Ukrainian Civil War: Where the Rebels Get Their Weapons, How they Use Them and What Their Most Effective Are. by Shellback

New shellback

These were first published in Russia Insider, respectively here, here and here.


    1. Where they get their weapons

Especially as the shattering scale of destruction becomes apparent – Poroshenko says that Ukraine lost two-thirds of its military equipment (just one video of dozens) – Westerners who have been misled by the propagandist character of their media outlets are ready to believe that Russia must have been supplying the rebels with weapons and ammunition. While it is likely that some stuff crossed the border, there is another source that few Westerners are aware of.

What most Western commentators do not understand is that the USSR was preparing to fight World War II all over again with huge armies fleshed out with millions of conscripts and reservists. Millions of soldiers need immense quantities of weapons and ammunition and they need them to be ready and waiting for them as they are mobilized Consequently there were arms dumps all over the western USSR. Most of these sites were named as the headquarters of a division which had a skeleton staff in peacetime but would receive a flood of reservists who would find everything they needed to go to war with waiting for them.

The Soviets divided their formations into 3 categories. As far as I can remember after thirty years, Cat I were fully manned, equipped and ready to go; Cat II were partly manned but fully equipped and Cat III were at much lower levels. The idea being that Cat I formations were ready to go immediately (when the Wall came down I remember learning that the units in East Germany were on 48 hours notice to move. A stance, by the way, that indicated they were not intending to attack; and since NATO wasn’t either, that’s probably why we’re all still here). The Cat II formations would be ready to go in a week or so, while the CAT III formations would take a few months.

The whole Soviet system was based on waves of attackers (echelons) attacking, one after another, seeking out the weak spots; reinforcing success. So the Cat I formations in, say, the DDR and Polish PR assumed support from Cat II formations in their rear, in the Belarussian SSR and Ukrainian SSR and so on; behind that were the reserves of Cat III divs in the RSFSR etc.

When the whole thing stopped, this system was torn apart. Russia assumed responsibility for the stuff in the Warsaw Pact countries and Ukraine, for example, nationalized what was in its territory. As to the forward-based Cat I formations, Russia wound up responsible for the equipment and moving it to Russia, as to the personnel, the conscripts went home and the various nationalities went to their own countries. In short, almost overnight a tank division all ready to go would be turned unto an understaffed pile of equipment waiting to be quickly moved into Russia. I don't think there were any Cat I formations in the Belarussian SSR and Ukrainian SSR; I think I remember that they were all Cat II there. These movements were accomplished quite quickly and the whole carefully constructed arrangement was destroyed. I used to explain what had happened with the analogy that Russia had got the spear head and Ukraine and Belarus had got the spear shaft; neither being much use without the other. But the enormous supply dumps necessary to bring Cat II divisions up to Cat I would have remained in Ukraine (and Belarus).

For some years Russia pretended that sites on its territory were actual divisions (I was in regular contact with our CFE and Vienna Document inspectors through this time) but the only things inspectors would ever find when they went to inspect the location of an so-called motorized rifle or tank division in the 1990s were fields of poorly maintained AFVs, officers and no troops. (We used to speculate that the secret that the Russians were guarding was that they had no soldiers – oh, they’re all out on a training exercise; oh yeah, with no officers and no equipment? But, as the CFE Treaty only covered equipment and the Russians were completely open about that, there was no problem.) Incidentally, training was impossible: I remember a Russian woman telling me that her brother was a company commander – he had two soldiers in his company! “Empty formations” was the expression used.

Then, suddenly one summer (I can’t remember the year: some time between the two wars in Chechnya), we received a blizzard of notifications (as required under the CFE Treaty) each saying something like “remove the xth MR Div from the list; enter the zth Storage Base at the same location”. When all this was completed, there was a much smaller number of divisions (which were gradually being transformed into independent brigade groups) and many storage bases. After thinking about it, we decided that the storage base idea was an attempt to provide employment in lieu of pensions for surplus officers. (In meetings at this time, the Russian military were always telling us that they simply could not afford the pension and housing obligations for the hundreds of thousands of unnecessary officers. Other ranks were easy to reduce, of course: as they’re conscripts, they can just be sent home early). These changes also recognized the reality that the old Soviet formations had gone forever.

Things began to change after this. I well remember one of the inspectors returning from an inspection of a brigade at Buynaksk in 1998 or 1999 quite excited: here, at last, was a complete formation with all the necessary equipment and men and (very significantly) a commander who commanded the whole thing. No more pretending that a handful of listless officers and field full of equipment would some day magically fill up with conscripts and become a real division. This process seems to have started in the North Caucasus and is one of the several reasons for the much improved Russian performance in the second Chechnya war.

So at the end of this process the Russian Army 1. had the beginnings of a rational structure (brigade groups) 2. had abandoned the fantasy that it was a huge multi-division army with a temporary manpower problem 3. pseudo-divisions with insecure storage of weapons manned by dispirited officers were transformed into something more secure and purposeful and the process of disposing of obsolete and insecure weaponry could begin. With money and a stable government since 2000, other improvements have been made as well.

Nothing like this happened in the Ukrainian Armed Forces. So one can expect the territory of Ukraine to be littered with piles of poorly guarded weaponry and “empty formations”. A Russian official recently confirmed this when he said: “When the USSR collapsed, the Ukrainian territory was replete with millions of guns, mines, artillery systems and other weapons. The area where the combat activities are held today, where Kiev leads its punitive operation, is no exception — there were weaponry warehouses which the militia seized.” Slavyansk, in particular, is said to have a particularly large dump in an old mine.

In short, the Ukrainian Armed Forces are in the sorry state the Russian Armed Forces were in the 1990s but with another decade and a half of neglect. Much of this decayed equipment doesn’t work any more, but, if you cannibalize 100 tanks and get 10 runners, that’s a lot better than nothing. And, it should be remembered, the Donbass is full of mechanics, technicians, artificers and so forth. To say nothing of plenty of people who through conscription and the Afghan war, know how to operate them. Most of the weapons used in east Ukraine are from Afghan war vintage; the BM-21 Grad, arguably the most important weapon in the rebels’ arsenal and responsible for fearsome destruction, for example, has been around since the 60s. And finally, a characteristic of a lot of Soviet equipment was that it was easy to operate and very very rugged. (Remember that these guys actually got a T-34 that had spent the last 50 years sitting on a concrete slab in the rain and snow up and running: all the points illustrated at once!)

The other thing I recall that we learned when it was all over, was that, in contrast to the Western style of having dumps in floodlit spaces surrounded by fences, barbed wire, armed patrols and so on, making the site very noticeable but strongly protected, the Soviet style was to have something much more discreet in an out-of-the-way place and rely more on silence to secure it (an old mine, of which there are many in the Donbass, would be ideal). Given that the USSR military headquarters was in Moscow, it is quite possible that the Kiev government doesn’t even know where many of these dumps are. One service that Moscow could be providing is to tell the rebels where to look.

So, I have no difficulty seeing the rebels coming across (or being directed to) a dump and getting weaponry and ammunition; they have people who can get it working again and plenty of ex-Soviet Army veterans to make them work. On top of that is the equipment captured when Ukrainian conscripts abandon positions (quite a lot – this site attempts to make a photographic record) and a few things bought or bribed. So far all they would have needed from Moscow is maybe some command and control equipment and target acquisition services.

So Ukraine's military problem today is that it has the two-decades decayed remnants of what was originally planned to be a first line of support for the best and most ready elements; never to be a stand alone force. And during this time Kiev has starved this remnant and sold off the best stuff abroad (Georgia got a lot from Ukraine). So, the rebels and the Kiev forces are much more evenly matched than would be the normal case in a rebellion against the center They are both learning on the job, but the rebels have much more motivation while Kiev has a larger stock of weaponry on which to draw.

Thus the rebels are doing better faster than would normally be expected and have a good stock of weapons and ammunition. This is one of the reasons why so many in the West believe that Russia must be helping them.


    1. Cords and Cauldrons: How Good Little Guys Beat Bad Big Guys

Many in the West probably wonder how the the Ukrainian rebels can be defeating the Kiev forces without help from Russia. But this has happened many times before; good little guys often beat bad big guys: the Vietnamese beat the Americans, the Israelis beat the Arabs in 1948. But, for our purpose, it’s worth considering how the Finns beat the Soviets in the Winter War.

In 1939 the Soviet Army invaded Finland along the entire border. The Finnish Armed Forces were small and not very mechanized but they were determined and they knew the ground they were fighting on – it was theirs, after all. The Soviet Armed Forces were large, highly mechanized by the standards of the time but poorly led (Stalin had killed or imprisoned the best commanders a year or so before).

So what were the Finns to do? They could surrender, but they were Finns and disinclined to do so. They had two fronts to deal with. The first was in the south in Karelia. Here they understood that there could be no retreat. So they held the “Mannerheim Line” and sent whatever heavy weapons they had there. The Finnish strategy here was the word sisu. The English translation for sisu would be something like “We’re not giving up. Ever. No matter what”. I recommend watching the movie Talvisota to show what this actually meant.

But the Soviets also invaded in the north all along the border. Equipped, we are told, with Swedish-Russian dictionaries for when they got to the other side of Finland. Here the Finns could not spare their limited heavy weapons or manpower; but they could not afford to be defeated here either.

The Finnish word motti means a measure of wood cut for use. The English equivalent would be a cord of wood. The Finns chopped the Soviet invaders into manageable amounts of wood. The terrain was forest and frozen lakes; terrifying to the Russian, Ukrainian and Belarussian conscripts but familiar home to the Finns. The Finns made ski routes parallel to the roads the Soviets stuck to. The Finns chopped the Soviet columns into motti with abbatis (felled trees interlaced to make an impenetrable obstacle). The Soviet fragments found themselves in a hostile frozen nightmare with only the food, fuel and ammunition they happened to have with them. Two soldiers get together to have a smoke; an invisible sniper kills one of them. A field kitchen is lighted to give some hot food, an invisible sniper kills the cook, another destroys the stove. Soviet troops make a foray into the woods; they see nothing but on the way back an invisible sniper kills their officer. Soviet divisions simply disappeared, nothing was left but shattered vehicles and frozen corpses. It worked: a small, mobile light force of dedicated infantry who knew the terrain defeated much heavier forces; it wasn’t easy, there was very heavy fighting in places but, in essence, the five or six Soviet divisions that invaded simply disappeared. (I recommend A Frozen Hell by William R Trotter.)

At the time, most “military experts” bet on the Soviets: more tanks, more aircraft, more men and so on. Just as most “military experts” probably bet that Kiev would defeat the rebels.

Much the same thing happened in eastern Ukraine; the favorite word there being “cauldron” or котёл. The principal difference being that you can create motti in forests, but only a котёл in steppe land. I no know better description of how to create one than the Saker's. But it is very much the same as how to make a motti. Road-bound, poorly commanded heavily mechanized units advance too far and are cut off. Sometimes they can fight their way out but it’s a declining situation if they stay: every day they have less food, fuel, ammunition and water. If they don’t fight their way out, they die or surrender. In Ukraine it’s summer, so at least they don’t freeze to death as thousands of Soviets did in the motti.

So there you have it, that’s how the little guys (but they have to be very brave and very determined) can beat the big guys. We see the same thing in Iraq or Afghanistan, by the way. The difference being that the Iraq or Afghanistan insurgents can’t concentrate because of America air power so they never can create a motti or котёл.

And another similarity, and a very important one, in eastern Ukraine and Finland as well as Vietnam, Afghanistan, Israel in 1948 or Iraq is, to quote James Clapper, the director of national intelligence (USA), is that the attackers don’t “predict the will to fight”. In June Poroshenko was talking about the whole thing being over quickly: “in hours, not weeks”.

As that great military strategist, Muhammed Ali, put it, when you haven’t got the muscle to stand toe to toe, float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. And chop them up into into motti if you get the chance.

    1. The Donbass Rebels’ Secret Weapons

The two decisive weapons of this war that have given victory to the rebels are the MANPADS (MAN Portable Air Defense System) and the Grad (“hail” in Russian).

Kiev had, at the beginning, complete air superiority; it may not have had very many helicopters and ground-attack fixed wing, but it had all that there were. Against these the rebels had stocks of the SA-7 shoulder-fired missile. Like many Soviet weapons it was modified and improved in incremental steps over its service life since the 1970s and produced in quite large numbers. It has an infra-red guidance system and is shoulder-fired. Like most weapons of this type, it is most effective against aircraft that are actually attacking the firer, ie when the angular momentum of the aircraft is low. According to this site, quoting the Kiev Post, Kiev lost ten helicopters and nine fixed-wing aircraft. The true number is likely higher but the point is that this weapon system effectively nullified the air superiority that the Kiev regime had; they either destroyed the aircraft or forced them to fly higher and faster and therefore be less effective. These weapons made the war into a ground war.

The real destruction of the Kiev forces – Ukraine President Poroshenko says two thirds of Ukraine’s military equipment was lost – was carried out by the BM-21 Grad MLRS. Another weapon system from decades ago, this is a truck with 40 122mm rocket tubes at the rear. Not particularly accurate – it is what is known as an “area weapon” – the fact that all 40 rockets can be fired in 20 seconds means that after a few ranging rounds a terrifying amount of explosive can be delivered very quickly by a few Grads. Here are a lot of them firing at a demonstration. Here are some videos from the fighting in Ukraine. Grads firing at night – we see the ranging rounds and then the full salvo from two. Hits nearby. This is what remains after a strike.

There are dozens of videos showing the destruction of Kiev forces trapped in a “cauldron” or котёл by Grads. As I said in another essay, the bulk of the rebel forces were men who knew the area: the back roads, where this forest trail comes out, where that hill is and how to get there without being seen. The Kiev forces did not know the area and had ludicrously inadequate maps (one report spoke of maps from the 1920s) and bad information; thanks to their reliance on heavy equipment they stuck to the main roads. Their commanders were spectacularly incompetent, they themselves were either either poorly motivated untrained forced conscripts unwilling to advance or gung-ho “volunteer” forces, pumped up with warrior fantasies, who charged down the road and got trapped. In either case, there would be periods of being stopped, all jammed together when the mobile rebel spotter forces would call in the target. A few adjustment rounds, then a hundred or more rockets. This is what would happen, over and over and over again. All done by discreet spotter teams and a few Grads within twenty kms or so.

    1. Conclusion

Therefore, there is no particular reason to assume any large-scale Russian military assistance here. Dedicated people fighting for their homeland, on their homeland, have beaten many a bad invader. Add to this the military training left over from the Soviet days, the weapons stockpiled in the area against a future huge war, mechanical ability and the incompetence of the invader, it is not surprising that they have held their ground.

— Shellback (Shellback is the pseudonym of someone who started working for a NATO military structure in the Brezhnev years. He does not think that the Cold War was so much fun that we should try to repeat it.)

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128 Responses to Ukrainian Civil War: Where the Rebels Get Their Weapons, How they Use Them and What Their Most Effective Are. by Shellback

  1. I agree there is no reason to assume any large-scale Russian military assistance to the armed forces of Novorossiya, but there is also no reason to deny a very effective Russian assistance program. The effectiveness of Russia’s rearming and retraining program in Syria shows how good the Russians are at this. Some critical items of military equipment including ammunition and C3I gear were supplied to Novorossiya through the Voentorg. Training and reorganization of the rebels incorporating modern Russian tactics, techniques and procedures (the current US term) were provided. Granted the heroic men of Novorossiya like Givi, Motorola and the men of their units provide the finest raw material for creating effective fighting units on the Russian model. I always assumed Russia was directly aiding the armed forces of Novorossiya, but in a nuanced and delicate manner. Russia is certainly not sending their forces in Ukraine as the Ukies so often claim.

  2. Alexey says:

    My conclusion from Russian sources would be that organized aid from Russia started in August 2014. Apparently rebels had to meet conditions in removing from conspicuous commanding positions. Before that most if not all help was from private sources.
    As for what kind of help was provided… There are numerous Donbass based sources that claim participation of Russian military at critical moments – so-called “Northern Wind”. But how much truth is there I do not know.

  3. Alexey says:

    Missed 2 words
    *Apparently rebels had to meet conditions in removing Russian nationals from conspicuous commanding positions.

  4. turcopolier says:

    I find that film clip of those fellows getting that WW2 tank running and driving it off to be heartwarming. I hope it got in a few good “licks” before its end. pl

  5. As Alex Ovechkin says, “Russian machine never breaks.”

  6. Ante says:

    The novorussians themselves talk of the “military surplus store” ie the flow of necessary bits from Russia itself. It’s one thing to have grads, it’s another to have enough rockets to bombard any of the various kettles the Uke army is getting itself into. After Strelkov resigned, the military store re-opened and the Uke army was melted in place with rocket fire.

  7. LondonBob says:
    A report on the weapons used. That the debate in Russia is whether more support should have been given, not less, says a lot.
    Accepting the Communist era borders in both the FSU and Yugoslavia guaranteed that there would be conflict in both regions eventually. Mono ethnic states are of course offensive to the Borg, with one notable exception.

  8. Brunswick says:

    Both the IS-3 and the T-34 apparently lacked ammo for the main guns, and were used as armoured OP’s.
    The Stalin was quickly attacked and “captured” at Slovansk,
    But apparently, the T-34 still serves in Lugansk as an armoured transport and mobile OP.

  9. Balint Somkuti says:

    It is all to nice, but the hungarian army also had SA-7 Grails (or 9k32 Strela) and they are only in the most extreme case able to shoot down a jet, especially a supersonic one. Yes these kind of MANPADS are good against helicopters, but not really vs jets incl Su-25. I also saw a video of a WWII vintage IS-3 heavy tank started and used in the fighting, but there is also the story of a complete russian self-propelled artillery battalion disappearing during lunch break in a livex near the border. Not to mention the likes of BUK medium range AA batteries. I am not saying there are little green men like in Crimea, but russian support was and is not clandestine from the beginning. Not that anybody can complain for supporting their kin in their freedom fight.

  10. Henshaw says:

    +1. That clip goes into a special bookmarks folder with other heartwarming stuff like flypasts of Merlin-engined aircraft.
    Only wish my late father (WW2 tank man) could have seen it. Didn’t talk much about that time, but would wax lyrical about T-34s.

  11. Jag Pop says:

    When Israel invaded Lebanon in 2006 and was defeated, did Hezbollah create motti or cauldrons or something altogether different?

  12. Shellback says:

    Apologies to you all if I’ve bungled handling the comments – I’m new to Typepad. Anyway I’m off for a few days.
    I’m prepared to believe that the Russians have intervened – put their thumbs on the scale, so to speak. But I have seen no evidence of anything. Everything Kiev says is a lie, NATO is lying, Psaki and her “social media” is a joke, blurry sat photos of something or other, reporters who say they see something but forget their smart phones, Bellingprat, phony soldiers’ mothers, gravestones, blah blah – it’s all BS. Where’s actual evidence. And there are umpteen videos of obvious civilians turned soldiers and none of real soldiers.
    And the more fake “evidence” of Russian intervention, the less I believe it.

  13. turcopolier says:

    Welcome aboard. I approved a few comments. I can do that. pl

  14. Was the T-34 actually designed by an American engineer?

  15. MRW says:

    Your articles were great. Love your writing style, easy reading and informative. Glad you’re here. Appreciate it.

  16. IMO this is an important and useful post not just for its history! N.B. I separated from active service in July 1979! But I did serve as a support unit S2/S3 in NATO from 1968-1979! When I arrived in Frankfort in September 1968 Soviet Liaison Officers were taking count of each arriving Officers and NCO’s as they offloaded chartered aircraft. Same for those departing in 1970. NATO was not an effective fighting force in those years IMO! And the Soviets knew it!
    One Example: General Polk SACEUR during one REFORGER exercise used his personal aircraft to resupply a REFORGER units jeeps that had all broken down because grease had not been applied to their left or right wheels (I forget which side]. So need replacements.
    I have had a life long interest in military weapory down to webgear. So assigned to support American units in CENTAG as well as 4th ATG and the German 4th Mountain division
    [they all wore the Idleweiss in their soft hats] and often guarded and in field exercises with German units to the extent possible I observed their command structure, logistics, and weaponry. I rode e.g. several times in the Leopard II and found it very superior to the American tanks long since replaced.
    In armored warfare it has long been known for example that repairing damaged tanks in combat may well determine the outcome tactically. Both the Israelies and the FRG forces were the best in the world IMO when I served. Even FRG wreckers were very very superior to the U.S. equivalent.
    And FRG NCO’s carried the UZZI which I was allowed to learn how to field strip and shoot. An interesting weapon for its time.
    Well the long and short is stationed in CENTAG and what had been the FRENCH NATO zone was very interested in everything from bridging doctrine to logistics.
    War fighting in my time and now is for the hard slogging of professionals and now as I go to vote in Super Tuesday wondering how many of the remaining candidates have mastered
    nuclear weapons employment doctrine or the employment of Field Armies or Air Forces.

  17. turcopolier says:

    That T-34/85 sat there for fifty years in front of the railroad station or in the main square while the traffic rolled by. It sat waiting, waiting, waiting… Who knows where it had been, Kursk, Prokhorovka, Kharkov? Waiting and then it was re-born. pl

  18. Dubhaltach says:

    In reply to William R. Cumming 01 March 2016 at 07:59 AM
    “Was the T-34 actually designed by an American engineer?”
    No. The lead designer was a Red Army engineer named Mikhail Koshkin.
    You might be thinking of the (earlier) BT series of tanks which were based on a design by an American engineer named J. Walter Christie (see: ).
    The T34 did use Christie’s suspension as did a some British tanks but that’s not the same thing as the design being borrowed from his work.
    Open to discussion on this but I think Koshkin’s design was sui generis – the Germans thought so too both Von Kleist and Guderian praised it as being a superb tank. I think it was Guderian who said it was highly superior to any Germany was producing at the time.

  19. cynic says:

    Wouldn’t the American government have loved to send someone like Powell to wave a bunch of photographs in front of the United Nations, had their satellites been able to see any substantial transfers of military equipment across the Russian border?

  20. WRC,
    As I recall, the suspension system of the T-34 and other Soviet tanks was brought there by an American inventor named Christie in the 1920s, primarily for agricultural tracked equipment. Hence, the “Christie suspension”.

  21. Shellback,
    The reporting by most of the western media from and about Ukraine may well be the most perfect illustration of the “borg” propaganda apparatus in action.

  22. bth says:

    By the, I did find the “White Tiger” on YouTube in full and it was well worth the watch especially if interested in tank resurrection.

  23. Trey N says:

    NO, but the Soviet designers incorporated the innovative “Christie suspension system” of American engineer J. Walter Christie on the T-34 and the BT series of their tanks (the British also used it on several models of their tanks). The US had rejected adopting the system for its own tanks on the grounds of its being too expensive.

  24. bth says:

    The Guardian in 2014 had some good articles about the salt mine based munition depots in eastern Ukraine. But there is no doubt that Russian men, equipment especially anti-aircraft systems, aerial drones and electronic warfare systems were and are being provided by the Russians.

  25. HDL says:

    The T-34 suspension system was an American design used by the Russians, the Brits, several others—but not us. Old tankers still fuss about it.

  26. rjj says:

    they adapted the Christie suspension which the US boffins had rejected.
    or so I read with zero comprehension.

  27. Jennifer. Green says:

    Primary designer of T34 listed as Mikhail Koshkin, born in 1898 in Yaroslavl oblast, Russia. He was a candy maker who studied engineering. It was good to see the T34 up and running again.

  28. rjj says:

    the sloped armor was their development.
    engines – always wondered if diesel fuel was readily available or did that make for supply problems.
    by way of human factors read somewhere that crews worked in assembly factories which trained them to do maintenance and repair.

  29. Bill Herschel says:

    Why Mariupol was not taken… which it could easily have been.

  30. Calmwater says:

    I grew up in the Donbas, Gorlovka. I remember how we would climb into an abandoned mine with reserve in case of war. It was after the collapse of the USSR and we had not seen the weapons, but it was surely full of canned food.
    And by the way the article does not indicate that the only cartridge factory in Ukraine is located in Lugansk and controlled by the rebels. In 2014, Ukrainians have tried to bomb it, but flights quickly stopped .

  31. Trey N says:

    The link in my previous reply to you was part 2 of a 3-part series, and part 2 is really more a tale of how the Izzies screwed the pooch and lost the war.
    Part 1 here tells what Hezbollah did to win the war:
    Their recent showing in Syria has been just as impressive.
    Needless to say, the cowardly Izzies want “no mas” from a real fighting force and have gone back to their preferred pasttime of murdering helpless Palestinian women and children in the West Bank and Gaza….

  32. Old Microbiologist says:

    Thanks for your article. I agree with everything you say. I would be interested if you would like to expand a bit about the historic and remarkable overnight deployment of 25,000 spetznatz in to Crimea, while removing the Naval personnel already there, all the time never exceeding the legal constraints of the treaty. That was followed by a very peaceful takeover and subsequent legal referendum. We have quite a few friends who live in Crimea and the overwhelming opinion is they are extremely happy with the way things have turned out there.
    The only other comment I might make is that all young volunteers in Novorussia were evacuated to Rusia for training and that only veterans were permitted to actually stay and fight the Kiev government. That, to me, was another sound decision. the Voentrag was already discussed and there were multiple instances of long range artillery being fired from within Russia into the cauldrons.
    Last would be the role of the MH-17 in the rescue of the large cauldron that had enveloped the Ukrainian forces. The amazing coincidental shoot down into that exact place bears some discussion as well.

  33. Kunuri says:

    At least the suspension, American fellow named Christie developed a revolutionary pre war suspension system, Russians were the only takers for mass production of T-34s, I am not sure if they paid for the designs though. The system was widely adopted by all armies subsequently.

  34. I remember seeing the pair of T-34/76 tanks at the Soviet War Memorial in the Berlin Tiergarten. In my opinion, they are things of beauty that embody everything that a tank should be. I know the Germans contemplated reproducing them exactly as a counter to the Soviet design.

  35. Fred says:

    Hibernating until the duty to defend the motherland arose again?

  36. Chris Chuba says:

    “Was the T-34 actually designed by an American engineer?”
    William, only the Christi suspension system was designed by a U.S. engineer.
    The Christi suspension system was originally used in a predecessor tank, the BT-2. This is the only thing that is of U.S. origin.
    Everything else regarding the T-34 is Russian. It’s diesel engine, wide tracks, and its iconic sloped armor, etc.

  37. Castellio says:

    Here is what the Ukrainian diaspora in Canada is reading.
    “On 20 February 2014, Russia launched an armed aggression against Ukraine by occupying the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol. This aggression now continues in the Donbas. […] During these years of aggression, a 40 000-strong army has been built up in the Donbas financed, equipped and maintained by Russia and commanded by Russian officers […] Ukraine has been consistently implementing its commitments under the Minsk agreements on security, political, humanitarian and social-economic tracks. […] Russia has fulfilled none of its obligations under the Minsk Agreements. Russia and its proxies continue military provocations, including by using the weapons that should have been withdrawn under the OSCE monitoring and verification – multiple launch rocket systems, self-propelled artillery, 82mm and 120mm mortars. Russian troops in Donbas continue with unfettered rotation, training and supply through the uncontrolled sections of the state border. […] We call on the international community to exert maximum pressure on Russia and maintain sanctions until Donbas and Crimea are de-occupied and the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine is restored.”
    The full statement is here:

  38. Patrick Armstrong says:

    Not quite. J Walter Christie in the US designed some prototypes and his real invention was a type of suspension. The Sovs bought the models and developed a series of tanks of which the T-34 was the final evolution. So suspension system, plus or minus, and the notion of slanted armour is there. Christie’s idea was a vehicle that ran on tracks or on wheels. That never really worked. But his suspension was much more flexible than anyone else’s at the time.

  39. b says:

    The T-34 silently dreamed of its old enemy, the White Tiger. It surely was disappointed not to meet it after sleeping so long.
    The White Tiger (English subtitles)

  40. A. Pols says:

    Not totally sure, but “Christie Chassis”.
    So much design is derivative and that type of chassis was widely used, but that doesn’t imply that the whole thing was designed by an American engineer.

  41. SmoothieX12 says:

    No, it was not, But Christie suspension of T-34 was. Koshkin designed T-34.

  42. Bill Herschel says:

    I don’t blame the neo-cons for being berserk about Russia. I don’t blame them at all. They are getting hammered by certainly one of the most brilliant military-diplomatic campaigns in the history of the world.
    Three Security Council resolutions guaranteeing the sovereignty of Syria.
    Using a tiny force, completely routing the jihadists (and their patrons) in Syria.
    Instituting a “cessation of hostilities” that appears to be working while continuing to hammer the jihadists.
    And, now, finally, it appears that Saudi Arabia is crying uncle and the price of oil is going up.
    Who’s smart and what works are the questions of today. The neo-cons have failed miserably on all counts. And their poster child, George W. Bush, having been trashed by Donald Trump, is now permanently in the dog house of history, joining such worthies as Napoleon III. Even if Hillary Nuland Clinton is elected President, one imagines that her ability to play the foreign adventuress will be curtailed.

  43. Medicine Man says:

    A dragon snoozing away in plain sight until someone fed it and gave it a target to mangle.

  44. Prem says:

    There was supposed to be a huge arms depot in Artemivsk. I can’t remember reading any reports about whether Strelkov & co ever got access to it.

  45. Medicine Man says:

    I would like to thank you for contributing this column. This was fascinating on many levels; the information on the equipment, tactics, people, and history of the region is quite a toothsome meal.
    I do not have much to add, except that I think a treasure hunting/antiques roadshow program in the old Soviet regions of Europe would be quality television. I also have a lot of respect for the Russian focus on mechanical reliability when engineering their equipment. Though I have no dog in the fight, I have a perverse fondness of weapons that function in harsh conditions; probably why I obsess about the A-10 as much as I do.

  46. mike says:

    WRC – “Was the T-34 actually designed by an American engineer?”
    No, just the suspension system. My understanding was that the Russian designers of the T-34 adopted the American Christie suspension which gave it an edge in rough crosscountry movement. Some British tanks adopted the Christie suspension also.

  47. turcopolier says:

    Good dragon! Good dragon! pl

  48. MM,
    I can’t get over how good that old diesel engine sounds after all those years. Those simple old engines are magnificent. Makes me want to get an old VW Bug again. These new cars are SOBs to work on.

  49. robt willmann says:

    That old T-34 in the video….
    Ah, the diesel engine. Compression ignition. No fussy spark plugs. One of the selling points by Rudolf Diesel when he invented it was that it was good for agriculture because it could run on such things as peanut oil.

  50. rkka says:

    I’ve seen “White Tiger”. And yes, that T34/85 waited patiently and watchfully, ready if war threatened his people once again.

  51. SmoothieX12 says:

    Mariupol could have been taken militarily fairly easily but the geopolitical risks outweighed military ones. One of the most brilliant analysts Rostislav Ishenko correctly stated from the get go in 2014 that, in the end, the game was also about who will be paying for the failed state of Ukraine. Today’s piece in WSJ proves this point beyond a shadow of a doubt. It has everything to do with the dynamics of the conflict and the game with NATO. Any gains were proportionate to the growth of probability of a direct conflict with NATO. How so–is a separate issue. But, realistically, Russia is not capable to simultaneously absorb all Novorossia: Crimea, which is part of Russia, and Donbass, which is de facto becoming part of Russia, consume tremendous resources, not that anyone, other than Moscow’s uber “liberals”, complains. Plus, there are always Russian people in Transdnistria and they are in a very precarious position. A lot went into considerations when making decision on Mariupol.

  52. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Very important consideration if one is seriously interested in helping raise the quality of life in rural areas of sub-Saharan Africa, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and elsewhere.
    In fact, I think it will be a good idea to hire a bunch of mechanical and manufacturing engineers and ask them to develop a simple, easy to maintain and easy to manufacture diesel engine that could be made in foundries all over the world and uses vegetable oil.
    Don’t give a man a fish, teach him to fish.

  53. Babak Makkinejad says:

    All is permitted in Love and in War.

  54. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Looks like it to me too; Metternich would have been proud.

  55. Medicine Man says:

    I’ve heard from friends who are more gearhead than I how the introduction of computer components into automobiles has complicated the maintenance of vehicles.
    Perhaps I’m just a touch Luddite, but I have some misgivings about the perverse incentives capitalism has wrought on our engineering, particularly with regards to the whole concept of planned obsolescence for profit. I hope I’m not too much of a hypocrite for noting that while Western engineering has given me a good life, our way of building things seems to be based on the idea that we’re going to have vast surpluses of everything forever — ie. there will always be oceans of replacement parts, readily available, and a new model just around the corner — whereas the Russians expect their stuff to last. The Russian model definitely seems more cautious; I suppose there is a cost/benefit argument to be made in there somewhere.
    On the other hand, in stark contrast to their pragmatism at designing weapon systems, historically the Russians have been horrible at mass producing consumer technology, so what do I know.

  56. Thirdeye says:

    Thanks for the article. The fact that Ukraine was dotted with obscured, undocumented arms depots puts a lot into place. Apparently both sides lost a lot of equipment to breakdowns. There was after-action criticism of the failure rate on the rebel side after Debaltsevo. It was regarded as a serious operational impairment that gave them some real problems.
    Around the time of the Debaltsevo operation reports started coming in about Tochka-U missiles launched but “by the grace of God” not coming down the way they were supposed to. “God” was most likely a high performance short range mobile air defense system. If the Russians supplied it, good for them.

  57. scott s. says:

    No doubt the choice of engine is as much (or more) a function of POL logistics than anything else.

  58. Thirdeye says:

    The development of the T-34 was unlike anything elsewhere. It had more in common with the Soviet BT series fast tanks than the battle tanks coming out of Britain, France, Germany, or the US. The Soviets also had a jump on everybody in metallurgy and armor design, so they could get more protection from less. They applied that ability to the Il-2 Sturmovik as well.

  59. Thirdeye says:

    That’s my understanding too. Not just nationals but the neo-Czarist nationalists. They’re regarded as a divisive, potentially fascist tendency in Russia. Putin was not about to support them in establishing a power base. Apparently some support came from the Ukrainian oligarchs Akhmetov and Khodakovsky (NOT the Russian ex-con Khodorkovsky).

  60. Thirdeye says:

    Givi and Motorola are like rock stars and an effective recruiting tool.

  61. Cortes says:

    Or, for dry climate country, revived production of the Citroen 2cv or old style Skodas?

  62. Thirdeye says:

    There are a few of those old guys at the Prokhorovka monument and probably at other commemorative sites as well. Google street view shows the ones at Prokhorovka.

  63. Kilo 4/11 says:

    You find it heartwarming? I find it disgusting that a veteran of Vietnam, where presumably you lost friends, as did I, to a Soviet supported enemy, waxes sentimental about homo-sovieticus throwbacks rising up to try to steal a chunk of the country that gave them birth and nurtured them, to hand it over to the country – the main protagonist – that has been ravaging, starving, usurping, enslaving, and in short attempting to destroy that country since the fall of Kievan Rus.
    And please don’t sing me the old “we shoulda never been there” song – we were there and so were the Soviets and they were accomplices in our deaths, with the record carved in stone on a wall in Washington.
    And now their spiritual heirs are doing the same to Ukraine that was done to Vietnam and you get a warm fuzzy feeling? Unbelievable.

  64. rjj says:

    when I saw White Tiger last year looked up the date of release (2012) thought “oooooooooooh [blasphemy]” but decided not to post about it here because I thought it would be too something-or-other.

  65. turcopolier says:

    I could never match your bitter rejection of the enemy’s humanity. I never could and I fought the communists a lot all over the world, not just in VN. Tell me abut your service record. Units down to company level, MOS, decorations, wounds. Tell me about it. pl

  66. turcopolier says:

    In the hope of further pissing off the kilo 4/11 troll, I have found this U tube of a group of the “hated enemy” resuscitating an SU-152 SP artillery piece in a Ukrainian village where it has sat in a field since 1944. It was abandoned in combat when it seems to have taken a hit on the tube of the gun. They get this monster running as well and load it onto a tank transporter and take it to a maintenance facility. God knows what they will do with it. pl

  67. Brunswick says:
    Last time I counted, there were over 180 Manufacturers of Lister Clones in the 2nd and 3rd Worlds, offering 2hp to 12 hp models, ( hp is insignificant, the engines generate massive torque), with prices starting from $120.
    The thump-thump-thump of a Lister Clone is the base note sound of rural areas through out the 2nd and 3rd world.

  68. Bill Herschel says:

    I know the horse is dead, but this is the key comparison:
    “The surge was developed under the working title “The New Way Forward” and was announced in January 2007 by Bush during a television speech. Bush ordered the deployment of more than 20,000 soldiers into Iraq (five additional brigades), and sent the majority of them into Baghdad. He also extended the tour of most of the Army troops in country and some of the Marines already in the Anbar Province area. The President described the overall objective as establishing a “…unified, democratic federal Iraq that can govern itself, defend itself, and sustain itself, and is an ally in the War on Terror.” The major element of the strategy was a change in focus for the US military “to help Iraqis clear and secure neighborhoods, to help them protect the local population, and to help ensure that the Iraqi forces left behind are capable of providing the security”. The President stated that the surge would then provide the time and conditions conducive to reconciliation between communities.”
    ~5,000 Russian troops in Syria since September 30 changing the entire outcome of the war and paving the way for a peaceful resolution, all under the auspices of the United Nations.

  69. Kilo 4/11,
    Speaking of spiritual heirs, do you hold the Nazi scum of Pravy Sector and Svoboda in a heart warming embrace? They’re the ones who want to throw all the “Colorados” out of eastern Ukraine… or exterminate them. My family suffered greatly at the hands of the Soviets. They died fighting them or were exiled to Siberia by them. I was more than willing to fight the Soviets to the death. I learned to shoot firing a Mosin Nagant at a picture of Stalin. The Soviet Union is no more and I moved on. I pity you for your unwavering bitterness.

  70. Shellback says:

    That’s the whole point. Enormous stores of ammo to feed a TVD of a couple of fronts. That’s enormous. Check out the enormous dump in Transdnestr.

  71. Jag Pop says:

    While the Israelis have busied themselves with oppression, others, such as Syria and Hezbollah, have been gaining deep battle experience.
    Netanyahu has publically stated multiple times that he wants no one to win in Syria, for both sides to bleed and bleed and bleed themselves dry.
    I have wondered if this policy could come back and bite Israel hard in the behind.
    The enemies on their doorstep become toughened and experienced while they become ever softer.

    ps. By the way, the 2006 invasion began with an Israeli false-flag, but that is a much longer post.

  72. Shellback says:

    There were 25k Russian forces already there as part of the BSF. I believe/believe some spetstnaz from Russia were flown in to block a Turkish origin “Tatar” force which was on its way in. Saker had something on it at the time including a radar track of an aircraft from Turkey that turned around in the middle of the Black Sea.

  73. Brunswick says:

    Never read the Pentagon Papers did ya?

  74. Brunswick says:

    1). Subsequent reports, interviews since the Crimea Crisis, claim that the “Russian” intervention, consisted of 500 Spetnaz troops helecoptered in to take point, while existing Naval Infantry and Security forces at the Russian bases, provided the rest of the forces.
    That roughly half of the Ukraine Military in Crimea, elected to stay in Crimea and take Russian citizenship, states more than a little about the state of the Ukraine, the sate of the Ukrainian Military, and the popularity of the Coup Government.
    2) There were multiple Ukrainian claims of Russian artillary firing into the Ukraine. There was no “independent” confirmation from the OSCE, the Rebels, etc.

  75. rjj says:

    Years ago my son made my mom a gift set of battery operated forks with
    tiny red LED on/off indicators.

  76. ex-PFC Chuck says:

    Was that why Strelkov (sp?) left the scene?

  77. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Good to know. Thanks.
    Hope there are some manufacturers in Africa.

  78. Amir says:

    With advent of solar power, there will be no need for diesel engines. The same way in Africa they bypassed the need for landlines by going straight to mobile connections, better mobility can be achieved via better fuel cells and foto-electric cells. It is really a question of scale and somewhat time at this point in time.

  79. different clue says:

    Babak Makkinejad,
    It was semi-done several decades ago. The Lister engine is supposed to have been a very tough, durable and maintanable diesel engine. Perhaps it could be shrunken down enough to put on a moving vehicle?
    I don’t actually know anything about mechanics or engines or combustion engineering, but I once read about this engine and its virtues so I left these links so that those who do know can look if they want to and decide if this engine has any possibility of being redesigned or altered to do what you hope.

  80. different clue says:

    Babak Makkinejad,
    Reading further, I see that Brunswick has already referrenced the Lister engine. So . . . never mind.

  81. different clue says:

    Bill Herschel,
    The Cheney/bush Administration had burned the Baath government all the way down to the ground, and then the Bremer Viceroyalty burned all the component pieces ( Army, Secret Police, Baath Party) all the way down to the ground as well. So the Cheney/bush Administration left itself with nothing to work with in Iraq.
    By contrast, the Borg and the Global Axis of Jihad were not able to burn Assad’s Syrian Arab Republic government all the way down to the ground, so Iran, Russia, Hezbollah and etc. had something to work with. They had to help a coherent government survive and now have to help it reconquer and triumph. But they don’t have to try and create a whole new government from zero. ( Russia will feel it has to help the Assad people be inclusive and fair enough with the non-jihadi rebels to where they will be just satisfied enough to stay resigned to re-unification, even if not reconciled to it. Hopefully the Assad people will help Russia help them in this endeavor).

  82. Brunswick says:

    The Russian’s didn’t have a “jump” on anybody.
    Their metallurgy was decades behind the Germans and the West, and their entire steel production was 1/3rd that of Germany.
    What the Russian’s had, was experience with heavy tanks, and unique requirements, ( very few hardened roads, marshy ground, ignorant conscripts) ,
    But they had also done Life Cycle studies on tanks, and determined that the “life” of a tank from factory to combat, maxed out at 6 months,
    So T-34’s were made just “good enough”, and were designed to be effective with minimal training, and simple to run.

  83. jld says:

    They are doing this already in India but for power generators not vehicles.
    Very cheap and rugged diesels of a few HP to some dozens which run on anything including warmed up palm oil.

  84. Chris Chuba says:

    For Americans who go ballistic at the thought of Russians being concerned about Russian ex-pats to the point of helping them and believe that this is a trumped up issue used as an excuse for a Munich style invasion, we did have a similar situation in the U.S. The Republic of Texas came about because a large population of U.S. citizens emigrated to Mexican territory and then fought for independence with the help of U.S. volunteers who came in during the war. You could say that our U.S. volunteers were our polite green men. Sure it was over 150yrs ago but do we disavow it today like we do slavery?
    I have to laugh at how tidy and simple we like to make things for ourselves in the U.S. Our ignorance would be fine if we just weren’t so inclined to act so quickly and throw gasoline on every fire.

  85. CORRECTION: General Polk was EUCOM Commander at the time but not sure if he was SACEUR!

  86. Am I correct that in at least one effort the Russians turned 3,000 T-34s to scrap?
    Are they used anywhere today?
    Were they employed by N.Korea in June 1950?
    And thanks to all that relied and refreshed my memory of American engineer Christie and his “gift” of his suspension to the T-34 effort in Russia.

  87. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Right, specially during the night.
    Solar cells need to be cheaper than concrete to be used extensively in Africa.
    And you have to mate an electrical motor to turn anything.
    Lister engine – as I understand it – supplies a lot of torque, does not need an electrical motor, and can be mated to a variety of mechanical devices that could do useful work.

  88. SmoothieX12 says:

    “So at the end of this process the Russian Army 1. had the beginnings of a rational structure (brigade groups) 2. had abandoned the fantasy that it was a huge multi-division army with a temporary manpower problem 3. pseudo-divisions with insecure storage of weapons manned by dispirited officers were transformed into something more secure and purposeful and the process of disposing of obsolete and insecure weaponry could begin. With money and a stable government since 2000, other improvements have been made as well.”
    1. Cadre Divisions (Kadrirovannye Divizii) was a fixture of the Soviet Ground Forces and was rather a mobilizational issue for a large scale conflict with NATO. So are storage depots (bazy hranenia).
    2. Brigade structure IS NOT rational for the West and Trans-Baikal for Russian Army. This whole brigade thing was concocted by late Colonel Vitaly Shlykov who, being possibly a good undercover GRU mole and “economist”, had zero operational experience but still managed to become one of the most important “ideologues” of Russian military reform. Russian Ground Forces were already forced back into the division structure, as latest news so explicitly confirmed. Not for “great Russian military expert” Mark Galeotti, though, who still thinks that it is just a symbolic measure.
    3. Much maligned in the West conscription in Russian Armed Forces is not disappearing completely and it is all for the better, especially in a social and cultural sense. This is not to mention that very many “conscripts”, at least in Soviet Armed Forces (it is also true partially for Russian Armed Forces) had educational level much higher than, as an example, US servicemen at the enlisted level. All this was due to incomparably stronger public school education in USSR and, even, in contemporary Russia.
    It is a long conversation and most of important details can not be described in a short post but I can assure you that a lot what is “known” about Soviet/Russian Armed Forces is a matter of speculations and applying wrong criteria. Just a couple days ago I witnessed, yet again, an obvious baloney being spread by already mentioned by me Galeotti who took the words of very famous, for his bad judgement, in Russia Captain 1st Rank Sivkov and presented it as truth, while ignoring altogether what Russian Air Force Commander had to say.
    P.S. Being a young Lieutenant fresh from academy I had under my command several enlisted personnel who either were out of technological college (Tekhnicum) or had some 5-year college/institute experience. None of them had any difficulty handling very complex weapons and other systems. In fact, first couple of months I was learning from them.

  89. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Thank you in any case.

  90. CC,
    You neglected to mention Hawai’i.

  91. BB says:

    Col. Lang,
    Have you seen this incredible pro-Trump commentary by Andrew Bacevich?

  92. WRC,
    I don’t recall ever seeing a Bundeswehr wrecker or retrieval vehicle, but in my opinion the M-88 and wheeled wreckers were tops.
    I’m pretty sure the M-88 is still in the inventory.

  93. Bill Herschel says:

    I believe there are T-34’s in the trailer for White Tiger:
    The T-34 certainly won the Battle of Stalingrad which won WWII (it can be argued).

  94. Bill Herschel says:

    Much longer excerpt of White Tiger. Please watch.

  95. Neil R says:

    “I have had a life long interest in military weapory down to webgear. So assigned to support American units in CENTAG as well as 4th ATG and the German 4th Mountain division
    [they all wore the Idleweiss in their soft hats] and often guarded and in field exercises with German units to the extent possible I observed their command structure, logistics, and weaponry. I rode e.g. several times in the Leopard II and found it very superior to the American tanks long since replaced.”
    How did you manage to get a ride on Leo 2s? The Lehrbrigade.9 was still field testing them at Munster back in 1979. In any case that’s an MBT which was more than two generations ahead of M48s and M60s. The rides are incomparable as every tanker who has ridden M1s could certainly attest.

  96. Neil R says:

    “I’m pretty sure the M-88 is still in the inventory.”
    It still is and that’s 55 yrs of continuous production and service. I obviously have a very different recollection of line armored units (in both 2ID and V Corps).

  97. Valissa says:

    Thanks for the link! A very interesting read. After reading it I would not say that Bacevich is pro-Trump. I got the overall impression he was was both fascinated and disgusted, like so many others, but mostly disgusted. Also numerous commenters disagreed and thought he was overreacting… it’s worth reading them as well.
    However, I think Bacevich is spot on here:
    “Trump has cultivated a mass following that appears impervious to his missteps, miscues, and misstatements. What Trump actually believes — whether he believes in anything apart from big, splashy self-display — is largely unknown and probably beside the point. Trumpism is not a program or an ideology. It is an attitude or pose that feeds off of, and then reinforces, widespread anger and alienation.
    … There is a form of genius at work here. To an extent unmatched by any other figure in American public life, Trump understands that previous distinctions between the ostensibly serious and the self-evidently frivolous have collapsed. … in contemporary America, celebrity confers authority. Mere credentials or qualifications have become an afterthought. How else to explain the host of a “reality” TV show instantly qualifying as a serious contender for high office?

  98. Neil R says:

    “Were they employed by N.Korea in June 1950?”
    They most certainly were until the KPA ran out of them by the end of that summer. Of course the KPA 105th Armored Brigade was held up for three days by brave men of the 1st ROKA Division who used satchel charges as human ATGMs during their delaying action until June 28th.

  99. Neil R says:

    “I remember seeing the pair of T-34/76 tanks at the Soviet War Memorial in the Berlin Tiergarten. In my opinion, they are things of beauty that embody everything that a tank should be. I know the Germans contemplated reproducing them exactly as a counter to the Soviet design.”
    As you know, it was Guderian who had recommended that Germany should copy T-34s. IMHO T-34 was the most important tank of WWII. Without it I’m not sure if the Soviets would’ve been successful in the Winter Counteroffensive of 1941 or certainly at Stalingrad. The Panther design was heavily influenced by T-34 which shocked the Germans. Of course in typical German style they overengineered it (especially with the double torsion suspension).
    Many years ago I was told by German veterans of the Panzerwaffe that it was very very difficult to maintain them. They had surmised a typical Panther battalion would have maybe 35-40% readiness of their vehicles at any given time after D-Day. I distinctly remember more than a few thought Germany should’ve rationalized and concentrated the production of PzKpfw IVs.

  100. Medicine Man says:

    The key difference is that a good chunk of the locals really want the Russians there helping them, whereas even the Iraqis who were “allied” with the US were counting the minutes until the American departure so they could get back to the business screwing their enemies over.
    I don’t think the difference really has much to do with the quality of the troops or the resources committed, rather it is all about the nature of the interventions and how they are(were) perceived by the locals.

  101. Medicine Man says:

    Read closer, particularly the last four paragraphs. That was not an endorsement.

  102. Medicine Man says:

    Sounds like something they may add to the US infantryman’s rucksack if they’re not lucky.

  103. BB says:

    Sorry to characterize it as pro-Trump. It’s critical of Trump (unfairly, IMO). I meant pro-Trumpism in how it’s laying waste to the establishment. We are living in a VERY interesting time. It’s either Trump or a complete obliteration of the GOP and conservative establishment. If the establishment makes a treacherous move to take out Trump, huge amounts of conservatives will either sit home of vote Democrat.

  104. M-88 still in service IMO!

  105. Balint Somkuti says:

    Being no big fan of SOVIETS I have unfortunately tell you that especially in the area of cast aluminium the soviets were among the top countries of the period. The germans tried to copy the T-34’s engine called V-2 with cast aluminium block and had to abandon it since they were unable to reproduce it!
    Alas it also belongs to the story that they achieved it with US technology transfer in the 20’s 30’s.

  106. Old Microbiologist says:

    So far, it has been tit for tat. The US sends counter battery radar so Russia then does the same. The EU sends in a bunch of modernized T-72 tanks so Russia does the same. It has been going on like that from the beginning. But, Russia never escalates first. Ironically, most of the new equipment provided ends up in the Novorussian armament.
    The US sent in bus loads of mercenaries and many were African Americans, something rarely seen in the Ukraine and upwards of 200 were killed in one week prompting an emergency recruitment at the Formerly Blackwater HQ in Virginia. The salary was raised to $250 k for mercenaries to sign on for duty in the Ukraine. Rarely mentioned was the killing of US special Forces and the wounding of General Randy Allen Key (strangely an USAF general leading the counter-terrorism assault) by sniper fire while swimming in the Black Sea near Marioupol.

  107. Old Microbiologist says:

    Plus Lithium batteries are expensive, dangerous, and have a short lifespan of roughly 300 charge cycles. Lead acid batteries have severe limitations as well. So, for Africa the only “reasonable” energy storage will be compressed air. Tata has been working hard on making that economically viable. The big problem with solar is storage for when the sun is absent. The other problem is solar cells have a 10 year duty cycle, are expensive and drop to 80% efficiency (compared to new) the second year and rapidly fall off from there. By the 10th year it has fallen down to 60%. It is for these reasons mainly I haven’t gone Solar. That and in Hungary there is no buyback of excess energy and zero supplementation from the government.

  108. Old Microbiologist says:

    That actually is circumstantial evidence to me Russia was not directly involved in any way. If they were they would have pushed the borders back to traditional Novorussia thus providing a land access to Crimea. Now they are forced to build expensive bridges to provide water and electricity to Crimea. It would have been so much easier to just mount an assault and push the Kiev forces back to the Dneiper a river. But, that didn’t happen.
    The western MSM loves to demonize Putin but really if he was even a tiny bit like they say, all these miscreants in Ukraine would have been assassinated. Again, that never happened thereby proving by lack of evidence to the contrary, Putin is not the evil dictator as portrayed in the west. If he were a lot of things would be dramatically different. In many ways Putin and Laveov have been the responible adults in the room.

  109. rjj says:

    this is too good a thread to divert. that said, another contribution for misreading …
    worthy of DuffelBlog.

  110. Thomas says:

    “…(strangely an USAF general leading the counter-terrorism assault)…”
    Not really when you consider the rantings of NATO Gen Breedlove, the Air Force academy being strongly influenced by Christian Zionism, and the Ukrainian-Israeli backers of the coup project. The man would need Purity Of Essence, Borg style to get the command.

  111. Neil R says:

    “The germans tried to copy the T-34’s engine called V-2 with cast aluminium block and had to abandon it since they were unable to reproduce it!”
    The V-2 diesel had a lifespan of less than 100 hours. The Army tested T-34s and KV-1s at Aberdeen back in 1942.

  112. Medicine Man says:

    I generally agree with Bacevich’s observations on Trump’s political skills. Trump has a shrewd sense of what people want to hear, has no qualms about adhering to the “proper” behavior as it is defined by the media/political class, and perhaps most importantly he is not laboring under the self-delusion a lot of the political class is.
    Bacevich’s observation about the fine line between serious and frivolous is quite significant in my opinion. What exactly have the power players in Washington done to deserve their anointed status as “serious” people? For decades now all they’ve shown is the ability to accrue power and wealth to their own cohorts and the determination to avoid all consequences for their many fuck-ups. Trump is right to skewer them mercilessly and I know many die-hard liberals who have gotten grim satisfaction from watching him do it too.
    Whether Trump wins or loses in the general election, the elites in Washington had better pay attention to the warning inherit in this spectacle. The populace is not oblivious to their deliberate mismanagement. If corrections aren’t made, if they don’t stop running things to fatten their own egos, wallets, and delusions about how the world operates, there will be more like Trump in the future (possibly even Trump again at a later date).

  113. Neil R says:

    “The development of the T-34 was unlike anything elsewhere. It had more in common with the Soviet BT series fast tanks than the battle tanks coming out of Britain, France, Germany, or the US. The Soviets also had a jump on everybody in metallurgy and armor design, so they could get more protection from less. ”
    Well the sloped armor (the quality of armor plate and the design weren’t very good) and cross country performance as well as 76.2mm main gun represented a generational leap in contrast to contemporary tanks in service. Remember that any MBT design is a compromise of firepower/mobility/protection. Simply other than the 88mm Flak, the Germans did not have anything that could reliably knock out T-34s at usual engagement range (or worse KV-1s and certainly rare KV-2s) during Barbarossa. German troops referred to 37mm PAK 36s as door knockers. And T-34s had outstanding cross country mobility.
    However there were some real weaknesses in the design of T-34/76. Optics were terrible. As soon as Soviet crews buttoned up they had terrible situational awareness. They also lacked shielded radios. The use of 3 man crew meant that target acquisition and firing rate was going to be much worse than their adversary. (The same problem existed for the French in 1940) However as I stated elsewhere, T-34’s strengths covered up the obvious weaknesses of the Red Army at tactical level in two campaigns that mattered namely the Winter Counteroffensive and Operation Uranus.

  114. SmoothieX12 says:

    “But, that didn’t happen.”
    It couldn’t have happened for a number of major reasons which, when combined, would have outweighed any purely military, that is operational, considerations. There is very little doubt that Russia Armed Forces could do what you described militarily, but, as I already stated in previous post–that, almost 100%, would have initiated NATO’s movement Eastward. At that time Russia could not afford to do that. Of course, today, with 20/20 hindsight, all types of BSers such as Markov or, ever hysterical, so called Colonel Cassad say that it should have been done. Sure, but at that time abrupt and severe economic sanctions could have harmed Russia way more than they did later. The slope, the gradient, so to speak, of escalation mattered great deal and it was a defining factor in emerging strategy. Russia’s behavior in 2014-2015 was what one can call Bismarck’s approach to politics as the art of possible.
    As per demonization of Putin–nothing new here. One can hide hatred only so long. One of the Russia’s “scholars” could take it only so long before he properly expressed himself. He still teaches…Russian history.
    The attitude of Western power “elites” (majority of them, anyway) towards Russia ranges from moderately negative to open racial (and cultural) revulsion. It is only going to increase over time. But that is the subject of a separate discussion. i am sure number of Ph.D theses could be written on that issue and they should be written. For the West, Russians and Russia will always be the place where bears violently take vodka from adolescent children on the streets. In the end, Seth got it right.

  115. Neil R says:

    “The use of 3 man crew meant that target acquisition and firing rate was going to be much worse than their adversary.”
    This should’ve been, “The use of 4 man crew…”

  116. ex-PFC Chuck says:

    Re: “What Trump actually believes — whether he believes in anything apart from big, splashy self-display — is largely unknown and probably beside the point.
    Au contraire, whether he believes in anything and if so, what, is is central. He almost certainly is a narcissist and wants to BE president. But does he also want to DO something while holding the office? If not, he’ll likely oversee business as usual, like Obama has, since it’s the path of least resistance. But if he does want to DO something what is it?

  117. Valissa says:

    “But if he does want to DO something what is it?”
    That is a good question. My current theory is that he’s got such a big ego he will want to accomplish a few things he can crow about. He will want to bash a few elite heads because he’s not one of the “cool kids” of the Borg elite and he’s got grudges. Against whom exactly I have no idea, just basing my theories on his character traits as I perceive them.
    Who his possible”accomplishments” will benefit is open to debate. I expect he’ll do some deals with the other elites and he might be serious about bringing more jobs, companies and manufacturing back to the US. He’s old enough to want a legacy to crown his career and to brag about in his future presidential library. He’s pugnacious enough to fight for what he wants. Where that leads the country, I have no idea. But his attitude is refreshing compared to the complacency of the Democratic party and their oh so predictable candidates… who will promise the typical liberal dreams in their typical liberal speeches and end up doing nothing (very little) to fulfill them, and will continue along the neoliberal path.

  118. Fred says:

    Neil R,
    Shielded radios? What was the weakness, static interference from the tanks own electrical equipment?

  119. Fred says:

    Electronics will only get worse and the older they are the harder it is to get repair parts.

  120. Alexey says:

    Yep. It was claimed that him leaving the scene was one of the conditions for providing help. He is quite uncomfortable figure for Russia because of his former career in FSB and his political views.

  121. Old Microbiologist says:

    I agree with you. I was merely saying Russia acts more sanely and is the only ones showing diplomatic restraint, often to their detrement. Continuous feints and attacks against Russia and Putin has yet to go all in shows me that he is an adept leader. He was faced with 2 direct attacks against either Russians as happened in Georgia or Ethic aruseians who were about to be slaughtered by the neoNazis we out in control in Kiev. That, coupled with direct evidence that the US was aggressively planning to take over the bases in Crimea, led him to offer the Crimeans a way out. The Donbass was just too much too soon after Crimea to goad NATO into starting World War III. Now it looks like Ukraine is either of little significance to the US now that it is like Libya yet another US created failed state, or is about to be tossed under the bus. Watch for the truth about MH-17. When that gets released by the US, and there is zero doubt they have all the necessary evidence, then you know Ukraine is being thrown back at Russia to pay for all the devestation and rebuilding. There is no way the US. Is ever going to foot that bill.

  122. Neil R says:

    “Shielded radios? What was the weakness, static interference from the tanks own electrical equipment?”
    Yup. Plus engine and treads generate static. I should note that only command tanks had radios. However the lack of radio really undercut unit effectiveness a great deal. Guderian was a former signals officer who had pioneered radio communication in tanks during the interwar period.

  123. Aristonicus says:

    Regarding the 1282nd storage base (the A–2730 MU) at Artemivsk. On June 20th, 2014 it was taken by the separatists’ assault, but on 6th of July the Ukrainian flag was raised above Artemivsk again. To quote the Cyberberkut captured documents: “06/20/2014, as a result of unidentified armed forces attack at the 1282 Tank Armor and Weapon Supply Center (the A–2730 MU, Artemivsk, Donets’k oblast) has lost (remain in the hands of militants): Tanks Т–64 – 14 items, IFV – 12 items, 2S1 Gvozdika — 7 items, MB-21 Grad — 9 items, 82 mm mortars – 10 items”

  124. Chris Chuba says:

    The later model T34-85 had a 5 man crew with a 3 man turret with a commander, gunner, and loader. This was a comparable arrangement to the Pz IV. The radio was now in the turret instead of the hull, so perhaps it improved the shielding issue? Also, it had new gun sights. Also, they were able to produce 22K T34-85’s before the war’s end as opposed to the Germans producing about 6,000 Panthers.
    I would argue that the T34-85 was more than a good enough tank, it was a good tank and closed the quality gap significantly while not sacrificing the numbers produced.
    In general, I’d score it this way.
    1941 – T34 overall best tank
    1942/43 – the Germans got the edge back with the Pz IV and tiger and SPG’s.
    1944 – T34-85, IS2, ISU-152 from the Red Army while not quite as good as the Panther closed the quality gap a lot and maintained the Russian numerical superiority making it a bad year and lasting until the end of the war. Thank goodness Rubio wasn’t President in 1945 when Patton wanted to invade the Soviet Union, it would not have been the cake walk that he anticipated.

  125. SmoothieX12 says:

    ” Now it looks like Ukraine is either of little significance to the US now that it is like Libya yet another US created failed state,”
    Ukraine is a failed state and it was clear to anyone even with rudimentary knowledge of history the moment this neo-nazi cabal got into power in Kiev. After that, observing the prosecution of their, so called, “anti-terrorist operation” left no doubts about who is who. Ukraine is a pet project of good ol’ Joe Biden and neocon mafia and they are only interested in Ukraine as a cannon fodder against Russians. Once Ukraine will lose, which it is in the process, any ability to sustain herself, Poroshenko will start the war against Russia. This fact will complete realignment of Russian elites and will also complete West’s prolonged cultural suicide in Russia.

  126. Thomas says:

    Old Microbiologist,
    “Watch for the truth about MH-17. When that gets released by the US, and there is zero doubt they have all the necessary evidence, then you know Ukraine is being thrown back at Russia to pay for all the devestation and rebuilding.”
    So it was the Kruel Klown Kolomoyskyi freelancing, thereby forcing Cookie Momma Nuland and the USG to cover-up her wayward urchin’s fuck-up? If so what was the motive, false flag for NATO intervention or the much speculated theory that the perpetrators thought they were ambushing Putin’s plane?
    I have read awhile back that some State Dept flunkies where presented the evidence Russia had and responded in their typical unprofessional manner by saying eff you. Those fools probably didn’t realize at the time that information was shared with other Countries and by sticking to their narrative further destroyed what remaining credibility they had.

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