Understanding the thinking behind Russia’s limited attacks could help map a path towards peace, experts say.

In nearly a month since Russia invaded, dozens of Ukrainian cities and towns have fallen, and the fight over the country’s largest cities continues. United Nations human rights specialists say that some 900 civilians have died in the fighting (U.S. intelligence puts that number at least five times UN estimates). About 6.5 million Ukrainians have also become internally displaced (15 percent of the entire population), half of them leaving the country to find safety.

“The destruction is massive,” a senior analyst working at the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) tells Newsweek, “especially when compared with what Europeans and Americans are used to seeing.”

But, the analyst says, the damage associated with a contested ground war involving peer opponents shouldn’t blind people to what is really happening. (The analyst requested anonymity in order to speak about classified matters.) “The heart of Kyiv has barely been touched. And almost all of the long-range strikes have been aimed at military targets.”

In the capital, most observable to the west, Kyiv city authorities say that some 55 buildings have been damaged and that 222 people have died since February 24. It is a city of 2.8 million people.

“We need to understand Russia’s actual conduct,” says a retired Air Force officer, a lawyer by training who has been involved in approving targets for U.S. fights in Iraq and Afghanistan. The officer currently works as an analyst with a large military contractor advising the Pentagon and was granted anonymity in order to speak candidly.

“If we merely convince ourselves that Russia is bombing indiscriminately, or [that] it is failing to inflict more harm because its personnel are not up to the task or because it is technically inept, then we are not seeing the real conflict.”

In the analyst’s view, though the war has led to unprecedented destruction in the south and east, the Russian military has actually been showing restraint in its long-range attacks.

As of the past weekend, in 24 days of conflict, Russia has flown some 1,400 strike sorties and delivered almost 1,000 missiles (by contrast, the United States flew more sorties and delivered more weapons in the first day of the 2003 Iraq war). The vast majority of the airstrikes are over the battlefield, with Russian aircraft providing “close air support” to ground forces. The remainder—less than 20 percent, according to U.S. experts—has been aimed at military airfields, barracks and supporting depots.

Shocking Lessons US Military Leaders Learned by Watching Putin’s InvasionREAD MOREShocking Lessons US Military Leaders Learned by Watching Putin’s Invasion
A proportion of those strikes have damaged and destroyed civilian structures and killed and injured innocent civilians, but the level of death and destruction is low compared to Russia’s capacity.

“I know it’s hard … to swallow that the carnage and destruction could be much worse than it is,” says the DIA analyst. “But that’s what the facts show. This suggests to me, at least, that Putin is not intentionally attacking civilians, that perhaps he is mindful that he needs to limit damage in order to leave an out for negotiations.”

Russia began its invasion of Ukraine on February 24 with an air and missile attack targeted against some 65 airfields and military installations. On the first night, at least 11 airfields were attacked. Some 50 additional military installations and air defense sites were hit, including 18 early-warning radar facilities.

In these initial salvos, a total of some 240 weapons were expended, including 166 air-, ground-, and sea-based missiles. Though there were a good number of longer-range bombers (flying from Russian soil), most of the airstrikes were shorter-range and most of the missiles launched were also short-range types of the Iskander (NATO SS-26 Stone) and Tochka (NATO SS-21 Scarab) classes.

The breadth of the attack—north to south, east to west—led many observers to compare the opening bombardment to a pattern seen in U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, where large salvos concentrating on air defenses and airfields had the intent of establishing air superiority, a shock strike that would then open the skies for follow-on bombing at will. When it came to Ukraine, not only did many observers “mirror-image” Russian objectives to match U.S. practices, they also made premature (and incorrect) observations that Russia was fighting such a conflict.

Even before Russian ground forces reached Kyiv and other cities, this narrative goes, the air and missile forces would have so damaged Ukraine—including its communications and other infrastructure needed for defenses to continue working—that it would secure victory on the ground.

Russia has not achieved any of these goals. Though the outlines of its first night of strikes suggested an air superiority campaign and an intense and focused destruction of Ukraine’s military, after a month of war, continued targeting tells a different story. Russia still hasn’t completely knocked out the Ukrainian air force, nor has it established air superiority. Airfields away from the battlefield are mostly still operable and some (in major cities) haven’t been bombed at all. The fabric of communications in the country continues to operate intact. There has been no methodical Russian attack on transportation routes or bridges to impede Ukrainian ground defenses or supplies. Though electrical power plants have been hit, they are all in contested territory or near military installations and deployments. None have been intentionally targeted.

In fact, there has been no methodical bombing campaign to achieve any systemic outcome of a strategic nature. Air and missile strikes, which initially seemed to tell one story, have almost exclusively been in direct support of ground forces.

“Think of the Russian Air force as flying artillery,” says the retired senior U.S. Air Force officer, who communicated with Newsweek via email. “It’s not an independent arm. It has undertaken no strategic air campaign as American observers might be used to from the last 30 years of American conflict.”

Ukrainian air defenses, both fixed and mobile missiles, have proven resilient and deadly.

“The Air Defense’s survivability and efficacy have surprised many, not only in Kyiv, but also across the country,” Kyiv-based military expert Oleg Zhdanov told the Kyiv Independent.

Ukrainian military reporter Illia Ponomarenko says that the air defense system defending Kyiv from aircraft and missiles “has been particularly effective.

“Most missiles targeting the city are successfully intercepted,” Ponomarenko says.

Russia did not bomb stationary air defense emplacements protecting cities. U.S. analysts say Putin’s generals were particularly reluctant to attack urban targets in Kyiv.

As a result, regardless of the Kremlin’s plans—whether Russia was actually seeking air superiority or intended to limit damage in Kyiv—there is no question that Putin has had to revise the long-range attack plan.

Over the course of almost four weeks, missiles fired at Kyiv have been scarce. Ukrainian media have reported just more than a dozen incidents involving Russian cruise and ballistic missiles intercepted over the city and its closest suburbs since February 24. And all of them, U.S. experts say, have been clearly headed for legitimate military targets.

Putin’s Forces, Stalled on the Ground, Turn Up the Brutality in UkraineREAD MOREPutin’s Forces, Stalled on the Ground, Turn Up the Brutality in Ukraine
“The fact that the mobile S-300 SAM systems are still operating is a powerful indictment of Russia’s ability to conduct dynamic or time-sensitive targeting,” the Atlantic Council asserted this week in a military brief.

The DIA analyst disagrees: “For whatever reason, clearly the Russians have been reluctant to strike inside the urban megalopolis of Kyiv.

“Yes they might not be up to the U.S. task [in dynamic targeting] or in establishing air superiority … But this is the Russian air force, subordinate to the ground forces. And this war is different: it’s being fought on the ground, where everything strategic that Russia might destroy in front of its forces—bridges, communications, airfields, etc.—also becomes unusable to them as they move forward.”

From the very beginning of air strikes, both U.S. analysts agree, some of the limited air and missile attacks have also had some internal logic. Take, for instance, the airfield at Hostomel, northwest of Kyiv. It wasn’t directly attacked because Russia initially used it to land paratroopers, with the hope of advancing to the capital city. Instead the airfield and the surrounding countryside became the scene a major battle, as Ukrainian forces mounted a fierce defense.

In the south, Kherson airport also wasn’t attacked. The reason has become clear: Russia is now using that very airfield to stage its own forces.

In Kyiv, only one of the major airports was struck, in Boryspil. The news media reported that the “international airport” was hit, but the dual civil-military airfield is also home to Ukraine Air Force’s 15th Transport Wing, including the presidential Tu-134 jet that might have been used by Ukrainian President Zelensky if he chose to evacuate. The other major civilian Kyiv airport, Zhulyany, has never been attacked. Nor have two civil airports in Kharkiv (Ukraine’s second largest city) been attacked.

Russia started the war with some 300 combat aircraft in Belarus and western Russia within range of Ukraine. Those and other aircraft pulled into the war have been flying about 80 strike sorties (individual flights) daily. Ukraine claims that 95 of those Russian aircraft have been lost, either shot down by air defenders or due to human error and technical problems. (Russia has moved additional aircraft from other bases to replenish most of its losses.)

The strikes inside major cities (Kyiv, Kharkiv, and Odessa) have not only been limited, but the retired U.S. Air Force officer points out that even when long-range aviation—Russian Tu-95 “Bear” bombers delivering cruise and hypersonic missiles —have flown strikes in western Ukraine, away from the battlefield, they have been directed at military targets.

And there has been strategic logic, at least in Russia’s view.

“They’ve been signaling,” the retired officer says. “Western airfields [at Lutsk, L’viv, and Ivano-Frankivsk] were hit because they were the most likely steppingstones for donated fighter aircraft coming in from Poland and eastern European countries. When those targets were prepped,” he adds, “there was also talk of a western no-fly zone where those [western] airfields might have been essential.

“And the so-called peacekeeper training ground [in Yaroviv] was hit because it was the place where the ‘international legion’ was to have trained,” the officer says. “Moscow even announced that.”

Russia, the DIA analyst adds, has also been careful not to cause escalation onto Belorussian or Russian territory, or to provoke NATO. Despite operating from Belarus, Russian ground and air operations have mostly been confined to the southeastern portion of the country. And the attacks in western Ukraine, have been careful to avoid NATO airspace. For example, the Ukrainian airbase at Lutsk, home to the 204th Aviation Wing and just 70 miles south of the Belarus, was attacked March 13th by long-range bombers. The missiles were launched from the south, from over the Black Sea.

None of this is to suggest that Russia is not at fault in its invasion, or that the destruction and the civilian deaths, injuries and dislocation aren’t due to its aggression. Evidence on the battlefield, where there has been grinding fight for territory—in Kharkiv, in the contested front line towns like Mariupol, Mikolaiiv, and Sumy in the east; and Chernihiv northeast of Kyiv—indicates that civilian deaths have been much higher where ground forces are operating.

Even though the majority of Russian airstrikes have taken place in these areas, the increased civilian harm is due to the use of artillery and multiple rocket launchers, not Russian air or long-range missile strikes.

“People are talking about Grozny [in Chechnya] and Aleppo [in Syria], and the razing of Ukrainian cities” a second retired U.S. Air Force senior officer tells Newsweek. “But even in the case of southern cities, where artillery and rockets are within range of populated centers, the strikes seem to be trying to target Ukrainian military units, many of which by necessity operating from inside urban areas.”

The officer requested anonymity because he is being privately briefed on the war by the Pentagon and is not authorized to speak to the news media.

He and the other analysts who spoke to Newsweek argue not only that the destruction is only a small fraction of what is possible, but also that they see a glimmer of hope in a fact-based analysis of what Russia has done.

“I was initially puzzled as to why more long-range missiles haven’t been sent into Kyiv and other major cities such as Odesa, and also why long-range aviation hasn’t been used more in strategic attacks,” says the second senior officer. “But then I had to shift to see the war through [Vladimir] Putin’s eyes.”

“Caught with his pants down, perhaps Putin indeed pivoted after he realized that Ukraine wasn’t going to be a cakewalk and that Kyiv wasn’t conquerable. Maybe he decided to solely focus on taking territory along the periphery and linking up his consolidations in the south, to be in a position to hold enough territory to extract concessions from Ukraine and the west—security guarantees or some demilitarized zone.”

The second senior officer says that Putin obviously continues to apply pressure against Kyiv, but Russia hasn’t shifted much of its own forces and has continued to back off bombing in the city proper.

“In that, maybe he is leaving room for a political settlement,” the officer says.

Sunday, Volodymyr Zelensky told CNN he is prepared to talk to the Russian president. “I’m ready for negotiations with him. I was ready for the last two years. And I think that without negotiations, we cannot end this war,” said Zelensky.

The fact that both sides are talking, experts say, indicates not only how shocked they are by the destructiveness of a land war in Europe, but are also stymied in achieving their military objectives. As Russia advances, it is running out of supplies. Its forces are also exhausted. As Ukraine continues its valiant defense, it too is reaching the limits of human endurance, facing major losses and running low on ammunition.

It is now absolutely clear, all U.S. observers agree, that Putin and his generals overestimated their own military prowess while grossly underestimating Ukraine’s defenses.

“I’m frustrated by the current narrative—that Russia is intentionally targeting civilians, that it is demolishing cities, and that Putin doesn’t care. Such a distorted view stands in the way of finding an end before true disaster hits or the war spreads to the rest of Europe,” the second U.S. Air Force officer says.

Heartbreaking images make it easy for the news to focus on the war’s damage to buildings and lives. But in proportion to the intensity of the fighting (or Russia’s capacity), things could indeed be much worse.

“I know that the news keeps repeating that Putin is targeting civilians, but there is no evidence that Russia is intentionally doing so,” says the DIA analyst. “In fact, I’d say that Russian could be killing thousands more civilians if it wanted to.”

“I’m no com-symp,” the analyst says. “Russia is dead wrong, and Putin needs to be punished. But in terms of concluding the war in a way that both sides can accept and where we don’t see Armageddon, the air and missile war provides positive signs.”

Every war is unique and awful, and Ukraine is no different. But Russia’s choice to modulate its destructiveness is an important counterintuitive element. Vladimir Putin can’t easily win; he can’t accept loss or retreat; and he can’t escalate. He has to keep destruction and pressure at a very careful, just-bad-enough level to keep some advantage.

“I know it’s thin consolation that it could be a lot worse,” the DIA analyst says, “but to understand how that is the case should really change people’s perspectives, even inside the U.S. government, as to how to end this.”


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  1. walrus says:

    Harper, Thank you for posting this. It seems to explain a lot of what we are seeing.

  2. TTG says:

    Seems the DIA analyst finds it hard to believe the Russian Aerospace Forces may be suffering from the same rot that’s affecting the Russian Army. While I share many’s skepticism that Russia is following an official policy of killing as many civilians as they can, I don’t think they’re deliberately limiting the destruction as part of a grand plan either. They’re just not near as good as we all thought they were.

    • fredw says:

      Agreed. The indidents in the news are terrible, but so far they appear to be combat incidents rather than a strategy. Quantities are small by historic standards. The Vietnam war as we know it began on November 23, 1946, when a French naval commander expressed his disapproval of a cease fire agreed the day before by bombarding the Vietnamese sections of Haiphong near the harbor. 6000 people were killed to reassert French control of the city. That is what a strategy of intimidation by mass murder looks like. There were many examples of this from the 20th century. The Russians in Ukraine are callous, but they are not nearly as murderous as they could be if that was their purpose. The incidents are terrible, but the numbers are small.

      • Pat Lang says:

        That is true. I lived in occupied Germany as a boy in 1947-49. What I saw there was devastation of cities on a grand scale.

    • Mark Gaughan says:

      What drugs are you taking?

    • zmajcek says:


      “Analysts” have gone from describing Russian army like some supernatural force that will take half of Ukraine in 3 days to dragging them trough mud because they failed to meet those expectations.

      In many videos on the net we see Russians troops behaving clumsy and disorganized, but we rarely see the other side of the story.

      As I understand the Russians do not have the numbers advantage in many places where they are attacking.

      How would the US handle the situation where it is trying to take ground from a determined and skilled opponent without having the overwhelming numbers and being forced to deal with urbanized European environment with millions of European civilians in the way ?

      • Pat Lang says:

        I would hope that we would not attempt such a thing with what is clearly an inadequate force. BTW, our logistics work exceedingly well.

        • zmajcek says:


          A fair point. It seems they overestimated their own capabilities and especially the disposition of the local population. Instead of flocking to their side en masse, the locals are either opposing them or staying out of the fight.

          A painful lesson. Even more painful is probably the economic aspect of this whole affair. For example, how they managed to leave half of their foreign reserves vulnerable to sanctions is as you say incredible.

      • TTG says:


        I would think we would insist on establishing total air dominance before sending in ground forces. We would take the time and make the concerted effort to take out all air defense systems and air forces including drones and drone controllers. That would still leave Stingers to contend with. I don’t know what we do for them other than fly above them. We would take out command centers with a vengeance, which would surely lead to civilian casualties. In other words, we would wage a thorough, well planned out and fully resourced air campaign prior to initiating a ground campaign. The Russians did not or could not do that.

        • zmajcek says:


          NATO achieved total air dominance after it attacked Serbia in 1999. However, after months of bombing, actual Serbian military losses were only a fraction of what NATO thought it had inflicted. The US even lost a very expensive aircraft in the process.

        • English Outsider says:

          TTG – Could the Russians have done that? They had facing them across the line of control a large and well trained army. Had that army broken into the old LDNR the fighting would have been bogged down in a heavily urbanised area. Given that there were determined neo-nazis in the mix the fighting would have been complicated by the use of human shields and that’s the very devil to cope with. Rudskoy claims as much.

          “The course of hostilities, the testimonies of civilians who left the blockaded settlements and captured Ukrainian servicemen show that today the AFU’s ability to resist is based on fear of reprisals by neo-Nazis. Their representatives are embedded in all military units.

          “The mainstay of the Kiev regime are nationalist formations such as Azov, Aidar, Right Sector and others recognized in Russia as terrorist organizations. In Mariupol alone, they include more than 7 thousand militants who are fighting under the guise of civilians, using them as a “human shield”.

          “The militants of the Azov battalion drive women and children out of the basements, threatening them with weapons, and send them towards the advancing units of the DPR in order to hinder the advance of the people’s militia. This has become a common practice for them.”

          So if the JFO had got into the old LDNR we could now be seeing a series of Mariupols, with all the associated horrors and a long series of fights to winkle the neo-nazis out. The ground campaign had to start simultaneously to pre-empt that.

          There are indications that the Russians had to rush the invasion for that reason. However messy that made it it’s difficult to see how a preliminary air campaign could have answered, with that formidable army threatening attack from just over the LoC.

          This is an apologia for the heavy casualties of the first few days put out by Chirkin. It’s clear propaganda, or at least exhortation, but behind all that there does seem to be an indication that the first few days were unexpectedly difficult –

          “If we explain our tactics of the first twenty-four hours…it is a creatively reworked “reconnaissance battle” of the Great Patriotic War. Only with deep and rapid penetration into Nazi-occupied territory. We provoked the enemy’s activity by tactical groups, deliberately pulling Ukrainian army units and National Security Forces from their locations. Withstanding with small numbers the terrible counterattacks by tanks and armoured vehicles, outnumbered by the motorised infantry.

          “Sometimes it was impossible to suppress Grads, artillery and mortars hidden in residential areas that were raining on you. Urban areas could not be cleared methodically by combat formations, by calling supporting fire, attack helicopters, sappers, flamethrowers, tanks to blow-up machine-gun points in houses and civilian infrastructure facilities.

          “This is a war unfamiliar to us veterans. Especially when the skies are under your full control, airfields are jammed with attack planes and bombers, operational-tactical missile systems are in service and there is a mass of heavy artillery.”


          I believe that period around 21st February and the 24th needs much examination. What were the two sides hoping for or intending, what did they fear the other side was intending? Reading your comment above this wasn’t an operation running on oiled wheels from the start. Quite possible the start was rushed, and hence those first few days of mayhem. Rudskoy seems to indicate that.

          Is it now all running more to plan? The crucial part of Rudskoy’s report claims so –

          “The public and individual experts are wondering what we are doing in the area of blocked Ukrainian cities.

          These actions are carried out with the aim of causing such damage to military infrastructure, equipment, personnel of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, the results of which allow not only to shackle their forces and do not give them the opportunity to strengthen their grouping in the Donbass, but also will not allow them to do so until the Russian army completely liberates the territories of the DPR and LPR.

          “Initially, we did not plan to storm them in order to prevent destruction and minimize losses among personnel and civilians.

          “And although we do not rule out such a possibility, however, as individual groups complete their tasks, and they are being solved successfully, our forces and means will concentrate on the main thing � the complete liberation of Donbass.

          “Significant territories of the Lugansk and Donetsk people’s republics have also been liberated. The people’s militia has taken control of 276 settlements that were previously under the control of the Ukrainian army and the national battalions.

          “Demilitarization of Ukraine is achieved both by high-precision strikes on military infrastructure facilities, locations of formations and military units, airfields, control points, arsenals and warehouses of weapons and military equipment, and by the actions of troops to defeat opposing enemy grouppings.

          “Currently, the Ukrainian air forces and the air defence system have been almost completely destroyed. The naval forces of the country ceased to exist.”

          I don’t myself believe the Russians are going to lose this one. I don’t believe that, not because I’m familiar with military matters, but because it’s clear the Russians can’t afford to lose this one. Yavoriv showed that NATO’s not going to be able to intervene militarily. All NATO help can do now is prolong the fight.

          And should NATO be doing that? NATO had seven years to stop the shelling across the line of control. Instead of stopping it they trained the units, some of them neo-nazi, engaged in that shelling. So NATO – and Germany and France – had their chance and blew it. Time now for NATO to butt out and let the Russians stop it instead.

          But I have moved away from the point of your original comment. To return to it could you, as one who does know about these matters, examine the possibility that that Russian attack was rushed. And that they were in fact mounting a pre-emptive attack for fear of the JFO moving first?

          • TTG says:


            Theoretically the Russian Aerospace Force could have done that. Whether they have the ability to plan a complete air campaign is something I don’t know. I don’t know if it’s in their tradition or doctrine. They certainly have the airpower and rocket/missile forces on paper that should have enabled them to achieve much closer to air dominance than they have. Unfortunately those forces are probably in no better shape than the ground forces. How much of that good technology has been stolen and sold? Seems a lot of the highly pilferable items in the reserve tank force has made their way to the black market, items like sights, night vision and thermal imaging devices and targeting computers. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the aerospace and rocket forces have the same problem.
            I put very little credence in what Rudskoy had to say. Trying to deny they were aiming for regime change is absolute bullshit. It’s hard not to chalk up anything else he says as Putin regime propaganda. “A creatively reworked “reconnaissance battle” of the Great Patriotic War.” What a crock. There were multiple combined arms thrusts and a poorly planned and executed airborne/airmobile assault on Kyiv alone. It’s as Leith said earlier. It’s a retelling of the fable of the fox and the grapes.
            If the Ukrainian army intended to launch a preemptive strike into the occupied Donbas territories, they would have run into the same prepared defenses that the Russians, DNR and LNR forces are running into now. And they’d be doing that while the bulk of the Russian army was sitting on the border. Ukraine’s goal was not to provoke a Russian invasion. It made absolutely no military sense for Ukraine to attempt to take the occupied Donbas. No, the Russians didn’t rush the invasion, they just screwed it up. If they wanted to take the entire Donbas, they could have come in heavy, in several echelons if need be, just north of the defenses and swept south behind those defenses. Their goal was regime change in Kyiv and the fracturing of NATO. They failed.

  3. fakebot says:

    If it gets to a point where Russian troops can’t sustain their efforts, it will force Putin into a position where he will likely escalate. I agree Putin would rather not, but things could move into that direction. After all, he escalated things already with this invasion.

    And in that case, what other card does Russia have? We keep hearing about chemical and biological false flags. It’s a possibility, but that would be silly. A nuclear strike of some kind? Do we really want to wait until the day he hits 1 Ukrainian city? Asking the question of everyone else, “do you want armageddon”? We all know the contingencies for that: calling the priest to read us our last rites or hiding in some bunker like the rest of the cockroaches who plan to survive.

    We have to strike a delicate balance of our own. Any thought of dragging this war out until Russia can’t fight anymore or on the hope Putin will be deposed is foolhardy.

    We need to negotiate workable terms. That doesn’t mean selling Ukraine down a river. Part of those negotiations involves maintaining a strong enough posture to discourage other countries that are watching from thinking they have everything to gain with invasions like this. The last thing we want is another Ukraine invasion elsewhere in the world.

    There are ways to solve our differences with Russia without Ukraine losing out too much and where everyone comes out as winners, even if some of those wins are fig leaves for them and us.

  4. TV says:

    Isn’t Arkin the “journalist” who has made a career of exposing US national security secrets?

    • Seamus Padraig says:

      Arkin is, and always has been, very close to the Pentagon. He isn’t exposing anything that the brass don’t want exposed. Most ‘leaks’ in Washington are really sanctioned by the PTB.

  5. Sam says:

    Biden in Poland talking to the troops about democracy vs oligarchs is galling.

    Sundance speaks to what a few Americans feel. We shouldn’t whitewash the covidian emergency and how what many consider the bedrock American precepts of liberty were abrogated.

    This narrative is starting to 🤬me off. The western “democracies” went full totalitarian with the COVID rules, regulations and punishments.

    What they did will not be, and cannot be, forgotten.

    Western govt went full stazi, now they want to high-horse, pretend & ignore. FU!

    There comes a time when a person has no more tongue to bite. Joe Biden speaking to U.S. troops in Poland about “democracies at an inflection” point in history, is jaw-dropping when you consider the behavior of every western government leader over the past two years. Joe Biden, the same authoritarian who mandated every American worker undergo a medical procedure in order to qualify as a person who might earn a living, sits atop his high-horse and pretends that western govt leaders have some inherent claim to the protection of democracy. Given their collective behavior over the past two years, the hypocrisy of this continued talking point is beyond outlandish. Emmanuel Macron, Boris Johnson, Jacinda Ardern, Scott Morrison, Justin Trudeau and Joe Biden himself, would like to think that we do not remember the past two years of complete unilateral dictatorship they enjoyed while hiding behind the shield of “emergency authorizations.


    I relate to the sentiment expressed above. We became what at least many rhetorically abhor. Our government did a successful test run of CCP regime. We shouldn’t allow them to use the fight for democracy canard. It would be more honest to say we support Ukrainian resistance because we don’t want Russia expanding their sphere of military influence or something like that.

    • Cerena says:

      American face in Ukraine: “In September 2020, New York Post disclosed that the FBI had laid its hands on a laptop belonging to Hunter Biden, which contained evidence of his involvement in illegal business dealings in Ukraine and China. All US intelligence agencies in chorus accused Russia of spreading rumors with a view to destabilizing the State. However, on 16 March, the New York Times finally confirmed the authenticity of the laptop.
      Hunter Biden is a junkie serving as a figurehead for the “interests” of the Straussians.
      The Democratic majority of the US House of Representatives had launched an impeachment procedure against President Trump (Ukrainegate) because he had attempted to shed light on these Ukrainian “affairs.” In calling out the “gang of drug addicts in power in Kyev,” Russian President Vladimir Putin was referring to Hunter Biden and his gang of cohorts.”

      And then this: “a subsidiary of the foundation founded by Hunter Biden (son of President Joe Biden) and Christopher Heinz (step-son of John Kerry) has played a key role in the Pentagon’s biological research programs in Ukraine.” Oh my…

      • Pat Lang says:

        “Hunter Biden is a junkie serving as a figurehead for the “interests” of the Straussians.” I doubt that. IMO he is merely a vehicle for accomplishment of Biden family greed.

    • Seamus Padraig says:

      I relate to the sentiment expressed above. And so do I!

    • Sam says:

      Given that Twitter serves as the de facto public town square, failing to adhere to free speech principles fundamentally undermines democracy.

      What should be done?


      Elon provoking an important discussion after he requested a poll with 70% of the over 2 million respondents voting that Twitter doesn’t adhere to the principle of free speech.

      We have a situation where the current POTUS is describing the situation in Eastern Europe as a fight for “democracy” when our own government and major media institutions don’t practice much of that.

  6. Lars says:

    The nuclear threat from Russia is brought up now and then, but can they rely on it with the obvious quality problems they have elsewhere in their military? Does that impact the seriousness of the threat? I also think that Putin has backed himself into a corner and how that is resolved will impact the endgame of all this, but one thing is clear and that is the idea of Russia as a super power is seriously downgraded. It may not have that much impact on their western front, but it may very well have some enhanced outcomes in their eastern one. As the old saying goes: Be careful of what you wish for, since you may get it, which can be bad enough, but even worse, you may get the opposite.

    • fredw says:

      “can they rely on it with the obvious quality problems they have elsewhere in their military?”

      When you are talking about nuclear weapons, it only takes one actually working to bring on the apocalypse. If 90% don’t work, you still get the biggest catastrophe on human history.

      90% not working is a figure I actually saw about 40 years ago. The analysis (not official) was actually directed at the US forces. 30,000 moving parts, and sitting for years at a time in silos in North Dakota being maintained by air force lifers but never actually used. Test launches were always preceded by intense maintenance activity. Without advance notice the launches usually failed. (“Always” was the assertion.) That line of thinking falls clearly in the category of rumor, but I have never been able to convince myself that the described phenomena are not likely. Reliability is probably better today (fewer moving parts).

      But it doesn’t matter. The scale of destruction makes precision irrelevant.

  7. Steve says:

    Don’t you think it’s telling that Ramzan Kadyrov and his Chechen Army are there in Ukraine assisting the Russian effort to subdue and defeat the Nazi Azov battalion, and complaining that Putin wants them to tread lightly?
    Bear in mind the Chechen wars of 94 to 96, and 99 to 2000. The Russians make allies out of enemies, whereas the USA ….

    • Pat Lang says:

      We had allies in both Iraq and Afghanistan. In civil war situation the population always splits especially when that population is made up of rival groups. I major mistake in bothe places was to put the “big army” in charge of training the locals. The “big army” is so self-obsessed that they never do this well.

  8. Leith says:

    So Arkin thinks Putin is holding back? Seems more like Aesop’s Fox and the Grapes.


  9. Seamus Padraig says:

    “Caught with his pants down, perhaps Putin indeed pivoted after he realized that Ukraine wasn’t going to be a cakewalk and that Kyiv wasn’t conquerable. Maybe he decided to solely focus on taking territory along the periphery and linking up his consolidations in the south, to be in a position to hold enough territory to extract concessions from Ukraine and the west—security guarantees or some demilitarized zone.” … “In that, maybe he is leaving room for a political settlement,” the officer says.

    But hasn’t that always been Putin’s position from the start? Hasn’t he consistently said in all his speeches and public statements that he wants a neutral Ukraine, “denazified,” with language rights and elected local government for the people in East? When ever did speak of total war or the equivalent?

    I don’t have the feeling Russia’s war aims or strategy have changed since the start of the conflict much at all; maybe it’s just the minds of NATO’s military analysts that are starting to change.

    • Pat Lang says:

      His advance against Kiyiv say otherwise.

    • Pat Lang says:

      His advance against Kiyiv says otherwise.

      • Steve says:

        Looking at the recent credible maps in comparison with those a week or more older I’d say the Russians are just preventing reinforcements from entering or exiting Kyiv. The latest from the French MoD shows the Ukrainians pressuring the west bank of the river from the south, perhaps probing for weak spots and a breakout. If that’s the case and looking at the area on google with satellite setting that, doesn’t look like an urban area so playing into the Russian’s strengths.

        • JohninMK says:

          The French MoD maps are pretty good, they put our British MoD same to shame.

          Russia clearly has a prime objective, seize the east and south east, basically the full oblasts of Donetsk and Luhansk. Dug in and well prepared were 120k soldiers in the best units of the UkA. They would be well aware that that was a tough nut to crack and didn’t want them to get any relief.

          The Russian advance down to Kiev clearly didn’t go as they thought it might but it probably achieved one of its objectives, making sure that the UkA units in the west didn’t hop on a train to the east. The same with the other attacks on Ukraine’s cities, they all tied up units.

          The biggest concentration of available units not actually fighting is in and north of Odessa and here Russian naval activity, including their landing crafts, ensure that those units are still tied down, just in case.

          To date the Russians have not pushed forward on the DNR/LDR frontlines, even though the UkA artillery is doing damage to the cities, especially Donetsk. Their plan seems to be to do enough to keep the UkA in its hardened positions without doing so much that they have to withdraw, until they close the flanking pincer behind them. Everyday that objective gets closer.

          Whilst those activities are continuing the UkA are taking heavy loses of munitions and fuel. Most of the big fuel dumps have now been hit and it looks increasingly like there is no longer enough diesel to mount any significant operation. Were they to be able to escape the pincer, many would have to do it on foot.

          In terms of speed the Russians, perhaps learning from their mistakes over the first few days, have slowed right down, well aware that Generals Winter and Time are on their side. This is due to munitions/food/water getting used up on the UkA side but not Russian as, apart from Kiev, Russian forces are mainly 50 or so miles from their border.

          I cannot understand the view that Russian missiles are inaccurate or unreliable. Many of the sites they have hit have been in built up areas and there has been no claim by the Ukrainian Government of significant casualties in any of them, usually just a handful who may have been working on the sites. Whether by ship/air/land launched cruise, or air/ground launched ballistic missile after photos show they are pretty accurate. There are very few photos of these missiles landing in the wrong place or shot down, I only saw the first Kalibr full wreck today. If anyone has counter evidence I’d love to see it.

          Which brings me onto air defences. The UkA had probably the best AD system outside Russia, multi layer from S-300 to MANPADs, deadly and lots of them. Any fixed installations and the CC system soon went but the mobiles, especially the Buk-M, are very difficult to hit. Operating on a shoot and scoot strategy, with almost certainly target ID from AWACs they turn their own radar on for a minimal time so reducing the RuAF targeting data. From an initial 80 units the RuAF have only claimed around 20. The others are regarded as a very serious hazard and could well be the reason why most important strikes are done by missiles and why, apart from CAS there has been very little RuAF activity, completely different to Syrian operations for example. Whilst at the other end of the spectrum, MANPADs or their threat, have proved very effective against helicopters.

          The big puzzle for me is, given flooding the country with ATGM, is the relatively low numbers of armoured vehicles disabled by them, good old artillery being the real tank killer again.

  10. Jovan P says:

    Although the population in Ukraine is split (the Pro-Russian ask why doesn’t the operation go faster, the anti-Russian ask when will NATO close the skies, the neutral just wait) seems like Russians are doing their best to help the civilian population and win over their hearts (where possible). According to a Russian blogger, in South Ukraine the Russian state is starting to pay the civil servants their salaries from the Russian budget. Also, the customs procedure for bringing humanitarian aid from Russia to Ukraine has been simplified (not the one distributed by the Russian Ministry of Emergency situations). And every winning over of a city (militarily or diplomatically) seems to be accompanied by aid to the civilian population.

    One minor reason why the Russians can’t afford to lose this conflict is because of the pro-Russian population in Ukraine. If Russia were to give up, these people would be gone (assimilated, marginalized, expelled).

  11. FND says:

    The article seems reasonable to me. Its hard to imagine that Putin would tell his generals something like

    “Hey, lets bomb a children’s hospital on purpose so that the west will become even more enraged and give Ukraine even more weapons and, supplies and money and maybe it will even lead to WWIII. Wouldn’t that be great?”

  12. jim ticehurst says:

    There is a Story Today In Business Insider..By Alia Shoalib..Sat..March 26th
    2022 at 5:45AM

    Ukraine Has Siezed The Moblie Command Module Of A Kasuka 4 Advance Warfare System ..Outside Of Kyev..Its Being Transported To the USA of Analysis..

    • JohninMK says:

      The forum I’m on that delves into Russian military matters is of the firm opinion that the container on its side in the photos fell off either a 4 or 6 wheel flatbed truck. The one shown could be a standard power container used in a multitude of applications.

      The Krasukha-2/4containers are permanently fitted onto eight wheel truck chassis.

      One day we may know the truth.

  13. jim ticehurst says:

    It Seems ike there is So Much Propoganda and Dis-Info Tossed Around And Pete and Repeated That One shoud Ignore all That..and Study The Daily Chess Game Putin is Playing…I Believe He has alot More Reserves ..And is Capable of Even More Deadly Force That The World Has Seen so Far..Land…Sea…Air..Combined..

    I Bet His Subs have Been in Every Port in America…Pinking And PUTTIN..

    It Seems His Daily War Game..Is Hit One or Two Targets..For What Ever Impact It Will Have..Study His Opponents ,,Moves..World and NATO Reactions..And Plot His Next Moves…Its Obvious He Wants to Occupy..He Will Kill and Move out Entire
    Populations By Any Means…I Dont Thing He is Ready For further Moves To
    Occupy Key Areas..Until They Are Depopuated..

    When Ready To Do That..He Wants South to North transportation Routes..Bring Back The Chinese Pig Farmers..Maybe Get all That Land Prepped For Corn and Wheat..
    That Should ..Take.Most of The Spring and Summer..He will Expand His Arena..Later..He has Many Money Matters and Deals to Negotiate.As Well..

    Every Day, Brings a New Reality…THE MSM Is ike a Parrot..With One Line..

    They Are Al Makeup….and Hair Balls..

  14. jim ticehurst says:

    After Alot of Research..I now Believe There is Another Dynasty in New York..That
    Immigrated and Has Existed Here For over One Hundred Years..

    It has been Involved in Politics and Our Government At Many Levels..And Knowing
    Much of The Background Explains ..Everything..Including Current Biden Policys ..

    This Dynasty..Sends Out The Pooper Scooper..Behind JOEBOT..and Is the
    VOICE…When “The White House Says”…I Believe…The Evidence is Strong..

  15. Sam says:

    1/ Big Arrow War—a primer. For all those scratching their heads in confusion, or dusting off their dress uniforms for the Ukrainian victory parade in Kiev, over the news about Russia’s “strategic shift”, you might want to re-familiarize yourself with basic military concepts.


    I don’t have the competence evaluate what Scott Ritter is saying. All I know is that he was on Iraq WMD hunting team.

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