations now in NATO who want to update their armor could contribute hulls and repair expertise, too.

There are weapons and equipment we could supply, according to Air Force Gen. Philip Breedlove, the NATO and American European Command commander:

A decision to provide that lethal aid “could cause positive results, could cause negative results,” he added. “But what we’re doing now is not changing the results on the ground.”

Breedlove, however, said he was ready with plans for the U.S. to provide military assistance to a beleaguered Ukrainian Army fending off Russian backed rebels—should the Obama administration ever make a decision.

The U.S. has conducted comprehensive studies of Ukrainian military needs, he added, and has a good sense of what it could provide to assist with an effective defense with Russian troops in the east.

But a decision has to be made at political levels to provide that support.

Russia continues to pull apart Ukraine and continues to deny they are even involved. So our restraint has not caused positive results.

Indeed, Ukraine won't hold against the next anticipated offensive:

Surveys of the front lines around the Donetsk and Lugansk regions by a team of independent experts - including Dr Phillip Karber of the Potomac Foundation in Washington and retired former NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe General Wesley Clark - note a number of critical issues that "would have to be addressed in a very short time frame if there is to be any chance of holding back a Russian offensive", one of the team members told IHS Jane's in Kiev.

Combined reports from frontline surveys and official briefings from the Ukrainian Ministry of Defence (MoD) paint an alarming picture of a Ukrainian military that is over-extended, under-armed, and may not have the depth to hold against another Russian-backed drive further into Ukraine.

Sadly, our administration remains at stage 3 in the 4-stage plan to help Ukraine--and is eagerly awaiting stage 4.

We should actually help Ukraine. They are willing to fight. But they need material help (and we should provide friggin' grid coordinates from our satellites to help target the Russians) to have any hope of stopping the Russians or imposing a cost high enough to deter them from the offensive after the next one that is coming.

UPDATE: AFP is really going to have to pay for a new computer screen after I spewed my morning coffee all over it:

Russian President Vladimir Putin has awarded several military units a hugely prestigious title that was given to troops for heroism during WWII, sparking new questions about the Kremlin's involvement in Ukraine.

Putin this week bestowed the honorary "guards" title on two air assault brigades and a communications regiment, with the award being seen by some analysts as a tacit acknowledgement that Russian troops have been fighting in east Ukraine.

New questions? Russia has been invading Ukraine for over a year now!! The only new question is what kind of mind-altering drugs are you guys taking to think this is some subtle clue about the mysteries of little green men and exploding Malaysian airliners!

God, the stupid is more contagious than Ebola these days.