It seems as though the only people who aren’t bored with the war in Ukraine are the Russians and the Ukrainians. Too many Americans don’t understand that wars aren’t entertainment.
The European Union is trying to convince itself that it can put a price cap on Russian oil by prohibiting insurers from writing insurance for oil cargoes that exceed the price. Russia, and its oil buyers such as China, have ships that can sail without Lloyds of London’s coverage.
All that means is that if the EU doesn’t buy Russia’s oil (and gas, which is nearly cut off thanks to the sabotage of the Nord Stream pipelines) the EU will have a very cold winter because it has, for decades, been dumb enough to become dependent on Russian oil and gas supplies.
Here in the States, we have a number of idiots, such as Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, who pretend to be conservatives and who insist that we shouldn’t send any more aid to Ukraine. Isolationists, as I have explained before, aren’t conservatives. This particular bunch doesn’t understand that Ukraine is fighting a war that is consuming Russia’s military forces and proportionately diminishing Russia’s threat to the West. Continued support for Ukraine is in our national security interest. Cutting off that support is in Russia’s interest.
Back in the real world, Ukraine is still fighting for its freedom at an enormous cost. But Russia is paying a high price, too. According to a recent report by the Kyiv Independent, Ukraine claims that more than 90,000 Russian soldiers have been killed there. The cost to Ukraine, in civilian and military lives, must be higher.
There hasn’t been a real prospect for peace in Ukraine since the Russian invasion began on Feb. 24.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has indicated as recently as Friday that he would consider some arrangement that recognizes — i.e., surrenders — the lands in Ukraine’s east that Russia falsely annexed over the past 10 months.
President Joe Biden has said he’d negotiate peace but only if the Russian forces withdrew first. Biden’s supposed forcefulness is, as usual, undercut by his cabinet. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has admitted to negotiations with Russia out of fear it might use nuclear weapons.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky demands that Russia withdraw entirely from Ukrainian territory, including the Crimean Peninsula, which Russia seized and then annexed in 2014. He has to say that because anything else would amount to surrender.
And now winter is here. In Kyiv and Mariupol — two cities almost at opposite ends of Ukraine — the average high in January will be 30 degrees Fahrenheit and the average low will be 20 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s going to be a long, cold winter in which the war will probably slow and adapt to the weather.
Part of that adaptation will probably be the increased use of drone aircraft (UAVs), unmanned surface vessels (USVs), and submarine drones (UUVs).
The Russians are reportedly bombing, shelling, and attacking every bit of Ukraine’s electrical grid that they can locate with UAVs. The Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant has been crippled, as have been many other generation plants and transmission stations. Putin means to kill Ukrainian civilians by freezing them.
The Russians are reportedly running out of the Iranian “suicide drones” that they have been using to knock out power plants. They may also be running short on artillery shells and aerial bombs.
According to a Nov. 22 U.K. intelligence release, Russia has launched hundreds of armed UAVs — including Iranian “suicide drones” — since September and most of the UAVs have been neutralized. No “suicide drone” attacks have, according to that report, occurred since Nov. 17, indicating that Russian supplies of cruise missiles and suicide drones have run out. The report also said that Russia can procure more from overseas sources — presumably Iran and North Korea — faster than they can produce more themselves.
U.S. arms stockpiles are also running low. The Pentagon is finding contractors willing to produce more systems and ammunition for them, but resuming production will take time and a lot of money. Other NATO nations, which have been far slower in providing arms to Ukraine — other than the U.K. — seem unable or unwilling to spend much to help Ukraine.
Since Ukrainian missiles sank the Moskva, the flagship of the Russian Black Sea fleet, in April, that fleet has effectively been neutralized in fear of attacks on its ships. (READ MORE from Jed Babbin: Sinking the Moskva)
The Russians seem unable to deal with Ukraine’s USVs and UUVs, which are being used to attack Russian ships and shore facilities. Reports indicate that nine Ukrainian UAVs and seven USVs — and possibly British-built UUVs — struck the Sevastopol naval base on Oct. 29, causing an unknown amount of damage to Russian ships, including at least one frigate. The Russians claim to have destroyed four USVs.
A previous USV attack on Oct. 18 was on the Russian naval base and oil terminal at Novorossiysk. It apparently caused little damage. The Novorossiysk base on the Black Sea was previously thought to be out of the range of Ukrainian weapons. The Russians are trying to build an effective defense against the Ukrainian drones. Their technology, according to one expert I spoke to, isn’t close to being able to deal with USVs, UUVs, and UAVs, especially at the same time.
The boldness of these Ukrainian attacks on Russia’s surface fleet and naval bases is another huge setback for Russia, adding to the effects of Ukrainian army forces driving Russians out of Kherson and other areas the Russians claim to have annexed. What the Russians are hoping for is to take advantage of the West’s tiredness and lack of resolve to force a “land for peace” deal with Ukraine.
As this column has repeatedly said, any land for peace deal would only delay — not deter or end — Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. There won’t be peace in Ukraine unless one side is convinced it is going to lose the war. It is up to us to support Ukraine while it fights for freedom and whittles away at Russia’s military power.