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Even during ‘holding period,’ Ukraine War merits close attention

Aug 17, 2023


In the seventh such incident following Russia’s withdrawal from the Black Sea Grain deal, a Russian drone carried out an attack on a Ukrainian port. Ukrainian authorities claim that Russian forces are intentionally targeting port facilities to block exports, posing a danger to food security in developing nations reliant on Ukrainian grain.

This attack is only the latest hostility in what Straight Arrow News contributor Peter Zeihan calls a “holding period” in the war in Ukraine. Zeihan contends that even during these phases of reduced activity, there are consistently updates that deserve attention.

Excerpted from Peter’s Aug. 17 “Zeihan on Geopolitics” newsletter:

Things over in Ukraine are in a bit of a holding period, which makes getting these updates out consistently that much harder…and let’s not forget that most of the data we’re seeing is shaky at best. But here’s what I got for you.

There are a few things of note. Ukraine is sending small waves of special forces across the Dnieper River to wreak havoc on that region. These small attacks have been pretty successful, thanks to the Russians shifting their focus to the east. This change in Russian strategy is an attempt to draw Ukrainian forces and attention away from hot spots like Zaporizhzhia.

The big thing here is that Ukraine doesn’t necessarily have to punch through all of Russia’s defenses. If they can push them back far enough to cut supply lines in the north and south, then Crimea could very well be a lost cause for the Russians. The Ukrainians have proven they are fully capable of consistently hitting a target – a.k.a the Kerch Bridge – so this is a genuine possibility.

Remember that shaky data coming out of Russia, well it doesn’t really make a difference for us. At the end of the day, Russia is completely hollowed out and no longer operates as a normal economy. They’ll never quite recover from this, but that doesn’t mean it’s the end of Russia… it’s just the new status quo.

Hey, everybody, Peter Zion here coming to you from the side of Mount silver hills above fairplay, Colorado. A lot of you have written in asking for constant updates on what’s going on in Ukraine. I’ll do my best. But things are kind of hard to parse right now, because we’re kind of in a waiting period. So for big things. First of all,
there have been a number of reports that the Ukrainians have been sending special forces across the dozens, maybe into the low hundreds, from KEARSON, across the Nieper river to wreak havoc behind enemy lines in southwestern Ukraine. Remember, this is an area that the Ukrainians had wanted to do a major thrust. But when the COVID Dam was blown up by the Russians a couple months ago that basically destroyed any possibility of using any infrastructure, so they’re limited to doing small attacks like this.
Normally, I would say doing a salt across a river with no supporting infrastructure would be suicide. But the Russians have clearly prioritized fighting further east. And it seems like the Ukrainians are operating with impunity. Not enough to do a major landing not enough to bring in armor but enough to be strategically significant.
Where the Russians are focusing more is in northeastern the northeastern part of the front, specifically the province of Luhansk, around the city of copyedits. I’m probably butchered that pronunciation apologies. They’re doing kind of a half hearted assault simply to draw Ukrainian forces away from other areas. Which brings us to the third part in some pretty chubby, Ukrainians are doing their main thrust. And they have brought in several 1000 troops with better equipment and better training than it had been in NATO countries over the winter. They’re trying to break through it seems that they’ve penetrated the first of the three defensive lines, the minds now they’re dealing with the anti tank infrastructure and more formidable fortifications. And the Russians are trying to bleed off the support the Ukrainians are flooding into the area. Now remember, the Ukrainians don’t actually have to break the lines, they just have to push far enough south to complicate the logistical picture for the Russians. Ukrainians are proving that they can hit the Kirche straight bridge over and over and over. And as long as they’re doing that the Russians can’t use Kirche for large scale reinforcements or supply or fuel or ammo or anything that forces the Russians to use the land bridge route west of Miriam. Sorry for the wind. And that’s what gets us into the area where the Ukrainians are trying to interdict. It’d be nice to get to the Sea of Azov certainly cut it completely. But really, all they have to do is to get within a few dozen miles in order to make the Russian position in Crimea untenable. Because if you can cut the northern and the southern supply lines at the same time, well, then Crimea is no longer a military asset for the Russians. It’s an albatross around its neck, and it’s going to cost it dearly. The only other thing I want to throw out is that there has been a lot of really bad economic data that’s come out of Russia. In the last few days, interest rates going crazy inflation going crazy trade going crazy. It’s difficult to pay too much attention to any of this, because for all intensive purposes, Russia is now a wartime economy that is largely closed. And so most of the data that we would look to when we’re dealing with a real country, a normal trading country just isn’t relevant for the Russians, for example, you know, whatever is going up or down with the ruble doesn’t matter because the ruble is not internationally traded. What’s happening with trade doesn’t matter. Because the Russians are literally flying planes full of gold to other countries to pay for things that doesn’t show up in the data. We just don’t know. What we do know is that this is a statist economy that is run from the top and all dynamism is gone. Now that allows Putin and the Kremlin to direct resources to things that they think they need done and to do so relatively quickly. But it also means that everything else is becoming very, very hollow. The Russian economy is not going to recover from this. That doesn’t mean that there isn’t a Russia, Russia a number of times throughout its history has not had a functional economy. This is just the newest one. Okay, that’s it for me, everyone. Take care

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