There are estimates that both sides have lost tens of thousands of soldiers killed and wounded. The Pentagon has declined to discuss its assessments of deaths and military losses.
Some analysts feel uncomfortable with the US reluctance to talk about losses because of years of rosy assessments during the twenty years the country was fighting in Afghanistan.
“Successive administrations insisted Afghan forces were “in the lead” even as their performance was often deeply flawed, and their survival depended on U.S. logistical support and air power.”
There has been criticism about American military officials patting themselves on the back for the weapons and support sent, while not acknowledging that they could be sent more quickly.
As one Ukrainian lawmaker said: “We need a lot of this for yesterday, not even tomorrow.”
Conservative analysts (from Defense Priorities) are arguing that Ukraine’s objective to push Russians out of Ukrainian territory seem “increasingly unrealistic.” They advocate the Biden administration pressing Ukraine to negotiate with Russia and strive for a political settlement.
Benjamin Friedman, policy director for Defense Priorities has stated 1) hardly anyone wants Ukraine to cede territory, 2) you have to “assess the situation honestly” and trade peace for territory, 3) more should be done to pressure Ukraine. Friedman sees himself and his organization as working for the benefit of the Ukrainians and others who are “suffering economic problems because of the war.”
Friedman accused the government of “spinning for Ukraine.”
Then, Representatives like Ro Khanna (D-Calif) are warning about getting involved in a “prolonged never-ending conflict that is wreaking havoc on the American economy and the global economy.” (Note: He sounds as if he thinks this involvement is optional.)
Khanna has stated that he believes “we should declare victory for the president’s efforts…We should say we won. The Russians lost. They did not achieve their fundamental objective.” People, he said, are not resigned to support Ukraine at all costs.
Podcast: The Kremlin File with Jessikka Aro, Finnish journalist and author of “Putin’s Trolls.”
Jessikka Aro started researching Russian trolls as far back as 2014. She was subsequently trolled, harassed and eventually had to move out of Finland.
Aro was trying in 2014 to write about the aggressive movements of Russia against Ukraine.
She discovered places where trolls were employed to influence public narratives.
These troll farms were used as information warfare. They are snipers who go after individual computer users on the behalf of the Kremlin.
They market ideas to individuals.
The trolls were already attacking Russians inside Russians. Every morning they would be given themes and have to write posts about these themes.
Recruitment ads for the troll factories, were looking for copywriters who knew English. These people were recruited to write “political news.”
These trolls were working also in Finland.
They were attacking Ukraine, sending pictures of dead people and blaming Ukraine.
They would go after a blogger and start harassing and calling names and molding their messages.
They monitor what individuals say online and go after them if they don’t like what’s being posted.
After Aro left Finland lived abroad for two years. When she published her first investigation of the troll farms, she was targeted, and the police warned her that she might be subjected to violence. Her colleagues were turned against her. People were brainwashed into believing that she was a mentally ill threat to Finnish security, or a CIA agent, or working for the British.
She ended up being essentially locked in her own home. She was told by the police to check for objects under her car.
These troll farms also worked to get people to hate Ukraine.
Prigozhin, Russian oligarch, runs the IRA based in St. Petersburg. He also leads the Wagner Group (add information).
They are working in Africa and India as well.
These trolls were active in the international information space.
They would link to Russian government information and narratives.
About Ukraine, the narrative was that the government was filled with fascists and war mongers.
The trolling was laying the groundwork internationally for the genocide in Ukraine even in 2014. They were trying to brainwash people that Russians had nothing to do with aggressively intervening in Crimea.
Russian young men have been weaponized with this information. They think Ukrainians don’t have human rights. They have been dehumanized.
“They have no problem going to Ukraine and raping and killing.”
This activity started picking up right around the time Yanukovych had to leave.
They operate around the clock.
The cites that had been spreading the anti-Ukraine narratives started distributing pro-Trump and anti-Hillary information. Hillary was a pedophile.
They are designed to lure different kinds of audiences.
(Note: Look at those western professionals who were on RT).
There is still not enough counter activity by Western intelligence services. This is a form of warfare.
They unmask people who cooperate with agencies and create conspiracy stories about them.
In an early case, they targeted veterans.
Early on there was a diplomat targeted in mid-2000s. Lithuanian foreign affairs, worked in. Russia was using Belarus as a testing ground. He was followed for helping the Belarus opposition. They intercepted his phone line. His phone conversations, edited, were posted publicly. 2013, eight years after initial targeting. He was in Hungary, helping Russian activists, and his phones were intercepted, and the conversations put on Utube. He was disgraced and his career destroyed. Later, they found that it had been a Russian security service operation.
The operations-built support for far right political groups in Finland. They put out racist narratives against immigrants and Jewish people.
They are really good at cultivating their targets for decades. They are playing long term. They are cultivating individuals and communities. They want these communities committing violence and protest. Then, they blame the Western systems.
There are just not enough resources being directed at countering this form of intellectual warfare.
In the same way the US made public what Russia intended to do right before the invasion of Ukraine, they should have made public what they were doing before the 2016 election, telling people that they were being manipulated by the Russians.
There are heavily trained officers attacking us 24 hours a day and they are not being countered.
It’s too scary and people want to protect themselves from the understanding of the importance of these troll farms. In 2014, there were even governmental officials who would not believe the existence of the troll farms or their importance. They thought it was conspiracy theory and was too “sci-fi”.
Now, the Russians seem to have taken all the masks off.
There seems to be no plan to do anything about this still-existing threat. How do you tell people they are being used as useful idiots to Russian security services.
People don’t understand that what is going on in Ukraine is a security threat. (Hell, they don’t understand that a coup is a threat to security.)
Russia shifted in 2013 to attack every European election. Brexit, U.S., French elections.
The language is the same (rapists, immigrants, shit-hold countries).
UKRAINE UPDATE: UKRAINE, THE LATEST, The Telegraph
Boris Johnson was making fun of Putin in public remarks. He was filmed talking to Macron joking about taking off their tops and riding around on horseback. When asked about these comments he doubled down on them and called it a “crazy macho war.”
Another official, Defense Secretary, was talking about Putin and “small man syndrome.” Said Putin has a toxic view of the world.
Finland and Sweden are joining NATO. Turkey gave up its opposition to the two countries joining. Sweden changed its terrorism legislation in response to Turkish problems with the PKK.
There were changes in restrictions on arms to Turkey. Extradition requests procedure was changed as well. There would be no support for the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Unit. This was seen as a key concession.
There were concerns about fighter planes and U.S. approval. It is thought that perhaps in a phone call between Biden and Erdogan, there may be a deal about fighter jets.
Kaliningrad is now surrounded by NATO.
Biden is going to meet with Erdogan on Wednesday.
Francis Dearnley: This may not be quite as much a victory for Turkey as has been suggested, certainly by Turkey. The language is very bureaucratic. It has forced Turkey to make a fundamental choice, to be a thorn in the side of NATO unity or become a member of the club. We have ended up in the later space. Turkey can no longer be the broker between Russia and the West.
The mayor of Kherson has been detained and taken away. This is what is happening in the occupied regions. They had threatened to arrest him if he didn’t go along with their demands. He refused to go along. This is another example of the repression of the democratic elements in the occupied areas. They called him a “poster boy for the Nazi community.” “Finally, he has been neutralized.”
Russians are running out of precision guided missiles. One of the older missiles is evidently one of those that hit the shopping center. This means more civilians being killed. (Note: I don’t see how you could hit more civilians than they are already hitting.)
Zelensky posted a video of a missile hitting the shopping center. The Russians claim that the mall was used to store weaponry.
This weaponry is unethical because it is so out of date.
NATO territory is going to expand. This would have seemed impossible even a few months ago. If the intent was to splinter the West and create fear of challenging Russia, it has backfired. Some still want to bring Russia into the fold. But, after the G7 there is a broad agreement. This is, however, about future escalation and does little about the present conflict.
UKRAINE, THE LATEST, Notes from the PODCAST of the Telegraph
There are street battles around Lisichansk (across the river from Sieverodonetsk, which the Russians took a few days ago.)
NATO has agreed to increase the number of troops available on high alert.
G7 has agreed to explore imposing a ban on transporting Russian oil sold over a certain price.
Macron said the Russian strike on the shopping center was a war crime.
He also stated: “Russia cannot and must not win this war.” (Note: This is a welcome change from his “Putin must not be humiliated” stance of a few weeks ago).
Hacker group claims to have cut off 70% of Lithuanian internet. (Note: Check this for specifics).
As many as a 1000 people were shopping when attacked at the center in Kremenchuk, Ukraine. The death toll is now at 18, with 59 wounded. The Russians claim that the target was a depot with weapons and ammunition from the US. They claim the bombing sparked a fire at the shopping center and caused the damage.
This city is not on the front lines and the attack seems to be a symbolic statement much like the attacks on Kyiv at the beginning of the G7, that Russia can attack anywhere.
Considering the condemnation, there is debate on whether this as a tactic is worth it. It only hardens the resolve of those defending.
Head of the British Army has likened the current defense situation to the situation Britain was facing in 1937.
Saunders referred to 1937 in a speech and said that Britain must be willing to fight and win.
His comments were summarized as: We must not commit a failure to contain Russian expansion. Appeasement policy let Hitler get away with seizing parts of Austria, and Czechoslovakia. We must not allow something similar to happen here.
33,000 Russians are dead, missing or captured. 4,700 civilians are dead. We can see the destruction now. Russia is a clear threat. Our choices will influence our future.
Saunders talked about Russian military capacity. It is dangerous, he argued, to assume that Ukraine is a limited conflict. That something can be done to end it and that will be that. It is, instead, a larger threat.
It’s worth remembering that Russia often starts wars badly. It can suffer and regenerate and ultimately prevail. We need to think about this in the long term.
There was no reference to the nuclear question in Saunders’ statement. The reporter noted that there is the assumption that there would be a controlled nuclear war if there was a further invasion.
The reporter maintained that were it not from the nuclear question, we would probably have gone to war over Ukraine. The nuclear question completely changed that. But, Saunders’ statement does not mention this.
Saunders argued that war could have been deterred in 1937 if it weren’t for appeasement. We must not do the same thing here.
The reporter had a conversation with a Western intelligence advisor who argued that history teaches us we cannot “humiliate” the aggressor. Reporter would challenge this notion. Even after WWI, the economic implosion was much more important than any “humiliation” of Germany. The reporter thinks this is a flawed notion.
NATO: What’s on the agenda.
This will be the most historic overhaul since the war. Baltic states fear that Russia could invade.
The plan is to increase to 300,000 troops on high-alert in the area. They will not be on the front lines. And, they will not be in place until next year.
These troops will, in 24 hours – 30 days, be able to react to a strike in Europe.
NATO in general has developed a more hawkish attitude. There is much tougher language even about China in NATO statements. There is increased concern about the dependence of Britain and the US on China for technology.
There will be pledges of new weapons systems, training missions.
There are discussions about whether Russia run out of munitions this summer, troops? There are reports that they are using retired military leaders because they have lost so many.
There is disagreement about who this attritional war benefits. Some argue that the Ukrainians have to change to an aggressive war from a defensive war. It seems that even though a few weeks ago, there were question about whether the West would have sufficient morale to go through with this, these doubts have eased. We have seen a shift to make predictions that NATO moral will hold up.
There were dialogues between Macron and Putin released recently. Putin batted away an idea proposed by Macron of a summit with Biden. It would appear that for the moment, G7 has repudiated this “Putin can’t be humiliated” perspective.
Others argue that the slow trickle of weapons is creating the stale-mate. It was proposed that Biden should tell Putin to start pulling out or they would give Ukraine the weapons to attack Russia.
30 leaders talking about what more they can do to help Ukraine.
They could bring Ukrainian army up to NATO standards.
Turkey’s objections to Sweden and Finland. Relationship with the PKK.
Britain to announce commitment to Estonia’s defenses.
Saunders (British military leader): “If you want to avert conflict, you have to be prepared to fight.” It is likely that Russia will be more of a threat after Ukraine whatever the outcome. We will never be in the Europe before this war started. Russia has taken a part that we cannot extract it from. The likelihood is that, even if Putin is deposed, it will be another similar style leader.
There has been a catalogue of foreign policy errors that have gotten us in this mess. We must think about those mistakes and also about the “emergent autocratic threats” around the world. There is, unfortunately, still a mentality of this being a short term war, that if we just stop the tanks and keep Russia contained, things can go back to normal. We can not go back to where things were before the war. This war against Ukraine has changed the world in ways we cannot even imagine.