Ukrainian Infighting as Military Situation Worsens

Deputy Defense Minister of Ukraine Viacheslav Shapovalov resigned Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023, linked to a scandal involving the purchase of food for the Ukrainian Armed Forces
Deputy Defense Minister of Ukraine Viacheslav Shapovalov resigned Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023, linked to a scandal involving the purchase of food for the Ukrainian Armed Forces. | Photo: Ukrainian Defense Ministry Press Office

By David Sole

For months now the western media have told the public about the “decisive victories” by Ukraine in its late summer and fall offensives. The truth is now harder to cover up as Russian Federation forces are surrounding the key city of Bakhmut where Ukraine has poured its best fighters and equipment. A Russian victory in Bakhmut may lead to a collapse of the Ukraine defensive line on the eastern front.

Both sides expect more heavy fighting in the coming months. Ukraine is hoping that massive amounts of heavy weapons, including U.S. Abrams 1 and German Leopard 2 battle tanks, can arrive in time. However these types of sophisticated weapons will require Ukrainian troops to get months of training in their use.

Russia, meanwhile, is moving many of the 300,000 additional reservists to the front lines along with seemingly endless supplies of heavy weapons, ammunition and air power.

January has seen a number of developments that may indicate instability in the political leadership of Ukraine and its U.S./NATO backers. In mid-January, William Burns, the Director of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), held a secret meeting with Ukraine President Zelensky and his top intelligence officers in the capital city of Kiev.

Several days later, on January 18, a helicopter crash in Kiev killed Denys Monastyrskyi, Minister of the Interior for Ukraine. The Interior Ministry, a top cabinet level position, is in charge of the National Police and National Guard among other duties. Most of the Ministers’ top staff were also killed in the crash. Many are wondering if this was really an accident, or another of a string of political assassinations in Ukraine since the start of the Russian Federation Special Military Operation on February 24, 2022.

On January 24, a massive political shakeup was carried out across Ukraine. Claiming that he was fighting “corruption”, President Zelensky announced that five regional governors and four deputy cabinet ministers were being fired. One was the Deputy Defense Minister in charge of military logistics for the Ukrainian army. Another top official, Deputy Prosecutor General Oleksiy Symonenko, resigned.

These developments may reflect political shifts as the real military situation reveals itself. But even if the official story of the campaign is “anti-corruption” is true, it totally undermines the credibility of the entire Ukraine government and its fighting ability. One has to wonder whether Zelensky, himself, the darling of the imperialist ruling classes, can continue to hold their support.

There has been speculation in the western press about the wisdom of trying to hold onto Bakhmut in the east. Some voices have counseled Ukraine to withdraw from that beleaguered city and, instead,  build up forces for a southern offensive.

But Russian Federation troops recently moved north on the southern front weakening Ukraine’s hold on the large city of Zaporizhzhia. Russian sources say that decisive actions by their side preempted a planned Ukrainian move aimed at cutting off Russia’s land bridge to its vital Crimea region.

What is not being discussed publicly is what will happen if Ukraine’s military ability collapses along both the southern and eastern fronts. Massive losses of Ukrainian soldiers, killed or wounded, have been going on for months in what has become a war of attrition. Huge amount of armor, artillery and other heavy weapons have been destroyed by the overwhelming superiority of Russian artillery. Ukraine’s national electric grid is severely devastated by relentless Russian missile and drone strikes.

Back in June 2022, U.S. President Joe Biden announced Pentagon plans to “establish a permanent army headquarters in Poland as part of enhanced NATO plans in the face of Russian aggression in Europe. NATO leaders discussed plans to overhaul and boost the alliance’s defenses at the alliance’s Madrid summit, including establishing a new force model that would place about 300,000 troops on high alert to deal with any future threats.

“As well as the Polish base for the Fifth Army Corps, Mr. Biden said his country would also maintain an additional rotational brigade of thousands of troops in Romania and bolster deployments in the Baltic states. The US will send two more F-35 squadrons to the UK and add to air-defense systems in Germany and Italy. That adds to 100,000 American troops already in Europe.”

Reddit reported on December 22 “Poland Military Mobilization – 300,000 Called Up – Hopes For Big Gains in Victory Over Russia.”

Almost all western military aid, amounting to tens of billions of dollars, flows through Poland heading to the Ukraine front, hundreds of miles to the east. Unwilling to face a complete defeat in Ukraine, the U.S. and NATO have steadily been escalating aid to their Ukrainian proxies. It cannot be discounted that the war could stop being a proxy war and turn into a direct conflict with the Russian Federation. One step short of sending U.S. troops into western Ukraine would be to have Poland, Romania and perhaps the Baltic Republics invade to salvage something of the deteriorating situation for the imperialist powers.


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