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The looming stalemate in Ukraine one year after the Russian invasion

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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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NASA confirms Odysseus lunar aircraft tipped over after failed moon landing

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NASA has confirmed that the first privately owned spacecraft to land on the moon, named Odysseus, has tipped over onto its side after a failed landing.

Despite the setback, the spacecraft is reported to be “alive and well.”

Initial data received by Intuitive Machines, the company behind the spacecraft, indicated that Odysseus had successfully landed with all six feet on the lunar surface.

However, subsequent updates revealed that the lander is now laying on its side on the lunar landscape.

According to CEO Steve Altemus, the mishap occurred when one of the lander’s legs became caught, causing it to tip over onto a rock.

This unexpected turn of events occurred a day after what was initially confirmed as a soft landing.

Solar power

While laying on its side has hindered radio transmission and potentially impacted the craft’s ability to receive solar power, Altemus reassured during a press conference that much of Odysseus’ operating abilities remain intact.

“We do have communications with the lander,” Altemus stated, noting that commands are still being sent to the vehicle.

Efforts are underway to obtain the first photo images from the lunar surface at the landing site.

Despite the setback, Intuitive Machines expressed confidence in Odysseus’ overall performance.

Mission director Tim Crain highlighted the spacecraft’s flawless flight to the moon, during which it utilized a propulsion fuel of liquid methane and liquid oxygen for the first time in space.

The journey to the lunar surface was not without its challenges, as a problem with the lander’s navigation system emerged during the final approach and descent. Ground engineers had to implement an untested workaround at the last minute to ensure a safe landing.

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Policeman charged with murdering TV presenter and his boyfriend

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A major update in the disappearance of a Channel 10 presenter and his Qantas flight attendant boyfriend, as a police officer with connections to the missing couple has been charged with two counts of murder.

NSW Police have released footage of constable Beau Lamarre-Condon handing himself in to Bondi police station.

Beau Lemarre, 28, a former celebrity blogger turned NSW Police officer, surrendered to authorities on Friday morning, following a frantic overnight search.

The charges stem from the mysterious disappearance of Lemarre’s ex-boyfriend, Jesse Baird, and Baird’s partner, Luke Davies, who were last seen on Monday.

Jesse Baird and Luke Davies are pictured.

Detective Superintendent Danny Doherty confirmed the charges, stating, “Charges have been submitted for two counts of murder.”

He further added that Lemarre is expected to be formally denied bail and brought before the court.

Jesse Baird on the set of Studio 10

Police weapon

Police allege that Lemarre used his service weapon to fatally shoot Baird and Davies at Baird’s home in Paddington on Monday night.

The bodies have yet to be found, but evidence collected at the crime scene, including bloodstained clothes discovered near a skip-bin in Cronulla, and a projectile matched to a NSW Police firearm, have led investigators to pursue charges against Lemarre.

Beau Lemarre, 28, a NSW Police officer and ex-celebrity blogger

A white van believed to be connected to the disappearance was located on Friday morning, prompting authorities to intensify their search efforts.

However, the whereabouts of Baird and Davies remain unknown.

The couple’s disappearance has sent shockwaves through the community, with friends expressing concern for their safety.

According to reports, Baird had previously voiced fears of being stalked, adding a layer of complexity to the investigation.

Police are searching for a white van (pictured) they believe was being driven by Mr Lamarre. It was captured on CCTV (pictured) driving past the couple in Paddington on Monday night

Major crime scene

Police sealed off a street in Lambton, Newcastle, located 165km away from the Paddington crime scene, on Friday after a white van matching the description of the one being sought was spotted in Karoola Road near Lambton Pool.

Local residents reported a heavy police presence in the area, with streets cordoned off and officers conducting door-to-door inquiries.

“There’s cops everywhere, walking the streets, door knocking,” said one resident.

“Got the road closed past the pool,” they added.

Another resident mentioned, “The park is taped off with police tape up near the bowling club and lots of police are walking the park at the moment.”

It is suspected that Beau Lamarre-Condon, the individual charged in connection with the disappearance, may have driven the van, registered as CW82PM, to a residence in the Newcastle suburb where it was sighted around 10pm the previous night. However, by 2am, the van had vanished again.

Prior to becoming a police officer, Lamarre-Condon was a celebrity blogger

These significant developments occurred after Lamarre-Condon’s phone showed signs of activity shortly before his arrest.

He had evaded authorities following the launch of a manhunt for the missing couple, after it was revealed that he was Jesse Baird’s ex-boyfriend.

Prior to his tenure with the NSW Police, Lamarre-Condon was known as a celebrity blogger, famous for capturing selfies with prominent figures such as Taylor Swift and Lady Gaga.

His entry into law enforcement in 2019 was not without controversy, as he garnered attention for tasering a man in the face during an arrest, which was captured on camera.

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Generative AI is threatening to kill off original music

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From original sounds to entire songs, generative AI is sparking debates on the future of the music industry.

Generative artificial intelligence can already produce original sounds, lyrics, and entire songs on its own.

So, as the new technology continues to develop, will AI mean the death of original music, or herald a new era of creativity?

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