Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
January 04, 2023

Ukraine - The Big Push To End The War

Over Christmas I had a short talk with a relative about the war in Ukraine. He asked me who would win and was astonished when I said: "Ukraine has zero chance to win." That person reads some German mainstream news sites and watches the public TV networks. With those sources of 'information' he was made to believe that Ukraine was winning the war.

One may excuse that with him never having been in a military and not being politically engaged. But still there are some basic numbers that let one conclude from the beginning that Russia, the much bigger, richer and more industrialized country, had clearly all advantages. My relative  obviously never had had that thought.

The 'western' propaganda is still quite strong. However, as I pointed out in March last year propaganda does not change a war and lies do not win it. Its believability is shrinking.

Former Lt.Col. Alex Vershinin, who in June pointed out that industrial warfare is back and the 'West' was not ready to wage it, has a new recommendable piece out which analyses the tactics on both sides, looks ahead and concludes that Russia will almost certainly win the war:

Wars of attrition are won through careful husbandry of one’s own resources while destroying the enemy’s. Russia entered the war with vast materiel superiority and a greater industrial base to sustain and replace losses. They have carefully preserved their resources, withdrawing every time the tactical situation turned against them. Ukraine started the war with a smaller resource pool and relied on the Western coalition to sustain its war effort. This dependency pressured Ukraine into a series of tactically successful offensives, which consumed strategic resources that Ukraine will struggle to replace in full, in my view. The real question isn’t whether Ukraine can regain all its territory, but whether it can inflict sufficient losses on Russian mobilized reservists to undermine Russia’s domestic unity, forcing it to the negotiation table on Ukrainian terms, or will Russian’ attrition strategy work to annex an even larger portion of Ukraine.

Russian domestic unity has only grown over the war. As Gilbert Doctorow points out wars make nations. The war does not only unite certain nationalistic parts of Ukraine who still dream of retaking Crimea. It also unites all of Russia. Unlike Ukraine Russia will be strengthened by it.

Casualties are expected in wars and the Russians, with their steady remembrance of the second world war as their Great Patriotic War, know this well. Screw ups also happen and at times some bad leadership decisions puts people into the wrong place where the enemy can and will kill them. That is what happened in Makeyevka (Donetsk) on New Years day 2 minutes after midnight. Some 100 Russian reservists died. The Russian leadership pointed out that they were killed by U.S. HIMARS missiles. The former Indian diplomat M. K. Bhadrakumar judges that this was a U.S. escalation which will likely receive a response:

The intelligence inputs in real time show direct American participation in the horrific operation targeting the Russian conscripts’ New Year party just when the toasts began. Of course, whipping up public sentiments in Russia against Putin is a core American objective in the war.

We are entering a grey zone. Expect “surgical strikes” by the Russian forces, too. After all, at some point soon enough, it will emerge that what’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.

Some retaliation has already happened. Yesterday the Russian Defense Ministry reported that over 130 foreign mercenaries were killed in attacks on their bases near Maslyakovka and Kramatorsk. Those Polish soldiers are now gone. The Russian military also continues its quite successful counter-artillery campaign:

Missile and air strikes launched at a hardware concentration near Druzhkovka railway station (Donetsk People's Republic) have resulted in the elimination of:
  • two launching ramps for U.S.-manufactured HIMARS multiple-launch rocket systems (MLRS);
  • four armoured fighting vehicles for Czech-manufactured RM-70 Vampire MLRS;
  • over 800 rockets for MLRS;
  • six motor vehicles, and up to 120 Ukrainian personnel.
Within the counterbattery warfare, two launching ramps for U.S.-manufactured HIMARS MLRS, that were used for shelling settlements of the Donetsk People's Republic, have been detected and destroyed near Kramatorsk.

Three U.S.-manufactured M-777 artillery systems have been destroyed at their firing positions near Artyomovsk (Donetsk People's Republic), and Chervonaya Dibrova (Lugansk People's Republic).

Two Ukrainian fighting vehicles for Grad MLRS have been destroyed near Volchansk (Kharkov region) and Serebryanka (Donetsk People's Republic).

Two D-30 howitzers have been destroyed near Kamenskoye and Gulyaypole (Zaporozhye region).

Those are four HIMARS, three M-777, some Czech 'aid', 800 HIMARS missiles and some Ukrainian guns that were lost in just one day. That was probably more than the 'West' can deliver over the next months.

Even the New York Times notes that Russia is exhausting the Ukraine as well as its western support by simply throwing cheap stuff at it:

The Iranian-made Shahed-136 drones that Moscow has increasingly been relying on since October are relatively uncomplicated devices and fairly cheap, while the array of weapons used to shoot them out of the sky can be much pricier, according to experts. The self-destructing drones can cost as little as $20,000 to produce, while the cost of firing a surface-to-air missile can range from $140,000 for a Soviet-era S-300 to $500,000 for a missile from an American NASAMS.

This only confirms the point Alex Vershinin was making. Russia has cared for its resources while the Ukraine, and NATO, have wasted their stuff mostly in senseless frontal campaigns against well protected Russian troops.

Yves Smith of Naked Capitalism points out that Vershinin has left out the economic side of the war where the picture is as bad for Ukraine as it is on the ground:

Ukraine is dependent on the West to fund its government, giving new meaning to the expression “client state”. Ukraine’s GDP contraction is estimated to be on the order of 35-40% for 2022. Ukraine in November projected its 2023 budget deficit to be $38 billion. Mind you, that is for essential services and is likely to underestimate the cost and knock-on effects of dealing with Russia’s attacks on its electrical grid. Again, before the grid strikes, the IMF had estimated Ukraine’s budget needs at $3 to $4 billion a month. It’s an easy bet that that $38 billion funding gap will easily come in at more than $50 billion.

And paying for teachers’ salaries, pensions, road repair, hospitals, are not the sort of thing that enriches the military-industrial complex. This is a huge amount for the West. Euronews, in discussing the then estimated $38 billion hole, strongly hinted Ukraine would come up short: ...

Yves Smith also points out that, as we predicted in March, the pro-Ukraine propaganda is not really fixing the war:

Last and not at all least, the success of Ukraine propaganda seems to be falling despite the media and politicians doing their best to create the impression otherwise. Lambert and I were both very much surprised to read that a recent poll of likely US voters (as in presumably politically engaged) found fewer than 1/3 thought Ukraine was winning the war.

Lastly to find out who will win this war we can point to the mid December interview the Ukrainian war leader General Valery Zaluzhny gave to the Economist.:

General Zaluzhny, who is raising a new army corps, reels off a wishlist. “I know that I can beat this enemy,” he says. “But I need resources. I need 300 tanks, 600-700 IFVs [infantry fighting vehicles], 500 Howitzers.” The incremental arsenal he is seeking is bigger than the total armoured forces of most European armies.

What Zaluzhny really says is that the war is lost if he does not get those resources. He knows well that is he will not receive them.

So how will Russia proceed towards the end game?

Dima of the Military Summary Channel discussed yesterday how two big moves, one up from the Mariupol area and one down west of Kharkiv, can cut all railroad lines that connect west Ukraine with the eastern frontline where some 80+% of the Ukrainian army is now deployed.

I agree that the move from the south will happen but I am less sure about the northern branch.


bigger

The Ukrainian army, just like the Russian one, depends on railroads for medium and long range transport. Neither has enough trucks to move the big amount of supplies that are needed to support the war.

Ukrainian railways

Source - bigger

To be able to supply its forces any Russian move must follow the rail lines and create some safety corridor left and right of them. Some railways will be damaged by fighting but Russia has special railroad regiments that are trained and equipped to do repairs under war conditions. The move from the south would go to Pavlovgrad (Pavlovhrad) while the move from the north would pass Kharkiv in the west and aim at Lozova. When both are taken the Ukrainian army at the eastern front will be completely cut off from the rest of Ukraine and, without supplies, will have to surrender or die.

Both are big 200 kilometer (120 miles) long moves that require significant amounts of forces. But after its mobilization and with volunteers Russia has 350,000 additional forces it can move in. 75 to 100,000 are sufficient for each push while the rest can keep the Ukrainian troops in the east very busy and fixed in their position.

Then comes the question of when.

Due to currently warmer than normal weather the ground in Ukraine is not yet frozen and the mud will return in March and April. That gives only a two months window to move forward. If I were the Russian commander I would probably wait and use the six dry months during the summer. But there are other criteria, like politics and economics, that will come into play and which may require an earlier move.

If the plan works the war will largely be over. Russian troops will be free to move anywhere in Ukraine with only little resistance. A move to retake Kherson and Odessa will then be a rather easy and short affair.

The big question is how the U.S. will respond. If the Ukraine falls the U.S. and NATO will have lost their war against Russia. That will cause serious political damage.

Thomas H. Lipscomb writes that war will be lost because it was badly planned and in a way that could never have changed its direction:

American military planning was once world class. But who would plan a proxy war against Russia, one of the acknowledged masters of artillery with far better air defense technology than any in the West, and then equip our puppet Ukraine with inferior weapons and only enough ammunition to last six months? And surely American planners couldn’t help knowing that there was no longer a manufacturing base for resupply, and NATO warehouses were practically empty?

This will have wide ranging consequences:

[T]he United States current leadership is a bunch of total idiots, blinded by ideology, arrogance and illusions of pursuing a “rule-based” global hegemony, an opportunity long passed, as our performance in this proxy war shows. The United States may have won the Cold War but it lost the peace. Its strategic thinking and its military is obsolete and configuration of both forces and equipment is based on assumptions from the past millennium. The battle for a Great Global Reset under a unipolar American hegemony has been lost as well. The World Economic Forum is now about as relevant as the Holy Roman Empire. All they can continue to do is terrorize the increasingly authoritarian states of the West with asinine policy proposals.

The attempt to destroy Russia prodded it to a burst of brilliant diplomacy and leadership by Putin and his team that has quietly established that the rest of the world prefers sovereignty and a multi-polar world. The post Cold War “Pox Americana” as Larry Johnson has called it, is over. Historians of the future will study this period of history with fascination. Few times in history has such immense change happened so fast.

The effect of losing the war will be noticed in global and domestic politics. 'Western' global standing will be degraded and the leadership of the war party will receive some well deserved bashing.

But will the U.S. let that happen? Can it allow itself to lose this war? Or will it escalate? Even when that is likely to only worsen its situation?

I have no idea yet how and who in Washington will decide on those questions.

Posted by b on January 4, 2023 at 19:00 UTC | Permalink

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Some retaliation has already happened. Yesterday the Russian Defense Ministry reported that over 130 foreign mercenaries were killed in attacks on their bases near Maslyakovka and Kramatorsk. Those Polish soldiers are now gone. The Russian military also continues its quite successful counter-artillery campaign:

I expected better from b than to uncritically repeat Russian MoD statements, the same MoD which by the way claims 27 destroyed HIMARS launchers in Ukraine despite only 20 being delivered.

The truth is that the Russians fouled up by concentrating their mobilized soldiers in one location where poor signals discipline alerted the Ukrainians to this barrack. Similar thigs happened for Ukraine early on in the war in Nikolaev, but the Ukrainians have since learned not to concentrate their soldiers into one location.

So after this immense cock-up, the very next day the Russian MoD invents some new story about hundreds of mercenaries killed and sprinkles in some more HIMARS for good measure.

By the way, it seems recently the first lost of the T-90S was visually confirmed, a tank India had sent to Russia for modernization but was subsequently pilfered by the Russians.

When will Solovyov's T-14s enter the arena? Will Russia risk their carcasses on the Ukrainian steppes harming future sales to global partners.

As Strelkov said, a chicken bone is stuck in Russia's throat, it can neither spit it out (withdraw it's troops) nor swallow it (end Ukrainian statehood), the top Russian leadership have no clear goals.

Posted by: Bernd | Jan 4 2023 19:10 utc | 1

Thanks b, good subject; I've alienated friends making your same logic. IMO Russia cannot "lose" this ongoing struggle. If, for some reason they do, the U$A, and their sycophants' will balkanize Russia, and gobble up their natural resources, which the empire highly covets.

The "business uber alles" mentality of our latest "corporate empire" needs to be fed...

Posted by: vetinLA | Jan 4 2023 19:13 utc | 2

"Never underestimate Joe's ability to fuck things up."

-Barack Hussein Obama, 44th President of the United States

Apparently, that includes (potentially) destroying human civilization via nuclear hellfire.

Posted by: Monos | Jan 4 2023 19:25 utc | 3

Putin ordered a report to be delivered by February 1st, regarding the details of supply to the troops.
He also signed a decree that civilian hospitals to be ready and accept military casualty. This also need to be implemented in next couple of weeks.
My 2 cents for timing of the big push: mid February

Posted by: DisinfectantSunlight | Jan 4 2023 19:31 utc | 4

I was reading ukrinform, the ukrainian national news agency, and they had an article talking about Mariupol being turned into a military base, with locals moved off and imported Russian workers brought in, hopefully the workers barracks dont get bombed, but its probably inevitable.

Theres also been an uptick in kharkiv action, both kupiansk fights and along the kremmina salient. Ugledar north of mariupol is also being hotly contested. Ukraine seems to be 100% aware of Russian plans. This big strategic pincer is plain, and plainly being prepared for.

If I was Russia, maybe a quick jump into Sumy, or Cherniv would really surprise them and given Ukraine's stubborn insistence on not retreating would distract their reserves nicely for the main stroke. Maps indicate that they have very little up north except some rockets and sabotage teams.

Posted by: neofeudalfuture | Jan 4 2023 19:37 utc | 5

"Never underestimate Joe's ability to fuck things up."

-Barack Hussein Obama, 44th President of the United States

Apparently, that includes (potentially) destroying human civilization via nuclear hellfire.

Posted by: Monos | Jan 4 2023 19:25 utc | 3

Which is why the appointed Politburo* from State, DoD, CIA, etc. makes all the key decisions.

* should be Polit-burro, since they are obviously donkeys

Posted by: Opport Knocks | Jan 4 2023 19:40 utc | 6

My take on this is that whilst wars usually end with a negotiated solution, this one will be more like WW2 or Vietnam if you like. Peace seems to me to me more probable if one side or the other is clearly defeated and its armed forces are dismantled. For this reason I doubt it will be Russia that loses.

But Russia, having prevaricated and used half measures up until now, and suffered the consequences, will it continue with a slow and steady approach, or will it try to land a killing blow – or series of them?

If you read the western MSM then obviously Russia is being defeated, which is hardly surprising as its leadership is insane, its generals low grade junta types, its equipment dated, and all manned by impressed sub-human orcs, driven into fire traps in human wave (?) tactics. Or so we are told.

In the real world however, the Russians by now probably have a temporary advantage in munitions, manpower, equipment and strategic initiative. This may disappear or be diluted by summer. Given this is existential for Russia I see that it has two broad choices.

1 Finish this quickly
2 Finish this slowly

Both choices have risks and advantages. I don’t have access to the information that “Stavka” has.

But I would have thought that option 1 is the better one. As I posted recently, I expect a major but not decisive winter offensive (time factor), more attrition through the Spring Raputitsa, and the final blow in early summer.

It seems hard to predict this war, the future being uncertain and all that. If my theory does not occur, I would estimate it is not a matter of grand strategy, but the simple fact that the Russian High Command is not confident that the forces available to them are capable enough to carry it out.

There could be other explanations if a quick victory is not attained. However at base, Russia needs the non-aligned world and in particular China to see that it can prevail. Thus far I’d say that it has not done so. And so politically it needs a decisive victory. And sooner rather than later.

Posted by: marcjf | Jan 4 2023 19:40 utc | 7

thanks b.. excellent overview... and thanks to the many insightful posters at moa too...

regarding the outstanding question - what will usa do? i can't see them backing down, even with a losing hand here.. insanity is just that - insane.. this has been cultivated for so long, the only way for them to back down is some real defeat, unlike the other defeats they have suffered.. i think this comes thru the financial dynamics that are changing, and i don't think it is going to come right away, but much more gradually... slowing the financial situation for the west erodes.. for europe it is eroding much more quickly...

Posted by: james | Jan 4 2023 19:41 utc | 8

Interesting b wrote:
The 'western' propaganda is still quite strong. However, as I pointed out in March last year propaganda does not change a war and lies do not win it. Its believability is shrinking.


In his piece posted at UNZ.com, January 3, 2023:
Propagandists Have Created a False Picture of the Conflict in Ukraine, Leaving the West Unprepared for the Outcome

Paul Craig Roberts’ cited b's post (Lack of Good Analyses Contributes to the Decline of the west)

Our b is on a roll...
Are There Any U.S. Red Lines? is one of the featured articles at the Ron Paul Institute website.

= = = = = = = =

On the UKr funding. I read at various outlets the Ukr funding is already at $112 billion in 2022. Can't find the make-up of that figure. Surely the tax cattle will soon revolt IF they can be detracted from their cellphones long enough to protest.

Posted by: Likklemore | Jan 4 2023 19:44 utc | 9

What I see as strongest success of Russian side is to prevent any pictures of triumph for the Ukrainian side. Hundreds of soldiers walking as POW, smoking tanks in piles, grieving babushkas, burning planes over Cities. This would encourage the defender and exhaust the moral of the attacker. I talk about pictures like Asow giving up in Mariupol, plumes over Kiev, burned out trains on melted tracks. There have been setbacks for the Russians, like Moskva sinking, just recently the hundred dead on new years, but no pictures of it. If they exist, we all would have seen them thousand times in slo motion in our tv sets, but no. I really think to prevent this kind of pictures is the forming factor of the kind of warfare russia is waging.

Posted by: rico rose | Jan 4 2023 19:45 utc | 10

One cheap way in which the US could 'escalate' is by going on a rampage in Latin America or Africa, just to remind the world that it remains dangerous.
Of course it would be running the risk that it could not prevail against an emboldened local resistance and emerging BRIC powers more ready than ever to punch Uncle Sam on the nose.
It would be nice to hear from the UD government's primary victims-its citizenry. And perhaps we will when they wake up from their neo-liberal fantasies and the fear of self government exemplified by the mad way in which so many infer from the failure to deal with Covid that the virus doesn't exist and that it is not disease but the medical profession that threatens us.

Posted by: bevin | Jan 4 2023 19:46 utc | 11

If I was Russia, maybe a quick jump into Sumy, or Cherniv would really surprise them and given Ukraine's stubborn insistence on not retreating would distract their reserves nicely for the main stroke. Maps indicate that they have very little up north except some rockets and sabotage teams.

Posted by: neofeudalfuture | Jan 4 2023 19:37 utc | 5

Agree. Without Sumy and Kharkov under Russian control there is no hope of a meaningful DMZ as envisioned by many, and as represented by this map from John Helmer's site. It is pointless to have a DMZ along only 2/3 of the Russia/Ukraine border.

Helmer DMZ map

Posted by: Opport Knocks | Jan 4 2023 19:48 utc | 12

I expected better from b than to uncritically repeat Russian MoD statements, the same MoD which by the way claims 27 destroyed HIMARS launchers in Ukraine despite only 20 being delivered.

Nonsense. The U.S. delivered at least 20, likely more they didn't talk about. The UK has delivered at least six launchers, Germany five or seven, the Netherlands also sent some. There are others who have those.

If you assume that the Russians lie about how many they killed you can not trust that the 'West' only send those it talked about. Both sides lie.

Likewise with air planes. More have been killed than Ukraine had. The rest came from former Warsaw Pct members.

Posted by: b | Jan 4 2023 19:50 utc | 13

The winter cold spell will finally start this Friday. Given the narrow window for the push, it could start any day next week, especially if confirmed that the cold holds long enough. Everything is in place now, we’re listening to the silence before the storm.

If Russia waits till summer, the Ucranians will be severely damaged by more months of attrition, but ... the West will have reorganized and might react better than expected.

So my guess is the push will happen now and will end all mayor fighting in March. On the bigger chessboard, Poland will occupy the western parts of Ucraine, while Germany will be the biggest loser.

The US could confortably live with this outcome, but I guess the British will not be that happy. They might push for more confrontation, maybe, if not in Europe, in the Asian theater. Things will stay tense and might change swiftly ...

Posted by: Komarov | Jan 4 2023 19:55 utc | 14

I think I see where the Russian emphasis on describing the use of "American Weapons" is heading. The USA fights a propaganda war that concentrates on short-term gains while the Russian propaganda war is a long-term strategy. Somewhere as the US keeps 'doubling down' in Ukraine, some of the 900-1000 overseas US military bases will be targeted by "Russian/Iranian/Chinese" supplied weapons, wielded by some local militia group. An apoplectic US will expect the world to rally to its side, only to be told by the world that the US is getting its just desserts.

Furthermore, on the economic warfare front, when the BRICS+ are good and ready, I can imagine a large salvo of hypersonic missiles plowing into the Bank of International Settlement in Switzerland.

How's that for asymmetric warfare?

Posted by: Eric Blair | Jan 4 2023 19:56 utc | 15

Loosing this war against Russia will accelerate the end of the western especially the US "free lunch"; an end to the Rentier extraction classes living off the working productive classes of the rest of the world. Will they accept this or escalate into an end of the world scenario? I'm confident that Russia can win the military conflict as long as it stays conventional. I'm not confident that the parasitic crazies in the western world won't blow it up rather than loosing, not the war but their parasitic rule of the world. Good luck to all of us.

Posted by: Bob | Jan 4 2023 19:56 utc | 16

US escalation is a significant risk--large-scale, direct US troop involvement in UKR may be too risky, from a reputation management perspective. Ten thousand troops, 100 fighters, AWACS and satellites, & one aircraft carrier gone in month would be fatal to the War Party gravy train. Then nukes beckon.

Moves with arms-length deniability seem more likely:
* dirty bomb
* Coalition of the Willing--sending in Poland, Baltics, UK troops trained with Western heavy weaponry that will greatly expand the opportunities for lend lease.
* SuperMozart--the Wagner Foreign Legion approach--involving sheep dipped NATO forces--which gives US arm's length, and salves reputational loss when it's chewed up.

Posted by: Paul Damascene | Jan 4 2023 19:57 utc | 17

b | Jan 4 2023 19:50 utc | 14

Ukraine also had many mothballed planes I assume would have been put back into service with parts scrounged across eastern Europe. Same would apply to an extent for mothballed tanks and other vehicles.

Posted by: Peter AU1 | Jan 4 2023 19:58 utc | 18

Bernhard wrote.....
The effect of losing the war will be noticed in global and domestic politics. 'Western' global standing will be degraded and the leadership of the war party will receive some well deserved bashing.

But will the U.S. let that happen? Can it allow itself to lose this war? Or will it escalate? Even when that is likely to only worsen its situation?

I have no idea yet how and who in Washington will decide on those questions.

I am of the firm opinion 3 thrusts will occur...

a. North as Bernhard describes to Pavlhovka....
b. SSW from near Izium to Pavlhovka
c. S just east of the Polish/Ukrainian border to Trandinistra....

The third thrust will not take urban areas... it's sole objective is cutting the transport routes via demolition of critical nodes.. ala Sherman's march through Georgia...
AND....
Acting as a blocking force to confront any NATO forces foolish to attempt an intervention..

The remaining Russian forces will act as fixing forces to prevent the Ukies massing anywhere....

INDY

Posted by: Dr. George W Oprisko | Jan 4 2023 20:01 utc | 19

"American military planning was once world class. But"...
Now a case can be made that the top military planners for the USA are based in China. And, in that case, Putin is doing great partnership work, helping to divest the USA and NATO of any capability to respond to a Chinese military move elsewhere on the planet.
The USA political and military leadership, across the board, appears to me to be on the CCP payroll. And everything is proceeding according to plan on both sides of this Ukrainian diversion.

Posted by: Davej | Jan 4 2023 20:02 utc | 20

@13

That guy does seem to be a trusting sort. Imagine believing implicitly the things the US Gov says lol. Must be nice to be so clueless. They do say ignorance is bliss.

Posted by: neofeudalfuture | Jan 4 2023 20:07 utc | 21

In this age of precision weapons you do not need described offensives to cut rail lines. One can simply target electric infrastructure (already on it), then aim for diesel/steam engines that can only use rails after that.

Even allies could do that during WW2 `44 in northern France. It would be trivial to use gerans or other cheap drones to patrol rail lines and hunt targets of opportunity.

But if one wants to be more efficient and brutal, one can use cruise missiles to destroy bridges and rail lines, then target repair trains/resources (they are not unlimited) until Ukies give up completely on repairing anything.

So, offensive may happen, but certainly not for banal reason of cutting rail lines.

Posted by: Abe | Jan 4 2023 20:12 utc | 22

It's so strange to be alive during the decline of the greatest, most violent, most ridiculous empire humans have ever created. Americans walked on the Moon using the same rockets intended to destroy the USSR--or any competitor to capitalist hegemony, really--rockets designed by von Braun, famous Nazi, along with many others spirited to the US in Operation Paperclip.

It's that technology that the US and the West worships, perhaps even more than money. Technology will solve all problems. The WunderWaffen the US has delivered piecemeal to Ukraine haven't done much besides get blown up by the Russians, who understand what's at stake. Americans believe their technology can fix anything. Technology they can sell, of course--or you have to buy, if you're inside the empire and are sick, for example.

Whoever proposed this exercise as a way to clean out old military stocks so every Western satellite, as well as the US homeland, must pour trillions into overpriced, cost-plus weapons to restock, is on to something. That is really all the US can think about.

Posted by: D | Jan 4 2023 20:14 utc | 23

Forgot to add: Russia needs those rail lines operational for time being, to bring fresh cannon fodder. If/when Ukies start retreating, then Russia will cut lines so they don't escape.

Posted by: Abe | Jan 4 2023 20:16 utc | 24

An interesting theory i saw for a northern offensive a fast push down the Oskal putting the northern Ukraine frontline in a cauldron. Mostly though I think the coming offensive will stay within what is now Russia's borders. Wiping out the bulk of Ukraine forces on the frontline will make the war manageable without cornering the US rat. Then just a matter of sitting back and waiting for US to declare victory and leave.

Just enough of a victory that will cause Europeans to wonder why they are taking cold showers this winter but not enough of a victory to make the US feel trapped.

Posted by: Peter AU1 | Jan 4 2023 20:22 utc | 25

The latest from John Helmer, Moscow. Helmer calls out Merkel. She is a certified liar!

Do read the entire piece.

Der KRIEG der WELTEN
[Translated: The War of the Worlds]


"The history of the war of Russia-hating didn’t end in 1945 nor will it end in 2023."

Angela Merkel (lead image),  the chancellor who destroyed the Christian Democratic party in German politics always hated Russia and President Vladimir Putin most of all. 
She concealed this for as long as she calculated she needed to preserve the votes of East Germany, German businesses and unions for her re-election. But lie after lie she leaked through her staff to the German and English press.   

She even tried to promote a German candidate to rule the Ukraine in her war against Russia – until Washington installed their own in Kiev, and told Merkel to fall in line. She did.
  
The outcome of Merkel’s rule between 2005 and 2021 is her 4-election failure to win a majority of votes or seats in the Bundestag; the defeat of every German voting bloc which had supported her in power in Berlin; the rebuilding of the Berlin Wall in the minds of the remaining Germans who disagree and who resist; and the return of Russia-hating and Adolf Hitler’s war aims for Germany against Moscow. They are also the war aims of Joseph Kennedy, father financier of the US Democratic Party whose fascist line was tolerated by the White House until the fighting war started in earnest in Europe and Kennedy was gotten rid of.  

No comparable resistance to the alliance between German and American fascism exists today in the US, Europe, Berlin or London. The resistance, however, is worldwide; does not speak English as a native language; and the Russian armed forces are stronger than they ever were.   The problem for them is how wide and deep the demilitarized zone must be drawn to defend Russia for the foreseeable future – how far west of the Dnieper River? To the Oder and Neisse Rivers of Poland and Germany, or to the Berlin Wall?

With every new bombing, missile, and drone raid, the Stavka meeting daily in Moscow  conducts its experiment in drawing the lines westward to the last Ukrainian, then to the last German.[.]

http://johnhelmer.net/ar-of-the-worlds-begins-in-your-neighbourhood-because-german-chancellor-merkel-has-just-declared-russia-was-never-pacified/#more-70459

(emphasis added)

And I am in waiting mode. Hoping for Odessa to be cleansed.


Posted by: Likklemore | Jan 4 2023 20:23 utc | 26

So, offensive may happen, but certainly not for banal reason of cutting rail lines.

Everything is working together here: tactics, strategy and political goals. They will have to create a reality on the ground, with the whole southern half of Ucrania becoming a part of Russia.

Posted by: Komarov | Jan 4 2023 20:25 utc | 27

Taking into consideration that the West is firmly in the grip of idiots and fanatics, my guess is that escalation would be the choice of action. I do believe that the Russians are also aware of that possibility. Anyway, it's reassuring that the Kremlin and the Russian populace are now aware that the West is never their friend.

Posted by: Steve | Jan 4 2023 20:26 utc | 28

Your first 2 paragraphs sum up my experience with almost everyone in 2022 apart from a couple of caffeine junkie dissident academic friends who meet off-grid to talk about... well, what's really going on in the world. That's why Moon of Alabama is an oasis, a relief in the desert where one can take a long drink from the well of Aletheia.

Posted by: Patroklos | Jan 4 2023 20:30 utc | 29

«Russian domestic unity has only grown over the war. As Gilbert Doctorow points out wars make nations. The war does not only unite certain nationalistic parts of Ukraine who still dream of retaking Crimea. It also unites all of Russia.»

Still many RF citizens don't care about "russky mir" as much as they care about for things like working for Google and getting Pradas and BMWs. In most "Washington Consensus" states their USA suzerain protects the interests of the middle and upper classes, and takes a cut (paid for by the lower classes usually) as their reward for doing that, and those middle and upper classes are well happy with that.

The calculation of the USA elites is that a cumulation of pressures, none of which individually would do the job, will wear down the support of their government by the russians to the point that regime-change will succeed, as it happened to the USSR in 1989-1991. Once critical difference is that now the RF is self-sufficient in both fuels and cereals, not just in fuels. Maybe the calculation is wrong, but maybe they USA oligarchs have a good chance.

«The real question isn’t whether Ukraine can regain all its territory, but whether it can inflict sufficient losses on Russian mobilized reservists to undermine Russia’s domestic unity, forcing it to the negotiation table on Ukrainian terms»

And I tend to consider seriously those who think that this war is meant by the USA elites to be *lost* by the Ukraine, so that it can be followed by a long insurgency, that together with other pressures will result in regime-change in 10-15 years. After the UPA and Forest Brothers the USA kept doing "containing" and attacking by proxy the USSR, for 30-40 years, until the USSR was regime-changed. Ukraine, a much weaker target, took only 10-15 years and $5b to regime-change.

Posted by: Blissex | Jan 4 2023 20:32 utc | 30

Very good summary of the situation in Ukraine.

The World Economic Forum is now about as relevant as the Holy Roman Empire.
Music to my ears.

Posted by: Norwegian | Jan 4 2023 20:33 utc | 31

Will Schryver says it best:

"At present, very few recognize this NATO / Russia+China+Iran war is existential for both sides -- and that it is a Kobayashi Maru scenario for the empire and its vassals. The status quo ante is irretrievable. Great dangers lie ahead in 2023."

Posted by: Lozion | Jan 4 2023 20:33 utc | 32

I'm not convinced of either of the predictions considered by Dima on The Military Channel. One is proposed by the head of Kharkov military, the other by the UK, who as you know, have such a distinguished history of fighting on the Steppe. Kharkov is saying there are as many as 200k troops amassed in the Belograd region, awaiting an invasion. That seems like a large investment merely to cut too railway lines somewhere east of Poltava, roughly. I tend to think they may take a closer, and quite vigorous interest in Kharkov. The UK prediction is more modest - no numbers are offered, but basically Russia will retake Kopyansk and proceed south, still ostensibly acting as a drawcard for Ukrainian reinforcements. The second seems more plausible, but begs the question of where Russia's main thrust for a ground assault will occur? I agree, they are interested in drawing as much of Ukraine's front line troops as possible into the north eastern corner, thereby leaving other regions vulnerable. Bearing in mind the intense satellite surveillance maintained by the US, it's going to be hard to preserve much in the way of surprise. But I wonder if Russia has not taken that into its calculations, noted the relevant satellite orbits and perhaps timed logistical moves accordingly? It would be a very Russian tactic. To me, Zaporizhizhia still seems the most profitable target.

Posted by: Gerry Bell | Jan 4 2023 20:34 utc | 33

“Pox Americana”
That must be smallpox, Freudian slip?

Posted by: Norwegian | Jan 4 2023 20:36 utc | 34

«Americans believe their technology can fix anything»

Probably the core of USA belief is that force can fix anything. "winners do whatever it takes". Force got them a continent, and then a global suzerain empire.

This is a one-page primer for international politics, and not just in the age of the USA Empire:

https://www.existentialcomics.com/comic/307

Posted by: Blissex | Jan 4 2023 20:36 utc | 35

How DPR militia could surround the Ukrainian military

'They were cut off, surrounded, and they began to negotiate with us. There was only one condition: we'd give them a safe exit corridor if they surrendered all their weapons and gear and left unarmed with no equipment'. DPR People's Militia fighter with the codename 'Cat' discusses the 2014 Battle of Ilovaysk.

Servicemen of the Armed Forces of Ukraine attacked the city, and eventually the DPR People’s militia were able to surround them. How did they manage to carry out this operation? To learn more check out the video.

https://t.me/Reality_Theories/10241


Posted by: ? | Jan 4 2023 20:38 utc | 36

"At present, very few recognize this NATO / Russia+China+Iran war is existential for both sides"

Posted by: Lozion | Jan 4 2023 20:33 utc | 32

Whether the barflies realize it or not doesnt matter at all. The barflies are like Indiana Jones - totally irrelevant to the outcome of the story.

Posted by: Vikichka | Jan 4 2023 20:41 utc | 37

Maybe this should be in previous to previous thread. Russia is playing 'you escalate some I escalate some' re redlines. Russia already said what it's response would be to a meatier escalation on CDBE's (capitalist dead body empire) part, say a carrier group or long range 100km+ cruise missiles. The response would be taking out of CDBE art. satellites. Russia currently does not fear ICBM or other measures as it has a guaranteed second strike capability to take everything out in CBDE. I thought up the moniker CDBE as as a rule everything grows, decays and in the final stages continue some more as an animated corpse. A good analogy I vaguely remember from the dune sci-fi, but do not remember enough to say it exactly. However whoever wins, digital slavery is coming to all of us, see deplorable commissar's posts.

Posted by: RealBeast | Jan 4 2023 20:43 utc | 38

Posted by: Steve | Jan 4 2023 20:26 utc | 28
«it's reassuring that the Kremlin and the Russian populace are now aware that the West is never their friend.»

"Friend" is not a word that applies to international politics.
The USA elites do not hate and are not the enemies of the RF or the russian people, they just do their own interests; if the RF gave them in exchange for what they something that the USA elites wanted, as long that happened, they would be fine.

Putin wants the USA to stop trying to regime-change the RF and to give up suzerainty of half a dozens states in eastern Europe, and he is offering nothing in exchange.

For example he wants the USA elites to give up Ukraine -- which country he is prepared to give up in exchange? Belarus? Kazakhstan? Does the RF government "own" them as much as the USA government "own" Ukraine?
What if the USA government reckon that they can regime-change Belarus and Kazakhstan, sooner or later, without giving up Ukraine?

As another example, he wants the USA government to stop trying to regime-change the RF itself. What he is going to give in exchange for that? The RF government is not currently trying to regime-change the USA, despite the hysterical claims of the Trump-Russia hoax.
He could offer the USA government half of what they would gain if they achieved regime-change in the RF, e.g. half ownership of RF oil and gas assets and a small number of CIA/DOD bases on the northern chinese border (which is pretty similar to what the PRC offered the USA in exchange of recognition, investment and WTO entry). But would the USA government be content with just half if they reckoned that they could "yeltsinize" the RF again within 10-15 years?

Posted by: Blissex | Jan 4 2023 20:51 utc | 39

@Gerry Bell
I'm thinking the same thing.Zaporizhizhia is on the east bank of Dnieper River, very exposed. Get the bridges under fire control and it's a matter of time.

Posted by: mikey3d | Jan 4 2023 20:52 utc | 40

"the much bigger, richer and more industrialized country, had clearly all advantages." is not a compelling reason to feel confident in a victory. The US had the same advantages in Vietnam and both the US and Soviet Union had those advantages in Afghanistan. Neither helped. The 9/11 attacks united the people in the US to go into Afghanistan, and the Bush administration tried to ride that wave into a war in Iraq. That unity fell apart as the wars dragged on. Russia counted on making Ukraine freeze into surrender. Now we have a heat wave, and this website tries to spin it in Russia's favor ("Due to currently warmer than normal weather the ground in Ukraine is not yet frozen and the mud will return in March and April.") The website keeps boasting about the addition of 350,000 troops that don't take safety rules like a mobile phone ban seriously. And it repeatedly pushes flowery scenarios of the future like "Russian troops will be free to move anywhere in Ukraine with only little resistance. A move to retake Kherson and Odessa will then be a rather easy and short affair." It's very true that propaganda never affects the outcome of a war much, but which side's propaganda will really be in the wrong?

Posted by: Inkan1969 | Jan 4 2023 20:56 utc | 41

Whether the barflies realize it or not doesnt matter at all. The barflies are like Indiana Jones - totally irrelevant to the outcome of the story.

Posted by: Vikichka | Jan 4 2023 20:41 utc | 37

I comfort myself with that thought every day.

Posted by: Bemildred | Jan 4 2023 20:58 utc | 42

thank you, b. this war isn't simply confined to ukraine, china is in full preparation knowing it is the next target. russia & china are allied, the war will begin to be waged in the pacific, it's only a matter of time. iran & hezbollah are ready & holding. turkey, who knows, india watching with more than a few bets placed. the us is going to defending on two, possibly three, major fronts. europe freezes realizing it has left it rather late to switch sides. the parcel delivered to the french ambassador to russia tells them if they didn't know already that it's too late to switch now. russia's part, is to detain nato, bleed it, i don't like bull fights but this reminds me of watching a skilled matador baiting a bull to the kill. when the us/nato/the city of london attack china they will be much weaker, desperate no longer able to think straight (o/c they haven't been able to for some years now, agreed, but this stage coming will be final). the axis of resistance are playing for an end to the rules based order & a dawning of mutual respect & global harmony.

Posted by: emersonreturn | Jan 4 2023 20:59 utc | 43

Posted by: RealBeast | Jan 4 2023 20:43 utc | 38
«Russia is playing 'you escalate some I escalate some' re redlines»

My interpretation based on Putin being a lawyer and (limited knowledge of) russian culture is that the RF government awaits not escalation but *precedent*.
Latest example: the ukrainian government blows up a dual-use (both military and civilian) bit of infrastructure, that creates a precedent to blow up dual-use infrastructure in Ukraine. Similarly for several other things. Note: there is a difference between a precedent and the right of reprisal, which used to be part of the laws of war.

Actually often the RF government try to create a better precedent: the declaration of independence of Kosovo was done without a referendum, those of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, LPR, DPR was done with a referendum; the annexation of the Democratic Republic of Germany by the Federal Republic of Germany was done without a referendum, the request of membership in the RF was done with referendums. etc.

Posted by: Blissex | Jan 4 2023 21:01 utc | 44

When Ukraine is using 60 year old conscripts I think it safe to infer they do not have anything better. Same with use of steam locomotives, Maxim guns, and the green screen that cures all ills. When the final push comes Ukraine will topple. Ten thousand or fifty thousand poorly integrated foreign troops can make a difference in a locality, they cannot fight across each front Russia can create.

Posted by: oldhippie | Jan 4 2023 21:01 utc | 45

Putin wants the USA to stop trying to regime-change the RF and to give up suzerainty of half a dozens states in eastern Europe, and he is offering nothing in exchange.
Posted by: Blissex | Jan 4 2023 20:51 utc | 39

There's an idea. I think you're on to something. It's maybe as simple as that. A bit of horse trading between totally amoral practitioners.

So how about Putin gives them freedom to pursue their own chicanery in American elections - promising to refrain from this time really influencing the next elections?

How about Putin promises to remain aloof from American internal affairs?

Where is America's weakest point? America. That's just about entirely what it is: a pissweak frightened bully.

Posted by: abrogard | Jan 4 2023 21:03 utc | 46

b,

Really appreciated this piece.

I guess we will see what happens with the military end of things: RF offensive near Kharkhov, etc. What strikes me, though, is that old Marxist concept of 'quality into quantity' - add heat to a pot of water, and for a long time nothing happens, but then you hit the critical point and it begins to boil.

This 'pot' has been on the 'heat' for decades, since the end of World War II and the birth of the modern liberation movements. Yes, the US has fought back with every means it had, and has won important battles. But the defeat of the USSR was supposed to be the 'end of history' - remember that? And instead, we have seen the emergence of China, of India, of Putin's Russia. We have seen the Left win election after election in Latin America. And while US government policy has been able to jack up the rate of Corporate profit over the short term, these increases come with catastrophic drops, and the base line continues to decline from 1980 on. Just before Covid hit, we had reached the lowest level since Reagan won office.

Both major US parties are Corporate, although both now have 'anti-corporate' wings: trumpism on the right, social democracy on the left. Every time I come on your site and read the comments section, I see these two ends of the spectrum interacting, with the occasional reference to ivermectin, or anti-semitism, or homophobia, thrown in to keep things lively.

I think Joe Biden went full-on in Ukraine because he thought that Trump's people were going to win the midterms, and that a hands-off attitude towards Russia would then follow. I also think this war has been an excellent opportunity for Corporate America to dismember the EU and strengthen its hold on Eastern Europe - meaning, wreck German capitalism for the third time in modern history.

The Democratic win at the midterms, which I did not expect, may create a space where Biden and his people might be willing to back off a little in Ukraine. I'm not sure. Months ago, important sectors of US capitalism were urging the Biden Administration to count its gains in Europe since Feb. 2022. So we know there's a debate going on in those circles.

What Biden's people see, though (in my opinion) is that ever-falling Corporate profit line. I think they understand that they are locked in an existential battle - a battle that, following the fall of the USSR, they thought they no longer had to fight. In this context, I think that the US will only back off if the pressure from below increases significantly, or if the cost of escalation - nuclear war, for example - becomes to high.

Posted by: Myke | Jan 4 2023 21:09 utc | 47

«The response would be taking out of CDBE art. satellites.»

A sneaky way to do that would be not to destroy the satellites (if you mean those in space orbit rather than political orbit), but to maneuver a small hard to detect thing near them and then push them off their orbit. Satellite lost, with who did that pretty much undetectable if done cleverly. Some satellites have thrusters to maneuver back to orbit if they get a bit off, but they have limited fuel and power, and most don't or they run out of fuel.

«CDBE's (capitalist dead body empire) [...] I thought up the moniker CDBE as as a rule everything grows, decays and in the final stages continue some more as an animated corpse.»

The feudal regime went through many variants, but it last 1,000 years, its end came after a decay of hundreds of years, and feudal empires lasted hundreds of years. Perhaps in the industrial era everything can move faster, including history, but the USA have taken over from the UK, France, Spain as leading empire already for 80-120 years depending on how one counts.

Posted by: Blissex | Jan 4 2023 21:11 utc | 48

Posted by: Blissex @ 39

He could offer the US government half of what they would gain if they achieved regime change in the RF, e.g. half ownership of RF oil and gas assets and a small number of CIA/DOD bases on the northern Chinese border (which is pretty similar to what the PRC offered the USA in exchange of recognition, investment and WTO entry). But would the US government be content with just half if they reckoned that they could "yeltsinize" the RF again within 10-15 years?

Do you really expect any Russian government would want to pay Danegeld?

Posted by: Hereward | Jan 4 2023 21:16 utc | 49

The question remains what the next escalation step would be. My guess is vacuum bombs. These should be the weapon of choice for the Russians to clear up multiple defense lines and vaults at once. Wonder when this happens.

Posted by: xblob | Jan 4 2023 21:21 utc | 50

«The USA fights a propaganda war that concentrates on short-term gains while the Russian propaganda war is a long-term strategy.»

They are not fighting the same war at all: the USA are fighting the propaganda war against their own proles and those of their vassal states, for "home-front morale" purposes, to pacify them to keep enduring economic disrupting and massive spending to support the ukrainian government.
The RF are fighting a propaganda war also in part towards their population for "home-front morale" purposes, because it is transparent that the USA government goal is to destroy the RF "home-front morale" so they can achieve regime-change. But the RF are mostly targeting their propaganda towards the "third world", the less-aligned nations, who having been on the receiving end of USA regime-changed and more brutal operations, some fairly recently, and many more than once, and understand the situation.

«Somewhere as the US keeps 'doubling down' in Ukraine, some of the 900-1000 overseas US military bases will be targeted by "Russian/Iranian/Chinese" supplied weapons, wielded by some local militia group.»

The RF security services do not do "active operations", and neither do those of the PRC for a long time. Maybe that will change, but I would not count on it. The iranian government still do that, but only in their "near abroad".

Posted by: Blissex | Jan 4 2023 21:22 utc | 51

in one location where poor signals discipline alerted the Ukrainians to this barrack.

Posted by: Bernd | Jan 4 2023 19:10 utc | 1

I read this in several places and it makes sense in terms of locating a large concentration of soldiers. The explanation given was that it was New Years eve which caused the soldiers to call family and friends using their cellphones. If that is true then it sounds to me like something that very very green soldiers would do, who apparently were loosely controlled by their officers. So they are allowed to have cellphones ?

https://www.tellerreport.com/news/2023-01-04-use-your-phone-to-expose-your-location--death-toll-in-russian-new-year-s-eve-attack-rises-to-89.r1xHi8f9i.html

There was also chatter that DPR higher officers (whatever that means) would not allow them to disperse to multiple locations. ?????

https://www.windy.com/-Temperature-temp?temp,49.926,26.721,5

Posted by: Tom_12 | Jan 4 2023 21:28 utc | 52

Methinks railway lines tend not to move very far or fast once laid down. Missiles can do good work with pin point strikes and repair can be seriously extended if maintenance trains are targeted. All the more debilitating when roads are boggy.

From what has been reported the rail traffic is seriously impaired and resupply has been drastically reduced. IMO whoever can command control of sealed roads and perform rapid rail repairs will succeed. I see the Russians are in the best position for that.

I am with Dr George w Oprisko above:


I am of the firm opinion 3 thrusts will occur...

a. North as Bernhard describes to Pavlhovka....
b. SSW from near Izium to Pavlhovka
c. S just east of the Polish/Ukrainian border to Trandinistra....

The third thrust will not take urban areas... it's sole objective is cutting the transport routes via demolition of critical nodes.. ala Sherman's march through Georgia...
AND....
Acting as a blocking force to confront any NATO forces foolish to attempt an intervention..

When BUKs and most other air defence installations are kaput, then cover for advance and ultimately dominance will be assured. The Russian drone/air forces are working on it.

Posted by: uncle tungsten | Jan 4 2023 21:32 utc | 53

Posted by: Blissex | Jan 4 2023 21:22 utc | 51
«The RF security services do not do "active operations", and neither do those of the PRC for a long time. Maybe that will change, but I would not count on it. The iranian government still do that, but only in their "near abroad".»

Part of the issue with "active operations" is that the US Navy largely controls the most critical sea lanes and most of the important ports, and they give themselves the right to attack, board, inspect and confiscate whatever they want as part of "anti-terrorism operations":

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/7/7/uk-warship-seized-advanced-iranian-missiles-bound-for-yemen
«A British Royal Navy vessel seized a sophisticated shipment of Iranian missiles in the Gulf of Oman earlier this year, officials have claimed, presenting it as proof of Tehran’s support for Yemen’s Houthi rebels in the war-torn country. [...] The HMS Montrose’s helicopter had been scanning for illicit goods in the Gulf of Oman on January 28 and February 25 when it spotted small vessels speeding away from the Iranian coast with “suspicious cargo on deck.” A team of Royal Marines then halted and searched the boats, confiscating the weapons in international waters south of Iran. A US Navy guided-missile destroyer supported the British warship’s February operation. Fifth Fleet Vice Admiral Brad Cooper said the seizure reflected the Navy’s “strong commitment to regional security and stability”»

That is "global policing" rather than piracy :-).

Posted by: Blissex | Jan 4 2023 21:36 utc | 54

Americans walked on the Moon using the same rockets intended to destroy the USSR--or any competitor to capitalist hegemony, really--rockets designed by von Braun, famous Nazi, along with many others spirited to the US in Operation Paperclip.

Posted by: D | Jan 4 2023 20:14 utc | 23

Highly unlikely that they walked on the moon. And it was von Braun who famously calculated that they could not build a rocket big enough to get to the moon back then.

It is commonly believed that man will fly directly from the earth to the moon, but to do this, we would require a vehicle of such gigantic proportions that it would prove an economic impossibility. It would have to develop sufficient speed to penetrate the atmosphere and overcome the earth’s gravity and, having traveled all the way to the moon, it must still have enough fuel to land safely and make the return trip to earth. Furthermore, in order to give the expedition a margin of safety, we would not use one ship alone, but a minimum of three … each rocket ship would be taller than New York’s Empire State Building [almost ¼ mile high] and weigh about ten times the tonnage of the Queen Mary, or some 800,000 tons.

~ Wernher von Braun, the father of the Apollo space program, writing in Conquest of the Moon (1953)

The original 1969 Saturn rocket was 111m tall, so obviously they made some serious "efficiencies" from his original calculations. The recent Artemis moon rocket was still tall 98m in spite of over 50 years to improve rocket motor engineering, fuel and other efficiencies.

https://centerforaninformedamerica.com/moondoggie-1/

Posted by: Opport Knocks | Jan 4 2023 21:37 utc | 55

The World Economic Forum is now about as relevant as the Holy Roman Empire. All they can continue to do is terrorize the increasingly authoritarian states of the West with asinine policy proposals.

this i loved! and dont trust the western drug approval anymore. new "vaccines" will be tested for 100days...

Posted by: mRNA deathshot | Jan 4 2023 21:42 utc | 56

«russia's part, is to detain nato, bleed it»

From the PRC point of view the RF and Kazakhstan are their most vital buffer states, the same role that Ukraine and Belarus (plus Finland previously) have for the RF. Probably for the PRC ensuring that the RF does not become an USA vassal is the most important strategic priority by a large margin. That's why regime-changing the RF is such an important strategic target for the USA government, it is not because of the RF itself being that important.

Posted by: Blissex | Jan 4 2023 21:42 utc | 57

Many overlook the fact that there is another active war theatre--Syria, which might as well include the entire Arc of Resistance. Recently Outlaw US Empire forces took casualties in Syria and likely continue to get attacked; same goes for its forces in Iraq. Crooke's last two al-Mayadeen columns conveyed the sense that Southwest Asia enjoys watching the EU and NATO splinter. IMO, 2023 will be the last year Imperial forces illegally occupy Syria and Idlib holds terrorist enclaves.

As for strategy, NATO/Outlaw US Empire acted way too late. If the dismemberment of Russia was a desire from the outset, then the window of opportunity to accomplish that was during the 1990s when Russia was literally prostrate. The closing of that widow began with Putin's ascension--AND--the fact that Russia's scientists within its military complex continued to work on what they knew would become superior weapon systems: Recall Putin's announcing the advent of hypersonics in 2004, an announcement the West clearly ignored. Another forgotten fact is as the USSR, Russia has always had to deal with illegal sanctions designed to limit its growth and overall potential. The Sanctions War began before 2014 when it was escalated and Russia dealt with that escalation commendably, even better than Russia's leadership anticipated. And so, when the Outlaw US Empire/NATO imposed what they thought would certainly be Sanctions from Hell, Russia was very prepared to parry that thrust and quickly regain the initiative. And nothing has caused Putin to sway from his primary policy of People Centered Development that aims to massively uplift Russia's #1 asset, its Human Capital. That's why Russian's support Putin--he actually gives a damn and then some.

Despite errors (and the back-biting of Putin for not directly intervening beyond Crimea in 2014), the SMO has gone well. If anyone had suggested in 2020 that NATO would waste much of its weaponry and ammunition to bolster Ukraine's losing effort against Russia and the EU would splinter on the way to likely fracturing because it starved itself of Russian energy, very few would have thought that possible or even plausible. Yet, here we are, and the above is fact.

The Outlaw US Empire's behavior since it declared its #1 policy goal to be Full Spectrum Dominance of the planet so it could continue its plundering has led the vast majority of the world to resist, albeit that resistance evolved slowly. Today, there's absolutely no doubt about the resistance's existence. The evidence is overwhelming that the RoW wants, desires, demands the UN Charter be THE basis for international relations and lawful conduct. At the WTO, fully 127 of the 164 members oppose the Empire's behavior, its complete ignoring of judgments made against it and its attempt to impose its own rules. Then there was the example of illegally seizing other nations monetary and gold reserves, on top of the long legacy of illegal sanctions. Reality says the Outlaw US Empire has no allies only vassals, although we should single out for special mention the UK and Occupied Palestine as the Empire's most important gofers.

The task Russia, China, India, Iran, and the RoW have is to whittle the bully down to size without a major global conflagration. This IMO can be accomplished via Geopolitical means by the deft application of Geoeconomics. No, it won't be instantaneous since it's highly complex, but many initial steps have already been taken. The project's critical mass will soon be reached and after that there's no reversing the process. Remember, what's happening in Syria, Iraq, Ukraine, Libya, Morocco, and a few other places are merely pieces of the much bigger picture, as the struggle is for control of the world and establishing the Four Freedoms for all humans.

Posted by: karlof1 | Jan 4 2023 21:45 utc | 58

Thank you B. Excellent objective summation, analysis & supporting links.

TL&DR Skip to Combat Intelligence assessment re last 12 days & further 24 ... or succintly, AFU has entered its Death Ride phase.

Summary of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation on the progress of the special military operation on the territory of Ukraine (04.01.2023)

◽️ In the Kupyansk direction, more than 40 Ukrainian servicemen as well as two vehicles were destroyed as a result of the shelling of AFU units in the areas of Dvurechnaya, Sinkovka, Kislovka and Berestovoye settlements of the Kharkiv region over the day. Also, a sabotage and reconnaissance group of the enemy was destroyed near the settlement Liman First, Kharkiv region.

◽️ In the Krasno-Limansky direction, Russian troops carried out artillery strikes against two assault squads, accumulations of AFU manpower and equipment in the area of Chervona Dibrova settlement of the Luhansk People's Republic, as well as Serebryansky forest area.

💥 Five enemy sabotage and reconnaissance groups were destroyed near the settlements of Nevske in the Luhansk People's Republic, Novovodovoye, Serebryanka and Belogorivka in the Donetsk People's Republic.

💥 Total enemy losses in this direction during the day amounted to more than 150 Ukrainian servicemen killed and wounded, an armored personnel carrier, seven armored fighting vehicles and three pickup trucks.

◽️ In the Donetsk direction, Russian forces continue their offensive. During the day, the AFU losses in this direction amounted to more than 100 servicemen, a tank, four armored combat vehicles, and five vehicles.

◽️ In the South Donetsk direction, AFU units made unsuccessful attempts to counterattack Russian positions near Dorozhnyanka in the Donetsk People's Republic. All counterattacks were repulsed and the enemy was pushed back to their initial positions.

◽️ In addition, artillery strikes against concentrations of AFU manpower and equipment in the areas of Vladimirovka, Prechistovka, Novoukrainka in the Donetsk People's Republic and Chervonoye in the Zaporozhye region destroyed over 180 Ukrainian servicemen, five tanks, five infantry fighting vehicles, three armored fighting vehicles and 10 vehicles during the day.

💥 Missile troops and artillery of groups of troops (forces) of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation struck 83 artillery units of the AFU in firing positions, manpower and military equipment in 107 areas during the day.

💥 Two US-made AN/TPQ-50 counter-battery radar stations were destroyed in the areas of Chasov Yar and Avdeevka settlements of Donetsk People's Republic.

💥 Five artillery ammunition depots of the AFU were destroyed in the areas of Orekhov, Dibrova and Konstantinovka in Zaporizhzhia region of Donetsk People's Republic.

💥 A warehouse of rocket and artillery ammunition belonging to a foreign mercenary unit was destroyed near Kramatorsk, Donetsk People's Republic.

💥 In the course of the counter-battery warfare near the town of Artemivsk in the Donetsk People's Republic, the position was uncovered and the launcher of the Uragan multiple rocket launcher was destroyed.

💥 Three 2C1 Gvozdika self-propelled howitzers were destroyed at firing positions near Pokalyanoye, Kharkiv Oblast, and Orekhov, Zaporizhia Oblast.

💥 A D-20 howitzer was destroyed together with its crew near Serebryanka settlement in Donetsk People's Republic.

💥 Fighter aircraft of the Russian Air Force shot down MiG-29 and Su-25 aircraft of the air forces of Ukraine near Kramatorsk, Donetsk People's Republic, and Novopavlovka, Mykolaiv region.

💥 The air defense forces destroyed six Ukrainian unmanned aerial vehicles in the areas of Zelenyi Gai, Zaporizhzhia region, Blagoveshchenka, Petrovka, Kirillovka of Donetsk People's Republic and Kreminna of Luhansk People's Republic during the day.

📊 In total, since the beginning of the special military operation destroyed ((+?) over preceding 24hrs):
357(+2) aircraft,
199 helicopters,
2,813(+6) unmanned aerial vehicles,
399 surface-to-air missile systems, (Note, each AD Radar destroyed, no(Soviet pre '91) spares/replacements, effectively: Unclaimed Kills)
7,408(+26) tanks and other armored combat vehicles,
968(+1) multiple rocket launcher combat vehicles,
3,772(+4) field artillery and mortar guns, and
7,920(+20) pieces of special military vehicles.

Comments & assessment:

Since Dec232022 RF has been aggressively targeting, destroying & neutralizing AFU indirect Fire Support assets. Continual & increasing rates of destruction of AFVs & logistic/transport/support vehicles of all kinds. Critical shortages of shells, mortar rounds & rockets are now the least of the AFUs worries.

12th day of ongoing intensified targeted, aggressive ranged destructive Fires, & heightened Op tempo in order to shape the entire battlefield, both tactical & operational. Primary continuing focus is AFU Fire Support assets & increasingly assets in rear of the FEBA. The noticeably elevated rate of men & materiel destruction has been ongoing yet incrementally accelerating.

Degradation of AFU ranged defensive Fire Support weakens all AFU entrenched positions Defense viability, limits effectiveness of any possible localized AFU counter-attacks or rapid re-reinforcement re RF positional assaults. Dramatically reduces RF likely casualties when at risk during forming-up for and during movement to, massed tactical combined arms positional assaults, as well as casualties re concentrated formations in operational movement/deployment post breach/penetration beyond current Line of Contact.

Rear area destructive Fires, not merely harassing, against AFU logistical supplies/movement & reinforcements/replacements being brought forward.

Increasingly the large scale missile drones strikes target AFU logistics hubs, ammunition/materiel stores & actual AFU military formations and assets rear of FEBA beyond range of traditional RF indirect Arty assets. Fewer missile/drone assets are allocated to destruction of Ukrainian national infrastructure (Destroyed Electrical grid). Further preparatory operational shaping of the battlefield in depth.

The number of targeted rear area locations by ranged Fires has now increased to 107 over last 24 hours.
Minimum claimed KIA ~590 (Hence ~1770 WIA). Probable actual KIA & WIA throughout Theater last 24 hours ? Much higher given rates of materiel destruction.

Total materiel destruction losses over ONLY last twelve(12) days, alone:

117 artillery/MBLRS/Mortars, (Equivalent total loss of ~20 FULL strength Artillery Batteries)
242 armored fighting vehicles, (Equivalent total loss of 5+ FULL strength Tank or Mech BNs, or almost 2 FULL Armored Brigades)
~233 logistic/transport/support vehicles. Irreplaceable. Crippling re all affected formations ability to merely, exist, out of combat.

Note unfulfilled official Dec22 public request was for 300/650/500 MBTs/AFVs/Artillery for AFU to supposedly 'win' the war (Only ~15% of AFU assets at Fev2422). Instead an additional, ~26% of requested AFVs & ~24% of requested Artillery, unfulfilled, have been destroyed in only past 12 days.

At current rate, by end of Jan2023 projected losses in material since Dec2322 only (36 days), will amount to:

~351 Artillery/Mortars/MBRLS: ~70% of requested. (Equivalent total loss of ~60 FULL strength Artillery Batteries)
~726 AFVs: ~77% of requested. (Equivalent total loss of 15+ FULL strength Tank or Mech BNs, or ~5 FULL strength Armored Brigades)
~700 irreplaceable logistic/transport/support vehicles. Crippling. Irrecoverable consequences.

Destruction fires targeting immediate rear areas of FEBA, especially Main Supply Routes(MSRs). Severing or critically reducing logistical supply & reinforcement/replacements, preparatory requirement re option to commit to major or multiple combined arms assaults on increasingly unsupported weakened & progressively attrited entrenched AFU formations.

The last 24hrs is indicative of yet a further escalation in destructive fires & likely consequential probable future commitment to significant preparatory or localized offensive ops by RF, over & above the already sustained higher ops intensity & higher rates of destruction (Direct & indirect) re the period under review.

The concurrent actual Theater wide AFU casualties KIA/WIA over the same period will also be significant, and rapidly increasing alongside demonstrable materiel losses, likely now Theater wide up to BN+ to 2xBN (BDE(-)) per/day (~1200-1600+ KIA per day + WIA(~3600-4800+)) ... prior to much higher casualty rates should localized or major offensive Ops commence. Destruction-in-Detail.

These rapidly increasing daily loss rates of personnel & materiel given current state of AFU are not being even marginally sufficiently replaced re combat effective/capable troops per month. Unsustainable.

Should these materiel & personnel loss rates be sustained at this rate or further accelerate, even without RF localized or major or deep penetration operational offensives, AFU formations/Army, given current status, after 10 months of severe attrition/materiel destruction, logistical & rear area winnowing, faces functional oncoming literal collapse.

Posted by: Outraged | Jan 4 2023 21:47 utc | 59

given current surveillance, targeting (kill chain) and long range fires a movement like the german nazi pulled in 1940 belgium or 1944 ardennes is not likely to be worth the benefit versus costs. also the movement of petrol for the massive engines put in fighting vehicles puts guderian type plans at high risk.

better to destroy railroad rolling stock.

that said the object to weaken eu is advanced each month the expenditures donated to ukraine are front page news.

attrition through summer, and watch the eu go more bankrupt than it and the usa are already.

short war benefits the empire!

Posted by: paddy | Jan 4 2023 21:54 utc | 60

Posted by: Myke | Jan 4 2023 21:09 utc | 47:

Good post! I concur with most of what you said. On your last para:

What Biden's people see, though (in my opinion) is that ever-falling Corporate profit line. I think they understand that they are locked in an existential battle - a battle that, following the fall of the USSR, they thought they no longer had to fight. In this context, I think that the US will only back off if the pressure from below increases significantly, or if the cost of escalation - nuclear war, for example - becomes to high.

I disagree that the US will only back off if the pressure from below increases significantly. Below, they don't know what to think! That's how it is in the shape it is in. That "below" includes much of corporate leadership (mostly legal-trained or MBA-baked zombies) are incapable of the kind of thinking you're exhibiting in your own post. "Below" is brainwashed beyond belief. They actually believe their own lies and fantasies.

They will only back off when they wake up to the poor shapes where USA stand today in many, many fields of human endeavors as manifested in reality over the past 2 decades. But I'm not sure if the leadership layers will ever wake up without their world literally hitting the pits. Who would wake them up?

Posted by: Oriental Voice | Jan 4 2023 21:56 utc | 61

Australia to buy long-range HIMARS missile system from United States after Ukraine praises weapon's effectiveness against Russia

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-01-05/australia-america-himars-missile-system/101827334

Posted by: Rae | Jan 4 2023 21:56 utc | 62

The Interrogation of Nikolai Berdyaev: A Play in One Act https://a.co/d/7VeU1BW

Posted by: FredF | Jan 4 2023 21:58 utc | 63

Alexander Mercouris also questioned yesterday what the US and its puppet NATO would do if Ukraine lost the war. He seemed to think the US could act but I disagree.

My view is that they will simply blame Ukraine, Zelensky and EuroNATO if Russia wins. It appears to me that on every occasion before when it got close to triggering Article 5 or direct engagement, the US found every excuse possible not to drag itself into this war and ran to the media's microphones to quickly stop any escalation. It will fight from a distance by sending equipment, rockets, and ammunition, but neither the US nor EuroNATO want a full scale war that involves their own troops being officially on the ground. I also don't think any US president is going to risk it given this is not Afghanistan or Iraq and that lots of US body bags would be coming home very quickly. Where the US is currently, this would be anathema to any president in my opinion, and the war is becoming far less popular in the US itself. Besides that, I don't think the Pentagon wants a war against Russia (which could involve China as well), because the state of US military equipment, uncertainties about the F-35s, the lack of shells and rockets or the logistics to manufacture them quickly are currently very weak points in US defence.

Posted by: George | Jan 4 2023 22:06 utc | 64


«Somewhere as the US keeps 'doubling down' in Ukraine, some of the 900-1000 overseas US military bases will be targeted by "Russian/Iranian/Chinese" supplied weapons, wielded by some local militia group.»

The RF security services do not do "active operations", and neither do those of the PRC for a long time. Maybe that will change, but I would not count on it. The iranian government still do that, but only in their "near abroad".

Posted by: Blissex | Jan 4 2023 21:22 utc | 51

Yep, that's a good one. Wondering how Russia can hit back for the USA's increasing provocations and transgressions I completely overlooked the extremist terrorist groups all over the world. Generally they belong to the USA, don't they? But some would be manipulable by Russia, I'm sure. That avenue gives Russia reach even into USA bases anywhere in the world - and there's plenty of targets there, aren't there?
With near 100% deniability on the part of the Russians? Or nobody would swallow it?
And Russia not spread all over the world like that and not so vulnerable.
And Americas enemies all over the world chuckling in glee to see such a thing - and keen to jump on the bandwagon?
How many States in the world smarting from US mistreatment would be keen to surreptitiously provoke some of their local rebels (seems they all have some) to launch some attacks on American facilities?
The more you look at America the more vulnerable it looks.
To such extent that is is widely prophesied or judged that it is on the verge of a kind of collapse, loss of hegemony, loss of empire.
And the joke: it's all because of its love of hatred and mistreating.
If it gave fair treatment and honest value it'd have friends everywhere where it has enemies today.
The USA, of course, acts precisely the same as its surrogate: Kiev Ukraine.
Look at one, see the other.

Posted by: abrogard | Jan 4 2023 22:06 utc | 65

According to https://www.timeanddate.com/weather/ukraine/donetsk/ext the daily average Hi and Lo temperatures do not dip below freezing in the Donetsk City area until January 8th. Then the average HI/Lo temperature is forecasted to hoover around 26 - 27 degrees F.

However, the weather forcast in Ukraine continues to be inconsistent with each week updating to a higher temperature than forecasted. Most likely the West is using HAARP and/or other to modify the temperature in Ukraine. I really doubt that the Russians have mastered weather warfare to the extent the West has over the years. Yet, they may be catching up. And perhaps they can counter attack the current weather warfare being waged by the West.

When the ground freezes it will freeze from the top down. The top layer of mud will freeze quickly. However, it will take some time for the ground to freeze throughout the mud layer so tanks and other heavy equipment can maneuver thereon without becoming stuck in the mud.

As the freeze begins and deepens, the top layers of frozen mud/water mixture act as an insulator to the freezing of the lower levels of mud. So, it will take some days for the average HI/Lo temperature to be below freezing (32 degrees F). I have no idea at 26 to 27 degrees F average daily temperature how long the freezing of mud will take. I am guessing this will take at least a week or two.

Then the heavy tanks and other heavy military equipment will be able to maneuver over the terrain without becoming stucks-in-the-mud.

If we are not surprised by yet another unseasonably warm weather report from Ukraine for some unknown reason (wink, wink), then by the end of January, mobilization with heavy military equipment at the zero line in Ukraine will become much easier.

Posted by: young | Jan 4 2023 22:08 utc | 66

Rae | Jan 4 2023 21:56 utc | 62

I saw that. Not sure who we will use them against. Safari in Mena and Afghanistan seems to have gone out of style. Toys for the boys and if we are going to attack China, completely useless.

Posted by: Peter AU1 | Jan 4 2023 22:09 utc | 67

For some reason I can’t get Billy Joel’s Easy Money out of my head.

Posted by: Rae | Jan 4 2023 22:10 utc | 68

Posted by: Hereward | Jan 4 2023 21:16 utc | 49
«Do you really expect any Russian government would want to pay Danegeld?»

Perhaps not that of Putin The Usurper, but that of the legitimate President Of Muscovy, Navalny The Hero, would. :-)

But it is not tribute, even if plenty of states, including powerful states, paid tribute (as a form of bribery) to avoid the expense of war operations.

The issue in international politics is that is about trading chips, and those without chips to trade sooner or later learn to shutup and drink the Kool-Aid (see UL, Germany, Japan, and eventually even France). International politics is not "kumbaya".

Perhaps it is easier to understand it if I explain it in corporate language, because a large part of the USA elite mindset is big-corporation "MBA" shaped ("winners do whatever it takes"):

USA government: so we invested $5b over 10-15 years to take control of the ukranian political markets and our propaganda sales there have been booming, and now we can use our ukrainian franchisees (Azov, Right Sector, ...) to try to take over the RF political markets too.
You want us to give all that up, wasting all that investment and effort and our somewhat realistic prospects to take over the RF markets, what do you offer us in compensation for writing off all those assets?

RF government: Nothing, because you should just try and be nice people.

Actually Putin himself wrote that he understands that the USA won the Cold War and now is an hyper-power:

Putin speech of 2022-02-24: “Of course, practice, international relations and the rules regulating them had to take into account the changes that took place in the world and in the balance of forces.

His complaint was that:

However, this should have been done professionally, smoothly, patiently, and with due regard and respect for the interests of all states and one’s own responsibility. Instead, we saw a state of euphoria created by the feeling of absolute superiority, a kind of modern absolutism, coupled with the low cultural standards and arrogance of those who formulated and pushed through decisions that suited only themselves.

He did not seem to realize that no country is simply entitled to “due regard and respect for the interests of all states”.

Those “due regard and respect” have to be exchanged for something, else they are worthless. Ask the people of the Donbas how much “due regard and respect” they got until Debaltsaevo. This may be an illustration:

https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2014/05/10/ukra-m10.html
«With the open support of Washington and its European allies, the regime installed by Washington and Berlin in last February’s fascist-led putsch is now extending its reign of terror against all popular resistance in Ukraine. That is the significance of the events in the major eastern Ukrainian city of Mariupol yesterday. After tanks, armoured personnel carriers and heavily armed troops were unleashed on unarmed civilians in the city, the Kiev regime claimed to have killed some 20 people. The Obama administration immediately blamed the violent repression on “pro-Russian separatists.”
The violence bore all the hallmarks of a calculated provocation on the 69th anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany by the Soviet Red Army. [...] These admirers of Hitler and his Ukrainian collaborators are now serving, with Washington’s full support, as the regime’s shock troops against popular opposition centred in the industrialised east of the country as well as in Russian-speaking centres such as Odessa in the south. The same forces have been given free rein to attack anyone in the west of the country who dares to oppose the fascistic government in Kiev. Outraged accounts from residents of Mariupol, verified by journalists on the ground, make it clear that many of those targeted by the Ukrainian National Guard and associated fascist elements on Friday had been participating in a Victory Day rally commemorating the anniversary.
»

Posted by: Blissex | Jan 4 2023 22:10 utc | 69

"Will it escalate?"

That is the quadrillion-dollar question.

What would you do if you realized that once you leave the card table for good, the proles will be lying in wait for you outside the bar with nooses affixed to lampposts?

My guess is they will have to "turn over the card table," which is perhaps the most apt descriptor for what is transpiring currently.

It is ironic that the American First movement, unlike in 1941 when it lost to Roosevelt's Jewish and NKVD cabinet, is poised now to possibly win and usher in a reckoning and tribunal unprecedented in modern times (Nuremberg was an absolute farce and travesty of justice).

As I have been saying since at least 2014, Russia is pushing up against the empire abroad, while its patriot-movement, which started with the leftist-reaction to the Patriot Act, the GWOT, and Occupy, has now morphed into a coalition of nominally "right-wing" conservatives who are leading leftists into the truth of nationalism and sovereignty, pushing at the empire domestically.

The empire is now caught in a total pincer move, as Germany was caught between the two ally parties which wanted to get their stinking, filthy hands all over Europe.

The irony is absolutely delicious.

Posted by: NemesisCalling | Jan 4 2023 22:10 utc | 70

Closing the bolding. Sorry for last minute editing mishap.

Posted by: Blissex | Jan 4 2023 22:12 utc | 71

Posted by: Blissex | Jan 4 2023 21:36 utc | 54:

Part of the issue with "active operations" is that the US Navy largely controls the most critical sea lanes and most of the important ports, and they give themselves the right to attack, board, inspect and confiscate whatever they want as part of "anti-terrorism operations":

Yeah but that same navy had the USS Cole blown with a huge hole 20 years ago. Active operation is a good idea for Russia and China to retaliate. But active operation takes time to breed, nurture, organize, and trained. Neither Russia nor China were/are 'evil' enough to resort to these kinds of base tactics. Both are sincere about battling 'terrorism'.

Posted by: Oriental Voice | Jan 4 2023 22:15 utc | 72

My question is: If Russia is going to win, what will be the decisive situation (or condition) that convinces the West to finally stop publishing its "Ukraine is winning" propaganda?

In addition to the recent examples b gave of Western "experts" claiming that Ukraine is winning or Russia is losing, here's another one today from a supposed veteran war journalist.

At what point is all this nonsense going to stop?

Posted by: Mark Mosby | Jan 4 2023 22:19 utc | 73

Posted by: Blissex | Jan 4 2023 22:10 utc | 69

That is one of the most immoral things I have ever read. Pretty disgusting really. You'd be ok to be on the receiving end of this arrangement?

Posted by: David F | Jan 4 2023 22:21 utc | 74

Posted by: abrogard | Jan 4 2023 22:06 utc | 65

Yes, I say, warming to my theme. When you've got 750 bases in the world spread over 80 nations on the one side you're looking like this great big strong monster with fingers everywhere. Aren't you?

Look at it the other way and you've got 750 points of vulnerability - 750 fingers ready to feel pain.

Adds a bit of colour to Russia's claim some time ago: 'we have not yet begun'.

Posted by: abrogard | Jan 4 2023 22:23 utc | 75

Posted by: Inkan1969 | Jan 4 2023 20:56 utc | 41

Agreed Inkan. There are several very obvious examples of the side with overwhelming material superiority losing the war. And it is not relevant that Russia has such material superiority over *Ukraine*. Ukraine's military was already destroyed. Russia is fighting NATO, and Russia doesn't have a material advantage over NATO. At least, not an overwhelming one. If Russia had proven to be much more competent than NATO that would have been good, but unfortunately Russia has severely underperformed expectations so far, militarily and especially politically. At least the Russian economy seems strong despite ten rounds of sanctions.

NATO is now sending AMX-10's and Bradleys to Ukraine. I don't know if these can be called an upgrade over the T-72's Ukraine already got from the old Warsaw Pact nations, but they're the best NATO armored vehicles donated so far. A step up from the M113 rolling coffins and armored cars that NATO was donating before. The ~1000 tanks and IFVs Zaluzhny asked for is a lot, but NATO does *have* several times that many to give *if* they decide to. According to Wiki the USMC alone has 450 M1's that they're just getting rid of- will they end up in Ukraine? (Some commenters are dismissive of the idea that the US is capable of moving hundreds of tanks to Ukraine, although the US was easily capable of donating hundreds of M1's to Iraq and Kuwait)

So far the most advanced NATO weapons donated have been air defense and artillery. Why? Perhaps because those are lower-risk jobs for non-Ukrainian specialists to fill. It would be too risky for NATO troops to be on the front lines in tanks and IFVs, so Ukrainians are being trained on them, which necessitates the delay in their donation. But the NATO tanks and IFVs are coming. In one way that's a good thing, because pictures of their burning wreckage with at least destroy the illusion that NATO tanks are invincible.

Posted by: catdog | Jan 4 2023 22:24 utc | 76

Posted by: Gerry Bell | Jan 4 2023 20:34 utc | 33

Zaporizhizhia seems obvious. It would create a defensive buffer around Mariupol, which is Russia's vulnerable throat in Ukraine, it would put pressure on the UA forces in Donbass from the rear, it could provide a springboard to Dnipro city or Nikopol, and the UA would have the same troubles defending it that RU had with Kherson. Several train lines also run through there, though I don't know how important that is.

Posted by: catdog | Jan 4 2023 22:39 utc | 77

This is a one-page primer for international politics, and not just in the age of the USA Empire:

https://www.existentialcomics.com/comic/307

Posted by: Blissex | Jan 4 2023 20:36 utc | 35

Thanks for the reminder for that site, I had not been for a while. Here is another one more specific to the "cheating" going on with rules based order and this conflict...

https://www.existentialcomics.com/comic/333

Posted by: Opport Knocks | Jan 4 2023 22:39 utc | 78

Stellar, b! Thank you.

Posted by: juliania | Jan 4 2023 22:43 utc | 79

Posted by: Peter AU1 | Jan 4 2023 20:22 utc | 25
"An interesting theory i saw for a northern offensive a fast push down the Oskal putting the northern Ukraine frontline in a cauldron."

Russia already tried that with Izium and Lyman with no success. It would make sense for Russia to push Ukraine back to the river for the sake of easier defense but a cauldron seems unlikely. Despite claims that UA is taking massive losses and is on the verge of collapse, they're still holding ground fairly well in all directions.

Posted by: catdog | Jan 4 2023 22:47 utc | 80

Russia must destroy the core of these idiotic humanoids in Europe and US if it aims for long term peace. Otherwise there will never be peace for Russia and China. Russia and China must unite into a military alliance and crush Germany, UK and USA. Militarily defeat them and round up and execute the ring leaders.

Posted by: Balkanizer | Jan 4 2023 22:51 utc | 81

Posted by: Blissex | Jan 4 2023 22:10 utc | 69
Posted by: David F | Jan 4 2023 22:21 utc | 74
«That is one of the most immoral things I have ever read. Pretty disgusting really.»

Looks like that you are “shocked, shocked that gambling is going on in this joint?” :-). But perhaps that's just hand-waving verbiage that apparently has place only in prevaricating propaganda, not in international politics. I am just describing it, just as this primer on international politics does:

https://www.existentialcomics.com/comic/307

«You'd be ok to be on the receiving end of this arrangement?»

I have been on the receiving end of something like that as the wage-worker of some businesses and as the resident or citizen of some vassal countries (european banana republics or operetta kingdoms), and so have been a majority of their residents (and USA residents), those who belong to the servant classes. And personally I have been pretty lucky, so many others in less fortunate circumstances than me have had it much worse.

The much better question is "What you gonna do about it?"

Putin answered "So I will try to take what you are not prepared to concede voluntarily". Classic "realpolitik". I think that he comes to it from a better position than the USA government, but it is still expensive and risky.

As a bonus on "realpolitik", following the primer above, here is George Orwell doing his "I am shocked, shocked" routine:

George Orwell, "As I please", 1945: “The Daily Worker disapproves of dictatorship in Athens, the Catholic Herald disapproves of dictatorship in Belgrade. There is no one who is able to say - at least, no one who has the chance to say in a newspaper of big circulation - that this whole dirty game of spheres of influence, quislings, purges, deportation, one-party elections and hundred per cent plebiscites is morally the same whether it is done by ourselves, the Russians or the Nazis.

George Orwell "As I Please", 1944: “During the Spanish civil war I found myself feeling very strongly that a true history of this war never would or could be written. Accurate figures, objective accounts of what was happening, simply did not exist. [...] if Franco or anyone at all resembling him remains in power, the history of the war will consist quite largely of "facts" which millions of people now living know to be lies. [...] In no case do you get one answer which is universally accepted because it is true: in each case you get a number of totally incompatible answers, one of which is finally adopted as the result of a physical struggle. History is written by the winners.

Posted by: Blissex | Jan 4 2023 22:53 utc | 82

Jihadi Julian reports that RU is advancing on Klichyyvka south of Bakhmut by digging advancing trenches. (He describes this as something orcs did in the "movies", but I don't know what movies he's referring to). This is exactly how sieges were performed in the 16th century. I suppose that in the era of satellite-guided smart bombs, an advance across well-guarded open ground is impossible, so trenches are the only option. I am ignorant of if there are other examples of this siege tactic being used in modern warfare.

https://twitter.com/JulianRoepcke/status/1610566259850072065?cxt=HHwWgsC-2d3e8NksAAAA

Posted by: catdog | Jan 4 2023 23:00 utc | 83

So b touched on propaganda here and in the Dec 30 post and I've been thinking about this for some time now. The propaganda stories told aren't good for the most part, some fall apart the instant you re-read them slowly, others can be disproved even without any particular knowledge on the topic at hand. Yet there are people who harbor the most fantastic beliefs about the Ukraine war (and before that a certain respiratory disease, or China, or Iran, or Russia domestically, to give some examples) and some of them are very vocal about letting others know. And these people are rarely ever 'stupid' in the literal sense - they have demanding jobs or hobbies and can drive cars and use the Internet...

I really don't believe thinking can be switched on and off by low quality propaganda memes on a whim. People can't be 'stupid' enough to believe Ukraine will pull some secret John Wick Shit any time now and stomp Russia but simultaneously pick apart contradicting reports and point to flaws or uncertainties in them in a logically sound way. It's more akin to a moral character flaw instead of stupidity or incompetence on the propaganda recepient's part. It works not by being convincing but because it makes people feel superior and good. Like a drug, which is why some are so happy when Forbes starts speculating about whether Putin soiled himself, despite the story being obviously devoid of any information. How many politicians especially in Europe are suffering from this? They got high on their own farts and their judgement is impaired. If they are secretly grand schemers executing their plans - why is nothing working out for them?

I don't think there's a lot of strategy in the West on how to handle (as in: having desired goals and employing the necessary tactics to reach them and avoid the undesired ones) the opening of Pandora's Box last February. There was none with regards to that certain respiratory disease either. Will there be any for China? Or are they content with just feeling good?

Posted by: pachinko | Jan 4 2023 23:05 utc | 84

Posted by: Blissex | Jan 4 2023 22:53 utc | 82

Your post wasn't "describing" it, it was advocating for it, using some very twisted logic.

Yes, I'm aware that immorality in the world exists. Doesn't mean that one needs to be immoral themselves.

"So I will try to take what you are not prepared to concede voluntarily"

What a warped view of the situation you have. You make it sound like Putin/Russia demanded tribute and when it wasn't forthcoming he decided to take it.

One side in this conflict is fighting for their right to exist, the other is fighting for the right to plunder. Big difference between the two.

And finally, having a shitty job where you are underpaid is not the same thing as being extorted, so no, you have not experienced it, at least not in the response you posted.

Posted by: David F | Jan 4 2023 23:05 utc | 85

"Ihave no idea yet how and who in Washington will decide on those questions."

Posted by b on January 4, 2023 at 19:00

That's the scary part.
There seems to be no rational decision/policy makers.
Leadership that comprehended risk and consequences of wrong decisions isn't there for two decade's at best three if you consider gulf war 1.
Hubris, arrogance and soundbites constitute diplomatic responses.

Posted by: jpc | Jan 4 2023 23:07 utc | 86

Posted by: Mark Mosby | Jan 4 2023 22:19 utc | 73
«claiming that Ukraine is winning or Russia is losing, here's another one today from a supposed veteran war journalist»

That article is not claiming that the ukrainian government is winning, but that it is losing and trying to make strategically expensive tactical stunts only to “show it is making progress in the war in order to keep its supporters committed”, implying that real progress is lacking.

What the article claims instead is that *the USA government* are winning, as in “The United States doesn’t have to commit a single American soldier to combat to keep Russia fully occupied and drifting toward bankruptcy. U.S. military aid to Ukraine so far is less than the annual cost of its long war in Iraq, and about one-tenth of the current U.S. defence budget. This is the best bargain in U.S. military history.”, which is somewhat realistic (except for “drifting toward bankruptcy”) but incomplete: the USA (MIC and oil/gas) economy is booming too, while the EU economy is being hit hard, and RF cities are being bombed. Great celebrations in Washington and on Wall Street!

«At what point is all this nonsense going to stop?»

I guess whenever the USA strategists reckon that at that point the war phase has done enough and the insurgency phase is more likely to eventually bring about regime-change in the RF.

Then the messaging will become "Ukraine was winning but Putin's vile atrocities and war crimes gave him an unfair advantage, now let's support the brave champions of democracy, the freedom fighters of the OUN and UPA, the proud heirs of the 14th grenadier division Galicia, in their insurgency against the terrorists".
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/14th_Waffen_Grenadier_Division_of_the_SS_(1st_Galician)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kingdom_of_Galicia%E2%80%93Volhynia

Posted by: Blissex | Jan 4 2023 23:11 utc | 87

b: "use the six dry months during the summer."

Still wondering how that works when summer is the "rainy season" according to all the climatological/weather sites.

Aside from that, I agree with the analysis, especially this part:

If the plan works the war will largely be over. Russian troops will be free to move anywhere in Ukraine with only little resistance. A move to retake Kherson and Odessa will then be a rather easy and short affair.

I've been saying that for months. I'd add that after taking Kherson, Odessa and Kharkiv, taking Kiev won't be much of an issue, either. All of this, however, will take time - probably six to ten months.

Thomas H. Lipscomb talks about how American planners "should have known." Why can't he admit the truth? That the neocons don't "plan" in the operational sense. They simply "do." Like this:

So what's the plan?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ek5DS2-Wgr0

As for escalation, I agree with Mercouris and Christoforou: the neocons have no "rewind" or "stop" buttons. They will double down and it will depend on the few capable officers in the Pentagon with real military education and experience to hold them back. And that is problematic. It will probably require any number of senior officers to threaten to resign en mass and go public with their opposition. Without that, there is no intelligence in Washington capable of reversing course. As the article states, the political leadership are morons (as Martyanov has been saying daily.)

If we ask the next question, as one always should, what then: Does Russia have to make a forceful demonstration of US/NATO vulnerability? What about Poland (which b doesn't directly mention)? If Poland commits troops in an attempt to either engage the Russians or seize western Ukraine, and Russia destroys them, and Poland cries Article 5, what then? (I know, I know, even Martyanov suspects Russia will let Poland have western Ukraine; I disagree, but of course I know nothing.)

So the risk of WWIII remains high and getting higher with every "sunken cost" committed by the US and NATO. We might presume that the EU will balk at going to war with Russia - certainly its citizens will and EU governments may fall in France and Germany. But the US is not subject to control by its electorate. While only a third may support Ukraine, they are the vocal few and the ones supported by the MSM. The rest are voiceless, except on an Internet controlled by Big Tech, and toothless at the voting booth.

I'd advise US citizens who can afford to do so set up a travel plan to a reasonably stable South American country and to exercise it the minute the US and Russia start throwing any serious amount of hardware at each other anywhere, including Syria. The same applies to China over Taiwan.

Posted by: Richard Steven Hack | Jan 4 2023 23:15 utc | 88

@ catdog | Jan 4 2023 23:00 utc | 83

No Orcs. Dien Bien Phu, Viet Minh, French-Indochina War, USA financed & provided arms/materiel & massive logistical support, even considered nukes. Fella.

@ Eric Blair | Jan 4 2023 19:56 utc | 15
@ George | Jan 4 2023 22:06 utc | 64

Astute. Fully concur. Cheers.

@ Peter AU1 | Jan 4 2023 19:58 utc | 18

'Tis where the 1-2 fighters/Helos come from to be prompted shot out of the sky, destroyed, in dribs & drabs, every few days to nil effect. Same with infrequent AFU commitment of ever small quantities of MBTs/IFVs/APCs in suicidal unsupported minor attempted assaults, increasingly infrequently, to nil effect.

@ emersonreturn | Jan 4 2023 20:59 utc | 43

Concur. Excepting there will not be a suicidal conventional 'attack' on or 'War' with China in current Situ. How, in what form ? What's the Oplan ?

@ oldhippie | Jan 4 2023 21:01 utc | 45

Rarely truer words ever said. Indeed. Cheers

@ uncle tungsten | Jan 4 2023 21:32 utc | 53

The RuAF will be unleashed uncontested throughout Theater.

@ karlof1 | Jan 4 2023 21:45 utc | 58

Excellent summation. Wholly concur. Cheers & prost!

Posted by: Outraged | Jan 4 2023 23:19 utc | 89

@Posted by: karlof1 | Jan 4 2023 21:45 utc | 58

The task Russia, China, India, Iran, and the RoW have is to whittle the bully down to size without a major global conflagration. This IMO can be accomplished via Geopolitical means by the deft application of Geoeconomics. No, it won't be instantaneous since it's highly complex, but many initial steps have already been taken. The project's critical mass will soon be reached and after that there's no reversing the process. Remember, what's happening in Syria, Iraq, Ukraine, Libya, Morocco, and a few other places are merely pieces of the much bigger picture, as the struggle is for control of the world and establishing the Four Freedoms for all humans.

Perfectly put, time is on the side of Russia, China, India, Iran and the RoW as the West continues with its self-harming ways. Turning up the heat slowly is much better than something that may provoke a rash Western act. 2023 into 2024 will be very harsh for Europe as it refills its storage at global LNG prices:

"The availability of gas would be the biggest reason why the year would likely be difficult for Europe. But even if winter continues to be mild and ends mild, the gas crisis will not be over. Because LNG is more expensive than pipeline gas, and this is a fact that does not stand to change. And this fact means that even if there is enough LNG to refill Europe’s storage—which is questionable, as the IEA warned—the bill will be huge for a second year in a row. A high gas import bill is problematic for European economies, especially the ones that have a well-developed heavy industry, which tends to be also heavy gas users. The first red flags appeared last year: much of the gas consumption decline in Germany that was praised by politicians actually came from demand destruction among industrial users because of prohibitive prices."

https://oilprice.com/Energy/Natural-Gas/Worst-of-Europes-Energy-Crisis-May-Be-Yet-To-Come.html

With the US Federal Reserve moving from QE to QT, foreign holders reducing their levels of holdings (e.g. China and Japan), and bond holders nursing big losses from the 2022 interest rate rises, the US government may have significant difficulty in funding the federal deficit plus redemptions in fiscal 2023; a total of US$2.4 trillion. That could cause a serious problem for US interest rates, as the rate on federal bonds acts as the "risk free rate" - keeping them high during a deepening recession with a huge amount of state and private outstanding debts. Longer-term, the more "normal" levels of current interest rates would massively increase US federal interest payments if maintained. The only other option would be for (i) massive cuts in US federal expenditures causing a crunch between social and defence spending (ii) direct Fed monetization which would exacerbate the inflation problem. China continuing, or accelerating the pace of, reductions in their US bond holdings given the possibility of their theft will only make this problem worse. The US will be back to its "guns or butter" problem that was saved with the move away from gold and fixed exchange rates, but now at a vastly higher level of state and private debt. A good write-up on this by Seeking Alpha:

"The U.S. Treasury must issue about $2.4T in additional debt in fiscal 2023 at a time when its largest two buyers, foreigners and the Federal Reserve, are in the process of shrinking their holdings of U.S. Treasuries."

https://seekingalpha.com/article/4566282-us-treasury-faces-imminent-financing-crisis

Better to take things slowly, with perhaps less "big arrows" on the map while the West collapses from its own internal contradictions. The Ukrainian state may also collapse from just ongoing pressure, especially if the West tires of financing it while the Western economies decline and they are faced with social unrest from cutting state social expenditures and growing unemployment. The Ukrainian state may not survive the taking of Bakhmut and a few other important towns/cities, as their chants of victory ring more and more hollow to their own citizens, and to Western, ears.

Posted by: Roger | Jan 4 2023 23:20 utc | 90

Haven't visit moonofalabama in a while, I am shocked b is on the same page as me regarding the russia/ukraine war.
I do not expect b to tell us the root of the problem though. we all know.

Also those ukraine fighters are causing confusion with their patches, tattoos and stickers. Its stolen valor, they in no way represent those that wore them in the past, in fact they are exactly opposite in behavior, morals, ideology. Thiefs sowing confusion.

Posted by: DaMeatTRee Latavitz | Jan 4 2023 23:25 utc | 91

If the US starts sending tanks and ifvs and it starts wearing down the Russian arsenal it will only be a matter of time before columns of Chinese tanks, rockets, artillery etc. start to flood the battlefield. Ultimately China cannot allow Russia to crumble as that would be their death sentence.

Tick tock, it's already a world war in all but name.

Posted by: Boo | Jan 4 2023 23:26 utc | 92

“The World Economic Forum is now about as relevant as the Holy Roman Empire."

Music to my ears.

Posted by: Norwegian | Jan 4 2023 20:33 utc | 31

More music..

http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2022/december/29/blackrock-to-take-zelenskyy-s-panhandling-act-to-the-next-level/

The Russia-US led-NATO Ukraine conflict war is their worst nightmare.
headed for the rocks and [.] the dustbin of history....

[;] “the war is forcing the pendulum of international affairs to swing away from globalization as companies and governments rethink their interdependence.”[.]

AND in his Outlook 2023 Credit Suisse’s Zoltan Pozsar posits PetroGold; "if Russia responds to the G7 Price cap by accepting gold for oil……..western banks will be crushed." He should know.

Oh those derivatives eh?

And I may add: Mr.Biden, please show me what you got there in Fort Knox; un-audited since the 1950s.

Posted by: Likklemore | Jan 4 2023 23:32 utc | 93

Roger@90
And then there is the Debt Ceiling: many Republicans are calling for the House to refuse to authorise more borrowing until the government stops spending. And the spending in question-whether the Republicans like it or not- is for the Pentagon, Ukraine and NATO. Pouring money that it doesn't have into losing wars is not a long term proposition. Even the Republican right can see that.

"The House stands adjourned until 8:00 p.m. this evening, after several rounds of voting left Kevin McCarthy no closer to becoming speaker. One Republican opponent said a global financial crisis is the price of his support.

McCarthy would have to commit to “shut down the government rather than raise the debt ceiling” in order to win the support of his opponents, Rep. Ralph Norman, a Republican from South Carolina, told reporters Wednesday afternoon.

“That’s a non-negotiable item,” said Norman, a leader of the squad objecting to McCarthy, a California Republican, becoming speaker of the House.

"A reporter asked Norman if he meant default on the debt, as the debt ceiling and a government shutdown are not directly linked. “That’s why you need to be planning now what agencies – what path you’re gonna take now to trim government. Tell the programs you’re going to get to this number. And you do that before chairs are picked,” he said, referring to the process of choosing and installing committee chairs.

"A quirk of parliamentary procedure requires Congress to authorize spending, then appropriate money for those authorized expenditures, and then to authorize the Treasury Department to issue debt in order to pay for that appropriated money. Some constitutional scholars argue that the debt ceiling is unconstitutional, but currently both parties recognize it as a legal and valid restriction on the government’s ability to issue debt.

"If the Treasury defaults on its debt, the result could be a global economic crisis, as many companies and foreign governments hold their capital reserves in Treasury notes. If those notes can’t be turned into dollars, payments won’t be made, producing a cascading collapse of counter parties that had been expecting those payments, and so on. In 2011, the threat of default downgraded the U.S. government's credit worthiness and led to a major stock market crash, but a deal was struck before the U.S. defaulted.

"The debt limit is expected to be hit sometime in the summer. Democrats declined to take the opportunity to eliminate or raise it further during the lame-duck period when they still controlled the House..."

Posted by: bevin | Jan 4 2023 23:36 utc | 94

Posted by: Blissex | Jan 4 2023 22:53 utc | 82
«Your post wasn't "describing" it, it was advocating for it, using some very twisted logic.»

To me it looks like you consider me responsible for your hallucination or lack of comprehension, but I don't. But then I guess that in the same way Orwell and ExistentialComics.com are advocating for it too using “some very twisted logic”.

Posted by: Blissex | Jan 4 2023 23:40 utc | 95

Posted by: catdog | Jan 4 2023 23:00 utc | 83

I am no expert on this sort of stuff, but in WWI the Australians dug their way towards key sites and this was a significant factor in the eventual collapse of Germany in France. It was so significant that in Australia today all soldiers are known as diggers.

Peter, Tungsten, I rely on you to know much more about Aussie military history than me, but I think Monash was the brains behind it. (it helps when the general is a genuine and civilian experienced civil engineer and very considerable talent). Murdoch's sniveling dad Keith was very hostile to Monash.

Posted by: watcher | Jan 4 2023 23:49 utc | 96

Posted by: Blissex | Jan 4 2023 23:40 utc | 95

The only thing I hold you responsible for are the things you posted above. You seem somewhat delusional. For my part, I am done with this conversation. Have a good evening.

Posted by: David F | Jan 4 2023 23:49 utc | 97

I'm going to be very surprised if Russia tries any sort of big arrow offensive. I don't think Russia has the proficiency or the numerical (and/or technical) superiority to successfully conduct large manoeuvre warfare offensives penetrating deep into enemy territory. As long as the Ukrainian army remains intact as a cohesive fighting force the Russian army will get whacked if it tries anything fast and fancy. Satellite intelligence, ATGMs, and artillery will see to that.

Basically, I think the Russian army has a catch-22 conundrum: Russia can't conduct large manoeuvre warfare offensives unless the Ukrainian army has already crumbled into ineffectiveness. However, in the absence of manoeuvre warfare and successfully cutting Ukrainian supply lines, Russia seems unable to inflict enough losses, fast enough, on the Ukrainian army to cause it to crumble.

Posted by: Mike314159 | Jan 4 2023 23:50 utc | 98

On the information warfare side, did anyone happen to catch this bit? Turns out the Gruaniad's main office has been under a ransomware freeze for a good while now. I'm hoping that it was the Russians who carried it out.

https://www.semafor.com/article/01/03/2023/cyberattack-shutters-the-guardians-office-for-a-month

Posted by: Tom_Q_Collins | Jan 4 2023 23:53 utc | 99

Posted by: Tom_12 | Jan 4 2023 21:28 utc | 52

As someone already noticed there are no pix of this event.
Did it really happen in he first place?

Posted by: Greg Galloway | Jan 4 2023 23:53 utc | 100

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