Only a month or so ago the Western propaganda machine was confident that Ukraine was winning. But there’s been a change. Consider Polish President Duda’s warning yesterday – “They (Russia) are still very strong and we are afraid they are preparing for a new offensive on a few months”. In September, he was confident that “Russia had demonstrated its weakness”. What’s changed? I would guess that Wagner’s capture of Soledar and the situation around Bakhmut has dented the feel-good propaganda, but who knows – the West’s rulers live in a “tongue-bath of pleasing illusion” designed to keep reality out.
Whatever the reason, the breezy confidence of Russian failure is ebbing. (OK – Chomiak’s grand-daughter still believes.) Ukrainian officials say their casualties are “huge, indigestible“. Big war party players say time is not on Ukraine’s side. Even CNN says “time is also fast ebbing” and there may be a “ferocious new offensive” from Russia. Something must be done! And that something is – wait for it!!! Ta dah!! More weapons!! (You were expecting these clods to have a new idea?). A year ago Ukraine had a huge armory and NATO has sent Ukraine plenty since. Here’s a list – 410 MBTs, 300 IFVs, 700 guns, 95 MLRS.
Not enough. Russia has destroyed most of Ukraine Army 1, most of NATO-supplied Ukraine Army 2. Time for NATO-supplied Ukraine Army 3.
But the West’s stockpiles are empty says Borrell, Stoltenberg, Del Toro. “We essentially used the equivalent of 13 years of Stinger production and 5 years of Javelin production“. And they won’t be refilled any time soon. Here is an estimate of how long it will take America to replace munitions and weapons sent to Ukraine – HIMARS in five years, everything else longer. Probably on the optimistic side – many single-supplier bottlenecks. “We haven’t got this figured out just yet“. No you haven’t. And that’s the USA which has a gigantic arms industry, In Europe – or Germany anyway – it seems that nothing they have actually works.
No more flab to send, time to cut into NATO’s muscle.
The first offerings for Ukraine Army 3 are decades-old vehicles – obsolescent yes, but because their replacements don’t exist or are duds, they’re actually muscle – even if a bit wrinkly. America kicked off this latest round by saying it would send about 50 Bradley IFVs. France is sending some AMX-10 RCs and Germany promises about 40 Marder IFVs.
But non-wrinkly muscle is being sent too. Today we learned that Denmark will send 19 Caesar SPGs to Ukraine. That’s all they have. Britain is sending about 30 AS 90s – a quarter of its holdings. The US has broken into emergency stocks of 155mm ammunition stored in Israel (Syrians, Iraqis, Palestinians – are you listening?)
Here’s the rest of Duda’s statement “it was crucial to provide additional support to Kyiv with modern tanks and missiles.” Tanks are the new wonderwaffe that will get General Steiner to Moscow. (A year ago Ukraine had hundreds and hundreds of Soviet-era MBTs and has received another 400 Soviet-era tanks. Where have they gone?) London was the first to kick it off with the announcement that it would send 14 (14!) Challenger 2s (about 6% of its holdings) – “a gap in our inventory” says Britain’s top soldier. That’s muscle. Will German Leopards go? At the moment Germany says no and that it won’t permit other countries to sent theirs and the US is saying it won’t send its Abrams tanks. But we’ll see – tomorrow’s meeting at Ramstein will tell us more.
Real students of war know that “professionals talk logistics” and Brian Berletic explains here the logistical problems of all these different tanks. In all likelihood, they will be single use – as soon as something breaks or they run out of ammunition, they will be abandoned. Tanks won’t do it.
Here’s what the Western MSM hasn’t told you. The Russian Armed Forces as such haven’t been much involved so far. Airborne at the beginning, some fast air and rotary wing, a lot of artillery throughout. But the big fighting has been done by the LDPR militias everywhere, Wagner at Bakhmut defense complex, Chechens in Mariupol. The big shoe hasn’t dropped.
The Russian Armed Forces proper have 200,000 to 500,000 troops armed trained and equipped (lots of tanks – the latest T-90s are showing up). Will they complacently sit there watching Ukraine and NATO “demilitarize” themselves? Or is a “big arrow” offensive coming? It’s Moscow’s choice.
The optimist can hope that the announcements of wonderwaffe that haven’t actually got to Ukraine are the exculpation that “we did everything we could” before the lift-off from Kabul Airport West.
The pessimist can fear that NATO, when it finally gets to the bottom of the barrel and has cut its arms and legs off, will use the last weapon it has.
Me, I’m off to the liquor store – too old to make the cut.