Ukraine Update 14 June, 2022

I want to touch on Ukraine briefly before diving into D+23. It has been some time since my last Ukraine post. Since then, the military situation and politics of the war have undergone a photosynthesis of sorts. As is the case with all wars, the 2022 Ukraine-Russia conflict has not gone according to plan for either side. Adjustments and modifications to planning, strategy, tactics and equipment have been made by each side. Some have been more effective than others.

In any event, the war continues. As time goes on, this conflict becomes strikingly comparable to the Winter War of 1939-40, which was fought between the Soviet Union and Finland in the early days of World War II. Despite the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, the Soviets did not trust their erstwhile German allies Moscow wanted to establish a security zone that would protect Leningrad from attack. Negotiations failed to convince Finland to cede portions of its border territories in exchange for land elsewhere. As a result, the Soviet Union resorted to the military option and invaded on 30 November, 1939. On paper, the Soviets appeared to have overwhelming military superiority. Yet once the shooting started, the Red Army revealed itself to be little more than a paper tiger beset by corruption and minimal training standards. The Finns held off Soviet attacks for two months and caused heavy casualties and material losses to the attackers. The Soviets backed off, reorganized, and adopted new tactics. In February, 1940 the offensive resumed and within a month Soviet forces broke through the Finnish defenses. A ceasefire and subsequent peace treaty followed shortly afterwards, and Finland was forced to cede Karelia and other territories to the Soviet Union.

The conflict in Ukraine is moving along a comparable track. In the weeks leading up to the conflict, Western analysts assumed Russia, with its military advantage, would roll to victory over Ukraine in a matter of days. On paper there was little reason to doubt the outcome. Russia had the edge in practically every category. Once the balloon went up, however, it was another story altogether. Russia’s offensive bogged down almost everywhere. The Ukrainians, with their recently arrived Western weapons, inflicted heavy casualties and material losses upon the invaders. After a month of fighting, Russia paused and eventually shifted its primary focus from attempting to capture Kiev to a more limited, realistic offensive in the Donbas region. The pause was used by Russian forces to resupply, rearm and adjust to the new realities of this conflict.

As of now, the move is bearing fruit for Russia. Despite heavy fighting, Russian troops are making significant progress on the ground. Severodonetsk is on the verge of being captured, Ukrainian defenders are absorbing unacceptably high casualties as they attempt to hold on. To make matters worse, the Ukrainian military is enduring a major shortage in artillery ammunition at the worst possible time. The effect of the Russian quantity in arms and ammunition is beginning to have a major effect which could potentially be disastrous for the Ukrainians.

Ukraine’s government has steadfastly claimed it will not cede any amount of territory to Russia in exchange for a ceasefire and termination of hostilities. However, as time goes on, this position is becoming less tenable. Unlike Russia, Ukrainian forces do not have large stockpiles of ammunition and material to take from. Right now, much of the ammunition for heavy Soviet-era weapons is running critically low. The resupply effort from Eastern European nations with their own stockpiles of Soviet-era weaponry is not keeping up with Ukrainian demand. More worrisome is the fact that as the war continues, Ukraine finds itself in need of more material and weapons. Unfortunately, the overwhelming Western moral and material support for Ukraine now appears to finally be diminishing. As it becomes clear Ukraine will survive this war, albeit perhaps with a territorial concession, many NATO nations are looking to limit the amount of weapons, money and material being given to Ukraine.

Zelenskiy could be forced to make an unpalatable decision in the coming weeks. With the war causing irreparable damage to his national economy, as well as those of nations around the world, he might need to hand over Donbas to Russia in exchange for ending the war. Neither side is willing to walk away from this war with nothing to show for its sacrifices. Unfortunately for Ukraine, Russia can continue fighting for a long time yet before it runs low on ammunition and material. The capability of Ukrainian forces to continue fighting effectively rests on Western aid. It might not be evident to the general public right now, but there are discussions taking place behind the scenes in Brussels, Washington, Berlin, Paris and London centered on how to end the Russia-Ukraine war before it brings more economic damage to the rest of the world.

14 Replies to “Ukraine Update 14 June, 2022”

  1. I’m not seeing even the biggest and most advanced aid package as making a difference to the near-term Donbas fight: It’ll just take too long to absorb. I also wonder if the gargantuan Ukraine request list for basically an entire corps worth of heavy equipment is even possible to fulfill at all.

    That said, it does still speak negatively of Russia that the best they can manage even with a huge artillery difference is still just a very slow attritional slog forward.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It speaks very negatively. But at this point, maneuver warfare is out the window and its the forward slog, like you said


  2. Would be interesting to know how much the Russians had to draw down their ammo/supply stocks. I am sure NATO got a treasure trove of ELINT from the orbiting flights of every imaginable data collecting aircraft. LOL

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh yes. They’re probably drawing down significantly, but they have much more to commit than Ukraine does. Even with Western support


  3. Joe Biden leads another Charlie Foxtrot like Kabul. Javelins and NLAWs won’t cut it for this phase of the battle. He still waffles on giving sufficient quantities of heavy weapons and aircraft, meanwhile the Germans and French want their Russian oil and natural gas and urge settling. The Soviets/Russians never had any qualms about providing advanced weapons to the North Vietnamese or North Koreans that put a lot of Americans in the ground. Not to mention their fighter pilots in Mig-15s taking on UN AirPower over Mig Alley from November 1950 to July 1953…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Agreed. The Germans and French are getting antsy now, I think. They’re not going to stay on board much longer. This war needs to end soon


  4. I wonder if the Ukr. are getting trained up on M1s at undisclosed locations in Poland. We still have 2500+ sitting in the desert in California. The USMC have demobbed their M1 units (I think they had like 900?) – a surge of Abrams tanks could tip the balance back in the favor of the Ukraine land forces.

    I’m not saying “we should” just that “we could” and “it might”.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I like the idea but the problem is with time. I mean it takes time to properly train up tank crews to a respectable level of proficiency. The way things look now, Ukraine doesn’t have the luxury of endless time

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Lately, I am beginning to suspect that the Western Powers are going to force Ukraine to take a settlement in order to end the war. I just hope it doesn’t end up being anything like the Munich Agreement.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Me too, but right now allowing the war to continue is causing economic hurt to Europe, the US and many other areas around the word. I hope it wont be a Munich either but rest assured if Russia ends this war with just Donbas, it’ll be back for more later

      Liked by 1 person

  6. #1 Most wars are ended at the negotiating table, not unconditional surrender of the enemy. I’ve had issue with the rhetoric on all sides UKR, RUS, NATO, USA, re: making the other side out to be the next reincarnation of Hitler, Nazis, Soviets, etc. Makes it hard for the citizenry to accept a negotiated peace.
    #2 If UKR can walk out with just the loss of Donbas – Crimean land bridge, while heartbreaking, RUS controlled about 2/3 of that area before this incursion anyway. While a territorial loss for UKR, RUS threw almost everything, conventionally, they had at it. But will only walk away with about a 3rd more land than they had. IMO more of a strategic loss for RUS.
    #3 And I believe this to have implications for most future large scale conflicts. Supplies will run out, though long a nature of war, it’s more profound now, because of technology. See shipbuilding, F35 production rates. We will, and UKR is, fight wars with what we have on hand. Resupply of, tanks, ships, artillery pieces, planes, satellites, etc are at LEAST a year out from when the balloon goes up.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. #1- I agree on both points here. The rhetoric and propaganda has reached levels I never thought possible. It might be deliberately like that to push the citizenry in a certain direction.

      #2- I agree with this almost fully. Zelenskiy needs to be realistic about his situation. The Russians can keep resupplying longer than his forces can. No way around that point. The West is also beginning to look at the overall situation more realistically. Europe and the US are not going to continue supplying Zelenskiy with weapons and material for two reasons. 1-Ukraine will emerge from this war as a nation-state. Its survival is no longer in question. It can live without Donbas.
      2- The effects of this war are being felt around the world now. The longer the war goes on, the worse this situation becomes. Inflation, oil prices, food shortages, etc.

      #3- Definitely. A long war eats up weapons and materials at an intense rate. Higher than any pre-war estimates forecast. The best case study for that is World War I. Every nation expected and planned for a short war. When it turned into a stalemate, they found themselves in serious trouble.
      Thanks for this comment, I enjoyed responding 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I have finally caught up with the blog after discovering it through the Midrats podcast. I’ve really enjoyed it (though the fact that I happened to be in Madrid when I read D+18 was a bit unsettling…)

    I wanted to comment on the parallels between this story and the current war in Ukraine. It seems from your work that the Soviets would have underperformed relative to expectations, just as the Russian army has now, and 23 days is not enough time in a major war for the kind of realignment that Russia is trying in this minor one (though I’m less certain it’s a shift in tactics so much as a return to doctrine and realignment of goals to match that doctrine)

    What I think is missing in some of the analysis of the modern Russian army I’ve seen in comments here is a lesson we can draw from the descriptions of the Politburo and its interactions with the Red army in this blog. I’m not sure who has said it, but I’ve heard “Putin has been sold a Bill of goods” a couple of times. I think that Putin got exactly the army he should have expected from the political system he has built.

    The Politburo lived in a web of deceit, including self deceit, mistrust and deliberately stoked rivalries. Paranoia prevented coordination, and a shoot-the-messenger attitude that resulted made it impossible for the political leadership to support Army commanders when they needed it. You could even make the case that this is an ingredient in their decision to escalate- they’d buried their heads in the sand, and abruptly coming to terms with how poorly things were going when reality wouldn’t be denied could have made them more willing to push the button.

    Putin has created a similar system. The professed ideology is different, but the divide and conquer (or exclude) methodology remains, and he has surrounded himself with people from his generation of KGB and other insiders who knew how to thrive in Soviet institutions. The same paranoia remains- the super long table or separation on the televised briefings he’s getting is an almost absurd emblem of this.

    There was a good discussion on the podcast of the Texas National Security Review about Russian army reforms (and their undoing) as well as some really interesting parallels to Grenada in 1983 that readers of this blog will find relevant.

    He’s tried to modernize his army, but in the system he’s created, doing so has to be centralized, and thus can’t build western style institutions of leadership and initiative, and lends itself all too easily to the same kind of fakery, corruption and cronyism that we saw in the Soviet system. The HBO miniseries “Chernobyl” caught this aspect of that society so well, even if it was a bit of an abridgement of the story: “How does an RBMK reactor explode? With lies.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Welcome aboard, Kyle. Oh Lord, you were in Madrid when you read D+18? Yeah, that had to be unsettling.
      True, the Russian army today is underperforming just as the Soviet army would’ve in 1987. Like you said, for different reasons, but the similarities are there. Ironically, the Russian army in Ukraine is living up to historical standards. The Russian military has always been a paper tiger of sorts before the shooting begins. Then its shortcomings are proven accurate, it makes the necessary changes and performs better later on. I’m summarizing things, but you get the point.

      I’ll check that discussion and podcast out, thanks for bringing it to my attention.

      As for the Politburo, yep. Always has been a den of deceit, lies and power-hungry politicians. Putin today is cut from the same cloth.

      I’ll touch on a few of your other points as D+23 unfolds. Again, thanks for checking in!


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