A Blog by Jonathan Low


Apr 22, 2024

Turning Point? Ukraine To Be In 'Significantly Improved' Position vs Russia By June

Russian leadership is reported to have been surprised by the passage of renewed military assistance to Ukraine in the US Congress. 

As a result, the Russians will be forced to review its planned offensive operations in Ukraine, especially since they were unable to achieve any breakthroughs this winter and spring despite considerable advantages in manpower and ammunition. With Ukraine now expected to receive increased shipments, optimistic Russian plans will have to be adjusted, and in some cases, abandoned. JL 

The Institute For the Study of War reports:

The likely resumption of US security assistance to Ukraine is a critical turning point in the war. Ukraine will be in a significantly improved operational position by June 2024 as they leverage US security assistance to blunt Russian offensive operations regardless of delays in the arrival of that assistance, and the Russian military will likely consider significant changes to the large-scale offensive it is expected to launch in June. The Russian military command will have to consider if the intended objectives of its summer offensive effort are now feasible and if the current means Russian forces have been preparing are sufficient to conduct planned operations considering the resumption of US  assistance

Ukraine Has Stalled Russia's 25,000 Troop Chasiv Yar Attack For Now

It is worth noting that the Ukrainian defenders did this despite shortages of personnel, ammunition and other weapons. 

Coordination between artillery, infantry and drone troops relying on better intelligence than the  Russians have, has given Ukrainian forces the wherewithal to defend successfully as they wait for renewed US aid. JL 

Brendan Cole reports in Newsweek:

Russian forces "continued to attack Chasiv Yar and the surrounding area on April 21 but did not advance." The Russian forces have have made no recent advances around the key battleground. "Chasiv Yar is holding on. The enemy is pressing, but the situation is fully controlled by units of the Defense Forces. There is no enemy in the city." Even though Russia is planning a renewed summer offensive, Ukraine will be able to handle the push if the U.S. military aid arrives promptly.

Ukraine Strikes (Another) Russian Black Sea Fleet Ship In Crimean Port

The most surprising aspect of this report is that after Ukraine has already destroyed a third of the Russian Black Sea Fleet there are still Black Sea Fleet ships stationed in its former headquarters port of Sevastopol, Crimea

In addition, that the Black Sea Fleet still deploys a ship launched in 1915 may offer some insights into the the fleet's larger operational and budgetary issues. JL

Nate York and Chris Ostiller report in the Kyiv Independent:

On April 21 Ukraine struck a ship in occupied Sevastopol and confirmed that it was the Kommuna, a salvage ship. Video showed a Russian naval vessel on fire and local media reported the Crimea bridge had been closed. The Kommuna was launched in 1915 and is the oldest ship still in service in the Russian Navy. Russia has withdrawn nearly all its major ships from ports in occupied Crimea following successful Ukrainian strikes.

Revived US Aid Will Strengthen Ukrainian Defenses - And Offensive Potential

For those who remember satellite images taken a year ago which detailed Russia's defenses against the then looming Ukrainian counteroffensive, the latest maps and photos of Ukraine's new defenses will look familiar.

Already impressive in scope and and position, these fortifications will now be significantly enhanced by the provision of additional weapons and ammunition in the newly approved US aid package. JL 

Josh Holder and colleagues report in the New York Times:

The Ukrainian government has (already) allocated $800 million to building fortifications along 600 miles of front line this year, and construction is well underway. The Ukrainians are directing their resources to the most defensible terrain, with the idea of making ground advances as costly as possible for Russia. The defenses also point to a strategy across much of the front line that involves keeping Russian forces off guard with small attacks and seeking to exploit flaws in their defenses. The U.S. House of Representatives approved a $60 billion military assistance package that will provide more weapons to Ukraine's war effort.

Why US Speaker Changed To Approve Ukraine Aid, Ignoring GOP Putin Lobby

Post-vote reports reveal that a number of factors combined to convince US Speaker of the House Johnson to change course and set in motion approval of renewed aid for Ukraine. 

Among those factors: urging from the traditional and still dominant Republican anti-Russian lobby who warned of global consequences, briefings from US security services which revealed the dire consequences for US interests if Ukraine fell, intelligence from US evangelicals to the devout Speaker who reported on Russian persecution of Ukrainian Christians, Iran's attack on Israel, Trump's perception that Putin was becoming a losing issue for him - and that the Speaker's son will be entering the US Naval Academy, underscoring the personal threat. JL

Annie Grayer and colleagues report in CNN:

After (becoming) speaker’s, sources say Johnson began to hear from Republican national security voices including Trump's former secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, who impressed upon him the urgent need (for) assistance for Ukraine against Russia. A briefing from CIA Director Burns (explained) the dire situation in Ukraine and the global consequences of inaction. (Briefings from evangelicals about Russian persecution of Ukrainian Christians added to his conviction.)  Israel being attacked by Iran fueling a new sense of urgency for Congress to act. And Johnson’s son was recently accepted into the Naval Academy. “I would rather send bullets to Ukraine than American boys. This is not a game."

How Finance Drove Boeing's Lost Interest In Actually Manufacturing Planes

Boeing was once a symbol of American manufacturing expertise and might. But like many industrial companies, it became obsessed with financial engineering rather than the factory kind. 

Hiring leaders trained by financial manipulator Jack Welch of GE, designing compensation systems to pump short term stock price and looking for cost savings uber alles may have pleased investors - but two major plane crashes blamed on software inadequacies and then the door of one of its planes falling off in mid-flight began to expose an overreliance on outsourcing, off-shoring and an attendant focus on money rather than, quite literally, nuts and bolts. The pandemic highlighted the problems with extended supply chains. Boeing's woes have provided the exclamation point for companies looking to optimize more than just finances. JL  

Jerry Useem reports in The Atlantic:

Over 25 years, Boeing extracted itself from making planes. For 40 years the company built the 737 in the same plant that turned out its B-29 bombers. In 2005 it sold this facility to an investment firm, shifting risk, capital costs, and labor onto “suppliers,” outsourcing to others. Boeing’s latest screwups dramatize that (many) U.S. manufacturers lost interest in actually making stuff. American boardrooms had been handed over to finance people hypnotized by shareholder value. Their pay packages rewarded short-term spikes in stock price. US manufacturers doubled down on outsourcing, offshoring, financial engineering. Boeing’s stock rose 600% from 2010 to 2019 (but) two similar crashes caused by faulty software on Boeing planes killed 346 people. And then the doors blew off. Literally.

Apr 21, 2024

The Kremlin Was Shocked By US War Aid Vote, Had No Plan B. NATO Is Stronger

Just as the Kremlin believed false reports that its military was dominant and would crush Ukraine, so they apparently thought that their suborning of Trump and US Republican Congressmen assured that Ukraine military aid would be defeated. 

The Russians appear to be shocked by the turn of events and evidently had no Plan B. US weaponry and ammunition could reach Ukraine within the week, stymieing Russia's spring offensive plans and suddenly changing war fighting prospects again. JL  

Anton Gerashchenko reports in Twitter:

It seems approval of aid for Ukraine by the US Congress came as a big surprise to Russia. Judging by their reaction, believed there would be no help and had no Plan B. Ukraine and the West are destroying the remnants of the high-tech part of the Russian army. Another year of such a war and Russia will be left with last century weapons and meat assaults. Strategic aircraft, and the navy will be largely destroyed. NATO and China continue to increase their high tech weaponry stocks. Russia is playing tactics in Ukraine, and losing strategically. In a direct confrontation with NATO, it has less chance.