Arm Ukraine With The Best To Save Civilization From Regression

Democracy fighting back against tyranny. We all remember the few thousands Greek hoplites and 300 Spartans at Thermopylae: it was the same fight.

Democracies must provide Ukraine with the best weapons and plenty of them, because this war has to be won against crazed oligarchs brandishing nukes. This is a question of the survival of civilization. In Iran, schoolgirls are poisoned by the hundreds, simply because zealots don’t want girls to go to school. Why not? Devious religious fanatics can do it, and hatred, especially of women, is nice (to them) especially when they can do something about it. 

Tyrannies, helped by modern technology, have no limits, except those that much more democratic regimes will enforce. Yes, democracy needs to progress a lot. But first we have to make sure it does not regress. 

Thermopylae was a tactical military defeat, but a historic democratic victory. Since then, there have been quite a few desperate battles, when the forces of greater democracy had little hope, but made a stand: the US war of independence, Valmy, the Alamo, the first Battle of the Marne, Bir Hakeim. Long term, and sometimes even short term, they turned into resounding successes…

And there was no other way. Being progressively minded is one thing, a good thing. But at some point, against the forces of infamy, and the darkest instincts, those who do not want civilization to fall into the abyss, have to fight, and engage in just war. 

This is one of these cases. And this is the most dramatic case humanity has ever encountered, because of the situation that modern weapons have created. WMDs empower dictators as never before.

Ukraine fights the forces of evil with 50 year old helicopters fighting ten missions a day.

Russia’s overwhelming firepower has forced the Ukrainians to find other ways to fight.

We are smaller, so we should use a smart approach,” said Roman, 34, one of the most experienced pilots from the 16th brigade, who has been seconded to the 18th, in an interview between combat flights. “We do the best we can.”

That has entailed retraining, constantly adapting to conditions and also some daring in their operations. The brigade keeps its helicopters in plain sight, on the wide, snow-swept steppe of eastern Ukraine, using temporary airfields, moving frequently for security.

They have developed a method of attack flying below the tree line, less than 30 feet from the ground, hugging the contours of the land at up to 150 miles per hour. The low altitude is treacherous, but avoids radar detection.

Then right at the front line they make a sudden ascent to fire a burst of 30 to 40 rockets before veering away, back the way they came.

They attack in pairs, sometimes in a pack of four. They can fire on Russian positions without flying too close to them, but it tests pilots and machines to their limits, and for dangerous seconds on the ascent exposes them to Russian anti-air defense systems.

Approaching enemy lines, Ukrainian jets and helicopters run the gamut of Russian attacks, from radio-electronic interference to antiaircraft missiles fired from jets and from the ground. Russian jets can use long range hypersonic, air to air missiles, a weapon conceived to shoot down AWACS radar plane from 400 kilometers away, flying at 6 times the speed of sound. These hypersonic weapons, without equivalanet in the West, have destroyed many Ukrainian aircrafts. They are presumably crammed with Western electronics… But the engine and aerodynamics are Russian.

“Every operation, every sortie is a heroic flight,” Oleksiy said. “Many of the militaries of other countries would not undertake these flights in the face of such countermeasures.

A pilot from the 18th Brigade, Ivan, 31, was hit by Russian air defense just as he unleashed his payload of rockets in June last year. He recalls everything turning black, but managed to turn the helicopter around.

“You have thoughts, but you feel nothing and see nothing,” he said as he recounted his ordeal in an interview. “You understand that something is happening. I realized that, most likely, I was hit.”

He crashed in a forest that was pockmarked with craters and smoking from shell fire. His co-pilot was killed, but Ivan and the engineer were thrown through the front of the cockpit as the machine burst into flames, he said.

Badly concussed, with his head sliced open, a fractured spine and a broken leg, he managed to crawl to check on his engineer, who complained of broken collarbones. Swimming in and out of consciousness, he sent their coordinates to his brigade. Under shellfire just yards from Russian positions, they lay motionless when a reconnaissance drone passed overhead, unsure whose it was, until Ukrainian medics rescued them.

Star Wars For Real! Ukrainian combat crews fly Russian-made helicopters — mainly the Mi-8 and Mi-24 — that were designed in the Soviet Union in the 1960s and 1970s.

Patrice Ayme


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