The Russo-Ukrainian War’s Electronic Warfare Front

I did a direct message interview with Forbes Magazine journalist David Axe the first week of November 2023 about the state of the “Wizard War,” that is electronic warfare, between Ukraine and Russia.  I’ve cleaned it up for mis-spellings, removed extraneous comments, adding links and photos for clarity and I am presenting it below:


1. The Russians were famous for their battlefield EW prior to the 2022 invasion of Ukraine. How do you think this EW complex stacked up against other countries’ own EW systems?

Russian EW kit has ranged from good to adequate to poor in terms of individual performance compared to Western standards.

The biggest gap seems to be in the latest VKS (Russian Air Force) Khibiny M Electronic Warfare Self Protection Pod (EWSP), which seems to lack the latest digital radio frequency memory (DRFM) technology. [In 2017 the Russians claimed a Su-24M FENCER carrying the new Khibiny M EWSP system had disabled the SPY-1 Aegis weapon system on the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer. See the picture below] DFRM is needed to survive very long range air to air missile combat engagements and for delivering anti-radar Kh-31/AS-17 KRYPTON missiles, like the US HARM, against ground radars.

KREB "Khibiny-M" Khibiny-M electronic warfare pod
KREB “Khibiny-M” Khibiny-M electronic warfare pod

There have been X (formerly Twitter) social media videos of VKS jets with pairs of Kh-31 and no EWSP pods. Which meant the jets were using the Kh-31 missile seekers to hunt Ukrainian radars. Shooting both Kh-31 missiles left the jet defenseless!

Where the Russians were outstanding in Feb. 2022 was in terms of the shear numbers of jammers they had with both the force structure and doctrine to operate them. Russia is still a big believer in “Quantity has a quality all its own.

2) But the Russian EW didn’t work very well at first in Ukraine, no? What went wrong?

The Russian problem with using electronic warfare is sociological. A centralized authoritarian who picks for political loyalty for 20 years also picks for corruption and incompetence for just as long. Putin’s military has extreme levels of incompetence at every level, from top to bottom, as a result. In a centrally controlled system like Russia, the stupidity of the commander flows downhill.

Where this showed up in the electronic warfare campaign in Ukraine was that the commander of the VKS was a “green suiter” (Army) dressed in blue (Air Force), with an Low Intensity Conflict (LIC) background from Syria.

This was reflected in the lack of (term of art alert) “electronic deconfliction.” That is, given all the radios, radars, sensors and jammers share the same over crowded pieces of the electromagnetic spectrum. You have to do a top down plan to use all of the kit simultaneously. Russia didn’t do a competent job of that for its “special military operation” in the dash to Kyiv.

When Russia took out Ukraine’s sector and national operational command posts, which coordinated fighters and surface to air missiles, using electronic radio interference (Jamming), anti-radiation missiles against radars and cyberattacks. It did not “Deconflict them” with their own very similar military radar/radio equipment and Ukraine’s cellphone network that its own forces used for communications.

This lack of “electronic deconfliction” planning resulted in both the stalled 40 km column from a lack of logistical radio communications and Ukrainian TB-2’s drones plinking Russian air defenses (TB-2 picture below). Only the retreat to Belarus fixed the Russian Army deconfliction problems.

Ukrainian Navy receives first Turkish-built Bayraktar TB2 armed drones
Ukrainian Navy receives first Turkish-built Bayraktar TB2 armed drones

It appears Russia’s military is operating at about a mid-1942 Western Allied levels of electronic warfare in terms of joint services cooperation on radio frequencies.

The last couple of times I’ve seen US military operations that were this slapdash in terms of radio deconfliction were the 1979 Operation Argo failed rescue mission to Tehran & the 1982 Operation Urgent Fury Grenada invasion.

Operation Just Cause in Panama five years later was a masterpiece of radio deconfliction in comparison. The 1993 Battle of Mogadishu, AKA “Blackhawk Down,” was still very good in terms of radio communications.

US/NATO electronic warfare capability, and thus electronic deconfliction abilities, cratered in the mid-2000’s when Secretary of Defense Gates killed electronic warfare for a focus on LIC.

>>3) Now we’re in a new phase of the EW war, right? What changed?

A whole lot of things starting with the fact that Ukraine had “Run the Red Queens Race” with Russian EW from 2014 and was ready with its own EW doctrine including high emissions discipline (like using telephone wire as much as possible rather than radio) and a “robust recovery from regular back ups” cyberwar capability.

The availability of Western military aid since March 2022 saw Ukraine finally able to do more of what it wanted to do, but could not afford. That is, things like obtaining vast quantities of Western highly jamming resistant digital spread spectrum tactical radios from vendors like the USA’s Harris and Turkey’s Aselsan.

Another particularly import change as far as drones are concerned was Ukraine putting 31 year old Herman Smetanin in as the general director of at Ukroboronprom, the state arms manufacturer, in June 2023 (See the photo and link below).

Director of Ukroboronprom Herman Smetanin
Director of Ukroboronprom Herman Smetanin

Smetanin has directed Ukroboronprom help private Ukrainian companies scale their developments with tooling, money and connections as well as signing license agreements with three large companies for the production of their latest drone models. These drone models cover the full range from small quadcopter grenade droppers to assault drones in the same 1000 km (620 mile) range class as the Russia’s imported from Iran Shahed-136 drones.

One of the obvious pay off for this Ukroboronprom drone mobilization effort has been the simultaneous fielding of new Ukrainian FPV drone jammers that were ‘electronically deconflicted’ with a new generation of extended 25 km (15.5 mile) range FPV drones that are currently (as of Early November 2023) covering Ukrainian crossings of the Dnipro river in Kherson province.

While the Russians have been innovating with drones as well. Their military procurement bureaucracy fights or tries to take over Russian volunteer drone efforts rather than make then larger and more coordinated. It doesn’t help that Russian volunteer assault drone efforts are direct competitors with existing cruise missile and foreign obtained Shahed drone efforts.

Thus we are seeing Ukraine pulling away from Russia in the drone/electronic warfare race at the lower end, like FPV drones, because of Ukraine’s stronger civil society.

>>4) Is Ukraine countering Russian EW at all? If so, how?

I don’t know anything specific on that. And if I did I wouldn’t talk about it.

What I can say with certainty is based on the history of the WW2 electronic war between Great Britain and Germany. There will be constant seesawing between Russia and Ukraine as new jamming and jam resistant weapons systems are deployed. We will see these EW swings on social media the most often with drones.

Many historians say that Britain won WW2 “Wizards War.” That wasn’t quite true. The war ended when Britain had a major advantage and Allied strategic bombing prevented Germany from fielding its final generation of countermeasures.

The Wizard War (Paperback) - -

>>5) What does Ukraine need to win the EW war?

Ukraine’s answer in 2023 is the same as Britain’s was in 1939-1945. Ukraine has to evolve and innovate faster, get ahead of Russia by two or three steps and keep pushing.

The example here was R.V. Jones as head of the British Air Ministry Scientific Intelligence during the “Battle of the Beams.” By working hard with code breaking, technical, human and photo intelligence, Jones spotted the final Luftwaffe radio navigation beam system during the “London Blitz” before it was deployed. Jones helped arrange for a mothballed BBC television transmission station to be available to jam the Luftwaffe new navigation beam system as soon as it was turned on.

Given heavy support from Western intelligence and defense contractors, plus its own civil society, Ukraine has every chance to duplicate Great Britain’s 1940’s feat against Russia in the 2020’s.


34 thoughts on “The Russo-Ukrainian War’s Electronic Warfare Front”

  1. Trent Telenko: “A centralized authoritarian who picks for political loyalty for 20 years also picks for corruption and incompetence for just as long. Putin’s military has extreme levels of incompetence at every level, from top to bottom, as a result. In a centrally controlled system like Russia, the stupidity of the commander flows downhill.”

    I suppose that explains why Zelensky’s forces are today surrounding the Kremlin and have got President Putin besieged inside?

    Mr. Telenko would be more credible if he were less biased. It is now clear that Russia’s withdrawal from the outskirts of Kiev was what they have always claimed — a good faith gesture as part of the negotiations to end the conflict. Sadly, perfidious England squashed that peace deal, costing hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian lives. It is also clear that Russia’s incompetent (?) leadership has since concentrated on destroying the Ukraine’s military & industrial potential — with some significant undeniable success.

    It is understandable that some people only want to hear “happy talk”, no matter how divorced from reality. But an analyst like Mr. Telenko should start with the facts, not with yesterday’s hopes.

  2. “It is now clear that Russia’s withdrawal from the outskirts of Kiev was what they have always claimed — a good faith gesture” Gavin Longmuir

    That is not clear at all.

    Much more likely that Russia was playing from the old Soviet Playbook on how to invade their neighbors. Hungary, Czechoslovakia & Afghanistan. Grab an airport at or near the capital and flood the rest of country – so it looks like there are Russian soldiers everywhere – while in reality the are mostly weakly spread out. Look at the size of the force that tried to cross the Southern Bug River at Voznesensk.

    This time the invaded fought back – almost everywhere.

    When Plan A failed, Russia started improvising. Overstretched with exposed supply lines, Russia fell back.

  3. Gavin,

    That you do not wish to hear the objective truth I lay out is your issue and not mine.

    Russian forces were so inept they could not take Ukraine when they were shooting a ratio of 65 artillery shells to Ukraine’s one artillery shell.

    Now that Ukraine has drone air/electronic superiority, Russia is losing six men to Ukraine’s one and 20 vehicles for each Ukrainian vehicle. There is only one way this is going to end…Ukraine will be Russian soldier free at it’s 1991 boundaries.

  4. Trent T: “Russia is losing six men to Ukraine’s one and 20 vehicles for each Ukrainian vehicle.”

    Heh? Even Gen. Zaluzhnyi has been making some rather pessimistic statements following the undeniable failure of the Ukraine’s great summer counteroffensive. And it is a well-established maxim that an attacking force (Ukrainian, this year) will suffer much higher losses than dug-in defenders in well-prepared positions (Russian, this year).

    Anyway, it is a great thing that Zelensky’s forces are doing as well as you say — because the rest of the world is losing interest in the Ukraine. They will need to stand on their own two feet. And that is objective truth.

  5. An honest question for Trent T — We see analyses like his which portray the war in the Ukraine going well for Zelensky. And at the same time we see reports such as this AP interview of Zelensky himself:

    “He [Zelensky] anticipates a resumption of an intense Russian air campaign. Such attacks last year struck key civilian infrastructure, affecting power, heat and water supplies. Russia also targeted grain silos and ports, hampering export capabilities. …

    On Ukraine’s summer counteroffensive, Zelenskyy admitted it did not produce the results many had hoped for. He said this was due mainly to Ukraine not receiving hoped-for weapons from allies that kept ground forces at a disadvantage.

    “Look, we are not backing down, I am satisfied. We are fighting with the second (best) army in the world, I am satisfied,” he said referring to the Russian military But he added: “We are losing people, I’m not satisfied. We didn’t get all the weapons we wanted, I can’t be satisfied, but I also can’t complain too much. …”

    This is war — even Zelensky concedes that the Russian military is good. Both sides have successes & failures, lucky breaks & stupid mistakes. But Zelensky is not talking like a winner. How do we reconcile Zelensky’s statements with your views of Ukrainian successes and Russian extreme incompetence from top to bottom?

  6. That, after two years, we’re talking about a war in Ukraine at all, rather than a Russian occupation, is proof that the war is going better for Ukraine than anyone could have imagined at the outset. And disastrously for Russia.

    EW is the sort of capability that’s nearly impossible to build and maintain during peace time. The enemy is going to do his best to surprise you with something new and run free until a countermeasure is fielded. A military that takes decades to develop every weapon system isn’t likely to have much capability for that sort of quickness and will mostly eliminate it as far as they can. And I’m not talking about Russia.

    Someone else that missed the boat on drones is Hamas. Lucky for Israel, I’m pretty sure the economics, logistics and effectiveness of drones are far superior warhead for warhead to sewer pipe rockets. The rocket warheads are probably bigger than all but the largest drones but the targeting of the drones is orders of magnitude better. This raises the stakes for Israel in Gaza, the West Bank and Lebanon exponentially. This is probably the last time they won’t have to contemplate operating under a cloud of hostile drones.

  7. it was going to be a grind, because of the stakes, on the Ukrainian side, the history of those leaders who lose, is not optimal see petlura in 1926, and bandera in 1957, one might cite Mazeppa some time in the 19th Century, but that’s not a good bet, in part because holding both banks of the Dnieper, has been very difficult, on the Russian side, these were the campaigns that defined Peter the Great and to a lesser degree, Catherine read Massies treatment, this is firmly in Putin”s wheelhouse,

  8. miguel,


    During the summer counteroffensive, the Armed Forces of Ukraine disabled up to 1,000 enemy artillery systems every month.

    Between 20 and 30 mortar/tube artillery have been lost a day for the last month AKA the low end is 600 guns and mortars, showing both the lower Ukrainian offensive efforts and Russia’s Adiivika impailement since the mud season kicked off in October

    The Ukrainian Defense Ministry just reported on Facebook the total combat losses of Russian troops between 24 February 2022 and 1 December 2023 as follows [figures in parentheses represent the latest additional daily losses as of 1 Dec 2023].

    Approximately 330,040 (+1,280) military personnel;
    5,564 (+13) tanks;
    10,372 (+32) armoured combat vehicles;
    7,931 (+22) artillery systems;
    912 (+2) multiple-launch rocket systems;
    602 (+2) air defence systems;
    323 (+0) fixed-wing aircraft;
    324 (+0) helicopters;
    5,976 (+22) tactical UAVs;
    1,567 (+0) cruise missiles;
    22 (+0) ships and boats;
    1 (+0) submarines;
    10,399 (+38) vehicles and tankers;
    1,137 (+13) special vehicles and other equipment.


    That is a Russian mechanized infantry regiment and all of its supporting artillery and logistical trucks IN A DAY.

    Putin’s Russia isn’t the Soviet Union. This rate of loss without the Soviet Union’s WW2 training base for troops isn’t sustainable.

    All of this is downstream of both changes in technology — drones in particular — but mainly from the lack of Russian training cadre to provide trained replacements fast enough to allow unit replacement and rebuilding.

    The example here of the difference between Putin’s Russia and the Soviet Union’s Red Army is the career of Hero of the Soviet Union Dmitry Fedorovich Loza.

    Loza was called up in the summer of 1941 along with most men his age, but he was not committed to battle until June 1943. This happened because he was trained as a tank junior officer for two years before he was committed to battle.

    Via Wikipedia:

    “Loza graduated from the Saratov Tank School in 1942. From 1 June 1943, he fought on the Western Front as commander of the 2nd Tank Company of the 1st Tank Battalion of the 233rd Tank Brigade of the 5th Mechanized Corps.”

    Ukraine’s forces are about 3 times the 400,000 troops Russia has in Ukraine when you count up all the paramilitaries, Army, marines (Navy) and VDV paratroopers (PSU).

    As a result, Ukraine rotates units out of the line and rebuilds them on the regular. Russia does not. This makes a difference in long term casualty ratios deeply in Ukraine’s favor. That is, they are killing Russians far above the Russian 3-to-1 fighting age population advantage.

    The “Left Bank” Dnipro lodgement is an example of how Ukraine rotates it’s marines and Russia is currently fighting it’s 810th Naval Infantry brigade to death.

  9. I’m looking at the reasons why this conflict won’t end on either side, if putin is replaced by another siloviki, or zalushny replaces zelensky, will the forrmer have a collapse like brusilov had in the first world war, noted by pasternak in dr zhivago’s opening chapters,

  10. Putin’s first and ultimately unsolvable problem is that he’s running out of Russians. The Russian economy is already crippled by labor shortages that have been magnified by the acceleration of emigration of younger workers who face the choice of leaving for better prospects or dying in Ukraine. So historically decrepit Russian industry is now not only cut off from foreign supplies and technology, but is being forced to recruit from prisons. Those same prisons suffering from epidemic tuberculosis levels and rampant drug use.

    He’s also running out of money. The sanctions have forced him to sell what oil he can at reduced prices, much of it in exchange for such non-convertible currencies as Rupees and Chinese Yuan. The Russian LNG market has all but collapsed.

    Trent has made the point that a combination of sanctions and general unwillingness of Western businesses to remain in Russia has crippled the production of rolling element bearings (ball bearings) that everything from machine tools to rail cars depend on. Especially the latter, with much of Russia’s trade diverted to China by way of the Trans Siberian Railway, greatly increasing ton-miles and wear and tear.

    Another choke point is in civil aviation. At the outset of sanctions, the foreign owners of all the Western planes operated by Russian carriers were forced to try to repossess those planes. So, Russia simply expropriated those planes. Great for Russia. That is until you find out that those planes were being maintained and repaired outside of Russia and are now cut off. At the same time, they are cut off from supplies of certified spare parts. They have managed to limp along so far with a trickle of black market parts from Iran and other dodgy places without too many notable accidents. The reality is that none of those planes will ever be allowed in Western air space because of voids in their maintenance records. One imagines that in some future where sanctions have been ended that Russian air lines will have some difficulty procuring planes for anything except cash on the barrel head.

    In fact, the war has ended just about all joint ventures with the West for the foreseeable future, sanctions or not. These were the ones that had already survived 30 years of Russian corruption. If the war ended tomorrow by a complete Ukrainian capitulation, Russia would continue on the path of poverty and darkness. Putin has burned all the bridges and thrown all the seed corn in the fire.

  11. MCS: “The Russian LNG market has all but collapsed.”

    That would apparently be news to the Russians, who are increasing shipment of LNG to Europe.
    According to this article, the EU imported 13.98 Billion Cubic Meters of Russian LNG in the first 9 months of this year — almost a 50% increase compared to the same period in 2021.

    This is an example of the honest question that I asked Trent T. — which he has not yet answered: How are we supposed to know what is really going on when reports from different sources differ so wildly?

    Trent advises Miguel that the Ukrainians are smashing the Russians and imposing unbearable losses on them. But Trent bases his conclusions on figures released by … the Ukrainians! Any chance that Zelensky’s PR office might be gilding the lily? After all, Zelensky’s regime is happy to release figures on (claimed) Russian losses, but refuses to release any numbers on their own actual losses. If the Ukrainians are really winning so handsomely, why would they hide the data?

    The war in the Ukraine is dangerous to the world — because it is a proxy war between the US/NATO and Russia. If neither side is prepared to lose that war, then a lot more people than just young men (and in the case of the Ukraine, old men and young women) are going to die. And not just in the Ukraine.

  12. Eighteen months ago, or more, Gavin was on here talking about how, once the Russians had inevitably triumphed, the region would need rebuilding, and he suggested that the Chinese could provide peacekeepers and money. That was called ‘engaging one’s brain.’

    The Russian economy has always been dependent on tech and money from outside. Even back in Romanov days they contracted American firms to make Mosin-Nagants, and in WWI Western aid was critical to the recovery that enabled the Brusilov Offensive; under Stalin the Five Year Plans consisted in large part of hiring Western firms to do the high-end stuff (and they were often stiffed); as MacMeekin has shown, during the Great Patriotic War Lend-Lease was more vital (and vital earlier) than the received academic narrative has let on–FDR essentially handed the Reds carte-blanche on any and all US high-tech (just short of the A-bomb, which Stalin already knew all about). Not to mention, the postwar German-designed Migs, with their Rolls-Royce engines built under license.

    The news now is that the Ukes are sabotaging the already rickety rail links between Russia and China.

    It doesn’t matter much that outsiders don’t understand how fragile and dependent the Russian economy is, but that Putin was so clueless says a lot about him and his cult of personality.

  13. I’m fairly certain that there are many non-Ukrainians that wish Putin and his adventure ill. Not least those that imagine his downfall would aid their ascendancy. Putin, or Xi for that matter, should assume that everything he is told is filtered through layers of people who’s motives range from simple self preservation to avarice to lust for power, with truth as often as not being counter to the ambitions, at least, or continued survival of the messenger. Yet they never seem to learn.

    The West generally exacts less draconian penalties but doesn’t have that much better record. Just ask anyone from Billy Mitchel to the Israeli analyst that noted that Hamas was conducting exercises closely resembling a document widely circulated through the Israeli intelligence apparatus for the better part of a year, that ended up matching the Oct. 7 attack in detail.

  14. I’m kind of surprised at the extraordinary degree of disagreement about the current state of the war in Ukraine. It looks like one side has been tippling at the NATO furnished kool-aid while the other side looks woefully ill armed.
    I think it is pretty obvious that Russia is kicking Ukraine’s ass on the battlefield and it has destroyed the economic sanctions put in place by the US and the EU and with the establishment of the BRICS it has whisked a good part of the world economy right out from under the West.
    Putin no more wants to conquer Ukraine than we wanted to conquer Iraq or Libya. His actions are some of the most profoundly statesman-like since Napoleon. Russia is bleeding the entirety of NATO dry of weapons and ammunition, demonstrating that Russian hardware is more than capable of destroying anything the West produces, shows off missile and air defense capability that the West can only dream about and he is doing it all for about 1/50th the cost that the US and NATO have spent on supporting Ukraine. Pretty good deal. Then too, consider that not one single weapon or scrap of ammo provided to Ukraine has been replaced and ponder the military significance of that. We’re buying 155mm artillery rounds from Greece for God’s sake.
    How can a country lose a Regiment/day and not have it show up anywhere?
    How can anyone actually believe that nobody knows exactly who blew up the gas pipelines?
    How can anybody propose that there is some way in the universe that Ukraine will militarily defeat Russia?
    How long before some errant missile from somewhere (Shangri-La?) hits a reactor containment vessel and causes another meltdown and the evidence supporting the attack is just as mystifying and inconclusive as the blown to pieces gas pipelines? I give it another 2 months.

  15. “I think it is pretty obvious that Russia is kicking Ukraine’s ass on the battlefield and it has destroyed the economic sanctions put in place by the US and the EU and with the establishment of the BRICS it has whisked a good part of the world economy right out from under the West.”

    As the man said, you’re entitled to your own opinion but not to your own facts. The Russian advance in the field has been almost entirely retrograde. Sanctions are hard to asses and the leakage around the edges is always easier to see. Three of the five BRICS are, as we speak, undergoing the sort of financial meltdown where the residents have discontinued using them if they have a choice. Especially Russia. Even Argentina, with inflation above 140% has opted for the Dollar instead.

    There have been persistent reports that Putin is spending most of his time on an armored train shuttling between various undisclosed locations. This is not the itinerary of a man that feels securely in control. Rather, it’s the sign of a man that’s lost track of everyone who wishes him dead and might be able to enlist some portion of the Russian military, not excluding the strategic nuclear forces, in that endeavor.

    A Russian Army capable of kicking Ukraine’s ass would have done so long since.

  16. I hadn’t commented yet on trent’s original post so let me do so now, it was excellent. Full of detail on a critical issue that not only has been criminally neglected in the popular press but will be tactically vital in the conflicts of the future.

    Trent, I would like to echo something Gavin mentioned earlier about reconciling competing claims regarding the state of the war. It is is difficult, almost impossible, for citizen wishing to stay informed to find reliable sources of information. I have found nearly all accounts in the mass media, and much of the military, to be shrill and uninformative; according to them for the past 18 months the war will be over within the next 4-5 weeks and will always be.

    What would you consider to be good, unbiased sources of information and why? In your detailed comment regarding Russian causalities you used statistics provided by the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense. While I know they are not the same as say the Gazan Ministry of Health, I am reluctant to take any information from the belligerents themselves, after all if I were them why I would tell the truth (but that’s just me) Do you think the Ministry is a reliable source? Can you recommend other sources from other viewpoints?

    My concern comes not only from the state of the reporting in the press which in its focus on the anecdotal and sensational (due to its need to produce copy) is sloppy at best, but from the lack of comprehension of the whole by professionals and so-called experts. Perhaps that is not surprising because that is information of the highest value, but I haven’t met many people who admit to their obvious ignorance. I feel they we are all like the blind men feeling parts of elephant.

    I remember what a mentor told me many years about conflicts, don’t look at what has happened so much as what people can still do. Yes the current ability to project combat power to effect a political power is in part influenced by the past in terms of losses in men and material, but it is also a function to regenerate that power through command structures, industrial capability, and social stability/morale. All of those three factors, especially social stability, are even in the best of cases wasting assets.

    Let’s also be clear, Ukraine’s most vulnerable point, perhaps its center of gravity, is not in Ukraine itself but in Washington. I think we all know that If DC was to turn off the money tap, Ukraine dies. Fighting wars as a democracy is not something we are very good at, but If we are going to keep funding the war as it is I for one would like to see more reliable sources of information.

  17. The proxy war in the Ukraine can end in only two ways. Either Kiev agrees to much stricter terms than they originally accepted in Turkey all those months ago – before Boris Johnson intervened. Or the conflict expands to global thermonuclear war, and we all die.

    So it is important that we citizens have a realistic idea about what is happening in the proxy war. Especially because the decisions in Washington DC are being heavily influenced by high-heeled women in comfortable offices who have never heard a shot fired in anger in their lives – and probably have no more reliable information than we citizens have.

    On the one side, there are serious individuals like Trent who base their assessments on material from the Kiev regime. On the other side, there are equally serious analysts like Simplicius The Thinker who lean heavily on Russian reports. Their assessments are almost diametrically opposed. The only objective fact is that the front line is mostly static, as even Zelensky admits.

    One interpretation is that the Ukrainians are destroying the equivalent of a Russian mechanized infantry regiment and all of its supporting artillery and logistical trucks each & every day, but have been unable to advance because of … reasons. The other interpretation is that Russia’s stated goal is the de-militarization of the Ukraine, not the conquering of its territory; the lowest casualty way for Russia to achieve that goal is to let the Ukrainians continue to beat their military face against Russia’s well dug-in fist. Time will tell which interpretation is correct.

    In the meantime, the US has given Zelensky about 20 times the cost of that unbuilt Wall on our southern border – the Wall for which the DC UniParty could not find the money. And now they want to spend an additional 12 times the cost of that Wall on more death & destruction in the Ukraine – with the risk of the conflict expanding to global thermonuclear war. Cui bono?

  18. As I’ve said, I don’t pay much attention to reports from either side, I just notice where the troops are. No Russians in Kiev = War going badly for Russia. Ukrainians where there used to be Russian troops = Things going very badly for Russia.

    Not that I’ve lost faith in Biden and NATO’s ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. The Ukrainians seem inclined and able to fight as long as they have something to fight with and then a bit more. We’ll see come Spring.

  19. I’m surprised no one has mentioned the pathetic Russian Black Sea fleet. You would think the Russian fleet would have Sevastopole well defended in depth by radar and air defense missiles. On the land approaches and using supposed masterly ship born system.
    Instead they sink in port or creep away east.
    Right there is a mano a mano, Ukraine vs Russia battle. With the Russians losing.
    I’m so old I can remember the threat of the vaunted Russian Navy landing in Odessa. Instead they burn and sink.

    Then there is the Russian Air Force. Is there any question that if they were a US or NATO air force they would daily be over Kyiv and western Ukraine? Instead the VKS stays back from the battle edge. I’d give that as a technical win, so far, to the Ukrainians in foiling Russian Air superiority. Kind of like the WW2 Germans failing over the UK.
    Putin failed from 2014-2022 in winning the Donbas. He failed in his 2021 fall/winter intimidation of the West campaign. He failed to take Kyiv and Hostomel. He failed to establish air superiority. He failed in the summer artillery duel. He failed in the 2022-2023 supposed Russian winter warfare superiority campaign.
    He’s failed with constant nuke threats. He’s failed to cease NATO expansion. He failed to cuck the Germans and divide the EU. He failed to freeze out the Europeans.
    He’s had already a armed coup March on Moscow.

  20. Something that was never widely appreciated in the West was just how dependent the Soviet Union was on the Eastern European satellites. East Germany for Electronics, machine tools and precision manufacturing. Poland for machine tools and ship building. Romania for tractors. Ukraine for much of their arms and aircraft production, etc. Since the dissolution, Russia has repeatedly failed to produce any warship larger than a corvette. They have largely lost the ability to even maintain the ships inherited from the Soviet Union which in any case are very old and never well built in the first place.

    Putin, with masterful timing, invaded Ukraine and shot down a Dutch airliner just before France was set to deliver two new aircraft carriers. They ended up in Egypt instead. Not that they could have operated them for long without access to Western parts. You have to wonder what was going through the minds on both sides.

    Nearly 30 years allowed the Russian economy to adopt many bits of Western technology that they are unable to duplicate on their own. In the case of civil aircraft, the sanctions have all but eliminated international flights. This caused many of the stolen planes to be parked. They are now mostly cannibalized to keep the rest flying but that can only go on for so long. The Russian MC-21 airliner used Pratt and Whitney engines, American flight controls and avionics. Scania trucks are common in Russia and cut off from spare parts, but as Trent has pointed out, Russian manufactured trucks use steering gear obtained from the West. SKF and Timken have pulled out, though I don’t know just how much capability they left behind. The difference between a bearing that functions for thousands of hours and one that fails catastrophically in a few minutes is measured in millionths of an inch, ask the Chinese.

    What happens in Ukraine is largely irrelevant to the rest of Russia, give or take a few hundred thousand dead, they are far down the path of becoming Zimbabwe with more snow and “winning” won’t change anything.

  21. “The difference between a bearing that functions for thousands of hours and one that fails catastrophically in a few minutes is measured in millionths of an inch, ask the Chinese.”

    The ball bearing situation and Russia’s inability to produce/procure them is to me one of the most fascinating parts of the whole conflict. It is a much bigger deal than most give it credit for. And of course this trickles down to other items such as transmissions, gearboxes, etc.

  22. Back when, the Allies set out to Schweinfurt(sp) to destroy ball bearing factories, at least that is how the story of ‘strategic bombing’ has been told in all the heroic movies.
    Given that was pushing 80 years ago, and Russia (from some posts above) currently has a large lack of ball bearing production, someone has been asleep at the switch for decades.
    I do think Russia has been holding back on use of military resources and for the reason that Putin faces a population that does not want to see their sons fed to the Ukraine war. Putin may be facing something similar to the unpopularity of spending lives in Viet Nam 50 years ago.
    This is not a given, and is only suggested as a possible reason the full brunt of the Russian military has not been brought to bear. If there was a willingness of the average citizen to destroy Ukraine as a threat, if is was popular to go that route, I think it could have been done already, but at a significant cost in blood and gold. I am not a strategist. By any measure.

  23. tommy w: I do think Russia has been holding back on use of military resources …”

    This is back to the core issue of how do we mere citizens find out what is going on? Russia seems to have expanded the size of its army without having had to resort to shanghai-ing people off the street, as the Ukraine has reportedly done. Of course, those videos of Zelensky’s men grabbing people and shoving them into vans to send to the front could be Russian propaganda. How are we to know?

    Some analysts have suggested that the majority of Russia’s forces are arranged to forestall a possible US/NATO invasion, since no-one really knows who is calling the shots in “Joe Biden’s” America, and the US could behave irrationally. The hot war in the Ukraine is thus only a small part of Russia’s concerns. But that is just some analyst opinion, and again We the People have no reliable sources of information.

    MCS’s comment about ball-bearings made me look for some more information. Here is a list of the top global manufacturers from a Chinese maker of miniature ball-bearings —

    SKF – Sweden
    Schaeffler – Germany
    Timken – USA
    NSK – Japan
    NTN – Japan
    JTEKT – Japan
    Iko Nippon Thompson – Japan
    Nachi-Fujikoshi – Japan
    NMB – Japan
    RBC – USA

    The days when the US was the workshop of the world are sadly far behind us. Makes one wonder how what percentage of US military equipment depends on imported foreign-made ball-bearings? Perhaps Russia is not the only country which should have ball-bearing concerns?

  24. Something that was never widely appreciated in the West was just how dependent the Soviet Union was on the Eastern European satellites. East Germany for Electronics, machine tools and precision manufacturing. Poland for machine tools and ship building. Romania for tractors. Ukraine for much of their arms and aircraft production, etc.

    The USSR was dependent on various Eastern Bloc countries and Soviet republics for the same reason the US today is dependent on Texas for petrochemicals, California for spyware, and manufactured goods from everywhere- it made good sense to get things from your allies and your own country. In any case it seems to me that Russia was only doing what free traders in the West have made us do- outsource large and important sections of their economy, which by now they surely regret and will not repeat.

    What happens in Ukraine is largely irrelevant to the rest of Russia, give or take a few hundred thousand dead, they are far down the path of becoming Zimbabwe with more snow and “winning” won’t change anything.

    What happens in Ukraine is can’t possibly be as irrelevant to the Russia as it is to the United States. Russia is at least on the same continent as Ukraine, for example. And absent a rather unprecedented campaign against them by the entire West, I bet they’d be doing pretty well.

    What’s the excuse for the United States?

  25. Cui bono?

    Not Americans. We would been better off letting Ukraine and Russia agree to a peace deal early on and saved many billions of dollars.

    Not Ukrainians. Their country has been bombed and partially destroyed, their economy has been wrecked, three armies have been destroyed in succession, and they are no closer to regaining the lost oblasts full of Russians.

    Not Europeans. The break with Russia has caused them serious economic troubles and a lot of money they could have better used elsewhere. It will be much worse if the need to rearm to face off against a resurgent Russia.

    Not Russians. They’ve also had to waste vast sums and myriad lives on the war.

    Not the Globalist cabal. I’ve read that these folks were thrilled in early 2022, because they had both deposed the Bad Orange Man and were finally going to get the war to partition and loot Russia. Then they got what their wish. Instead of an instant Russian collapse they got an expensive catastrophe slowly dragging them into a political and financial abyss.

    In short, everyone would have been off with no war. Failing that, if the war had ended early with the peace deal scuttled by the usual suspects.


  26. “Some analysts have suggested that the majority of Russia’s forces are arranged to forestall a possible US/NATO invasion”

    What an absolutely cunningly diabolical strategy. send 100.000+ untrained mobics to die in Ukraine, in 60 year old tanks, with 100+ year old rifles. Without proper shoes or even winter coats while the “real” army lies in wait on the border to pounce on dastardly NATO that has stood idly by through numerous episodes of utter chaos in Russia over the last 30 years to strike now. Vladimir Putin- truly Napoleon for the modern age.

  27. Has anyone followed the number of Ukraine sabotage teams that operate in Russia, as well as vice versa? On another note to help everyone sleep well at night – when Ukraine gave up their nukes, did they still retain the ability to create them, and do they have the supplies needed to put them together?

  28. MCS: “What an absolutely cunningly diabolical strategy …”

    We all have to consider the possibility that we may be victims of false doctrine. Perhaps the Russians really are totally corrupt, incompetent, and on the brink of collapse. Or perhaps that is an erroneous image being promulgated by Zelensky’s world class Public Relations unit. Which brings us back to the central question — the one that Trent T apparently does not want to address: How are we mere citizens to get reliable undistorted information about the true state of affairs in the Ukraine?

    In the absence of better information, we can always apply the common sense smell test. If the Ukrainian side were really so effective and the Russian side really were so incapable & incompetent, then by now the Ukrainians should have outperformed Napoleon and chased the Russians back to the Urals. But that has not happened. Instead the Ukrainian Great Summer Offensive has been an obvious failure, barely budging the front lines.

    A maxim from bitter human experience in war (and many other endeavors) is — Never, Ever Underestimate Your Opponent! Common sense suggests that many Ukrainian enthusiasts have ignored that maxim.

  29. Re: What’s going on in Ukraine

    I believe it’s a fallacy to take casualty numbers, tactical situations, anecdotal evidence and attempt to aggregate them into a larger strategic picture. For the past two years we have had plenty of stories regarding enormous Russian casualties, use of antique T-55 tanks and prisoners granted parole to fight, and entire units wiped out due to command incompetence and yet…. what does it mean?

    Alot of resources and brainpower is used to probe an enemy’s combat power. Despite all of the local intelligence that can be gained through UAVs and satellites, you cannot readily grasp larger the larger operational and strategic picture by running a tally sheet. As the old saw goes in intelligence work, you have puzzle pieces but not only do you not know how they fit together but you don’t know if they all belong to the same box.

    For those of us outside some select circles, though, I think we can infer the situation based on a version of a revealed preference, in other words follow the public actions of the various players especially in the the US where there needs to be some degree of consistency and accountability. Rather than being intelligence officers, let’s be a review board

    1) After the initial Russian offensive was stopped in March 2022 the US stated its war aim sof toppling the Putin government and bringing various Russian officials to trial for war crimes, basically a replay of Serbian-Kosovar War with all the economic sanctions but using proxies instead of direct military action.

    2) Last Winter, the US expanded its aims to the eviction of Russia back to its pre-2014 lines. Accordingly we have re-equipped the Ukrainian Army for its Summer counter-offensive

    So have we accomplished our two main objectives? Putin remains in office and the war grinds on even though all the best minds assured us that the Russian failures combined with crippling sanctions would seem him either dead or in a jail cell in the Hague. The summer counter-offensive was a massive defeat.. how do I know? Because in true Washington fashion, those who do know are busy leaking to the press trying to pass the blame; the time-honored stench of failure

    What we have we accomplished? Well Ukraine still stands and no matter what you want to say how successful Russia has been, they have taken a heck of a beating. The problem is now in Congress because the Administration is now trying old political tricks of tying aid to non-relevant issues such as the border or Israel or better yet stating that if we don’t fund Ukraine Russia will invade Europe; that’s a revealed preference showing the Biden Administration is out of ideas and has no clue what to do next. What’s going on in Congress right now, with the funding bill stalled, is the way things should work in our system of government; Congress has the constitutional duty to allocate money and Biden/Blinken/Nuland need to come up with a new one

    Ukraine no longer has the ability for the forseeable future to evict Russia through its own actions. Sure Russia might collapse but we have been told that will happen for the past 2 years and nobody has yet provided a satisfactory answer as to why it didn’t happen then but will happen in the future.

    When it comes to the stresses and strains of war, I am reminded of the old story of the 2 guys were being chased by a bear. The first guy asks the second guy “Do you think we can outrun it?” The second guy answers, “No, but I don’t need to outrun it, I just need to outrun you.” So that’s the right question to ask…. not whether Russia is on the point of collapse, but rather who will collapse first.

  30. After the initial Russian offensive was stopped in March 2022 the US stated its war aim of toppling the Putin government and bringing various Russian officials to trial for war crimes…

    Wait, what? We’re at war? I mean, if we have war aims including overthrowing the government of a foreign power and imprisoning officials of its government, then yes, that’s war. I agree with your assessment here but I’d bet that most Americans have no idea we are for all practical purposes engaged in an undeclared war against Russia.

    Most notably, it’s the same sort of war waged against Saddam’s Iraq, Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan- but definitely not against North Vietnam, North Korea, Cuba, or Iran.

    That is, despite a decade of war with North Vietnam, we did not seek to remove that regime and unify Vietnam on our terms. We did not seek to eliminate North Korea. We have not sought to replace the vile regime starving Cuba, despite it being aligned with far away enemies and being right off our coast. We have ignored massive protests in Iran, a sworn enemy, aiding the people of Iran not at all.

    But Russia- yeah, Russia needs to have its government overthrown and its bureaucrats given show trials at the Hague.

    Mm-hmm. All the time I spent living during the Cold War- including the time I spent expecting to be killed by a Soviet anti-ship missile- I never heard anyone suggest overthrowing the Soviet regime or putting its minions on trial- and definitely not partitioning Russia.

    Something is wrong. I note that actual enemies of the United States- listed above- are quite safe, enemies of…hmmm- are in mortal danger of the US military.

    The same military, btw, that never ever even considers using armed force to prevent drug cartels from smuggling endless waves of foreigners into the country, from parts known and unknown.

    But of course it isn’t the military making these decisions, it’s the regime. And in my opinion the regime actually ruling the United States has rather different priorities from what the American people would like or support.

    Ramble mode off. Mike- thank you for the inspiration.

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