Combat continues as much as the disinformation barrages on social media. Peace seems a long way from breaking out but attrition does not favor Ukraine, even as their army is having some success. Russia simply outnumbers Ukraine and blockading Odesa is a major problem while Turkey controls entry to the Black Sea.
The Russians nearly lost an entire Battalion Tactical Group at one river crossing:
According to the Kyiv School of Economics estimates, the total amount of direct damage caused by Russia’s ongoing war exceeds $94.3 billion. Total economic losses in the course of this war are in the range of $564-600 billion. Corruption will accompany reconstruction unless care is taken to ensure transparency more consonant with the EU. Should Ukraine now sue for peace rather than continue to attempt to drive the Russians to the official (pre-2014) borders.
CNN has explicit video of the murder of a Ukrainian civilian by Russian soldier.
CNN has obtained surveillance video of what is now being investigated as a war crime by Ukrainian prosecutors.
Both civilians died after the heartless shooting that goes against the so-called rules of war that outlaw the targeting of civilians
. CNN has identified the victims. One was the owner of the vehicle dealership that was looted, whose family does not want to be named. The other was Leonid Oleksiyovych Plyats, a 68-year-old grandfather who worked as a guard there.
Nonetheless, the Donbas seizure, combined with the Russian invasion’s early success in seizing parts of southern Ukraine adjoining the Crimean peninsula, which Russia illegally annexed in 2014, gives the Kremlin enormous leverage in any future negotiation to halt the conflict.
And the Russians enjoy the added advantage of naval dominance in the Black Sea, the only maritime route for Ukrainian trade, which they have paralyzed with an embargo that could eventually starve Ukraine economically and is already contributing to a global grain shortage.
Testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee in Washington on Tuesday, Avril D. Haines, the director of national intelligence, warned of a “prolonged conflict” in Ukraine as Russia seeks expansive territorial gains beyond the Donbas region, including the creation of a land bridge across Ukraine’s Black Sea coast.
But Ms. Haines cautioned that Mr. Putin would struggle to achieve those gains without a large-scale mobilization or draft, which he appears reluctant to order for now. As Mr. Putin’s territorial ambitions conflict with the limited capabilities of his military, Ms. Haines said that the war could enter “a more unpredictable and potentially escalatory trajectory” over the next few months, increasing the likelihood of Mr. Putin issuing direct threats to use nuclear weapons.
It estimated that 30 percent to 50 percent of Ukrainian businesses have shut down, 10 percent of the population has fled the country and a further 15 percent is displaced internally.
The bank also forecast that Russia’s economy would shrink by 10 percent this year and stagnate next year, with a bleak outlook unless a peace agreement leads to the relaxing of Western sanctions.
- The Ukrainian counteroffensive north of Kharkiv City has forced Russian troops onto the defensive and has successfully alleviated artillery pressure on Kharkiv City.
- Russian forces continued efforts to encircle Ukrainian positions in the Severodonetsk-Rubizhne-Lysychansk area but did not make any confirmed advances.
- Russian forces may be initiating a new advance towards Bakhmut after capturing Popasna in order to secure highway access north to Slovyansk.
- Russian forces are attempting to consolidate their positions in western Kherson Oblast to push into Mykolaiv Oblast.
- Pro-Russian Telegram sources reported Ukrainian forces may be conducting a counterattack 40km north of Izyum to cut off Russian units in this key town, though ISW cannot confirm these reports at this time.
Main effort—Eastern Ukraine (comprised of one subordinate and four supporting efforts);
- Subordinate main effort- Encirclement of Ukrainian troops in the cauldron between Izyum and Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts
- Supporting effort 1 — Mariupol;
- Supporting effort 2—Kharkiv City;
- Supporting effort 3—Southern axis;
- Supporting effort 4—Sumy and northeastern Ukraine.
Fighting in eastern Ukraine has mostly occurred at a distance, with Ukrainian and Russian forces lobbing artillery shells at one another, sometimes from dozens of miles away. But at some points along the zigzagging eastern front, the combat becomes a vicious and intimate dance, granting enemy forces fleeting glimpses of one another as they jockey for command of hills and makeshift redoubts in towns and villages blasted apart by shells.
On Wednesday, one such dance played out as a Russian unit of about 10 men entered the village where soldiers from a Ukrainian contingent, the Carpathian Sich Battalion, had dug in. In all likelihood, the Russian troops were there to identify targets for incoming tank fire, including the round that jolted the Ukrainian soldiers into action. Ukrainian forces spotted the Russian soldiers and opened fire, pushing them back.
The battalion’s commander, Oleg Kutsin, said this diversity is part of his contingent’s ethos. When the original Carpathian Sich was founded in the 1930s, it welcomed anyone willing to fight and die under the blue and gold banner of an independent Ukraine, he said.
Not only are virtually any troops welcome, but equipment is as well, he said. In addition to the Javelins, troops fighting in the area recently received another gift to help them even the playing field: American-made M777 howitzers, a long-range artillery piece that the Ukrainians have been desperate to put into action.
“We wanted to resurrect this military tradition of the Ukrainian forces,” he said in his unit’s command center, where a desk was covered in maps of the region and a flat-screen television showed live footage of the smoky battlefield.
“They come,” he said, “we give them weapons and point them in the direction of the enemy.”
Immediate items to watch
- The Belarusian Defense Ministry announced the second stage of rapid response force exercises, but Belarus remains unlikely to join the war in Ukraine.
- Russian forces will likely continue to merge offensive efforts southward of Izyum with westward advances from Donetsk in order to encircle Ukrainian troops in southern Kharkiv Oblast and Western Donetsk.
- Russia is likely setting conditions to integrate occupied Ukrainian territories directly into Russia, as opposed to creating proxy “People’s Republics.”
- Russian forces have apparently decided to seize the Azovstal plant through ground assault and will likely continue operations accordingly.
- Ukrainian counteroffensives around Kharkiv City are pushing back Russian positions northeast of the city towards the international border and will likely continue to force the Russians to reinforce those positions at the cost of reinforcing Russian offensive operations elsewhere.
- Russian forces may be preparing to conduct renewed offensive operations to capture the entirety of Kherson Oblast in the coming days.
Talking up a Marshall plan for Ukraine is a popular sport nowadays. The game starts by tossing out a figure for the cost of reconstructing Ukraine from the ravages of the Russian invasion – $250bn (£203m) or $500bn or $1tn, depending on assumptions about how much is destroyed, the cost of caring for refugees, and so forth. The overall cost of the postwar Marshall plan is then compared with US GDP in 1948, when the program started. This typically leads to the conclusion that the cost of Ukrainian reconstruction relative to the size of the donor countries will be in the same ballpark as the Marshall plan.
These kinds of comparisons are not, in fact, the best use of Marshall plan history. It is impossible to put a number on the cost of reconstruction as long as there remains uncertainty about the duration of the war and how much territory will be controlled by Ukraine’s legitimate government. Just because the US was prepared to provide postwar Europe with nearly 5% of its 1948 GDP, spread over four years, tells us nothing about whether this is the right level of support for Ukraine.
Other aspects of this history are more relevant to Ukraine’s situation. It is revealing, for example, that Marshall plan disbursals began even while there was still some fighting in Europe. Although the Greek civil war continued through the summer of 1949, Greece received Marshall aid in 1948
. In fact, Greece received $300m already in 1947 under the auspices of the American Mission for Aid to Greece, whose structure provided the template for the Marshall plan.
Similarly, aid to Ukraine can start now, though it should be used with discretion. Repairing bridges that are simply destroyed again by Russia would serve no purpose.
It is also important to recall that Marshall plan funds were more than 90% grants and just 10% loans. Today there are calls for the western powers to guarantee new Ukrainian government bonds. This would bring the government’s borrowing costs down to single digits and provide funds for reconstruction. But it would leave Ukraine even more heavily indebted, when it already faces the challenge of restructuring its legacy debt. Guarantees for additional Ukrainian borrowing would merely be a way for western governments to cheap out on reconstruction aid.
Moreover, the US created an independent agency to administer the Marshall plan. Freed from the bureaucracies of the US State and Treasury Departments, the Economic Cooperation Administration (ECA) could ramp up quickly. It was able to tap private-sector expertise, starting with its head, Paul Hoffman, the president of Studebaker. It avoided entanglements with the UN, where the Soviet Union’s membership would have caused problems.
Aid for Ukraine should similarly be administered by an autonomous agency accountable to donor governments. While it can consult and, ideally, coordinate with the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, it should preserve its independence, given Russian membership in both organisations.
The Marshall plan’s architects recognised the need for ownership on the part of aid recipients, while proceeding on the basis of “trust but verify.” European governments submitted detailed plans for spending down US funds. These were the bases for painstaking negotiations with the ECA before moneys were disbursed. In countries like Greece, where there were concerns about corruption, the ECA had hundreds of agents embedded in the relevant ministries. Administrative reforms were a focus and precondition for Marshall plan aid.
Ukrainians will be understandably sensitive about foreign interference in their reconstruction. But foreign oversight is the price of foreign aid, particularly on the scale that Ukraine will require. The government in Kyiv can provide reassurance by enhancing the transparency of its spending, for example by expanding its online public procurement portal ProZorro.