A Blog by Jonathan Low

 

Feb 20, 2024

First Ukrainian F-16 Pilots Will Complete Training In May

Not too long now. The next question is when the pilots will be deployed with planes. JL 

Audrey Decker reports in Defense One:

Ukrainian pilots will start graduating from F-16 fighter jet training in May. The U.S. is training 12 Ukrainian pilots in fiscal 2024—all of whom are set to graduate between May and August. (when they started) it was reported that it would take from three months to nine months for Ukrainian pilots to finish F-16 training. The training effort started in late October at Morris Air National Guard base in Tucson, Arizona. Denmark is also leading an effort to train Ukrainian pilots on the fighter jet in Europe. The pilots are already “flying F-16s solo every day.”

Ukraine Drone Flies Into Russian Warehouse, Destroys Tanks, IFVs, Artillery

A Ukrainian drone pilot maneuvered his UAV into a Russian armored vehicle warehouse in Donetsk and detonated it, destroying a number of armored vehicles - including two tanks, anti-aircraft artillery and infantry fighting vehicles.

The resultant fires and explosions burned down the building. An efficient day's work. JL 

Isabel Van Brugen reports in Newsweek:

Ukraine's Bulava strike unit destroyed two Russian T-72 tanks, S-60 anti-aircraft guns, a BMP-3 Russian infantry fighting vehicle, Ural-4320 off-road vehicles, and a rare BMPT. The attack took place on a Russian warehouse in the village of Staromlynivka, in Donetsk. "The pilot professionally and systematically flies into the hangar and selects the equipment to destroy. As a result, the entire hangar completely burned down."

How AI Is Driving the End of the Web As We Know It

The business model on which the internet has been based since the dotcom revolution is being undermined by AI which is obviating the need for eyeballs, engagement and advertising. 

The result is that the way people use the web - and profit from it - may be about to undergo a radical transformation. And, as usual with tech, the few are likely to benefit more than the many. JL

Christopher Mims reports in the Wall Street Journal:

The web is in crisis, and AI is to blame. For decades, seeking knowledge online has meant googling it and clicking on the links the search engine offered. Search has dominated our information-seeking behavior. But AI is changing all that. A new generation of AI-powered “answer engines” make finding information easier, by giving answers to questions rather than forcing us to wade through links. Meanwhile, AI-generated content of dubious quality is polluting search results. AI agents help cut through the clutter, but also eliminate need for people to click through to the websites they rely on to produce their answers. Without traffic, the business model for many publishers could collapse.

Why, In the Battle For Avdiivka, Neither Side's Strategy or Tactics Impressed

Russia sacrificed thousands of soldiers and hundreds of pieces of armor, artillery and other equipment to capture a smoking heap of rubble, in what was clearly a pyrrhic victory to make an empty political statement prior to Putin's 're-election.'

Ukraine held on too long - also largely for political reasons - due to Zelensky's determination to never retreat for fear of losing support, thus needlessly sacrificing his own troops and losing the reputational benefit anyway. His replacement of a beloved commander for one who is viewed as a more compliant Soviet-style butcher does not help him politically or militarily. In this battle, neither side demonstrated impressive tactics or strategy. Ukraine, in particular, given its previously creative and adaptive war fighting, has some serious rethinking to do if it hopes to regain the advantage. JL

Igor Kossov reports in the Kyiv Independent:

The capture of Avdiivka is Russia’s first major achievement in nine months, but it doesn’t leave either side looking good. For Russia, it was a Pyrrhic victory that consumed an army’s worth of equipment and killed or mangled tens of thousands of Russians to capture a city with marginal strategic importance. (But) Ukraine failed to fortify critical fighting positions in time. The 110th Motorized Brigade defending Avdiivka - a reserve unit - wasn’t sent the reinforcements needed. When retreat became inevitable, it was delayed, making it costlier in lives and equipment than needed. Russia losing men and materiel doesn’t matter, because they can afford them and don’t care. “The tactics have to change.”

Russian Attacks Around Avdiivka "Significantly Decrease" as Depleted Units Regroup

The Russian forces that finally took Avdiivka are so depleted that they will need time to regroup. 

The result is that attacks around Avdiivka have decreased 'significantly' giving Ukraine more time to prepare defenses and counterattacks. JL 

The Institute for the Study of War reports:

The number of Russian attacks in the Avdiivka direction significantly decreased in the past day and that Russian forces are currently regrouping. Ukrainian forces have withdrawn to a new line of defense, previously prepared and fortified at “several levels.” Russian forces will have to conduct an operational pause before resuming offensive operations in the Avdiivka direction or will have to transfer additional reinforcements from other sectors of the front. There is no indication that the Russian command is moving reserves toward Avdiivka. On the contrary the Russian command will likely transfer Russian forces accumulated around Avdiivka to other areas of the frontline in the near future.

Russia Got Cocky Post-Avdiivka, Attacked Robotyne. Ukraine Slaughtered Them

This is a photo of Russian soldiers on top of an armored personnel carrier. It was taken by a Ukrainian drone just before it slammed into the vehicle, killing all of the Russians and destroying the APC.

The Russians mistook their overwhelming advantage at Avdiivka for a weakening of Ukrainian forces everywhere. And they learned yesterday, the hard way, that they were wrong. JL 

David Axe reports in Forbes:

Not every Ukrainian brigade is as tired, outnumbered and ammo-starved as the 110th is. Ukrainian forces not only held the line this weekend, they inflicted heavy casualties on the over-confident Russian brigades and regiments, including at least one unit that tried to assault Ukrainian positions in the south in un-upgraded, 70-year-old T-55 tanks. Ukraine's 42nd Motor Rifle Division got wrecked as it crossed a mile of flat terrain separating Russian lines from the Ukrainian army’s 65th Mechanized Brigade in Robotyne. 28 damaged, destroyed and abandoned Russian tanks and fighting vehicles were counted. the Russian army cant sustain the kind of effort it took to capture Avdiivka.

Feb 19, 2024

How Ukraine Is Becoming Putin's Vietnam

The Russian economy is increasingly devoted to the war in Ukraine. But the Ukrainians are unlikely to give up because they understand the terror of Russian occupation awaiting them if they do.

What the Russians may not understand is that a continued war of attrition - even with support from Iran and North Korea - is likely to pose an increasing burden on its society. And that could be exacerbated by forcible occupation parts of a country that hates them, are determined to resist, causing ever-growing costs with relatively  meaningful pay-offs. JL
Nathan Rennolds reports in Business Insider:

Analysts note that the conflict in Ukraine could become a "Vietnam" for Russian President Vladimir Putin. While Ukraine is suffering from dwindling supplies of munitions and is struggling to recruit new troops, its forces could benefit from a drawn-out war of attrition as it continues to receive aid from Western nations. "I would point to the repeated examples of small powers wearing down and defeating much larger ones: the Soviets losing in Afghanistan, the French and the US in Vietnam, the US and NATO in Afghanistan, the French in Algeria.  I don't see the Ukrainians giving up, because this is an existential war for them. It is not an existential war for Russia,"