Ukraine's Biggest Problem Isn't Weapons, It's Lack Of Fighting Men

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by Tyler Durden
Friday, May 03, 2024 - 01:35 PM

Authored by Mike Shedlock via,

Now that Congress rammed through a huge weapons package for Ukraine, what will Ukraine do with the weapons and how long will they last?

Ukraine’s Real Bottleneck

Ukraine touts Russian casualties, no doubt exaggerated, while Russian published accounts of Russian losses are no doubt understated.

But what about Ukraine’s losses? Those are a military secret.

Despite a full understanding of how bad the situation is in Ukraine, we do know that it’s not a pretty setup. Please consider Ukraine’s Bottleneck.

The main reason why opinion in Washington has shifted over Ukraine is the assessment that the country will lose the war because it does not have enough troops on the ground.

We saw a story in Bild yesterday that would confirm this story line. Of all German newspapers, Bild has been the strongest supporter of Ukraine, so we don’t think we are dealing with a case of news selection bias. We know about shortages. This story goes further. Ukrainian commanders are saying that the bottleneck is no longer western weapons, but people who can use them.

We should not extrapolate that information. They may overstate their case to force a change in policy. For all we know, Russia may have the exact same problems, or worse.

Many young Ukrainian men have left the country to avoid the draft. President Volodymyr Zelensky has been hesitant to order a general draft of all Ukrainians. His government recently suspended consular services for Ukrainian males aged 18 to 60 years old, and reduced the age for the draft from 27 to 25 years. There is clearly more they can do. Only 15% of its male population is in active service.

But what made us listen up is the assertion about bottlenecks. It quoted one brigadier general as saying that he used to think that the lack of artillery shells was the biggest problem, but now it was the lack of human resources. The question is whether the general mobilization has been delayed for too long. The problem is not only the headline numbers. If you started a general mobilisation today, you would still not have the numbers of people trained to use the weapons.

Bild quoted Roderich Kiesewetter, a CDU defence expert and a former Bundeswehr general, as saying that the best-trained soldiers in Ukraine had been killed or injured, and those still active have been deployed without a break for two years. Exhaustion is becoming a factor in this war. He said Ukraine was lacking a predictable recruitment strategy. Another expert, from the Munich Security Conference, also believes that the right response is to start the draft immediately.

We are more sceptical. Young Ukrainians men who live abroad have means to resist a draft. EU countries cannot just deport them without recourse to legal processes. Nor will all EU countries want to do that. An army of draft dodgers who experienced the comfortable life abroad, and who are recruited against their will, are not going to win this war. Zelensky could lower the age of the draft to 18. But you would be training an essentially new army from scratch in the middle of a war.

So then, we ask, what is the strategy? That is also a question for the western countries that support Ukraine, who don’t have any strategy whatsoever

No US Strategy, No US Goals

No strategy and no goals are two things I have been writing about for months.

The US has no goals or strategy, except perhaps perpetual war.

Ukraine’s Goal

Zelensky has a ridiculous goal, 100% of all territory lost including Crimea.

And Ukraine will badger the US and Europe forever to achieve them. So how much are we willing to pay?

Biden is unwilling to say. Speaker of the House Mike Johnson is unwilling to say, and he cast the deciding vote for a massive $61 billion weapons delivery to Ukraine.

The total to date is $175 billion. But where does that money really go?

What Is in the Ukraine Aid Package

The Center for Strategic and International Studies explains What Is in the Ukraine Aid Package

Q4: Where will this money be spent?

A4: The notion of “aid to Ukraine” is a misnomer. Despite images of “pallets of cash” being sent to Ukraine, about 72 percent of this money overall and 86 percent of the military aid will be spent in the United States. The reason for this high percentage is that weapons going to Ukraine are produced in U.S. factories, payments to U.S. service members are mostly spent in the United States, and even some piece of the humanitarian aid is spent in the United States. The major element of funding going to Ukraine is the economic support to the Ukrainian government, which the World Bank handles.

Is it any wonder why Johnson was pushed so hard by military intelligence to vote for the deal? Here’s another interesting Q&A.

Q7: How long will the $61 billion last?

A7: Until funding started to dry up, the United States had been spending about $5.4 billion per month as a result of the war. At that spending rate, $61 billion would last for nearly a full year. Indeed, the original intention was that the funding would last through fiscal year 2024 and run out in September or October. However, half the fiscal year has passed, and the money may last until about January 2025 as a result. Because most of the appropriations are multiyear, the administration can use the money into FY 2025.

That suits the political calendar. The administration will not want to send another aid request to Congress in the fall when the presidential election campaign is in full swing. If the Biden administration wins reelection, it will send a request to Congress either during the lame duck session or, if Democrats do well, after the new Congress takes office. If the Biden administration loses, it may send a request anyway to make a political statement, not expecting Congress to take action. The Republicans would want to wait until the new president took office.

How Does This End?

I can tell you how this will end, and I have already several times: A negotiated settlement in which Ukraine loses territory in return for being allowed to join NATO, perhaps with some restrictions.

No one will be happy, especially those who would prefer perpetual war. But it won’t be perpetual war because Ukraine will eventually run out of men.

Zelensky may be willing to kill them all, but can he stay in power long enough to do that?

Mike Johnson Goes Full Neocon

On April 18, I commented Mike Johnson Goes Full Neocon, Nikki Haley May as Well Be House Speaker

“I really do believe the intel and in the briefings that we’ve gotten,” Johnson said. “I believe Xi [Jinping] and Vladimir Putin and Iran really are an axis of evil,” warning that Russia could march west across Europe if not stopped now. “To put it bluntly, I would rather send bullets to Ukraine than American boys.”

That is a false dichotomy.

One does not have to make a choice between sending bullets or men to Ukraine. One could easily do neither or both.

Sending bullets does not preclude further stupidity such as sending troops.

No Skin in the Game

Since the critical shortage is really manpower, not weapons, I have a suggestion: Mike Johnson and everyone who voted for this package should be forced to serve in Ukraine.

Skin in the game should be a prerequisite for all of these war fundings.

Lindsey Graham Tells Ukraine to Force More Young Men Into War With Russia

On March 19, I commented Lindsey Graham Tells Ukraine to Force More Young Men Into War With Russia

I’ve Changed My Mind on Aid to Ukraine

I now support aid to Ukraine if Senator Graham and all the Senators who support aid personally lead the charge.

I suggest we put Graham on horseback with a sword and a Ukrainian flag to lead the other Senators into battle.

What is the Best Way to Help Israel and Ukraine?

On April 16, I asked What is the Best Way to Help Israel and Ukraine?

See if you agree with my answer.