Who Is to Blame For How Bad Is It in Ukraine Right Now? One Guess.

by | May 16, 2024 | The Truscott Commentaries

Results of a bomb attack on the Kharkiv metro where Ukrainian civilians were sheltering. Image: Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine, Wiki Commons

Who Is to Blame For How Bad Is It in Ukraine Right Now? One Guess.

by | May 16, 2024 | The Truscott Commentaries

Results of a bomb attack on the Kharkiv metro where Ukrainian civilians were sheltering. Image: Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine, Wiki Commons

That Republicans are pissing around to make Donald Trump happy while Ukrainians fight for their lives against Putin’s army is a political crime that is on our shoulders.

Republished with permission from Lucian K. Truscott IV

Ukraine—not the U.S.A., not the criminally-led House of Representatives, not the soulless Republican Party—is paying a high cost for Donald Trump’s successful campaign to stall the foreign military assistance aid bill that finally passed the House and the Senate late last month. An Associated Press story on the Senate’s passage of the aid bill had a link to a second AP story: “Ukraine warns of WW3 ahead of long-stalled Congress aid vote.” That pretty much tells you all you need to know about what the stakes are over there.

Russian forces moved inside the town of Vovchansk, located 45 miles northeast of Kharkiv and only three miles from the Russian border. The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) reported yesterday that Russian forces had seized a meat-packing plant and shoe factory in Vovchansk and destroyed bridges over the Vovcha River within and outside the borders of the town. This will make it more difficult for Ukraine to hold their defensive positions in and around the town, as well as to resupply their own forces if and when Ukraine launches counterattacks to drive Russian army forces out of Vovchansk.

According to ISW, the choice by Russia to destroy the bridges over the Vovcha indicates they are moving to establish a long-planned “buffer zone” in the border area between Ukraine and Russia to prevent Ukrainian incursions into Russian territory and usage of U.S. long range ATACMS tactical missiles to strike Russian military targets deeper within Russia. Ukraine has already begun to use the ATACMS missiles to hit Russian reserve forces and supply and ammunition depots inside Russia and a Russian airbase in Crimea. The longer-range tactical missiles have an effective range of up to 190 miles and use GPS aided guidance systems to hit their targets. 

With Ukraine’s diminished ability to counter Russia’s use of its air force to deliver so-called “glide bombs” against civilian targets in Kharkiv and other Ukrainian population centers, it has become essential for Ukraine to be able to hit at least some Russian airbases from which these strikes are launched. That’s why Russia has wanted the buffer zone in the border area, to limit Ukraine from deploying the ATACMS missiles close to the border. The ATACMS missiles are fired from the same missile launcher used to shoot the shorter range HIMARS. The HIMARS launchers are capable of firing only two ATACMS but are disguised to look like the six-rocket HIMARS launchers to make their presence more difficult for Russia to detect on the battlefield. The launchers are mobile, mounted on truck bodies, and can be quickly moved into front line areas to fire on targets inside Russia.

On the ground inside Ukraine, the situation is a nightmare because Ukraine lacks 155 mm artillery ammunition to counter Russian advances. The idea in any military conflict is to keep enemy forces outside the area you’re defending. ISW reports that Russia has used tanks and other mechanized vehicles in its assault on Vovchansk to penetrate Ukrainian defenses. If Ukraine was well supplied with HIMARS missiles and 155 ammunition, they could have stopped the Russian advances outside the town.

Now the fighting inside Vovchansk and in smaller towns to the east and south of the town is house-to-house, with Russia deploying squad-size units of up to five infantry foot soldiers, according to a report yesterday by ISW. The small units then use drones to locate other small Russian squads so they can link up and form larger units to push further against Ukrainian defenses.

Ukraine is countering these tactics with small arms such as AK-47’s and RPG rocket propelled grenades rather than larger weapons systems such as the artillery and ground-to-ground missiles they are unable to use because the U.S. House of Representatives refused for more than six months to pass the aid bill that would have kept U.S. arms supplies at the levels they have been since earlier in the war. Because Donald Trump didn’t want Joe Biden to have a political victory in the House and Senate, Ukrainian soldiers and civilians are losing their lives.

With U.S. weapons still on the way to Ukraine after passage of the aid bill, it’s painful to even think about what it must be like in a town like Vovchansk right now. Ukrainian drones are able to see Russian tanks on the move against their forces and they can do little to hit them. The soldiers defending Vovchansk have been on the front lines for months, even years, with only occasional R&R trips to rear areas. Their defensive positions are in trenches and bunkers outside the town, and basements of bombed-out houses inside Vovchansk town borders. It’s still cold in Ukraine, especially at night. There is rain and mud both sides must deal with, and the war has been going on for than two years now. 

Behind the Ukrainian front lines, soldiers know that Russia has been able to easily hit Kyiv and Kharkiv and Odessa with drones and missiles because Ukrainian air defenses have not been resupplied with new ammunition and ground-to-air anti-aircraft and anti-missile rockets. 

The truth is that Ukraine has been fighting with one hand tied behind its back from the beginning of the war in 2022 because the U.S. was slow to supply 155 mm howitzers and HIMARS rockets in the early months of the war. Every new weapons system has been supplied by the West grudgingly, often only after President Zelenskyy has traveled to European capitols and the U.S. to beg for more support. If Ukraine had been supplied with ATACMS longer range rockets early in the war, they could have hit Russian forces that were massed on the Ukrainian border right from the start. They could have interdicted Russian resupply lines inside Russia, rather than taking pot-shots at supply depots within Ukraine that Russia had positioned outside the range of Ukrainian artillery.

We should have rained down weapons systems like tanks and rockets and armored personnel carriers from the first day Russian soldiers walked on Ukrainian soil. Instead, we did everything piecemeal. I wrote columns back in 2022 and 2023 saying that Republicans would turn the war in Ukraine into a political issue, and that’s exactly what they did. They did it largely following Donald Trump’s wishes to achieve short-term political advantage over Democrats.

That Republicans are pissing around over here in the U.S. to make Donald Trump happy while Ukrainians, both military and civilians, fight for their lives against Putin’s army is a political crime that is on our shoulders. Can you imagine what the Republican Party would have done in the 60’s or 70’s or 80’s if Democrats had refused to back bills to aid countries arrayed against the Soviet Union? Can you imagine the screeching and moaning of Republicans if Democrats had been against aiding Afghan rebels facing Russian aggressors from 1979 to 1989? 

But today it’s not only Donald Trump who goes out there and campaigns on “defending our borders before we defend Ukraine’s.” It’s Republican candidates for the House and Senate. Senator J.D. Vance has made an entire career from his opposition to Ukraine aid, as has Marjorie Taylor Greene. Now Vance is apparently on Trump’s short list for vice president, making his obligatory appearance at the Trump trial the other day along with other Republican supplicants who are signaling their willingness to go where Trump goes on everything from aid to Ukraine to Trump’s lies about what he would do about abortion to his plan to round up undocumented immigrants in concentration camps and deport millions of them.

We are living through one of the most disgraceful times in our nation’s history, and Ukrainians are paying in blood for the soulless, moral desert Republicans are trying to force on this country. 

It’s about time we started to think about whose blood will be shed in our own country if Donald Trump and his Republican Party prevail in November.

Lucian K. Truscott IV

Lucian K. Truscott IV

Lucian K. Truscott IV, a graduate of West Point, has had a 50-year career as a journalist, novelist and screenwriter. He has covered stories such as Watergate, the Stonewall riots and wars in Lebanon, Iraq and Afghanistan. He is also the author of five bestselling novels and several unsuccessful motion pictures. He has three children, lives in rural Pennsylvania and spends his time Worrying About the State of Our Nation and madly scribbling in a so-far fruitless attempt to Make Things Better.

You can read Lucian Truscott's daily articles at luciantruscott.substack.com. We encourage our readers to get a subscription.

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