Monday, March 7, 2022

Russia v Ukraine: Who is winning this mess of a war?

Russia on Mexico's border would be unacceptable. When the Warsaw Pact
 tried it in Cuba, it almost led to a nuclear war (Plan A) below.


   This war is entering a new phase.

   Russia really wants to avoid the bloody, high casualty infrastructure destruction type of warfare that would make Ukraine a post war rubble pile failed state (almost as bad as having NATO on your border). Instead, the invasion seeks to "reshape" the country to Russia's liking, getting rid of the Nazi militias, inflicting as little civilian casualties as possible (hence the ceasefires and opening of humanitarian corridors). Putin has lost the war perceptually in the West but he must have been prepared for the massive 24/7 propaganda campaign run against him in Western media him before he invaded; just like the one ran against him when Putin bailed out Assad in Syria. Only, this time far bigger and more hysterical.

   Militarily, the war is going as Russia plannedIt is a shame that NATO countries are sending weapons to Ukraine urging them to fight a war they cannot win and by fighting can only prolong it and lead to more death and destruction. Every Javelin anti-tank shoulder mounted weapon NATO ship to Ukraine, the further it increases the likelihood of prolonged battle and civilian casualties in a military war that cannot be won. It seems the Russians may be forced, as a Roman general once said, "To create a desert and call it peace".

   This is definitely something Putin does not want and will try everything to avoid. Russia ultimately would like to negotiate a peace with a government ideally recognized by the rest of the world and you can't do that if the country is in ruins or you've murdered millions of civilians. Hence, the opening of humanitarian corridors from every besieged city.

    However, there is the lingering question, and it's hard for me to even comprehend this but it is being asked, which is, does this thing go nuclear? A 2019 Princeton University simulation on the escalation to nuclear war called Plan A, chillingly started out as conflict in Eastern Europe. And with the hysteria being whipped up in the Western media and talks of a Western no fly zone even being discussed, one wonders if the post Covid public are being battered to demand something like this from a deranged media apparatus, which is insane unless you love dying in nuclear fire.

  This will not happen since the military part of the war is winding down.

  One large area of discussion in Western media is why it is taking so long for the Russians to capture Kiev or create a cauldron/total encirclement of the Ukrainian forces in Donbass. Let's take a look at the numbers. I don't see the slowness Western media is championing as proof that Russia is losing this war or even suffering unexpected losses.

   By the numbers...

   Russia has allegedly committed 234,000 ground troops versus Ukraine's 125,000 troops. Russia has allegedly amassed 1,200 tanks of various types, mainly T-72s and T-90s in unknown proportions. And 1500 APCs and uncountable numbers of Ural supply trucks. Against all this, Ukraine fields 620 T-64s, 100TBM Bulat's, 133 T-72s (all of it old Warsaw pact equipment) which is not going to cut it as this conflict resolves. Ukraine's air force was wiped out in the first 48 hrs. 

   Also, remember, Ukraine in area is 233,000 square miles. In Gulf War II, it took the US and its coalition partners 41 days to capture Iraq (a country of 169,000 square miles) and six days to capture Baghdad against far lesser trained troops and an obsolete army with no NATO supplied state-of-the-art ATGMs or Stinger AA missiles. And neither were the Iraqis being supplied with satellite data as I'm sure NATO is providing the Ukrainian high command. And neither did the coalition care so much about civilian casualties. So, we could only possibly call the Russian advance slow if Ukraine hasn't surrendered by sometime in mid-April.

  The Russians have used their older equipment first as a kind of cannon fodder to probe Ukrainian positions and hardpoints with the Ukrainians claiming outrageous Russian losses, like 5000 Russian troops killed. This just does not pass the smell test. For comparison, on D-Day on June 6th,1944 to 25 days later, when the Allies had fought their way off those bloody Normandy beaches and driven inland in horrible bocage country ideal for German defenders, the Allies lost a total of 2,811 men. How the Russians could have lost twice that many in one third of that time simply cannot be true. It would be impossible to hide losses of that scale in an era of camera phones and satellite monitoring. 

   Actual Russian losses are probably high by Western standards, but Russia always fights its wars with a high threshold for losses that would make Western populations riot. That was one lesson the US took away from Vietnam and rectified in Gulf War I and II. 

   In an era of camera phones, one mutilated soldier posted on the Internet can go viral and sway an entire country's thirst for war. Add a few photos of dead babies on 24hrs news channels and you can turn a sizeable portion of your population into attack dogs baying for "justice". War is a fickle and dangerous thing. The first casualty is truth. The second casualty is reason. 

  Remember the picture on the below left? That boy is Omran Daqneesh, who appeared on the front page of every Western newspaper in 2016 supposedly pulled from the rubble of a Russian air strike in Syria. It allowed NATO to launch 200 cruise missiles at Syria and Assad. Turns out, the entire thing was staged, the dust and blood were all fake and there he is fine with his dad in 2017 explaining how the Syrian "rebels" forced him to do it.

Media manipulation is disgusting and it gets people killed. It's a psy-op on one's own citizens.

   Russia has already lost the media war in Western countries in a huge way. But that is more testimony to the overwhelming power of mass media and its manipulation of the average man on the street in the West. Russia is holding its own in China and India. Both countries abstained to condemn the Russian attack at the UN Security Council. They want Russian oil and gas and have the luxury of sitting back and watching Europe implode and wait for the post war Russians to come ready to make cheap new energy deals with them.

  Russia knew the cost of taking Ukraine in advance. The US probably did too. You've got to give US intelligence credit when they predicted the attack in the weeks before. Biden may be an empty suit but the vast web of entrenched power behind him (no matter who they push in front of the cameras) was right. The US has no particular interest in fighting this war besides its weakening of Russia and its separation from Europe. A united Eurasia is always a danger to US hegemony in the West and increasing economic ties with Russia were mutually beneficial for Europe. 

   This war has now sunk the Nordstream II energy pipeline and condemned the Europeans to import the 25% of its oil and 40% of its natural gas it had been buying from Russia. Now that must come by sea from the lovely head chopping off misogynist Arabian Sheiks at a higher price and, crucially, be paid for in dollars which suits the US just fine. The US is okay with sitting back, watching the carnage and supplying some weaponry so the whole macabre show can go on longer.

   Russia has adapted its military strategy on the fly. The opening of the humanitarian corridors is another wise move. Remember, here is a map of the languages spoken in Ukraine.

Notice anything?

   Remarkable isn't it, how closely this map matches up with the territory in Ukraine almost now captured by the Russians? As we know Russia has conducted few major airstrikes on Kiev. They could easily have destroyed the government buildings were Zelensky is supposedly holed up like the way the US did in Iraq in 2003 when it shock-and-awed all of Saddam Hussein's palaces, blew up all power generation, cut off communications and squashed the city into darkness. 

   Not so in Kiev. Nope, the lights are still on, you can still walk to the supermarket and buy bread; that's if you can avoid the fighting gangster mobs who Zelensky handed thousands of AK rifles to who now seem more intent on using them to settle internecine old scores amongst each other than waste ammo using them to fight Russians.

   The humanitarian corridor and evacuation at Mariupol is being hampered by the Ukrainian Neo Nazi Azov divisions who need the 95% Russian speaking population there as human shields in case the Russians resort to artillery or bombing. These groups are funded by shady foreign money and ex oligarchs, still pissed at Putin for ending their asset stripping of the Soviet Union after its fall and lack of leadership under permanently inebriated Yeltsin during the 1990s. 

Ukrainian Azov Division. A lovely group of Nazis according to Western Media.

   Ironically, it was NATO's bombing of Serbia in 1999 which ultimately brought Putin to power. The Russian people had had just about enough of Western style "democracy" by then and Putin stepped in and was elected soon after. Sure, I'm not going to say Putin is a saint; very far from it. But neither is George Bush the Younger or Tony Blair who killed or starved a million Iraqi's and they're free men who lied their countries into a war. One now paints bad portraits on his ranch, the other made a few hundred million in backroom deals and 'speaking fees' and regularly appears on TV pushing the globalist agenda. Where were the screaming crowds or calls for assassinations of Western leaders when NATO did this to Belgrade in 1999?

Belgrade 1999. Not a holiday destination.

    When the West starts a war, it's sex.
     When Russia does it, it's rape.

   The Russian strategy of humanitarian corridors has multiple purposes beyond the one's already stated. It does allow the Russians to consolidate its logistics issues. But more importantly, Russia want's to de-Nazify the hard core Neo Nazi groups sprinkled around the country. The Ukrainian air force has been wiped out, their missile systems are neutralized and the remaining ground troops are scattered and entrenched in cities where removing them will be impossible without massive civilian casualties and infrastructure damage.

  Allowing these large humanitarian convoys from all major cities means that the Russians consider the major tactical part of this war over, with fierce mopping up operations as the only task left. If the Ukrainians had any credible military command and control structure left, why not knock out that 40-mile-long convoy of sitting duck Russian fuel, food and ammunition trucks north of Kiev? The reason is because they can't. To the extent the Ukrainian's have a strategy, I guess it is to drag the war on for as long as possible while hoping to get other countries involved.

  The Russian's strategy will remain much the same. I would imagine they will surround the cities, sit in Forward Operating Bases in artillery range of cities, allow civilians to leave hoping that the Ukrainian military and Azov divisions leave for the West of Ukraine which is primarily Ukrainian speaking, has not been attacked and can be a buffer zone of sorts. This is the same strategy the Russians used in Syria, using the Syrian Army to surround cities but not storm them allowing ISIS to trickle out to the north around Idlib province where they have more or less wilted or at least been isolated and contained. By no means am I saying this plan will work or saying I'm sure this is even the Russian plan, but it is how the Russians handled things in Syria and it worked there. Either way, the main country v country part of this war is over. The Russians have won militarily however long the fighting drags on.

   It's ugly but there's no turning back at this point.

   In the medium to long term, I would imagine a slow civilian return to their homes and some kind of internationally observed election process or, if this fails, a possible division of the country with Russian annexation of the Black Sea coast cities and all territory east of the Dnieper and Kiev. The Ukrainians may have to settle for the former Polish city of Lviv as a capital of "New Ukraine". (Of course, this is pure speculation on my part). The Russians may just take it all.

   Ugly, messy and horrific but go ahead and name a "nice war".

   As far as winners go, well it certainly isn't Russia in the short term, and it certainly isn't Ukraine. Russia will win militarily but Russian citizens will suffer from sanctions for the foreseeable future. Will this weaken Putin's control? That we cannot yet know. It will be interesting to see if business with China can make up shortfalls in consumer goods and banking and help Putin maintain public support as they weather the Western blockade. 

   Russia will now switch all of its diplomatic relations to the East, the new emerging centers of global finance, growth, manufacturing and open new pipelines for it's oil and gas to India and China and Asia in a relationship which could be mutually beneficial; Russian oil can solve China's huge weakness, it's reliance on energy imports via sea lanes which the US Blue Water Navy can blockade at any time.

Expect more pipelines East in the coming years.

  The US wins the war in the short term but they will have to consider fracking and going energy independent again in the medium term to control their own energy prices and their inflationary problems. An Iran nuclear deal, could allow Iranian oil back on world markets which would make up shortfalls. As would sanctioned Venezuelan oil. There are only so many countries you can sanction and not destroy yourself in the process.

  Europe, on the other hand, suffers another huge refugee crisis it cannot afford, massive energy inflation which results in cost-of-living expenses in an EU block already suffering vast Covid disruptions, massive pension obligations, and growing public dissatisfaction even before this war started. The ECB is not in a healthy position.  Brexit and the yellow vest movement in France have shown that an EU dominated by Germany is unstable. Couple that with dissatisfaction and lower standards of living in countries like Spain, Italy and Greece and Europe will take a further blow by this war.

    In the end, the future is unsustainable.

   In the end, we all lose.

   And as we lose, expect more war.

Monday, February 28, 2022

Russia v Ukraine: Day 6

Western media guide to tanks.

   If you've been watching this conflict through the eyes of Western media, you would be forgiven for thinking that the plucky Ukrainian Army was holding its own or even winning this war and that the Russian Army was getting owned, making little progress or surprised at the level of resistance. I've got no dog in this fight except the truth itself; not something in high demand these days but still worth mentioning. For what it's worth and due to the Fog of War, media frenzy, hyperbole, fake footage, footage from years ago and footage from the ARMA 3 PC war simulator game, I agree it's all bad. It's just impossible for the average citizen to know what's really happening in the world or in the war.

   I will try here to paint a picture of what an invasion of a country the size of Ukraine should look like, seems to look like and what we can infer through the fog because in truth, most Ukrainians in Ukraine don't even know the condition of this war/invasion once they turn off their TV.

   Before I start, there are some very striking observations to be had from watching footage that can at least be verified and that is that the Russians seem to be using a lot of their older equipment in their initial attack. I mean we're talking T-72s both A and B (which at best is 1980s tech), most upgraded with add on reactive armor, side and rear mounter cages (to defeat shaped charged shells) and makeshift tank turret roof armor consisting of cages covered in sandbags to possibly defeat the Javelin anti-tank missile every NATO country seems to be sending to Ukraine. One thing is for sure, the Russians are holding their elite divisions in reserve. It seems in the initial attack; they're using up their vast collection of Cold War machinery which was gathering rust and not viable on the export market anymore. (Except maybe in Syria where the T-72's low-tech diesel engines make them remarkably easy to repair in the field for anyone useful with a wrench). But that's a whole other story

Looks like near encirclement of the main Ukrainian army facing Donbass
and Russian probing forces to the North and West of Kiev.

   1) The Kiev Attack. Russian forces are reported to be in control of the main highway North from Kiev and are conducting probing and reconnaissance attacks to the west to attempt to seal off the Western highway. Reports of Ukrainian civilians at the border of Poland (which are certain and measurable) indicate a 20-42 hour waiting time to be processed to cross the border for people in cars, and 12-18 hours for people on foot). That's certainly horrible and a humanitarian tragedy but there are no nice military invasions. Russian forces did enter Kiev on the Western bank of the Dnieper but retreated. (Obviously a probing attack to reveal local concentrations of Ukrainian Army hardpoints). 
    Remember, the Russians have spy satellites over the entire theater as do the US who are undoubtedly feeding this information to the Ukrainian high command, but its usefulness is peripheral for the defender. There is a curfew in Kiev which means nobody on the streets, but the Russians have not cut off power, water or even Internet to the city which they could easily do via bombing. It is quite clear that they have no interest in destroying the city. In fact, five days in, I can't remember such a large war with such a minimal civilian body count. When the Western Powers invaded Iraq, they began bombing Baghdad on the first night in a "shock and awe" campaign that killed one million people when it was all over. Ultimately, the Russians will be waiting for the rapidly advancing Crimean force from the South and the North Westerly force via Chernihiv to complete the encirclement of the city. This is probably hours away. Their plan is a peaceful surrender of Ukraine via gun to Zelensky's head which will look good in the modern-day PR/social media war.

   2) The Northeast Axis. The Russians here invaded on a broad front with the ultimate aim of capturing Kharkov, the second most populated city in Ukraine, the site of a legendary battle via Germany in WWII and mostly a Russian speaking city (although speaking Russian is officially banned in Ukraine by the central government as of the coup in 2014). Kharkov has been surrounded and Russian troops have reached the city center, have met fierce resistance and retreated. Kharkov it seems will just have to remain surrounded to release the main Russian forces to advance on Kiev. Taking Kharkov by military force, leveling the city with artillery is not the Russian goal. The Russians are selling this invasion to their own people as not a Slav-on-Slav war. And with 73% of Russians supporting the invasion (who knows if such stats are true) would it matter anyway? One million people demonstrated in London against the Iraq War and the people in power took no notice. And that was in a democracy which Russia certainly is not.
    Ukrainian Army reports have confirmed that the Russian 1st Guard Tank Army and the 20th Combined Arms Army make up the bulk of the Northeast attack and are moving westward toward Kiev. Ukrainian Army defenders did capture elements of the Russian 2nd Tank Division and 138th Motor Rifle Brigade during the probing attack into Kharkov. For now, I see the Russians content to lay siege and prevent Ukrainian Army units in Kharkov from threatening the flank or rear on the main thrust on Kiev.

When will we learn?

3) Donbass Axis: This isn't complicated. The Russians are content to pin Ukrainian forces here without attacking the Ukrainian well-fortified multi echeloned defense system here. The Russians are using their well supplied battle-hardened separatist militia to keep pressure here while the Russian Army attempts to encircle them from the North and South. Again, the sheer logistics of this encirclement is probably causing the Russians problems due to logistics, supply and fuel. I would not expect anything less. Rome did not fall in a day. Western media are making this out to be some kind of failure. The military part of this attack will take some time.

4) Crimea Axis: The attack from the South is undoubtably the Russian's most successful in terms of territory quickly gained. They encountered a thin line of resistance and then broke through into open ground following the Dnieper North and East and bridging it to the West but not seeming particularly interested in moving north on the west side of the great river. West of the Dnieper of course is where Ukrainian is spoken along with Polish and Bulgarian. Not friendly country. That is not to say that anywhere in Ukraine is necessarily friendly country outside of Donetsk and Luhansk but there are shades of grey and nuance that media tends to ignore.
   A break off force of mechanized infantry is rapidly advancing and will capture or has captured Mariupol (linking Crimea with the Russian mainland via land bridge). Also, Russian forces opened the canal the Ukrainians had blocked to deny Crimea fresh water after the Russian annexation in 2014 negating the desalination plant that was hurriedly built and grossly inefficient to provide Crimeans with drinking water.
   The main force will push north and attempt to finish the complete the encirclement of Kiev from the south. The Russians are obviously hoping for a surrender once this is completed. If the Ukrainians refuse, then war just becomes diplomacy by other means.
5) Belarus Attack: The Russians have amassed a force in Belarus which is directly north of Western Ukraine. This force would drive south and likely be used to cut off shipments of arms and supplies through Poland, Slovakia and Hungary. It would also attack the city of Lviv with little restraint if surrender does not come in the next two weeks.

   Things to note as you watch or read Western media is that the Russians have released only a fraction of their conventional forces to achieve the gains they have made. The civilian body count is miniscule in an invasion of this magnitude.

   Finally, I would like to address the West's hysterical response. Obviously, there would be sanctions. But Russia has been sanctioned since the Crimean Annexation, so they are used to it. But now, the US and the Europeans (under pressure from the US) has attacked the Russian Central Bank, seizing all Russian assets and reserves in foreign banks in Western countries. In the modern world and global economy, this is about as far as you can go without using military force. Even Russia's exclusion from the SWIFT interbank payment system can be weathered. But this action by the Biden administration borders on hysteria. Even the US Federal Reserve advised the White House not to do it.


    Because with the backing of China, Russia can probably weather it and the ongoing attack on the Russian Ruble which means it'll be worth pennies versus the dollar this week doesn't mean much for the average Russian. Russia is self-sufficient in oil and gas and food. Sure, the average Russian won't be able to holiday in Ibiza, but I hear Crimea has sun baked beaches in the summer. Western hysteria is throwing the kitchen sink diplomacy; this is betting your house on a two pair in poker. The West has already done this to Iran, Venezuela, Cuba, North Korea etc but never to a G20 country. It's new territory. Russia has already cut off all flights over its mainland by Western airlines in response but not Asian or Indian airlines. 

This kills European airlines.

  The biggest loser (apart from Ukraine) in all of this is the EU and especially Germany. The Nordstream II gas pipeline is gone as are all pipelines of natural gas through Ukraine to the EU (40% of which comes from Russia) and 25% of the EU's oil from Russia just went bust. In the massive inflationary environment post Covid, this war was played shrewdly but riskily by Putin as NATO crept up to his border. He attacked now or never. History will tell if it was a good move on the grand chessboard.

  The danger of the monetary attack on Russia is the signal it sends out to countries like China, Brazil and even India. "What if I don't play ball, can the West kill my economy?" That is why the Wall Street Bankers advised against this financial attack because it encourages the creation of a non-dollar-based world economy. It breaks the Bretton Woods post WWII neoliberal/globalist agreement.

 What the bankers fear is that such action encourages a parallel system of payments without the dollar. China will gladly buy Russian oil and gas. So will others. Sanctions have not crippled Iran; in fact, they've made the population rally around its dysfunctional theocratic government.

  A lot of people have asked me, "will China attack Taiwan now?" and I'll give a tentative no. Why would they? They are the biggest winners of this war by far. The EU are commiting suicide for ideology (wouldn't be the first time) killing their economy to kill Russia's, the US has revealed itself as a paper tiger, the withdrawal from Afghanistan and total failure in Iraq being the most obvious examples but also its internal strife, riots, wealth inequality and rule by oligarchs and corporations.

  In all war games, the best move is not to play right? But as of this writing, the best outcome is peace talks as the Ukrainians realize they have no stack left at the poker table and make a deal, giving up Eastern Russian speaking Ukraine and an accord not to join NATO in exchange for non-total annihilation. There are talks scheduled in Belarus hours after this writing. The fate of at least 50,000 military men surrounded in the Donbass pocket rests on the deliberations of modern diplomats who are a bureaucrat gang that has never seen or experienced war. The President of Ukraine is a former standup comedian. I wish I was joking.

  The West and NATO have played all their cards. To a serious extent, the Russians have too. 

  And like the casino the world has become, nobody knows where the chips will fall.