Early summer potpourri 2022, Part 1
Here some important key events in the military sphere, right now relevant in the great power relations. In the next Part 2, some more key events in economic and political sphere.
Positions of military parties
June 3 marked the 100th day of the Russian special military operation in Ukraine. So far, joint DPR and LPR troops with support of the Russian Armed Forces taken over and established full control over 224 settlements on the territory of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR). On May 2, the head of the Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR) claimed that all settlements have been moped up of militants of Ukrainian armed formations, except the cities of Severodonetsk and Lisichansk, where fierce clashes continue. The entire Kherson region and a big part of the Zaporozhie region are under control of the Russian military.
Besides the military battles, which are going on in the territory of Ukraine, battles are also going on in the economic, political and cultural planes worldwide. This is the reality of what is now happening.
Words by Kissinger
Ex-US secretary of state, Henry Kissinger, made prominent presentation regarding Ukraine situation in Davos some time ago. However, his wise words were generally repelled and criticized. Instead of prioritizing efforts for a comprehensive strategic peace treaty through diplomacy, as Kissinger proposed, the US and NATO are prioritizing the intensification of conflict and widening war.
The US top priority is to defeat Russia
The Ukraine War is a proxy war between the US and Russia, the Ukrainian Armed Forces (AFU) serving as a proxy. Biden Administration’s top priority is now to defeat Russia in Ukraine. On June 1st, the US Government added $700 million to the $40,1 billion that it ordered on May 19th to be spent on winning their proxy-war against Russia that’s going on in Ukraine. America is supplying whatever money and weapons it believes will be needed so as to enable those AFU forces to defeat Russia (latest examples of weaponry like M777 howitzer, multiple rocket launcher HIMARS and MQ-1C Gray Eagle drone armed with Hellfire missiles).
On Tuesday, May 31st, US President Joe Biden headlined an op-ed in the New York Times, “What America Will and Will Not Do in Ukraine”, and announced “I’ve decided that we will provide the Ukrainians with more advanced rocket systems and munitions that will enable them to more precisely strike key targets on the battlefield in Ukraine.” He didn’t say that these weapons would enable Ukraine to strike Russia but they would and Russia knew it. Russia’s Government then announced that it won’t allow America’s Government to send those especially dangerous weapons to Ukraine.
Washington’s arming of Ukraine with heavier weapons increases the risk of direct US-Russia confrontation regardless of American statements about mitigating such a possibility, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said. Shortly after the US decision was announced, the Russian defense ministry said Russia’s nuclear forces were holding drills in the Ivanovo province, northeast of Moscow. Some 1,000 servicemen were exercising in intense manoeuvres using more than 100 vehicles including Yars intercontinental ballistic missile launchers.
Ukraine’s position is critical, because nobody is interested in peace negotiations but on the contrary, all western parties are currently ready and willing to increase the stakes, more sanctions on Russia and more weapons to Ukraine with the aim to accelerate the intensity and range of the war. Maybe it is wise to recall the old saying” You will get, what you pay for”.
Estimated troops losses by parties
Russian investigative news site iStories reported, May 31, that about 3050 Russian soldiers have been killed in Ukraine after more than three months of conflict. The outlet collected open-source data to identify and verify the deaths of 3,043 Russian servicemen, using social media, news reports, or confirmation by relatives. In a separate investigation, the BBC’s Russian Service also reported that the country’s military death toll had topped 3,000 in Ukraine, independently verifying the death of 3052 troops.
When considering Ukrainian death scores, based on several news sites, military analysts and Ukrainian own statements, the death toll so far may amount up to 50,000 troops. Especially, during last four weeks the daily average number of killed soldiers have been from 200 – 800 + injured 500 – 1000. Those figures are fully unbearable to AFU. It cannot continue this way for long time.
Narrative is changing
Western mainstream media is grudgingly beginning to admit the sad but real truth: Ukraine war is a disaster. The factual military situation and various combat events tell cold facts on the battlefield. It is getting more and more difficult to “whitewash” the truth that militarily Ukraine is losing and Russia is winning this war.
In last few days, one by one, the US mainstream media outlets are lining up to let a bit of truth leak out after three months of incessant propaganda. Instead of “Ukraine is winning” you can see now such headlines like “Ukraine is being destroyed in the war” or ” How many have unnecessarily died, because the likes of Boris Johnson and Biden have prohibited a negotiated settlement?” or “US/EU sanctions on Russia have backfired”.
A military coup is brewing in Ukraine, as the opinions of the incumbent president Zelensky and the commander-in-chief Zaluzhny differ dramatically and is growing by the day. Zaluzhny called for retreating Ukrainian soldiers and saving their lives at a time, when the president believes that “we must stand to the end no matter what” (in Severodonetsk and Lysychansk). Experts talk about the possibility of a direct conflict between Zelensky and Zaluzhny. Political analysts note that the former wants to preserve the viability of the army, while the latter is guided by political motives.
What will happen in the near future, when the current second phase of Russian SMO is closed and the obvious third one will start?
Will the characteristics of the war still be “Russia grinding and slowly advancing” & “Ukraine fighting and slowly withdrawing” or are “big surprises” or “sudden collapses” possible?
Is the US/NATO willing to increase the military stakes and is the European summer war coming?
Is the EU willing to still enlarge sanctions policy?
What will be the themes of western parties, when “das tolle Jahr” emerges in the autumn 2022?
Answers to these and many other open questions remain to be seen, in the autumn by the latest.
My preliminary assessment is that “surprises/collapses” will take place in the military situation of Ukraine war in the near future.
Second frontline … Taiwan
Russia has the largest nuclear arsenal in the world and its economy may be larger and more resilient than the West assumed, when levying their sanctions on it but Russia is not America’s main geopolitical competitor.
That title clearly belongs to China, which has ten times Russia’s GDP and ten times its population. Some have speculated that China is the ultimate target for the West’s proxy war against Russia, to show the power of the West’s sanctions and military aid that could be brought to bear against China in a proxy war against it.
Some experts are warning that Taiwan might end up being the “Ukraine of the Pacific”. These experts warn of the risk of the West fomenting a proxy war over Taiwan and if failing that, using Australia as a proxy instead.
Chinese military commanders have confirmed recent seaborne and airborne military drills near Taiwan as a “necessary action” following what they call “collusion” between Washington and Taipei.
In early May, several ship formations of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy carried out high-intensity combat training exercises in waters of the Yellow Sea, East China Sea and South China Sea respectively, in a bid to test the coordination among vessels. Also in early May, frigates Enshi and Wuzhou assigned to a frigate flotilla of the navy under the PLA Southern Theatre Command conducted a high-intensity multi-subject combat training exercise at a sea area to verify the troops’ operational commanding and coordinating abilities in realistic battlefield scenario.
In late May, a brigade under the PLA Navy Marine Corps organized an air assault training exercise for several days in unfamiliar areas. During the training, several ship-borne helicopters carried out sea-to-land penetration in combat formation. In late May, a ship-borne helicopter regiment with the naval aviation troops under the PLA Eastern Theater Command conducted, day-and-night flight training exercise involving multi-type helicopters in low-visibility weather to further enhance the troops’ overall all-weather combat capability. Flight training under bad meteorological conditions such as rainfall and low clouds can help improve the pilots’ self-adjusting capability and adaptation to the combat environment as soon as possible.
The Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy has maintained a strong presence in Northeast Asia near American bases in Japan including deployment of the aircraft carrier Liaoning for exercises earlier in the month and more recently the transit of two Type 054A frigates through the Tsushima Strait.
Russian Pacific Fleet’s exercises involving over 40 warships and support vessels, as well as 20 planes and helicopters, have begun in the Pacific Ocean, the Russian Defense Ministry said on Friday. The Marshal Krylov missile range instrumentation ship and the Marshal Shaposhnikov frigate are currently in the exercise zone, together with large anti-submarine ships and corvettes, small anti-submarine ships, minesweepers, missile boats and auxiliary vessels. The exercise is being conducted between June 3 and 10, in accordance with the Pacific Fleet’s 2022 training schedule.
China & Russia joint drills
On May 24 China and Russia concluded a joint 13-hours bomber patrol in the Pacific, which was the latest of several carried out over four consecutive years beginning in July 2019. The patrol coincided with a visit by United States President Joe Biden to the region widely seen to be aimed at rallying potential partners for a collective hard line against Beijing.
Bombers involved included Chinese H-6K and Russian Tu-95MS platforms, with Russian Su-30SM fighters also having been involved. China currently fields the world’s largest bomber fleet with an estimated 270 H-6 bombers n service, and is developing an intercontinental range successor under the H-20 program.
China – the US relations
During the whole Ukraine conflict, the tension between China and the US has been rising, regarding Taiwan and South China Sea. It seems that the US is willing to open another frontline of conflict also in the East.
Last week President Biden reiterated American intentions to back Taiwan militarily in the event of China’s invasion, while Senator Tammy Duckworth arrived for a surprise 3-day visit in May 30.
PLA Commander Shi Yi insisted Washington’s support “will push Taiwan into a dangerous situation” and the US “itself will face serious consequences.”
Biden himself has pledged that Taiwan can “count on America’s support” were an invasion to break out at any time. These supportive words were backed up with a $750 million deal to provide a Howitzer military system to Taiwan in August 2021, a $100 million deal to supply and upgrade Taiwan’s Patriot missile systems on February 8, 2022 and another $95 million missile deal on April 6, 2022.
I stated in my article “World in Turbulence. Quo Vadis, Humankind?”, April 8, 2022 that
The development in the military technology and in the posture of nuclear weapons has been and is such that the relative power position of the US, compared with its peer competitors China and Russia, will deteriorate in growing speed during late 2020s. From the US point of view, the next 3-5 years (2022-2026) will be the last promising years to escalate tension between great powers, giving the US a competitive edge versus its peer competitors. In late 2020s and especially in early 2030s, the relative military positions of great powers will evolve, from US view point, in deteriorating way giving too much military benefits to China and Russia.
I also stated in my article “New World Order in the making”, April 2, 2022 that
The new world order is now slowly but surely emerging from complex and diverse processes worldwide. In the context of great power relations, turbulent times are going on, also on the economic scene. The humanity seems to be divided in two camps, the Western camp (the US, Canada, Europe, Australia) and the Eastern camp led by China and Russia and covering majority of Asia, Africa and South America.
These statements are still valid and can explain the Biden Administration’s striving for two-front conflicts with its key competitors, China and Russia.