Heuristics for Ukraine (and other places)

NB: some of the following is from a recent videoconference that included our own Trent Telenko, who is very much the man of the hour, but some of it is more publicly available, not to mention common sense. First, though, as is my wont, a quadrant diagram to organize my presentation …

I. Theater “Hardware” (physical assets/consequences)

  • Trust only reports of failure, not reports of success; Russian gains on the ground have been quite modest, and Ukraine conversely lacks the ability to clear Russian forces from its territory.
  • Russian losses have been massive; more than a tenth of their trucks (as Trent vividly explains, many from mechanical breakdown rather than enemy action), approaching half of their air force, a large majority of their cruise missiles and rockets expended, and possibly as many as 25k KIA.
  • Russian resupply is infeasible on the relevant timescale (weeks); it will take calendar quarters to years.
  • Russian equipment and ammunition is of poor quality and is often antiquated; due to corruption, they lack drone jammers entirely. What is shown on video is Potemkin-village stuff; even their first echelon is using arms and matériel from the 1980s or earlier. Some goes back to the 1950s.
  • Ukraine has developed, and is using, a system for interdicting Russian paratrooper landings.
  • The necessity of using trains to transport Russian rockets to within operational range of their targets, combined with deliberate flooding from the Kyiv Reservoir, makes it likely that Kyiv will hold.
  • Conversely, Kharkhiv and Mariupol, being already within rocket range, are likely to fall.
  • The Russians are increasingly constrained to indiscriminate-bombardment tactics as used in Syria, with high civilian casualties, as we are seeing in Mariupol.
  • Inflation is rampant in Russia, and food riots are likely, although Russian media will not report them.

II. Theater Software (attitudes/motivation)

  • It’s not that the stresses of our time are unique, but that our ability to cope with them has decreased so much; not to overlook the obvious, militaries in Europe are far smaller than they were during the Cold War (US forces on the continent are, at most, one-fifth of their size then), and there is no Iron Curtain with physical fortifications and sizable units positioned < 1 km apart. It wasn’t the expansion of NATO that started this. See also my Talebian “x and f(x)” excerpt as quoted in quite another context in Reopening — II (Theory).
  • As per Blainey, this war started with an aggressor acting on an assumption of relative strength in an atmosphere of expectation of immediate victory.
  • Putin has been cloistered, or as we say in the 21st century, in a bubble, for quite some time, probably at least a decade. No one close to him has dared to convey bad news about military preparations.
  • Russian planning was fantastically inept. They have repeated the mistakes of Barbarossa in spite of being the immediate descendants of those who were the victims of Barbarossa. This notably supports the Strauss-Howe/Xenakis model of generational turnover leading ineluctably to the next “Crisis Era.”
  • Conversely, Cold War constraints on tactics may no longer apply. My favorite Arkady Shevchenko quote, which I recall hearing in an interview on PBS NewsHour in the early ’80s, was a pithy characterization of the Soviets: “They are predatory, but they are not insane.” In the 2020s, the line between predation and insanity seems to be blurring.
  • In which connection—“There are no dangerous weapons; there are only dangerous men.” (Robert A. Heinlein, Starship Troopers)
  • It’s the size of the fight in the dog, not the size of the dog in the fight. All other things being equal, Ukraine would be expected to be outnumbered and outgunned by at least 3:1, and possibly by as much as 10:1. As we have seen, the action has not been so lopsided, and as I write this, has continued for more than three weeks rather than the three days invasion planners presumably expected.
  • Ukrainian virtualization of the TOC (tactical operations center) via mobile phone software applications is routing around the sort of institutions that allow American intelligence agencies to enforce a “no-kill” list and otherwise assert their power. This was among Trent’s more subtle-yet-penetrating points.
  • Their own severe constraints notwithstanding, the Ukrainians will attempt to drive the Russians from their entire territory, including Crimea and Donbas.

III. NATO, ie American Hardware (physical assets/consequences)

  • We let the Russians do it; a pre-emptive attack on the scale of the 2017 Shayrat missile strike would have seriously degraded their ability to mount the invasion, possibly without directly killing a single Russian, by blocking roads and disabling aircraft and ground vehicles. Their buildup was observable, and raising concern, as early as April of 2021.
  • The US is involved now; hand-wringing over American intervention seems oddly oblivious to the reality that $175k FGM-148 Javelin missiles don’t sprout from the rich black earth of the Pontic Steppe. If I were Vladimir Vladimirovich, I would want those interdicted as far upstream as possible, including by attack/sabotage inside the US with anything short of WMD. (Are Raytheon and LockMart’s facilities hardened against non-nuclear EMP?)
  • To be sure, our WMD are useless in this situation; even most of our force-projection ability is useless.
  • Everything is everywhere. The Chinese Foreign Ministry this month claimed: “The US has 336 labs in 30 countries under its control, including 26 in Ukraine alone.” In a globalized economy, casus belli abound, and as Aesop reminds us, any excuse will serve a tyrant.

IV. American Software (attitude/motivation)

  • Americans side with the underdog … if they notice; sub-Saharan Africa’s equally deadly troubles in recent years notwithstanding, we won’t be seeing any, eg, DRC flags in Facebook profile pictures any time soon. “Structural racism,” anyone?
  • To be fair, though, Boomers have a Cold War mentality and are far more likely to react to events in Europe, especially those involving former Soviet areas. And Boomers run the show.
  • Wartime means lots of IFF signaling, and it’s getting pretty overwrought these days: fierce vows to break off contact with—excuse me, “defriend”—anyone who doesn’t blame Putin (don’t worry, I do); equally fierce assertions that Putin is the real hero for foiling the nefarious plots of the WEF (rapidly becoming the preferred TLA of garden-variety conspiracy theorists, replacing the somewhat shopworn “NWO”); and of course about Zelenskyy, who is a [hero | villain], you ignorant [neo-Nazi | sheeple]. (The funniest IF/F signal out there, though, is easily the one about how anybody who supports Ukraine should head straight over there and join the fight, or shut up, already. Speaking of Starship Troopers, this strikes me as a large step in the direction of the political system of Starship Troopers, which … might not be what the people sending this signal have in mind.)
  • To be sure, much of the support for Ukraine is tainted by hypocrisy, irony, and opportunism, given that it entails: a strange new enthusiasm for otherwise ordinary people wielding AK-47s; a stance toward Russia that is practically a photographic negative of “progressive” views in, say, 1982; a striking parallellism insofar as accusing Trump supporters of being neo-Nazis nontrivially resembles Putin’s claimed intent to de-Nazify Ukraine; and an ill-disguised hope that by tying it to the story a certain faction was telling five years ago about Trump getting elected due to Russian “interference,” that faction can do better this November. For how that’s going, graze (Midwesterners don’t surf) on over to PredictIt and search on “midterms.”
  • More generally, whatever the spot shortages of our supply-chain-challenged time, we don’t lack for clichés being spouted by people of widely differing views all assuring us of how thoughtful and caring they are: “When one watches some tired hack on the platform mechanically repeating the familiar phrases—bestial atrocities, iron heel, bloodstained tyranny, free peoples of the world, stand shoulder to shoulder—one often has a curious feeling that one is not watching a live human being but some kind of dummy: a feeling which suddenly becomes stronger at moments when the light catches the speaker’s spectacles and turns them into blank discs which seem to have no eyes behind them. And this is not altogether fanciful. A speaker who uses that kind of phraseology has gone some distance towards turning himself into a machine. The appropriate noises are coming out of his larynx, but his brain is not involved as it would be if he were choosing his words for himself.” — George Orwell, Politics and the English Language
  • So, however clumsily, a national consensus is developing on this issue, although I must say that watching the process is right up there with watching laws and sausages get made.
  • Only the most financially and socially marginal entities and people get sanctioned; Russia’s GDP was ≈7.4% that of the US in 2021, and my guess is that the percentage of the American electorate believing in the Putin-vs-WEF fable is rather smaller than that. See also the implosion of the Belarusian and Russian stock markets as documented below.
  • You don’t get to specify what gets disrupted, or the consequences thereof, in a Strauss-Howe “Crisis Era,” because nobody does.
  • … which is part of the reason it seems so bizarre, which in turn fuels conspiracy theorizing, starting with rejection of the obvious; to quote Trent directly: “A lot of people in the West are in complete denial that the Russians are this stupid.” And John Mearsheimer is one of them, or anyway was in 2015.

V. The Future Dimension

  • As always, watch the markets; here’s my calculation for what happened to them in the final 6 months before the invasion (more accurate numbers are welcome, for Belarus in particular):
    • -60% (BY; BCSE)
    • – 5% (CN; SHCOMP)
    • -36% (RU; MOEX)
    • – 1% (UA; PFTS)
    • – 9% (US; W5000)
  • Also as always, listen to the experienced—those who grew up in or have spent considerable time in Eastern Europe/former Soviet areas. Their opinions may not be dispositive, but they are certainly indicative. Not one such person in my acquaintance thinks Putin is in the right, or adheres to any of the conspiracy theories being propounded about what’s supposedly really going on “behind the scenes.” More on this in the next section; it’s akin to the obvious wisdom of taking advice from longtime firearms owners about gun laws or from people who have risked their lives to escape to the US about immigration policy—Talebian skin in the game.
  • Lackluster American leadership is already painfully obvious. The conservative wish-fulfillment fantasy of the week seems to be that the ever-shadowy powers behind the throne are going to make both Biden and Harris depart. I’ll believe that when I see it.
  • The past two years would indicate that the US is vulnerable to biological attack, to put it mildly. Simultaneous release of Variola major in a hundred small-town venues in flyover country would go undetected for several crucial days and thereby engender a tsunami of contagion. Less than half the American population is vaccinated against smallpox, it would take at least several weeks to distribute and administer stockpiled doses, and probably a fifth of the unvaccinated would refuse it anyway. A seven-figure death toll within a calendar quarter seems readily achievable.
  • Expect lots of nuclear-ambiguous states soon, like a slightly more covert version of Israel, with no official arsenal but components that can be assembled into working, deliverable warheads and fired within hours, if not minutes. Some of these may be build-vs-buy decisions, as with Saudi Arabia approaching Pakistan. I note that at the time of the Einstein–Szilárd letter that kicked off the Manhattan Project, US GDP was $1.3T in 2022 dollars. Current non-nuclear countries at or above that level, rank-ordered by wealth, are: Japan, Germany, Brazil, Italy, Canada, South Korea, Australia, Spain, Mexico, and Indonesia. Current nuclear-armed countries below it—far below it—are Israel (1/32), Pakistan (1/36), and of course North Korea (1/650). Ideology, not wealth, is the determining factor—yep, it’s x and f(x) again—and ideology is getting a huge boost in our Crisis Era. Just to make things more interesting, this will also multiply opportunities for nuclear blackmail, especially by Iran.
  • If this (or any other similar situation) goes nuclear, expect derangement on a scale never before seen. For what happens when conspiracy theorists take a country over, see the Russian Civil War et seq, and of course Nazi Germany, or for that matter Imperial Japan.
  • To end on a modestly optimistic note, and again drawing on Blainey, the (re-)establishment of an imbalance of power will lead to peace. A Russia that began its buildup for the invasion when oil was $60/barrel seems unlikely to be overawed as long as it enjoys $100/barrel oil exports, financial sanctions notwithstanding. We should be doing everything we can to undermine that revenue stream, including a “Nanhattan” Project (term not original with me) for mass production of nanomaterials to bring about literally dirt-cheap photovoltaics, storage batteries, and diamondoid drilling components for ubiquitous access to deep geothermal energy. (Don’t worry; I’m pro-nuclear too.)

VI. The Personal Dimension

Sometime in second or third grade I learned the Cyrillic alphabet from a children’s book I checked out of a library. Each letter was introduced with the name of a place in what was then the Soviet Union, so some of the names had been Russianized. А was Alma-Ata, В was the Volga, Д was the Don, I’m pretty sure Л was Leningrad, Ч was Chita, Я was Yalta … I don’t remember most of the placenames—although I can still read the alphabet and was therefore good for street signs and simple written instructions when I visited Russia in 2016. But I remember К was Kiev and Х was Kharkov.

So in the fullness of time, I rode the length of the Trans–Siberian Railway, more than nine thousand kilometers from Moscow Yaroslavskaya to Vladivostok. The trip was fantastic, especially the eastern portion; I would spend a month at Lake Baikal every summer if I could. The way things are looking now, travel to Russia may become as difficult as it was during the Soviet period, and stay that way for the remainder of my lifetime.

On the train, I was ostensibly helping chaperon a batch of millennials from Missouri State in Springfield on a “Study Away” trip. Most of them were multimedia journalism students, making the occasional attempt to interview our fellow passengers for a short documentary. Somewhere east of the Urals—which turned out to be about the height of the Ozarks, not at all like their depiction in Dr Zhivago—but west of Irkutsk, which doesn’t narrow it down much, a platoon of army recruits were riding in the 3rd class cars forward of our much nicer 2nd class accommodations. Some of the students talked with them (we had three fluent Russian speakers in the group, so we were not dependent on hired interpreters) and quickly learned that much of the recruits’ training was skipped over because they were forced to do construction work on an officer’s dacha. I remember hearing that and thinking, if this country gets into a real war, these kids are going to be like straw in a bonfire. Eighteen- and nineteen-year-olds.

Six years later and firmly ensconced in the American heartland, I am being repeatedly reminded of a cultural division within American evangelicals, which is the one between those with any involvement with, actual, y’know, evangelism, and those who are more … “self-identified.” At the church where I help out, there are a dozen or so staff and attendees who either grew up behind the Iron Curtain or spent years to decades on mission in eastern Europe in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. They have a far more internationalist outlook than the stereotypical Trump-supporting and often unchurched people who nominally share their beliefs while ranting about the WEF/NWO and, in the worst cases, how everything that’s happening is some kind of Jewish plot. Similarly, not mentioned in news accounts of the Ukrainian FCA refugees in KC is that, according to a longtime friend of mine here, their own Russian colleagues warned them that invasion was imminent and they should try to flee. People without such connections, whether due to geography or merely personal alienation, are relatively prone to dark imaginings about Putin-as-hero. These, I submit, are the real “two cultures,” and they bear a more than passing resemblance to Arnade’s front row/back row division of American society.


  1. Regarding a blurring of the line between predation and insanity … “In a sane world, it would make [the Russians] think twice, but the Russians don’t seem to be acting sane on any measure in this engagement.”
  2. Local media eventually picked up on the warning the Ukrainian FCA got from Russia before the invasion.

106 thoughts on “Heuristics for Ukraine (and other places)”

  1. “the Ukrainians will attempt to drive the Russians from their entire territory, including Crimea and Donbas.”
    Wait, what? What possibly would make anyone think they’re capable of doing that?

    “We let the Russians do it; a pre-emptive attack on the scale of the 2017 Shayrat missile strike would have seriously degraded their ability to mount the invasion”
    That would have been a complete and total disaster. Would have completely sacrificed any moral standing Ukraine has. No one would have believed Russia was actually going to invade, just that we launched an unprovoked attack.

    “The conservative wish-fulfillment fantasy of the week seems to be that the ever-shadowy powers behind the throne are going to make both Biden and Harris depart”
    What? I’ve never seen anyone say anything like that, and I frequent a wide range of conservative-flavored corners of the internet…

    “The Future Dimension”
    Wheat/food prices in the fall and winter, and gas prices next winter, is still very very concerning to me…

  2. “The conservative wish-fulfillment fantasy of the week seems to be that the ever-shadowy powers behind the throne are going to make both Biden and Harris depart”
    What? I’ve never seen anyone say anything like that, and I frequent a wide range of conservative-flavored corners of the internet…

    I have and think it might happen to Biden. Probably not soon but as his dementia becomes more obvious. Harris, no.

  3. Those people don’t run your country. It was instructive to watch Trump roll over finally to the deep state, when he started military actions he really did not want to do.

    That entity is what controls your country, and briefly lost that control to Trump. They took it back and will never let it go again.

    That entity sent the CIA to perform a coup in Ukraine, which was very successful, and really a master class in how to do that kind of thing. The problem with their success, is that the Nazis they used for this endeavour now run the country, to the point its an existential threat to Russia.

  4. “our own Trent Telenko, who is very much the man of the hour

    No disrespect to Trent — we all make mistakes. But Trent’s claims about that “bogged down” Russian convoy were plain wrong — an obvious case of seeing what one wants to see instead of seeing reality.

    There seem to be two broad theories out there:
    One is that the stupid Russians intended to over-run the entire Ukraine in 72 hours, and have completely failed, and are now getting ground down by heroic Ukrainians fighting shoulder to shoulder.
    The other is that the Russians have limited war aims (put an end to the evil Ukrainian government’s 8 year vicious war against fellow Ukrainians, and establish a neutral Ukraine) and are trying hard to minimize civilian casualties, even at the cost of incurring more of their own casualties.

    Time will tell us which view is correct — assuming that the vast demonstrated US stupidity does not trigger an all-out nuclear war which devastates the US, Europe, and Russia.

    If we manage to avoid nuclear war (and that would be luck rather than skill), the end result over the next few years will be a major economic & political loss for the US thanks to the stupidity of the sanctions. And a corresponding major win for China.

    Now back to the armchair warriors chortling over the newest staged Twitter video from the Ukraine.

  5. I put Biden about where Nixon was when Watergate first started to bubble. Can he survive? Sure. He’s safe from impeachment at least until 2023 (and wouldn’t be convicted in any case), and the press certainly doesn’t seem to be forced by events to dig into the story ala Bill Clinton and the blue dress. That could change depending on what Durham files next, or what the people running the Hunter investigation decide to leak, or how the Democrat PTB think he will impact the mid-terms. The idea that Harris is potentially going anywhere but into the Oval Office before January 2025 strikes me as absurd. She’s no worse than Biden at misreading a teleprompter, and gets automatic points for rallying the base around the old one-two of Republican ‘racism’ and ‘sexism’ (i.e. disagreeing with somebody non-white and/or female). She’s not subject to the 25th so other than impeachment and conviction (see above) she’s not going anywhere involuntarily.

  6. What possibly would make anyone think they’re capable of doing that?

    Brian, take in the whole sentence:

    “Their own severe constraints notwithstanding, the Ukrainians will attempt to drive the Russians from their entire territory, including Crimea and Donbas.”

    If they can do it, they will. It doesn’t have to be entirely militarily. If Russia is completely effed by this misadventure, and / or Putin is removed, a new regional settlement is on the cards.

  7. Update:

    1. “Daggers”.
    The use of hypersonic weapons in Ukraine has become a very significant event. Russia has demonstrated weapons that can be launched from long distances, that easily overcome Ukraine’s existing patchy air defense system and destroy difficult targets. The Russian Defense Ministry hinted at “other warheads.” The hint, of course, is not for Ukraine. The case when the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation showed a “cartoon” to the general public, and the Ukrainian public did not like this “cartoon” at all.

    2. Kyiv.
    Against the background of fighting to the west and east of Kyiv, the main theme was the strike on the shopping center in the northwestern part of Kyiv. The cries about the “attack on a peaceful facility” were easily interrupted by the invoice, when it turned out that the shopping center was used as a parking lot for MLRS and self-propelled guns, as well as an ammunition depot. With the help of technical reconnaissance data, the position of the Ukrainian artillery was calculated and destroyed with jewelry. After that, in Ukraine, they began to prepare a law prohibiting the removal of the positions of Ukrainian equipment on pain of imprisonment. However, the Russian means of objective control will not be frightened by the prison, but the citizens who report the location and positions of the Ukrainian occupation forces will do it a little more anonymously and cautiously. Near Chernigov without changes.

    There was an attempt to carry out a provocation with chemicals in the area of ​​the city, about which the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation had warned a few days before. It turned out somehow completely rotten, and a few hours after the leak, it was announced that it had been eliminated. But, of course, new provocations with the “use of chem. weapons in Ukraine” are inevitable. It is necessary to somehow interrupt the topic with biolaboratories. Moreover, the owners of the White Helmets and the Ukrainian Nazis are approximately the same people. So the movie about “Russia poisons Ukraine with chemistry” is still ahead.

    4. Kharkov.
    To the north and the city fighting. Chuguev – under the Armed Forces of Ukraine. Balakliya and most of Izyum are under the RF Armed Forces. The APU in the southern part of the city is still sitting. Fighting is going on near the Izyum-Slavyansk highway, as well as near Kamenka.

    5. LPR.
    Fighting in the area of ​​Lisichansk, Severodonetsk and Popasnaya. No significant progress has been reported.

    6. Marinka/Avdeevka.
    A small advance at Maryinka. Avdiivka without major changes. Also, fighting continues at Verkhnetoretsky. The Armed Forces of Ukraine continue to try to cling to this village.

    7. Carbon.
    Ugledar itself has not yet been taken. Fighting continues in the direction of the Maryinka-Kurakhovo highway. Their results will most likely become clear tomorrow. Velyka Novoselka is under the control of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. Stepnoe, Sladkoe and Taramchuk are under the DNR army.

    8. Mariupol.
    The cleansing of the city continues, there are small advances in development. Cases of attempts by the defenders to mix with the civilian population and escape from the city are becoming more frequent. The less resistant ones begin to gradually flake off from the main core of the defenders and try to save their lives. According to Pushilin, the capture of the city will take another week or even more.

    9. Nikolaev.
    There are no major changes. Tough arrivals continue around the city on identified targets and positions of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. Kim’s “counteroffensive” is no longer remembered. In Kherson, they began to disperse the maydauns by force. A step in the right direction. Throughout the territory liberated from the Nazis, filtration and counter-terrorist measures are gradually being activated.

    10. Zaporozhye.
    No major changes, only local battles were noted. Near Nikopol there is also no significant progress.

  8. No chance Ukraine could take Crimea back. Even if Russian military totally collapses, that’s where their Black Sea fleet is, it’s an eminently defensible peninsula, and by all accounts I’ve seen the people there honestly do overwhelmingly want to be Russian.

  9. the city fathers of Kharkiv were initially excited by the prospect, but eight years later, well it’s less palatable, and you can blame the Azov if you want, but they operate where they are at least tacitly supported by the populace, historically the Germans were able to pull of an offensive in late winter of 43, but that was with numbers of troops that dwarf this engagement,
    There was engagement on the Eastern Front in the first iterations of the Great War in Galicia, and then it went badly,*
    *noted in Dr Zhivago

  10. General Hunger or Famine, is the larger concern, when one fights in Europes granery and the worlds reserve of fertilizer components, potash nitrogen et al,*

    *you wonder how you end up in Oceanias victory gardens, this is how,

  11. this is the second or third order from this conflict, and that’s if it doesn’t meaningfully escalate,

  12. ” Even if Russian military totally collapses, that’s where their Black Sea fleet is”
    The same fleet that’s literally rusting away at anchor? The Russians have learned to not even attempt to build ships significantly bigger than 1,000 tons.

    Cast you mind back to the original occupation of Crimea. The Russians were having two helicopter carriers built in France because they couldn’t. Those ended up in Egypt.

    Whether Crimea stays in Russian possession will depend on many factors but mostly on whether there is a Russian Army to defend it. That’s not looking likely now. With the only connection to Russia being a bridge and a pretty long one, not a strong or easily defensible position.

  13. “We should be doing everything we can to undermine that revenue stream, including a “Nanhattan” Project (term not original with me) for mass production of nanomaterials to bring about literally dirt-cheap photovoltaics, storage batteries, and diamondoid drilling components for ubiquitous access to deep geothermal energy. (Don’t worry; I’m pro-nuclear too.)”

    Vast quantities of money are being invested in various alternative energy projects; WSJ put the number at $45B raised by ‘green’ startups last year…and that’s just for private company investments, excludes government research and the internal investments of public corporations. Is it really likely that additional multibillions funded by a ‘Nanhattan’ project will truly accelerate useful systems?

  14. Is it really likely that additional multibillions . . . will truly accelerate useful systems?

    They’ll get a few big private jets off the ground.

    The greenbollocks was the most unconvincing aspect of Jay’s post, but we all have our Great Pumpkins. Given the short time scales necessary, we should be undermining Russian revenue with what we know works – drill, frack, pipe and pump. The magic fairy dust for special sun petals is best left for a rainy day. Ah, no, wait . . .

  15. PJF: “we should be undermining Russian revenue with what we know works”

    You mean, like … sanctions?

    But you do raise an interesting question — How will German Greenies react when it becomes clear that the only way to reduce their reliance on Russian gas & oil is to frac and to mine more coal on Germany’s green & pleasant land? Will they do it? Or will they decide that #StandingWithUkraine really is not that important anymore?

  16. With the help of technical reconnaissance data, the position of the Ukrainian artillery was calculated and destroyed with jewelry.

    A lovely sprinkling of emeralds and sapphires.

    It’s perhaps indicative that Russia can fly a drone unmolested over Kyiv for long periods, especially since that drone would have been easily picked up by NATO assets. Either the Ukrainians have no effective anti-aircraft against small vehicles, or they let it fly to entice the Russians to expend enormously expensive and scarse resources on a single MLRS truck.

    As it happens, last night I was watching a livestream that was pointed in that direction. At approx 2204hrs local there was stream of fire up from the right of the screen. Could have been AA (maybe after the drone) or could have been MLRS (only if it was pointing directly away from the cam). At approx 2246hrs local, the big bang occured in a very similar line-of-sight direction – followed by the shockwave which was still jarringly loud through a crap webcam mike and my crap monitor speakers.

    For further sobering thoughts, mentally lay the $13 billion Gerald R Ford aircraft carrier across the front of that shopping centre. That’s an instant sink with loss of all hands, and no known intercept capability. This visual message is most likely the reason Russia is launching hypersonics at minor tactical targets.

  17. “Pretty darn stupid” is the key descriptor for our leadership.

    People keep saying that BidenCo. is in the pocket of whoever is the flavor of the month in their conception, but the raw fact is, BidenCo. has always been about grift, and they’ll do whatever it takes to keep the grift flowing. They’re also not all that bright, so look for some really juicy stuff to come out of China vis-a-vis the relationship they have with BidenCo. and its affiliates.

    It’s actually an insult to the mentally deficient to label these people as cretins, morons, or dimwits. They’re in a whole class by themselves.

  18. Yeah, comparing Putin to Hitler is outrageous and unhelpful. Don’t people know that Trump is the real modern Hitler? Before that, George W Bush was, but he’s good now. And the next GOP nominee, is going to be the one who is ACTUALLY just like Hitler. Until the one after him, that one will be the real danger. Until the one after him…

  19. One can think of valeriano weyler or general dyer (the villain of amritsar) or shamanov in the last war

  20. I hate to link to a CNN transcript of an interview with Zelensky — because who trusts CNN? Still, here is an interesting statement which Zelensky made through a translator, about the Ukraine trying to join NATO:
    “I requested them [Western leaders] personally to say directly that we are going to accept you into NATO in a year or two or five. Just say it directly and clearly or just say no, and the response was very clear, you are not going to be a NATO or E.U. member, but publicly the doors will remain open.”

    Poor Zelensky! He should have realized that Western leaders were playing him — just as they are now playing us.

  21. None of us can see the future, so who knows who to “believe”, but I found this an interesting read at least, yes it does match up with some of my biases, so your mileage may vary:
    History talks in the corridors of power. But it speaks in different voices, according to where the corridors are located. In my view — and I really would love to be wrong about this — the Biden administration is making a colossal mistake in thinking that it can protract the war in Ukraine, bleed Russia dry, topple Putin and signal to China to keep its hands off Taiwan.

    And China watches all this with a growing sense of certainty that it is not up against the U.S. of Truman and Kennan. For that America — the one that so confidently waged the opening phase of Cold War I — is itself now history.

    (Note he doesn’t really say what the US/West should do, just that the thinks the conventional wisdom among western governments is badly misguided. I think he’s right, as I’ve said before. I think the West is locked in this mindset that “our” club is all that matters, and that kicking Russia out of the club will hurt them so badly that “they” will come to their senses, and I think none of the “grownups” have a clue how off-target they are, but then again, they’re the bottom feeders who Brandon picked after their aces like Ben Rhodes moved on to greener pastures.)

  22. Update:

    1. Mariupol. Street fighting continues. According to DPR estimates, out of 14.5 thousand personnel at the time of the formation of the boiler, about half remained in combat-ready condition in Mariupol. The rest were killed, wounded, missing, captured or infiltrated into the Zaporozhye region.

    2. Marinka. Continues assault on the village. The troops are slowly advancing, but there is still a lot of work to be done before the complete clearing of this fortified area.

    3. Carbon. The troops are approaching Velyka Novoselka from the south, and also pushed through the defense of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and advanced towards Novomikhailovka. Carbon has not yet been taken.

    4. Avdiivka. No significant changes. The counterattacking units of the 25th brigade were knocked out of Verkhnetoretsk. Fighting is going on in the Novoselka-2 area.

    5. LPR. No changes in Lisichansk, Severodonetsk and Popasna. Units from Chechnya have been deployed to the front to take part in the cleansing of settlements.

    6. Raisins. Fighting continues, but it’s too early to talk about a turning point. At the same time, attacks on the Slavyansko-Kramatorsk agglomeration intensified, as well as strikes on the railway junction in Pavlograd and objects in Lozovaya.

    7. Kharkov. No significant changes. Fighting north and east of the city. The main battles, as before, are going somewhere on the outskirts

    8. Kyiv. No big changes. Despite the “counteroffensive”, today Ukraine admitted that the RF Armed Forces control Bucha, Gostomel and part of Irpin. And the main task is to keep Irpin. They also sucked out of the finger “I will win in Makarov” by hanging the Ukrainian flag there, as a couple of weeks ago in the “taken Bucha”. At the same time, there is no video that would confirm the full control of the RF Armed Forces over Makarov. To the west of Kyiv, medium-intensity fighting continued northeast of Brovar. Chernigov without changes.

    9. Nikolaev-Odessa. New serious strikes on the city. The port infrastructure is seriously damaged. Several objects and clusters of the Armed Forces of Ukraine were destroyed. There are no active offensive actions. In the Odessa area, according to a number of reports, the Admiral Makarov frigate destroyed the Ukrainian ship Neteshyn, which laid mines.

    10. Zaporozhye. The direction of Kamenskoye-Orekhovo-Gulyaipole is getting stronger. There is a regrouping of forces. But the offensive is unlikely to begin before the cleansing of Mariupol. Nikopol – no change.

  23. To the west of Kyiv, medium-intensity fighting continued northeast of Brovar.

    Brovary is to the east of Kyiv. Nine out of ten for using the Ukrainian spelling, minus several million for the brutal fascist assault.

    Fortunately – so far – the Russians remain stuck on stupid, and keep drip feeding reserves into multiple foundering fronts rather than trying to build enough force concentration for one objective.

    The failure to capture Mariupol quickly doesn’t bode well for the invader. Many towns and cities in Ukraine will have to be taken rather than bypassed, because the roads go through rather than around – and the Russians need the roads to advance in force because they chose to invade during the wet season.

    Meanwhile, Russian logistics become increasingly strained, and the Russian economy increasingly hosed.

  24. Very embarassing they may ultimately pulverize kharkov the germans did by march 43, mariupol is another question.

  25. The started one week earlier, which facilitated their terrain and they had twice as many troops

  26. Amazingly, it appears there is no overall commander in charge of the “special military operation”. The various area commands are competing for resources and failing to coordinate.

    What an absolute shower.

  27. Every time I read one of these “world theorists” like Mackinder, I feel like I’m reading the recorded ravings of some lunatic in an asylum somewhere…

    Dugin strikes me as rather more of the same.

    Does anyone not notice that precisely none of this BS has ever actually proven out, in the real world? The Soviet Union dominated the “World Island” for how many years, and then collapsed in a fit of disbelief from its citizens? How well has anyone following these idiots theories actually, y’know… Done?

    My theory is this: Anyone espousing this crap needs to be laughed out of the room, because the track record for this sort of delusional BS is there for the examination, and it ain’t what I’d call “solid”. The people who come up with these ideas are usually nutters, and the people who listen to them and try to put those ideas into action are generally worse in terms of nuttery. Witness the German version of all this, back in the mid-20th. Didn’t work out so well, now did it?

    End of the day, ideology generally equals out to idiocy. You start building a unified theory of the world, and then try to use that? You’re inevitably going to fall down on the fact that as a human, you ain’t got those godlike attributes of omniscience and omnipotence, so whatever you come up with is almost certain to founder on the rocks and shoals of reality. People who follow these ideas are generally not the brightest lights in the room, because the rude fact is, you have to have a degree of humility to actually effectively navigate the world that Murphy lives in.

    Putin is finding out that Murphy actually rules, not him and his diktat.

  28. I don’t care for this guy overall, his (Aussie) covid takes were nothing but bootlicking for authoritarianism, but this is an interesting thread:
    As noted there are 3 different views of the RUS-UKR War:
    – French Armees_Gouv : RUS are making advances reflective of a campaign plan of annihilation
    – UK MOD DefenceHQ : RUS making advances against stubborn UKR resistance:
    – US ISW TheStudyofWar : RUS advance stalled

    This sad aside shows up halfway through the thread:
    One lamentable aspects of the last 20+ years has been seeing how many retired military officers (Americans by far the worst here) will trade off their ranks & cash-in, in a manner so gauche & unbecoming as to disgust any sensible person. This war appeals to these worst incentives

    And he sums up with this, which needs constant reminding, in this terrible situation where there is no one to trust and even more of the struggle is for “hearts and minds”, even more than a normal war:
    Accordingly, always demand verification of any claims made. Do not accept anything you are being told at face value. Propaganda is now rife in this conflict, on all sides, and we each have a duty to discern the facts, see matters as they truly are, and form our own conclusions.
    The best way that any of us can support our military alliances and the making of sensible policies is to demand, above all, that we know the truth, the whole truth, and, especially, the verified bases for any claims made that would, in turn, be causes for the making of War.

  29. Brian, the real problem is that these are the sorts of men we’ve recruited, selected, trained, promoted, and then put in charge of it all. The reality is that our military system is designed to throw these sorts up. I can’t say that it’s intentional or unintentional, but the raw fact is that the emphasis on the almighty “career” for every single officer is the factor to look at with this syndrome.

    The whole structure of how we operate is ass-backwards. The mentality is that there are “good career choices” and “bad career choices”. You pick (?!?!?!?) the “good” ones, you’ll have a fine career, get promoted to high rank, and then you’ll have a wonderful post-military career… Never mind that those “bad” career choices are still jobs that need doing, thanklessly, by someone who won’t be rewarded and who will wind up sidelined and likely not make it through to retirement.

    The whole mentality behind that crap is what’s fuxxored, and we all allow it to go on, civilian and military. The criteria shouldn’t be on what job you do, but how well you do it. I personally have found that the men who get handed the shitty “dead-end for career” jobs and do them well are often superior leaders when compared to the general dreck that “do what it takes” to get promoted.

    Frankly, if there are truly “dead-end jobs” in the military, then someone ought to be looking long and hard at whether or not we need anyone doing them, and maybe civilianizing them.

    What we’re actually doing, across the board, is teaching the sort of thinking and behavior you decry; we reward it, we pass it onwards and upwards. The worship of individual career takes a backseat to concerns about whether the decisions and policies of the various officers are, when by rights, what ought to be rewarded is steady performance in any job, any where in the services.

    If you’ve wondered how it is that the services have so thoroughly caved to the woke, all you need to do is factor in that one thing: Career. Opposing the wokists wouldn’t be good for careers, so nobody is telling any of them the ground truth, which is that women really don’t belong in combat arms and that transgender BS has no place in a combat-oriented force, for ohsomanyreasons. Bradley Manning got where he was due solely to the wokist pressure applied; in days of yore, such an unstable personality would never have been passed through the system or placed in a position of trust, but because “trangender” and so forth, nobody could oppose his rise through the training ranks and out to where he could do real damage. Why? Because “woke” opposition is perceived (and, probably is…) as “bad for your career”.

    The American system is designed from the ground up to produce moral cowards and the educated-yet-idiot types, placing them in charge of very important things. It’s going to be the death of us, or at least lead to some very hard times.

  30. manning was the corporal klinger, closest thing, snowden was a trickier animal, the 21st century version of boyce/howard, higher up the ladder, is peter dobbins, he was a special forces officer who spoke fluent Russian and had their mindset, yet he was welcome in the Cambridge forum that loathed and defamed general Flynn, including the fantasist Stefan Halper

  31. “The American system is designed from the ground up to produce moral cowards and the educated-yet-idiot types, placing them in charge of very important things”
    Well, that’s because the Dems have spent several decades now pushing on the military to serve as a promoter of their social values, while the GOP has done their rah-rah BS and moaned about keeping politics out of the Pentagon (haha, I know, please try not to laugh).

    And now we’re at this point:
    “The most significant changes to the six-event ACFT is that it no longer is meant to prepare soldiers for combat but instead built as a general fitness assessment. ”

    Um, ok, then, so it’s a glorified “presidential physical fitness program” then, I guess…

  32. The physical fitness test and all the surrounding BS have been broken for a long, long time.

    For one thing, the idea that you’re testing anything at all meaningful in a military context by having people do some situps and pushups, then run 2 miles in a track suit…? WTF? How does that work out to “fit for combat”?

    I did 25 years under that testing regime, and the thing that I noticed was that while you can gauge someone’s general fitness level through that sort of thing, you also wind up drastically biasing the system towards people who’re basically flyweights. The guy who can bench 300lbs and toss around spare tires won’t typically do very well on that test, but that’s more the sort of guy you need in combat than the other ones.

    I was a Combat Engineer my entire career. Every time I went out to a job site, like building a panel bridge or something else that required actual, y’know… Work? The “PT studs” were quite often useless for getting anything done, and would typically break a hell of a lot easier than their “full-size” peers. The test was selecting for people who were, in my opinion, actually less fit for combat purposes than the guys we were throwing out because they couldn’t make the run times or who were overweight.

    Falklands Islands campaign with the Brits demonstrated a truth: None of the professional “fitness instructors” that they’d so expensively trained and who were paragons of fitness actually lasted the campaign, mostly being medically evacuated for exhaustion and exposure. The supposed “fatbodies” just kept plugging along, and a lot of them ended the campaign in better shape than they’d entered it. Acquaintance of mine was a part of all that, and it was decidedly against expectations to hear him describe how it all went down with the guys around him. Almost all of the skinny “fitness freak” types wound up in serious trouble.

    So, the handwriting has been on the wall for some time about the old testing regime being ‘effed up. Same with the body fat BS–I had to throw a guy out whose PT scores were always in the upper 10% because he was oddly proportioned for the tape test. That test said he was 25% body fat, but when we took him up to the physio lab at the University of Washington and did a water displacement test on his “fat ass”, he was actually 17% body fat. Didn’t matter–As I was told, the tape test is about appearances, and his simian mien did not look “soldierly” enough for our new Sergeant Major. I’ll grant that the man never looked right, in uniform, but I’ll be damned if that actually means anything. I think I missed the part about running a fashion show, but obviously, a lot of people in the services believe they are.

    The newer testing regime for the Army ain’t much better than the old one, but at least they tried to make it more combat-relevant. They failed, making it another gamesmanship event.

    Tell ya the truth…? I think they ought to just toss the entire concept of the physical fitness test, and go to an entirely mission-oriented thing where you take the unit out and do its job, observing who has issues doing their damn jobs. Can’t lift the toolbox? Zing, failed. Can’t hack the roadmarch with combat loads? Zing, failed. Do it like that, then come back in six months and do it again. Second failure? Flagged, and if you have a third one, buh-bye.

    The thing with the way we’ve been doing it is that it’s totally disconnected from the actual needs of things in combat. You don’t necessarily want a bunch of flyweight fast runners, unless you’re using them to run messages. What you need are big, slow guys who’re going to have the stamina and strength to see things through, and who can actually do real work, in the physics sense. Using people’s body weights as a metric is just stupid–A 90lb chicklet doing a pushup is lifting maybe 70lbs with her arms, depending on technique? Meanwhile, her male peer that weighs 210 is lifting easily twice that, which shows in ohsomanyways when you’ve got to take them out and actually do their jobs.

    I used to work the I Corps jump tactical operations center, which had the established standard of being able to set up and tear down in no less than 45 minutes for either task. With an all-male crew, that was doable. New commander came in, the chicklets complained that their “careers” were suffering because they weren’t able to be on the prestigious forward command post team, and we got in a tranche of useless female officers who thought they were too good to work. Where their male predecessors actually got it stuck in and did sterling work, these mouthy types all had the tendency to stand around watching other people work, while they did nothing. The fastest we ever got that “co-ed TOC” put together or torn down after that was roughly 3 hours, either way. The bad thing was, even the women who got it stuck in with the rest of us weren’t all that much help–When you’re man-handling a camouflage net out of a trailer that’s meant to go over a circus-tent sized area, you simply need mass and muscle. They took that away, gave us the women, and we never met the standard again. So, of course… They changed the standard.

  33. Update:

    1. Mariupol.
    Street fighting. The authorities of the DPR claim to control approximately 70% of the residential development of the city and certain parts of industrial development. The enemy continues to put up stubborn resistance. According to a number of reports, after March 23, prisoners will no longer be taken. They are still offering to hand over their weapons and surrender.

    2.Ugledar direction.
    After Stepnoy and Glorious, the fighting shifted to Novomikhailovka, which covers the Maryinka-Kurakhovo highway from the south. Fighting continued throughout the day.
    There are no big changes under Velikaya Novoselka yet.

    Slowly pushing the enemy out of the village. The troops are gradually advancing, but at such a pace, it can take from 5 to 7 days to occupy Maryinka, which is not surprising, since we are talking about breaking into a powerful fortified area, which is second only to Avdeevsky.

    4. Avdiivka.
    There are no big advances near Avdiivka itself. But to the north, the fighting has already shifted to Novobakhmutovka and Novoselka-2, where the DPR army is pushing back the battered units of the 25th battalion of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, which are moving away from Verkhnetoretsky.

    No significant progress was observed.
    Rubizhne was subjected to shelling from artillery and Grads.

    6. Raisin.
    Heavy fighting continued in the Izyum region and, above all, for Kamenka, where the Armed Forces of Ukraine are trying to prevent full control of the Russian Armed Forces over the village and advance towards the Slavyansko-Kramatorsk agglomeration and Barvenkovo.
    In the direction of Lozova, there is also no serious progress so far.

    7. Kharkov.
    No significant changes. Fighting of varying intensity to the north and west. In Kharkov itself, it turns out that they are still digging up corpses in the building of the Regional State Administration – by March 23
    , 24 bodies from among the local Volkssturm had already been dug up. The excavations are ongoing.

    8. Zaporozhye.
    On the Gulyaipole-Orekhov-Vasilyevka line without significant changes. To the north, the enemy is fortifying Pavlograd and seeking to quickly restore the operation of the Pavlograd-2 station after a missile attack.
    The part of the Nikolaev grouping of the RF Armed Forces that has gone to Nikopol is also not advancing towards the city yet.
    In the direction of Kryvyi Rih, no advances to the regional center were reported either. Locals say that the troops are fortifying 10-20 km from the city.

    9. Kyiv.
    Fighting continued to the west and southwest of Kyiv. The RF Armed Forces are trying to move south, in the direction of Vasilkov. The enemy defends stubbornly.
    Fighting also continued in the city of Irpen, part of which is controlled by the RF Armed Forces. N.p. Bucha, Vorzel, Gostomel are also for the RF Armed Forces. During the day, a fake about the “encirclement” of all Russian troops flashed by and disappeared on the Internet.
    To the east of Kyiv, fighting took place in the area of ​​several urban settlements to the northeast and east of the Brovary region.

    Near Nikolaev without major changes, rocket attacks on targets in and around the city, plus exchanges of artillery strikes.
    Odessa is also unchanged – strikes on military targets around the city continue. There are no landings.

  34. No one wants to read your cut and pasted stuff.

    I do. I’m here for Ukraine war info and discussion, and the Russian summaries are part of that.

    Let the site owners remove it if it offends them.

  35. he’s posting from another site. normal etiquette is to post a link w a brief snippet, not post pages of stolen content.

  36. The aspect of the Ukraine situation that still isn’t being addressed anywhere is; Why now? Why at the time of year that everyone agrees is the worst possible time of year? Why not high summer when all the fields would be golden with wheat ripening and most especially dry? Why not nearer to the fall when Europe would be anticipating winter energy demands and usage would be increasing rather than decreasing as weather warms, when Russian leverage would be greater and the time for Europe to make alternate arrangements less?

    My dad had a saying; “They must have had a very good reason to do something so stupid.”. What did Putin see coming that made this disaster seem like a good idea? Not that he planned a disaster but surely there were better times to launch this. Or maybe something has already happened that we haven’t noticed yet.

    Why now?

  37. yes there is no good explanation for this, I went back a long while, maybe not as far as the time of troubles, that the Russians still hold a grudge against Poland for, czars or oprichniks who want to be, sometimes do stupid things, I still maintain that Xi is the primary with Schwab as no 2 beneficiary,

  38. Well it seems the “plan” was for a lightning decapitation, so I think they wanted it done before spring thaws started?
    And if you assume the plan always called for economic warfare against the West, doing it early before planting season, and before they can fill their reserves for next winter, seem most effective to cause destructive price increases in food and gas prices.
    My impression is that Russia was particularly incensed by last year’s NATO meeting talking most explicitly about moving Ukraine’s membership forward and this was about as soon as they were able to get their forces gathered…

  39. PenGun has provided yet another Russian summary of stalemate, which again matches the Ukrainian side’s general picture. The reports have been like this for many days; well over a week.

    Fighting continued to the west and southwest of Kyiv.

    There are no Russian positions or advances southwest of Kiev. The very end of the salient from Belarus is west of the city.

    The RF Armed Forces are trying to move south, in the direction of Vasilkov.

    Satellite images show Russian forces near Kyiv are going on the defensive, building fortifications and laying mines. Vasilkov is roughly 20km from Russian lines; good luck getting there without a lot more combat power.

    Slowly pushing the enemy out of the village. The troops are gradually advancing, but at such a pace, it can take from 5 to 7 days to occupy Maryinka . . .

    That’s if the Russians and separatists can sustain the offensive, which is proving difficult in so many places. Marinka is right on the Russian starting line; if the projection pans out, that’ll be about a 1.5km advance in a month.

    In the direction of Kryvyi Rih, no advances to the regional center were reported either. Locals say that the troops are fortifying 10-20 km from the city.

    Backed up by satellite imagery. As in so many places, the Russians have run out of steam and are going on the defensive. They will probably resort to indiscriminate bombardments. So far, the Ukrainians have stood firm in the face of this tactic.

    If the Russians are going to build forces for further large offensives, it’s going to take weeks. As things stand, there is not much driving the Ukrainians to give ground in negotiations. Belarus are studiously keeping their forces out of the conflict (with a public announcement today that they are retaining diplomatic ties with Ukraine). The plan for Syrian troops to go to the conflict zone seems to have met Syrian bureaucracy.

  40. Look at Russia so very isolated:
    On March 22, Russia’s FM Sergey Lavrov met with the Moscow-accredited ambassadors from the BRICS nations.
    The participants discussed:
    strengthening strategic partnership
    promoting the five-way dialogue

    Look at our genius Western leaders with foolproof plans to help their people cope with the economic catastrophe going on:
    Quebec adults who earn $100,000 or less will receive a one-time payment this year of $500 to offset the impact of inflation.

    Be prepared. It’s going to get worse. Way worse.

  41. The level of stupid is beyond brawndo, on all sides some long some shortterm decision making

  42. Brian, I have told you where I get the stuff I post. If I gave you a link you would get Russian, and although translating that is not hard, its a small service I provide. As well its good information, that’s a bit hard to find these days. ;)

  43. Good grief fingal should be embarassed 150,000 troops and this is the progress they have made in a month

  44. Russian logistics further bollixed by a Ukrainian ballistic missile stike on a Russian landing ship in Berdyansk port, causing the other landing vessels to flee (slightly on fire and showered with debris). Seems like it was an ammunition ship, judging by the ongoing detonations in the conflagration.

    That means those supplies will have to go (unplanned) to a Russian port, then be unloaded (unplanned) and then alternatively transported (unplanned) to Ukraine. That’s not happening in a hurry. Or maybe they’ll just leave them floating at sea.

    It’s a nice story that the Ukrainians used Russian TV propaganda to pinpoint the ship but I suspect they have enough eyes on the ground for that anyway.

  45. What you’re witnessing here is the general incompetence of the elites, everywhere. Politically, you see it across the West. Militarily? Russia. None of these idiots expected this outcome, yet here we are in what I can only term the House of Farce. Whatever is going on in Ukraine, it ain’t “war” as a professional would know it.

    I think Putin decided that he was going to call everyone’s bluff, thinking that he had the capability to do so. That’s proved out differently, and now here we are with the entire situation having turned into an inextricable tar-baby that I really don’t see a way out of for our Mr. Putin. Or, for that matter, the idiots here in the West that enabled and in some cases, actually midwifed the whole thing.

    I’ve yet to wrap my head around whatever it was that the State Department thought it was doing, back when they stirred all this crap up. Much like the misadventures in the former Yugoslavia, they were essentially clueless about the histories involved. Or, what they were playing with…

    Still, here we are: A bunch of civilians are getting their lives ruined, they’re being killed left and right, and the Russians are bleeding their youth out over the plains of Eurasia–And, in the final analysis, for what? Security? How much security is Russia going to have, once it has revealed to the world the Potemkin-nature of its armed forces? How much are they going to have once it becomes apparent how incompetent the leadership is, and make no mistake, they’re incompetent at a fundamental level we can’t even begin to grasp. You invade a country, and then can’t even keep your troops fed and watered, let alone resupplied? Sweet babblin’ baby Jesus, but that makes our peccadilloes in the supply arena of the Pacific look professional… Sure, we blew a lot of money making certain allies rich, but… None of our sailors were ever having to knock over the odd convenience store to get food, either. There’s “incompetence and graft”, and then there’s whatever the hell the Russians are demonstrating here, which would require scientific notation to fully describe. Swear to God, I thought stuff like this was strictly for the history books, and never expected to see it in my lifetime.

  46. well the bosnian and kosovo examples are illustrative, bosnia elected an islamist as prime minister, with a checkered history, (he had been a teen member of the Hanschar battalion)
    the current Saudi king, funded the camps to train the fighters that came from pakistan, his son was tried to go legit, tudjman was a Tito era bureaucrat, who was supported by Germany and the Diaspora in Argentina and Australia, the bulk of the Serbian forces came from the Yugoslav Army,

  47. “whatever it was that the State Department thought it was doing, back when they stirred all this crap up”
    Consider how much money the DC swamp stole for itself laundering through Ukraine, and imagine how much more they could get through Russia if Putin gets deposed by someone amenable…

  48. has tried to go legit, most of the war was fought in the cities like Sarajevo, there was a certain pressure in intellectual circles to intervene for the West, in the New York Review, there were some Russian elements who aided the serbs, like the puppet warlord Girkin in Crimea, twenty years later, most of the mid and upper management in Al Queda fought or provided logistical supplies

  49. Miguel, what you may have missed was our brilliant State Department basically acting to prevent the Yugoslavs from nailing Izitbegovic to a wall, somewhere–Just like Tito was wont to do with any odd Serb or Croat that was stirring up similar problems. See, the State Department saw what Izitbegovic as doing God’s work in terms of opposing “Godless Communism”. That’s as far as they took the analysis, so far as I’ve been able to tell. And, with Izitbegovic being de-facto protected by the US government, that lit the fuse with the up-to-then tamped-down Serb and Croat separatists. It’s possible that it was all going to happen anyway, but… That particular stupidity by people who had no idea what they were screwing with most certainly didn’t help.

    The deal with Izitbegovic isn’t in itself the important thing–What was the important thing was that all the middle-of-the-road Serbs and Croats saw was that a Muslim was being allowed to do things that would have gotten them a trip through Tito’s security services. This enabled the various and sundry Milosevic types to point at Izitbegovic and say “Yes, that’s the future!! Join us, or see your kids sold as slaves…”.

    I watched that play out when I was a kid, growing up around the Yugoslav expat community here in the US. The Serbs, the Croats, the Slovenians…? They were all talking about how Izitbegovic was being protected by the US, and how that meant that the Muslims were trying to take over, again. I knew who Izitbegovic was well before he got his name into the nightly news during the 1980s–The Serbs I knew who were still deeply rooted in the Old Country were talking about him as early as I can remember being around those political discussions, which was around 1975-76.

    I had to explain to reps from our State Department about Izitbegovic, during the early 1990s. “Area Experts” were clueless about what they’d been doing, one of them even denied it until they went back and looked at the records. Then it was “We didn’t know anything about any of all that…”. ‘Effing idiots, the lot of them. I think they were assigned to Yugoslavia and spent their time there only attending embassy cocktail parties, and likely never got out and actually talked to real Yugoslavs. I had a better handle on actual Yugoslav opinion and belief systems from being exposed to the expat community than most of those idiots had after a decade or two of living over there. My limited Serbo-Croatian was better, too…

    I think we’d be a lot better off if we just shut down the State Department, and then contracted with our enemies to run our foreign policy. At least, then…? We wouldn’t have any illusions about which side our diplomats were on, or what they were doing.

  50. you saw it in practice, substitute the azovs for the muzhajid, particularly the black swans, now the Serbs supply lines were shorter, the Bosnian and Croats, basically used Zagreb as the main base, the Slovenians were quick to exit this dumpsterfire, then bob’s your uncle a similar game played out in Chechnya,

  51. Main point remains… The State Department bears at least some causative responsibility for the mess, even if what happened stemmed from second- and third-order effects of their “good ideas”.

    If it were up to me, I’d flatly ban any recent product of the Ivy League from doing anything important. Everything those types touch, they ruin. They’re our own internal wreckers, and to let them out on the international stage? Dear God… The destruction of the counter-proliferation program after what they did in Libya? Seriously? I’ve met 8th-grade delegates to mock UN debates that had a better handle on the long-term effects of doing things like that.

  52. Vis-a-vis the Slovenes… My impression has always been that they were far more comfortable inside what we could term the “Germanic Line” than with their less-than-organized cousins in either Italy or further south. If such a thing were possible, I’d almost term them “Slavic Germans”, in that they’ve got the same sensibilities when it comes to work, organization, and so forth. Coupled with the Slavic traits of “Don’t start none, won’t be none…” and essential intractability. I think they’re a lot happier on their own, and everyone else is better off that they are. Tito’s yoking them for economic purposes during his time was one of those things that created a whole hell of a lot of angst and animosity–The Slovenes felt that they were exploited by the feckless Serbs, Croats, and other ethnicities as being the responsible grown-ups surrounded by irresponsible and immature peers. Validity of that? No idea, but that’s how a lot of Slovenes expressed their feelings on the matter. They were looking for a way out of Yugoslavia even back during the pre-WWII era, to hear them tell it.

    The one thing I’ve gotten out of having had the experience of growing up around those expats is the knowledge that what’s in the history books and “actually, verifiably true” isn’t necessarily the important thing; you can have the documented historical fact before you, but if everyone else believes something other than what actually happened, then what they believe to be true trumps actual history. Convince enough people of the right fictions, and you’ve got a new nation or an entirely new problem on your hands, despite copious and massive contravening fact.

  53. Seriously, wtf is the head of Goldman Sachs doing posting something like this?
    I’m not a military guy, but if Ukraine is able to strike a proper target inside Russia, should it? Wouldn’t be meaningful strategically, but could be a major morale boost, like the Doolittle raid against Tokyo in 1942, which brought that war home to Japan and boosted US morale.

  54. Genuine question, Brian (not snark) – why do you think the head of Goldman Sachs shouldn’t post that?

  55. “Whatever is going on in Ukraine, it ain’t “war” as a professional would know it.”

    Well done. Its a Special Military Operation to denazify Ukraine.

    As the CIA controls the Nazis who run Ukraine, and as there are continuous attacks on the Donbass, some 14,000 dead sine the Minsk agreement was signed by these Nazis, and as they were about to mount a major attack on the Donbass … it was time.

    The point of the operation that confuses you so much, is to destroy the Ukrainian military. As they are holding a vast number of human shields that operation will take a while. Certainly destroying a country’s military is different than just forcing the country to surrender, and that is why they have to take so many casualties, as there is no trick way to do this.

    Looking at the American destruction of savages with modern weapons, might make one think that is how its done. They had no air, no way to defend themselves, and still America just bombed the place flat. War crimes with a chickenshit attitude springs to mind. As the people the Russians are fighting with have modern weapons and some air capability, its not the same. As they are close cousins, war crimes like the US routinely deploys, will not be used. This makes it much harder and it will take a while.

  56. The point of the operation that confuses you so much, is to destroy the Ukrainian military.

    Not going so well, that, eh?

    The level of intellectual and moral dementia it takes to pretend to believe that propaganda bullshit must be really sapping.

  57. “Not going so well, that, eh?”

    Its a work in progress. You really don’t understand what’s happening, but that’s not at all unusual.

  58. PJF — Be sensible! None of us know how things are going on the ground — the Fog of War is too thick, especially when the objectives of the various sides (and that includes our idiot “leaders” in the West) are unknown.

    The only thing we all do know with absolute certainty is that the level of propaganda, disinformation, and outright lying is high. Under these circumstances, caution is called for. Anyone who unquestioningly accepts what the media & the Twitterati are telling us may be in for a major surprise.

  59. Indeed – all the parties to this conflict are playing us – the Ukrainians, the Russians, our own media (to include social media) and not least, our own government.
    Probably best to take about everything you hear with a bushel of salt.

  60. PJF — Be sensible!

    LOL, Gavin, I’m not surprised at your call just after I’ve taken a crack at PenGun’s laughable propaganda – to which, I note, you did not bat an eyelid.

    Remember, I am Mr Sensible. I’m the one who started calling out the limitations of Trent’s “hostage column” notion in the Ukraine Thread Part 3. (I see Trent is now predicting total logistical collapse for the Russians in six to eight weeks, a tad optimistic methinks but I’d like to see it)

  61. This seems like a fairly balanced cautionary note on the videos circulating.

    Despite the accent, he’s a former American tank officer with combat experience in Afghanistan and Iraq.

    Whatever is said about the disinformation potential of statistics goes at least ten times for video.

  62. Manic Moran, AKA The Chieftain, is probably the most well-balanced commentator on matters pertaining to tanks and tank history. However, comma… You have to bear in mind that he’s gotten a lot of support from Wargaming, the company behind World of Tanks. Wargaming is a company that was founded in Belarus, has a bunch of employees in Ukraine, and is now operating out of Cyprus.

    Soooooo… He is probably not really a totally unbiased or uninterested source. World of Tanks has been paying the freight for a lot of his travel and so forth, but he is still a serving US Reserve officer as well. I like the guy, but he’s got to be walking a tightrope, right now–If I were his security manager, I’d be cursing the day I had him fall under me, because the paperwork documenting everything he’d have to disclose in order to keep his clearances would be best described as “Enormous…”.

    If you’ve an interest in the history of armored vehicles and armored warfare, his YouTube channel is something you should have either found, or will now spend a bunch of time digging through.

  63. Hmmhttps://www.conservativewoman.co.uk/if-ukraine-rejects-a-deal-there-could-be-much-worse-to-come/

  64. Update:

    1. Mariupol.
    Serious promotion in the city. There is a weakening of organized resistance and an acceleration of the advancement of assault groups inside the city. Materials from the city show that the enemy is suffering heavy losses. Attempts by one way or another to escape from Mariupol by enemy soldiers are becoming more frequent.
    In the evening, Kadyrov announced the liberation of the Left Bank region from the enemy.

    2. Carbon.
    Heavy fighting continues on the Novomikhailovka-Konstantinovka line. At Velyka Novoselka, no progress was reported.

    3. Marinka.
    A small progress in the village, but there is still work and work. The enemy continues to offer very stubborn resistance.

    4. Avdiivka.
    Fighting continued on the outskirts of the village. To the north, fighting was going on in the area of ​​​​Novobakhmutovka and Novoselki-2.

    No changes in Lisichansk and Severodonetsk. Near Popasnaya, the LPR army occupied the village of Novoaleksandrovka. Fighting continues in Popasna itself. Shelling of Rubizhne also continues.

    6. Kyiv.
    Heavy fighting continued in the area of ​​Irpin and Bucha. Both sides are actively working with artillery. There were also active battles to the northeast and east of the Brovary region. Near Chernigov without significant changes. Ukrainian sources reported on the battles for Slavutych, but there is almost no information about this.

    7. Nikolaev.
    On the front line without major changes. As well as that part of the group that went to Krivoy Rog and Nikopol.

    8. Raisins.
    The Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation announced that Raisins were taken. The governor of Kharkov says that they are still holding out in the south of the city. According to sources from the field, the battles for Kamenka continue, both sides are pulling up additional forces. Izyum himself was badly damaged during the fighting.

    9. Slavyansk-Kramatorsk.
    Regular strikes on military facilities in the agglomeration continue – they hit both warehouses and stocks of fuel and lubricants, and clusters of equipment.

    10. Zaporozhye.
    There are no significant changes on the front line. In the evening, it turned out that Ukraine was trying to recapture the villages to the east of Gulyaipol, which had not previously appeared in the reports. There are battles for Malinovka.
    The main event in the region was a fire at the large landing ship “Saratov” in the port of Berdyansk (the reason has not yet been officially announced – there are versions – “Tochka-U”, “Smerch”, sabotage, negligence. The ship was seriously damaged and sat down on the ground near the mooring walls. Also, another large landing ship was damaged in the explosion, the fire on it was extinguished after leaving the harbor. Quite an unfortunate loss.
    It is worth noting the intensification of work to strengthen the power of the military-civilian administration in the liberated territories of the Zaporozhye and Kherson regions, but there, of course, there is still work and work.

  65. @PenGun
    “Raisins” is a particularly bizarre translation fubar for Izium (Izyum) – but thanks for the general effort.

    A look at a map shows why the south of the town is / was holding out; a big river runs through the town. A wider look shows why it’s so important to both sides – the road. The Russians need that road to reach the rear of Ukrainian fortified positions opposite the separatist regions.

    Izium, Kamenka, even Kharkiv, are not the issue. It’s the road from Belgorod.

  66. “They have repeated the mistakes of Barbarossa…”

    That’s unfair to the Germans. They waited till the ground was dry, their vehicles were properly maintained, they won a tremendous initial victory (against superior numbers with comparable equipment), and then tremendous follow-up victories (Kiev, Vyazma).

    Their great mistakes were underestimating the size of the opposing forces (by about 50%!) and underestimating the sheer logistical difficulty of advancing the great distance required to defeat the USSR.

    The Russians almost certainly had good intelligence on the Ukrainian armed forces, and their logistics should have been good enough to support a much shorter advance to the far edge of Ukraine.

  67. Their great mistakes were underestimating the size of the opposing forces (by about 50%!) and underestimating the sheer logistical difficulty of advancing the great distance required to defeat the USSR.

    Yes and the T 34 tank. Splitting his forces to try to take the Caucasus and Moscow at the same time was another big mistake.

  68. this terrain is very bloody, now when you launch at the wrong time, like waiting for the Yugoslav campaign to abate, which put one in the hands of General Winter you complicate things, but the timescale is important, Barbarossa was in the fall of 41, it takes them some time to get as far as Kiev, there is an counter offensive in the summer of 43, and they take back the country by the following year, of course the German compliment was huge, as was the Soviet one,

  69. “Yes and the T 34 tank.”

    Indeed. I suspect you can only really appreciate it if you play with it in war games. I have and my herd of rats were amazing fun in good old Panzer Blitz. If I could get in inside your main lines, you would lose.

    One of the most important points IRL was the fact they ran on diesel, and so were much harder to set on fire. The German tanks all ran on gasoline and torched up real good.

  70. Maybe he meant they’ll be going to the Polish border to assist with refugees? Or maybe he meant they’ll go into Ukraine after there’s a ceasefire? Maybe someone can ask him? Hahahahahaha, I know, I know, funny joke, right?
    At any rate, what does it matter, he probably doesn’t even remember what he said, and it’s all good, because we got rid of orange man bad…

  71. Update:

    1. Mariupol.
    City fights. The enemy continues to retreat in the direction of Azovstal. The encirclement ring is constantly shrinking. According to the Russian Defense Ministry, more than 7,000 people continue to defend themselves in the city. The rest of the group has virtually ceased to exist.

    2. Ugledar direction.
    Battles for Novomikhailovka. By evening, the enemy held most of the village, the fighting continues. Holding Novomikhailovka is critically important for the Ukrainian Armed Forces to continue holding Maryinka. In Marinka itself, fighting in the ruins of the village. The pace of advancement of the DPR army is not high here.

    3.Zaporozhye direction.
    Fighting was noted to the southeast and east of Gulyaipole, as well as in the Malinovka area. No changes on the Kamenskoye-Orekhov line. Nikopol also has no promotion.

    No major changes. The grouping of the RF Armed Forces, which advanced to Krivoy Rog, is located 15-20 km from the city. In addition to the ongoing missile strikes, it is worth noting the information that has appeared about the preparation of a large-scale flooding of the area in the Odessa region in order to complicate the operations of the RF Armed Forces to blockade the city, around which some of the bridges have already been destroyed. Local residents are seriously worried, as residential areas may be flooded.

    5. Avdiivka.
    Some progress in the Verkhnetoretsky area, fighting near Novobakhmutovka and Troitsky. Novoselka-2 is still under the Armed Forces of Ukraine. There are no fights in the New York area yet.

    6. LPR.
    There are no major changes in the area of ​​Severdonetsk and Lysychansk.
    Ukrainian DRGs reappeared in the southern part of Rubizhne. The city itself is shelled from artillery. In the area of ​​Popasnaya, the LPR troops made some progress. The fighting for the city continues. According to the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation, 93% of the territory of the republic has already been liberated.

    7. Sumy-Chernihiv.
    There are battles for Slavutych west of Chernigov. The city is blocked, the Armed Forces of Ukraine left their positions on the outskirts and retreated to Slavutych. They are also hammering the positions of the Armed Forces of Ukraine near Chernihiv.
    In the Sumy region of the Armed Forces of Ukraine from the Akhtyrka region, the enemy launched a counterattack on Trostyanets (a town north of Akhtyrka), fighting was going on in the southern part of the city.

    8. Kyiv.
    In the absence of the mythical encirclement of the Russian group, fighting continued in the area of ​​the settlement. Irpin, Bucha, Moshchuny, Vyshgorod. To the east of Kyiv, the fighting went to the northeast and east of the Brovary region. The Armed Forces of Ukraine announce the occupation of the village of Lukyanovka.

    9. .Kharkov.
    Medium-intensity fighting north and east of the city. Chuguev is still under the Armed Forces of Ukraine. The artillery of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and the MLRS were targeted in the northern regions of Kharkov. At night there were hits in the area of ​​Kharkov airport.

    10. Raisin.
    According to a number of reports, the command of the Armed Forces of Ukraine yesterday gave the order to leave Izyum and concentrate on the battles for Kamenka. Fighting from there is gradually shifting south towards Barvenkovo ​​and towards Slavyansk. The objects of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in Slavyansk, Kramatorsk and Artemovsk were subjected to heavy blows.
    The command of the Armed Forces of Ukraine is concentrating forces in the Artemivsk area in order to be able both to fend off the breakthrough of the Donetsk Front and to counteract the RF Armed Forces after the breakthrough of the Izyum line.

  72. T-34 is overrated. Sloped armor? As much a curse as a boon; it was an armor multiplier, but it also made the interior cramped. The construction quality (or lack thereof) meant that the tank leaked, which made it miserable in the rain and deadly when molotoved.

    It was a decent gun… except the tank was half-blind, exacerbated because the guy who was supposed to be watching the battlefield also had to help load the gun. T-34s only shot about once per every three shots its opponents made, and had middling to poor accuracy, especially at long range, because of the bad sights. Some of this was improved in 1944 when they replaced the turret and gun and added a loader; some of it was worse, because the longer gun had a habit of filling with dirt in rough terrain.

    Consider also that the Soviets lost about 45 000 of the things during the war; the Germans only built around 20 000 medium tanks (Panzer IIIs, IVs, and Vs) for the entire war, many of which were outclassed by the T-34 on paper (smaller, typically 50mm guns, less armor, less sloping…)

  73. Most of what the West knows about the T-34 came from post-war production examples that were much better made than the ones that the poor bastards of 1941-45 were saddled with. That’s distorted the T34’s reputation for decades.

    It was sufficient to defeat the Germans, but the costs…? In terms of lost crewmen and all the rest? The Soviet Union could well be argued to have never recovered from the war, with the demographic damage echoing down the decades to the present day. The word “Pyrrhic” comes to mind…

    The Soviet/Russian “way of war” is massively wasteful of human lives. Up until recently, they’ve been able to sustain/recover from those losses relatively easily. With whatever has gone wrong with the demographics for fertility rates around the world, it’s fairly obvious to everyone but Putin and the Russian Defense Ministry that those days are over.

  74. I chose the word “rats” to describe T34s and I did that on purpose. They are very good at what they do, and swarms of them, used well could take down a lot of supposedly much better stuff. A fast one could do almost 35 mph and they could get among stuff faster than many enemy’s I fought expected.

    That they could make lots, is most of their strength.

    This on several well modelled games with a moderate level of detail. Some had ridiculous levels, as they had the stats. ;)

  75. Mike K: Yes and the T 34 tank. Splitting his forces to try to take the Caucasus and Moscow at the same time was another big mistake.

    The T-34 wasn’t that important in 1941; only a modest number of the first version had been built, and that version had lots of bugs. And there was no German attempt to reach the Caucasus in 1941 (i.e. during BARBAROSSA). The diversion of German forces in 1941 was sending II Panzer Group south to close the Kiev pocket in August-September.

    Not knowing about the enemy’s latest weapon system, which isn’t really ready for service and is only slightly better than one’s own equivalent isn’t comparable to overlooking over half of the enemy’s forces.

    And the logistics issue would have been recognized if the Germans had done any proper “gaming out” of their proposed operations. All they had to do was calculate how much supply would be needed at what locations, how many trucks it would take to move it there, how far their vehicles could drive before breaking down, how long it would take to reconfigure the railroads for their own use.

  76. What I remember from my reading about Barbarossa is that the Germans were deeply into “hubris mode”, and what wargaming they did was half-ass and dismissive. They’d gotten the idea, based on what happened to the Soviets during the Winter War in Finland, that the Soviets were going to be pushovers. They did not take them seriously, at all–The intelligence they had was totally inadequate, and they’d no idea at all about what happened to the Japanese out in Khalkin Gol, which was a far more predictive conflict for how their campaign in the East would play out.

    The biggest thing about the German staff planning for Barbarossa was the sheer arrogance of it all, their entirely dismissive attitude towards the massive distances and the horrid weather they were going to encounter. Their success in Poland, France, and everywhere else they’d gone led to them taking on a hell of a lot more than they’d expected.

    Still, they did a lot of damage. Absent Stalin’s idiocy of nurturing them and enabling the Western conquests, they’d have never gotten as far as they did. The dark irony of the two tyrants turning on each other the way they did is priceless historical black humor.

  77. I am remembering stuff. The T34 was not really good for shooting at stuff, its gun was not great. The later T34-85 remedied that with quite a good gun.

    What you could do is take your horde of rats, and pack a couple of companies on them. The Sub-Machine-Gun was another thing the Russians learned to make out of stamped steel and they could, and did make an ass-load. They formed Sub-Machine-Gun units of various sizes, and if you could deliver a lot of half crazed, drugged and drunk Russians armed with these weapons, to the middle/edge of any encampment/fortification, all hell broke lose. Great fun.

  78. Some explanation of why Putin felt he could do as he chose with Ukraine.

    By 2010, the Obama-Biden-Clinton Russian reset was in full swing. The administration put forth a mutual nuclear disarmament treaty known as “New START,” which, while noble in its declared intentions, risked weakening a compliant partner such as the United States while strengthening a Russia not constrained by the rules.

    Another deal that Obama, Biden, and Clinton gave the Russians was called the “123 Agreement,” which allowed state-owned Russian entities like nuclear behemoth Rosatom to sell nuclear materials directly to U.S. utility companies.

    This deal continues to pay huge dividends to the Obama Foundation’s top donor, Chicago-based Exelon Corporation. And President Biden has allowed that deal to survive even during the Ukraine war, exempting nuclear fuel sales to U.S. utilities from his recent sanctions targeting Russian energy imports.

    The corruption of the Clintons, Obama and Biden gave us the imperial Putin.

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