Reflections from the River

Ukraine Update

January 24, 2023 Bill Enyart

Russia sends drug addicts and convicts to war

This shows the severe manpower constraints the Russian military is beginning to see. We already seen the Wagner Group, the Russian mercenary private military controlled by Putin ally Yevgheny Prigozhin recruiting in prisons.

With frontline troop casualties exceeding 100,000 service members and the hundreds of thousands of young Russians who fled the country in the first mobilization Russia is being forced to turn to very low quality conscripts. 

Drug addicts and convicts do not result in well-trained, highly motivated troops. You don’t train skilled artillerymen, infantry or armor soldiers overnight and you want quality recruits to man those positions. Sending these types of soldiers will simply result in butchery, not to mention mass desertion and the likelihood of these undesirables turning on their own commanders.

The only advantage that recruits from this social strata provide Putin is that it may provoke less social resentment and civil unrest than if the military is subjecting middle-class children to the bloodletting we’re seeing in the Donestk region.


Austin sidesteps tank drama

The Ukrainians want three hundred tanks. That’s give or take three armor brigades worth of tanks. It represents about five per cent of the German Leopards in Europe. It’s about three p[er cent of US Abrams tanks. So it’s not a lot really, but there are very few Abrams in Europe and moving the seventy-ton monsters is logistically challenging. 

The Leopards are about the same size but they’re already in Europe so a lot easier to get to Ukraine.

The issue for Germany is they don’t want to lead the pack. Germany invaded Russia and fought two wars against Russia in the twentieth century with millions of casualties on both sides. They want the US to commit to providing Abams so that they know the US is firmly committed and won’t leave Germany out on a limb facing Russia by itself. 

The US has legitimate concerns about the logistics of providing Abrams to Ukraine. The answer to the conundrum is to do as the Brits are doing provide a dozen or so Abrams to Ukraine to provide cover for the Germans to go ahead and send Leopards and authorize other NATO countries which have them to send them to Ukraine. Poland has 250 Abrams on order from the US with delivery to begin this year, lets just give Ukraine a dozen of them to break this deadlock and get them the armor they need. 

Three hundred tanks is a chunk of firepower but they can’t drive on Moscow with that number while they can certainly wreak havoc with the Russian supply lines.

Zelensky questions whether Putin still alive

This appears to simply be a rhetorical question. I think he means it more as who’s in control. Putin is pretty clearly still in control but the question is for how much longer and who will succeed him? He’s imprisoned, killed or driven out of the country all the opposition figures. 

How do you continue to control a military that’s been wasted by incompetent leadership, failed logistics and replaced by convict mercenaries. Filling the ranks with drug addicts and yet more convicts is not a recipe for success. Remember in WW I a large part of the Army revolted and helped depose the Czar. Putin fancies himself as Peter the Great, destined to rebuild the Russian Empire, but he may wind up as Czar Nicolas, deposed by the forces he set loose.

(c) William L. enyart
Audio production by: Tom Calhoun,