by Larry Johnson
The Biden Administration declassified a U.S. intelligence assessment on the war in Ukraine and it was promptly shared with the media as part of a Biden Administration full court press to persuade Congress to cough up more bucks for Ukraine. The information reported by Politico and CNN is disturbing because it shows the U.S. is out of touch with reality and furiously spinning in order to give the politicians what they want to hear. These are classic examples of politics taking precedence over intelligence.
Politico’s piece — US declassifies intel as the White House pushes for more Ukraine funding — focuses on the nonsensical meme that Russia is banking on a stalemate and insists that Russia is suffering terrible losses:
The U.S. assesses that Russia believes it is helped by a military stalemate with Ukraine that saps Western support for Kyiv, making its war easier to win. “Russia is determined to press forward with its offensive despite its losses,” National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said in a statement. “It is more critical now than ever that we maintain our support for Ukraine so they can continue to hold the line and regain their territory.”
Further American intelligence indicates the Western-backed Ukrainian campaign is having some success. More than 13,000 Russian soldiers have been killed or wounded and over 220 combat vehicles destroyed along the Avdiivka-Novopavlivka axis in eastern Ukraine since October, Watson said. She added that the Kremlin’s forces continue to pound targets in eastern Ukraine including around Avdiivka, Lyman and Kupyansk.
The IC is not presenting an accurate picture of what is unfolding in Ukraine. The assessment pushes the claim that Russia is suffering massive losses because of the “Western-backed campaign.” This is intended to convey the message that there is still hope for Ukraine. But a proper “intel assessment” should have made the three fundamental points:
- The uptick in Russian casualties since October is a consequence of Russia going on the offensive all along the line of contact and that Russia is making significant progress in pushing Ukrainian forces out of long held positions. Avdeevka is the most salient example.
- There is no stalemate. Ukraine’s losses, as compared to Russia’s, are greater by a factor of at least 5 to 1, and Russia, unlike Ukraine, has ample reserves of troops, tanks, artillery pieces and ammunition.
- Russia’s defense industry is operating on a war footing and is churning out massive numbers of tanks, armored personnel carriers, drones, planes, artillery and ammunition. The United State and NATO combined are producing only a fraction of what Russia is doing.
What about Russia’s 13,000 casualties? It is conceivable that Russia has 3,000 KIA and 10,000 WIA since October, but these losses are not reflected in social media and do not represent a degradation in Russia’s military power. Not so for Ukraine. Hell, even Zelensky told U.S. Senators he was going to draft 40 year old men. That means Ukraine’s losses are so great that they are being forced to dragoon men too old for the rigors of combat.
The CNN report is even more disingenuous. The IC is lying. I am talking Gulf of Tonkin kind of lie. Take a look at the piece written by Katie Bo Lillis, Russia has lost 87% of troops it had prior to start of Ukraine war, according to US intelligence assessment. She writes:
Russia has lost a staggering 87 percent of the total number of active-duty ground troops it had prior to launching its invasion of Ukraine and two-thirds of its pre-invasion tanks, a source familiar with a declassified US intelligence assessment provided to Congress told CNN.
Still, despite heavy losses of men and equipment, Russian President Vladimir Putin is determined to push forward as the war approaches its two-year anniversary early next year and US officials are warning that Ukraine remains deeply vulnerable. A highly anticipated Ukrainian counteroffensive stagnated through the fall, and US officials believe that Kyiv is unlikely to make any major gains over the coming months.
Reuters provides a more accurate account of what is contained in the assessment:
A declassified U.S. intelligence report assessed that the Ukraine war has cost Russia 315,000 dead and injured troops, or nearly 90% of the personnel it had when the conflict began, a source familiar with the intelligence said on Tuesday.
The report also assessed that Moscow’s losses in personnel and armored vehicles to Ukraine’s military have set back Russia’s military modernization by 18 years, the source said.
If this were true then Russian social media would be on fire with pictures of graves and grieving families burying their soldier. Those do not exist, at least not in the quantity that appears in Ukrainian social media. There are hundreds of videos and photographs of Ukrainian cemeteries that are bursting at the seams with newly buried soldiers. The following are but two examples. There is plenty more where that came from.
We also know that Russia is not dragging 40 and 50 year old guys off the streets and forcing them to join the army. That is Ukraine. Russia, by contrast, signed up more than 40,000 soldiers a month during the first 11 months of 2023:
Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, now deputy chairman of Russia’s Security Council, said on Friday that more than 452,000 people were recruited to the military under contract from January 1 to December 1, 2023.
Not even the U.S. military can match recruiting numbers like that. Did the U.S. intelligence analysts fail to tell members of Congress that Russia is now building up its military personnel to 2.2 million because it is prepared, if necessary, to fight the United States
There is news, unfortunately, that we are moving in the direction of a full on war with Russia. The New York Times war team — Julian E. Barnes, Eric Schmitt, David E. Sanger and Thomas Gibbons-Neff — report that the United States is taking greater control of Ukraine’s military planning by sending a three star U.S. General to run things in Kiev. Here is the key take away from the NY Times piece — U.S. and Ukraine Search for a New Strategy After Failed Counteroffensive:
The United States is stepping up the face-to-face military advice it provides to Ukraine, dispatching a three-star general to Kyiv to spend considerable time on the ground. U.S. and Ukrainian military officers say they hope to work out the details of a new strategy next month in a series of war games scheduled to be held in Wiesbaden, Germany. . .
The Pentagon has also decided to dispatch Lt. Gen. Antonio A. Aguto Jr., who commands the support of Ukraine from a base in Germany, to spend lengthy periods of time in Kyiv. General Aguto will work more directly with the country’s military leadership to improve the advice the United States is offering, American officials said. While the White House has opted not to have U.S. military advisers in the country permanently, General Aguto’s frequent rotations in and out of Kyiv would inch toward the end of that restriction.
We did not learn a damn thing from our debacle in Vietnam.