The Ukrainian counteroffensive continues but it appears to be less intense. Ukraine has not made any significant progress so far, and in some cases, its forces have been pushed back.
The Russians have published some numbers on Ukrainian losses in September to date. Ukraine has lost more than 17,000 soldiers so far this month, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu told a ministry board meeting.
Kiev lost three Western-made tanks, including two German Leopards and a British Challenger. One of the Leopard tanks destroyed by the Russians had a three-man German crew.
Two of the three crewmen were killed outright. The third crewman survived for a while and told the Russians he was a mechanic. It is far from clear why Germans were manning the tank. Is this a pattern for the future?
The numbers also include the loss of seven US-made Bradley fighting vehicles, 77 US M777 howitzers, 51 self-propelled howitzers made in Germany, France, Poland and the United States.
The Russians also destroyed a British-made Stormer air defense system. The Stormer is a military armored vehicle manufactured by the British company Alvis Vickers, now known as BAE Systems Land & Armaments, that uses laser-guided interceptors.
It is supposed to destroy slow-flying aircraft, especially helicopters, and drones. But some US Abrams tanks have arrived in Ukraine ahead of schedule.
The head of Ukraine’s military intelligence Kyrylo Budanov, chief of the Main Directorate of Intelligence of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine (GRO), says that the Abrams tanks should be reserved for special operations and not used for general combat because they will be destroyed!
Russia also bombed a number of Ukrainian airfields and destroyed two MIG-29 aircraft and several aircraft hangers. Russia also attacked Odesa port, destroying grain storage facilities and loading docks.
Russian air bombardments of Ukrainian military and civil assets appeared to be fairly intense and continuing. The USA has come up with a lengthy statement of priority reforms presented at the Multi-Donor Coordination Platform for Ukraine held in Brussels.
The US Embassy in Kiev released a copy to Ukraine.
It carries a number of proposals to combat corruption, part of it focused on defense procurement and part on the management of energy companies including Ukrenerg and Naftogas, and to establish supervisory boards (loaded with Americans).
One of the most startling proposals is to limit the scope of activity of the Ukrainian SBU (Security Service of Ukraine), which is Ukraine’s equivalent of the old Soviet KGB.
The proposal is to limit SBU to counterintelligence, anti-espionage and fighting terrorism and cyber-terrorism. The language is very broad and unclear.
SBU is being used by Zelensky to suppress the opposition and carry out frequent arrests of anyone opposing the government for any reason.
It has also been used to launch attacks against the Russian Orthodox Church leaders and members, some of whom are being accused of selling weapons. SBU is also being used to enforce draft dodging. Presumably, the idea is to restrict it, but only a little.
It is unlikely that any of these rather limited reforms will be implemented. The fact that it was presented at a low political level in Brussels, and only as a draft proposal, indicates the Biden administration is not seriously trying to curb corruption in Ukraine.
Asia Times / ABC Flash Point News 2023.