Hey McCainiacs in Congress: Moscow May See Your Javelins Sent to Ukraine with Plenty of Kornets for the Warriors of Donbass, and Ukrainian 80s Vintage T64/T72 Tanks and Trenches Are Easier to Destroy than Modern Israeli Merkavas
Hezbollah's 2006 Defeat of Israel:
When Superior Motivation Meets Skilled Training in Modern War
One of the fallacies of modern warfare is that weapons, not fighting men, win wars. While new weaponry certainly can impact the battlefield in surprising ways, as Israeli Merkava tank drivers found out in 2006 when Hezbollah used Russian Kornet anti-tank missiles against them, the successful application of arms are a consequence of a well-trained force. By mixing guerrilla tactics and skillful use of terrain and tunneling with the intelligence of a regular army, Hezbollah managed to defeat the vaunted Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) and force a retreat out of southern Lebanon.
Smarting from this blow to Israeli and by extension American military prestige, many Israelis and their supporters abroad thirst for revenge. But they're likely to find Hezbollah even smarter and more battle hardened after six years of fighting in Syria, nearly 18 months of which has involved working with Russian spetsnaz units. As we've warned RogueMoney readers pro or anti-Israel, if there is a rematch of the 2006 conflict looming this autumn the Israelis are likely to find it bloodier than last time, with Hezbollah employing drones and possibly electronic intel gathering to direct longer range fires from rockets and artillery the IDF hasn't faced since the bloody 1973 Yom Kippur War.
My friend The Saker cites the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah conflict as an example of the military industrial complex (MIC) warping concepts many American politicians and pundits have about 21st century war-fighting. As we stated above, the US/NATO go to great lengths to maintain pro-Kiev forces morale, to the extent of assisting the Bankova's effort to cover up thousands of combat deaths via the silence of the Associated Press, Reuters and BBC on the subject (not that Sputnik or other Russian media are keen to emphasize the real number, lest it seem completely beyond the capabilities of Donbass natives without cross border massed fires rom Russia). The debate about Javelin ATGMs which are particularly effective against tanks with reactive armor but not useful in long range artillery or rocket fire duels of the type Ukrainian forces have been losing in major Donbass battles, also serves to deflect from lethal arms deliveries quietly underway.
A documentary film by the Potomac Foundation putting a good face on staggering Ukrainian military incompetence at Debaltseve, where NATO mercenaries also allegedly fought
American Made RPG7s Shipped to Kiev
According to a report by Southfront.org published last week, relatively cheap RPG-7s ideal for close quarters urban combat and trench warfare seen in the Donbass are being made in the USA and shipped to Ukraine. The fact that Ukrainian arms industry cannot crank out enough of these relatively simple weapons based on improvements to a late 1970s or early 80s design demonstrates how corruption plagues Kiev's rearmament efforts. But with a large amount of ammunition and replacements in particular for knocked out self-propelled guns also being delivered from former Warsaw Pact countries like Bulgaria now in NATO, it would be a mistake to dismiss the Pentagon's efforts entirely. It seems after detailed study of the fighting around relatively static lines that has prevailed with advances of a few football fields in places since 2015, Pentagon planners have concluded a few thousand RPG-7s are more useful to Kiev's war effort than a few dozen to low hundred expensive Javelins -- which Kiev is too broke to pay for and would have to be funded by the American taxpayer.
Russian Military Analysts:
'If Americans send Javelins to Kiev LDNR Will Send Them to Us'
The other point of course, which has already been made by civilian Russian military analysts, is that any significant Javelin deliveries will mean some Ukrainian unit will either sell outright or conveniently abandon on the battlefield examples of the model, which the Donbass republics will quickly share with their GRU handlers. Thus a Chinese or Iranian knock off version of the Javelin could be undercutting manufacturer Raytheon in international arms markets like Southeast Asia or South America in the not too distant future. One might say that this is the Russians way of sardonically hinting that Washington cares more about Raytheon's profits than it does about the lives of Ukrainian cannon fodder.
At any rate, there is ample precedent of U.S. arms being captured by the Donbass republics forces: after the close quarters battle for the ruins of the Donetsk airport M16s and Barrett sniper rifles were recovered from destroyed Ukrainian positions. After the Ukrainian retreat from Debaltseve, LDNR soldiers found the vaunted mortar and artillery round tracking radars, which were supposed to give the Ukrainians a counter battery capability, still in their original U.S. shipped wrapping. Most recently, a civilian volunteer who works to support the poor logistics of the Ukrainian Army derided the Raven drones the Americans sent over as junk, easily jammed by the Russian jamming equipment the LDNR deploy. One U.S. drone was also reported by Russian television to have been sold in a field by Ukrainian Army soldiers to their LDNR adversaries, suggesting far more contraband trade if not covert fraternization goes on between the two sides than acknowledged. At any rate, it should be obvious that soldiers willing to sell their weapons including American provided equipment to their enemy are not eager to bleed and die in combat with the same adversary.
The Risks of Escalation Remain, Especially as a Means to Pressure Trump by Pressuring Russia to Directly Respond on Behalf of its LDNR Proxies Through Late 2018
The current phase of the Donbass war has involved Ukrainians testing new weapons and tactics. The Small Wars Journal recommended tactic of picking off LDNR leadership one by one via assassinations has abated in recent months, after SBU commanders were killed in car bombings and a UAF general died of a 'heart attack' in his Kiev office. Infiltration tactics under creeping barrages of the type WW1 era generals experimented with in 1917 using tank support have resulted in dozens of UAF deaths for almost no gained ground, including in heavily contested areas like the Avdeevka's 'promzone'.
Javelins or no Javelins, careful military observers with good sources in the Donbass Republics, like the Crimea based Russian-language blogger Colonel Cassad (Boris Rozhin), insist it would be a mistake to equate the current Ukrainian Army with the sad sack and easily panicked force which took thousands of casualties in the 'cauldrons' of 2014-15. In particular, Col. Cassad points to the major intelligence support the Americans are giving the Ukrainian military, including via Global Hawk drone flights skirting Russian air space around Crimea and monitoring via ground surveying radar, the Donbass front lines and many miles inside Russia from high altitude.
Cassad's account of an American build up of surveillance drones and military intelligence assets in Ukraine is confirmed by reports about the U.S. Navy helping the Ukrainians modernize a naval base on the Black Sea coast near Crimea. The reports of U.S. or more likely other NATO country advisers like Poles and Canadians lingering not far behind the lines of contact have continued in recent months. Cassad also mentions the first appearance of Ukrainian (likely US/NATO supported) heavy machine gun wielding combat bots in the Avdeevka promzone. According to Cassad, it took several days for the Donbass fighters to realize an enemy firing position they couldn't reduce with suppressing fire was 'manned' by a bot.
These are signs that while the fantasy of the Ukrainian military pulling off its own version of 'Operation Storm' remains a distant one, Kiev could achieve a temporary breakthrough toward a major objective. Since the freely admitted goal of The Wall Street Journal editorial board isn't so much for the Kiev regime to win as it is to draw Russia more directly into what has been predominantly a proxy fight with the US/NATO, Cassad is correct to caution against overconfidence in Donetsk or Lugansk.
The Achilles heel of any serious Ukrainian build up for an offensive of course, remains the human element, with a great number of pro-Russian sympathizers behind Kiev's lines and NSA/GCHQ aided technology for the SBU not enabling a full round up or interrogation of those with relatives on the other side of the contact line or in Russia yet. The other problem is that the SBU, contrary to its claims, hasn't succeeded in rooting out SVR/GRU informants from the Russian military or even its own greedy ranks. Thus if a major Ukrainian attack is coming, LDNR units are likely to be told by the GRU.
Ukrainian Military Escalations Ahead of March Russian Presidential Election, June-July World Cup Are Very Likely, and the Russian Military is Training in Preparation
There remains a serious risk of escalation in the Donbass within the next year, especially before the Russian presidential elections of March 2018 and Russia hosting the FIFA World Cup from mid-June to mid-July 2018. As the Russians have noticed, there is tendency for Washington's proxies to launch operations while major world sporting events are happening. Witness Putin's meeting with the leader of Abkhazia to commemorate the recent anniversary of the 08/08/08 war initiated during the Beijing Olympics, which then Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili launched against Russian peacekeepers in South Ossetia, following a major military build up by the historically impoverished Caucasian nation. Or the U.S. and EU sponsored Maidan coup d'etat in Kiev timed for the closing ceremonies of President Vladimir Putin's showcase international event, the 2014 Winter Olympiad in Sochi.
The goal of these timed provocations is to take advantage of a distracted Russian leadership and to embarrass if not humiliate the Russians on the international stage. When the U.S.-trained Georgian Army of course, was routed in 72 hours by a Russian Army far less skilled and equipped than today's version, Washington screamed about aggression and understated Georgian losses.
In light of these trends, as well as President Donald Trump's apparent powerlessness to deliver on his campaign promise of improving relations with Moscow, units are likely to be put on alert in the weeks preceding international spotlight on the Russian Federation. The late summer Zapad2017 exercises hyped in U.S./UK media are likely to be seen as rehearsals for the rapid deployment of armor and artillery to Russia's border regions from the Baltics and Belarus in the north down to the Sea of Azov coastline shared with Ukraine.
'A Hybrid War':
Short Documentary About Ukraine from a Pro-Kiev Washington Centric Perspective
For Washington and NATO, Higher Costs are Coming for Running a Proxy War in Ukraine
While three years of stalemate just across the border proves that Russia does not want to overtly send its military into Ukraine, and sees no military solution to its neighbor's historic divisions, the NATO build up in support of the economically and demographically failing state is making Moscow demonstrate its military readiness. The WSJ editorial board and other neocons dream of imposing costs on Russia, while imagining that NATO itself won't be putting its personnel or at least private military contractors in Ukraine at risk if Washington escalates (to say nothing of Russian retaliation by proxy against US allies elsewhere, like in the Mideast). But the Kremlin will make it clear that if they want a (likely unachievable) victory over the Russian backed breakaway statelets, it won't be won on the cheap, with only Ukrainian blood shed for it.