Analysts said the decree hinted that Mr. Putin was preparing for a long and grinding war, but not necessarily a large-scale draft that would mark a major escalation and perhaps prompt a domestic backlash.

“Expectations that this will end by Christmas or that this will end by next spring” are misguided, said Ruslan Pukhov, a defense analyst who runs the Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies, a privately-owned think tank in Moscow. “I think this will last a very long time.”

Ukraine was bolstered this week by the promise of a $3 billion military aid package from the United States. Biden administration officials said the aid was as much a message to Mr. Putin that the United States is in this for the long haul, as it was to Ukraine that America will continue to try to hold the NATO alliance together in backing Kyiv indefinitely.

Administration officials insist that President Biden is committed to helping Ukraine win, even in a war of attrition, if it comes to that. Colin H. Kahl, under secretary of defense for policy, said at a news conference this week that Mr. Putin’s assumption that he can “win the long game’’ was “yet another Russian miscalculation.”

In Russian state media, the message that Russia might be only at the start of a long and existential war against the West — now being fought, by proxy, in Ukraine — is sounding with increasing clarity. It is a sharp shift from six months ago, when Ukrainians were depicted as lacking the will to fight and eagerly awaiting Russian “liberation.”

“We will have fewer Russian tourists in Europe, but the size of the Russian army will increase by 140,000 regular servicemen,” Igor Korotchenko, the editor of a Russian military journal, said on a state television talk show. “I expect that this is just the beginning.”

While Mr. Putin may be content with a protracted standoff, President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine is in some ways fighting against the clock.



What we consider before using anonymous sources. How do the sources know the information? What’s their motivation for telling us? Have they proved reliable in the past? Can we corroborate the information? Even with these questions satisfied, The Times uses anonymous sources as a last resort. The reporter and at least one editor know the identity of the source.


“The very difficult state of our economy, the constant risks of air and missile attacks and the general fatigue of the population from the difficulties of war will work against Ukraine” over time, Andriy Zagorodnyuk, a former defense minister, wrote in the Ukrainska Pravda newspaper. He said the military should be prepared to advance, rather than defend.

“It makes no sense to drag out the war for years and compete to see who will run out of resources first,” he wrote.

Stage-managed elections to justify annexation could come as early as next month, Western officials say, putting additional time pressure on Mr. Zelensky to launch an offensive.

But several military analysts say there is a disconnect between Ukrainian civilian leaders, pressing for a major victory, and military leaders who want to ensure they have sufficient troops and combat power before conducting a major offensive.

“There’s a desire to show international partners that their support will enable Ukraine to win, not just hold on,” said Jack Watling, a senior research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute in London, who just returned from Ukraine. “And there is an expectation from the Ukrainian people they’ll be able to liberate their territory.”

But he cautioned, “a military offensive needs to be based on conditions on the battlefield,” not in the political arena.

Over the last month, the Ukrainians have pivoted to the new strategy of so-called “deep war” — hitting targets far behind the front — after months of grim artillery duels and street fighting in the eastern region of Luhansk, which ultimately fell under Russian control by early July.

Using long-range, precision guided rockets provided by the United States and others, the Ukrainian military has been striking Russian weapons depots, bases, command centers and troop positions deep into occupied territory, including Crimea, the peninsula Mr. Putin seized in 2014.

Ukraine has for months been telegraphing plans for the major battle in the south; the types of weapons it has requested from Western allies and the tactics it pursues on the battlefield offering clues to its strategy.

Tellingly, a recent U.S. military assistance package included armored vehicles with mine-clearing attachments that would be used in a ground advance, suggesting preparations for the opening of what would be a new, ground attack phase of the war. Ukraine pushed back Russian forces that were in disarray in the battle for Kyiv last winter, but has yet to demonstrate it can overrun well-fortified Russian defenses.

For Mr. Putin, even a partial loss of territory as a result of a counteroffensive would represent a major embarrassment, in part because of how he has framed the stakes: Ukraine, he falsely claims, is carrying out a “genocide” of Russian speakers. Russia has failed to capture a single major population center since early July, frustrating the war’s most ardent backers.

But the Russian leader, in control of the state media and the political system, is well-situated for the moment to ignore any criticism, analysts say.

Instead, Mr. Putin insists that his forces are advancing in eastern Ukraine’s Donbas region “step by step.”

A senior Biden official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss confidential assessments, countered that narrative in an interview on Friday, describing the Russian advance in Donbas as so slow that “a good day for them is if they advance 500 meters.”

Though conventional wisdom has held that stringing out the war would favor Russia, it also carries risks for Mr. Putin, doing more damage to his economy and bringing more Western weaponry to bear: Despite the arrival of artillery systems from NATO members, Ukraine’s arsenal is still largely made up of Soviet-era arms.

At home in Ukraine, Mr. Zelensky has broad support for continuing the war. An opinion poll by the Razumkov Center, a policy research organization in Kyiv, released on Monday showed 92 percent of Ukrainians are confident in a military victory.

With the decision on an attack in the south looming, Mr. Zelensky has taken pains to show unity with his generals. At a news conference this week, he praised the commander, General Valeriy Zaluzhny, and denied rumors he intended to dismiss the general.

“We work as a team,” Mr. Zelensky said. Asked to assess the general’s performance, he said, “The most important assessment is we are holding on. That means the assessment is high. When we win, it will be the highest assessment.”

Andrew E. Kramer reported from Kyiv, Anton Troianovski from Berlin and Helene Cooper from Washington. Reporting was contributed by Eric Schmitt from Washington and Oleksandr Chubko from Kyiv.

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Intel Officers, Analysts Urge Stronger Tracking Of Weapons To Ukraine

U.S. officials fear weapons sent to Ukraine could fall into the wrong hands.

Before the U.S. sent Ukraine the first pallet of what would become about $8 billion in weapons and military equipment, officials had high level discussions about whether these arms could fall into the wrong hands. Three government sources familiar with the transfers now tell Newsy that although they support Ukraine’s defense, that fear remains. 

One source said U.S. officials calculated that Ukraine needs the weapons so urgently, it reduces the risk of stockpiles being misused. But analyst Elias Yousif says weapons tend to outlive wars, even long ones. 

Yousif is a conventional defense research analyst at Stimson Center. 

“The real concern may be when the conflict comes to an end, which eventually it will, and when the demand by the Ukrainians diminishes, it may increase the incentive to find alternative markets for these systems,” Yousif said. 

Analysts worry that bad actors, like terrorists, could acquire anything from portable, anti-aircraft Stinger missiles to small arms, which are harder to track. Just last month, a Homeland Security bulletin warned that a pro-al-Qaida magazine was encouraging followers to travel to Ukraine “for training and weapons to use in attacks against the West.”   

Ukraine’s Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov says that some weapons have GPS trackers, which a source in the intelligence community confirmed, and that the country is using a NATO logistics system to monitor weapons.  

“This process was already underway but we are happy to expand and increase its tempo to ensure the comfort of our partners,” said Oleksii Reznikov, the defense minister of Ukraine. 

Ukraine has erected a temporary special commission to keep track of weapons and equipment.  

But Jonah Leff, director of operations at Conflict Armament Research, which traces the movements of illicit arms, says that’s not enough. 

NEWSY’S SASHA INGBER: Ukraine’s special commission to monitor these weapons is supposed to last for about a year. Is that enough time?

JONAH LEE: A year is quite a short time for any monitoring of weapons, especially those that are so valued. The proliferation or diversion of weapons can take place any time after a conflict ends. So it’s important that any group that’s assembled to ensure proper management of weapons continues that work really indefinitely.

President Zelenskyy last week began a campaign against treason and collaboration with Russia.  

Iain Overton,says the risk of smuggled weapons would come from potentially corrupt Ukrainians and entrepreneurial Russians. He’s the executive director of Action on Armed Violence, an organization that investigates its causes. And he spoke about what happened to Russian weapons in the port city of Odessa, a year after Russia first invaded Ukraine in 2014: “There I began to investigate a port called Oktyabrsk, which was run at the time by a former Soviet naval commander, had links to cronies, associates of President Putin. And it seemed that weaponry systems, even in the height of this proxy war with Russia, were still coming through Ukraine on trains, arriving to Oktyabrsk and then being pushed out from there in naval ships down to places like Syria and other locations in Africa and South America.”

He says Russia has something to gain, if Western weapons enter the black market and then surface in attacks outside of Ukraine. “The Russian state itself, fighting a disinformation war, may seek to place weapons seized from the Ukrainian forces, perhaps donated by NATO, and these may be sold on in order to create the propaganda of the deed. Because if a NATO donated weaponry system was found to have been used in, let’s say, Nairobi by Salafist jihadists to take down an airline jet, then that would be a not only an act of terrible terror, but it would be a profound propaganda coup for the Russian state who would point all fingers of culpability at Ukraine,” Overton said. 

The country before the Zelenskyy administration had already been a nexus of the illicit arms trade. 

INGBER: Is there historical precedent here?  

ELIAS YOUSIF: Ukraine kept a large arsenal of Soviet era equipment up through the 1990s, and with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the economic crisis that followed. It gave the opportunity for criminal entrepreneurs to co-opt that stockpile. And as much as $30 billion worth of Soviet equipment was lost over many years in Ukraine.  

The Russians are currently using American and European components on the battlefield in Ukraine. 

LEE: We were not expecting to see so many components from all over the world, in all of their weapons systems, including communication devices, other counter-UAV equipment, cruise missiles, drones.

INGBER: So this was before the U.S. imposed sanctions for the war in Ukraine. This isn’t, say, a get-around to the production issues that manufacturers in Russia are having to try to keep up with the demand. Is that what you’re saying?  

LEE: Some of these components were manufactured before and some after.  

INGBER: Can you give me an example of a U.S. component?  

LEE: I’m not able to discuss company names at this point. I can say that we’ve seen several semiconductors, electronics, guidance systems. Their use as weapons does constitute a violation of sanctions for some of these countries.  

Source: newsy.com

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In Myanmar, a Notable Burmese Family Quietly Equipped a Brutal Military

The family’s initial fortune came from jute, a natural fiber that is used to make rope and twine. The jute mill was nationalized during the military’s disastrous venture into socialism, after its first coup in 1962.

Burma, once lauded for its fine schools and polyglot cosmopolitanism, sank into penury. The ruling junta renamed the country Myanmar.

Mr. Jonathan Kyaw Thaung’s father was sent to Northern Ireland, where he escaped Myanmar’s privations. His siblings scattered to Thailand, Singapore, the United States and Britain. The family’s graceful villa in Yangon moldered, as did the rest of the country.

But even as many of them headed abroad, the family remained connected to Myanmar and traveled there to do business. Their path back was eased by the extended family tree, which included high-ranking Tatmadaw officers, cabinet ministers and confidants of junta chiefs.

A cousin married U Zeyar Aung, an urbane, English-speaking general who led the Northern Command and the 88th Light Infantry Division, both of which the United Nations has tied to decades of war crimes against Myanmar’s own people. He later was the railway minister, then the energy minister and subsequently led the national investment commission, over the time the Kyaw Thaungs were vying for military contracts.

Myanmar’s patronage networks are a tangle of roots that bind family trees. Generals’ children tend to marry within tight circles, perhaps to other military progeny or the offspring of business cronies.

As the Tatmadaw began loosening control over the economy, engaging in a fire sale of assets that had once been the military’s fief, that elite class of the well-connected swooped in to profit. Mr. Jonathan Kyaw Thaung, whose mother is Irish, returned to Myanmar, along with siblings and cousins who had also been raised overseas.

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U.S. Is Expected to Approve Some Arms Sales to U.A.E. and Saudis

WASHINGTON — The Biden administration plans to suspend the sale of many offensive weapons to Saudi Arabia approved under the Trump administration, but it will allow the sale of other matériel that can be construed to have a defensive purpose, U.S. officials said on Wednesday.

The plan, which was briefed to Congress last week, is part of an administration review of billions of dollars in arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates that the White House announced soon after President Biden’s inauguration.

The original sales were met with strong opposition last year from Democrats in Congress, who are angry over the countries’ involvement in the war in Yemen and wary of the transfer of advanced military technology to authoritarian Middle Eastern states with ties to China.

The Biden administration will approve $23 billion in weapons sales to the United Arab Emirates, according to a State Department spokesman, including F-35 fighter jets and armed Reaper drones. Biden administration officials signaled at the time of the review that those arms, sold to the Emirates soon after it had signed a diplomatic agreement with Israel brokered by the Trump administration, were likely to be approved.

killings of civilians, including many children, because of the use of such bombs by the Saudi-led coalition.

Raytheon Company, the biggest supplier of the bombs, lobbied the Trump administration to continue the sales, despite a growing outcry from humanitarian groups, members of Congress and some in the State Department.

The suspension does not cover sales of any other kinds of weapons to Saudi Arabia, U.S. officials said. Weapons used by helicopters would still be permitted, as well as ground-to-ground munitions and small arms. Electronics equipment, including jamming technology, would also be permitted. The Saudi military receives almost all its weapons from the United States.

formally notified lawyers about the decision, which officials say was made this year as part of a lawsuit opposing the agreement brought by the nonprofit New York Center for Foreign Policy Affairs.

The Emirates played a big role in the Yemen war but stepped back recently. As part of negotiations last year to try to persuade the Emirates to normalize relations with Israel, the Trump administration told Emirati officials that it would accelerate approval of sales of F-35 fighter jets and drones.

U.S. officials said on Wednesday that Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken received the report this week from other offices in the State Department, and that he was expected to approve it. The report would then go to the National Security Council for final approval.

“I and many other House members remain concerned about the proposed sale of $23 billion in arms to the U.A.E.,” said Representative Gregory W. Meeks, Democrat of New York and the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. He said he had “many questions about any decision by the Biden administration to go forward with the Trump administration’s proposed transfers” of the fighter jets, drones and munitions to the Emirates.

Israeli officials and some members of Congress have expressed concerns that the sales of F-35s would weaken what they called Israel’s “qualitative military edge” over other countries in the region, and that Congress requires presidential administrations to maintain it as a matter of law. Israel is currently the only country in the region with F-35s.

Other U.S. officials have been concerned about selling the F-35, one of the military’s most advanced pieces of hardware, to the United Arab Emirates when it is developing a closer relationship with China, which is notorious for technological espionage. American officials are worried about the radar and stealth abilities of F-35s and some drone technology, among other things.

Ms. Fontenrose added that some officials had additional concerns that the Emirates might employ American-made weapons, including Reaper drones, in the Libyan civil war, where it has intervened. She said the Emirates had provided the Trump administration with “assurances” on that front.

The State Department official, who requested anonymity to discuss policies that had not been officially announced, noted that it would take years to complete the Emirati arms deal and that during that period the administration would ensure that the country was living up to obligations, such as to protect American technology and to ensure that U.S. arms were not used in contexts that violate human rights and the laws of conflict.

Mr. Meeks echoed that point. “Fortunately, none of these transfers would occur anytime soon,” he said, “so there will be ample time for Congress to review whether these transfers should go forward and what restrictions and conditions would be imposed.”

Mr. Trump’s deal with the Emirates was approved soon after it had agreed to join the Abraham Accords, which normalized its diplomatic relations with Israel for the first time.

Some Democrats complained that the arms sales appeared to have been an inappropriate inducement for the Emirates to agree to the accords, which largely formalized a relationship that had grown steadily friendlier for many years.

“I still don’t believe it’s in our interest to fuel a spiraling arms race in the Middle East,” said Senator Christopher S. Murphy, Democrat of Connecticut and a leading critic in Congress of the arms sales and of U.S. ties to Gulf Arab states. “I have requested a briefing from the administration regarding the status of the review of both the U.A.E. and Saudi sales.”

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