Two Possible End Games in Ukraine

Brothers in Authoritarian Leadership: Stalin and Putin (h/t openDemocracy, (CC BY-SA 2.0)

With all the conversations around Russia’s withdrawal from around Kyiv in order to refocus on the Donbas, and the discussions of the various negotiations that seek to arrange for a cease fire if not a complete end to the fighting, there are two big possible end games that appear increasingly likely to me, though I don’t see anyone publicly talking about them. (More common are big picture “likely outcome” pieces like this.) I don’t know the odds of either of the following two end games happening, but the odds are not zero for either one of them and, IMHO, they are going up.

End Game 1 begins with a simple premise: from Putin’s point of view, Putin cannot fail – he can only be failed.

Given the demise of the initial battle plan of some of Putin’s generals and the absence of the cake walk with Ukrainians greeting the Russian Army as liberators predicted by at least some of Putin’s intelligence officers, there is plenty of failure to go around.

Per BBC Russian, via The Guardian, the Russian officer corps has been taking extreme casualties.

. . . [G]rowing evidence suggests high numbers of casualties among the units that led Russia’s invasion in February, including paratrooper units considered to be the “tip of the spear”.

The video of the memorial for the 247th Guards Air Assault Regiment, which is based in Stavropol, Russia, showed a number of men whose deaths have already been confirmed through public accounts.

Another video from a nearby cemetery that is used by the unit, along with others, showed a long row of funeral wreaths.

The unit was reported to have fought in southern Ukraine near the city of Kherson, which has been held by the Russian army since late February. A Ukrainian counter-attack near Kherson has led to heavy losses for Russian troops there.

Last month, Russia reported the death of the commander of the regiment, Col Konstantin Zizevsky, one of at least eight Russian colonels to have been killed during the war in Ukraine.

BBC Russian, which has kept a confirmed count of the number of Russian losses, has said that 217 of its 1,083 confirmed Russian war dead were officers, from junior lieutenants to generals. Senior Russian officers often fight alongside their units because decisions must be confirmed by higher-ranking personnel.

Of the confirmed deaths in the military, more than 15% come from Russia’s elite airborne, or VDV, units. The high number of losses among those units has also been accompanied by reports of desertions.

The NY Times emphasizes those casualty figures in this little nugget on the BBC report:

The Russian service of the BBC counted 1,083 military death announcements by local officials or news outlets. But 20 percent of those deaths concerned officers — a disproportionate toll indicating that vast numbers of deaths of lower-ranking soldiers may be going unreported.

Lots of dead officers means lots of newsworthy funerals, funerals, and more funerals. Add in reports of desertions by soldiers already in Ukraine. And now this as reported by the NY Times:

Word of the dangers of fighting is filtering down through the public in Russia. Mikhail Benyash, a lawyer in the southern city of Krasnodar, said he had received more than 100 requests from Russian military and national guard service members about their legal rights should they refuse to fight.

“They don’t see a point in killing anyone,” Benyash said. “Plus, they don’t see a point in being killed.”

From Putin’s POV, all of this is unacceptable, and all of it is proof that he has been failed. This, obviously, cannot be allowed to stand. With End Game 1, the question for Putin is who he should hold responsible for these failures.

Russian history demonstrates how a leader obsessed with his personal power and who sees himself as the embodiment of the nation reacts to a situation like this: he makes An Example of someone. Or several someones. Or hundreds of someones. In the post-WWII USSR, Stalin invented what came to be known as the Doctors’ Plot — a conspiracy theory that various doctors had or were preparing to kill various Soviet leaders. Stalin did so in order to justify a purge of his political enemies, consolidate power, and in various other ways continue to build up the cult of personality around him. The only thing that saved these doctors was that Stalin died before the trials could be held.

Three years later, Stalin’s successor Nikita Khrushchev denounced Stalin in his secret speech to the 20th Communist Party Congress entitled “On the Cult of Personality and its Consequences.” As Khrushchev noted, the Doctors’ Plot was but a small piece of a larger whole for Stalin:

Stalin’s willfulness vis-a-vis the party and its central committee became fully evident after the 17th party congress, which took place in 1934…

It was determined that of the 139 members and candidates of the party’s Central Committee who were elected at the 17th congress, 98 persons, that is, 70 percent, were arrested and shot (mostly in 1937-38). [Indignation in the hall.] . . .

The same fate met not only the central committee members but also the majority of the delegates to the 17th party congress. Of 1,966 delegates with either voting or advisory rights, 1,108 persons were arrested on charges of anti-revolutionary crimes, i.e., decidedly more than a majority. This very fact shows how absurd, wild, and contrary to commonsense were the charges of counter-revolutionary crimes made out, as we now see, against a majority of participants at the 17th party congress. [Indignation in the hall.] . . .

The parallels between Stalin and Putin are . . . troubling. The murder of Boris Nemtsov. The repeated assassination attempts against and subsequent imprisonment of Alexei Navalny. Dig a little more, and you come to names like Sergei Magnitsky, Anna Politkovskaya, Alexander Litvinenko, . . .

The list is long, and the pattern is clear: cross Putin or fail Putin, and Putin will have you killed.

So how might Putin choose to deal with the generals, colonels, and intelligence officers in Moscow who failed him? The more charitable path would be that Putin reassigns them to take the places of the generals, colonels, and intelligence officers killed in Ukraine. I say “charitable” because this lets them take their chances with the Ukrainians, who seem incredibly good at killing senior Russian officers, but not completely effective at it.

The less charitable path cuts out the Ukrainian middle men, and is more emphatic and more thorough: Putin simply executes them in Russia. I can hear the statement from the Kremlin now . . . “They did not properly train their troops . . . They criminally diverted money to equip our fine troops with the equipment they needed, and lined their own pockets instead . . . They lied to me about the prospects of this special military operation . . . They were acting as spies for the West . . . They have failed me. They have failed Russia. They have failed you, the Russian people. They will do so no longer.”

Either way End Game 1 is for Putin to declare failure in Ukraine, blame it on military and intelligence officers he wants to get rid of, dispose of them, and move on from there.

Which brings us to End Game 2.

Russian military and intelligence officers are no doubt much more acutely aware of and worried about End Game 1 than I am. End Game 2 is that the generals take matters into their own hands, hoping for a more successful result than Operation Valkyrie had on July 20, 1944.

Of course, Putin is aware of the possibility of End Game 2, which may make him more anxious to work toward End Game 1. But the generals know that Putin is aware of this, which may make them more anxious to work toward End Game 2. But Putin is aware that the generals are aware . . .

Let me be clear: I have no secret sources in anyone’s intelligence agencies. I simply read what is publicly available, and put it alongside a bit of historical perspective. As I said at the top, I don’t know the odds of either of these End Games happening. But between the sanctions taking a stronger bite every day and the ongoing military failures on the ground in Ukraine, Putin and his generals both need some way to bring this to an end, and fast. End Game 1 will accomplish that, and so will End Game 2.

223 replies
  1. Dmbeaster says:

    End Game 1 ends nothing. It shuffles around a few, with survivors more likely to do their best for Putin. Putin continues his destruction of the Ukraine. He absolutely is not looking for a clean way out.

    The probability of End Game 2 is remotely small. Putin is way ahead of any generals or other types thinking of this, and they know it.

      • eyesoars says:

        Putin will be very, very lucky if it’s only as bad as Afghanistan was. It’s likely to be much worse, if it isn’t already. Russia is having a much harder time finding troops, and its birth rate and demographics have are also making it worse.

      • Dmbeaster says:

        I believe that he would commit atrocities on an even greater level than Afghanistan in order to destroy Ukraine as an independent country. This is a guy who never quits, and only doubles down when adversity thwarts his first effort. This is a guy who has engaged in criminal behavior as a means to power from his earliest days, and has been very good at it.

        This appears to be the most ideological thing that he has ever done in his life. Most of what he has done over the years have been about his greed for money and power. This is about his core belief that the break up of the Soviet Union was the worst disaster in history, and it is his mission to correct that massive historical atrocity, starting with the destruction of an independent Ukraine, which he views as an abomination.

        At the risk of making it seem trite, this seems appropriate:

        “Kyle Reese: Listen, and understand. That terminator is out there. It can’t be bargained with. It can’t be reasoned with. It doesn’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead.”

        Or to quote a more legitimate source, Julia Ioffe in her recent Frontline interview, “What he has opened up with this invasion is unthinkable. And because he is losing, and because the sanctions and the Ukrainians are humiliating him, because he is backed into a corner, he is the most dangerous he has ever been, because it is now existential for him.”

        • Peterr says:

          Ioffe’s comment resonates with me, especially with respect to End Game 2. The generals around Putin surely know this, and have to be worried about what he will demand that they do for him. Those orders may be directly and personally dangerous to them, or they may be physically impossible to carry out and no one wants to be the one to tell that to Putin.

          The notion of Putin fighting to the last Russian general is not a happy prospect to the generals.

        • gmoke says:

          I knew Putin had lost this war when I heard he said that “Ukraine is not a real country” announcing the invasion. That told every Ukrainian around the world that this was an existential threat if not a genocidal one. It is, I believe, what made them united and stiffened the spine of the country’s morale. (Whether Putin losing the war means Ukraine will win it is an open question.)

          It was also a basic strategic mistake – you don’t back your opponent into a corner where they have no choice between fighting and death. As the saying goes, a cornered rat is when it is most dangerous.

          Now Putin has backed himself into his own corner and those who are opposing him should follow Sun Tzu’s advice and give him an apparent way out. It should not be an actual way out of that corner but simply apparent so he can be stopped before doing more damage and dealt with.

        • Dmbeaster says:

          There is no way out unless you consent to his destruction of the Ukraine. Believing that you can talk him out of his corner is the mistake.

        • e.a.f. says:


          A number of leaders from other countries have tried to talk to Putin to no avail. There really isn’t any point in talking to him. The only thing which will stop him is being put in jail or death

        • Rugger9 says:

          Let’s not forget that the ICC awaits many of the officers as well, and so perhaps that’s why the Syria commander took over in Ukraine. If Putin loses he’s preferring to go out with his boots on.

    • Neil says:

      Indeed, Putin would also be well aware of the 1941 Purge, given his extreme interest in WW2 ( The war simply continued afterwards. One could say that’s obvious given they were being invaded – the point is only that the concept of a mid-conflict purge should be well ingrained in Putin’s mind.

  2. Hopeful says:

    Thank you for the discussion.

    I know there are lots of unknowns.

    My big worry is “What about the Nukes?” Could Putin become that desperate?

    • glenn storey says:

      everything else they’re using seems to be junk. why would their nukes be any different?

      • Paulumba says:

        You are probably not suggesting that we take actions that encourage Putin to use nuclear weapons, but I am not sure how much it matters how good those nukes are. They will still be devasting.

        • Mister Sterling says:

          I am. NATO could wipe out the entire Russian invading force in about 48 hours. Why don’t they? Oh, because Russia has ICBMs? Dare Putin to launch them. My soul is ready. I’m ready to die over nothing. Isn’t that what this whole pandemic has been about? Isn’t “dying over nothing” the theme of today’s GOP and right wing?

        • e.a.f. says:

          You won’t have to encourage Putin to use nukes. He’ll do it if he thinks he can’t win in Ukraine . Some President, P.M.s, etc. don’t want to provide planes or closed air space for fear Putin will use a nuke on them. He’s going to sooner or later. Or he will simply use barrel bombs until as many are dead as if they had used nukes.

          Countries prefer to fight wars in some one else’s country.
          The world will sort of stand around while a couple of million Ukrainians are murdered. Then when Putin moves into other countries they might start thinking about using some real force on Putin.

          If NATO isn’t going to do anything more than send armaments to Ukraine, then the best we can hope for is Putin has a stroke or heart attack.

      • Ravenclaw says:

        Don’t confuse bad tires or poorly trained infantrymen with inoperable munitions. The Russian artillery and missile systems have been working to horrific effect. Sure, some of their nuclear weapons might well fail to detonate (same as with ours BTW), but you don’t need many to wreak havoc on the world.

    • KM Williams says:

      Yes, I’ve been lying awake wondering about nukes, too. Flashback to the late 50s early 60s. Not groovy at all.

    • gmoke says:

      This war is already a nuclear war. It became that when the Russians occupied Chernobyl and fired upon one of the largest nuclear power plants in Europe. Every war from now on in a country that has nuclear power plants is a possible nuclear war and every war where depleted uranium weapons and armor is being used is also a nuclear war.

      We are kidding ourselves if we don’t recognize this simple reality.

      • Steve13209 says:

        I don’t recognize it as reality at all. Nuclear war means the use of nuclear weapons (explosions). The release of radioactive materials in and out of warfare is entirely different. The use of depleted uranium, which has some radioactivity, for ordinance and armor is due to its density. Again, not nuclear war, but an environmental hazard.
        Best to keep things in perspective during these crazy world events.

        • Steve13209 says:

          I have been leary of putting American forces into Ukraine to avoid direct confrontation with Russia. I’m now at the point where I believe Putin will do whatever he will do no matter what we do, so best to do what’s right and protect the people of Ukraine. That said, I’d rather the US play a backdoor role of supplying weapons and cash aid (no troops on the ground), but having the EU (first choice) or NATO send in a defensive force that will be tasked with protecting Ukrainian air space, citizens, cities, etc.

        • Rayne says:

          Give the legal justification for deploying U.S. troops into Ukraine, which is not yet an EU member nor a member of NATO.

          There will be no troops deployed into Ukraine unless Russia attacks a NATO member from within Ukraine, or attacks the US directly from Ukraine. Even those attacks will require authorization for use of military force by Congress. If you can’t make the legal case it’s unlikely to result in troop deployment.

        • bmaz says:

          There could be, in a heartbeat, a “coalition of the willing”. Doesn’t look likely, but it would be easy with the way the UN has treated treated Russia’s genocide so far.

        • Rayne says:

          Still going to have to develop a legal scenario just like Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002 in which the U.S. claimed a right to pre-emptive self-defense. If the U.S. isn’t attacked there needs to be a more solid justification especially because we know there are nuclear weapons on both sides and not merely the possibility some flimsy aluminum tubes could be construed as precursors to uranium refinement.

          You’d think by now we’d know how to do this the right way. Removing Russia from the U.S. Security Council was the first real step.

        • bmaz says:

          Removing Russia from the SC is a step that has not happened. They were removed from the Human Rights Council. Not sure they can really be removed from the SC.

        • Rayne says:

          Of course they’d vote against a ‘coalition of the willing’ trying to obtain U.N. approval. They’d have to be forced into recusal.

        • bmaz says:

          Under IHL, I think the US could participate in a coalition of the willing. Yes a AUMF would be nice, but it could start without one for at least 60 days, with really a 30 day buffer withdrawal period thereafter, under the WPR.

        • Steve13209 says:

          I don’t think the US has a legal justification, hence the behind the scene help I suggested. There will be no US troops deployed unless Article 5 is somehow triggered. Even then I doubt American troops would be involved in fighting.
          I also understand that Ukraine is not in NATO, but NATO got involved in Bosnia, didn’t it. Another body needs to run the show, either the UN or EU, most likely.

        • bmaz says:

          There are myriad of “legally justifiable” paths if the US cared to get involved. Don’t equate fear to get involved with capability to do so.

        • Rayne says:

          UN was involved wrt Bosnia in 1990s; it was attacks on UN safe areas which triggered NATOs involvement, particularly after the Srebrenica genocide and the bombings of Sarajevo’s marketplace. The conflict also happened on NATO members’ doorstep, threatening wider instability.

          EU will probably not be running this as Ukraine is not yet a member. UN is far more likely with EU making the request but deployment of US troops will still need a legal case made to Congress.

          Interestingly enough, the Babakov indictment lays out most of the case; an authorization for military force in Ukraine would likely rely on International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) 50 USC 1701-1708 and Executive orders 13660-13662.

  3. Bobby Gladd says:

    In 1999 Putin went after Chechnya, boasting that he would finish them off in 2 weeks. Five year later, while still pounding them, he had the Beslan massacre debacle.

    Now he’s 7 weeks into Ukraine, which was gonna be wrapped up in 72 hours. And we now have Bucha.

    3rd outcome? Ensuing years of what I’d call the #GroznyKraine quagmire?

    I just have no clue these days.

    Reading “Bloodlands” right now (Ukraine, Belarus, Poland, Baltics). Hitler and Stalin killed 14 million non-combatants there between 1933-45. Stalin was particularly indifferent to the mass murders and suffering OF HIS OWN PEOPLE.. I have to put it down every so often, it’s so bleak.

    They been fuckin’ with each other for a long time in that region.

    • Valley girl says:

      I read this article by Timothy Snyder, author of Bloodlands, a few days ago. It is truly depressing. This is the beginning of his article:

      ~~Russia has just issued a genocide handbook for its war on Ukraine. The Russian official press agency “RIA Novosti” published last Sunday an explicit program for the complete elimination of the Ukrainian nation as such. It is still available for viewing, and has now been translated several times into English.

      As I have been saying since the war began, “denazification” in official Russian usage just means the destruction of the Ukrainian state and nation. A “Nazi,” as the genocide manual explains, is simply a human being who self-identifies as Ukrainian. According to the handbook, the establishment of a Ukrainian state thirty years ago was the “nazification of Ukraine.” Indeed “any attempt to build such a state” has to be a “Nazi” act.~~

      There’s an English translation of the genocide handbook here:

      I found the full audio of Bloodlands on youtube and find I can only listen for a few minutes at a time. And, as you say, it is very bleak.

      • Bobby Gladd says:


        “Bloodlands” is a towering piece of historical scholarship. As I said, difficult to stomach at times, given the mass brutalities.

        With respect to Ukraine, I am afraid that we are on the cusp of a new surge of terrible violence.

        • Reggie M. says:

          I am too. I am reading the NYT and WaPo accounts of the civilian casualties.
          From what I read, it sounds like the Russian army is supplemented with contract hires, which is being blamed for the indiscriminate killings, rapes, pillages, etc? It’s so clear they want to ruin Ukraine…pummel the country to death. This is so in our faces, and I can’t allow myself to turn away. Dear God, when will it end.

        • e.a.f. says:

          It will be over when either Putin or Zelenski is dead or the majority of ukrainians have been murdered by Russia. I do not expect Ukraine to survive over the long term because NATO isn’t going to do much besides send some arms.

          There is an 8 mile column of Russian tanks moving to kill Ukrainians. What is NATO doing? Watching and sending insufficient armaments. it would be so much easier to just send in jets and bomb the shit out of the column. Would Puttin send nukes. Who truly knows but at some point you have to call some one’s bluff or you’ll get killed anyhow. The other countries don’t mind that much if Ukrainians get killed they just don’t want nukes killing their citizens. We have seen this play out all over the world–Other countries doing nothing while wars rage and people are murdered.

          Europe won’t even stop buying Russian oil and Putin knows it or he would have turned off the taps to put pressure on Europe. This is one of those half wars, like Vietnam.

      • dimmsdale says:

        Prof. Snyder just did a Zoom talk earlier today in which he reiterated a point he’s been making recently: that the only way Putin shuts down his war and withdraws is if he becomes convinced his personal power is threatened by continuing the war; that the only way to accomplish this is a decisive and final battlefield defeat for Russia; and that the US and allies must therefore, with all possible haste, flood Ukraine with all the weaponry they have requested, including MIG-29s. The date May 9 apparently looms large in Putin’s mindset (the anniversary of the end of WWII, according to Russia, and an occasion for celebratory military parades). Which is why haste is necessary, according to Prof. Snyder–to forestall the possibility of a Russian victory by May 9, as decisively and massively as possible.

        Can’t offer a link to the talk; it was Zoom and now it’s gone–until the recorded version gets posted. The rest of Prof. Snyder’s talk was too deep-dish to summarize here. Hope a link is posted soon, his talk is worth the watch.

        • MB says:

          Snyder’s been kind of busy since the war broke out and has all kinds of Zoom call lectures to various college campuses, talks at institutes in Europe, guesting on MSNBC segments and various podcasts published recently. So…until this particular Zoom call posts, here’s a link to an in-depth podcast with him and Chris Hayes from 5 days ago:

        • Rayne says:

          I hadn’t read your comment when I made a similar observation about declaring victory on May 9. The longer the war, the deeper Russia falls into Asia’s debt for that which sanctions cut off, and China is really itchy about doing favors which overextend it while it’s dealing with a massive COVID outbreak and lockdown.

        • Rayne says:

          Asia, yes, as in China and India. Neither have cut off Russia, especially India since its aerospace industry is tightly wound with Russia’s.

          ADDER: Perhaps you aren’t aware what’s going on in China right now — you should because this will affect supply chain in US. It will certainly affect any aid China offers Russia. Doesn’t matter how much grain China buys from Russia if they can’t deliver it.

        • Eureka says:

          A small piece of the pie, but telling — there was an article in recent days about how various efforts for American companies to produce PPE had faltered: couldn’t get the right certs; American orgs only wanting mega-orders returning to Chinese suppliers; etc. Despite significant investment and loans, stateside newbies (well, mainly production converts as I recall) were faltering and about to fold.

          Will we never learn supply chain lessons?

        • xy xy says:

          Funny you mention covid, because are Russian and Ukrainian populations and military personnel somehow immune?
          I haven’t seen any talk of that, unless I’m missing something.

        • Rayne says:

          I mentioned COVID and its possible affect on Russia’s military in a previous post. I still think this is an issue which has been underexamined; Russia’s homebrewed Sputnik V vaccine has not been effective against Delta and Omicron variants.

          Ukraine’s population was sorely under-vaccinated. This is something which must be remedied but setting up vaccination stations is an invitation to attack.

        • Rugger9 says:

          India’s connection dates back to Cold War days when Pakistan was our ally in the region, which meant that India really could not be. There is also the Sino-Indian conflict that went hot in 1962 and sputtered since then.

          I’m not so sure India is all-in for Russia, since they are still a democracy. The grounds of ‘enemy of my enemy’ was more like it to describe India’s enthusiasm. But since all of their equipment was Soviet, Russia remains a key point of acquisition. India just bought a new carrier which was delivered at 2x the cost with a whole lot of graft tacked on.

          China is my choice to become adventurous in Siberia, since it is a much easier nut to crack than Taiwan which can do serious damage. I do not think India would come to Russia’s aid if that happens either, and no one else would for the rest of the world. See how the ‘stans under the Russian version of NATO have(nt) sent support.

          It was also interesting to see how Putin is viewing Belarus, in that the ‘triune’ picture means that Lukashenko will be swept aside when convenient. I wonder how Lukashenko feels about that and FWIW I think Zelenskyy would be advised to drive a wedge there if he can. I also note that Belarus hasn’t done very much to help Vlad out either.

        • Sonso says:

          My Belarus contacts tell me that everyone there is demoralized, but that their same contacts in Moscow believe every word of propaganda.

        • xy xy says:

          I meant as far as deaths and hospitalizations by the msm or military.
          Wouldn’t it be better for Putin to push that troop deaths due to covid is what’s really killing our troops and not bullets?

        • Rayne says:

          Right, because that will explain the photos of dead Ukrainian service members torn to bits by bombs, as well as the civilians burnt to cinders pulled from basements. ~eye roll~

        • xy xy says:

          Oops, wouldn’t it be better for Putin to push that Russian troop deaths due to covid is what’s really killing Russian troops and not bullets?

        • Leoghann says:

          There’s a big problem with that false explanation. Putin has been claiming for 18 months that his Sputnik vaccine is the world’s best. He has underreported infections and deaths in Russia to a ludicrous degree since the beginning of the pandemic. So of course he can’t say that his uber military has fallen victim to a disease he claims to have nearly wiped out.

          I’m sure he’ll just continue to say those pictures of dead Russian soldiers are #fakenews.

        • Raven Eye says:

          Somehow August 12-25, 1920 gets little attention. The Soviet Russians pushed the Poles back, and back farther, in a series of battles until the Poles were at Warsaw. Things had been going theie way and the Russians thought it was going to be a cake walk.

      • Leoghann says:

        I haven’t read Bloodlands (for cause–I could barely get through Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee), but I did read Snyder’s piece on the Russian Genocide Handbook. The handbook is absolutely outrageous. I had to wonder how long Snyder had to spend with his therapist on speed dial after writing Bloodlands.

  4. Silly but True says:

    Not to make light of any war dead, but the US loses about 1,000 active duty soldiers in any given recent year to non-combat death alone: over 400 to suicide, nearly 350 to traffic accidents, primarily due to training deficiency, and another 200 to illness.

    Not that I really trust official Russian counts but something does not particularly add up about Russia losing just 1,000 soldiers when put against the massive rout.

    • Thebuzzardman says:

      I suspect if you added all the US armed forces together and called them “a city”, the numbers would work out about the same, in terms of accidents, homicides, etc.

      Maybe less, since most of the members are in their prime years and mostly healthy.

      • timbo says:

        Uh… the difference being that these are supposedly fighting fit soldiers, not civilians, having all these accidents and deaths? And, seriously, what city of, say, 100,000, has 1000+ deaths in a month or two without there being some sort of health crisis of some sort?

        • Thebuzzardman says:

          Uh, they are doing training which can be risky? That would explain some of the “youthful” deaths
          The rest, besides suicide, seem like they are distributed in a similar, and possibly lower rate, than any population
          The deaths are listed as being over the course of a year.
          The number of people in the active duty military is 1.3 million.
          I’d say the number are close to a city of the size of 1.3 million.

          The suicide numbers are troubling.

        • madwand says:

          From personal experience my infantry battalion deployed to Vietnam along with the rest of the brigade, say 5000 soldiers of all MOSs and before a shot was fired in anger we had lost close to 25 soldiers to accidents, a helicopter crash, stepping on old French mines and a myriad of other causes. During two tours I continued to see accidents as a cause of combat casualties. The army classifies KIAs as either a death caused by actual death in combat or an accidental death such as a helicopter crash under non combat conditions. They coded them either “ether or crown “for the armies own purposes, however families would only see that their son or daughter was KIA.

          The military has much more than say 100,000 people, and at one point there were 22 suicides a day involving veterans of Vietnam, the Gulf War, Iraqi Freedom and the Afghanistan conflict. That to me is a health crisis.

        • bmaz says:

          Not s military person, but a sometimes student of history. When I think about the potential for death in military logistics, whether moving troops or material, I always think of the Port Chicago tragedy. While not technically KIA, they are because there is no “action” without the support for it.

        • madwand says:

          I agree and they should be honored as such. Ammunition dumps are always in danger of going up with sympathetic detonation and examples abound from this one from Papua is a typical example of how the Navy treats such things.

          In this case there was no one left to court martial, so they blamed it on inexperience and leadership, cya I think for the Navy.

          This is a 1923 loss of a bunch of Navy destroyers who made the Santa Barbara channel turn based on dead reckoning about 10 miles early and hit the coast line at Honda Point. Skippers of destroyers who saved their ships were court-martialed for failure to stay in line, another typical Navy response, they had to hold someone responsible.

          My brother served on an ammunition ship and collision while transferring ammunition was always a concern, along with any type of fire regardless of the cause had to be put out immediately in order to save the ship. Humorously a few sailors decided to jump ship only to find out the fire had been put out and they had to be retrieved.

          Yeah many stories of men and women serving their country who died in non combatant actions who should be accorded every honor.

    • Rayne says:

      The 1,083 figure isn’t all of the deaths — we can see that just from looking at social media, counting the tanks and troop carriers. Of that figure which is an understatement of Russian deaths, 217 were officer corps casualties. This is not the same as the ranks of servicemen between chief warrant officer of Praporshchik (Commissioned officers) down to the privates in Ryadovoy sostav (Enlisted). If 217 officers were downed, there will be far more than 5X the number of Enlisted and Commissioned officers taken out. Daily equipment losses tell much of the story.

      You need to level up your game for this discussion. Don’t bring US military personnel into this discussion, alive or dead. Unless a NATO member is attacked we’re only providing non-combat support to a prospective democratic EU member.

      • Silly but True says:

        Even if you inflate by x10, that still isn’t of a scale to support holding Ukraine.

        If we presume that the count is much higher because of Wagner Group and Kadyrovite Chechen armies, we’re still not anywhere near numbers expected from near-first-world war.

        The entire loss of Wagner’s 6,000 soldiers and entire loss of 8,000 Kadyrovites don’t get anywhere near any existential loss for Russia.

        Russia has an armed forces nearly 1m, with nearly 300,000 in the Russian army.

        Even if the real Russian army lost 10,000 soldiers instead of 1,100, that still would not be an existential threat to the Russian army.

        Something does not make sense, is all.

        Either the invasion to date was intended to destabilize in advance of combat goal to split and hold Donetsk, or it’s been something else.

        Sure, combat dead is not a direct indicator of troop level. But we’re never going to know how many troops poured in. But the first weird sign was the Kadyrovite vanguard.

        Despite Eric Prince’s hopes and dreams, it would be very strange for US to kick off a major invasion starting with Blackwater, for example as our analogue to what Russia did.

        Something else is going on.

        • Peterr says:

          I think in some respects we are seeing a Potemkin military. It *looks* huge and powerful, but upon closer inspection, not so much.

        • P J Evans says:

          I have read that the 800K person number includes all of the Russian military, army, navy and AF. So the army would be much less than that – and always remember a lot of them aren’t front-line soldiers, but clerks and the like.

        • Rayne says:

          We still have no good numbers on COVID out of Russia. The numbers of excess deaths are extremely high and even those we can’t trust.

          Russia’s military had to have been affected cutting further into their numbers both in terms of deaths and illness.

    • Ravenclaw says:

      Nobody is saying it’s just 1,000 dead Russian soldiers. The high proportion of officers among those acknowledged to be dead suggests that there are far more slain enlisted troops than on the ‘official’ list. A couple of weeks ago US military reports had 7,000 as a low-end estimate; Ukraine said 13,000; Russian media briefly acknowledged a figure of about 10,000. And the numbers will have risen substantially since then. No military can sustain a death rate of 10,000 or more dead per month, month after month going into a year (with wounded counts typically several times higher), unless it is a nation fighting for its very survival.

      • Thebuzzardman says:

        I “think” it’s been posted in here, or was it in that twitter account of that British military expert, but projecting reasonable casualties from wrecked tanks and armored vehicles and I believe he has the number between 15,000 and 19,000 deaths.

  5. Atomic Shadow says:

    Putin is Dollar Store Stalin. That is how I am thinking of him. He is dangerous, and will make a lot of people suffer. But he is a sad, pathetic little man.

    It is almost certain that Generals lined their own pockets with money that was meant to be spent on the troops in Russia. It’s their way.

    • Parker Dooley says:

      “It’s their way.”
      Fat Leonard perhaps the tip of the iceberg? Perhaps we need a new Truman Commission before we find out we have the same problem. I seem to recall that it has been “impossible” to audit the Pentagon for decades.

      • Leoghann says:

        And what would be your point? I can’t picture a single way that the topic of this thread can be reinterpreted to “here’s a place to bitch and whine about the US military.”

      • bmaz says:

        You cite a case where a defendant was captured, charged and prosecuted as a basis for some lame “commission”?

  6. swmarks says:

    Thanks for this post. I have found myself increasingly interested, not so surprisingly, with battle tactics and war strategies over the past few weeks. One person I have found to be informative, and often prescient, is Phillips P. OBrien (@PhillipPOBrien on Twitter). He is a professor of strategic studies at University St Andrews. According to his sources, approximately 22% of Russia’s Battalion Tactical Groups (BTGs) are combat ineffective. He compares Russian losses “to some of the worst losses of the US Civil War or World War I.”

    • Peterr says:

      The BBC’s Olga Ivshina notes this in a thread of tweets, when it comes to the cost of those losses:

      Even if we talk about confirmed losses only – there is evidence that Russia has lost some of its best specialists, incl. elite spec. forces operators, highly skilled fighter pilots and some experienced commanders.[\2]

      217 out of 1083 confirmed losses – ie over 20% – are officers. This includes 10 colonels, 20 lieutenant colonels, 31 majors and 155 junior officers (ranging from second lieutenant to captain).\3

      It takes 5 years and at least 10.000 USD to prepare an infantry lieutenant in Russia. For other specialties prices rise up to 60.000 USD per one young officer. It costs from 4 to 14 mln USD (and up to 14 years) to prepare a skillful fighter pilot.[\4]


      We also noticed another trend. About 15% of all confirmed losses are paratroopers from units, which are considered elite of the Russian army. And preparation of a paratrooper in Russia demands more money and time compared to an infantryman. So these are sensitive losses.[\6]

      So yeah, that would line up with the kind of losses from the US Civil War and WWI that O’Brien compares this with.

      • Rayne says:

        Interesting Ivshina’s commenting now on the paratroopers. I’d heard/read nearly the entirety of Russian paratroopers were wiped out within the first ten days of the invasion. Think Kamil Galeev had a dedicated thread about Russia’s paratroopers…yes, he did, and it began with the death of a major general on March 3. I think Ivshina’s 15% figure is way off.

        • Peterr says:

          As I read the tweet thread, that 15% figure comes from monitoring Russian media accounts of deaths and funerals, which everyone knows is way way low. It’s also a summary thread, pulling together a lot of stories over the course of the war. I wouldn’t read anything more into the timing of the reporting on the paratroopers here.

  7. BobCon says:

    One of my fears is that Putin decides to drive as many refugees as possible at the West and see what happens.

    Ukranians, Syrians, Kurds, Chechens — he doesn’t care. 100,000, 1,000,000, 10,000,000, he doesn’t care.

    We’ve already had the sickening case of CBS News chief Neeraj Khemlani deciding to turn his back on Afghan employees of CBS over $750K. What are the odds Khemlani, Dean Baquet and Kathleen Kingsbury, Jeffrey Goldberg, and the rest of the press side with their right wing whisperers that 1,000 refugees is more than we can help?

    • eyesoars says:

      I’ve seen it argued several places that this has been part of his deliberate strategy for some time: create lots of refugees, which creates a lot of opportunity for anti-immigrant hatred, helping right-wing politics and political divisiveness. It would certainly fit Russia’s actions w/ regard to Europe in recent years.

    • Tarkeel says:

      Given that the ‘approved evacuation corridors’ were towards Russia, and many of those taken these routes have apparently not been heard from, it looks more like they are forcefully taking as many non-combatants (read: fertile women) that they can.

    • KathyS says:

      Well, he has “a problem” with the Ukrainian refugees in Europe – they are white indo-European, Christian Orthodox, mostly women and children, some are from the around 100 minority ethnicities in Ukraine and these are regarded as “ours people” like the Greek ethnicity or the Bessarabian Bulgarians, Ukrainians are highly educated and willing to work if they can leave their children in a day-care kindergarten, they are proud and don’t beg like the economic immigrants, most of them do not want to stay, they want to go back to Ukraine. Ukrainian refugees are not regarded as “a thread” in Europe who can increase criminality or as coming in Europe only to drain the social funds. Europe can still experience a huge problem with refugees because of the famine on the horizon in the Middle East, Afghanistan and North Africa (the failed crop in Ukraine 2022 and God only knows how many years to come). The food shortages can drive a huge immigrant wave to Southern Europe. The Russians immigrating to Europe are a destabilization factor also.

      • milestogo says:

        Very well said. Unfortunately it’s mostly about tribal affiliation and the Ukrainians have for this reason been welcomed over refugees from the Middle East and Africa. Here in Spain they are actually a huge advantage as small towns are literally disappearing in need of new populations. The Spanish media has highlighted small towns welcoming them with great enthusiasm. I think Spain alone could absorb 1M without much cultural shock (on the part of the Spaniards).

  8. mvario says:

    As good a set of conjectures as any. For what it’s worth there are two unconfirmed reports coming out. One is that a chemical weapon was deployed by Russia in Mariupol, the other that Vladislav Surkov has been “detained”.

    • Troutwaxer says:

      I’m a little suspicious of the report about chemical weapons, which has only shown up on twitter, with no confirmation. My suspicion is that someone blew up a chemical tank. (Proving the use of a chemical weapon would, at the very least, take some labwork.)

      • P J Evans says:

        Report I met is that three people are known to have been affected (breathing and balance), and it was via a drone of some kind.

        • Troutwaxer says:

          Apparently the attack took place at the Azovstal Steel Mill, which in my mind raises the chance that there was some kind of inadvertent chemical release. (If you make a chemical attack you don’t spray soldiers from a drone, you fire artillery shells loaded with poison gas instead of chemicals and try to cover a wide-enough area to actually damage your opponents.) Perhaps it was an attempt to capture someone?

        • Peterr says:

          OTOH, if they targeted the mill, it’s not inadvertent. It’s like saying “We didn’t attack the city. We attacked the upstream dam on the river that runs through the middle of the city.”

        • Troutwaxer says:

          I suspect a steel mill is a legitimate military target, but Russians will shell anything, including hospitals.

        • Tarkeel says:

          Whenever someone brings up chemcial weapons deplyed against soldiers, I like to bring up this old (2007) article from the Register: Chemical Weapons are not WMDs:

          Let’s look at more practical scenarios. In order to create a mile-wide cloud of nerve gas which was actually dangerous to be in, one would need to deliver at least half a ton of the stuff; perhaps ten tons or more if conditions were less than perfect. That assumes the use of many small projectiles scattered about – artillery shells would be ideal – so as to spread the cloud; otherwise the area would be much smaller.

          But why not just use ordinary artillery? The shells will be falling anywhere from 150 to 30 metres apart. Ordinary explosive rounds at that density will take out a majority of unprotected people, rising to almost everyone at the high end. And in this case the protection required to survive isn’t a cheap, portable suit and mask. One would want a bunker or a 30-ton armoured vehicle to withstand conventional artillery, and even then the risk of a direct hit would remain. Conventional ammunition is infinitely easier to get, store, and transport, too.

          The whole thing is worth reading, but the gist is that chemical weapons are mainly used to terrorize civilians.

        • Tarkeel says:

          Apologies, I mangled the link. Correct url is: Chemical Weapons are not WMDs. That isn’t my assertion though, just the name of the article. It does use hyperbole to encourage discussion though. My personal opinion is that any indiscriminate targeting of civilians is an atrocity, regardless of the weapon used, be it chemicals, drones, bombs or machetes. What makes chemical weapons stand out, is that they don’t have an effective “legitimate” use against soldiers.

      • mvario says:

        Fair enough, though The Hill has picked up on it. If you’re looking for confirmation though you’ll probably have a wait considering “besieged Mariupol” and all.

        • P J Evans says:

          What surprised me was that UA was running supplies into Mariupol at night via their port area, which the Russians still don’t seem to control. They were using *helicopters*, and those aren’t exactly quiet (though you can learn to sleep through a lot of noise).

        • madwand says:

          Unfortunately if you are in combat long enough, you learn to sleep with the outgoing and wake up with the thump of the incoming. All the while you think in your brain so who can say with any certainty that you ever get any real sleep as a part of your brain is always waiting for that thump.

  9. Badger Robert says:

    Both scenarios are worth considering. But what about a third, in which people start thinking of their own security, and become less and less willing to follow orders from the capital?

    • Valley girl says:

      Except there’s that “security benefit” that soldiers get from taking all they can from the destruction of Ukraine, and sending it back to their homes in Russia.

      • Peterr says:

        The fine print carried the minor detail that in order to collect that “security benefit,” the soldier has to live through the special military operation – a nontrivial detail, as many folks are finding out. “Please note that in war, past survival is no guarantee of future survival.”

    • Leoghann says:

      These are people of a culture of authoritarianism, whose only experience with limited freedom (1989-2000) was scary as hell, and didn’t improve their situations a whole lot.

  10. madwand says:

    Endgame 1, blaming it on generals and intelligence officers he wants to get rid of, disposing of them is already happening and he is moving on as those new convoy images show, and he definitely has a new commander, the Butcher of Syria, so he is moving on. Endgame 2 is every commentators wet dream and while it drives hope, because it is a probability, the probability from the view of the west is not high.

    Everyone once again is looking to the next two to four weeks as critical but then the US thought it would be all over in 2 to 4 days and other pundits were sure if Russia didn’t take Kyiv in seven days then they would withdraw. So the best guess is the Russians are trying to establish a land bridge from the Crimea along the east coast to Russia and enveloping encircling Ukrainian forces in the WW1 like trenches in the Donbas, and those operations will be shortly coming. Pundits are now saying if Russia achieves that objective they will negotiate. Time will tell if they achieve that objective and if they will then negotiate.

    Zelenskyy for his part is still urging the west to establish an air cap over Ukraine and to hurry much needed supplies and weapons. The west continues to deny the air cap for fear of direct confrontation with the Russians which will inevitably result in WW3, but it is what the Ukrainians need. The west which is endeavoring to destroy the economy of Russia and whose weapons are killing Russians in Ukraine, still cling to the illusion that somehow they are not at war. They also assume that Russia, which so far is unable to take Ukraine, would be simply foolish to take on NATO, and that is certainly true as long as any war remains sub weapons of mass destruction. If Putin is weary of opening direct hostilities with the west, then the possibility of the west establishing an air cap over Ukraine becomes more of a probability.

    • Neil says:

      I suspect that UA needs medium and long-range missiles to wreak the same havoc in Russia’s rear areas as Russia’s been doing to UA, more than a no-fly zone, even if that would be helpful. Put NATO-provided targeting information together with UA based missiles capable of 200-300 km accurate targeting, and it would make a huge difference. The difference between waiting for RU to attack as they choose, and putting RU into total disarray. I’ve been hoping for more like the fuel tank raid last week, but that’s very high risk for helicopters.

      • madwand says:

        Russians have most likely anticipated this and we are starting to see evidence of them jamming GPS signals not only in Ukraine but in Finland which shares an 800 mile border with Russia. Airliners there have reported GPS navigation anomalies and perhaps they are testing to see what they can achieve but Ukraine would be the real test case. I agree we should up the ante though.

        • Rayne says:

          GPS or GNSS? GNSS has been disrupted since the first week of the invasion. If Russia’s disrupting GPS, this could be viewed as an Article 5 event.

        • madwand says:

          This from NBC quoting a general

          This from GPS Repeaters

          Europe Russians and Chinese have their own GPS?GNSS navigation satellites systems independent of the US GPS?GNSS system, so its possible Ukraine could be using the US version, provided free to the rest of the world, or the European version, and I am not sure.

          As to article five we will ignore it till we get a punch in the face.

        • Neil says:

          GPS, yes, but that’s been going on for a long time already, nobody seems to do more than observe it. e.g. I seem to remember similar happenings being noticed in Syria, but I didn’t look up examples.
          It’s really not anything anywhere near Article 5, it’s “just radio signals”. It’s not like they were blowing GPS satellites up, which would be very significant. The spoofing is all ground-based.

        • bmaz says:

          Eh, if it is affecting how NATO countries perform militarily and their air traffic control, it certainly could trigger Article 5.

        • Neil says:

          No, really, it is far below the level to trigger Article 5. Air traffic control doesn’t only rely on GPS navigation. Anything that affects military performance is the responsibility of the military in question to manage and mitigate against, from the quality of their coffee to whether their chain of command works.

          Article 5
          “The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all and consequently they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each of them, in exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defence recognized by Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, will assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking forthwith, individually and in concert with the other Parties, such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area.

          Any such armed attack and all measures taken as a result thereof shall immediately be reported to the Security Council. Such measures shall be terminated when the Security Council has taken the measures necessary to restore and maintain international peace and security.”

          There’s no way anyone could interpret GPS spoofing as an armed attack, even in a world where cyber-attacks with deaths as a consequence could be. It’s simply too minor.

        • Rayne says:

          The question comes down to the definition of “armed attack” — is cyber warfare on par with traditional kinetic warfare.

          Conveniently, Putin (and Xi) relies on the west to bog itself down in arguing about the question as they carry on with hybrid warfare. Christ, the PRC was nice enough to warn us about asymmetric warfare in 1999 but here we are.

          When GPS is used to sync banking transactions and dispensing of medications, is it still not warfare to interfere with paying active duty service members or killing them by withholding/overdispensing medications? But GPS is just radio signals, though.

        • Neil says:

          GPS is only one source of network synchronization, there are many others. It’s not essential to the specific services you’re referring to. I’m definitely not a lawyer, but I am a telecom engineer.

          With my regards.

        • bmaz says:

          I’m sorry, you have backing for that from what international legal authority? “With my regards”.

        • madwand says:

          To your question the definition of armed attack of course it is, the Russians evidently think so and actually we do also, I live next to the Cyber Warfare Center at Fort Gordon, soon to be renamed but that’s another story. 15,000 + soldiers dedicated to cyber war. My only thought with ground based spoofing is that it is meant to make a GPS receiver calculate its position erroneously. Weapons use GPS receivers and as I understand it nlaws are especially vulnerable. These are tactical considerations on both sides and would be applicable in Ukraine.

        • bmaz says:

          No, really, it may well be. And you are full of it if you think cyber attacks like that cannot be “armed warfare”. When you say “nobody could interpret it that way”, are you talking about international and, more specifically IHL and LOAC professionals I know that say it could be? “Too minor”? Under any circumstance? Really? That is your final answer? Lol.

        • Neil says:

          I wrote “no way anyone could interpret GPS spoofing as an armed attack, even in a world where cyber-attacks with deaths as a consequence could be.” That means I’m saying that such a cyber-attack could indeed be interpreted as an armed attack. You read me backwards.

          If what you’re saying is correct, how come nobody’s gone to war over the spoofing thus far ?

          No, really – I’ve seen you work hard at giving perspective to peoples’ overreactions to legal situations, with your deep experience in the field, cutting things down to size. Here, however, you’re among the pearl-clutchers who need to put the item under discussion into the right perspective.

          With my regards.

        • bmaz says:

          What a load of horse manure. Take your “pearl clutching” and, well, you know. With my regards.

        • milestogo says:

          Neil, I for one see your recent points as valid and well-reasoned. One can disagree without being, well a bmaz. He called me a troll for posting specifically about the (non-military) impact on aviation if GPS went inoperable. I have no idea why that or anything else I’ve posted was trolling. I know they also deal with many bad actors but too many considered comments are given this treatment.

          I gave a different reply earlier but it was not posted I suspect because I called him out in rather harsh terms. So I post here again and say primarily that it is not our forum (or living room so to speak) and he gets to set the culture. It may be best to just respectfully leave and contribute to the cause elsewhere. Marcy does great work but would be better off and perhaps better heard with some changes in her crew.

        • bmaz says:

          Hi to you and Neil. This is not “my living room”. This is also certainly not yours either, and you do not get to decide who serves here and how we do it. As to the issue you are chaffed about, I asked if there was any IHL or LOAC authority for the proposition, and you apparently do not have that. The discussion was not about “recreational aircraft”, it was about state actors in the course of hostile military actions/war. And the smarmy/sarcastic “with my regards” by Neil was not particularly constructive either. If you want to bitch at me, have at it. But do bring the goods first please.

        • madwand says:

          While watching cable or working in my computer most of the time my clocks agree with with each other, that is the time on my iPhone, computer and cable all switch simultaneously to the next minute. Twice now I have observed that the time in my iPhone has been off by up to as much as five minutes between it and the cable time. The programs normally switch hourly and so at the hour the program switched in accordance with the time on the cable and not on my iPhone, which was showing 5 minutes past the hour. Strange. Maybe someone has an answer.

        • Rayne says:

          There’s a point at which it isn’t just spoofing. GPS isn’t just earth-based radio signals; it’s a satellite-based system owned and maintained by the U.S. Air Force.

          Up to now because Finland doesn’t own GPS and it’s used to harassment by Russia the so-called spoofing has been blown off. But what happens when Finland is a NATO member and the GPS provide to it by another NATO member affects its economy?

          Blowing it off as just spoofing radio signals only encourages Putin to escalate to the next level.

        • Neil says:

          I wasn’t clear it seems… GPS is clearly what you say it is, US-military satellite network [I did mention that we’re not talking about Russia blowing up GPS satellites]. But spoofing by Russia of GPS signals is ground-based radio transmissions, imitating the signals sent by GPS satellites but in ways that make GPS receivers think they are in a different position than they are.

          Interfering with GPS radio signals is hardly an act of war, whatever nuisance it brings to civilian or military operations in peacetime. Not any more so than Russian FM radio stations broadcasting on the same frequencies as Finnish FM radio stations.

          Indeed, the fact that the Russians have done this over the past decade or so only has served to underline that military guidance systems need to also work in a contested radio environment, and has helped push Western militaries to go for multi-sensor missiles and munitions that don’t only rely on GPS availability.

          This is not to say that the West shouldn’t be complaining to Russia for doing this. We should be doing the same on their GLONASS also, as far as that is concerned. The Chinese also are putting up their copy, called BeiDou.

        • milestogo says:

          Private Pilot here.

          I read about the possible Russian GPS jamming and assumed it was just local jamming around key troop gathering points in Russia and possibly Ukraine. If the disruption was more widespread, such as across the boarder with Finland, I’m not sure how they would accomplish that. Not saying it couldn’t be done but I would assume jamming ground or air based equipment more territorial close to a Finland a NATO country would be required so my guess is it’s not happening (but who knows).

          Regarding aircraft, if they were using RNAV GPS approaches, they would simply switch to VOR or even NDB radio type approaches. I’ve done all three and only the NDB approaches are relatively more complex (for me). This is a complicated topic so I am simplifying but GPS is not required for commercial or recreational IFR flight.

        • bmaz says:

          The issue is military aircraft and drone application. I have been a pilot too. Saying that VOR or NDP (that’s non directional beacons) is ludicrous. You really are becoming a troll.

        • madwand says:

          You’re correct you have to have a workable GPS receiver for any approach labeled GPS on the approach plate or to navigate by GPS alone waypoint to waypoint. Normally you have to have at least four satellites in view but the more the merrier. Pilots use as many sensors as possible and a good rule of thumb IMC when navigating along a Victor Airway is to compare your DME shown on the GPS to the VOR DME, or alternately couple up your flight director if you’re so equipped. If you have CRTs for your EADI and EHSI then you can overlay your course and weather which will also show up on your radar screen, create pseudo waypoints to navigate around the bad stuff create holding patters standard and nonstandard etc. Modern aircraft use flight management systems which use a variety of sensors GPS INS and when I was flying loran c was even incorporated. Makes it easier.

          All that said I think the Russians are testing their jamming and spoofing capabilities on the Finnish border and slow movers like light aircraft and helicopters operate VFR in war zones for the most part.

  11. joel fisher says:

    Two things about the 2 Endgames:
    Everyone–especially the Ukrainians–knows that if the Russians simply leave, perhaps keeping some territory in the East, it will simply regroup, figure out their mistakes, and try this nightmare again. Since that is the case, as long as the Ukrainians have Western resources and encouragement, why wouldn’t they sweep the Russians entirely out of all occupied areas, so that the entire enterprise is a net loss for the Russians. Losing 100,000 soldiers means nothing to Putin, but losing territory is his nightmare. It appears that the Ukrainians are increasingly confident of their abilities as fighters so why would they stop with some sort of ceasefire leaving the Russians in their country and any number of generals known as “The Butcher of This Place or That” waiting in the wings for their chance to kill civilians.
    Then there are the sanctions. Sanctions in place and forthcoming are from a wide variety of sanctioning entities. All are responding separately to the same stimulus, but what it will take to get, Big Macs back to Moscow is up to a private business. All the Western amenities that we take for granted are going or gone. It takes a while to wear out an iPhone or a Toyota, but sooner or later it happens. Do the Russians love their Western comforts more than Putin? I’m betting yes. Is the West going to be able to do without shitty cars and Russian vodka? Yup. It’ll take years and plenty of Russian children will starve, but eventually the Russian people will support Endgame 2.
    Maybe the commies will make a comeback; TBH I liked them better than Putin.

    • Peterr says:

      Two weeks ago, the general in charge of the Ukrainian intelligence service said that Putin was now looking to split Ukraine in two in a “Korean scenario.” From The Guardian:

      Budanov said he believed Putin had rethought his plan for full occupation since failing to swiftly take Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, and overthrow Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s government. “It is an attempt to create North and South Korea in Ukraine,” he said of the new Kremlin strategy.

      I don’t know if that is Budanov’s language or him quoting Russians, but I think it is less like North and South Korea and more like East and West Germany. And Putin knows all too well that the only thing that kept Germany divided was soldiers manning a barricade of barbed wire that spanned the entire length of the border, along with a string of border observation towers, acres of minefields, and other obstacles. They were not primarily designed to keep a Western invader out, but Eastern residents in.

      And once the East Germans decided they weren’t going to defend that border against their own citizens, the whole game fell apart.

      Putin remembers this well, and does *not* want to see it again. But if he tries to divide the country in two, he’ll be trying to repeat the Soviet folly of post-war Germany.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        It seems likely that Putin wants to separate the eastern provinces and southern coastline from the rest of Ukraine. It would give him a land bridge to the Crimea and deprive Ukraine of any seaports. If he could occupy the entire southern coast, he would also connect Russia to separatist territories in Moldova.

        I’m not sure that Putin has a plan, more a set of preferences of receding importance. I do think that if he can’t have Ukraine, he wants it to be a failed state, hence the large-scale, indiscriminate destruction. That state of affairs would also justify, from Russia’s perspective, persistent military interference by Russia, while making it costly for Europe and the US to keep propping it up. The short and medium term loss of Ukrainian agricultural products Putin probably regards as a price prop for his own.

        In short, it’s fine with Putin, no matter how much of a shit storm he creates in Ukraine. Like Trump and neoliberals, in general, chaos and cruelty are the point.

        • Rayne says:

          I think you’re describing Putin’s fallback/Plan B option. He wants to declare victory (to cut his losses before rural Russians clue in and get restless) which means settling for Donbas. The land bridge he may want but I’ve already seen rumors related to Ukraine destroying the bridge at the Kerch strait which would cut off Crimea at its eastern end to prevent movement of troops and material from that direction into southeastern Ukraine.

          The date I’ve seen mentioned for a declaration of victory is May 9, Russia’s observation of Victory Day against the Nazis in 1945. This is likely why he’s ratcheted up the attack on Mariupol, bringing the monstrous general responsible for chemical attacks on Syria to duplicate them in Ukraine.

        • joel fisher says:

          One wonders if the deployment of chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons would trigger the no-fly zone that Zelensky wants?

        • e.a.f. says:

          No. NATO will not give Ukraine a no fly zone because they are too afraid to call Putin’s bluff or that Putin will inflict some sort of pain on their countries. As long as only Ukrainians are dying NATO isn’t going to do much

      • Leoghann says:

        A divided Ukraine sounds to me like more of Westerners’ speculation on how Putin thinks. He was reported a month ago to have the attitude that if he couldn’t have Ukraine, no one could. Of course, he may have actually changed his mind.

        • Rayne says:

          It’s not a western perspective, it’s both the physical divide created by the Dnieper River which runs north to south and the manner in which Russian troops and material were deployed at the time the invasion began.

          It’s also history given how many times the region we know today as Ukraine has been divided repeatedly, a number of times along the Dnieper.
          Map of Ukraine region c. 1220-1240 via Wikipedia

        • Leoghann says:

          Oh, I understand the course and importance of the Dneiper, both in trade and as a historic divider. I just don’t think there’s a chance in Siberia that Putin will go for half a country, when he’s convinced himself that Ukraine, Moldova, Belorus, and the Baltics are “his.”

        • Rayne says:

          Of course he doesn’t go for half — he’s been fighting for Ukraine since 2014, though. He’ll continue to slog along trying to wear down the rest of Ukraine just as he’s worn down Luhansk and Donetsk over the last 8 years, even if he declares victory now.

          But he bit off too much this time. Far too much, and at the worst possible time. The fillip on the top of his massive mound of fails: Sweden and Finland, both currently helmed by women, will likely join NATO.

        • Leoghann says:

          An article I saw today said by July or August, which, in terms of national and European politics, is close to “right away.”

        • Justlp says:

          Saw a story on Rachel Maddow today about Russia jamming GPS signals not only in Ukraine, but also Sweden (and Finland?) Putin is freaking out about them joining NATO.

        • Marinela says:

          I would not go by this map. It is wrong. It shows the entire country Romania labeled as Hungary, which is terrifying…

      • Dutch Louis says:

        I agree with Peter, except on the point that the authorities didn’t want to defend the border and keep it closed. In the summer of 1989 the East Germans first disappeared through Hungary that opened the border for them to Austria, and later also through the Czech Republic. In November the game fell apart not because the leaders of the GDR cooporated with the people, but because the Russians decided not to intervene and not to shoot.

    • john paul jones says:

      The Novostii “genocide manual” linked via Timothy Synder’s article explicitly mentions a western “catholic Ukraine” as a rump state (5 oblasts only) being “allowed” to temporarily exist post-war, stripped of its armed forces and forcibly “neutral.” Hard to know how much of this shite Putin actually believes, but my guess is, most of it.

      • Rayne says:

        He doesn’t believe it, he needs the Russian Orthodox Church’s support and its conferral of legitimacy on his unlawful attack on Ukraine. It’s how he masks his intent to ethnically cleanse Ukraine, by inferring Catholics are both subversive and subordinate to Russian Orthdoxy.

  12. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Another bit of hilarity from TFG, asked to respond to recent analysis from Fiona Hill, in which Hill concluded that Trump wanted to be just like Putin: “She’d be nothing without her accent,” said Trump, referring to Hill’s northern English accent.

    The ignorant and obtuse Trump doesn’t know that her accent is one reason Hill emigrated to the US. It’s a liability in class-bound, southern England-focused, Oxbridge-centered Whitehall, which would have regarded her accent as working class and uneducated, limiting the jobs and promotions open to her. Whitehall’s misogyny is another reason the highly educated, multi-talented Hill emigrated. But that’s something Trump knows all about and practices as often as he eats fast food.

  13. Sheepherding Mark says:

    Ukraine independently developing it’s natural gas reserves in the Black Sea means it can supply itself and the rest of Europe with natural gas for decades and cut out Putin who has always used European dependency on Russian gas for political leverage. It’s hard not to view that as an existential threat to the current Russian way of doing business. Development was supposed to ramp up by 2015 until Russia invaded Crimea in 2014. If so, the two choices are all or nothing.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      If Putin succeeds in cutting off Ukraine from its coastline – permanently or for a long period – it no longer has resources in the Black Sea, which belong to coastal states. Contested claims would be a legal nightmare for decades, but Ukraine’s inability to harvest those resources would be a real one.

  14. Leoghann says:

    Vladimir Putin has always been a spook and a (Russian) politician; he has never been a soldier of any rank. He is completely beholden to his “experts” for planning and advice on military activities. Those experts have learned to be yes-men; their careers and very lives depend on it. His track record is that his paranoia also keeps him from actually trusting those military advisors, and his hubris is great enough that, deep down, he is sure he knows more than any of them.

    Putin is already following Peterr Engame 1, and the dismissals and arrests are proof. But I don’t have your faith or hope that he will use all that scapegoating to make a withdrawal palatable. Many reports say that he’s become more isolated and paranoid by degrees over the past few years. I doubt that he will never allow himself to do anything that would show an admission of defeat to the outside world.

    My fear is that he will treat Ukraine like the scapegoated child in a terribly abusive household–he will pick at Ukraine, an attack here, a missile there, an assassination somewhere else, until Ukraine perishes or an authority figure like NATO intervenes. And there’s not a single European leader, except Putin or Lukashenko, who wants “started WWIII” as their legacy.

    Peterr Engame 2 is a possibility, but the gigantic military in Russia has been kept weak for a very good reason. Certain Russia experts have suggested that Putin has his fellow spooks to fear the most. His 100′ white conference table is an indication of that. Since he has heavy guard at close range, if his removal happens, it won’t be a public thing. I think he’ll just be seen less and less, except on TV, and we’ll find out later that he spent his last years locked into his tragic 1,000 room villa, crazy as Stalin.

  15. Philip Munger says:

    Peter’s diary is thought provoking and may be as accurate a prediction of outcomes in that conflict as we will read. However, this article and many others like it usually miss the point.

    We are so overpopulated that COVID-19 and its successors, the Russo-Ukraine War and its successors, the impending PRC invasion of Taiwan, likely violent border adjustments in Central America and other places are natural developments of a human species, whose ruling factions are increasingly panicked by literacy that doesn’t translate to profits or cultural controlling mechanisms for those who have taught their workers; the unpredictable rapidity of climate change, and the volatility of how societal, civil and other infrastructures actually are so rapidly corroding – even without weekly or daily Buchlas.

    I’m not saying we are fucked. I’m saying we have no idea and perhaps are incapable of understanding how truly fucked the next 77 years toward 2100 will be.

    • AB 909 says:

      Occasional poster that never remembers her name: apologies to mod.
      I agree with you and am going to throw another wildcard into that mix. The subject area that has not yet filtered through the noise is that the US DOD has admitted UAP (UFO’s formerly) are real. Read about the Gillibrand amendment to the defense budget and realize that everything referenced in it is based on information known to the DOD. And so very serious people are taking it very seriously. Perhaps this is OT, but Putin knows all about this topic. In the US it has been a secret so closely held that Presidents don’t get all the detail, but Putin does not have the same filters. So as a spice to the chaos you describe add this little gem and things get even more weird. I really wish the super smart people of Emptywheel would take up this topic though. It is not just national security adjacent. I know I will get blasted here, but if Peter or Rayne or even Marcy herself look at this in detail at all I promise your mind will be blown.

      [Welcome back to emptywheel. You’ve left at least 7 comments here since 2010 and as many usernames. I’m going to insist that you figure out how to save your username and use it every time you comment; every time you don’t it costs me time and effort to validate your identity and it shouldn’t be on us to do that if you want to participate here. Community members deserve to know and recognize regular comment contributors. The username you’ve used in two different forms — meaning most frequently — is ‘AB 909’. I am changing your username from ‘Long term lurker’ on this comment to that one; it should be easier to remember. Please use it here on forward./~Rayne]

      • Rayne says:

        We already have plenty of earthbound content to write about these days. Don’t hold your breath that we’ll go above the Kármán line unless it’s relevant to earth-based space missions.

      • P J Evans says:

        They aren’t saying that they’re aliens or anything else (that’s the point of the “U”), just that they don’t (officially) know what they are.

      • AB 909 says:

        Thank you. I understand your frustration with my lack of consistency. I appreciate the fix and reminder. And fair enough about plenty of earthbound content. But honestly if my comment makes any other person to say ‘huh, really?’ then mission accomplished. On this particular topic awareness of it and the questions that awareness generates is actually the most important point.

        • AB 909 says:

          I get it. It’s off topic and has a stigma that puts all other stigmas to shame so not an easy sell. But it is a national security topic in the open now and the surround sound on it is growing and expanding and that is just factual. But it can be ignored, for now. So I won’t comment further. I love you guys BTW. My personal mantra of ‘always listen to Marcy’ has never done me wrong even if I really wanted it otherwise. Cheers!

        • Leoghann says:

          I’d love to embed a pic here of Bill Clinton talking to The Alien, from the archives of Weekly World News.

  16. HW3 says:

    Both of these endgames seem optimistic in not allowing for eg the new general from Syria laying waste to eastern Ukraine so that separatist rebellion finally wins and then using that pacified territory maybe plus Crimea as homebase for a war of attrition with the rest of Ukraine for a while to come.

    • Leoghann says:

      Dvornikov might have the reputation as a butcher, but the troops, and people, he was butchering were far from organized, and, after that orange traitor who was in the White House turned his back on the Kurds, had no national support. In some cases, all he had to do was turn the factions against one another.

      • HW3 says:

        There is that (Ukrainians with a real organization and motivation). It seems like Ukraine needs Russia to bail before the Soviet wing of the GOP regains any power.

  17. Eureka says:

    I want to vacuum up those convoyed Russian tanks like ants, especially once they’re long and deeply committed into a given arterial. On less charitable occasions, blow them to smithereens. Checked in on some Mariupol updates — smithereens it is. This is not even war, but “war crimes” and crimes against humanity masquerading as war. Everyone alive has horrible tales to tell, same with most of the dead. A couple-few weeks ago one of the Kyiv Independent reporters posted that a doctor tending some recovered Mariupol children said they had ano-genital trauma. The oldest of these children was 10. Now, in Bucha (perhaps even via the same reporter):

    Not to neglect the atrocities of other shapes and elsewhere.

    Disgust and rage.

    End Game 3 includes others taking the decisions out of Putin’s or his underlings hands. Seriously, fuck Putin’s agency as we pretend to let him decide. Some of W/NATO’s planning includes just waiting for Putin to screw up and cross a boundary of space. But he’s already crossed all of the boundaries we said in the aftermath of WWII that no one could cross again.

    I know the current strategy is to let Putin own his stepwise choices but those vises need tightening.

    • madwand says:

      Yep, and if you noticed and I’m sure you have, in those images of trucks and tanks on the move the interval between vehicles has increased an indicator of a new change of command, and that the Russians are adapting.

        • madwand says:

          Sure drones have a place here and it does matter how widely placed you are and how lucky you are in the manner of where the blast force goes. Look at the station in Kramatorsk where the station appears to have little damage but the vehicles in front are utterly destroyed. Convoy vehicles adequately spaced will limit damage and that is true of infantry operations also when on the move.

      • CD54 says:

        Seeing images of a destroyed tanks. It’s striking how rusted some already are. Maybe just burned off paint.

        Probably a design philosophy, but what a maintenance job it must be for the entire force. I mean, the tracks and wheels. They must have to constantly polish or move around like sharks.

        Russian tank crew morale can’t be very good. What’s the relative cost for semi-autonomous tank hunting drone vs. tank?

      • Eureka says:

        Yep, sure did. And just saw that the Pentagon is entertaining sending Mi-17’s equipped to handle all that (and more).

        This after Biden today called what Putin was doing a genocide.

        • Eureka says:

          AHHHHND the helicopters now are in! This is a big deal and I feel so much better about this package with.

          2:17 PM · Apr 13, 2022

          It was funny last night, WaPo had an inset/different font banner atop the article of a type I’d never seen to super clearly correct or clarify that the mere mention of maybe Mi-17’s in an earlier version of the article would not be included. Really went out of their way. But they are now confirmed.

        • Leoghann says:

          I noticed that too. It reminded me of being in college, having a rough draft almost complete, but then not being able to decide on a title.

        • Eureka says:

          It was def something along the lines of Pentagon Source No outranks Pentagon Source Maybe … banner it is! [Striving to de-piss someone off, un-jumping an announcement.] [Or maybe the collective sigh of disappointment made a difference for today.]

          Those interested in the final package can click through Lamothe to Andrew deGrandpré’s thread with a screenshot of DOD’s list. Howitzers (with artillery — and planned training) are maybe the flashiest new item(s). Spox. John Kirby noted RU troops’ “disenchantment” and low morale, esp. among juniors, with their leaders frustrated — turns out Putin’s gov demoralizes everybody!

          As this has become a mini-material/man capabilities corner, please enjoy this soothing thread, “Let’s talk about tanks”.

          It dovetails with all the fact patterns to equal bad news for the Russian army/Putin’s aims.

        • Eureka says:

          Alex Ward of Politico tweeted the explanation per two US sources: Z had asked for them to be removed from the list so they could inspect them, so that’s when the reversal came yesterday. Today on his call with Biden, Zelenskyy asked for them so they went back into the package.

        • madwand says:

          Yeah wonder about the provenance of those MI-17s they are a rather older variant of the Mi series of Russian helicopters, so maintenance and maintenance history would be a major concern and then parts for both the helicopters and weapons systems + ammo would also be a major concern where do you get them from. Alternately training UKr pilots on American equipment such as AH-64 Apache would take a year but then if it’s going to degrade to a long drawn out affair with UKs controlling more than half the territory then perhaps it’s worth the while and also maybe in the works, not clear at this point.

          Additionally helicopters are great when you have air superiority but not so great if you don’t 4500 helicopters and many crew lost in Vietnam alone and that was considered for the most part a low level intensity war insurgency type war, so I think they would be more suited for special ops of the kind like the Russian oil hit which UKs did a week or so ago.

        • Eureka says:

          Uncle was just saying today that’s a good way to die (meaning you didn’t want to be in the copters in Nam).

          Ever seen the PBS documentary Take Me Home, Huey? [An artist patched one together from parts, painted it up with iconic symbols (pinup, playing cards, etc.). They take in on tour and healing tears (& silence & talk) ensue.]

          Aside: Russia now says the Moskva has sunk, but denies that it was due to any missile strike like Ukraine claims.

        • madwand says:

          No I’ll have to see it, thanks. As far as the Moskva I understand a lot of casualties, however my brother tells me a lot of missile launchers on the ship so a lot of ordinance also, so not surprised.

        • madwand says:

          I read enough about the PBS commentary to get a feel for it. It made me think about preflighting a D model years later in my guard unit, I noticed several doublers on the skin of the aircraft where cracks don’t normally show up. They were small and square doublers and covered bullet holes. So I went down to maintenance and went over the provenance of the aircraft and it showed that it had been hit many times and gone as far as depot maintenance for repairs. Somehow it had made it back to the US, been reconditioned and ended up in my guard unit and wasn’t one of those 4500 helicopters I reference earlier. I’ve thought many times of the battle in which that Huey received those hits and the pilots flying it at the time. Of course I cannot know. You’re comment brings me back, I’m not sure if that is good or bad.

          About the current war I thought this was a pertinent read.

        • Eureka says:

          Well (looking on the bright side), either is probably preferable to indifferent. If not in the realm of war/aftermath but from very different experience, I can relate to the profundity of intersecting in accidentally intimate ways with absent strangers who’ve been through some shit. It’s disorienting and reorienting at once, and feels like a great responsibility.

          re the doc, if anyone wishes to see it it looks like the PBS So Cal site (as opposed to general PBS site) does offer a ‘watch in app’ option: [PBS So Cal also offers “American Medevac”; the two aired together back in Oct 2017. TMH,H was on again last I saw early Nov 2018 so look for it on air ahead of Veterans’ Day, may be an annual thing.] Turns out the artist died back in early 2021.

          Thanks for the article, I’ll check it out.

          Zelenskyy with his wishlists (like the video he put out 4/13 am) tends to start with the (old) RU/Soviet versions of a given class then list the modern / W options. The other day he was asking for Smerch and up the line; today he’s going straight for the HIMARS.

          Grandfather’s btn. had one of the early T34 Calliopes back in the day and (tl;dr) they were dangerous AF; not super accurate, more scary. Materiel’s come a long way, baby.

        • madwand says:

          Concerning the accuracy of the T-34 Calliopes, it goes to the adage of “friendly fire isn’t”. As far as Zelinskyy his want list and actual get list are not similar, which if you are in the military you are familiar with, but the hope is he gets most of his list by the start of the Battle of Donbas. Then they have a chance.

          Smerch and Himars are entirely different being made in different countries, Uks are probably more familiar with Smerch than Himars or similar Western weapons, for which there would be a training window, not sure of how long.

          The article I posted gives a pretty good summary of the parameters of aggression and quote unwritten rules of engagement, so far by both Russia and US. That was written before Putin sent his consular message to the US to quit supplying Uks. How that will change the game is unknown at this time and depends on Putins actions, however we will continue to resupply Uks and that may be the hill we die on, which will lead to further expansion of the war. Thanks for replying, appreciate it.

        • madwand says:

          That would be more like a campaign with a lot of smaller battles, the upcoming Russian offensive 70,000 plus men, tanks, surface to surface missiles, and artillery thrown against the Uks defenses in the Donbas is going to be much larger corp level offensive battle, perhaps going into another phase of the campaign if the Uks are able to hold.

    • Eureka says:

      DES MOINES, Iowa —President Joe Biden on Tuesday said that Russia’s war in Ukraine amounted to a “genocide,” accusing President Vladimir Putin of trying to “wipe out the idea of even being a Ukrainian.”

      Speaking in Iowa shortly before boarding Air Force One to return to Washington, Biden said he meant it when he said at an earlier event that Putin was carrying out a genocide against Ukraine.

      “Yes, I called it genocide,” he told reporters. “It’s become clearer and clearer that Putin is just trying to wipe out the idea of even being a Ukrainian.”

      Biden added that it would be up to lawyers to decide if Russia’s conduct met the international standard for genocide, but said “it sure seems that way to me.”

      “More evidence is coming out literally of the horrible things that the Russians have done in Ukraine and we’re only going to learn more and more about the devastation and let the lawyers decide internationally whether or not it qualifies,” Biden said.

      Biden had previously said he did not believe Russia’s actions amounted to genocide, just that they constituted “war crimes.”

  18. harpie says:

    Via @alexadobrien from The TIMES [London] and Christo Grozev of Bellingcat:
    3:00 PM · Apr 11, 2022

    NEW: A “Stalinist” mass purge of Russian secret intelligence is under way after more than 100 agents were removed from their jobs and the head of the department responsible for Ukraine was sent to [Lefortovo] prison [LINK] [THREAD]

    From the article:

    All of those ousted were employees of the Fifth Service, a division set up in 1998, when Putin was director of the FSB, to carry out operations in the countries of the former Soviet Union with the aim of keeping them within Russia’s orbit […]

    Grozev said that he believed Russian security services had wasted “billions of dollars” on failed attempts to secure support from the “shady political class” in Ukraine in the lead-up to the war. […]

    • HW3 says:

      “Grozev said that he believed Russian security services had wasted “billions of dollars” on failed attempts to secure support from the “shady political class” in Ukraine”

      Giuliani’s buddies!

      Also, shades of people claiming to represent ‘legit’ governments of Iraq and Afghanistan skulking around DC looking for agency or congressional patrons.

      Although I bet ‘funding shady Ukrainians’ is just code for billions embezzled off into real estate and superyachts by friends of Putin

  19. Ddub says:

    I am struck by how clear eyed the Ukrainian people are about the war, but then it’s really no surprise. They have to know their enemy.
    Oleksy Arestovych, an advisor to President Zelenskyy predicted 3 years ago (right before the election of Zelenskyy), this entire war scenario. His prediction starts at the 8 minute mark.

  20. Epicurus says:

    I agree with EoH above. I don’t think Putin has a plan. In that sense I don’t think there is or can be any endgame. Putin is like one form of Indiana Jones: He is making it up as he goes along.

    Putin also seems much like a terribly bad existential novel. I am reminded of the end of Dead Souls by Nikolai Gogol. “And where do you fly to Russia? Answer me!….She doesn’t answer. The carriage bells break into an enchanted tinkling, the air is torn to shreds and turns into wind; everything on earth flashes past, and casting worried, sidelong glances, other nations and countries step out of her way.”

    • Peterr says:

      The novel that comes to my mind is Erich Maria Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front and its images of the brutality of war and the costs of blind nationalism.

      • Eureka says:

        Yep been wanting to reread that one for awhile and it’s acutely relevant here. Who wants ship Putin a gift copy arrange for AnnaLynne McCord to do a reading?

  21. Bobster33 says:

    People are missing the other half of the conflict, the refugees. With over 4 million external refugees, the areas around the conflict are going to become stressed. That stress is 4 million mouths requiring food, clean water and requiring waste removal. That stress may de-stabilize the governments in Poland, Romania, Hungary, Moldova, Slovakia (i.e. the countries with the most Ukrainian refugees.

    Putin may not be able to take over the Ukraine, but he can destabilize all of the governments on the periphery. Hungary has already re-elected a fascist.

    The best way to limit this conflict from escalating is to make sure the refugees have sufficient resources from wealthy NATO countries. Most of the news reports focus on strategy and combat (read the Complete Wargames Handbook by Dunnigan for Chirst sake.). If we really want to support Ukraine we need to add aid to refugees on a massive scale.

    • Silly but True says:

      Whomever it is that assists the rebuilding of Mariupol, Kharkiv, Odessa, Dnipro, Zhytomyr, and of course Kyiv, will create multigenerational goodwill with Ukraine; the kind that cements special relationships for generations.

      • Bobster33 says:

        My thought is the west should intervene and provide the bulk of the goods and money. My understanding is that the old Soviet Union has a different track width than Europe. Replacing the Ukrainian (Russian) track widths with European widths, would integrate Ukraine with the Europe.

        Since Ukraine will be very much poorer, integration with the rest of Europe could make Odessa, Mariupol and other Black Sea coastal cities as really cheap European tourist destinations.

        • Geoguy says:

          Regarding track gages, Russia and the following countries (from Wikipedia) use the 1520 mm gauge: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Mongolia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, & Uzbekistan. Estonia & Finland use the 1524 mm gauge which is mostly compatible with the 1520 mm. Most of Europe use the standard gauge, 4′-8 1/2″ except Ireland, Northern Ireland, Portugal, & Spain. Spain has been building standard gauge high speed passenger lines to be compatible with other European high speed lines.

    • pasha says:

      this is merely anecdotal, but i have american friends in poland (volunteering with world central kitchen) and a former exchange student in lviv (who has joined the territorials training as a medic). they relate that the response to the refugees has been — universally — welcoming, positive and empathetic. remember that these are mostly kids and their moms; even republicans would feel empathy

  22. Stephen Calhoun says:

    Thanks for all the discussion and back-and-forth.

    Way above my skills to have an opinion on endgames, yet, I can wonder about lots of stuff of interest (to me) in the ‘system.’ I note Ukraine is large in area and mostly very flat.

    1a. What of the rainy season, asymmetric war, and the buckwheat/sunflower/other food crops?
    1b. What of the infrastructure needed to plant and grow crops, and then distribute crops internally and externally?

    2a. Are Russian students at school in our US universities communicating the picture of war to their homes in Russia?
    2b. What of the information war from the ‘allies’ side?

    3a. Could Russia level Ukrainian cities using missiles, artillery from stand-off positions in Russia and in occupied Ukraine?
    3b. Aren’t Russian forces in the southeast occupying a long narrow line with their backs to open water?

    4. What are the consequences of Ukraine’s substantial drop in GNP?

    5. How does the UA resupply and recycle its front line positions ‘discretely?’

    Finally, I’m fascinated by the ideological (neo-traditionalist) narrative and how Putin has styled himself a messianic savior fused to a world-historical mission to restore Russia’s stature in history. Make Russia Great Again requires autocracy, (as would be required for a full bore MAGA.)

  23. Savage Librarian says:

    End Game 4: Putin really does have Cushing Syndrome. The illness increases his paranoia. Other bizarre behaviors ensue.

    He refuses to have surgery (for fear of various potentially dire consequences) to remove the tumor on his adrenal (or pituitary) gland which is causing the production of copious amounts of cortisol.

    Eventually, he has a stroke or heart attack. He’s immobilized. Someone else assumes power.

    Or, he has surgery which is successful, but the patient dies. Someone else assumes power.

    Malofeyev and Dugin are waiting in the wings, ready to assume the 30 year plan. Ukraine is definitely in this plan.

  24. gmoke says:

    Heard one talking TV military head (can’t remember who or where) saying that there’s a 15% chance Putin “wins,” gets what he can and declares victory, 15% chance that Ukraine “wins,” which probably means a return to status quo ante, and 70% chance that this grinds on like it has in Eastern Ukraine since 2014. Sounds plausible to this interested by-stander.

    What worries me most is the effects of the war continuing this year on food and agriculture around the world. A continuing conflict that reduces agricultural productivity in Ukraine and Russia for years would be disastrous for anyone who likes to eat.

    I’ve proposed an international cohort of noncombatants to start preparing and planting the black soil areas of Ukraine as a nonviolent response to this war but don’t expect anyone will take me seriously, except for possibly José Andrés of World Central Kitchen but I doubt he’ll ever hear of it.

    • Peterr says:

      It’s kind of hard to prep and plant those black soil areas when there are landmines scattered in some of them, and others under the threat of artillery and missile attacks.

      Notice where the best Ukrainian wheat production areas are: around Kharkiv, to the west of the Donbas, around Kherson, and along the coast to Odesa. Not exactly “free farming” zones. See here for USDA maps of other crops.

      • gmoke says:

        Mine clearance would be part of the prep. Nonviolence is not for cowards. Firing on an international cohort of noncombatants who are working to avoid a famine that will starve and impoverish people around the world who have nothing to do with the conflict between Russia and Ukraine would be a rather blatant outrage.

        It’s just an idea which I don’t expect anyone to undertake, one possible nonviolent intervention to prevent needless suffering which may spark someone to think of a better nonviolent alternative.

  25. harpie says:

    The FATHER of PUTIN’s Goddaughter
    2:14 PM · Apr 12, 2022

    Zelensky’s official telegram account announces that SBU caught the fugitive oligarch and Putin’s close friend Viktor Medvedchuk. Camouflage and all. [PHOTO]

    At the start of the invasion, pro-Kremlin channels were spreading the rumor that Medvedchuk had been extracted to Russia by the RU Spetsnaz. The fact he was left to be captured by Ukraine will be one more major egg on Putin’s face.

    • harpie says:

      More: 2:13 PM · Apr 12, 2022

      Breaking. Zelensky has just announced that secret services have captured Putin’s best friend in Ukraine Viktor Medvedchuk. He had been on the run. [THREAD]

      Linked in that THREAD is an article Carroll wrote in AUGUST 2018:

      The return of the godfather: How Putin’s best friend in Ukraine is staging an improbable comeback Viktor Medvedchuk counts Vladimir Putin as godfather to his daughter and his looking to put himself back on the political map [link] 8/31/18

      • Peterr says:

        Somehow, I have a hard time believing that Putin has friends. Business associates, certainly. Courtiers and hangers-on, of course. Co-conspirators in unsavory practices, naturally. But friends? I have my doubts.

        There is a large difference between Viktor proclaiming himself Putin’s friend, rather than Putin doing so. The former is a way of signalling to others, truthfully or not, “don’t mess with me, or Putin will deal with you.” If Putin has said this, though, I will admit my mistake.

        Consider this: Putin doesn’t have a 100-ft table to host 100 of his best pals to sit around after dinner to watch Chelsea v Real Madrid in the Champions League. He has it to keep the whole damn world at a distance.

        • Peterr says:

          Annnnnnnd . . . Russia responds to the arrest:

          The Kremlin has responded to the re-arrest by claiming that Putin has no special relationship with Medvedchuk.

          Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov at first suggested the photographs of Medvedchuk could be fakes and then claimed that Medvedchuk “has never had any behind the scenes relations with Russia”. If he did, Peskov claimed, he would have left Ukraine before the war began.

          Medvedchuk’s lawyer in February claimed he had escaped house arrest. But when faced with questions about him today, the Kremlin claimed it would not make any trade.

          “As for the [prisoner] exchange numerous actors in Kyiv have been talking about with so much passion, ardour and pleasure, Medvedchuk is not a Russian citizen and bears no relation to the special military operation. He is a foreign politician,” Peskov said at a press briefing.

          shorter Moscow: Viktor who?

  26. Dotscott says:

    O/T. I saw a couple of mentions about the condition of equipment being reconstituted for the Russians/Soviets from long term storage. Missing engines etc. Have you seen any confirmation of this or other current equipment reports?

    • Dirt Lane says:

      I’ve been following a retired DOD logistics professional, Trent Terlenko, for some time – he is a fascinating source of information/context on equipment and logistics in warfare. You may have to scroll to posts he made early in the invasion, but it’s worth the effort.

  27. mospeck says:

    Peter, I’m old but wonder what it feels like to be a 20 year old clueless joe in a tank when a jav comes in right straight over top, blowing the turret clean off, with your head and body parts flying off in all different directions. Neurosci says that time it slows down in these situations, like when you’re guillotined and your head sees it all in slo-mo. Advanced Western weapons sys are stacking and importantly recently Boris said the Brits are giving the antiship, cut the ship in half and send the crew to Davy Jones locker, missiles, while Slovakia is sending the old S-300s. Otherwise, sideways pretty polly Dean Baquet NYT throws in a disclaimer, reporting that Russian libs are all just abandoning ship and expatriating themselves away from Navalny
    But then just yesterday Kara Murza pulled the string, saying sorry it’s his time a 3rd strike and you’re out. And what about vlad’s meet the new boss dvornikov? Maybe the new boss gives the folks* a get out of jail free card? For this vlad might find that he may still prequalify for million million year mortgage, instead of the 7th circle… Nah
    * Politkovskaya and Protasevich and Navalny who are presently on the thorazine in the solitary. sry, my mistake, Anna, she is way well past the thorazine, but Navalny’s kid, she is channeling her
    You know you get old, but then we’re not all little girlie girls here, and sometimes you wonder back to the time to when it felt like to have those big balls and ride them waves with the no fear of death

    • Epicurus says:

      The movie The Death of Stalin with Steve Buscemi is, perhaps, a good intro to the personal autocracy process Russia seems to have internalized.

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