Boots & Sabers

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Tag: Ukraine

Zelensky Coming to America to Shake Down American Taxpayers

No more.

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky is going to Washington DC to try to rescue a threatened US defence package to Kyiv worth billions of dollars.

The aid has become embroiled in US domestic, partisan politics.

 

It will be Mr Zelensky’s third visit to the US since Russia’s February 2022 invasion of Ukraine.

The week is a crucial one for Ukraine, with the European Union also deciding whether to open formal talks on its accession to the bloc.

Few thoughts…

This war shows no sign of ending any time soon, and no sign that Ukraine can win, without a massive infusion of people, material, and cash from someone like us. There is no political will in America to spend American blood on this war.

The only thing that will be different if they negotiate an end to the war now versus 1 year from now is that Russia will likely push into even more Ukrainian territory in a year. It appears that Ukraine has blown its offensive wad. They can fight a long, bloody defensive war almost indefinitely.

Through the entire war, Zelinsky has shifted to full tyrant. He’s canceled elections, imprisoned political opponents, silenced political speech, and is now assassinating ex-pat opponents in foreign countries. There seems to be very little daylight between the ruling style of Zelinsky and that of Putin. This is no longer a fight for the freedom of the Ukrainian people. Democracy has died with Zelinsky and will not be revived even if he wins.

Also, we cannot overlook the American Taxpayer -> Ukraine -> Hunter – > Joe money laundering that has clearly been going on for years. We cannot trust that the Biden Syndicate is acting purely out of the interests of America and not their own personal interests. Do Zelinsky have the goods on Biden and is blackmailing him? Is the taxpayers’ investment in the Ukrainian War just an investment in the Biden family’s generational retirement plan?

Finally, I do understand the stated American interest in this war beyond the role of America supporting Democracy anywhere. There is a reasonable fear that this is similar to Hitler’s seizure of the Sudetenland and such in the 1930s. If we allow Putin’s territorial seizures to go unanswered, he will spread into Europe. And if he does that, then it will trigger our NATO obligations to defend Europe with American blood.

That was a reasonable fear at the beginning of the war, but less so now. Even if he wins in keeping half of Ukraine, this war has bled Putin’s war machine and his domestic political strength with it. Putin will not be able to muster enough force and domestic political support to take on a NATO country for many years, and he is an old man. He doesn’t have many years. Hitler was in his 40s when he began stealing territory. Putin is in his 70s. Russia was expecting an easy seizure of territory like they did in Crimea. It didn’t work. America’s national interest has been met in blunting Russia’s ability to engage in expansionist territorial adventures for some time to come. It is time for peace.

Republicans Willing to Trade Border Security for More Ukraine Funding

This is a positive development. Even the squishy Republican Senators are drawing a hard line here.

Senate Republicans on Wednesday blocked the advance of a $110 billion (£87 billion) package of wartime funding for Ukraine and Israel as they pressed their demands for tougher immigration measures at the Mexico border.

 

The vote, a 49-51 tally that fell short of the Senate’s 60-vote threshold for moving ahead, came just hours after President Joe Biden said it was “stunning” that Congress has not yet approved tens of billions of dollars in military and economic assistance for Ukraine.

 

His administration warned of dire consequences for Kyiv – and a “gift” to Russia’s Vladimir Putin – if lawmakers don’t act.

 

The vote was along party lines, with every Senate Republican voting “no” along with Senator Bernie Sanders, an independent who generally votes with Democrats but had expressed concerns about funding Israel’s “current inhumane military strategy” against Palestinians.

The bleating from Biden that the war in Ukraine is a “battle for freedom,” or something, has worn thin. He has not articulated what our pressing national interest is, and he has not articulated what the out strategy is. Meanwhile, Ukraine has suspended elections, suppressed speech, and generally turned into yet another dictatorship. Do we really care if a Ukrainian dictator or a Russian dictator lords over that part of the world? How much more American treasure and, potentially, American lives are worth it?

Furthermore, it is clear that the Ukrainian War has ground to a stalemate. Lines have not moved substantially for most of the year despite the big Ukrainian summer offensive. Russia will continue to push and has more resources than Ukraine. The only thing that will change the dynamic is a massive influx of arms and, probably, foreign soldiers to change the power balance. But there is no appetite in Europe or America to spend more, risk their lives, or widen the war with Russia.

Given that’s the case, America would best serve the world by using our power to bring the war to a close as quickly as possible in a negotiated settlement. It will mean that Russia “won” the war by seizing several large parts of Ukraine by force of arms. But Ukraine will survive as a smaller country. And the bloodletting of a generation of Ukrainians and Russians will stop. At this point, that is the best foreseeable outcome for Ukraine and the longer they wait, the less likely it will be.

Ukranian War in Stalemate

The war is frozen. The only thing that will change it at this point is a massive influx of money, men, and munitions from one side or the other. America does not have an interest in perpetuating the bleeding of people and American taxpayers.

Russia said on Friday its troops were advancing in every section of the Ukrainian front, despite observers seeing little movement.

 

The front lines have barely shifted in 2023 but fighting has remained intense. The latest major flashpoint is the nearly encircled industrial town of Avdiivka, where Ukraine said it was fending off assaults.

 

“Our servicemen are acting competently and decisively, occupying a more favourable position and expanding their zones of control in all directions,” Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Friday.

 

In a briefing with Russia’s top military brass, Shoigu said his men were “effectively and firmly inflicting fire damage on the Ukrainian armed forces, significantly reducing their combat capabilities”.

 

[…]

 

Ukraine has struggled to claw back territory from Russia this year, despite launching a counter-offensive in June after stocking up on Western weapons.

 

Last month Kyiv said it had pushed Russian forces back a few kilometres (miles) from the banks of Dnipro river, which if confirmed would be its first meaningful advance in more than 12 months.

 

Ahead of expectations for another tough winter, Ukraine is trying to stave off talk of fatigue among its Western partners, fearing that aid may dry up in the case of a prolonged stalemate.

 

Zelensky Cements Power by Indefinitely Postponing Elections

Yes, we are supporting one dictator over another in Ukraine.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said presidential elections will not be held in the country next year, saying that it would be “irresponsible” to do so during the ongoing war.

“We all understand that now, in wartime, when there are many challenges, it is utterly irresponsible to engage in topics related to an election in such a frivolous manner,” Zelensky said in his nightly video address to the nation on Monday.

Prior to the war, Ukraine’s presidential elections were scheduled for March 2024, but the country’s constitution mandates that they cannot go ahead until any declaration of martial law is lifted, which is unlikely to happen in the near future. Ukraine was due to hold a parliamentary election in October.

Congress Considers Splitting Aid for Israel and Ukraine

Yes. More of this. I’m sick of the omnibus approach to governing. Take each issue as a standalone bill. The war in Ukraine is completely different than that in Israel. Different causes. Different consequences. Different combatants. They should not be linked.

WASHINGTON — Lawmakers are increasingly split over whether to tie foreign aid to Ukraine and Israel together in one congressional package, revealing the significant hurdles any new military assistance legislation or foreign aid has in Congress.

 

House Republicans are teed up to push through standalone legislation providing assistance to Israel sometime this week, House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., said on Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures.”

 

While there are “lots of things going on around the world,” Johnson said, “what’s happening in Israel takes the immediate attention.”

A top House Republican, Rep.  R-Texas, chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told “Fox News Sunday” he also thought Israel and Ukraine aid should be taken up in separate packages.

 

“I think what we want to do is really because the need is so urgent now in Israel, is to start with Israel first … as a separate measure,” McCaul said.

Ukranian Defense Minister Sacked

Uh huh.

Speculations about the replacement of Oleksii Reznikov, Ukraine’s defence minister since November 2021, have been rife for months.

While personally not accused of any wrongdoing, the man by President Zelensky’s side since day one of the Russian full-scale invasion was seen as unable to stop corruption penetrating his ministry.

Military procurement scandals and accusations of bribery against officials at enlistment centres made him damaged goods in the eyes of Ukrainian society, currently in need of a morale boost in the wake of a slower than expected offensive.

Irrespective of your opinion on whether or not the United States should be funding the Ukranian war machine, it is no secret that the entire government has been riddled with corruption for many, many years. Just accept that billions of dollars have been siphoned into corrupt pockets and our weapons have been sold to bad actors around the world. And yes… it is almost certain that a significant amount of money has made it back into American bank accounts – particularly politicians and their families.

Yes, there is a justification to support the war. I don’t agree with it, but there is a rational argument. But that does not change the fact that we are shoving billions of borrowed dollars and millions of weapons of war through an irrevocably corrupt system. We will be uncovering corruption for years and feeling the negative impact for a generation.

Army Can’t Keep Up with Munitions for Ukraine

It would be one thing if Ukraine was paying for this, but they are not. We are. There’s a lot to digest in this story.

The Scranton Army Ammunition Plant is at the vanguard of a multibillion-dollar Pentagon plan to modernize and accelerate its production of ammunition and equipment not only to support Ukraine, but to be ready for a potential conflict with China.

 

But it is one of just two sites in the U.S. that make the steel bodies for the critical 155 mm howitzer rounds that the U.S. is rushing to Ukraine to help in its grinding fight to repel the Russian invasion in the largest-scale war in Europe since World War II.

 

The invasion of Ukraine revealed that the U.S. stockpile of 155 mm shells and those of European allies were unprepared to support a major and ongoing conventional land war, sending them scrambling to bolster production. The dwindling supply has alarmed U.S. military planners, and the Army now plans to spend billions on munitions plants around the country in what it calls its most significant transformation in 40 years.

 

[…]

 

The Army is spending about $1.5 billion to ramp up production of 155 mm rounds from 14,000 a month before Russia invaded Ukraine to over 85,000 a month by 2028, U.S. Army Undersecretary Gabe Camarillo told a symposium last month.

 

Already, the U.S. military has given Ukraine more than 1.5 million rounds of 155 mm ammunition, according to Army figures.

 

But even with higher near-term production rates, the U.S. cannot replenish its stockpile or catch up to the usage pace in Ukraine, where officials estimate that the Ukrainian military is firing 6,000 to 8,000 shells per day. In other words, two days’ worth of shells fired by Ukraine equates to the United States’ monthly pre-war production figure.

 

[…]

 

The factory — built for the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad just after 1900, when the city was a rising coal and railroad powerhouse — has produced large-caliber ammunition for the military going back to the Korean War.

 

But the buildings are on the National Historic Registry of Historic Places, limiting how the Army can alter the structures.

Biden Sends More Money to Ukraine

Taxpayers are bailing out banks and Ukraine while we all go into the poor house.

WASHINGTON — The State Department announced Monday that the U.S. will send Ukraine $350 million in weapons and equipment, as fierce battles with Russian forces continue for control of the city of Bakhmut, and troops prepare for an expected spring offensive.

 

The latest package of aid includes a large amount of various types of ammunition, such as rockets for the High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, and an undisclosed number of fuel tanker trucks and riverine boats.

U.S. Directs Ukranian War Plans

So now we’re not just arming Ukraine, but directing combat actions? Can we admit that America is at war with Russia using Ukranian mercenaries?

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -Senior U.S. officials are advising Ukraine to hold off on launching a major offensive against Russian forces until the latest supply of U.S. weaponry is in place and training has been provided, a senior Biden administration official said on Friday.

 

The official, speaking to a small group of reporters on condition of anonymity, said the United States was holding fast to its decision not to provide Abrams tanks to Ukraine at this time, amid a controversy with Germany over tanks.

 

U.S. talks with Ukraine on any counter-offensive have been in the context of ensuring the Ukrainians devote enough time first to training on the latest weaponry provided by the United States, the official said.

U.S. – The Arsenal of Kleptocracy

Are we still not interested in all of the Biden’s dealings in Ukraine? Europe has far more interest in supporting Ukraine than the U.S. does, yet here we are emptying our wallets for them. Why? What’s the goal?

CNN — 

The US is set to finalize a huge military aid package for Ukraine totaling approximately $2.5 billion worth of weaponry, including for the first time Stryker combat vehicles, two sources briefed on the next tranche of aid told CNN.

The package is not yet finalized, one of sources said, but it could come before the end of the week.

The new aid – one of the biggest packages to be announced since the war began last February – would also include more armored Bradley Fighting Vehicles, according to one of the people briefed. Combined with the Strykers, it marks a significant escalation in the armored vehicles the US has committed to Ukraine in its fight against Russia. Mine-resistant ambush protected vehicles, known as MRAPs, are also on the list, the person said. The US has already committed to sending Ukraine nearly 500 MRAPs.

When asked if the US was preparing to announce another Ukraine security package, State Department spokesman Ned Price told CNN, “Two words: stay tuned.”

U.S. Will Take Years to Replace Arms Sent to Ukraine

It’s not just the incredible transfer of wealth from Americans to Ukraine. It’s the decades it will take for our nation to return to its previous military capability. Will our enemies take advantage of our weakness?

The Russian invasion of Ukraine and China’s military build-up have US lawmakers shelling out billions to buy new missiles, aircraft, tanks and helicopters to support allies and prepare for future conflict. Including the most recent tranche of funding passed in December, Congress has enacted about $110 billion in aid to Ukraine, about $40 billion of which will go toward weapons transfers and purchases.

 

That’s putting stress on the makers of modern weaponry. Consider that some 1,600 Stinger missiles, used by individual soldiers to attack aircraft, were sent to Ukraine from American stockpiles, but the US stopped making them in 2003. Raytheon, its manufacturer, has restarted production, but doesn’t expect to deliver the weapons in large numbers for a year or more.

 

[…]

 

The issue isn’t so much that the US isn’t running out of weapons, but that its transfers to Ukraine are stretching its own stockpiles, which it needs to train and be prepared for unexpected conflict. For one example, experts estimate that the US has given more than a third of its stockpile of Javelin anti-tank missiles to Ukraine, which will take years to replenish.

Washington Escalates War

Russia’s not wrong. The warmonger in the White House is making it very clear that this is America’s war against Russia and there is no end in sight.

But Russia’s US ambassador said these “provocative actions” would lead to an escalation with severe consequences.

Anatoly Antonov told Russian state media that Moscow was “trying to appeal to common sense at all levels”, but talk of delivering the Patriot missile system to Kyiv was “deeply disturbing”.

 

[…]

 

Moscow has complained that no calls for peace were heard during President Zelensky’s trip to Washington – with spokesman Dmitry Peskov describing this as proof that the US was fighting a proxy war with Russia.

 

Mr Peskov added that delivering Patriot missiles would not prevent Russia from “achieving its goals during the special military operation”.

“The talks in Washington have shown that neither Ukraine nor the United States is seeking peace. They are simply intent on continuing the fighting,” said Russian foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova.

Ukraine Attacks Russia?

One thing is certain… both sides are consummate liars who aren’t above using the deaths of their own people for propaganda.

Details: The Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation stated that on the morning of 5 December, Ukraine “attempted to carry out strikes with Soviet-made jet unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) on the military airbases of Dyagilevo in Ryazan Oblast and Engels in Saratov Oblast”.

 

The Ministry said that the Russian air defence system allegedly intercepted Ukrainian UAVs flying at a low altitude.

At the same time, the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation reported that “as a result of the fall and explosion of the fragments of jet drones on Russian airfields, the body covering of two aircraft was slightly damaged“, and “three Russian servicemen of the technical staff, who were at the airfield, were fatally wounded“.

 

Four more Russian servicemen were injured.

It’s curious that they specified a “Soviet” UAV. The USSR had UAVs, but they were for reconnaissance. They would also be at least 20 years old by now. And given that Ukraine has used modern drones incredibly effectively during this war, why would they use ancient Soviet drones for kamikaze attacks on a Russian nuclear base?

My best guess is that this is Putin trying to fake an attack on Russian soil to rally his people, but I don’t leave anything out of the realm of possibilities.

Greene Pushes for Accounting of Ukraine Aid

I go back and forth on whether or not we should support Ukraine. I get the geopolitical argument that we should because it saps Russia’s strength and builds support with allies. I get the humanitarian reasons for doing so. I also get the argument that Ukraine is a corrupt kleptocracy teetering on totalitarianism and we shouldn’t support it. I also get the argument that we have very little national interest in the conflict and should stay out.

I get all of it. And I remain somewhat on the fence leaning toward NOT supporting sending more weapons to Ukraine.

BUT… shouldn’t we at least be debating this? Shouldn’t we have a real accounting of where all of the money is going? Especially in light of the FTX debacle, shouldn’t we follow the money? It isn’t asking too much to know what’s happening with our money and why.

In a preview of the intra-party battle ahead, far-right House Republicans, led by MAGA firebrand Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, vowed Thursday to fight against Ukraine aid.

 

She said, at a news conference with other members, that she’d introduced an effort to force a vote on a resolution requiring the Biden administration to provide all documents related to the security assistance that has already been appropriated to Ukraine.

Russian Atrocities

No matter how civilized we think we have become, humans always return to barbarism. It is one of the many reasons that I vehemently defend the 2nd Amendment.

The BBC’s Yogita Limaye is on the ground reporting on new evidence of atrocities emerging in areas around Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital, after Russian forces pulled out.

She took the photo below of a shallow grave in the village of Motyzhyn, where four people allegedly shot dead by Russian forces were left. We have blurred parts of the picture.

Three of the bodies have been identified as members of one family, including the head of the village, Olha Sohnenko. The fourth body has not been identified.

Yogita is on her way to Bucha – a town where the discovery of many dead civilians has shocked the world, and seen Russia accused of war crimes.

 

Echoes of Crimea

Eight years ago this week, Putin was invading and taking over Crimea. I wrote a column about it. Here’s a part:

“Hagel proposes downsizing Army to smallest size in decades.” – Associated Press 2/24/14
“Hagel: Dominance of US military ‘can no longer be taken for granted’” – The Daily Caller 2/24/14
“In Crimean capital Simferopol, pro-Russian gunmen seize key buildings.” – BBC 2/27/14
“Obama to Russia: Stay out of Ukraine.” – Politico 2/28/14
“Ukraine erupts as Russian troops take over Crimea.” – New York Post 3/1/14
As American President Obama scolds, Russian President Putin acts. Putin acts without fear of American might because President Obama has proven time and time again that his words have nothing behind them.
[…]
Putin is engaging in realpolitik as America and the rest of the west issues stern warnings and threatens to pull out of the upcoming G8 conference. I’m sure Putin is shaking in his boots at the thought of another gravely-delivered content-free oration from President Obama.
Events do happen in the world that have nothing to do with America or our foreign policy, but this is not one of them. The fact is that Obama’s foreign policy has been an utter failure. He came into office apologetic of America’s might and influence on the world stage. In five years of his administration, we have seen a steady decline in our ability or willingness to influence events around the world.
And now we see the fruit of our president’s intentional neutering of American power in the world. Russia will almost certainly succeed in taking over Ukraine – one way or another. America will stand by and watch with crossed brows and impotent arms. And the downsizing of our military will continue based on fantastical world visions of unicorns and rainbows and glitter emanating from the White House.
When the Eagle sleeps, the Bear rises.
It’s no mystery that as Biden has returned us to Obama’s policies – weaken the military; high oil prices; lead from behind – Putin has returned to conquering his neighbors.

Belarus and Russia Prepare for Western Push

Putin is a prototypical expansionist tyrant of the kind that the world has known since time began. He will keep expanding until he can’t. He is gathering his few allies to prepare for the next step.

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko says he expects to discuss the possible deployment of Iskander and S-400 defense systems to Belarus with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in the coming days.

 

“[Thursday or Friday] we will talk with the President of Russia about how to strengthen ourselves here in the western direction,” Lukashenko told state news agency Belta Thursday.

 

“Today we consulted with the military, and we see that it would be desirable to put Iskanders [missile systems] there and place a battalion or two with S-400s somewhere so that we can actually monitor the situation all the way to Berlin,” Lukashenko said.

That is not an argument for direct U.S. military action. Russia is still much weaker than it was during the Soviet days. There is a decent chance that they blow their wad in Ukraine if the Ukrainians put up a fight. I’m not confident of that. The next layer is for Western European nations to defend themselves. I don’t think Putin is crazy enough to attack a NATO country yet, but if he has an easy time in Ukraine, he might.

The biggest worry for Americans is the acceleration of Russian cyberwarfare against America’s economy. They are stepping up that effort. This is not WWII. There are more battlefronts.

Biden Goes to the Mat to Keep Russia Out of Ukraine

Hmmm… why is Biden so hellbent on defending Ukraine? What is our strategic interest? Why is recklessly exposing our spy capabilities to the world?

But now, with growing fears that Moscow is preparing for a full-scale invasion, the Biden administration has abandoned the U.S.’s normally tight-lipped attitude toward releasing intelligence information and is pursuing a strategic — and according to former officials, unprecedented — declassification campaign aimed at exposing Russia’s actions in Ukraine.

 

In recent days, U.S. officials have called out a number of Russian “false flag” operations that they say are designed to provide a pretext to invade Ukraine. These have included allegations of a potential Russian-authored chemical assault designed to look like Ukrainian aggression, and even a plot to create a detailed yet fake movie showing the lethal aftermath of a Ukrainian attack. Officials have also publicly named Russian military intelligence as responsible for a disruptive cyber operation that targeted Ukraine’s defense ministry and banks earlier this week.

 

Experts say the revelations have been aimed at throwing Russia off balance by exposing their plans before they’re brought to fruition — and showing that the U.S. has the capability to surveil many of Russia’s actions.

 

By the end of the Trump administration, U.S. spy agencies had developed a “much better understanding of what the Russians are doing in a strategic sense,” said a former senior CIA official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive capabilities. “There were some extraordinary sources, obviously those are really fragile, so I’m not sure if those accesses are still in place, but I have to imagine they are.”

It’s also worth noting that last cited paragraph… the Trump Administration had made great strides toward spying on Russia. Once again, the whole “Trump is a puppet of Putin” narrative is a load of whoey.

Brink of War

The blood is coming.

President Joe Biden reportedly told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Thursday to brace his country for a certain Russian invasion.

 

Biden told Zelensky that an invasion is virtually certain and to ‘prepare for impact,’ CNN reported. He said Kiev could be ‘sacked’ by Russian forces.

 

He reportedly said Ukraine would not be getting significantly more military help, including reiterating that no U.S. troops would be deployed there, nor would there be preemptive sanctions on Russia or any progress with NATO.

Ukrainian official told CNN that the call between the two leaders ‘did not go well.’

 

The warning was not part of a White House readout provided after the call.

 

The two world leaders conversed on the phone as the Department of Defense was issuing a chilling warning that same afternoon that a Russian invasion into Ukraine ‘could be imminent’ amid a drastic increase in combat forces at the former Soviet state’s borders.

 

‘We continue to see, including in the last 24 hours, more accumulation of credible combat forces arrayed by the Russians in, again, the western part of their country and in Belarus,’ Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said at a press conference.

 

Kirby also revealed that troops from Fort Bragg, Fort Carson and Fort Campbell have been placed on heightened alert to deploy to Eastern Europe as tensions in the region compound.

 

Ukraine’s Nuclear Border Won’t Be Enough

Yikes. Can’t we send our Ukrainian expert, Hunter Biden, to defuse the situation?

Ukraine has sent troops to guard against any Russian incursion on the Chernobyl exclusion zone, with the highly radioactive site believed to be a potential entry point for Kremlin aggressors.

 

Despite the site in northern Ukraine still being radioactive and mainly harbouring ghost towns and fallow fields, the Chernobyl exclusion zone is believed to be at risk of being conquered, reports The New York Times.

 

This is because the shortest path from Russia to Kiev would take Putin’s troops through the isolated zone.

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