Russo Ukrainian War. Day 320: Fierce fighting near Bakhmut and Soledar continues

 

Daily review

Article by: Hans Petter Midttun

Fierce fighting near Bakhmut and Soledar. Russia’s war against Ukraine causes the largest refugee crisis since World War II. Russia has created the world’s largest minefield in Ukraine.

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Daily overview — Summary report, January 9, 2023

The General Staff’s operational update regarding the Russian invasion as of 18.00 pm, January 9, 2023 is in the dropdown menu below:

Situation in Ukraine. January 8, 2023. Source: ISW. ~

Situation in Ukraine. January 8, 2023. Source: ISW.

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[The adversary is conducting offensive actions on Bakhmut, Avdiivka, and Lyman axes, trying to improve its tactical situation on Kupyansk axis. The invaders focus their futile efforts on capturing Donetsk oblast within the administrative border.]

During the past day, Russian occupiers launched 7 missiles and 31 air strikes and launched 73 MLRS attacks.

The threat of enemy air and missile strikes remains high across Ukraine.

Over the past 24 hours, Ukrainian Defense Forces repelled attacks in the vicinities of Stelmakhivka and Chervonpopivka (Luhansk oblast); Soledar, Krasna Hora, Pidhorodne, Bakhmut, Klishchiivka, Vodyane, Pervomais’ke, Krasnohorivka, Maryinka, Pobieda, and Novomykhailivka (Donetsk oblast).

Novopavlivka, Zaporizhzhia, and Kherson axes: Russian forces stay on the defensive attempting to protect previously occupied lines; reinforce defensive lines and positions.

  • Volyn, Polissya, Siverskyi and Slobozhanskyi axes: no significant changes, no signs of the formation of offensive grouping reported.
Kharkiv Battle Map. January 8, 2023. Source: ISW. ~

Kharkiv Battle Map. January 8, 2023. Source: ISW.

  • Siverskyi and Slobozhanskyi axes: the vicinities of Halaganivka and Hremyach settlements (Chernihiv oblast); Korenyok, Kucherivka, Studenok, Bunyakyne, Atyns’ke, Kindrativka, and Myropyllya (Sumy oblast); Starytsya, Chuhunivka, Milove, Kolodyazne, and Novomlynsk (Kharkiv oblast) were subject to mortar and artillery shelling;
  • Kupyansk axis: the vicinities of Dvorichna, Pershotravneve, Ivanivka, and Krokhmalne (Kharkiv oblast); Stelmakhivka and Myasozharivka (Luhansk oblast) were shelled by tanks and artillery.
  • Lyman axis: Makiivka, Ploshanka, Nevske, Kuzmyne, Chervonpopivka, and Dibrova (Luhansk oblast) suffered enemy attacks.
  • Bakhmut axis: Spirne, Berestov, Bilohorivka, Vesele, Rozdolivka, Krasna Hora, Bakhmut, Klishchiivka, Bila Hora, Diliivka, Druzhba, Zalizne, and New York (Donetsk oblast) came under enemy fire.
Donetsk Battle Map. January 8, 2023. Source: ISW. ~

Donetsk Battle Map. January 8, 2023. Source: ISW.

  • Avdiivka axis: Avdiivka, Nevels’ke, Heorgiivka, Maryinka, and Novomykhailivka (Donetsk oblast) suffered enemy attacks.
  • Zaporizhzhia axis: artillery attacks were reported in the vicinities of Dorozhnyanka, Charivne, Biloghirya, Maly Shcherbaki, Stepove, and Kam’yans’ke (Zaporizhzhia oblast); and Oleksiivka (Dnipropetrovsk oblast).
Kherson and Mykolaiv Battle Map. January 8, 2023. Source: ISW. ~

Kherson and Mykolaiv Battle Map. January 8, 2023. Source: ISW.

  • Kherson axis: Russian forces do not cease shelling settlements along the right bank of the Dnipro River. The city of Kherson again came under MLRS fire.

According to the available information, a significant amount of weapons and military equipment arriving in Belarus from the Russian Federation for training purposes has been removed from a long-term storage and requires maintenance. It is also known that Belarusian servicemen take an active part in maintenance works.

There is a tendency for the deterioration of morale and the psychological state of the Russian personnel. Thus, among the soldiers of the 127th separate intelligence brigade stationed in temporarily occupied Sevastopol, the idea of ending the war under any conditions is spreading.

[In order to maintain military discipline and prevent any panic sentiments among the personnel of the occupation troops operating on Zaporizhzhia axis, the adversary used the units of the Russian national guard (Rosgvardia). Thus, 6 people who expressed their views on surrendering to the Ukrainian Defense Forces were reported shot near the settlement of Chystopillya on January 5.]

[In order to discredit the Ukrainian military leadership, the adversary is propagating disinformation about the preparation of an attack by the Ukrainian Defense Forces on medical institutions in Luhansk oblast, where wounded Russian invaders are being treated.]

During the past 24 hours, Ukrainian Air Force launched 17 air strikes on the concentrations of enemy troops and 3 air strikes against Russian anti-aircraft missile systems.

At the same time, Ukrainian warriors shot down 3 Russian helicopters (Ka-52, Mi-24, and Mi-8), and 3 “Orlan-10” type reconnaissance UAVs.

Ukrainian missile and artillery troops attacked 7 concentrations of enemy troops and military equipment and 1 fuel warehouse.

Military Updates

Shelling by Russian Troops. Icelandic Data Analyst. ~

Shelling by Russian Troops. Icelandic Data Analyst.

Military situation in Bakhmut and Soledar, as reported by Ukrainska Pravda, citing President Zelenskyy, “Today, the commander of the ground forces, General Syrskyi, visited the troops defending the outskirts of Bakhmut and Soledar. He honoured the fighters with awards for their resilience. On the scene, he organised the steps necessary to strengthen our defence, in particular, by transferring of additional units and intensifying fire on the invaders. Zelenskyy noted that the situation in the contact zone has not undergone significant changes during the first week of the year, and fierce battles continue in Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts.

Bakhmut is holding out against all odds. And although most of the city has been destroyed by Russian strikes, our warriors repel constant attempts at a Russian offensive there. Soledar is holding out, although there is even more destruction, and it is extremely hardThere is no piece of land near these two cities where the occupier would not have given his life for the crazy ideas of the masters of the Russian regime. This is one of the bloodiest places on the frontline, the president said.

Zelenskyy also emphasised that all our positions, all our actions in defence are interconnected, and the resilience and effectiveness of actions at the front in general depends on the resilience and effectiveness of actions at each area of the frontline.

On 7 January, Serhii Cherevatyi, the spokesman for the eastern group of Ukrainian troops, reported that the city of Soledar (Donetsk Oblast) is not under the control of Russian troops, and although fierce battles are taking place there, Ukraine’s Armed Forces are repelling the attacks of the occupiers.”

Ukraine’s border guards attack stronghold and push back Russian forces near Bakhmut, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing  State Border Guard Service of Ukraine. “Recently, the servicemen of the Luhansk border detachment carried out effective counterattacks near Bakhmut. The border guards, in several groups, attacked the occupiers’ stronghold from the flanks. With a sudden attack, a unit of the occupying forces has been pushed back.

During the night, the Russian invaders tried to regain the lost border, but every time they received fire damage from the Ukrainian border guards and escaped. In total, in close combat, our soldiers killed 18 and wounded 24 invaders.”

Russians redeploy several battalions of paratroopers, heavy equipment to Kreminna, Ukrinform reports. “The Russians redeployed several battalions of paratroopers and heavy equipment there. Russian forces is gradually faltering there… The occupiers try to hold Kreminna to prevent their defence in Luhansk region from splitting in half, Serhiy Haidai, Head of the Luhansk Regional Military Administration, posted on Facebook.”

Explosions rock Russian-captured Hydromash plant in Melitopol for several hours, Ukrainska Pravda reports. “Ivan Fedorov, Mayor of Melitopol, Zaporizhzhia Oblast, has reported that explosions have occurred overnight at the Hydromash industrial machinery manufacturing plant which had been captured by Russian forces.

It has been very loud at the Ruscist-captured [Russian forces] Hydromash plant, where they have set up another military base. The rumbling lasted for several hours, an incendiary wave broke the windows of neighbouring houses, and smoke was still billowing over the plant in the morning. Fedorov reported that there had been a series of explosions in the city overnight on 7-8 January.”

Russian forces attack UN mission in Zaporizhzhia Oblast during promised “ceasefire”, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Oleksandr Starukh, Head of the Zaporizhzhia Oblast Military Administration. “The aggressor country, which promised to refrain from shooting, has attacked a UN humanitarian mission, which brought humanitarian aid to the city of Orikhiv.

On the evening of Saturday, 7 January, Russian forces carried out a missile strike on the outskirts of the city of Zaporizhzhia. Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu to implement a ceasefire during Christmas.”

Anti-aircraft gunners strike down Russian helicopter and UAV, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Ukrainian Air Force Command. “Today, on 8 January 2023, between 11:00 and 14:00, operators of the mobile S-300B1 anti-air missile system from the Air Command Center destroyed an enemy helicopter and a drone on the eastern front; most likely those were Ka-52 and Orlan-10 UAV, which was trying to carry out the reconnaissance of our positions.”

Earlier on 8 January, soldiers from Air Command Skhid (East) destroyed an enemy reconnaissance drone in the skies over Dnipropetrovsk Oblast.

According to British Defence Intelligence, (last 48 hours): 

  • Since at least June 2022, Russian Aerospace Forces have almost certainly used Su-57 FELON to conduct missions against Ukraine. FELON is Russia’s most advanced fifth-generation supersonic combat jet, employing stealth technologies and highly advanced avionics. These missions have likely been limited to flying over Russian territory, launching long range air-to-surface or air-to-air missiles into Ukraine.
  • Recent commercially available imagery shows five FELON parked at Akhtubinsk Air Base, which hosts the 929th Flight Test Centre. As this is the only known FELON base, these aircraft have likely been involved in operations against Ukraine.
  • Russia is highly likely prioritising avoiding the reputational damage, reduced export prospects, and the compromise of sensitive technology which would come from any loss of FELON over Ukraine. This is symptomatic of Russia’s continued risk-averse approach to employing its air force in the war.
  • In recent weeks, Russia has bolstered defensive fortifications in central Zaporizhzhia Oblast, southern Ukraine, especially between the towns of Vasilyvka and Orikhiv. Russia maintains a large force in this sector.
  • The way Russia has worked on improving defences suggests commanders are highly likely pre-occupied with the potential for major Ukrainian offensive action in two sectors: either in northern Luhansk Oblast, or in Zaporizhzhia.
  • A major Ukrainian breakthrough in Zaporizhzhia would seriously challenge the viability of Russia’s ‘land bridge’ linking Russia’s Rostov region and Crimea; Ukrainian success in Luhansk would further undermine Russia’s professed war aim of ‘liberating’ the Donbas. Deciding which of these threats to prioritise countering is likely one of the central dilemmas for Russian operational planners.

Losses of the Russian army 

As of Monday 9 January, the approximate losses of weapons and military equipment of the Russian Armed Forces from the beginning of the invasion to the present day:

  • Personnel – about 111760 (+590),
  • Tanks – 3080 (+11),
  • Armoured combat vehicles – 6147 (+17),
  • Artillery systems – 2069 (+4),
  • Multiple rocket launchers –MLRS – 434 (+3),
  • Air defence means – 217 (+0),
  • Aircraft – 285 (+0),
  • Helicopters – 275 (+3),
  • Automotive technology and fuel tanks – 4809 (+8),
  • Vessels/boats – 16 (+0),
  • UAV operational and tactical level – 1856 (+7),
  • Special equipment – 183 (+0),
  • Mobile SRBM system – 4 (+0),
  • Cruise missiles – 723 (+0)

Train loaded with bodies of Russian soldiers arrives in Kemerovo Oblast, Russia, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing the Ukrainian General Staff. “Russian forces continue to suffer losses. …a train with refrigerators filled with dead Russians arrived in Kemerovo Oblast from Rostov-on-Don. The corpses are to be sent to local morgues.”

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No sign of casualties at site of strikes Russia says killed hundreds of Ukrainian soldiers, Reuters reports. “A Russian rocket strike on the Ukrainian city of Kramatorsk caused damage but did not destroy buildings and there were no obvious signs of casualties, a Reuters witness said on Sunday, after Russia [alleged] the attack killed 600 Ukrainian soldiers.

Reuters reporters visited the two college dormitories Russia’s defence ministry said had been temporarily housing Ukrainian servicemen close to the front line of the war at the time of the overnight strike. Neither appeared to have been directly hit by missiles or seriously damaged. There were no obvious signs that soldiers had been living there and no sign of bodies or traces of blood.”

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Russia plans to launch domestic production of Iranian drones – Danilov, Ukrinform reports, citing Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine Oleksiy Danilov. “Russia plans to launch domestic production of Iranian drones in the city of Tolyatti. Danilov noted that many companies refuse to supply parts for these drones, so it is not known how the Russians will replace the components.”

Humanitarian 

Russia’s war against Ukraine causes the largest refugee crisis since World War II, Ukrinform reports, citing DW. “German representative to the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) Katharina Lumpp has said that the number of Ukrainians who have had to flee the country makes it Europe’s biggest refugee crisis since World War II.

In particular, more than 7.9 million people have fled Ukraine since the start of the war and another 5.9 million people are internally displaced, Lumpp said.”

Ukraine frees 50 more servicemen from Russian captivity, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing  Andrii Yermak, the Head of the Presidential Administration. “Another successful exchange of prisoners. We have returned 50 more of our defenders home. These are men from the Armed Forces, territorial defence, National Guard of Ukraine, State Border Guard Service, Ukrainian Navy, as well as Special Operations Forces. 33 officers, 17 privates and sergeants. 

We are bringing home people that were captured at the Chornobyl NPP, defenders of Mariupol, boys from the Donetsk front, Bakhmut, as well as from Kyiv, Chernihiv and Kherson Oblasts, where intense battles took place.”

Russians shell one of the Ukrainian thermal power plants on Christmas Eve, Ukrinform reports. “On Christmas Eve, the invaders once again attacked one of the DTEK Energy power plants, which had already been subjected to terrorist attacks. Fortunately, no one was injured, the company wrote on Telegram.

As a result of the shelling, the equipment at the TPP was damaged. Immediately after the end of the attack, power engineers began to eliminate the consequences. This is the 25th terrorist attack on DTEK energy facilities, the company emphasized

Russian power engineers help Russian troops to attack Ukrainian energy system, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Financial Times. “Volodymyr Kudrytskyi, the head of Ukrenergo, the national energy company, has stated that attacks on the Ukrainian energy system were planned by the Russian military together with power engineers. Kudrytskyi states that Russian engineers knew the Ukrainian power system “like the back of their hand” because it was connected to Russia’s system before the full-scale invasion last February.

But now Ukrainian engineers better understand the Russian strategy and can take measures aimed at minimising the consequences of the attacks, Kudrytskyi added. Ukrainian officials state that Russia conducted a systematic campaign aimed at destroying transformers located in key nodes of the power grid distribution system, and not the power plants themselves, FT writes.

The goal was to break up the grid into isolated islands and prevent electricity from flowing between regions, power experts say. A significant part of Ukraine’s energy-generating capacity is located in the west and reaches the centre and east via high-voltage lines.

On 1 January, Volodymyr Kudrytskyi, the head of Ukrenergo [national energy company], stated that in theory there is a possibility of a complete blackout, but in practice he does not see such a danger now.”

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Environmental

Russia has created world’s largest mine field in Ukraine, Ukrinform reports. “The full-scale war unleashed by Russia has led to the creation of a 250,000-square-kilometer mine field in Ukraine. It’s currently the largest mine field in the world. It’s not only making it difficult for people to travel, but also causing major disruptions in farming, which is one of our main industries, Prime Minister of Ukraine Denys Shmyhal told South Korean Yonhap News Agency in an interview.

As noted, 250,000 sq km is a territory larger than not only the entire Korean Peninsula (around 221,000 sq km) but also Romania (around 238,000 sq km) and Britain (around 244,000 sq km).

As reported, the Russian military is setting up minefields in the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine without any markings on the terrain, posing a mortal danger to people. Only in the last few days, a 65-year-old man died in Kharkiv region and a couple died in Kherson region driving over Russian mines.”

2,157 aerial bombs neutralized in Ukraine since the war started, Ukrinform reports, citing the Ukrainian State Emergency Service. “Since the Russian full-scale invasion started, the explosives units of the Ukrainian State Emergency Service have neutralized 313,113 explosive items and 2,891 kilograms of explosive agents, including 2,157 aerial bombs, the report states.

Most often, explosives experts were working in the Kharkiv region (14,121 times), Kyiv region (7,119 times), Chernihiv region (4,315 times).”

Legal 

London to host international meeting on alleged war crimes in Ukraine, Reuters reports. “Justice ministers from around the world will gather in London to scale up the support being offered to the International Criminal Court in its investigations of alleged war crimes in Ukraine, the British government said on Saturday. The meeting in March, which will be hosted by UK Justice Secretary Dominic Raab and his Dutch counterpart Dilan Yesilgoz-Zegerius, will be attended by ICC Chief Prosecutor Karim Khan, according to a statement.

Almost a year on from the illegal invasion, the international community must give its strongest backing to the ICC so war criminals can be held to account for the atrocities we’re witnessing, said Raab, who is also Britain’s deputy prime minister.

The meeting will seek to increase the global financial and practical support to the ICC and coordinate efforts to ensure it has all it needs to carry out investigations and prosecute those responsible, the statement said.”

Stefanishyna expects legal basis to be formed in EU within six months to confiscate frozen Russian assets, Ukrinform reports, citing Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration Olga Stefanishyna. “In Ukraine, the Prosecutor General’s team has created a group that is developing a single algorithm. Also, the leader in this process is the European Union, which unites 27 countries, and almost every country has a certain part of property that is frozen as part of sanctions. Therefore, it should be a coordinated mechanism.

A legal basis is being prepared. Today, within the Group of Seven, there is an understanding that this should be a coordinated process. I expect that within the next six months a legal basis for such a decision will be formed, and at the site of the European Commission, this block on confiscation (of frozen Russian assets – ed.), will be part of the recovery process,” said the Deputy Prime Minister.

She added that appropriate funds are being created in the EU, where these assets can be accumulated and directed to the current and post-war reconstruction of Ukraine.

Russians use prohibited incendiary ammunition to attack Kherson city, Ukrainska Pravda reports. “Russian invaders shelled the city of Kherson with prohibited incendiary ammunition on the night of 8 January, as Yaroslav Yanushevych, Head of Kherson Oblast, has reported.

The Russian invaders attacked the Tavriiskyi neighbourhood of the city. Incendiary ammunition was used for the attack. Fortunately, this Ruscist’s attack did not result in civilian casualties or infrastructure destruction.”

Incendiary ammunition is prohibited, and it cannot be used in or near cities. It is allowed to use incendiary ammunition at military facilities only if they are remote from civilian areas. Using flammable and combustible materials, such ammunition is used to start mass fires in areas with dry vegetation cover.”

Russians tried to use children for military purposes through mobile game, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Oleksii Reznikov, Minister of Defence of Ukraine. “Russians tried to use Ukrainian children to unknowingly provide information about the location of strategically important objects through a mobile game. This is not just a dirty trick, it’s a war crime.

According to Reznikov, six types of serious violations against children during armed conflicts are listed in the 1999 UN Security Council resolution. Russia has committed all of them. We must remember this and punish evil,” Reznikov emphasised.”

453 children were killed, 877 children injured, 13,876 deported by foe forces, and 353 reported missing – the Office of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine reports as of January 9. 3,126 educational establishments are damaged as a result of shelling and bombings, 337 of them are destroyed fully. 63,243 crimes of aggression and war crimes and 17,449 crimes against national security were registered.

Support

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German won’t rule out deliveries of Leopard tanks to Ukraine, economy minister says, Reuters reports. “Germany cannot rule out the delivery of Leopard tanks, heavier fighting vehicles than the Marders, to support Ukrainian militry forces in the future, the country’s economy minister told German broadcaster ARD. Of course it can’t be ruled out, Robert Habeck said.

His comments come two days after Germany said it wants to deliver around 40 Marder infantry fighting vehicles to Ukraine before the end of March, a decision Habeck said was good and long overdue.”

For the first time US to supply Ukraine with 18 M109 Paladin 155mm howitzers, Army Recognition reports. “On January 6, 2023, the United States Department of Defense announced a new military aid package for Ukraine, and for the first time, the US will provide the Ukrainian army with 18 M109 Paladin 155mm tracked self-propelled howitzers. Citing information from Laura Cooper, deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia, artillery remains a crucial capability for the Ukrainians and the PDA (Presidential Drawdown Authority) will provide 18 self-propelled 155 mm Paladin howitzers, 36 105 mm towed howitzers, and thousands of rounds to supply both systems.

Other countries have already supplied Ukraine with M109 155mm self-propelled howitzers including Latvia which has donated six M109 howitzers, Norway with 23 M109A3G, and the UK with 20 Ex-Belgian M109A4

The M109A6 Paladin is an American-made 155mm self-propelled howitzer which is an improved version of the previous version of the M109 howitzer. […] The hull and the turret are made of all-welded aluminum armor, but the M109A6 is fitted with a new turret with improved armor and Kevlar ballistic lining. […] The 155mm gun of the M109A6 Paladin has a maximum firing range of 24 km with standard artillery ammunition and 30 km with using assisted rounds. The vehicle carries a total of 39 rounds. It can also fire Excalibur GPS-guided artillery ammunition with a maximum firing range of 40 km.”

Fleets of made-in-Canada armoured vehicles start reaching Ukrainian battlefields, National Post reports. “Seven months after they were first promised by Ottawa, fleets of Canadian-made armoured vehicles have been spotted reaching the Ukrainian frontlines. At the close of a NATO summit in June, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made the surprise announcement that 39 armoured vehicles originally intended for the Canadian Armed Forces would instead be diverted to Ukraine.

The vehicles are ACSVs (Armoured Combat Support Vehicles); eight-wheeled, 30-tonne mobile units that can be used as anything from scout cars to ambulances to troop carriers. […] The vehicles have reportedly been arriving into Ukraine as early as October, where they were handed over to rear-area units for training and familiarization. Only in recent weeks have the vehicles been spotted near the front lines. Late last month, video emerged of a Super Bison moving through thick mud at an unidentified section of the Ukrainian front.

The arrival of the Super Bisons is in addition to several hundred Canadian-made Senator armoured vehicles that have been trickling into Ukrainian service since the spring. Unlike the combat-ready Super Bisons, the Senators are little more than armoured trucks similar to the tactical vehicles used by the RCMP; they’ll deflect bullets and small explosions, but are vulnerable if put up against mines, rockets or mortars.

It’s why the Senators are generally being used by law enforcement and border guards operating outside of major combat zones. Although, a recent post by Defence Blog credited the Senators with supporting recent counteroffensives in the country’s east and south.”

Turkish-made KİRPİ armoured vehicles are shipped to Ukraine, QHA reports. “Turkish-made KİRPİ 4×4 armored vehicles supplied for the Ukrainian army are shipped to Ukraine by train. The Ukrainian state has previously ordered 150 armored vehicles. Ukraine recorded the delivery of 50 of these vehicles in August 2022.”

According to Army Recognition, “the Kirpi is a 4×4 armored vehicle in the category of MRAP (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected) that was designed and developed by the Turkish company BMC. The vehicle was unveiled for the first time to the public in 2010 during the Defense Exhibition in Paris, France, Eurosatory. The Kirpi is now in service in the Turkish army and in other African and Middle Eastern nations. The Turkish company BMC has won a contract to produce around 470 4×4 mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicles for the Turkish Land Forces Command based on the Israeli Hatehof Ltd NAVIGATOR 16 Tonnes protected vehicle. This vehicle has successfully passed severe tests in accordance with NATO standards.”

New Western firepower outgunning Putin, Daily Mail reports. “A military expert says it is ‘perfectly possible for Ukraine to win the war this year’ if its military science continues to outmatch that of Russia. Ever since Putin‘s invasion of Ukraine on February 24 last year, President Volodymyr Zelensky has successfully lobbied Western allies for modern armoured vehicles to repel the occupiers. Through the course of the conflict, Ukraine has gradually surpassed its invaders with technology allowing for a devastating fightback. […]

Last week, Ukraine was handed a further lifeline when France, Germany and the US all agreed to send versions of their tanks, the AMX-10, the Marder and the Bradley. Although not classified as ‘true tanks’ because of their lack of armour or firepower, the weapons are capable of providing firing support to Ukrainians advancing across enemy lines. 

Among those machines, the US Bradley – which served with distinction in the 1991 Gulf War – is widely regarded the most advanced, boasting a 25mm cannon fired from a chain gun and a pod on the side – effective at wiping out Russian battle tanks. […]

In terms of military science, it is perfectly possible for Ukraine to win the war this year, said Mr Watling. There are other plausible scenarios – what if Russian military industry gets its act together and increases munitions production? What if the Russians sort out their training?

Mr Barry, who himself served in Bosnia and had a number of the vehicles under his command, described the German Marder as ‘respectable but old’ and added that the AMX-10 has an armour too thin to be a true tank but it possesses great speed. He added: If someone said to me, Ben, I want you to build an armoured brigade, would you like these things? I’d say, absolutely. They are just what you want for a reconnaissance echelon or rapid reaction force.

The head of the Ukrainian military, Valery Zaluzhny, says he needs 300 tanks, 600 to 700 infantry fighting vehicles and 500 howitzers to push Russia back to its lines before the invasion.

France has not confirmed the number of AMX-10s it will send, while German newspaper Der Spiegel reported about 40 Marders – the equivalent of a batallion – are likely to be sent. US officials are reported to have said they will supply 50 Bradleys in the next support package to Ukraine. Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki yesterday stated he was in talks with coalition countries to discuss the prospect of sending Leopard-II tanks to Ukraine. […]

Writing for the Guardian, Michael Clarke a professor of defence studies at Kings College London, said: Kyiv still has some way to go before it has enough equipment and troops to conduct the sort of offensive that will throw Russian forces out of most, or all, its territory. 

It needs a lot more of what it already has – and then more overtly offensive weapon systems, including heavier armoured forces, more attack aircraft and more drones and missiles.

The ineptitude of the Russian army, vast in number and run centrally, was exposed early in the war. Prof Clarke added: The re-mobilised Russian army will have to be less corrupt, a characteristic that bedevils the quality and supply of military equipment… Its logistics need to be modernised quickly. Food and ammunition supply is particularly acute.”

New Developments 

  1. Zelensky: World has seen again these days that Russia is lying, UkrinformThe world has seen again these days that Russia lies even when it draws attention to the situation at the front with its own statements. Russian shelling of Kherson with incendiary ammunition right after Christmas. Strikes on Kramatorsk and other cities of Donbas – exactly on civilian objects and exactly when Moscow reported on the alleged “silence” of their army. More threats of Russian officials to Europe and the world. All this was when Moscow was talking about the alleged ‘truce’” the President said.
  2. Czech PM says it’s a duty for Western countries to fully support Ukraine, Ukrinform reports, citing Radio Prague International. “Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala has said that supporting Ukraine in the war against Russia is the duty of Western countries.
  3. The Ukrainian Ambassador urges Germany to speed up the delivery of military aid, Ukraine Business NewsUkraine’s Ambassador to Germany warned against delays in decisions on future military support days after Germany’s government announced it would supply Kyiv with Marder infantry fighting vehicles. The Ukrainian Ambassador Oleksii Makeiev said he was optimistic that Leopard-type tanks might be offered next. […] Understandably, Germany wants to coordinate decisions with its partners, but it is crucial not to hesitate too long in supplying weapons. Every day costs us many lives, Makeiev said.”

Sweden says Turkey is asking too much over NATO application, Reuters reports. “Sweden is confident that Turkey will approve its application to join the NATO military alliance but cannot fulfil all the conditions Ankara has set for its support, Sweden’s prime minister said on Sunday. Turkey both confirms that we have done what we said we would do, but they also say that they want things that we cannot or do not want to give them, Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson told a defence think-tank conference in Sweden.”

Assessment 

  1. On the war. 

The Institute for the Study of War has made the following assessment as of  January 8, 2023:

ISW is publishing an abbreviated campaign update today, January 8. This report discusses the Russian Ministry of Defense’s (MoD) attempts to claim that Russian forces responded to the December 31 Ukrainian strike on Russian positions in Makiivka; the Russian MoD’s use of a grievance-and-retaliation framework and the resulting creation of negative feedback loops in the pro-war Russian information space; Wagner Group financier Yevgeny Prigozhin’s potential attempts to financially exploit Ukrainian natural resources around Bakhmut; and the United Kingdom Ministry of Defense’s (UK MoD) assessment that Russian forces may be preparing for Ukrainian counteroffensive actions along the Zaporizhzhia and Luhansk oblast frontlines.

The Russian MoD’s attempts to claim Russian forces responded to the December 31 Ukrainian strike against Russian positions in Makiivka are generating further discontent in the Russian information space. The Russian MoD announced on January 8 that Russian forces conducted a “retaliation operation” against Ukrainian forces for the December 31 strike on Makiivka that killed up to 400 mobilized soldiers due to Russian command failures and poor personnel dispersal practices. The Russian MoD falsely claimed the retaliatory strike targeted several temporary Ukrainian deployment points in Kramatorsk, Donetsk Oblast, and killed over 600 Ukrainian personnel. This claim is false — a Finnish reporter visited the site of the strike in Kramatorsk on January 8 and noted that it hit an empty school. Several Russian milbloggers responded negatively to the Russian MoD’s claim, pointing out that the Russian MoD frequently presents fraudulent claims and criticizing Russian military leadership for fabricating a story to “retaliate” for the Makiivka strike instead of holding Russian leadership responsible for the losses accountable.

The Russian MoD application of a grievance-and-retaliation framework to many of its operations has created a negative feedback loop with prominent members of the pro-war Russian information space. At the beginning of the massive campaign of strikes against Ukrainian critical infrastructure in October 2022, the Russian MoD employed a similar framing of “retaliation” against claimed Ukrainian strikes on the Kerch Strait Bridge and other Russian infrastructure. The Russian MoD partially used this framing to mollify escalated demands from the pro-war community to “avenge” Ukrainian actions but provoked an array of responses from milbloggers outlining other instances that the Russian MoD should equally “retaliate” for. The Russian MoD has thus created a negative feedback loop, wherein it attempts to respond to Ukrainian offensive successes with a discrete, retaliatory, offensive action, which then opens the MoD up to continued criticism from discontented Russian milbloggers highlighting their beliefs that the MoD is responding in the wrong manner or to the wrong event. The Russian MoD’s response to the Makiivka strike is a clear continuation of this grievance-and-retaliation model that has once again opened Russian military leadership to staunch criticism of their conduct of the war.

Wagner Group financier Yevgeny Prigozhin may be attempting to financially exploit Ukrainian natural resources around Bakhmut and is using the war in Ukraine to connect his military forces with Russian regional officials. An unnamed White House official stated on January 5 that the United States believes Prigozhin seeks to extract salt and gypsum from mines in the Bakhmut area for monetary gain. Prigozhin attempted to justify the importance of mines around Bakhmut and Soledar (which Russian forces have struggled to capture from Ukrainian defenders) on January 7, stating that these mines have “unique and historic defenses” that act as a “network of underground cities.” Prigozhin added that these mines can house personnel and military equipment up to a depth of 80 to 100 meters and claimed that these mines are stocked with weaponry from World War I. Prigozhin’s statements are likely an attempt to both explain the slow pace of Wagner’s advances around Bakhmut but may also partially explain his months-long and costly determination to establish control of the area. A former Russian officer and milblogger criticized Prigozhin and Russian commanders, stating that everyone knew about the existence of these mines when developing an offensive plan and dismissed the claim of the presence of historic weapons in the area. The milblogger also noted even if Russian forces and Wagner troops seize Soledar, Prigozhin and the Russian military will lose strategically due to committing their best forces to an attritional battle. ISW had previously reported that another Russian silovik, Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, is reportedly attempting to secure business opportunities in occupied Mariupol.

Prigozhin is also continuing to publicly align himself with select Russian governors in an effort to increase his influence and advance his personal interests in Russia, as opposed to strictly winning the war. Kursk Oblast Governor Roman Starovoit visited the Wagner training facility for the Kursk Oblast People’s Militia on January 8 and reportedly trained alongside Prigozhin and “real men” who are patriots during his visit. Russian outlets claimed that Starovoit even received an offer to sign a contract with Wagner, which he declined due to his public duties. Some Russian outlets even framed Starovoit’s visit to the training ground as model behavior for a Russian politician, further boosting Prigozhin’s image as a patriotic wartime leader in the Russian information space. Prigozhin is likely attempting to rally up support for the legalization of Wagner Group in Russia. […]

Key inflections in ongoing military operations on January 8:

  • Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council Secretary Oleksiy Danilov stated on January 8 that Russia plans to begin domestic production of Iranian-made drones.
  • Russian forces continued counterattacks to regain lost positions along the Svatove-Kreminna line on January 8. Luhansk Oblast Head Serhiy Haidai stated on January 8 that Russian forces transferred several battalions from the Bakhmut area to the Kreminna area.
  • Ukrainian Eastern Group of Forces Spokesperson Serhiy Cherevaty stated on January 8 that Russian forces do not control Soledar, and other official Ukrainian sources reported that Ukrainian forces captured Russian positions near Bakhmut. Prominent Russian milbloggers expressed divergent opinions of the potential for the Russian encirclement of Bakhmut.
  • Russian forces continued offensive operations around Bakhmut and along the western outskirts of Donetsk City.
  • Chechen Republic Head Ramzan Kadyrov claimed on January 7 that 300 Chechen Akhmat-1 OMON personnel deployed to Ukraine.
  • Ukrainian officials reported that Russian forces used incendiary munitions to strike civilian infrastructure in Kherson City overnight on January 7–8.
  • Russian forces are continuing to intensify filtration measures to identify partisans in occupied territories. Russian occupation authorities claimed that likely Ukrainian partisans committed sabotage by mining a gas pipeline in Luhansk Oblast on January 8.

Russian occupation authorities intensified passportization efforts in occupied territories on January 8.

We are offered the Korean option, but Koreans regret it – Secretary of Ukraine’s Security Council, Ukrainska Pravda reports. “Oleksii Danilov, Secretary of the National Security and Defence Council of Ukraine, has stated that the Russians are going to propose the so-called Korean option of settling the war with Ukraine, which implies the division of the country. 

We are being offered  the Korean scenario now. The infamous ‘38th parallel’ [which separated North and South Korea – ed.]. Here there are some Ukrainians, and over there, there are some other Ukrainians. The Russians will come up with anything now. I know for sure that one of the options they may offer us is the ‘38th parallel’. 

Danilov has also reported that Dmitry Kozak, Deputy Head of the Administration of the Russian President, goes to meetings with politicians from past eras in Europe and delivers messages through them that they [the Russians – ed.] are ready to make many concessions in order to preserve the status quo, as it is today, and force us to come to some kind of truce.

The Secretary of the National Security and Defence Council has stated once again that many indicators point to an escalation of combat operations in February.”

Time is not on Ukraine’s side, Condoleezza Rice and Robert M. Gates write in The Washington Post. “When it comes to the war in Ukraine, about the only thing that’s certain right now is that the fighting and destruction will continue. Vladimir Putin remains fully committed to bringing all of Ukraine back under Russian control or — failing that — destroying it as a viable country. He believes it is his historical destiny — his messianic mission — to reestablish the Russian Empire and, as Zbigniew Brzezinski observed years ago, there can be no Russian Empire without Ukraine.

Both of us have dealt with Putin on a number of occasions, and we are convinced he believes time is on his side: that he can wear down the Ukrainians and that US and European unity and support for Ukraine will eventually erode and fracture. To be sure, the Russian economy and people will suffer as the war continues, but Russians have endured far worse.

For Putin, defeat is not an option. He cannot cede to Ukraine the four eastern provinces he has declared part of Russia. If he cannot be militarily successful this year, he must retain control of positions in eastern and southern Ukraine that provide future jumping-off points for renewed offensives to take the rest of Ukraine’s Black Sea coast, control the entire Donbas region and then move west. Eight years separated Russia’s seizure of Crimea and its invasion nearly a year ago. Count on Putin to be patient to achieve his destiny.

Meanwhile, although Ukraine’s response to the invasion has been heroic and its military has performed brilliantly, the country’s economy is in a shambles, millions of its people have fled, its infrastructure is being destroyed, and much of its mineral wealth, industrial capacity and considerable agricultural land are under Russian control. Ukraine’s military capability and economy are now dependent almost entirely on lifelines from the West — primarily, the United States. Absent another major Ukrainian breakthrough and success against Russian forces, Western pressures on Ukraine to negotiate a cease-fire will grow as months of military stalemate pass. Under current circumstances, any negotiated cease-fire would leave Russian forces in a strong position to resume their invasion whenever they are ready. That is unacceptable.

The only way to avoid such a scenario is for the United States and its allies to urgently provide Ukraine with a dramatic increase in military supplies and capability — sufficient to deter a renewed Russian offensive and to enable Ukraine to push back Russian forces in the east and south. Congress has provided enough money to pay for such reinforcement; what is needed now are decisions by the United States and its allies to provide the Ukrainians the additional military equipment they need — above all, mobile armor. The US agreement Thursday to provide Bradley Fighting Vehicles is commendable, if overdue. Because there are serious logistical challenges associated with sending American Abrams heavy tanks, Germany and other allies should fill this need. NATO members also should provide the Ukrainians with longer-range missiles, advanced drones, significant ammunition stocks (including artillery shells), more reconnaissance and surveillance capability, and other equipment. These capabilities are needed in weeks, not months.

Increasingly, members of Congress and others in our public discourse ask, “Why should we care? This is not our fight.” But the United States has learned the hard way — in 1914, 1941 and 2001 — that unprovoked aggression and attacks on the rule of law and the international order cannot be ignored. Eventually, our security was threatened and we were pulled into conflict. This time, the economies of the world — ours included — are already seeing the inflationary impact and the drag on growth caused by Putin’s single-minded aggression. It is better to stop him now, before more is demanded of the United States and NATO as a whole. We have a determined partner in Ukraine that is willing to bear the consequences of war so that we do not have to do so ourselves in the future.

President Volodymyr Zelensky’s speech before Congress last month reminded us of Winston Churchill’s plea in February 1941: “Give us the tools, and we will finish the job.” We agree with the Biden administration’s determination to avoid direct confrontation with Russia. However, an emboldened Putin might not give us that choice. The way to avoid confrontation with Russia in the future is to help Ukraine push back the invader now. That is the lesson of history that should guide us, and it lends urgency to the actions that must be taken — before it is too late.

Why Russia is throwing all its forces on Soledar, and not on Bakhmut, explains the military of the Armed Forces of Ukraine from the front line, NV report. “Soledar remains Ukrainian, and Russian reports about the alleged occupation of the city are fake, they say in the Armed Forces of Ukraine. What is happening in this direction of the front, Ivan Varchenko, a serviceman of the Armed Forces of Ukraine , told Radio NV. He also explained why Russian priorities have changed and now the invaders are trying to take a city seven times smaller than Bakhmut. […]

From Bakhmut to Soledar, the distance is less than 20 km. It is clear that this is the only section of the large front. We understand that Russia is traditionally trying to get at least something for her now, given that the New Year holidays, and it could not take a single more or less noticeable object for the Russians. They, for example, made a huge symbol out of Bakhmut, expecting that Bakhmut would be taken before the new year. When they failed, they are now frantic, because instead of the gingerbread promised to them before the new year, serious lashes await them, that “how yes, with such a great army they could not take a small settlement”, from which they made in their propaganda ideology almost Stalingrad.

Today, it seems to Russia, to the Russian command, that they can take at least one of the settlements located on the front line so that they can report to Putin and thus receive less punishment. At the same time, it is known (and this is obvious) [that it is hard] now for our servicemen working in the Soledar direction, working in the city of Soledar itself. The city of Soledar is under the control of the Armed Forces of Ukraine […].

Regardless of the plans of the Russians and regardless of how they advance and whether they have tactical successes or not, we must understand that any Russian advance is already a Pyrrhic victory. For example, near Bakhmut, which has 70 thousand inhabitants, they put much more of their soldiers. And it is clear that any further actions they take only increase these pyrrhic victories. That is, the invested resources, the expended forces and means absolutely do not justify all the tactical or operational goals that can be achieved, for example, when taking this or that city.

Soledar – 10 thousand people. And there the Russians have already put one and a half times more of their soldiers than the total population in Soledar. […]”

Russian invaders no longer have a deep rear area on the Tavriia front [Kherson oblast], Ukrainska Pravda report, citing Brigadier General Oleksandr Tarnavskyi, the commander of the Tavriia operational and strategic group of troops. “On the Tavriia front, the concept of a ‘deep rear’ no longer actually exists for Russian forces. We have successfully conducted counteroffensive operations on the Kharkiv and Kherson fronts thanks to a skilful combination of fire and manoeuvre. We also now control all attempts by the occupation forces to organise effective defence and create conditions for active operations.

Ukrainian defenders are doing everything they can to destroy the maximum number of the invaders’ military assets and personnel, even during periods when our positions are relatively stable. The more we destroy them now, the less work there will be during the final liberation of Ukraine from the invaders.”

Russia and Belarus to conduct joint aviation drills, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing BelTA state-owned Belarusian news agency. “Joint tactical flight drills with the aviation units of the armed forces of Belarus and Russia, which are part of the aviation component of the Russian-BelaRussian combined forces, will take place from 16 January to 1 February, the Ministry of Defence of Belarus reported.

An aviation component from the Aerospace Force of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation arrived in Belarus on Sunday, 8 January. During joint tactical flight drills, all airfields and training grounds of the Air Force and Air Defence Forces of the Armed Forces of Belarus will be involved, the message says.

On 5 January, the Ministry of Defence of Belarus stated that personnel, weapons, military and special equipment of the Russian armed forces will continue to arrive in Belarus. It was reported that the Belarusian army had received another 34 armoured vehicles from Russia, which were sent to the Brest district of Belarus.

On the night of 6-7 January, another trainload of Russian soldiers (approximately 700-800 people) was moved to Belarus. This train repeated the route of the previous one exactly, which, as it turned out after specifying the data, also arrived in Vitebsk on the night of 6 January and brought about 700-800 people.”

  1. Consequences and what to do? 

Battered and strained by war, Ukraine’s economy adapts to survive, The New York Times reports. “After 10 months of Russian destruction, Ukraine’s economy shrank by 30 percent. […] And through nearly a year of war, over a third of Ukraine’s spending is being directed at beating back Russian forces. Despite major battlefield defeats in its invasion, the Kremlin’s relentless war effort has sown economic havoc atop a devastating humanitarian toll in Ukraine. The country’s economy shrank by 30.4 percent in 2022, its economy minister said Thursday, the largest decline since Ukraine declared independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. […]

Swaths of the country’s industry and infrastructure have been partially or fully destroyed, and may not be rebuilt. Many businesses based in territory controlled by Russia, or in areas of heavy fighting, are not producing near their capacity, if at all. Consumers across the country are buying less because of high inflation and economic uncertainty generated by the war.

But the war has also spurred Ukrainians to restructure parts of their economy at lightning speed, in ways big and small, as companies pack up operations or pivot to new business. That has fostered an extraordinary amount of economic adaptability that is not reflected in the dire numbers, and is setting the groundwork for potential rebuilding even before the war ends, the government argued.

Yulia Svyrydenko, the economy minister, said in a statement Thursday that the “indomitable spirit” of the Ukrainian people, along with financial support from international donors, had allowed the government in Kyiv to “maintain the economic front and continue our movement toward victory.” And while the damage has been profound, the hit to the economy was slightly lower than the worst forecasts.

The biggest damage has come in Ukraine’s major export sectors, which before the war made up the bulk of the country’s income. The conflict caused a 35 percent drop last year in exports of everything from wheat to steel. Agriculture, once a pillar of Ukraine’s economy — making it known as a breadbasket of the world — has been dealt an especially harsh setback as Moscow continues to block most shipments, despite a U.N.-brokered deal.

Compounding the problem, Russia’s attacks on the country’s energy grid have disrupted the flow of food, contributing to a global food crisis. Storage has run out for many harvests, leaving Ukrainian farmers scrambling for makeshift solutions. On average, Ukraine can now export only about 5 to 6 million tons of grain a month, down from about 8 million tons before the war.

Ukraine had also been a major exporter of metals and raw materials, such as iron ore. But nearly all of Ukraine’s large factories producing steel and other key metals were located in eastern territories that were captured or severely bombed by Russia. A vast majority of those facilities have more or less stopped operating, said Tymofiy Milovanov, the president of the Kyiv School of Economics.

Russian missiles have struck cities and facilities across the country, dealing heavy damage to a huge amount of the nation’s housing, transportation and energy infrastructure. The Kyiv School of Economics has estimated that the direct costs of war-related damage to Ukraine’s infrastructure were $127 billion as of September. Rebuilding the country will run to some $750 billionUkrainian officials have said, while the World Bank has put the reconstruction estimate at closer to $349 billion.

In order to revive its economy and manage a sustained recovery once the fighting ends — and it has no end in sight — Ukraine is expected to amass large debts. The International Monetary Fund and the World Bank had both estimated that Ukraine’s economy would shrink by 35 percent in 2022. The I.M.F. had predicted modest economic growth for this year, but that is subject to huge uncertainty about the course of the war: The I.M.F. set the range of outcomes at a potential decline of more than 10 percent, in the pessimistic scenario, to growth of 10 percent in the more optimistic case.

Ukrainian officials are clinging to the sunnier outlook, in large part because a type of shadow economy has developed amid the war, said Mr. Milovanov. That has kept economic activity, powered by donated generators or volunteer efforts, for instance, humming beneath the radar of the dry statistical figures, he said. […]

Russia’s destruction of critical infrastructure has dealt Ukraine a setback heading into the second year of the war. The path of Ukraine’s economy this year will depend heavily on the ability to keep electricity flowing, limiting the length of blackouts and the need to ration power, according to Mr. Vyshlinsky. He forecasts economic growth to be flat this year — a less optimistic outlook than many forecasters, but also not as pessimistic as those who think that another big drop is in store.

In the meantime, international donors are circling Ukraine, which has laid out a blueprint for an eventual Marshall Plan to help rebuild once the war has ended. Ukrainian leaders have also made plans for the short term, recognizing that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia appears determined to continue with the invasion.

Ukraine has found ready supporters in the West, where leaders have largely remained unified despite the soaring energy prices caused by the war. So far, countries and institutions in the European Union have committed nearly 52 billion euros, about $55 billion, in military, financial, and humanitarian aid, while the United States has pledged some $51 billion, according to data compiled by the Kiel Institute for the World Economy, a German research organization.

Many governments and international companies, eyeing the prospect of a vast bounty of postwar contracts, are rushing to help Ukraine now, in the hopes of renewed deals when rebuilding starts in earnest.”

Hans Petter Midttun: Increasingly more voices are being raised, saying what I have said since 2018. The consequences of a Russian victory in Ukraine are unacceptable to Europe and Russia still believes in victory.

Additionally, a growing realisation that the war isn’t necessarily concluded on the battlefield is dawning on the West. Nine years of war have played havoc on the Ukrainian economy and made the country dependent upon international financial support to survive.

Its GDP has fallen by 30% last year alone. Millions of its workforce have fled. Its industry and critical infrastructure are being destroyed. A great part of its agricultural areas is either occupied or mined. Rebuilding the country is assessed to be a staggering 750 billion dollars. Ukraine has lost control over its maritime exclusive economic zones and is exposed to a maritime blockade. Its export has fallen by 30%. The war itself has a huge impact on international investors’ motivation to invest in the country. Its financial ratings are suffering.

The expenses on national security and defence make up about 50% of the entire state budget expenses.

That does not mean that the situation on the battlefield has no impact on the overall outcome of the war. On the contrary, the situation in the military and non-military spheres are very much interlinked.

Russia has been waging a hybrid war – the parallel and synchronised use of both military and non-military means to undermine nations from within – for more than nine years. That did not change on 24 February.

It’s the same aggressor, with the same strategic aim and objectives, using the same tools as it has used for nearly nine years. Only the balance between the military and non-military means being employed has shifted.

If Russia can uphold the status quo – controlling parts of Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson, as well as all of Crimea and the Ukrainian maritime exclusive economic zones – Ukraine will collapse the moment western financial aid dwindles and stops.  From experience, Russia knows that Western support is time limited.

That’s why the headline of Condoleezza Rice and Robert M. Gates Op-ed “Time is not on Ukraine’s side” is very astute.

“Both of us have dealt with Putin on a number of occasions, and we are convinced he believes time is on his side: that he can wear down the Ukrainians and that US and European unity and support for Ukraine will eventually erode and fracture. To be sure, the Russian economy and people will suffer as the war continues, but Russians have endured far worse.”

Stressing the need to act both quicker and more resolutely, they refer to what I have consistently called the “tsunami of ripple effects”. When arguing why the US and Europe have no choice but to increase their aid, Rice and Gates highlight that both our common security, stability and prosperity are directly linked to the war.

They are in essence echoing the words of Michael Clarke, a professor of defence studies at Kings College London:

Kyiv still has some way to go before it has enough equipment and troops to conduct the sort of offensive that will throw Russian forces out of most, or all, its territory. It needs a lot more of what it already has – and then more overtly offensive weapon systems, including heavier armoured forces, more attack aircraft and more drones and missiles.”

The Former US secretary of state and secretary of defence frame the same key message in a strategic context:

“Absent another major Ukrainian breakthrough and success against Russian forces, Western pressures on Ukraine to negotiate a cease-fire will grow as months of military stalemate pass. Under current circumstances, any negotiated cease-fire would leave Russian forces in a strong position to resume their invasion whenever they are ready. That is unacceptable.

The only way to avoid such a scenario is for the United States and its allies to urgently provide Ukraine with a dramatic increase in military supplies and capability — sufficient to deter a renewed Russian offensive and to enable Ukraine to push back Russian forces in the east and south.”

That is basically what I argued in my Op-ed in September (“Why an intervention in Ukraine is in NATO’s interest”). While none of them argues in favour of military intervention, their rationale for increased, more comprehensive and faster defence support follows the same line of arguments.

Military intervention in Ukraine is in the national interests of all 30 NATO member states because (1) it is a question of integrity. It is about protecting international law and acting following the UN “Responsibility to Protect” doctrine. It is about defending our shared values ​​and principles, and about denying countries the right to change borders by force. It’s about doing what’s right. (2) Military intervention in Ukraine is in line with NATO’s strategic concepts from 2010. NATO cannot be seen to be deterred by Russia. (3) A potential Russian victory would undermine European security and stability. (4) The “tsunami of ripple effects” of the war includes increased costs of living, food and energy insecurity, increased famine, recession, and more. This increases the likelihood of social unrest, increased extremism, riots, and the fall of governments. (5) The West must respond to the hybrid war Russia is waging against Europe and the US. To continue to refer to the war as just a war between Russia and Ukraine undermines our own credibility. It is already a broader confrontation between Russia and NATO. (6) The intervention is also inevitable as the West is running out of weapons it can supply Ukraine without extensive training.

When the three argue for a fast and dramatic increase in military supplies and capabilities – the latter referring to “heavier armoured forces, more attack aircraft and more drones and missiles” – they implicitly argue in favour of providing both equipment and “NATO operators”.

While Ukraine will be very much capable of operating ATACMS, Abrams, Leopards, F-16 and the multi-use Gray Eagle drone, none of these can be provided without time-consuming training.

If time is essential – and time is essential as Ukrainians are paying for our common security, stability and prosperity with blood – military intervention is a part of the equation.

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