A Blog by Jonathan Low


Jun 7, 2023

How Ukraine Tricked Russians To Widen Counteroffensive's Southern Bridgehead

In several locations, Ukrainian forces appeared to retreat, causing Russians to advance, only to be then cut off. The Russians' problems are being compounded by their excessive mining of fields and roads. 

One unexpected side effect is that as Russian troops panic and attempt to retreat in the face of the counteroffensive they are setting off their own poorly marked minefields. JL

Alya Shandra reports in Euromaidan Press:

The Ukrainians tricked Russian forces by appearing to reinforce small attacks, allowing them to close in almost undetected. As Ukrainians simultaneously jammed radio signals, the Russians were unable to request support and were consequently defeated. Ukrainians subsequently launched assaults towards Urozhaine and Novomaiorske. The goal was not immediate capture of the next settlements, but rather to expand the bridgehead and establish positions in the fields. These coordinated actions enabled Ukrainians to cross the river, dispersing their forces, and establishing a broad bridgehead. (And) Russian forces are falling victim to their own mines due to the fields and roads being excessively mined.

Moscow Drone Attack Not Random, Targeted Homes Of Russian Intelligence Officials

It turns out Ukraine was sending a message to a specific audience with its Moscow drone attacks, one which was intended both to instill fear in the targets that Kyiv knows more about them than they may have realized. 

And that message also serves to further undermine Putin's rule by demonstrating his regime's vulnerability. JL 

Ken Dilanian and colleagues report in NBC:

A drone attack in Moscow last week appeared to target the homes of Russian intelligence officers, the latest salvo in a psychological campaign against Russian President Vladimir Putin’s regime. At least one of the apartment buildings hit in the drone strikes has ties to Russia’s SVR. The building is owned by a Russian state budgetary organization, which has held contracts with a military unit known to be a cover for the Foreign Intelligence Service. “This was not some random attack on a wealthy suburb.”

Why Ukrainian Attacks Across Russian Border No Longer Worry US, NATO

The US and NATO increasingly appear to believe that Russia's military will continue to lose to Ukraine and that Putin will refrain from using nuclear weapons, primarily due to demands for restraint from China.He must also now worry about a possible internal coup or insurrection by those probably more inclined to restoration of economic normalcy.

The destruction of the NovaKohkovka Dam shows Russia can still act out, but fears of a broader conflict have receded, thus giving Ukraine freedom to strike across the border. JL

Helene Cooper and colleagues report in the New York Times:

A series of bold attacks in Russia, from a swarm of drone attacks in Moscow to the shelling of towns in the Belgorod region bordering Ukraine and an incursion into the country using American-made armored vehicles, have been greeted by the Biden administration with the diplomatic equivalent of a shrug. "This is what happens in a war.” Russia’s battered military has shown itself unable to make significant gains against Ukraine. Fears that Russia might use a tactical nuclear weapon have receded. "The administration has turned the corner to understanding that not only is Russia the strategic loser, but that they are very likely going to be the military loser.”

US, NATO Pleased By "Better Than Expected" Counteroffensive's 1st Day

Although Ukraine has still not formally announced that the counteroffensive has started - and may not do so for days - NATO officials increasingly believe it has and they are pleased with what they are seeing.

Though the gains are scattered and incremental, the advances so far are of sufficient depth and width to confirm belief in Ukrainians' plan and performance versus that of the Russians. JL 

David Ignatius reports in the Washington Post:

Biden administration officials believe the offensive began Monday with a Ukrainian thrust south along multiple axes. Ukraine’s strategy appears to be an attack along several lanes, so they can move forces among them to hit targets of greatest opportunity. Administration officials were encouraged by better-than-expected progress Monday, as Ukrainian units pushed through heavily mined areas to advance between five and 10 kilometers in some areas of the long front. That raised hopes that Ukrainian forces can keep thrusting toward Mariupol, Melitopol and other Russian-held places along the coast — severing the land bridge.

Meanwhile, Beyond the Dam Break, Ukraine Advances In Bakhmut and Belgorod

The demolition of the NovaKakhovka Dam has received the lions share of attention in the past 24 hours, but elsewhere on the front - and specifically in Bakhmut and Belgorod - fighting is intensifying - to the Ukrainians' advantage. JL 

Mark Sumner reports in Daily Kos:

After months of tracking change of control block by block on maps zoomed to a scale of a couple of hundred meters, the scale bar is 10 kilometers. Ukraine has taken positions that were captured by Russia in January. This is not a major counteroffensive, but it is having sizable results. Despite Russian claims, there doesn’t seem to be evidence of new NATO gear being used. This is not (yet) the large, combined arms action expected (from) those new Western-trained and equipped Ukrainian brigades. (And) that anti-Putin forces have been able to sustain a small occupation force within Russia for nearly a week in the Belgorod area shows how slow Russia has been to respond.

Is Venture Capital's Funding Behavior Becoming Counter-Productive?

As generative AI begins to look like it might actually be that next big thing, is the search for mega-growth thwarting real innovation by creating unrealistic expectations fueled by endless money and breathless hype?

The question is more than academic as IPOs become an historical anecdote and startups wither in the face of daunting demands for impossible returns. JL 

Kyle Harrison reports in Newcomer:

Venture capital, as an institution, has developed a number of “move fast and break things,” “grow at all costs,” and “blitzscaling” playbooks. But like an unreliable drug dealer, as soon as VCs got a generation of founders hooked on massive amounts of capital, ever larger valuations, and increasingly grand ambitions, they disappeared. There are few playbooks for how to make progress from unsustainable to sustainable. Who cares if Uber is at $30B of revenue, still trying to figure out “if our unit economics work”? The early investors made lots of money. The next phase is someone else’s problem.

Jun 6, 2023

Ukraine Military Intelligence and Russian Forces' Morale Are Key Offensive Factors

While the increase in offensive activity may presage the counteroffensive, it is currently more likely to represent reconnaissance in force by the Ukrainians to determine areas of greatest weakness in Russian defensive lines and in Russian troop morale. 

These are key variables because it is historically harder to attack than defend, so assessing the vectors for most likely offensive success is crucial to the outcome of the counteroffensive. JL 

Tom Burridge reports in ABC:

It's unclear whether fresh offensive actions by the Ukrainian military will evolve into larger assaults on wider areas of the Russian front lines or whether they are more localized -- or even diversionary operations -- aimed at testing and wearing down the Russian defenses in preparation for a more substantial offensive later. Keeping the Russian military waiting and guessing is an important part of the Ukrainian game plan. "It will all come down to how good Ukrainian and western supplied intelligence is, and how well Ukraine is able to exploit the Russian weaknesses they find." (But) it is also important to bear in mind "how surprisingly poorly the Russian military has performed in this war."