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The looming stalemate in Ukraine one year after the Russian invasion



Most military analysts expected Ukraine to fall within days when Russia launched its invasion on Feb. 24, 2022.

Yet one year into the war, Ukrainians have put up a fight and demonstrated remarkable resolve against a powerful military. In fact, some of those military analysts, including former U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, have begun to wonder whether the war has reached a stalemate.

In my view, as a career U.S. special forces officer, the war is not yet close to a stalemate.

Instead, the lull in military activity is the normal “ebb and flow of a long war being fought by well-resourced countries with external support,” as noted by retired Australian General Mick Ryan.

More to come

Tragically, there is likely more of this war ahead of Ukraine than behind.

Large offensives, like the ones conducted by Ukraine in the fall of 2022, take time to plan and stage.

For the Ukrainians, planning their next counteroffensive is complicated by the fact that these operations are dependent on the delivery of Western equipment and, if that involves a new weapon system, that takes even more time.

Likewise, Russia, after sustaining significant losses in the war to date, must call upon reserves and try to repair a completely broken logistical system.

Since the early days of its invasion, Russia seems incapable of planning its own large offensives.

It is not a surprise, then, to see the pace of operations slow over the winter as both militaries try to rebuild combat power and prepare for their next major offensive.

What we are likely to see in the second year of the war – and there will be a full second year – was much of what we have seen for the past year.

Ukraine will hold territory where it can and surrender territory where it must to preserve combat power necessary to conduct counteroffensives.

Ukraine’s challenge

The challenge for Ukraine is that these counteroffensives become more difficult as Russian forces are consolidated into a smaller area. That limits Ukraine’s advantage in its ability to maneuver.

Because Russia lacks well-trained troops to conduct attacks, it will instead rely on artillery shellings to make relatively small territorial gains that offer little tactical and even less strategic value.

In my view, the war will drag on until the economic and political cost of the war become too great for Russia.

But make no mistake, Russia is nowhere close to that point, and the war will likely go on for years before Russia reaches a point of an end game.

In the meanwhile, here are six lessons that have emerged after the first year of the war.

If Russia’s invasion of Georgia in 2008 or its illegal annexation of Crimea and direct support of separatists in Ukraine’s Donbas in 2014 did not make it clear, Russia’s most recent invasion presented irrefutable evidence that war on the continent of Europe is still a reality in 2023.

As a result, instead of NATO’s being “obsolete,” as claimed by then-President-elect Donald Trump in 2017, the invasion has only strengthened the European alliance.

So much so that Sweden and Finland, two famously neutral countries, are seeking NATO membership more than 70 years after the NATO’s start.

It is difficult to know whether Russian President Vladimir Putin could have been prevented from invading Ukraine.

In my view, the United States and its NATO allies did not truly attempt to deter the earlier Russian invasions of Ukraine and Crimea, and these failures date back to the George W. Bush administration.

The sanctions following Russia’s invasion of Georgia and illegal annexation of Crimea were a relative slap on the wrist.

As Russia spent months building up its troops along the border, the United States and its allies did little more than threaten punishment should Russia invade. But those threats were ignored by Putin.

Once the invasion was imminent, instead of making a final attempt to deter, the United States, in effect, green-lighted the invasion by closing its embassy and relocating its diplomats.

By comparison, during World War II, the U.S. refused to close its embassy in Paris even as Nazi Germany threatened France.

Russia’s realisation

At the start of the conflict, Russia was ranked as the second-most-powerful military in the world behind the United States.

It held a 10-1 advantage over Ukraine, ranked 22nd in world military power.

Although they are difficult to measure, the war has shown that doctrine, training, leadership and morale are also important factors.

Ukraine’s commitment to transform itself from a Soviet to a Western-style military in 2015 has paid off.

The Ukrainian population may have the will to resist, but without enough and the right weapons systems, they probably would have lost the conventional fight months ago and would now be waging an insurgent campaign across the country.

Most of the attention about the weapons Ukraine needs has been directed at HIMARS rocket systems, infantry fighting vehicles, tanks and fighter jets.

But with a much smaller military, Ukraine is in need of just about everything.

While it may not be as visible as tanks, ammunition is just as important, and Ukraine cannot produce enough internally to replace exhausted stockpiles.

Ukraine absolutely requires these weapons systems and ammunition to sustain the fight.

Some analysts questioned whether tanks were passé following the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh war between Armenia and Azerbaijan, given their vulnerability to Azerbaijani unmanned aerial systems.

Likewise, the United States ravaged Iraqi tanks during the Gulf War in 1991.

But the issue in both wars was not the tanks, but poor training and employment.

Tanks still have a role in military maneuvers, and the Ukrainians have demonstrated they can be very effective when employed properly.

Militaries want to avoid urban warfare, and rightfully so.

It is arguably the most challenging environment in which to fight, and it is often the most brutal, as the war in Ukraine has demonstrated.

But the war has also demonstrated that urban areas cannot be avoided, and they are where a majority of the fighting has occurred.

Yet despite the prevalence of urban combat in Ukraine, the Philippines’ Marawi and Iraq, militaries remained woefully unprepared for this environment.

Is this last major war in which we will see fighter pilots?

Flying fighter jets posed little risk during counterinsurgency campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq, but they are extremely vulnerable to the antiaircraft systems of more advanced nations.

In the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh war, unmanned aircraft featured more prominently than fighter jets, and that has been the case in this war as well.

This is not surprising.

It is easier and cheaper to build an aircraft if a human doesn’t have to fly it.

It is too early to tell if this is the beginning or the end of the manned fighter jet.

More than likely, in my view this is simply the emergence of new weapons that will not replace completely the role of fighter pilots.

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Top travel tips to avoid jet lag



These travel tips will help you reduce jet lag the next time you travel abroad

We all love a holiday but, unfortunately, when you’re travelling long distances it often comes with a side of jet leg.

So what causes it and are there any ways to avoid that drowsy feeling?

After years of lockdowns and travel restrictions, people are finally back in the skies and venturing to destinations right around the world.

The term “jet lag” describes the physical and cognitive symptoms people experience when traveling quickly across several timezones.

Before you leave, you’re synchronised to your local time and once you enter a new timezone, your body’s rhythms are thrown out of whack.

The experience of jet lag varies between people because we all have our own internal rhythm.

Most have a natural daily cycle of about 24.2 hours.

But some people have slightly longer cycles than others, and this could play a role in how a person experiences jet lag.

Research shows if you have a longer cycle you might adjust quicker to westward travel.

We also get a little less resilient as we age, so the older you are, the worse the jet lag may be.

So does the direction of travel matter? Scientists think so.

Many people find westward travel easier. This is when you, essentially, gain time.

But that’s not always possible – so here are some tips to help you through the pain, or even avoid it, in the first place:

1. If you’re trying to shift your body clock, you should start on the plane. Do this by setting your watch to your destination’s timezone and line up your activities, like sleep and meals, accordingly.

2. Next, keep your caffeine and alcohol intake low on the journey to help aid both sleep and hydration.

3. When you arrive, try your absolute best to sleep during the local night time and rest during the day as needed.

4. You can take a nap – but make sure it’s 30 minutes or less.

5. If you’re prone to or experience tummy trouble while traveling, stick to small meals and only eat when you’re hungry.

6. Finally, you should also expose yourself to sunlight throughout the day when adjusting to your new timezone.

Happy travelling! #trending #featured

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Young people join protest in France against pension reforms



Young people are taking to the streets in France as Macron pushes ahead with raising nation’s retirement age

Huge crowds have gathered in France in recent weeks to protest a controversial rise in the country’s pension age by two years to 64.

Some of the marches have turned violent.

While the reform is most relevant to those approaching retirement, many young people are also taking to the streets.

But why might that be?

The French youth have joined the protests in growing numbers since the government bypassed parliament to push the plans through.

Every night for the past few weeks, 18-year-old Charles Chauliac has been making his voice heard. Not just for his parents, but for himself.

“I am against this reform simply because I have two parents who are killing themselves at work and damaging their health and I don’t want to see them die at work. My father, he works every day, he gets up to get on the tarmac at Charles de Gaulle airport at 5 a.m. to load the planes. I find it difficult to imagine myself at 64 getting up at 3 a.m.”

Chauliac is part of groups started by university students to organize unauthorized demonstrations, which are usually carried out in the evenings.

While a few protesters have been seen torching bins and throwing rocks at police, Chauliac insists he hasn’t.

Opinion polls show a wide majority of voters are opposed to the pension bill.

They are further angered by Macron’s leadership style and the government’s decision to skip the parliamentary vote.

“For young people like me, we grew up with the hope of being able to influence our society. And when we see that decisions are made without consulting the people who make up this society, that takes away the possibility of being able to change things.”

Many students, like Chauliac, have been joining private groups on social media which help students mobilize for spontaneous protests.

He says they help prevent the groups being noticed by police.

But does Chauliac worry about the repercussions, should the demonstrations get out of hand?

“I wonder about that, because I know what can happen to us too, we see the images and we see what happens to fellow protesters, but that wouldn’t prevent me from demonstrating, because I’m so outraged that it surpasses potentially endangering myself.”

Macron recently said he would press ahead with the reforms.

Unions have called for regional action, and the continuation of nationwide strikes and protests. #trending #featured

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Facial recognition has been used a million times by U.S. police



Controversial facial recognition has been used a million times by police to help track criminals

As facial recognition becomes more prominent, the founder of tech firm Clearview says his company has run nearly a million searches for U.S. police.

It’s also been revealed the company has scraped 30 billion images from platforms such as Facebook and Instagram, taken without users’ permissions.

The company has been fined numerous times in Europe and countries like Australia for breaches of privacy laws.

In the U.S., critics say the use of Clearview by authorities puts everyone into a “police line-up”.

The company’s high-tech system allows law enforcement to upload a photo of a face and find matches in a database comprising of billions of images it has collected.

It then provides links to where matching images appear online.

The tool is considered to be one of the world’s most powerful and accurate.

While the company is banned from selling its services to most U.S. companies, there is an exemption for police. #trending #featured

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