The Shadow over Storm Shadow
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Issue Net Edition | Date : 05 Jun , 2023

The battle for Bakhmut (Artyomovsk), which Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky had made a prestige issue, resulted in massive casualties for the Ukrainian forces. But Zelensky still doesn’t acknowledge that Bakhmut has fallen. His US-sponsored propaganda mainly centres around trying to project Russia primarily targeting schools, hospitals and civil residential areas. At the same time projecting Ukraine in downing of most of the Russian drones and missiles, even Russia’s hypersonic Kinzhal missiles.

The interesting part is that Zelensky remains evasive about the dates when Ukraine’s counter-offensive would commence. However, The Eur Asian Times reports that Ukraine’s much-hyped counteroffensive appears to be sputtering, if not already dead, under relentless Russian pounding of Ukrainian weapons and ammunition stockpiles plus troop staging points.

The report goes on to say that Russia has displayed good judgment and dexterity in striking sprawling industrial facilities with Geran-2 kamikaze drones, used air/sea-launched low observable Kh-101 and Kalibr cruise missiles for pinpoint attacks, Onyx (BrahMos analog) supersonic missiles or Iskander-M quasi-ballistic missiles from land-based mobile launchers, while Russian decoy drones force Ukrainian AD systems to wastefully expend their ammunition.

But the war in Ukraine will continue endlessly with the POTUS Joe Biden announcing there would be no ceasefire until Russia completely withdraws from Ukrainian territory, buoyed after the Senate agreed to raise the debt ceiling through a 63-36 vote, which Biden was ready to sign one year back. Now Biden has announced another $300 million aid to Ukraine.

The Biden administration had already provided $38 billion in military aid to Ukraine in the last 15 months, in addition to supply of advanced weapons by other NATO members. It may be noted that in 2000, the US debt was $3.5 trillion (35 percent of GDP) and by 2022, $24 trillion (95 percent of GDP), multiple American wars have also contributed to the debt rise. The US maintains 800 bases across the globe to initiate wars of its choice.

Zelensky will still continue with the counteroffensive, as wanted by the US, with 30,000 Ukrainians reportedly being trained in the UK, Germany and other NATO countries. But a counteroffensive on multiple axes is very difficult with Russia targeting Ukraine’s weapons, ammunition stockpiles and troop staging points. French President Emmanuel Macron has warned of a stalemate in Ukraine but Washington is more worried about another Russian offensive after the Ukraine counteroffensive is blunted.

Biden’s desperation is visible in his effort to supply F-16 fighter jets to Kiev. Britain had provided the Storm Shadow cruise missiles to Ukraine but only six odd launch platforms are reportedly in service now because of Russian attacks. Interestingly, the US had asked Turkey for the Russian S-400 missile systems for study, but was refused, according to Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu. “The US proposals concern our sovereignty. Give control over (weapon), transfer it to someone else. Where is our independence, our sovereignty?” asked Cavusoglu. He added that America wanted to supply S-400s to Ukraine, which Turkey bought from Russia, but Washington was again refused.

That is perhaps the reason why Jens Stoltenberg, NATO General Secretary is attending inauguration of the next presidential term of Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Having persuaded Erdogan to lift the objection over Sweden joining NATO, more pressure would continue to be mounted on Turkey given that Russia has shot down a number of Ukrainian Su-24s and Storm Shadow missiles.

In the recent Ukrainian drone attack on the Russian ship ‘Ivan Khurs’, the drones were launched from the Naval Operations Center opened by the US in Ochakovo in 2018. The guidance of the drones was through Starlink modules received by Kiev from the US and the target designation was provided by American intelligence. But the attack was beaten back.

Apparently, new western drones have been supplied to Kiev for sea attacks since drones used for the attack on the Russian vessel were not Ukraine origin. Consequently, Russia has destroyed the last Ukrainian combat ship ‘Yury Olefirenko’ in the Odessa port. Ukraine operated some 25 combat ships, including five patrol and six artillery boats before hostilities commenced in February 2022.

Biden knows very well his desperate move to supply F-16s to Ukraine, a request which Britain (America’s obedient pooch) will readily comply with, would not change the Russian domination of the war. Therefore, the move to supply long range weapons like the Storm Shadow, other advanced weaponry and encouraging Ukraine to hit Russia beyond its borders, including drone attacks on Kremlin and Moscow with US assistance and guidance. Concurrent are the calls to arrest Russian President Vladimir Putin accused by the ICC for war crimes while brushing the war crimes of Ukraine and by extension of the US, under the carpet.

Stoltenberg expects a multi-year plan to align Ukraine with NATO standards and protocols but many want inclusion of Ukraine in NATO at the earliest. However, no one is discussing who will fund NATO and to what extent NATO members are in agreement with funding plans including reconstruction of Ukraine.

One major compulsion of the Biden Administration for continuing the war in Ukraine is to keep Europe chained to Washington; disallow a European security framework, slowdown European economy and cripple their industry lest some nations walkout of NATO. At least one major NATO member needs to show the mirror to the US but ironically all NATO leaders have been sold out to Washington. The hope that the new Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni would do so soon fizzled out. Marion Anne Perrine Le Pen had said France would walk out of NATO if she became  president but to Biden’s joy she lost the presidential race.

With the specter of debt default gone, Biden should be expected to continue raising the level of fighting Russia through Ukraine notch by notch. Simultaneously, he wants to employ NATO against China through a Ukraine-like proxy in the Indo-Pacific. Biden has gone on record to say, “We are ready for tough competition with China and will defend our interests – in the name of our friends and values”, but hastily adding that the US is not seeking confrontation with China. However, statements and actions are two different issues when it comes to the Biden Administration. Haven’t US officials been repeating periodically that America does not support Ukraine in attacking Russia beyond its borders – but doing the opposite?

British analyst Finian Cunningham writes, “The Western regimes and their lackey media have invested so much of their narcissistic, fraudulent, and lying images in trying to beat Russia, they don’t know how to capitulate. But capitulate they will have to, eventually.”

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The views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions or policies of the Indian Defence Review.

About the Author

Lt Gen Prakash Katoch

is Former Director General of Information Systems and A Special Forces Veteran, Indian Army.

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