One year of Ukraine war, turning point currently under way
I assess here shortly the outlook of the Ukraine war, having now reaching the decisive turning point in the warfare and in light of some recent prominent speeches in European and trans-Atlantic meetings.
Some speeches, peace or war
Based on recent prominent speeches in the NATO and EU meetings as well as in Munich Security Conference, it appears quite clear that voices for peace have been totally overrun by massive volume of warmongering. Western political and military leaders, on the both side of Atlantic Ocean, have publicly competing with each other, who is going to make the most bellicose statement and the western mainstream media (MSM) is smiling with satisfaction, “more war” is the name of the game.
Some excerpts from various speeches:
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock has opposed any territorial concessions from Ukraine. More weapons deliveries from the west to Ukraine.
German Defense Minister Pistorius: “Ukraine must win the war”.
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak: UK will be the first country to give Ukraine longer-range weapons”.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg urger to increase the military assistance to Ukraine. “For the alliance, the risk of an escalation of the conflict is not comparable to the risk of a Russian victory”.
EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, when NS-pipelines were detonated in September 2022, urged strongly to investigate the incidence and to get full clarity of events, “what and why”. She added that any deliberate disruption of active European energy infrastructure is unacceptable and will lead to the strongest possible response… but now only a humble statement:” The version of US involvement in sabotage on gas pipelines seems absurd to us”. No doubt, the EU seeks to “literally submerge” the investigation of Nord Stream sabotage as well as Hersh’s report. She has also said:” The EU and Ukraine are closer together than ever. Ukraine’s future lies in the EU.”
President of France Emmanuelle Macron: “Russia cannot and must not win this war against Ukraine”.
Deputy US Secretary of State Victoria Nuland – on Biden administration’s support for strikes on Crimea: “These are legitimate goals. Ukraine strikes at them and we support that. Ukraine will be not safe, if Crimea is at least demilitarized.” Weakening of Russia is more important than risk of escalation.
EU’s high representative of foreign affairs Josep Borrell: “Sanctions are slow-acting poison like arsenic. It takes time to work, but they do, and they do it in irreversible way.”
Prime Minister of Poland Morawiecki: “Russia’s defeat has become both a Polish and European reason for existence.”
These statements disclose that arming a winning Ukraine can be sold to the European people as “helping poor Ukraine” to defend itself. Sabotaging peace agreements, as done by the Biden administration and then-British Prime Minister Boris Johnson in April 2022, as well as arming a losing Ukraine, suggests that the EU & NATO are cynically using Ukraine to weaken Russia. Ukrainians can be used as suitable cannon fodder in this trans-Atlantic endeavour. This game is soon over and the Ukrainians have paid a horrible price.
Current military situation in Ukraine, late February
I have studied this topic many times before, recently on February 7, January 27, and January 16. Here below are some latest conclusions and highlights per February 18, 2023, a year after the invasion started.
Air defense systems and air forces of AFU have been mainly destroyed by Russian Forces. Small number of AFU air defense systems eliminated in last three months, confirms this fact and discloses a great vulnerability of AFU ground troops under Russian air strikes.
The other striking feature is the significant decrease of AFU artillery pieces and counter-artillery radars, obviously due to Russia’s systematic destructive strikes. Moreover, the number of destroyed AFU tanks has lowered dramatically in last six weeks, which speaks volumes about the desperate lack of main battle tanks in Ukrainian side. No wonder, Zelensky has been so fervent in this matter in his tour among NATO members. This also confirms the statistical facts, which I have stated in my previous articles regarding AFU losses by Russian strikes.
Russia has resumed “attrition war” by “meat grinding” operations with field artillery and rocket forces. Number of AFU daily troop losses have been high, 300-600 daily (some days even more). Due to recent intensive street and near fighting in Bakhmut and Ugledar, also the troop losses of Russian forces have been quite high, especially those of Wagner Group. An indication of AFU troop losses was the order of Zelensky, in January 2023, to call (and forcedly take) for military service underage children at 16 and 17 years. So far, the western media has turned blind eye on this atrocity, which is blatantly against “Western human rights”.
The initiative of operations has been by Russian troops, who are active along the whole frontline, from north to south. Russian Forces continue the winter offensive on multiple fronts: Ugledar (Vuhledar) & Marinka region, Avdiivka front, Bakhmut (Artemovsk) and Siversk front as well as Kreminna and Kupyansk front.
Operationally Russian forces have been divided into four army corps: in the north (Kupyansk direction) the “Zapad” Group of Forces, in the north-east (Krasny Liman direction) the “Tsentr” Group of Forces, in Donetsk direction the “Yug” Group of Forces, in South Donetsk and Zaporozhye directions, the “Vostok” Group of Forces.
On 10 February, Russian Forces launched a massive attack, using high-precision long-range air-, sea-, and ground-based armament, as well as unmanned aerial vehicles, against the crucial power facilities that operated Ukraine’s defense industrial complex and transport system. Russian authorities said that the goals have been reached and all the assigned targets have been neutralized. The operation of energy-intensive facilities of the defense industrial complex has been halted. In addition, the railway redeployment of foreign armament, munitions, and reserves to the operations areas has been blocked.
On 16 February, Russian Forces launched a concentrated missile attack, using high-precision long-range air- and sea-based armament, against the enterprises that provided the AFU with fuel and munitions. Russian authorities said that all the assigned targets have been neutralized. The attack has resulted in the interruption of fuel supplies to the AFU groups, considerable reduction of capabilities in producing explosive substances, powders and solid propellants.
There is some interesting news on the casualty count in the war in Ukraine, from a Russian language BBC report. “Based on open sources, the BBC managed to establish the names of 14,709 Russian soldiers who died in the war in Ukraine. Throughout 2022, Russian sources typically reported about 250-300 dead each week. The BBC then counts 2,400 killed in January and 1,700 in February. (These numbers likely included the number of Wagner mercenaries killed but probably not those of the Donbas militia.) The total is thus below 20,000 or the number Col. MacGregor and others have estimated for the Russian side. The sc. “Mossad statistics” is in full conformity of these BBC figures. Look my previous article here.
The daily losses on the Ukrainian side are much higher. The daily clobber list of the Russian Ministry of Defense mentions about 400 Ukrainians killed every day. This is consistent with the numbers Ukraine’s government mentioned last summer and fall. Over the 358 days of the war the total sums up to about 143,000. The Russian reports do not include the number of those who got killed by the Wagner mercenaries in the Bakhmut area. That number is by likely well above 20,000. In total, the numbers are in the same range that I have stated in my previous articles.
Outlook for next month
“Big Arrow” offensives by Russian Forces have been speculated for several months: from north, north-east, east, south. Now it appears clear that the Russian winter offensive has been going for nearly two-months’ time but on multifront basis, not in the form of a single Big Arrow.
The last troops of partial mobilization by Russian Forces in last autumn, have now entered in their final training phase and within next two weeks ready to be deployed to the frontline. Now, it seems that Russian Forces are organized in such way that also Big Arrow operations can be expected within next weeks.
There are some “hints” about possible coming Big Arrow offensives.
Wagner Group has been responsible for Bakhmut front line since last autumn and made effective “meat grinding” performance. The Wagners have eliminated even a battalion of Ukrainian forces per day. During last few days, Russian field artillery has lowered their daily shelling clearly, which is also criticized by Wagners.
It seems now that Russian military command has decided just to encircle Bakhmut tightly but not to storm there, AFU troops inside will surrender sooner or later. Wagner “Sturmgruppen” have proved to be a top Russian storming force and therefore are needed on many other places of frontline, especially on focus areas of coming Big Arrow offensives. Therefore, during last days, Wagner BTGs have been transported in different directions of the frontlines. Something big is in sight.
Wide bombing campaigns on February 10 and 16 will be obviously followed by some new campaigns before launching Big Arrow offensive. They are expected in the next week.
Russian Air Forces have kept quite low profile in last 2-3 moths and a number of experts are speculating that the role of Air Forces will be massive in coming winter campaigns.
President Putin will deliver his State of the Nation Address to the Federal Assembly on February 21 and will pay attention to topics related to the special military operation, Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. Parliament has the extra meeting on the next day. All these arrangements speak in volume that something very big is going to happen. Furthermore, next days in Russia will be holidays, so the timing is well-scheduled.
There will be three presidential speeches in the coming week: Vladimir Putin on February 21, Joe Biden on February 22 and Xi Jinping on February 24. I am going to release the next update about Ukraine situation in light of those three presidential speeches.