Ukraine War, June 10, 2022 (I): NATO may need to intervene militarily to avoid Ukrainian defeat

Developing. We are publishing this article as it is being written. Please check back for updates.

To see a list of previous articles, enter “Ukraine” in the Search Box on the upper right, on The Trenchant Observer web site, and you will see a list in chronological order.

Dispatches

1) Dan Sabbagh (Kyiv), “Ukraine’s high casualty rate could bring war to tipping point; Analysis: Kyiv’s fighting strength is stretched, yet Russia could now benefit from a pause in fighting, The Guardian, June 10, 2022;

2) Marc-Olivier Bherer, “Timothy Snyder:’Today as in the past, the security of Europe is at stake in Ukraine’; In an interview with ‘Le Monde,’ the American historian explains how the war in Ukraine is further proof of the key role the country has played in relations between rival European powers for more than a millennium,” Le Monde in English, June 10, 2022 (10h50, updated at 10h50);

Analysiss

Sabbagh reports from Kyiv on Ukrainian casualties with the following unsettling numbers :

Any way you count it, the figures are stark: Ukrainian casualties are running at a rate of somewhere between 6oo and 1,000 a day. One presidential adviser, Oleksiy Arestovych, told the Guardian this week it was 150 killed and 800 wounded daily; another, Mykhaylo Podolyak, told the BBC that 100 to 200 Ukrainian troops a day were being killed.

Sabbbagh writes that the sheer number of 20,000 casualties a month “raises questions about what state Ukraine’s army will be in if the war drags on into the autumn.” To be sure, Russia is suffering high casualties as well, One Western official estimated this week that the Russians had lost 15,000 to 20,000 dead. Western officials, however, are notably more taciturn and much less willing to offer estimates regarding the number of Ukrainian dead.

The situation on the eastern front in the Donbas is dire. Ukrainians are running out of ammunition and even basic supplies, while the much-touted long-range artillery that has been promised has yet to arrive and be deployed in significant numbers.

These figures, and the fact that the Russians seem to have the upper hand in the battle for the Donbas, with an estimated 10-15 artillery pieces for each one of the Ukrainians. points to the possibility of defeat.

If that possibility becomes palpable as Ukrainian losses mount and morale sinks, Ukraine’s Western allies including the U.S. may face the hard choice of intervening militarily to shore up the Ukrainians efforts, or of witnessing a progressive collapse of Ukrainian military efforts.

We are not at that point yet. But the logic of the war is moving facts on the ground in that direction.

Possibly, the long-range artillery promised by the U.S. and NATO countries will arrive and be deployed in time to stem the tide. Training of crews to operate the artillery is required, however, and some crews may not be fully trained until August or later.

Moreover, there is the fundamental question of whether such artillery pieces will be supplied in the quantities the Ukrainians need to resist the Russian onslaught, and perhaps even to prevail on the ground in certain areas.

On the other hand, Russia is a larger country with the possibility of mobilizing more troops. Even if their training and deployment takes many months or even a year or more, Putin shows no signs of a slackening in his determination.

The impact of the economic sanctions could of course affect Russia’s supply of weapons and materiel, in ways which are hard to foresee. Certainly, the lack of access to computer chips and other modern technology will slow war production, particularly of different kinds of guided missiles, tanks, and other equipment.

At the same time, in the West, there seem to be few signs of war production of armaments stepping up to meet the requirements for a longer war. Many of the weapons being supplied to Ukraine are from existing stocks in NATO and other countries. One does not read about the tempo of their replacements being stepped up in any way commensurate with the requirements of a long and drawn-out war.

For the moment, Russia maintains air superiority in the Donbas, as NATO refuses to supply aircraft to Ukraine on the theory that they could be used to strike targets in Russia, thereby crossing one of Putin’s “red lines” and risking potential escalation to the use of nuclear weapons. This is Biden’s great fear, and the reason he has been so cautious in taking any military moves that in this mind might provoke Putin.

Russia remains free to send missiles and bomb targets anywhere in Ukraine.

There will not be a negotiated ceasefire, as some U.S. officials apparently imagined only six weeks ago at the time of Lloyd Austin’s visit to Kyiv in late April. It is simply not going to happen/

What this all portends is hard to discern.

Nonetheless, events appear to be pointing in the direction of a situation where NATO military intervention may be required to avoid a Ukrainian defeat.

The Trenchant Observer

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See also,

Only force can stop Putin

“Ukraine War, April 5, 2022 (II): Force must be used to stop Putin,” The Trenchant Observer, April 5, 2922 .

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