Offensive operations continue with only a modest hope for negotiation about ceasefires. The Russian offer of “safe corridors” is more about demographic relocation and control of negotiation positions by forcing evacuees toward Belarus and Russia. The humanitarian disaster continues with 1.7 million refugees so far.
Russian air superiority has not been achieved as artillery and missile bombardment continues while precision munitions are getting depleted. Ukrainian air defense has become reinforced by several nations.
Further attacks on nuclear reactors remain an option. Failure to seize the capital Kyiv has forced Russia to press the offensive elsewhere. Ukraine president Zelensky identifying his location as a media show of courage, may just compel the Russians to attack him there with a missile strike.
Supplying more fixed-wing air assets is still under discussion by transferring up to 100 existing NATO nations’ MiG-29s to Ukraine’s air force. Replacing those stocks by “backfilling” fighter aircraft from the US in the long run benefits the US military industrial complex (MIC).
- The Pentagon has seen evidence that Russia is trying to recruit Syrians to fight on their behalf in Ukraine, senior U.S. defense official says. That matches a @WSJ scoop from last night.
- The Pentagon now assesses that nearly 100 percent of the Russian combat power pre-staged at the Ukrainian border are now committed to the fight, a senior U.S. defense official says.
- Russia has now launched more than 625 missiles at Ukraine since the invasion began, a senior U.S. defense official says Monday.
- Airspace is still contested, as it has been, a Pentagon official says.
- “We do continue to assess that President Zelensky has the vast majority of his fixed-wing aircraft available to him,” senior U.S. defense official says.
- Pentagon says it will deploy an additional 500 U.S. troops from the U.S. to Europe in light of the crisis in Ukraine, senior defense official says. No combat troops -- refueling, air ops center, etc.
- The Pentagon does not seen any indications of additional Russian forces moving toward Ukraine, senior U.S. defense official says.
- U.S. officials also do not see Belarusian forces moving to join the fight, senior U.S. defense official says.
- Bombardments continue in multiple locations in Ukraine, something the Pentagon believes could be coming in part because of their failures to maneuver on the ground.
- "It appears as though the Russians are increasing their use of long-range fires to supplement or make up for the lack of ground movement that they have had, and the lack of air superiority that they enjoy," senior U.S. defense official says.
- Pentagon "cannot assess with specificity" whether Russia is deliberately targeting civilians, senior U.S. defense official says.
- That said, civilian areas are definitely being hit more frequently, highlighting the "reckless nature" of current Russians operations, official says.
• • •
Major general Magomed Tushayev
Major general Andrei Sukhovetsky
Major general Vitaly Gerassimov
Colonel Konstantin Zizevsky
Lieutenant Colonel Dmitry Safronov
Lieutenant Colonel Denis Glebov
Russian attacks on two key aviation facilities raised new concerns about Ukraine’s ability to challenge Moscow’s control of the skies.
MUKACHEVO, Ukraine — Russian forces pounded key airfields in central Ukraine and launched a fresh assault on the besieged port city of Mariupol on Sunday, Russian and Ukrainian officials said, as Moscow pressed ahead with its invasion in defiance of new Western economic threats and fierce resistance from Ukraine’s outgunned defenders.
The newest attacks by Russian warplanes, missiles and artillery came as waves of refugees continued to pour across Ukraine’s western border. In Irpin, on the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital, at least eight people, including two children, were killed in an artillery barrage as families were preparing to board buses to flee the area.
For the second consecutive day, Russian shelling ruptured a temporary cease-fire in Mariupol, blocking efforts to evacuate civilians in the Black Sea city where more than 200,000 residents remained trapped, according to a tally by relief agencies.
More than 1.5 million refugees from Ukraine have fled to neighboring countries since the invasion began Feb. 24, the U.N. high commissioner for refugees, Filippo Grandi, said Sunday. He tweeted that the mass exodus is “the fastest growing refugee crisis in Europe since World War II.” Grandi recently predicted that more than 4 million people could be displaced by the conflict in the weeks to come.
Throughout the weekend, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky renewed his pleas for international military help to “close the sky” to Russian bombers.
Zelensky warned of a coming Russian aerial assault on Odessa, the historic city of nearly 1 million people on the Black Sea coast, which has roughly the same population as San Jose, Calif. Ukrainian officials also reported steady advances by Russian armored columns in the country’s southeast.
Zelensky confirmed in a video message that the strike on Vinnystia had “completely destroyed the airport.”
In the same message, Zelensky, who has repeatedly urged NATO to help him defend his country against Russian warplanes, again called for assistance in fighting an air war.
“We repeat every day: Close the sky over Ukraine. Close it for all Russian rockets. For all Russian military aviation. For all these terrorists. Make a humanitarian airspace,” Zelensky said. “We are people, and this is your humanitarian obligation to protect us.”
Need some confirmation of this:
challenging international norms, such as the sovereignty of states, comes with real costs, and military adventurism weakens the countries that indulge in it.
(4 March 2022) No less significant than Putin’s strategic error have been the Russian army’s tactical blunders. Bearing in mind the challenges of assessment in the early stages of a war, one can surely say that Russian planning and logistics were inadequate and that the lack of information given to soldiers and even to officers in the higher echelons was devastating to morale. The war was supposed to end quickly, with a lightning strike that would decapitate the Ukrainian government or cow it into surrender, after which Moscow would impose neutrality on Ukraine or establish a Russian suzerainty over the country. Minimal violence might have equaled minimal sanctions. Had the government fallen quickly, Putin could have claimed that he was right all along: because Ukraine had not been willing or able to defend itself, it was not a real country—just like he had said.
But Putin will be unable to win this war on his preferred terms. Indeed, there are several ways in which he could ultimately lose. He could mire his military in a costly and futile occupation of Ukraine, decimating the morale of Russia’s soldiers, consuming resources, and delivering nothing in return but the hollow ring of Russian greatness and a neighboring country reduced to poverty and chaos. He could create some degree of control over parts of eastern and southern Ukraine and probably Kyiv, while fighting a Ukrainian insurgency operating from the west and engaged in guerrilla warfare across the country—a scenario that would be reminiscent of the partisan warfare that took place in Ukraine during World War II. At the same time, he would preside over the gradual economic degradation of Russia, its growing isolation, and its increasing inability to supply the wealth on which great powers rely. And, most consequentially, Putin could lose the support of the Russian people and elites, on whom he depends to prosecute the war and maintain his hold on power, even though Russia is not a democracy.
What I would do if I were Secretary of State
I give Biden high marks for how he has handled the situation from November onward. My view is that Putin perceived a weakness in the resolve of the West (correctly, in my view), especially after Trump's and Biden's exit plans for Afghanistan. So his resentment and anger about the post-1991 situation had been festering for a long time, and finally percolated in the autumn of 2021 as he perceived "his chance". Go beyond the 2014 excursion, now take the whole country.
The surprise has been that Biden and Europe did NOT back off, and instead strengthened their resolve for unity and resistance to Russia. So Putin wound up with resistance he had not counted on back in the autumn.
What to do today? My vote is to go one step further, and sanction the sale/purchase of Russian oil and gas. Just like Iran and Venezuela.
Extra oil and gas production from other countries can compensate for the withdrawal of Russian product. Germany's gas supply is at risk. But measures have been prepared to offset the withdrawal of Russian gas by supplying LPG deliveries from the Middle East and North America. Fareed Zakaria has been a proponent of this idea and I support it.
One commentator today said "no, I would hold off on the energy embargo, we want to keep that one for reserve leverage". I don't see what further reserve we need, as Putin has already done the maximum of violence short of using his nuclear bombs (and I don't think he will use nuclear weapons, as that is tantamount to an attack on NATO which neither side wish to see.)
To sanction oil & gas sales, the challenge is to balance on the US Average Joe priority sheet: do what we really need to do to attack Putin (now take the extra step and sanction oil/gas sales), or do we protect the US price level of domestic gasoline in order to reduce sufferings by the American public?
I would go for the shutdown of Russian oil/gas, but I am not facing the Midterms in 2022.
“Putin is clearly determined to take over Ukraine and get rid of the democratically led government,” Alexander Mikaberidze said.
However, he said Putin underestimated Ukrainians and their leader.
“What they didn’t account for what the resiliency of Ukrainian army and the leadership of the Ukrainian government. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has emerged as a true hero of this conflict. He was able to rally his people, rally his army, and resist against all odds,” Mikaberidze said.
He said Putin and his senior officials miscalculated their plans for a quick invasion. Relying on shock and awe tactics and trying taking down Ukraine’s government. In reality, Putin’s army has profound logistic challenges
“I am like many other observers and commentaries, surprised at the level of incompetence of the Russian army,” Mikaberidze said.