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The Budapest Memorandum, signed on 05 December 1994 by Ukraine, the U.S., Russia, and Britain, resulted in Ukraine renouncing its status as the world’s third largest nuclear power. In return, the other signatories provided “security assurances” of Ukraine’s territorial integrity, independence, sovereignty and freedom from interference. The Budapest memorandum committed Washington, Moscow and London, among other things, to “respect the independence and sovereignty and existing borders of Ukraine” and to “refrain from the threat or use of force” against that country. The United Kingdom and United States continue to support Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Russo-Ukraine War - 2023

The Ukrainian will to fight on is profound, and some of it is because they've taken casualties and they're hurt and they're angry. The heart of this war is, the Russian view that it is a global power that secures its border by a sphere of influence. If Russia prevails in this war, Russia will have seen that if it's persistent and strong enough, it can restore its sphere of influence.

No one expected to be in a war that's gone on for a year, which shows no sign of ending; that's inflicted about 300,000 casualties, military and civilian, adding up on both sides; that's costing Russia between half a billion and a billion dollars a day; that's cost Ukraine a third of its economy; that's threatened the supply of grain to 400 million people; that's caused a trillion dollars' worth of damage. So, it's a great surprise being reacquainted with war like this; but the shock is definitely wearing off. no one expected to be where we are. I mean, nobody expected to be in a war that's gone on for a year, which shows no sign of ending; that's inflicted about 300,000 casualties, military and civilian, adding up on both sides; that's costing Russia between half a billion and a billion dollars a day; that's cost Ukraine a third of its economy; that's threatened the supply of grain to 400 million people; that's caused a trillion dollars' worth of damage. So, it's a great surprise being reacquainted with war like this; but the shock is definitely wearing off.

A document entitled “Top Secret – Status of the Conflict as of March 01, 2023” estimated total Russian losses could be 35,500 to 43,500 killed in action, and 16,000-17,500 on the Ukrainian side. The appearance online in April 2023 of what looked like secret documents concerning US intelligence assessments of the conflict in Ukraine and their proliferation by media sparked widespread controversy.

Russia has suffered 189,500 to 223,000 total casualties, including 154,000 to 180,000 wounded. Ukraine has suffered 124,500 to 131,000 total casualties, including 109,000 to 113,500 wounded in action, according to the document titled, “Russia/Ukraine – Assessed Combat Sustainability and Attrition”. The figures are approximately 10 times larger than any public casualty figure published by either Moscow or Kyiv.

The documents indicated that while Russia had overall numerical superiority in some areas, Ukraine had more tanks and armoured personnel carriers (APCs) in theatre than Russia. Russia, according to the Defence Intelligence Agency analysis in the document leak, has lost 2,048 tanks and 3,900 APCs while Ukraine has lost 468 tanks and 1,020 APCs. Ukraine had 802 tanks and 3,498 APCs fielded, while Russia had 419 tanks and 2,928 APCs in theatre.

The Ukrainian Armed Forces have lost more than 330,000 dead and missing in action, former US Marine Corps intelligence officer Scott Ritter said 08 April 2023 in an interview with the US Tour of Duty YouTube channel. "Ukraine is trying to underestimate its losses, but the fact is that they are much higher than the official figures. It is rather difficult to calculate exactly. <…> (Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Valery. - Ed.) Zaluzhny in a conversation with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the Pentagon Mark Milley said that 250,000 Ukrainian soldiers were killed. About 83,000 were missing, of which about 60,000 are most likely dead. This gives an approximate number of 315,000 dead," the intelligence officer said.

In a conversation with the host of the US Tour of Duty podcast aired on 07 April 2023, Ritter noted that the Ukrainian military system was corrupt and intentionally downplayed the number of those killed. "Ukraine is trying to minimize the losses but the fact is, they are much larger," he said noting that during a meeting with Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley, Commander-in-Chief of the Ukrainian armed forces Valery Zaluzhny admitted to 257,000 dead and about 83,000 missing out of whom 60,000 are presumed dead.

The assessment by Joint Chiefs Chairman Mark Milley in November 2022 estimated Russian deaths at “well over” 100,000 troops, as well as the Ukrainian military’s “eliminated personnel” figures of 180,050 (i.e. nearly matching the 190,000 troop total that Western intelligence estimated were near Donbass in February 2022 before the escalation of the crisis).

The UK defense ministry estimated that Russian troops and private military contractor Wagner Group forces have likely had 175,000 to 200,000 casualties since the start of the invasion of Ukraine. The ministry said on 24 February 2023 that the number likely includes approximately 40,000 to 60,000 killed. It added, "The Russian casualty rate has significantly increased since September 2022 when 'partial mobilisation' was imposed."

A top Chinese think tank close to the nation’s armed forces predicted that the Russia-Ukraine conflict will end before autumn of 2023, Japan’s Nikkei newspaper reported on 07 March 2023, citing sources close to the Chinese government. Beijing considered the assessment solid enough to try to assume the role of a mediator in the standoff before it potentially ends, the media outlet claimed.

The assessment was issued by the Academy of Military Sciences (AMS), a Beijing-based think tank that reports directly to the Chinese People’s Liberation Army and regularly issues recommendations to China’s top military decision-making body. The AMS issued its appraisal of the conflict as early as in December 2022, Nikkei said. The newspaper added that the think tank’s view that an end to the hostilities was likely relatively imminent prompted Beijing to take a more active role in seeking a resolution.

The AMS forecast based on a military simulation of the ongoing conflict suggested that it would “draw to a close around summer 2023,” with Russia “having the upper hand,” Nikkei claimed, citing sources close to the Chinese government. The think tank believed that both the Russian and Ukrainian economies would be hard pressed to sustain the hostilities past the summer. The AMS analysis prompted Beijing to come up with a peace proposal, the Nikkei claimed. With this initiative, China sought to restore relations with Europe to ensure the continued flow of investment and technologies to the Chinese economy, the media outlet said. Another of Beijing’s goals was to maintain friendly relations with Kiev. Success in the mediation efforts would also help China assume a more prominent position in the eyes of Global South.

The US Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) released the 2023 Annual Threat Assessment of the U.S. Intelligence Community 08 March 2023. "Russia’s unprovoked full-scale invasion of Ukraine has highlighted that the era of nation-state competition and conflict has not been relegated to the past but instead has emerged as a defining characteristic of the current era. While Russia is challenging the United States and some norms in the international order in its war of territorial aggression, China has the capability to directly attempt to alter the rules-based global order in every realm and across multiple regions, as a near-peer competitor that is increasingly pushing to change global norms and potentially threatening its neighbors. Russia’s military action against Ukraine demonstrates that it remains a revanchist power, intent on using whatever tools are needed to try to reestablish a perceived sphere of influence despite what its neighbors desire for themselves, and is willing to push back on Washington both locally and globally....

" Escalation of the conflict to a military confrontation between Russia and the West carries the greater risk, which the world has not faced in decades. Moscow will remain a formidable and less predictable challenge to the United States in key areas during the next decade but still will face a range of constraints....

"There is real potential for Russia’s military failures in the war to hurt Russian President Vladimir Putin’s domestic standing and thereby trigger additional escalatory actions by Russia in an effort to win back public support. Heightened claims that the United States is using Ukraine as a proxy to weaken Russia, and that Ukraine’s military successes are only a result of U.S. and NATO intervention could presage further Russian escalation. Russia’s officials have long believed that the United States is trying to undermine Russia, weaken Putin, and install Western-friendly regimes in the post–Soviet states and elsewhere, which they conclude gives Russia leeway to escalate or widen the war if it chooses....

"Russia’s so-called special military operation against Ukraine has not yielded the outcome that Putin had expected. After its initial large-scale invasion of Ukraine on three fronts on 24 February 2022, Russia abandoned its efforts to capture Kyiv, withdrew from much of northern Ukraine, and focused on the Donbas region and other parts of southern Ukraine.

"Putin probably miscalculated the ability of the Ukrainian Armed Forces and the degree to which it would have some success on the battlefield. The Russian military has and will continue to face issues of attrition, personnel shortages, and morale challenges that have left its forces vulnerable to Ukrainian counterattacks. Putin’s announcement of a partial mobilization of mostly untrained and unprepared reservists will alleviate personnel shortage in the near term, but risks undermining Russian domestic support for the conflict. The full effects of Russian partial mobilization will only begin to be felt into the spring and summer. Although Russian forces continue to concentrate on the Donbas, they probably will not be able to take all of it in 2023."

According to Lithuanian intelligence services, Russia is capable of continuing its war in Ukraine for two more years. "We estimate that the resources Russia has at its disposal today would be sufficient to wage war with the same intensity as today for another two years," Colonel Elegijus Paulavicius, of the nation's military intelligence service, said on 09 March 2023 as he presented his agency's annual report. Russia has become "increasingly totalitarian" under President Vladimir Putin's leadership, the report added. It said the war in Ukraine undermines "the political and economic foundation of the regime."

The purported leak of classified Pentagon documents in April 2023 contained information ranging from US military plans in Ukraine to sensitive data linked to China and the Middle East. Four so-called “wild card” scenarios in the Ukraine conflict have been outlined in an assessment by the American Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA),

The analysis presents four “wild card” scenarios that might unfold, and explores how they could affect the course of the Ukraine conflict. The four hypothetical scenarios outlined in the ‘leaked’ document are:

  1. Death of Russian President Vladimir Putin;
  2. Death of Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky;
  3. Removal of leadership within the Russian Armed Forces;
  4. Ukrainian strike on the Kremlin.

The ‘leaked’ classified document outlines the potential effect each one of the scenarios could have, such as resulting in an escalation in Ukraine, prompting a negotiated end to the conflict, or having no substantive effect on the developments around the conflagration. For instance, the DIA analysis outlines a range of potential repercussions should the Kiev regime strike the Kremlin. According to the document, such a strike could lead to an escalation of the conflict, with Moscow unleashing a full-scale military mobilization, and the Russian President considering resorting to tactical nuclear weapons. On the opposite side of the spectrum, however, Russia might be swayed to consider a negotiated settlement in the case of an attack of this nature, the assessment adds.

General Sir Richard Barrons is a former commander of the British Joint Forces Command and is now chairman of the defense and security company, Universal Defense & Security Solutions. "Ukraine is not just a big war but a long war where, despite the aspirations of both sides and despite everyone's preference for this to be done and over, the dynamics of it suggest, first of all, a long fight because neither side has won, neither side has lost, neither side is anywhere close to giving up. So, there's a lot of fighting to come at the cost of terrible destruction. But the most likely outcome is one of exhaustion and stalemate followed by profound disagreement for as long as you can imagine. And we may be staring at an outcome where you can't count [on] the war as being over for decades....

"Ukraine wins, or prevails, or at least it doesn't lose, so long as it is connected to money, at about $6 billion a month, and [the] Western defense industry to supply the weapons and ammunition and other equipment and stores that Ukraine needs to equip a mobilized society with. And if the West continues to choose to provide that support -- and let's be absolutely clear, that support is a very small fraction of the economic power of the West, so it is a matter of choice....

"... the war in Ukraine, which is a war between Russia and Ukraine, is actually a proxy conflict between liberal democracy in the West and autocratic capitalism, led by Russia and China but actually led by China, increasingly followed by Russia....

"The fact is there are two irreconcilable narratives about this war in Ukraine and both sides subscribe strongly to the narrative that has been set out for them. So, I don't see there's a challenge, really, to President Putin. And President Putin believes that Russia and Russians can manage far greater hardship than Western Europeans are inclined to, so they will "out-tough" it and they can direct more economic effort to energize the Russian defense industry…."

"It's culturally astonishing to Europeans, and maybe more resonant historically in Russia, this use of human waves to try [to] take small bits of ground because the commanders don't seem to care, because they don't have the ammunition to prepare the battlefield first, and because probably people don't have the training to act in a more sophisticated way. And there are absolute parallels here with the early years of [World War I], where the regular armies were essentially dismantled in the fights of 1914, of 1915, of 1916, where you had new citizen-armies but very green, and new, and large. They couldn't do sophisticated things, so they were essentially sent in waves of humans to see what difference it could make....

" if the West keeps going at the present level of effort, it will prevent Russia from breaking Ukraine, but it will not definitely give Ukraine the capability to win decisively and certainly not quickly -- in which case, this war will go on for two, three, four years and then likely end up in some sort of bitter stalemate where both sides have exhausted the advantage of fighting."

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Page last modified: 22-04-2023 18:02:51 ZULU