UPDATE: Tuesday, Nov 15, 2022 · 9:29:25 PM +00:00
At this time, we don’t know where this missile came from. But, let’s assume for a moment that it’s confirmed Russian, then what? What is Menendez threatening here exactly? If you want to make Russia pay, start delivering ATACMS long-range rockets to Ukraine, so they can strike even deeper behind enemy lines (including the Kerch Bridge, still under repair).
Honestly, Russia has done plenty enough to merit “significant consequences.” At this point, we should be doing everything possible to arm Ukraine in the short term with ATACMS and Bradley infantry fighting vehicles, and in the long-term with F-16 fighter jets. But none of that is within Mendendez’ control. He’s a senator, not the Commander in Chief.
UPDATE: Tuesday, Nov 15, 2022 · 8:30:08 PM +00:00 · kos
The fear is that the new Republican House might be more hostile to Ukrainian aid. Note that Joe Biden has a backup plan in that case—for one, pass this aid now, in the lame-duck session. But beyond that, the Lend-Lease Act allows Biden to keep delivering weapons to Ukraine without additional congressional action. This is just a clearer, easier, more transparent approach. Either way, Ukraine has nothing to fear so long as Biden remains president.
Well, things are about to get interesting.
Russia launched around 100 missiles and drones against Ukrainian civilian infrastructure today—the largest since the war began—with the clear aim to spread terror, and to also knock out Ukraine’s energy grid. (Ukraine claims that 73 of the missiles were shot down, which may or may not be true.) If anyone wonders why Ukraine is winning the war, it’s because Ukraine knocks out Russia’s logistical hubs and depots, while Russia would rather kill civilians and inconvenience them this winter in the cold. Meanwhile, Ukrainian trains run virtually unimpeded, supplying Ukraine’s war effort on the fronts.
This war has laid bare Russia’s incompetence from top to bottom, and that extends to the effectiveness of their weaponry. The fact that two Russian cruise missiles missed their Ukrainian target and landed in Polish territory isn’t surprising; what is surprising is that it hadn’t happened until now. That two people were killed in the attack raises the stakes.
The two missiles hit 100 kilometers from their presumed intended target of Lviv, so some people are skeptical it was a mistake, but I’d be shocked if Russia was interested in escalating with NATO. They’re already losing the war. The last thing they need is either Poland or NATO engaging. If the target was military, perhaps a supply depot or rail head feeding Western weapons and ammunition to Ukraine, there would be logic to such an attack. They hit a farm. This doesn’t make any sense beyond “oh shit, we missed … by a lot.”
So the big question is: Will Poland invoke Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization? And the answer to that is: not likely. Article 4 allows for consultations between the allies, and that is almost assuredly going to happen. They’ll demand an explanation and apology from Russia. The alliance will talk about strengthening its Polish front. Maybe they’ll rush additional air defense units to the border area. But it seems inconceivable that either side is eager to use this mistake to escalate further. At most, NATO might send an “if it happens one more time ...” message that will force Russia to avoid further hitting western Ukraine, lest it screw it again. Russia already backed down to Turkish threats on the Black Sea grain deal, so they’re not currently operating from a position of strength.
There is no chance the alliance hasn’t gamed out this possibility already. Now we wait and see what Poland’s and the alliance’s reposes will be.
Meanwhile, I want to once again stress the inadequacy of the Russian missile barrage. At last count, Russia spent hundreds of millions of dollars on its dwindling supply of missiles to knock out power for 7 million Ukrainian citizens. Russia is losing the war, and yet it continues to prioritize terrorism against civilians as opposed to hitting militarily valuable targets. This is a victory for Ukraine. Ukrainian forces are currently rushing from the Kherson front to reinforce their positions in the Donbas, where Russia continues its human-wave attacks on Bakhmut and Pavlivka. And instead of hitting the rail and logistical lines making this shift possible, Russia hits power generation facilities and apartment complexes instead. Russia’s tactics are cruel, definitely, but they are also unfathomably stupid.
With the fog of war cleared somewhat around Kherson, it’s clear that all the rumors about Ukrainian forces crossing the Dnipro into Russian-held territory were false. There is zero evidence of any Ukrainian incursions past the river, and no one is making those claims anymore. Whether it was irrational exuberance, informational psyops, or something else, it seems increasingly clear that Ukraine is happy with the current Kherson borders and will happily use the spare military capacity to reinforce its other fronts.
Meanwhile, I suspect my theory will hold—that Russia will withdraw all forces out of range of 155mm artillery, so about 15 to 25 miles from the Dnipro River, and locals in some of those “gray zone” villages will put up Ukrainian flags, “liberating” their territory. But there is little reason for Ukraine (or Russia) to militarily occupy those villages for now.
These updates are always interesting, but this is one of the best in a long time. Julia leads with the talk of revolution, which itself is a remarkable acknowledgement. But listening in, these pundits are very explicit about their “social contract”—the politicians are left to rule Russia as they see fit, including their grift, so long as the people are allowed to lead their lives in relative peace. The mobilization violated that contract, the Russian people now have skin in the game, and Russia’s rulers have to be increasingly wary of, as one of the pundits put it, “annoyance.” We know Russians are docile people, but they do have a history of revolution. Now would be as good a time for one as any.
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