Thomas Theiner on the Ukrainian Counteroffensive

In Germany @derspiegel, @welt, @ntvde and in Austria @derStandardat write that “the Ukrainian Offensive has failed”. That is wild nonsense. This nonsense happens, because all of them interviewed the same expert, who doesn’t understand Ukraine’s Offensive phases, of which there are at least 5, and we’re barely in the middle of Phase 1 – Attrition and Interdiction. I wouldn’t have to do this thread, if i.e. @derStandardat wouldn’t confuse the Ukrainian Army’s Assault  brigades, with the National Guard’s Offensive Guard brigades, but The reason people don’t consider Ukraine’s Phase 1 a success comes from people being used to US/NATO wars, in which Phase 1 is purely air power.

Phase 1 is meant to attrition enemy forces and interdict/disrupt their lines of communication. The West uses fighters and bombers, and cruise missiles for that. During the 1991 Gulf War 1,700+ coalition combat aircraft needed 37 (!) days and 100,000+ sorties to attrition the Iraqi forces enough to trigger the ground campaign. And 288 Tomahawk cruise missiles were fired at Iraqi targets. During the 2003 Invasion of Iraq coalition combat aircraft flew 41,000 sorties and fired 802 Tomahawks at Iraqi targets. This time the coalition skipped the attrition phase and went directly to Phase 2 – Close Air Support = bombing a road to Baghdad for the 1st Marine and 3rd Infantry divisions. Ukraine doesn’t have any of this air power; and so Ukraine is forced to replace fighters and bombers with GMLRS, Excalibur, Storm Shadow and drones.

Whereas in US and NATO operations the sky is continuously swarming with fighters and bombers looking for enemy positions and vehicles to annihilate, all Ukraine has in the air are drones, which look for Russian equipment, ammo points, command centers, logistic points, etc. but the drones can’t bomb these objects. Once a drone spots a target, the drone operator has to request mensuration, the results of which are then transmitted to either a M142 HIMARS or M270A1 MLRS launcher, which will enter the target’s coordinates into a GMLRS rocket; or transmitted to a M777, PzH 2000, M109A6 or Archer howitzer, which will enter the target’s coordinates into an Excalibur projectile; or the data is transmitted to the Ukrainian Air Force’s 7th Tactical Aviation Brigade, which will enter the target’s coordinates into a Storm Shadow.

Did you notice that all of these take time? Ukraine can only hit Russian equipment that is static. Unlike Western fighters, which can hit the passenger seat of a driving car, Ukraine can only hit Russian vehicles and objects that are static. A massive drawback. Even worse: a US fighter jet can fly deep into enemy territory, and hit a dozen targets 500km behind the front, while Ukraine’s range is limited to: Excalibur range: 40 km, GMLRS range: 84 km and Storm Shadow range: 500+ km, but only in limited numbers. Ukraine is massively handicapped by the time it takes to hit a Russian target and by the range of its systems. (GLSDB will improve HIMARS range but the production line is not yet running.)

Now if you’re Russia, all you have to do it to park your heavy equipment outside of GMLRS range and Ukraine can’t hit it. It makes no sense to use a expensive Storm Shadow missile to hit i.e. a Russian T-90M tank. Still Ukraine must attrition Russia’s heavy equipment before it can begin Phase 2 of the offensive… and the only way to do it is to bait Russian forces into GMLRS and Excalibur range. And Ukraine is doing this right now by attacking the Russian lines with four of the ten brigades that have been readied for this Phase: 23rd Mechanized Brigade, 31st Mechanized Brigade, 37th Marine Brigade and 47th Mechanized Brigade. All other brigades (i.e. 35th Marine, 68th Jaeger, etc.) are merely supporting these four brigades. A further six brigades can be deployed for this phase. 

Now the Russians are in a dilemma: either bring their heavy equipment forward and risk losing it to GMLRS and Excalibur or leave their heavy equipment out of range and allow Ukraine an unexpected early breakthrough through the Russians lines… well, the Russians decided to bring their equipment forward and Ukraine is hitting it relentlessly.

Still it is a far, far slower process than air power… and unlike in an air campaign Ukraine is losing troops and vehicles… and this has led to some analysts declaring the Ukrainian Offensive a “failure”… it is NOT. These “analysts” and “experts” just fail to understand the Ukrainian plan. And they fail to understand that Ukraine gets stronger every day: Ukraine readied 35 (!) brigades for the offensive, by raising new units, splitting existing units, pulling units out of the front and refreshing them and just 4 of 35 are in the fight now.

All the others are at the training grounds – training every day to improve their skills; AND incorporating the lessons learned in the offensive so far. And every day troops return from training in NATO countries and Sweden; and new equipment arrives – the Offensive Guard brigades started out as light infantry… and are now getting tanks from Germany and Denmark, turning them into mechanized formations. So many troops return from training in Europe that Ukraine recently formed three new brigades; and as the Russians have stopped attacks in the South and along the Donetsk front, Ukraine recently pulled two elite brigades out of the front to freshen them up for the offensive. How can an offensive have “failed” if more than 90% of forces are still training for the offensive?

I do not know when the next Phase of the Ukrainian Offensive will begin… but I am sure it is not tied to a date or certain geographic locations. I assume the next Phase will be triggered when Ukraine is confident it has destroyed a certain % of the remaining Russian howitzers, rocket launchers, electronic warfare systems, air defense systems; and degraded Russian logistics by striking Russian supply lines, and destroyed most of the Russian ammo dumps and command posts… you know, the exact same parameters that triggered the ground campaign of Operation Desert Storm in 1991.

Ukraine’s Offensive has barely begun. And due to the lack of air power Phase 1 will take far longer than people are used to, but journalists need to come up every day with a fresh new drama. But the real story here is how many more forces Ukraine is readying, how many more forces Ukraine and NATO are training, and how much more equipment the West needs to donate for these new units. In Phase 3 Ukrainian forces will slice through Russian lines and liberate Mariupol; will cross the Dnipro and liberate Northern Crimea; and will destroy Russia’s army in the South. Ukraine’s victory is inevitable. We just need a bit of patience.

Comment: Thomas Theiner is described as a film maker and former Italian artillery officer, an expert on NATO forces who has been studying and analyzing information from open sources about conflicts involving the former USSR for at least 12 years. I’m not familiar with his five or more phases of the offensive. Maybe it’s a NATO doctrine. But his attrition and interdiction phase rings true. That seems to be a normal phase since the invention of artillery. As Theiner mentions, it was a quite prominent feature of our First Gulf War. I remember the American public was being prepared for heavy US casualties all during that long air campaign, but that air campaign proved so effective our casualties were shockingly low.

How Theiner describes the current Ukrainian offensive as in a similar attrition and interdiction phase also rings true. Given the effectiveness of Russian air defense systems used by both sides, I doubt the Ukrainians could attrit and interdict the Russian ground forces in any other manner even if they had a modern air force. I doubt we could repeat our air campaigns again with the same lack of casualties and level of success as we did in the past. I’m sure we’re writing an addendum to our multi-domain operations concept based on lessons learned in Ukraine. Not a rewrite, mind you, just an addendum. We did put off the publication of FM 3-0 a few months once the Russian invasion of Ukraine started.


Field Manual 3-0  Operations, dated October 2022

This entry was posted in The Military Art, TTG, Ukraine Crisis. Bookmark the permalink.

61 Responses to Thomas Theiner on the Ukrainian Counteroffensive

  1. mcohen says:

    Thanks for posting the pdf
    .AI decision making is being used but not to its full potential yet That should start to kick in once all the variables are inputed.
    Let say by august to octoberber.thats my guess.
    This will greatly expand the time frame when it comes to decision making.Combine that with things like starlink and my guess the war will quickly move through to phase 3/4.
    If russia cannot come up with and decisive move before august next year will be hell on earth for Russian forces.imho

    Let’s say planting season ended may June

  2. English Outsider says:

    For all this to work we’d need to have some means of attacking Russian rear areas.

    Not only do we not have such means to any extent, we’re not going to do it. It would extend the war to Europe. Because as soon as we started to attack Russian troop concentrations and supplies in Russia, the Russians would attack right back and destroy the bases from which our attacks were mounted. Also command centres.

    To pick a base at random, they can destroy Ramstein. We can’t destroy their equivalent bases. This is what Obama meant all that time ago when he said the Russians had “escalatory dominance”.

    Some more wise words from the past. Blair pointed out more recently, at an MSC, that Europe had no real defence of its own but relied on the Americans.

    But where are the Americans? Mostly on the wrong side of the Atlantic. And they’ll stay there. When Zelensky said the Americans should send their own sons and daughters to Ukraine to fight that was not well received in the States.

    And if the Americans did come in in force? It’d take them half a year to get anything useful over here and if they did they’d have to use European bases and air bases. Back to square one. The Russians would knock those bases and air bases in Europe out.

    So if the war extends to Europe we lose. If it doesn’t extend to Europe, if it’s only fought in Ukraine, we were never in with a chance anyway.

    Remember Yavoriv? We were feeding in volunteers of various sorts and the Russians simply attacked the assembly point. In the far West of Ukraine. Remember the recent attack on a military conference in Kramatorsk? That knocked out NATO advisers or mercs or whatever they were. And so on right across the entire Ukrainian theatre. Are we going to do that back to the Russians? Can we? Of course not. Therefore we lose.

    This was obvious from before the start of the SMO. It was obvious we were never going to win by military means. The expectation was that we’d win through economic war. That was pretty dumb too. Russia is self-sufficient when it comes down to it. America can presumably take the blowback from a sanctions war. But Europe can’t and it’s Europe this war has to be fought from.

    And we’re running out of proxies. The draft now extends in full force even to Ivano-Frankisk. 80% of the last wave of Ukrainian mobilisation has had to be dragged of the streets and from private houses by force. Those so conscripted are the wrong age and untrained. And as for equipment, we’re not giving them nearly enough and most of what we do give them is our cast-offs.

    Give them the good stuff – say, those advanced American jets – and the Ukrainian pilots couldn’t fly them and have no bases or maintenance facilities for them. Fly them with NATO pilots and from European bases and again, we’re back to square one. What wasn’t knocked out by Russian AD would be knocked out on the ground.

    If all this was obvious to an amateur back in February last year it’ll have been obvious to the American military long before. It was. They were even told so by an oft-quoted State commissioned study:–

    “Providing lethal aid to Ukraine would exploit Russia’s greatest point of external vulnerability. But any increase in U.S. military arms and advice to Ukraine would need to be carefully calibrated to increase the costs to Russia of sustaining its existing commitment without provoking a much wider conflict in which Russia, by reason of proximity, would have significant advantages.”

    A lot of scorn is poured on the American and NATO military for not grasping these obvious points but I don’t think that scorn is justified. Somewhere in the Pentagon there’ll be people with a brain who will have known from the start that this war is not winnable. Whoever heard of a war being won when the disparity of troops and equipment is so great and when the enemy can lay waste rear areas without having to worry about that being done to him?

    There’s only one reason for the continuation of this unwinnable war. To “bleed” the Russians. That’s often said in the States. That’s not a good enough reason for continuing to throw the Ukrainian PBI against the guns.

    • TTG says:


      You’re still lapping up every Kremlin talking points. One thing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has proven is that the Russian military is not near as mighty as NATO thought it was. Russia has been unable to knock out Ukrainian command and control or greatly impede to flow of supplies across Ukraine. Ukrainian trains are still running and the bridges across the upper Dnipro are still intact. Russia has proven incapable of seizing and occupying the Ukrainian oblasts she has claimed as hers. Russia has proven herself willing to invade Europe, but incapable of doing so successfully. NATO now seems willing to ensure that any such attempt remains unsuccessful. Gone are the days of resigning itself to the idea that Russia can strike whatever she wants, whenever she wants.

      Our means of attacking rear areas now largely relies on manned aircraft to deliver stand off missiles. I have doubts if those manned aircraft could penetrate Russian A2/AD. Those same systems in the hands of the Ukrainians have managed to keep Russian Aerospace forces at bay. And those systems have certainly kept the Ukrainian Air Force on the Ukrainian side of the border. Given the shoot down of the supposedly unstoppable hypersonic Kinzhals, it appears that A2/AD may have the upper hand against any deep strike capability. It should at least put the idea of effective deep strike into question.

      You’re right in stating that this war continues to bleed the Russians. The bleeding won’t stop until Russia realizes that they cannot win and withdraw. Then the shooting and the bleeding stops. The Ukrainians, nor NATO will not pursue the withdrawing Russian forces to Moscow.

      • jld says:


        Given the shoot down of the supposedly unstoppable hypersonic Kinzhals…

        Didn’t you mix up some words?
        Given the supposedly shoot down of the unstoppable hypersonic Kinzhals…

        • TTG says:


          One was shot down on 4 May and 12 days later 6 were shot down. Those shoot downs were verified by DoD

          • Yeah, Right says:

            The Kinshal releases six decoys in its terminal phase.

            In your example on 16th May the DoD argues that six Kinzhals were shot down and one got through.

            The obvious conclusion is that the claim is nonsense, derived entirely from the fact that the air defense radars detected seven objects (one Kinzhal and six decoys) and the forces on the ground only reported one strike.

            7-1 = 6

            Those “other six Kinzhals” never hid anything, ergo, they must have been shot down.

            No, they never existed at all. They were decoys.

          • TTG says:

            Yeah, Right,

            There were a total of 18 being tracked towards Kyiv on 16 May, 6 Kinzhals, 9 Kalibrs from the Black Sea and 3 Iskander. All 18 were intercepted that night. They were tracked by NATO/US long before they entered Ukrainian airspace.

          • Yeah, Right says:

            OK, first things first: even your OWN claim is incomplete. The Pentagon admitted that one Kinzhal hit the Patriot battery at Zhuliany airfield that night.

            So ONE Kinhal got through, and SIX Kinzhals were shot down = SEVEN Kinzhals in total.

            SEVEN Kinzhals in one night, against a SINGLE target.

            Think about that, rather than simply “lapping up every Pentagon talking point”

            1) Can the Russians even fire seven Kinzhals in one night? That would require that they put seven Mig-31K aircraft into the air at once, which I am very, very dubious about.

            2) Have the Russians ever fired seven Kinzhals in one night, ever? Before or since, have they ever fired more than one or two in a single night? I say “No”, and I note that in the entire year prior to that night the Russians had fired no more than a dozen, yet we are now expected to accept that in ONE NIGHT they fired another seven.

            3) Have the Russians ever fired more than one Kinzhal at a single target, ever? I say “no”, yet here we are expected to accept that the Russians fired SEVEN of them at that one airport.

            TTG: “They were tracked by NATO/US long before they entered Ukrainian airspace.”

            And that is such a splendid Pentagon talking point. Thanks for sharing it.

            I’m going to give you my thoughts, and they are mine alone.

            It is this: prior to the appearance of the Patriot system the Russians were removing the six decoys from their Kinzhals before using them.

            Hi-tech, super-secret, no need to risk them falling into US hands.

            So the Russians fire a Kinzhal here, and they fire them there, and every time the Ukrainians have to watch helpless as their radar shows a single Kinzhal bolting in and wiping out whatever it is the Russians want wiped out.

            Then the Ukrainians put a Patriot battery at Zhuliany airfield, and the Russians say to themselves “My, that’s juicy, I think I’ll take it out”.

            But it’s a Patriot battery, and the Russians have never attempted to take out a Patriot battery before. Hmm, might be tricky.

            So they have two choices:
            1) Fire SEVEN of the suckers at that battery.
            2) Put the decoys back in the Kinzhal and fire that at the battery.

            I’m going with (2) because – how to put this kindly? – that’s the more logical thing for the Russians to do.

          • TTG says:

            Yeah, Right,

            One Patriot launcher sustained damage that night. The damage was minor enough for it to be repaired without evacuation. Sounds like damage from falling debris rather than a Kinzhal strike. Surely if a Kinzhal missile struck the launcher, it would have destroyed it. BTW, the Khinzal is launched from both Tu-22M3 bombers or the MiG-31K. Russia has also launched Kinzhals in a volley of 6 earlier in March 2023 and also in June 2023.

          • Yeah, Right says:

            TTG: “One Patriot launcher sustained damage that night.”

            There is a satellite photo of that airport showing a revetment that is completely burnt out, and it is at a considerable distance from the other revetments.

            So I’m very confident that this held the Patriot Radar system, which I suggest is always placed away from the launchers.

            And, honestly, are the Russians going to be aiming at the launchers (which don’t broadcast) or the radar (which does, big time)?

            “Sounds like damage from falling debris rather than a Kinzhal strike.”

            Sounds like, don’t it? What was it that someone was saying about lapping up talking points?

            But in this case all you’ve got is the talking point, whereas I’ve got the satellite photos. Would you like me to send them to you?

            ” Russia has also launched Kinzhals in a volley of 6 earlier in March 2023 and also in June 2023.”

            June 2023 would be after May 2023, wouldn’t it? What was I saying about the Russians using the decoy system in their Kinzhal missiles once the Patriots arrived in Ukraine?

            Always with the six, heh? So oddly reproducible that a person might conclude that this is a feature of the system, and not a coincidence.

            Just can’t think what that feature would be. Does anyone know?

          • TTG says:

            Yeah, Right,

            If the Patriot radar system was destroyed, the Patriot battery would have been pretty much out of action from that point on. The battery continued to function as designed so any burned out revetment was not the radar/control system.

            The kinzhal’s decoys are only deployed during the missile’s terminal descent. NATO picks up the launch of the missiles from the aircraft, long before the decoys are launched. That’s why Ukraine has such a long lead time on incoming missiles and knows what’s coming in. That’s why they knew there were 6 Kinzhals incoming launched from 6 MiG-31Ks.

          • Yeah, Right says:

            TTG: “If the Patriot radar system was destroyed, the Patriot battery would have been pretty much out of action from that point on.”

            Quite correct.

            TTG: ” The battery continued to function as designed so any burned out revetment was not the radar/control system.”

            Says…. who, exactly?

            There is a video showing that very same Patriot missile battery firing thirty-two – count ’em, 32 – missiles in under two minutes at… something(s) that were heading in their direction.

            That same video then shows a loud “Boom!” in exactly that same direction, and then……..

            ….. and then…….

            …..and then…….

            Hmmm. Nothing.

            You say that this battery continued to function even after video showed the world’s most impressive pyrotechnic “falling debris”, even though that video shows no such evidence of “functional continuance” following that very impressive BANG!

            Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but nobody is entitled to simply make up their “facts”.

          • TTG says:

            Yeah, Right,

            What I meant when I said the battery continued to function is that both batteries supplied to Ukraine continue to function to this day. They were not destroyed during the 15-16 May attack on Kyiv and were in operation against the next missile attack on Kyiv on 25 May. The current configuration appears to be one battery protecting Kyiv and the second battery roaming to strike at both missiles and aircraft. This would not be possible if a battery’s radar/control system was destroyed on 16 May.

            In that video, at least two Patriot launchers launched 32 PAC-3 missiles. It appears they were engaging more than one target based on the trajectory of the launched missiles. If it was just two launchers, that’s all they can fire without reloading. Alternatively, if there were more than two launchers within view of the video, no more targets presented themselves. That impressive BANG surely caused some damage. It could very well have been the explosion that damaged the launcher. However, it apparently missed. The launcher was reported to be operational on 18 May.

            In my search for that video, I found the following informative pages.




            I never did find the full raw videos, but Rybar’s day after analysis was a great place to start.

          • Yeah, Right says:

            TTG: ” The current configuration appears to be one battery protecting Kyiv and the second battery roaming to strike at both missiles and aircraft. ”

            There is zero evidence to back up that claim. None whatsoever.

            TTG: “This would not be possible if a battery’s radar/control system was destroyed on 16 May.”

            I agree with that statement 100%

            TTG: “In that video, at least two Patriot launchers launched 32 PAC-3 missiles.”

            I am willing to agree with that, though to my eyes it looked like one launcher firing its entire wad in less than two minutes.

            TGG: “It appears they were engaging more than one target based on the trajectory of the launched missiles.”

            OK, I’m going to say this one more time, because it never gets old: both the Iskander and the Kinzhal release decoys at the terminal stage.

            It is therefore obvious that *IF* the Patriot battery can not distinguish between (a) missile and (b) decoy then the operator of that battery is going to shout “Oh, shit!” and fire all 32 missiles at every single thing that he sees on his radar screen.

            TTG: ” That impressive BANG surely caused some damage. It could very well have been the explosion that damaged the launcher.”

            Your slip is showing, TTG. It appears that you no longer claim that the damage was caused by “falling debris” but was, indeed, caused by a Kinzhal striking at that Patriot battery.

            Progress of sorts, I suppose.

            TTG: “However, it apparently missed.”

            It very definitely did not miss. Simplicius showed the satellite photo, and it clearly shows that there was a direct hit on a revetment.

            You and I may differ in our conclusion regarding what was in that revetment, but there can be no doubt whatsoever that the Kinzhal struck exactly where it was aimed.

            TTG: “I found the following informative pages.”

            Though it does not appear that you read it, because Simplicius the Thinker very definitely agrees with me and completely disagrees with you.

          • TTG says:

            Yeah, Right,

            “On May 13, a Russian air force strike package took off at bases in western Russia and flew toward the border with Ukraine. Minutes later, a single Ukrainian air force Patriot surface-to-air missile battery shot down an Su-34, an Su-35 and 2 Mi-8 helicopters in the package.”

            Only the Patriot could shoot as far as Bryansk from a position close to the border. It could not have done it from Kyiv. That also means that at least one launcher and a radar/control system had to at the border away from Kyiv. The kills were later memorialized on a Patriot launcher. A photo of that launcher shows 3 helicopters downed on 13 May and quite a few other kills stamped on the side of the launcher.

            “Simplicius showed the satellite photo, and it clearly shows that there was a direct hit on a revetment.”

            A revetment is not a Patriot launcher. The revetment could have been empty or housing a decoy. If a launcher received a direct hit from a Kinzhal, it would not be back in operation in 2 days. The Kinzhal could still have been shot down and the warhead could still have hit and exploded on or near its intended target. The same thing happened to a Storm Shadow missile recently. It was intercepted, but it still fell on the intended target and the warhead exploded.

            Simplicius thinks a radar/control system along with at least one launcher was taken out. Russian MOD even claimed 5 launchers were taken out. Rybar claims only one launcher was at least damaged. Alex Hollings, from the Sandboxx video, along with our DOD and Ukraine’s MOD said one launcher was damaged. So I’m not worried that I don’t agree with Simplicius on this.

          • Yeah, Right says:

            TTG: “On May 13, a Russian air force strike package took off at bases in western Russia and flew toward the border with Ukraine.”

            You appear to be chronologically-challenged.

            I will now invite everyone to ask themselves a simply question: is May 16 before May 13, or after?

            TTG: “A revetment is not a Patriot launcher. The revetment could have been empty or housing a decoy. ”

            Or it could have been housing the radar unit.
            That last is, of course, by far the more likely as it is beyond dispute that the radar unit of a Patriot battery shines out like a beacon in the electronic spectrum.

            It is also by far the most likely outcome since – once more, yet again – I defy you to provide any evidence whatsoever that there are still TWO Patriot battery operating inside Ukraine following the events of May 16.

            TTG: “If a launcher received a direct hit from a Kinzhal, it would not be back in operation in 2 days.”

            Indeed true. YOUR job is now to demonstrate that there were TWO Patriot batteries in operation after 16th May.

            Pointing to Patriot operations on 13th May doesn’t cut it. Neither have any of your claims in this regard.

            I am not required to prove a negative. YOU are the person who is claiming that there were TWO Patriot batteries operating inside Ukraine on 18th May, and that is something that you have singularly failed to do.

          • TTG says:

            Yeah, Right,

            No, you aren’t required to prove a negative or a positive. Nor am I. I haven’t convinced you that the Patriot shot down Kinzhals and you haven’t convinced me that the Kinzhals destroyed a Patriot. We’ll just have to wallow in our respective obstinacy. As a parting gift I have the following from Tom Cooper (Sarcastosaurus) from 29 June.

            “Yesterday afternoon, Zelensky reportedly decorated Colonel Serhii Yaremenko, CO 96th Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade for (quote), ‘….shooting down 13 Kinzhal missiles…’. Guess, this means it’s the 96th that’s operating US- and Germany-supplied PAC-2/3 SAM-systems.”

            I wasn’t aware of any more claimed shoot downs, but it appears it was from a 16 June attack. This is a Ukrainian Air Force posting.

            Around 11:00 on June 16, Russian occupation troops launched a missile strike across Ukraine with Kaliber winged missiles and X-47 Kinzhal aeroballistic missiles. The direction of the attack is Kyiv region! All missiles were destroyed by Air Force forces and means in the area of responsibility of the Center Air Command. In addition, two enemy reconnaissance UAVs of the operational and tactical level were destroyed.”

      • Eliot says:


        “ Ukrainian trains are still running and the bridges across the upper Dnipro are still intact.”

        If the Russians haven’t destroyed the bridges, it’s because they plan on crossing the Dnieper.

        – Eliot

    • English Outsider says:

      Oh dear. Wrote that far too quickly, TTG. “Ivano-Frankivsk” and I think it’s disparity “in” not “of”.

      Also, it’s irrelevant whether the Euros “can” absorb the blowback from the sanctions war. From what I’m hearing in Germany, and reading in odd bits and pieces from other parts of Europe I come across, they won’t. The EU sanctions “packages” are getting weaker and weaker and they’re still heavily dependent on Russians gas, oil and raw materials. This was a sanctions war that had to be won quickly if it was to be won at all.

      • TTG says:


        Winning a sanctions war quickly was wishful thinking. We’ll have to see what next winter brings.

    • billy roche says:

      Your comments have been consistent. A rejoinder.
      1. There never was a SMO. Putin said that. Invasion is invasion.
      2. Ukraine is not filled w/Nazis left over from WW II any more than Finland, the Baltics, Czechs, Slovaks, and Armenians. Putin said that.
      3. If destroying Ukraine b/c of “Nazis” is a valid premise why not those other states also? Putin has, not yet, said that.
      3. Sanctions have not worked. Cabbage, keilbasy, potatoes and vodka go a long way and Russia has lots of gas/oil. Western Europeans will welcome her back quickly. But what has she accomplished in eastern Europe? She will face a defiant, well armed, and angry mob from Stockholm to Bucharest, Sofia, to Georgia. Speaking of Bucharest that is where the Russian will next strike. Moldova will be next. Will you again accept all of Putin’s “interpretations”.
      4. In the absence of any guile about the real aims of Russian Empire, and no friends to her west, Putin can look east for friendship w/t Turks, Persians, “Stans”, and Chinese. They will rtn the “kindness” Russia has shown them over the past 300 years.
      5. Eastern Europeans have had a lesson on how far the west will go to protect their independence; only as far as they must and not w/o a great deal of pushing. The lesson is clear, western Europeans don’t give a hoot about their eastern neighbors so Eastern Europe may form a “subsidiary” NATO; EETO.
      6. This was never a war for reclaiming Donbass but a war to restore Russian Empire. I told you, I’m not clairvoyant but I knew it would come in the summer of ’91. So did most Ukrainians. The “Great Russian” will never accept an independent Ukraine. Can you not understand that? The Russian invasion had nothing to do with the Maiden, 2014 election, Minsk, or Schultz, Merkle, and Johnson. Putin wants you to believe that. So you do.
      7. Enemies to her west, revenge seekers to her east, and 44mm Ukrainian insurgents to her south is what Putin will have achieved. Putin never says that.

      • JamesT says:

        billy roche,

        By my estimate, 1/3 of the fighters who volunteered to fight on behalf of Ukraine were Nazis just like 1/3 of the fighters in Afghanistan who fought US forces were Taliban.

        The Russian news media is just as dishonest as the US news media. Most of the Ukrainian fighters defending their homeland are not nazis just as most of the Afghans who defended their homeland were not Taliban.

      • Eliot says:

        Billy Roche,

        “ She will face a defiant, well armed, and angry mob from Stockholm to Bucharest, Sofia, to Georgia. Speaking of Bucharest that is where the Russian will next strike. Moldova will be next. Will you again accept all of Putin’s “interpretations”.”

        If the Russians win, which I believe they will, it will damage the position of the pro Western leaders in Eastern Europe. Some will decide that they need to make peace with Russias presence.

        Georgia is a good example, they’ve gone out of their way to avoid antagonizing Moscow since their defeat in 2008.

        – Eliot

        • billy roche says:

          Eliot; perhaps your right. But I prefer to call a spade a spade. Making peace w/t Russian “presence” means kissing Russian dupa again. Do you think Slavs, balts, and Finns are will to go back to that?

      • English Outsider says:

        Bill – the Russians use the term SMO for their own reasons. They’re very keen on the legal stuff. I use it merely to distinguish between the civil war in the Donbass pre-2022 and the internationalised civil war since.

        But “invasion” is fine by me too. What else can you call it when a country rolls its tanks into the territory of another? Especially since those tanks went a lot further than the Donbass Republics. Both we and the Russians “invaded” Germany in ’45 and no one jibbed at the term then. “Invasion” is what we did in Iraq. And the term is equally applicable to what the Russians did in 2022 and presumably intend to do more of now.

        It’s the “Why” that interests me. For a number of reasons I have no truck with what I call the “Mearsheimer thesis”; that the Russians were driven to invading by mounting NATO pressure. Backs to the wall and no further yielding possible. That sort of argument. That’s not an argument that fits the facts at all.

        At the time I thought the invasion was because the firing across the LoC had increased. Time to put a stop to that so Putin did. Still seems good enough reason to me but there’s more, I think. I tried to set out that more recently –

        We now know – to many of us it was obvious before – that Russia cannot be defeated by the military means currently available to NATO and it cannot be defeated by economic war. Nor can it be defeated by attempts to destabilise the country internally.

        That was obvious to the Russians in February 2022. But “obvious” is not a dead certainty. The SMO was not a risk free course of action. In particular it could have had the effect, and for a certain time seemed to have the effect, of jeopardising relations with countries the Russians wished to expand their trade with. And who is to say that the West could not have found some way of making the sanctions, particularly the financial sanctions, bite far deeper than they did?

        So the SMO was not needed as a means of relieving NATO pressure (the Mearsheimer thesis). On the contrary, it was foreseeable that it would intensify that pressure. Foreseeable, maybe probable, risks were associated with it. For the Russians, the balance of risk, of gain and loss as foreseeable at the time, was against undertaking the SMO unless it was unavoidably necessary to do so.

        And Putin himself is known to be cautious and risk averse. So what made him, on February 21st 2022, give the go-ahead to starting the legal process that was to lead to the SMO. We can be pretty sure that by that late date his Generals had already drawn up contingency plans for the SMO. We can surmise that by that date he was already under internal pressure to act. But what made him finally take the decision?

        He had no choice. It was the urgent military imperatives on the LoC at that time that forced his hand. As Strobe Talbot wrote at the time, we finally had him cornered.

        Had the Kiev forces got into the Donbass not only would they have caused mayhem. They would have been most difficult to dislodge.

        And the LDNR forces could not have held them back unassisted, or even partially assisted as they had been earlier.

        Not only that. The Putin administration must have fallen. A hundred and forty million angry Russians would have been saying “Why didn’t you stop them when you had the chance?” He would have had no answer.

        Cornered indeed. The SMO was a justified pre-emptive attack to avert just such a disaster. It was not “unprovoked”, that word used so often to describe the SMO by the Western politicians and media. It was deliberately provoked, and that to “corner” Putin.


        On the defence of Eastern Europe and the Baltics I’m with you 100%, I don’t think it’s necessary myself because, as said before, I can’t see why the Russians would want them and if they did there’d be no profit in it.

        But it’s not our job to tell the Balts and the East Europeans what they should do. If they want to put up a wall of steel on their eastern border, fine.

        But they’d better get the Americans to provide the steel. The Euros are about as much use as wet cardboard and Sunak, like Johnson before him, is all hat and no cattle.

        • billy roche says:

          You write so well t’is a pity your head was never turned to history. Putin felt surrounded b/c he was. But why did most Soviet Satellites and, in ’91, former “Soviet Republics” throw themselves at NATO? What did they know about Russian nature? They were convinced that Russia’s superiority complex would ultimately compel it to begin the reconquest of her neighbors. NATO c/n compel Latvia, Bulgaria, Slovakia, or Estonia to join. Remember Mr Lavrov told the Finns and Swedes to watch their mouths if they knew what was good for them. Finland and Sweden considered they too could be on the receiving end of “Russian Eternal Friendship Treaties”. Instead they will soon join NATO. This d/n have to be. When the SU collapsed Russia could have decided/made clear that her need for hegemony was over. She could have shown by deed and smile that it was a new day. She d/n. “Simple Truths” a Puritan hymn comes to mind (dyk Cromwell wasn’t pure enough for the American puritans!); Russia has not changed since 1650. Her “emotional need” to be the big pig in the trough remains. That’s a simple truth so your repair to Minsk amuses me. Minsk is but a pimple on the derrier of Slavic history. Johnson, Schultz, Merkle, Lavrov, Macron, and Nuland, all westerners, will be footnotes to a footnote event.

    • ked says:

      forget winning. Ukraine is dedicated to not losing. & they have a good shot at it. for Vlad’s Russia, anything short of winning is losing. they will forever be losers in Ukraine, at least until he passes from the stage. then Russia will come up w/ new words to describe their non-victory.

      • TTG says:


        Ukraine is dedicated to cleansing their country, all of it, of the Russian invaders. That is both winning and not losing.

  3. Christian Chuba says:

    This assumes that Russia is losing more men and material than Ukraine in this phase, does it not?

    The Russians have set up a main defensive line 10 – 20km behind the front. This indicates that they are prepared to conduct a fighting retreat (like they did at Kursk) and use their front lines to skirmish w/Ukraine to weaken them. Russia created large mine fields as part of their forward defenses to prevent their forward troops from being cut off.

    I’ll use Rivnopil as evidence that this is true. I kept hearing and reading about how precarious that position was yet Russia held it for weeks on end and then retreated in good order. They did not feel threatened as long as they had mine fields to protect their flanks.

    Now I do believe it is too early to call. It looks like Ukraine is being reasonably cautious. We’ll see in a month for two correct?

    • TTG says:

      Christian Chuba,

      The Russians seem to be losing a great deal of men and material. Worse, rather than relying on their defensive positions, they sally forth often across their own minefields to be hit by Ukrainian fires.

      • Eric Newhill says:

        Evidence for that wild assertion?

        I have seen Ukrainians getting slaughtered in mine fields, destroyed armor, etc.

        IMO the only ones being attrited are the Ukrainians – and NATO.

      • Christian Chuba says:

        Both sides claim that they are bleeding the other to death. Eventually, one side will throw in the towel. It will be like the ending of ‘The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly’, when Lee Van Kleef makes a good show of it before he drops dead.

      • Christian Chuba says:

        Having trouble seeing why Russians would ever advance across their own minefield. For movement behind the front line, stick to the roads. The Russians mine open fields to protect their flanks and keep the roads clear so that they can move freely or shell Ukrainians w/pre-set coordinates if they try to use the roads. The Russians have been using that tactic since the Battle of Kursk.

        Secondary point about the recessed Russian defensive lines. I hear many commentators (not you) talk as if Ukraine just has to pierce the so-called Surovikin line to sweep behind them. Russian defensive works consist of a horizontal and vertical lines to prevent that type of scenario. They did that at Kursk for their first two lines. They will also lay more lines in the event of a break through. All big militaries can drop mines from helicopters or even use rockets to deploy them (btw NOT a fan of those Petal mines unless they deactivate after some time period, like cluster bombs that never detonate, really don’t like it)

        • TTG says:

          Christian Chuba,

          The instances where blown up by their own mines was normally when they were attacking across a field or up a road. The mine fields aren’t well marked and I doubt the word of their locations is disseminated very well. Sometimes it’s just individual Russian stupidity. I’ve seen one video where an APC runs over mines on a road that they just emplaced.

          The defensive lines look formidable and are definitely built in depth. The losses suffered by assaulting Ukrainian tanks and IFVs in the first day or two of their offensive show that. And you’re definitely right about those scatterable mines. They turn any advance into a crapshoot. But I don’t see evidence of preregistered artillery targets. If those minefields were covered by preregistered artillery fire, the Ukrainians would have suffered a lot more casualties among those mine disabled tanks and IFVs. I also don’t see any use of barbed wire obstacles. I know that was in all the old Soviet manuals on defensive operations.

          It’s not just those petal mines that will remain a constant threat. Russian ammo has a higher percentage of dud rounds that turn any field into a mine field. The Russian cluster bombs already in use and the ones we’re about to supply to the Ukrainians will only add to that danger.

  4. billy roche says:

    TTG: Any information on how close to schedule or behind, the US is on delivering the tanks, APCs, and artillary promised to Ukraine. My memory says we should have ponied up everything by the end of July. I keep reading that we have promised but not delivered. Whats the scoop troop?

    • TTG says:

      billy roche,

      I see Bradleys already in combat along with the various artillery systems that have been there for a while. What I haven’t seen yet is the Abrams. If they’re there, they’re being held in reserve along with a number of other systems.

  5. Jimmy_W says:

    Talking about an “attriting” phase is silly. That is basically what Americans say the “Shaping Phase” is. The discussion of a Shaping Phase or Attriting Phase betrays a fundamental assumption of Luxury. The Luxury of choosing the timing. The propagandists assumes that they have the freedom of when to fight, when they say things like that.

    Because War is a dynamic system, with both sides constantly feeding inputs (of time-varying rates), and the combatants constantly “attriting” (inherent friction of sickness and wear without even accounting for combat), and fog, timing is not a luxury. Relative advantages are always fleeting. So waiting on Attrition means ceding initiative across all echelons. Which is stupid.

    Attriting Reserves is not necessary, if your Interdictions can effectively isolate your AO from enemy reinforcements. In the Offense, you first have to achieve a Breakthrough. Then your own Reserves can Exploit the breakthrough. Enemy reinforcements and reserves serve to either plug the Breakthrough, or stop the Exploitation. So Fires needs to either isolate the AO, or kill the reserves. But it is still up to Maneuver to breakthrough in the first place. Without Breakthrough, nothing else matters.
    [To wit, WW1 German stormtroopers achieved many local successes including exploitation.]

    So, the fact that AUF has not achieved significant breakthroughs, going on 2 months now, bodes ill for the current “Counter-Offensive”. Anything else is just noise for now.

    That is why USA is now talking about shipping DPICM cluster munitions to Ukraine. America is finally getting serious more than 1 year into the war. DASD-Eurasia talking about using DPICM as necessary to destroy dug-in positions is just stupid. Either she lied, or her military advisors are incompetent. And worse yet, nobody in the media called her out on her lie, which is all you need to know about the current propaganda environment.

    Now, time for Germany, Denmark, Belgium, and the rest to start giving up on Ukraine because of cluster munition use.

    • TTG says:


      Battlefield shaping is a term I’m much more familiar with rather than an attrition and interdiction phase. Whatever you call it, the result is the same, a reduction in the enemy’s ability to react effectively to one’s offensive maneuver. At one time this shaping phase was no more than a lengthy artillery bombardment for a predetermined time. Now , rather than a predetermined timeframe, we assess battle damage, adjust the shaping activities and reassess until the desired effect is achieved. Then the offensive maneuver starts. That’s what determines the timing, not the attacker nor the defender.

      Ukraine has been shaping the battlefield for a month now in preparation for committing their main forces to offensive maneuver. We took longer than that in Desert Storm with a massive coalition air and missile force at our disposal as Theiner pointed out. Ukraine will launch their offensive maneuver phase when they determine that their shaping actions have achieved the desired effect.

      The introduction of US supplied cluster munitions will pose a dilemma for a lot of our European allies. Sure Russia has been using them for more than a year now and Ukraine may have shot off whatever they had left from 2014-2015, but we will surely had to deal with some inevitable fallout from this.

  6. alexandar says:

    Theiner is only an arty OF2;
    NO tactical background, NEVER been a J3 planner and NEVER in charge of writing an OPORDER.

    Attrtition war when you can use only 4 000 rounds/day on a 800 km frontline and your ENI 20 000 to 40 000 ?
    Attrition war when Ka-52 knock out Leopards and Bradleys everyday ?
    Attrition war when russian FAB500 wipe out TOC, manpower, stagging aera and logistic center everyday ?

    I could go on but it’s useless.

    There is NO ukrainian attrtion war.

    This opinion is widely shared amongst military people here.
    Probably because all my european friends in the military, active and retired, are “Putin lovers ”

    Everything has been brilliantly summed up by Colonel Markus Reisner of the Austrian Armed Forces, Head Tactical Studies Branch, Austrian General Staff College

    “The 1st Phase of the Ukrainian Offensive has failed due to Ukrainian Forces attempting to use NATO Military Tactics which do not work against fortified and heavily-mined Russian Defenses, however Ukraine is now beginning to change Tactics and wee expect for there to be limited-successes along the frontline but no major breakthroughs. ”

    Or maybe, he also is ” still lapping up every Kremlin talking points” ?

    No room here now for a simple and fair military technical debate about this war.

    So bad.

    • Sam says:

      The Russian army spring offensive didn’t go anywhere either. Aren’t they supposed to be the regional hegemon with the super power military? And they can’t even take Ukraine? Lol!

    • Burt says:

      A fair and insightful critique.
      Russia has absorbed everything thrown at it (military and economic), and Ukraine is also still standing. This war is a lot tougher than either side thought it would be. In the end, everyone is going to lose. The Russians and Ukrainians will have lost the most, with hundreds of thousands of dead or maimed between them — folks who a generation ago were on the same side and living together, and who will hate each other for at least another generation. But the big losers will be Europe and the US. Europe is going to miss the cheap oil and gas, and economic consequences will accumulate in the coming year. The US will see more of Asia — both southwest Asia and southeast Asia — gravitate to the RIC block (not sure what Brazil will do and if South Africa will even be standing).
      I’m just an attack pilot with an exchange and an intel tour, so I’m not going to claim any expertise here. I wish that negotiations would start in earnest soon, but instead it is more likely that Ukraine, both eastern and western, will be further destroyed and depopulated. This has become existential for too many involved parties.

  7. walrus says:

    With the greatest respect to everyone, it’s time to take a step backwards and a deep breath before returning to first principles.

    Exactly who is being bled by this war?

    Answer; Ukraine. It is now a failed state on the basis of demographics alone. Forget about its economy. The Ukrainian Government is now trawling for old men and boys to feed the battlefield. I’m told there are some eight million plus Ukrainian refugees in Europe and Russia.

    According to simple mathematics the Ukrainians are losing at least double (some say ten times) the casualties as Russia. Does anyone seriously want to argue that Russia is going to run out of troops?

    Exactly Who is being hurt by American engineered sanctions?

    Answer: Not Russia and not China.

    Instead we have destroyed Europes economy by removing its supplies of cheap Russian energy and raw or semi finished materials like Aluminium, fertilizer and timber. However, if you are an American energy producer, business has never been better. Funny that.

    We are fighting for free markets and the rule of law. Horse feathers.

    We have also accelerated the process of “de – dollarisation” as multiple countries realise that the West are unreliable friends.. The Shanghai cooperation council and BRICS are swamped by requests for membership. Over half the worlds population does NOT support our dumb idea of a “rules based society” when only America gets to make the rules. Look what happened to Serbia, Lebanon, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Libya, Panama, Cuba, Vietnam, Chile, Venezuela and Korea. Our “rulez” are made up to suit us.

    NATO will come to the rescue.

    No it wont, not if it has any sense. That way lies a gutted European economy, if not a glowing radioactive wasteland. NATO has already cleaned out its time expired inventories and obsolete gate guardian equipment (Old tanks, Guns, etc) What’s left are war stocks and not much of that. My first job as a student engineer was at an ammo factory – they take a while to build and commission. The Russians have at least a four year lead.

    But our technology is superior!

    No it isn’t

    But are troops are better, my strength is like the strength of ten because my heart is pure!

    No we aren’t. And the Russians and Chinese aren’t stupid Orcs either. Small unit tactics are now everything thanks to technology and the Russians know it.

    But Right and God is on our side! Bull puckey! The Russians didn’t ask for much. All they wanted was a neutral Ukraine. We engineered this little affair.

    I’m in Europe at the moment and every day I see massive spontaneous demonstrations by people shouting “death to Putin!” and “long live Ukraine!”……not.

    It is understandable that Poles, Balts, etc. are nervous and have strong racial memories of the Soviets. However the Soviets are long gone. Get used to living next door to Russia or emigrate. Spare me the history lessons too; we can prove any grievance we like by picking the appropriate starting date.

    Sorry to be blunt but Col. Macgregor and Alexei Martyanov put it all so much better that I can.

    • fredw says:

      “According to simple mathematics the Ukrainians are losing at least double (some say ten times) the casualties as Russia.”

      Presumably you mean “arithmetic” rather than “mathematics”. Still I have no idea what numbers you are using for a conflict deep in the fog of war. Both countries have terrible demographics. Neither publishes their losses in any believable form. Russia has more people, but needs a larger proportion to keep its economy going. Ukraine has been able to outsource much of its economy. So arithmetic, even if it favors Russia, is not simple.

      More to the point that my experience, many of us (the older ones) participated in a war in which our enemies were technologically inferior and suffered multiples of our casualties (including ARVN). And they didn’t overwhelm with numbers either. But we lost. We know that it can be done.

    • billy roche says:

      Walrus; I think you are over looking geography. You are in western Europe. Western Europe is NOT eastern Europe and has no regard for the east. The fight for Ukrainian independence (something that Yankee dollars and men guaranteed western Europeans for 50 years) is an annoyance to their ability to make more money. If America flat left western Europe in ’45, your western European friends would have had 75 years to get used to living next to Russia.
      Your ignorance of Slavic history betrays you. That history is exactly the issue. Russia will never be satisfied w/a neutral Ukraine. Ukraine was attacked. Russia is the attacker. There is no moral nor economic equivalence. Sorry if the war upsets your Deutschmarks, Euros, or Pounds. When eastern Slavs/Balts/Finns are again subdued western Europe will march to a Russian tune. And you can spare me the economic lesson of buyer/seller equivalence. When you haven’t power and Russia has, you’ll sing “Kalinka” all night .

    • Sam says:

      “Spare me the history lessons“.

      Maybe that’s why you don’t get that there’s no kumbaya over the long term. There is always someone wanting to be top dog. Who do you prefer Xi, Putin or Biden?

      If the US decides tomorrow that it ain’t gonna throw it’s weight around, do you think Xi or Putin are gonna sit tight? That would fly in the face of past experience. And by the way in most surveys of people around the world when asked who should be global hegemon among Xi, Putin or US, who do you think average folks prefer in Asia, Africa and Latin America? Why do you think Chinese citizens are running across our southern borders?

      • Burt says:

        “Why are Chinese citizens running across our southern borders?”
        I believe it’s called “shaping the battlefield”.

  8. blue peacock says:

    Walrus said, “Sorry to be blunt but Col. Macgregor and Alexei Martyanov put it all so much better that I can.”

    Yeah! The 2 guys who have got it consistently wrong right from the start of this invasion. Add Larry Johnson and you’ll have 3.

  9. cobo says:

    TTG, thank you for this – it obviously stirs the pot.

    “The reason people don’t consider Ukraine’s Phase 1 a success comes from…” It comes from the fact that Russia was supposed to walk away with this. Pooteen, being the personally groomed of Klaus himself, since his days driving that cab in St Petersburg, had a defined destiny to fulfill, pre-ordained by the Davos/CCP collective. The corporate world and their media whores planned this. That projected regional enslavement was expected to begin with Ukraine and be completed with those former post-Soviets falling into place.

    Some fools think that Russia is actually standing against the sickness being imposed on the West. Some think the West is just ALL bad.

    The planet Earth will survive the stupidity that men have fallen to. The formerly enslaved East Europeans will show the way forward.

  10. VietnamVet says:


    The Ukraine conflict is an existential war between NATO and the Russian Federation. One or the other (or even both) will not survive the conflict unless an Armistice and DMZ like in Korea in 1953 is established along the Line of Contact by the United Nations. There is simply no way one or the other of the armed forces can penetrate the other’s defenses in depth into the rear echelons without tactical nuclear being used. They’ve been moved into Belarus. Moving them into Poland is “under discussion”.

    The Western economic system is built on the global reserve US dollar. If the currency is only supported by the labor and resources of roughly half of North America, the lack of overseas energy and goods, will return the US back to the 1970’s “Malaise” and Gas Lines. Except today, there is no Greater Prudhoe Alaska Oil Field to bring on line to restore Ronald Reagan’s “It’s Morning in America”. The Ukraine proxy WWIII and the US economic sanctions on twenty nations (especially China) are separating America from its suppliers; not to mention, also shutting off Europe from cheap Russian energy. Even if a nuclear war is avoided, the world will never be the same as it was from 1945, through the First Cold War, to February 2014 when the current conflict with the Russian Federation was started by the Obama/Biden Administration’s Maidan coup that overthrew the elected Ukraine government.

    The only way the USA will remain United is if good governance by and for the American people is restored and peace is given a chance.

    • TTG says:


      This war is only existential to Ukraine. The continued existence of NATO and the Russian Federation is not contingent on the outcome of the war. It will surely shape them both, but it will not end them.

      • Yeah, Right says:

        NATO’s desire is to break up the Russian Federation, which they can only achieve by engineering Russia’s defeat in this war.

        NATO has hosted conferences on that exact topic, they don’t make a secret of it.

      • mcohen says:


        I agree with you but Unfortunately Ukraine feeds a lot of people so the war is also existential to those countries who depend on Ukrainian food resources

  11. walrus says:

    Thank you all for your comments on my deliberately provocative post. You have given me an idea that I will try to elaborate elsewhere. Thank you.

    • billy roche says:

      Walrus you said you were writing from Europe (west). Will you pls say which country? I’m betting Germany or Netherlands. If you are in Germany have a Henninger on me!

  12. elkern says:

    The problem with the “illegal” ** Cluster munitions that USA has now promised/threatened to supply to Ukraine is that they tend to make the region where they are used dangerous to children and other living things for years/decades.

    They are not weapons which any sane government would fire at an area they expect to administer in the future. It makes “sense” (practically, not morally) to use them on areas which you expect an enemy to hold once the conflict inevitably ends; they continue to punish the [current/former] Enemy for years after the war.

    IMO, if Ukraine fires US cluster munitions into areas currently controlled by Russia, it implies that Ukraine recognizes that they will not be able to push Russia out of SE Ukraine; using them indicates that their goal is Stalemate, not Checkmate. The strategic goal of [threatening] their use is to increase leverage at the bargaining table.

    **: scare quotes around “illegal” because it is only really meaningful if there is some Authority which can enforce it…

    • Poppa Rollo says:

      for elkern, hasn’t Russia been using cluster munitions in Ukraine?
      If their use by Ukraine causes further collapse in RM morale and thus shortens the invasion, 500 days so far and counting, then UM is justified.

    • leith says:

      Elkern –

      I’m against the US sending them. Two wrongs don’t make a right, as Grandma told me back when I was hell bent on punching cousin Billy in retaliation after he pushed me off the porch.

      But I gotta ask where was all the outrage when Russia was using cluster munitions against Kharkiv City daily. And in ten other Ukrainian oblasts with at least six different types of cluster submunitions used against civilian targets:
      – 552 3B30 in each 300mm 9M54-series “Tornado-S” rocket;
      – 268 PTAB-1M in each RBK-500 cluster bomb;
      – 72 9N235 or 9N210 in each 300mm 9M55K-series Smerch rocket;
      – 50 9N24 in each 9M79-series Tochka SRBM;
      – 30 9N235 or 9N210 in each 220mm 9M27K-series Uragan rocket;
      – plus a cluster munition variant of the Iskander 9M723.

      Perhaps the outrage is that Russia is no longer the only side to use them?

      And where were all the bleeding hearts in the media when Russia VVS airplanes used them (and bunker busters) against neighborhoods in East Aleppo? Or just recently in November 2022 when Bashar used Russian cluster weapons on IDP camps in Idlib? Or in 2006 when the Israelis dropped four million or so on southern Lebanon? Or when we used them in Iraq, Laos, Vietnam, or when the Saudis used US-made cluster bombs in Yemen?

      You claim “They are not weapons which any sane government would fire at an area they expect to administer in the future.” And yet, Russia has scattered many of them plus millions of anti-personnel and anti-tank mines in those areas of Ukraine they currently control. Many of the AP mines were indiscriminately emplaced by artillery and no maps were made of their location other than general area if that. So by that logic there is not any “sane government” in the Kremlin nor in Putin’s puppet governments in southern and eastern Ukraine.

  13. Whitewall says:

    This is the best damn thread I have read on this war in a long time! Beats all the fantastical junk I have seen in all media, mainstream, and, under headings of some of the wildest sounding never heard of ‘media’ headings one can imagine.

  14. Babeltuap says:

    Cluster bombs are easier to disable today. Most of the issue was in farming and residential areas. De-mining was an arduous task with metal detectors and manual techniques.

    Hydrema style sweepers can clear lots of real estate in a day. It’s still labor intensive and would slow Russia down but they could clear them fairly effectively, especially if they keep records of where they were dropped.

    Biden is not calling this shot (or any other shot) but he did reveal a key reason why; running low on ammo. Probably not a big reveal, most knew this already but what happens after the clusters run out? Call it a call and end it? I have no idea but we don’t have that many cluster munitions since they are ILLEGAL by and large. After they run out though (which they will) Russia will still be there. Now what….

    • TTG says:


      We appear to have a shit ton of them according to a 2005 Congressional report.

      “The report details a stockpile of 5.5 million cluster munitions containing about 728.5 million submunitions. This figure, however, does not appear to be a full accounting of cluster munitions available to U.S. forces. In particular, the tally does not include cluster munitions that are part of the War Reserve Stocks for Allies (WRSA)”

      The report states, “Cannon and rocket artillery cluster munitions comprise over 80% of Army fire support capability,” and they “comprise the bulk of the Marine Corps artillery munitions.”

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