The situation and some possible courses of action …

A Flying Tigers P-40

Reviewing the situation:

The Russian Army has an active force of about 400,000. Half of those are draftees, conscripts if you like that term better. Between 150,000 and 200,000 have been committed to the Ukraine “project” by Putin and Company. It seems that only about 70,000 men have thus far been put into Ukraine. If that is so, then how many are committed to the operation to capture Kiyiv? Half of that perhaps? 30,000 men ? 30k soldiers to capture a city of 3 million inhabitants? The Ukrainian Army and armed civilians are evidently putting up a good fight. Delays in the timetable built into Russian plans are a major threat to the viability of the Russian effort. Logistics rule. If the Russians cannot get their lines of supply sorted out, their advance will grind to a halt and they will then be very vulnerable to guerrilla resistance in their rear areas.

Courses of action available to the US …

In the absence of a US declaration of war or an AUMF the existing US law allows the president (as CinC of the armed forces) to make a “finding” for covert action against a de facto enemy. CIA is by law the Executive Agent in such an action, but in fact CIA is a civilian agency and they lack the skill and knowledge to do anything serious of a military nature. So, DoD, acting on behalf of CIA normally executes such a “finding” for covert action. Actions undertaken under such a “finding” are not acknowledged.

With such a “finding” in hand a number of things could be done:

  • We can supply the Ukraine with much needed equipment and associated training. Personnel extracted from Ukraine could be trained in Poland or some other country, perhaps even in CONUS and then returned with the equipment and supplies, probably overland from Poland. Air defense systems first, then more and more anti-armor weapons. We have a lot of this stuff and if necessary equipment can be withdrawn from reserve component units for transfer to the Ukrainians.
  • We have a lot of perfectly usable combat and supply aircraft that are scheduled to be sent to the desert bone-yard as part of force modernization. F-15s, F-16s, A-10s, etc. Under an appropriate “finding,” a covert proprietary company resembling Air America could be formed and pilots, ground crew and logistics people recruited for service IN Ukraine. We did something like this in WW2 with the creation of the American Volunteer Group (the Flying Tigers) in China. The US government formed that group and paid for it for the two years or so that it existed until the entry of the US into WW2. High risk for the people involved? Certainly, but the money would be good.

These possibilities are dependent on continued resistance by the Ukraine’s army and people.

Covert action gives Russia the opportunity to avoid a direct confrontation with a NATO country with all the risk of a nuclear exchange that would be present. Pat Lang

This entry was posted in As The Borg Turns, government, Policy, Russia. Bookmark the permalink.

154 Responses to The situation and some possible courses of action …

  1. A.Pols says:

    I assume you’re just postulating a possible scenario for the US to throw some sand in the gears, as opposed to advocating such a course?
    My first reaction is to think that however tempting these ideas may be it would be pretty obvious who was behind it and it’s fraught with all kinds of risks. It seems our Russian “colleagues” must surely be on the lookout for something so overtly covert?

    • Pat Lang says:

      A. Pols
      No. I am advocating such a policy. The Russians will obviously know that we are behind such covert action as did the Japanese in the case of the AVG. IMO they will choose to ignore it rather than have a nuclear exchange with the US, UK and France.

      • Bill Roche says:

        Your comments re “possible courses” are interesting. You mentioned the danger to the Russian rear if the front grinds to a halt. Wouldn’t that allow the rear to close w/the front? If so, how does the rear then b/c vulnerable. If front and rear “merge” supply could be stressed but Russia and Ukraine are adjoining nations. I don’t see resupply to be a problem. Questions I should have asked you in “the map room”.

        • Pat Lang says:

          Bill Roche
          No. It means that they run out of fuel and ammunition. What map room?

          • Bill Roche says:

            I spent a lot of time marking Warsaw positions on the big map in the Fkt SSG Conference room and never asked you a question about tactics. Obviously I should have.

          • Pat Lang says:

            Bill Roche

            Ah! I thought your name was familiar. Please stay on the blog.

    • TTG says:


      NATO countries have been and continue to ship arms and ammunition to Ukraine quite openly. No secrets here. So the US ships a squadron or two of A-10s to Ukraine. I guarantee there are retired A-10 pilots who would jump at the chance to work for some Ukrainian aviation firm out of Lviv to fly those babies in combat once again. My frat brother and best man flew an A-10 in the first Gulf War. He also flew Harriers with No 1 squadron, RAF. His SWMBO has passed. He just retired from flying passenger jets. He’s fat now, but if he could still squeeze his big ass into an A-10 cockpit, he’s gladly kill more tanks if given the opportunity. There’s plenty more like him.

      • SonOfaFAC says:

        I had the random good fortune and distinct pleasure once, some 20 plus years ago in Los Angeles, of being invited into a conversation with an older gentleman at an unassuming neighborhood bar in Atwater Village who it turned out was one of Chennault’s boys. He seemed surprised and pleased that, when he mentioned that name, my eyes went wide as I blurted out astonished “you’re a [redacted] flying tiger”

        Putin in an act of abject foolishness I thought him far above, has guaranteed he and his cohort’s total destruction. What a fool. I would gladly put my own now fat ass into the cockpit to help put this unjustified action into the books and consign that bastard to the fires

      • Ghost_Ship says:

        When was the last time A-1os flew in combat against a peer air force and army with peer air defence capability?

        As for logistics, most supermarket chains have capabilities as good if not better than most armies. Since it seems Putin has been planning this special operation for some time all the logistic systems he needs are probably already in place just nobody has identified them.

  2. Ed says:

    No. Stay out of it.

  3. jim ticehurst says:

    Pat,,Love the Photo

    Comment…You Make Excellent Recommendations. US Responses/Actions
    We have to Adjust…Also I Read Somewhere That Russia Used 400,000 TrooP
    For Their 2016 ?? Operation..If So They are holding Reserves..(Smart)

    My Concern is That Ukraine Z,,Has been trying to Drag NATO into Direct
    Involvement..And TODAY News Said Zelinsky awaiting Response to His Request
    to Join NATO..He Has Done His PLEAS Up to The Invasion..

    Its Touchcy..There..Flags Are Flying Buttons are Be Being PUSHED,,,,
    Ita ALL Levels

    • TTG says:

      jim ticehurst,

      Of course Zelenskiy is pleading for more help. He’d be negligent if he didn’t do so.

      • LondonBob says:

        Zelensky is an idiot, a coke head comedian, telling civilians to through molotov cocktails, recruiting children. He should sue for peace now.

      • jim ticehurst says:

        Z,,Could Have Negoiated…Gone NEUTRAL,,Like SWISS..
        Or Stepped Down..And Avoided War..For Humanitarian Reasons..

        And Other Reasons..I Think He Was Over Confident He Could Drag NATO,US n UK into Intervention’s Z Kept His People
        Dummied Down..,,Gave them Hope..right up to DDAY..

        And The World Wondered Why..It Was SAD to See,,

        IMO…Zewlinsky Is The FIRST To Blame..At Many Levels
        And For Many Reasons..

        Thats My Analysis..

  4. Ted Riggs says:

    There are already covert U.S. and U.K. SOF assisting UKR. Russian MoD knows this. Let’s hope they make it back safely to their condos in Dumfries or Waldorf.

    The Russian MoD in a briefing mentioned about Ukrainian National Guard units now working with the Russian military in operations, specifically guarding Chernobyl.

    • Pat Lang says:

      Ted Riggs
      ” Let’s hope they make it back safely to their condos in Dumfries or Waldorf.” It is for this that they volunteered for SF as I did..

  5. Harlan Easley says:

    Colonel Lang,

    Several questions.

    How does Ukraine obtain oil to continue to power its war equipment? I imagine it will have to be from the West and if Russia escalates will they target these shipments in your view?

    Eastern Ukraine voted overwhelmingly for the President that was overthrown in 2014. Is there not a residual of goodwill toward Russia in the eastern part of the country?

    And if there is how does that play into the forecast of guerilla warfare?

    Ukraine looks to me very much like the US. The West is ideologically opposed to the East when it comes to voting for candidates. Their current President won because he campaigned he was going to end the war against the breakaway republics in the East. Well, that didn’t happen. Plenty of blame to go around.

    Why hasn’t Russia deployed its S-400 and 500s to clear the skies of Ukranian drones or airplanes?

    Why hasn’t Russia deployed its drones like in Syria?

    What do you make of the order by the authorities in Ukraine that any able male between 18 – 60 cannot leave the country and must conscript?

    Ukraine gave out a lot of weapons to civilians. Then they warn of saboteurs from Russia being dressed as Ukrainian soldiers or Civilians. Doesn’t this invite chaos and potential friendly on friendly fire?

    If Russia surrounds the major cities how does Ukraine get resupplies into the cities?

    And finally what escalatory options do you see Russia using if they decide to escalate?


    • Pat Lang says:

      Harlan Easley
      Nobody sad the COAs I suggested would be easy. I will continue to comment on these various points.

    • TTG says:

      Harlan Easley,

      Ukraine get fuel and ammo and additional weaponry the same ways she’s doing so now, from across the Polish and Romanian borders.

      Eight years of Russian war on Ukraine has soured many in eastern Ukraine on their Russian brothers. Ukrainian patriotism and morale has steadily improved since 2014-2015. That should be obvious in the events of the last few days.

      Russian weaponry may not be as invincible as we’ve been led to believe lately. They haven’t been able to suppress Ukrainian air defense or prevent air attacks on their armored columns. They lost two VDV laden transports in failed attempts to seize airfields. That speaks poorly for their military leadership.

      The Ukrainian call for general mobilization is what any real nation would do when invaded. Do you remember the words of Patrick Henry? “Now is the Time for All Good Men to Come to the Aid of their Country.” That old men and women across Ukraine would be arming themselves and making Molotov cocktails should scare the crap out of the Russians. It should give Putin pause. Any government he installs will not last.

      • Harlan Easley says:

        I believe you are reading the room wrong.

        From the Financial Times

        “Peter Javori, a 42-year-old father of two and his 18-year-old son, Doma, made it across the Ukrainian border into Hungary, visibly relieved at having escaped the worst armed conflict in Europe since the second world war.

        Russian troops had invaded Ukraine early on Thursday and Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky ordered a “general mobilisation” of men in the country of more than 40mn into the military.

        “I got very little from the Ukrainian government as I raised my kids,” Javori said, in Beregsurany on the Hungarian side of Ukraine’s western border. “I am not about to let them take my son into war. No way.”

        The Ukrainian Government is hopelessly corrupt and the most fanatical supporters of them are Far-Right Fascists from the West.

        I witnessed yesterday forced conscription at the border from these Far-Right lunatics who have been duped by our Trotskyites into believing they are in control.

        Besides this fanatical support by their Far-Right, I just do not believe there is widespread support for this government outside the western part of the nation.

        The Eastern Part of the country has had zero political representation since the Coup of 2014 by the West.

        Basically, you have two centers of geography ideologically opposed. There has been little resistance in the East besides the fanatical Far-Right units hold up in the cities of the East.

        Here is a video claiming to be taken outside Mariupul off these Far-Right fanatics setting up a roadblock and acting just like the jihadists in Syria.

        This tells me they don’t trust the population. The burning of live individuals in Odessa was done by the Far-Right and not Russia. So if you have any brains you become a Roman to survive in Rome. There is most likely a lot of hatred toward the Far-Right in the eastern part of the country that is pent up and ready to be released.

        Also, the propaganda is off the charts which is expected. I would agree the best course of action would have been Ukraine agreeing to its neutrality. But Russia and not Putin has crossed the Rubicon. This is a nation at war and not Putin.

        Their national psyche is the remembrance of the 20 million+ lives they lost in WWII from the Nazis in the East. I firmly believe they think they are fighting the same force.

        My analysis is they will try to consolidate power in the East from Odessa straight up to Kiev connecting with Russia. And chop off the left part of the country for the West.

        Will they be successful, don’t know. I do not think they will tolerate an extended guerilla war aka Afghanistan since it is too closely associated with the failure of the USSR and the destruction of all hope in the 90s.

        Like I said Russia has crossed the Rubicon. It is either success for them or the destruction of their Nation-state. Meaning they will their sovereignty and become a client state.

        So it is either Kill or Be Killed. So if A-10s end up near Lviv then I would annihilate the air force base with a nuclear-tip Kalibr missile.

        As Colonel Lang says analysis is not advocation. This is my analysis.

        My personal view is why would I support the Trotskyites in Ukraine? I have been called a Nazi for the last 4 years for being white, a southerner, and voting for Trump.

        And now the American Left is supporting the Nazis in Ukraine. It’s a joke. My only loyalty is to Christ.

        Walk 12 End 12

        • Pat Lang says:

          Harlan Easley

          “So if A-10s end up near Lviv then I would annihilate the air force base with a nuclear-tip Kalibr missile.” A criminal idea.

          • Harlan Easley says:

            Isn’t all war criminal in a silly philosophical sense? What is the difference between dying from a bullet or a tactical nuclear warhead?

            I agree the attack would be extreme and reckless with the risk of escalating into WWIII in a thermonuclear exchange. So yes it was more hyperbole than anything else.

            However, I don’t believe in the Rational Man theory either.

            And if I was leader of Russia and the Far-Right lunatics in the West kept killing my soldiers and especially targeting them with A-10’s then yes I would target the airport with a nuclear-tip Kalibr missile.

            If it meant the survival of the state. Just being honest. Personally, whoever wins the war will be prosecuting the other side as war criminals anyway so might as well go all in.

          • Pat Lang says:

            Harlan Easley
            I don’t want to see you here again. You are mad.

        • Leith says:

          Harlan Easley –

          You missed the fact that ‘Javori’ is a Hungarian surname, not Ukrainian. So I would give two to one odds that the Peter Javori interviewed by FT is one of the few (< half of one%) ethnic Hungarians in Ukraine. The great majority of them live in regions on the edge of the Hungarian border in Zakarpattia Oblast. Much of that Oblast belonged to Hungary and within living memory before Stalin stole it and appended it to Ukraine. No wonder he does not want himself or his son to have any part in defending Kiev.

          And your comment that the “Eastern Part of the country has had zero political representation” is pure malarkey. The majority party in the Ukraine parliament got anywhere from 45% to >60% of the vote in many eastern oblasts. Even in the non LDR/DNR areas of Luhansk and Donetsk Oblasts they got up t0 40% in some areas, 25% in others. They got more support from the east than they did from the far western and formerly Galician Oblast of Lviv where they received <25%.

        • No, the fire inside the churc wasn’t set up by the far right, even tonight Russia has tried to push that narrative. There are, however som far right movements in Ukraine as there are in most European countries – and the US. In Parliament in Ukraine they do not have any representation at all. The gained slightly above 2% of the vote and didn’t get any seats. So don’t throw aroun the nazi=card. The whole country – including the eastern side is represented in parliament. I just yesterday talked with a representative from Kharkiv, a city under siege with a majority Russian-speaking population. You can hear our discussion here
          Putin thought the country was more divided than it is. And having to fight in Kharkiv against Ukrainians speaking Russian wasn’t in his playbook.

    • joe90 says:

      The S-400 can cover the whole of Ukraine from Russia, so no need.

      • Leith says:

        Joe90 –

        S-400 may be overrated. Its operational history has shown problems in acquiring maneuvering cruise missiles and fighter aircraft flying low or nap-of-the-earth profiles. This limits the effective range to as little as 20-35 km, or even less depending on terrain. Like US SAMs it can be by overcome by swarming tactics and decoys. It can also be spoofed. Its long range (380km) 40N6 missile is designed for non-agile AWACS, RC-135s, tankers, etc flying at high altitude. Deployment time of five minutes is only good on the flat steppes; it could increase tenfold in mountainous terrain.

        The S-500 is defending Moscow. I don’t believe they would move it to the border of Ukraine.

    • Fred says:


      “Ukraine looks to me very much like the US. ”

      Could you explain how? They certainly don’t have a governmental structure whose roots go back into English common law due to centuries of colonial history and immigration from the UK and Western Europe, nor is a third or more of their population made up of non-European immigrants and their descendants.

      • JerseyJeffersonian says:


        I believe he meant that they, as we in the US, are basically irreconcilably divided in our cultural beliefs and practices. In instances such as these, if hard core federalism is not an option, separation seems indicated, as he seems to be suggesting for “Ukraine” as the only viable course, since “live and let live federalism” is not an option after years of the east being attacked and terrorized by the western, predominately Galician with no indication of federalism being entertained. Extermination, ethnic cleansing…that is what is coming from the Galicians without let or stay.

  6. Babeltuap says:

    Financially it’s better for NATO (US mainly) to find another country to launder money. Can’t have sons and daughters of politicians going there anymore and then all the repairs needed…meh. Time to move on. I would nominate Swaziland but they have a real AIDS epidemic.

  7. TTG says:


    You don’t realize how heartened I am that you formulated these possible COAs and committed them in writing to this blog. The level of Putin worship in this country has been disappointing. I, of course, think these are marvelous suggestions. I’ve thought about what I would do if I did not have SWMBO to care for. I’m a broke down old man, but I do retain a lot of applicable skills and knowledge.

    Some interesting tidbits of info I ran across this morning include Kazahkstan’s refusal of Putin’s request to supply troops to the Ukrainian project along with the refusal to recognize the legitimacy of the breakaway republics. Why would Putin even ask for troops? That’s third echelon stuff. Hungary’s Orbán has dropped his reluctance to bar Russia from the SWIFT system along with Italy’s Draghi. The failure of several VDV efforts to take airfields around Kyiv is telling. That and the videos of some of the captured Russians show that Putin doesn’t appear to be sending his best. I’m surprised that the Ukrainians are still able to fly their aircraft, shoot at Russian aircraft and communicate with the world. Maybe the much vaunted Russian radio-electronic combat capabilities are mostly propaganda. The next move seems to be the equivalent of hub to hub artillery strikes and massed armored assaults. At some point, the resulting casualties will become known across Russia. What then?

    At any rate, it appears the temperature of the Cold War is once again approaching absolute zero. The Western Alliance is getting up from its death bed. Let’s hope the wider war stays cold. No one should want ballistic or cruise missiles, hypersonic or otherwise, nuclear or otherwise, flying across Europe or anywhere else.

    • Pat Lang says:

      Please comment on points raised by naysayers.

    • Jonst says:

      Personally, I don’t call it ‘Putin Worship’. There may may some sympathy, fast fading, on the part of uninformed fools. However, what there is a lot of frustration in the US with the rabid anti-Russian madness of theDems the last six years. Further, there is a lot of frustration, and some fury, with policies of the Elites, Globalists, who extended NATO, as far as we did.

      But all that noted, I fear we are in for trouble. In for a fight. Be it in the Baltics, or Rumania, or the Fulda Gap (though I am extremely uncomfortable having the German at my back)if Putin is successful in the Ukraine. Let us hope he bogs down in the Ukraine. You can’t be as weak and addled, as Biden has been, in the face of this kind of aggression and think it will stop in the Ukraine. Repeat, unless the Ukrainians stop him. So perhaps we should at least consider the Col ruminations.

      • Sam says:

        “However, what there is a lot of frustration in the US with the rabid anti-Russian madness of theDems the last six years. Further, there is a lot of frustration, and some fury, with policies of the Elites, Globalists, who extended NATO, as far as we did.“


        The anti-Russian madness is not just a Democrat affair. The Republicans have been right at the forefront of it. Let’s not forget John McCain and all the other Republicans who come out in unison to label Putin the next Hitler. The neocon position is very much bipartisan and pervades the entire establishment in media, think-tanks and the top government bureaucracy. It supports all wars and especially the Middle Eastern variety with fawning subservience to zionist maximalist goals.

        The few who stand out in opposition to this madness include Tulsi Gabbard and Tucker Carlson.

        • Pat Lang says:

          “The few who stand out in opposition to this madness include Tulsi Gabbard and Tucker Carlson.” Ask these people if they are opposed to helping Ukrainians defend themselves.

    • whoknows says:

      What I see on the Telegram channels, is that VDV has held the Gostomel Airport.
      It is in the Russian hands.

  8. Juiceboxhero says:

    I think this goes into the category of, things that are technically possible, but maybe not so wise.

    As for sending weapons and training, those weapons need to be put into proper positions after getting into the country. If Russia controls the airspace I think that will difficult, though not impossible. I am sure the CIA has lots of experience smuggling weapons into hostile territory, from practice in Syria and other places. Training the remnants of the Ukrainian military or special ops in Poland sounds plausible, but that is essentially conceding that the country has fallen and committing to a long resistance to liberate the place.

    The second thought is more dubious in my very admittedly non-military opinion. First of all if Russia controls the airspace aren’t we essentially signing up those pilots for a suicide mission? Out of date equipment vs. Russian modern Air Force, plus the possibility of anti-aircraft battalions installed by Russia in Ukraine sounds like a recipe for lots of dead bodies coming home with US flags over their coffin. Is there any political will for that? I don’t think so, but I might be wrong, hope I am not because I certainly don’t see a puppet regime installed by Nuland and the US state department as something worth even one dead US service man or woman.

    • Pat Lang says:

      You are a defeatist. People like you always see defeat as inevitable.

      • Juiceboxhero says:

        Pat I have the utmost respect for our military men and women including yourself. As a civilian I simply question why Ukraine is worth fighting for. I would not risk one of our soldiers getting a broken ankle over this, respectfully. The entire situation is one that the US government (civilian) bears some responsibility in creating, through the 2014 Maidan protests that I believe were clearly instigated by parts of the US state dept. Same civilian government has lied to us consistently, and deserves none of the respect I have for the military.

        Now if Poland or Lithuania were to be attacked, that is another matter entirely.

        • Pat Lang says:

          IMO, the screen of deniability would give the Russians the opportunity to ignore our covert actions.

      • jld says:

        Col Lang,
        Of course you are not a defeatist but do you think that Putin/Shoigu and als are defeatists either?
        And what do you think this means in the long run (or even medium/short)?

        • Pat Lang says:


          I do not think they will accept a confrontation with NATO over Ukraine.

          • jld says:

            Indeed, this is the big IF, they might think it doable without nukes (Putin threatening “immediate action”), just like the US thinks its doable until the “unexpected” happens.
            Same game as the Guns of August

          • jld says:

            BTW, I forgot to add, it’s not “over Ukraine” there is more at stake, a French analysis/view:

          • LondonBob says:

            You are very wrong, they will go all the way. Unfortunately the politicians in the West are deluded too.

          • TimmyB says:

            Russia made a series of demands in December of last year. Read them. It’s clear now that if serious negotiations are not joined concerning those demands, Russia will use military force to have those demands met. Concerning Ukraine, it already has.

            Putin has already accepted a confrontation with the US and NATO over those demands. Those demands get met, or military force will be used. Putin further warned other countries to stay out of this fight. I don’t think he cares about NATO’s response. NATO is not going to invade Russia no matter what Putin does. It doesn’t have the military capacity to invade.

            I suspect next on Putin’s hit list is the US ABM missile base in Poland. Either that base gets removed via negotiations or, if negotiations fail, Putin tries to remove it using military force.

            The belief that Russia will allow Poland to supply an insurgency in Ukraine without a military response from Russia is unfounded. Russia is not going to ignore covert actions. Russia believes it is in a fight for its very survival. It is in this fight to win.

        • Leith says:

          London Bob –

          You may be correct that Putin is insane enough to start throwing nuclear weapons at the west. Or to convince Little Kim to do it. Let’s hope that Shoigu and Gerasimov can talk sense to him, or maybe entice him to look out a third story window and …

          • Boo says:

            That reads like somebody with extra chromosome will right…

          • LondonBob says:

            I am not talking about nukes everyone knows no one will ever use. I am talking about the economic consequences, I suggest you read what Jim Rickards has to say, I guess the Pentagon never listened to a word he said when he ran their financial war games for them.

            I don’t doubt, if needs be, the Russians would be prepared to engage NATO in EE, or in Syria and Iraq, or anywhere else they could, but my concern is the financial wellbeing of me and my family.

          • Leith says:

            London Bob – “nukes everyone knows no one will ever use. “

            I hope you are right. But apparently not everyone here agrees with you. And neither does the Financial Times and a hundred other news outlets this morning after Putin put his nuclear forces on alert:


  9. robt willmann says:

    The basic section authorizing covert actions is Title 50, United States Code, section 3093, Presidential approval and reporting of covert actions–

  10. Alves says:

    Those airplanes would fly from outside Ukraine?

    • Pat Lang says:

      No. once we established a modicum of defended air space inside Ukraine they would move to bases inside the country.

    • TTG says:


      The Ukrainian Air Force is still flying combat sorties from inside Ukraine. What’s to stop a new AVG from flying from those same airfields or even sections of highway? That’s been a NATO plan for decades.

      • Yeah, Right says:

        “The Ukrainian Air Force is still flying combat sorties from inside Ukraine.”

        Is it?

      • Marlene says:

        The Russian MoD is denouncing the the Ukrainian military is using white phosphorous in Kiev…

        Do you approve that?

        On the other hand, Zelensky announces “an international legion of volunteers”…
        Is thois the announcement on that the IS guys approach?

  11. JTMcPhee says:

    Maybe it’s obvious to the better informed and experienced, but what is the desired endpoint or mission that is served by the various courses of action posed here? What is the form of the political economy that might serve the general welfare, as opposed to the welfare of the generals?

    The DoD “Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms” has a ton of arcane content that embraces lots of use of the word “war,” but for some reason, no definition of the term is given. And there’s multiple uses of the terms “success” and “successful,” but again no definition given, so how is anyone able to determine when the force has achieved another undefined (and in the DoD dictionary, never used) term, “victory?”

    • Pat Lang says:


      Continued Ukrainian independence should be the goal. Neutrality would be acceptable to me.

      • “Continued Ukrainian independence should be the goal.”
        What difference does it make to the U.S. whether Ukraine is an independent nation or a part of the Russian Federation?
        I don’t see the latter as being a (significant) problem to the U.S.
        Do you? If so, why, please.

        • Pat Lang says:

          Sentimentality on my part? Perhaps. I love a heroic people.

          • Le Renard Subtil says:

            This is a nuclear power we are dealing with. One that is more attached to Ukraine than the U. S. Stop emoting about this. It’s not our fight.

        • TTG says:

          Keith Harbaugh,

          Why would Ukrainian independence be any less important than Russian independence? For that matter why should Ukrainian security concerns be any less important than Russian security concerns? Given this invasion, Ukrainian security concerns have certainly been proved valid.

          I’ve so many comments about Ukraine not being a real country and that she has no right to exist. What absolute bullshit that is. Ukraine has a long and rich history and tradition, a lot of it under the yoke of neighbors. That’s true of all of eastern Europe.

          Ukrainian independence matters to me. Not only because of my Lithuanian heritage, but because I am a Special Forces officer. De Oppresso Liber is far more than a slogan. It’s an imperative. Free the oppressed. I don’t like invaders. I realize we are not innocent of such transgressions, but that does not excuse this Russian invasion.

          • Bill Roche says:

            Alas I an old enough to remember the “domino theory”. Although ridiculed by “sophisticates” on the left it always made sense to me. Correspondent Harbaugh might ask if Putin’s invasion of Ukraine is a success, why would he not go after the Lits, Lats, and Stones? Would the Finns be treated to another “Winter War”, would it be ’39 once again for the Poles. IMHO the possibility of NATO in Ukraine is a canard. That isn’t what drives Putin. He wants to return the Russian Empire to pre ’14. Subjugation of the Ukrainians is a prelude. At that rate I expect there would be a lot of work for Special Forces. And that’s not a good thing.

          • Barbara Ann says:


            Yourself and Col. Lang are GB’s whose credo is liberating the oppressed. I have nothing but admiration for you both and your ‘tribe’ and absolutely understand your position re the currently-being-oppressed Ukrainians. If I were Ukrainian I would be fighting for my country right now.

            However, we must not forget that Ukraine has been deliberately sacrificed by Russia hawk driven US foreign policy. NATO-ization of Ukraine was a clear Russian red line which was willingly crossed – and then US/UK/other nations’ forces were withdrawn just when an invasion was said to be imminent. Aggressive action by Russia was the policy goal as a means of furthering Russia’s isolation. Someone did their homework on Mr Putin and all the right buttons have been pressed.

            Of course Russia is to blame for the invasion, but this is as a result of deliberate provocation with that end in mind. The architects of this plan care not a jot for Ukrainians, there are obsessed with hate for Russia. It is a tragic truism that soldiers like yourselves are left to act honorably only after the politicians have engineered the situation by doing the very opposite. I guess it goes with the territory.

            I am not trying to excuse Russia’s actions. All I am trying to do is argue that a large part of the blame for the Ukrainians’ suffering lies elsewhere.

      • SteveF says:

        But Ukraine is not independent is it. The democratically elected president was overthrown by an coup that was mainly sponsored by the US in 2014. Since then Ukraine has been a cesspit of corruption for the likes of Hunter Biden. It has also been employed as a dagger held to the throat of Russia by the US, EU & NATO.
        How long were you actually expecting the Russians to accept this state of affairs, considering that they made it quite clear it was unacceptable after the 2008 Bucharest conference?

        • Pat Lang says:

          I understand Russia’s reasons and to some extent appreciate them, but I do not think the heroic people of Ukraine should be abandoned. If Putin had aimed only at “liberating” only the ethnic Russian parts of the country I would have been understanding. De Opresso Liber.

          • MGB says:

            It would make no sense to cleave Ukraine in half, or occupy it all. Either way he’d essentially be butting up against Poland, and the Poles are f*cking off their rocker when it comes to Russia. I know having a Polish mother. The smart move would be to make a negotiated settlement for a neutral Ukraine, and ‘concede’ to withdraw. The heroic Ukies, as you put it, have been shelling the Donbas since shortly after the Nuland-Pyatt coup, and needed a good punch in the face. They have been no more agreement compliant than the US. In any event, as far as I can tell the US plan has been to ensure that Germany and Russia don’t get any closer, so mission accomplished there. 8 years of antagonism and provocation has paid off.

          • Bill Roche says:

            I would have bet money that that is what Putin was going to do. All the usual “protecting Russian ethnics, glorifying Mother Russia, redeeming the empire, restoring the Russian tongue blah blah. But I was wrong. He went for the whole enchillada. And that is why I think he also has/had the Baltics on his mind. NATO membership not withstanding, the same question asked about Ukraine could be asked about Estonia. Are you willing to die for Estonia?

        • TTG says:


          Ukraine is an independent nation with a democratically elected government. Such elections were held in 2015 and 2019 and internationally judged to be free and fair.

          Ukrainians have voted for membership in the EU since shortly after they won their independence. Kyiv first petitioned for NATO membership in 1994. The 2004 Orange Revolution was all about this desired turn towards Europe. Euromaidan erupted in 2013 over Yanukovych’s unilateral turn from Europe to Moscow. That decision forced him to flee to Russia in 2014. We aided and abetted that last popular revolution, but we didn’t start it or cause it.

          I’ll ask you the inverse of your final question. Russia has been a dagger held to the throat of Ukraine. How long were you expecting the Ukrainians to accept this state of affairs before joining NATO?

      • Datil D says:

        The comments are above my military knowledge but wasn’t neutrality also acceptable to Putin

        • Pat Lang says:

          Yes, and the Ukrainians should have opted for that, but they did not, and I would not abandon them.

        • Leith says:

          DD –

          Putin wanted complete disarmament along with neutrality. No way any Ukraine politician could agree with that.

      • rho says:

        Colonel Lang,

        “[Ukrainian] Neutrality would be acceptable to me.”

        I do not understand this. Ukrainian neutrality is Putin’s key demand, too. The US and Russia could enter negotiations about this right now, but it seems like either the US and/or the Zelensky government are currently unwilling to accept that.

        What is the point of weapons deliveries or covert ops if you would already achieve your stated goal without them – if only your own side would be willing to accept it in a negotiated settlement?

        If Putin had been offered formal guarantees for Ukrainian neutrality in early February, this whole war would have probably been avoidable.

        • Pat Lang says:

          You don’t understand that that point has passed and cannot be re-found unless Putin withdraws?

          • rho says:


            No, I still dont. The much more obvious conclusion that I see would be to make a Russian withdrawal (to where exactly?) the key demand from the US/Ukrainian side in negotiations.

            Or are you implying that you would demand a Russian withdrawal as a *precondition* for any negotiation about Ukrainian neutrality from now on? That’s a position that I can understand and that I find consistent, but I don’t think the Russians would ever consider accepting that precondition.

    • scott s. says:


      My suggestion would be to check out Vom Kriege

      While there are numerous interpretations available my understanding is that war is the ultimate physical act between competitors, resulting in the utmost of exertion ending in destruction, in theory. In practice this does not happen because war (in the hands of states) is an instrument of policy and thus the extent of physicality is constrained by the policy ends desired. That in turn is dictated by the so-called trinity (military/state/people).

      “Victory” is kind of meaningless. There is a desired end state and you either achieve it or you do not.

  12. Sean says:

    I don’t think the situation is as dire for Russia as you implied. This is an invasion lite, so to speak. A deliberate choice to try to keep civilian deaths and infrastructure destruction at low levels, with the assumption that the Ukrainian government would just collapse. Well it does look like Ukrainian resistance did not collapse. I think what we are seeing today is a reassessment by Russia and imminent escalation of force.

    A thought that occurred to me was that the Russian experience in Syria was almost entirely Air Force and to a more limited extent special forces. Their army is still pretty much completely green, and does not have anywhere near the American experience fighting any sort of wars. You’re seeing their “teething problems” right now. Also it looks like the historical Russian tolerance for casualties is still there, compared to Western countries.

    Russian propaganda/media efforts have been absolutely abysmal. They are getting destroyed in Western popular opinion, and by extension in a huge chunk of the developing world that relies on western reporting directly or as source material.

    • khc says:

      Russian army did fight quite well vis-a-vis Georgia some decade or so ago, with an army that was not quite as modernized or professional, vs. an army that was thought to be fairly well trained with Western aid.

      Having said that, I’ll agree that Russia seems to be doing a bit too much with too limited resources. They are going for much larger set of prizes with an unexpectedly small force as far as I can tell. I don’t think they have much time to produce “results” in the current campaign.

      The longer term consequences are potentially more troubling. A lot of accounts (mostly in the West, but, apparently, some outside the West as well) are personalizing the responsibility, pinning blame mostly on Putin. I don’t think that is accurate: the fight in the long term is, basically, now between Russia, and all that it represents, and the West–that has been apparent for last couple of decades, but there’s no way one could go back now. While the events of past decade, no matter who was responsible for stirring up the pot, has made Ukraine a fundamentally divided country (as if it wasn’t before) where half the population was already incompatible with “Russia,” and things have probably gone downhill last few days. But I don’t think Russia could pull back (too obviously) now without the entire country unraveling quickly or in a slow motion.

    • Muralidhar Rao says:

      I beg to differ with you regarding the support for western propaganda’s success. “They are getting destroyed in Western popular opinion, and by extension in a huge chunk of the developing world that relies on western reporting directly or as source material.” True the western populace bought into the cool aide of Barbaric Russians. But even the Middle Eastern Democratic Kings ( sarcasm ) are not supporting and responding engatively to the requests of Western Leaders to pump more oil etc. These middle eastern monarchs are not too far from their populations. Their populations I believe, they didn’t forgot the democracy the western democracies bestowed to Iraq and Libya( where the slave market was revived).

  13. Sam says:

    Col. Lang,

    Your suggestions make eminent sense. Bogging down the Russians in Ukraine by enabling the Ukrainian resistance in this open conflict could be salutary. All sides would have an incentive to get to the negotiating table. Hopefully a new security architecture could be established in Europe that takes into account the security interests of all parties. Unfortunately, IMO, as long as the neocons are at the wheel here that cannot happen. The question not just for us but the world is how can we put the neocons out to pasture?

  14. Sam says:

    CNN: Hungary will not block any sanctions against Russia, including on the global SWIFT payment system, Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó said Saturday in a statement.

    Of course this is state media. However, if this is true then it appears that the EU is consolidating its position on this invasion. If they get to the point of sanctioning the Russian central bank then it will be a big deal. In the mean time the current sanctions are riddled with loopholes and are meaningless. And no one including the US has stopped purchase of Russian energy products.

  15. Well, obviously!!!

    Ted Riggs says: “already covert U.S. and U.K. SOF assisting UKR”

    This is a WAR that has been promoted all thru Trump presidency. And now a strategy to unite the USA.

    Wall to wall footage of the crisis, when did we see this kind of coverage in Iraq, Afghanistan, Lybia, Yemen, Somalia?

    I say down with NATO.

    Thanx so very much for your site and your updates. Always very informative.

    • Fred says:


      “This is a WAR that has been promoted all thru Trump presidency.”

      It sure wasn’t promoted by him. In fact he got impeached over that phone call to Ukraine’s president. .

  16. Mark Logan says:

    I think it unlikely Putin can sustain this for long. For whatever reason he neglected to gin up his own people for this and they are now arresting thousands of Russians protesting, even Kazakhstan refused to send help. If this gets bogged down it may be over in just a few weeks, and it can be bogged down…and that must be done right soon.

    It appears the civilians recently armed with rifles will be key to the defense of Kyiv. Judging by the pic they were issued those rifles with attached mag and that may well be all the ammo each man got. Every 7.62 x 39mm round and stinger that can be found, spare no effort to get it there yesterday.

    • james says:

      they released all the convicts too… that ought to help – not.. i guess they would fit right in with the azov crowd..

      • Mark Logan says:


        Just to be clear, I believe Zelensky was wrong and bears a lot of responsibility for this, as I believe had he not postured Ukraine as a state abjectly hostile to Russian this would not be happening. IMO he should have acknowledged he lost the war for Crimea, Donbas, Luhansk, negotiated a water deal for Crimea, and sought to normalize relations with his powerful neighbor.

        However, now the quickest way to peace is Russian failure, as Putin has now become someone with whom the Ukrainians and the EU can not negotiate with, so I believe it is time for new leadership in Russia, and the failure of this operation is IMO likely to force Putin’s resignation. The ending of Putin opens the door for a re-set, and that’s what everybody now needs. Big time.

    • Stephanie says:

      Mark Logan,

      Putin has also lost Zeman and Orban, and he was actually making decent progress there. Zeman just said he never expected Putin to do anything this crazy and he was wrong. Who will deal with him now?

      • Leith says:

        I never realized Zeman was once close to Putin. Older Czechs surely remember the molotov cocktails they used on Soviet tanks during the Prague Spring.

        Serbia will stick with Putin.

  17. james says:

    still fighting the last cold war pat?

    • Pat Lang says:


      No, this is the eternal verity “Only the dead have seen the end of war.” You want the Ukrainians to surrender? I do not.

  18. Mal says:

    Such blood lust for civilian deaths….sickening.

  19. Barbara Ann says:

    Colonel Lang

    I respect your stance of Ukrainian neutrality, but it seems to me that is now an impossible outcome. Russia will either prevail in its efforts to secure a Moscow-friendly government in Kyiv or it will fail, Ukraine will join the West & surely now NATO too. Failure on this scale would certainly bring down the Russian government & cause a major crisis is the country. This would of course be the very outcome the Russia hawks have been hoping and planning for since 2014 and well before.

    Putin has declared this fight an existential one for Russia. If I have learned one thing in my years following your blog it is that what we observers consider the objective reality is irrelevant – what Putin believes is what matters. I am convinced Putin genuinely thinks Russia is fighting a Third Patriotic War and his commitment is absolute. He visited his parents’ graves the day before Z-day, I presume to ask his ancestors for their blessing – and if need be, their forgiveness.

    Putin’s blood is up and I am not at all convinced he’d take the option of avoiding a conflict with NATO if the alternative meant defeat. The bigger picture is the enormous rift opening up between East and West – driven by decades of counterproductive US foreign policy. A bifurcation of the entire international system is perfectly possible, especially if Russia is ejected from SWIFT. For Russia this is now a fait accompli – they no longer care what we think of them.

    This conflict is largely of the West’s making. We willfully trampled all over Russia’s red lines and should accept the consequences. The innocents in Ukraine will not be well served by us starting WWIII for their cause. Given the tremendous risks, my own view is NATO & the US should stay out. There is far more at stake here than the governance of Ukraine.

    • Pat Lang says:

      Barbara Ann

      You seem to have misunderstood the tenses. Past option. Past options

    • Bill Roche says:

      May I assume you are not Ukrainian.

    • Sam says:

      It is worthwhile to read Putin’s speech to get a sense of his perspective.

      IMO, administrations and Congresses since the Clinton era share a huge responsibility for the current situation. Possibly they wanted this or in their hubris they’ve walked into it.

      In any case, as Col. Lang says it is all water under the bridge. Who knows how each side climbs the escalatory ladder? There are no statesmen with sufficient gravitas who can bring about any kind of settlement. Unfortunately the Ukrainian people and the Russian soldiers will pay the immediate price in blood. Then of course ordinary people around the world especially the bottom half will also pay an economic price.

      I recently re-read about the 30 year war in Europe. It appears no one learns the lessons of history. Egotistical ruling elites inevitably cause destruction with few of them paying much of a price.

  20. Wally says:

    Well, this is Day 3 of the operation. I agree with Sean that this is a light operation designed to minimize casualties and make the subsequent peace easier. There is no carpet bombing or flattening of cities like Raqqa. Surely, the Russ could have shut down power and internet on day one. From my reading, they’re working on surrounding Kyiv, doing a cauldron in the East- working methodically & cautiously.

    There’s a lot of misinformation out there about supposedly taken down Russ airplanes that turn out to have Uke id numbers, Uke garrison on Snake Island being wiped out that later disembark at Crimea, captured Russ which turn out to be Uke soldiers trying to desert, etc. Yes, there are Russ casaulties and reverses. All of this will come out.

    I’m not anti-Uke, but which Uke are we for- the relatively peaceful one before Vicky Nuland’s 2014 blatant coup d’etat, or this latter version where a substantial minority of its population, to wit; Russian speakers, are persecuted.

    All of this will sort out hopefully by the Ides of March. One thing for sure. U.S. policy is worse than criminal, it is a blunder. As Napoleon’s chief of police, Fouché said about the execution of the Duke of Enghien “C’est pire qu’un crime, c’est une faute.” This is because China is the U.S.’s chief competitor, not Russia. We should have been doing everything in our power to ally with the Russ, not push it into the arms of China!

    Professor Mearsheimer explained it all way back in 2015.

    • Muralidhar Rao says:

      Wally, I have been finding the same reports in various other web sites. Unfortunately the MSM is flooding the market place with disaster for Russians, but am I supposed to believe them when they promoted Trump as a Russian stooge for 6 years and conveniently ignored Hunter’s lap top before the election?Thanks

  21. khc says:

    If US were to engage in “covert” ops to offer serious military gear (e.g. warplanes manned by volunteers) to fight Russian on former Soviet soil, it will be, eh, “interesting,” I worry that this might actually be one thing that could trigger Russians to hit the nuclear button or come close to it (i.e. do what Cold War strategists thought about “limited nuclear war,” hit some Central European cities with tactical nukes as a retaliation and see if the West would counter in kind, rather than (immediate) full nuclear war). The stakes are infinitely higher than doing the same in Afghanistan, I think.

    • Pat Lang says:

      We live within the blast radius of a Russian nuclear attack on DC. I am willing to accept the risk.

      • khc says:

        I think, an operation of that sort will need to be accompanied by several contingency plans. If, as I fear, this winds up becoming the nuclear trigger for the Russians, we’d need to have contingency plans for various responses that Russians might undertake. If, say, the operations are staged out of Romania, and if the Russians respond by launching tactical nukes against Berlin, or, possibly more likely, Bucharest (or even just the bases that the operations are staged out of), would we respond with a limited nuclear exchange (or, go for decapitation nuclear attack against Moscow and other leadership targets with “limited” resources)? If Russia does not respond (or if the “limited” decapitation nuclear strike somehow succeeds), but the failure of their campaign in Ukraine leads to the collapse of Russia as a state, would we be able to send an occupying army all over Russia (and beat, say, the Chinese to many of the strategic locales) in order to stabilize the aftermath? I think these scenarios came a lot closer to realization now.

        • Pat Lang says:

          Another craven idiot. I don’t want to see you here again either.

          • khc says:


            I’m not a soldier, so I’ll happily admit to being craven. Risking the destruction of the world for a glorious and honorable fight, however, does seem a bit questionable set of priorities.

      • KMD says:

        Glad you’re willing.
        I live here too.
        This is not our fight!

    • JMT says:

      Nuclear war is all or nothing. Russia isn’t going end civilization over American covert involvement in Ukraine That is already going on to some degree and should be expected and accounted for in Russia’s plans.

      I don’t think the goal is to take Kiev, they can’t possibly think they can take it with 30,000, can they? I’d guess the south and east is the extent of Russia’s ambitions.

  22. Sam says:

    As Col. Lang has suggested here and it appears that the Europeans and the US are now going to assist the Ukrainians in bogging down the Russian military, it would be good to ask questions about our own role in the situation getting to this point?

    Why won’t the US national security establishment come clean about its role in current Ukraine conflict? Because it would expose how it uses Kyiv as an instrument to destabilize governments — Including America’s.

    IMO, we’ve never had a goal of creating a common security architecture in Europe since the Soviet military withdrawal from the Warsaw Pact. Ever since the Clinton administration we’ve backtracked on agreements with Gorbachev made during the previous Bush administration and kept cornering Russia. Now the Ukrainian population and the Russian military personnel and average people in Europe and the US are paying the price. The “power elite” as Tulsi Gabbard has labeled them recently don’t pay any price instead profit from the destabilization and increasing authoritarianism here at home.

    Isn’t it interesting that the covidian hysteria has been replaced with Ukraine and seamlessly we’ve moved to the next emergency? Dunno when the majority of the American people will recognize how easily they’re being played?

    • Muralidhar Rao says:

      Spot on. By the way they didn’t even cover the Trucker protests in Canada. Great diversion for the upcoming Trucker Freedom Convoy to DC

  23. Leith says:

    Concur. I would humbly add additional thoughts.

    1] Transfer some hi-tech EW to Ukraine. Let them screw with Russian comms and radar. Especially the AEW&C A50s the Russian AF now has flying over Ukraine looking for the Ukraine Sukhois and Migs that are still flying. If needed use our own assets if it could be done subtly without attribution to mess with Russian GPS system, GLONASS.

    2] I was going to suggest PsyOps, but the Ukrainians are no slouches. Kiev Post reports the Ukrainian MoD has opened up a hotline for the mothers of Russian POWs so they can talk to their sons. And they do not need VoA help to amplify their messages, the press is more believable than VoA and better at doing that than VoA ever was.

    3] Cut off Russian PsyOps by using cyber to block any mentions of Ukraine by RT, Sputnik, SouthPoint, or any of Putin’s other propaganda organs.

    • Peter Hug says:

      Give the Ukrainians state-of-the-art night vision equipment. It appears to me that the Russians may not be comfortable fighting at night, for whatever reason.

  24. d74 says:

    Let’s imagine sending men and especially weapons to reinforce Ukraine.
    Where will they cross the border?

    It seems that the Russians control almost all the borders, airspace, ports and airports. I say almost because they seem not interested in western Ukraine. But once your load of men and equipment has reached Lvov/Lviv, you have done nothing.

    Of course, it is always possible to inject some special forces and light weaponry, infantry rocket launchers and Manpads, all in small numbers. But the Ukrainians need heavy equipment to fight.

    The mantra – let’s send weapons – is the same as personal sanctions: the victims have no assets in the West and no property, according to Maria Zakharova. They would have to be crazy to indulge in such jokes with those who have long declared themselves their adversary. As good patriotic Russians they have other interests.

    Ukraine is alone. Keeping the urban fighting going is the solution within its reach. The Russians seem to have taken into account this risk of getting bogged down by surrounding the major cities, except Kiev.

    Engulf the Russians and/or play diplomacy. Tough game.
    If Ukraine or its sponsors think that the Russians are going to weaken after they ” burned their ships “, think again.

    [ “burning ships”: an expression that reminds us that Agathocles of Syracuse and then Cortes set fire to their ships before embarking on the unknown in a one-way expedition- Carthage for Agathocles, Tenochtitlan for Cortès. In reality, Cortes beached his ships and breached hulls. ]

  25. Lars says:

    A very good assessment, Col. Lang, and good suggestions for a more robust response. I just wonder if it can be put together fast enough. You would know more about that than I would. Other than a military response, I would hope that Russia gets excluded from more sports events and including the big one, the World Cup. That would cause a lot of dissatisfaction on the home front and be a huge embarrassment for the government.

  26. Sam says:

    I’m posting this Twitter thread since it is a contrarian opinion on the Russian military operational strategy. Since I’m not competent in military operations I won’t comment. There are many here on SST with that kind of competence who can comment if they see fit.

    1/I am going to try to explain the irrational Russian Armed Forces behavior towards strategy, common thought, or even the chances repatriated SSO that are now POW try to murder a bunch of men with stars.

    • TTG says:


      I’m not sure who that commenter is, but he seems to know his subject matter. His assessment tracks with the recent accounts of constantly drunken Russian troops in Belarus selling off their fuel to purchase more alcohol. No army can live up to the overblown propaganda it creates about itself. I doubt Putin realized his forces aren’t as all powerful as advertised. I wonder if Shoigu was aware of the true state of the forces.

  27. plantman says:

    If I was as smart as Barbara Anne, I would have said the exact same thing.

    1– Putin has declared this fight an existential one for Russia.

    2– Putin genuinely thinks Russia is fighting a Third Patriotic War and his commitment is absolute.

    3– The bigger picture is the enormous rift opening up between East and West .. A bifurcation of the entire international system is perfectly possible…

    4– This conflict is largely of the West’s making.

    5– Ukraine will not be well served by us starting WWIII for their cause.

    IMO, there is still time to negotiate. ..
    Agree to make Ukraine permanently neutral, implement Minsk, and abandon the plan to deploy nukes to Poland and Romania.

    Putin will call off the dogs immediately and we can all take a breather.

    • Pat Lang says:

      Until Putin calls it off, I stand be my support of a brave people.

      • Bill Roche says:

        Me too and if I were Zelinski I would negotiate away Crimea and the Donbass (they are not coming back anyway), renounce any future membership in NATO and accept an Austria like status. Funny, for the Russians this could be a “wack a mole situation”. They would get a NATO free Ukraine but induce Swedish and Finnish membership into NATO. The Finns are funny like that; Sisu and all. Wonder if Putin thought he would frighten the Finns or enrage them. I would have thought frighten them.

        • jim ticehurst says:


          I Have Seen Your Concerns About The Baltic Region
          Before and the Latvia.Moldevia Controversy taking
          Place..The Media Talks about them So Much Its
          Almost Like they Are Baiting PUTIN..To Do Something

          I Propose That Putins Staff Has Been In NEGOATIONS
          With Each of Them..Back Channel..And They May
          cooperate with Russia anyhow..With Out Military
          Intervention..Which Would Be A BAD Mistake
          For Putin..You are already talking about Sweden
          and Other Countrys In THe Region..

          erhaps some are Wisely witing to See How The WAR turns Out..Before Taking Sides

    • TTG says:


      This is also an existential fight for Ukraine. Zelenskiy and now most Ukrainians know they are fighting a Great Patriotic War with absolute commitment. Whether the Ukrainians choose neutrality, NATO or chose to align with Moscow much like Belarus ids their decision. Not ours and certainly not Moscow’s.

      I also stand by a brave people and their willingness to fight for their freedom.

  28. Polish Janitor says:

    I am really heartened to see sober and no-nonsense attitude here from Col. Lang and TTG and others regarding the Russian invasion of Ukraine. It is really important to see the events for what they are rather than revert to ‘Blame America First’ kind of knee-jerk reaction that the leftist and pro-Russia leftists and some libertarians who usually do so. As someone from eastern Europe who follows news and geopolitics somewhat up close allow me to chime in my own two cents:

    Here a lot of people really liked and even admired Putin until the recent past, especially the Russian Orthodox angle that he carried with himself and how he was perceived as chess player who would not do stupid and violent actions that would unravel everything good that was attached to him to crap. He was popular in eastern Europe and as far back as a few years ago polls would regularly put him among the most poplar world leaders. Here traditional conservatives, entrepreneurs, energy contractors, and always had a soft-spot for Putin as a steady, pro-industry, pro-family, conservative and sober-minded strategist who would turn liberals’ mistakes into valuable opportunities and would never do batshit crazy stuff like this recent invasion at all.

    You see that the conservative and center-right parties across Europe have dramatically distanced themselves from Putin and don’t want to have anything to do with him anymore which would have been really hard to imagine even a year ago. Even China abstained during the recent UNSC meeting which tells you a lot. Some liked Putin for what he represented from a realpolitik perspective, and not as a 21st century invader who would brazenly lie and lie so much that it made neocons like Wolfowitz, Perle, and Feith happy all the while he was amassing 150k troops near the Ukrainian borders for eventual invasion.

    I believe that the Western intelligence really did their jobs well in this case and now people would hopefully have a more positive view of the IC when it comes to matters such as these. Nevertheless, this should not mean that the IC is a saint and all, but it’s a new start which hopefully would lead to more unity and mutual respect and understanding between the citizenry and their western governments.

    I still can’t understand what was Putin thinking by doing this unbelievably stupid and malicious move against Ukraine…Maybe an expert psychologist could explain what has happened to his brain that lead to this. I read that a London-based celebrity plastic surgeon believed Putin’s botax injections in his face have impaired his brain-wiring and stuff and are among the reasons for his recent actions, or another journalist’s observation of Putin wearing the same clothes in both of his 1st and 2nd taped messages since the invasion which carried out messages of frustration and stress etc.

    In autocratic political systems since the masses are not really capable of changes from the bottom and deprived of power to bring about any meaningful change, most of the political dynamics and developments are therefore concentrated among the top echelons and the so-called oligarchs and this is exactly the spot where chips may fall in the case of Russia if Putin continues to hold on to Ukraine and install puppet regime in Kiev. Bloomberg last night reported that the Russian oligarchs in the 2nd night of the invasion had already lost close to $30b of their assets due to sanctions and this will create upward and collective pressure to Putin and would endanger him politically. Mind you, the SWIFT sanction against Russia has not happened yet, which is going to hurt both the Russia and the West should US/EU decide to give it the green light but the Democratic nature of the Western societies along with the negative public opinion would alleviate some pressure for some time until alternative supply of energy and commodities are found, but this will not be the case in Russia, so more pressure on Putin the longer this ongoing invasion continues.

    In all honesty, the West had really become weakened especially in the past few years and Putin’s massive mistake may provide the west with new sense of sobriety and unity and neutralize the negative presence of the progressives’ decaying ideology and softness inside the hearts and minds of the people overall. If I were in the shoes of American leaders I would use this opportunity to pull the spirit of the society back toward the center, or more accurately the ‘vital center’, as Arthur Schlesinger Jr. once put it and to do what is necessary to bring life back to normal.

    • Poul says:

      Polish Janitor

      You underestimate the problem with SWIFT sanction. A lot of other countries will get hurt badly. It is not just the EU’s import of coal, oil, gas, etc. It’s the world’s import from Russia that’s affected.

      They are the third biggest exporter of coal ca 217 Million Ton in 2021. China buys around 16 Mt, India 2 Mt. The EU ca 48 Mt.

      All these countries, except China & India, will have to find new suppliers which I doubt is possible. It will require years of investment to develop such a massive export capacity. The price pressure will be immense. Power will have to be rationed etc.

      Morocco imports 9 Mt from Russia. They can’t compete with the EU so an economic smelt down would be likely. Who will get the political blame for those effects.

      • Polish Janitor says:

        Everything Russia has other countries also have, even in larger quantities so supply chain is not gonna be an issue in the mid to long-term, but in the short term it will surely bite. Russia is basically a giant gas station, a military arsenal and precious metal reservoir, and in the technology, innovation and intellectualism domains is not really a competitor to the West or even China and therefore nothing groundbreaking to add to people’s lives around the world. Its economy is smaller than Texas, similar to Italy and the recent sanctions and economic retaliation by the West will damage Russia more than the other way around. Iran is a good case actually as it had been under sanctions for decades now and the world doesn’t even feel the lack of access to Iran’s oil and gas etc. because others have stepped in to ensure the continuation of supply chain. I don’t support Iranian sanctions and it has more to do with Israel’s inability to confront Iran by itself than Iran’s actions in the ME. Iran would never do what Putin is doing in Ukraine to its neighbors, in fact the country was invaded by Iraq and 20+ other countries including France, East Germany and the Soviets supplied Saddam with WMDs against Iranians.

        • Poul says:

          You seriously underestimate the coal problem in the short term. Russian coal is big in Germany’s energy needs.

          List of exporters

          Indonesia which is the world’s biggest exporter introduced an export ban on 1st of January, 2022.
          That means they have hit their max. production ceiling and want to protect the domestic energy market from price effects.
          How many other smaller producers would do the same if prices go out of control?

          Also it take time (years) to boost production in other countries plus the price will be higher.

          As for gas let’s look at Poland. They used 10 years to quit Russian gas. Please tell me how the EU is going to do that in a few months? In the long term I have no doubt that is where the EU will move now, but long-term doesn’t solve present day problems.
          Where in the world do you see the capacity to replace Russian gas?

          You only have to look at the bank sanctions to seen the problem. Only some of the Russian banks were kick from SWIFT. You can still pay Russia via the banks not sanctioned. What do that tell you?

          They then try to limit the Russian central bank’s ability to support the currency which will hurt the exchange rate and economic pain in Russia but here we will have to seen if the Russians will play ball and eat it or push back and stop exporting to the EU.

    • Poul says:

      The SWIFT sanctions introduced looks like more of the existing sanctions and not what Iran is subjected to. Last paragraph sums it up.

      German Government:

      “So werden all die russischen Banken, die bereits von der internationalen Gemeinschaft sanktioniert sind und, soweit erforderlich, weitere russische Banken vom internationalen Zahlungsdienstleistungssystem SWIFT ausgeschlossen. Damit sollen diese Institute von den internationalen Finanzströmen abgeklemmt werden, was ihr globales Agieren massiv einschränken wird.

      Darüber hinaus legten die Länder fest, die Möglichkeiten der russischen Zentralbank weiter einzuschränken, mit internationalen Finanzgeschäften den Kurs des Rubel zu stützen.

      Die beschlossenen Sanktionen richten sich zusätzlich auch gegen Individuen und Einrichtungen in Russland und andernorts, die den Krieg gegen die Ukraine unterstützen. Insbesondere die Möglichkeit wohlhabender Russen, sich und ihren Familienangehörigen einen so genannten goldenen Pass und damit eine europäische Staatsbürgerschaft zu verschaffen, sollen beendet werden. “

  29. Christian J. Chuba says:

    Fight to the last Ukrainian.

    Put up a no fly zone OR broker a settlement.

    We were the ones waxing eloquently about Ukraine’s right to join NATO. They took all of the risks so now we will give them surplus Panzerfaust for a Warsaw Ghetto uprising.

  30. Deap says:

    Follow the money to Democrat-controlled public pension funds in California, with significant Russian investment exposure (NB: CalSTRS is the teachers retirement fund and the Democrat party is the teachers unions)

    …..”CalSTRS, the second-largest U.S. pension fund, said it had investments in Russia and was monitoring potential risks to its portfolio. Its exposure to Russian assets was worth over $800 million in June last year, according to the latest available data and Reuters calculations.

    CalPERS manages nearly $500 billion in assets, while CalSTRS has assets totalling around $320 billion.

    “CalSTRS will follow any relevant financial sanctions levied by the United States Government,” a spokesperson said in an emailed statement to Reuters.

    International sanctions aimed at further limiting Russia’s ability to access global financial markets after the country’s attack on Ukraine have pressured already battered Russian assets.

    Yields on Russian benchmark 10-year OFZ rouble bonds , which move inversely to prices, rose to 14.09% on Thursday, their highest since early 2015, though the bonds pared back some losses on Friday. The dollar-denominated RTS stock index rose sharply on Friday but still stood near a two-year low…………

    • Peter Hug says:

      If your numbers are accurate, CalSTRS’s $800 million exposure is 0.25% of its total assets. I doubt they are losing much sleep over that.

  31. James Vanasek says:

    Col Lang,

    Thank you for that assessment.

    I assume that we are also aiding the Ukrainians with satellite images, electronic intercepts and other intelligence behind the scenes as well as providing some personal security and/or a safe haven to the top politicians if they need to get out.

    It also seems as if Zelinsky has been a bit underestimated in his ability to rally his population and his personal bravery. Although they aren’t slick, his videos of him out in the streets are doing their job, albeit at what appears to be great personal risk. You have to think the Russians must have some teams trying to hunt him down and take a shot at him the next time he pops up.

    It would have to be a long 100 mile drive through hostile country for a supply truck to make and I think that is where the Ukrainians should focus their efforts to try and halt the Russian advance.

    Do you have any thought on where and how Putin will commit his reserve of troops who have not yet crossed the border?

  32. Just another old guy says:

    Russia is going to lose this war.

    We don’t need to obsess about how we got here regarding Russia’s legitimate security concerns nor the West’s never ending thirst for dominance.  Powerful entities have almost always thirsted for more power and more wealth.  At that level there are no real morals, ethics nor meaningful concerns about what others think or want when they are in your way.  Empires have to grow or they cease to exist.  Russia has resources.  Ukraine has resources too, and 2014 and the aftermath of that should inform them that we are not really their friends either. All the coulda shoulda ways or options of avoiding this situation matter not – we are where we are and we go forward from here.
    There is no need to worry about starting WWIII.  This is WWIII.  Just look around and see how many countries are already involved in economic warfare against Russia.  More than the total number involved in WWII easily.  The US will push many more into taking economic actions which will harm Russia.  All of NATO is in full opposition. Many countries are sending weapons, some will allow their citizens to travel there to fight, the US has for years been training Ukrainians just for the possibility this time would come, we have already deployed numerous economic weapons and will surely use others still in our arsenal.  The scale and weight of the power which is being brought to bear against the Russians is immense and will grow significantly from where we are now.  Make no mistake that the possibility of action by Putin was foreseen in response to the actions the US has taken against them over the years.  Our leaders and masters are not stupid people they are just often foollish in action.
    The Russians are certain to lose this conflict.  Losing is defined by one ending up in a worse situation than one was in when a conflict started.  Not relatively even and not ahead.  There are no moral victories here.  It is not like standing up to the bullies when you were in HS and getting your ass kicked but feeling better about yourself for having stood up to them. They are going to lose. And lose badly. The great danger here is that we dare not totally defeat them as that would put on the table the nuclear option that some fools seem infatuated with. That is the end of civilization and only mad men go there.
    This conflict is going to tear Russia apart.  There is already significant anti-war opposition in Russia and it is going to grow fast as the dead come home.  Economic hardship is going to flatten the populace and take them back to the post-Soviet collapse at best and like the Great Depression more likely.  And it will last for years and years. If this attempt to occupy Ukraine drags on too long the West can resort to confiscating bank accounts of Russian nationals everywhere (to hold for reparations); seize properties (most of the apartments in Trump Tower are owned by Russian oligarchs and organized crime bosses, and half of the mansions in London it seems); revoke visas for all Russian nationals and students and send them home (no more educating your kids in the West).  I could go on.  They cannot win this.
    I won’t spend many words on discussing their abject military incompetence in how they have executed this invasion to date, but what they have done is there for everyone to see.  The large amounts of man portable anti-armor and anti-aircraft weapons being inserted into the country (by my count so far I have added up 3-4000 between the US, UK, Poland and Germany) will guarantee that Russian aircraft will continue to be lost at significant levels and armor destroyed at very large levels.  Recall what carnage it cost the Russians when we inserted Stingers into Afghanistan.  Not counting all the foreign actors currently rushing to Ukraine to help fight (which will turn into thousands of trained and committed fighters given some time), just the scale of opposition that the Ukrainians are currently mounting, and will mount in the coming weeks and perhaps months, will guarantee the Russians cannot suppress opposition. Ever.  They simply do not have the manpower to fight any kind of insurgency – especially one armed with the above ordinance.  They are going to lose in Ukraine and will not be going to visiting anyone else. 
    Putin for a long time executed Russian foreign policy with consummate skill and intelligence.  But he seems to have lost his mind. This war will hopefully end when someone from the Russian General Staff/FSB/SVR/GU puts a bullet in the back of Putin’s head (There is a good likelihood of this or an equivalent happening.) and his replacement starts to negotiate for the best conditions they can get.  They will need to move on him before this coming defeat grows to an extreme level – or worse.  God knows if Putin has lost it so completely that he is willing to go all the way if he doesn’t get what he wants.  And he is absolutely certain not to get what he wanted – especially now. If his own people see that he is willing to sacrifice everything they will probably stop him – if not we are all likely to burn, because there is zero chance the West is going to give him what he wants.  The West is already all in on this great power competition and Russia will come out of this seriously diminished or not at all.

    • mcohen says:

      Old guy

      I read your post with interest but what if putin was forced to send in troops and secure chernobyl.Before the invasion kicked this was the first objective.Aftet a buildup over weeks negotiations broke down and putin was forced to capture a non functioning nuclear plant.mission accomplished.
      Zelensky will sit down for talks very soon.
      I read that security guards were posted there weeks ago.hostages were taken at the plant.Just blowing chernobyl up with explosives would be catastrophic.
      Loading missiles with radioactive matetial would pose a serious threat without the need to develop a nuclear bomb.
      The question is.
      Did the ukraine lose control of activity at chernobyl.

    • Barbara Ann says:

      Just another old guy

      If you are right it is already too late. Not only will we dare to totally defeat them, our hubris will ensure this is now inevitable unless Russia wins the war. The Russia hawks will get everything they want now – the total defeat and subjugation of Russia. Putin & the rest of the leadership must know this and if the threat was not existential before the invasion, it sure as hell is now.

  33. Deap says:

    Coming full circle.

    How Russia-Russia-Russia became Covid-Covid-Covid became Ukraine-Ukraine-Ukraine, became Russia-Russia-Russia:

  34. Johnb says:

    The White House would have done ‘High Fives’ when the news came in of the first cruise missiles on the way, ‘We’ve got him,’ policy success. NATO has renewed meaning, the threat of a German – Russian rapprochement gone, Macron with his European sovereignty ideas left stranded, principle costs to be carried by Europe whilst we get new markets for US gas,, our fracking industry can reboot at these new higher prices and a massive new market. US industry will be more price competitive from its lower energy costs. The more we can bog Putin down in Ukraine the greater the damage to his power base back in Russia. What’s not to like !

    • Pat Lang says:

      I was accepting of the notion that Putin would attempt to ensure the safety of the ethnic Russian Ukrainian east, but what he has done instead is attempt to erase Ukraine as an independent entity. That is just too much.

      • KMD says:

        It seems too early to make that call to me. Stopping the genocide of ethnic Russians in the east, dismantling any nuclear weapon possibilities, and ridding the country of the Nazi elements ( Azov and others) may be all he wants. And Putin is not the only shot-caller in Russia anymore than Biden is in the US.

      • whoknows says:

        Putin said in his speech that he has no intent to occupy Ukraine.
        This also explains the small force. They want to remove the military infrastructure and destroy the nationalist units that were involved in Donbas.

      • jim ticehurst says:

        AT…I Too Saw events That Way In The Beginning..And I Believed Putin Had Sentimental Ties With KIEV..and would NEVER
        Destroy And Of Its Buildings Because Of Their Historical
        Ties Back To Vladimer The Great..1400-1600 AD..

        I TOO WAS Wrong In That Assessment..
        PUTIN wants REVENGE..Full..Total And Complete

        And To KILL Zelinsky..No Matter WHAT He Has
        To DESTROY..

  35. Alves says:

    A thought: Russia is so vilified globaly right now and it looks like it is about to be completely cut from the Global economy, even its money frozen, except the chinese part of it, that I wonder what would be the cost for it to actually use small nukes to bring Ukraine itself to its knees if the fight turns bad.

    I mean, if they really think that it is an exestential war, and it does look like they do think, the additional costs for them do not look like too high.

  36. Condottiere says:

    COL Lang,
    Are you suggesting the DCS conduct title 50 paramilitary operations?

    • Pat Lang says:


      If you mean the “Defense Clandestine Service,” then, no. When I founded that service it was in the belief that its business should be clandestine collection of information. Mixing covert action with that corrupts clandestine collection capability by causing the clandestine service to become an advocate for its preferred covert action. USSOCOM should be the supported command if DoD is directed to execute a presidential finding for covert action in Ukraine.

  37. Racan84 says:

    Hopefully this will cure people from being taken in by these authoritarian strongmen types, no mater how good they may seem at first. And from any other form of authoritarian government.

  38. Eric Blair says:

    I believe that Putin is using his military resources to achieve what he has plainly been asking for – security guarantees from NATO, EU, and the USA.

    Ukraine can likely return to “status quo ante bellum” if they negotiate under the rubric of the Minsk Agreement.

    The Russian Invasion will unwind as soon as serious diplomacy begins.

  39. Brother Ma says:

    How will those planes and radars get to the Ukraine of Russia has bombed or will bomb any an all airports even to the Western border ie near Poland and Slovakia?

    • Pat Lang says:

      They haven’t and the Ukraine air force is still operating. Zelinsky has called for a legion of foreign volunteers. Perfet fit.

  40. TTG says:


    The EU will implement a variation of your idea for an AVG. It’s actually more like the lend-lease program. This is from the WSJ.

    “BRUSSELS—Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has asked the European Union for jet fighter jets some EU countries plan to supply them, EU foreign-policy chief Josep Borrell said Sunday. A person familiar with the talks later said that discussions are still ongoing. The person said any planes would be supplied directly by EU member states and not funded through an arrangement announced earlier for the EU to finance weapons deliveries to Ukraine. Mr. Borrell said that Mr. Kuleba had requested planes that Ukrainian Air Force pilots can fly. Ukraine’s jet fighters are Soviet-built MiG and Sukhoi models.”

    I still like the idea of an AVG. I think the ideal aircraft would be A-10s and Harriers from both the UK and the USMC. There are plenty of experienced pilots either retired or now flying for airlines available to fly both. I got to fly a Harrier with my old frat brother when he was with No 1 Squadron RAF. He took me up in one of the 2 seat trainers, T-birds as they called them. When I met the squadron commander, he said “You look about my size, take my G-suit and have Larry take you up for a spin.” Those Harriers are wonderful little aircraft. Extremely simple and rugged. The avionics in the T-bird went out over the North Sea so we navigated it by dead reckoning and topo maps to return to the airbase. My buddy was more of an instinct flyer and shooter than an advanced avionics and targeting guy anyways.

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