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Ukraine 13: Pavlov's Bellum


Lykos

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3 minutes ago, Toth said:

Meanwhile I erased that forum where I kept getting into arguments with 'pacifists' and Chinese agents from my bookmarks because it keeps wasting my time. When I write elaborate posts about the political and geostrategic situation we are facing and how I weigh my position and then get shouted down with "I STILL WAIT FOR ACTUAL ARGUMENTS! NO TO WEAPONS! YES TO NEGOTIATIONS!" for the xth time, then it's entirely pointless trying to reason with these same three users who drone on and on and on about how Putin will definitely win and we just make the Ukrainians suffer by delaying the inevitable.

Yikes.  The "Putin will inevitably win" argument was cowardly but at least had a sheen of realism to it back in January.  That argument is completely nonsense now, it is quite clear that Russia may not win, and quite possible that Russia's military will be genuinely defeated.  Right at this moment (if western intel is to be believed) Ukraine has more and better infantry, more tanks, more drones and better logistics.  In contrast Russia has...more artillery and aircraft.  I know which side I'd expect to win that fight. 

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Russia is apparently offering humanitarian aid and access for the civilians of Mariupol if the soldiers there surrender. No reply to Ukraine's offer to swap potentially thousands of Russian POWs for them, it appears.

Putin has spoken to the head of the European Council in an apparently frank exchange, though from the sound of it not as frank as the exchange with the Austrian chancellor a few weeks back. Putin has said he is happy to talk to Zelensky directly if "inconsistencies" in the Ukrainian position are ironed out. The EC head apparently gave Putin the best intelligence he has on Russian losses, to see if this accorded with what Putin has been told by his subordinates.

A Russian senior commander (the head of the Central Military District, no less) has apparently publicly said that the original plan was for Russia to cut Ukraine off from the sea and link up with Transnistria, defying the new narrative that the war has only ever been about Donbas. In a rare comment on a Western story, the Russian government said they'd "look into" the claims (I'm guessing that commander is going to have a serious discussion with them soon).

The Russians managed to blow up a bridge near Kharkiv whilst they were trying to cross it. The Ukrainians had mined it and it looked like the demining team was rushed, with fairly predictable results.

Britain and India have been discussing the situation and reportedly India has been stridently pushing for peace talks behind the scenes, Modi leveraging the good relationship he has with Putin to come to a negotiated settlement.

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In contrast Russia has...more artillery and aircraft.  I know which side I'd expect to win that fight. 

 

Having more artillery and aircraft (and better AA) is very significant and I would give the Russians a solid chance of winning that fight. However, Ukraine is currently being flooded with artillery and counter-artillery batteries, so Russia's superiority in that field is not going to last long. In addition, Russia's aerial superiority has been degraded by an apparent lack of PGM, meaning its aircraft are having to get up close and personal with dumb bombs, which will make them vulnerable again to Ukrainian AA (as we've already seen, with the loss of an Su-34 yesterday).

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1 minute ago, Maithanet said:

Yikes.  The "Putin will inevitably win" argument was cowardly but at least had a sheen of realism to it back in January.  That argument is completely nonsense now, it is quite clear that Russia may not win, and quite possible that Russia's military will be genuinely defeated.  Right at this moment (if western intel is to be believed) Ukraine has more and better infantry, more tanks, more drones and better logistics.  In contrast Russia has...more artillery and aircraft.  I know which side I'd expect to win that fight. 

For some of them the argument comes down to how Putin will just nuke them if he looses, so Ukraine should better surrender first (most of them anyway, one is just against weapons for purely pig-headed ideological reasons). I guess that argument is not entirely without merit, but it annoys me when they portray Putin's nukes as an "I win" button, completely disregarding the myriad of dangers that lie in Putin's going down such a never before trodden route of nuclear weapon use as an aggressor and it's quite notable that... well, he still hasn't nuked Kyiv yes, despite his battered remaining troops having been pulled out. So what stops him if that is indeed such a simple "I win" button as they say? Why still throwing in everything in the east, risking a complete defeat? If not for his strategy now being to take as much as he still can, claim victory and sue for peace.

Of course he could still escalate, but we shouldn't limit our options because of assumptions that Putin has lost his mind. He miscalculated, sure, but that doesn't mean he stopped calculating altogether.

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8 minutes ago, Werthead said:

Having more artillery and aircraft (and better AA) is very significant and I would give the Russians a solid chance of winning that fight. However, Ukraine is currently being flooded with artillery and counter-artillery batteries, so Russia's superiority in that field is not going to last long. In addition, Russia's aerial superiority has been degraded by an apparent lack of PGM, meaning its aircraft are having to get up close and personal with dumb bombs, which will make them vulnerable again to Ukrainian AA (as we've already seen, with the loss of an Su-34 yesterday).

I am not discounting the importance of artillery or aircraft, just saying that on balance Ukraine seems to have more advantages than Russia in a conventional war.  Russia failed in it's first attempt to crush the UA, and it isn't getting any stronger with time.  The UA is getting more and better equipment, and training up thousands of volunteers who joined in February.  The idea of Ukraine halting the Donbas offensive over the next few weeks and then going on a successful counteroffensive in the South and East does not seem at all far-fetched.   

3 minutes ago, Toth said:

Of course he could still escalate, but we shouldn't limit our options because of assumptions that Putin has lost his mind. He miscalculated, sure, but that doesn't mean he stopped calculating altogether.

I agree.  I read something a few weeks ago that Putin was being unreasonable, but not irrational. 

Putin knows (with certainty) that if he starts using nukes in Ukraine that NATO will respond.  What that response would be is not certain.  Immediately cutting off energy imports is very likely, along with any remaining sanctions that the West can do.  Conventional military attacks from NATO forces on Russian positions in Ukraine is also a real possibility.  A nuclear response is also possible, although I'm sure NATO would try to make that limited in some way.  In addition, China and India will be very unhappy about nukes flying around.  If they were to join in the sanctions, that would make any economic impacts happen swifter and harder. 

And it's not like Ukraine would just give up with a single tactical nuke.  Occupying Ukrainian territory long term would be nearly impossible after a move such as that.  Even if Ukraine was nuked into submission, then what?  Russia occupies a nuclear wasteland, Russia's economy has collapsed, and the entire world hates them.  And that's the good scenario, where the conflict doesn't spiral into nuclear annihilation. 

Putin knows that if he starts using nukes that he has lost control of the situation. 

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3 minutes ago, broken one said:

They reverse their biggest tragedy, the fall of the soviet union ;)

Are these photos from time past?  It's so difficult to assess whether a lot of this stuff is faked or not, particularly when copied over from one site to another.

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I don't know about how things work there seasonally, but it does look a lot warmer than other parts I've been seeing.  But again, I emphasize my knowledge of location and seasonal display there is non-existent.

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@Ser Scot A Ellison

Russia is a very big country. There are almost certainly fires every day. The two plants that burned are likelier evidence of their being spun up to heavy production for the first time in ages, and neglect and corruption has left them barely capable of doing that safely. This one, 

5 minutes ago, Zorral said:

I don't know about how things work there seasonally, but it does look a lot warmer than other parts I've been seeing.  But again, I emphasize my knowledge of location and seasonal display there is non-existent.

Kherson is in Ukraine, but Russia has occupied a lot of it, so these flags are all post-invasion. Don't look photoshopped to me. But we've seen Russian troops flying the Soviet flag randomly, so this isn't unprecedented as such, although this is a much more official sort of display which is rather new.

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35 minutes ago, Ran said:

Kherson is in Ukraine, but Russia has occupied a lot of it, so these flags are all post-invasion. Don't look photoshopped to me. But we've seen Russian troops flying the Soviet flag randomly, so this isn't unprecedented as such, although this is a much more official sort of display which is rather new

A Soviet flag on the back if a tank is a call for the tank crew.  The Soviet flag in front of an occupied offical government building in equal dignity to the Russian national flag… is something else… and much less casual.

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Coniferous trees don't count.  It's the grass and plants in the flower/garden beds in front of the buildings I was looking at -- which one can see in the photo on other sites.  But season change may come earlier in this particular location than in others?  Also with climate change.

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2 hours ago, Maithanet said:

Yikes.  The "Putin will inevitably win" argument was cowardly but at least had a sheen of realism to it back in January.  That argument is completely nonsense now, it is quite clear that Russia may not win, and quite possible that Russia's military will be genuinely defeated.  Right at this moment (if western intel is to be believed) Ukraine has more and better infantry, more tanks, more drones and better logistics.  In contrast Russia has...more artillery and aircraft.  I know which side I'd expect to win that fight. 

By now, the “Putin will Win” argument means “I Want Putin to Win.”

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20 minutes ago, Ser Scot A Ellison said:

A Soviet flag on the back if a tank is a call for then tank crew.  The Soviet flag in front of an occupied offical government building in equal dignity to the Russian national flag… is something else… and much less casual.

There's a lot of Soviet nostalgia among a not so small part of the Russian populace. I mean, a lot of conservatives look back to the 1980s with nostalgia, too. With Russia, there's a bit more to it. Back in the USSR (you don't know how lucky you are, boy), basically Russia+ in their view, they were a global power. They lived in perfect harmony with the other Soviet Republics and all that. [cue conservatives and their the grass was greener, the world was safer, erections were harder under Reagan shit]. Now, in Russia living standard compared to the USSR. Let's just say, Russia is not a nation of 140 milion oligarchs. 

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14 minutes ago, A Horse Named Stranger said:

 Now, in Russia living standard compared to the USSR. Let's just say, Russia is not a nation of 140 milion oligarchs. 

My understanding is that (at least prior to Feb) Russians were better off in Putin's Russia than they were in 1980s USSR.  That is a key part of how Putin has retained power the past 20 years. 

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38 minutes ago, Zorral said:

Coniferous trees don't count.  It's the grass and plants in the flower/garden beds in front of the buildings I was looking at -- which one can see in the photo on other sites.  But season change may come earlier in this particular location than in others?  Also with climate change.

That's the point, conifers do not count. I have not noticed the other stuff but yeah, the vegetation season depends on location. In southwest Poland it starts 3 weeks earlier than in northeast part of the land. The south of Ukraine, the coast and especially Crimea are pretty warm, visibly warmer than the north. The land is pretty big. From the eastern to the western border there's distance like from here to Netherlands.

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The UN Secretary General is visiting Moscow on Monday to discuss peace plans.

Today we've seen western officials saying the war could be decided in the next few weeks or still be going on in 18 months time,showing they don't really have a clue (and to be fair, neither do the Russians or Ukrainians, despite growing signs that the Russians might be happy with Donbas and bail at that point).

17 minutes ago, A Horse Named Stranger said:

There's a lot of Soviet nostalgia among a not so small part of the Russian populace. I mean, a lot of conservatives look back to the 1980s with nostalgia, too. With Russia, there's a bit more to it. Back in the USSR (you don't know how lucky you are, boy), basically Russia+ in their view, they were a global power. They lived in perfect harmony with the other Soviet Republics and all that. [cue conservatives and their the grass was greener, the world was safer, erections were harder under Reagan shit]. Now, in Russia living standard compared to the USSR. Let's just say, Russia is not a nation of 140 milion oligarchs. 

Interesting, because Putin has said that the USSR disintegrating was bad but the end of Communism was not, and he dislikes Communism and the idea of a unifying ideology for the country, because it meant people had a higher cause to believe in (the ideology) and not the individual, which was de-emphasised under Communism and allowed even venerated leaders to be criticised (albeit in Stalin's case, only after death).

Getting people nostalgic for Communism and the days of the leader being constrained (to varying degrees) by the Politburo and other instruments of government would seem to be a dubious move on his part.

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