Trent Telenko on Western Intel T3R Incompetence

This post [by Tuomo Rusila] was a very good answer to a Wash Post hit piece on Ukraine for it’s ratio of combat to logistical troops, or “tooth to tail” ratio (T3R). 

“Zelensky’s office announced that of the 1 M who have been mobilized, only ~300 k have fought at the front lines. No one has explained where those 700 k are — or what they have been doing.”

I can help with that; it’s called tooth-to-tail-ratio, T3R. It’s normal in peace and war.

But no one has ever asked: What is the Russian T3R in Ukraine supporting  its 500k to 800k troops? The photo text passage [below] on current Russian T3R is from: “Lessons from the Russo-Ukrainian conflict: the primacy of logistics over strategy” by Ronald Ti and Christopher Kinsey.

“The value for a modern army lies in reflecting relative force ratios in favour of logistic and support troops due to the essential nature of the former in enabling “frontline” combat power. This ratio is known as the “Tooth To Tail Ratio” or “T3R”. The T3R is the ratio of combat personnel (tooth) to support personnel (tail) derived by using gross numbers of personnel assigned to each broad function. Clearly, definitions of what comprises “support” and “combat” personnel are crucial, nevertheless the T3R can be used as a rough indication. The findings are that in virtually all Western militaries T3R’s are relatively low: for example, the US Army T3R has been quoted in the vicinity of 0.1, meaning that there are ten US Army “support” personnel for each one US Army “combat” soldier (Mc Grath Citation2012, 5-6). On the other hand, T3R’s are much higher in the Russian military. The equivalent T3R in the Russian military has been estimated to be around 6 by some estimates, reflecting “guesstimates” of 6 “combat” personnel for each one “support” personnel. The T3R of 6 for the Russian military overall is substantially higher than the US T3R of 0.1. However, imprecise these figures, both empirically and according to expert opinion, a significantly lower proportion of Russian logistic troops in equivalent-sized echelons seems well evident (Vershinin Citation 2021).”

Given 6/7 of 500,000 as RuAF “Teeth” and a 2,000km front, it works out to ~214 Russians per kilometer.  And a lot of that front is along the Dnipro River. We haven’t seen that Russian force density on Ukrainian front line Drone videos. And it gets worse. Given 6/7 of 800,000 as RuAF teeth and a 2,000 km front, that’s ~342 Russians per kilometer with the same Dnipro river  problem. Even taking into account the fact militaries tend to put two formations forward and one back at company level going up, that is, 16 front line platoons out of a 15,000 man division roughly ~16% of unit strength. Ukrainian videos of the front lines still do not show that level of Russian force density, that is: 

16% of 214 is ~34 mobiks per km.

16% of 342 is ~55 mobiks per km.

And please carefully note that after 28 months of war Russian logistics still lacks pallets, forklifts and material handling cranes with much smaller trucks. Which means a lot of troops have to be  involved in back breaking manual labor all the time.

Short form: The RuAF tooth to tail ratio has to be something like 1/7 (14% teeth) rather than 6/7 (85% teeth). AFU using Russian wood boxes and trucks say they take a day to move one load of boxed ammo on a 90 km round trip.  And they have a 3/7 T3R.

Yes, the RuAF use contractors for building fortifications, but not anywhere near the frontline doing ammo and food logistics. Either most Russian combat units are behind the front busy loading and unloading stuff or most of any given Russian combat unit is unloading stuff at any given time. There is quite a bit of order of battle (Orbat) data from the West on the invasion force and from the AFU that have cited various numbers aggregating the RuAF and LDNR irregulars over time. What stands out is that there is no strong evidence of dedicated Russian logistics elements.

My WW2 SW Pacific and China-Burma-India theater logistics historical research is screaming at me that Russian mobiks are being used on an ad hoc basis as labor gangs, as we have seen videos of the Russians using regulars to load/unload munitions and materiel. Photographic proof of this was visible throughout the Cold War such that Col Ralph Peters, a US Army intel officer, used it in a passage of his late 1980’s book RED ARMY, talking about the “animal labor” involved.

This parallels very strongly what General Douglas MacArthur had to do in the SWPA theater with local New Guinea natives, African-American combat & support units, plus rear area anti-aircraft units, in New Guinea. Before MacArthur’s forces got to the Philippines and could hire Filipinos for labor gangs.

Peters aside, when Cold War era G-2 looked at Cold War era Soviet formations, they seem to have just counted logistical TO&E versus combat TO&E’s to get that six out of seven Soviet troops are “Teeth.” Ti & Kinsey’s article shows no one has bothered to update this practice since the Russo-Ukrainian War kicked off in Feb 2022. Whatever the real answer for Russian Army tooth to tail ratios, Western military intelligence on Russian logistics has been “Garbage in, Garbage out” for eight decades.

If as visible evidence suggests that so-called Russian combat elements are used on as labor gangs on ad hoc but regular basis to do logistics tasks. You get something that works poorly but is “coherent.” And by coherent, I mean in the sense that Russians have a primitive logistics load/unload capability that is compatible with unskilled conscripts doubling up as logistics troops.

That is exactly how the Union Army worked in the American Civil War. Each regiment’s own troops were a cross-section of the general population’s civilian skills and could perform most construction and logistics tasks. The Russian Army of 2024… not so much. The problem for the Russian Army is that Mobiks do not represent a economic/skills cross section of the Russian Federation. This drives Russian front line force densities through the floor and gives the Russians a closer to Western tooth to tail ratio as the Russians simply lack manpower saving forklifts, telehandlers, ISO containers and pallets. Given Mobiks are expending large amounts of time in back breaking manual labor logistics. This affects Russian combat skill as lots of manual labor prevents training and rehearsals for future operations in the field from happening. It is a big reason for the high Russian loss ratios compared to Ukrainians in all operations.

Note as well the Russian approach to provisioning. The February 2022 convoy to Kyiv had three days of MREs and then they were ordered to forage like a 17th century army via stealing chickens from Ukrainian farmers, with the Russian officers selling supplies “nalevo” after that order came down to supplement their paychecks. The level that the Russian officers did that “nalevo” supply scam before that order is a good, question given the standard 25% “ghost soldier” payroll scam that was going on Army and VDV wide.

Western military truck logistics has a very high degree of load visibility as to what is in which truck going to which unit.  This is not the case for the Russians in Ukraine. The whole Russian military logistical model seems to be, by any Western military logistical measures, ad hoc and it was likely designed that way to maximize opportunities for theft by the Russian command staff.

Despite all of this visible evidence since Feb. 2022, senior Western intel, and most open-source analysts, are “mirror imaging” so hard on Western mechanized logistics that they simply cannot accept the evidence of their eyes in terms of Ukrainian front-line Russian Army force density versus the implications for Russian manual labor logistical tooth to tail ratios.

Alex Vershinin, like every other Western logistician, was blindsided by the 80 year/four generation Western intelligence failure to notice the Russian Army doesn’t use mechanized logistics ‘enhancers’ to move its ammo and supplies. The psychological label for all this “rejecting of data that doesn’t fit” behavior is “Directed Cognition.” AKA Believing what you want to believe and rejecting all other evidence. It is the definition of professional incompetence for an intelligence analyst or intelligence institution. We are at the “Burn it all down and start over with new people and blank slate assumptions” as far as Western intelligence of Russian T3R military logistics are concerned.

Comment: This is a long and convoluted twitter thread. It’s a matryoshka doll of twitter threads. But navigating through the whole convoluted thing will reveal a wealth of Trent Telenko insights into the Russian Army logistical system. I see that logistical system as a flashback to days of the Soviet Army with its first, second and third strategic echelons with hundreds of divisions filled with millions of conscripts, plenty of manual labor to manually move mountains of supplies. I’m surprised the Gerasimov modernizations did nothing to update this system.

What this entire thread points out is that the numbers of troops bandied about by so many paint a false picture of this war. The number of forces engaged in combat are a fraction of the forces mobilized… on both sides. That fact is missed by analysts like Ti, Kinsey and Alex Vershinin who should know better according to Telenko. (And Vershinin does understand logistics.) The Washington Post piece that set Telenko off is equally bewildered by this tooth to tail ratio.

“Syrsky has been tasked with auditing the existing armed forces to find more combat-eligible troops, after Zelensky’s office recently announced that of the 1 million people who have been mobilized, only about 300,000 have fought at the front lines. But nearly a month after his promotion, no one in the military leadership or the presidential administration has explained where those 700,000 are — or what they have been doing.”

What are those 700,000 Ukrainian troops doing? They’re moving all those beans and bullets from the Polish border to the front along with every other necessary support function necessary to keep those 300,000 Ukrainian troops in the fight. It’s been said by many, including here, that “Amateurs talk strategy; professionals talk logistics.” I do believe this is the key to how this war ends. Neither Russia nor Ukraine will be ground down by front line attrition or beaten by clever maneuver. Defeat and victory will be precipitated on which side can disrupt the other’s logistical network. Russia has wasted a lot of time and resources on hitting Ukrainian apartment complexes and have only recently made a concerted effort to shut down Ukraine’s power grid. Ukraine has made a point of targeting Russian ammo dumps and all manner of trucks. They really need to concentrate on the Russian rail system from Rostov on Don to Ukraine. They’ve only just started sending their drones that way. The end of this war is not yet in sight.


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83 Responses to Trent Telenko on Western Intel T3R Incompetence

  1. Lars says:

    I am not all that surprised about what the article is revealing. One of my college classmates spent several years in Russia as a consultant and I have heard many horror stories about having to get much done there. In his telling, the biggest problems he encountered as he tried to get his clients to use modern methods was their drinking on the job and a lot of thievery. It is not much of a stretch to assume this is found in the military too.

  2. aleksandar says:

    Russian use forklifts to load military trains.
    They use wooden box with kook.
    Trains can be stopped near a crossroad or a road.
    Then unload and load trucks using cranes.
    Every Russian military train has 4 to 6 cranes allowing to load 3 or 4 trucks at the same time.
    This system allow you to supply units anywhere, anytime.
    Only the final operation, unloading trucks is manual.
    This is how it works for probably half of logistical supplies.
    Simple as that.
    Russian don’t want forklift near the frontline , too fragile, too long to repair, too bulky.
    Maybe it’s time to listen to Vershinin and not to amateurs.

    By the way his “force density” is also a stupid concept.
    You don’t need X soldiers/km to hold a line especially when you have a 7/1 ARTY advantage.
    Only control key points.
    It’s no longer Verdun.

  3. babelthuap says:

    Russia has never been known for good logistics or middle management so no surprise there. One thing they are good at however is not losing wars to include the Cold War. Major setback but they slowly returned to the fight. Even took some of their old stomping grounds back along with new tricks like giving the Houthis modern weapons for starters.

    As for Ukraine, what has it really achieved in the past 30 years? A massive brain drain, squandering their resources, importing needy migrants and letting NATO bully them into a senseless war over Russian speaking areas.

    • LeaNder says:

      importing needy migrants
      Hmm? Never heard about that before. Were did you pick this up?

      • English Outsider says:

        Might be referring to BND, MVD, MI6, CIA, all that crowd, LeaNder. After their exploits in Syria they were at a loose end and needed the work.

        We won’t go far wrong if, from our point of view, we regard Ukraine as a jobs creation programme for the Hamish de Bretton-Gordon types.

  4. Fred says:

    What about all those 155mm shells and replacement tubes? How about AAA to shoot down those missiles – which always fall on empty fields and not apartments. So now instead of electric switch yards for rail roads or substations the Russians are now blowing up the immobile power plants themselves. One saving grace to that is that it indicates they have zero desire to take over the areas where they are located, otherwise they would have to rebuild them. Rebuilding has sure – according to X and MSM reports – got BlackRock awful excited.

    • TTG says:


      Putin wants to own four Ukrainian oblasts. He said just that repeatedly and I believe the Duma has made the desire into Russian law. And those four oblasts are the ones the Russians are destroying.

      • Jose says:

        TTG, I believe Putin will get 6 or 7 oblasts plus a land bridge to Kalingrad via Lithuania.

      • Fred says:


        Those artillery shells and barrels though, guess that logistics tail doesn’t matter. Unlike the tale of America’s sacred obligation to a nation thousands of miles away that never did a damn thing for us. Now our senile figurehead will bloviate a little more while the Sovietesque handlers bring us all closer to war for foreigners while refusing to defend our own borders. Those immigrants being essential to their fundamental change of the Republic.

        • Muralidhar Rao says:

          Hey Fred do you know our Ceasar is defending Democracy in far off lands all the while importing foreigners to replace Ungreatful, Ignorant Natives? We should all be thanking our Great Ceasar for saving us from ourselves.

          • Fred says:

            Muralidhar Rao,

            On this great Juneteenth, when America celebrates the great Republican President successfully freeing the slaves owned by all those secessionist Democrats, we should be thankful of our Caligula? Well, that is rather disrespectful to “little boots” – he actually grew up amongst the legions. Nero, except he actually did some good the first few years in office; maybe Elagabalus? I think Joe – Obama’s right hand man for all those years of “hope and change” – is in a class all by himself. Let’s just thank Lincoln. And remember when Joe disregards the Constitution (like Lincoln) he’s doing so for a noble cause: staying in power.

  5. Augustin L says:

    The end of this war is not yet in sight. Yet, the longer this goes, probability ensures that America will be destroyed as a great power. The western hoi polloi refuses to learn from dialectics and Marxism. Better be dead than red, heard somewhere… I hope they have another better thought coming. The USA will be destroyed like the French monarchy after their unlimited support to American revolutionary proxies during their war of independence against the British. The french royals were ultimately destroyed even after their American surrogates won the war. This time around there will be no victory for NATO and Zionist olympians. Multiple axis’s of resistance are now slow boiling the frog as can be observed in the Red Sea and soon around the Yellow Sea… Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu’ils en chérissent les causes.
    Most US imports from China are machinery, electrical machinery, industrial machinery, tools and engines, motors and so on. The second largest group is chemicals (for industry and medicine, etc.) and plastics. For the idiots who think otherwise, wartime MAGA tariffs or embargo on imports from China to the US would only mean higher prices across the board. Shells prices have quintupled inside the financialized NATO bloc since the start of the Ukraine war. I sincerely hope those free marketeers live long enough to see it… The total collapse of retailers like Walmart, Home depot, Lowes, Amazon and many others would be quite catastrophic enough for the real economy (what remains of it) and the stock market. China’s a communist economy (40% still state owned) and systemically more able to shield their people from economic hardships. Americans and their bootstrap and rugged individualism will be on their own. It’s Uncle Sam who needed the war in Europe to end yesterday. Derp.

    • babelthuap says:

      Have you ever served in an actual war? I’m willing to bet a large bag of coin you have not and willing to bet even more you think you know about these things. You do not and I do not mean that in a disrespectful way, only that a lot of people commenting about these things know zero.

      Russia can’t be defeated. It has been around a LONG TIME and will be around a LONG TIME. Push it back some but it will eventually recover and push out as would ANY EMPIRE because that’s what empires do to include the US and CCP. You do not remain an empire by saying this is the border and this is fine. NO NO NO. Not how it works. Russia is very smart to push out at this point in time. America is weak. CCP is their friend. Perfect timing. Go for it.

      • TonyL says:


        “Have you ever served in an actual war? ….
        You do not and I do not mean that in a disrespectful way”

        So don’t go there. People don’t need to actually serve in a war to have a valid opinion. And it seems you and Austin L actually agree to each other.

        • babelthuap says:

          I use to think that was true. I no longer do after experiencing it. Losing good friends, seeing their families grieve, grieving yourself from wounds (not injuries) of people trying to kill you and living with all of those things the rest of your. Completely different experience.

          I would not wish it upon anyone on either side but unfortunately those who have not experienced these things think they know all about it. If they did they would honor the first rule of NATO which is work towards a peaceful agreement. NATO does not honor their own rules. They don’t even scoff at their rules. Simply ignore them. The world is not going to accept these terms so here we are again.

          • Eric Newhill says:

            I’ve been deeply effected by the things you mention. Mabe that permits me to comment in response. I also think that peace should always be the objective. However, I’m old enough and I’ve seen enough to understand that peace is always elusive and it is best achieved through overwhelming strength – which includes intimidation backed up by actual proof of intent and ability. It’s not all on us. There are all kinds of issues brewing and bad actors acting 24/7/365. Rotten people with rotten intent will test the limits seeking to exploit vulnerabilities and act out their plans. It’s what they do.

            The US and/or NATO certainly are not responsible for all of the evil in the world, though a disturbing trend on this forum – and society – is to color it that way. NATO and the UN cannot prevent war because bad actors can game the organizations, or simply ignore them. NATO and the UN are a collection of effete self-interested politicians. As you know, reality is another man aiming a weapon at you – and what are you going to do about it. Everything else is chattering fools in whatever misguided forum tolerates their chattering.

            Evil cannot be appeased, nor brought into honest negotiation – and won’t go away. It can only be put in tenuous check, and mostly continuously so, by ceaseless effort to eradicate it by whatever means necessary. The solutions are never perfect and always contain at least a little evil themselves. Ours is not an idealist’s world. Rather a decision making world comprised of straight up warriors who are also mental jugglers and balance beam performers; which means wisdom, not the sophistry of lawyers, journalists, academics or moral absolutists.

    • d74 says:

      Drawing a parallel between Royal France-insurgents and USA-Ukraine seems to me a good idea. It’s not even an exaggeration, considering the enormous preponderance of France in the world and the smallness of the USA to come.

      Does this tell us anything about Ukraine (it wins…) and the future of the USA (it collapses with civil war, revolts, riots ….)?

      I don’t think so. France was tired of a faulty political and financial organization. The USA is much more solid in this respect. As for Ukraine, like everything Slavic, it’s a charade wrapped in a mystery.

      • Augustin L says:

        It seems to me that the USA is in an unstable and untenable situation. Our current predicament is very similar to late monarchical France. A study from Princeton already determined that the commons here had less social mobility than médieval serfs…

        Things have only gotten worse since then.
        Even empire stenographers like Niall Ferguson are coming around to the conclusion that the empire is entering disintegration phase.

        Regarding Ukraine, everything is clear to those who understand grand strategy. After the Swiss “peace” summit less than 75 countries agreed to sign NATO and Washington’s watered down communiqué. The United States had originally invited 190+ countries to participate. What does that tell you ? Bifurcation will accelerate as this war drags on and eventually culminate into the destruction of the USA as a great power. Adopting a totally brutish strategy as some circles around Trump/Likud are advocating will only hasten the empire’s demise. You can buy votes, buy prostitutes/presstitutes, buy someone’s logos, etc. But buying competency and proper implementation of grand strategy is very difficult. The Bronze Age cult and Olympians driving policy on the Potomac wanted to dissolve their enemies but Solve et Coagula will instead be Americas fate… The longer this war drags on, it becomes a certainty. Woe to the vanquished.

  6. James says:

    If I might be allowed to go off topic, Ben Aris of BNE IntelliNews has a piece on drone warfare in Ukraine which I found very interesting:

    • KjHeart says:

      Good article – long read
      several things to ponder …

      “And with the first autonomous AI-powered drones already appearing on the battlefield in Ukraine, the potential of drones is likely to keep increasing exponentially for the meantime. Entire swarms of drones can be controlled by a handful of operators and as they can guide themselves once a target has been selected, the electronic countermeasures that cut the contact with the operators become useless.”

      Interesting and Sobering.


      • James says:


        This will get very interesting. The infamous leaked Google memo argues that open source models will dominate proprietary models (‘model’ basically means ‘ai tech’ for the uninitiated) – so some kid in his moms basement somewhere could soon be the one creating the best military drone tech in the world.

  7. leith says:

    Speaking of logistics, Northrup-Grumman announced they will produce ammunition in Ukraine. Medium caliber to start, possibly they’ll branch out to artillery shells in the future.

    Probably 25mm for the Bradley chain gun is the guess of some analysts. NG already makes 25 & 30mm at the Radford Army Ammunition Plant (RFAAP) in southwest Virginia. So that’s my guess also. They must be fairly confident that the production facility in Ukraine is going to survive Putin’s cruise and ballistic missile attacks.

    • Yeah, Right says:

      Or they are fairly confident that the contract will stipulate that NG gets paid in advance, and only then do they start to pour the concrete.

      And if those concrete foundations then get blown sky-high, well, it’s no skin off their nose: they’ve already been paid.

      • leith says:

        Yeah Right –

        NG won’t be pouring any concrete foundations. They’re going to set up their assembly line in one of the several well-hidden & well-protected ammunition production facilities that already exist in Ukraine’s manufacturing sector.

  8. elkern says:

    Yes, logistics matters, a lot, and yes, I find it easy to believe that Russia isn’t that good at it. Same is prolly true for Ukraine, too, though, based on common history and culture.

    TTG – I don’t buy the idea that Russia has regularly targeted apartment buildings. For one thing, if they had, Ukrainian civilian casualties would have been 10-100x higher than reported. Yes, some apartment buildings have been hit, but the [low] frequency is more consistent with missiles landing off-target (bad missiles, bad aim, good counter-measures, Murphy, etc). There’s no evidence of any Russian attempt at Curtis LeMay style Strategic Bombing.

    • leith says:

      There’s been no LeMay or Bomber Harris style bombing because the RU Air Force would take too many casualties from Ukrainian air defenses. No way they could sustain a high sortie rate in Ukraine’s airspace. So there is no carpet bombing like what they did 25 years ago when they leveled Grozny. Chechens had no air defense.

      So they had to fall back on cruise and ballistic missiles. Like Hitler did with the V-1 flying bomb and the V-2 rocket. Only 23,000 casualties attributed to the V-1, and another 9,000 to the V-2. Not very effective. Same for the Iraq/Iran War-of-the-Cities.

      • Yeah, Right says:

        “So they had to fall back on cruise and ballistic missiles.”

        Well, yeah. But if the Russians have to “fall back” to using cruise missiles and ballistic missiles then why waste them on apartment blocks and other “terror” targets?

        ” Like Hitler did with the V-1 flying bomb and the V-2 rocket.”

        No, not like that. The Germans had V-1 and V-2 rockets that were “guided” by gyroscopes and “aimed” by compass heading.

        Given that limitation the only thing you can do with those is to point them at a city and then cross your fingers as they launch.

        Not true of Putin’s “cruise and ballistic missiles”. Those are precision weapons that are in short supply.

        Again, when you can aim such weapons – again, in short supply, as we both agree – at individual buildings then why would the Russian’s waste that limited resource by pointing it at apartment blocks?

        Makes no sense at all, precisely because your argument contradicts itself.

        • leith says:

          Yeah Right –

          Russian ballistic missiles are somewhat precise. As are or were the Iranian-made Shaheds. The North Korean ballistic missiles Russia is now using against Ukraine are notoriously inaccurate. So are some of the RU-made Shaheds.

          Not so much though for the cruise missiles, especially radar guided ones that go haywire and lock-on to the wrong target, most of which tend to be tall buildings. Kremlin targeteers know this but use them anyway; hoping to get the Ukrainian public to put political pressure on Kyiv to negotiate on Putin’s terms.

      • English Outsider says:

        From what I’ve come across there’s been no revenge bombing of civilians by the Russians. I’ve seen speculation that the Ukrainian attacks on civilians in the Donbass or around Belgorod were intended to provoke similar retaliation by the Russians. If so it didn’t work. The Russians have restricted themselves to military targets exclusively.

        That raises the question of collateral damage. If a civilian’s working in an installation used for military purposes he can get killed. If in a hotel or building in a city used for storage of military equipment, or used as an assembly point for soldiers, civilians can get killed. Is that within the rules? Its an important point because the Ukrainians can’t keep assemblages of troops or store military equipment out in the open in the countryside. That gets attacked. So they have to keep them within built up areas – where civilians live. Seems to be accepted that destroying a military target within a city is within the rules. If not, this war could not be fought because Ukrainian practice is to use civilian areas to conceal troops and equipment.

        In older warfare civilians could also be used directly as a military tool. Streams of refugees fleeing a besieged city obstructed the enemy bringing up troops. That was regarded as a legitimate military aim. I don’t believe it is any more. But the deliberate use of attack on civilians during a war does not stop with that.

        Our carpet bombing of German cities is still a contested issue but apologists for it still point out that that bombing caused the Germans to devote huge resources and manpower to AD that were therefore not available for fighting at the front. Was that a legitimate military aim? As said, still a hot issue. Not so much for the Americans because they did the daytime bombing which was more precise, so the legitimacy was less contested, but the English night time carpet bombing was regarded by many as revenge bombing and caused controversy at the time.

        The same reservations also apply to attacks on civilians by Ukrainian forces today, fortunately on nothing like the same scale. Is there a legitimate or at least rational military purpose behind that. Has to be a yes and no answer.

        During the clearing of Mariupol the intensification of deliberate shelling of civilian areas in Donetsk by the Ukrainians did have a military purpose. It was said to have resulted in DNR forces, some of them, leaving their work in Mariupol and hastening back to that part of the Donbass. Was that a legitimate military aim?

        You’re probably also not aware that the Ukrainian “ultras” have a fierce hatred and contempt for their Russian fellow citizens. They are “Moskals” or “Vatniks”, vermin to be cleared out of Ukraine by any means possible and if not cleared out exterminated. The killing of civilians, Jews Poles or Russians, was regarded as legitimate activity in Bandera’s time and continues to be so regarded by his present day adherents.

        So I’m sceptical about claims that the civilian victims of Ukrainian shelling have invariably died as a result of legitimate or purposeful military activity. Broadcasts put out from Kiev or Ukrainian internet sites, and those recent, do indicate that the motive behind such activity is revenge or malice.

        We should be concerned about that in any case because some of that killing of civilians is said to be done with Western weapons and targeting assistance. As example, the shelling of the Azov prisoners in the Donbass, who count as civilians once they are POW’s, was said to be done with HIMARS, which according to the Ukrainians need our targeting assistance. The seeding of Donetsk and surrounding civilian areas with petal mines was also said to have been done with Western equipment. A man called Roy Campbell is still cataloguing such attacks on civilians in a weekly roundup he’s started putting out so this isn’t just something that occurred back in the ATO stage of the war.

        To speak figuratively, the Madonna of Gorlovka was certainly not a military target and that practice of targeting civilians at random, now often with Western weapons, is the squalid side of Western assistance to and encouragement of the Ukrainian “Ultras”. We cannot regard any of that as legitimate and there is no equivalent for it on the Russian side.

        Also ignored is the use of civilians as human shields. The use by Azov of civilians in Mariupol as human shields is well attested. The civilians were confined in the basement and shot at if they attempted to leave. The buildings could then be used for sniper nests and the Russians could not take the obvious course of attacking the building with heavy bombs because of the trapped civilians. So in photos and videos of Mariupol buildings after the fighting you’ll see that instead of heavy bombing, the sniper nests were cleared with tank fire on the individual apartments.

        By contrast, if you look at more recent pictures of war damage on the front line, you’ll see that they are often nearly demolished with heavy bombs. In those more recent cases there were no civilians kept in the basements as human shields so the fighting was less complicated.

        As in the fighting in Aleppo, the use of civilians as human shields greatly complicated for the Russians the task of clearing Mariupol. It took longer and caused more Russian or allied casualties. Was that a legitimate military aim? I don’t think so. And I have seen no evidence of the Russians using the same tactics.

        Returning to AD, you’re probably not aware that the Russian intelligence network has complete coverage of Ukrainian military activity in the rear areas: the civil war element in the fighting is not confined to the Donbass and there are Russian sympathisers all over the country. If Orlov is a reliable witness there are more now, as more and more Ukrainians are hedging their bets by assisting what they see as the winning side. So the Russians know when a civilian building is used for military purposes or when military equipment is being transported or stored.

        With that intelligence network and with precision missiles the Russians therefore do not in any case need to engage in random bombing in the rear areas in the hope of hitting a military target. They can and do attack the military target directly. Their intelligence network also enables them to ascertain the effect of the strikes so they are able to work out how effective the strikes are and to repeat if needed.

        In the Western press the resultant damage is portrayed as the result of Russian attacks on civilians. We should not be misled on that. We should also take into account that Ukrainian AD is remarkably ineffectual and failed Ukrainian missiles therefore also fall on civilians areas at random and sometimes explode. Again, the resultant damage is invariably attributed to Russian terror attacks.

        Leith – this is not the sort of war you were ever trained for. These are not the tactics you were taught to use, nor were the attitudes and beliefs of the Ukrainian “ultras” inculcated in you. What the Russians were and are faced with in the SMO is more or less clean fighting of the sort you’re trained for when the Russians are facing up against, say, the Ukrainian Marine Brigades. It is not clean fighting when they are dealing with the “Ultras”.

        We would do better to regard the latter type of fighting more as hostage release activity because that is what it often is, just as it was in Aleppo. I have no doubt whatsoever that the Russians make mistakes when dealing with that. I also have no doubt whatsoever that atrocities occur on both sides because the hatred between the “Ultras” and the LDNR forces in particular is fierce. But I see no evidence that the Russians as a whole are harming civilians for the sake of it in the course of this war and have seen plenty that some Ukrainian forces are.

        On the subject of logistics, I’ve seen videos of Russians loading the big guns or the rocket launchers using fairly simple machinery and a lot of manual input. Photos and videos of similar work on the American side show sophisticated machines doing it automatically.

        I don’t know which method gives the fastest rate of fire but I don’t think it makes a lot of odds, provided there’s enough manpower around, if simpler methods are used. And it must simplify the logistics, when spares or repair are needed within the combat area, if there’s no need to bring up parts and maintenance men for when the sophisticated machinery goes wrong.

        • TTG says:


          Your willingness to serve as an apologist and cheerleader for Putin and his military has reached new heights in this comment. It’s at least 95% pure Kremlin propaganda.

          • English Outsider says:

            TTG – you’re attributing to me motives I don’t have! Just trying, admittedly as a non-military observer, to find out what’s happening over there.

            Maybe the fact that I find the Washington neocons alarming and HMG’s involvement disgraceful lends a certain edge. I’m aware of that and allow for it. In any case, during the Syrian War that you so brilliantly kept us in touch with, that was your and Colonel Lang’s attitude also.

            So “apologist”? No. Aware of the results of the disastrous foreign policy of all Western governments recently. I’m afraid, yes.

            Maybe I’m more reluctant to be called a Russian shill or an apologist for the enemy than usual. Just had a difficult discussion about all that on an English site. There, too, with no less a figure than my host in that case as well.


            Near the top and the bottom of the comment section. Tricky. “English Outsider = Russian Insider” the motif and one I do not find acceptable, So I’d appreciate it if I weren’t taken for a “Putin shill” or “apologist for the enemy”.

            This site is special and I learned a lot from it. My exchanges with the Colonel, private and here, were brief but left me with great admiration for the man and his qualities. To have to walk away from it all would be something of a deprivation!

          • John Minehan says:

            It least part of the problem is that the Russians have a Recon Fires Complex that is quite effective. They don’t seem to have a Recon Strike complex.

            Put another way, they are good at CAS and AI but seem more limited in using BAI . . .

            Part of the problem may be lack of Strategic IMINT and HUMINT.

        • Bill says:

          English Outsider

          “The Russians have restricted themselves to military targets exclusively.”

          Explain this then…

          • Eric Newhill says:

            Same people condemning Israel b/c of what some bad settlers do or IDF does in fog of war are OK with the Russian invasion despite atrocities. Ironic.

            That out of the way, I’m going to say that it is neither Israeli nor Russian official policy to target civilians. There will always be rogue individuals who feel no normal restraints under combat conditions and there will always be ordnance that accidentally hits civilians.

        • leith says:

          EO –

          The Kremlin has used revenge bombing in Chechnya, in Georgia, in Syria and is now doing it in Ukraine.

          • English Outsider says:

            Bill. Give over with the nonsense. Of course some soldiers commit criminal acts. Show me an army that doesn’t have such in it. Don’t play kindergarten games with me.

            Leith – news for you. Missiles and shells frequently go astray, as you yourself point out above. That is not the same as pursuing a settled policy of deliberately targeting civilians.

            You two seem not to have been near a war zone where there’s real fighting going on. I don’t mean beating up on goat herders. Nor droning all and sundry for fun. I mean a serious war where large bodies of men are engaged in organised combat with other large bodies of men.

            Nasty and often brutal things happen and always will in such circumstances. Please do not confuse that with a settled policy from the top, condoned and in some case assisted by the West, of targeting civilians. That is what the Kiev forces do and have done for a long time. That is a different matter from the usual viciousness of war.

            And to argue that stating that makes one a Putin shill? At a time when the leaders of the West are supporting or assisting straight genocide elsewhere?. Such nonsense. Next thing you’ll be telling me is that Kiev hasn’t been deliberately targeting the ZNPP. With Western weapons and assistance.

            Or are both Kiev and US mainstream outlets also “trolling for Putin” when they admit it has?

          • Bill says:

            English Outsider

            I see. When someone confronts you with your nonsense, the nastiness comes out.
            As Kremlin propagandists go, you are not a very good one.

          • TTG says:


            I seriously doubt EO is a Kremlin propagandist. He’s just a little too uncritically accepting of Russian propaganda as in “The Russians have restricted themselves to military targets exclusively.”

          • TonyL says:

            EO is no propagandist. What he pointed out is that the number of civillian casualty is too low, if Russia has a policy of targeting civillians, or a poplicy of indicriminating bombing residential areas (similar to the Israelis bombing from the air). And I tend to agree with EO. How do we explain the low casualty? Anybody has a counter argument?

          • TTG says:


            Effective Ukrainian air defense limits the effectiveness of Russian missiles and drones and also prevents Russian bomber from penetrating Ukrainian air space. Ukraine also has a fairly effective early warning system and inherited a solid shelter system from the USSR days. That’s what limits civilian casualties to Russian attacks.

          • Bill says:


            for someone that is not a Kremlin propagandist EO sure pushes their talking points.

            I’ve selected that example specifically because it demonstrates nicely the damage and the crimes the Russian army is inflicting upon Ukrainian civilians.
            That incident was early in the war. It did not happen in the heat of a battle, there were no stray bullets, it wasn’t some drunken mobik shooting up a village.
            This happened around Kiev so presumably the Russians sent there some of their better troops.
            Those were professional soldiers killing unarmed civilians in cold blood.

            That particular murder happened to be caught on camera. How many others were not? That same military unit might have committed many such crimes. What were their commanders doing while these a$$holes were casually strolling down the street murdering civilians ?

          • Bill says:


            I don’t know hoy many thousands of civilians have to die before you decide the number is no longer low. If a bus driver is drafted and dies in a trench a couple of weeks later, leaving his wife and kids behind, do you count him as a civilian or a soldier ?

            Many dozens of towns and villages have been completely destroyed. Hundreds of thousands of people have died that would still be alive had Putin not sent his troops over the border.
            And how many maimed, how many families ruined, left homeless ?

            So when someone like English Outsider comes and starts praising Putin the Wise and the fine Russian army that supposedly only focuses on military targets, I have to wonder about that person’s motives.

          • TonyL says:


            “I don’t know hoy many thousands of civilians have to die before you decide the number is no longer low”

            One innocent civilian death is too many. Unfortunately that will happen in any war.

            What being argued here is whether the Russian military has a policy of targeting civilians, or they have a policy of avoiding targeting civilians, or they just don’t care.

            Given the overwhelming fire power the Russians have in artillery, the civilians casualty ratio seems low comparing to other wars we’ve seen.

            TTG has a counter argument. “Effective Ukrainian air defense limits the effectiveness of Russian missiles and drones and also prevents Russian bomber from penetrating Ukrainian air space”

            And I’d accept that argument, with a caveat, if the Ukranian Air Defense is really effective against Russian missiles. From what I’ve read (briefings released from both sides), the answer is *probably* not.

          • leith says:

            TTG –

            EO may or may not be a paid Putin shill. But he is good at putting out Putin’s lies. Extremely good at it, and very prolific at shifting blame onto Ukraine for the Kremlin’s war crimes.

            Case in point: he claims the use of civilians in Mariupol as human shields by Azov is well attested. But cites no sources. Claims that photos and videos of Mariupol buildings after instead of heavy bombing, the only damage to buildings was a bit of tank fire on sniper nests in apartment buildings – while not mentioning that 95% of the city’s buildings were completely destroyed, primarily by large-scale Russian bombardments.
            He ignores the Russian bombing, shelling and shooting of civilians trying to leave Mariupol in established evacuation corridors. He ignores the Russian theft of humanitarian supplies meant for civilians in Mariupol. He ‘forgets’ (?) about Russian Air Force airstrikes on both the Mariupol Maternity Hospital and the Donetsk Regional Drama Theatre also in that city. All are well attested.

            Another case in point is his claim that Ukrainian POWs from Azovstal were killed with HIMARS. That bogus Russian claim was completely rejected by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights’. The Kremlin refused to cooperate with a UN and Red Cross fact-finding mission. An independent investigation showed no chance that the damage was caused by a HIMARS, and instead evidence suggested the prison was blown up by a device detonated within the building.



            Those are just two. There are many more. Too many! He just keeps throwing Putin’s bullshit up against the wall hoping some will stick. You may be right that he is not a ‘paid’ shill, but he definitely aides and abets Putin’s disinformation efforts. Too bad, his writing style and manner of presentation are superb, unfortunately he’s chosen to use those attributes to push garbage on the readers.

          • Eric Newhill says:

            Now apply that same logic to Gaza where it would be like shooting fish in a barrel and hundreds of thousands would be dead if Israel is what you guys say it is.

          • Bill says:


            Ukraine is regularly evacuating civilians from the front line to minimize the casualties.
            Without this effort, the civilian death toll in places like Bakhmut, Severodonetsk, Marinka, Avdiivka, Volchansk etc would be immense.

          • Bill says:


            EO is just regurgitating what he heard in places like Andrew Napolitano’s show.
            A steady diet of Scott Ritter, Douglas Macgregor and other so called analysts gives him enough material to keep throwing around and presenting them as facts.

            I called him a Kremlin propagandist and he took offense, let some of his real temper show.
            Like you, I don’t think he is a paid shill. Putin lives in his mind rent free.

        • Fred says:


          Streams of refugees as an act of war? No wonder all those folks are illegally crossing our borders.

        • English Outsider says:

          TTG – another error. May I correct it? Rob Campbell, not Roy Campbell.

  9. F&L says:

    Interesting post this evening translated and pasted below. I’ll refrain from comment for now. Russian Channel: “It’s Not Yet the End.”
    Field Marshal Syrsky was given 45 days to organize and prepare a counteroffensive in the Kharkov region and Zaporozhye.
    The GUR planned to attack the Zaporizhzhya NPP today, hitting the substation in Energodar. Thus securing the demands of the “peace summit” on nuclear security.
    But provocations require support at the fronts.
    Victories are expected until the first ten days of July. Active preparations are underway.
    Starting Friday, a temporary air bridge will be established between the United States and Poland to transport armored vehicles and ammunition. Tanks and infantry fighting vehicles with BRDMs of Swedish, Italian and German production will be transferred by ship from Romania and Bulgaria. Storm Shadow and ATACMS missiles are being accumulated.
    In Kherson and Dnieper, repair shops will be set up in the underground parking lots of shopping centers. Danish and British military doctors are preparing field hospitals in Odessa, Dnieper, Kharkov and Nikolaev for 30 thousand soldiers. Italy, Croatia, Belgium and the Netherlands are sending 2,300 military doctors and medics to work and train in these field conditions from Monday. Finland and the Baltic countries will send a limited contingent of military specialists to protect these hospitals from the air and organize electronic warfare. That is, the entire “peace summit” led by EU leaders is preparing to give battle to the Russian Armed Forces.
    Most likely the last chance for them and definitely for Commander-in-Chief Syrsky.

    • TTG says:


      This sounds more like armchair strategizing rather than hard intel. Who is this Win/Win who put this out? Syrsky is already conducting counteroffensive operations on the Kharkiv front and they’re making headway. The Zaporizhzhya NPP operation sounds intriguing, but it would necessitate isolating the battlefield from Russian resupply and reinforcement. Plus I doubt there will be thousands of doctors and medics going into Ukraine anytime soon.

  10. Jimmy_W says:

    Perhaps you hadn’t hung out at the company trains and combat trains of a heavy battalion. Light Infantry LOGPACs consist of just a couple cases of MRE, ammo cans, and heaviest being the water jugs. Hardly takes any work to put together. Heavy battalion LOGPACing is a very involved manual process. They have to break down and then repack all of the Class V. Forklifts don’t help at all. And after more than 40 years of LOGPACing, Class V and Class I still do not come in LOGPAC’d portions, nor in basic loads. The composition of logistical packages remain informal unit standard operating procedures.

    In Soviet logistics, the company and battalion trains are consolidated at the regiment level and above. That is different from the American system of forward distributed logistic support areas. Which made the manual process less daunting.

    The BTG reforms added more trucks and tried to make the battalions more self-sustaining, which probably contributed to the logistical hiccups of early 2022, having the 2 logistic systems trying to work together.

    • TTG says:


      I am very familiar with the resupplying of a Lebanese mech brigade in heavy defensive combat for more than a month back in 1983. That was much as you described. But resupply, even in that situation, was not a limiting concern.

  11. VietnamVet says:

    Being a supply specialist/armorer for three years, I have to put my foot into it.

    Yes, logistics wins wars, but victory is impossible without strategic planning. Nobody ran out of anything in my year in Vietnam except when a couple of beer convoys were hit. Yet, two years after I left, the Communists overrun the LZ in the 1972 offensive.

    WWII won and Imperial Japan defeated because, at the time, the USA was a command-and-control government run for the best interest of Americans with an industrial and transportation base to supply the war effort. Instead, since Vietnam, American wars have been fought to profit military contractors.

    There literally is no way to win a war against Russia. Every war-game ends with destruction by nuclear weapons exchange. The Proxy World War III between NATO and Russia is a racket. The West thinks the Kremlin will collapse again with an NGO color revolution.

    NATO leadership is simply incapable of conceiving, let alone planning, anything other than a long profitable war. The alternative, a multi-polar world with armistices and DMZs along the Line of Contacts is ignored or labeled propaganda.

    Reality is dismissed.

    • James says:


      I think the west had what they thought was a viable plan – to kill all of the Ukrainian men between 16 and 60 so that the Ukrainian women would marry western European men and Ukraine would move from being within Russia’s sphere of cultural and political influence to being a European country and part of the European alliance.

      Where they went wrong was they strengthened the China-Russia partnership. They will succeed in pulling away from Russia a poor, corrupt, backward partner and give Russia instead the world’s most prosperous and competent partner instead.

      Henry Kissinger warned them about this but the neocons always overestimate their own cleverness.

      • John Minehan says:

        Part of what drives this is that part of Ukraine is already part of Western Europe, the Greek Catholic, in-Communion with Rome, Western part of the Country, formerly part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.

        The rest is not. It is Orthodox and very Russian.

        But . . . .

        The attacks on Ammo Dumps and the Black Sea Fleet in Crimea seem based on HUMINT and most Ukrainian Orthodox Parishes look to Kiev and not Moscow.

        This is a complex business.

        • TTG says:

          Eastern Orthodox is not all Russian. The predominant religion in Greece, Bulgaria, Romania and Moldova is Eastern Orthodox. Some associated with the Russian Orthodox metropolis, some not.

  12. Jim. says:

    Russia..N. Korea,,Iran…China.. The Ever Resurrecting Vlad Putin..Now Has Wide Range is From The Artic to the Antartic…The Bering Sea…All The Americas..
    All The Land Mass…and Resources..and Range..And Things Hidden…From West To East…Smartly Bringing All Thier Tools Home..From The Chinese Front..Making
    Banking and High Tec And Supply Deals..Every Where He Is Putin..

    We Now Have a Six Month Dead Line..Eh…Oh Yes..Billions in Columbia Coke..Going Through Ukrainian Dealers…And Our Strong NATO Friend Turkey..The Main Man..

    The Most High Stakes Poker Game Ever Played..With U.S. Dollars..Flowing..Like Covid…Eh…But The Trains Are Always On Schedule..Free Rides..Drinks For All…

  13. d74 says:

    EO, yours June 20, 2024 at 8:14 am (

    That’s a hearty dish you’re serving up. A little too much…
    On the whole, however, I agree with your views, taking into account your romantic nature, which makes you go beyond the coldness of the facts.

    Graham Philip, Patrick Lancaster, French fighters on the ground, plus all the videos of Ukrainian fascist militias performing unspeakable acts against Donbass civilians, all clearly show the cruelty of the Ukr attack on Donbass. And yes, the basis of their actions is anti-Moskal racial hatred. From 2014 to 2022, at least 9,000 dead, including 380 children, hundreds of collective facilities and modest dachas destroyed, this is news that CNN, Wapo, Guardian and others have never mentioned.

    As for the Russians, given their superior firepower and precision (except for their artillery), plus all the Ukrainian anti-missiles that missed their targets and fell on cities, and compared to the mass crimes committed by the Izzies in Gaza, we can say that the Russians are not carrying out a campaign against civilians. Grozny, destroyed and razed to the ground in just a few months, is a good counter-example of what the Russians can do with their firepower. Grozny is rebuilt, as will be Mariupol.

    • English Outsider says:

      “Romantic?” We are all “romantics”, are we not? Even, I suppose, the men and women in Washington and the capitals of Europe, the sanctions ghouls constructing their ingenious “sanctions architecture”, who proudly starve entire nations for what they think good purposes.

      Even those who plan and assist with atrocity theatre or let loose terrorists on unwitting populations. Those people have their dreams too. The call their dreams “duty”, or dream of being the rough men who do rough things so we can sleep easy in our beds. Psychos draping themselves in the flag, when it comes down to it. “We lie, we cheat, we steal,” said one of their number with pride and that’s romantic too, to them.

      “Do you even now not know what you have done”, said President Putin in his seminal 2015 speech at the UN. Yes, they know what they have done, those men and women with their security clearances and their pensions, and are content to keep doing it. It’s their trade, like any other trade, to them.

      On casualty figures, the figures leaked by the BND for the early phase of the pre-SMO civil war were 50,000, fighters and civilians. I followed that phase closely and believe that could be an underestimate. The Nulands and the Ashtons will shrug and draw their pensions.

      • TTG says:


        These are the latest figures on the pre-invasion casualties, actually only deaths, in the Donbas war. Most were combatants on both sides. Add in all the estimated injured brings the total figure up to 51 to 54 thousand. Even the injured figure includes 13,800–14,200 Ukrainian government forces and 15,800-16,200 separatist forces. There were 7 to 9 thousand civilian injured on both sides.

        “The overall number of estimated deaths in the war in Donbas from 6 April 2014 to 31 December 2021 was 14,200–14,400. This included about 6,500 pro-Russian separatist fighters, 4,400 Ukrainian fighters, and 3,404 civilians. This number includes non-combat military deaths, as well as deaths from mines and unexploded ordnance. The vast majority of the deaths took place in the first year of the war, when major combat took place before the Minsk agreements.”

        Most of the data in this Wikipedia article comes from a UNHCR report from January 2022 rather than a leaked BND document. It contains detailed data on the civilian casualties from January 2018 to December 2021 primarily from the OSCE Monitoring Mission.

        Yes there are psychos draping themselves in the flag on both sides of this conflict, although few of them are government officials. Medvedev is a notable exception of government officials engaging in blood lust. Most others are nobodies and near nobodies on social media. Western MSM doesn’t go that far, maybe hoping for Putin to be gone and Russia to disintegrate into several states. Mainstream Russian media figures and guests regularly call for the extermination of Ukrainians and the complete erasure of Ukrainian culture.

        • English Outsider says:

          I can only go by what I’ve heard and read, TTG. There’s obviously a danger of “confirmation bias” as time goes on. For example, I “knew” as soon as the Russian tanks rolled in that Ukraine didn’t have a chance. It was so obvious it didn’t seem even to need stating. But it did! Because no one else seemed to think it obvious.

          Then, by chance and some time later, I came across an interview with a man I knew to be reliable: General Lord Richards expressing very early on the gravest doubts that we were going to be able to give our “proxies” – his term – enough assistance to enable them to win. He connected that directly with our similar failure to back up our proxies in Syria.

          That General was only talking about the military aspect. What his views on other aspects of the conflict are I can try and guess but don’t know. Probably, given he’s senior military, as happy to have a go at the Russians if he’s told to as anyone else. Irrelevant, that, therefore. But check out his background and that’s hotshot military confirming what an amateur – me – sensed from the beginning. Confirmation bias on my part? I don’t think so.

          So with many other issues, including the red herring Mearsheimer and so many others have seized upon, NATO expansion. Again, seems obvious to me that NATO expansion, though certainly essential background that Mearsheimer sets out very well, wasn’t the reason for the SMO. The Russians aren’t fools and they’d have known for sure that invading Ukraine would intensify NATO pressure, as it’s done, not cause NATO to draw back.

          And since that NATO pressure the Russians object to is exercised through Europe, the Russians have a much less risky way of rolling it back that invading a neighbouring country. Simply cut supplies to Europe, a trading measure they can survive but Europe can’t.

          No. There had to be a more powerful reason for the Russians doing what they did in the way they did it than some nebulous talk of “NATO pressure”. And that reason is to be found in the military position on the LoC in February 2022. The Russian attack on Ukraine was a forced move. We forced it.

          And so on with other conclusions. They were conclusions reached on the basis of my own reasoning and based firmly on what I know of events in the Donbass from 2014 on, and on what I have found out about EU expansionary ambitions in the region from considerably earlier. That some of those conclusions were later confirmed by people who know vastly more about the subject than I do is irrelevant – except that it was good to know that such people are on the same tack!

          Also irrelevant is the fact that some of my conclusions are in line with what the Russians themselves put out.

          They’re actually not too bad on facts, the Russians. They’ve grasped the point that in a world in which all Western information war consists of slant, stating verifiable truth, though only when it suits them, isn’t too bad a move. But as for their opinions on the conflict, when those Russian opinion happen to coincide with opinions I have arrived at independently that does not, I believe, make of me a Putin shill or one who has been taken in by Russian propaganda.

          Agree on Medvedev and those like him. He’s working away to remove the reproach, previously often thrown at him and maybe to an extent correctly, of being an Atlanticist. Says a lot of silly things, as do many other Russians, while he’s at it. On the other side we saw Merkel doing much the same as she struggled to knock back the reproach of having been a Putinversteher. In the process, silly woman, wrecking German and European diplomatic credibility irreparably. I don’t think, for his part, that Medvedev’s doing much good to Russian credibility either.

          Don’t agree with you, TTG, nor with almost all other American analysts and commentators, when considering the European dimension to this conflict. The Europeans were not just add-ons. Not merely Europoodles.

          Or rather, they were poodles dragging the big dog into the mess, not the other way around. I see the US as the blind giant continually getting manipulated into all sorts of foreign messes by those it fondly believes are its obedient proxies.

          Not helped , in this case and others, by the process detailed by Colonel Lang in “Drinking the Koolaid”: the takeover of the American Foreign Policy Establishment – he termed it “the borg” – by politicians far more interested, from Brzezinski onwards, in using American power and influence in the interests of their countries of origin, almost always Central Europe, rather than in the interests of the American people.

          There are few like you or Colonel Lang, TTG, who can look at these matters with cool judgement and objectively. The impression I get from my American relatives and from elsewhere is that most Americans, with the affairs of their own continent to occupy them, don’t consider such matters at all! These days American foreign policy, in the sense of a purposeful and advantageous foreign policy, is therefore a disregarded loose ball lying around unobserved by its owners for anyone to pick up and play with who chooses.

          • TTG says:


            Only with hindsight did I see the Russian invasion had little hope of overthrowing the Ukrainian government quickly. After a couple of weeks, stories started coming out from Russian prisoners that the invasion forces were woefully undermanned and unprepared, a fact that probably wasn’t apparent to Moscow, either. Those undermanned armored forces lacked sufficient infantry or trained crews to deal with the light Ukrainian forces operating in the northern forests. In the south, this wasn’t as much of a handicap. But they still fell far short of Odesa at the hands of local defense forces at Voznesensk. Maybe General Lord Richards saw those same signs.

            Still the Russians got close enough to launch at least two assaults on Zelenskiy’s government building itself. They meant to end the Zelenskiy government in their bold, but ill fated thrust at Kyiv, not capture and occupy the entire city. The idea was similar to the seizure of Crimea in 2014. The attempt was also similar to Russia’s invasion of Georgia, although the Russian armored column of just two brigades wisely stopped short of Tblisi. Russia got what she wanted. Further back, there was the Pristina Dash. Russia sent a motorized rifle company on a no notice, overnight drive to the Pristina Airport in June 1999. That bold move had political repercussions far beyond that single motorized rifle company. So you see, Russia has a history of making risky armored thrusts with a possible big payoff. In the case of Ukraine, it didn’t work.

            On another point, I agree with your comment that “the Europeans were not just add-ons. Not merely Europoodles.” Various European countries have full agency in deciding if and how they support Ukraine. And this is not a new thing. The newly united Germany pushed NATOs eventual intervention in the breakup of Yugoslavia through her recognition of Slovenian and Croatian independence. I also thin it was Europeans, France and Italy in particular, that led the intervention in Libya. We just happen to have the military clout.

    • elkern says:

      Real “war crimes” are far more likely when there’s a “racial” component to the conflict. Germany’s invasion of France and the Low Countries was far less destructive and brutal than their subsequent invasion of Russia, largely because they considered Slavs/Russians to be a [more] inferior “race”; there are countless other examples through the long, sordid history of human warfare.

      Grozny is probably a decent example, too, though pure vengeance for the Chechen attack on that Russian school was another big reason for public acceptance/support for the brutality.

      I suspect that Russians generally view “Ukrainians” as just deluded wayward “Russians” – people with very similar genetic, linguistic, religious, and cultural background – who therefore deserve to be treated as “human”. Sure, the Russian Way of War is as brutal as Soviet architecture, but I see no evidence that the Russian military has systematically treated “Ukrainians” as sub-human.

      Conversely, Ukrainian nationalists really do see the war in a much more “racial” framework – they believe they are fighting for survival of “their kind”. Some of this comes in a direct line from Nazi Germany, through Banderite collaborators, to the right-wing militias (like the Azov Battalion) which targeted Russian-speaking Ukrainian citizens. Some of it is a decent, natural aspect of “nation-building” – people in a [new?] country coming to view each other as “a people” (which often occurs, historically, in direct opposition to some other “people” viewed as a long-time oppressor).

      From what I see, Russia’s political goals in this war are largely about protecting [formerly?] Ukrainian “Russians” in the Donbass from such attacks. That – and clearly expressed concerns about proposed NATO bases in Ukraine – were the publicly stated goals of the SMO/invasion. Of course, Russia has strategic goals which are less public (ensuring a land bridge to Crimea, installing a friendly regime in Kiev, maybe cutting off Ukrainian/NATO access to the Black Sea?). But again, I see nothing which indicates that Russia is killing Ukrainians just for the sake of killing “Ukrainians”.

      (Note: scare quotes around “race” words because I consider the whole concept of “race” to be scientifically ridiculous and worse, extremely dangerous)

  14. English Outsider says:

    Bill – substituting ad hominem for common sense won’t do. You’re living in dreamland if you think either the Washington neocons or HMG come out of this mess with clean hands.

    I’ve seen no evidence that the Russians have a policy of targeting Ukrainian civilians. Where’s yours? Or is it the custom here to put hands over ears and bawl “Putin Shill” or “Victim of Russian Propaganda” if relevant questions get asked.

    Do you think Patrick Armstrong or Ray McGovern are working for the enemy or are victims of Russian propaganda? Or General Lord Richards, the most senior in the British army, when he makes the same point I am making? Or Kujat or Zorn? Or a host of other Western experts and officials who are also sceptical of Western policy in Ukraine?

    Was Colonel Lang a “Putin shill” when he expressed strong disapproval of US policy in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan? And even stronger disapproval of the part HMG played in some of those ventures?

    One could extend the list indefinitely. “Putin shill” is merely a term used by those meeting questions they are unable to cope with any other way.

    To turn to questions of more importance, at least to me, what the hell am I going to do with the stacks of roubles someone called Volodya keeps sending me? The bank refuses to change them.

    Eric. That was a powerful argument you put forward. Brief but very powerful. I can only offer the tentative reply I attempted to a commenter – military I think – in that comment section I linked to.

    Setting aside all dispute over the rights and wrongs of the case there’s a military problem to be solved. The commenter referred to termed it a “tactical problem” and I suppose it is. (“So how, on a tactical level, should the problem be approached.”)

    How do you defeat an enemy that is merged with a large civilian population, especially when it’s never clear whether the civilians might themselves turn out to be fighters.

    I don’t think you can unless you are prepared to accept a very large number of civilians casualties. And being prepared to accept that put the Israelis in opposition to far too many powerful forces.

    So I see the military problem as insoluble. That does happen often enough in war. An army is faced with an insoluble problem. So negotiation with Hamas is the only way out.

    A weak argument? I don’t know. But that’s how I see it considering it purely as a military problem.

    • Bill says:


      Any evidence I present is lost on you. I tested you with one well documented case and you simply dismissed it. You would have done the same with any other, and there are plenty of documented ones.

      Most of your post is just a list of grievances. Sure, the West contributed greatly to this conflict. Some Ukrainian decisions as well.

      However, that does not absolve Putin of responsibility for the enormous destruction and misery his army is inflicting on Ukraine. Hundreds of thousands are dead, millions displaced because he chose to invade another country.

      • English Outsider says:

        Colonel Macgregor gives us a lead here, Bill. He accepts that there were serious atrocities committed by American soldiers in Vietnam. But categorically denies that that was US government policy.

        Nor was it. Those atrocities were not mandated from the top. They were not policy. Not so in this case.

        This is what your government and mine was deliberately supporting. As policy.


        On your second paragraph, we disagree. As noted before (Walrus):-

        ” in my opinion, the Russians launched a classic spoiling attack in Donbass to prevent a Ukrainian advance.

        “As you would be aware, once Ukrainian forces had advanced into Donbass, the outcome would have been a catastrophe for the predominantly Russian civilians of that region.

        The Azov types could rerun their grandfathers WWII genocidal behaviour and the Russians would have had the impossible task of trying to protect the Donbass civilians from them.”

        If we believe that a mad Russian dictator intends to do us harm, even then it seems dumb to have provoked him like that. FAFO was not a wise foreign policy for the West at that time.

        I’m being more direct than is perhaps usual here, Bill. Call a commenter a “Putin shill” and you must expect some directness back.

        • Bill says:

          English Outsider

          Col. Macgregor gives us a lead here, you say ? Really ?

          The only positive thing I can say about that guy is that he is consistent.
          He’s been consistently wrong about this war from the beginning.

          My point is that by launching this invasion, Putin as the commander in chief, bears the lion’s share of responsibility for hundreds of thousands of dead and massive amounts of destruction.

          I gave you a video of some professional Russian soldiers murdering civilians in Kiev’s suburbs. They would not have been there had Putin not sent them there.

          Your post has nothing to do with my point. It is like you randomly dipped into a pool of pro Russian narrative and just splashed it into this forum.

          • English Outsider says:

            Wrong way round, Bill. Seems Putin is an “Outsider Shill”.

            If you refer to his latest speech, from Vietnam, you’ll see he’s finally picked up on the point I’ve been making everyone’s life a misery on for years.

            The West is forcing Ukraine on to make horrendous sacrifices solely for Western political imperatives.

            Left to themselves they’d have made a deal on the Donbass years ago, certainly by Istanbul. But they are forced to keep fighting, this time to fit in with the need of Biden’s election team to have some good news for the next American presidential election.

            Western proxies always draw the short straw. The Ukrainian PBI is no exception. Time the Western politicians understood 1, this criminal sacrifice of our proxies isn’t getting them anywhere and 2, it’s going to backfire on them.

            So I’ll send my roubles back to Volodya. He seems finally to have got the message.


        • Eric Newhill says:

          “How do you defeat an enemy that is merged with a large civilian population, especially when it’s never clear whether the civilians might themselves turn out to be fighters.

          I don’t think you can unless you are prepared to accept a very large number of civilians casualties. And being prepared to accept that put the Israelis in opposition to far too many powerful forces.

          So I see the military problem as insoluble. That does happen often enough in war. An army is faced with an insoluble problem. So negotiation with Hamas is the only way out.”

          Yes. It is a sticky wicket.

          Negotiate with Hamas? I believe that is not possible. Hamas is a radical group that has radicalized the population. The objective has always been the destruction of Israel. They used to openly state that, now they’ve toned it down, slightly, for propaganda reasons, but what they seek has never changed. I think it is challenging for westerners to understand the mindset. But it is what it is. The mindset goes back to the Muslim Brotherhood, Wahhabism and related schools of thought.

    • John Minehan says:

      “How do you defeat an enemy that is merged with a large civilian population, especially when it’s never clear whether the civilians might themselves turn out to be fighters.”

      It appears from media reporting that Russia may have a related problem: “What happens when you intervene in a country to support a population . . . and they support the other side? (it was part of the problem the US had in both Vietnam and Iraq.)

      You probably can’t have done what the Ukrainians did against the Black Sea Fleet and log sites in Crimea without HUMINT.

      Put another way: this is modern Mid-Intensity Conflict. but all modern wars have elements of LIC/Small Wars/COIN and all wars are “IO Wars.”

  15. John Minehan says:

    This is interesting, but I think it misses the point.

    Not unsurprisingly, the Russians have major logistics issues.

    My father, a USMM Warrant Officer, Made the Murmansk run several times. He liked the Russians (as opposed to their Government) and admired their stoic determination (“ничего”)

    However, he realized that cut both ways.

    He talked about lend-lease trucks brought to Russia (over a vast distance, at great hardship and danger),being left out overnight in sub-zero temperatures and being ruined, (Something that was, apparently common).

    The Ukrainians continue to attack the two LoCs the Russians have into Theater. They increasingly Target supply dumps in Crimea and Russia. They continue to attack the Air and Missile defenses available to protect these LoCs (the Black Sea Fleet for example.)

    I would infer, perhaps erroneously, that much of this targeting involves HUMINT, which undercuts the Russian argument that this special military operation is predicated on defending ethnic Russians in the contested areas.

    Some thing else which undercuts the Russian narrative is that the bulk of the Orthodox Congregations (as opposed to the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Congregations) look to the Kyiv Patriarchate rather than that of Moscow.

    None of this looks overly favorable to the Russian Federation/

  16. English Outsider says:

    Just come across this from Sleboda, TTG. Thought it might be relevant to the discussion above. One of those interviews that doesn’t so much lead to agreement but makes more visible the lines of dispute.

    When it comes to a disagreement between Sleboda and me it’s no contest. He knows more. I’m for ever berating my fellow Englishmen for knowing nothing about the events in the Donbass that led up to the war. “Look over the fence,” I say, “and try to get a grip on what’s been happening over there!” If Sleboda ever dropped by my isolated hilltop – perhaps unlikely for a number of reasons – he’d say the same to me but ten times more.

    He’s got the language, relatives both sides of the line of combat, an encyclopaedic knowledge of international affairs and a sharp appreciation of military reality. To add to that he seems to be plugged in to the Russian mindset. With much the same advantage Martyanov has: he’s also very much part of the West so he’s got both sides of the fence for good measure.

    All good, that, and such a relief to see someone who gets it when it comes to the military stuff. But it’s just as well he’s not going to drop by because he’d get an earful for all that. I think he’s got some things wrong. Another big name I think, as I so often think whenever I hear or read Mearsheimer, who’s ever so slightly, perhaps 180 degrees or so, out of whack.

    Our first point of dispute was remnant Ukraine.

    It’s been obvious since 2022 that the Russians are going to have to neutralise it one way or the other. But a year or so back Sleboda was saying that remnant Ukraine was going to stay a “zone of insecurity and destabilisation for the rest of our lives.”

    No chance. If in a couple of years time remnant Ukraine remains a handy Western resource for sending “look no hands” missiles into Russia, or running assassination or sabotage missions into Russia, Putin’s going to be out of a job. Either his generals or his buddies or his electorate will give him the go-by. If there’s one thing none of them are going to put up with it’s more hassle from the other side of that particular border.

    The hilltop won that round. Sleboda is now accepting that remnant Ukraine is going to be neutralised. He now reckons on a grim and everlasting Russian occupation holding down a recalcitrant population. So he’s sort of moved my way. He no longer sees remnant Ukraine as a Western spearpoint indefinitely.

    But. If that’s the way it gets settled it might not be as much of a mess as Sleboda fears. The irreconcilables will mostly have moved to Poland or Germany. They know that Russian Intel knows exactly who they are so they’re not going to stick around to meet the heavies. If they’re not already dead: Sleboda reckons most of them have been killed. Didn’t know that and am not sure I believe it. Either way, they’ll be out of the way and the big wheels will long since have emulated Ghani.

    I don’t believe the Western Ukrainians are that homogenous a group anyway. Western Ukraine has enough in it who haven’t taken in Russia hatred with their mother’s milk. And they are sick and tired of this war, most of them, and just want a bit of peace and quiet. Add to that the growing sense in Ukraine that they’ve been used and then discarded by the West and I’m not sure, if occupation is the only way of preventing remnant Ukraine staying a Western proxy redoubt, that that occupation would be as difficult as Sleboda reckons. Worse than our Northern Ireland, by a long chalk, but not unmanageable.

    That’s if occupation is how it ends up. I think the Russians have their sights set on a political solution for remnant Ukraine rather than flooding the region with occupying troops. They might just possibly get a political solution, even now. But however they did it, remnant Ukraine is to be neutralised one way or the other and Sleboda is now agreeing that. Score one for the hilltop.

    What about the massive military confrontation Sleboda sees as likely: Western forces directly fighting Russian?

    I can’t see it. The Europeans are already flaky – Sleboda confirms that – and if the Russians started bombing bases in Europe they’d get flakier still. There’s a huge difference between sitting in front of the TV cheering the Ukrainians on before turning to the football, and having something going bang landing next door. So Sleboda’s wrong on that one, even as a possibility. There’s going to be no major continental land war between us and the Russians because the continent it was fought from – Europe – couldn’t take it. In any case, that sort of war would inevitably go nuclear and all know it.

    And as far as Europe’s concerned I think Sleboda’s wrong on the next point too. He predicts an all out Cold War afterwards.

    I was brought up during the old Cold War. Can’t say anyone really noticed it much. My elders had done the requisite National Service but that was long gone by the time I’d have been due. Plenty of people with horrendous memories of WWII around. A few with even more horrendous memories of the one before. But those two wars had been hot wars. Real war. Cold War I was for those of us who lived it quite comfortable, or if it wasn’t, it wasn’t because of that.

    Cold War II would be quite different at the level of intensity Sleboda visualises. And if it got too heavy the Russians need only turn off the fuel. For many in Europe these times are nowhere near as comfortable as the old days anyway. I reckon nothing would cool the martial ardour of the average European chickenhawk as much as finding less food on the table than there used to be.

    Likely there’ll be a sort of Cold War II of course. The politicians are dead set on that. Just enough to keep Rheinmetall and the military happy and contented. But nothing on the scale Sleboda visualises. We couldn’t afford it.

    Is that hilltop 3, Sleboda 0? I think it might be.

    Outside Europe, can’t say much about the future Sleboda sees there. He’s visualising something that looks like a dystopian SF novel. Incessant AI warfare, biological warfare, never ending destabilisation attempts, the works. Hope he’s wrong on that too and Westphalia gets a look-in. But not a lot’s known about Westphalia on my hilltop. I live too close to Borrell’s Garden, too far away from dreams.

    • TTG says:


      I like Sleboda. I’ll watch the video later. He commented on one of my posts on the old blog about Novorossiya being born in fire. Too bad Russia just used the people of the Donbas like a parasite. If they invested in the reconstruction of the region back then, they might have had something. Instead the region turned into a 1930s Stalinist hellhole.

    • Eric Newhill says:

      I had no idea that Englishmen could be so stubborn.

      Once again, Even if Russia were able to take all of Ukraine, they will still have NATO missiles on their border. NATO missiles a short flight away is just something that Moscow has to get used to.

      But Russia can’t even secure the Donbas. So I don’t understand how your camp thinks they’ll be overrunning Kiev and Odessa. Oh yes, of course, Ukraine will run out of men – any day now – we are told by the usual suspects (peanut gallery). Should that occur – and there’s nothing to suggest it will, beyond the chuckleheads in the peanut gallery showing a picture or two of some older Ukrainian men in uniform – then, as Sleboda (and I) have been saying, NATO will step in with ground troops.

      However, there is a lot NATO can do other than introducing combat troops in theater to make things very difficult for Russian forces before the troops arrive. Totally agree with Sleboda that neither side is going to back down any time soon. I’ve said that for the past two years. So far both sides have exercised caution and held back; Russia primarily b/c it cannot escalate without political risks. IMO, NATO has more options in the escalation spectrum than Russia does. You will see that in time. And that will spell defeat for Russia.

    • Eric Newhill says:

      1. Russia is not going to fire missiles into Europe. Russian society would near instantly be destroyed in return
      2. You are too negative and too dismissive about the Euros. A military could be raised to fight Russia, especially if missiles are incoming. A lot of people in the west are angry at the direction their society is heading and, in reaction, was to believe that there are greener pastures out there, perhaps in Russia.
      3. Russia cannot cut off fuel. Russia needs the revenue.
      4. Admitting that you were wrong about how the war would develop is nothing to be ashamed of. Integrity mandates that when the facts are contrary to what you predicted they would be, that you learn and adapt.

      • English Outsider says:

        Eric – I don’t think that’s correct. NATO has little military punch in this theatre. It could only put in a tripwire force with the threat of nuclear behind it. I don’t believe your President will go with that. Quoting our host:-

        “Concerning tripwire forces, they would only function in the manner described by English Outsider if they were in place before the Russian invasion. If US or other NATO trainers are introduced into Ukraine, I doubt Russia would hold back on targeting them.

        ” In fact, they would become a priority target just as the Abrams tanks did. And I’m also certain that France, Poland, the Baltics and the US are aware these trainers would be targets and would accept the risk without resorting to nuclear retaliation. France seems fully willing to accept that risk.”

        But yes, it stands to reason that a billion of us in the West should be able to face down a hundred and fifty million Russians in conventional warfare. Except for two things. We’d have to change to a war economy and rebuild our industrial base. We don’t have the money or the will for that. And if we did, we’re certainly not going to get it done in time to affect the current conflict.

        My view: barring nuclear this war was lost on February 24th 2022. Time we got our heads round that. (Possible that Merz is starting to.)

        As for the Euros, we are a pretty dumb lot I suppose. Getting landed with the current crop of politicians. Doesn’t look as if there’s a lot to be done about that right now. The ones waiting in the wings look equally useless.

        You didn’t know Englishmen could be stubborn? That’s because you Americans saw too much of Boris Johnson. He can turn on a sixpence. Both ways at the same time. A dazzling acrobat but, I hope, not typical of the rest of us.

        • Fred says:


          You mean the UK won’t deploy their forces to defend Eastern Europe? Maybe pushing Mackenderist policies was a bad idea.

          • English Outsider says:

            Fred – I don’t think we or any other European forces have a lot of oven-ready stuff to deploy.

            A recent report from a House of Commons Committee indicated that. If one looks at the German Inspector-General’s reports, and some well before ’22, it’s the same over there. And those rubber-wheeled “tanks” the French have palmed off on our proxies daren’t go near serious fighting.


            Ben Wallace’s “We are not Amazon” at Vilnius was not only a way of telling Zelensky he’d served his turn and was on his own, It was a gross exaggeration. “Not Amazon!” When it comes down to it we, nor any other European country, are not the local corner shop either.

            OK, Storm Shadow and even Taurus if shilly-shally Scholz ever got round to it but in general, European NATO support was weak and was never going to turn the tide of battle. It cannot be overemphasised that it was the sanctions war all thought would ditch Russia, Doing anything useful militarily in that theatre with what NATO had at its disposal was never on the cards.

        • Bill says:

          English Outsider

          contrary to what the pro Russian “experts” you keep referencing say, Russia does not have escalation dominance in Ukraine, around Ukraine or in the rest of the world.

          The US can use Ukraine to strike anywhere in Russia at will. Putin can do little more than look brave on TV and declare another red line.

          If he escalates and shoots down a NATO drone for example, NATO can simply seize one of those Russian tankers to pay for the damages.

          There are dozens of ways the US can increase pressure on Russia without breaking a sweat.

          • Eric Newhill says:

            Exactly. The US has not yet begun to fight. For just one example, lots of things can be done in space.

            Anyhow, even if the Euros + UK are as doomed to be eternally dismal as EO claims them to be, there is an unexamined assumption that Russia is in some kind of superior martial state, ready to massively mobilize and fight. I don’t see it. Where is the evidence?

          • English Outsider says:

            Bill – that’s just it. “The US can use Ukraine to strike anywhere in Russia at will.”

            That’s why the Russians will neutralise remnant Ukraine.

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