First time reading your commentary. Along with Phillips O'Brien, the best stuff I have read and less overtly partisan than O'Brien. It is long term dangerous when neither side has a fairly clear path to victory. Putin really cannot afford to back track. He will be gone, one way or another if he does. He is trapped by his own ideology and incompetence. Crimea will not return to Ukraine. Russia likely to hold on to their annexed territories. So he creates another "buffer zone" against Nato and its eastern front. 2 more years for any kind of settlement. I hope I an wrong. Robert Millman

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As I understand it, a key risk to sustained western support is that countries are running low on buffer equipment stock to supply Ukraine. If that's correct, is there any indication they are ramping up production of essential ammo and equipment to sustain Ukraine for a multi year conflict?

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Lockheed Martin is ramping up its F-16 production to supply Ukraine or backfill other countries transferring older F-16s to Ukraine.

The U.S. is currently manufacturing 14,000 155mm shells per month, and intends to reach 90,000 by 2025.

If you want more details, you can check H.R. 7776, the James M. Inhofe National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2023. The 1,772-page document notably includes on p. 452 :



the provisions of section 3501 of title 10, United States Code,

set forth in paragraph (3), the head of an agency may enter

into one or more multiyear contracts, beginning in fiscal year

2023, for the procurement of up to—

(A) 864,000 XM1128, XM1113, M107, and M795

(155mm rounds);

(B) 12,000 AGM–179 Joint Air-to-Ground Missiles


(C) 700 M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems


(D) 1,700 MGM–140 Army Tactical Missile Systems


(E) 2,600 Harpoons;

(F) 1,250 Naval Strike Missiles;

(G) 106,000 Guided Multiple Launch Rocket Systems


(H) 3,850 PATRIOT Advanced Capability–3 (PAC–3)

Missile Segment Enhancement (MSE);

(I) 5,600 FIM–92 Stinger;

(J) 28,300 FGM–148 Javelin;

(K) 5,100 AIM–120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-

Air Missile (AMRAAM);

(L) 2,250,000 Modular Artillery Charge System


(M) 12,050 155m Excalibur M982A1;

(N) 950 Long Range Anti-Ship Missiles (LRASM);

(O) 3,100 Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missiles


(P) 1,500 Standard Missle–6 Missiles (SM–6); and

(Q) 5,100 Sidewinder Missiles (AIM–9X)."

Item (M) should obviously read 12,050 155mm Excalibur M982A1. Items (E), (F) and (N) should be seen as mainly intended for the defense of Taiwan, while a good chunk of the rest is for Ukraine or replenishing stocks. Items (K) and (Q) are also noteworthy ; it's hard to imagine in which case you'd need that many missiles to shoot down enemy aircraft, so it's probably intended to bolster air defenses against enemy aircraft, drones and missiles for both Ukraine and Taiwan, as both missiles can be fired by the NASAMS 3 air defense system, on top of being originally designed to be used on Western aircraft (According to the 1963 United States Tri-Service rocket and guided missile designation system, AIM means air-launched, intercept-aerial, guided missile).

Note that page 452 is part of a larger section beginning with :



Also, Europe currently outproduces the U.S. in artillery shells, with approx. 300K 155mm shells per year, or 25K per month. Australia has just opened an artillery shell production line in 2022. And the scariest of all, South Korea ; the ROK Army has the tanks and artillery to win a war against North Korea decisively, and educated guesses would place their shell stockpile above 10 million rounds. While South Korea doesn't want to send equipment and ammunition directly to Ukraine, it's willing to send some of its shells to the U.S., which then parts with some of its stockpile to be sent to Ukraine. All of this is presented in Perun's video, Ammunition shortages in Ukraine.

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Mick, continuance from my initial comment:

3) Clearly Putin and RU claim to be waiting out the west, but their actions and rhetoric suggest an extreme impatience compared to Ukraine who seems confident in lasting support. In my observation from afar, it seems Ukraine is right. The battle is in the backyard of the EU and NATO and they have much to lose by not going all in to aid Ukraine. I also would assert the balance of power economically, politically, and dare I say morally, has shifted east and north in the Europe with a center around Poland, the Baltic states, and Finland and Sweden. Do you see the same thing? How does this play out in the long run?

4) You mention China as a country not enforcing sanctions and able to provide RU with inputs to manufacture additional war materiel. But as I see it, China has no desire to lose markets in the US and EU. It is suffering from its own financial troubles (excess state debt and its own real estate crisis), and the fallout productively and politically if its COVID policies. This makes China at best a weak and distracted “ally” for RU. Do you see the same issues? What am I missing?

5) Does RU have any of the “three options” available to it? I can see no way they can get any one of these. Is their a fast, easy, or cheap option on a stand Ali e basis they can execute upon? I get the sense the answer is no. What are your takes on this?

6) The flip side to the last question: Does Ukraine have any one stand-alone fast, easy, cheap option? Here I see fast and possibly easy, but it is entirely dependent upon increasing western arms and economic support. I do not see a cheap option anywhere. Do you have thoughts on this?

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What happens if Russia cannot take all the annexed territory but neither can Ukraine drive them out? Another forever war that goes on and on...worst of all worlds.

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Mick, you are an Australian national treasure!! You have an incredible ability to make strategic and tactical discussions accessible to those who are not nearly as familiar. Please never stop what you are doing! You are providing a great service to the entire community of nations supporting Ukraine in explaining the past and outlining possible future trajectories.

This summation is brilliant and I agree with all you have enumerated. However, there are a few other things I think are worth considering and hope you will address them over time.

1) Morale and sense of purpose/mission. A successful military, in order to survive the inevitable setbacks, must have a strong sense of purpose or high morale. Clearly this is not an issue for AFU. But for RU, this is clearly a problem when one simply observes what is posted on RU telegram channels. How does RU even hope to achieve a clear purpose and high morale for its forces doing the hard work of fighting and logistics?

2) Diplomacy in developing countries. Having worked in many southern African nations, SE Asia, and Latin America, I do not see Lavrov having any lasting success. At best, Lavrov may get “neutrality” in that these nations will seek to play off the US and EU against RU to gain more resources and wider access to markets if they do not already. We cannot forget how China was once welcomed in these countries as an alternative to the US, but now is seen to be as much of, or a worse colonialist than the west ever was (especially in Africa). Given RU tactics on the continent, I do not see this going any better.

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“...it may just be the start of a cascading series of catastrophic events for Putin and Russia.” Fast, Cheap, Easy. Give U everything they need/want.

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