Russia Ukraine 2



So far the Russian military operation in Ukraine has been a reconnaissance in force preceded by the destruction of the supplies and headquarters of the Ukrainian Armed Forces by standoff weapons. The object being to suss out where the Ukrainian forces are, to surround them, to check existing Russian intelligence against reality and, at the same time, destroy known headquarters, air and naval assets, supplies and ammunition depots. And, perhaps, there was the hope that the speed and success (Russian/LDPR forces dominated an area of Ukraine about the size of the United Kingdom in the first week) would force an early end (aka recognition of reality).

At the moment they are readying for the next phase. The long column that so obsessed the “experts” on CNN is the preparation for the next phase. And that is this: “You didn’t get the hint, so now we have to hit you”. The fact that the column has been sitting there indicates that the Russians know they have complete air superiority. Secondly it is a message to the Ukrainian armed forces that it’s over, give up. (And one should never forget that the Russians/Soviets have always been the best at strategic deception, so who knows what’s actually there versus what the images show?)

As far as I can see they’ve created three cauldrons (encirclements). Probably the most important one is the one around Mariupol where the main concentration of Azov, the principal nazi force, is. Another is being established around the main concentration of the Ukrainian Armed Forces facing LDPR. And there appears to be another developing to the east of Kiev. A super cauldron of all three is visible. The nazis will be exterminated; the ordinary Ukrainian soldier will be allowed to go home. The nightmare question is how many ordinary Ukrainians will be free to choose.

The dilemma for the Russians is city fighting. They do not want to have a Raqqa in which every building is destroyed, every person killed and solitudinem is declared to be pax. They know that at the end of the day there will still be Ukrainians and they will want them to be friends: Washington can create solitudes far away, but Moscow cannot create them nearby. This greatly complicates their problem when they try to clear the nazis out of Mariupol knowing that the nazis are using the city’s people as hostages. The same problem exists, to a lesser degree, in the other cities of Novorossiya. My guess is they will surround most cities and hope that Zelinsky & Co come to their senses. But I fear that the Mariupol battle will be horrible.

There are some slight indications, on Day 8, that Ukrainian negotiators are realising that neutrality is something they have to agree to. I also see the realisation creeping up on the American side.

The ultimate Russian aim is not visible. By this I mean the ultimate strategic aim; we know what the grand strategic aim is. Are the Russians planning to create a Novorossiya which will be independent or are they aiming to create a Novorossiya which will be a bargaining chip with rump Ukraine? I think the answer depends on what Zelinsky and Kiev (and the locals) decide. In about a week’s time, an independent Novorossiya will exist and Russia will continue to have the hammer.

I would expect large-scale surrenders of the Ukrainian Armed Forces to begin in the next 24/48 hours (Chechen forces already claim one and have an impressive collection of “trophies” to prove it). A significant proportion of the Ukrainian Armed Forces is now surrounded and, as is usual (vide Sun Tsu) the Russians have left them an exit.


The impotence of the EU and NATO is clear to everyone (Well, OK, not anyone on CNN, or in the US Congress or in the halls of power in the West. But they are not the whole world). In this respect, I recommend watching Riyadh – Abdul Aziz was very good at seeing how the wind blew and one can assume his descendents are too.

The 97, or whatever they were, fighter planes that were excitedly announced, are obviously not coming. The no fly zone can’t be “declared”. The Chechens have picked up a lot of MANPADs that NATO supplied. All that NATO support will get you is destruction when you fight the war it suckered you into and an extra special Christmas card when you’re defeated and ruined.

We are seeing the collapse of post Cold War triumphalism, “end of history”, “unilateralism” and all the rest of it. Reality is biting, and biting hard. All you have to do is watch CNN’s parade of talking heads and “experts” speculating about how crazy Putin is: they don’t understand, therefore he must be nuts. For the West, as it has been, it’s over. The confusion, the bullshit, the boasting, the hysteria, the bans: the West has nothing left in the locker. Pour Russian vodka down the toilet, fire a singer and director, change the name of a drink or a salad, ban cats or trees, sanction a Russian plutocrat and steal his yacht, wear a blue and yellow t-shirt. Pathetic. And don’t, under any circumstances, allow a Russian outlet to tempt the sheeple with “disinformation”. Just like the USSR but stupider. And who thought stupider was even possible?

Judo is about deception and using the opponent’s strength against him. Putin, the judoka, has judoed the West into suicide. Put your money in our banks, we can confiscate it; put your assets in our territory, we can steal them; use our money and we can cancel it; put your yacht in our harbour, we can pirate it; put your gold in our vault, we can grab it. That is a lesson that will resound around the world. A naked illustration that the “rules-based international order” is simply that we make the rules and order you to obey them. In 2 or 3 weeks everybody in the world who is on the potential Western hit list will have moved his assets out of the reach of the West. Xi will permit himself a small smile.

As to Western sanctions against Russia, I think there’s a very simple answer to that: last week 1000 cubic metres of gas cost $1,000; today it’s over twice that. Next week it certainly won’t be cheaper. Ditto for aluminum, potash, titanium, wheat. Russian airlines lease their planes; now what? Russian rocket motors. What the people in the West do not understand is the ruble is the currency the Russians use inside the country but the price of oil and gas is the Russian currency outside the country. I am astounded at the stupidity: they’re cutting their own throats and destroying their own economies.

Russia sits back and laughs: fly into space on your own broomstick.

The world order has changed. Week Two.

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27 Responses to Russia Ukraine 2

  1. Eric Newhill says:

    Thank you. This is a rational assessment. It conforms to Occam’s Razor (e.g. the Russians have that long column moving like a snail b/c they have total air superiority and prefer to threaten rather than destroy the city, as opposed to they – the entire command! – are stupid and crazy and forgot to bring enough fuel).

    Similarly, capturing and keeping everything East of the Dnieper while putting pressure on Kyiv, seizing nuclear power production, etc, is a good way to force the UKR government to beg for peace (if the US would only stop incentivizing continuation of the fighting by giving Z and his oligarchs more money to skim for themselves and by making empty promises of coming to his rescue). Every day Z can hold out, he is that much more wealthy. Also, agree that it makes sense that carving out the Donbas is Putin’s objective as opposed to he’s a crazed romantic that wants to rebuild the Soviet Union all the way through the Balkans, etc.

    The West is in the grips of another mania, having just gotten over the Covid craze they needed a new emotional distraction. IMO, media/social media is too fast and too full of BS for most minds to process and remain calm and rational. Also, our leadership, being craven liars, are too susceptible to the power rush they feel in being able to spread their BS at such amazing scope and scale. It’s very obvious to anyone with the strength to step back and maintain common sense and perspective.

    Finally, yes. All of the sanctions are going to screw the west but good. Another set of calculations that would be obvious to anyone not caught up in the mania.

  2. Sean says:

    I definitely think there is an element of putting lipstick on a pig with the few remaining pro-Russia Western bloggers out there. Whatever else you say, the Russian invasion of Ukraine has not been a resounding success. One if its main presumed strategic aims, showing the West not to “f” with Russia, has backfired. The main narrative even amongst policy makers is one of Russian military incompetence. All that work in Syria, crafting an image of a formidable, perhaps first-in-class military, is gone. All that effort to pry Germany and Western Europe away from the USA has totally failed.

    Ukraine will almost certainly lose the army-to-army part of this conflict, but it has inflicted tremendous harm on Russia with its propaganda. All those Twitter memes and the ghost of Kyiv and the shooting down of two giant Russian transports, they were all fake news, but they turned western elite opinion decisively against Russia and destroyed the Russian narrative of military superpower strength.

    I’ve also been very surprised by the deer-in-the-headlights vibe of Russia’s response to sanctions. There have still been no significant counter sanctions announced. There’s no PR push even inside Russia about government and society working diligently and quickly to create patriotic domestic substitutes to all the products and services withdrawn.

    Personally, I think these sanctions could work to Russia’s favor over the next 5 years or so. Much less capital flight, Russians working creating their own perhaps interesting solutions to the innumerable niches now open to them in their own economy, and maybe exporting them to other countries as time goes by. Japan “sanctioned” itself from the 1950s-1980s, closing its markets to best-in-class Western products and developing its own stuff. S Korea did the same in the 1970s-90s. China has been doing it over the past 20 years. Now Russia has a chance. But the Russian government’s initial reaction does not inspire.

    • Cerena says: “facts on the ground will eventually lead entire economies in the West to become roadkill – with chaos in the commodities sphere leading to skyrocketing energy and food costs. As an example, up to 60% of German and 70% of Italian manufacturing industries may be forced to shut down for good – with catastrophic social consequences. … Apart from completely de-dollarizing … Russia may ban the export of titanium, rare earth, nuclear fuel and, already in effect, rocket engines.”
      The imbeciles-in-charge may well have put Europe into an economic hole.

  3. RZ says:

    Patrick Armstrong. Thanks for your insights into what may be going on. What shocks me more than the war is the mindless jingoistic BS is coming out of 99% of western media. No possibility of any insight or analysis.
    Random thought, if DJT is Hitler and Putin is Hitler can we get some sort of ranking set up in the Hitler business. If you say Hitler was responsible for 60-70 million deaths, then he needs to be much further up the scale than DJT who was a complete failure in that department, not starting any wars at all. Now with Vlad taking his shot at the title he has the opportunity, with a little help from his friend Joe to really push those numbers, starting easily in the 100 million range with the skys the limit. I guess after that Hitler won’t get much of a look in

  4. Polly says:

    Sean, did you* even read Patrick Armstrong’s brilliant study of the facts–or any of Larry Johnson’s profound analyses in past weeks??
    * Trolls classically lurk under ground, but pop or turn to rock in sunlight.

    THANKS, PA & LJ, & Honored Colonel for your vital site.

    • Sean says:

      I read Mr. Armstrong’s post. If I remember correctly, he was expecting a clinic to be put on using war-winning hypersonic weapons and total air superiority. Needless to say that has not happened.

      Even the more realistic pro-Russian voices out there acknowledge that Russia has taken more than expected casualties, and been subject to much more than expected sanctions from the West, particularly from Europe which is leading the charge. Far from being forced into things by the USA, it’s American policy makers who are privately saying the Europeans are going overboard.

      • joe90 says:


        “Ukraine will almost certainly lose the army-to-army part of this conflict, but it has inflicted tremendous harm on Russia with its propaganda”.

        Losing the army is losing the war. Propaganda is not a tank division.

        • Cheradenine says:

          It reminds me of the (erroneous) quote attributed to Uncle Joe.

          – The West is completely controlling the narrative

          – The Narrative, how many divisions has he got ?

          In truth, I have no idea how much the information war can harm Russia, even if she wins the real war.

          Has “the narrative” not resulted in the US losing the Vietnam war, though the real war, on the field, was won ?

      • Clueless Joe says:

        Russia hasn’t used top-level weapons so far. I wonder if it’s on purpose: why reveal them and their efficiency against a lower rank weaker military like Ukraine’s, and give the US a chance to have a glimpse of them and to adapt – it might be better to keep them in store until a future big fight.

        • Pat Lang says:

          Clueless Joe
          What would “top weapons” be?

          • Sean says:

            Ukraine is still shelling civilian neighborhoods in Donetsk more than a week after hostilities started. Forget about “mouthwatering Russian EW capabilities”, where are the Russian anti-battery units? It sure looks like amateur hour to me. Now you have people saying France or the UK could take on the Russians by themselves, no USA needed. So much for establishing deterrence through strength.

      • Muralidhar Rao says:

        I think our problem is we expect every one to behave the same way as we do. It is no exception in the case of executing a war case in point Iraq war, we relentlessly bombed Iraq and its infra structure for a few days. It seems to me Russian way of war is different. They take out only military infrastructure, command control systems and then play the game of attrition this way when the war is over the incoming administration has the power, water supply etc. Now will they succeed it is any body’s guess. So far it seems like Rooskies have an upper hand by the way Zelensky is pleading for a meeting with Putin. Not too long ago he was so confident that he didn’t want to negotiate. Only time will tell

        • TTG says:

          Muralidhar Rao,

          The Russian way of war we’ve witnessed over the last week has allowed the Ukrainian military and government to continue functioning. Air space is still contested, at least for now. Counteroffensive operations are still being planned and executed. While this is going on, Russia has resorted to shelling and bombing of civilian infrastructure. I doubt that was their plan, but that’s what they’ve devolved to.

  5. Gordon says:

    Thanks Larry,

    Further to your previous posting on neo-Nazi influence in the Ukraine here is a link to an article from Israeli newspaper Haaretz from 2018. It’s paywalled in the original but available at the link.

  6. Fred says:

    “the West has nothing left in the locker”

    Sure we do. We have a cornacopia of incompetent and morally corrupt politicians. Example one: Justin Trudeau, who knows that when Canadians with unacceptable views express them he can, under ‘the emergency act’, to use your words: Put your money in our banks, we can confiscate it; put your assets in our territory, we can steal them; use our money and we can cancel it; put your …” works with trucks, who cares about ‘ex-post-facto’ law. Then there is warrior lawyer Senator Lindsey Graham calling for the assasination of Putin.
    I purposely leave out Biden, Harris, and the rest.

    What we citizens need to do is clean house in the US, not obligate or decendants to defending every damn country on Earth except our own. NATO is well past its time to be disolved, let the EU create their own defense forces and pay for it themselves – with their own blood, treasure and ‘sacred honor’. If Covid and Climate Change doesn’t kill them all first, of course.

  7. Polish Janitor says:

    If everything is going according to plan for Putin, then why the following are happening:

    *Growing number of oligarchs distancing themselves from the war, begging for peace, begging not to be sanctioned or their assets be frozen? Mind you, these are the building blocs of the Russian polity and they wield tremendous power and influence. They are the Achilles’ heel in this scenario. The thought of growingly dissatisfied and distressed billionaire oligarchs will surely alarm Putin.

    *Putin threatening with nuclear weapons, nationalization of foreign assets and strong ‘rumors’ of declaring martial law in the country.

    *The seizure of Donbass, Luhansk, and Crimea equivalent to the size of the UK in area-which has been already told repeatedly to the readers! as a major military achievement isn’t something to brag about as they had been largely controlled for years by pro-Kremlin forces and their annexation was cake in the park from the get go. The invasion of Grenada in ’83 was more difficult than Russia’s annexation of these parts.

    Let’s be honest, this was supposed to be an operation Just Cause kind of swift military campaign ending in forced regime-change of the government by a larger and more powerful state with Zelensky as Noriega, and Russia playing as America. But Russia just got mugged by reality and now it is virtually impossible for Putin to get out of this mess untouched without paying a hefty price for it. He clearly miscalculated plain and simple.

    Last but not least

    *At the UNGA why did 141 nations voted ‘in favor’ of the UN resolution condemning Russia, whereas only Syria, Eritrea, North Korea and Belarus voted ‘against’. Why didn’t India a longstanding partner of Russia vote ‘against’? why did the UAE switch from ‘abstain’ to ‘in favor’? Why did Israel, the closest security all to Russia in the ME vote ‘in favor’? why did China vote ‘abstain’?

    I’m not even going to bring up the economic and financial backlash that the ordinary Russian has forced to suffer because of this blunder. They are self-evident. In short, Putin has made Russia economically, politically, in terms of public opinion, and diplomatically isolated, and on the other hand his actions united, militarized and revived the West against a so-called ‘common enemy’. Were all of this pre-planned and anticipated prior to the invasion?

    • jld says:

      “this was supposed to be an operation Just Cause kind of swift military campaign”

      Who told you that?

      • Leith says:

        It was obvious on Day One.

        • AngusinCanada says:

          How so? Seems to me the Russians are doing exactly what they openly stated was their intent. They have, and will continue to, envelop ultimately the significant bulk of the UAF. Ukraine will be demilitarized (except for the Russiansvof course). If this is Russia losing I’d hate to see winning. In my opinion, these days will be marked as the beginning of the end of the petro-dollar empire. (Although that process has been going for many years now really). We’ll see. As said above, time will tell.

    • Leith says:

      PJ –

      Times is reporting that attempts to assassinate Zelensky were “thwarted by anti-war elements within Russia’s Federal Security Service” (i.e. the FSB, the replacement for the KGB).

      Truth? Or an Info Warfare operation to amplify their paranoia. I have no clue. I hope it is the truth. If not I hope the info warfare op succeeds and Bortnikov or some of his subordinates get sent to the far east as border guards.

  8. JerseyJeffersonian says:

    Thank you, Larry, for posting this material. I had just finished reading Mr. Armstrong’s entire post (of which this is a part) over at his blog, Russia Observer, the entirety of which is posted there.

    This analysis makes good sense to me, whereas all of the misplaced gloating over the supposed failure of the Russian measures thus far undertaken looks to be a massive cope, and that is a charitable take on my part.

    The cone of silence and the workings of “Cancel Culture” are on full display in the media, indeed in just about every element of Western society as regards thoughtful, historically-informed analysis, so good on ya for remaining true to your vocation, even when the People With the Big Plans wish that you would just shut up. Props to Col. Lang for not succumbing to this, and continuing to host the views of dissenters.

    Carry on…

  9. Deap says:

    In”The Next Hundred Years”author in 2009 proposed fanciful speculations about what the world would look like in one hundred years – what geopolitical dislocations appeared to have logical conclusions.

    The author presents his predictions in melodramatic fashion, but has some sound underpinnings accepting how much the world has changed in the past – what was mighty is no more, century after century. Empires have risen and fallen, while the obscure often later emerge and surprise. (Including the rough around the edges US)

    The author awarded last man standings in the next 100 years to Mexico and Turkey, due to having large labor resources and their location geopolitical cross road countries- Mexico looking both east and west by sea, and Turkey looking both east and west by sea and land.

    Fun to re-read some of these projection books later to reevaluate their merit. And knowing in full well the sun did finally set on the British Empire many of us grew up with. Though not on the English language. (Yet)

  10. Sam says:

    “If a wider war breaks out in Europe, should the U.S. military be involved?”

    All Voters – Yes – 49%

    – Yes by Income –
    Under $30K: 37%
    $30-50K: 48%
    $50-100K: 51%
    $100-200K: 52%
    Over $200K: 66%

    Shouldn’t be surprising. The folks who actually do the fighting don’t want a war. The laptop class on the other hand… Yeah, the same guys who were for lockdown and mandates.

  11. 505thPIR says:

    Patrick et al.

    Absolutely essential listen if you want to understand the BIG PICTURE of today’s World Events.

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