A Blog by Jonathan Low


May 31, 2023

Ukraine Inflicts Casualties On Wagner Forces Retreating From Bakhmut

Ukrainian units are making it clear that they do not regard the Wagner withdrawal from Bakhmut as a reprieve, but as another opportunity to improve their own positions while inflicting damage on the Russians both retreating and coming in. JL  

Isabel Van Brugen reports in Newsweek:

Ukrainian forces have inflicted casualties on Russian Wagner Group forces withdrawing from the city of Bakhmut. Clashes in the city have significantly decreased, but Ukraine killed 80 Wagner Group fighters and wounded a further 119 as they retreated from Bakhmut. Ukraine's armed forces also destroyed one armored personnel carrier, one drone, an anti-aircraft gun, two other vehicles and five ammunition depots. The withdrawal "has a depressing effect on those who take their place because they themselves have already taken part in a lot of fighting plus they see the condition of the criminals from Wagner"

How Ukraine Smartly Traded Force and Space For Time At Bakhmut

In a classic application of historic military doctrine, Ukraine traded force and space for time at Bakhmut. 

It preserved its best units for training with new western weapons in the belief that a few regular troops supported by territorial forces could hold off the Russian winter offensive, thereby giving Ukraine the edge for its counteroffensive. And the strategy worked. JL 

Daily Kos reports:

Bakhmut stands as an example of Ukraine's trading force and space for time. Ukraine (coud) continue to keep its best units at the front, incorporating new weaponry into new units staffed by inexperienced trainees.  Or, pull Ukraine’s most experienced units off the front lines for training to incorporate the new Western weapons into veteran units. Ukraine chose the latter, a major gamble that Russia’s Winter Offensive would be ineffective.  Ukraine believed (it) could be held off by a few regular army brigades and lightly trained Territorial Defense Force conscripts. Ukraine traded 15-20km of space for the asset Ukraine most needed to complete its counteroffensive army: time.

Best US Investment Since Louisiana Purchase: "America First" Case Supports Ukraine

The US decision to support Ukraine in its existential battle against Russian aggression may be the greatest investment in American history since the Louisiana Purchase, which more than doubled the size of the US for a few cents an acre. 

For a relatively paltry fraction of the US defense budget - and with no risk to US troops - the US has set one of its primary enemies back decades, humiliated it in the eyes of the world, deterred China, revitalized the US defense industry, improved new weapons and doctrine through real world testing and strengthened US alliances and reputation. JL 

Marc Thiessen reports in the Washington Post:

Russian victory would embolden our enemies; Ukrainian victory will help deter China; defeating Putin weakens the Sino-Russian partnership; Ukrainian victory saves the US billions (plus the "Russian defeat dividend"); Ukraine is a proving ground for new US and NATO weapons; arming Ukraine is revitalizing (the US) defense industrial base; the Russian invasion has strengthened US alliances; Ukrainian victory helps prevent nuclear proliferation; victory in Ukraine is achievable; helping Ukraine is the right thing to do.

The Critical Intangible Capabilities Essential For Ukraine's Counteroffensive

Ukraine's very tangible new weapons have gotten lots of appropriate attention. But there are intangible capabilities to its prosecution of the counteroffensive which may be even more critical. 

These include training in the use of the weapons, especially in a holistic combined arms manner; the gathering, interpretation and application of intelligence garnered by various means; the strategic context in which this is all focused (eg, "keep your eyes on the prize") and the power of good leadership. All will be critical to success of this enterprise. JL

Mick Ryan reports in War In the Future:

Ukrainian strategy for this war has incorporated corrosion of the Russian physical, moral, and intellectual capacity to fight and win in Ukraine. They have done this on the battlefield, and they have done it in the global information environment. For the offensives about to be launched, these elements of fighting power will be critical. For each, there is a capability that will be critical for Ukrainian victories over the Russian military: application of its physical elements of fighting power will be guided by intelligence. Its intellectual aspects will be guided by strategic context. Finally, Ukraine's moral aspects of fighting power will be achieved through leadership.

The Reason Russia Persists With Its Failed Ukraine Missile Attacks

Russia persists with its missile and drone attacks on Ukrainian cities because its ground war failed and continues to do so. 

The attacks are a reactive expression of frustration and venting of anger. Despite all the accumulated evidence to the contrary, the Kremlin still hopes it can demoralize the Ukrainians, cause Ukraine to expend anti-air munitions causing NATO to pause, but perhaps most importantly, to demonstrate to its people and allies it is still capable of something war-like, no matter how ineffective. JL  

Steve Brown reports in the Kyiv Post:

Russia fired more than 600 cruise missiles and almost 700 Shahed drones between October 2022 and January 2023 (but) failed in its aims. In May 90% of its projectiles were destroyed in flight, with small casualties and damage. The attacks are reactive and driven by mounting frustration on the part of its leader as Russia fails to make military gains. Russia persists to attempt to demoralize Ukrainians and their western partners, to force Ukraine to deplete its anti-air assets,  to show its own population that it is still capable of inflicting the death and destruction.

Why Generative AI Is Spurring Investor Demand For Startups and Big Tech

Investor demand for companies perceived to be leading generative AI development are not only outpacing all other venture fields, but are significantly pushing otherwise uncertain major stock indexes.

The implication is that early investors in AI startups will see the value of their shares appreciate as scarcity stimulates already steep demand for what many believe is going to be the next big technological advance. JL 

Charley Grant reports in the Wall Street Journal:

Investors are piling into shares of big technology companies perceived to be leading in  generative AI and are pumping cash into private startups working on generative AI, reflecting “a steep increase in demand related to generative AI and large language models.” The AI app ChatGPT reached 100 million downloads in just two months, much faster than other popular apps such as TikTok and Uber. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite has advanced 24%, its best start to a year since 1991. “Investors are extremely interested in this space, even in light of questionable economic data and challenges in equity and fixed-income markets. There is not enough market cap to support the buying mania for AI.”

May 30, 2023

Ukraine Reports First Steps of Counteroffensive Are Under Way

Ukraine is being cagey about defining what that means as it encompasses everything from artillery and missile strikes to infantry advances, but the clear implication is that preliminary moves are being made. JL 

Madeleine Ross and Natasha Anderson report in themail.online:

The first steps of Ukraine's highly anticipated counteroffensive against Putin's forces are underway. The 'intensity is increasing' and certain operations were already happening, including blowing up supply lines and depots. As the counteroffensive gains momentum there will be more incursions into Russia itself by rebel groups, imitating a recent raid in the Belgorod region. "An objective consequence of high-intensity war demonstrates that Russia cannot carry out the military action in Ukraine, and protect its own borders.'