Re: Why bother?
I'm not sure calling Russians "Orcs" is racism, particularly if done by Ukrainians, a majority of whom are basically the same ethnic group. Had history turned out differently the capital of Russia might still have been Kyiv/Kiev. Although from the outside I don't claim to understand the culture
Especially in Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, orcs appear as a brutish, aggressive, ugly, and malevolent race of monsters, contrasting with the benevolent Elves... The orc was a sort of "hell-devil" in Old English literature, and the orc-né (pl. orc-néas, "demon-corpses") was a race of corrupted beings and descendants of Cain, alongside the elf, according to the poem Beowulf
Similar stereotypes were long used to characterise black people, again by the mad Austrian as subhumans, as well as the Slavs. So it's strange when we're supposedly far more tolerant and have laws against racial slurs that so many use 'orc' so casually. There are also nuances to ethnicity and race behind this conflict. Some Ukrainians view themselves as 'European' rather than slavic. Some view themselves as 'Vikings', although that's a verb rather than a noun. But then there's still a fair bit of debate around the origins of the 'Rus', ie Varagians or Khazars, or a mix. But that's history for you. Ukraine and Kiev found itself in the fortunate (or unfortunate) position of being on a popular trade route, which many of it's neighbors wanted. Then just last century, it's had to deal with a few wars, famines and population migration. Then, much as with the mad Austrian, a subset of Ukrainians have attempted to redefine what 'Ukrainian' means, and if you're not in that group, well, that's too bad.
Politically, it's probably simpler. Voting history in Ukraine shows a pretty clear distinction between east and west, with people in the west more likely to be pro-Russian. That's pretty much why Ukraine's civil war started in 2014. The bad news for the Banderites who want a pure, independent Ukraine is they're going to need to re-populate, and the EU has a lot of immigrants it wants to offload. Very few will speak Ukrainian, but then relatively few Ukrainians do either.
Russia is going to have to do a lot to live down its recent history. It might do well to learn from Germany in particular. OK their genocidal policies in Ukraine have been of the mild variety, the wholesale destruction of civilian targets, ethnic cleansing, targetted murders of local political leadership..
All of which Ukraine has been doing as well. Or we have. See Yugoslavia for more info. Or the way we've brought democracy to Libya. Where you can now buy slaves. Or you could just look at the history of Ukraine's civil war. The Bbc's tugging at heart strings with a story about Ukrainian casualties. There have been many, with life-changing injuries that will need extensive, and expensive long-term support. But Ukraine also created thousands of similar casualties in it's 8 years of bombing and shelling Donbas.. Which is still ongoing, and pretty much ignored by the West. But it's also why this conflict began.
As for your comparison of the MARS/M142 / HIMARS/M270 system to Grad, you're just being silly. I think the Russians invented multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS) in World War II - the Allies used similar rocket artillery as part of amphibious invasions, but not in general operations.
Not really. I think the Germans arguably invented it with their Nebelwerfer and we swiftly copied it with things like the Sherman Calliope and truck mounted systems. Or you could argue we pioneered it with the Congreve rocket. Or we borrowed that idea from the Chinese. But then we seem to have abandoned the idea, whereas Russia continued to develop their systems.
Although I think the US have a fragmentation warhead that nobody in Europe has bought for theirs yet. Even artillery is becoming a precision weapon, with laser-guided and GPS guided shells.
I'm assuming you mean the M30A1/2 rockets? 182,000 pre-formed tungsten fragments for area effects. Ukraine has been given a lot of those, and has fired them into Donbas. It's one of those polite myths that we only use 'precision weapons', yet know damn well they have a devastating and indiscriminate area effect.
The updated GIMLRS guided missiles is how Ukraine were able to use HIMARS to make the bridges in Kherson unusable with precision strikes. You could measure the regular spacing between hits in some of the photos I saw. We didn't give Ukraine unguided rockets, but then they have their own ex-Soviet GRADs for that.
Not from what I saw. But then the M31 only has a 23 kg explosive warhead, and is primarily a fragmentation weapon. So those ended up making easily patched holes that weren't much worse than you'd find on a typical British or American road. Eventually Ukraine got more artillery in range to prevent patching up. But one of the problems is a lot of the Ukrainian bridges were massively overengineered with future wars in mind, so St Himars only tickles them a bit. Meanwhile, Russia has started using it's cheap FAB-500 and possibly 1500kg bombs, which have been destroying bridges supplying Ukrainian forces, and will slow any future retreat. There's also the PR-friendly and mostly symbolic attacks on the Kerch bridge. An even more expensive way to make a hole in a bridge that's apparently been repaired already. Or attacking a couple of unserviceable, combat incapable ships sitting in a dry dock. But that may also be why the West is slowly losing patience with Ukraine.
Personally I think we need 5 more frigates, 5 more subs and and a couple more destroyers, more than we need more tanks. And it looks like that's how we'll spend our money.
Agreed. I wonder how much this conflict has affected NATO thinking and future planning. One thing it seems to have shown is quantity vs quality, and the value of cheap drones vs expensive MBTs. Regardless, we seem to have fallen waaay behind in the industrial capacity needed to support this kind of conflict.