Exilian

Art, Writing, and Learning: The Clerisy Quarter => Discussion and Debate - The Philosopher's Plaza => Topic started by: Jubal on February 18, 2022, 10:30:11 AM

Title: Russia/Ukraine Crisis 2022
Post by: Jubal on February 18, 2022, 10:30:11 AM
So, Russia has a lot of tanks parked on Ukraine's borders and is demanding that Ukraine abandon any intention of joining NATO and also claiming that Ukraine is attacking Russian-speakers in the east of the country. Ukraine has already had one significant chunk of its territory annexed by Russia within the past decade and is basically bracing for Russian tank columns to start rolling in at the slightest provocation. There are allegations from the US and UK that Russia may be planning to "false flag" attack its interests in some way as a pretext for invasion (Russia has accused Ukraine of planning much the same thing).

It's a mess, and the stand-off increasingly has Europe/US allied behind Ukraine: one of Putin's original gambles, it seems likely, was that Germany would try to take a pro-Russia or neutral stance for as long as possible to defend Nord Stream 2, the Russia/Germany oil pipeline project. The generally very cautious and somewhat more Russia-friendly SPO, however, are now in coalition with the Greens who hold the foreign office and the FDP who are more aggressively liberal on foreign affairs, and seem to be taking a harder stance (https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-60422103) than Putin might have hoped.

The brinkmanship from Russia is probably part of the point: in part, Putin is forcing the west to not ignore him in order to strengthen his hand across the board. He probably also genuinely believes that Ukraine should be part of Russia, and wants to put back together a Russian influence sphere where surrounding governments are dependent on the Kremlin's goodwill (see also his placing Russia as increasingly the core peace broker in Azerbaijan/Armenia, and his propping up of the Kazakh regime recently). One thing that I think is also under-appreciated is the colonial aspect of all this: Russia very much was an Imperial power, even if for most of the C20th it was an empire run by statist-Communists rather than conventional dynastic imperialists, and the attitude towards Ukraine really feels like that towards an astray province. For the international audience Putin focuses on the idea of defending Russian speakers in a nation-statist form of argument, but AIUI experts on this tend to see the Kremlin as thinking more about Russia's provinces still in that Imperial-colonial mode, as peripheral areas and peoples that are there to be subjugated by the "real" Russian centre.

So that's where we are, we'll see where we go next...



I also wrote a longer piece yesterday on my blog about claims circulating on social media that Ukraine and the US backed a pro-Nazi stance at the UN: one tactic of left wing pro-Russia posters is often to imply that the Ukrainian regime are fascists. Unsurprisingly, the truth about the vote and resolution they're talking about is a lot messier than some of the glib tweets and maps that circulate tend to show: https://thoughtsofprogress.wordpress.com/2022/02/17/on-fighting-fascist-memories-ukraine-russia-the-us-and-the-un/
Title: Re: Russia/Ukraine Crisis 2022
Post by: dubsartur on February 18, 2022, 05:39:02 PM
Here is one of Gwynne Dyer's columns (https://gwynnedyer.com/2014/a-premature-history-of-the-second-cold-war/) on the crisis in 2014.

Hilariously, I am told there are in fact many neo-Nazis in Ukraine and the Ukranian diaspora in Canada.  That is as ridiculous as the Greek Neo-Nazis of the Golden Dawn (how many Greeks did the Nazis shoot, starve, work to death, or gas?) but its a mad world.  Otto Wächter and his inoffensive son Horst Arthur Wächter in Austria are good names to look up.

Edit: One problem interpreting the jingoism in the US and UK media is that Russia's invasions of Ukraine are exactly as illegal and dangerous as the US and UK's invasion of Iraq.  And the US's problems with Russia and China have nothing to do with how they treat their own people (see US policy towards Israel and Saudi Arabia and the dictatorship in Egypt), and everything to do with old-fashioned great power rivalries.  So its very hard to find anyone I trust to comment and not just spout propaganda.  For what it's worth, Gwynne Dyer has been skeptical that Russia plans to invade Ukraine (although as he warns, you don't get your money back if he is wrong).
Title: Re: Russia/Ukraine Crisis 2022
Post by: Pentagathus on February 19, 2022, 06:57:24 PM
Caspian Report on youtube had good explanation of the strategic motivations for an invasion of Ukraine. As I recall it's partly that Russia has no hard borders as is, so pushing into Ukraine would allow Russia to use the Dnieper and other major rivers as a defensive western border from potential land invasion whilst also securing fresh water supply to the Crimea, which itself has immense strategic value as a base for naval power in the black sea.
Could be that Putin's just trying to put some pressure on and stir the pot for diplomatic leverage but a large nation without natural borders is always going to be prone to paranoia and trying to strip away it's buffer zones probably hasn't been the smartest move from the West.
Title: Re: Russia/Ukraine Crisis 2022
Post by: dubsartur on February 19, 2022, 10:33:16 PM
pushing into Ukraine would allow Russia to use the Dnieper and other major rivers as a defensive western border from potential land invasion whilst also securing fresh water supply to the Crimea, which itself has immense strategic value as a base for naval power in the black sea.
But who on earth could possibly invade Russia from the west?  First, Russia has atomic weapons, and second, Russia has large and well-trained conventional forces.  As far as I know, the only power which could do it would be the United States, and first they would never get buy-in from the EU and Turkey, and second they are trying to focus on their long-term encirclement of China by withdrawing from Europe and the Arab world.  Gwynne Dyer laid out the issue in the oughties: the USA can see that its position as sole superpower is crumbling as India and China grow economically, so it does what great powers in that situation do and launches a series of far-fetched aggressive gambles.  Invading Iraq with a small army was supposed to intimidate the middle powers like Iran, while at the same time the USA was busy building an anti-Chinese alliance (https://gwynnedyer.com/2005/japan-china-andcongagement/) around the Pacific rim.

The Russian seizure of the Crimea and de-facto seizure of the Donbas sort of made sense in an old-fashioned kind of way, but invading central Ukraine would just cut off Russia's markets and get it entangled in a giant bloody war.
Title: Re: Russia/Ukraine Crisis 2022
Post by: Jubal on February 20, 2022, 01:16:29 AM
I think both perspectives may be right - that is, the fact that nobody actually would invade Russia from the west doesn't mean that this isn't something Russian officials aren't treating as if it's still a real threat. In general I think Russia is probably adopting quite an outdated idea of what a Great Power ought to look like (see also its interventions elsewhere). I think the narrative of "NATO expanded east and this was a mistake" is a bit in error though, in that NATO has expanded east far more slowly than Russia's neighbours have wanted it to. Georgia has been trying to join for years. So I'm not sure it's really true that the west has tried to strip away Russia's buffer zones, more that Russia has played the diplomatic game very badly with its former-province neighbours and has consquently left them in a position where they see NATO and the EU as the only route to retain meaningful independence. I'm not sure the alternative, in which NATO explicitly permitted Russia to "grow a sphere of influence" by sitting on its hands, would have helped: it would just have meant Russia running puppet governments in Ukraine and Georgia and the Baltics and then expanding its reach until it was butting on NATO countries again, potentially more willing to engage in a war.

And yeah, it's also true that Russia can't hold Ukraine the way it is now, and the Russians must know this. I'm not sure what their endgame is and I think it may be a mistake to assume that they really know either.



EDIT: Also, may be worth looking more than we have been doing at Russia's actions in Belarus, where its prepared stance on Ukraine seems to have been transferred to a full-scale military presence, and where reportedly (https://twitter.com/Den_2042/status/1495342681748291586) today their armed forces chief cited Putin, as well as Lukashenko, as if he was a superior in deciding to keep Russian forces in Belarus with no time limite
Title: Re: Russia/Ukraine Crisis 2022
Post by: dubsartur on February 20, 2022, 05:34:24 PM
A lot of coverage does not seem to observe that the dictator of Belarus has been struggling to keep control in the face of nonviolent resistance for the past year or two.  Remember when Belarusian forces forced down an airliner containing an opposition journalist (https://gwynnedyer.com/2021/belarus-an-unexpected-opportunity/) in May 2021?  (Just like the USA forced down an Ecuadorian diplomatic flight in 2013). 

Russia often sends troops to support allied regimes against popular protests, as in Syria.  So one reading of the Russian troops in Belarus is that they were sent to keep Lukashenko in power.

Edit: someone shared this link to an opinion piece in Belarussian Pravda https://belprauda.com/budni-soyuznoj-reshimosti-2022/ (https://belprauda.com/budni-soyuznoj-reshimosti-2022/)  That is a paper which a US project recorded during the 2020 Belarusian election (https://archive-it.org/collections/15042), so it least it has not been put up in the past few months.

Quote
Military exercise "Allied Dexterity - 2022" on the territory of Belarus will definitely be included in the annals of Belarusian history. If not for the number of military personnel who take part in them, then at least for the opportunism ("pofigism") of its participants relative to both themselves, and "surrounding" which is our country.

...

In addition to disease, among the locals there is fear, and not even of war, but first, of the occupation, because no matter how much they say that the Russian military will leave the country at the end of the exercise, there are still doubts about this.


So further Russian incursions into Ukraine would be monumentally stupid and destructive, but there is plenty of both in world politics.

Edit: Dr. Jeremy Morris in Aarhus has this take from the end of January https://postsocialism.org/2022/01/29/if-russia-invades-ukraine-again/  See also his essays on who writes and comment on Russi (mostly people sponsored directly or indirectly by Russian or NATO intelligence and armed services) "Russia coverage on Twitter is dominated by Washington DC policy types who may not be frauds (although some of them are), but who often have a very narrow, and second-hand, knowledge of Russia the country, and Russia the diverse population, as opposed to Russia the foreign policy problem. I’ve written about ‘imperial’ hierarchies of knowledge production before here. ... These issues pertain just as much to ‘natives’. There are plenty of Russian Russia experts who have long had a comfortable DC or US media gig and who have a weak direct grasp on events. Just as much as others, they are vulnerable to bad takes due to the secondary, or belated sources of their analysis. Another hobbyhorse of mine is the extreme self-selection and self-reproduction of this group: in the main they are privileged Russian liberals who are often the last people to ask about the diversity of Russia itself. Think for a moment about who can and who can’t up-sticks and move to the US, regardless of the level of repression in Russia.  ... If the first elephant is the clear leveraging of latent public sympathy abroad for the Russian regime by our friends at the English-language offices of RT, then the other elephant is the continuing relevance of academic and think-tank contacts with the security services in the West."
Title: Re: Russia/Ukraine Crisis 2022
Post by: dubsartur on February 24, 2022, 07:59:41 AM
Well, I was wrong.

I think the next thing to see will be whether Russian forces have enough of an advantage in skill and equipment to smash through Ukrainian forces with less than a thousand dead (I don't think they have greater numbers deployed than the post-2014 Ukrainian military).  That will determine whether this is a horrible grinding conventional war, or a horrible grinding insurgency.
Title: Re: Russia/Ukraine Crisis 2022
Post by: Jubal on February 24, 2022, 11:33:17 AM
People are apparently trying to flee Kyiv en masse and Russian tanks have reached Kharkiv (which is Ukraine's second city, though it's practically on the Russian border).

From what little I've heard so far it doesn't sound like the Russians are rolling over the Ukrainian army without a fight though of course it's hard to tell. But I don't think this is an Afghanistan type situation where the national military will just dissolve under pressure.

The US Republicans are claiming that this is Biden's fault and that Trump would have stopped the war, which is, as they say, a take. Iran and China have both blamed "NATO provocation" for the war, so Russia has its allies in this matter it seems.



Edit 13:23 - just seen reports that the Russian northern column, invading from Belarus, has reached Kyiv oblast. Suspect the strategy on Russia's part is to try and knock out Zelensky's government as fast as possible and then attempt to install their own regime, or some such.
Title: Re: Russia/Ukraine Crisis 2022
Post by: dubsartur on February 24, 2022, 08:34:49 PM
Yes, I would see that as a third possible outcome but unlikely.  My understanding is that politically Ukraine is a lot like Russia was in the 1990s, its a democracy but the national government exists to keep a few well-connected people rich.  That is one major reason why Ukraine is so poor, but I don't think the government is so unpopular that the military will fall apart.

Canada has shamefully evacuated its embassy from Lviv.  The Guardian has printed an opinion piece saying that "Britain must show its steel" (https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2022/feb/24/the-west-syria-ukraine-us-allies-vladimir-putin) which is a lot easier than explaining what Britain should do when another nuclear power has invaded a country 1,000 km away the only access to which is through the federated Europe the UK has noisily separated from and through Turkish waters.

My rolodex is completely empty of people competent to comment on modern conflicts, and experts on Ukraine.  The only two things I can say are this.  War is the most unpredictable things people do, that is why the ancients said it was in the realm of the gods.  And there is no cheat code that Russia can use to make counterinsurgency or urban conflict end in a quick and clear victory.  Ukraine is close to Russia and the Ukrainians speak a language pretty similar to Russian, but taking defended cities is hard and suppressing an insurgency is hard.
Title: Re: Russia/Ukraine Crisis 2022
Post by: Jubal on February 24, 2022, 10:39:16 PM
A few further things.


I'm still honestly just frozen up at the whole thing. I find it really hard to know what to say or do at these times: as a political activist and a historian interested in the wider region I don't feel I should be silent, but I'm also very far from an expert so it's hard to know what's best to say or not say, especially in more publicly-read locations.
Title: Re: Russia/Ukraine Crisis 2022
Post by: dubsartur on February 25, 2022, 02:39:36 AM
I'm still honestly just frozen up at the whole thing. I find it really hard to know what to say or do at these times: as a political activist and a historian interested in the wider region I don't feel I should be silent, but I'm also very far from an expert so it's hard to know what's best to say or not say, especially in more publicly-read locations.
Well, paying attention and not adding to the noise on social media is worth something.  And at least, judging by preliminary reports, the first day of this war is not a bad day (although the future of Ukrainians in a war or under Putin's control is very worrying).  Ukraine is claiming that 137 soldiers and civilians have been killed, and in a war like this that is a small butcher's bill.  Its possible that Russia is holding back some of its ground troops while it bombs every Ukrainian base, vehicle park, and command post it can find and the full offensive will come when it thinks Ukrainian forces can no longer communicate or maneuver.

And yes, this seems likely to tilt sentiment in Ukraine towards the EU and away from Russia even if Putin can put a puppet government in Kyiv.

This appears to be a small, online-only paper in Kyiv https://kyivindependent.com/
Title: Re: Russia/Ukraine Crisis 2022
Post by: Jubal on February 25, 2022, 11:29:57 AM
Yes, the Kyiv Independent AIUI was formed when the Kyiv Post's owners threatened the paper's editorial independence, leading to an argument with journalists and ultimately the owners firing every single journalist at the paper, who then went and formed the Kyiv Independent together, so from what I know I think they're good people. Anything by Terrell Starr is usually worth reading on Ukraine too, he's a US journalist/analyst with a lot of worthwhile perspectives on Ukraine, Russia, and colonialism.

Watching the mythology of the war build as it happens is something I think is not done enough: like, plenty of people comment on these things from an IR or military standpoint (whether or not they have the expertise to do so), and historians often rightly point out that their views are not necessarily the most important ones right now since explaining the long run can be interesting but not always useful - to focus solely on the long history sometimes obfuscates the short-term goals of people like Putin in favour of long-term explanations that miss the point. But anyway, mythologies of war are something I really have never seen discussed much in the public domain, and there's clearly tons going on there.


Frustratingly I'm finding a lot of this stuff really difficult to find on places other than Twitter (there are often wider articles, but actually you end up getting more depth from journalists doing original Twitter threads on the topics than from the actual news websites). Anyway, a bunch of these pretty definitely happened (Obviously the speeches, Snake Island seems as reliably verified as these things get, and I've seen video of the lady talking to Russian troops), and some are more dubious like the Ghost of Kyiv, and some of the ones that did happen may of course be missing context. But I think "did they happen" isn't really the point, in any case. The mythologisation of the war and the intensity with which that seems likely to strengthen the sense of Ukrainian nationality and anti-Putin sentiment in the country has an awful lot of power to make Putin's life more difficult, and I think it's worth watching how those sorts of urban legends of resistance grow.

It does seem like the overall likelihood is a slow military defeat for Ukraine followed by an even slower insurgency, and that might be quite destabilising for Russia too: what Putin's doing feels like taking on the Iraq war but if the insurgents were signficantly better trained and funded, had a more unified national sentiment (and probably a government-in-exile to rally round), and with a fraction of the resources the US-led coalition had to spend. Though I do also worry that if there is even the appearance of success in the short term, that will embolden Putin to go after Georgia and Moldova in particular.
Title: Re: Russia/Ukraine Crisis 2022
Post by: Glaurung on February 25, 2022, 11:45:48 AM
I'm still honestly just frozen up at the whole thing. I find it really hard to know what to say or do at these times: as a political activist and a historian interested in the wider region I don't feel I should be silent, but I'm also very far from an expert so it's hard to know what's best to say or not say, especially in more publicly-read locations.

There's some typically thoughtful commentary from Brett Devereaux in his blog post today (https://acoup.blog/2022/02/25/miscellanea-understanding-the-war-in-ukraine/). In terms of advice, he says: So one thing you can do is contact your representatives and urge them to support sanctions and stand by Ukraine.
There is already so much written about the conflict that I'm doubtful any addition will make much difference; persuading Western governments to take the strongest possible action against Russia seems to me like the most productive use of time.

Brett Devereaux (and, no doubt, many others) notes the unfolding humanitarian crisis, within Ukraine and in its neighbours to the west. Support for organisations such as the Red Cross and Medecins Sans Frontieres will be very welcome, I'm sure.
Title: Re: Russia/Ukraine Crisis 2022
Post by: Pentagathus on February 25, 2022, 12:18:23 PM
And yeah, it's also true that Russia can't hold Ukraine the way it is now, and the Russians must know this. I'm not sure what their endgame is and I think it may be a mistake to assume that they really know either.
Yeah I can't see how this ends in a long term strategic win for Russia.
I could see the Russian military taking out as much of Ukraine's military infrastructure and airports as they can and then pulling back to the regions they really want to hold and think they can keep the populace onside. But I can't imagine how that would actually be worth it.
This invasion seems (from my very uneducated peep into it) to be putting more strain on Russia's relationship with Turkey, and I'd imagine that a friendly Turkey is worth a whole lot more than a little slice of eastern Ukraine. But then again I suppose Turkey was never likely to ditch Nato anyway.


Putin baffles me, maybe he really is just desperate to avoid a steady decline of Russian influence and couldn't think of any better plan. Maybe he's got a terminal illness and is just trolling the whole world.
Either way I hope he dies soon. Although god knows what would come after him, the thought of Russia descending into anarchy like Libya or Syria is not exactly comfortable. I'm sure a lot of nukes would be unaccounted for by the time the dust settled.


Happy Friday folks!


Edit:
Also am I the only one who has a real craving to fire up a TW game and play a faction centred around Crimea? It feels weird how easy it is to dissociate the events from the actual human reality until you're actually watching some of the scenes on the ground.
Title: Re: Russia/Ukraine Crisis 2022
Post by: dubsartur on February 25, 2022, 05:15:26 PM
This invasion seems (from my very uneducated peep into it) to be putting more strain on Russia's relationship with Turkey, and I'd imagine that a friendly Turkey is worth a whole lot more than a little slice of eastern Ukraine. But then again I suppose Turkey was never likely to ditch Nato anyway.
From what I remember, the situation in Syria was:

- Turkey supported the Islamist rebels as long as possible and hates the Kurds
- the rest of NATO supported the Kurds and the other rebels who kept the atrocities off the teevee and kept the names "ISIS" and "Al-Quaida" off their propaganda
- Russia supported the Syrian government because Russia really values having a friendly country in the Mediterranean and does not care if that government murders and tortures a city or two

So the Turkish government is on bad terms with both Russia and NATO right now.  Before Erdogan Turkey wanted to join the EU, and its still nominally part of NATO, but it and NATO supported opposite sides in Syria.

For all the vague noise in newspapers about the Russians besieging Kyiv or closing in on the city from north, east, and south, This map (https://maphub.net/Cen4infoRes/russian-ukraine-monitor) shows just the column from Belarus having penetrated close to the city. 

I don't know what to make of Putin saying he invaded Ukraine to demilitarize and denatzify the country on Thursday, then calling for the Ukrainian military to overthrow its government (https://www.theguardian.com/world/live/2022/feb/25/russia-ukraine-invasion-latest-news-live-updates-russian-war-vladimir-putin-explosions-bombing-invades-kyiv) on Friday. 
Title: Re: Russia/Ukraine Crisis 2022
Post by: dubsartur on February 25, 2022, 06:43:57 PM
Frustratingly I'm finding a lot of this stuff really difficult to find on places other than Twitter (there are often wider articles, but actually you end up getting more depth from journalists doing original Twitter threads on the topics than from the actual news websites).
There are also the stories about Russian conscripts being flogged across the border (Herodotus to the courtesy phone please) and Russian soldiers deserting or surrendering when they realized that they were invading Ukraine or that Ukrainians are fighting back.  Edit: rando birdsite account (https://nitter.net/RVAwonk/status/1496977466908459012#m) citing Committee of Soldiers’ Mothers (Russia) via the Daily Beast (USA) (https://www.thedailybeast.com/russia-used-beatings-and-tricks-to-forcibly-send-soldiers-to-ukraine-human-rights-group-says?source=twitter&via=desktop).

Twitter scares me as bad as anything short of nuclear weapons, and I'm trying to make peace with the fact that if people I thought I was like liked that site, maybe we don't have as much in common as I thought. It does scary things to people who hang out on it.
Title: Re: Russia/Ukraine Crisis 2022
Post by: dubsartur on February 27, 2022, 02:42:43 AM
I am seeing one argument on corporate social media that Russian forces had two problems: a lack of supply transport, and a Table of Organization and Equipment which mixed up veterans, first-year-conscripts, and ghost soldiers, and functional equipment, broken equipment, and equipment which someone sold off in 2006 to pay for his kid's education.  They argue that as a result, the attack on Kyiv from Belarus has fragmented as Russian formations hit Ukrainian defenses, detach someone to pin them, and split off along parallel roads to keep moving while they still have food and fuel.  The three problems are that this makes the forces harder to command, that it makes it harder for Russian forces which run in to trouble to call in artillery or air strikes or just reinforcements, and that these detachments can be defeated individually and have trouble keeping a continuous front that Ukrainian forces can't get behind to destroy their supply transport. 

Its possible that the initial ground attack on Kyiv was heavy on special forces without heavy tracked vehicles and with more money for fuel and supply trucks than the average infantry unit
Title: Re: Russia/Ukraine Crisis 2022
Post by: Pentagathus on February 27, 2022, 10:49:29 AM
Kazakhstan reportedly refused join the invasion and hasn't recognised the "independent" eastern regions, which is interesting since Kazakhstan is normally a very strong ally of Russia. It could be because of recent unrest at home or maybe they just don't see anything to gain from it.
I've read one theory that Putin had simply been told by his intelligence chiefs what they thought he wanted to hear, that Ukrainians were generally pro-Russia and that their government was widely unpopular. If that were so his swift invasion could have been a tactical success, although it would still seem like a poor strategic choice as far as I can see.
Title: Re: Russia/Ukraine Crisis 2022
Post by: Jubal on February 27, 2022, 02:59:28 PM
According to Ukrainian figures, the Russians have lost 4300 troops so far. That's equivalent to America's losses in the entire twenty year Iraq war. And Kyiv and Kharkiv still haven't fallen. I do wonder if modern war is at a point where armies are capable of obliterating cities but almost nobody is capable of capturing them intact. Fallujah is one of the only serious urban battles I can remember in recent times where the attackers won, and a) Iraqi insurgents who were outnumbered three-to-one are hardly the Ukrainian army and b) Fallujah is about a quarter the size of Kharkiv.

Kadyrov, the rather infamous leader of Chechnya, seems to have had one of his lead generals killed in a tank convoy that tried to approach Kyiv.

Part of Russia's attempt at a PR strategy seems to involve obviously non-starter ideas for "peace talks" like inviting the Ukrainian delegation to Belarus to discuss the demilitarisation of Ukraine. And also now Russia has shifted its nuclear posture up a gear which is obviously scary.

Regarding some other points, I saw an interesting masto thread (https://mastodon.acc.sunet.se/@werekat/107870413826920580) on neo-Nazism in Ukraine, which is real (as in most European countries) but does seem to have been quite exaggerated in scope despite all the claims still circulating around pro-Russia "leftist" circles. Also I've seen a number of takes of "oh look, these liberal pro-Ukraine hypocrites support asymmetric warfare against Russia but didn't against America", which frustrate me because, well, whilst I haven't generally supported most US interventionism, it also doesn't seem to me that fighting for the elected government of Ukraine and fighting to reimpose a brutal theocracy on Afghanistan are particularly morally equivalent even if they both come under the umbrella of asymmetric warfare against a military superpower.
Title: Re: Russia/Ukraine Crisis 2022
Post by: Pentagathus on February 27, 2022, 03:37:01 PM
Yeah there's been a ton of smooth brained takes around the internet, lots of reddit users seem to think we should just fire and not worry about whether that kicks off a nuclear war. The "USA is just another evil empire" take isn't exactly new, there truly is a lot to criticise about US military actions in the last century but you'd have to be pretty blind to think the USA and the USSR were equivalents.
Title: Re: Russia/Ukraine Crisis 2022
Post by: psyanojim on February 27, 2022, 03:55:29 PM
Well one thing is for sure - I would not want to be tank crew driving into an enemy city if the defenders had access to the kind of anti-tank weapons we've been sending to Ukraine.

Those things are terrifyingly effective against the kind of obsolete tanks and APCs the Russians are sending in. And any building could contain an angry enemy hiding with an NLAW waiting to literally cook me alive in my metal coffin.
Title: Re: Russia/Ukraine Crisis 2022
Post by: dubsartur on February 28, 2022, 02:04:26 AM
I am seeing claims that the neo-Nazi Azov Battalion (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Azov_Battalion) from Mariupol has been issued with arms on the grounds of "well, we did say any Ukrainian citizen who wants them ..."  They are sharing tasteful videos of their fighters rubbing bullets in lard " against the Kadyrov orcs."  If they and the Chetchen militias blast each other to pieces I don't think anyone but their parents will be very sad.

I've read one theory that Putin had simply been told by his intelligence chiefs what they thought he wanted to hear, that Ukrainians were generally pro-Russia and that their government was widely unpopular. If that were so his swift invasion could have been a tactical success, although it would still seem like a poor strategic choice as far as I can see.
I saw one account claiming to be a Ukrainian who said that under the previous two presidents, they might have shrugged if the Spetsnaz showed up one morning and hauled away the president and half of parliament.  But I would still have expected a vigorous reaction from Europe, and all it would take to start an insurgency or mass resistance would be one region which did not like having Russia overthrow their government.  My understanding is that parts of Ukraine are very hostile to the Russian government, and parts are very friendly to the Russian government or just worried that their remaining jobs will vanish if Russia stops buying their products.

Putin would know that the Soviet war in Afghanistan began with landing Spetsnaz to kill or capture the president while ground forces rolled over the border!
Title: Re: Russia/Ukraine Crisis 2022
Post by: dubsartur on February 28, 2022, 03:28:51 AM
According to Ukrainian figures, the Russians have lost 4300 troops so far. That's equivalent to America's losses in the entire twenty year Iraq war. And Kyiv and Kharkiv still haven't fallen. I do wonder if modern war is at a point where armies are capable of obliterating cities but almost nobody is capable of capturing them intact. Fallujah is one of the only serious urban battles I can remember in recent times where the attackers won, and a) Iraqi insurgents who were outnumbered three-to-one are hardly the Ukrainian army and b) Fallujah is about a quarter the size of Kharkiv.
The Syrian government won in Damascus and Aleppo, the Philippine government retook Marawi, and Baghdad won in Mosul, but cities where a serious urban battle takes place end up looking like https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Destroyed_neighborhood_in_Raqqa.png  This has been true since 1914, and even in 1870/1871, the Prussian army refused to try to enter Paris.  There is no way of driving a few thousand determined men with infantry weapons out of a city without terrible destruction or terrible loss of life.

Glad werekat is back posting on the fediverse.
Title: Re: Russia/Ukraine Crisis 2022
Post by: Pentagathus on February 28, 2022, 09:07:31 AM
The Russian death tolls being reported seem pretty wild, especially when compared to the Ukrainian losses. I wouldn't be at all surprised if it's just propaganda, idk who would confirm them in this situation. The Russian losses definitely do seem to be much higher than the Russians would have expected I think. Hopefully this doesn't lead to them trying to completely flatten Ukraine's cities.
Title: Re: Russia/Ukraine Crisis 2022
Post by: psyanojim on February 28, 2022, 11:53:13 AM
It really is fascinating to watch flightradar24.com for the sheer quantity and variety of USAF/RAF/NATO designated planes buzzing around the western borders of Ukraine.

Refuelling tankers, cargo/personnel transports, surveillance drones, SIGINT/AWACs etc... and thats just the ones they allow us to see

I wonder how much of that surveillance/SIGINT intel is making its way to Ukraines armed forces...
Title: Re: Russia/Ukraine Crisis 2022
Post by: Pentagathus on February 28, 2022, 02:04:21 PM
Reports of massive GRAD missile attacks on residential areas of Kharkiv, seems like the Russian army are willing to kill indiscriminately even in the areas that they are supposedly liberating.
Title: Re: Russia/Ukraine Crisis 2022
Post by: Jubal on February 28, 2022, 02:13:50 PM
Oh, I'm sure we're funnelling intelligence, tracking, and spotting data to them.

And yeah, Russia is apparenly now using cluster munitions in Kharkiv, which is getting even more clearly into war crimes territory and is going to lead to hugely higher losses of civilian life. Everything is likely to get a lot uglier soon, I fear :(

Here in Vienna the local game dev community has been good in organising people to try and help Ukrainian arrivals - I've signed up in case anyone needs help with e.g. English paperwork, and donated to the UK's red cross fund for humanitarian aid.

I'm really trying not to just doomscroll feeds constantly for information but my brain gets very locked onto these things. A lot of the takes on social media continue to be very grating. Today's have included a threat claiming that the racism in a lot of portrayals of Ukrainians and refugees (which is there - Roma and black Ukrainians are being treated horribly on the Polish border, and there have been a lot of bad press takes about Ukraine being "more civilised" than other war zones in the recent past which is reaaaaally dodgy dogwhistling) is all down to "western liberalism" which... what?
Title: Re: Russia/Ukraine Crisis 2022
Post by: dubsartur on February 28, 2022, 04:36:35 PM
It really is fascinating to watch flightradar24.com for the sheer quantity and variety of USAF/RAF/NATO designated planes buzzing around the western borders of Ukraine.

Refuelling tankers, cargo/personnel transports, surveillance drones, SIGINT/AWACs etc... and thats just the ones they allow us to see

I wonder how much of that surveillance/SIGINT intel is making its way to Ukraines armed forces...
I would not be shocked if the Territorial Defense militia woke up to find some burly, bearded trainers who speak workable Russian but no Ukrainian and have an encyclopedic knowledge of Soviet and post-Soviet hardware.

The Kyiv Independent can no longer post live updates
Title: Re: Russia/Ukraine Crisis 2022
Post by: Jubal on February 28, 2022, 05:07:15 PM
Really? I last got a Kyiv Independent update six minutes ago in their Telegram group.
Title: Re: Russia/Ukraine Crisis 2022
Post by: dubsartur on March 01, 2022, 03:59:09 AM
Maybe they switched from a daily update page to https://kyivindependent.com/news-archive/ and telegram?  I am scared to watch anything political on text apps or YouTube.

Lets hope we can use some of this energy to end foreign intervention in Yemen!  And to treat Afghan refugees decently.  Finally doing the right thing in one case is not bad because it sets a precedent to do the right thing in others.
Title: Re: Russia/Ukraine Crisis 2022
Post by: Jubal on March 02, 2022, 09:30:34 PM
Whilst I think it's important that we deprive the Russian state of the capacity to finance Putin's war, I think we may soon also have to think more on how to reduce humanitarian damage in Russia as well as Ukraine with how heavily these sanctions are biting. Collective punishment for Putin-regime crimes feels wrong: it's not like Putin cares about ordinary Russians, or like they had a fair chance to elect anyone else. And the more people in the west go full Russophobia, the more it pushes Russians into Putin's hands, to a certain extent.

Crass takes of today award go to the Scottish and Welsh nationalists who are comparing being part of the United Kingdom to being Ukraine under threat from Russia. Whether or not you agree with Scots/Welsh independence that just feels intensely wrong as a comparison.
Title: Re: Russia/Ukraine Crisis 2022
Post by: dubsartur on March 03, 2022, 06:32:58 AM
Whilst I think it's important that we deprive the Russian state of the capacity to finance Putin's war, I think we may soon also have to think more on how to reduce humanitarian damage in Russia as well as Ukraine with how heavily these sanctions are biting. Collective punishment for Putin-regime crimes feels wrong: it's not like Putin cares about ordinary Russians, or like they had a fair chance to elect anyone else. And the more people in the west go full Russophobia, the more it pushes Russians into Putin's hands, to a certain extent.
I agree.  The overwhelming international response has been encouraging, given that Russian state broadcasters seem to have been told to prepare the line that "A multipolar world has finally become a reality - the operation in Ukraine is not capable of rallying anyone but the West against Russia." (https://www.think.cz/english/politics/ria-news-translated)  But its important that we use this anger to hurt Putin and his backers and help Ukrainians and not just to make ourselves feel better.

Short of NATO attacks on Russian forces in Ukraine (which I would have trouble supporting), and aside from helping refugees, the two things which seem most useful are finding and freezing the stolen wealth of oligarchs, and making sure that Ukraine has enough arms for its people.  Industrialized war consumes astonishing amounts of munitions.  I would like to hear more about which factories have increased production starting yesterday. 

Some Americans are saying that it has been a warm, wet February around Kyiv.  The Pripet Marshes (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pripyat_Marshes) north of Kyiv are hard to navigate in the best of times.  And many of the Russians do not seem to have been rotating their truck tires once a month to spread the pressure and sun damage (https://nitter.net/TrentTelenko/status/1499164271900774400#m), so they are prone to bursting when they drive offroad with heavy loads.  The Black Sea coast has a different climate and different soil, so that may explain why the advance on Kyiv was so slow and chaotic and why the Russian army has more success in the south.

Putin has scheduled a speech for 3 March on the "special operation" in Ukraine. I wonder if he will change his line that this is nothing the Russian people need to worry about just a glorious reunification of the Russian people.  Because if this war goes on, he will need more from the Russian people than "keep your head down and send your sons to the army."  While thousands of people (https://ovdinfo.org/) (including a survivor of the Siege of Leningrad (https://therussianreader.com/2022/02/28/siege-survivor-antiwar-protester/)) have been arrested for protesting the war, Dr. Jeremy Morris says that most ordinary Russians he talks to are following the state line (https://postsocialism.org/2022/02/28/russians-react-to-the-beginning-of-the-offensive-against-kyiv-the-looking-glass-world-but-with-some-cracks-in-it/).
Title: Re: Russia/Ukraine Crisis 2022
Post by: dubsartur on March 05, 2022, 04:17:37 PM
Russian and Russia-based journalists say that Putin has imposed censorship stricter than in late Soviet times, including up to 15 years in prison for calling the war a war and a special school curriculum.  The last remaining independent radio, TV, newspapers, and news sites have been shut down or stopped talking about Ukraine; journalist Alexy Kovalyov (https://www.theguardian.com/profile/alexey-kovalev) of https://meduza.io/ (https://meduza.io/) has fled. 

One party in the Duma is writing a bill to conscript all antiwar protestors and send them to the Donbass.

In xenophobia news, Kovalyov says that his domain name provide namecheap has taken down all domains registered to Russians including his website https://noodleremover.news with investigative journalism on Russia today.

Edit: I hear that Mastercard, Visa, and paypal have more or less independently halted service in Russia.  That is definitely going to hurt ordinary Russians more than the oligarchs.
Title: Re: Russia/Ukraine Crisis 2022
Post by: dubsartur on March 12, 2022, 08:33:28 PM
On myths, a news article on the Kyiv grandmother who destroyed a drone with a jar of tomatos is https://life.liga.net/istoriyi/article/eto-byli-pomidory-ligalife-nashla-kievlyanku-sbivshuyu-vrajeskiy-dron-bankoy-konservatsii - https://dronedj.com/2022/03/08/ukrainian-woman-russian-drone-cucumbers-tomatoes/

Per https://siderea.dreamwidth.org/ (https://siderea.dreamwidth.org/1754194.html), Someone has made a music video of clips of Ukrainian farmers recovering Russian equipment and a popular Ukrainian children's song "Here comes a tractor, a blue tractor."


Anglo military commentators seem to be slowly coming around to the realization that the "overwhelming Russian offensive using their fearsome doctrine" may not always be a day or two away.  They can do a lot of damage with what they have where they have it.
Title: Re: Russia/Ukraine Crisis 2022
Post by: Jubal on March 13, 2022, 01:25:08 AM
Yes, the war still grinds on. It's very very hard to know what's happening and what will break first - the Ukrainians' ability to provide resistance against the much larger Russian forces, or the Russian economy. It's just so depressing watching it all.

It does seem like the original Russian plan was shock and awe - apparently they packed dress uniforms for an expected victory parade at the expense of supplies - but given that's faltered, it soes seem like their new preference (or perhaps forced circumstance) is a much more slowly-surely approach where they don't try and push anything too fast but maybe try to build a new picture of inexorable Russian progress. But whether Russia can keep that up, I don't know.
Title: Re: Russia/Ukraine Crisis 2022
Post by: dubsartur on March 13, 2022, 04:39:04 AM
Although my understanding is that Russia does not have more troops, just more tanks, artillery, and aircraft.  And it seems like many of those aircraft can't actually fly, or at least not in groups of more than 2 or 4 or in the vicinity of modern air defenses.  All those tanks and guns can do a lot of damage.

I am told that Ukraine has 6 groups of 60,000 veterans who each passed through training, did a term in the Donbas War, then returned to civilian life.  So even though Russia has a larger population, Ukraine has more trained combat veterans to draw upon. 

Kvetun Armoury is one of the entire businesses which has upped sticks from Russia to anywhere that accepts their passport and is not ruled by Vladimir Putin (they chose Georgia which was previously not known in the medieval reproductions industry) https://kvetun-armoury.com/
Title: Re: Russia/Ukraine Crisis 2022
Post by: Pentagathus on March 13, 2022, 03:05:03 PM
I'm pretty sure Russia has more troops in total on paper but on practice they can't actually mobilise all of them at once of course, or at least not without stripping literally every other border of troops. And that's even disregarding the logistical issues of supplying large troop numbers.
Russia does have a lot of artillery though, they honestly could be doing a hell of a lot more damage than they already are. Hopefully that's not the next step but who knows.
Title: Re: Russia/Ukraine Crisis 2022
Post by: psyanojim on March 13, 2022, 07:25:04 PM
One other thing thats amazed me - the number of videos I've seen of Ukranian defenders sprinting to battle in civilian vehicles, unloading their vicious arsenal of anti-tank missiles, then scooting off before the enemy can react.

With the increasing lethality of modern hand-held anti-armor weapons, it makes a lot of sense.

Unarmored civilians vehicles do have a lot of advantages over armored military ones in this environment - significantly faster, more mobile, more fuel efficient, lighter (less likely to stick in mud or on poor roads) etc.

Has anyone read the book 'Red Storm Rising' by Tom Clancy? He pretty much predicted the effectiveness of NATO anti-tank weapons mounted on much lighter mobile vehicles in that book.

Although he didnt quite reach the extreme concept of a 'rocket Honda Jazz' :D
Title: Re: Russia/Ukraine Crisis 2022
Post by: dubsartur on March 14, 2022, 01:00:41 AM
Russia does have a lot of artillery though, they honestly could be doing a hell of a lot more damage than they already are. Hopefully that's not the next step but who knows.
I think that may come down to logistics again.  Rockets and howitzer shells are heavy, and the Russian army is short of trucks.  Back when Putin was making threats, one of the arguments that he would not act on them went like this:

Quote
The Russian army does not have enough trucks to meet its logistic requirement more than 90 miles beyond supply dumps. To reach a 180-mile range, the Russian army would have to double truck allocation to 400 trucks for each of the material-technical support brigades. To gain familiarity with Russian logistic requirements and lift resources, a useful starting point is the Russian combined arms army. They all have different force structures, but on paper, each combined army is assigned a material-technical support brigade. Each material-technical support brigade has two truck battalions with a total of 150 general cargo trucks with 50 trailers and 260 specialized trucks per brigade. The Russian army makes heavy use of tube and rocket artillery fire, and rocket ammunition is very bulky. Although each army is different, there are usually 56 to 90 multiple launch rocket system launchers in an army. Replenishing each launcher takes up the entire bed of the truck. If the combined arms army fired a single volley, it would require 56 to 90 trucks just to replenish rocket ammunition. That is about a half of a dry cargo truck force in the material-technical support brigade just to replace one volley of rockets. There is also between six to nine tube artillery battalions, nine air defense artillery battalions, 12 mechanized and recon battalions, three to five tank battalions, mortars, anti-tank missiles, and small arms ammunition — not to mention, food, engineering, medical supplies, and so on.

https://warontherocks.com/2021/11/feeding-the-bear-a-closer-look-at-russian-army-logistics/

Now of course the Russians are trying to lay pipelines, rebuild bridges, and get Ukrainian railroads back in service, but its hard when there are drones in the air and when sometimes your engineers get shot up by the Territorial Defense or your truck convoys roll into a minefield and an artillery barrage.  This is why the Americans spent a few weeks bombing Iraq and smashing its airforce before they invaded in 1991 and 2003 (and the US military was built for a war like this, the Russian army is not).

The Russians also seem to have bad command, control, and communications, so they can't do showy things like having 200 shells from 100 guns hit the same target at the same time. 

Edit: I suspect that many of the officers who are drifting out of radio contact with their units know that this was is unjust and unlikely to end well, so they are doing the least possible.  That is also preventing the Russian army from being as devastating as it could be in theory.
Title: Re: Russia/Ukraine Crisis 2022
Post by: Pentagathus on March 14, 2022, 09:21:31 AM
Russia does have a lot of artillery though, they honestly could be doing a hell of a lot more damage than they already are. Hopefully that's not the next step but who knows.
I think that may come down to logistics again.  Rockets and howitzer shells are heavy, and the Russian army is short of trucks.  Back when Putin was making threats, one of the arguments that he would not act on them went like this:
True for Kyviv but Kharkiv is basically on the Russian border so Russian troops there should be able to be supplied largely by rail (of course there has been shelling here but how heavy is it compared to how heavy it could be?) and Kharkiv and Mariupol are on the coast where Russian ships should be able to supply their troops. I know Kherson was taken so perhaps it wasn't shelled because the Russians were expecting to take it, could be the same with Mariupol.
Looking into it Kharkiv has been shelled pretty heavily already so I could be way off here. I'm also pretty sure rockets and bombs are very expensive so a relatively conservative approach makes sense considering the cost. And of course the cost of rebuilding these cities if Russia actually wants to annex these regions is a factor to consider and it may be that annexation of these border regions is still the goal (it looks like they're trying to annex Kherson in a similar manner to how they took Crimea, which makes some sense since it secures water supply to Crimea).
Title: Re: Russia/Ukraine Crisis 2022
Post by: dubsartur on March 14, 2022, 04:36:56 PM
Russia does have a lot of artillery though, they honestly could be doing a hell of a lot more damage than they already are. Hopefully that's not the next step but who knows.
I think that may come down to logistics again.  Rockets and howitzer shells are heavy, and the Russian army is short of trucks.  Back when Putin was making threats, one of the arguments that he would not act on them went like this:
True for Kyviv but Kharkiv is basically on the Russian border so Russian troops there should be able to be supplied largely by rail (of course there has been shelling here but how heavy is it compared to how heavy it could be?) and Kharkiv and Mariupol are on the coast where Russian ships should be able to supply their troops. I know Kherson was taken so perhaps it wasn't shelled because the Russians were expecting to take it, could be the same with Mariupol.
Looking into it Kharkiv has been shelled pretty heavily already so I could be way off here. I'm also pretty sure rockets and bombs are very expensive so a relatively conservative approach makes sense considering the cost. And of course the cost of rebuilding these cities if Russia actually wants to annex these regions is a factor to consider and it may be that annexation of these border regions is still the goal (it looks like they're trying to annex Kherson in a similar manner to how they took Crimea, which makes some sense since it secures water supply to Crimea).
According to this handy map dated 13 March there is no railway along the coast from Crimea to Mariupol in the Donbas.  The closest railhead in Russian hands is Melitopol (and I have heard there are Ukrainians sitting across the railway to Melitopol).

(https://www.bookandsword.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/ukraine-invasion-logistics-1024x602.jpeg)

And there are no other major ports along the Ukrainian Sea of Azov coast west of Mariupol.  You can unload cargo onto open beaches or into little fishing and tourist harbours, but its slow and has limited capacity.  And this is not D-day, the Russians did not spend years planning how to build harbours to supply months of major combat operations before they took and de-mined the first port.

I am not sure about the siege of Kharkiv either, other than that the Russians are attacking everywhere with an army which does not actually outnumber the Ukrainians (those 150,000 or 190,000 men they amassed are similar in size to the Ukrainian army).  And they seem to have expected that Kharkiv, so close to the border, would greet them with flowers not light antitank weapons.
Title: Re: Russia/Ukraine Crisis 2022
Post by: Jubal on March 14, 2022, 05:42:05 PM
Yeah, a lot of the miscalculation around places like Kharkiv seems to be around the idea they would be greeted as liberators (reminiscent of the US invasion of Iraq there). And they clearly have been shelling Kharkiv very hard including use of e.g. cluster munitions, which will have done more to push Russian-speaking Ukrainians away from Russia than anything that's happened previously.

I've seen lots of posts of people online suggesting different ideas of what Russia's strategic objectives in the war are, and I suspect they're all operating from the incorrect premise that Russia has a clear strategic objective at this point. I suspect to the extent that Russia has much of a strategic outlook it's just "how far can we push to maximise leverage and options in the inevitable negotiation stages" - but even that is muddied by the fact that some people in Russia still feel compelled to pretend that a long-term occupation of Ukraine is achievable whilst other people in Russia feel compelled to pretend that the war's objectives are limited and that independence for the Donbas and recognition of Russia's annexation of Crimea would be sufficient to end the war. The sort of superposition of contradictory ideas about what's happening can be very effective for information warfare, but aren't a very good way of working out what to do with an actual army. So the army just keeps rolling forward with very little idea of what it's doing there, which must be horrendous for morale.
Title: Re: Russia/Ukraine Crisis 2022
Post by: dubsartur on March 14, 2022, 09:46:29 PM
Some people say they have seen photos of Territorial Defense travelling in unmarked cars, and the Ukrainians have released photos of a Russian ambulance full of weapons.  So Russians are shooting up civilian cars which don't stop, and Ukrainians may start firing on Russian ambulances. 

Edit: The Ukrainians claim to have destroyed 200 vehicles and a headquarters near Melitopol on the Dneipr, so even in the area close to Crimea, there are still large Ukrainian forces operating behind the columns.

I've seen lots of posts of people online suggesting different ideas of what Russia's strategic objectives in the war are, and I suspect they're all operating from the incorrect premise that Russia has a clear strategic objective at this point. I suspect to the extent that Russia has much of a strategic outlook it's just "how far can we push to maximise leverage and options in the inevitable negotiation stages"
I think that is why many Anglo military and think-tank commentators have overestimated Russia's chances.  Their whole identities and careers are tied to the idea that through professional advice and the latest military equipment, any state can use a bureaucratic military to achieve rational policy objectives.  But what do you do when the chief executive is totally out of touch with the facts on the ground, his subordinates are too scared to say so because they would have to explain why the army was in bad shape, and you need their permission to move towards objectives you can actually achieve?  That was the US and UK situation in Afghanistan and Iraq for a long time, the military was not there to win just to avoid embarrassing the current government by losing.  And from the government's point of view, making the concessions that would lead to achievable objectives were more embarrassing than keeping the war going.

Its possible that the Russians will break through somewhere before they run out of bodies and equipment, but I don't know what they would be able to achieve that would last even ten years.

Edit: A US DoD spokesperson says that the US has not seen any significant Russian forces outside the initial 190,000 troops entering Ukraine.  So again, the invaders were outnumbered even before the Ukrainians started arming the people and calling up veterans of the Donbas War.  They have more artillery, tanks, and aircraft but not more troops (and to take defended cities you need huge numbers of infantry).
Title: Re: Russia/Ukraine Crisis 2022
Post by: Jubal on March 16, 2022, 12:14:11 PM
As I think I said upthread, we seem to now be in a world where "pound this city into rubble" is simply an easier task for most militaries to accomplish than "capture this city intact" and that probably isn't a good thing for the fate of cities in wartime.

A Turkish journalist on Twitter posts (https://twitter.com/ragipsoylu/status/1504049924043952129):
"Russia greatly values Turkey’s balanced attitude towards the Ukraine crisis and appreciates Ankara’s full implementation of Montreux convention on the straits, Lavrov tells Cavusoglu in Moscow"
Which is interesting, given where all Ukraine's favourite Bayraktar drones come from. And I think suggests that Moscow knows it's in a great deal of trouble here.

Also, Russia is set to start defaulting on loans already, which is going to really start hitting their ability to pay for literally anything:
https://www.standard.co.uk/business/russia-debt-repayment-default-ukraine-putin-b988421.html

This article has some interesting thoughts about China's role and outlook:
https://www.rferl.org/a/china-long-game-russian-invasion/31755869.html
Title: Re: Russia/Ukraine Crisis 2022
Post by: Pentagathus on March 16, 2022, 01:06:55 PM
Kyiv seems to be under heavier bombardment now, I imagine this is meant to put pressure on Ukraine for the negotiations going on. Ukrainians clearly aren't going to welcome Russian control anywhere so I guess Putin might as well use full on terrorism against them now.
Title: Re: Russia/Ukraine Crisis 2022
Post by: dubsartur on March 16, 2022, 06:01:22 PM
Thomas Piketty has an opinion piece on what sanctions targeted at oligarchs would involve, and how rich people in the Atlantic world won't like them https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2022/mar/16/russia-rich-wealthy-western-elites-thomas-piketty
Title: Re: Russia/Ukraine Crisis 2022
Post by: psyanojim on March 17, 2022, 12:34:35 PM
As I think I said upthread, we seem to now be in a world where "pound this city into rubble" is simply an easier task for most militaries to accomplish than "capture this city intact" and that probably isn't a good thing for the fate of cities in wartime.
I'm not sure how much this specific situation extends to the general case.

On the one side, Ukraine has access to the most cutting edge NATO anti-armor missiles, and their army has had several years of Western training on the use of these weapons. Also, Ukraine lack the vehicles and airpower to fight their own offensive war, so are quite limited to defensive operations, ambushes and special-forces style raids.

So most heavy conflict is happening in urban areas because those are the areas that Ukraine are contesting heavily.

On the other side, Russia are using massive quantities of some fairly obsolete equipment which doesn't have the armor to stand up to those NATO anti-armor weapons. Russia also seems quite tolerant of high casualties and equipment losses.

The doctrine around use of such armor in urban/close quarters combat normally calls for infantry to screen the armor. Russia haven't been doing this, which is one of the big questions surrounding their tactics. Is it because of poor infantry training? (too many conscripts)... Poor communication equipment? (Russians have been pictured using civilian analog radios ffs, and Ukranians are able to listen in and jam by drowning out the relevant wavelengths with the Ukranian national anthem!)... or something else?

Also, a lot of the city damage is being caused by conventional artillery. If Ukraine had more air/artillery power themselves, the Russian artillery would not be able to sit back and lob shells/rockets without taking massive counter-battery fire.

If the Russian artillery knew their shells/rockets would be tracked and counter-battery fire would commence literally minutes after they fired themselves, they would be forced to pick their targets a LOT more carefully. Suddenly, shelling random non-military targets like apartment blocks doesn't seem such a smart move in that kind of environment.

So although this is one of the less 'asymmetric' modern conflicts we've seen in recent history, its still quite lopsided in some very key ways that make it quite unusual.

Doesn't really help the situation the Ukranian cities find themselves in of course...
Title: Re: Russia/Ukraine Crisis 2022
Post by: psyanojim on March 17, 2022, 12:38:57 PM
In contrast, this is what using artillery/rockets against a truly modern military looks like

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KsVUISS8oHs

Also note the screams for 'get some H.E.' at the end. That is the gunners calling for counter-battery fire. Thats how fast the incoming fire is tracked backed to its location, and the counter-battery fire starts.

If the Russians were faced with that sort of defensive setup, in combination with a lethal defensive missile system like Patriot/THAAD/Iron Dome... their artillery (and air force) would be paying a much higher price for this medieval tactic of flattening cities with uncoordinated, inaccurate fire.
Title: Re: Russia/Ukraine Crisis 2022
Post by: dubsartur on March 17, 2022, 09:15:52 PM
I don't know of any time in the past 5,000 years when fighting your way into a fortified city that was ready to resist was not a bloody and risky affair, or when it was not common to threaten atrocities against the civilian population to force the combatants to surrender.  A woman on a roof with a clay tile killed Pyrrhos of Epeiros, and refusing to let people leave the city unless it surrenders goes back to the Lament for Sumer and Urim (https://www.bookandsword.com/2017/07/15/an-old-dilemma/) (CW: atrocities against civilians).

Without going to war against Russia, I don't know what can be done other than donating to relief organizations and helping refugees.

The Ukrainians say they are shooting down most cruise missiles aimed at Kyiv, I saw some claims that units in the south were stripped of their air defenses to reinforce Kyiv before the war began.
Title: Re: Russia/Ukraine Crisis 2022
Post by: psyanojim on March 18, 2022, 02:48:22 AM
Its a very strange combination of factors leading to the current situation.

- Ukraine has an extreme ability to counter Russian armor (lethality of NATO weapons vs obsolete Russian armor and tactics)
- Russian close-air support is also very vulnerable to these NATO weapons
- Russian infantry doesnt seem up to the job of screening the armor effectively
- Russian air-force is strangely non-dominant considering its advantages
- Russian precision weapons like cruise missiles are working up to a point, but these are expensive and in short supply

This leaves the one area where the Russians have a plentiful supply, is sufficiently simple to coordinate, and the Ukranians have a limited ability to counter - dumb-fire massed artillery. This combined with Ukraines limited ability to conduct offense means Russia can shell cities with near impunity. This would *NOT* be the case against NATO, thats for sure.

This is a very weird war - it feels like it should be modern, but it actually isn't. Ukraine has extreme modern weapons in very narrow areas like man-portable missile systems. Russia has modern weapons on paper, but is relying heavily mainly on WWII/Cold-War era equipment and tactics.

I think analysts are going to be writing books about the utterly weird underperformance of the Russian military for decades.
Title: Re: Russia/Ukraine Crisis 2022
Post by: dubsartur on March 18, 2022, 04:30:17 AM
This is a very weird war - it feels like it should be modern, but it actually isn't. Ukraine has extreme modern weapons in very narrow areas like man-portable missile systems. Russia has modern weapons on paper, but is relying heavily mainly on WWII/Cold-War era equipment and tactics.
This might be a good topic for the upcoming chat, but keep in mind that just like the UK and France can't equip their troops as lavishly as the Americans can, most countries can't reach UK standards.  The Canadian Armed Forces currently have no air defense capability (https://rusi-ns.ca/air-defence/) other than fixed radars and fighter-bombers.  In a war against anyone with an air force, our air defense would be calling up our allies and asking for cover.  A friend who used to be in the New Zealand army said something similar: "we are equipped to fight insurgents and militias, because that is what we get asked to do."  I think we have pretty good arty, and Leopard II tanks with some upgrades, and our home-made Light Armoured Vehicles, but I am sure there are gaps in our kit if we sent the CAF into a war against a large state.

There is also the giant civil war in Ethiopia, where the Tigrayan rebels seemed to be much better fighters than the government troops despite having less kit.  That also involved massive violence against civilians.
Title: Re: Russia/Ukraine Crisis 2022
Post by: psyanojim on March 18, 2022, 04:55:26 AM
This might be a good topic for the upcoming chat, but keep in mind that just like the UK and France can't equip their troops as lavishly as the Americans can, most countries can't reach UK standards.  The Canadian Armed Forces currently have no air defense capability (https://rusi-ns.ca/air-defence/) other than fixed radars and fighter-bombers.  In a war against anyone with an air force, our air defense would be calling up our allies and asking for cover.  A friend who used to be in the New Zealand army said something similar: "we are equipped to fight insurgents and militias, because that is what we get asked to do."  I think we have pretty good arty, and Leopard II tanks with some upgrades, and our home-made Light Armoured Vehicles, but I am sure there are gaps in our kit if we sent the CAF into a war against a large state.
Sure, all militaries have gaps in their capabilities.

But the Russians seem to have gaps in some very basic areas - like RADIOS. They seem to be relying on unencrypted civilian gear. Pictures of Russian soldiers with walkie-talkies that look like they are from Radio Shack. Russian fighter cockpits with civilian GPS systems clamped to the dash. etc. etc.

This is just baffling, and almost certainly contributing hugely to both the Russian lack of coordination, and the Ukranian ability to locate and intercept specific high-value targets like Russian generals.

And seeing pictures of Ukranian infantry is like browsing some kind of bizarre multi-century arms catalog. Cutting edge missile weapons being carried alongside random rusty Cold-War surplus gear and 1930s-era Tommy Guns.
Title: Re: Russia/Ukraine Crisis 2022
Post by: dubsartur on March 18, 2022, 05:08:54 AM
This might be a good topic for the upcoming chat, but keep in mind that just like the UK and France can't equip their troops as lavishly as the Americans can, most countries can't reach UK standards.  The Canadian Armed Forces currently have no air defense capability (https://rusi-ns.ca/air-defence/) other than fixed radars and fighter-bombers.  In a war against anyone with an air force, our air defense would be calling up our allies and asking for cover.  A friend who used to be in the New Zealand army said something similar: "we are equipped to fight insurgents and militias, because that is what we get asked to do."  I think we have pretty good arty, and Leopard II tanks with some upgrades, and our home-made Light Armoured Vehicles, but I am sure there are gaps in our kit if we sent the CAF into a war against a large state.
Sure, all militaries have gaps in their capabilities.

But the Russians seem to have gaps in some very basic areas - like RADIOS. They seem to be relying on unencrypted civilian gear. Pictures of Russian soldiers with walkie-talkies that look like they are from Radio Shack. Russian fighter cockpits with civilian GPS systems clamped to the dash. etc. etc.

This is just baffling, and almost certainly contributing hugely to both the Russian lack of coordination, and the Ukranian ability to locate and intercept specific high-value targets like Russian generals.

And seeing pictures of Ukranian infantry is like browsing some kind of bizarre multi-century arms catalog. Cutting edge missile weapons being carried alongside random rusty Cold-War surplus gear and 1930s-era Tommy Guns.
I agree that its bizarre that a country with a space program can't manage secure coms between its generals and fighter planes and their units or bases!  And its eerily reminiscent of the Battle of Tannenberg where the two Russian colums started sending radio messages back and forth in clear and the Germans realized they could fight one column at a time. 

I have not seen those Thompsons, but I recall that some US National Guard units invaded Iraq carrying old M3 Grease Guns.  And the CAF still use their old Browning HPs because our procurement system makes sloths look agile.  But I am an ancient historian not a modern historian, so I'm not up to speed on all the variations of a Kalashnikov or a RPG.  I think wooden stocks tend to be on older models and newer ones have synthetic stocks?
Title: Re: Russia/Ukraine Crisis 2022
Post by: Jubal on March 18, 2022, 01:04:18 PM
My understanding is that the state of the Russian army is in part because for the last half decade the primary qualification to be a senior Russian military type has been "can you keep both Putin and the Oligarchs happy" not "can you run and supply an army effectively". Russia essentially retains some of the political weaknesses of autocracies, and a big tendency to do things for show rather than effectiveness.

I guess there are some questions here about what a "normal" war is these days, given it almost never is symmetrical any more. I see the point psyanojim makes about the weird mismatches of capabilities, but I feel like expectations of matched capabilities may be entirely a thing of the past anyway (with the one exception of nuclear weapons where the biggest powers all hit "world destruction" in their capability and there's not much point getting far above that). But it feels like for non-nuclear warfare, the range of capability types and levels is probably far more stratified than at most previous points in history, to the point where it'd be relatively rare not to have a bunch of weird mismatches in any given war one could hypothesise.
Title: Re: Russia/Ukraine Crisis 2022
Post by: psyanojim on March 18, 2022, 03:40:02 PM
Sure, I would always expect some kind of capability mismatch.

What I DONT expect is a country with nuclear weapons, stealth fighters and a space industry to be struggling to provide its troops with basics like radios!

And yeah, we'll see how long this Ukraine inability to counter the Russian city bombardment lasts. The latest tranche of weapon systems being provided by NATO such as starstreak missiles and switchblade drones seem designed to help with this very problem. At the very least, these should give Russian artillery and bombers something to worry about before revealing themselves by firing at militarily low-priority targets anyway...
Title: Re: Russia/Ukraine Crisis 2022
Post by: Jubal on March 18, 2022, 03:58:56 PM
Yeah, that's very fair and it's clear there is a massive specific problem there. We'll see how it unfolds I guess. The amount of pain Russia is inflicting on civilian targets now is just sickening.
Title: Re: Russia/Ukraine Crisis 2022
Post by: dubsartur on March 18, 2022, 04:38:48 PM
One of those dissidents suggests that Ukraine should rent some hostels in Egypt or Turkey and announce that Rusisian troops who surrender and are not suspected of atrocities will be sent there with a special visa for the duration of the war.  He figures that just the prospect of a vacation somewhere warm (instead of spring behind barbed wire near Lviv) would speed up desertion.

My understanding is that the state of the Russian army is in part because for the last half decade the primary qualification to be a senior Russian military type has been "can you keep both Putin and the Oligarchs happy" not "can you run and supply an army effectively". Russia essentially retains some of the political weaknesses of autocracies, and a big tendency to do things for show rather than effectiveness.

I guess there are some questions here about what a "normal" war is these days, given it almost never is symmetrical any more. I see the point psyanojim makes about the weird mismatches of capabilities, but I feel like expectations of matched capabilities may be entirely a thing of the past anyway (with the one exception of nuclear weapons where the biggest powers all hit "world destruction" in their capability and there's not much point getting far above that). But it feels like for non-nuclear warfare, the range of capability types and levels is probably far more stratified than at most previous points in history, to the point where it'd be relatively rare not to have a bunch of weird mismatches in any given war one could hypothesise.
Jubal, one of my professors who studies war since 1914 assigned us this paper which you can probably track down:

Stephen Biddle, "Victory Misunderstood: What the Gulf War Tells Us about the Future of Conflict," International Security, Vol. 21, No. 2 (Autumn, 1996), pp. 139-179

To me, the fact that Russian generals have to come into artillery range to give orders is way more surprising that in a war of hundreds of thousands of troops, a lot of the kit is not the latest and greatest.  Encrypted radio comms is a basic WW II capability (your average tank squadron or infantry company did not have it, but the larger formation they were part of did).  And even in WW I they had runners to go from the commander to the frontlines! 

Mosul ended up looking like Stalingrad even though the airstrikes came from by NATO forces with plenty of guided munitions.
Title: Re: Russia/Ukraine Crisis 2022
Post by: dubsartur on March 21, 2022, 12:59:05 AM
My go-to US military veteran and professor of military history is tearing his hair out at photos of the Russians digging in in the open, with no attempt to hide the removed earth and vehicle tracks or cover the work against aerial observation.  Apparently, since Duffer's Drift it has become NATO doctine that you stretch out the camoflage nets whenever you stop for more than a few minutes. 

I don't know whether that is lack of kit, lack of training, or pofigism (a lack of regard for one's own or anyone else's life or property).

The Kyiv Independent accuses the Russian proxy states on the Don of conscripting subjects and throwing them into combat without training (https://kyivindependent.com/national/russia-throws-untrained-civilians-from-occupied-donbas-into-hot-spots-of-its-war-in-ukraine/). 

I see a claim that Belarusian railway workers are using strikes and sabotage against supplies for the invasion.
Title: Re: Russia/Ukraine Crisis 2022
Post by: Jubal on March 26, 2022, 06:06:32 PM
So the news now, and the pretty clear message of the below-linked speech by Russian commanders, is that Russia is now claiming to be refocusing on the east and Donestsk - presumably as an attempted face-save and trying to scale back the war to something achievable. If it is indeed achievable for them, which we'll see, I guess.
https://eng.mil.ru/en/special_operation/news/more.htm?id=12414735@egNews

Zelensky was pretty scathing about the Hungarian government when talking to European officials, which is perhaps interesting.



User AndrejNkv on Twitter (https://twitter.com/AndrejNkv/status/1507365192405073920) posted the following rewritten ditty which I found darkly amusing:
Quote
I am the very model of a Russian Major General
My standing in the battlefield is growing quite untenable
My forces, though equipped and given orders unequivocal
Did not expect the fight to be remotely this reciprocal

I used to have a tank brigade but now I have lost several
My fresh assaults are faltering with battle plans extemporal
I can't recover vehicles but farmers in a tractor can
It's all becoming rather reminiscent of Afghanistan

My ordnance is the best but only half my missiles make it there
I would have thought by now that we would be controllers of the air
But at the rate the snipers work my time here is ephemeral
I am the very model of a Russian Major General!
Title: Re: Russia/Ukraine Crisis 2022
Post by: dubsartur on March 26, 2022, 11:16:07 PM
So the news now, and the pretty clear message of the below-linked speech by Russian commanders, is that Russia is now claiming to be refocusing on the east and Donestsk - presumably as an attempted face-save and trying to scale back the war to something achievable. If it is indeed achievable for them, which we'll see, I guess.
https://eng.mil.ru/en/special_operation/news/more.htm?id=12414735@egNews
Yes, the problem is that Russian forces in Ukraine have already suffered serious casualties, and they don't have a strategic reserve ready to deploy.  More than 10,000 dead is a lot when you had less than 200,000 troops to start with.  Even if they can extract troops from the northern and southern fronts, they have a long way to travel to the new area of operations, and they are already tired and hungry and disillusioned with lost or broken kit.

In addition, there is a rule of thumb "never reinforce failure."  The attack from the Donbass has failed, and the attack east of Kharkiv hit its logistical limits a few weeks ago (https://www.bookandsword.com/2022/03/14/the-iron-horse-in-ukraine/).  Maaybe they can take Mariupol but that will take a lot of their remaining infantry.

I don't know if that video of police arresting a passer-by trying to give foreign reporters a pro-Putin statement at the Kremlin is authentic, but it would be a complete change in style for Putin to try to put the nation behind his war.  And I don't know if that would help before the economy collapses from sanctions or the army collapses from sheer bloody ineptitude and lack of manpower to protect its supply lines and hold the areas it is operating in.

I still have not heard anything about proposals to vastly increase NATO munitions production starting yesterday, so there will probably be a "shell crisis" in the spring unless the Russian army collapses by the middle of April.  Some people say the Russians are already running out of guided bombs and missiles.

Edit: and if we want a poem here is one (https://www.bookandsword.com/2019/08/17/good-king-roberts-testament/) ...

On fut suld be all Scottis weire, // weire = Wehr, defense
By hyll and mosse themself to reare. // reare: roar? an earlier edition has weire “defend”
Lat woods for wallis be bow and speire,
That innymeis do them na deire.
In strait placis gar keep all store,
And byrnen ye planeland thaim before.
Thane sall thai pass away in haist
Wenn that thai find na thing but waist.
With wykes and waykings of the nyght // wyke: wake
And mekill noyis maid on hytht, // mekill: big, large
Thaime sall ye turnen with gret affrai, // affray: fright, alarm
As thai ware chassit with swerd away.
This is the counsall and intent
Of gud King Robert’s testiment.

That was how the Crimean Tartars defeated the Russian invasions in 1687 and 1689 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crimean_campaigns_of_1687_and_1689).  The Russians have been making the kind of mistakes which you don't need Clausewitz to recognize, you just need a King's Mirror and some folk poetry.  "Don't surround yourself with flatterers who say only what they think you want to hear" is autocrat 101, "hope for the best but plan for the worst" is just as fundamental.
Title: Re: Russia/Ukraine Crisis 2022
Post by: Jubal on May 03, 2022, 05:45:12 PM
The war rattles on - pretty hard to tell exactly what's happening in the east, except that it's not happening very fast.

There are some rumours that Russia may soon formally declare war: technically and bizarrely, Russia hasn't done this because it wanted to keep its "special operation" nonsense front up. Declaring war would in legal terms mean the Kremlin can start conscripting to replenish its manpower.

Also, Russia is now in a spat with Israel, a country it nominally didn't have awful relations with, after the Russian foreign minister repeated the libel that Hitler was part-Jewish, and then when Israel's prime and foreign ministers reacted angrily the Russian foreign ministry released a staggeringly anti-Semitic historical-revisionist statement. How To Make Friends And Influence People: Lavrov Edition seems to continue to go badly...
Title: Re: Russia/Ukraine Crisis 2022
Post by: dubsartur on May 04, 2022, 03:21:22 AM
There are people compiling daily maps of territorial control in proper resolution (eg. https://nitter.net/Nrg8000 (https://nitter.net/Nrg8000)) and continually updated lists of lost and captured vehicles from open-source intelligence (eg. https://www.oryxspioenkop.com/2022/02/attack-on-europe-documenting-equipment.html (https://www.oryxspioenkop.com/2022/02/attack-on-europe-documenting-equipment.html).  Its pretty clear that the Ukrainians are pushing back the Russians from Kharkiv, the Russians are making small advances east of Kharkiv but losing equipment fast.  There are still no signs that they have dramatically increased the size of their forces in Ukraine, while Ukraine is training several hundred thousand volunteers and reservists and arms are flooding in from the west and south.

After the first week this has been Stellungskrieg not Bewegungskrieg, so its governed by the relative ability of the two sides to reinforce their own troops and destroy the enemy.  As I explained in a recent essay (https://www.bookandsword.com/2022/04/30/objectives-in-a-war-on-the-eurasian-steppes/), its been hard to see how Russia could win a war like that since it became clear in March that the Russian military is not better than its opponents.  For all the hot air about drones and precision munitions and the design of Soviet armoured fighting vehicles, you can understand this war just fine with Xenophon, Maurice, an atlas, and a good economic history of either World War (plus one A4 sheet of paper with statistics on the countries and armed forces).

A historian of the Eastern Roman Empire is literally going through Emperor Leo's book on generalship from the 10th century and pointing out that the Russians are doing things which Leo says will bring defeat https://nitter.eu/chrysoboullon/status/1513182013825634306#m (https://nitter.eu/chrysoboullon/status/1513182013825634306#m)
Title: Re: Russia/Ukraine Crisis 2022
Post by: psyanojim on May 05, 2022, 12:52:23 AM
very interesting Hoover Institute discussion video on Ukraine

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FZ09BqDkfWI

a couple of former US 3-star generals on the panel giving interesting commentary
Title: Re: Russia/Ukraine Crisis 2022
Post by: dubsartur on May 07, 2022, 04:42:24 AM
I am seeing contradictory claims from Ukrainian officials about when Ukraine will counterattack east of Kharkiv: one source says now, another says in June.  A lot probably depends on what weapons and vehicles they get and how fast they can train people to use them.  And of course Ukraine has already counter-attacked around Kharkiv to push the Russians out of artillery range of the city centre.

I'm not sure what is happening around Kherson in the south-west, I think the Ukrainians have pushed forward a bit but the rest of the southern front is quiet. 

My understanding is that unless Moscow declares war, the current crop of conscripts will be able to return to civil life soon. And the closer that deadline comes, the harder it is to force conscripts to sign on as contractors by promising to make the rest of their time in service hell.
Title: Re: Russia/Ukraine Crisis 2022
Post by: dubsartur on May 27, 2022, 01:43:55 AM
The canadian political magazine Maclean's has an interview with a Canadian-Ukrainian (https://www.macleans.ca/longforms/a-soldiers-story-from-canada-to-ukraine/) who went from the Canadian Army Reserve, to signing on to play professional soccer in Ukraine, to the International Legion, to the Territorial Defense

He had the impression that the Ukrainian government saw the International Legion more as something to use in propaganda ("we have x volunteers from y countries helping us against the Russian fascists") than in combat.  He felt that the training was very basic and seemed designed not to weed anyone out.

Quote
I hadn’t been at the Yavoriv base long, though, when I realized the International Legion wasn’t all it was hyped up to be. A lot of people had taken up President Volodymyr Zelensky’s call for help, but that didn’t translate into a capable fighting force. Some of the guys lacked the mental discipline to be soldiers. There would be a drill, for instance, and they would take their time putting on their shoes and getting dressed. At a boot camp for Canadian reserves, they would have been punished for that.

They weren’t receiving the kind of training—the yelling and breaking people down—that scares away people who lack the mental toughness to operate in a war zone. This training seemed designed to give them just enough basic skill that commanders could throw them into the fight. We did some physical training and some offensive and defensive tactical manoeuvres, and that was about it. Most of the volunteers seemed to think they were there on some kind of adventure vacation. I was skeptical they would ever be ready.

Gwynne Dyer is past his prime, but he does have the interesting observation that post-Soviet Russia is still run by former Communist officials (https://lfpress.com/opinion/columnists/dyer-hard-to-predict-what-russia-will-become-without-putin).  So its hard to tell which parts of their troubles are inherent in the Russian state, and which parts are specific Communist dysfunctions.  The oligarchs are not exactly savoury, and Kamil Galeev is suspicious of Russian 'opposition leaders' and emigrants with lots of money.
Title: Re: Russia/Ukraine Crisis 2022
Post by: dubsartur on July 07, 2022, 07:46:32 PM
Its been hard to follow the Russia-Ukraine war since fighting focused on the eastern front.  Now that most of the fighting is artillery exchanges and attacks on Ukrainian fortifications, not so many photos and videos come in to the public domain to let us test UA and RU statements.  I am skeptical of Ukrainian claims about how many of their soldiers are dying or how much more artillery the Russians have given that its in their interest to look like they need help.  Three general observations:

- Russia is engaging in WW I style offensives against prepared positions and can't cut off a 30 km wide salient.  Nathan Russer has stopped providing daily maps because the lines hardly move.  'Success' in operations like this is inflicting more damage than you suffer and I don't know who is doing better in that respect.
- Ukraine has mobilized its population, Russia still relies on volunteers and peacetime levels of conscription.  Among other things, Russian soldiers have many procedural ways to avoid the war as long as they are under peacetime law.
- Ukraine is receiving a flood of arms and supplies, Russia is isolated and had an economy which heavily depended upon imported goods

So just like in March, Ukraine's long-term prospects are much better than Russia's.  The next important event will probably be a big Ukrainian offensive in August or September.  If I had to guess I would predict it will be in the south where Russian forces are spread thin, farther from their supplies, and have not entrenched for eight years.

Edit: the other significant event would be action by non-belligerent powers to allow Ukraine to export grain from Odessa before people who need it starve

Edit: on 7 July, Russian forces announced an operational pause to rest and recuperate.  So Russia now states that it is unable to continue its last offensive in Ukraine https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-july-7 

Edit: also, for the past several months shell-dumps in occupied Ukraine (https://kyivindependent.com/national/1234), Belarus, and Russia have been exploding.  A lot of Russians and Donbas 'volunteers' will have died in those blasts, and equipment will have been destroyed.  So its hard to tell who is losing soldiers and equipment faster, just that Ukraine is almost certainly getting new equipment and recruits faster.
Title: Re: Russia/Ukraine Crisis 2022
Post by: Jubal on July 09, 2022, 11:42:00 PM
The new chain that replaced McDonalds in Russia has run out of fries due to a potato shortage, reportedly, which doesn't suggest wonders for how Russia's wartime economy is doing.

I think you're probably right that a counteroffensive towards Kherson is most likely, though they could try to push a wedge along the northeastern border from Kharkiv with the aim of cutting off and collapsing the morale of the Russian armies that have been pushing through the Donbas. Either way, I think there's probably a sense of urgency for the Ukrainians, since there's probably a reasonable medium term fear of EU/US support weakening in the medium term due to the economic pain it's causing.
Title: Re: Russia/Ukraine Crisis 2022
Post by: BagaturKhan on July 10, 2022, 07:48:16 PM
I know, that i must not write in this topic, but i want to say one thing. Because of difficult world situation, "russian" became like "enemy" for many people. I am russian\half-ukrainian. And after this war, i started to be deleted from many my friends in Discord and other platforms. I was deleted from several channels because of it. Because of nothing.
And i don`t know how to be now. I don`t want to be like enemy for many my western friends and for friends, who are from Europe and USA. I am more "western" guy, and always was. I respect Britain and respect european way to life. I respect Queen Elizabeth. And will do it. But i am not the enemy, really
Title: Re: Russia/Ukraine Crisis 2022
Post by: Jubal on July 11, 2022, 01:33:35 PM
I'm sorry, that's tough. :/ I know quite a few Russian friends who are against the war (or who are somewhat justifiably too nervous to say either way). I do think people have to have some balance in how they see Russia: there is no plausible solution to current crises that doesn't involve a large Russian state still existing. Even if big chunks of non-ethnically-Russian areas split off, the core European state is far from tiny. So we have to nurture the idea that Russia can be better than it is right now, not just assume that everyone and everything about Russia is irredeemable, in my view.

I think the cautious side of my brain on this does say that Russia, like many countries in the slow process of losing their Empires, has a lot to unlearn about how most Russians (even more liberal/urban ones) tend to see the world and the countries around them. Even the Russian opposition are fairly chauvinist about the country's ethnic minority groups: there's a lot of change that's needed. But that change has to come from Russians who want a more outward-looking, freer country, and I know a good number of such people are out there.

Anyhow, sorry things have been rough for you around this: do know that you're always welcome here.
Title: Re: Russia/Ukraine Crisis 2022
Post by: BagaturKhan on July 11, 2022, 06:40:34 PM
Quote
, sorry things have been rough for you around this: do know that you're always welcome here.
Yeah, thank you, Jubal. But the situation is really hard. I don`t know how to be now. I don`t want to be a pariah for other people, because i have russian blood (50%). I hope, people from Discord will understand the truth in future.
Title: Re: Russia/Ukraine Crisis 2022
Post by: dubsartur on July 12, 2022, 02:30:29 AM
Hi Bagatur,

  I am not good at talking about these things.  One of the utterly predictable results of Putin's war has been a wave of nationalism and xenophobia and binary thinking.  There has not been a lot of help for the Russians who fled to Georgia or Turkey or Kazakhstan and found that their credit cards did not work any more.  Many of the Russians who are dying are just poor boys from rural districts whose parents did not have money or connections to keep them out of the army, and Russians in Russia have to make hard choices.  There are too many soft people making hard talk on social media who will never face any consequences for their talk.

  I am analyzing the war as a war because that is an area of my expertise.  I can't moralize any better than anyone else, and I can't comment on the background to the war any better than anyone who reads newspapers.
...
Aside from attacking Kherson, I think the Ukrainian army may well strike south between the Dniepr and the Don to try and liberate the areas which have very little Russian military presence and threaten or break the land route from the Don to Crimea.  I think there are rivers between Kharkiv and the first railroad in Russian-occupied territory, and crossing a river against someone with artillery, tanks, and aircraft is hard.