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Ukraine 14 - Back to the Mud


Maithanet
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Alleged Su-25 vs Su-25 dogfight over Ukraine. Some debate in the comments but it looks like the first Su-25 is a Russian aircraft having taken damage and popping flares and the second is a Ukrainian Su-25, possibly trying to get into gun range to avoid wasting missiles (or it was out of missiles).

 

 

 

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Interesting. A Chinese company making drones and drone components for both Ukraine and Russia has suspended production and will not send any equipment into the warzone for the duration of hostilities.

Excellent, detailed report (26 pages) on how the Ukrainians halted the Russian offensive and the problems Russia created for itself and its inability to deal with the way Ukraine fought (dispersing troops into small formations that they were unable to target with artillery). However, it does caution that it is likely that Russia will now use 9 May as a galvanising date to declare a larger mobilisation, despite the political risks. It is possible that Russia has not 100% committed to this and its recent diplomatic statements might be a reflection that trying to present a victorious fait accompli on whatever grounds they hold on 9 May might still be considered as an off-ramp, perhaps if negotiations resume in the meantime and look fruitful (to Russian interests). The report notes the continuing degrading of Russian equipment and the heavy dependence of the most advanced Russian technology on foreign components, and the inability of the Russian economy to switch to domestic alternatives in the short or medium term. The conclusion is that Russia is planning a third offensive for the summer after the Donbas campaign concludes, either to finish off Donbas or to take the rest of Ukraine, and that Moldova is very much in its sights afterwards.

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Some reports of a major new diplomatic effort from Turkey to get that ball rolling again. Turkey is stepping up activity in Syria and might be pushing its cooperation with Russia in Syria as a way to get Putin to consider a refreshed diplomatic effort, in concert with the humanitarian deal with the UN.

Simultaneously the Financial Times and other papers are reporting that Putin is contemplating a rapid "land-grab" campaign in Donbas and declaring victory when he pleases, without a diplomatic component. I think that confusing noise is just a sign that Russia hasn't committed itself to one course and is retaining flexibility for now, but most analysis seems to be leaning towards a longer conflict.

There's been a prisoner swap in Ankara, Turkey, with a former US Marine who's been fighting in Ukraine swapped for a captured Russian fighter pilot.

Brazil has agreed to supply Ukraine with ammunition for various weapon systems which Ukraine has or will have on hand but not the ammo (the German AA systems are lacking ammo and Switzerland has been reluctant to supply them).

Analysis of a military and intelligence rift in Russia, suggesting that there is a very hawkish element frustrated at the current pace of the war and wants to see an escalation, or an immediate withdrawal.

Interesting thread here from a Ukrainian military POV on what's going on. They note the importance of Starlink in maintaining lines of communication.

Edited by Werthead
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2 hours ago, Werthead said:

There's been a prisoner swap in Ankara, Turkey, with a former US Marine who's been fighting in Ukraine swapped for a captured Russian fighter pilot

The reporting I’ve seen now states both have been imprisoned for years by the other country.

And this has nothing to do with the current war. 
 

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-61156745

A former US marine held in a Russian jail since 2019 has been released in a prisoner swap. 

US and Russian officials confirmed on Wednesday that Trevor Reed is on his way back to the US. 

In exchange, Russia's foreign ministry secured the release of Konstantin Yaroshenko, a Russian national jailed on drug smuggling charges.”

 

 

Edited by A True Kaniggit
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50 minutes ago, A True Kaniggit said:

The reporting I’ve seen now states both have been imprisoned for years by the other country.

And this has nothing to do with the current war. 
 

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-61156745

A former US marine held in a Russian jail since 2019 has been released in a prisoner swap. 

US and Russian officials confirmed on Wednesday that Trevor Reed is on his way back to the US. 

In exchange, Russia's foreign ministry secured the release of Konstantin Yaroshenko, a Russian national jailed on drug smuggling charges.”

Damn, should have checked that one more carefully. Still, a sign that some US-Russia diplomacy is going on at the moment.

Poland is suing Gazprom for breach of contract. Interesting to see what penalties could be enacted there, since they clearly are in breach of contract.

Edited by Werthead
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6 hours ago, Werthead said:

Excellent, detailed report (26 pages) on how the Ukrainians halted the Russian offensive and the problems Russia created for itself and its inability to deal with the way Ukraine fought (dispersing troops into small formations that they were unable to target with artillery). However, it does caution that it is likely that Russia will now use 9 May as a galvanising date to declare a larger mobilisation, despite the political risks. It is possible that Russia has not 100% committed to this and its recent diplomatic statements might be a reflection that trying to present a victorious fait accompli on whatever grounds they hold on 9 May might still be considered as an off-ramp, perhaps if negotiations resume in the meantime and look fruitful (to Russian interests). The report notes the continuing degrading of Russian equipment and the heavy dependence of the most advanced Russian technology on foreign components, and the inability of the Russian economy to switch to domestic alternatives in the short or medium term. The conclusion is that Russia is planning a third offensive for the summer after the Donbas campaign concludes, either to finish off Donbas or to take the rest of Ukraine, and that Moldova is very much in its sights afterwards.

This is a good piece.  It's 19 pages long (don't need to read the appendices) and well worth it if you want a good summary of what is happening. 

It does downplay the broader economic impacts of sanctions, instead focusing on the impacts of sanctions on the Russian military directly.  I'm not sure it that is appropriate, since many of the sanctions are getting worse by the week, and it is an open question how far Russia's economy will fall.  That certainly factors in when talking about Russian support for a longer war. 

It also gives a lot of emphasis on Moldova, but there are other areas where Russia is likely to attack the NATO powers indirectly (support for Trump and other compromised politicians being perhaps the most obvious). 

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40 minutes ago, Ser Scot A Ellison said:

The Moldovan President gave a speech saying Moldova cannot defend itself…

 

If Russia invaded Moldova as an escalation of the current conflict, it's not as if Moldova wouldn't likely also get assistance from other nations, especially if it by extension helped Ukraine and thwart Russia. 

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10 minutes ago, Matrim Fox Cauthon said:

If Russia invaded Moldova as an escalation of the current conflict, it's not as if Moldova wouldn't likely also get assistance from other nations, especially if it by extension helped Ukraine and thwart Russia. 

But Ukraine had years to shape up their military after the annexation of Crimea. And even then the commonly held belief(before they started to so remarkable military success)  was that it’d get defeated relatively quickly. The west was banking on a following  insurrection to stall Russia.

Edited by Varysblackfyre321
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32 minutes ago, Varysblackfyre321 said:

But Ukraine had years to shape up their military after the annexation of Crimea. And even then the commonly held belief(before they started to so remarkable military success)  was that it’d get defeated relatively quickly. The west was banking on a following  insurrection to stall Russia.

Yes, but the forces that Russia can bring to bear in Moldova are very limited.  Russia does not share a border with Moldova. Moldova has a tiny coast on the Black Sea, but to get ships up there they would need to pass through Ukrainian waters, and would almost assuredly be bombed.  There's also no port there, unless the Russians invade through the Port of Giurgiulești further east, in which case they would be right on the border with Romania and NATO.  Russia could airlift troops in, but that is challenging to do on scale and those airplanes would have to fly through Ukraine to get there and Russia does not have air superiority over those areas.  By either ship or plane, I think Russia would be running a huge risk of losing hundreds, if not thousands of troops in any invasion force, not to mention the difficulties of supplying those troops, which would be an order of magnitude harder than the logistics problems they're facing in Ukraine.

Both Moldova and Transnistria have tiny armies (less than 10k each).  But while Moldova is small, it is not tiny (bigger than Maryland, with about 3 million people).  Russia isn't going to be able to occupy a country like that with just a few thousand troops, it's simply impossible. 

The Russian military have their hands extremely full already, and would be well served not to pack their reserve troops onto boats/planes to be easy targets for Ukrainian/Moldovan defenders. 

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12 minutes ago, Maithanet said:

The Russian military have their hands extremely full already, and would be well served not to pack their reserve troops onto boats/planes to be easy targets for Ukrainian/Moldovan defenders. 

If the Russian dictator says “go” do you think the Russian Military will decline the order?

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I keep thinking of Putin as I continue to make progress in this very big history, Hitler’s Empire (2008) by Mark Mazower. which goes down past the roots of all the weeds of all aspects of the nazi organization of everything, from agriculture, portioning out food, labor, war, administration of everything.  More and more the take away is this: authoritarian 'governments' are utter failures at doing everything except to destroy. 

Authoritarians are excellent at, and take great glee in, tearing everything to pieces, but they can't rebuild, much less rebuild.  They can kidnap, round-up, imprison, force labor, enslave labor and work it to death and they do that efficiently and with alacrity.  What they can't do is SEE they've destroyed the labor force, and now what?  But the ideology that all these people aren't people but mere commodities to work for the Reich or else useless mouths doesn't allow them to be intelligent even about not killing off everybody working in the factory.  

So the people they put in place to run industries, steal it blind, run it into the ground, and the kleptos get rich, but there is no investment in the industry or the country.  Authoritarianism appoints and hires according to ideology, not experience or knowledge, so there is failure on those planes as well.  These authoritarian sorts sure do not know or understand finance and economics, nor do they even give a damn.  They exist entirely within a fantasy universe, where what they say, whatever it is, is so. They are utterly information and fact empty.  As one example, Hitler and his favorites were forever fantasizing about much food they were going to get out of the soviet union, basing their fantasy upon numbers of what Russia had produced prior to the Revolution, and then before Hitler started the war.  They were wrong on every count.  They just pulled amounts out of their asses. (And of course in what parts of the Soviet they did control, they killed the agricultural labor, or kidnapped it to work in the Reich factories, or whatever.)

Oddly, it seems the one branch of Hitler's nazi party that nobody wanted to hire at all was the SS. No one wanted to work around or under anyone from the SS, that's how scary they were.  The SS  wanted desperately to get control of industries so they too could klepto-plunder.  Without being given an industry there was no way to get terribly rich.  They could steal at will, but that yielded nothing like plundering an industry.

 

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On 4/26/2022 at 5:40 AM, Werthead said:

Yup. The USSR was very much a collaborative exercise, with people united by their belief in the ideology (however cynical and variable that became, and nominal towards the end), which allowed a degree of wide-ranging competence in various fields (mostly during WWII and then post-Stalin, less before that time). Post-Soviet Russia has basically set about eliminating anyone with initiative, cunning and intelligence as a potential threat to the regime, meaning that the brightest sparks either keep their head down or have been eliminated.

It’s practical to have soldiers who don’t generally have to fear being murdered for being too competent at their jobs. 

Also, from my experience  Russian tankies tend to be the least interested in ideology, least the ones under the payroll. If you’re against the US or western imperialism or decadence and you want the US to cripple its global power, they’ll publicly support you whether you be a Nazi or tankie(a Nazi who wears red). 
 

4 hours ago, Ser Scot A Ellison said:

If the Russian dictator says “go” do you think the Russian Military will decline the order?

Maybe they like drinking poison tea and accidentally falling out windows/s

4 hours ago, Maithanet said:

Yes, but the forces that Russia can bring to bear in Moldova are very limited.  Russia does not share a border with Moldova. Moldova has a tiny coast on the Black Sea, but to get ships up there they would need to pass through Ukrainian waters, and would almost assuredly be bombed.  There's also no port there, unless the Russians invade through the Port of Giurgiulești further east, in which case they would be right on the border with Romania and NATO.  Russia could airlift troops in, but that is challenging to do on scale and those airplanes would have to fly through Ukraine to get there and Russia does not have air superiority over those areas.  By either ship or plane, I think Russia would be running a huge risk of losing hundreds, if not thousands of troops in any invasion force, not to mention the difficulties of supplying those troops, which would be an order of magnitude harder than the logistics problems they're facing in Ukraine.

Both Moldova and Transnistria have tiny armies (less than 10k each).  But while Moldova is small, it is not tiny (bigger than Maryland, with about 3 million people).  Russia isn't going to be able to occupy a country like that with just a few thousand troops, it's simply impossible. 

The Russian military have their hands extremely full already, and would be well served not to pack their reserve troops onto boats/planes to be easy targets for Ukrainian/Moldovan defenders. 

Yeah it’d be incredibly stupid and clearly not thought out.

But so was the entire invasion of Ukraine.

Sort of actually launching nukes I think it’s fair to make preparations for Putin to act like irrational actor once more.

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9 hours ago, Ser Scot A Ellison said:

The Moldovan President gave a speech saying Moldova cannot defend itself…

As long as their farm tractors are in good condition, they'll have a chance.

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Interesting. Russian conscripts are rejecting their extension contracts that would require them to become professional soldiers and stay in service for years on end. Some soldiers have refused to serve outright. The 106th Guards Airborne Division and 51st Guards Parachute Regiment, part of the "notionally elite" VDV airborne forces and the 423rd Motorised Rifle Regiment have refused to deploy to Ukraine.

Meanwhile, NATO has agreed to treat Sweden and Finland as NATO members during their application and ratification process.

The UN Secretary General has visited Borodyanka and Bucha and again called for an end to the conflict, saying that "the war is evil."

Britain, supported by other NATO members, has suggested that Ukraine's military objective should be to push Russia out of "all" Ukraine. The Ukrainian military has unofficially said that recovering Crimea by military means is impossible, and Luhansk and Donetsk beyond the contact line almost impossible, so this should be seen as a return to 23 February lines, which to be fair is what Boris Johnson and other national leaders said at the start of the conflict.

Russia has lodged a legal protest with the US that supplying Russian Mi-17V-5 helicopters to Ukraine violates their end-use restrictions, because they were originally destined for Afghanistan. The US has noted this was nullified because the deal was with the old, pre-Taliban Afghan government.

Ukrainian forces shelled Russian military positions in Kherson city last night. Apparently Russian forces in Kherson have advised that the city is not secure and they shouldn't try carrying out the fake referendum, but there is a political order to carry it out in the next week or two.

A cautioning note here, although I think western intelligence is already ahead of the curve and this is why support has increased recently:

However, an assessment that even mobilisation won't help them:

 

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Kazakhstan has cancelled its own May 9th victory parade and apparently refused a request to send troops to help in Ukraine. In response, some in the Russian media have renewed calls for an attack on Kazakhstan after Ukraine. This would likely not go down well with China, which has heavily invested in Kazakhstan's infrastructure.

The story of Lukashenko and Putin's relationship is kinda wild. Galeev suggests that rather than being the idiot he is often presented as, Lukashenko is cleverer than Putin and has spent over twenty years carefully balancing Belarusian independence and autonomy with the "carrot" of Belarus being absorbed into Russia proper, which would solidify Putin's reputation as "Collector of the Russian Land." However, Lukashenko has kept the rigmarole going because he doesn't want to just be the regional governor of a Belarusian oblast, but a national leader in his own right. He has even harbored ambitions of succeeding Yelstin and then Putin as President of a unified Russia-Belarus, though at 67 (two years younger than Putin) this is probably no longer realistic (if it ever was).

3.5 tonnes of cocaine bound for Russia seized in Estonia. Street value, €500 million.

Edited by Werthead
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14 hours ago, Zorral said:

I keep thinking of Putin as I continue to make progress in this very big history, Hitler’s Empire (2008) by Mark Mazower. which goes down past the roots of all the weeds of all aspects of the nazi organization of everything, from agriculture, portioning out food, labor, war, administration of everything.  More and more the take away is this: authoritarian 'governments' are utter failures at doing everything except to destroy. 

Authoritarians are excellent at, and take great glee in, tearing everything to pieces, but they can't rebuild, much less rebuild.  They can kidnap, round-up, imprison, force labor, enslave labor and work it to death and they do that efficiently and with alacrity.  What they can't do is SEE they've destroyed the labor force, and now what?  But the ideology that all these people aren't people but mere commodities to work for the Reich or else useless mouths doesn't allow them to be intelligent even about not killing off everybody working in the factory.  

So the people they put in place to run industries, steal it blind, run it into the ground, and the kleptos get rich, but there is no investment in the industry or the country.  Authoritarianism appoints and hires according to ideology, not experience or knowledge, so there is failure on those planes as well.  These authoritarian sorts sure do not know or understand finance and economics, nor do they even give a damn.  They exist entirely within a fantasy universe, where what they say, whatever it is, is so. They are utterly information and fact empty.  As one example, Hitler and his favorites were forever fantasizing about much food they were going to get out of the soviet union, basing their fantasy upon numbers of what Russia had produced prior to the Revolution, and then before Hitler started the war.  They were wrong on every count.  They just pulled amounts out of their asses. (And of course in what parts of the Soviet they did control, they killed the agricultural labor, or kidnapped it to work in the Reich factories, or whatever.)

Oddly, it seems the one branch of Hitler's nazi party that nobody wanted to hire at all was the SS. No one wanted to work around or under anyone from the SS, that's how scary they were.  The SS  wanted desperately to get control of industries so they too could klepto-plunder.  Without being given an industry there was no way to get terribly rich.  They could steal at will, but that yielded nothing like plundering an industry.

 

The Nazis’ attitude towards economics was moronic.  They thought they could get what they needed by plunder.  It never occurred to them that inflicting murder and starvation on a population meant there was no one to till the fields or work in the factories.

A great example is the French aircraft industry.  The Germans thought they’d turn out thousands of planes for the Luftwaffe.  Then they discovered that French aircraft factories depended for their power supplies on British coal.  So, they had to divert coal from the Ruhr to France, and even then, aircraft production was a fraction of its pre war level.

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