A Blog by Jonathan Low

 

Jun 15, 2024

Ukraine Is Making Itself the West's Invaluable Ally Against Russian Aggression

As Ukraine's military, innovation, intelligence and cyber capabilities grow, it is becoming indispensable, not just as a military force - which it has proven itself to be - but as a source of new tactics and weapons for combating China, Iran, North Korea - and Russia. JL

Walter Mead reports in the Wall Street Journal:

Ukraine seeks to make itself indispensable to the West, not merely as a geographical barrier to Russia but with capabilities that make the country valuable for its own sake. Ukrainian special forces are engaged in missions against Russian and Russian-backed forces in Syria and Africa. Ukraine’s cyber capabilities are significant and growing. Few countries match Ukraine’s ability to cultivate an intelligence network inside Russia. Ukraine’s bet is that as these capabilities grow, and as the confrontation between the China-Russia-Iran-North Korea axis and the West deepens, Ukraine’s ability to resist Russia will grow, and Ukraine’s allies will keep this valuable asset from falling into Mr. Putin’s hands.

Ukraine's "Elastic Band" Strategy Works In Its Favor Vs Russia

As Russia continues to attack Ukrainian positions despite horrific losses, Kyiv's 'bend but don't break' strategy is forcing the Kremlin to expend resources while giving up little of value. 

The result is that Ukrainian forces continue to degrade Russian armor, artillery, air defenses and troop formations while preserving their own for opportunistic counterattacks. JL 

Roman Petrenko reports in Ukraine Pravda:

Kyiv is employing a "bend-but-don’t-break" strategy to buy time until more Western weapons and ammunition arrive at the front. By conceding some territory, Ukraine has gained the opportunity to engage in combat from more fortified positions. Ukraine has deployed a flexible defence strategy of "elastic band" to gain time until it is better armed and supplied. Ukrainian troops can fight more effectively and preserve personnel in such a strategy, as time works in their favor

Ukraine 68th Jaeger Brigade Annihilates Russian Armor At Pokrovsk

The 68th destroyed what amounts to an entire Russian armored company, plus support vehicles on the Pokrovsk front, one of the most heavily contested areas where Russia is pressing its attacks. 

That the Ukrainian destroyed so many armored vehicle does not speak well of Russian tactics, training or combined arms support. JL 

The Kyiv Post reports:

The 68th Jaeger Brigade – a veteran formation - a Russian tank company on the Pokrovsk front. "Our Defense Forces destroyed eight Russian tanks and put two more out of order, destroyed eight more armored fighting vehicles, two artillery systems, and four other vehicles, along with damaging another.. This makes up a tank company,”

Jun 14, 2024

Ukraine's Navy Needs No Sailors - And Is Very Good At Destroying Russian Ships

A largely ship-less and sailor-less navy has wracked up some pretty impressive victories against the traditional Russian fleet. JL 

The Economist reports:

Ukraine is winning the war in the Black Sea and has broken the Russian blockade of its grain ships. Its victories have often depended on rapid technological innovation: every other navy relies on crewed ships to fight, but Ukraine has built a fleet of drone boats. The Ukrainians operate their usvs by remote control, typically using a video feed transmitted via satellite. The typical craft is packed with explosives for a kamikaze attack. Naval drones have knocked out around ten Russian ships.

Why Ukraine's Sustained Crimea Strikes May End Its Military Usefulness

Ukraine's relentless attacks on Russian military operations and defenses in Crimea are degrading its utility as a naval, air and logistics center, as virtually every major Russian installation has now been hit, many more than once. 

The strategic question for Russia is whether it can continue to expend resources in defense of the peninsula given its diminishing importance as a military asset. JL

Thibault Spirlet reports in Business Insider:

Ukraine's sustained attacks against Russia's air defenses could make occupied Crimea untenable as a military staging ground. Further strikes could make it impossible for Russia to prepare or launch attacks from the occupied peninsula. The strikes seemed to show that Ukraine's older, Western-supplied missiles can get around even Russia's most sophisticated air defense systems. Russia's S-400 missile systems can't defend nearby Russian troops or even themselves. "Crimea is a major strategic and political priority for the Kremlin, and withdrawal of Russian forces would be a serious embarrassment for President Putin and his military leadership, both domestically and abroad."

How US Weapons Forced Russia To Move Troops, Systems Far To Rear

Ukrainian and NATO assessments indicate that the use of US weapons against targets inside Russia has forced the Kremlin to order the redeployment of valuable systems away from the border to reduce their vulnerability to attack. 

This has made it harder for Russian to continue attacks and support of its frontline units. JL 

David Brennan reports in Newsweek:

Ukrainian forces have been able to stop Russia's summer Kharkiv offensive with the help of American weapons, with U.S. arms used to target especially valuable systems including "quite sophisticated and expensive" advanced air defense platforms. "It forced the Russians to transfer troops and equipment, including weapons, into their deep rear." The Institute for the Study of War suggested the use of Western weapons within Russian borders will "play a critical role in Ukraine's defense of its territory and future counteroffensive operations."

Ukraine Stopped Kremlin's Kharkiv Assault, As Russia Can't Capitalize in Donbas

Many so-called experts claimed that Russia's now failed Kharkiv offensive was supposed to force Ukraine to siphon off troops from threatened sectors in the Donbas. 

But a month on, it is Russia which has redeployyed units from Donbas to Kharkiv as its northern troops have been decimated by the Ukrainians. And so rather than creating advantage in two sectors, the Russians find themselves in trouble both places. JL 

Maria Varenikova reports in the New York Times:

A month into Russia’s push across the border in northern Ukraine, Western weapons and Ukrainian reinforcements have stalled the attack. The Ukrainian army took swift advantage of the change in the US ban on weapons, using additional artillery to help stall the Russian offensive. “The Russians have not been able to make material progress. We now have complete control over the enemy’s logistics.” Russia seems to have fallen short even of limited goals “They did not make as many gains as they could have.” This might have been a result of the heavy equipment losses Russia endured at Avdiivka. (And) though some Ukrainian forces were sent north, Russia has not seized on their absence from the Donbas to gain new ground. "Seeing Russia pull forces from the Donbas to Kharkiv is strange"