A Blog by Jonathan Low

 

Jun 26, 2022

NATO Analysts Predict Russia Will Soon Exhaust Combat Capability

At current rates of attrition for both soldiers and weaponry, Russia will soon be unable to mount combat operations in Ukraine, according to NATO analysis. 

At the same time, Ukrainian forces are receiving new supplies of advanced NATO weapons and fresh reinforcement of its own troops. JL 

Liz Sly reports in the Washington Post:

The Russian military will soon exhaust its combat capabilities and be forced to bring its offensive in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region to a grinding halt. Minor territorial gains currently being notched by Russia are less significant than the overall balance of power on the battlefield. "The tiny advances Russia is making become unsustainable in light of the costs and they will need a significant pause." Conditions for Ukrainian troops are likely to improve as more sophisticated Western weapons arrive, while those of Russian forces  deteriorate as they dig deeper into their stocks of old, outdated equipment."

Blast-O-Gram: For $100, Ukraine Shoots Your Message At Russians On Artillery Shell

Due to popular demand - and a temporary decrease in shell availability - the price went from $0 per message to $100. Eager participants can pay with Venmo, Paypal and Revolut. And you get a picture of your message on the shell before it is fired.

$18,000 has been raised to date from the message service. JL 

SofRep reports:

To raise money for fighting the Russian invasion, the public (can) send custom messages on artillery shells. The proceeds directly arm Ukrainian forces. Initially priced at $40 per shell, due to popular demand and decreasing supply of artillery shells, the price has been raised to $100 per shell. For two, the price of a message would be $70. Messages written on surface-to-air missiles will set you back $400. “You have a chance to kill orcs with your text on a 152 mm artillery shell fired at Russian soldiers. You will receive a photo of your signed grenade.”” The effort has raised $18,000 (so far).

Ukraine's Farmers Begin Crucial Wheat Harvest Under Shell Fire

Wheat is Ukraine's primary export crop and it quite literally helps feed the world. The Russian invasion has made it harder to plant and now harvest but the farmers do what they can - because their nation depends on it - and so do their families. JL 

Thomas Grove reports in the Wall Street Journal, image Newsweek:

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has hit some of the most productive agricultural land in one of the world’s breadbaskets, disrupting supplies and pushing up food prices. Ukraine’s Black Sea ports have been cut off, grain storage facilities have been targeted, and now as harvest season begins, farmers are feeling the heat of relentless fighting. Farmers are looking for their own ways to export wheat, finding their own contacts who can help them access international markets. “If they start shooting, we’ll run. As long as it’s quiet, we’ll keep going.”

What Are Trump Supporters So Afraid Of?

They're afraid of cultural shifts and of falling out of the middle class. 

But what the Congressional January 6th hearings have done is cause a rising fear that they were fooled and robbed by Trump and his claque - and that knowledge is devastating because they also know they risk censure if they express it to friends, family and other true believers. JL 

Tom Nichols reports in The Atlantic, image SherDog:

Such people are less angry than they are terrified. They’re scared of demographic change, of cultural shifts, of being looked down upon for being older and uneducated in an increasingly young and educated world. (But) Trump superfans are also terrified of being wrong. They know they’ve made a terrible mistake - that Trump and his coterie took them to the cleaners and the cognitive dissonance is now rising to chest-constricting levels. (So as the Jan 6 hearings) attack the lie, the anxiety and embarrassment rise And so they will literally threaten to kill.

Why Russia's Ukraine War Costs Far Exceed Possible Economic, Political Benefits

These minor, putative 'conquests' are likely to be a drain on the Russian economy rather than a contributor to it because of the brutal methods Russia has chosen to use to acquire them. 

And instead of enhancing Russia's global reputation, the invasion as illuminated how weak it really is. If anything, the war has reduced reduced Russia's capacity to project any sort of power. JL

Robert Kelly reports in 19fortyfive:

As the Ukraine war grinds into its fifth month, it is increasingly unclear what Russia could possibly win which might justify the massive costs it is incurring for its invasion. Conquest is supposed to pay, otherwise war is irrational. A cost-benefit analysis of the war is negative and trending worse for Russia.The physical infrastructure in occupied areas is destroyed and the population killed or driven off. Occupying these will be expensive. Reconstruction will be another drain. Most of the world will not recognize these conquests as Russian territory. This means investment and trade will be minimal. Business will be deterred. Nor will economically productive people move into such conflict-ridden regions. The war is destroying Russia’s claim to be a great power.

How NATO Commandos and CIA In Ukraine Secretly Aid Weapons Delivery

This sort of stealthy support is what the CIA was created to do and it is how NATO special forces have operated for years around the world. It will hardly be a surprise to the Russian military who are almost certainly well aware of such activity. Most Americans favor greater support for Ukraine so this is unlikely to change that calculus.

That this information was leaked by 'officials' to the New York Times is also not surprising since it's coverage of Russia's Ukraine invasion has been decidedly ambivalent and appears to favor a Washington think tank-oriented, negotiated settlement without regard for the depredations Ukraine has already suffered. JL

Eric Schmitt and colleagues report in the New York Times:

A stealthy network of commandos and spies (is) rushing to provide weapons, intelligence and training. C.I.A. personnel have continued to operate in the country secretly. Commandos from other NATO countries, including Britain, France, Canada and Lithuania, also have been working inside Ukraine. They have gone in and out of the country, training and advising Ukrainian troops and providing an on-the-ground conduit for weapons and other aid. The commandos are not on the front lines with Ukrainian troops but the signs of their logistics, training and intelligence support are tangible on the battlefield.

Jun 25, 2022

Google, Other Firms Will Relocate Employees To Protect Abortion Rights

Other companies supporting employees' abortion rights include Citigroup, Salesforce, Apple, Microsoft, Disney, Uber, Meta (Facebook), Netflix, Levi-Strauss, Comcast-NBC, Warner Bros., Discovery, Nike, JPMorganChase, Starbucks, Dick's Sporting Goods, Kroger, Alaska Air, Goldman Sachs, Zillow. JL 

Mitchell Clark and Zoe Schiffer report in The Verge:

In the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision on Friday to overturn Roe v. Wade, Google’s chief people officer Fiona Cicconi sent a staff-wide email to employees informing them of Google’s response to the ruling. Among other things, the email highlights that Googlers can “apply for relocation without justification” and that people in charge of the relocation process “will be aware of the situation” in assessing their requests."To support Googlers and their dependents, our US benefits plan and health insurance covers out-of-state medical procedures that are not available where an employee lives and works."