Tuesday, June 06, 2023

D-Day Anniversary, But Thinking of Ukraine

On this day, we remember the Allied troops - American, Canadian, British, French, other free nations who were there - who landed on the Normandy beaches to begin the Western counter-offensive against the Nazi horde.

Those landings were 79 years ago, but they remain fresh in our memories. The realization of the horrors of war, the sacrifices made, the honors gained and lives lost. 

They remain fresh because those struggles are repeating in Europe today, as Ukraine is now the battlefront against a Russian horde seeking to rebuild an empire under Putin at the expense of European stability.

We're thinking about D-Day as a great counter-offensive, reclaiming what the allies lost in 1940 when the German blitz overwhelmed the British and French armies to where the UK retreated at Dunkirk and the French government collapsed into Vichy appeasement. Ukraine now has to stage their counter-offensives after holding back the Russian blitz of 2022 that failed to reach Kyiv and collapsed against an earlier counterstrike in Kharkiv last September.

Everybody's been expecting the counter-offensive - especially the Russians - because Ukraine can't afford to stay on the defensive, and because the Russian attempts at offensives have sputtered at places like Kherson and Bakhmut. With Ukrainian forces receiving more armor and ammo and aid from NATO and US agreements - up to a level where they can fight back but not to where it would drive Putin to go nuclear - there has been this awaiting as the winter conditions - mud, mud, and too much mud, several of the things that hampered Russia's big invasion in February 2022 - gave way to better summer weather.

Well, it's June now. And there are signs that something has started up: Ukrainian hackers have been hitting Russia TV and media with deep-fakes to enrage/confuse the Russian citizenry, there's been front-line reports of tank battles, and there are ongoing strikes in the Belgorod region of Russian by pro-Ukrainian Russians who turned against Putin (by using Russians, Ukraine can plausibly deny they are invading Russia so that Putin can't escalate against them).

The biggest current news is how a key dam - which provided electricity and water to a nearby nuclear reactor (!) - was destroyed in the past 24 hours, as an apparent attempt by Russia to flood the river to delay/stall any Ukrainian crossings.

It is still too early to speculate, as Ukrainians are obviously keeping their lips zipped to prevent any tip-offs to Russians of where the serious fighting will start.

But it's coming soon. The hope is that it'll be similar to last Kharkiv: a stunning breakout against demoralized Russian soldiers lacking enough armor or ammo to fight back, that could clear major Ukrainian gains towards Crimea or Mariupol (two obvious objectives that if retaken would break Russia in ways Putin can't lie about or fix).

However, Russia's been preparing this long winter: They've dug anti-tank trenches, mined most of the battlefronts, and had held back on resources even as they expended men and weapons in Bakhmut to claim a propaganda victory (which they might not have won).

This won't be an easy fight for Ukraine. Wars never are.

But Eisenhower said it best in 1944 when he extorted Allied troops to victory:

Soldiers, Sailors, and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force!

You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hope and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you. In company with our brave Allies and brothers-in-arms on other Fronts, you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world.

Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well trained, well equipped and battle-hardened. He will fight savagely.

But this is the year 1944! Much has happened since the Nazi triumphs of 1940-41. The United Nations have inflicted upon the Germans great defeats, in open battle, man-to-man. Our air offensive has seriously reduced their strength in the air and their capacity to wage war on the ground. Our Home Fronts have given us an overwhelming superiority in weapons and munitions of war, and placed at our disposal great reserves of trained fighting men. The tide has turned! The free men of the world are marching together to Victory!

I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full Victory!

Good luck! And let us beseech the blessing of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.

To the troops and citizenry of Ukraine. This speech is also meant for you in 2023, with Russians as the Nazis and NATO - all of Europe - having full confidence in your courage, devotion, and skill.

Good luck, truly. Come home as best you can, in victory and at peace.

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