April 1, 2022


“Russia announced Tuesday it will significantly scale back military operations near Ukraine’s capital and a northern city… While Moscow portrayed it as a goodwill gesture, its ground troops have become bogged down and taken heavy losses in their bid to seize Kyiv and other cities. Last week and again on Tuesday, the Kremlin seemed to lower its war aims, saying its ‘main goal’ now is gaining control of the mostly Russian-speaking Donbas region in eastern Ukraine.” AP News

Russian forces bombarded areas around Kyiv and another city just hours after pledging to scale back operations in those zones to promote trust between the two sides, Ukrainian authorities said Wednesday.” AP News

“During a call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Wednesday, President Biden informed him that the U.S. intends to give Ukraine an additional $500 million in direct budgetary aid.” Axios

Many on both sides highlight Ukraine’s unexpected success and urge additional military support:

“Having good equipment and good doctrine reveals little about how an army will perform in a war. To predict that, you must analyze not only its equipment and doctrine but also its ability to undertake complex operations, its unglamorous but crucial logistical needs and structure, and the commitment of its soldiers to fight and die in the specific war being waged. Most important, you have to think about how it will perform when a competent enemy fires back. As Mike Tyson so eloquently put it, ‘Everyone has a plan until they are punched in the mouth.’…

“What we are seeing today in Ukraine is the result of a purportedly great military being punched in the mouth. The resilience of Ukrainian resistance is embarrassing for a Western think-tank and military community that had confidently predicted that the Russians would conquer Ukraine in a matter of days… Western analysts took basic metrics (such as numbers and types of tanks and aircraft), imagined those measured forces executing Russian military doctrine, then concluded that the Ukrainians had no chance. But counting tanks and planes and rhapsodizing over their technical specifications is not a useful way to analyze modern militaries.”
Phillips Payson O’Brien, The Atlantic

At the same time, “Even if the Russian ground offensive is staggering toward failure in large parts of the country, Putin can continue to pound all of the major cities with missile attacks. And there’s no sign that he’s slowed down in those efforts yet. Eventually, there may be nothing left of the Ukrainian cities to bomb except for piles of rubble. And the constant civilian casualties will eventually become overwhelming…

“In warfare, however, there is a big difference between how much territory you can take and how much you can hold. Even if Putin is willing to ‘settle’ for a larger partitioning of Ukraine, it’s very possible that he will still be facing a persistent and determined insurgency in any new lands he tries to claim. And how long will all of those conscripts be willing to fight insurgent forces on what should still technically be foreign soil when the death toll among the Russian infantry is already almost certainly above ten thousand and rising? Ukraine is far from being in the clear.”
Jazz Shaw, Hot Air

“Mr. Putin could still emerge with a strategic advantage in the medium- to long-term if he strikes a truce that leaves Russia in control of a large chunk of Ukraine. The peace terms Russia is demanding in negotiations suggest that such a consolidation in Ukraine’s east and a long-term occupation is now Russia’s goal. He’ll have won the long-sought ‘land bridge’ between the Crimea and the Donbas. Mr. Putin could claim victory, pause for some years while he re-arms, continue trying to assassinate Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, and otherwise make political, cyber and other trouble for a Western-leaning Ukraine government…

“That’s why Mr. Zelensky now wants to go on the offensive. The more territory his forces can win back, the stronger position his country will have at the bargaining table… The Ukrainians need heavier weapons to go on offense, including tanks and fighter aircraft like the MiG-29s that Poland wants to provide under the political cover of NATO. It also needs intelligence on Russian troop movements and vulnerabilities in the east… Now, with Russia on the defensive, is the time to keep the pressure on to truly achieve a strategic victory for Ukraine and NATO.”
Editorial Board, Wall Street Journal

“Standing next to [Defense Secretary Lloyd] Austin in Bratislava on March 17, Slovakian Defense Minister Jaroslav Nad’ said his country was ready to transfer the Russian-made S-300 missile defense system, which the Ukrainians know how to operate, ‘immediately.’… Two weeks later, U.S. lawmakers and Ukrainians are wondering why there’s no movement… ‘The transfer of any system is being closely scrutinized by the White House and National Security Council as to whether or not it meets their test of what’s escalatory and what’s not,’ a senior congressional aide told me…

“The Biden administration is doing a lot to arm Ukrainian forces and deserves credit. At the same time, the bureaucratic and policy bottlenecks delaying the S-300 transfer are costing lives each day… Of course, the United States should be mindful of needlessly escalating the crisis. But the best way to prevent the war from spilling over is to give the Ukrainians what they need to win. The more the United States drags its feet on things such as the S-300, the more people will die and the longer the fighting will continue. And if Ukraine falls, the risk of a greater conflict will only increase.”
Josh Rogin, Washington Post

Other opinions below.

See past issues

From the Left

“The unabashed militarism on display during Biden’s trip to Poland is likely to reverberate not just on Capitol Hill—where Democrats and Republicans are competing to raise the Pentagon budget even higher and impose yet more extreme sanctions on Russia—but in Asia, Africa, and South America… Progressive thinkers and activists would be wise to reconsider our strategies and adapt our messaging. At the very least, we need to find new means to resist the headwinds of militarism…

We cannot abandon our fundamental objectives, even in a time of heightened international tensions. Otherwise, the battle for other priorities, such as health and education and social and economic justice, will surely be lost… The climate action movement, for example, might show how global militarism and fossil fuel addiction are two sides of the same coin—a case progressives have been arguing for a long time. With Putin threatening to use nuclear arms, peace activists have a fresh opportunity to highlight the danger posed by atomic weapons.”

Michael T. Klare, The Nation

From the Right

“The humanitarian argument for a quick deal in Ukraine falls short. Freezing the conflict in its current condition might save hundreds or thousands of non-combatants who would otherwise face injury or death. But it would also effectively reward Russia for its act of aggression, adding to the territory under its control and giving its forces the opportunity to rebuild. Even a sustained pause in fighting would not really be peace. Instead, it would merely begin a countdown to the next war, when Russia might try again to dismember or even annex its neighbor…

“Allowing Russia to escape the political, military, and economic consequences of its invasion sends a signal to other states that they can expect to get off easy, too. It might even create a perverse incentive to maximize threats to civilians. If preserving lives is the paramount objective, after all, civilian suffering can then be invoked cynically to lock in ill-gotten gains… The just war tradition holds that pursuing a peace worth having means continuing to fight. For the moment, that is still the case in Ukraine.”
Samuel Goldman, The Week

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