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Despite big bucks from the U.S., the stalemate in the Ukraine continues, with only minor Russian gains

With the passage by the Senate yesterday of a major foreign aid bill that includes $60 billion in aid to the Ukraine war effort, despite strong public opposition and a House Republican leadership unwilling to approve it, it seems that this might be a good time to look at the actual situation on the ground in the Ukraine. Have the front lines changed in any major way since my last update on the Ukraine war in September, 2023? And will that aid make any difference, should House Republicans break their word and approve it in the end?

Based on what has happened in the past six months, the answer to these questions is “Not much”, and “No”. Note the map below, adapted from maps produced by the Institute for the Study of War (ISW), comparing the territory occupied by the Russians in November 2022 with what it presently occupies in February 2024.

Comparing the front lines in the Ukraine from September 2023 to February 2024

Notice any major changes? I don’t. Since November 2022 the Russians attempted one offensive, with little gain, followed by a Ukrainian offensive, with little gain, followed by a second Russian offensive, still ongoing, with also little gain. While overall the Russians have captured more territory since November 2022, the amounts have been relatively trivial, and have been accompanied by great losses. The Russians have not even been able to reach the borders of the Donpass provinces that lie only a few miles to the west, its supposed goal since it pulled back from its initial invasion of the entire country in February 2022.

Based on this lack of progress by either side, it will likely take Russia about a century to conquer all of the Ukraine.

What the Senate aid package provides to change this situation and to whom is very unclear. This article claims $20 billion goes to replenish American stockpiles (which means the money goes to American military contractors) while the remaining $40 billion is used “to train Ukrainian military personnel and provide intelligence-related support as well as economic assistance to the country.”

ISW in its own analysis of this bill says that only about $10 billion will go directly to the Ukraine, not $40 billion, with the remaining $50 billion “specifically marked for US manufacturers and US or allied government entities supporting Ukraine.”

Either way, it appears that this money will do little to change the situation on the ground. The Russians do not appear to have the resources to break through the Ukrainian defenses. The country is large, but Putin and his government have consistently avoided turning this into a full scale war. As a result Russia as a nation has not been put on a nationwide war footing, and thus the government’s resources to fight have been somewhat limited.

Nor does it appear that the Ukrainians have the resources to make any progress. If the aid bill mostly replenishes American stockpiles than relatively little military aid will go to the front lines. And even if some of those stockpiles are sent to the Ukraine, they do not appear enough to make a significant difference, considering how little effect previous larger U.S. aid packages had.

In fact, it appears that sending any aid to the Ukraine right now will be a waste of money. In this regional conflict it appears the Ukraine is now able to hold its own, and Russia is unable to do anything significant against it.

All this of course could change at any time, since war is always unpredictable. However, the Russian method of war has always been one of grinding down its enemies over the long haul while tolerating high casualites on its own side. It appears this remains the Russian underlying strategy now, and if so, this war will be going on for many many decades hence.

The Ukrainians meanwhile are of the same culture, and thus they understand this fact quite deeply. They will fight back as hard, because they fear what will happen to them if they lose. This fact further guarantees the war will go on for many decades hence, even without outside aid.

As much as we might want Russia pushed back from its unjust invasion, it appears the world is not prepared to make that happen. This remains a regional war, a kind of civil war between two regions of similar cultures. Any aid we in the U.S. provide should be limited and careful administered.

Sadly, our politicians are idiots and don’t understand what “careful administration” means. Instead, it appears they are simply acting as agents for those American military contractors, funnelling money we do not have to them in exchange for campaign donations (which in real life are nothing more than bribes). It is also likely that some of the money to the Ukraine is not for the war, but are further payoffs to Ukrainian mob bosses, engineered by Joe Biden and his son Hunter, in exchange for services rendered to them.

The result has been bills like this one, poorly thought out and completely divorced from the financial reality of a country swamped in debt.

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  • BOOM!

    In the long-term Vlad has the mass.

    But the costs are still very high.

    When the cost becomes too high a solution will be arrived at.

  • pzatchok

    The sad thing is that we need this ammunition production for our own defense.

    So in the end it doesn’t matter is if the Ukraine survives or not. In fact it helps us by giving us a place to get rid of all our old stocks.

    This is also giving us a way to field test some of our new tech.

    I would like to see this bringing in cheaper weapon systems like cheaper and smaller 155mm canon. Smaller and cheaper anti tank weapons. Better night vision and better radio communications.
    Not for the Ukraine, they can have all our old stuff, but for us.

  • I heard the other night someone saying that America produces about 30 thousand shells a month, and the Russians produce that in a day.

  • pzatchok

    If they produced any shells or ammo in that quantity they would have already won a year ago.

    Russia was asking North Korea China and Iran for cannon ammo and small arms ammo. Along with drones and rockets.

    As for small arms ammo production I know for a fact that the US during every conflict slowed down civilian sales/production of small arms ammo and diverted it to the military.
    But this time around we actually have a enough for the civilian market. Which in the US is like supplying a good sized national army.

    I can not wait for the new plastic ammo to come out for the civilian market in bulk and cheap.
    Right now its a little expensive for my personal testing.

  • Jerry Greenwood

    Putin was encouraged by the weak response of Obama and the rest of West when he took Crimea. Another display of lack of resolve on our part will only show him he can do as he pleases where he pleases.

    What a different world we would be living in today if only Briton and France had taken decisive action when Germany calmly walked in to the Rhineland and then Czechoslovakia.

    Is Poland next? It was for Hitler.

    Give Ukraine everything it needs to kill Russians today (and they’re doing a dam good job of it, btw) so we don’t have to do it in the near future.

  • mkent

    When looking at Ukraine’s progress in the months since your last update, you need to look at a few other things.

    1) The level of U. S. aid dropped off a cliff in July 2023 and disappeared altogether in December. For the last seven months they’ve been fighting with minimal American aid.

    2) The Russians have plowed a huge number of men into the battle (without a lot of effect). They invaded in February 2022 with 80,000 men in combat and 40,000 in reserve. They now have 450,000 men fighting in Ukraine.

    3) Because of these two points, Ukraine has stepped back from hitting the Russians head-on and has instead adopted a more strategic approach.

    A) They attacked and captured the offshore gas platforms in the northwestern Black Sea off the coast of Crimea. Russia has held these platforms since 2015 and was using them to host air defense missiles and helicopters to threaten sea-going grain shipments. Capturing these platforms eliminated one of the biggest threats to civilian shipping.

    B) Ukraine then used those platforms to launch raids by Special Forces into occupied Crimea. These raids knocked out four or five S-400 air defense systems at a cost to Russia of about a half billion dollars each.

    C) Those missing S-400s left a hole in the air defense network through which Ukraine launched salvos of British Storm Shadow and French Scalp missiles. The first salvo took out the headquarters of the Russian Black Sea fleet, eliminating many of its senior staff. The second salvo took out the backup headquarters.

    D) The next salvo took out a diesel submarine and an amphibious assault ship (roughly equivalent to a San Antonio class) that were in dry dock at the Sevastopol Naval Base and damaged the dry dock. Since ships spend months in dry dock undergoing repairs, this made Russia’s biggest and best dry dock on the Black Sea untenable.

    E) In fact, this made the entire Sevastopol naval base untenable, and Russia pulled its combat vessels from it. The smaller ships relocated to Feodosia on the southeastern Crimean coast, and the larger ships retreated all the way back to Novorossiysk in Russia.

    This is a huge strategic defeat for Russia. Sevastopol has been their most important naval base for 250 years.

    F) Ukraine then struck Russia’s naval shipyard at Kerch in occupied Crimea, destroying a guided-missile corvette under construction. More importantly, it makes the shipyard untenable. It takes years to build a warship, and Russia can’t protect the shipyard every day for that length of time.

    Russia has a tough time building warships. Most of their Black Sea fleet was built in Mykolaiv in Ukraine, obviously not an option anymore. Most of the rest of their warships used engines built in Ukraine. Ukraine shut that option off after the 2014 invasion. Corvette construction in Kerch was one of the few options under Russia’s complete control.

    G) Ukraine then struck the naval base at Feodosia. I don’t know that Russia has pulled out of that naval base yet, but if they haven’t, it just sets the stage for them to lose even more of their navy.

    H) Finally, Ukraine launched a missile attack on two air bases in occupied territory, destroying 15 helicopters. This included a large number of Ka-52s, which are roughly equivalent to the AH-64 Apache. Russia started the war with 125 of them. It’s now down to less than 30. For comparison, the USA operates 1,890 Apaches.

    Looking at the map is a good thing to do, but in this case focusing on it will cause you to miss the strategic losses Russia is accumulating. The lines may have been static, but the war has not been.

  • James Street

    Tucker Carlson takes his cameras into the Kievska Metro Station in Moscow.
    There’s no crime, graffiti, litter, drug needles, homeless, human feces and urine.
    In the middle of a war.
    It’s cleaner than any American city.
    Tucker Carlson asks “Why?”
    (4 minute video)

  • pzatchok

    James we all know why.
    Its the prison judicial and prison system.
    Russia uses theirs and we do not. We stopped thinking of prison as punishment and started to think of it as a reform school. Or a place for the mentally insane to be housed.

    What Russia considers a good prison we would not put dogs into.

  • James Street


    “‘Radicalized’ Tucker Carlson Went Grocery Shopping in Russia”
    “If you take people’s standard of living and you tank it through filth and crime and inflation, and they literally can’t buy the groceries they want, at that point maybe it matters less what you say or whether you’re a good person or a bad person, you’re wrecking people’s lives and their country. And that’s what our leadership has done to us.”
    “And coming to a Russian grocery store, the heart of evil, and seeing what things cost and how people live, it will radicalize you against our leaders.”
    (1 minute video)

  • mkent: Everything you write is true, but it changes nothing. This has become a slog where no one is gaining much of anything. While the Ukraine succeeds in all the points you mention, it has been Russia that has been recapturing territory, though in very very small amounts. It seems to be a stand-off.

  • Questioner

    Mr. Zimmermann:

    You have no idea what is really going on in the war and keep falling for the Biden regime’s propaganda. This is also reflected in the fact that you confirm this “mkent”. Furthermore, you are unteachable, a hopeless case, so to speak. In this case, your hatred of Russians is probably preventing you from thinking clearly. But still, something strikes you: could all the money your country spent end up being wasted?

  • Questioner: I expected this from you. It appears your entire argument is that I am “unteachable”, “hopeless”, “can’t think clearly”, and am filled with “hatred of Russians”. Yet you provide no specific data, as mkent does, to prove your points and “teach” us differently. All you do is insult.

    My disgust in this case is aimed entirely at the government of Russia, not its people, which by the way matches my disgust in the U.S. of its government. That you can’t distinguish this is unfortunate, or illustrates again why I think you are a Russian plant.

  • mkent

    Speaking of losing more of their navy, Russia just lost another one of their Ropucha-class landing ships. These are large amphibious landing ships that can carry 25 armored personnel carriers. Russia had 14 of these and similar ships at the beginning of this invasion with which they staged amphibious assaults on Odessa and Mariupol. Since then they’ve been used to keep Crimea supplied with armor and artillery now that the rail lines between Russia and Crimea have been damaged.

    Ukraine has now destroyed five of them.

    It may not be immediately noticeable, but this is the sort of thing that gradually wears away Russia’s ability to field a modern army. It’s also why Crimea will be retaken before the Donbas.

  • mkent

    ”…it has been Russia that has been recapturing territory…”

    As you say, gaining a small amount of territory at a tremendous price. The last time I checked (a few weeks ago), Russia gained an area near Andivka 1 km deep by 5 km wide at the cost of 20,000 men, 200 tanks, and 300 armored personnel carriers. That’s a trade Ukraine will gladly make every day of the week and twice on Sundays. Even if Andivka falls, it won’t be worth the price Russia paid for it.

    War is a battle of resources, and land is a resource that can be traded for other gains. That’s exactly what Ukraine is doing. Russia will run out of tanks long before Ukraine runs out of kilometers.

    ”It seems to be a stand-off.”

    If you don’t consider the strategic gains, yes. But not if you do.

    Consider the Battle of the Coral Sea in WWII. Japan sank more Allied vessels than the Allies did theirs. That would seem like a defeat for the good guys. But the battle caused Japan to abandon its invasion of Australia. *That* made it a huge strategic victory for the Allies.

    A tactical defeat can be a strategic victory. It happens in wars.

  • Jerry Greenwood

    Capturing territory is not a gauge for measuring how the battle is being won or lost. Russia is paying a gigantic price for the tiny gains. It cost them an entire tank division. 200+ tanks and hundreds more armored personnel carriers and tens of thousands of personnel casualties to capture a dozen square miles of rubble.. Ukraine’s goal is not to capture the territories invaded by Russia. It’s to get them to leave because it’s just not worth it. Just like our defeat in Vietnam, at some point pressure back home will decide when the quit. Until then Ukraine must be supplied.

  • Cloudy

    In war, it is really hard to tell what’s going on. This is called the “fog of war” by military people. This war is actually worse in that regard, because all we see gives a false impression that this reality has gone away. It has not. We don’t know the score, we don’t know the rules of the game, we don’t know the real (as opposed to advertised) objectives for many key players. We don’t know when each side will break first, how much of what they are hoarding, and what political decisions will be made in the future. We. Just. Don’t. Know. We won’t know until some far future pontificating observer looks back in hindsight and proudly declares us idiots for not seeing what he calls inevitable.

    For what its worth, both sides have safe havens. That would be the Russian interior for the Russians, and NATO territory for the Ukrainians. Both sides see this fight as existential. Both have populations that are used to hardship. Historically, this points to a long war. But remember, one side or the other could be very close to breaking and we would only know in retrospect. It is not hard to find examples.

  • Jeff Wright

    Ukraine First = Admiral Ozawa’s decoy fleet

    USA border = Kurita

  • Cotour

    “But still, something strikes you: could all the money your country spent end up being wasted?”

    I believe that when we are talking about money spent, we are talking about the transfer of war material, probably our older stores of it and higher tech missiles and such and the support for it and not really about cash money.

    Which does not mean that that material cannot be sold or traded for cash or that some degree of cash for whatever necessary reason in war does find its way there and some degree of that cash is siphoned off and evaporated in the interests of building personal wealth. I do not doubt that for one second.

    In the end I do not believe that America and NATO will allow Putin to just do as he pleases, and that is really what this is all about.

    What must happen is that the Congress needs to play hard ball with the Senate and the president and stop all expenditures until the border is shut down and the organized Leftist / Globalist invasion is halted.

    If they are unable to accomplish that threat then we and the Ukraine and the Israelis are all in much bigger trouble than we are aware of.

    Hard ball and not flitching and actual leadership in America interests is what must happen.

    The money is but the tool to force the desired end result.

    So, force it.

  • pzatchok

    the Ukraine only need to hold.
    To hold just long enough to take back Crimea. Crimea is a far better defensible position for them.
    The Russians holding it now can be starved out as soon as the supply lines are cut. And they are getting more and more tenable as time goes by.
    The cause ways and rail lines are going to get cut.

    So far I think that the naval and drone attacks have been nothing more than attacks of opportunity. Take the low hanging fruit so to say. But these attacks prove the technology works.

    Russia can not afford to replace any high tech equipment or even large equipment like ships and aircraft.
    Even before this war they could not afford to keep their own sub fleet operational nor could they replace any large ships.
    When the Soviet empire broke up they gave the Ukraine an unfinished aircraft carrier they could not afford to finish. The Ukraine then sold it off to China who finished it and its now their prime Aircraft carrier in their fleet. I think its their largest in fact.
    Russia can not even afford enough radios for their own troops today.

  • Questioner

    Elon Musk’s Bombshell Claim On Putin & Russia-Ukraine War:

    “Elon Musk dismissed any possibilities of Ukraine defeating Russia in the ongoing war. Musk said that there was no way that Russian President Vladimir Putin could lose the war. The billionaire added that prolonging the war with Russia will not help Ukraine. Musk made the comments during a discussion with Republican senators on X space. Watch for more.”

  • Questioner

    A very good moment for Ukraine and also for the whole world: that evil neocon woman V. Nuland has resigned!

    “On the Retirement of Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland”

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