Putin's War, Week 105. Sweden Prepares to Be Heard

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Welcome to coverage of the 105th week of Putin’s splendid little war.

There isn’t a lot to talk about this week. The lines are mostly stable. The gains made by the Russians are those I predicted two weeks ago.

The death of Alexei Navalny is creating photo ops in Russia.


BACKGROUND: Alexei Navalny’s Death in a Prison Camp Was a Message From Putin to the World and to Russia 


The Ukraine funding saga is still perking in Congress. It will more likely than not be resolved by March 22, when the Defense Department’s continuing resolution will be passed.


BACKGROUND: Continuing Resolutions Frustrate Republicans and Call Speaker Johnson’s Ability to Lead Into Question


The situation remains at a stalemate for the time being, but I don’t think that will continue for much longer.

Here are some of my past updates. 

Putin’s War, Week 104. Second Anniversary of the 72-Hour Special Military Operation

Putin’s War, Week 103. Avdiivka Abandoned

Putin’s War, Week 102. Zaluzhny Is Out, Syrsky Is In, and the Ukraine Aid Bill Advances

Putin’s War, Week 101. How to Not Fire Your Commanding General and the EU Approves Massive Aid Package

Putin’s War, Week 100. Missing Prisoners, Hungary on the Hotspot, and Shell Hunger Returns

Putin’s War, Week 99. Not All Battlefields Are in Ukraine

Putin’s War, Week 98.

Putin’s War, Week 97. The Missile War Continues 

Putin’s War, Week 96. Blowback From a Sunk Ship as Russia Launches Largest Missile Attack of the War 

Putin’s War, Week 95. The Russian Air Force Takes a Beating as Disease Rips Through the Russian Army

For all my Ukraine War coverage, click here.

Politico-Strategic Level

Israel Takes a Side

Israeli UN Ambassador Gilad Erdan didn’t leave much to the imagination in this speech to the UN General Assembly. He directly equated Russia’s behavior in Ukraine with that of Hamas. He pointed out that the same drones that are attacking US shipping in the Red Sea and killing US troops in Syria are killing Ukrainian civilians. The one bit of his speech was the announcement that Israel is sending missile early warning systems to Ukraine. I’d bet those will be part of Iron Dome systems.

The Israel-Hamas War has burned down the efforts of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to maintain good relations with Russia. Israel has only provided humanitarian aid to Ukraine, and Putin acquiesced to Israeli air strikes inside Russia’s zone of interest in Syria. The war has allowed Russia to raise its profile in the region; for instance, a Hamas delegation was feted in Moscow. For more details, read “Netanyahu has finally realized Russia is no friend of Israel.”

Solzhenitsyn Was Right

Thursday, Putin gave a speech to the Russian Federal Assembly addressing his war in Ukraine.

This reference to “the war in Donbass” refers to the current war, not the war Russia started in 2014.

Soviet dissident Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn described the relationship between the citizens of the USSR and the government in this way.

We know that they are lying, they know that they are lying, they even know that we know they are lying, we also know that they know we know they are lying too, they of course know that we certainly know they know we know they are lying too as well, but they are still lying. In our country, the lie has become not just moral category, but the pillar industry of this country.

Some things never change.

Et tu, Tucker?

On the subject of “denazification,” Putin seems to have lost the support of some of his most vocal backers in the West.

Several thoughts come to mind. First, denazification was one of the goals established by Putin on the day of the invasion. Has it taken Carlson two years to arrive at this conclusion? Second, why is the concept  “one of the dumbest things” he had ever heard now, and he didn’t say jack sh** about it to the guy saying it? Third, how much of this is related to Putin’s put-down of their interview rather than any objection to the term “denazification?”

Speaking to Russian state TV, Putin said he had thought Carlson was a dangerous person, “because I honestly thought he would be aggressive and ask so-called sharp questions. And I wasn’t just ready for that, I wanted it, because it would have given me the opportunity to respond sharply in kind … But he chose a different tactic.”

Sweden Prepares to Send Gripen Fighters to Ukraine

Ukrainian pilots began training on the Swedish Gripen fighter in the late summer of 2023. 

Sweden has linked the transfer of the Gripen to Ukraine to two events. First, other NATO countries have authorized the transfer of combat aircraft to Ukraine. Second, Sweden’s accession into NATO. The US authorized the transfer of F-16s to Ukraine last year, and this week, Sweden cleared its last obstacle to NATO membership.


BACKGROUND: Sweden Joins NATO After Hungary’s Obstruction Abruptly Ends


Sweden has a lot of pressure to send Gripens to Ukraine sooner rather than later.

Compare and contrast the speed of the training program of Ukrainian pilots of the Gripen to those being trained on the F-16. The difference is not due to the F-16 being more sophisticated; the difference is a deliberate decision by Jake Sullivan and the other f***wits running our national security to slow-roll the training.

Operational Level

Biden Ponders Emergency Aid

Multiple sources report that Biden’s national security midwits are considering using the remaining $4 billion in Presidential Drawdown Authority to send equipment and ammunition to Ukraine. This authority was approved by Congress last fiscal year but has not expired.

Russian Airstrikes Accelerate

The progress made by the Russian Army in Avdiivka and north of Bakhmut has been largely due to a marked increase in strike sorties supporting those operations. The primary weapon used is the 1100-pound FAB 500 gravity bomb equipped with the Russian knockoff of a US JDAM kit. This gives the bomb extended range and something that can be described as accuracy.

More Bad Days for the Russian Air Force

The Russian Air Force has lost a strike aircraft nearly every day for the last two weeks.

As I reported last week, the increase in losses seems to be related to the uptick in Russian air strikes using glide bombs.


READ: Putin’s War, Week 104. Second Anniversary of the 72-Hour Special Military Operation


The launch profile for a glide bomb requires the strike aircraft to fly at a high altitude without evasive maneuvers as it sets up the launch. In a hostile air defense environment like that in Ukraine, this is not proving to be a great evolutionary strategy. Some of this is a direct outgrowth of Soviet strategy that never bothered to develop a SEAD/DEAD (pronounced “seed” and “deed”) doctrine to penetrate highly defended airspace.

 Starklink Saga Continues

I’ve recently posted on the claim that Starlink internet terminals are used by Russian forces fighting in Ukraine. Starlink denied that was the case. 


BACKGROUND:

Putin’s War, Week 102. Zaluzhny Is Out, Syrsky Is In, and the Ukraine Aid Bill Advances 

Putin’s War, Week 103. Avdiivka Abandoned 


The Starlink denial seems to merit a heavy caveat.

Even though the Chinese drone manufacturer says it is not selling Starlink in Russia, a Russian DJI reseller company is clearly doing so. Despite what appears in the “Community Notes,” you can follow the link to this Starlink order page. So, yes, you can buy Starlink terminals in Russia despite US sanctions and Starlink’s denials. This leads to a second-order question. Why are we selling Starlink to a Chinese drone manufacturer?

Combat Operations

Close Quarter Battle Near Verbove

Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures

Drone vs. Drone Combat

Ground Suicide Drone Attack

Turn the video volume off; you don’t want your day ruined by the music dubbed in.

Northern Front

Kharkiv

Kupiansk-Kreminna

The front in this area remains stable. 

The Russians have started airstrikes on the temporary bridges supplying the Ukrainian front lines.

Donbas

The Russian Army stepped up the operational tempo in this area, attacking all along the front. The Russians made small gains, but the intensity of the attacks indicates the minor offensive we noted before the first of the year to take control of the historical borders of the Donbas oblasts of Luhansk and Donetsk is still underway.

Bahkmut-Klishchiivka-Andriivka

Avdiivka

As I pointed out two weeks ago, once the decision was made to abandon Avdiivka, there was no military reason to try to retain control of the Avdiivka Salient. The Russian advances are in concert with Ukrainian withdrawals.


BACKGROUND: Putin’s War, Week 103. Avdiivka Abandoned 


Southern Front

Zaporizhzhia

Robotyne-Verbove- Novoprokopivka

There is very little movement on this front. The Ukrainian Army had minor success in counterattacks to retake positions around Verbove that were lost last week.

Kherson

The Ukrainian Army managed a minor expansion of the Krynky bridgehead, but the lines are mostly unchanged.

This video gives a flavor of the battlefield. It is widely dispersed groups of 2-4 men, with neither side able to achieve the mass necessary for substantive gains.

What’s Next

There has been a noticeable decline in the quantity and quality of information from both sides in the last few months. That makes it difficult to catch a glimpse into what may be happening. 

All evidence indicates the Russians are still pursuing the same goal postulated several weeks ago. That is their objective is to take the whole of historic Donbas before Putin’s “election” in March. They will continue to attack all along the line of contact from Kupiansk-Kreminna in the north to Avdiivka in the south. The Ukrainians will not repeat the mistake of Bakhmut; they will yield ground to preserve men and equipment. There is a chance that the Ukrainian line will fail somewhere north of Bakhmut. I think the nature of the Russian forces (small bodies of light infantry) and the terrain (very few east-west lines of communication and a north-south network of unfordable streams and ridges), the depth of any Russian penetration will be limited and challenging to sustain.

What has become obvious over the last 4-6 weeks is that top-of-the-line Ukrainian armor is largely absent from the fight. We’re no longer seeing video of the singleton tank raids that we saw in October-November. When they reappear, I hope they are not dribbled out along the front the way they were last summer.

I think we are about to see the Russians experience another round of the “shell hunger” they complained about when attacking Bakhmut. Indications are that North Korean shipments have ceased, which indicates the North Koreans have donated all the ammunition they are comfortable giving up. Future shipments will be from current production. This sort of follows the pattern of Russia relying on artillery ammunition from Iran during the siege of Bakhmut and on North Korean ammunition to take Avdiivka. There are a lot of bullsh** numbers floating around about Russian ammunition production where it is asserted that today’s production is on par with that of the Soviet Union. 

As I’ve said many times, a stalemate tends to help Putin because his only strategy is to convince the West to accept defeat in Ukraine. It doesn’t matter how many men Russia has available for conscription; Russia’s ability to arm, train, and supply troops is limited, as is its ability to get them to the right place on the front at the right time with the right equipment. Ukraine’s strategy is to continue to convince the West that it has the will to win. When you throw in Zelensky’s relief of a popular commander-in-chief, you have a political imperative to chalk up a win somewhere.





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Lisa Holden
Lisa Holden
Lisa Holden is a news writer for LinkDaddy News. She writes health, sport, tech, and more. Some of her favorite topics include the latest trends in fitness and wellness, the best ways to use technology to improve your life, and the latest developments in medical research.

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