What’s the Next Phase of the Ukraine War?

Grad multiple rocket launches
Grad multiple rocket launches

It looks like the war in Ukraine has bogged down after 50 days and everyone is holding their breath, waiting for the next phase to kick off. Russia is expected to make a wide-scale, intensive attack on the Donbas region in Eastern Ukraine. This attack will be more traditional than the initial invasion, including lengthy artillery shelling and an attempt to gain air superiority before the Russian troops and armor advance.

We know the Russians are repositioning troops and trying to address those pesky logistics problems. Hopefully, the Ukrainians are using this pause as a chance to re-arm, strengthen defensive positions, and lay some traps for the Russian attack.

The media makes this sound like it could come any day now. I think it is at least a week off. I’ve seen video footage on YouTube of trains loaded with Grad multiple rocket launchers heading to the Front from inside Russia. After the black eye Russia got, I expect the Russians want overwhelming firepower this time around and will attempt to grind the Ukrainians to dust beneath their artillery fire and tank treads.

Two if by Sea

It is also possible that the Russians will attack Odessa via the sea. Capturing these territories would allow Putin to save face and declare a victory while allowing Russia to call for a ceasefire and peace talks. Mariupol is all but fallen, due largely to a lack of water, food and ammo for those fighters still in the city. Russia could try the same thing in the Donbas region, sending troops to surround the Ukrainian military and cutting off access to supplies.

Of course, sinking the Russian guided missile cruiser Moskva, which was reportedly hit by two Ukrainian Neptune missiles, may have derailed the part of the plan where the Russian marines invade by sea. Other ships in the fleet backed off 20 miles and are now 80 miles off shore after Ukraine hit the Moskva. (The missile supposedly has a range of twice that.) Russia has already responded to this attack by launching a fresh wave of attacks on Kyiv, including the first use of Russian TU-22M3 long-range bombers in an attack on Mariupol.

Finally, the attack in the Donbas region could tie up Ukrainian forces while the Belarusians cross the border and race towards Kyiv, knowing that many of its defenders have headed east to engage the Russians. My guess is that this kind of tactic would have worked during WWII, but with the U.S. feeding satellite intelligence to the Ukrainians, a surprise attack is unlikely.

U.S. Sends Ukraine Outdated Armor

The U. S. is sending some 300 armored vehicles as part of the latest $800 million of military aid the Biden administration will send to the Ukraine. These armored vehicles include 200 M113 armored personnel carriers which CNBC said “is an older, tracked vehicle that the United States began using before the Vietnam War.” Gee, how generous of us to send the Ukrainians military surplus vehicles that are more than 50 years old. What did they do, scour old National Guard armories? How are these vehicles even running, not to mention still on the books?

What’s next? Are we going to dust off the PT-73 from McHale’s Navy and send it to Taiwan to help prevent the Chinese from invading? Maybe we can send JFK’s PT-59 along, too.

I’m not sure what the U.S. is thinking. They are apparently OK sending old U.S. and Soviet technology to Ukraine, but only limited amounts of modern equipment. Maybe they don’t want the newest captured and analyzed by the enemy. Maybe they’re sending it to Poland and other NATO allies instead.

We are sending some more Javelin missiles and Switchblade attack drones. It will be interesting to see if the Switchblades are as effective as the Javelins have been against Russian armor. I know the U.S. has trained some Ukrainian soldiers to use them, but it would not surprise me if there are some SF forces or contractors helping behind the scenes. This will be an excellent field test for this advanced drone with loitering capabilities and an ant-tank warhead. I could think of some innovative ways to use these drones, such as hitting ammo and duel dumps before the Russians can attack.

Finland and Sweden Consider Joining NATO

While Putin invaded Ukraine to expand a buffer between Russia and NATO-member countries, it seems to have had the opposite effect, as Finland and Sweden, both neutral countries, are considering joining NATO. Putin apparently didn’t stop to think that the invasion could be a wake-up call for neighboring countries, worried they might be next. Like Ukraine, Finland has a long border with Russia. While Finland also has a strong army, they no doubt see the value of having U.S., French, UK and other NATO soldiers on and airmen on their side.

The latest word is that Finland and Sweden could be on a fast track and become members by summer. Russia will not be in a position to do much about Finland joining NATO while its conventional forces are tied up in Ukraine.

It sounds like no one in NATO has stopped to ask, why should we protect Finland and Sweden? What do they have to offer us besides more opportunities to risk an all-out war with Russia?

Nuclear Threat Remains Viable

The possibility that Russia will use nuclear weapons on the ground in Ukraine remains high, according to both the Ukrainian president and our own CIA.

According to CNN:

US officials have warned about the possibility that Putin, if backed into a corner, could turn to the use of tactical nuclear weapons in Ukraine. CIA Director Bill Burns said Thursday that the CIA watches “very intently” over the possibility, while emphasizing that the US has not yet seen any signs that Russia is preparing to take such a step.

“Given the potential desperation of President Putin and the Russian leadership, given the setbacks that they’ve faced so far militarily, none of us can take lightly the threat posed by a potential resort to tactical nuclear weapons or low yield nuclear weapons,” he said in public remarks at Georgia Tech.

If Russia does resort to using nukes, it would not surprise me if they targeted Lviv, which is being used as a gateway for NATO aid to Ukraine. Not only would this send a serious message, it would disrupt the flow of arms to Ukraine. I expect it would also resort in other countries urging NATO to go all in. If Russia instead nukes Poland, that would require a NATO response and likely result in World War III.

Is Regime Change Getting any Closer?

By all reports, Putin continues to fire his generals and even arrest people who have been his allies, blaming recent failures in Ukraine on them. Here in the U.S., we ask you to resign when you screw up. In Russia, they throw you to the wolves, or at least into the gulag.

For example, according the Mail Online, “Rumours have also began circulating in Ukrainian media that Admiral Igor Osipov – the commander of Russia’s Black Sea fleet which the Moskva led – has been arrested in what would be the latest in a string of detentions linked to the bungled invasion.” Of course, if he was on the Moskva, which was the fleet’s flagship, he might have died in the attack.

Putin may think these actions are protecting him, but as he turns on his allies, other leaders will see this behavior as a weakness. If he suffers a few more setbacks before the invasion turns in his favor, it could result in a coup or his outright murder.

What does this Mean for Preppers?

This war will not be over soon. Estimates I have heard vary from the war lasting “all year” to “the better part of a decade.” You should be preparing for it to get worse and its repercussions to spread.

The food shortages economic disruptions caused by sanctions, rising oil prices, and supply chain disruptions will not only continue but worsen as crops do not get planted, do not get harvested and cannot transit the Black Sea. That means more of the same challenges we face today, including rising energy and food prices contributing to inflation that was already growing out of hand. This war could help hurry the coming recession.

Let’s not forget the lockdowns in China, which are hurting the supply chain and will lead to future shortages and price hikes in the U.S. Add the possibility of a war over Taiwan, and the future could indeed be quite ugly.

Better plant those gardens, folks.