Ukraine War Kicks Off 2023 with a Very Big Bang

AP Photo/Libkos

The Ukraine War launched 2023 with a bang, as a HIMARS missile strike reportedly killed dozens of just-mobilized Russian “mobiks” in the occupied city of Makiivka.


It’s the “single-deadliest known strike in months,” reports the Wall Street Journal.

There’s much more in store for this stupid war in the coming weeks, but we’ll get to that right after today’s news.

According to Monday’s WSJ, the Russian Defense Ministry admitted that 63 brand-new soldiers died in a blast from four HIMARS-launched rockets that hit a training compound. Apparently, the former vocational training center was also used to store ammunition, which needless to say would have greatly amplified the effects of a missile strike.

Reuters reports that the HIMARS hit has drawn “demands from nationalist bloggers for commanders to be punished for housing soldiers alongside an ammunition dump.” Pro-war Russian nationalist Igor Girkin complained that “this is not the first such case” of ammo and troops being kept too close together within HIMARS range.

On Telegram — a social media platform popular with pro-Russian milbloggers — the Rybar channel says that at least 70 mobiks have been found dead and more than 100 injured as rescue crews search through the rubble.

Ukraine War HIMARS Strike

The strike followed another night of heavy Russian missile attacks on Ukraine’s civilian infrastructure.

Kyiv claims the HIMARS strike killed “hundreds of Russian recruits,” perhaps as many as 400.

ISW reported on Saturday that Sunday’s attack came close on the heels of a “Ukrainian HIMARS strike from December 27” that “hit a Russian army-level command post in Kherson Oblast and killed 12 Russian officers.”


HIMARS is a fast-moving, hard-hitting missile system, designed and built in the United States, and known for its pinpoint accuracy. So far, Kyiv has received 20 of the truck-based missile launchers, of which Moscow has claimed to have destroyed more than 40.

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No, I’m not making this up.

Ukraine’s intelligence chief Kyrylo Budanov claimed on Friday that Russian strongman Vladimir Putin within days will introduce another round of mobilization like September’s call-up of 300,000 civilians to the military. It’s unclear whether the Russian military has even been able to absorb the first wave of mobiks, so for now, take Budanov’s claim with an entire salt lick.

East of Makiivka, Russian forces continue to bet everything on taking Bakhmut, a town that more than 71,000 Ukrainians called home before the Russian invasion. The current estimate is that somewhere between 2,000 and 5,000 people might still live there.

The Battle of Bakhmut has grown so desperate that Ukraine is reportedly using old tanks as artillery there, a role for which they’re ill-suited. Russian forces have been forced to take the same measure elsewhere in Ukraine.

Both sides are running low on ammunition.

So how about negotiations to bring this stupid slaughter to an end?

Earlier today on Instapundit I linked to a George Friedman column showing why that’s not likely to happen any time soon.


Friedman listed the four conditions under which most wars end.

The first is when one side simply runs out of war material. Russia has vast war-making potential and Ukraine is backed by the West’s even larger resources. So until the West gets bored or Russia collapses (neither is impossible), neither side will be forced to concede for this reason.

The second is when “one side’s morale is exhausted.” With Ukraine fighting for its national survival and Russia in thrall to powerful nationalist forces, this condition also seems unlikely for the time being.

Wars can also end when one side sees no way to “radically increase” its military power and has no hope of foreign intervention. Again, this condition also seems unlikely for as long as the West is willing to keep Ukraine in the fight.

Finally, “a war ends when the consequences of defeat seem tolerable to civilians.” Maybe, someday, Russians will tire of endless war. But renewed Russian rule over Ukraine may never again be tolerable to Ukrainians.

So it’s my unhappy conclusion that Ukraine might finish 2023 the same way it began: with yet more very big bangs.


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