The Ukrainian Military’s Losses

They’ve been heavy:

As Simon Saradzhyan, a Russia expert at Harvard’s Belfer Center, notes, if Ukraine continues to suffer troop casualties at its current rate, it would “surpass 1,560 per year. That would be more than what the Russian army acknowledged losing in the deadliest year of the second Chechen war.” In view of the increasing casualties on the horizon, Ukraine’s parliament has just approved a call-up of a further 50,000 reservists and men under the age of 50, just 45 days after its last mobilization. But just how long Ukraine’s cobbled-together military will be able to sustain increasing casualties is questionable at best — especially if they suddenly find themselves up against more qualified Russian soldiers.

Throughout the conflict in eastern Ukraine, Russian troops have watched from just over the border, implicitly threatening intervention. Since the beginning of the rebellionRussian troops have been conducting maneuvers and setting up the logistics network that would be needed for an incursion. Things have ramped up in recent days, with Russia conducting large-scale exercises with some of its most advanced helicopters. The threat hasn’t been lost on Kiev.

Janine Davidson worries Putin is preparing t0 invade. She wants to send arms to the Ukrainian government:

The U.S. and NATO have rightly expressed their support for Ukraine and have taken small steps to support their military.  Non-lethal aid, like body armor, medical supplies, food, and other equipment are critical.  But for Ukraine to present a viable deterrent to Putin’s ambitions, it needs funding to pay troops, advisers to help plan, intelligence support for targeting, training for new recruits, and yes, ammunition and defensive weapons.

All this can be provided without putting U.S. or NATO boots in the fight. Military aid is not the same as military intervention. Far from escalating the conflict or provoking Putin, bolstering Ukraine’s forces can actually deter further incursions by demonstrating to an ambitious aggressor the very real possibility that escalation will result in a messy and ultimately embarrassing demonstration of his military might.

But, in Jay Ulfelder’s judgement, the US and Europe are making the right calls on Ukraine:

I think that the Obama administration and its European allies have chosen the best line of action and, so far, made the most of it. To expect Russia quickly to reverse course by withdrawing from Crimea and stopping its rabble-rousing in eastern Ukraine without being compelled by force to do so is unrealistic. The steady, measured approach the U.S. and E.U. have adopted appears to be having the intended effects. Russia could still react to the rising structural pressures on it by lashing out, but NATO is taking careful steps to discourage that response and to prepare for it if it comes. Under such lousy circumstances, I think this is about as well as we could expect the Obama administration and its E.U. counterparts to do.