Weekly megathread for news/updates/discussion of Russian invasion of Ukraine - April 20
This thread is posted weekly on Thursday - please try to post relevant content in here, such as news, updates, opinion articles, etc. Especially significant updates may warrant a separate topic, but most should be posted here.
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Top Kremlin critic convicted of treason, gets 25 years
All Nato members have agreed Ukraine will eventually join, says Stoltenberg
Denmark and Netherlands join forces to send more Leopard tanks to Ukraine
Euronews – David Mac Dougall – 20th April 2023
More on the really big geopolitical maneuvering related to the Russia invasion of Ukraine:
Anger in Europe After Chinese Diplomat Says Ex-Soviet States Not Sovereign
EDIT: Despite some wishywashy language, and without explaining the remarks by Ambassador Lu Shaye, China has walked back the statements about lack of sovereignty among former Soviet republics:
Is there any indication of how or when this might end? Or can we just expect this to be the status quo for the remainder of the decade?
With each passing month the equipment disparity increases, as modern equipment slowly reaches Ukraine and Russia digs deeper into its boneyards for older equipment. Russia has changed its conscription law to make it easier and faster to conscript people, and has started conscription in places like St. Petersburg, where it's not just disfavored minorities being called up. Putin does seem dedicated to keeping this going, but nothing about how they're running this war indicates that they'll have any success moving the front lines.
As such, the question is really on Putin to decide when he's had enough of throwing Russian lives and resources into the grinder, and/or on the Russian people to decide they've had enough of being ground up. Which one seems to be an open question, but Putin doesn't seem to get tired of other people dying for him.
I think that's overly rosey for Ukraine, unfortunately. Ukraine is quickly running out of materials, hence their increased calls for more ammunition from America and Western Europe. But it's going to get harder to get those supplies in, as America has already depleted much of its military armament stockpiles. Of course, it's also taking a brutal toll on the human populace of Ukraine.
While equally if not significantly more tolling on the Russian side, they have the benefits of just having more people and resources. The world hasn't uniformly turned their heads away from Russia; Russia's energy exports recently were back at their pre-war levels. India, China, and other countries are buying Russian oil, replacing the lost demand from Western Europe.
It's very much not a forgone conclusion that Ukraine has won or will win on a tactical or strategic level. There is no clear conclusion to the war currently.
Ukraine is using up their stocks of older materiel, yes. The world has run through a significant part of their supply of ammunition that's compatible with that older equipment. But that's not talking about all the equipment that exists, nor the ammunition for those newer systems. The real bottleneck is training Ukrainian personnel on the newer systems that exist and for which ammunition stockpiles are deeper. But unless Russia does something different, their current rate of advancement will threaten Kiev sometime in the early 2100's. I won't discount the losses suffered by the Ukrainian people, but in terms of manpower they aren't scraping the bottom of the barrel. Also, as they're defending their homeland, Ukraine can call on far more of its population to engage in self defense than Russia can easily call up its people to attack someone else, even under the pretense of protecting them.
With regards to the oil sales: Russia's energy exports were back at their pre-war levels in terms of volume. The price is about 60% of what it was, leaving what's projected to be a $29 Billion budgetary shortfall, or more than a 3% loss of GDP.
Note that I didn't say that Ukraine was going to win this war, though given the promise by the EU to incorporate them as soon as the war is over, they've scored significant geopolitical victories even if they end up conceding all of the territory Russia currently holds. But Russia has definitely already lost. The perception of Russian strength on the international stage has been fundamentally damaged, they failed to capture the majority of Ukraine, their economy is damaged, their demographic woes significantly exacerbated by the loss of a third of a million people of fighting/reproductive age, which is equal to all other sources of death in the past year in Russia. Let that sink in. They've doubled the rate at which Russians die in order to get some pretty war-torn dirt, if they even keep it at the end of all this.
So no, I don't know if Ukraine will win, but Russia has already lost. The question is how much more they'll lose before the end.
Based on @skybrian 's report below, not until sometime after 2028. Maybe longer. Some folks are making some good money here, now . . .
Unprepared for long war, US Army under gun to make more ammo (AP)
China doesn’t want peace in Ukraine, Czech president Peter Pavl warns
Pavel Is a former NATO general. His comments seem almost obvious now but are (to me) surprisingly unspoken by other leaders or analysts.