Russia/Ukraine INTSUM 24FEB22–2; 1832 Eastern
[Originally posted on author’s Facebook page; post is publicly available.]
1.) The Battle for Hostomel Airport (not the official name) seems to be over for the time being and has ended in a UA victory. Reporting all day has been contradictory, with RS having seized it, to UA counter-attacking, to retractions statements from UA gov officials. But, for now, reports are widespread that Ukraine retains control of this vital airfield. This may explain why subsequent airborne assault forces where not dropped IVO Kyiv. This is speculation on my part, but seems reasonable enough. I’ve no idea where the Il-76s went, but it doesn’t appear that they dropped any paratroopers at this time. This is good news for Ukraine, as a few thousand troops air dropped next door to Kyiv is, well, bad news.
2.) That said, we should remember that RS has not committed anywhere near all its forces that, over the last few months, have been building up around UA. On D-Day (term of art, not 06 June 1944), there were close to 200,000 Russian troops practically surrounding Ukraine. Hostomel was a gamble that (for now) didn’t pay off. But this isn’t over. There’s all sorts of activity all over Ukraine. Some of it is going well for the Ukrainians and some of it isn’t. Someday you can read a book about it, I’m sure.
3.) I asked some questions earlier about sending more arms to Ukraine, and I posed some other questions about the logistics of that, specifically how it would transpire and whether or not, essentially, US assets doing the delivering might be targeted. According to Foreign Policy, it appears that there are some questions within the Biden Administration about the legality of subsequent weapons shipments and whether or not that would make the US a co-combatant. I was wondering about this, too. Afghanistan was sort of an open secret; this has been discussed much more openly. Evidently there are also some war powers implications and questions about whether or not Biden should consult with Congress on further arms shipments. There are also some concerns — concerns I think are legitimate — about how long the Zelenskyy government will last. Would arms shipments to Ukraine end up falling into the hands of Russians? It’s possible and concerning. No one wants to see a few hundred Javelins sported around Red Square as war trophies.
3.a.) This does sound like some waffling, especially when we are witnessing a Russian invasion of a democratic, western-leaning country. One might think that we should definitely help Ukraine in every way possible short of armed intervention (and some probably think that should be on the table, too). I get it. Lives are at stake. But there are constitutional implications, as well as geopolitical ones. I don’t have to make the call, but I have visions of Iran-Contra. I don’t know the right answer; it isn’t my job. It’s just something all you fellow curious minds might want to consider.
4.) Zelenskyy addressed members of the European Council a couple of hours ago, wearing a green T-shirt. As an aside, he’s a good looking, fit, young dude. He’s only a couple of years older than me. I LIKE the guy. He’s shown a lot more spine than I thought he would. I’d bet he’s shown more spine than Putin thought he would. It’s what happens when you underestimate someone. But there’s a comment on one social media post that says, “The EU is united in its solidarity with Ukraine.” I can’t help but wonder: What the fuck does that even mean? It would be like me watching an MMA fighter beating the ever-loving shit out of a relatively untrained pedestrian and saying, “I stand by you in solidarity, fella! Watch out for those kidney shots!”
5.) Kyiv is reportedly dead silent tonight. “Senior western intelligence officials” say that Kyiv will be essentially surrounded in short order. Russia is assessed to begin a “massive bombardment” of Kyiv at some point tonight, and some sources are saying that utilities, internet, and telecom will fail in the city prior to. This seems likely to me. I’d expect not to hear or see much out of Kyiv in this case. Zelenskyy has said that “enemy sabotage forces have entered Kyiv.” Probable. Earlier today, there were reportedly a lot of Russian Ka-52s and Mi-8s flying over the Kyiv Reservoir. Let me tell you, I’ve seen more flares shooting out of helos in the last two days than I’ve seen in the previous two decades. I mean, it’s kind of cool to see, but still. (Flares help protect against infrared guided surface to air missiles.)
6.) Royal Air Force Typhoons are providing combat air patrol (CAP) over Poland. They even brought along tanker aircraft so they can refuel. Interesting.
7.) Speaking of Poland, forty minutes ago there was a massive, six mile traffic jam at a border crossing going into Poland.
8.) Military transport aircraft — maybe those missing Il-76s! — continue to land near Babruisk, Belarus. They appear to be bringing more troops and equipment.
Post-Script: There’s always one PS, isn’t there? What can I say. Source in Kyiv states that UA defense officials have said that a Russian bombing raid will begin in Kyiv at 0300 local time. That’s an hour and twenty minutes from right now.
Admin Note: It dawned on me a bit ago that I’ve been using the wrong digraph for Russia…because I’m a god damned amateur. The digraph for Russia is RU, not RS. RS is…checks notes…Serbia. So, yeah. There’s that. Hey, sometimes rust accumulates.