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The view from the front: military matters and motivation for 5/20/22.
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Happy Friday! Hope everyone has had a great week! And that you have some great plans for the weekend.
One personal note before we begin today. Because I’ve written a pretty bad-ass Western, I was interviewed about the best books regarding the Wild West.
Here’s the link: The best books about the Wild West that you’ll ever read. (Or, you can click the link below.)
Moving to the news, I thought we’d start today’s newsletter with one of the larger (and growing) issues facing Ukraine.
With a full blockade from the Russians preventing the export of wheat (and other things) that Ukraine needs to deliver, how does Ukraine break this serious blockade?
The Economist carried a terrific piece about this issue in its most recent edition. The issues for Ukraine (and the world) are stark.
The winter wheat from months ago is already in storage and there isn’t room for this year’s crop.
Andrei Stavnitser, the owner of Ukraine’s largest private shipping-terminal operator, (TransInvestService), was quoted in the article as saying, “Unblocking Odessa is as important as providing weapons to Ukraine,” he said.
The Economist states that while the European Union is working on expanding alternative routes by rail and road, such measures can only support a small part of what Ukraine needs to export. (And while I’ve not looked this up, can we all agree that building new railroad lines is probably NOT something one can do quickly?)
That means the wheat (and other items, but especially the wheat) has to go out by sea.
Some analysts are suggesting naval convoys to escort merchant vessels, such as occurred in the 1980s in the Persian Gulf during the Iran-Iraq war. (Former President Reagan authorized U.S. Navy ships to protect Kuwaiti oil tankers against Iranian attacks. Read all about it here: Operation Earnest Will.)
There are a couple of issues to this idea.
First, it would be like a no-fly zone. America would have to be willing to risk confrontation with Russia if it brought U.S. warships into the Black Sea. (See image below.)
Secondly, there are the issue of mines. Ukraine spread them all around Odesa, the primary port the wheat would need to be extracted from.
But clearing mines is far more difficult than placing them. From the research I’ve done, clearing them is much harder and more dangerious. (Plus, many have broken free from their chains and are floating freely.)
One idea now starting to emerge is to send deadly-serious anti-ship missiles to Ukraine. (See below.)
There are no easy solutions, but keep an eye on this in the coming days and weeks. I’m confident we’ll be hearing more about it.
I wrote in the last newsletter about a Russian analyst on state TV finally admitting some hard truths to Russia. Well, it happened again.
This time, a different analyst even called it a “war,” which is supposed to carry a possible penalty of up to 15 years.
You can see the clip below.
Moving to the brave defenders of the steel plant in Mariupol called Azovstal, in my last newsletter, I discussed the breaking news that a prisoner exchange with Russia was to happen in an effort to save the defenders.
That exchange actually happened, but now there are some growing questions about what might happen to them. (See below.)
There are also apparently some who didn’t surrender. (See below.)
I have such mixed feelings about the entire situation.
Personally, I still don’t feel great about the surrender of the troops.
There is no guarantee of a prisoner swap. AND, it’s coming out that they will be at a minimum “interrogated.” Some could be tried in a “court.” And who knows what will happen to others.
Speaking entirely for myself, there’s no way I’d have surrendered unless I was down to my last bullet or breath. (And I’m not sure I would have then.)
Let’s just hope that those who have are treated better than other prisoners have been. And that those who are still there can hang on somehow.
The commander I linked to above mentioned some kind of possible operation. Let’s hope it involves a rescue or re-supply.
Moving to some larger news, the United States agreed to send even more aid to Ukraine since my last newsletter.
Here’s a quick over-view if you don’t want to follow the link.
Let’s wrap it up there for this edition. And let’s end with some motivation and wisdom.
That’s it for this edition.
As a reminder, please be kind and endeavor to love your fellow Americans. We need to pull this country together, and that starts with all of us.
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Stan R. Mitchell
P.S. Don’t forget to check out my books. I’ve written a CIA/Marine sniper series, a detective series, a private investigator series, an action-packed Western, a leadership/biography book, and two realistic war novels: one about World War IIand one about Afghanistan.