A New, FEARLESS, Chicagoboyz Prediction!

My new and absolutely Fearless Prediction — because I’m not on Facebook or Twitter — is that during the Putin Regime’s next invasion of Ukraine, it will use chemical weapons.


Ukraine Russian build up 20 Jan 2022
Ukraine Russian build up as of 20 Jan 2022


This is a ballpark figure Financial Times infographic.  It low balls Ukrainian air power and excludes both sides integrated air defenses.
This is a ballpark figure Financial Times infographic. It low balls Ukrainian air power and excludes both sides integrated air defenses.

147 thoughts on “A New, FEARLESS, Chicagoboyz Prediction!”

  1. Nah! Not a credible prediction.

    Most likely outcome is that there will be no invasion. Instead, Biden* will huff & puff while Germany turns its back on the Ukraine — and then everyone will eventually agree to what Russia is requesting, which is effectively the Finlandization of the Ukraine: no foreign troops, no offensive weapons on Ukrainian soil. And then China will apply the lesson of Western helplessness to Taiwan.

    If there is a military assault by Russia, probably only in response to a prior attack by Ukrainian forces, it will be a very rapid long distance missile destruction of Ukrainian troop concentrations, supply depots, airport runways, bridges, and government buildings. After which Russia will offer the same deal of an independent but Finlandized Ukraine. Very limited Russian boots on the ground. Biden* will take credit for ending the brief war on such successful terms.

  2. While I do not rule out the use of chemical weapons, I would note that the rumors floating around seem to involve a form of Czech appeasement with the installation of a Russia aligned government. Don’t know how the Ukraine will shake out except that it will not be settled in a way the pleases both sides. I won’t go into the Russian history like I have done elsewhere, but suffice it to say that there is an emotional, cultural, and nationalistic insistence that the Ukraine and particularly Kiev be part of Russia. The Russian nation started in the 800’s at Kiev when it was conquered by the Varangians [basically Vikings on the Dnieper] and it became Kievan Rus. They are no more likely to be willing to give it up forever than we would be to give up Jamestown or Boston [OK, I might think about giving up Boston]. The Ukrainians remember being ruled by the Soviet Union. Millions died. They do not want to be ruled by Russia.

    Noting also that neither we are militarily capable of stopping a Russian invasion, especially after the collapse of much of our military under Biden, and that our sogannante European allies will freeze in the dark if they cross Russia. President* Biden called for a meeting with the German Chancellor over the Ukraine situation . . . and was told that the Chancellor was too busy. Publicly.

    Making the assumption that we survive both this crisis and our current regime [neither being guaranteed], I would like to point out another dynamic that edges into the international realm close to the poison gas you mentioned.
    1. When the Soviet Union broke up, we convinced the newly independent Ukraine to return the Soviet nuclear weapons that had been based in the Ukraine for an implied protection by the West.
    2. Y’all can bet your sweet babka that there are probably a bunch of Ukrainians who now wish they had kept some.
    3. The world has noted that the ROK, Japan, and Taiwan are quietly believed to have their own nuclear deterrents they can pull out in need, and that such seems to have given pause to the actions of the Peoples’ Republic of China.
    4. Noting the two assumptions above, and noting that guarantees by the West are for all practical purposes worthless, and noting that things that grow large mushroom clouds are far from the cutting edge of technology; if you were one of the Baltic Republics, or Poland, would this not be a good time to start talking to the ROK, Japan, or Taiwan for technical hints and taking steps to develop at least a credible threat of the ability to make a Russian attack very, very expensive . . . no matter what the West says?

    Subotai Bahadur

  3. You have to use a google translation-bot at the link. I’ve included the relevant text in English.

    Russia sends Su-35S fighter jets to Belarus for military exercises

    Allied Resolve 2022 exercises will be held from 10 to 20 February.

    The Russian Federation sent Su-35S fighters to Belarus / photo of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation

    The Russian Defense Ministry sent Su-35S fighter jets to Belarus for military exercises. As reported on the website of the Ministry of Defense , “the test of the reaction forces of the Union State will take place in two stages.” At the first stage (until February 9), the transfer and creation of groupings of troops (forces) on the territory of the Republic of Belarus as soon as possible, the organization of protection and defense of important state and military facilities, the protection of the State Border in the airspace, the check of the readiness and ability of the air defense forces on duty and means to fulfill the tasks of covering important objects on the territory of the Republic of Belarus. During the second stage of the verification (February 10-20), a joint exercise “Allied Resolve-2022” will be held, within the framework of which the issues of suppressing and repelling external aggression, as well as countering terrorism and protecting the interests of the Union State will be worked out. The practical actions of the troops will take place at the Domanovsky, Gozhsky, Obuz-Lesnovsky, Brest and Osipovichsky training grounds, as well as in separate areas of the area. It is planned to use the airfields of Baranovichi, Luninets, Lida and Machulishchi.

    As UNIAN reported earlier, on January 17, the self-proclaimed President of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, announced that operational joint exercises of the armed forces of Russia and Belarus would be held near the Belarusian borders with Poland and Ukraine in February. At the same time, Lukashenka added that Ukraine is building up its forces near the Belarusian border. According to Lukashenka, the exercises should be “solid”, and their goal should be “working out a certain plan”, as he put it, in confrontation with the forces of the West (“Baltic states and Poland”) and “south” (Ukraine).

  4. I wouldn’t think Russia would have any need to use chemical weapons. If such are used, I’d think it would actually be what is commonly referred to as a “false flag” operation, intended to generate American enthusiasm for American intervention.

    It won’t work, anymore than the supposed use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime worked to generate American support for an American invasion of Syria.

    And that, by the way, is why the guarantees by the West are now worthless. The American people have lost interest in wasting our blood and treasure doing nice things for foreigners- and I bet especially foreigners who have been bribing the Biden Crime Syndicate to force Americans to protect them.

    I suggest Ukraine ask for a refund- and Poland get its own nuclear weapons. At the very least we should send the Poles a flash drive with all the nuclear weapons data stolen by Wen Ho Lee long ago.

    It’s only fair- and it won’t cost us very much, either.

  5. All this assumes that Putin is somehow getting $100+ billion from unnamed sources somewhere between Mongolia and the South China Sea to finance his war. Russia has only about 30 mobile combat brigades of which only about 10 are any good (all of which are critical “regime-protection” forces), and pretty much zero hard currency to finance a war.

    Assuming Putin gets about $40-50 billion from a small galaxy far away for a brief war, it would consist of those ten decent brigades uselessly parading about the Ukrainian countryside mooning the Ukrainians (for foreigners unfamiliar with American colloquialisms, this means dropping their trousers, bending over and waving their white buttocks in the direction of the enemy – see the schoolbus scene in the Paul Newman move, Slapshot), followed by a pullback across the border with Putin proclaiming he won.

    He needs at least several times that money and chemical weapons (nerve gas) use to achieve any meaningful military effect on the Ukrainians given the very limited effective ground forces he has. And I’m not saying he’d win this way – just that Putin might be able to convince the they who must not be named (who are currently hosting the Winter Olympics) he could if they give him piles and piles of money.

    I.e., it makes more sense to me that Putin is running a massive scam on they who must not be named (who are currently hosting the Winter Olympics).

    But it will certainly be entertaining however it goes, because it will be happening on the other side of the world.

    Did I mention the hot Ukrainian news babes doing color commentary in English?

  6. Well, I might throw in another prediction – vis-a-vis war over the Ukraine.
    It took about ten years or a little more for enthusiasm and morale among the military ranks to get nuked to cinders, regarding the Vietnam War.
    If mine and my daughter’s reading on various milblogs and veteran social media is correct – feeling and regard for this potential war comes already pre-nuked.

  7. Subotai Bahadur,

    The Ukraine will never submit to Russian rule. Period. Full Stop.

    A unified Russia could conquer Ukraine…but Russia isn’t unified. It is a classic Oriental Despotism whose chief objective is to keep Putin in power, whatever effect this has on Russia’s long term interests.

    Putin’s invasions have created a Ukrainian nationalist monster that will hate Russians for both the great famine of the 1930’s under Stalin and now the very raw territorial wound of detached Eastern Ukraine, Crimea and the pending invasion.

    Ukrainians will work for a 100 years to get all that back, minus anyone who is visibly, culturally, Russian.

    The Ukrainians are fighting as a national people. This means a great deal, to stealing a line from a Tom holsinger comment when i wrote UKRAINE’S VIKING REVIVAL in 2015.

    “The key here is Ukrainian nationalism. No Russian leader can change that. A united Russia might be able to conquer and occupy the Ukraine, but it can’t coerce them into accepting being Russian.”

  8. Russians resorted to the little green men, spetznaz fronting outfits like wagner corps, a sysgy a state private merger, the rank and file Russian soldier has had a belly full of blood and guts in the caucasus, long before 2013, their forces were degraded by turkish drones in places like libyan where they back hafter’s forces against the rump parliament,

  9. Ukraine events proceed apace.

    ELINT News
    #BREAKING: State Department orders diplomats’ families to leave U.S. embassy in Kyiv amid Russia tensions- ABC News

  10. …ignore the hyperbole on the side bar

    Thank you for the link, but I am unable to ignore the sidebar.

    House Republicans aim sanctions at Putin, his family and his mistress

    This is the headline of a story on that sidebar. Forgive me, but I confess I am vastly more interested in the internal affairs of the country I inhabit than a dispute between two countries I don’t care about. From the story:

    Now, a large group of House Republicans is pushing President Biden to ramp up the pressure on Putin directly by going after him and his entourage for their long and well-established corruption.

    Is it too much to ask for the Gee Ohh Peeee to somehow form an opinion about the long and well-established corruption of the Democrat Party in general and Biden family in particular, instead of obsessing about the corruption of foreign governments far away?

    As a fan of the long-ago precedents set by the Peace of Westphalia, I think no good will come of the insatiable appetite of the American political class to meddle endlessly in the affairs of foreigners.

    It needs to end.

  11. I really don’t think that the rebuilding of the former Russian Empire or the Soviet one really makes all that much sense, in any way. The Russians pissed all those people off enough that they split the minute that the Soviets collapsed, and they’ve done nothing to change anyone’s mind about any of it since.

    Russia moves in on Ukraine, and what happens everywhere else on their periphery? For one thing, I see Sweden and Finland joining NATO, or forming some sort of Scandinavian military alliance that is not going to be at all likely to do Russian bidding. Not to mention, the Baltics are positively going to erupt in a frenzy of war preparations and alliance-building that’s going to make the entire cost/benefit ratio go the other way.

    I could certainly see Putin or some other Russian doing what he’s doing, but I’ll be damned if I can see the benefit of it. It doesn’t fix Russian demographics, their economy, or much of anything else. It’s pure empire-building and paranoia, only directed in the least-likely threat direction…

  12. Rule #1: Never trust any “information” leaked by the English. They earned the title Perfidious Albion fair and square.

    Why assume that Russia wants to occupy the Ukraine? (Apart from vile English misinformation)? What Russia has written in Black & White is that they simply want NATO to live up to the commitments it made when the USSR collapsed that they would not expand east to Russia’s border.

    Significant observation — Russia is moving troops & equipment from the Far East (i.e., the Chinese border) to the Ukrainian border. This suggests very strongly that there is a deal of some kind between China & Russia. Both of them don’t want US forces close to their borders. And they sense great weakness in the Biden* team.

    Other significant observation — Germany is refusing to play ball with Perfidious Albion on shipping weapons to the Ukraine, and refusing to allow German weapons to be transferred from Baltic countries to the Ukraine. Germany knows where their gas comes from, and it is still winter-time. NATO is falling apart, and not a single shot has been fired.

  13. its probably either steele’s old shop, orbis, or belling the cat, mintpress has a deep dive on their so called impartial analysis, its full of mi6 ghcq and other operators,

    putin after a fashion did find a durable proxy in kadyrov, and his retainers, that allowed him to move his forces farther into south ossetia and now the ukrainian border,

  14. I could certainly see Putin or some other Russian doing what he’s doing, but I’ll be damned if I can see the benefit of it.

    I can see the benefit- Russia continues to exist. Any potential action, intervention, invasion, into Ukraine may well be the least bad option for Russia, with no real good option.

    Imagine the US collapses. California becomes independent, but the rest of the country makes a recovery. But the various states are still iffy about the union, and governors become officials appointed by DC, because of that. Texas is…restive.

    But then the California regime decides it wants to join the Pacific Treaty Organization, led by China.

    Uh-oh. Past experience informs you that it won’t end there. You’ll have Chinese troops in Cali, likely soon including missile bases etc- and being that the California regime is notoriously incompetent, odds are it will quickly become nothing more than a puppet state of you-know.

    What do?

    Well, I bet the DC regime would do its level best to end the Cali regime before the Cali regime ended it.

    Even if that brought about a different sort of catastrophe.

  15. I don’t see it, where would the plausible deniability be? Plus there’s no Assad to be willing to do it. Makes no sense. Looks to me like their play is to get Germany to get Ukraine to buckle under.

  16. I would be completely pointless to use chemical weapons. Nearly of that is western false flags anyway. Now the toxic results from say, a precision MRLS strike will be horrendous, but its not chemical warfare.

    Putin just want Ukraine broken. It is, and he’s gonna break it some more. As it sits now the probable next set of moves will involve the failure of Ukraine to implement the Minsk agreement, which they signed. As they will not address the problem, a simple declaration of independence, will put the cat firmly amongst the pigeons.

    That may trigger Zelensky to the point he attacks, then … all bets are off.

  17. As to Trent’s prediction, it’s hard to see what chemical weapons would accomplish. They aren’t very useful as offensive weapons. When you do the math to see just how many shells and bombs it would take to make a single square km of territory impassable to unprepared troops for a couple of days it’s measured in tons. Obviously, as a terror weapon against civilians in cities, the math is different.

    The first problem is that there would be no deniability. Ironically, we have Putin himself to thank for providing samples of their latest agents. The second is that any such use would also kill many ethnic Russians.

    As said above, the Russian Army is a faint shadow of the Soviet prototype. If I can see the Chinese taking advantage of Russia denuding the Chinese border of troops to become bogged down in a long term insurgency thousands of miles away, connected by a single rail line, I’ll bet somebody in Russia can too.

    In terms of Chinese complicity, they are selling on many LNG cargoes that had been intended for domestic consumption, many to Europe.

    This may just a money making opportunity for them but it doesn’t reinforce Europe’s dependency on Russian gas.

    Even the Germans with their historically strong stomachs might raise a bit of bile as pictures of large scale use of gas flood the internet.

  18. MCS,

    Nerve gas delivered by current Russian Army means would be very effective against Ukrainian troops outside urban areas. Basically it would operate as a dramatic, and utterly necessary, Russian force multiplier in field fighting, and Russian/Soviet fighting vehicles have had over-pressure ABC defense systems for more than 50 years.

    Right now the Russians plain lack the ground force strength to do more than harass the Ukrainians in rural areas. At most they can ineffectually raid. With chemical weapons the Russians can take and hold significant territory, at least through the summer. Without it they simply can’t anywhere.

    I doubt the Russians can hold much for long even with chemical weapons, not to mention the political cost of doing so. Even the Europeans will have difficulty not imposing a total economic embargo in retaliation, plus their financial systems would nab the secret holdings of Russian political elites.

    I agree that this would be a disastrous move for Putin, his cronies and domestic allies of convenience. This is why I doubt it will happen. But the Russians doing any invasion of Ukraine is foolish, and foolish people do foolish things. IMO Putin is very isolated and listens to only a small group whose method of vying for prominence with each other is to tell Putin what they think he wants to hear.

    The Ukrainians are by no means innocent here. They are in this predicament because their culture and politics are even more corrupt than the Russia’s, which is not easy. Things started to change when Putin invaded them in 2014, but they haven’t changed much, and certainly not enough to make a difference right now. What counts is that the Russians have taken on the burden of attacking, and IMO the Ukrainians now have the nationalism required to die fighting until the Russians leave them alone. It’s the Tar Baby defense.

    Only I don’t think the Ukrainians will leave the Russians alone after the Russians attack and eventually leave. IMO the Ukrainians will then go after Russians in Russia if Putin is still alive. This will be particularly ghastly if the Russians use chemical weapons in their apparently about-to-happen new invasion.

  19. UK Foreign Ministry likely blew a sigint source to surface this.

    The UK sez Putin is going for a full over run of all of Ukraine with a Russian installed government.

    It’s good to have a collaborative source, but there was no need. It’s painfully obvious from the troop deployments that Russia intends to take all of Ukraine, not just a few eastern oblasts.


  20. It’s going to be a lot like the US going into Iraq; sure, you can take the Iraqi military out with a limited force, but then what?

    Looking back on it, Shinseki was right with his force projections. The Iraqi military was never the real problem; it was the post-conflict bit where you had to worry. The Russians may have the forces and the numbers to take Ukraine; what I don’t think they have are the numbers to hold and pacify it, especially now that they’ve spent all this time radicalizing them. Putin may think it’s an easy win; I suspect that there’s gonna be a bit of a shock coming.

  21. 1. The Russians might use poison gas, but they might check the direction of the prevailing winds in the Donbass and decide not to.
    2. The Russians will no more give up on owning the Ukraine than the Serbs will give up on Kosovo.
    3. Russians have always liked attacking in winter.
    4. The Ukrainians remember the Holodomor.

    Buckle your seat belt, it is going to get bumpy.

  22. The first thing about nerve gas is that it’s not a gas, think heavy, oily liquid. Dispersing it over a wide area has always been a problem. It degrades and becomes inactive fairly quickly when exposed to sunlight and moisture. It’s effective at a very low but still finite dose. Multiplying that by a significant area still requires a large quantity.

    The next is that it is just as effective on your troops as the enemy unless they are well equipped, well trained and well disciplined. None of which has ever described the Russian or Soviet Army. The great bulk of the troops are one year conscripts, even the NCO’s, most of which have barely learned who to salute when their time is up, although many seem to have time to adopt severe drug and alcohol adictions.

    Ukraine is one of the major manufacturers of land mines. Clearing a mine field after deployment of nerve agents probably approximates hell to fair extent.

    Unfortunately, wars generally start for some combination of overreach, misjudgement and blind stupidity. Rational analysis fails.

  23. You guys are still assuming that Russia’s aim is to occupy Ukraine. Why? What Russia wants is a non-Russian buffer state.

    Read the documents that Russia sent to the US and NATO and published. Russia does not want to occupy Ukraine — Russia wants an independent Ukraine which is not in NATO and does not have foreign forces & offensive weapons on its territory.

    Ignore the English disinformation. Russia can achieve all it wants by missile attacks on key installations in Ukraine without boots on the ground. The hopeful outcome is that the threat of Russia attacking, along with the realization that most of Europe and 5 out of 6 US citizens have no interest in coming to the aid of the Ukraine, will make the Ukrainian kleptocrats agree to what Russia wants.

    Meanwhile, China may act. Or Iran. There are many moving pieces in this battle space.

  24. yes the Ukrainians remember the Holomodor, the pretext was a nationalist figure, name escapes me, executed in 1926, the Russians remember the part of the oun and their collaboration with the Nazis, as well as the successor faction Swoboda, which had ministers in the previous government, as for a buffer state, that’s less necessary then the previous era

  25. I’m just a rando on the internet, some some super expert like the esteemed Lt Col Vindman (make sure you include his title, he’s earned it, you know), but my guess is Russia’s going to just want (and get) control of a land connection to the Crimea, plus humiliation of NATO and the US, and a message to everyone in Eastern Europe that the West doesn’t care about them at all, and they better get used to that reality.
    My other suspicion, which I’ve said here several times going back to last year, is that this Ukraine think could easily be a diversion from China doing something against Taiwan. A full invasion seems crazy, but the entire world has complete contempt for the United States government so who knows what anyone thinks they can get away with now.

  26. the democratic yeltsin government, which had shelled the parliament the previous october! had committed themselves to the chechen engagement, having forgotten everything they had learned in Afghanistan,

  27. interesting the most proximate border checkpoint, klimsky, was briefly in ukrainian hands, which tells the insignificance of these maps,

  28. Germany knows where their gas comes from, and it is still winter-time. NATO is falling apart, and not a single shot has been fired.

    NATO lost its purpose years ago except for draining the US of cash. The pansies around Biden will lose their nerve and Putin will get a “compromise” of some sort of friendly Ukraine regime. After all, the present regime was installed by the CIA.

  29. Just a side thought — We know (because he told us) that “General” Milley traitorously promised his Chinese counter-part to keep him informed in advance if President Trump ordered any military action against China. Should we assume that “General” Milley has a similar deal with his Russian counterpart? Or perhaps that China is happily forwarding information they get from “General” Milley to Russia?

  30. The Russian build up is behind schedule and it is doing really stupid things in the classic ‘pointy haired manager in an irrational regime’ sense.

    Back in the 1990’s I audited railway car transport of 2.5 & 5-ton trucks from Sealy Texas to US Army units and later armored cab versions of same coming back from Iraq for a truck rebuild program in Texarkana in the mid-2000s. There is a very limited supply of oversized flatbed cars that safely move tanks, AFV’s and really big commercial vehicles like mining trucks or cranes in any rail system.

    The Ukrainians spotted that Russian Iskander short range ballistic missile complexes from the Chinese border were transported by coal gondola cars from Siberia due to a shortage of oversized load rail flat cars.

    Gondola rail cars are for the transport of rugged, unfinished commodities used in construction and manufacturing like sand, gravel, scrap metal, steel and other raw materials used to build roads, machinery, skyscrapers, shopping centers etc etc. and they dump same out the vee shaped bottom.

    More recent variants side dump, which is what the Iskanders were transported upon. (Gondola car link: https://www.american-rails.com/gondola.html)

    Anyone who has done a lick of railway watching knows gondola rail cars rattle, bang, and shift their loads laterally, making continual noise even when moving at slow speed…and the Iskander trains were anything but slow.

    Short form:

    That Russian Iskander short range ballistic missile complexes gondola car train traveled a distance that is is greater than the straight line distance from Key West Florida to Point Barrows Alaska.

    The Iskanders transported thus need a depot level tear down & rebuild to be safely fired. This includes an x-ray of the solid rocket motors to see if there are explosion causing cracks in the solid motor fuel caused by being rattled like beans in a maraca 10,000 miles from Siberia to the Ukraine border.

    We are looking at a full on “Irrational Regimes become more so under pressure” situation. It is all internal power games, lies and virtue signaling inside Putin’s closest circle of advisors.

    This hugely obvious “Irrational Regime” symptom is one of the reasons I see Chemical Warfare as being on the table.

  31. I do like the idea that the Russians just moving their high-tech equipment is being done so stupidly that they are wrecking it without a war.

  32. with a 4/1 advantage in land forces, and a 15/1 advantage in airpower, you don’t need a force multiplier like chemical weapons, chemical weapons have been used in syria, against larger cohorts allawites vs sunnis, the pathet lao did employ weapons against the hmong tribesman, but those were internal developments,

  33. Pen Gun,

    The Putin Regime inner circle are deeply into both groupthink and pluralistic ignorance. Expat Russians have been talking about these delusions and the unshakable faith of the Putin inner circle for some years.

    One of the Russian speaking people I correspond with mentioned Russian generals bragging on TV current affairs shows in mid 2014 how “They would take all Ukraine with two Bdes of Spetsnaz and MRAPs.”

    Meanwhile, at the same time they were saying this, the Ukrainian Air Force was doing low level laydown drops of OFAB250s and FAB100s from Su-24M and Su-25M that was killing Spetsnaz stiffened separatists 500 at a time.

    Shortly after this SA-11 medium SAM’s showed up and the Ukrainian Air Force was driven from the Donbas skies.

    That’s the thing about having the bigger battalion mentality. You can always throw more men and material at a problem if you screw up the first time around.

    The problem for Putin is this simply doesn’t scale well when you are trying to do regime change on an enemy country as large and well armed as Ukraine. A country that also has eight years combat experience fighting Russians and was a focus of the Soviet arms industry.

  34. Remember a few years back when Trump wanted to withdraw US troops from Syria and the entire DC and media establishment went into a total meltdown that it was going to mean the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Kurds?
    The entire US foreign policy establishment is a joke and a farce and needs to be swept completely aside.

  35. What the US needs is more than a “regime change”; it needs the entire sorry edifice torn down and re-erected with different people running it, along with some massive changes to the rules of the game, so as to at least slow down the next cycle of corruption.

    I would just about guarantee you that most of the idiots in our State Department, CIA, and DIA sections dealing with this “crisis” are just like the ones I dealt with back during the Clinton Administration who were shepherding the situation in Yugoslavia. I’d bet there are probably about ted idjit Foggy Bottom types who don’t speak the local languages to every one of the non-idjit types who do, and who aren’t being listened to, ‘cos they ain’t got them the riaght them-thar creeeedential thingies on their office walls. I’d lay further long odds that every single situation report, position paper, and briefing put together is done by that first group, and that the people who know what is going on and who might do some good are being ignored and sidelined. More than likely, they’ll take the blame when the inevitable disaster accrues, just like we had happen in Korea and Iraq when the idiots working the State Department circuit green-lit both invasions. Only difference is, this time? The Presentdent did it.

    Anyone else remember that classic Peter Sellers movie? Being There? Does that not seem like an apropos theme movie for this administration?

  36. This sure sounds like Russia to me. Nobody down to the grunts that tossed the missiles into the freight cars was going to say no. Not that it will save some poor schlub from a long stay in Siberia.

    Paying attention to logistics is what separates the pros from the pissers.

  37. Trent, you do understand that Minsk was really to stop the breakout of the Donbass forces, after the Debaltseve pocket destroyed a great deal of the Ukrainian forces in the area.

    Those forces, led by Russian Special Forces, were about to overrun a hunk of the Ukraine. I have watched video of the aforementioned MRLS precision attacks and they were amazing. An entire group, maybe 100 vehicles and the men in them turned to crispy critters in about a minute.

    This will not be a war like you are used to. America beating up on some savages somewhere, is not at all what modern war will look like. If there is a war, and I doubt it will come to that, all the command posts in the Ukraine will simply disappear. That’s what Iskanders do so well. Your strange characterization of what they need to work is rather funny. Russian weapons are robust and work right out of whatever box they came in.

  38. no it’s more like spies like me, fitzhume and milbarge,

    the afghan lesson not learned in chechya, 15 years later, the Russians sent in a Zenith Spetznaz team (one of whom would defect and give us the chapman cell) they took out Amin, who wasn’t a sufficient puppet for their liking 10 years later, they left with their tail between their legs, the brain trust around Yeltsin told him it would be cakewalk, (whatever cognate applies,) within two years they caught the ambulance, icing dudayev, some three years later, the war began anew,

  39. Go all the way back to Sun Tzu — Misunderestimating the other guy is one of the classic ways of getting surprised & defeated at the same time.

    Undoubtedly there are dumb things happening on the Russian side — they have bureaucracies, same as us. Will Russian dumb things be as utterly foolish as the Biden*/Milley abandonment of Afghanistan, or the multiple events in which US Navy ships have run into other ships and shorelines? Time will tell.

    In the meantime, we should remember Stalin’s dictum — Quantity has a quality all of its own.

    Then put yourself in the position of the corrupt kleptocrats running the Ukraine. They know that the major European countries such as France & Germany are turning their backs on them. Doughty Denmark is sending 4 (four!) fighter jets to a neighboring country — an obvious expression of half-hearted support. No reasonable person has any confidence in support from Biden* or Milley. And the Russians have all that weaponry on their border, some of which might work. My guess is that the corrupt Ukranian kleptocrats will realize they are isolated and fold — without any significant kinetic warfare.

  40. “The Ukrainians spotted that Russian Iskander short range ballistic missile complexes from the Chinese border were transported by coal gondola cars from Siberia due to a shortage of oversized load rail flat cars.”

    The important implication of that observation is that Russia is not expecting any problems on its Chinese border while it deals with NATO encroachment on its Ukranian border.

    Perhaps the Russians have a deal with Xi that he will not attack Russia when the forces defending its border with China have been removed. Perhaps Xi is planning to double-cross the Russians. Perhaps Putin & Xi have a joint plan to bring the US to its knees on two fronts simultaneously.

    If we had smart leaders, they would be proceeding very cautiously right now. But if we had smart leaders, they would not be aggressively expanding NATO right up to Russia’s borders.

  41. Gavin, Gavin, Gavin… You’re making the same mistake that Putin is. This isn’t down to any decision made by the kleptocrats in Kiev, Moscow, or even Washington DC.

    This is going to depend entirely on the reaction of the Ukrainian people, themselves. And, the Russians living among them. The kleptos won’t get a say in much of anything, because it’ll be a la lantirne with them, and then you’re going to see a whole lot of Ukrainians out in the countryside re-enacting what they wish they’d done during the Holodomor, and the Russians play-acting “Smash the Nazi-Fascist Scum” trying to put them down. It’s going to come down to whose will is stronger, and whose self-image prevails. I kinda suspect that the worm is going to turn on the ethnic Russians, this time around, and the Ukraine is going to do some serious damage to them that will end badly.

    It’s just like here in the US–Say that Biden decides to sell out to someone: He can pull all the chicanery he and that client likes, but when the time comes to actually, y’know… Take possession? It’s going to be ugly–Average person isn’t going to put up with much more of their bullshit, and it’s almost a certainty that whatever the government tries to enforce, they’re going to find that there’s no more “Obey” left in the majority of the population.

    This ain’t 1919, and they’re not going to be sending out the NKVD to enforce the Holodomor. Too many of those Ukrainians remember, and they’ve still got weapons stored away. Not to mention, the Russians do not have that near-religious fervor they had to have to starve the majority to death that they’ll need to.

    If Putin takes all of Ukraine, that’s pretty much the death of Russia, right there: Mark my words. He hasn’t the mass or the fervor he’d need to make that happen. Those Russian troops ain’t going to die for stupidities like “conquering Ukraine”, and the Ukrainians are not going to roll over and show their bellies. If anything, I’d expect this to turn into Russia’s Vietnam, only ‘effin cubed.

    I’ve spent some time watching this stuff, and ten years ago, I’d have said that Ukraine was a fake country, held together with spit and a promise. The constant barrage of Russian provocation has, unfortunately for them, radicalized the population and made a nation where there was once a half-forgotten ethnicity. I don’t think Putin understands this, or he wouldn’t have done what he did over the last ten years–“Softly-softly, catchee-monkey” is what he should have done, and utterly failed at. The Ukraine is not what it was, and I suspect he’s missed that fact, entirely.

    It’s another example of delusional thinking by the elites. They think they matter, when in the end…? It boils down to the people, and the people in the Ukraine want nothing to do with Russia. That matters–Who is running the crime spree in Kiev does not.

  42. This is all a scam.
    Note what’s missing in all this hysterical coverage–US reporters in Ukraine interviewing anyone, whether in their government or just “man on the street” stuff.
    Because all that the US media does anymore is parrot whatever their “sources” in the system tell them.
    It’s all just “stray voltage”, because every top of the hour radio news update now is talking about this instead of covid, the economy, etc.

  43. Kirk,

    See at the US reporter tweet link:


    Christopher Miller
    I’ve put this question to so many Ukrainians in recent weeks. Almost every response — in words and demeanor — was similar to this man’s.

    Quote Tweet
    Denis Kazakiewicz
    · 20h
    – Does your family have a plan of action in case of Russian invasion into Ukraine?
    ⁃Yes. We have.
    ⁃Do you mind to share?
    ⁃Will take a gun and go for a war.

    The problem for Putin is that while he has the power to massively escalated this war with Ukraine

    The Ukrainian government does not have the power to get the Ukrainian people to stop fighting.

  44. Brian,

    Just because the MSM doesn’t broadcast it, doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened.

    For which, please see my last comment.

  45. Kirk,

    The late Cold War KGB didn’t understand the “Nationalities Problem” inside the Soviet Union.

    Which is why there is no more Soviet Union.

    And Putin is ex-KGB.

  46. “If Putin takes all of Ukraine, that’s pretty much the death of Russia, right there: Mark my words.”

    Read what Russia has written in the documents they sent to the US and NATO. There is nothing to indicate that Russia wants to occupy all of the Ukraine. Russia says it wants NATO to live up to its commitment not to expand to Russia’s border. Russia wants western Ukraine to act as a buffer. If they occupy all of Ukraine, then they end up with a hard border against NATO in Poland — exactly what they want to avoid.

    As the US has demonstrated in Iraq and Afghanistan, occupations tend to be expensive failures. We should assume that Russia has learned from our mistakes. If the Ukranian kleptocrats allow this situation to degenerate to the point of war, it won’t be a Russian occupation they will be facing — it will be a Russian bombing & missile campaign of destruction of Ukranian assets until the Ukranians agree to Finlandization.

    Chairman Xi would love to see how well US weapons work in practice against a real opponent. It would be a big help to him on deciding what to do about Taiwan.

  47. An explanatory comment — remember when the USS Fitzgerald under command of an appropriately diverse deck officer ran into a cargo ship off Japan in 2017? The Fitzgerald had the most sophisticated radar going, reportedly able to detect a swimmer in the water — but it failed to detect a cargo ship the size of an island. Real world performance of the equipment (and the ship) was far short of nameplate performance.

    Apparently, the ship’s complex radar was malfunctioning, and no-one on board had the knowledge to fix the problem. These are the kinds of issues that become obvious only when ships, planes, and other equipment are put to the test in the real world. How much would it be worth to Chairman Xi to see such a real test, especially if the conflict was in some other mugs back yard?

  48. I don’t trust Russians as a general rule, those who have been on the receiving end of this treatment, get my sympathy until proven otherwise, Putin is a Vor a mob boss who thinks himself a czar, the former was proven in the shootdown of that dutch airline some seven years ago? what was the worlds reaction to that, mostly a trifle, this was carried out by Green men, spetznaz operators

  49. Most of the comments here have been in ignorance of what happened the last time Putin invaded the Ukraine, in 2014. The Ukrainians stopped him with only minor gains in the Donbass, where there was then a Russian ethnic majority, though he conquered the Crimea.

    Since then the Donbass has been a bleeding sore more for Russia, which forced Putin to pull out Russian ground combat forces there because the families of the conscripts sent there objected. Think about that. Since then the Russians have held the occupied portion of the Donbass with local Russian recruits and enthusiastic Russian idiot nationalists, supported by Russian artillery, EW personnel, etc., who avoid taking risks or getting within Ukrainian shooting range.

    The 10 maneuver brigades of all-volunteer politically reliable troops, all of which and whom are “regime protection forces”, the Russians used in the 2014-2015 fighting (roughly 100,000 men) were pretty much burnt-out by casualties, and it has taken most of the past eight years for them to be brought up to strength and re-trained.

    Russia has another 20 ground combat maneuver brigades which rely heavily on conscripts. They are nowhere near as combat-effective as the 10 regime protection brigades, and aren’t politically reliable either in terms of offensive operations in some other country. Plus there will be much greater domestic political problems if they are used against the Ukraine, which includes a possible (or even probable) collapse of the conscription system, and that would certainly entail the effective collapse of Russian armed forces overall.

    Putin de facto controlled the Ukrainian government in 2014, because they were so corrupt he simply bought them, but those guys were thrown out by a revolution of the Ukrainian people, and enough of their newly nationalistic young men rushed to defend the Donbass as to stymie the Russian attackers.

    Since then the Ukrainians have been developing a real army and their nationalist feelings overall have soared, chiefly due to continued Russian occupation of parts of the Donbass plus Russian intentional brief resumptions of hostilities there. Putin did the latter for domestic political benefit, but it will definitely bite him and his troops in the ass if they go after the Ukraine again.

    In terms of the “correlation of forces” (old Soviet military term), Ukrainian military force capability in defending the Ukraine has trebled or quadrupled since 2014, while Russian force capability in invading the Ukraine has stagnated.

    So I see no way in hell that a repeat of 2014 will have any better outcome for the Russians if they don’t introduce a lot more combat power somehow. The absolute most they can do within the existing “correlation of forces” is take minimal casualties while their most mobile mechanized units whip around for 10-14 days in areas where there are minimal Ukrainian forces, pretending that this is doing something, and then run back to Russia. So Putin can pretend he won.

    Any contention that Putin intends to install a puppet government is ludicrous unless he uses chemical weapons or nukes, both of which would be self-defeating in the long term.

    But Putin has, to me, clearly found a source of hard currency in the $20 billion plus range for his forces presently threatening the Ukraine to have remained mobilized as long as they have so far. That source can only be China, in particular its President-for-Life Fearless Leader Chairman Xi in particular. $50 billion would finance the 10-14 day “Phony War” I’ve described. $125 billion +/-$25 billion would provide a credible (to credulous Chinese investors) possibility of a Russian conquest of the Ukraine using chemical weapons.

    My initial opinion stands – Putin is scamming the Chinese for as much as he can get. But there is a meaningful possibility that he’ll invade again. Given that he failed in 2014 while the Ukrainians are much stronger now, I simply don’t believe Putin expects a different outcome unless he does something dramatically different. Trent postulates that as chemical weapons use, which is insane, but Putin trying again without them is also insane.

    Note that Trent didn’t say Putin will invade again – Trent only predicted that, if Putin does so, the Russian forces will use chemical weapons.

    And for those who quibble about the effectiveness of Russian chemical weapons in this situation, consider that Russian Army command, control, communications and intelligence, plus fire control, are now about equal to those of the US Army when we invaded Iraq in 2003. The US Army’s capabilities in those fields haven’t stood still since 2003 and neither have the Russians’. IMO we still have roughly a twenty-year edge on them.

    I doubt that Russian chemical weapons use can bring them a victory of any sort over the Ukraine (because of inflamed Ukrainian nationalism), but not-implausible arguments can be made to the contrary. We know Putin’s inner circle consists at least almost entirely of people who only tell him what he wants to hear, and China’s leadership is at least as gullible.

  50. Russia has a forty some year history of leaping before they look clearly from afghanistan to the first ukrainian clash, From Marshal Ustinov to Gromov to whoever heads the General Staff now, there were brush wars they engaged in in the interim, in places from abkhazia to georgia
    (some of the fiercest Chechen fighters like Basayev came from the former) they resorted to pmcs and contraktiki because the average Russian soldier has had a bellyfull of war,

  51. Russia does really well when the war fits two separate scenarios: One, when they’re fighting a war of attrition for national survival. Then, they start thinking “Mother Russia”, and they’ll let the leadership get away with literal murder while they die in job lots because of poor tactics, lousy and inadequate equipment, ‘cos “RODINA!!!”.

    That’s one scenario. Did in the French, did in the Germans.

    The other is the slow sort of nibbling away with paramilitary forces like the Cossacks over the course of long generations. That’s how the Russians built their Caucasian territories.

    What they don’t do well is this stuff like where they tackled the Turks directly; invaded Poland after the Bolsheviks, and it likely would have been how their invasion against Germany would have gone if the Germans hadn’t have gone down the death-ride path of Barbarossa.

    This smells to me like one of these latter circumstances, not either of the two former.

  52. I still think Putin has read Biden and his regime and has concluded that we will tell the Ukrainians to fold. They may not but it is not something we want to be involved in.

  53. “Most of the comments here have been in ignorance of what happened the last time Putin invaded the Ukraine, in 2014. The Ukrainians stopped him with only minor gains in the Donbass”

    Not at all. I was quite clear about the actual cause of Minsk and the breakout that was about to happen. I watched a great deal of the videos produced by that conflict, everyone has a cell phone these days. The rebel faction was locals, led by Russian Special forces and the Ukrainian side was defeated, by these forces. Only Minsk stopped the breakout after the Debaltseve pocket, destroyed the bulk of the Ukrainian forces in the area. They would never have agreed to Minsk if they did not have to.

    They hate the deal and have done nothing to implement what they signed, and that may be a bad mistake. ;)

  54. Tom H: “The Ukrainians stopped him [Putin] with only minor gains in the Donbass …”

    Pengun: “The rebel faction was locals, led by Russian Special forces and the Ukrainian side was defeated, by these forces.”

    The truth is out there … somewhere!

  55. Gavin,

    Pengun’s version is Russian disinformation. The initial Russian attack into the Donbass consisted of only some of the ten regime protection brigades, with some of the other 20 partly conscript brigades later as follow-on forces. The Russian govt. claimed the initial attackers were local Russian volunteers with Speznatz officers, but those units were composed only of Russian Army brigades composed of Speznatz, airborne, etc., i.e., all politically reliable and militarily effective.

    This composition changed over time. The regime protection brigades either moved elsewhere or took too many casualties and withdrew, the Russian people demanded return of the partly conscript brigades due to casualties, and quite a few ethnic Russians living in the Ukrainian Donbass really did sign up, led by Speznatz officers. They were also joined by patriotic enthusiastic Russian national volunteers. They comprised the entire Russian force in the Donbass eventually. But that was later in the war.

  56. “Perhaps the Russians have a deal with Xi that he will not attack Russia when the forces defending its border with China have been removed.”

    That sure worked out great when it was with Hitler. There’s a lot more in Siberia that China wants then there is in Taiwan.

  57. The most accurate Western/English Language account of the 2014-2015 Russia-ukraine War is by Dr. Phillip Karber, President of the Potomac Foundation, a defense and foreign policy think-tank. Karber was there when it happened with the Ukrainians

    His most detailed presentation is on you tube here:

    The Russian Military Forum: Russia’s Hybrid War Campaign: Implications for Ukraine and Beyond
    Mar 10, 2015

  58. “Pengun’s version is Russian disinformation.”

    Again, not at all. That’s my version after watching that conflict on youtube and through several Russian and Ukrainian sources. The actual fight over the Debaltseve pocket was very interesting as the Ukrainian forces did not like the forest much and used roads when they could. That allowed the Donbass forces to suck them into Debaltseve where they pocketed the main force, or created a boiler as they liked to say.

    With western disbelief at a high level, the locals piled up the bodies and took pictures. Invited whoever to come count em’. After that there was little left to stop a breakout, and Minsk was the only thing that did.

  59. Ukrainian “oligarchs” (what a stupid word, why do we never refer to Gates, Bezos, Musk, etc., as “oligarchs”–it’s just a propaganda term, kind of like “dossier”. The West has billionaires, the East has oligarchs. Republicans have slanderous talking points, Democrats have dossiers.) have massive amounts of compromising information on Biden and his whole family. Ukraine was the centerpiece of the utterly farcical first impeachment of Trump–it’ll be amazing to see how historians try to deal with that mess. This massive corruption is now shaping our entire foreign policy, and has taken over current media coverage. I hope Ukrainians who love freedom are able to enjoy it. I couldn’t care less about this current farce, which is a scam by and for rich and powerful people both here and there, who should by all rights be hanging from lampposts.

  60. “Dr. Phillip Karber, President of the Potomac Foundation, a defense and foreign policy think-tank.”

    Karber asserted (at ~35 min) that in 3 minutes, Russian fire from Russian soil destroyed two Ukranian battalions.

    Hmmm! And that was merely artillery, not any of the really devastating long-range missile fire Russia could bring down on Kiev directly. The thought must be forming in the kleptocrats minds that maybe Finlandization would be preferable to destruction.

    Brian: “I couldn’t care less about this current farce”

    You, and 5 out of 6 US citizens, according to some polling. When was the last time 5 out of 6 Americans agreed on anything? Germany & France clearly don’t want a war with Russia. The Western punters pushing this are Boris Johnson (under great pressure because he was partying while ordering his sheep to be Locked Down) and Biden* (unpopular for obvious reasons). They are looking for a distraction — and don’t care if human beings die.

    There is a simple peaceful solution to all this — NATO lives up to its commitments to Russia, and then the US quits NATO. Europeans are big boys & girls — they can look after themselves.

  61. You will never get a think tank gig like that, the good oligarchs are the ones like kolomoisky whose bank lost 6 billion dollars of funds, I think that is the vesco theft scaled up from 1975,
    there’s also pinchuk, that keeps john bolton in clover, he was part of the iran deal the bad ones are the ones that called out the fraud, easy peasy,

    so the purpose of this crimean boogaloo, benefits china directly by deliberate action, since most of the admnistration owes to the dragon’s largesse,

  62. MCS: “There’s a lot more in Siberia that China wants then there is in Taiwan.”

    And yet Russia is moving its weaponry & forces from the Chinese border to the other side of the country. My guess is that is a very significant element in these events. Possible explanations:

    1. Putin is desperate for forces on the Ukranian border, and is taking a huge risk with respect to China. (Possible, but low probability).

    2. Putin thinks he has a deal with Xi, with an assurance that China will not attack Russia while those forces are at the Ukranian border. (Highly probable). Meanwhile, Xi is intending to double-cross Putin and invade Siberia after those forces have left. (Possible, but low probability).

    3. Putin has a deal with Xi, which XI intends to honor — at least for now. Xi is promoting chaos in Europe in order to further destroy US capacity & credibility and to take advantage of the situation to make moves in Taiwan and elsewhere. If Russia ends up weakened too — so much the better. (Quite probable).

    If only the US had competent, non-corrupt political leaders and non-woke senior military officers!

  63. Hey, Gavin… How about the US live up to its obligations to Ukraine? Or, have you conveniently forgotten the deals made by both the US and Russia at the end of the Cold War, in order to encourage Ukraine to give up its nukes?

    Y’all are a bunch of idjits. You think that by wrecking the anti-proliferation measures that there will be no repercussions whatsoever, and that it’ll be just fine to let it happen.

    However, just like with Libya, people are observing. Care to guess what happens the next time someone suggests to some WMD-seeking regime that they give up on it all? Oh, yeah–No need to worry about it, ‘cos that ain’t going to happen.

    From the standpoint of nuclear proliferation alone, Ukraine needs to be defended, because that was the word we gave back when they turned over their nukes. The repercussions of not defending Ukraine are going to be huge, down the road. But, of course, you don’t care about that, ‘cos “someone else’s problem”.

  64. you ignore the nature of these pirates, that have taken the ship of state, they really don’t give a frak about ukraine, in so far it affects big guy’s wallet, about boris’s part he might think he’s Lord Aberdeen, who knows at this point,

  65. So to defend nuclear anti-proliferation policies–policies that are already completely dead due to Biden’s former boss’s idiocy–we have to support massively corrupt American politicians and figures as they try to pay back their foreign paymasters by saber rattling against Russia? After 5+ years of the most insane conspiracy theory hysterical ranting about Russian related corruption that completely hamstrung the previous administration? Get the frack out of here with that nonsense. The billionaire Ukrainians who bought off Biden can take care of themselves.

  66. You trust general milley vanilli darth austin, they see the rank and file soldier as the enemy, they proved it this summer,

  67. “2. Putin thinks he has a deal with Xi, with an assurance that China will not attack Russia while those forces are at the Ukranian border. (Highly probable). Meanwhile, Xi is intending to double-cross Putin and invade Siberia after those forces have left. (Possible, but low probability).”

    How very sporting of him, of course if Xi’s planning on making a move on Siberia, he’ll hold off until Putin has his troops back in place. It’s the fair thing, after all, wouldn’t want to take advantage of a fellow when he wasn’t looking. It’s not like Xi couldn’t have chaos in Europe and Siberia too. As I say, IF.

    Brian, when you elect morons like Obama and Biden, you’re pretty much guaranteed unpalatable choices from then on. Of course, both Obama and Biden have essentially promoted proliferation in Iran. The secondary effects of of repudiating a 30 year old commitment probably doesn’t even occur to them. It’s not like it seems to register in Europe which is a lot closer to the fallout zone.

  68. but getting back to libya, an exercise when fear toxin seems to have permeated downing street, the white house the french equivalent and the palazzo chigio, cui bono, qatar did with the militias it fielded through north africa down into west africa, and their front men CAIR, who benefits from the Bagram bugout, same party,

  69. Kirk: “You think that by wrecking the anti-proliferation measures that there will be no repercussions whatsoever”

    Sir, with respect, you are decades too late.

    Look, the US built nuclear weapons from scratch in less than 3 years when no-one was even sure it could be done. France developed nuclear weapons with precious little help from the Anglos. China built nuclear weapons when it was a very poor backward country. So did Pakistan while even poorer. India built its own nuclear weapons. South Africa built and tested a nuclear weapon while under sanctions from all the Best people. Benighted North Korea has built & tested nuclear weapons.

    The US has already demonstrated to the world via Saddam Hussein what happens to anyone who voluntarily gives up nuclear capabilities. That cannot be undone, and it is remembered in certain quarters, just as the implications of Biden*’s Afghanistan debacle are noticed & remembered.

    Over 40 countries already have nuclear reactors — which gives them a great step up if they decide to build nuclear weapons.

    The nuclear weapons cat is out of the bag. “Non-proliferation” is simply another Best & Brightest excuse for lawyers & politicians to have endless meetings in high-end resorts with great dinners and the finest wines.

    If there are any good reasons for us to shed blood & treasure over the Ukraine, the sanctity of anti-proliferation is not one of them.

  70. The fact that everyone so blithely hand-waves that whole “We gave a guarantee in return for them giving up their nukes…” away, well… I have to wonder what exactly will accrue should Ukraine decide to go big. Irradiated Central Europe, anyone…?

    The bright lights of our foreign policy organs have determined that there are to be no consequences from their betrayals of all and sundry. I don’t think that calculus is going to work out, because that ain’t how the world works. A price will be paid…

    I rather suspect that Ukraine probably has something of a nuclear program going, and that we may see it employed. I know that if I were sitting there with the rest of the world acquiescing to my nation going back under the yoke of the penitentiary of nations that is Russia, I’d give two fscks and a damn about “international proprieties”. Same with Taiwan…

  71. it is kind of surprising the iranians are taking this long, some 30 years since the mythical fatwa, which proscribes said research, yes the indians got the technology from the canadians, the pakistanis from the dutch (aq khans contribution) and a little assist from the chinese, khaan! then was the appleseed for libya, north korea and others

  72. The evidence would argue that the Iranians aren’t all that bright, particularly the ones who’re considered reliable enough by the regime to be working on their nuclear program.

    I’d have to go and check, but I recall that rather a lot of the Soviet bomb-building infrastructure was in Ukraine. I rather suspect that they’d probably be able to recapitulate the process fairly rapidly, and that it wouldn’t be all that hard to rig up some gun-type bombs like the one we used on Hiroshima. Delivery? Piece of cake–Leave the thing behind, wait for enough Russians to gather around it, and then detonate it. I speculate that the follow-on from that would be extremely unpredictable–The Russians might decide that they’d been nuked by NATO, then escalate.

    The problem that all you geni-ouuus types out there seem to forget is that once you incentivize insanity, that’s what you’re gonna get. Allowing the Russians to put Ukraine under the yoke again is going to have what they like to term “blowback” in the trade. You’re so sanguine about letting Russia rape Ukraine yet again? Ask yourself how Russia would react to Ukraine taking out a brigade or two of their troops via a nuclear land mine, which I suspect is probably well within their capabilities.

    Any of y’all who think that we gathered up all the weapons and nuclear material at the fall of the Soviet Union need to have another think on the issue. We manifestly did not–That whole project was a whitewash. Weapons went missing, materials went missing, and if you think that there isn’t at least the strong possibility of Ukraine having access to those “lost” items? You’re a far more optimistic person than I am.

    If we let the Russians do what they want in Ukraine, we’re all going to be sorry, regardless of the rights or the wrongs of who is running Ukraine at the moment.

    You want to defend yourself against a Russian rape? It’s not entirely outside the realm of the possible that the Ukrainians have the tools to do it, and do it up big. Anyone who thinks we got all the materials and the bombs under control? LOL… You’re an idiot.

  73. “Irradiated Central Europe, anyone…?”

    Let’s remember that the Ukraine is the location of Chernobyl. Ukranians already (unintentionally) tried to irradiate Central Europe, and now the surrounding area is effectively a blossoming nature reserve. Chernobyl, Nagasaki, Hiroshima might all suggest that the long-term effects of nuclear blasts have been somewhat exaggerated.

    Be that as it may, if there are concerns about the Ukraine irradiating Central Europe, that is an issue for Europeans — and NOT for Americans. Our government is bankrupt; our politics is corrupt; our economy has been hollowed out; our educational system is a disaster; our borders are wide open; our military is sadly degraded. We have our own problems to deal with. Get the US out of NATO and let Europeans deal with European problems … or not; their choice.

  74. How about the US live up to its obligations to Ukraine?

    How about our equally serious obligations to Russia, like when we promised not to expand NATO eastward?

    Y’all are a bunch of idjits. You think that by wrecking the anti-proliferation measures that there will be no repercussions whatsoever, and that it’ll be just fine to let it happen.

    They’re already wrecked. That should be incandescently obvious. Gavin already covered this, so I’ll stop with that.

    Allowing the Russians to put Ukraine under the yoke again is going to have what they like to term “blowback” in the trade.

    I have been assured that the Ukrainians are so ready to fight that the Russians will be compelled to use WMDs against them, or suffer an ignominious defeat.

    Ask yourself how Russia would react to Ukraine taking out a brigade or two of their troops via a nuclear land mine, which I suspect is probably well within their capabilities.

    If Ukraine has nukes, and is much better prepared to defend against Russia than assumed, as several comments have posited, then why are we having this discussion?

    You want to defend yourself against a Russian rape? It’s not entirely outside the realm of the possible that the Ukrainians have the tools to do it, and do it up big.

    Awesome, awesome. If the Russians have chosen war as their remedy, I say the Ukrainians should give them all they want.

    And we should let them. This is not our problem to resolve, even if we have the capability to do so, which I doubt.

  75. However, just like with Libya, people are observing. Care to guess what happens the next time someone suggests to some WMD-seeking regime that they give up on it all? Oh, yeah–No need to worry about it, ‘cos that ain’t going to happen.

    Ask Gaddafi about that. Hillary exulted about killing him.

  76. Kirk
    January 25, 2022 at 5:02 pm

    Noting that I do NOT want us to intervene in the Ukraine because of the downsides and no upside, I acknowledge that we have blundered and lied our way into this position with promises we cannot keep. With that said, I agree with you that nuclear weapons, at least primitive ones, are really no longer on the cutting edge of technology. Sitting here I could sketch out a design for a gun type device that would work if you could read my handwriting and artwork. Implosion devices are more complex and powerful, but not necessary for counter-value targeting, which this would be. The amounts and purity of U-235 necessary to grow mushrooms are available in a number of open sourced locations. The problems involve getting the fissionable materials and the safety precautions in fabricating the components. Note that Ukraine has 15 operating reactors that produce about half of its electricity. I would also note that if they decide to go scorched earth, they can leave an unG-dly mess just with dirty devices . . . including the remains of Chernobyl. And we cannot do either diddly or squat about it.

    I would also note that I personally believe from what I have seen that Taiwan, Japan, and the ROK are at most turnkey away from open deployment of their own nuclear deterrents.

    This is what my ancestors referred to as “interesting times” and we can’t do anything but react once events start moving in whatever direction. And we are governed by a less than capable, less than competent, and less than legitimate regime.

    Subotai Bahadur

  77. Here’s an assessment I saw via Rand Simberg’s Transterrestrial Musings. It points out that the 100,000+ troops aren’t nearly enough for a wholesale invasion, that the troops that are there aren’t in formations integrated into an overall command structure and they lack necessities like hospital and logistic units that would support a large scale engagement.


    Time will tell, not that there isn’t plenty of mischief possible but an invasion doesn’t seem possible without weeks of additional preparation. You’d think the State Department would notice unless all of our evacuations are just to pressure Ukraine. Even this limited deployment seems to have emptied the Russian cupboard to the extent that they are having to bring units from as far a the Korean border.

    On paper, there are a million or more as part of the reserves. Calling them up would be politically unpopular to say the least and require weeks if not months of training before they would be ready for such an invasion. This isn’t the same army that could throw thousands of tanks through the Fulda Gap.

  78. Russian public opinion will not tolerate conscript casualties save in defense of Russian territory. They have already made this clear and forced their government to cease using conscripts outside Russian’s present borders, particularly not in the Ukraine, Syria or Libya. Putin tried doing so and there was pretty much a direct threat by Russian parents to tell their children not to accept conscription.

    This was a deadly threat to the Russian armed forces in general as they all rely on conscripts, at least for scut work. Basically the Russian military system and armed forces would collapse without conscripts, and right now they serve only 12 months because of public opposition to conscription.

    So, if the Russians do invade the Ukraine again, their combat forces (the maneuver brigades, the dudes at the sharp end, etc.) will consist only of professional solidiers, sundry “contract troops” which sounds pretty much like mercenaries (Trent might know better), and for-real volunteers from active duty and reserve conscripts doing so out of patriotism, for excitement, or some other reward (this happens, though it has tailed off a lot since 2014 due to well-known cheating by their superiors). Oh, and there’ll be volunteers from the ethnic Russians in the Russian-occupied parts of the Donbass, but not anywhere near as many as there used to be because they have been so lied to, cheated and betrayed in ground combat by their Speznatz officers from the Russian Army. The Russian people are used to betrayal by their government, and this applies particularly to the enlisted men in their army.

    Basically it’s the same size force (100,000 combat troops) the Russians had in 2014, and they only used part of that number at any one time. Again, Trent would likely know what the maximum number of Russian troops deployed in the Ukraine at any one time during the 2014-2015 war was.

    Putin won’t use the whole 100,000 at any one time in the Ukraine if he invades again because these are the only reliable troops he has, period. He needs them for their regime protection role. They were periodically rotated in and out of the Ukraine in the 2014-2015 war, and will be again this time. Keep in mind that they took non-trivial casualties 2014-2015 and that it took years to rebuild them to their pre-war force levels and degree of training.

    Given that the Ukrainian military had been deliberately run down (into the ground) by the corrupt Ukrainian goverment prior to 2014, at the behest of their Russian paymasters, the 2014 invasion should have been a cakewalk for the Russians. It wasn’t because of burgeoning Ukraine patriotism and pure guts by their volunteers.

    Since then the Ukraine has developed real armed forces, particularly ground forces, and has trained a lot of patriotic conscripts who have been rotated into the reserves. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Ukraine has a greater number of effective army reservists than the Russians do. And the Ukrainian ones will fight to defend their country, while the Russian reserves won’t even attack the Ukraine. And the new Ukrainian armed forces have prepared for this war for years.

    So, if the Russians could only take part of the Donbass before, I simply do not see how they can do anything better this time unless they use nukes or poison gas. And they’ll do a lot worse if they don’t. This just does not make sense to me.

  79. So, right now, at this moment we have:
    – youtube banning elected officials from posting videos of official proceedings
    – twitter and facebook banning elected officials
    – the “Department of Justice” obstructing investigation into their grotesque misconduct against the Trump campaign
    – Congress proclaiming itself completely unbound by due process and harassing its own members as well as members of the general public, pawing through their personal information, etc.
    – the NYS AG, who ran on a campaign of “Get Trump”, increasing legal investigations
    Etc., etc., etc.
    – oh and did I mention the government pressuring companies to fire people for their personal medical choices?

    So pardon me that “government sources” claiming that Russia is about to invade Ukraine doesn’t make it to the top billion things I’m worried about…

  80. Tom — Notice the reports this morning about large crowds of Ukranians protesting at the Ukranian Parliament and attempting to enter the building. (1/26 — as the Democrats would undoubtedly call it, and start a Star Chamber to investigate). Supposedly the protest was about tax policy — which suggest that fear of invasion & death ranks about as high on Ukranian citizens lists of concerns as it does on Brian’s. Either that, or the protest was really about the dangerous behavior of their rulers bringing down the threat of long-distance missile barrages on their heads.

    Perhaps the tale of gallant Ukranians longing for the opportunity to die in defense of their kleptocratic rulers does not correspond to reality?

  81. I believe “contract soldier” refers to soldiers with an enlistment contract rather than conscript. The mercenaries are those called “contractors”. The contractor seems to be Wagner Group which, oddly enough, is controlled by Putin cronies.

    The drawback with the contractors is they require payment up front and in cash, and I’ll bet not Rubles either. The upside for Putin is that nobody seems to care if or how they come home. I’d bet Putin has neither enough cash nor enough contractors to pull something as big as an invasion. Of course, Biden has just provided Putin with a new source of cash flow with Nord Stream II. Biden must have some really subtle plan to let them sabotage their economy with all that nasty energy development and leave more windmills for us.

  82. Two other things don’t make sense, both centered around money. I’ve been proof-reading Jim Dunnigan’s columns for his Strategy Page for three years now and he has made it very clear just how desperate the Russian military is for money. Continuing sanctions from Russia’s 2014 invasion of the Ukraine have been very effective.

    Jim has focused on procurement of new equipment, notably aircraft, but his descriptions of Russian military poverty necessarily entail dire shortages of stocks for more than trivial combat operations. Basically the Russian armed forces don’t have the spare parts or aircraft and artillery munitions for extended operations against the Ukraine even for their ten maneuver brigades of effective and politically reliable troops. And their run-down production system can’t manufacture those quickly even if the money somehow appears.

    So another invasion of the Ukraine will wreck the Russian armed forces’ ability to defend the Motherland for several years whether they win or lose. Not to mention that Putin’s regime protection forces will be temporarily burnt-out again.

    That’s taking a mighty big chance.

    It is clear that Russia is getting a lot of money from foreign sources just for its current mobilization against the Ukraine. I am familiar with such things and was surprised that the Russians didn’t have to stand down 10-14 days ago. The only possible source of such money, on the scale required, is China.

    An actual invasion of the Ukraine, even on the limited scale of the 2014-2015 invasion, would cost several times that just to fund the fuel and pay for the expenditures of munitions and parts (over a period of 4-5 years given Russia’s production system).

    The extended operations necessary to conquer and occupy more than a trivial extra portion of the Ukraine would cost well over a hundred billion dollars even if the Russians use nerve gas on the Ukrainians. And China is hurting for money too – see the “Naughty Economic Realities” portion of Jim Dunnigan’s latest China column at:


    So none of this makes sense to me unless Putin is only scamming the Chinese, and I don’t think they are that gullible.

  83. So here’s the question–how much might China’s leaders think taking over Taiwan is worth, monetarily? And how foolish/optimistic might they be about being able to do so without levelling the island? If say they think they have infiltrated the business, political, and military systems of the island:
    And if they were going to try something, how useful might it be to have no one be able to track ships involved because they’ve shut down the AIS network:
    And how useful would it be for the world’s attention to be fully taken up on the far side of the planet for a while?
    And how much money might they be willing to offer to another country to put up a diversion like that for a while?
    Just asking questions…

  84. yes that’s why I specified the contraktiti versus the pmc’s link above, it really doesn’t make sense to invade, but as I pointed out, Russian strategy in these matters, have always been shortsided going back to Afghanistan,
    a reminder we missed the import of Al Quedas first direct hit on Us servicemen in Mogadishu, because we were looking at the Russian parliament being bombed,

  85. Brian,

    The price of the Chinese conquering Taiwan would be destruction of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Taiwan’s high-tech industry would be off-line for years and that would collapse the high-tech industry worldwide. Which in turn would cause another worldwide Great Depression, including in China, which in turn would destroy the CCP.

    Lots of things don’t make sense here. While it can be argued that Grand Boo-Pah Li wants a legacy and is blind to the most likely consequences of conquering Taiwan, his cronies aren’t as their power and wealth, not to mention their lives, would be over. If necessary they can send Xi a 9mm resignation notice (which Putin’s really wealthy cronies can do to him as well).

    Basically both Putin and XI would have to be in on this while listening only to cronies they trust. The whole thing is very far-fetched. But so was Hitler, and Imperial Japan’s military oligarchs.

    And everyone knows very well that the one thing the Biden administration won’t do is anything possibly effectual to deter, or obstruct, or punish a Russian invasion of the Ukraine and a Chinese invasion of Taiwan. The US is off the table on those.

  86. Note I said in my hypothetical, what if the CCP leaders are delusional about being able to take the island over without destroying it? What if they think they have inside men who can secure the chip factories, secure the ports, capture/eliminate politicians who aren’t corrupted, etc.?
    If tomorrow we all wake up and the CCP is in control of Taiwan, the world is going to shrug its shoulders and do nothing, to keep the supply chains moving. Heck, if tomorrow we wake up and they control half of Taiwan, the bulk of the world’s political and business leaders would probably urge Taiwan to surrender in order to keep the supply chains moving.

  87. The monetary post invasion value of Taiwan would be zero. The cost would be huge in terms of personnel and material. I doubt if any of the assets that make Taiwan valuable would survive and it would revert to an economy supported by fishing and small scale agriculture on the scant available land. What value the CCP would assign to subduing their prodigal province defies rational analysis. Some sort of a takeover by subversion wouldn’t need an elaborate diversion.

    A more prescient question might be how much China could afford to spend. My opinion is: not much. There are too many chickens coming home to roost, all at the same time. Various local governments are slashing wages by 25% or more as the real estate bubble implodes and takes their main revenue source with it. You need to remember that the PLA is a major nexus of corruption which makes their combat readiness highly suspect and their motivation more so.

    Even if you assume that a $100 billion check from Xi wouldn’t bounce all the way to Alpha Centauri, Tom Holsinger points out that an invasion of Ukraine would cost Putin more than what money could buy. Could any payment instead be a down payment on Siberia or in the nature of a trade for Ukraine? It’s not like the demographic implosion of Russia is going to allow them to exploit those resources themselves. Collecting future installments might be a problem though.

  88. Tom, you have no idea what you are talking about. So its pointless for me to do much other than point that out.

    Modern war is extremely brutal. A modern battlefield is so violent humans need serious protection. Tanks with their turrets 60′ from the tank, speak to weapons much more powerful than in the past. An entire Ukrainian Special Forces company, gone in a minute. Its nothing like the American adventures, the opposition can fight back. ;)

    If Russia goes up against the Ukrainian army it will be very like a hot knife through butter.

  89. Tom — you keep telling us how bad the situation is for Russia and for China. Remember that the bar to be “Best In Class” these days is not high. Like that old joke about the 2 guys running away from a bear — I don’t have to be fast; just faster than you.

    Look at the situation in the US. FedGov is spending $1.40 for each $1.00 it takes in. FedGov has the largest debt any country in the world has ever had — and it is never going to be paid off, with serious consequences for all of us. US has a hollowed-out manufacturing base, heavily dependent on China. The US military is tragically degraded, with traitorous Milley still at the top of the pile, a Navy that can’t stop running into things, and an Army that has failed in its occupation of Afghanistan.

    Then think of Europe — heavily dependent on Russia to keep their lights on, and running away from the US as fast as they can.

    Putin & Xi may rationally look at their own situations and think — We Suck! But the guys on the other side of the ocean suck so much worse.

    Don’t waste time thinking about how badly the Russians are going to fare if they invade doughty Ukraine. There won’t be an invasion. If it does come down to military action, Russia will destroy the Ukrainian military and key Ukranian infrastructure with missiles and stand-off bombs, without any boots on the ground. No occupation, which they know would not make sense. Russia saw the US occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan fail. They saw what happened with their own earlier occupation of Afghanistan. Unlike our guys, the Russians are not stupid — they won’t do anything like that again.

    The big question remains — What is China’s interest in all this?

  90. Gavin, Putin had his bought & paid-for corrupt Ukrainian leaders destroy the Ukrainian armed forces before 2014, but still failed to do more than take an undefended Crimea and part of the Donbass when he tried this with approximately the same forces he has now. And he expected then that it would be a cake-walk.

    “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.”

  91. There were no Russian troops in the Donbass. I watched a great deal and never saw any actual Russian troops. As I said it was locals led by Russian Special Forces. You might compare it more accurately to the US Special Forces defeating the Taliban with targeted air strikes.

    We lost a lot of brave people during that time. Givi was everyone’s favourite, impossibly brave, picking up bits of a shell that made everyone else , dive for cover, and burning his fingers. Motorola adding humour to brutal madness, and many others. RIP brave fighters!

  92. Tom — You are still holding to the assumption that Russia’s objective is to occupy the Ukraine. You think Russia would be stupid to try — and you are right. You and President Putin are probably in total agreement on that issue.

    Time to think outside the box. Since we can assert with reasonable confidence that Russia will not try to invade & occupy the Ukraine, what will they do?

    Clearly, Russia is hoping to jaw-jaw to an acceptable position — effective Findlandization of the Ukraine. If it comes to war-war, it will be a bombing/missile campaign to send the Ukraine a significant part of the way back to the Stone Age.

    Best way forward at this point would be for the Ukranian kleptocrats to announce they no longer have any interest in joining NATO, and refuse to have any foreign troops on their territory. For everyone’s sake, let’s hope that the Ukraine has smarter leaders than the US.

  93. Biden basically told Putin to pound sand. So nothing will be done to address his concerns, and NATO will continue to admit anyone it likes.

    I’m sure this was the expected response, so we’ll see where this goes now. ;)

  94. I have no idea what this is supposed to mean, or if it’s out of the ordinary at all…
    JUST IN – Chinese military “is fully ready for any external provocations and emergencies that may take place during the Beijing Winter Olympics,” the Defense Ministry announces via state media.

    Remember, China like to rip off other countries IP…like say “invade another country right after hosting the Winter Olympics” lol…

  95. Subotai Bahadur @January 25, 2022 at 9:46 pm, said: “This is what my ancestors referred to as “interesting times” and we can’t do anything but react once events start moving in whatever direction.”

    Your ancestors didn’t say it, rather the maxim was an utterance of the fictional Kai Lung, itinerant storyteller and titular protagonist of Ernst Brahmah’s series of delightful Kai Lung novels set in an imagined China modeled on the Ming period.

  96. ah this brings me back to charles cummings primer on the uighers, typhoon, set around the time of the previous olympics there,

  97. Not going to happen for a very odd reason: chemical weapons are more trouble than they are worth. Their effectiveness is minimal against troops in the field and they are extremely difficult to use. The key phrase is “effective field concentration” – difficult to achieve outside of a glass box. Chemical weapons really scare civilians, hence all the talk, but they have not been used in 94 years for a reason – and it is not morality.

    What they will definitely use is thermobaric and cluster warheads on their rocket and tube artillery, which will be precisely aimed at targets located by drones and electronic warfare.

  98. I should note that Peter Zeihan has been predicting for a decade that Russia’s goal is not just the Ukraine, but the Carpathians, because anchoring their lines in the mountains would allow them to focus their dwindling manpower pool on a much smaller front between the foothills and the Baltic to the north.

    This would require Putin to take and hold not just ALL Ukrainian territory, but the eastern third or so of Poland as well. And he’s argued that the time for them to do it is rapidly closing; some of his earlier estimates (from 10 years ago) were that they had basically until this or next year. After that, the number of trained soldiers (especially specialists) would begin to shrink beyond the point at which Russia could expect to succeed in any serious conflict (aside from using nukes, and nukes can’t take or hold territory).

    He’s also argued for years that the CCP knows a collapse is coming, and is headed for a Mao-style retrenchment. And that furthermore, any conflict with China would result in embargoes and blockades (enforced primarily in the Indian Ocean, where China would have trouble pushing significant naval power) that would cripple Chinese trade.

    What are y’all’s thoughts on this? It’s a slightly different perspective, but he’s been pretty consistent regarding it over the years.

  99. Looking through the comments above, I see four broad positions that simplify into two outcomes:
    Russia lacks the resources for a major attack/invasion + Russia has no intention of actually attacking = No attack/invasion.

    Russia will invade and occupy some or all of Ukraine + Russia will attack to secure some specific objective and then withdraw = Russia attacks Ukraine out in the open.

    Putin’s motivation is a lot murkier. What does he hope to accomplish and especially why now exactly after being in a simmering stalemate for the last five years.

    Prevent the expansion of NATO to Ukraine:
    This is something he already has de facto. NATO is not going to induct Ukraine while disputes in both the Crimea and Donbas remain.

    Install a puppet regime:
    They had one, it got kicked out and there is no reason to think that another would do any better without blatant Russian assistance in widespread suppression. This also didn’t work before.

    Regain the industrial capacity especially in weapons production:
    They had this by virtue of trade, including many cross border partnerships before 2014. It doesn’t seem likely that an invasion and occupation would engender wholesale cooperation.

    To take advantage of a senile, doddering American President:
    This may be the only one that establishes a time frame since the Democrats are widely expected to lose control of one or both houses by the end of the year. Adding a rebellious Ukraine to the tottering mess that is modern Russia is the best opportunity they can think of?

    Provide cover for a Chinese takeover of Taiwan:
    A remarkable show of cooperation between countries with a history of cross border skirmishes that regard each other warily at best.

    A monumental blunder by Putin:
    Never underestimate blind stupidity.

    Provide cover for Putin for some unknown to us existential crisis:
    Here we get to unknown unknowns.

    I return to the question: Why now? Biden might be the answer as he is to so many questions around the difficulties we find ourselves in now. On the other hand, timing matters. Any analysis needs to include it.

  100. The Russians wouldn’t recognize “good governance” if it walked up and bit them in the ass. They’re fundamentally incapable of achieving such a thing for themselves, and will keep on keeping on with the Ivan the Terrible-esque national leadership, mistaking “firmness” for strength and virtue. As with Stalin, look where it got them: Any other nation, after the debacle that Stalin led them into with WWII? They’d have thrown his ass out, tried him, and executed him. Hypnotized by his “firmness” and “strength”, the Soviets just acquiesced to the ongoing rape that was Communism under Stalin.

    Putin is more of the same. He’s presided over what some in Russia see as a “return to greatness”, but everything he’s done has actually hollowed out Russian prospects and cut them off from options. My guess is that Russia is going to wind up partitioned between China and whoever cares to saddle themselves with the remnants. The demographics are against any of this working out for Putin, and the spectacle he’s putting on by hauling strategic defense systems from the Chinese border regions to Ukraine’s borders is laughably transparent. I’ll lay you long odds that the trusting and credulous fool has been cozened by the Chinese, who’re likely completely taken aback that he fell for it.

    I think Russia as we knew it isn’t long for this world, and in the end? They’re going to deserve it, because they wouldn’t know “good governance” from the sort of chicanery that the Wizard of Oz got up to in the Emerald City. Putin is just the latest in a line of parvenu wannabe tyrants who has managed to pull the wool over everyone’s eyes because he gives them the “strong leader” vibe they crave. Reality? The man is a dolt who’s pretty much destroyed Russian prospects for the future.

    Hell, just look at the egotistical way he’s allowed the former Soviet space industry to collapse. If the idiots had merely played ball with Musk, then SpaceX wouldn’t exist, and there’d still be a market for their products. As it is? LOL… Whoever writes the history of the next hundred years in space, it won’t be in Russian, and it won’t be full of Russian triumphs. My guess is that by 2030, if the Russians are still around, and they want to loft something into orbit, it’s going to have to be on someone else’s rockets.

    Putin literally pissed away the crown jewels of the Soviet empire. That he’s yet to pay the price for that? Not really surprising–The majority of Russians have an enormous, endless fountain of self-deception to call upon, which they will likely be doing as soon as they kiss goodbye to the Siberian East.

  101. Putin literally pissed away the crown jewels of the Soviet empire. That he’s yet to pay the price for that? Not really surprising–The majority of Russians have an enormous, endless fountain of self-deception to call upon, which they will likely be doing as soon as they kiss goodbye to the Siberian East.

    I think we had a bit to do with that. Sending Jeffrey Sachs to “help” the transition” by Yeltsin was a big part.

    Sachs sent them on the wrong path and has never paid a price for it.

  102. Blinken is quite concerned that Russia is about to give you guys your greatest wish. ;)

    Putin is going to arm the Donbass and there will be Russian troops ready to reinforce that. As I predicted it was a mistake to ignore Minsk. ;)

    Kirk you are a treasure. ;) There are perhaps 3 or 4 leaders I have any admiration for and both Putin and Xi are among them. Putin operates at a Bismark level and has not made any serious mistakes so far. Syria was almost genius, but you have no way of appreciating anything like that.

  103. the oligarchs wished for an Pinochet, I remember this discussion back in Remnicks Resurrection among other, be careful what you wished for, there was a piece lying around, how putin was a student if not a protege of Primakov, the exercise that Sachs and Summers and Schrieber all engaged in, was not unlike the exercises that have been occurring in the last two years,

  104. “… any conflict with China would result in embargoes and blockades (enforced primarily in the Indian Ocean, where China would have trouble pushing significant naval power) that would cripple Chinese trade.”

    Anything is possible. Remember that there are two sides to trade — China manufactures and ships; America buys (even if it is only with freshly printed dollars). Should the US decide to cripple China’s ability to export (by running Navy ships into cargo vessels?), the US would itself face a crippling loss of manufactured goods of all kinds. Oops! Biden* might be dumb enough to do it.

  105. MCS: “Putin’s motivation is a lot murkier. What does he hope to accomplish …”

    Good summary of the possible actions by Russia, MCS.

    Now — could you please help cast some light on Biden*’s motivation? What is in it for Biden* from pissing off a number of important European “allies” and risking either nuclear war or another Afghanistan-level humbling & loss of credibility around the planet? Plus promoting anti-LBJ type opposition from the anti-war faction among his own Democrat flock?

  106. Biden has been a Soviet tool for a long time, it’s a samizdat bit of information, he bought the nuclear freeze the nuclear winter, every scam the soviets pushed till ’91, he was allied with the most reactionary of Southern Democrats like Eastland, on the domestic front, it’s the reality about what was imagined about Trump, so if you really wanted to collapse NATO and all our alliance how would you go about it, you would demoralize the lead allies like the UK and France,

  107. @Mike K,

    I do not disagree with you that cretins like Sachs bear a lot of responsibility for what happened in Russia. What I don’t agree with is the idea that the US somehow forced that course on the former Soviets. End of the day, the “advisers” like Sachs had no real power; the Russians did not have to listen to them, and indeed, should not have. The fact that they did? That’s all on them; they bought what he put on offer, because they wanted to. And, we got what we got, with the feckless Russians having their country turned into an open-air flea market of criminals–Which, arguably, it already was, under the Communists.

    Nobody has ever taken a state-controlled economy out from under control of said state. Do you find it surprising that lots of smart people screwed things up, and that opportunistic criminals took advantage of it all for their own selfish benefit?

    Ya wanna blame someone, blame seventy-odd years of Communist control and conditioning of the Russian people to lives of crime. Communism took one of the most enterprising and hard-working nations in the world and turned it into a wreck of social dysfunction, mistrust, and entirely distorted economics. Fixing that isn’t the work of a few seminars, nor is it an enterprise likely to succeed without lots and lots of careful planning–Which the Russians weren’t willing to do. They wanted it all, right now, and got what they got for that. It should have taken a minimum of three-four decades to unwind the pernicious effects of Communism, but the bright lights thought they’d do it over a weekend or so.

  108. I’ve never seen a Democratic US President so certain a war was going to happen as I am seeing with Pres. Biden right now.

    This is certainly a change in the NSC faction’s power in the Biden Administration .

    It looks like the CIA & DoD took over policy about 6-to-10 days ago so Pres. Biden could say he “did something” before the next Afghanistan class foreign policy disaster impacted.  

  109. Tom H,

    Phillip Karber described Russian Army offensive ground forces as follows:

    — Skilled Professionals
    – Spetsnaz & VDV (AKA Airborne)
    – Contract Branch Specialists

    — Expendable Infantry
    – Mercenaries (Chechens & Cossacks)
    – Bonus ‘volunteers”
    – Local (Donbas?) rabble & draftees

    — Motivated & re-trained “Separatists”

    The first group are what you and I refer to as “Regime Protection Forces.”

    The second group needs no explanation.

    The third group are generally the Russian version of neo-nazis from the photos Karber used at the link I posed earlier.

  110. The word from the Biden Whitehouse is that this”

    “I’ve never seen a Democratic US President so certain a war was going to happen as I am seeing with Pres. Biden right now.”

    …was a “Fake leak.”

    Make of it what you will.

  111. Absolutely bizarre story from CNN about the Ukraine phone call from the dementia patient.
    Note the absolute silence from the GOPe, and the coverup of the leak, showing the dueling constituents of the Deep State. The IC needs to be cleaned out with fire.

  112. A cynical person might wonder what has prompted this new resolve that has seemingly galvanized NATO. Might someone in Brussels have happened upon a still legible copy of the North Atlantic Charter and realized that allowing Russia to invade even a non member might be counter to the spirit and intent? Might one of the newer members, examining their presumably newer copy for a, heretofore overlooked, annex that exempts aggression against countries considered “historically illegitimate” from censure realized that any such exception leaves them also vulnerable? Might one of the founding members have realized that an exception that allowed for “historical territorial claims” is what started the whole disaster of the first half of the 20th Century? An interesting question for the historians.

    This galvanization is still within tight bounds. No troops have been inconvenienced beyond being notified to collect their dry cleaning, pay off their bar tabs and start to pack their bags. I also haven’t seen any sort of breakdown as to how many of the troops involved are actual trigger pullers versus cooks and truck drivers. With our NATO Allies being perennially bereft of logistic support out of sight of their home barracks, it’s entirely possible that none of the Americans will be doing anything else.

    Another interesting question is whether any of these troops that do go sleep away will be able to coordinate with Ukrainian forces well enough to be anything but a hindrance?

    Interesting times, especially with a senile dotard as Commander In Chief.

  113. @Trent, the original leak certainly fits. Zelensky obviously calculates that even a failed invasion would wreck his country. He’s (relatively) successfully dealing with the Donbass and Crimea. The last thing he needs is Biden egging Putin into a d!ck-measuring contest, or giving Putin cover to ‘pre-emptively respond’ to ‘a threat’ from the US/NATO. The problem is that Biden has a history of that sort of stuff spilling past whatever minimal filters he still has left (‘Hey, fat’, push-up contests, ‘my IQ is higher’, ‘lying dog-face pony soldier’) so it’s not hard to imagine that whatever word salad Biden barfed up, Zelensky would want to tamp it down hard and quick.

  114. Gosh. How shocking.
    NOW – Zelenskiy: Ukraine needs $4-5 billion to stabilize the economy.

    It sure would be curious to know where all that money goes. I mean, luckily there is zero history of US government money being funneled to Ukraine and finding its way directly into the pockets of the family and friends of US elected officials. Otherwise I might think part of the motivation of this farce is just pure plain old corruption.
    But thankfully there’s no reason to worry about that.

  115. Brian, A little honest corruption would be an improvement in comprehensibility and rationality over the random meanderings of a senile dotard.

  116. That dotard is just the front man for the regime. Who knows who behind the scenes is desperately stuffing as much cash as they can in their pockets and those of their friends.

  117. “NOW – Zelenskiy: Ukraine needs $4-5 billion to stabilize the economy.”

    Some day, the Ukrainian kleptocrats are going to realize their best option is to say “Screw the US and the EU — We don’t want to be part of NATO, and we are going to accept that the majority in eastern Ukraine wants independence”. And then things will settle down, and the Ukraine will become an attractive place for investment. Living standards will improve for the Ukrainian people. Maybe the Ukrainian ladies in Dubai will head back home?

    For what it is worth, here is a Chinese analysts view of what a Russian assault on Ukraine might look like — a replay of the 7-Days War. There is much to doubt & criticize about this Chinese analyst’s assessment, but maybe the important point is that China expects any assault will not interfere with the Beijing Olympic Games.

    “Western commentators argue emphatically that the Russian army will attack when the ground is frozen in January and February, so as to avoid the difficulty of mobilizing mechanized equipment during the thaw after March. This is a very strange argument. The present deployment of the Russian army is a countermeasure to the previous deployment of the Ukrainian army in Eastern Ukraine. It has been in place for some time. If the Russian army wants to take action, January and February will be too late, as the ground already has been frozen for a month. The opportunity for the Russian Army to take action diminishes as the thaw approaches.

    “On the other hand, the thaw will be over in May and June. The summer is not only dry, but also has longer daylight hours, which are more conducive to operations. In the Great Patriotic War, the Battle of Moscow and the Battle of Stalingrad all started in summer. The German army had become stationary. It was defeated after its military action was delayed until the severe winter due to the resolute resistance of the Red Army.”

  118. Nothing about this makes any sense, so it’s easy to fall back on crazy sounding conspiracy theories.
    When was the last time Russia actually invaded anyone? Chechnya, no? And that was only because they had to get revenge for getting their butts kicked the first time they tried. Everything else has been extremely limited, done by special forces and mercs, unless I’m forgetting something. And now we’re supposed to believe they’re going to invade Ukraine? How does that make any sense?
    Why is the US making such a huge deal out of this, when no one else is? Ukraine, Germany, France, everyone is saying that the US is way out over its skis here. There is zero support or interest in the US getting involved at all. How does this make any sense?
    Given all of that, it’s easy to speculate about Russia doing something insane (chemical weapons) if they’re going to do something stupid (invasion), and about some hidden forces beneath the surface, whether it’s China wanting to help provoke fake crises to weaken/test the US, or “wag the dog” motivations in the US to attempt to distract from domestic political disasters.
    (And of course, always, the GOPe is completely absent, and totally useless. If there was a GOP president right now the Dems would be promising massive investigations and impeachment, but of course the GOPe is sitting around doing nothing.)

  119. >>When was the last time Russia actually invaded anyone? Chechnya, no?

    Crimea & Donbas were invaded in 2014-2015 and the fighting has not stopped since.

  120. Both mostly special forces/”locals” combinations, nothing on the scale of a full scale invasion from their military.

  121. FYI.
    MOSCOW, January 14. /TASS/. Preparations for the Russia-China summit which will take place in Beijing on February 4, on the opening day of the Winter Olympics, are at full speed, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said at a press conference on the results of Russia’s diplomatic activities in 2021 on Friday.

    “We are preparing an official Russian-Chinese summit. Russian President Vladimir Putin, at the invitation of China’s President Xi Jinping, will visit Beijing on February 4, on the opening day of the Olympic Games, and full-scale talks at the highest level will be held on the same day,” he confirmed.

  122. One of the conclusions from WWI and WWII seemed to be a that one country enlarging their territory at the expense of others by force was a bad idea, having lead up to that time to the deaths of tens of millions of people. It’s been a long time but I would think the centenary observances lately concluded of WWI along with ongoing 80th anniversary observances for WWII might have refreshed memories.

  123. Brian,


    >> Zelenskiy: Ukraine needs $4-5 billion to stabilize the economy.

    Was inevitable for simple business reasons that even people on Twitter understand, see:

    >>Russia is making Ukraine uninsurable.
    >>Of 60 insurers that otherwise offer Ukraine political-risk insurance, only 3 now
    >>cover Ukraine.
    >>Companies that do manage to get insurance pay 500% more than they used to.
    >>And without insurance: no business.

    No insurance company it it’s right mind is going to insure anything in Ukraine that might get eliminated by thermobaric artillery rocket salvos at any time with no warning.

    The Ukrainian government needs to be the insurer of last resort and it doesn’t have a pot to p–s in.

    I wouldn’t give the money to Ukraine’s kleptocratic government bureaucracy, mind you, but paying off outside insurance companies so Ukraine’s economy can function is a good idea.

  124. Trent T: “Crimea & Donbas were invaded in 2014-2015”

    That is one characterization; there are others. One man’s “separatist” is another man’s “noble seeker of independence”. There is no doubt that the majority of the people in Eastern Ukraine are of Russian origin, speak Russian, and had good reasons to want not to be ruled by the Ukrainian kleptocrats.

    The bigger point is that borders have ALWAYS been fluid, especially in that part of the world. Big pieces of what is now the Ukraine were controlled by Poland until WWII. US borders repeatedly changed from 1776 right up until statehood for Alaska & Hawaii. UK borders changed substantially after WWI when much of Ireland escaped from England’s clutches. It is not appropriate for the Ukrainian kleptocrats to try to hold onto territories like Crimea and Donbass where the people don’t want them.

  125. there was the clash over the Vohjinina pocket (sic) where the OUN did some of their worst, during the war, this was the faction that defected to Germany, after the upa insurgents were crushed around 53, the leader Bandera was iced by SMERSH, (the real ones) in 57, in Munich

    the leaders of the Donbass rebellion were almost exclusively Spetznaz officers, Girkin who used a different name, some of the same which would later form the Wagner Corps in the link far up thread,

  126. Now that peace in Europe is no longer a fact, we should expect war risk premiums to increase in many other places as well. I’m sure Putin will find other places where his thermobaric weapons will be persuasive.

  127. The non-proliferation argument is a dead letter. Those cats escaped the bag long ago, and nothing we do–especially involve our broke, weak, and fractured country in a border dispute over there while our own border and national sovereignty are betrayed daily by the Biden crime family–will change the calculus now.

    NATO long ago ceased to be a meaningful entity. The goals of keeping the Germans down, the Americans in, and the Russians out (of the important places) was achieved brilliantly, but since then NATO has been an alliance in search of enemies. That’s a good way to create them.

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