Mass Graves being unearthed in Izyum

A mass grave with some 440 bodies has been found in Izyum after Ukraine’s armed forces pushed the Russians out.  The bodies are mostly civilians, some showing signs of torture, some with their hands bound behind their backs. They are finding and identifying whole families that have been murdered, men, women and children.

This is a pattern being repeated all over occupied Ukraine, with authorities discovering mass graves in nearly every place they reoccupy, like Bucha.

Additionally, there are reports that Russia has taken thousands of Ukrainian children from the country back to Russia after orphaning them by killing their parents. This has echoes of the Nazis in WWII. An SS-initiated program called “Lebensborn” took as many as 400,000 Polish children they considered as having an Aryan appearance and handed them over to SS families for adoption while sending older kids to “German home schools.” These children were then “Germanized,” and spoke and lived as Germans. The infants taken never knew they were actually Polish and thought their German parents were their actual mothers and fathers. As for their own parents, they were often sent to concentration camps.

This is also the Russian way of war.  In 1943, a mass grave was found by German forces in the Katyn Forest. In shallow graves, they found the bodies of 22,000 Polish military officers all murdered by Soviet troops.

Ukrainians are even finding wounded Russian soldiers shot by their own comrades as they retreated to prevent them from falling into Ukraine’s hands.

Russia gave notice on September 16th that it would no longer be a party to the European Convention on Human Rights. Try to be surprised.

These mass graves will make a negotiated peace between Ukraine and Russia all but impossible. Russia will condition any peace deal to being excused from these human rights abuses and Ukraine will not grant it.  It would also resist any pressure by the US and the EU to just let it go for the sake of some future peace deal.

 

 

 

Germany Continues to Fence Sit when it comes to Arming Ukraine

Good news for Ukraine.  Germany will deliver 18 self-propelled RCH-155 howitzers to Ukraine after two months of dithering and handwringing by Berlin over doing the deal.

Bad news for Ukraine, the earliest delivery date is 30 months from now.

Germany has been doing this since the war started. Issuing press releases that it was sending a massive amount of aid to Ukraine, only for it to come out later that they won’t be doing it at all, or that it will be delivered years later.

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On June 1st Germany pledged to provide IRIS-T air defence missile systems to Ukraine. It is now mid September and Ukraine is still waiting for them.  These are not offensive weapons, but purely defensive, to shoot down Russian cruise missiles falling on Ukrainian civilian areas.

Also in June,  German Chancellor Olaf Scholz rolled out the so-called “Ringtausch,” plan, which would see eastern NATO partners supplying the Ukrainian army with their Russian made tanks like the T-72 in exchange for modern tanks from German manufacturers, like the Leopard. This was a great idea, since Ukraine already operated the T-72 and knew how to keep them running. The added benefit was that NATO’s eastern partners would see their equipment upgraded to current(relatively speaking) western military hardware.

Poland dutifully sent some 240 of its T-72s to Ukraine.

Now Poland is complaining that Germany isn’t keeping up on their end of the deal(which they arranged in the first place) to deliver Leopard tanks in exchange. In an interview with the German news outlet Welt, Polish President Andrzej Duda stated, “They have not fulfilled this promise. And frankly, we are very disappointed about this.”

Spain promised to send 40 mothballed Leopard A4 tanks to Ukraine back in June as well, but had to cancel the deal. First, it would have required the approval of the German Parliament to send them and two, the tanks had been in storage for years and would have to be refurbished.  Had Spain engaged in reconditioning the tanks, they would be in Ukraine now, but instead they cancelled.  Probably because of Germany.

Germany argues that it must be careful not to send too much because it needs to be able to protect itself from the Russian army as well.  We would just point out the obvious to Germany, that Ukraine is fighting off the exact same Russian army Germany wants to defend itself from.

It makes no sense.

According to the Keil Institute for the World Economy chart below, Germany has made a substantial contribution to Ukraine in terms of dollar value but it ranks well below that made by the US, the UK, Poland, and even Canada.  Here’s the thing, Germany is the largest economy in Europe, with an arms manufacturing base that rivals that of the US. Germany makes very good weapons. How good?  The gun in the M1a1/2 Abrams tank was designed by Rheinmetall Waffe Munition GmbH of Germany. We make it under license from the German government.

 

Germany’s aid when you look at it closely is very limited and of almost entirely defensive in nature. The shipments included 4,600 anti-tank mines, machinegun parts, radios, hand grenades, and other explosives. sprinkled in among that are 10, 155mm guns, 3 MLRS systems and 24 Gepard anti-aircraft defense systems which Ukrainian troops began training on in July, five months after the invasion began. They have also sent ATVs, Trucks, and some armored fighting vehicles in small, token-like amounts.

And Germany wants Ukraine to remember the 150 pairs of binoculars they sent since they went to the trouble of listing them specifically.

So what is the deal with Germany? Why are they talking like they are doing so much for Ukraine while the plain numbers and dollar amounts show they are doing very little compared to their actual capacity to render military aid?

It would be easy to point to their energy policy which gave Russia a virtual stranglehold on Germany’s energy supplies.  I won’t get into how stupid it was for the largest economy in Europe to give strategic control of its energy supplies to a competitor like Russia, which has the goal of being the dominant economic and political power in Europe.  There is more to it.

Since the end of the Cold War, Germany and Russia have had a strange relationship. After fighting a war of mutual annihilation in WWII, they now seem to like and respect each other quite a bit.  It should be remembered that Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union began WWII on the same side. In fact, in Russia’s own ambitions to restore its empire, it sees Germany as a partner in dominating Europe. Germany would be subservient to Russia in this arrangement but would be Russia’s partner in this restored Russian empire.

Germany is now offering to sell weapons to Ukraine with delivery dates that are months or even years away, while issuing press releases saying they are arming Ukraine. This can easily be shown to be disingenuous as it’s almost betting that Ukraine won’t be around to take delivery in 2 or 3 years.

If Germany was serious, it would give Ukraine weapons it already has in its inventory and Ukraine could pay to replace them with new weapons or give them back after the war is over.

This is how the US Lend-Lease program is working in Ukraine.  We aren’t really “giving” away $9 billion in arms to Ukraine. Much of it is being “loaned” to them with the agreement that they will return it after the war is over or pay for its replacement if the equipment is destroyed. This would include them paying us back for expended munitions as well.

The expended munitions like rockets, bombs, Javelin missiles and Stingers are not being sold directly to Ukraine.  They come out of US military inventories and then the Pentagon is ordering replacements.  When this war is over, a lot of the US inventory in these types of weapons will be brand, spanking new.  That isn’t really a bad thing.

The US is letting Germany get away with doing little while talking much and the Biden administration should take steps to end German fence-sitting and actually keep its promises to Ukraine and even Poland or just sit it out and keep their mouths shut.

 

 

Consolidating Ukrainian Gains

Ukraine has recaptured some 6,000 square miles of occupied territory and we assess they now face a considerable dilemma in continuing the offensive.

As the Russians left, they destroyed civilian infrastructure like waterworks and power stations.  They have extensively mined vast parts of it. Ukraine will have to demine these areas as well and that could take months or years to do.

No small part of the population in the previously occupied territories are pro-Russian and could engage in partisan activity in the restored territory.

The dispossessed Ukrainian population may want to return to the homes they lost, or they may refuse to.

The farther Ukraine advances into the occupied territories, the farther they get from their own lines of supply and the closer the Russians get to their own. Ukraine will have to feed additional trucks into its logistics chain to supply its troops with fuel, food, and ammunition. Or they will have to move their bases of supply forward and into the range of Russian missiles. Ukraine has had lots of problems with logistics, with equipment and medical supplies having a hard time reaching the front-line units. While nowhere near as bad as Russia’s supply problems which makes its military all spearpoint and no shaft, it does not have the kind of dedicated supply and logistic organization the US military has. A stunning display of our military’s logistics capability was the evacuation of Kabul by the Air Force. We evacuated 124,000 people in 17 days using about 250 aircraft, and we only used half of the C-17 Globemasters in our inventory.

Ukraine has captured large stores of ammunition and equipment like tanks and infantry fighting vehicles that they will have to repair and refurbish to put into use in their own army. They will also have to carefully check each captured rocket, artillery, and mortar round to ensure they are not rigged to blow up in the gun or launcher, destroying the weapon and killing its crew.  This “salting” or placing sabotaged rounds in among normal ammunition can even be done with rifle bullets.

Ukraine has also taken thousands of prisoners and is poised to take thousands more.  Quite a few of them are residents of the occupied territories that Ukraine is not going to exchange with Russia. Ukraine will consider them traitors to their own country and may have to deal with them legally.  Russia will not likely take them.  Moscow just revoked the travel privileges of members of the Russian-created People’s Republics of Donbas and Luhansk. This means they can’t bug out and escape to Russia when it all goes south and Ukraine recaptures the rest of its lost territory. Their backs are to the wall, win or die.

Simply put, the Ukrainians now have lots to do behind their own lines that may hamper their ability to continue offensive operations.

They are also expending vast quantities of munitions in the process, especially in terms of HIMARS rockets, which serve as a kind of tactical air strike capability for them. There is some question as to whether the US can maintain Ukraine’s inventory of reloads. It can take a week or two to get a HIMARS rocket out of US military stocks, fly it to Poland or Germany and then truck it into Ukraine to the front lines where it is needed.

Clearly, the initial Ukrainian offensive broke the back of Russian resistance in the areas they pushed into. It was not the lightning-quick ground offensive like the US military pulled off in the deserts of Kuwait and Iraq, which was preceded by a 30-day air campaign of near constant bombing. While Putin has suspended the deployment of more units to Ukraine, partly because there are mutinies among troops refusing to go, he can try to shorten his lines, dig better defenses, and rush in supplies.

Winter is approaching rapidly and the cold favors the defender who can stay warmer in his bunker than the poor infantrymen slogging through the snow to attack him. There are also increased casualties from the cold in terms of frostbite and pneumonia to consider.

So Ukraine has a lot of pressure on it to keep going and recapture as much territory as it can before the first heavy snows fall and they find themselves stuck on the roads like the Russians were in February.

And we all see how that turned out for them.