Is Crimea Russia?
Biden says Ukrainian missiles can't hit Russia. Depends on where you think it is.
On May 27 I reported that the Ukrainians were lobbying hard for the 190 mile-range MGM-140 missile, which would give them the tempting capability of firing at Russian targets well beyond Ukrainian borders, an ominous development given that the Russians would almost certainly retaliate against targets outside Ukraine, such as Poland.
Biden, according to press reports, has now decided that the temptation would prove too much for the Ukrainians, so they will instead get shorter range M30s or 31s, also fired from multiple launch systems, with a range of up to 43 miles. “We are not going to send to Ukraine rocket systems that can strike into Russia,” Biden assured reporters on May 30, seeking to quiet fears of imminent escalation.
But that leaves open a question that deserves more urgent attention: Is Crimea part of Russia, or not? Ukraine and the U.S. say it is not. Russia most emphatically says it is. So what happens if the Ukrainians fire some of their new missiles at the Russian air bases, well withing range, in northern Crimea? Just one of the many questions no one, at least in the upper tiers of the Pentagon or White House, seems to have bothered to ponder.
Is Ukraine Running Out of Troops?
Meanwhile, amid the lucrative (to Americans) rush to pour ill-assorted weapons systems into Ukraine, little attention is being paid to a more serious Ukrainian deficiency: a very high casualty rate and a growing shortage of troops. In a highly instructive piece in the May 26 Washington Post, that ran contrary to the official Ukrainian propaganda line dutifully echoed in most mainstream reporting, Sudarsan Raghavan described the sufferings of a unit on the eastern front, a 120-man company shredded to just fifty four thanks to deaths, injuries and desertions. They complained of being ill-supplied and poorly commanded. Nor were they unique. A nearby unit had posted a video saying they would no longer fight because they had no proper weapons, rear support, or military leadership. Rumors circulating in the Pentagon suggest that Ukrainian casualties, contrary to public reporting, may be running at twice the Russian level.
Hope Springs Eternal
Despite such danger signals, I am told that the belief that "the Ukrainians can win this thing" still prevails in the U.S. military command.