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Ukraine War: incompetence vs fecklessness


Kalbear
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1 hour ago, maarsen said:

And that is why Canada had no independent defense industry. Read up on the Avro Arrow, one of the most advanced planes of its time. 

That's not really believed any more, new research says the Arrow was just outdated for the job once the USSR switched from bombers to ballistic missiles in the 50s.

https://www.ctvnews.ca/sci-tech/what-really-happened-with-the-fabled-avro-arrow-long-secret-information-revealed-1.6567690

 

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I feel like people are really overestimating Russia's military strength and stamina.  Russia is not the Soviet Union.  They are a petrostate with a huge but shrinking stockpile of Soviet weaponry.  I know pessimism is all the rage, but Russia is nowhere near conquering all of Ukraine.  And if they somehow managed that, holding it against an angry population would be extremely difficult.  And then going further and invading Poland or Finland or something is....well beyond anything we have seen from Russia in this war.  If you want to talk about some states like Germany being unprepared for a shooting war, that's fine, but Poland and Finland are not those states. 

4 minutes ago, Erik of Hazelfield said:

Germany increasing its military spending to match its economical muscles isn’t hard to imagine, and if they do then they alone will be able to match Russia’s military power (they have similar GDPs). 

According do the IMF and UN estimates, Germany's GDP is more than twice Russia's.

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7 minutes ago, Maithanet said:

I feel like people are really overestimating Russia's military strength and stamina.  Russia is not the Soviet Union.  They are a petrostate with a huge but shrinking stockpile of Soviet weaponry.  I know pessimism is all the rage, but Russia is nowhere near conquering all of Ukraine.  And if they somehow managed that, holding it against an angry population would be extremely difficult.  And then going further and invading Poland or Finland or something is....well beyond anything we have seen from Russia in this war.  If you want to talk about some states like Germany being unprepared for a shooting war, that's fine, but Poland and Finland are not those states. 

According do the IMF and UN estimates, Germany's GDP is more than twice Russia's.

But Russia is spending 40 to 50% of its budget on the war. Can you ever see Germany spending 20% of their budget on their military to match that, short of once war has broken out? People keep talking about GDP this GDP that, and in the meantime after 2 years Ukraine still is at an 1 to 5 disadvantage in artillery ammunition, with parity not even in sight 1 year from now. All the money in the world cannot instantly produce weapons. It needs time, and Europe has been wasting 2 years of it so far.

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7 minutes ago, Job Snow said:

But Russia is spending 40 to 50% of its budget on the war. Can you ever see Germany spending 20% of their budget on their military to match that, short of once war has broken out? People keep talking about GDP this GDP that, and in the meantime after 2 years Ukraine still is at an 1 to 5 disadvantage in artillery ammunition, with parity not even in sight 1 year from now. All the money in the world cannot instantly produce weapons. It needs time, and Europe has been wasting 2 years of it so far.

No, I cannot.  But neither can Russia continue to spend 50% of its budget on military hardware for the next 5 years.  Modern economies are very robust, and there are a lot of tricks to put off having to pay your bills.  But no nation can do it forever.

EDIT:  Going further, Ukraine has not received the shells it wants, that is true.  But Germany in particular and the EU more generally has been pretty good about propping up the Ukrainian economy.  Russia has no such support. 

Edited by Maithanet
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13 minutes ago, Maithanet said:

No, I cannot.  But neither can Russia continue to spend 50% of its budget on military hardware for the next 5 years.  Modern economies are very robust, and there are a lot of tricks to put off having to pay your bills.  But no nation can do it forever.

Yet Russia keeps doing just that…

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1 hour ago, Hmmm said:

Western European NATO countries generally spent around 3 percent of annual GDP on the military throughout the Cold War. France was more like 4 percent, and the UK 5 percent. And that was with a heavy US military presence. I do not see why we can't go back to those numbers again during Cold War 2.0

Because it's adifferent world and different people run it, and because you don't have much in the way of living memory of WW2 any more - both for the horrors of that war and the accepting of the US as an overall savior. 

I'm totally willing to believe that Europe eventually can get their act together, at least some of the countries, but that's only if a lot of things go right, politics stops swinging so xenophobically AND you see European nations like France and Germany considering Russia as an actual threat to them. That's a lot of ifs; the better bet is that not happening. 

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1 minute ago, Ser Scot A Ellison said:

Yet Russia keeps doing just that…

??  I explicitly said that modern economies can put off the costs for quite a while.  I am not going to make a prediction of when Russia is no longer able to keep its economy afloat.  There are a lot of factors involved, with energy prices and war intensity at the top of the list.  Could be this year, could be next year, could be a bit longer.  But it's not something Russia can put off forever. 

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3 minutes ago, Maithanet said:

??  I explicitly said that modern economies can put off the costs for quite a while.  I am not going to make a prediction of when Russia is no longer able to keep its economy afloat.  There are a lot of factors involved, with energy prices and war intensity at the top of the list.  Could be this year, could be next year, could be a bit longer.  But it's not something Russia can put off forever. 

I heard that two years ago when the sanctions were being put in. It is absolutely true that Russia cannot do it forever; the question should not be that, however. The question is - can Russia do it long enough to outlast the West and their fecklessness? 

Because for the most part Russians aren't even suffering all that much on a day-to-day basis yet. We haven't even gotten to the point where they're having to make major sacrifices for the motherland. And boy, is the West good at underestimating how much suffering Russians will accept and pay in order to do what they think they need to in order to survive.

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12 minutes ago, Kalbear said:

Because it's adifferent world and different people run it, and because you don't have much in the way of living memory of WW2 any more - both for the horrors of that war and the accepting of the US as an overall savior. 

I'm totally willing to believe that Europe eventually can get their act together, at least some of the countries, but that's only if a lot of things go right, politics stops swinging so xenophobically AND you see European nations like France and Germany considering Russia as an actual threat to them. That's a lot of ifs; the better bet is that not happening. 

Mhm, I don't know. Foreign politics tends to be more rational than domestic politics, because it is a complex subject that most voters are not that interested in. So I think most European countries will make sane choices regarding their military forces if Trump is indeed reelected this fall. 

I agree about those nationalist parties though. A Le Pen win in particular...

Edited by Hmmm
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2 minutes ago, Hmmm said:

Mhm, I don't know. Foreign politics tends to be more rational than domestic politics, because it is a complex subject that most voters are not that interested in. So I think most European countries will make sane choices regarding their military forces if Trump is indeed reelected this fall. 

I agree about those nationalist parties though. A Le Pen win in particular...

Voters are interested in raising taxes or debt or cutting spending though. That money has to come from somewhere, and unlike the US a lot of European countries cannot just take on debt burden. Also, I don't think it's as complex as you make it; 'war == bad' is not a very difficult concept to grasp, and a whole lot of Europeans still believe that they shouldn't be spending much on the military not because it's wasteful, but because it's inherently bad to do so. 

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Russia is propping up its economy by burning up its foreign currency reserves, which at the start of the war stood at around $300 billion (actually $600 billion, but the other $300 billion has been frozen and is out of reach). Estimates seem to vary, but it looks like they might be $100 billion down on that and the rate at which they are spending has markedly increased since last summer. They could cross the halfway threshold on that figure in the next few months, if they're not there already. Some economic analysis that they are only burning through that to stabilise the economy and ensure Putin's win, but afterwards will stop doing that and if the economy crashes, he can spin that as a western attack on Russia etc rather than being his own fault.

Russian civil aviation failures continue to mount, its railway system continues to creak and the arteries of internal life in the Russian Federation continue to show signs of weakness and brittleness: massive riots at various points in the last few months in multiple oblasts, rampant crime in other areas, people refusing to be drafted, oil depots on fire, internal dissent resulting in attacks on infrastructure, Kadyrov continuing to play both ends against the middle, the ongoing brain drain. It's still quite a long way from reaching a critical mass (if it indeed ever does), but it's growing and much worse than it was two years ago. An internal Russian realignment as things snap from under the stress of the war effort is eminently possible, if not likely. ETA: just as I was writing this, a story was surfaced of students in Kazan University, Tatarstan storming out in an independence-supporting fervour after watching a TV address from the head of the "Internet Safe League." Tatarstan is really pissed off with its recent treatment under Putin.

An interesting stat: ratings for state propaganda news shows seem to be down 15-20% since the start of the war, as Russians seem less interested in political and war discussions. Of course, the blackouts across parts of Russia might be contributing to that.

Also, the Carlson/Putin interview has been roasted on Chinese social media, where people were making jokes about surrendering control of China to Mongolia and retaking all the old Chinese lands now currently held by Russia, since apparently going back to the maps of hundreds of years ago is all the rage.

Ukraine chalked up another TOS-1 today as well.

Edited by Werthead
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1 hour ago, Job Snow said:

France could have all of that... If they are willing to put their money where their mouth is and explicitly extend both conventional and nuclear protection to all of Eastern Europe. Right now France is talking the talk of wanting a European sovereign defense policy without actually defending the sovereignty of all of Europe.

Why would a European sovereign defence policy have to start with France extending protection to Eastern Europe, when it is already part of NATO? That's ridiculous.
The entire point of the French position was to not wait for the time when the US might drop the ball to develop independent European programs that would take decades to come to fruition. So that ship has sailed, I think. Now, we all pray for Biden to win, and we all pay for the consequences if he doesn't.
 

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1 hour ago, Kalbear said:

Voters are interested in raising taxes or debt or cutting spending though. That money has to come from somewhere, and unlike the US a lot of European countries cannot just take on debt burden. Also, I don't think it's as complex as you make it; 'war == bad' is not a very difficult concept to grasp, and a whole lot of Europeans still believe that they shouldn't be spending much on the military not because it's wasteful, but because it's inherently bad to do so. 

Indeed, being hamstrung by being in the Euro makes it very hard for those countries to suddenly pump more money into the military without taking it away from other spending priorities or raising taxes. Russia has a big advantage here being that it retains a sovereign currency, just like the USA. It's also very resource rich.

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One of the scariest things that is not being talked about right now is what Russian society will look like in 20 years if Putin or a like replacement continues in charge. Kids are being brought up right now in the most vile storm of propaganda. I'm disappointed by the numbers that support or just condone the invasion right now. In 20 years its going to be North Korea but with more money, nukes and other weapons.

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40 minutes ago, Makk said:

One of the scariest things that is not being talked about right now is what Russian society will look like in 20 years if Putin or a like replacement continues in charge. Kids are being brought up right now in the most vile storm of propaganda. I'm disappointed by the numbers that support or just condone the invasion right now. In 20 years its going to be North Korea but with more money, nukes and other weapons.

Given what amounts to an ongoing population implosion, there might not be much left of Russia in twenty years. 

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10 hours ago, Hmmm said:

Fair. But West Germany also had a very strong military during the Cold War. In general I do not think one should underestimate Europe too much. At least not in the medium to long term. It is true that most countries' military forces and industries degenerated greatly after the end of the Cold War. But that was because the countries in question did not feel threatened, and because if something would happen, they were sure that the US armed forces would save them anyway.

It did. But that was rather forced on by the political reality of the cold war, but it was not uncontroversial. Re-enarment was faced with lot of internal criticism. That did not really weaken over the years. You have the peace movement with the traditional Easter marches (which are these days being hijacked by the Putin lovers) for peace (and demilitarisation), you had protests against stationing US nukes on German soil (Petting not Pershing). My (admittedly more left leaning circle of friends) all opted out of military service and opted for the civil alternative, which was slightly longer but was not the military (a bit stereotypical cliche, Army, that's where the Nazis are, I don't want to hang with those folks etc. (like I said, German societies view on its military is somewhat different to the Americans, whose worship of its veterans just feels weird from the outside), well, that and the following orders military lifestyle was not that appealing (arguably the more real reason)). So for the German Green party, whose roots are enviromentalism and pacifism to go full military support is quite a shift. I think you will find very, very few men in that party that actively served in the military (pretty much mirroring this horse's view of things). Those public swearing in ceremonies, were regularly target of protests from the left.

Also on the right to the centre, you had let's cut military spending on the right to the centre in German politics. The mandatory military service was ended/phased out under a conservative goverment and minister of defense. That mandatory military service was also how the military got the bulk of the folks who signed up for the long haul in the first place.

Edited by A Horse Named Stranger
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