LTG Mark Hertling’s Assessment, 14 April 2022 – TTG

LTG Mark Hertling, US Army (Ret)

The last few days have seen continued intense fighting in key locations…but mostly a “reset” by both Ukrainian & Russian forces to prepare for the next “phase” of this campaign. What is happening, and how is it going to develop. Here are some thoughts in a new thread.

What’s happening now:

1) RU has new commander, GEN Aleksandr Dvornikov, “the butcher of Syria.”

– Southern District Commander since 2016, typical RU infantry career, normal schools (Frunze & Voroshilov), experience in Grozny & the RU commander in Syria (2015).

-He has combat experience in urban operations, uses arty & missiles to raze towns/scorch earth, little experience in Joint (Army-Navy-Air) operations or large scale (multi-axis) maneuver.

-Allegedly, Putin ordered him to “win” by 9 May for his “May Day Parade” in Moscow. In my view, no matter how good ANY new general is, it still takes A LOT OF time to fix an ill-trained, poorly led, logistically unsupported & now broken and depleted force. 

Dvornikov will not be able to overcome these challenges. He will NOT meet a 9 May victory deadline. Dvornikov’s biggest problems are

-a lack of personnel replacements & integration

-poor leadership in junior & senior subordinates

-lousy command & control 

-no coordination on the joint team

-dysfunctional logistics 

-still too many missions for too small a force.

2) RU is testing UA in the Donbas.

-RU aviation & missiles bombing civilian population in Donetsk, trying to improve RU tactical positions, & continuing a tough fight in Mariupol.

-In the north, Izyum remains a key objective, with river crossing over the Donets River. 

These new RU attacks in N & S Donbas require reinforcements.

-the attempt to regenerate (from Kyiv) or “draft” conscripts (from Donbas) will be extremely difficult. 

In my opinion, these forces won’t be available for weeks, and even then they will likely be ineffective. RU is having a very challenging time with individual soldier/equipment replacement. Reports of low morale, attempts to draw from other units (Georgia, Syria, Wagner, etc), or further conscript locals (up to the age of 65) will be counterproductive in this fight.

3). Ukraine continues to fight hard in the south & east.

-Confusing reports from Mariupol don’t offer a clear picture, but it’s obvious UA resistance is stiff.

-So far, UA has succeed in stalling RU attacks in Izyum

-the Neptune attack on the Moskva provides a morale boost 

4). This fight in the Donbas is crucial & it will be different than what occurred in Kyiv.

-Terrain is different which will allow for UA manuever (movement plus fires).

-RU will stay road bound, due to poor training/leadership & lack of terrain familiarity (and lack of maps). 

-Both sides will fight for “KEY TERRAIN” (road junctions, river crossings, cities), as resupply and LOGISTICS will be key.

-Critical cities (road junctions, rail junctions, etc) we will soon hear more about are Izyum, Sloviansk, Kramatorsk, Horlivka, and a few others. 

So, where does that leave us?

If I were GEN Dvornikov commanding the RU force, I would be focused on 3 things:

1)Force regeneration


3)Preparing plans to mass my force to breakthrough the front lines somewhere in the Donbas.

The first two, in my view, Dvornikov is going to find problematic. If he gets to #3, massing the force for a “breakthrough” (as I discussed recently), the RU doctrine is to lead with massive artillery barrages before sending tanks into the fight.

If I were in command of the UA force, I would also be thinking about 3 things:

1) Ensuring my force was flexible & mobile

2) Finding ways to establish Quick Reaction Forces (QRF’s) to counter any breakthrough.

3) Lightening my logistics/resupply requirements 

To be flexible and mobile in the Donbas, there’s a need for up armored wheeled vehicles rather than tracked vehicles (Hummers with Javelins and stingers inside, helicopters, or something like a Stryker w/ Armored Gun System versus tanks and BMPs). QRF mobile units would have a lot of soldiers who knew how to use Javelins, Stingers, Switchblades, etc and they would be supported by artillery in a centralized location with counter-fire radar. (Hey….this sound like what’s in the packages just announced???) 

As I’ve said: Key for both UA & RU force is logistics. The RU army, using tracks, requires a lot of fuel, spare parts, repair because tracked vehicles break (A LOT) in combat. Wheeled vehicles don’t need as much logistical support (especially fuel and repair). 

We’re now in the phase where soldier skills, junior level leadership & logistics must be complemented by “generalship.” RU have struggled w/ the first 3 & they likely don’t have the last one, either. UA has the first 4 in spades & I believe the last one will shine through.

By the way, RU will continue to fire missiles and rockets at population centers, and there will likely be many more war crimes and Ukrainian civilian casualties. These acts will only increasingly cause Ukraine to fight on. 

Comment: LTG Hertling had a long active career in armored units, commanding the 1st Armored Division in both Germany and in Iraq. He also made aa name for himself in important Army training assignments. He’s been a talking head on CNN for years, but, since I don’t have cable or streaming services, I’ve never seen him. However, I’ve read a few of his assessments over the last few weeks and found his thoughts sound and worthwhile. I do disagree in characterizing Dvornikov as “the the butcher of Syria.” I’ll chalk that one up to wartime propaganda. There’s still plenty else in this particular assessment to go on, so have at it.


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94 Responses to LTG Mark Hertling’s Assessment, 14 April 2022 – TTG

  1. Babeltuap says:

    Imagine if he and others put just as much effort into analyzing defense of our southern border and the stopping of fentanyl killing our Citizens…meh.

  2. Leith says:

    His point on flexibility and mobility is on point. And wheeled vehicles meet that in Ukraine’s Spring Mud season much better than tracks. The Ukrainians already know that. They used small teams of special forces offroad on quadrunners behind Russian lines north of Kiev and in the Chernihiv region. I don’t know squat about the width of tires on a Stryker or Hummer, but even if those vehicles got mired down you can always let out a little air pressure. I learned that the hard way when my pickup got stuck in soft wet sand at the beach with the tide coming in.

    • walrus says:

      Leith, my experience of vehicles in mud is exactly the reverse. A wheeled AFV bogged to its axles will require three times its weight as a straight pull to get it out.

      A 52 ton centurion has less ground pressure than a human foot.

      “Technicals” like a Hilux or other SFvehicles I have see (dune buggy with a sting) are somewhere in between.

      • TTG says:


        I thought the same thing and still think that’s generally true. But wheeled vehicles like a VW dune buggy can negotiate that kind of mud because of their lightness and wide, low pressure tires. They ride on top of the mud rather than sinking deeply. A 52 ton centurion is still 52 tons. At some point the weight probably overcomes the low ground pressure, wheeled or track laying. I would like to see real world testing of this.

      • Leith says:

        Walrus –

        Those Ukrainian quadrunners, which are small and lite similar to a dune buggy, did well in the mud where Russian tracked vehicles could not go.

        Plus they have 8by8 BTR-4s, manufactured in Ukraine, much better than the old Soviet made BTRs that the Russian Armed Forces still use. They are armed with four ATGMs and a 30mm. They probably do not need or want Strykers & Humvees.

  3. Fred says:

    “RU will stay road bound, due to ….. lack of terrain familiarity (and lack of maps). ”

    What’s not working so far -staying road bound. So what will Russia do, stay road bound! LOL. Good thing there’s no Office Depot over there or some smart Russian might buy a printer/copier and start printing and distributing maps.

    “they would be supported by artillery in a centralized location with counter-fire radar.”
    So the Ukrainians will concentrate their artillery? I wonder what Russia would do to that? Oh, wait, they don’t have airforce coordination and apparently no drones, nor any comando teams capable of working behind Ukrainian lines. I bet their satellites suck and they can’t get access to any of the civilian stuff like the ones that tracked the Moskva for 7 weeks either.

    Of course still not mentioned, Ukrainian casualties. Apparently they don’t need any of that ‘force regeneration’ the general talked about.

    • TTG says:


      The Ukrainians started their force regeneration with call up of their reserve forces on day one. That’s a 100,000 being equipped and trained separate from the Territorial Forces. There’s a reason why the men were ordered to stay and thousands of Ukrainian men returned to their country in time of war.

      • Fred says:


        So the LTG left out a salient point that after 8 weeks of war Ukraine is stronger on the ground than Russia. OK then.

        • TTG says:


          Could very well be. Russia didn’t just pick a fight with a standing army, she picked a fight with an entire country. She should have thought about that sooner. For that matter, we should have thought about that a couple of decades ago.

          • Fred says:


            See my comments about the NED below.

          • morongobill says:

            Well you know maybe US leadership should follow your advice.They have been pushing the Russians for over two decades. It should be obvious to all here the the Russians are unified and are not taking anymore crap from us or the europeans. This is going to not end up well for humanity if folks don’t get over this lust for war, this failure to consider the other side’s point of view.

            To its credit, the Pentagon seems to be trying to dampen the fire, but how long can they hold against the war tocsin’s call?

          • TTG says:


            I doubt the Ukrainians or other East Europeans are willing to take any crap from Russia. They are all unified on that point. The Russians have absolutely no comprehension of her neighbors’ security concerns. I don’t think we or Western Europe fully comprehend those concerns, either.

      • Bill Roche says:

        Lots of interesting comments from those w/military background but the detail’s too much for me. I remain concerned with three items. Is there a plan to remove the Ukrainian troops in the south east supposedly in danger of being encircled? Anyone care to guess if “white Russians” from Byeolruss will be effective (or suspect). What is the status of the Ukrainian AF assuming there will be no jets coming from Poland. Muddy roads, gen’ls w/wo heart attacks, concerns about NATO invading Russia (really, c’mon), are less important to the layman.

        • Poul says:

          The problem for the Ukrainians regarding the risk of encirclement is that the land the Ukrainian troops are on is a core political goal for Russia. They want 100% of Luhansk and Donetsk oblast.

          If the Ukrainians give it up you’ll have big smiles on Russian faces. The Ukrainians have to spent blood to hold onto land as opposed to the North where they could give up land to save blood.

  4. d74 says:

    It is a good staff job done to please the boss. The right words are in the right place, where they are expected.

    I summarize: “If the Russians lose, it’s because they didn’t win”. Or something like that.

    In the days when the US came to the aid of the Soviets under attack from communist China, a popular novelist made similar reports.

    Two inconsistencies or uncertainties of war:
    It seems to me that Kiev has admitted that Izium was taken at least 48 hours ago.
    The shoulder pad on the left of the picture seems to be that of a French general.

    • Barbara Ann says:


      “If the Russians lose, it’s because they didn’t win” is a good example of a lapalissade. And speaking of inconsistencies, my favorite lapalissade originates from a soccer manager, who in a post match interview said “If we played like that every week we wouldn’t be so inconsistent”. The origin of the word itself is very amusing IMO.

      • TTG says:

        Barbara Ann,

        Yes. It reminds me of the scene in the movie “Mystery Men” when Mr.Furious (Ben Stiller) confronts The Sphinx (Wes Studi) about his inane sayings. I liked that movie.

      • Fred says:

        Barbara Ann,


        Russians try to move forward. “Boom boom pow” Taut
        Russians try to move forward. “Pow pow boom” Taut
        Russians try to move forward. “Boom boom kablue-ee” Taut

        “Ollie g first sar’nt. Ogh’nt we try to move in the t’other direction?”
        I’m sure it isn’t the favorite English word known to the RU right now. Some things you just have to learn the hard way.

  5. tom67 says:

    About the “rasputitsa”, that is Russian for “roadless period” in spring: years ago I visited a Christian commune in Southern Russia not far from Ukraine in the “black earth” region. I had read about the rasputitza but nothing prepared me for the reality of it:
    nothing, absolutely nothing moves away from a hard surface road. The reason being the black earth. In the winter the frost reaches down 6 or 12 feet. In spring the surface thaws and when it rains the water has nowhere to go. The black earth is very soft when dry. You pick it up and it will trickle down between your fingers. It is the most fertile soil on earth. When it gets wet it turns into sludge. You step of the road and you sink in until you reach the frost layer. Until the frost deep down in the ground has thawed the water has nowhere to go and you cannot move anything offroad. Not even walk.
    In the World War II when the rasputitsa was on all movement stopped.
    Now it is the same. Tracked vehicles or wheeled transport, nothing can move. Not even horses.
    Until the deep layer of frost has thawed there will be no large Russian offensive. For the Ukrainians it will be even worse as Russia has air superiority and now all they have to do is watch any hard surface road. So no resupply for the Ukrainians and no reinforcements whereas the Russians can take their time to get everything into place for the next phase.

    • James says:

      Thanks for this explanation tom67 – it is the best explanation I have read by far.

    • Leith says:

      Those Ukrainian farm tractors have been doing well pulling tanks, IFV, and even SP tracked howitzers out of the muck. Not just by their giant balloon tires but their local knowledge of conditions on the ground counts for a lot. And Ukrainian SF have been able to use their quad bikes in the mud. They keep it light: one man per quad with either a UAV or an ATGM.

      • tom67 says:

        Believe what you may. I have seen the rasputiza myself. Your quad would simply disappear in the sludge and not even a tractor would get anywhere as you need traction.

        Here a little snippet from WWII:
        During World War II, the Soviet commander of the Voronezh Front, Filipp Ivanovich Golikov, when asked if there was any prospect of a Red Army counteroffensive reaching the Dnieper line by March 1943, replied, “It is 320 to 370 km to the Dnieper and 30 to 35 days to the spring rasputiza. Draw your own conclusion from this.” This had to be that the snowmelt would begin before the Russian operation was completed and the Dnieper line would remain in German hands for the time being.

        Once the Rasputiza is over things will get nasty just as they did in 1943. Problem is that the Ukrainians will be out of fuel, ammo and food before long.

  6. English Outsider says:

    This doesn’t sound right to me. LTG Mark Hertling recommends for the Ukrainian forces in the Donbas “Ensuring my force was flexible & mobile.”

    I’ve read Russian reports that speak well of the ability of Ukrainian units to “shoot and scoot”. They’re well trained and courageous and will continue to fight well. They’re also good at preparing and holding defensive fortifications.

    But when it comes to larger units engaged in a war of manoeuvre?

    So many elements are missing without which large bodies of troops in the open are sitting ducks. Control of the air for a start. Ability to hit the enemy’s supply lines and command centres. Ability to keep intact one’s own.

    For lack of these elements the basis of Ukrainian tactics is to remain embedded within the civilian population. That makes it difficult to attack them without hitting civilians. As soon as large Ukrainian forces move around in the open, without a civilian screen, they are vulnerable to massed artillery, rocket and air attack.

    “Ensuring my force was flexible & mobile.” One sees too much of this easy but lethal talk in the UK. So here. LTG Mark Hertling is another chickenhawk talking head, urging his proxies on to disaster he’d never expose American troops to.

    • TTG says:


      Hertling gave over 30 years of his life to the Army in war and peace. That’s not the definition of a chickenhawk.

      The Ukrainians, all of them, are fighting a strategy of total resistance against an invading army of superior numbers and firepower. Their flexibility, mobility, initiative on the small unit and even individual level are hallmarks of that strategy. Their belief in themselves and their cause are the bedrock upon which that strategy of total resistance is built. IMO, the Russians would do much the same if they were invaded.

      • I had read that the Russian expeditionary force is 200,000 against 600,000 Ukrainians.

      • English Outsider says:

        We’re all chickenhawks now, TTG, over my way. Colonel Blimps as well, even if we’ve never seen a rifle. Even fly the Ukrainian flag from churches as if we were fighting alongside our proxies.

        But we’re not. Having used the Ukrainians to get at Russia, having trained them up for that purpose, and having set things up so that war was inevitable, we walked away.

        That’s what sticks in my throat. Politicians saying we’ve got to fight the Russians over there so we don’t have to fight them over here – forgetting that there’s no “we” to it. Just our proxies, under-equipped for such work as this yet put up against one of the only two or three armies in the world capable of fighting a full scale combined operations war.

        I don’t believe we should have been interfering in the Ukraine at all. Not in 2014, not after, and certainly not the way we did. But given that we did interfere, we could not have let them down more badly.

        Apologies for the fact that the previous comment reads as if I were attempting to assert that an American officer wouldn’t fight. I’m sure he would. Just that no one’s going to be fighting for the Ukrainians.

        • Leith says:


          Ukrainians are not NATO proxies invading Russia. They are defending their homeland from Putin’s invasion.

          And doing it well, both with and without support from the West. There were no NATO troops with the 80 Ukrainian soldiers that held back a multi-thousand group of Russian troops who tried to break through Moschun on the road to Kiev last month. It wasn’t NATO weapons that took out the Moskva and the Saratov. There are no US SpecOps or Brit SAS embedded with and guiding the Ukrainian guerrilla formations in Melitopol that are ambushing Russian convoys. And there have been no British or American fighter jets bucking up the defenses of Mariupol that has held out for 50 days against overwhelming odds. Maybe not quite as long as Khartoum, but almost four or five times longer than our Texicans held out at the Alamo.

          What is so hard to understand about Ukrainian determination to defend their motherland?

          • English Outsider says:

            Leith – the whole mess came about because the Ukrainians of the Donbas had to fight for their lives during the ATO. I referred you to TTG’s authoritative brief summary on that. Had they been left unmolested, those Ukrainians in the Donbas, they’d still be Ukrainians. That’s what Minsk 2 was all about. Giving them some security.

            The neo-nazi Ukrainians regard their ethnic Russian compatriots as sub-human. Fit only to be killed or expelled. They’ve been treating Mariupol as an occupied city for the past few years. This meant they had no compunction about using the civilians as human shields, as the Jihadis did in East Aleppo. When you look at exactly how the neo-nazis defended Mariupol along with the other troops, theirs was in no sense a glamorous fight.

            The average Ukrainian, ethnic Russian or not, is not of that sort. That’s why Zelensky, the peace candidate, got such a majority. But as said before, the neo-nazis wouldn’t wear it. And because of our interference in 2014 the neo-nazis, though a small minority, had the say.

            There’s no dodging these facts, nor the fact that we used this dysfunctional regime for our own purposes. We have used the Ukrainians and not at all for their own welfare.

            I know I keep harping on about Minsk 2. It’s important, however. That represented the last chance to get things back on an even keel. Merkel/Scholz and Macron having screwed up that last chance, this was the inevitable result.

            At the moment, at least as far as we in the UK are concerned, most of us are ignoring these inconvenient facts and treating this war as if it was a straight predatory invasion. That’s what we’re led to believe by the politicians and the press. It’s a scam.

            As said above, a most discreditable one. If we had to make such use of the unfortunate Ukrainians this wasn’t the way to do it. Now the neocons want to turn the country into an Afghanistan in the hope of bleeding the Russians. We shouldn’t be making that use of the country either.

          • Fred says:

            “It wasn’t NATO…” handing out cookies in Maidan square nor spending billions influencing the Ukrainian NGOs and Ukrainian political body actions, but somebody sure was.

            “On November 13, 2013, NED celebrated its 30th anniversary with an event at the National Archives chaired by Frost and Weber. In describing NED’s mandate on behalf of the American people, Speaker John Boehner observed, “Our work to help spread freedom and democracy around the world is at the core of who we are and what we believe in.” And in saluting NED’s thirtieth anniversary, Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi concluded with the hope “that we will continue to honor our responsibility to support freedom around the world.”

            I wonder if they have ever been audited.

          • What is so hard to understand about Ukraine being used to poke Russia?
            It’s not like our media has a reputation for objectivity and honesty, when it comes to promoting wars, or that our military has much global strategy, beyond lining their own pockets.
            Name one war in the last twenty years, where we had an actual strategy, beyond “promoting Democracy,” let alone an exit plan?
            Now consider it’s the same cretins driving this mess. What does that make the Ukrainians?
            “Useful idiots,” or just roadkill?
            What is courage, when one is pushed in front of a train?

          • TTG says:


            The Ukrainians are not anybody’s useful idiots. They are defending their country and their fellow countrymen from an invading army. The only Russians the Ukrainians are poking are those attacking them.

          • Steve says:


            The goal isn’t for the Ukrainians to invade Russia but to continue dying until the Russian people overthrow Putin. That is the stated goal of the Neocon wing of the Dem Party.

            Apart from the fact that with regime change you never quite know what you’ll end up with but in this case you never know how high the Butcher’s Bill will be. In Afghanistan it was estimated at anything up to 1.5 million. Can the Ukrainian people pay that price?

          • TTG says:


            The Ukrainians see the price they will pay if they don’t resist the Russian invasion… rape and murder of large swaths of the population and widespread looting and pillaging. I’m not even sure getting rid of Putin would guarantee a stop of the invasion. It may be past that. Ukraine must resist.

          • Leith says:

            EO –

            Putin is the aggressor. He invaded and occupied Ukraine, not the other way around. Neither NATO nor Ukraine tricked him or goaded him into doing it. And not the mythical Ukrainian NAZI nation, that he is using to justify his murder and mayhem.

            This mess all started eight years ago because of Putin. He has spawned more NAZIs in his own country than there are now or ever were in Ukraine. An order of magnitude more. There are more NAZIs in the LNR and DNR than there are in the rest of Ukraine. Yes, the Ukrainians tried to take back those portions of their country in 2014, just like your country and mine would do in a similar situation. They failed at that due to Russian intervention. So they signed Minsk-2 and tried to abide by its terms. Ukrainian Parliament granted special status to the Donbas as specified in Minsk-2, and gave them self rule.

            Unfortunately that was not enough for the other side. They wanted all of the Donbas, instead of just their tiny corner. Plus they knew Putin had their back and would look the other way and let them do it, even providing them arms.

          • Steve says:


            “….rape and murder of large swaths of the population….”

            I have seen no “evidence” to date that such events have happened or will happen. Everything I have seen coming our of the Kyiv has, at best, been questionable, including the Bucha narrative, which is full of holes. That’s not to say it didn’t happen only that there are various competing accounts of how, why, and by whom. This doubt is compounded by the abject refusal by the US/UK to have established an independent investigation of events before the clear up began. It was obviously ok to leave the bodies in situ giving the foreign media an opportunity to visually record the crime scene, yet no independent forensic pathologists were brought in to make an initial analysis. Have you asked why that would be?

            Besides that individual case – ok, there have been a bunch of others that have failed to pass the sniff test (pun intended) – some of which are very close to the allegations of “genocide” in Kosovo and later about the mass graves in Iraq, both of which were proven false independent investigations.

            Very soon we’ll see the completion of objectives being declared by Russia – in the south and east – but will we see any acceptance by the Ukrainian government or NATO that enough is enough? With all the new weaponry being poured in by irresponsible cheerleaders I doubt that very much. So the show must go on and many more will die before the Ukrainian people stand up in opposition to what they’re being used for.

            Atop that we now see the NYT declaring US involvement in the 2014 coup is nothing but a “conspiracy theory”. The airbrushing of history continues, along with the denial of space for dissent.

            It’s a shame on us all.

          • TTG says:


            You remind me of all those Germans who had no idea what was going on in those concentration camps. Denial is an effective coping mechanism.

          • Steve says:


            I can see clearly. I don’t have a dog in the fight and have no emotional attachment to either the Ukrainians or the Russians. What I oppose is the creation of conditions that have either intentionally or through criminal negligence (mostly based on blind hatred) led to a war of this magnitude.

            You may have noticed that even Robert Kagan has now rejected the “unprovoked” description of Russia’s invasion.

          • TTG says:


            I hear you on the blind hatred thing. My father would often joke about Polacks, a lot more than the ever present Polish jokes of the 50s and 60s. I knew there was lingering animosity between Poles and Lits over Pilsudski’s invasion of Lithuania in the inter-war years. I didn’t realize the extent of that blind hatred until I visited the Balzekas Museum in Chicago. They had a section there with memorabilia of that period. The Poles and Poland were vilified as much as the Nazis or Soviets. It was pure blind hatred. But look at the Poles and Lits today. They’re staunch allies and best buddies. Blind hatred doesn’t have to last forever.

        • Bill Roche says:

          E.O. Ukraine asked NATO/US for military aid to help them defend their sovereign nation, from historical Russian threats. As some one w/Ukrainian heretige, I knew the day would come when Russia, under some excuse, would invade Ukraine. Ukrainians know what the Russian gov’t is prepared to do to Ukrainians who don’t behave -Holodomore. Ukraine d/n, invade Russia. As to the question of fighting the Russians “there rather than here” please consider the message Russia sent Finland and Sweden the other day. They’ll comply with Russian ideas of association or Russia will threaten. Neither are NATO members. Moldova has also be threatened by Russian troops within its borders. It is not NATO but Romania is. What will it do? Lits, Lats, and Stones had a long history of independence b/f the Czar decided that they, too were really just “little russians”. Are you satisfied that “mother” will no longer threaten them? Short of American or British troops on Ukrainian soil, what more would you expect of NATO? NATO members Slovakia, Poland, and Romania are getting very exercised b/c they live under the “wolfs jowels”.
          Will they accept Russian ownership clear to the western borders of Galizia? Where is their buffer. I am afraid the dye is cast and it was Putin who threw it down.

          • English Outsider says:

            Bill – I do get it. Don’t laugh, but I harbour similar gut suspicions though in my case it’s more a gut suspicion of various multi-national entities than of any particular country.

            And I’ll not be argued out of such suspicions, any more than the peoples of Eastern Europe will be argued out of their wariness of the sprawling and unpredictable giant right next door.

            So of course proper defensive arrangements are needed for the Baltics and other countries neighbouring Russia. That’s only prudent.

            But putting and maintaining a bunch of neo-nazi Russophobic thugs in control of the Ukraine is not my idea of proper defensive arrangements.

            Nor was it in the interests of the Ukraine. The use we in the West made of that unfortunate country means it’ll now break up. I doubt you’d get the inhabitants of Mariupol, maybe not of Odessa, to trust themselves to rule from Kyiv any more, not after the last eight years.

            That fragmentation of what was, in my opinion, a perfectly viable country pre-2014 is directly attributable to EU/NATO meddling.

            That said, we’re in a hell of a mess with this sanctions war. The losers in power in our various Western countries really haven’t thought it through. Biden, in particular, is on a mission that’s directly contrary to the interests of me and my family. I reckon to the interests of you and yours too.

          • fredw says:

            English Outsider

            “But putting and maintaining a bunch of neo-nazi Russophobic thugs in control of the Ukraine is not my idea of proper defensive arrangements.”

            It doesn’t matter who is in control. The Russians will pin that description on anybody who is not their puppet.

        • Steve says:


          I get it between Poles and Russians – though Sweden should also be in the crosshairs for that fight. What I don’t get is that between Ukraine and Russia, especially given that so many Ukrainians were active participants in many of Stalin’s crimes while others were enablers of one of the history’s greatest crimes against humanity.

          What I really have a problem with is the decades long manufactured hatred of all things Russian in the US. I’m half British and half Irish and occasionally have felt the lash (vicariously) against my Irish father. I’ve been pretty pissed off about that because it resulted in not being taught conversational Gaelic from a man educated by the Christian Brothers with Gaelic as his first language. But I was never terrorized by parents or teachers telling me the “Russians are coming” or they’re about to kill us all. It was – and still is – a cruel indoctrination, not only of the mind but of the soul.

          With that as a foundation is it any wonder that it should creep into the very highest levels of the FP establishment with people adopting a strangely vicarious suffering felt decades or even centuries after the fact and carried into the present. It’s time that strain was filtered out by the selection processes – along with the startling sense of superiority so many of them carry in their luggage when traveling abroad.

          • TTG says:


            I take it you didn’t grow up during the cold war. I still vividly remember the duck and cover drills from 1st grade. Our school was built into a hill and, as the siren wailed, we would quickly file out of the class to the interior corridor and squat facing the bedrock wall covering our heads. I also remember scanning the eastern horizon for approaching bombers frrom my swing set. Those were the days of fallout shelters, Civil Defense canned water and survival crackers. Add upon that, my family’s history; relatives killed and disappeared by the NKVD, a great grandmother who proudly boasted of shooting the bolsheviki and a great uncle, veteran of the LFA, who taught me to shoot with a cut down Mosin Nagant shooting at a caricature of Stalin out behind the barn. Now add several years in 10th Group targeting the WTO and many more years targeting Russia as a clan case officer. It’s hard to break that habit.

            For the Ukrainians, just the years of Putin talk about Ukraine having no right to exist as a country or a culture is enough to put a kibosh on any talk of reconciliation.

          • Steve says:


            I did indeed grow up during the Cold War, though not being terrorized with nuclear drills as a child., which were not only pointless but, as I laid out above, created a multi-generational enmity toward all things Russian that all rational thinking was eliminated from the minds of millions, making the world a far more dangerous place than it should have been.

            I also served in ACE Mobile Force during Reagan’s mad dog crusade of “Evil Empire” and more besides that during that period we came closer to nuclear annihilation than ever before or since. You may recall the anxiety created by that crazed rhetoric in tandem with the stupidity of allowing Op Able Archer to go ahead. Indeed, had it not been for a senior KGB agent we may not be having this conversation today.

            I’m sorry that your family’s history was so harsh but Stalin and Hitler are dead and neither has been resurrected in another form. To compare the present situation to that is irrational and dangerous; nothing more than a pumping of blood lust, as we’ve seen these pas few years.

            To my knowledge Putin has never said that Ukraine has no right to exist – quite the opposite – and there is no evidence to suggest he thinks that way. Not talk, thought, or action is supportive of that notion, and if it were the case we would have seen a very different military situation during this invasion, and Ukraine would be a wasteland.

          • TTG says:


            I salute you for not retaining any Cold War or Evil Empire baggage. As a case officer, I got an inside view to who took over in Moscow when the USSR collapsed. They were just like the old NKVD except they replaced their Communist ideology with virulent thievery. They are worse IMO and I don’t like them one bit. Now the Russian people and their culture, both folk and fine arts, are marvelous. I grew to love the language used by the hackers in the 90s over FIDONet and having to recite Pushkin for my language teacher who didn’t speak a word of English.

            Putin has long claimed Moscow must rule both Minsk and Kyiv. To him, both Belarus and Ukraine are artificial constructs. He dismisses Ukraine, a country of 44 million as a “spawn of the Soviet period.” You can read his recent thoughts on the matter in his long diatribe entitled “On The Historical Unity Of Russians And Ukrainians.” He claims “Russia was essentially robbed” of the territory, resources and people of Ukraine.

          • Steve says:


            I never had any baggage from the Cold War. I wasn’t so indoctrinated to the rabid “Evil Empire” stuff and saw into the hypocrisy of the pot calling the kettle black. I was aware of the McCarthy era; the denunciations, the ruination of lives, the denouncing of “friends” and co-workers. I knew of Reagan spying and reporting back to the security services. The wrecking of trade unions and any kind of industrial action or demand for civil rights. What was the difference other than in numbers and quality? We did less of it than them is hardly a clarion call of freedom.

            That present day Ukraine is the “spawn of the Soviet period” is historically correct one has only to look at the land transfers during the era. The question is, given the even longer standing history, what is Ukraine? The east and west hardly match each other’s creation and development and in many ways that shows up in the present hatreds and their foundation in historical enmity. Putin also said that Russia and Ukraine were “one people”, a claim that is of course a nonsense other than in centuries old population shifts but with so many rifts created along the way. But does any of that add up to Russia wanting to seize control of Ukraine? Would that not put Russia on NATO’s Eastern border, something so strongly opposed since NATO expansion began, partly driven by the lobbying of arms manufacturers and their Necoconservative backers on Capitol Hill? There’s a massive contradiction in those views of recent events. Why didn’t Russia intervene in Kyiv during the coup?

            I worked in Russia (and Ukraine) from 1995 to 2001, and saw the economic devastation and humiliation of the Russian people at first hand. The theft of resources, the rise in the power of the mafia and the oligarch, all created under the watchful eye of western institutions. I was there during the 1996 elections and stared in astonishment, along with the Russian populace as a weak and beaten down Yeltsin – despised by the electorate – was once again, somehow, retained in power.

      • drifter says:

        All of the Ukrainians? Strategy of total resistance? What about the tens of thousands of Ukrainians in the DPR/LPR forces fighting against the Ukrainians? And apparently effectively, at least in Mariupol.

        Americans – a peace-loving people – don’t want to admit that they are pursuing war against Russia in Ukraine. Hence the palatability of Ukrainian “resistance” propaganda.

  7. Jay says:

    Thank God for Russians’ intrinsic racial inferiority (as stated by Florence Gaub), incompetent leadership, obsolete technology, and cowardly, Orcish demeanor. Anders Ostlund’s dream of the West implementing the Morganthau plan for Russia will soon come to pass. I am so glad Russian disinformation is being purged from social media. Now, i can look forward the evil Russia being purged from this Earth, forever. Now, NATO just needs to swoop in like a superhero and destroy the Russian forces in Ukraine, Belarus, and the Rostov oblast. Liberate the Crimea from the Russian Orcs!

    • TTG says:


      Do you really believe NATO is going to invade Russia or Belarus. NATO forces won’t even enter Ukraine.

      • KMD says:

        Ukraine is not a NATO member. NATO forces in Ukraine would be a major provocation and target. It seems that NATO would prefer to not confront Russia directly. So NATO sends equipment and intelligence to the Ukrainian regime that was installed by NATO and the USA and is now propped up by the same. NATO and the USA are at war with Russia. Ukraine is but one of the battlefields.

        • TTG says:


          The Ukrainian government is two elections beyond anything that could be construed as NATO and US installed.

          • James says:

            On the Russians With Attitude twitter channel they have a photo of the leader of the main Ukrainian opposition party. He is is government custody and he is wearing handcuffs. Nice elections you have there.

          • TTG says:


            Viktor Medvedchuk was under house arrest a year ago for financing terrorism (DNR and LNR) with profits from his Crimea based business. He escaped the first day of the war and was captured as he tried to cross into Russia. This is very likely who Putin planned to put in charge of Ukraine if the initial plan to topple the Zelenskiy government succeeded.

      • Jay says:

        I think the Biden White House is run by delusional West Wing Larpers. They are also being cheered on by warmongering nutjobs like Anders Ostlund, Louise Mensch, and Sergej Sumlenny who, with the assistance of social media monopolies, are making the case that the Russian Federation can be dismantled and de-militarized with little cost to the West.

        Two narratives dominate the blue check sphere: 1 Russia is a society devoid of any redeeming virtues, worthy of erasure. 2 Russia is a paper tiger, whose nuclear arsenal is utterly decrepit.
        The second narrative is largely based on the EU prejudice that if mere Slavs in Ukraine can cause difficulties for Russian troops, then surely Nato forces can walk right through them.

        The narrative that Russia is a purely evil Mordor that could be easily defeated if the West stands up and dons the cape of the hero is obviously simplistic crap. However, that is the level of thinking that is predominate among the managerial class of the West.

        The best thing Putin could do is invite the Western media to witness a live detonation of a hydrogen bomb. Then, it might be possible for the West and the Sino-Russian alliance to avoid war.

        • TTG says:


          So a Moscow initiated nuclear war is your idea of a solution? Is that the level of thinking dominating the pro-invasion Russophile crowd?

          • Jay says:

            Of course I am not calling for a Moscow-initiated nuclear war. I do think they should temporarily withdraw from the test-ban treaty and invite Western media to witness a detonation in a remote, uninhabited region of Russia.

            No decision-maker today has witnessed a nuclear detonation, and far too many on both sides have a cavalier attitude towards their use.

        • fredw says:

          “The narrative that Russia is a purely evil Mordor…”

          You don’t have to consider some entity purely evil to consider that it does some evil things. That argument is called a “straw man”. I get very tired of arguments based on supposed motivations of opponents, apparently accessed via some form of mind reading. It always seems to be about who actors are rather than what they do. So Nato was supportive of some political trends that happened in Ukraine. So what? Russia has been supportive of some political trends that have happened in America. I don’t think that it amounts to destroying an election, but so what? Do we really expect them not to support their interests where they see them? Do they really expect us not to?

          The thing that most amazes me about all this is that I viewed Russia as pretty much strengthening its position in Europe before this came up. Could the US really have stopped Nordstream 2 if things had just proceeded the way they were going? Could Ukraine really have become part of the alliance in any short or mid term? Would a less and less warlike Europe really have formed up for a military incursion into Russia? No. Russia was subject to no plausible threat of military confrontation with Europe. (Siberia is another matter for a different conversation.) It was their performance in the peace that was threatening them, not the remote possibility of war with unaggressive neighbors.

          As for Russia as a paper tiger, I remember classes at Fort Holabird in the 1960s discussing the flabbergastingly low quality of most Soviet divisions. That didn’t mean that their military was not dangerous. The Germans had found that out the hard way. Quantity DOES have a quality of its own. But they did have quantity. And against an opponent like Ukraine they still do have quantity. That is the only reason anybody still thinks they might win.

    • AngusinCanada says:

      And don’t forget their “lack of maps”! Stupid orcs forgot their maps. It’s a wonder these brutish thugs can even hit any target in Ukraine with hypersonic missiles that the US and it’s puppet regime have no defense for, right!?
      This Russian army likely couldn’t beat the ‘45 Nazis, let alone the ones saturating Ukraine political, social and military today.

  8. Schmuckatelli says:

    Hertling made a name for himself on CNN when he discussed firing an AR-15 on “full semi-automatic.”

    • TTG says:


      He called his firing by pulling the trigger as fast as he could as “full semi-automatic.” It’s the first I’ve heard such a description, not technically accurate, but it’s an apt description. Firing like that and using bump stocks gives these chucklheads the thrill of firing full auto without actually firing on full auto.

      • Schmuckatelli says:

        You’re being too kind to him. It was buffoonish.

        • TTG says:

          Not near as buffoonish as those silly cosplayers in their camo and battle gear insisting on their bump stocks and simulated automatic fire. Hertling’s comment was more dad joke than buffoonish.

  9. drifter says:

    The trajectory of this conflict is headed towards Russia using tactical nuclear weapons. Russia identified the Ukraine situation as an existential threat. The U.S. responded with, “We see your existential threat. But we raise you with a fight to the death in Ukraine.” Russia has taken on this challenge. Be interesting to hear what LTG Hertling has to say. Honestly, not that interesting.

    • TTG says:


      The Russian invasion is an existential threat to the survival of the Ukrainian nation. Just listen to the Moscow approved TV commentators for the evidence

      • Fred says:


        why does that obligate the US to defend them?

        • TTG says:


          It’s not an obligation. It’s a choice.

          • Fred says:


            I’m so glad the elected representatives are having that debate in congress. Can you point me to that public debate by our elected representatives?

          • TTG says:


            The Senate and House of Representatives passed a $13.6bn emergency military and humanitarian aid package for Ukraine in early March as part of a $1.5 trillion omnibus bill.In early April they sent two bills to support Ukraine and punish Russia to Biden’s desk for signature.

            “The trade bill, which passed the Senate 100 to 0 and the House 420 to 3, removes Russia and its ally Belarus from the long list of countries that enjoy “permanent normal trade relations” and adds it to a much smaller list of pariah states who do not, currently consisting of Cuba and North Korea.”

            “A second bill, which passed the Senate 100 to 0 and the House 413 to 9, codifies the already-announced ban on Russian energy imports, including shipments of petroleum products”

            “A third bill, which passed the Senate by unanimous consent Wednesday night, would authorize allow the Pentagon to streamline its arms transfer arrangements with Ukraine in a manner that senators are comparing to the “lend-lease” effort that the United States undertook during World War II. It is unclear when the House might take action on that bill.”

            That’s what our elected representatives have been debating and passing in congress.


          • Fred says:


            That is a far cry from AWACs providing information to the Ukrainian government or other aircraft actively jamming Russian systems while flying in other countries, all of which is being reported elsewhere.

          • TTG says:


            Providing intel to the Ukrainians in addition to all the war material flowing in, good.

          • Fred says:


            “Providing intel to the Ukrainians in addition to …., good.”

            Was that included in all the ‘public debate’ you listed, or is there a presidential finding? I haven’t heard of either. It sure sounds like active participation in the war.

          • TTG says:


            Intelligence sharing with Ukraine is now governed by a classified intelligence directive limiting the speed at which some tactical intelligence can be shared. There is a bipartisan push by the intelligence committees to modify that directive to share more intelligence faster. Congress wants more sharing.

      • Steve says:


        That isn’t a stated goal of the Russians, nor is it in any way suggested by the conflict maps, which are clear as day: the Russians will take Donbas and the land bridge to Crimea. If the Ukrainians wish to contest those gains they’ll need to draft half the country, something they’re already having problems doing – and severely punishing the draft dodgers.

        I wish the Ukrainian people well but unless Zelensky sues for peace that isn’t the direction events are taking. Should he do so he’s unlikely to survive the decision.

        • TTG says:


          The conflict maps show a lot of Russian military ineptitude and strong Ukrainian resistance. If the Russians can fix their ineptness, they could advance a lot farther, a lot faster. But the ineptness is baked into the system. It can’t be easily fixed in the weeks and months ahead.

  10. mcohen says:

    Probably gomel kursk belgorod and rostov on don

  11. Deap says:

    Friday is the day Conservative Treehouse proposes Twitter just might be a deep state, in house platform, because no other entity can handle that many simultaneous interactive users than the US government – and make money doing it. And why it has exercised such a curious agenda from the election forward, including its current wounded howls.

    Is this what Elon Musk is really getting at? He nots the major gaps between users and actual use, which cannot monetize such a vast and sophisticated network. He says no one shows up for work at the SF headquarters so turn it into SF a homeless shelter.

    The alleged meltdown of Twitter employees show they have no talent business savvy or resourcefulness – just wounded snowflakes who somehow are the nuts and bolts of high tech?

    Worth a consideration to investigate, because this is a vehicle for many, many loose ends. Much like solving the mystery why CNN is still on the air, when it obviously has a clear agenda, but no meaningful viewership.

    Could this revelation also explain the sudden about face we are seeing in Big Media who seems to be backpedaling their prior agendas. suddenly and curiously. Are they about to be defrocked by Musk?

    • TTG says:


      Twitter gets 90% of their profits from advertising. It’s probably the same for CNN and most other media not funded by dark money or viewer contributions. The twitter snowflakes are profit seeking capitalists who know how to make money.

      • Sam says:


        95% of Twitter’s revenue comes from advertising. Just like Google, Facebook and other digital media companies. The only difference compared to their digital media cohorts is they don’t make a profit. That’s why their stock has languished relative to their peers since their IPO.

        I’m sure all these digital media companies are in with our national security apparatus. Not much difference with collusion with our corporate legacy media who have played a prominent role in disseminating national security state propaganda. Not much has changed since the Church committee investigation other than it has intensified further and is much more pervasive with warrantless surveillance and secret FISA courts with no due process.

        Elon is just trolling the hypocrisy and using his personal platform to highlight cancel culture and their use of “protecting democracy” to promote censorship of viewpoints opposing the ruling elites.

  12. Klapper says:

    I’d have to disagree with the claim by LTG Hertling that the Russians lack basic soldier skills. I watched the drone infrared video of the breakout attempt by the 36th Marine Brigade from the Illyich Steel Plant in Mariupol. Geolocation of the various segments of the video show the convoy left from the north middle area of the plant complex along a road on the west side. They made it about 3 km north (4 to 6 minutes from start of breakout?) before they encountered what looks to be accurate artillery fire. Some part of the convoy made it as far north as the fire station at the north end of the complex on the west side, which is basically outside the city by that point.

    However, it looks like they were chased back or parts of the convoy elected to abort as the video shows personnel disembarking from trucks maybe 2 km north of the point where the breakout starts. Vehicles are maneuvering around stalled/damaged trucks in various segments of the video so the artillery fire appears to be both quick and effective.

    Since then the Russian MOD has claimed the whole of the Illyich complex is now under Russian/DPR control.

    • Eric Newhill says:

      UKR Marines surrender by the thousands in Mariupol. If that’s what winning looks like…..

      He adds that it was Azovs shooting civilians who tried to flee.

      Here the testimony of UKR POW. It sounds like everything the hawks are saying about the Russian situation is actually what is true about the UKR situation; no rations, no ammo, no supply of any kind; cut off in a cauldron.

      • blue peacock says:


        Both sides are in the meat grinder. Just because Team R has some territory right now doesn’t mean they’ll have it later. Same with Team U. If the Russians have lost 20K soldiers and thousands of units of kit, the Ukrainians have probably lost double.

        The Russians don’t appear to have the overwhelming force to subdue the Ukrainians, or else they would have used it by now.

        The grinding & attrition will continue. It will suit our neocons and the Beltway Bandits. How much of the trillions spent in Afghanistan & Iraq got rustled in the Beltway? While wounding the Russians may be the core rationale for the neocons what’s not to like about the cash gravy train for our ruling elite. We already had the round-trip with the money from future generations of Americans sent to Ukraine and some of that recycled back to Hunter and the Big Man. While that was small potatoes compared to Afghanistan & Iraq, that gravy train is just ramping up. I recall well the contract solicitations issued in 2003+ and how the usual cast of characters got their hands in that cookie jar. After all it is all funny money as it is being passed on to future generations of Americans to hold that debt bag. But…we’re not alone. The Chinese, Japanese and the Europeans have that going in spades and even have us beat.

        • Eric Newhill says:

          No disagreement regarding the pigs at the trough. That’s private contractors and the DoD. However, I am certain the Russians have been holding back to minimize civilian casualties and infrastructure damage (which is why the lights are still on in UKR). Also, I am pretty certain that the sinking of the Moskva and the influx of western materiel, ordnance and intel – the stuff that TTG cheers – are just going to cause the Russians to stop holding back and for the demise of UKR to accelerate. The war of attrition is going to amp up to a slaughter of UKR. The sooner the better for the sake of every day Ukrainians caught between the battling oligarchs (western/American, Ukrainian and Russian). As Walrus is wont to correctly point out, the government always achieves the opposite of its stated goals, not that they care. They can always spin the story, censor it, etc – and the oligarchs get wealthier regardless of the results.

          • TTG says:

            There’s a lot to what Walrus said. Russia is surely getting the opposite of what they set out to do. NATO is united and about to enlarge its membership. Europe is weening itself off Russian oil, gas and coal. Russian auto and now tank assembly plants are shutting down due to a cut off of needed Western components. Most importantly, Russia’s illusion of military invincibility has been severely tarnished. India cancelled a helicopter contract and China is not negotiating any new oil and gas contracts beyond what has already been agreed to.

          • Fred says:


            “Europe is weening itself off Russian oil, gas and coal.”

            LOL … No. “The European Union has paid €35 billion for Russian energy since the start of the war, the EU’s top diplomat Josep Borrell has said. In 2021, the EU imported roughly 40% of its gas and 25% of its oil from Russia.”

            Well, Germany is down all the way to 25%. My, funding the Russian war effort, aren’t they, but just a little less than before.

            “Russia’s illusion of military invincibility has been severely tarnished.” That’s a fact. I’m not sure all Russians are aware of that yet.

            “… China is not negotiating any new oil and gas contracts beyond what has already been agreed to.”

            Not cancelled though. What’s taking all those countries so long to actually ‘do something’?

          • TTG says:


            Sure it’ll be months, at least, until Europe is at 0% Russian hydrocarbons. In the meantime they are funding Russia and Russia is providing NATO with the energy needed to continue supporting Ukraine. It’s a deadly embrace for both sides. The race will be whether Europe can find alternate energy sources before Russia can build pipelines to Asia and the needed shipping capacity and port facilities to move their energy to alternate customers.

  13. ked says:

    You’ve done an exemplary job providing an objective, informed take on the Ukraine War. I do wish critiques were more pragmatic than ideological. Appears to be a lot of reasoning from a conclusion going on.
    No one knows Russia (& Putin & his team of kleptocrats) better than the Europeans. Forget the US & NATO. The present conflict is a late chapter (one hopes!) in Russia’s long-suffering path to becoming a grown-up nation. It’s the Europeans who are fed up with Russia. The last thing that Finland & Sweden ever wanted was to abandon neutrality. I guess that’s reactionary populism for ya. Anyway, the die is cast, useful blame allocation is best left for when the mud dries out.
    to Col. Lang, Happy Easter.

    • Leith says:

      Ked –

      You got that right. TTG & Colonel Lang have the patience of Job in dealing with some of the opinionated comments (mine included – mea culpa).

      • tom67 says:

        I have to agree from Germany. Considering the sharply differing opinions it is amazing how civilized and tolerant your conversation is. It is exemplary and altogether wonderful to see something like that at Easter.

    • SRW says:

      I agree with your comments 100%. especially the superb job TTG has been doing.

  14. Al says:

    I log on to Col’s blog for the info I get from the highly experienced TTG and Col. The rest I can easily skip over, as likely others can skip over my infrequent comments.

  15. Bill Roche says:

    Col. McGregor commented recently (was it just yesterday?) about the situation in the Ukrainian south east. He continues to say doom for Ukraine. Do Ukrainian forces in Mariupol intend to fight to the death? Apparently they cannot get out w/o surrender. Is there still a danger of larger numbers of other Ukrainians being “bagged” in the south east? Putin has 21 days until the grand May 9th parade in Moscow. Shouldn’t the main “re” attack on Ukraine’s south east have begun?

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