Russia’s beleaguered invasion of Ukraine is resorting to ancient battle tactics of total obliteration, in the attempt to show the world some sign of accomplishment and competence. Unfortunately for Russia, it shows quite the opposite.
It is the strikes against cities that are the most alarming and upsetting aspect of this stage of the war. Their strategic effects remain difficult to gauge, but three points are worth noting.
First, a lot depends on the reaction of the population. Although it is a cliché to assume that civilians under bombardment become more defiant and learn resilience that is not invariably the case. It depends on the extent of the bombing, the prior state of their morale, and the quality of their leaders. So far, however, in this case the cliché appears to be true. Kharkiv, the city that has suffered the worst, remains defiant. This is supposedly one of the most Russophile cities in Ukraine, where the Russians hoped to trigger a popular counter-revolution to the EuroMaidan revolution of February 2014. No longer.
Second, it may be as the Russian claim that some strikes are directed against key military and government targets, but no serious effort has been made to avoid civilian death and destruction. Even if some of the targets have a tactical purpose, this may reflect another fallacy, that destroying administrative buildings or media towers really makes a big difference to a war at this stage. Ukraine is being run from Kyiv’s Metro stations and underground passageways, and on zoom calls.
Third, to make a strategic difference these attacks need to be related to other military moves. Here we come to the big choices the Russian military must make. Artillery can be used, brutally, as an instrument of urban warfare, to demoralise the defenders, to remove defensive positions and create pathways for an offence. But we know, from Stalingrad to Grozny, that defenders can fight amongst the rubble. Even at that desperate stage, urban settings remain a challenge for invading force. Units can get lost and isolated, caught in city streets, with reliable intelligence difficult to acquire. If Russian commanders want to keep their casualties down this is an uncomfortable prospect.
Furthermore, to emphasise an early point, and as we have seen in areas where Russians have moved in, presence is not the same as control. There are numerous images now of Russian troops being confronted by large crowds of angry, unarmed residents and unsure what to do. It is one thing to kill civilians from afar with artillery and missile strikes, but another to have to look ordinary people in the eye, who could be your relatives, in a street similar to your home town, and start to shoot them out of the way. Somehow if they wish to hold what they have taken, the occupying forces will have to introduce the numbers able to impose curfews and deal with protestors, while protecting themselves from ambushes.What is Russia’s Plan C?
Western news outlets are being flooded with images of Ukrainian buildings pulverized to rubble, and of weeping Ukrainian women watching as loved ones are carried away for burial. How a person reacts to such images will reveal much about what kind of person is viewing them. Some people actually believe that Putin was justified in taking these steps in the attempt to force Ukraine — to rape and pillage Ukraine — back into subservience to the will of Russia’s mafia chief of chiefs. There is no need to comment on the integrity of such persons.
More intelligent persons of experience and insight understand that Putin was provoked to war mainly by his perception that Ukraine was too weak to resist — and by his belief that no one would help her in the face of Putin’s overt nuclear threat.
Like any thuggish rapist, Putin is attracted to what he can take by force. He wants others to be impressed by his overpowering mastery of those around him.
Russian logistics in a nutshell
How Finland Trains its People to Kill Russian Invaders
If you want ordinary people to make your society occupation-proof, you have to teach them to kill well before they need to do so.
The strategist Edward N. Luttwak has proposed that countries aligned with NATO shift in this direction preemptively, as a matter of policy. Instead of buying heavy, technologically advanced equipment, Luttwak told me, they should adopt the Finnish model. In Finland, adolescent males report for a short and intense period of military training, followed by shorter refreshers for most of their adult life. The training is not, as in the Israeli model, a few years of dedicated service. Nor does it emphasize military discipline, such as keeping one’s bunk tidy and shoes polished, or the Prussian-style transformation of citizen-recruit into fighting machine. Instead, it prepares civilians to be ready to join their unit and harass and kill invaders. A country of Finland’s size can rapidly field nearly 1 million trained soldiers. “Ukraine could have done this,” Luttwak said, “and they should have.”Uncultured Outland Invaders Must Die
Russia still occupies vast lands belonging to Finland. Russia has treated ethnic Finns badly over the several decades, and if given the power Finland would be fully justified in taking its lands back.
Ukraine, on the other hand, was an independent nation long before Russia. Russia can be seen as an “offshoot” of the Kievan Rus, the original Rus. An inferior offshoot at that.
Cheap Chinese Tires Emblematic of Bogged Russian Invasion
As the eighth day of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began Thursday morning, Russian forces appeared to have gained tactical control of their first city, the southern port city of Kherson, but Ukraine is still holding out in Mariupol, Kharkiv, and Chernihiv, despite heavy shelling. Deaths are mounting on both sides.
Big explosions were heard in Kyiv overnight, but according to the British Defense Ministry’s Thursday morning update, the main body of the 40-mile-long Russian military convoy advancing on the capital remains nearly 20 miles from the city center, “having been delayed by staunch Ukrainian resistance, mechanical breakdown, and congestion. The column has made little discernible progress in over three days.”
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby gave a similar prognosis on Wednesday, saying the “stalled” column hasn’t, “from our best estimates, made any appreciable progress in the last 24-36 hours,” possibly because the Russians are “regrouping themselves and reassessing the progress that they have not made and how to make up the lost time,” but probably also due to “logistics and sustainment challenges” and “resistance from the Ukrainians.”
Trent Telenko, a retired Pentagon staff specialist and military history blogger, suggests another big reason may be Russia’s tires, as he explained in a long, illustrated Twitter thread based on photos of deserted Russian Pantsir-S1 wheeled gun-missile systems and his own experience as a U.S. Army vehicle auditor. “When you leave military truck tires in one place for months on end,” the sidewalls get brittle in the sun and fail like the tires on the Pantsir-SR, he wrote. “No one exercised that vehicle for one year.”Russia’s “On the Cheap” Invasion Reveals Deep Weaknesses
No matter how long it takes Putin to commit total destruction and genocide against the Ukrainian people, the post-mortem on this war is going to look bad for him. It will look bad for Putin, for the Russian military, for the Russian people, and for western politicians such as Biden, Merkel, and other similar slime.
Is There Anyone Who is Not Provoking Anyone Else?
Russian sleeper cells have been actively inserted into western nations since Soviet times. Russian sleeper cells continue to mesh with various terror groups inside of the US, Canada, and western Europe, providing funds and other support for riots, demonstrations, and other forms of mayhem. China works similarly through Confucian Institutes and other less public groups.
The fact that these provocations have not brought about total regime change is not for lack of trying. In this world, every nation attempts to gain advantages over its adversaries (and even over its “friends”) whenever possible.
The mentally handicapped persons who attempt to justify Putin’s bloody and primitive attacks against Ukraine on the basis of Obama’s efforts to encourage the Maidan Revolution, do not understand the difficult topic of “causality.”
To establish causality you must have the following three things. The must is really important here, and it’s the must that leads to common errors in causal inference, as I’ll explain below. The three are the jointly necessary and sufficient conditions to establish causality; all three are required, they are equally important, and you need nothing further if you have these three…
Temporal sequencing — X must come before Y
Non-spurious relationship — The relationship between X and Y cannot occur by chance alone
Eliminate alternate causes — There are no other intervening or unaccounted for variable that is responsible for the relationship between X and YBaby Steps in Causality
One can also talk about necessary cause vs. sufficient cause vs. significant cause vs. insignificant cause etc. etc. Causality is dynamic and multidirectional/multidimensional.
In most aspects of life, actual causality is far more complex than is the study of causality. But most people have not made even a rudimentary study of the topic.
The people who use the Obama/Maidan argument to justify genocide are not exactly the sharpest knives in the drawer, although it may be more accurate to blame degraded educational systems for their inability to think deeply and clearly.
Russia Survives Only for This Reason
If that prop is taken away, Russia falls in devastating fashion. Europe knows this. Biden would know it too, if he had half a brain left. But Biden is too vulnerable to the Russian blackmail machine (Hunter, etc.) to make a serious effort to stop the Russian genocide/rape on Ukraine. Even if he had half a brain left.
Europe and the west can break the addiction to fossil fuels only by the development of advanced nuclear technologies. The false promise of wind & solar is a promise only ignorant fools take seriously.
And this…this is Putin’s wet dream
Europe only escapes the slave collar by developing advanced nuclear power technologies. It has no other choice at this juncture. Not if it wants to maintain the pretense of “Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming Apocalypse.” But Europe and Davos/WEF are too stupid to see the trap.
For decades to come, Europe will need many forms of energy, including crude oil and natural gas. Accelerated development of renewable electricity generation is far from the point where such sources could provide most of the electricity needed by industries, electrified railways, and households. Renewable resources like wind and solar are inherently intermittent, and increased reliance on them will require enormous expansion of HV interconnections, longer-term storage capacities, and production of storable “green” hydrogen. Even then, there are several industrial sectors as well as aviation and shipping that won’t be electrified in the near future.
Regardless, the E.U. is determined to double down on renewables: The main component of Europe’s response to Russia’s Ukraine invasion is a pledge to cut fossil fuel use by 40 percent by 2030. But during the same number of years, between 2012 and 2020, the E.U. managed to reduce the share of fossil fuels in its primary energy consumption from 76 percent to 71 percent. What are the chances that during the next eight years it will cut the share from 70 percent to about 42 percent?Vaclav Smil, One of the Few Rational Voices on Energy in the World Today
Europe is stuck by virtue of its own overwrought ideology of “Green.” When nations feel cornered and overly-conflicted, irrationality reigns. In the case of Russia vs. Ukraine, it was Putin himself who felt cornered by Ukraine’s growing freedoms and independence from the Russian yoke. The rest of Russia could have lived with a free Ukraine, but not the long-haunted and mentally troubled Putin.
Putin has dared the west to match him nuke for nuke. He may get his wish if he continues on the present course.
More: A Sober Assessment of Putin’s War to this Point