The Pointy End of Attrition’s Stick

[NB: check the byline as usual, thanks. /~Rayne]

Russia continued bombing Ukraine this weekend, as you’re no doubt well aware.

On Friday I wrote about a world war of attrition, in which Russia’s economy appears fucked in tandem with Russia’s Aleppo-style attack on Ukrainian cities.

It’s not clear whether a majority of the Russian public knows what’s going on and how badly they will be affected by economic sanctions, thanks to Putin’s stranglehold on independent news media and social media. We’ve seen brave protesters in large numbers in Moscow, St. Petersburg, and several other cities but the sentiment of Russians outside urban centers isn’t readily accessible.

While Putin continues his steady genocidal obliteration of Ukraine’s cities, the pointy end of this war of attrition is coming around toward Russia.

~ ~ ~

I want to share and discuss something published on Twitter and shared in Pastebin which may shed light on the how, what, and why of the Russian invasion.

MASSIVE CAVEAT: The letter which follows is believed to be the assessment of a current FSB employee. Christo Grosev, executive director of Bellingcat, sought validation of the letter’s origins.

This is not an assurance on my part of the letter’s source or its contents. Grosev’s investigation, though, allows readers to weight the authenticity of the letter and and its content. Team Bellingcat has been extremely reliable in its open source intelligence. /END CAVEAT

If this letter is a very good psyop — one which Grosev and his FSB contacts couldn’t detect easily — and is instead the work of a Russian active measure intended to influence the west, how would Putin expect it work on us, especially if the best, most effective influence operations contain truth mixed with disinformation?

Which portions of this are more likely to be true than not if it is a psyop? What indicators would validate those portions which might be true?

If this letter and its assessment is wholly true, what are the likely next failures we’ll see in Russia?

1 One of the insiders from the Russian special services, I will publish without edits or censorship, because it’s hell: “I’ll be honest: I almost did not sleep all these days, almost all the time at work, my head is a bit floating, like in a fog. And from overwork sometimes already catching states, as if it’s all not real.
2 Frankly speaking, Pandora’s Box is open – by summer a real horror of world scale will start – global famine is inevitable (Russia and Ukraine were the main grain suppliers in the world, this year’s harvest will be smaller, and logistical problems will bring the disaster to its peak).
3 I cannot tell you what guided the decision to operate, but now all the dogs are methodically brought down on us (the Service). We are scolded for being analytical – this is very much in my line of work, so I will explain what is wrong.
4 We have been under increasing pressure lately to adjust reports to the requirements of management – I once touched on this subject. All these political consultants, politicians and their entourage, influence teams – it’s all been creating chaos. A lot of it.
5 Most importantly, no one knew that there would be such a war, it was hidden from everyone. And here is an example: You are asked (conventionally) to calculate the possibility of human rights in different conditions, including a prison attack by meteorites. You specify the meteorites, and you are told that this is just a reinsurance for calculations, there will be nothing like that. You understand that the report will be only for a tick, but it must be written in a victorious style, so that there would be no questions, saying, why do you have so many problems, did you not work well? In general, you write a report that in the fall of a meteorite, we have everything to eliminate the consequences, we are good, all is well. And you concentrate on the tasks that are real – we do not have enough strength. And then suddenly really throw meteorites and expect that everything will be on your analysis, which were written from the ball.
6 That’s why we have total fuck-ups – I don’t even want to choose another word. There is no defense against sanctions for the same reason: Nabiullina may well be found guilty of negligence (more likely the point men on her team), but what is their fault? No one knew that there would be such a war, so no one was prepared for such sanctions. This is the flip side of secrecy: since no one told anyone, who could have calculated what no one told?
7 Kadyrov’s going off the rails. There was almost a conflict with us, too: the Ukrainians may have planted the lie that we had given up the routes of Kadyrov’s special units in the first days of the operation. They were killed in the most horrific way, they hadn’t even begun to fight yet, and they were simply torn apart in some places. And so it went: the FSB leaked the routes to the Ukrainians. I do not have such information, I will leave 1-2% for the reliability (you can not completely exclude it either).
8 The blitz has failed. It is simply impossible to accomplish the task now: if in the first 1-3 days they had captured Zelensky and government officials, seized all the key buildings in Kiev, let them read the order to surrender – yes, the resistance would have subsided to a minimum. Theoretically. But then what? Even with this ideal scenario, there was an unsolvable problem: with whom to negotiate? If we tear down Zelensky, all right, with whom would we sign agreements? If with Zelensky, then these papers won’t be worth anything after his demolition. OPZJ refused to cooperate: Medvedchuk is a coward, he ran away. There is a second leader there – Boyko, but he refuses to work with us – even his own people won’t understand him. We wanted to bring Tsarev back, but even our pro-Russian ones have turned against us. Should we bring back Yanukovych? How can we do that? If we say that we can’t occupy him, then all our government will be killed 10 minutes after we leave. Occupy? And where are we going to get so many people? Commandant’s office, military police, counterintelligence, guards – even with the minimum resistance from the locals we need 500 thousand or more people. Not counting the supply system. And there is a rule of thumb that by overriding quantity with poor management you only ruin everything. And that, I repeat, would be under an ideal scenario, which does not exist.
9 What about now? We can’t declare a mobilization for two reasons:
10 1) Large-scale mobilization would undermine the situation inside the country: political, economic, social.
11 2) Our logistics are already overstretched today. We will send a much larger contingent, and what will we get? Ukraine is a huge country in terms of territory. And now the level of hatred towards us is off the charts. Our roads simply can’t absorb such supply caravans – everything will come to a standstill. And we will not be able to manage it, because it is chaos.
12 And these two reasons are falling out at the same time, although even one is enough to break everything.
13 As for losses: I do not know how many. Nobody knows. The first two days there was still control, now no one knows what’s going on there. It is possible to lose large units from communication. They may be found, or they may be dispersed because they were attacked. And even their commanders may not know how many are running around, how many have died, how many have been taken prisoner. The death toll is definitely in the thousands. It can be 10 thousand, it can be 5, and it can be only 2. Even at headquarters they don’t know that for sure. But it should be closer to 10. And we are not counting the LNRD corps right now – they have their own count.
14 Now, even if we kill Zelensky and take him prisoner, nothing will change. Chechnya is there by the level of hatred towards us. And now even those who were loyal to us are against it. Because they were planning on above, because we were told that such an option will not happen, unless we are attacked. Because we were told that we must create the most credible threat in order to agree peacefully on the right terms. Because we initially prepared protests inside Ukraine against Zelensky. Without regard to our direct entry. An invasion, to put it simply.
15 Further, civilian losses will go exponentially – and resistance to us will only increase, too. We have already tried to enter the cities with infantry – out of twenty landing groups, only one was a tentative success. Remember the storming of Mosul – that was the rule in all countries, nothing new.
16 To keep it under siege? According to the experience of military conflicts in Europe in recent decades (Serbia is the largest testing ground here), cities can be under siege for years, and even function. It is only a matter of time before humanitarian convoys from Europe get there.
17 We have a conditional deadline of June. Conditional – because in June we have no economy, nothing left. By and large, next week will begin to turn to one side, simply because the situation cannot be in such overdrive. There is no analytics – you can’t calculate the chaos, no one can say anything for sure here. Acting on intuition, and even on emotion – but this is not poker. The stakes will be raised, hoping that suddenly some option will shoot through. The trouble is that we too can now miscalculate and lose everything in one move.
18 Basically, the country has no way out. There is simply no option for a possible victory, and if we lose – that’s it, we’re screwed. Then they decided to kick weak Japan and get a quick win, then it turned out that the army was a disaster. Then they started a war to the bitter end, then they took the Bolsheviks to “re-educate” them in the army – they were outcasts, nobody was interested in them in the masses. And then nobody really knew the Bolsheviks picked up anti-war slogans and they went crazy…
19 On the plus side: we did everything to prevent even a hint of mass sending of the “fine men” to the front line. Send there cons and “socially unreliable”, political (so they don’t muddy the water inside the country) – the morale of the army will simply go down the drain. And the enemy is motivated, motivated monstrously. They know how to fight, they have enough middle-ranking commanders. They have weapons. They have support. We will simply create a precedent for human losses in the world. That’s all.
20 What we fear the most: they are acting on the rule of overlapping an old problem with a new one. This was largely the reason for the start of Donbass in 2014 – it was necessary to draw the attention of Westerners away from the Russian spring in Crimea, so the Donbass crisis was supposed to draw all the attention to itself and become a bargaining chip. But even bigger problems started there. Then they decided to sell Erdogan on the four pipes of South Stream and went into Syria – this was after Suleimani gave deliberately false inputs to solve his problems. As a result, we failed to solve the problem with the Crimea, there are problems with Donbass too, South Stream has shrunk to 2 pipes, and Syria is another headache (if we go out, they will bring down Assad, which will make us look idiots, but it will be hard and useless to sit still).
21 I don’t know who came up with the “Ukrainian blitzkrieg.” If we were given real inputs, we would at the very least point out that the original plan is moot, that we need to double-check a lot of things. A lot of things. Now we are up to our necks in shit. And it’s not clear what to do. “Denazification” and “demilitarization” are not analytical categories, because they have no clearly formed parameters by which to determine the level of accomplishment or non-fulfillment of the assigned task.
22 Now all that remains is to wait for some fucked-up advisor to convince the upper echelons to start a conflict with Europe with a demand to lower some sanctions. Either they lower the sanctions or they go to war. And if they refuse? Now I don’t rule out that then we’ll get into a real international conflict like Hitler did in 1939. And we would then get our Z’s flattened with a swastika.
23 Is there a possibility of a local nuclear strike? Yes. Not for military purposes (it won’t do anything – it’s a defense breakthrough weapon), but to intimidate the rest. At the same time the ground is being prepared to turn everything over to Ukraine – Naryshkin and his SVR are now digging the ground to prove that they secretly created nuclear weapons there. They are hammering on what we have studied and analysed on bones long time ago: the proofs cannot be drawn up on a knee-high, and the availability of specialists and uranium (Ukraine is full of depleted isotope 238) is of no importance.
24 [blank space]
25 “And the fact that their old nuclear power plants can yield weapons-grade plutonium (plants like REB-1000 give it in minimal quantities as a “by-product” of the reaction) – so the Americans have introduced such controls there with the involvement of the IAEA that it is silly to discuss the topic.
26 Do you know what will start in a week? Well, even in two weeks. We’re going to be so caught up that we’re going to miss the hungry ’90s. While the auction was closed, Nabiullina seems to be making normal steps – but it’s like plugging a hole in the dam with a finger. It will still burst, and even stronger. Nothing will be solved in three, five or ten days.
27 Kadyrov doesn’t just hoof it for a reason – they have their own adventures there. He’s created an image of himself as the most powerful and invincible. And if he falls once, he’ll be brought down by his own people. He will no longer be the master of the victorious clan.
28 Let’s move on. Syria. “The guys will hold out, everything will be over in Ukraine – and there in Syria we will reinforce everything by positions again. And now at any moment they can wait there when the contingent runs out of resources – and such a heat will go… Turkey is blocking the straits – airlifting supplies there is like heating an oven with money.
29 Note – all this is happening at the same time, we do not even have time to put it all in one pile. Our situation is like Germany’s in ’43-’44. At the start all at once. Sometimes I am already lost in this overwork, sometimes it seems that everything was a dream, that everything is as it was before.
30 On prisons, by the way, it’s going to get worse. Now they’re going to tighten the screws until they bleed. Everywhere. To be honest, then purely technically it’s the only chance of containing the situation – we’re already in a total mobilization mode. But we can’t stay in such a mode for long, and our timetable is unclear, and it will only get worse. Mobilization always makes management lose its way. And just imagine: you can run a hundred meters in a sprint, but to go into a marathon race and run as hard as you can is bad. Here we are with the Ukrainian question rushed, as on a hundred meters, and fit into a cross-country marathon.
31 And that’s a very, very brief description of what’s going on.
32 The only cynical thing I can add is that I do not believe that VV Putin will press the red button to destroy the whole world.
33 First of all, there is not one person who makes the decision, at least someone will jump out. And there are many people there – there is no “single red button”.
34 Secondly, there are some doubts that everything successfully functions there. Experience shows that the higher the transparency and control, the easier it is to identify deficiencies. And where it is unclear who and how controls, but always bravura reports – everything is always wrong there. I am not sure that the red button system is functioning as declared. Besides, the plutonium charge has to be replaced every 10 years.
35 Thirdly, and most disgusting and sad, I personally do not believe in the willingness to sacrifice a man who does not let his closest representatives and ministers near him, nor the members of the Federation Council. Whether out of fear of coronavirus or attack, it doesn’t matter. If you are afraid to let your most trusted ones near you, how will you dare to destroy yourself and your loved ones inclusive?
36 Ask me anything, but I may not answer for days at a time. We’re in rush mode, and we’re getting more and more tasked.
37 On the whole, our reports are upbeat, but everything goes to hell.
38 Never before has this source Gulagu[.]net swear, wrote briefly and to the point. But now even he…


the Service — the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation or FSB, successor counterintelligence and security agency to USSR’s KGB

Nabiullina — Elvira Nabiullina, chair of Bank of Russia (since 2013, before Euromaidan and subsequent incursion into Donetsk and Luhansk regions in eastern Ukraine).

Kadyrov — Ramzan Kadyrov, head of the Chechen Republic (since 2007); also a member of the Advisory Commission of the State Council of the Russian Federation.

blitz — slang for Blitzkrieg

Medvedchuk — Viktor Medvedchuk, People’s Deputy of Ukraine (since August 2019), chair of pro-Russian entity Ukrainian Choice; an oligarch who calls Putin a “personal friend”; Putin is godfather to Medvedchuk’s daughter Daryna. Currently under house arrest for “treason and attempted looting of national resources.”

OZPH — Opposition Platform for Life, the party to which Medvedchuk belongs.

Boyko — Yuriy Boyko, former Vice Minister of Ukraine (2012-2014).

Tsarev — Oleg Tsaryov, former People’s Deputy of Ukraine representing pro-Russian Party of Regions; Speaker of the Unity Parliament for Donetsk and Luhansk regions in eastern Ukraine.

Yanukovych — Viktor Yanukovych, pro-Russian fourth president of Ukraine from 2010 until removal during 2014 Maidan Revolution.

LNRD corps — component of Russian ground forces, believe this is personnel in Luhansk and Donetsk regions (TBD, subject to revision).

storming of Mosul — believed to refer to 2017 Battle of Mosul against ISIS consisting of urban warfare in a dense urban environment. (Two US military “lessons learned” papers on Battle of Mosul: The Mosul Study Group and the Lessons of the Battle of Mosul (longer);  Five Operational Lessons (shorter).)

Donbass — Donbas, the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of eastern Ukraine, Russian occupied since 2014.

Crimea — Peninsular region of southern Ukraine illegally annexed by Russia in 2014.

Suleimani — Qasem Soleimani, major general of Iran’s army, assassinated in 2020 on order of Donald Trump.

South Stream — Natural gas pipeline project which was to run west from Russia through the Black Sea to Europe, canceled in 2014.

Naryshkin — Sergey Naryshkin, director of the SVR since 2016.

SVR — Foreign Intelligence Service of the Russian Federation, Russia’s intelligence agency.

depleted isotope 238 — Depleted uranium, the product of processing natural uranium for nuclear power plant fuel and nuclear weapons.

REB-1000 — unclear, likely a reference to the Chernobyl nuclear power plant.

Federation Council — Senat of the Federal Assembly, Russia’s legislative body.

Gulagu(.)net — Human rights NGO focused on prisoners’ rights and prison abuses in Russia, founded by Vladimir Osechkin. (See Oct 2021 article regarding this organization and a key conflict with Russian government.)

~ ~ ~

The letter supports other indicators Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was a tightly-held secret. There have been anecdotes of conscripts and non-military personnel who were told they were going on an exercise only to find themselves ordered to invade Ukraine. This may have been a key reason why the Russians deployed had no cell phones — not merely for operations security to protect the deployment mission, but to prevent any discussion between different factions of the Russian Federation’s military and government personnel as well as the Russian public.

The author doesn’t appear to know there were supply problems from the start for the deployed personnel though they know the first echelon aren’t the best part of the regular army. The understanding of the difference in passion between the front line Russians and the Ukrainians fighting to preserve their country acknowledges a critical failing in other Russian operations like Chechnya. There’s also recognition that logistics limited the launch and expansion of the invasion, and will play a role in the economic crash to come as military personnel and resources along with commodities will hurt for the loss of ports and equipment.

The tight silos and narrative constraints placed on models the Bank of Russia used as well as the FSB suggests each branch of Russia’s government and military will experience failures earlier rather than later because they have been modeling and operating on flawed and incomplete understandings of their country’s mission.

Imagine if the Bank of Russia and Finance Ministry as well as Energy and Agriculture were tasked with modeling to the same flimsy “prison attack by meteorites” scenario the letter’s author uses as an example. How deeply flawed would their assumptions be? How could their functions integrate with other ministries to mitigate risks to Russia and in an extremely tight timeline with constraints they hadn’t planned on in the given scenario?

“Kadyrov’s going off the rails” suggests increased tensions between the Chechen leader and Russian leadership after what is perceived as a possible betrayal by FSB. The letter writer doesn’t appear to know that the Chechen national guard itself leaked badly ahead of the invasion’s launch because of poor operation security on their part; there’s no inkling the decimation of Chechen forces may have been blamed on FSB by Ukraine (or others) in order to manipulate and fragment the Russian-Chechen relationship.

An invasion driven in no small part by Russian Orthodox faith was already very much at risk if it relied on an ethnic Muslim state to perform its decapitation of a popular democratically-elected Jewish president to obtain control over a majority Ukrainian Orthodox state. The hatred mentioned explains anecdotes of Chechens who’ve switched loyalties (if they had any to Russia) to Ukraine; the annexation of Muslim-majority Crimea may also fuel fighters’ flips.

Yet another challenge not fully addressed is the possibility of a country-wide power vacuum if Zelenskyy were removed from Ukraine’s presidency. Who of any of the candidates mentioned would be up to leading a deeply-angry occupied population? The letter writer acknowledges Russia simply doesn’t have an adequate number of people who can step into governmental roles across Ukraine; at least one mayor in Russia had mentioned this same problem the week the invasion began, so it’s obvious outside FSB an occupation is already problematic.

The discussion of the use of the 2014 Donetsk and Luhansk conflict to mask the annexation of Crimea brings up another question: did Russia not only provide pro-Russian rebel forces with a Buk 9M83 surface-to-air missile launcher, but loosely encourage their sloppiness which shot down civilian aircraft Malaysia Air MH17 in order to draw the west’s attention away from Crimea?

Manufacturing evidence of nuclear weapons production as an ex postfacto casus belli is also acknowledged and likely explains why Chernobyl was such an early target of Russian forces in spite of its location away from Kyiv. An active disinformation campaign has already been noted on the internet to bolster this false claim.

The letter both assures and scares when it comes to the use of nuclear weapons. They could be used but the author doesn’t think Putin will push the button, and further assumes the Russian system will likely bottleneck their use even if approved, and the equipment itself may not be adequate because of implied maintenance lapses. The problem, though, is whether the assumptions in this letter are damaged in the same way the FSB’s assessments were by siloed information.

One surprising issue to arise from this letter is the possible fall of Syria if Russia can’t continue its military action in service to Bashar al-Assad’s continued leadership. Not mentioned in this letter is that Russia deployed jets with missile launch capability to Syria a week or two ahead of the invasion. What drove that deployment?

The one point which is most problematic in this letter is the assumption that “We have a conditional deadline of June. ” No — Russia’s economy has weeks, not months. The speed of the downturn could accelerate if more economic sanctions are brought to bear; the UK hasn’t made much if any genuine effort to constrain the Russian oligarchs which own Boris Johnson and the Conservative Party.

~ ~ ~

Economic attrition has begun its march on Russia. Another caveat on the following tweet and video — the sourcing is seen as credible by other credible sources, and yet we’re three or more degrees away from the origin. It’s still important to note the event documented, and the lack of any published pushback by the company where this took place.

Workers at a factory in Tatarstan stopped work Saturday because their wages weren’t protected from decreases in currency valuation.

Gemont is a subsidiary of a Turkish transnational construction company which appears to compete with firms like KBR, Bechtel, or Fluor Corporation. It’s had a contract to produce and operate a turnkey polyethylene production plant in Nizhnekamsk, Tatarstan for Russian chemical company Nizhnekamskneftekhim. Radio Free Europe reported the workers received a higher wage after negotiation, but this may not last.

An additional wrinkle: the workers may also be Turkish, not Russian. Will they be allowed to leave Russia if they are dissatisfied with their workplace and economic conditions as sanctions affect their targets more deeply?

Imagine this same scenario playing out repeatedly across Russia, resulting in longer walk-outs when a higher wage isn’t available to offset decreases in currency valuation, and when paychecks aren’t available at all due to lack of banking and access to cash.

Russia doesn’t have until June at this rate — it has weeks, not months.

94 replies
  1. Rayne says:

    Keep the economic pressure up for this guy who is doing one hell of a job representing Ukraine.

  2. BobCon says:

    “It’s not clear whether a majority of the Russian public knows what’s going on and how badly they will be affected by economic sanctions, thanks to Putin’s stranglehold on independent news media and social media. ”

    I think as time goes on his control is going to suffer attrition too. There is a ton of IT know-how in Russia and a huge amount will come down to Putin’s ability to institute social controls and get neighbors to rat out neighbors and IT admins to put in extra hours at work sifting through logs.

    I can’t rule out his ability to keep news out, but finding it without catching huge numbers of people just pirating HBO or trying to party after curfew will be really hard. India’s internet isolation of Kashmir shows that there are options for an authoritarian, but a longterm shutdown of communications would be really hard to pull off at a time when his economy is already hurting.

    • Theodora30 says:

      Former ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul has a lot of contacts in Russian and Ukraine that his communicates with daily. According to him younger, educated, urban people know how to get around the information black out and are very much against what Putin is doing but older people, especially those who don’t live in major urban areas are buying the propaganda and supporting what Putin is doing.

  3. TooLoose LeTruck says:

    I’m truly impressed w/ Zelenskyy…

    The courage this ex-comedian has found w/in himself and in turn has managed to spread across Ukraine in such a truly horrendous moment is astonishing…

    And then I compare him to Putin and Trump…

    I can’t find expletives strong enough to express the contempt I feel…

    • Wombat says:

      “What’s the difference between a Republican and a Ukrainian?”
      “Ukrainians defend their capitol.”

    • LizzyMom says:

      Although he’s known for being a comedian, Zelenskyy is much more. Few people realize it, but he’s actually got a law degree. His father is a professor and the head of the Department of Cybernetics and Computer Hardware at Kryvyi Rih State University and his mother was an engineer. Clearly the talented, clever offspring of some very smart people.

      (His parents should be incredibly proud of their son.)

  4. Tom R. says:

    Seen on FB:

    1) The article is an interesting opinion piece.

    2) There are questions about its authenticity, but remarkably enough, those questions don’t matter very much. The facts in the article are few, and although they could have come from a FSB whistleblower, they could easily have come from elsewhere, from modestly diligent open-source investigation.

    For example, «Turkey is closing the strait, and sending supplies to Syria by air is the same as heating an oven with cash.» One can appreciate the colorful language. I would have been impressed if somebody connected the dots *before* the invasion:
    a) Russia invades Ukraine
    b) Turkey closes the straits
    c) Ripple effects on Russian interests worldwide
    d) Including Syria.

    I would have been impressed because (b) was not at all a foregone conclusion, since Turkey has turned a blind eye to other wars. In contrast, connecting those dots /after/ it has already happened does not require a super-intelligent intelligence officer. So all we are left with is colorful language.

    Furthermore, I am not an expert but I suspect Russia could supply the Syrian base by loading up an unarmed cargo vessel and claiming it is free to pass through the straits since it is not a “warship”. So I suspect the analysis is not even correct.

    Further-squared-more if they are having trouble supplying the invading forces they were going to have trouble supplying the Syrian base even if Turkey had taken no action.

    If a non-expert can poke holes in the story it makes the provenance all the more suspect. Even so, it remains an amusing opinion piece.

    • bmaz says:

      Naw, this is a dedicated blog that has tried to be smart and accurate for fifteen years. We do not need to “poke holes” in anything.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Every opinion piece, and a lot of other writing, whether by an “expert” or novice, has holes an intelligent reader one can poke holes in. I don’t consider that much evidence of the provenance of this piece. How many and how big the holes are, and in what subjects, might be better evidence.

    • Tom R. says:

      I’m still wondering, what does this letter tell us that we did not already know? Or to put it more bluntly, what does this letter tell us that an FSB officer would know but other people wouldn’t?

      When I read “The letter supports other indicators Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was a tightly-held secret” that bothers me for two reasons:
      1) It’s not entirely true. It has been obvious for weeks that this was no ordinary “exercise”. Why didn’t this FSB guy figure it out?
      2) Insofar as the secret was kept from some of the troops, we knew that already, and we must consider the hypothesis that rather than “supporting other indicators” the letter was derived from other indicators.

      Again: If this had come out two weeks ago I would have been impressed. Today, not so much. Why do we think this letter is authoritative or even informative?

      • Rayne says:

        I’m debating a follow-up post now, but I’ll disagree with you.

        First, we don’t know *exactly* when this assessment was made, only that it was published Friday night.

        Second, the author said “no one knew that there would be such a war, it was hidden from everyone.” They expected a decapitation with the forces at the border, walking in after the list of 24 Ukraine leaders had been removed. US intelligence knew this, published it. But the US didn’t publish any indication of an attempted Blitzkrieg — that’s the “such a war” which wasn’t anticipated, wasn’t part of any narrow FSB plan. Somebody pulled a shitty Plan B or C out of their back pocket when it was clear the decapitation wasn’t going to go as planned, and the blitz was that shitty plan. It was a badly executed blitz because it wasn’t the primary plan, wasn’t favored, and Putin is a special operations kind of dude.

        There’s much more but I don’t want to write a post here in comments about it.

        • Tom R. says:

          You might want to clarify what is meant by “Muslim-majority Crimea”.

          Last I checked, Crimea was about 15% Muslim.

          • Rayne says:

            My bad – I was thinking of the Crimean Tatars’ entire population, which includes that 15%. If they were permitted to return to Crimea, they would be more than half the population.

            There are some Chechen Muslims who’ve moved to Crimea but they’re fewer in number; there are indications Tatars living in exile in Uzbekistan, Turkey, and elsewhere may volunteer to fight Russia because of their ethnic cleansing by starvation and deportation under Stalin, for starters.

    • Rayne says:

      I saw Igor Sushko’s interjection of disbelief in that same Twitter thread and I think they’re rather uninformed (unsurprising given their background in racing). What we’re hearing and seeing in Ukraine is far worse than what will happen in Russia, but even a fraction of this is bad.

      Major concerns in Eastern Ukraine about sowing!I just spoke by phone with a fellow farmer from Eastern Ukraine, he is there on the spot.He ordered and paid for his maize seed a few weeks ago, but it has not yet been delivered. And that will no longer be delivered.— A Dutch Farmer In Ukraine (@DutchFarmerInUA) March 7, 2022

      Russian farmers won’t have to worry about this, for example:

      #stoprussia ⚔️ Так гинуть російські окупанти. Цього разу у вертольоті!Слава Україні та її захисникам! Разом до перемоги! 🇺🇦@GeneralStaffUA— Defence of Ukraine (@DefenceU) March 5, 2022

      But what of the other supplies they need like fertilizer and minerals which ship through the Black Sea? Or the grain, particularly corn, which has been stuck and unable to ship since the second day of the invasion?

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      What if Ukraine loses and entire crop year? That would cause enormous hardship and death in Ukraine and considerable pain and dislocation elsewhere. Putin seems to be counting on it. He probably thinks the 1932-33 famine was a good thing.

      • Rugger9 says:

        Realize that Ukraine is Russia’s de facto breadbasket so if the entire season is lost Russia suffers as well. I remember how many times the USA had to bail out the USSR during the Cold War for Ukrainian harvest shortfalls.

          • Theodora30 says:

            From what I have read the country most dependent on Ukrainian wheat is Syria but Russia could probably make that up, especially now that their international trade has been so severely disrupted. A lot of Russian wheat goes to the Middle East.

            • Rayne says:

              I haven’t figured out the deal, but on the face of it Russia provides military assistance in the form of jets and bombs to Assad, in exchange for wheat and something more — the South Stream pipeline project should have been one of the items but I don’t think it successfully met the terms.

              Wheat may have been on the table during negotiations with KSA and UAE this past week, too, when Biden tried negotiating increased oil production.

      • Peterr says:

        From the Guardian earlier this evening:

        ‘We need bread’: fears in Middle East as Ukraine war hits wheat imports

        Aid agencies warn of ‘ripple effect’ as soaring wheat prices hit countries already facing inflation, food insecurity and conflict

        Concerns are growing across the Middle East and north Africa that the war in Ukraine will send prices of staple foods soaring as wheat supplies are hit, potentially fuelling unrest. Russia and Ukraine supply a quarter of the world’s wheat exports, while Egypt is the world’s biggest importer of wheat.

        In Tunisia, like many people queueing for bread in Tunis’s sprawling medina, or old town, Khmaes Ammani, a day labourer, said the rising cost of living was leaving him squeezed. “There’s never any money at the end of the month,” he said. “I even have to borrow some. Everything is getting more expensive.”

        Nearly half of Tunisia’s wheat imports come from Ukraine, and the Russian invasion has sent prices to a 14-year high. Even though the Tunisian state controls the price of bread, people fear they will inevitably feel the crunch. . .

        More at the link. Yemen, Lebanon, and many others will suffer tremendously.

        The wheat farmers I know in Kansas are watching all this very carefully. The winter wheat in Ukraine got planted, but did it/will it get harvested? Opinions differ on that question. But on another question they are all agreed: there will be little to no wheat planted in Ukraine this spring — “who will plant when the Russians may shoot rockets at your tractor?” — which will be felt most harshly when that crop does not come in next fall.

    • drouse says:

      I too read an twitter thread of the translation with parenthetical commentary and there are some differences that make the one in the post above seem embellished. The link and some others are in this post by Adam Silverman over at Balloon Juice. It also has a link to the (purportedly) original letter. Useful if you can read Russian or trust Google translate.

  5. earlofhuntingdon says:

    On the threat of Putin using tactical nuclear weapons in Ukraine, for whatever reasons his tortured soul and that of his modern-day Rasputin might use them, it might strike fear in many hearts, but it would strengthen both Ukrainian and foreign resolve against Putin.

  6. WilliamOckham says:

    My initial assumption when I saw this was that the interesting scenario would be if this was a Ukrainian psyop. And, if so, was it primarily directed at the Russians or the west? I’m not ready to draw any conclusions about it.

    • Alan Charbonneau says:

      I thought it was Ukrainian psyops aimed at Russia or that it was genuine. I know the bureaucratic type that won’t give you information expects only good news, and will blame you for their mistakes, so that part rings true as does the analysis. In any event, I’m certain there are lots of people in the Russian govt who saw this on Twitter, notwithstanding the supposed ban on it.

      News of the war and the coming economic hardships is getting past Putin‘s attempts to censor it, even as he squeezes harder. While most news reports are that the majority of Russians believe the propaganda, a cratering economy isn’t something that can be kept secret. Nor are 10,000 corpses in 13 days.

      As the economy continues to contract and each dip becomes the “new normal” only to see things deteriorate further, I don’t see how Putin continues to keep power. What’s likely, a revolt among govt workers and the military? A Russian #2, Mikhail Penczky, has Putin’s bodyguards do the same thing Anastasia’s bodyguards did-go for a walk? Does China intervene? I don’t know, but I think Putin’s regime is on its last legs.

  7. Badger Robert says:

    Did Putin respond to the letter by denying that there would be additional call ups and by claiming there were measurable objectives?

  8. Dmbeaster says:

    “did Russia not only provide pro-Russian rebel forces with a Buk 9M83 surface-to-air missile launcher”

    I think it highly likely that Russian troops were operating that system, but allowed a command decision to fire be made by a separatist leader. That equipment is too sophisticated for the separatists. Russians shot down the jet, but let the decision to fire be made by locals.

    • John Paul Jones says:

      bellingcat did a whole series of reports on the shoot-down, publishing the names of the guys on the ground, the units they came from and even many of the minor players.

  9. Rapier says:

    It would be best to consider the terrible risk to the ROW’s economies including ours of course. I believe Putin’s goal is to blow it all up. It is very blowupable. History says there is could be huge waves of debt defaults and some sort of monetary reset. It sort of figures that war would be the catalyst.

    The one problem that Russia doesn’t have which the ROW does is tons of debt, internal or external. The backwardness of Russia since forever can be seen as a reluctance to use credit. On the other hand America was founded and based upon credit, starting with Columbus. In either case, for better or for worse. Well I won’t blabber on but one best consider that a profound economic dislocation is possible

    • Janson says:

      We already had that crisis, and recently. Inflation hides debt in any case. The question is, how do you supply St. Petersburg without western trade finance? It’s not coming straight from China. How does a European private actor drive or float to a Russian state border and have confidence they will be compensated for goods? Not possible. So Russian middle people will eventually have to carry hard currency into Europe to trade. Debacle.

  10. DAT says:

    At Lawyers, Guns, & Money, their political scientist were calling Putin’s government a personalist authoritarianism. They commented on the increased inherent instability of that form. They further posited that Putin cannot retire outside, or even inside, his country. That means leaving office is not an option for him, and that has chilling implications for gaming out an end to this war.

    • skua says:

      Tangential: Compare Putin’s succession options with those of PRC Standing Committee of the Central Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China members – they take decades ensuring that retirement will not equal re-education for themselves and their families.
      Putin’s famed putative foresight and cunning may be tested far far sooner that he planned.

  11. Peterr says:

    From the post:

    An invasion driven in no small part by Russian Orthodox faith was already very much at risk if it relied on an ethnic Muslim state to perform its decapitation of a popular democratically-elected Jewish president to obtain control over a majority Ukrainian Orthodox state. The hatred mentioned explains anecdotes of Chechens who’ve switched loyalties (if they had any to Russia) to Ukraine; the annexation of Muslim-majority Crimea may also fuel fighters’ flips.

    I wouldn’t say that this invasion is driven by the Russian Orthodox Church, but rather that the ROC has its own dreams of grandeur and power that Putin is happy to harness to his own ends. The head of the ROC is Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, who was an agent of the KGB according to secret USSR-era KGB records that were revealed after the fall of the USSR, as Forbes noted at his election in 2009. These same records revealed that Kirill’s predecessor was also a KGB agent, and as Forbes rightly notes, an agent is an active member of the KGB, while an informer is an outsider. There were millions of KGB informers in the USSR, but far fewer actual agents.

    The ROC is very angry with the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Constantinople for recognizing the independence of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church from Moscow (a fight that has gone on for centuries). This may account for Turkey’s somewhat surprising willingness to close the straits to the Russian Navy, as Erdogan no doubt wants to protect the “first among equals” status of the Ecumenical Patriarch for his own prestige.

    • P J Evans says:

      I read one place that Kirill claims that the church has people up and down the chain of command of nukes in Russia. There was a threat implied there: that he could order the launch himself.

    • Rayne says:

      By “An invasion driven in no small part by Russian Orthodox faith” I mean Russian Orthodoxy as a large component of the Russian nationalist identity Putin is intent on achieving. He needs the ROC on board but it’s not like the US’ GOP relationship with evangelical and fundamentalist Christians because US culture is not as exclusionary in terms of ethnicity/race as Putin’s Duginist idea of the Russian nation, and evangelical/fundie Christians are a swing vote. ROC votes don’t matter to Putin; only the obliteration of any part of Ukraine’s identity including its autocephalous orthodox faith. And unlike the US where there’s some veil of separation between church and state left, ROC has become an arm of the Putinist state, another Ministry of Culture which confers legitimacy on Putin’s regressive crap. There’s a symbiosis between Putinist Russia and the ROC for which we don’t have a similar counterpart; that symbiosis is why Pussy Riot protested inside an ROC church.

      Putin had to make some sort of lame attempt at ‘wokeness’ for both the Chechens (who may have been feeling betrayed or used) and younger, more cosmopolitan and successful Russians when he gave his little “I’m a Lak, Dagestani, Chechen” speech (link from Internet Archive) this past week to his security council which no one outside Russia found credible. It was performative ass kissing for the Chechens. But the commitment of resources to both attempted decapitation of Ukraine’s leadership and the genocidal bombing campaigns over Ukraine cities says something else entirely: he has no intention of allowing Ukraine to continue as a separate cultural identity let alone as a separate nation-state.

    • Eureka says:

      Layering in to the convo, I find it impossible to separate the Putinist mission (from Ukraine to active measures against the US; GOP recruitment) from the Russian Orthodox Church and its important persons or patrons.

      One key nexus is the Putin-Konstantin Malofeev/Malofeyev-Bishop Tikhon triangle (links at their respective wikis, particularly Malofeev’s at the “Involvement in the War in Donbass” section) (Dugin, plus Malofeev’s funding of/relationships with European nationalists are also noted there).

      Besides allegedly fomenting/ sponsoring Ukraine separatists/ism, Malofeev also funds a long-standing union of US and RU religious radicals via RU meetings of the US-based World Congress for Families, for example. Malofeev was also an alleged oligarch for (some of) Charles Bausman’s active-measures schemes in the US [they started prior to the 2016 election with Russia Insider, resurged 2018 –> 2020 into a Lancaster, PA-based fake news outlet fused with white nationalists, and ‘ended’ with Bausman fleeing to Russia (and State TV) after his 1/6 Capitol activities]. Bausman is a man of “faith” (tl;dr for an anti-Semitic side plot gone awry).

      Then there’s the whole Putin-as-Rus’-messiah vibe.

      Sources at these threads:

    • WilliamOckham says:

      Peterr, have you read the articles over at religiondispatches[.]org about Kirill’s Forgiveness Day sermon?

      • generalsternwood says:

        That’s an excellent article, but it made me physically shudder at several points.

  12. Eureka says:

    I found the mention of June to be the single most important point and useful regardless the quality or purpose of the source.

    June is really soon on a timescale of ‘get any important major life transactions taken care of tout-de-suite, because stuff in the world might not work like it always has’ by then or well in advance of then. Whether “June” is a lulling prompt or provocative one (and for which audience(s)), accelerate whatever preparations for settling in (nesting) that you can.

    • Eureka says:

      ^ Channeling Dr. Nancy Messonnier but for the cascades of war.


      I don’t recall anything mentioned in that letter about bioweapons (which Putin/ists have been propa. / pretexting about for bit). If such is subsumed within “denazification” +/- “demilitarization”, fine. But while that part of the letter is insightful as to those things being diffuse to measure goal-wise, locating a fictitious UKR/US “lab” is pretty discrete (yet fails to make the list). Curious why it was omitted (and different hypothetical authors’ reasons for having done so).

      • Rayne says:

        I think the nuclear weapons had been neutered by US intelligence leaking about it as well as the story didn’t poll well, shall we say, with the target audience.

        Bioweapons are a tandem track they are continuing to develop because it has an audience more willing to pick up and run with it — it’s hitting the Q-freaks and anti-vaxx crowd here and they’re accepting it because of then-Senator Obama’s bipartisan work with Sen. Lugar to aid Ukraine with biolab security back in 2005. Hits all their sweet spots — fear of biological science, racism, anti-Obama, pro-Russian.

        Note the mention of “influence teams” along with political consultants and politicians; FSB is being tasked to continue working on something since the “prison attack by meteorites” didn’t work.

        ADDER: RVAWonk had a thread two days ago about the bioweapons crap; could be the latest push came after the letter was released, and the release itself might have been a redirect away from this push.


        • Eureka says:

          Right. Assuming he’s FSB (and not out of this loop), that he didn’t explicitly speak it points to the disinfo of partial truths — or to separate branches of their war divisions (and where they don’t seek to dismiss the likelihood of (further) success). [For any other potential authors, reasons to not state this aloud are obvious.]

          More intriguing for me — on this maybe precipice of a more than just variably-locally-hot WWIII — is how this bioweapons angle must have the likes of Rupert and Hannity (and the Pompeos of the world, too) in a bunch since they’ve never met a lab story they didn’t love, much less one with an Obama/ Dem. admin. tie-in.

          It’s now much more problematic for them if they facilitate active measures by an enemy who might eventually become a declared enemy.

          So it is and will continue to be informative, which topics they *presently* choose to sit out and leave to social/other media “influencers.”

          Their line-toeing must be more careful, shut that Overton window a bit.

          Monitoring what they won’t/don’t say will make for interesting math.

          [Checking in over at MMFA, it looks like the Fox opinionators are just grousing about dumb shit to keep the anti-Dem/dem fires going.]

          • Eureka says:

            Adding: replied before seeing your Adder but it’s all compatible anyway (i.e. the sense probably still flows).

            And as to taking care (or not): Of course the US right-wing can otherwise keep up their grift alliances and endanger US positions by e.g. calling for Putin’s decap like the Hannity-Graham-Pompeo troika did recently. Surely they’d be fine with whoever’d be installed next, assuming a less-chaotic factionalist.

        • Eureka says:

          [This follows comments in mod.]

          The day-Foxers’ perseverative topic: Keystone XL. We’re paying for Russian oil, funding Putin’s atrocities, when instead Keystone XL. Biden admin looking to get oil from other undesirable countries (I almost choked on the hypocrisy/sudden “concern”), but Keystone XL. “Kamala” says buy electric vehicles (outrage, riffs), but Keystone XL. Gas prices Gas prices Keystone XL. Loop. Loop. Loop.

          Got it!

          That’s about all the background-noise reconnaissance I can handle; the dog* already left the room.

          *Woken by this chorus, dog had assumed unsettled depressed-rat posture before fleeing. Lord help all who tune in and stay.

  13. Marinela says:

    Sting posted this song:
    https [:] //

    If the Russians love their children too …
    Really powerful.

  14. skua says:

    “… but the sentiment of Russians outside urban centers isn’t readily accessible …”.
    NATO and US IC need to know this.
    The 2002 Iraqi version needed to be known so that “dates and flowers” could be evaluated.
    The Chinese version needs to be known too.
    If the Western IC hasn’t got readings for this metric then they all get grouped in with the US State Department who had AIUI one [1] Arabic speaker on staff for 9/11/2001 as dangerously cognitively impaired.

    • Rayne says:

      The sentiment isn’t known to us, the public, who see protests shared from the bigger cities when posted to our social media. Intelligence community probably does know something.

      • skua says:

        (Using a problematic source): The Wikileaks release of diplomatics cables showed that diplomats feed back a lot of foreign sentiment. And wider readings would also be available from marketing surveys and comms between rural and urban relatives.
        But then “flowers and dates” (whatever it was exactly) didn’t get laughed off the podium and instead stood to strengthen the case for Cheney-Bush invading Iraq.
        “Hoping for competence but not confident”, is where I’m at.

  15. madwand says:

    News CNN and such are reporting 17000 antitank weapons, some are javelins, delivered. I found interesting in the document.

    1. Chechen vanguard units decimated. Vindman was reporting this well before Friday on TV.
    2. “The blitz” has failed so now as I see it we are on plan C as the “plan is moot”. A possible Russian strategy will be to control all areas from Luhansk, Donbas and along Black Sea to Russian speaking areas of Moldova and then possibly negotiate.
    3. No large scale mobilization, so far true. As an adder Russia military numbers across all branches around 850,000 and approximately 200,000 engaged now and if document can be believed some frontline units have been held back..
    4. Logistics are overstretched and we know Ukrainians are attacking those overstretched lines, so it squares up.
    5. Losses at the high end are similar to estimates Vindman has stated on TV, around 11,000 KIA as of two days ago which agrees with the 10,000 in the document.
    6. Civilian losses will increase resistance which should be obvious as long as high morale is maintained.
    7. The possibility of a local nuclear strike or strikes exist. Putin has been pushing nukes as a strategy to deter west, it’s working, but guessing a possible target is problematic destroying Kyiv for instance would unite world further perhaps even the same applies to Kharkiv. Fallout from those two cities would end up in Russia and create more chaos..
    8. Author doesn’t believe Putin will press “red button”

    This is what stood out to me from the document. Putin has stated sanctions are an act of war, operations conducted from neighboring countries the same, and its hard to imagine he doesn’t see resupply levels and use of antitank and stinger weapons as an act of war. Philip Breedlove, retired TV 4 star, Air Force type, pointed this all out last night. Putin thinks he’s at war.

    • bmaz says:

      If Putin thinks everything is an “act of war” then what really is an “act of war”? He, seriously, thinks San Marino is now his enemy. San Marino has no weapons and could not take over even a small town anywhere.

      • madwand says:

        I only mentioned the three things by Breedlove on TV last night, there is probably room for more in Putin’s thinking. These “acts of war” are Putins way and so far it has been successful IMO in fixing the Wests military response to beefing up forces on the continent and supplying weapons which the hope is the Ukrainians will be successful in forcing the Russians to withdraw, but most analysts do not think that will happen and we face a much longer period of armed conflict with a Ukrainian insurgency as a result. The fear of a wider war with a NATO country is certainly a current theme among “TV Generals” who all mention it in any analysis of the conflict. I’m sure they are discussing this at DOD also.

        It is possible in discussing Putin using a tac nuke that he will nuke an area with a limited population. At that point everyone would stand up and take notice. He might do that for two reasons, one being he is loosing, so he escalates to de-escalate and then calls for negotiations. He might also do it to further fix the Western military response to beefing up Europe and proceed with his own military operations.

        Our strategy has been to rely on sections, internal Russian dissent, and Ukrainian resistance aided by the West to force Russian withdrawal. As the document indicates there is more than one reason to hope that will be the case, however that is hope and hope is eternal.

  16. Badger Robert says:

    Rayne is commenting on economic attrition, which is appropriate. But neither Russia nor Ukraine is in a strong position to fight a war of military attrition. Both nations were in a demographic hole from about 1986 to about 2006. Both countries have a limited resource of fighting age men.
    On top of that, both nations experience high rates of excess deaths in their aging populations during the Covid pandemic. The situation was slightly worse in Russia than in Ukraine.
    In this situation, the logistical help available to Ukraine up to the Polish border, the technical and intelligence help, and even the small number of volunteer combatants, help the defenders significantly. .
    But to return to the main point, I don’t think Russia can allow this military contest to continue for long, as the sanctions regime slowly tightens at the pace dictated by Germany and Britain, without the conditions of 1992 returning.
    The Russian population is mainly urbanized now. But even the rural birth rate has declined significantly.

  17. klynn says:

    Off topic but related.
    Scott Kelly has been an amazing force on Twitter to all his Russian followers (he has many). I urge folks to visit his feed. You will need to translate because he has been pulling a non-stop anti-propaganda campaign in Russian. I have been amazed by his efforts.

  18. harpie says:

    I’ve been struggling to catch up with the whirlwind, and I just can’t…so I’m putting a couple of things here, in case anyone is interested:

    “[…] aggregating and mapping data is always a form of narrative”:
    7:27 AM · Mar 2, 2022

    A lot of people try to make sense of the current crisis with maps, so why don’t we talk a bit about why the approach of the majority of media in this regard is not the best. And why it might actually (inadvertently) represent the way Putin wants us to think. (Source: Guardian) 1/ […]

    Some general thoughts for the end: every map is a projection of power. As the war progresses and as the intensity of information war increases maps will only gain in significance. And they will be crucial for establishing a settlement. Beware of maps bearing easy lines. 12/

    Also: news outlets, journalists, media. Talk to us, humanists and especially historians. How space and movement are represented and how Putin’s invasion is shown on maps matters now and will matter even more in the future. 13/ [MORE]

  19. harpie says:
    12:27 AM · Mar 8, 2022

    As of March 6, more than 1.7 million refugees have left Ukraine since Russia’s full-scale invasion began on February 24, the U.N. refugee agency reports.

    An additional 96,000 people moved to Russia from the Donetsk and Luhansk regions between Feb. 18-23.

    I think is is the first time I’ve seen mention of the number of people moving TO Russia.

  20. e.a.f. says:

    Interesting question regarding Turkish workers. Would they be permitted to leave the country? Don’t think Putin would permit it. They would have information which he might not want getting out. The work they are doing would not be moving forward. Then again, how does Russia keep the Turkish workers in Russia? Surround them with guards? Even if they aren’t being paid, they’d still have to provide them with some food, which might be scarce. A lot of it may depend upon how many Turkish workers there are.

    As to who wrote the letter, who knows. It doesn’t contain a whole lot of news that we didn’t already know.

    The economic sanctions leveled at Russia may have as big an impact on Russians as the bombs do on Ukraine. Trade is so global, if parts don’t arrive, manufacturing stops, i.e. no chips, no car production. All sorts of things which are necessary for people in Russia to maintain their standard of living aren’t going to be there. It doesn’t matter who Putin blames for this, the average Russian consumer is simply going to be unhappy with him because he can’t fix it. Its much like the high cost of gas right now in B.C. Consumers want the government to do something about it, but as the Premier and economists advise, they didn’t set the price of gas and they can’t change it, but people still want lower gas prices.

    Ten thousand bodies coming home to Russia, is unlikely because of the logistics of getting them there plus, Putin doesn’t want them in country. It would “upset” ten thousand Mothers and Fathers.

    It maybe that Putin has over reached and started to believe his own publicity. Time for Putin to put his shirt back on and disappear before the Court of the Hague gets him.

  21. madwand says:

    There are starting to be calls for China to mediate the Ukraine crisis. This morning TV general John Allen, 4 star retired army type, wondered why no one was talking to China. Well there are people, notably Ukraine, who are as related in this article on the same subject.

    Also from the same source, a good overview of weapon systems and their origins and how they are impacting the war, and an opinion on future Russian arms sales.

    • Rugger9 says:

      The PRC is not really an objective actor here. Even though officially neutral, the moderators would be able to get more insight into Russian capabilities for what I would expect will be a push into the Russian Far East and Siberia. The PRC needs oil in particular. The SF Chronicle on Sunday had an article about the PRC raising its defense budget by 7.2 %, above last year’s rise of 6.8 %. Note that with the PRC in particular the ‘official’ defense budget is also augmented by several ‘civilian’ companies under full government control (they frequently end up on the Department of Commerce’s banned list) so it’s a lot of money.

      What does one do with an army and navy that is built up as much as the PRC has done? Letting them sit is not sustainable, so I’d expect them to be used somewhere. Putin’s gamble switched the target from Taiwan to Russian territory.

      • madwand says:

        You’ve been saying that, we will see. Call that the Madeline Albright theory of what do you do with all this beautiful military. The foreign ministers of Ukraine and Russia will meet tomorrow, as there is increasing pressure on both sides to seek negotiations. A current theory is that Russia will seek to negotiate after they get control of Novorossiya, New Russia which stretches from the Russia the Luhansk, Donbas, and a big chunk going to the border of Transneistria, which is the eastern portion of Moldova and which is pro Russian. Incidentally some Moldovans have been getting out of Dodge also believing Russia will not stop. We will have to see on that also. I’m only suggesting that it is a possibility the PRC will mediate the conflict.

      • Eureka says:

        Well there are sportsball emergencies to attend to.

        This will make it two days in a row of such tortured schadenfreude that one might explode. Wentz and Simmons one day on the next, this is too much.

        Snyder is paying his full contract, allegedly.

          • Eureka says:

            I know, it’s a pyramid scheme! Howie fleeced the Colts even worse.

            The Commies are going to have to get rid of the superior (at least more reliable and not touched) Heinicke for never-beat-TB Wentz’ ego.

            But yet not uncomplicated fun (“He’s baaack”, kinda, too close to home). News follows this morning’s revival of the story that he resented the team’s success heading into Super Bowl and had to be separated from another player who confronted him on his malignant, selfish BS.

            Someone needs to go polish that statue, eff him.

            Adding: I’ll get a feel-good hit as soon as I take a gander at the Commies’ cap numbers.

            • bmaz says:

              They are built to win, and now they have a real QB. If Rodgers was not coming, then Wilson is a hell of a backup plan.

  22. Riktol says:

    If this letter is a very good psyop — one which Grosev and his FSB contacts couldn’t detect easily — and is instead the work of a Russian active measure intended to influence the west, how would Putin expect it work on us, especially if the best, most effective influence operations contain truth mixed with disinformation?

    My answer to this:
    By falsely indicating the Russian government is divided and discouraged, or overstating the true extent and degree, it encourages complacency by the West.
    It makes the Russian government seem unlikely to put up much more resistance to western pressure.
    It feeds the prospect that the Russian government might undergo a split, or coup, which could bring the invasion of Ukraine to a close quickly.

    There’s no incentive to expand sanctions if you think the current lot are already doing enough. Weak sanctions regimes (like the UK) won’t be strengthened, difficult manoeuvres like transferring Polish MIGs to Ukraine might be delayed or halted. In the general populace this message could make people resistant to making sacrifices, after all what’s the point if the Russian government is about to implode and then everything will go back to normal?

    Am I right? If so will Western governments buy it? Who knows.

    • Rayne says:

      This is a reasonable assessment.

      And yet the actual facts on the ground ahead of/in tandem with this letter make the case Russia has serious problems with planning and execution which are in part due to siloed information — structural divisions which aren’t even political in nature.

      The inability of troops to report Vitaly Gerasimov’s death securely is a perfect example. Tsk.

  23. Eureka says:

    Rayne, re Seven Springs (etc.) check out two items published today (a related third item from last year) on the homepage —

    Special Report
    Chester County land trust helped Trump save millions. That’s just one of its deals.
    NY’s attorney general says the deal was part of a “fraudulent” tax break scheme involving Trump properties across the country. Chadds Ford nonprofit says it saved land from development.
    Jacob Adelman

    How Donald Trump’s conservation donations may benefit him

    How the ultrarich carved up a famed Main Line estate — and qualified for big tax breaks

    • Rayne says:

      Thanks, Eureka, I’ll check it out. I’ve thought the conservation easement was shaky — on the face of it one can’t put land in an easement which promises not to develop it, but at the same time declare the value of the property as it was going to be developed. But I didn’t see in the documents related to easement dispute re access road any indication to what easement the property had been added.

      Parking these links here (I need to get a month’s digital subscription to open one of these) —

      A Chester County land trust helped the former president save millions. And that was just one of its deals.
      by Jacob Adelman | Published March 10, 2022 | Updated Mar 10, 2022

      How Donald Trump’s conservation donations may benefit him
      Critics question the size of his tax deductions. Trump says it’s another “witch hunt.”
      by Craig R. McCoy | Updated Mar 10, 2022

      • Eureka says:

        I don’t have a way to send you a hot clipping (with images/graphics, links*) rn; can’t save the page. But they were offering some ridiculously cheap rate for new subs. [*And you might want those, some go to backstory on the shady org through which he arranged this.]

  24. mospeck says:

    pictures not shown due to graphic content. Body of a young man and his bicycle on a bridge as Ukrainians flee Irpin 7 March. Russian tank crews burned up in antitank ambush N Kyiv 9 March. Making new things is always hard and there’s a little baby girl Democracy out there. Don’t cross the Dnieper if you can’t swim

Comments are closed.