August 31, 2022


The Ukrainian military on Monday started a long-awaited counter-offensive against Russian forces in the country's south… Ukraine has regularly stated its intention to retake its south, and in particular the city of Kherson, the only regional capital that Russia has been able to capture from Ukraine.” Reuters

Moscow and Kyiv traded fresh accusations on Saturday of shelling around the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine, which has been a focus of international concern that fighting in the area could trigger a disaster… The U.N.'s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, wants to visit the plant in the south of the country and agency chief Rafael Grossi said on Thursday that it was ‘very, very close’ to being able to send officials there.” Reuters

Both sides are cautiously optimistic about the Ukrainian offensive:

“I’m reasonably optimistic (though far from certain) about a Ukrainian victory in Kherson, but I don’t dare hope for much more than that. The simple fact is that the kind of mobile warfare that enables rapid advances has been mastered by only the smallest number of militaries. It requires well-trained, well-equipped, and well-supplied troops who are powerful enough to punch holes in the Russian line and mobile enough to rapidly exploit any tactical gain…

“Yet the Ukrainian military has taken massive losses. Many of its best units have been used up in months of intense combat. While the Ukrainian people have rallied, and Ukraine can replace its losses, new troops are green. They’re barely trained. We can hope and pray that an army that possesses a hodge-podge of Soviet and western gear, is manned by a combination of worn-out vets and raw recruits, and confronts an enemy that still possesses an immense amount of firepower can somehow break clear through Russian lines, but that’s more a wish than a plan.”
David French, The Dispatch

“Assaulting prepared defensive positions is usually difficult and costly, and Russia has heavily fortified the outskirts of Kherson. Ukrainian troops must undertake large-scale coordination of infantry, tanks, artillery and airpower to succeed — a combined arms operation that Ukraine’s army has little experience performing at such scale. Russia itself has failed disastrously at executing this tricky type of operation…

“However, this month we have clearly reached the point where Russia’s military can no longer ‘continue their steady advance,’ as Moscow’s partisans have often bragged — and it is bracing for Ukraine’s counterpunch… U.S. and European weapons have already helped bring a halt to Russia’s slow advance in the east and created the potential for Ukraine’s southern counteroffensive. If that aid can be sustained — and undeniably, there are challenges and costs involved — it will make Russia’s invasion less and less sustainable.”
Sébastien Roblin, NBC News Think

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A libertarian's take

“So far, there are almost no consequences at all for U.S. military involvement in Ukraine. We've had high fuel prices all summer, but that's more directly the result of Western sanctions against Russia than any Russian policy… That's a risky lesson for Washington to learn. Obviously, no one wishes for Russian reprisal. It's good that U.S. intervention so far has not led to the military escalation many feared. It's good we are not suffering a NATO-Russia nuclear war. It's good that there's a gap between Moscow's accusations and its actions…

“But even if you think Washington is doing the right thing in this case (current polling shows a bipartisan majority of Americans believe the U.S. should support Ukraine ‘until all Russian forces are withdrawn,’ and only two in 10 disagree), there is an undeniable risk in teaching our government that it can wage proxy wars, including against fellow nuclear powers, without fear of significant consequence… In another fight, against a different enemy—and proxy war with China over Taiwan is the obvious scenario to consider right now—we may not be so lucky.”
Bonnie Kristian, Reason

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