Does the Ukrainian Air Force need F-16s? – TTG

Now that a decent supply of Western tanks and IFVs are soon to be sent to Ukraine, there’s talk about sending Western aircraft. Even if this is true, the earliest any Western aircraft would appear in Ukrainian hands is mid-summer or fall. Should this be a priority now? To begin the discussion, we’ll start with some twitter musings of Justin Bronk (@Justin_Br0nk), the Senior Research Fellow for Airpower and Technology at RUSI in London, and the Editor of the RUSI Defense Systems online journal. His areas of expertise include the modern combat air environment, Russian and Chinese ground-based air defenses and fast jet capabilities, the air war during the Russian invasion of Ukraine, unmanned combat aerial vehicles and novel weapons technology. He’s not a military man, but what the hell. RUSI also has a longer article on the air war in Ukraine.

Since the Dutch F-16 announcement has generated more talks on fighters for Ukraine; a few thoughts.

The Ukrainian Air Force would absolutely benefit greatly from Western fighters in terms of air-to-air and (potentially) air-to-ground lethality. But there are caveats. Any western fighters that could plausibly be sent would still be at high risk from Russian SAMs, so would have to fly at very low altitudes within several tens of kilometres of the frontlines. This would dramatically reduce effective missile range and limit strike options. Most common Western close-air-support weapons like Paveway II and AGM-65 Maverick require the pilot or a JTAC to use a targeting pod or other sensor to find, ID and designate the target for precision strikes. This sort of CAS is far harder when confined to very low level. 

Stand-off weapons like AGM-154 JSOW, GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb or AGM-158 JASSM are (broadly) designed to hit fixed targets. Glide weapons are also dependent on altitude and speed of the launch aircraft for range so would be more constrained from low altitude launches. So while Western fighters with stand-off weapons would offer Ukraine an improved capability to destroy fixed Russian targets near the frontlines from a safer distance, they would be adding to existing strike options like HIMARS and drawing from limited stockpiles. 

Air-to-air, altitude constraints due to Russian SAMs also apply. Western fighters would offer much better range if supplied with latest AIM-120C/D or (ideally) Meteor than Mig-29/Su-27 with R-27R/ER. But handicapped by firing from low and slow compared to Russian fighters. As such, only Meteor would likely provide an absolute effective range advantage over R-37M carried by high-altitude Su-35S and Mig-31BM CAPs. Supplying these weapons would help the Ukrainian Air Force a great deal, but they are sensitive and available in very limited numbers. 

So; Western fighters will undoubtedly provide a major boost to Ukrainian Air Force survivability and air-to-air lethality against the Russian VKS once supplied. However, they would still be at risk from Russia’s SAM systems, and have limited dynamic ground attack options. Furthermore, they must disperse with a minimal visible ground operations and logistics footprint to avoid focused Russian missile strikes on airbases. This mediates in favour of Gripen or F-18 as types able to operate from rough, short fields with compact support equipment.

These considerations matter because Western capacity is not limitless. Logistics, training and personnel working on jets for Ukraine is capacity not used for other things like SAMs, vehicles, ammunition. The question is should this be the priority now, or should it wait?

Comment: I have no doubt that Ukraine will eventually possess a NATO compatible air force with Western aircraft and weapons systems. Sure we should be training Ukrainian pilots and maintenance personnel, but I think this is a case of trying to drain the swamp when you’re up to your ass in alligators. What Ukraine needs now is a concentrated effort to finish all that’s needed to create a Ukrainian Army combined arms force capable of serious offensive operations by spring.

To complete that combined arms force, the Ukrainians need more artillery and more ammunition. We should also get the ATACMS in country as soon as possible and send the ground launched small diameter bomb (GLSDB) as soon as they can be assembled in reasonable numbers. They’ve already been tested by SAAB and Boeing. The components are available and can be in the hands of Ukrainian HIMARS crews by spring. The GLSDB has a range of 150 km rather than the ATACMS 300 km, but the cost difference is great. The GLSDB costs $40k each compared to a million dollars for an ATACMS.

Oh yes, let’s not forget A2/AD. The Ukrainians need every system capable of shooting down Russian missiles, drones and aircraft now. That includes what combat ready MiG-29s are still sitting on European airfields.


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60 Responses to Does the Ukrainian Air Force need F-16s? – TTG

  1. Lee Patten says:

    I’ve just read…”at high risk from Russian SAMs”…” drastically reduced effectiveness”..”CAS far harder from low level” and you have read it as “major boost to Ukraine”. The two are not connected.

  2. English Outsider says:

    TTG – It all looks very risky – if the aircraft fly from Ukrainian bases then those bases get destroyed, If from bases within NATO then that’s overt Russia/Nato war.

    The Russia expert Geoffrey Roberts points to the dangers of such escalation in the context of Western military aid generally:-

    “Putin’s restraint in the face of massive western military aid to Ukraine has been remarkable but his forbearance may not be boundless.”

    I’ve assumed for some time that the increase of Western military aid was not due to any hope that that might enable Ukraine to avoid defeat. It was due to the need the Western politicians have to avoid blame when that defeat occurs. If Biden can say “We did our best but the Germans/French/Brits didn’t pull their weight” he escapes to a degree the blame for the defeat.

    Though the policy of sending in more arms could be based on a faulty assessment of Russian capabilities or of Russian determination to use those capabilities, that faulty assessment leading those with the ear of the President to believe there’s still a chance of pulling victory from the jaws of defeat.

    Whatever the reason for the talk of sending more and more effective weaponry to Ukraine, that talk seals the fate of the country.

    Irrespective of whether Russia or the West is in the right in this conflict – I know we happen to disagree on that – it must be clear that no country, Russia or any other, can afford to have on its borders such a threat as would be posed by a rump Ukraine armed to the teeth by the West.

    That poses a question for the Russians that I haven’t seen examined by any of the analysts. If the Russians occupy rump Ukraine the cost of running it would be inordinately high; and they’d be running it while coping with a hostile and resentful population of . If they don’t occupy rump Ukraine then it remains an ever present danger to Russian security.

    None have stated how the Russians might deal with that conundrum, Few indeed have mentioned it. But whatever solution the Russians adopt to the conundrum, that solution could only work under one condition. That is, that the aim of demilitarisation and denazification, that at the beginning of the SMO was thought to be an aim only for the “liberated” areas, extended to the entirety of the old Ukraine.

    I suppose this was obvious as soon as the Istanbul talks broke down. It’s yet more obvious now that NATO has indicated its intention of giving the Kiev administration more military support and that support massive. There’s no way the Russians are going to solve that conundrum without a total defeat of the Ukrainian forces throughout the old Ukraine.

    As said, that seals its fate. Barring nuclear, this is the only way this conflict can now end.

    • TTG says:


      Do you think Putin’s restraint will run out and he will launch his hypersonic missiles into Poland? Will the prospects of a much wider war keep him from striking at Ukraine’s logistical safe havens in Eastern Europe, the Baltics, Scandinavia or even Western Europe? The boasting of having the capability to do so have been coming out of Moscow long before she launched this invasion of Ukraine. Is this hypersonic threat on aimed at the heart of Europe something Europeans can live with? Would NATO be righteous in launching an attack on Kaliningrad or Russia proper to eliminate this existential threat?

      I see neither of the above scenarios as likely, especially now that both NATO and Russia see how devastating and futile such a wider war in Europe would be. Russia screwed up and are not going to get what they wanted from this invasion. NATO sees how futile and counterproductive any invasion or attack on Russia would be. We are moving back to a state of MAD in Europe even without the imminent threat of nuclear weapons. It will be a conventional weapons MAD that both sides have to live with.

      • wiz says:


        Reading the Ru telegram channels, a feeling emerges that the Russians indeed believe they screwed up. But not by invading Ukraine in 2022, but by not invading it in 2014.

        Now, that they see how far NATO is prepared to go to arm it, I suspect they will not settle even for a “neutral”, armed to the teeth and hostile Ukraine.

        Maidan square and Lviv are still in existence, Zelensky and Zaluzhnyi are still alive, so the restraints are still there.

        I doubt the delivery of fighter jets will change that. Ukrainian AD is a serious hindrance to Russian air force. Russian AD will be an even bigger threat to whatever fighter jets Ukraine receives.

        NATO’s gamble is that it will succeed in overcoming Russian capabilities and resolve without causing a WW. We’ll see.

        • TTG says:


          True, I thought the Russians would roll all the way to the border of Poland back in 2014. Maybe they missed their chance. Maybe they knew that Ukraine, as flat on her back as she was at the time, would still offer a long term resistance. Maybe the Russians knew they weren’t as good as they told themselves and the rest of the world. Whatever the reasons, that’s all in the past.

          Russia’s gamble last year was for a quick decapitation. Spetznaz/VDV assault parties made three attempts on Zelenskyy’s offices and were defeated. It wasn’t for a lack of trying. They paid their money and took their chance. Now we’re all living with that misjudgment.

          • wiz says:


            The other day Strelkov was calling for Medvedchuk to be hanged cause according to Strelkov, Medved took a big chunk of the money that was meant to buy influence and loyalty of various Ukie political and military big shots.

            Maybe that is one of the reasons the “quick victory” operation failed. They planned on too many things going according to plan. A bridge too far ?

            That too, however, is in the past, and now we have a full scale war between two major European countries, with dozens of others heavily involved.

        • Eliot says:

          “ Now, that they see how far NATO is prepared to go to arm it, I suspect they will not settle even for a “neutral”, armed to the teeth and hostile Ukraine.”

          I agree. Moscow has already paid the price for invading Ukraine, they have no reason to settle for anything less than their maximal war aims now. I assume those are all the land east of the Dnieper, along with the coast down past Odessa. As one commentator wrote, these are two dysfunctional Soviet armies squaring off against each other, but the Russians, even with western aid, have superior resources, their forces are better equipped, better supplied, and much heavier, and they can outlast Kiev because they have a much larger industrial base (which can out produce ours – currently) and much larger population than Ukraine. And they have the drive to, they do see it as an existential war.

          – Eliot

      • English Outsider says:

        TTG – no matter which pilots, what planes or what missiles, would Russia accept air or missile strikes from NATO territory without firing back?

        I don’t believe they would. In any case I believe the European politicians are in a jam. I’ll explain why.

        I don’t believe the American people – not the politicians etc, but the people – are that bothered about this war except some of them bothered about the expense. Maybe impertinent saying that to you because you’re one of them and have your finger on the pulse and I’m not and don’t. But that how it comes across to me.

        So defeat will mean a loss of prestige and influence for President Biden but apart from that most Americans will be more interested in the price of gas etc. They have other fish to fry than fussing about a war far away.

        Different in Europe. I’ve felt since almost the start of this war that the European politicians have got themselves a tiger by the tail and can’t now let go. At least six months ago I had a try at explaining why, Bit wordy, I’m afraid, but if it’s not too wordy it might explain why the European politicians are in a different position from your President.

        The state of public opinion in the UK is difficult to gauge. So too in Germany, which is a more important player in Europe than us. Many are anti-Russian because they don’t know the facts. I don’t know whether the facts will eventually come out but at present most just don’t know they’ve been scammed.

        This contrasts with the then state of knowledge about, say, Iraq or Libya or Syria. On those occasions enough did know the facts and opposition to the ventures there could emerge, though that opposition was ineffectual.

        In this case, Ukraine, there’s very little sign of informed opposition amongst the general public. There cannot be. As Eva Bartletts said recently, “I don’t really blame the Western public for being ill-informed about what’s happening here”. If one doesn’t know of Minsk 2, or the Revolution of Dignity, or of Azov, or of a thousand other pertinent facts, how can one be other than ill-informed?

        Unfortunate but how it is. Maybe the facts’ll come out later.

        But it may go deeper than that. Certainly in some parts of Europe hatred of Russia is deep seated and will be expressed whatever the facts. Whether that’s the case in England I can’t tell. Is this a hangover from the Cold War? Are we, like many in the Baltic States, pre-disposed to hate Russia no matter the rights and wrongs of the case? Or do we in England, sensing as many of us do that we’re in deep economic trouble anyway, need an enemy to strike out at, any enemy, and our politicians have presented us with an enemy that fits the bill: Russia.

        So all that is, as said, difficult to gauge. But there’s no doubt that, whatever the cause, anti-Russian sentiment is widespread in the Northern European general public.

        This presents the politicians with a difficulty. I think they’ve realised that the sanctions war is lost. Not only lost, but destructive for a West already weakened economically. But they cannot row back from that sanctions war to the extent needed without arriving at at least some rapprochement with Russia.

        How can they arrive at that without losing face with their electorates? “When you turn the shower thermostat down, say “Take that, Putin!” has been, almost in those words, the politicians’ cry. We’ve been told no sacrifice is too great if that sacrifice will defeat the sinister Putin. They can’t now say, well, he’s not that sinister after all and we can do business with him.

        And if the politicians could manage to square that circle without losing face, what of the Russians themselves?

        They don’t like us. We’re sending guns over to kill Russian soldiers. We have attempted, explicitly attempted, to break their economy. We would many of us like to see the RF dismembered. Our media promulgates values they do not share. And what the Russians see coming from our politicians and media is a dislike and contempt they can scarcely not reciprocate.

        So, with both the Western and the Russian publics in that state of mutual dislike and contempt, I don’t believe the position is retrievable. The politicians on neither side will be able to pull back.

        Ok for the Russians, more or less. They can get along without Europe. One gets the feeling they’d quite like to do that anyway. But we’re in no state to get along without them. Mearsheimer recently described the situation as a train wreck. It’s now a wreck we’re heading towards whether we like it or not. The politicians can do no other.

        That is, the European politicians. They’re stuck with anti-Russia policies whether they like it or not. Because We the People in the various European electorates won’t let them do otherwise now.

        I believe that’s still the position. I’ve been contemptuous of Scholz in particular among the European politicians but in truth, he’s now got himself into a position from which there is no way out. That goes for the rest of us in Europe; and the sooner we stop egging the Ukrainians on and try, if we can, to pick up the pieces, the less damaging the blowback from the sanctions war will be.

        • TTG says:


          Hatred and distrust of Russia does run deep in Eastern Europe. Twentieth century Russia has seen to that. Among some who never forget, the origins of that hatred/distrust goes back a lot further. Ukrainian public opinion was much more mixed. Since independence, many Ukrainians had a good opinion of Russia maybe even half the population. After the 2014 invasion, public opinion began shifting. More and more Ukrainians distrusted Moscow. After last year’s invasion Ukrainian public opinion towards Russia shifted dramatically to the negative. That invasion also reinforced East European opinion against Russia. Even in Western Europe, the negative opinion towards Russia increased. NATO, which was largely seen as a Cold War relic that has outlived its usefulness, gained new life and new purpose. By God the Kremlin did still covet a larger piece of Europe. NATO didn’t seek to expand to Finland and Sweden. Those countries sought refuge in NATO like the peasants sought refuge within the castle against marauding hordes. No amount of US propaganda could have done this. It was Russia’s invasion that hardened public opinion against her and breathed new life into an expanded NATO.

          Russia’s best course of action is to leave Europe altogether. Look east. Look south. Look north. The whole world outside Europe and North America is open to them. Hell, just look within and become a self-sufficient impregnable fortress wanting for nothing outside her current borders. In time, NATO will once again whither and generations from now, the hatred and distrust of Russia will also fade away.

          • English Outsider says:

            TTG – I agree. 100%. That’d be the best solution, if it’d work. In fact not a bad solution for the Russians at all. Reading Patrick Armstrong, Paul Robinson, other’s writing on the mood in Russia, they’re more than happy to get divorced from Europe.

            It ditches the Europeans though. In particular Germany, the key European country.

            Borrell pointed out recently that the twin supports of the German economy were cheap energy from Russia and full German access to the international market.

            Scholz, in his dithering half-assed way, has done his best to knock away both. He’s now dithering over a paper put in by Baerbock suggesting he complete the job by messing up access to the Chinese market.

            Since Germany’s the paymaster the other Euros usually follow suit. Don’t even talk to me about HMG. The only reason they can’t be accused of wrecking the UK real economy is that we haven’t got one.

            You’re not talking to a happy camper this side of the Atlantic, TTG. Mearsheimer gets it right. “We’re screwed”, he says.

            I don’t usually agree with Mearsheimer’s analyses or his approach, but as far as Europe goes he has it dead right.

            follow suit.

          • Whitewall says:

            EO & TTG,
            A fine discussion of this conundrum.
            “Hell, just look within and become a self-sufficient impregnable fortress wanting for nothing outside her current borders.” This may be the bottom line of the war. Russia needs to be militarily diminished as much as possible during this war, hopefully making it easier for Belarus to remove its dictator and free itself to join the rest of free Europe. Kazakhstan should seize the same opportunity and revolt against Moscow. Finally, and maybe most important of all, the much put upon Russian people need to engage in the ugly business of freeing themselves from Moscow’s boot on the neck.

            A free people can make Russia, in time, a credit to themselves and take their place in the larger world. Up until now, Russia for all their modern existence, has been little more than a threatening nuisance.

          • Jake says:

            Whitewall, you are dreaming. The exact opposite is far more likely. NATO is exhausting its own defensive capabilities, which are also a total mismatch with the demands vis a vis a ‘War of Attrition’, while Russia is almost ‘printing’ missiles, ammo and everything it needs. Moreover, it has an abundance of raw materials and energy, and plenty of support from China and the ‘Global South’. And that is only the military side of this debate.

            On the economic and ‘humanities’ side you may be an adamant supporter of Rainbow colored flags, and Green policies ripping the entire ‘old’ economy apart, but you will find few supporters in countries you listed as next on the ‘Regime Change’ list. The reality is, that opposition to all of that is mounting in the ‘west’ as we speak, rendering ‘Regime Change’ or civil war in our part of the war a far more likely outcome. More so if NATO is losing yet another war, with nothing to show for it but tons of refugees, and another failed state, buried in debt-slavery. Russia is an autarky, producing everything it needs, and then some. And through its friends there are all kinds of workarounds to make the sanctions futile.

            What bothers me most, is that even people who do seem to understand that Rainbow and ‘Everything Green’ is going to wreck our entire society, because it is a costly distraction from what should be on the agenda to prevent chaos and destruction, do cheer harder than most in support for Joe Biden’s war, which he and Victoria Nuland with her ‘neocons’ kicked of with a ‘Regime Change’ coup in 2014, ousting the democratically elected president. What am I missing?

  3. Jake says:

    The US already approved training of Ukrainian pilots on F-16 and F-15 in July, and my guess is that it is just a matter of supplying the aircraft. This bogus ‘decision making process’ is merely a scam to work around public sensitivities, ‘nudging’ the world towards World War Three. But this was not the plan. The 2019 ‘Rand Corporation’ report spelled out the strategy to use Ukraine in order to ‘Overextend’ Russia, so as to prepare the ground for ‘Regime Change’ in the country. To hell with Ukraine, or the Ukrainians, and we are the witnesses to that. But the strategy failed miserably, since Russia proved to be far more resilient economically, and capable of ‘Industrial Warfare’, while NATO is not. So, they just published a revision which, in fact, says that Ukraine is toast, and Europe will suffer badly, but on the ‘upside’ the US will sell more weapons to Europe, as well as oil and LNG after NATO blew up ‘Northstream’, or so we must conclude after Victoria Nuland’s cheerful comments during a recent hearing in Congress. Now, as a European, you will have to forgive me, but I’m not in a cheerful mood, celebrating this ‘upside’. Yet, as the introduction correctly states, it is my country which is leading the way to expansion of this war, which will lead to even more territorial concessions for Ukraine, and hardship for Europe, according to said ‘Rand Corporation’ update, but who cares?

    In this latest ‘Report’ the ‘Rand Corporation’ insists that eventually Russia will succumb, but I wouldn’t wait for the second revision of their original plan if you love your life, and are hoping for a pleasant future for your children. The west is toast if it refuses to learn from its mistakes.

    • TTG says:


      The RAND Corporation puts out endless studies and policy recommendations. They are not statements of US policies, plans or intentions. But I agree that it is only a matter of time before the Ukrainian Air Force is trained and equipped to NATO and/or US standards. Ukraine is now integrated into Europe economically, politically and militarily. It didn’t happen as envisioned in Kyiv in the 1990s, but it is now happening. And the US is part of that European alliance.

      I don’t think Russia will succumb. Neither Europe nor the US will invade Russia. Putin’s regime may continue or it may fall. It’s not my concern. But Russia’s relationship with Europe and the rest of the world has been greatly altered for the foreseeable future.

      • Jake says:

        All I’m saying is that the Rand Corporation did produce a script which followed to the letter by NATO, and which was a perfect fit with the bogus ‘Minsk Accord’, as revealed by Porochenko, Merkel and Hollande. It was meant to stop the military defeat of the Ukrainian army, ‘advised’ by Ben Hodges NATO command, and buy time for a planned rematch. And NATO screwed up again.

        If you ask me, it will get worse, tanks or no tanks, and aircraft or no aircraft. Unless ‘someone’ in NATO comes to his/her senses ASAP. A growing number of high ranking military people are sounding the alarm, because all the equipment and ammo is going to Ukraine, which is burning it like there is no tomorrow. And then there is China……

        • Whitewall says:

          “Whitewall, you are dreaming. The exact opposite is far more likely. NATO is exhausting its own defensive capabilities, which are also a total mismatch with the demands vis a vis a ‘War of Attrition’, while Russia is almost ‘printing’ missiles, ammo and everything it needs.”

          Really, they are doing all that and losing as badly as they are right next to their own border? Okay. No I am not a fan of any ‘Rainbow’ policies or Green policies. Far from it. I am a fan of free people and free nations and self determination. If Russia is so almighty capable of self sustainability and all that they need, then prove it…Mr. Putin free your people, let them speak out, let them take to the streets to express their opinions about your remake of the glory of empire. Why do you install anti aircraft weapons on the Kremlin walls in plain sight? Is this psychological management of your people or is it just as likely that an attack may come from deep inside Russia itself and not from a distant Ukraine.

          Russian citizens may yet get a say in the outcome of this war.

  4. Fred says:

    What they need is an American declaration of war against Russia so we can win for them. What we are doing is repeating Korea and Vietnam with proxies instead of our own troops. Just kidding! Bad Russia! Bad!

    “Oh yes, let’s not forget…”: new bridges to replace those destroyed by the unjust Russian invaders; new power plants to replace the ones blown up; new schools to replace the ones blown up (on purpose not because some cruise missle got damaged and went off course or had it’s navigation system jammed, not that), new apartment buildings because, well, the same. (none of which will be owned by the American taxpayer) Better get them a blue water navy too so it can protect the “worlds” grain supply. It sounds just like Afghanistan and Iraq, but this time with Russians.

    Maybe Norway can “lead the way” by just sending Ukraine their own airforce as an example for the rest of the world? Maybe co-author “Dr. Jack” could get the UK government to do the same. I mean they are aledged to have helped vioate the neutrality of the grain shipments to smuggle in a few missles to help sink the Moskva so maybe just come out in the open with it all.

    • LeaNder says:

      “Oh yes, let’s not forget…”: new bridges to replace those destroyed by the unjust Russian invaders; new power plants … (none of which will be owned by the American taxpayer) Better get them a blue water navy too so it can protect the “worlds” grain supply. It sounds just like Afghanistan and Iraq, but this time with Russians.

      Yes, reminiscent of earlier events and also absolutely different. This time, the US is not the benevolent aggressor. But Russia is. Without the empire’s benevolence?

      Could it be that if rule-based orders are exchanged for justice based ones, hypocrisy and double standards enter stage right/ left/the scene?

      Financial war and its discontents. By confiscating frozen Russian funds and giving them to Ukraine, the West could be shooting itself in the foot
      Paul Robinson / October 24, 2022 / Canadian Dimension

      One may argue that transferring Russian money to Ukraine is morally just. The Russians have illegally invaded Ukraine and caused tens, maybe hundreds of billions, of dollars of damage. It is only fair that they pay for the harm they have done. But there is a reason why people call for a “rules-based” international order not a “justice-based” one. There is no neutral arbiter able to say who and what is just. If having justice on your side allows you to bend the rules, everybody can claim to be just and any semblance of order collapses. After all, there must be many countries who feel that the US, UK, and other Western states have harmed them. Would the Brits and Americans think that it was all right for others to take British and American assets and redistribute them to their victims? One imagines not.

      It remains to be seen whether it is legally possible to confiscate and redistribute Russian funds. But even if it is, one may doubt whether it is wise. Little by little, such acts have the effect of sending a message that the international financial system is subservient to Western political interests. This, of course, will hardly be a revelation to many. Indeed, it has long been a criticism of the way the financial world operates. But up to now, critics have had to accept the system as it is because of the lack of alternatives. This is now changing. The more we abuse the system to suit ourselves, the more we encourage others to separate themselves from it and set up their own parallel systems, thereby detaching themselves from our control while also undermining the globalization that has so far served us so well.

      • Whitewall says:

        Sounds a bit like the winning Allies after WW1 and the surrender documents that saw to it that Germany would pay through the nose in reparations to its neighbors. Politics and the economy in Germany went down hill fast until the table was set for WW2.

        • Leith says:

          WW – Good point. The reparations called for at Versailles only caused bitterness and animosity in the German people.

          Similarly after WWII while the Marshall Plan was rebuilding western Europe, Stalin was imposing his own version of Versailles reparations on Eastern Europe. Which is why none of the former Warsaw Pact countries trust Putin today and have joined NATO.

          • LeaNder says:

            Yes, another chance to show that the Russians always were a lot worse then the US. It may in fact be genetical. 😉

            Confiscation went on in West Germany too. Understandably. … Notice I don’t complain!

            Some of it shows by now on English Wiki:

            Not just patents. The Marshall plan too, some what was meant to make Germany buy American stuff. You will argue that they destroyed all European production. The British, Swiss, Swedish too?

          • Leith says:

            LeaNder –

            Regarding your wikipedia link: horsepucky! IG Farben deserved to be stripped and liquidated. They used slave labor, did medical experiments on Auschwitz inmates, developed Zyklon B and trained the SS how to use it for the Holocaust, they were the largest donor to the Nazis, and were a major contributor of war materiel.

            Electron microscope? It was patented by a Hungarian long before Siemens filed theirs. Did they pay him royalties? Modern manure spreaders? Invented half a century before 1945 by a German-American schoolteacher from Ohio. I used one of his originals as a boy in the mid 1950s. Ice Skate Grinding machines? Not much money in that. Etc, etc.

          • Leith says:

            LeaNder –

            PS – It’s not genetic. Russians are a great people, but they have had the misfortune to be led sometimes by psychopaths.

          • LeaNder says:

            PS – It’s not genetic. Russians are a great people, but they have had the misfortune to be led sometimes by psychopath

            That’s all I wanted to hear. Putin definitively maneuvered himself into a corner with his ultimatum … But Psychopath?… How do you suggest Russians (русские/россияне) should get rid of him?

            I haven’t looked into these matters for quite some time, didn’t even take a closer look at the article. The story is a lot more complicated, not as useful sloganeering suggests. And I am willing to admit that other voices in the US existed at the time. Congratulations to the IG Farben argument. You feel America did a good job in the IG Farben/Krupp/Flick trials?

            IG Farben deserved to be stripped and liquidated.
            It wasn’t really. It was split up in its parts that then resumed work. That’s not quite liquidation.

            But I am getting tired of this, it is silly and predictable. Got into a bit of tit-for-tat against my will.

            By the way, I hated Adenauer as juvenile/young adult, getting older I recognized he was a pretty sly fox occasionally. He worked very closely with Nazis, and Americans knew. As an old lady, I worked with, once said:
            But who else would have had management experience. Cynical? Well, that’s reality:

          • Leith says:

            LeaNder –

            I don’t know beans about Adenauer. But I suspect you are right. The American High Commish, and even before that Lucius Clay the Military Governor, probably knew what was going on with redeemed former Nazi officials. And they never made a fuss if the réhabilitées took jobs in the public sector. They knew that it would make their job easier and make life easier for the average German family.

            As for the psychopath in the Kremlin, I suggest we let Russians decide how to get rid of him. Let’s just hope it doesn’t lead to a new Time of Troubles.

      • Fred says:


        Germany is the heart of the “rules based order” in Europe. Or Davos, take your pick. No one has given Ukraine Russia’s “stolen funds.” Had that been done there would be zero reason for Zelensky to ask for any.

        “Little by little, such acts have the effect of sending a message that the international financial system is subservient to Western political interests.”

        Hasn’t the author of that piece figured out yet that kicking Russia off the SWIFT system has already had negative consequences? Somebody should ask since the piece you link too is 3 months old.

  5. jld says:

    Using “modern” jets may not be a good idea under the current combat conditions in Ukraine.
    At least this study says so, any evaluation from knowledgeable commenters here?

    • TTG says:


      The observations in that blog article are similar to the RUSI article on the Ruso-Ukrainian air war. Although US air power integrates weapons systems, intelligence and planing to a far greater extent than the Russian Aerospace Forces, we should not expect a repeat of Gulf War I and II if the USAF went against Russia. Russian A2/AD capabilities are formidable and, as Ukraine has demonstrated, can have great staying power in the face of a determined SEAD campaign. Look at the difficulties we had against Serbian air defense. On the other hand, look at this weekend’s Israeli strikes against Iran. That’s a result of several decades of integration of weapons systems, intelligence and planing into something that works. I would say talent, hard work and imagination have more to do with military success than the mere presence of advanced weapons systems. That’s what makes it an art.

      • LeaNder says:

        we should not expect a repeat of Gulf War I and II if the USAF went against Russia.

        We better are prepared? So how long will it take? Tille we’ll witness the last crossing of our earlier self-defined red lines?

      • Lee Patten says:

        So you are agreed that Israel has attacked another sovereign state with no consequences from the west. Classic double standards at work I would say. The west should not be allowed to use that argument any more but I’m sure it will disappear down the memory hole.

        • TTG says:

          Lee Patten,

          I think the new Netanyahu government attacked Iran for her own reasons. Hitting drone and missile factories gave the US and the rest of the West reason to go along with it. And yes it is a double standard.

          • Lee Patten says:

            thankyou for the reply. However, I am confused as to why Israel is allowed to attack another country for security reasons and Russians and Putin are seen as some sort of lunatic madmen hell bent on the destruction of the west for taking the same position. I look forward to your justification.

          • TTG says:

            Lee Patten,

            I offer no justification for Israel attacking Iran to prevent them from developing a nuclear weapon capability. I’m not convinced the Iranians are developing nuclear weapons. But I don’t shed any tears for the Israeli strikes on Iranian drone and missile manufacturing plants. Nor do I shed tears over the frequent mysterious fires at Russian munitions plants and other infrastructure. I don’t know who’s behind those. Those fires didn’t happen before Putin invaded Ukraine last February. Perhaps those “accidents” will cease once the Russian Army is back behind their own border.

          • Frankie P says:

            It’s looking more and more like the Mossad attacked Iran with drone strikes launched from within the country. The double standard is disgusting, and the fact that the West continues to be silent in the face of Israeli belligerence removes all of our so-called morality and respect for International Law. Netanyahu and his support for such an attack is trying to distract attention from the current situaion in Israel, where the Israelis mowed the lawn again, killing random Palestinians during unnecessary raids of refugee camps. This has brought about a response, and individual Palestinians have martyred themselves killing Israelis. And so the spiral begins again. Don’t listen to the mainstream media. It’s not Palestinian attacks and Israeli retaliation. It’s the opposite. Now the Israelis again attack Iran. I’m looking forward to the Iranian retaliation, according to their own schedule, of course.

        • Frankie P says:

          Lee Patten,

          Your question and request for justification for Israeli attacks and the complete lack of international criticism and punishment for acts of war can only be answered one way: “The Rules-Based International Order”. This US-constructed bizarre pseudo-system, never voted for or accepted by the nations of the world, is foisted by the US administration, State Department, Mainstream Media as some kind of REAL system; it is not. The Israelis have the right to attack anyone without any justification because the Rules-Based International Order (RBIO) says so. The RBIO says, “We (the US) make the rules, and you follow the orders.”

          It’s not surprising that the trio of Resistance (Russia, China, Iran) are finding more and more like-minded nations (India, Saudi Arabia, and various other nations from the Global South) who refuse to recognize this Hollywood farce being put on by the US.

          • Lee Patten says:

            Frankie P
            I am in total agreement. However,my question was not about Israel per se. It was why cannot Russia defend itself under the same RBIO ? Russia’s critics are totally silent when the comparison is made.

            If its ok for Israel then you cannot have the argument that its bad for Russia. Something TTG has conveniently avoided answering.

          • wiz says:

            Lee Patten

            Russia is not a member of that club.
            If it wants to ensure its security and prosperity it will have to make it’s own rules. So will China.
            No small task, but it is either that or they’ll have to bend the knee.

          • Frankie P says:

            Lee Patten,

            Russia has attacked and is grinding Ukraine down under a different system: Establishing Security Guarantees. These guarantees could have come without bloodshed, and indeed, they should have come with the implementation of the Minsk Agreements. If the guarantees had been in place, we wouldn’t have to hear about some crazy Ukranian intel chief saying that Ukraine will recover Crimea by summer. If the guarantees had been in place, Crimea would still be a part of Ukraine, as would the Donbass, though with significanly more autonomy. Merkel has made it clear that nobody in NATO or Ukraine ever had any intentions of fulfilling their obligations to the Minsk Agreements. This is only the latest in a long list of abrogations that have led the Russians (Iranians and Chinese as well) to conclude that the US and the West are non-agreement capable.

            @wiz: Your description is perfect: Russia has been forced to make its own rules. China has long been aware that they must do the same. I don’t see either nation, nor Iran, bending the knee to the wannabe global hegemon any time soon. On the other hand, I DO see more and more nations taking actions that are tantamount to standing from the kneeling position and shouting out “No More!” and joining the resistance to the hegemon.

  6. borko says:

    GLSDBs and ATACMs seem like an even easier targets than HIMARS systems.
    For one, Ukraine will not be able to try and mask and overwhelm the defences by firing them in combination with grads. Also there is the question of speed and flight patterns.

    This incremental arming of Ukraine gives the Russians an ability to gradually adapt and strengthen their economy and military.

    It is like providing a body builder with increasingly heavier weights.
    Eventually, the Ukraine could end up a ruin and Russia could end up with a large and experienced army capable of countering every weapon in NATO’s (depleted) inventory.

    • TTG says:


      GLSDB and ATACMS missiles are fired from HIMARS and similar launchers. They are no more a target than the HIMARS launchers currently in Ukrainian use.The incrementalism in arming the Ukrainians is certainly influenced by political considerations and trepidations, but it is also a matter of logistics. Flooding the field with ATGMs and MANPADs was simple. Those weapons don’t require a serious logistical tail. Modern tanks, IFVs and aircraft require massive logistical and training commitments. They also require operational and doctrinal adjustments.

      • borko says:


        When I mentioned HIMARS as targets, I meant GMLRS rockets not the launchers. Recently I saw a video depicting a Pantsir system allegedly intercepting all 12 GLMRS rockets fired supposedly from a single M270 system or maybe 2 M142s.

        Whether the video is legit or not, the Russians have had a lot of time to adapt to those types of ammo by better distributing and hiding their depos and command centers, upgrading Pantsirs, training their crews, ramping up production of various AD systems and missiles etc.

        Considering all this, and the fact that Ukraine cannot use other MLRS systems like grads to overwhelm the Russians, I would expect the longer range ammo to be an easier target for Russian AD.

        I understand your point about the logistics, my point is that by introducing these systems in a piecemeal fashion, the NATO is training the Russians how to fight it while at the same time depleting its arsenals of increasingly sophisticated weaponry.

        NLAW was cheap, a LEO2 much less so, F-16s, Patriot batteries…

        • Leith says:

          Borko –

          Why do you say “Ukraine cannot use other MLRS systems like grads to overwhelm the Russians…”?
          Are you implying they have all been destroyed? I thought they still had a few hundred left, BM21 Grad, BM27 Uragan, up thru the 300mm BM30 Smerch. Plus a couple of captured TOS-1.

          Regarding RU air defense against GMLRS: Pantsir can only engage four targets at a time, definitely not 12. Specifications suggest it was never designed to protect against high angle attacks such as those. Combat history in Libya and Syria is not good. That might be due to the crews and not the weapon, but a dozen or so with Russian crews have been destroyed in Ukraine so far. US technical intel specialists have had a Pantsir system for two & a half years, and have undoubtedly developed countermeasures. Have they shared those countermeasures with Ukraine?

  7. Leith says:

    Why not? The Russians sent hundreds of MIGs to North Viet-Nam. Plus very effective SAM & AAA systems, tanks, artillery, etc. Russian ships delivering those armaments unloaded in the port of Haiphong unmolested by US aviation. They sent thousands of troops as trainers, technicians, and advisors (some of those advisors assumed combat roles manning the SA-2 Dvina and various AAA that shot down thousands of US aircraft. The KGB was there setting up COMINT and ELINT and also advised NVA radio operators in OPSEC. That did not start WWIII.

    But I like your last paragraph best TTG. Ukraine needs many hundreds more air defense weapons to protect against Putin’s war on civilians.

    • borko says:

      Because, article 5 has the potential to escalate this conflict in an explosive fashion, no pun intended.
      Because the last two major wars in Europe were World Wars.
      Because Vietnam was not on US doorstep or the Russian one.

      Cuban crises was infinitely less bloody than the Vietnam War, but because of its circumstances almost resulted in a nuclear war.

      • Leith says:

        Borko –

        Cuba? You believe Khrushchev would have launched nukes back then? I suspect he was smarter than that. Regardless of what recent press scare accounts have been blovarting about.

        • borko says:


          Smart or not, unforeseen events might force your hand. In such situations, too much is left to chance and misjudgement. When the fate of civilization is at stake, best to avoid creating them in the first place.

    • Fred says:


      That was the USSR. It ceased to exist decades ago.

  8. Al says:

    I recently read that Ukraine was repairing/extending several airfields. Anticipating jets arriving?

    • TTG says:


      The Ukrainian Air Force is still flying. They need those airfields along with the temporary highway runways they’ve been using.

  9. walrus says:

    TTG, you and others, are guilty of making the same potentially lethal policy assumption that been a feature. of US policy since before WW I; that is that the continental United States is immune and remains immune, from Russian attack. Putin has specifically warned you that this will not be the case.

    This assumption; that you can advocate and profit AGAIN from a war strategy that leaves economic competitors in ruins while “the arsenal of democracy ™” sits inviolable beyond its oceans while making a fortune is embedded in your psyche.

    If Russia does go “full existential” in response to this creeping escalation then you (and unfortunately we) will fully deserve every bit of destruction that Russia sends our way.

    Our losses, including Korea, Vietnam and the Middle East have been SFA compared to what Russia, Germany and France have endured last century.

    It is just plain fucking immoral to firstly encourage this conflict, as we have done and then profit from it, as we are doing, while talking about how we plan to escalate it in future.

    If we had any policy brains – which we haven’t, we would be trying out best to shut this mess down before it explodes in our faces.

    Why will it take to break your fascination with war? Twenty million dead AT HOME?

    • TTG says:


      You forget we had regular air raid drills as school children, testing of civil defense sirens and stockpiling of survival crackers, canned water and other essentials in fear of nuclear missile attacks from Moscow. We never thought we were immune from Russian attacks in those days. Later the Reagan administration tried to convince us that we can survive such an attack with enough shovels and doors. We haven’t been immune since the dawn of the nuclear age.

      What I find immoral is to cheer for or just acquiesce to Moscow’s invasion with its policies of torture, rape, and murder of civilian noncombatants and the kidnapping of Ukrainian children. If those policies continue, maybe Russia deserves every bit of destruction that Ukraine and NATO sends their way.

      • walrus says:

        TTG, thank you for your reply. I agree that there is plenty of nastiness on the Russian side. I think we can also both agree that the Ukrainians are not angels either.

        It has been known and demonstrated over hundreds, if not thousands of years, that passions and vendettas are a feature of Eastern Europe because the lack of strong geographic boundaries encourages the temptation to expand by conquest. This extends from the Swedes, to the Poles, to the Russians, to the Teutonic Knights, Prussia, Denmark and goodness knows who else. The whole area has been depopulated, repopulated and chopped up every which way numerous times since the Romans appeared.

        Against this historical background, it is ludicrous for anyone to be talking nationalist can’t about “historic destiny” or historic anything followed by an appeal to “international rules” as opposed to International law, as a justification for anything in Eastern Europe. There is way too much bad blood and tangled history for that. Attempts to find an overarching moral position that justifies what we are doing therefore fail.

        If we cared for international law, instead of making @$#% up as we go along, we would ring fence the entire conflict and look for a peaceful solution – instead we have deliberately inflamed the situation.

        However that’s just my opinion. Lithuania and latvia, Estonia may have more coherent histories that justify moral outrage but Poland? Ukraine? Never.

        As my ageing Dad said at the age of 80 of the Eastern Europeans : “they have been responsible for two world wars and tens of millions of dead. Let them kill each other.” Keep us out of it.

      • Fred says:


        “Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.”
        I mean with the Russians of course.
        “We are in a fight for our principles, and our first responsibility is to live by them. No one should be singled out for unfair treatment or unkind words because of their ethnic background or religious faith. ”

        Unless you disagree with the strategic views pointed out here, they you are “with the terrorists”, er, Russians!

        Thank goodness our two decades in Afghanistan transformed that nation the same way “our” post 2014 efforts in Ukraine have transformed that Ukraine. (Dear wags and ‘pro-Russians’, please don’t mention being able to get prosecutors fired by withholding taxpayer funds while you are VP of the USA. Or ask what Obama knew about that).

        Great stuff TTG. We are “living by our principles”.

        Dear readers:
        I universally and without limit condemn “policies of torture, rape, and murder of civilian noncombatants and the kidnapping of children”. I also hope Christopher Wray releases immediately the Epstein client list and starts jailing those criminals rather that (allegedly) extorting them. (or doing their bidding). Maybe somebody should check into the cartel human trafficing (also the “kidnapping of children”) along the Northern border of Mexico. Certainly not along the US Southern border though…..

  10. Sam says:

    Girkin-Strelkov criticizes Russian leadership and Russian army for failing to prepare for war and predicts Russia is destined to lose the war.

    It’s gonna be a year since Putin invaded Ukraine. It appears his special military operation is no closer to his goal of supposedly “demilitarize & denazify” Ukraine. He’s expended significant resources in both blood and treasure to essentially get nowhere. The Ukrainian government still remains in Kyiv and the Ukrainian people subject to much deprivation and loss of essential infrastructure still haven’t been cowed.

    Putin threw what he believed he had at Ukraine. Ground invasion, sea & air attacks, missile and drone attacks on utility infrastructure, massive info ops. Yet Ukraine stands. Their government hasn’t collapsed. Their army has shown success against the superior Russian army. Not only have they held their own defensively but also acquitted themselves well in counter-offensives.

    What is Putin gonna throw next? Apparently more of the same at possibly bigger numbers. We’ll have to see how he does at the second bite of the apple.

    I don’t get this concern trolling about what Russia will do if the West does this or that. What else can Putin do? Of course not the usual nuclear escalation hand wringing. He could do one thing to end the war – withdraw. But he’ll not do that as that would be the end of his power. Why aren’t those concerned with Armageddon not advocating that?

    • blue peacock says:


      The concern trolls are attempting to mask their anti-Americanism, with their trolling. I have not read one of them advocating that Putin end this war by withdrawing his army behind Russia’s borders. They didn’t have any complaints when he annexed Crimea or launched the invasion of Ukraine. They were busy trolling that Putin did it because the West pushed him. Like a wife beater claiming she provoked it. Early in the invasion they were writing about cauldrons and other such military maneuvers that would crush the Ukrainians.

      Now that Putin’s much vaunted super power army got a bit of black eye from the Ukranians in their fight, they are trolling about Armageddon in order that the West not arm the Ukrainian army to defend themselves and allow them to be slaughtered into submission. That’s their real agenda. Let’s say they’re willing tools of Putin’s IO.

      The fact is that throughout human history, through the millennia, humans have fought each other, taken advantage of the other when they could and the strong always dominated the weak. From Athens to Rome. Persia & Genghis. The British, French, Spanish, Soviet colonies. Communist China crushing the ancient Tibetan culture by force. While America used democracy as rhetoric in their part of the Cold War. The Soviet rhetoric was a socialist paradise. Both acted in a game of power & influence.

      The reality of the human condition and the struggle for advantage is being missed in many of the debates.

  11. I think we should take the threat quoted below (made on 2023-01-22) very, very seriously:

    Top Russia official threatens West with ‘global catastrophe’ over weapons to Ukraine

    Some commentatots here observe:
    “The Russians have made threats like that in the past, and not acted on them.
    So why take this one seriously?”

    Very true.
    But let me recall an old saying:
    ‘The straw that broke the camel’s back.”
    Which additional weapon system will be the one that is one too many?
    Who knows?

    Already I have read Russian media people arguing that
    the situation in Ukraine has gotten so bad, from their POV, that
    they would prefer a nuclear holocaust to a continuation of the current situation.

    (Let me also point out that statements like that coming from many prominent Russians
    give the lie to the claim that this war is solely due to Putin.)

    • Leith says:

      Keith Harbaugh –

      Volodin has been part of Putin’s inner circle for over a decade. He used to be Putin’s aide. He was Secretary General of Putin’s political party, United Russia. He has said publicly that without Putin there can be no Russia.

      When he speaks he is speaking for Putin.

    • Babeltuap says:

      I’m not saying it didn’t happen but the same thing is going on in Ukraine. Even the UK is persecuting independent reporters on the war so….meh. End of the day it is war. The gloves come off. I wasn’t allowed in a restaurant in TX for having a campaign button. I told the hostess I wanted to speak to the manager because there were only two couples in the place. She rolled her eyes and seated us.

  12. jim ticehurst.. says:

    Historical Events like Wars or World Wars…Take An Interesting Combination of
    Events To Develope..With Those in Power…Military..Industrial..Owners of Politicians
    and Bank Rolls…Being the Developers…

    Not Long Ago…The Biden Administration Surrendered In Afghanistan…and came
    Back to the USA….To Brew Green Tea..And Save DEMOCRACY…With LIBERATION
    POLICY.. What a Secure Paradise They Have Created in the Good Old USA..

    Peace…Prosperity…Law and Order…Secure Borders..Stronger Military..and Society
    .Minus the Rif Raf Who Didnt Want Vaccines of Some Unknown Substance…And
    Happy Healthy Children and Young Americans. Proud Members of Biden Youth..

    Yessir…Then…thier Progressive Foreign Policy..Dollars..and Diamonds And
    Chinese Corn Pop..Everyone Was Excited for These New Opportunitys To Play
    Lets Make a Sell Out Deal…Even Ukraine was Proud to Announce They Were
    The New Chinese Gateway to Europe..No Concerns From NATO or Germany Then.

    I Suspect That was Taken Notice of…By the Russians..So..They Invaded ..February
    2022…No Problem…Then…April… NOW..One Big MESS..

    Escalation..Deals..No Deals..Messy Like Nam..10,000 USA Aircraft Shot Down..
    761 F-4s and RF 4 Phantoms…15 B-52s..

    Now Our Reserves are Being Brought in From All Over The World Stock piles Ukraine hs used up a 7 Year supply of Rockets and Missles ..and American Ammo.. And
    The Chinese War is Two Years Away…

    Does Zelinsky Want Russia to Do Another N. Viet Nam…with thier S 400 Strumf
    SAM Systems..Russia has 54 Artillery Batallions of those.. Oalong with thier
    new S-500 Promethius (55R6M Triumfator M Hypersonic SAM Anti Ballistic Systems..

    How Many Systems Does The United States Have deployed in for Our Defense..
    All The Old NIKE Sites I have seen are Marijuana and Mushroom Farms Now..Perhaps
    sonn It Will Be A Giant Mushroom..That Causes a Spiritual transformation..

    One Last Note on National Security….This Past Weekend..The Puget Sound Naval
    Shipyard nd Trident Submarine Base at Bangor..Wa Closed four Dry Dock Used for
    Repairs and Refits of Our Submarines and ircraft Carriers…Preparation for a
    Catastrophic Earth Quake…More Apocalypse Concerns..Adding Up…meh..

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