A senior Ukrainian official warned that Russia can reconstitute itself as a serious threat to Ukraine in the long run despite facing severe force generation problems at this time. Deputy Chief of the Main Operational Directorate of the Ukrainian General Staff Brigadier General Oleksiy Hromov stated on April 13 that Russian crypto-mobilization efforts are stagnating due to Russians’ growing awareness that causality rates for Russian soldiers in Ukraine are high. Hromov stated that Volgograd and Saratov oblasts have only met seven percent (134 of the 7,800 recruits) and 14 percent (270 of the 7,600 recruits) of their regional recruitment quotas for the first quarter of 2023 respectively. Hromov also stated that Moscow is creating “alternative” private military companies (PMCs) to fill these gaps, but that these PMCs will not be as powerful as the Wagner Group in the near future, partially supporting previous ISW forecasts. Hromov noted that Ukraine and its allies must not underestimate Russian force generation capabilities in the long run for a protracted war of attrition. ISW has previously warned that the US and NATO should not underestimate Russian capabilities in the long run, as Russia can regenerate by leveraging its population and defense industrial base (DIB) to threaten Ukraine and NATO if Russian President Vladimir Putin decides to fundamentally change Russia’s strategic resource allocation over the long run. Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu announced plans on January 17 to form 12 new maneuver divisions over the course of several years, for example.

The Kremlin has not yet undertaken the necessary reorganization of its war effort to effectively leverage economies of scale to support large-scale Russian force generation, however. Current Russian half-measures and decentralized recruitment efforts to regenerate forces such as crypto-mobilization, leaning on Russia’s regions to generate volunteers, relying on new small PMCs, and pressuring various Russian state-owned enterprises to sponsor and pay for recruitment campaigns seek to shift the resource burden to generate forces among different siloviki and elements of the Russian state. The Kremlin is reportedly billing the Russian state-owned energy company Gazprom for its volunteer recruitment efforts in occupied Donetsk Oblast, offering volunteers 400,000 rubles (approximately $4,900) salary per month. A Russian State Duma official proposed the institution of a new 2–3% “military tax” on Russian citizens’ income — a provision that would allow Putin to reduce the burden on existing federal funds but would likely anger more Russians. These various Russian groups’ resources are finite. The Kremlin’s currently unsustainable effort to commandeer them will exhaust itself without fundamental resource generation and resource allocation reform. These current efforts will generate some additional combat power in the short term, to be sure, but will do so with diminishing marginal returns at increasing cost. The Russian state’s current model of resource allocations and economies of scale do not synergize disjointed efforts to tap discrete resource pools. The Kremlin’s decision to continue relying on financially incentivizing voluntary recruits with both one-time payments and accrued lifetime benefits will create large long-term structural costs and will not be sustainable indefinitely.

Ukrainian assessments confirm ISW’s longstanding assessment that Russia cannot conduct multiple offensive operations simultaneously at this time. Deputy Chief of the Main Operational Directorate of the Ukrainian General Staff Brigadier General Oleksiy Hromov stated on April 13 that Russian forces deployed unspecified Russian forces from the Avdiivka area of operations to reinforce offensive operations around Bakhmut and that Russia has lost about 4,000 Wagner and conventional personnel in Bakhmut since around March 30. Hromov’s statement supports ISW’s longstanding assessment that the Russian military — in its current form — is unable to conduct large-scale, simultaneous offensive campaigns on multiple axes.


Comment: This appears to be an attempt at a long term assessment beyond a Ukrainian counteroffensive this year and into 2024 and beyond. What is suspect is either Hromov’s or ISW’s math skills concerning the recruitment figures in Volgograd and Saratov oblasts. Volgograd’s recruitment of 134 out of a goal of 7,800 is 1.7% not 17%. Saratov’s recruitment shortfall is 3.5% rather than 14%. Hromov was giving Russki recruiters too much credit.

Another indication of Russia’s manpower problems was revealed in the recent “Discord Leaks.” Russia’s Spetsnaz unit losses have been catastrophic. One brigade has only 125 out of an original strength of 900 remaining. Two brigades are assessed with 90 to 95 percent casualties. These losses can’t be replaced with prison meat. It takes years to train a Spetsnaz trooper and longer than that to train an effective team.

Beyond Hromov’s difficulties with heavy ciphering, it’s obvious that force generation will remain a major problem for Russia. It’s not that they will run out of people to make into soldiers (or mere meat). The ability to absorb millions of casualties in WWII and keep ticking should prove that. But Russia can’t produce the number and quality of troops needed to wage decisive war anytime soon. Conditions aren’t that much better for the Ukrainians, but WWII proved they can also take a licking and keep ticking. We should soon see how well they’ve done in building a credible reserve force once their counteroffensive kicks in. Then we’ll have to see how long it takes them to assemble another credible reserve for future operations.

I tried to embed Jerry Clower’s tale of the coon hunt for your enjoyment and to illustrate the predicament both combatants are currently in. Can’t be done. I guess some things are sacred. The link is below. I happened to be cruising with SWMBO in my ’71 Super Beetle just south of Phenix City, Alabama in 1976 when I first heard this Jerry Clower tale. Ah, newly weds.



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  1. jerseycityjoan says:

    I saw something on Twitter about the future of Ukraine. There had been some poll and I think 55% of Americans think they should be accepted by NATO. The rest were mostly Don’t Knows.

    I have supported us and NATO helping them. But should the US commit to protecting them forever, on top of the many other additional countries we protect now that we didn’t a generation ago? I have many doubts about that. We have been blithely adding to our (yes I say ours because let’s face it, the buck mostly starts and stops with us) defense commitments like we have been adding to the national debt since Bush.

    We keep adding things with no thought of what happens when we actually have to do what we promised.

  2. Fred says:

    “Ukraine and its allies must not underestimate Russian force generation capabilities in the long run for a protracted war of attrition…..”

    Who does Ukraine have treaties of alliance with, the UK and Poland? We sure don’t have one.

    “Russia can regenerate by leveraging its population and defense industrial base (DIB) to threaten Ukraine and NATO”

    So their economy has NOT collapsed and they have not even geared up their defense industry? Tht sure wasn’t in the (defninitely not planted) E-3 is the real spy regulate the internet now (election is coming) release of classified documents all the rage these past few days. But, NATO is (ok some day will be) threatened. You know what that means.

    France is in danger! No wonder Macron is in China, he’s looking for new allies, or at least tourists, to pump up the tourist trade in time for the Olympics next year. I’m sure it is better to be in Beijing than in Paris when it is filled with rioting Frenchmen.

    I wonder why King Charles is not kicking Rishi Sunak in the butt to get the army enlarged, instead of shrinking it yet again? Oh, right, NATO under threat, but not enough for the UK to increase their military. Or France; what’s Germany doing, besides closing nuclear plants? At least they’ll be ‘safe’ from Climate Change. LOL.

    • different clue says:

      How will closing nuclear plants make Germany ‘safe’ from Climate Change?

      • Fred says:


        You should ask the German greens. I think LeaNder is the closest representative we have commenting here.

        • different clue says:

          Maybe LeaNder will rise to the invitation and explain how it works.

          I myself can’t ask the German greens because I am here in Michigan and they are there in Germany and I don’t speak German and they probably don’t read these threads.

          So if I am to get any answer at all, it will have to be from LeaNder.

  3. Whitewall says:

    Jerry Clower. My God that man was funny! Somewhere I have all his albums and we even went to see his show back about 1980. The just shoot up in here is an apt description of circs in Ukraine now. I took the timing of the ‘discord leaks’ to mean the muddy season is ending fast over there.

    • TTG says:


      Usually Johnson’s smoking guns end up shooting blanks. His knowledge of what’s on JWICS is more out of date than mine. It’s like my finding the use of an ORCON caveat on a briefing slide to be very odd. I’ve been out of the game now for 20 years. Things change.

      • William says:


        It does appear that LJ agrees with my assessment. The reality is that I don’t know about JWICS, but neither do you because 20 years is a lifetime in terms of how the development of IT control systems.

        So if you don’t know, I don’t know and LJ doesn’t know precisely – although he does seems to know about specific document controls (CIA docs and FISA docs), we have to rely upon analysis and I am sticking with the view that the leak does not make sense. This kid having access doesn’t make sense. The kid leaking for months and it not being known also does not pass the smell test.

        The narrative about Ukraine winning the war was a lie and it was important to get ahead of that story before the war ends in ignomy.

        In terms of Russia’s losses – what happened in WWII was the Russians used heavy artillery to plaster the Nazis – aren’t they going to do the same thing here. Aren’t they using 500lb bombs that can bring down a high rise building. You don’t need unlimited manpower to win such a war.

  4. Fourth and Long says:

    Purely as a matter of historical record here’s a link to a translation of Yevgeny Prigozhin’s message of yesterday which is attracting huge attention. Most of you know him as the founder and director of the Wagner Group, a PMC.
    It’s being commented on all across the web, particularly in Russia. Below the link I will get paste a couple of translated comments from Ru bloggers who are either decidedly antiwar and or anti-regime. They are not intended as endorsements by yours truly.

    Only fair fight: no agreement;

    From Antiwar channel (hacked and all posts removed two days ago, now reconstituted with a smaller staff:

    Thirty-eighth parallel of Prigogine’s name

    “For the authorities and society as a whole, today it is necessary to put some sort of bullet point in the SVO,” Yevgeny Prigozhin wrote yesterday. This dialectical transformation of Saul into Paul of the party of war into the party of peace puzzled everyone, forcing them to build more or less conspiratorial versions.

    Prigozhin proposes a “Korean scenario”: the actual freezing of the conflict along the current front line, and the transition to “strategic defense”. True, he calls the occupied territories a “fat piece”, but it is clear to everyone that this is too small a prize for all the sacrifices made by Russia and the risks taken. And Prigozhin still does not rule out that the Ukrainians can break through the Russian defenses and take back part of the “fat piece”. But that’s okay, he writes. “Let’s lick our wounds.” The main goal of Prigozhin’s “38th Parallel” is not to preserve the conquered steppes, but to turn Russia into a “Bristling War Monster”. To do this, the businessman considers it necessary to clean up the “deep state” – the liberal pro-Western elite. At the same time, unlike the North Korean model, he proposes to “crowd out sluggish inefficient state capital” with economic efficiency.

    In fact, it is about admitting defeat in order to remake Russia in the name of the Wagner PMC in the name of a hypothetical revenge according to the formula: private capital + military-nationalist dictatorship. “The open terrorist dictatorship of the most reactionary, the most chauvinistic, the most imperialist elements of finance capital,” Marxist critics would say of this model. Prigozhin wants to convert a military defeat into the establishment of a fascist regime.

    Previously, Prigozhin, in principle, publicly dreamed of something similar, but with an important difference: the prologue to the establishment of a dictatorship was to be a military victory (in which the “cook” wanted to play a decisive role). What happened?

    Perhaps the whole point is that the bloody eight-month assault on Bakhmut simply bled the Wagners. They can no longer claim to be the main armed force of the Putin regime. At the next stage, the war will go on without them. And, therefore, farewell to the dream of converting military merit into power and property. To some extent, this also applies to the entire Russian army. Prigozhin, perhaps, simply understands the real combat potential of the group better than others, and therefore seeks salvation in an urgent transition to defense.

    And it is also possible that Prigozhin became the first victim of the Ukrainian psychological attack. The threat of a decisive Ukrainian counter-offensive has been brewing for months. The offensive itself is constantly delayed, but the panic in the Russian headquarters is growing, provoking the growth of conflicts and disagreements among the generals and commanders. Sooner or later, these disagreements had to go public and become a factor in the political struggle. Maybe Prigogine’s strange Korean proposal is just the first sign. And the open political struggle that Putin tried to destroy during his 24 years in office will return to the country under conditions of dictatorship and military failures.

    Two posts by a rather bright blogger who is very upset with his rulers. He doesn’t seem at all representative of the larger Ru citizenship, by the way. For a surprisingly well informed but hardly definitive take on such things from an American intelligence person of US Navy Intelligence who speaks fluent Russian, see Andrew Napolitano’s interview here:

    Leaked Docs & Leaker Arrest – COMPLETE BREAKDOWN w John Jordan


    The discussion of Prigozhin’s article and its publication itself once again only confirms that Prigozhin is the only public politician in the country.

    This cannot go on for long, of course. The effect of the “Donbass commanders” of the times of 2014 arises, which was eventually stopped by their extermination (in some cases they swore allegiance or were removed, but the main method was the “seclusion” of potentially dangerous leaders). But on the street it is no longer 2014, but 2023, and Prigozhin is still not Batman or Mozgovoi. So options are possible.

    But in any case, this is already a challenge to the system. Either public politics will be closed as a phenomenon, or there will be more public politicians than one. And then the system will have a very bad time, since it is no longer designed for this.



    80% of Russians do not observe Great Lent this year – FOM

    This is about religious zeal. In Russia, religiosity has a light character. This means that all the calculations of the ideologues of Tradition and Bond, based on the dominance of the people’s craving for humility, remain lifeless constructions. True, they are well paid due to the request of the authorities for the image of the God-bearing people and the martyr. It is very convenient and comfortable to rule a slavishly speechless population.

    Therefore, despite all the lubok of the created image, ostentatious religiosity and real are very different indicators from each other. People still live in the 21st century, although they really want to drag them into the game and the Middle Ages.


    • TTG says:


      Prigozhin recently started moving into politics by arranging a leadership position in the Saint Petersburg-based A Just Russia-For Truth party. He surely plans to be a survivor.

    • different clue says:

      This reads to me like Prigozhin thinks the new-type Russia he advocates would be a better habitat for him to get richer and more powerful in.

      If the various ruling and assisting people within the RussiaGov itself resent and distrust and maybe even fear Prigozhin’s attempt to engineer the development of “reality itself” to grow his wealth and power, they may well figure out how to manage the battle-fighting right around the Wagner Group area in order to achieve the total extermination of every last Wagner Group member, leaving Prigozhin a Group Owner without a Group.

  5. Jovan P says:

    ,,The ability to absorb millions of casualties in WWII and keep ticking should prove that. ”

    So Ukraine should take millions of casualties? The number of dead soldiers until today, the endless videos of new Ukrainian graveyards, the force recruitment of men on the streets, the daily death toll around Bahmut – are not enough?

    • TTG says:

      Jovan P,

      Putin can stop all the dying on both sides by withdrawing his invading army. Apparently he considers all those dead Russians and Ukrainians a fair price for his futile attempt to secure his personal legacy.

    • Billy Roche says:

      Jovan u r rite. The price for Ukrainians is too high. They would be better accepting subordination to their Russian betters. Alternatively, Russians can accept and be proud of being just Russians.

  6. d74 says:

    It seems to me that this article proceeds from a technique called “projection”, in the psychological sense.

    Ukraine has objectively some troubles, so its spokesman is projecting them on Russia. I am not saying that Russia is without difficulties but I have the feeling that they are not what the Ukrainian side says. Some comparative figures such as Ppi GDPs, budgets, populations, etc… should put the ideas in the right place. (Note that with the industrial and agricultural destruction in Donbass, Ukraine has lost at least 30% of its potential GDP. Either way, recovery will be costly, GND allowing(!) ) The numbers show that Russia can fight this war for a long time, as long as it can sell its natural resources.

    For the rest, especially bringing men into the fight more or less voluntarily, the problems are a matter of good administration or dictatorship or authoritarian system. Here, Russia is clearly at the advantage as also concerning the rise in power of the armament manufactures or its importation.

    On the other hand, what Rogozin explains about a “Westernist” 5th column and the heaviness of an amorphous (and no doubt corrupt) bureaucracy is a serious handicap.
    He’s not the only one complaining about it, so it’s a serious systemic issue. Let us add, in the context of a bloated bureaucracy, the fact that the military bureaucracy does not seem to learn anything.

  7. james ticehurst.. says:

    You can research around and see many articles and photos of Ukrainian Towns.
    (in Name Only now) Blow up Ukrainian Cemterys (Shelled) are Displayed..

    Looks Like All The Ukrainian Troopers trained on Patriot Missles are Back in Ukraine Waiting for the Three Systems they Expect…along with ALL other Weapons
    of all sizes..types and Quanitys…
    I Believe The “Plan” By The Media War Department is To Start the Corn War
    in Mid MAY,,

    Since April 20th is Russia’s Anniversary Date for The “Convoy Crunch”.last year…and since then weather Looks OK…I Thing Maybre April 18th,,,Into that
    (62 Degrees)Weekend…Otherwise,,, May 1st Look Like Good Weather .
    ..for a Russian Holiday Makeover..May 1st..

    Also tor a Readout..https://www.cnn.com/world/europe


  8. TV says:

    Russia loses every battle except the final one.

  9. Babeltuap says:

    A coalition force lost to the Taliban. It wasn’t for lack of tanks, MRAPs, weapons and manpower. Some things can’t be measured. There are no metrics for the Afghan farmer who says he has to tend to his crops but, right after that he’s back in the fight season after season after season and will bring his son along next time and his next son….

    Who in this thing has the thing that can’t be measured? I do not know. Nobody does at this point but going off recent history, the US does not have this thing. NATO is already starting to flail around and point fingers at each other. Maybe they simmer down and stay the course? We will find out together.

  10. VietnamVet says:

    Both Russia and the USA mobilized to fight WWII. Both won. The proxy World War III in Ukraine is being fought for the profit of military contractors who supply and staff NATO and the Russian Federation. The war is not being fought to preserve either Nation or protect their people except for the Ukrainians. The downside is that this time nuclear weapons could well be used again like WWII either tactically or strategically by mistake. If the war drags on for another year or two, who loses is unknown except Ukraine will be destroyed without a UN Armistice and a DMZ along the line of contact. It could be Russia or USA, or both, who splinter apart, leaving China as the sole surviving 3000-year-old civilization.

    The split in the USA is clear. A Washington Post article compared OG leaker to Benjamin Franklin. Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene defends the alleged Pentagon leaker as ‘white, male, Christian’. The White House is in denial. If there is no peace treaty this summer, they will be labeled correctly as global, war profiteering, ideologues. They really do want a regime change in the Kremlin no matter the consequences. They will risk everything to avoid the recognition that this is now a tripartite world. The hegemon with the US dollar as the global reserve currency was finished when Saudi Arabia changed sides.

    • Leith says:

      @VV – “Both Russia and the USA mobilized to fight WWII.”

      The Soviet Union was never Russia alone. The R in USSR does not stand for Russia. The mobilization that you attribute to Russia was largely done in the Ukrainian SSR, Byelorussian SSR, Kazakh SSR, Uzbek SSR, and 11 other SSRs. And much of the mobilization carried out within Russia was done in non-Russian ethnic areas east of the Ural mountains or south of Rostov-on-Don.

      None of those former Soviet states want anything to do with Russia now. Even Lukashenko in poor Belarus who only uses tongue-in-cheek smooth talk to pacify Putin is getting pushback from citizens..

      • Whitewall says:

        “And much of the mobilization carried out within Russia was done in non-Russian ethnic areas east of the Ural mountains or south of Rostov-on-Don.”

        Would this current war be fought by many of the same ‘non-Russian’ ethnics now? I know convicts can be from anywhere and Wagnerites too.

    • Fred says:


      Adam Schiff said that the leaker of secret government information related to Ukraine. LTC Vindman, should not be asked who he provided that information too. Shciff, as Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee said Vindman was a ‘whistle blower’. MTG is a nobody in congress, and this accussed individual is also a nobody, and is certainly not going to get the Democratic, or Republican, party’s backing as a ‘whistleblower’.

    • Sam says:

      “The hegemon with the US dollar as the global reserve currency was finished when Saudi Arabia changed sides.“


      Suggest you get yourself educated on balance of payments accounting and trade finance, instead of propagating talking points from those who by making statements like this demonstrate that they’re illiterate about global financial flows.

      Do you know what the identities are in balance of payments accounting?

      • Sam says:

        There’s been huge upsurge of Chinese under Xi’s rule who have risked arrest, drowning and robbery as they pass thru Latin America to reach the US. “I could no longer see hope.”


        The US remains the top choice for those who are entrepreneurial and who want basic freedoms. How many of the top technical talent are immigrating to China? How come none of those westerners extolling the virtues of CCP rule and criticizing the west are living in Xi-land? They have the freedom to leave and make a go of it in the CCP utopia.

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