A Blog by Jonathan Low


Dec 7, 2022

Ukrainian Women Are Signing Up To Be Drone Pilots

Drone piloting makes a great deal of sense as an MOS ( military occupational specialty) for women because it requires intelligence, technological savvy and steady nerves more than physical strength. 

That women are enthusiastically signing up - and that the military recognizes the need and the fit further reinforces the understanding that no nation, especially one under attack, can afford to waste its human capital. JL 

Ashley Westerman reports in NPR:

The Female Pilots of Ukraine is the country's first school dedicated to solely teaching women — both civilians as well as those serving in Ukraine's security forces — how to fly drones. Ukraine has many women in the military but they rarely work as drone pilots. "Our military sector needs many, many pilots. We need them now." Women from all walks of life are signing up for classes — models, journalists, artists, marketing professionals. "80% of our students want to go to [the front line]."

When Will Ukrainian Ground Be Frozen Enough For Tanks To Attack?

According to engineering and environmental experts, probably by the end of December. JL 

OSINT69 reports in Twitter, image Sergey Pivovarov, Reuters:

At Svatove, the average temperature for December is -3C. We get a frozen ground depth of about 40 cm by the end of the month. There needs to be to be about 15cm of frozen ground for a heavy truck, more so for a tank but less than 40cm. So in Svatove the ground will most definitely be hard enough by the end of the month. Other factors such as snow cover do affect the freezing depth but not very much as long as the air temperature stays below freezing. No snow means faster freezing

Price Caps And New Sanctions Cause "Notable" Drop In Russian Oil Exports

Follow the (decline of) money...JL 

Anna Hirtenstein and Joe Wallace report in the Wall Street Journal:

Russian crude-oil exports have declined markedly since new sanctions and a price cap came into force. Russia's daily barrels exported fell by nearly 50%. Shipments from the country’s Black Sea and Baltic ports accounted for most of the fall. Seaborne exports fell by nearly 500,000 barrels per day on Tuesday, a roughly 16% fall from the November average. It's a notable drop rather than a blip. “Russian exports have been moving steadily up until now."

Why Sending Higher End Weapons To Ukraine Now Will Shorten the War

Making it harder for Russia to rebuild its forces by supplying Ukraine with more and better weapons is likely to be the optimal means by which Russia can be forced to face the futility of continuing the invastion and the war shortened. JL 

Max Boot reports in the Washington Post:

We can win a battle of production lines with Russia (the U.S. economy is 14 times larger), but we should be doing everything possible to minimize the cost and length of the conflict so that we don’t have to. If you think the supply strains are bad today, imagine what they will look like if the war is still raging at its current tempo a year from now. The best solution to help Ukraine win the war faster (is) by providing it with higher-end weapons systems

Russia Has Run Out of Iranian Shahed Suicide Drones

Ukrainian air defense forces have not reported sighting Iranian Shahed drones in over three weeks. They believe Russia has used up the first shipment and that additional deliveries may be delayed as Iran faces increasingly violent internal protests. 

The very cold weather in Ukraine may also be affecting the drones' performance and Ukrainian attacks on Iranian trainers in Crimea as well as its increasingly effective air defenses may also explain the drones' absence. JL

Howard Altman reports in The Drive:

As of Tuesday, Iranian-made Shahed-136 drones had not appeared over the skies of Ukraine since the middle of last month. “It’s been three weeks since Ukrainian air defenses have seen the loitering drones. The first shipment received by the occupiers is [gone], they ran out of them.” It's possible that the frigid conditions in Ukraine during winter also had an impact on their use. Icing conditions and chill may be beyond the drones' performance envelope. But Iran is also under a great deal of internal and international pressure as the result of domestic protests and global concern about its arms deals with Russia.

How VCs' 'Suspension of Disbelief' Enabled FTX - And Its Collapse

As the FTX post-mortem continues, issues being raised include the role of sophisticated VCs in funding a company which had - especially in hindsight - such glaring governance issues. 

The funding environment - with a lot of money chasing few opportunities - fueled a 'suspension of disbelief' so VCs trying to put funds to work did want to risk being excluded for asking difficult questions. The larger concern is whether this is a lesson learned or - after Theranos, FTX, etc - this will continue to be considered just a cost of doing business. JL 

Fran Velasquez reports in Coindesk:

In the case of FTX, the red flags VCs missed may have in part been a “byproduct of the funding environment,” which made it easier for crypto startups to receive early-stage funding with "extremely low interest rates," as "tons of capital" flooded into the VC market. "When you have so many more bidders than opportunities, that moves the price up and [it] shortens diligence time [and] the amount of negotiation and leverage that VCs have in those conversations.” Discerning investors were turned off by the lack of oversight at FTX's board, (but) "VCs who were asking for that weren’t getting into the round." FTX’s collapse may address broader issues of “oversight, compliance [and] auditing”

Dec 6, 2022

US Plans "Dramatic" Increase In Ammunition For Ukraine and Its Own Use

Congress has appropriated funds for the US to triple artillery ammunition production in the expectation that Ukraine's battle against Russian invasion will continue "indefinitely." JL 

Joe Gould reports in Defense News:

The U.S. Army is seeking a “dramatic” ramp up in monthly production of 155mm artillery shells. “Funding is already in place, contracts are underway to triple 155mm production. There’s funding on the Hill, in the supplemental, to more than double that again." The push comes as the U.S. has supplied Ukraine with more than 1 million artillery rounds, and as Pentagon officials see the war in Ukraine continuing indefinitely. the Army is paying to expand production at its ammunition plants. Army officials also aim to contract with defense firms outside the U.S. for artillery shells for Ukraine. The army is also doubling production for the precision munitions.