A Blog by Jonathan Low

 

May 19, 2024

Dozens of Chechen Fighters Killed In Ukraine Strike On Occupied Vovchansk Building

Ukrainian forces are effectively targeting Russian units with their renewed supplies of artillery ammunition, especially in the Kharkiv sector. 

Chechen units are particularly infamous for their lax electronic communications security which has made them easy targets for Ukrainian troops. JL 

New Voice of Ukraine reports:

Dozens of Chechen warlord Ramzan Kadyrov's fighters were killed in an airstrike on the frontline town of Vovchansk, Kharkiv Oblast (but) “Kadyrov dilutes his units a lot, usually he has about a dozen soldiers from other regions for every one ethnic Chechen." The powerful airstrike targeted a central hospital building used by Russian assault units as a hideout and place to mass troops in Vovchansk. The strike was carried out using glide bombs equipped with a JDAM kit.

Ukrainian Have Now Disrupted 14 Percent Of Russian Oil Refining Capacity

Continued Ukrainian drone attacks on Russian oil refineries has now reduced Russian refining capacity by 14%, a significant amount that is now having an impact on Russia's economy. JL 

\Khriystina Bondarieva reports in Ukraine Pravda:

Ukrainian drone attacks in early 2024 disrupted 14% of Russia's oil refining capacity and led to an increase in domestic fuel prices. The loss of some of Russia's refining capacity led to a 20%-30% increase in domestic prices by mid-March and triggered an export halt to focus on meeting domestic demand. "To mitigate the impact of these strikes, Russia banned gasoline exports for six months starting in March, began importing refined products from Belarus, planned to import from Kazakhstan, and prioritised shipments of petroleum products by Russian Railways"

Influx of Ammunition To Ukraine Has Abruptly Halted Russian Attacks On Chasiv Yar

The race between Russian attempts to attack Ukrainian positions before western ammunition reached Ukrainian forces is over. And the Russians lost.

Recent reports reveal that Russian armored assaults are being met by a storm of artillery and rocketry which has halted advances and begun to prepare the ground for Ukrainian counterattacks. JL 

David Axe reports in Forbes:

American aid to Ukraine is flowing again. Ukraine’s fortunes are improving. Nowhere is this more evident than in Chasiv Yar, the industrial town west of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine that’s the main objective of the Russian offensive. The garrison in Chasiv Yar is now flush with ammo and wreaking havoc on Russian assault groups. when that assault group tried to cross miles of open fields on Friday, it got hit the whole way—with 100-pound shells, 50-pound missiles and two-pound drones. The few Russians who reached the canal district didn’t last long. "Despite early successes, the Russians have ultimately failed to establish a foothold and advance further,”

May 18, 2024

Ukraine's Defense, Putin Comments Suggest Russian Kharkiv Attack Peaked

Putin yesterday publicly dismissed suggestions that Kharkiv assault was an attempt to take the city. 

In doing so, he was trying to put a best face on the fact that his troops have already been halted by Ukrainian defenders and are incapable of advancing further despite their superiority in troop strength. JL 

Daniel Michaels and Nancy Youssef report in the Wall Street Journal:

American military leaders believe Russia lacks sufficient troops to break through on the new front in northeastern Ukraine. They see Moscow’s forces taking some ground, the push appears aimed more at protecting Russian territory and tying down Ukrainian forces redeployed from elsewhere than staging a large assault on Kharkiv. Ukrainian commandos staged raids into villages across the border (that) were an embarrassment to Russian President Putin before the election in March. (But yesterday) Putin rejected suggestions that Russia is planning to take Kharkiv.

Russia Launches Krasnohorivka Attack Will 3 "Turtle Tanks." It Ended Badly

Russian tanks covered with shed-like steel that make them look like turtles have made several lone forays onto eastern Ukrainian battlefields. They were more formidable before new supplies of artillery ammunition began arriving at the front and a number were destroyed.

Not to be deterred, the Russians launched an attack with several of them at once, plus a 'normie' tank. They did not get very far. So back to the drawing board for Russian tank designers. JL 

Defense Express reports:

Russians launched an assault of three extra-armored tanks and one ordinary tank near Krasnohorivka, eastern Ukraine..While the tanks try to advance, anti-tank weapons, FPV drones, and artillery are firing at them. The first turtle tank, damaged at the very beginning, manages to fall back. The second is damaged, and the fate of the third one remains uncertain. The ordinary tank was abandoned. Therefore, the confirmed Russian losses amounted to two tanks neutralized.

Why Americans Claiming the Economy Is Bad Are Spending So Much

It is the best of times and the worst of times. Consumers are paying more for essentials - and resent it - but many are cushioned by the low interest mortgages they locked in years ago just as their investment portfolios are booming. 

The result is negative feelings about the economy exacerbated by media press coverage but offset by a still strong job market and relative financial well-being for middle and wealthy citizens. JL 

Nicole Narea reports in Vox:

People feel really negatively about the economy, and that’s not stopping them from spending. The rich feel rich and account for a large share of overall spending. households in the top 20% of income earning at least $244,025 cushioned from economic headwinds, are flush with cash to spend. The middle class feels a little better off too, and likely still has some savings built up they can burn through. Many high-income consumers locked in low interest rates on their mortgages and have  seen their investment portfolios balloon in the last year. "Excess savings [are] still sloshing through the system."(But) Low and moderate-income consumers are increasingly weighed down by credit card debt

NATO Actively Threatening To Deploy Troops In Ukraine For Training, Support

There are several elements to this new decision. The Baltic countries Poland and some other eastern European nations that were formerly occupied by Russia recognize that if Russia is not stopped in Ukraine, they will be next. Some others, like France, also believe that there is no negotiating with Putin and that it is better to halt his predations sooner rather than later. 

But another, intriguing aspect of this could be that NATO senses Russian weakness: if the Russians have been unable to overcome the Ukrainians this winter and spring, despite all the Russians' manifold advantages in troop strength and Chinese, Iranian and North Korean supplies, then perhaps the Russians are weaker than perceived and this might be a good time to help the Ukrainians teach them a lethal lesson once and for all. JL  

Helene Cooper and colleagues report in the New York Times:

NATO allies are inching closer to sending troops into Ukraine to train Ukrainian forces, a move that would be another blurring of a previous red line. "When Russia first invaded Crimea in 2014, we sent increased troop numbers into Ukraine to train Ukrainian forces in western Ukraine, and we kept rotating them in all the way to 2022, when withdrew them. “It shouldn’t surprise anyone now, when manpower is in short supply at the Ukrainian front, that NATO members and the alliance leadership consider how to help again from the rear."