Logistical, Strategic And Tactical Analysis Of The Russian War Against Ukraine

BY Herschel Smith
9 months ago

The intention is for this to be oriented towards a logistical, strategic and tactical analysis of the current war in Ukraine.  I would like to approach it from the perspective of a more clinical analysis rather than a personal commitment to winners and losers.  However, it’s worth pointing out a few of the main points of contention in the geopolitical scene and briefly weighing in on the morality of the conflict.

Then I’ll provide an extended summary of the strategy Putin’s generals have pursued thus far, followed by a number of observations on tactics, techniques and procedures we’ve seen in use.  I’ve tried to use confirmed sources (usually redundant reports, or reports that intersect with the main points I want to make).  Finally, I’ll close with a number of videos I’ve culled from the news reports available at the time of posting.

It is noteworthy that I’ve tried to ensure the correctness and accuracy of the sources, but I can’t make assurances in every case.  The reader is appropriately warned.  With that said, a number of the sources are obviously correct (e.g., you can be fairly certain that when you hear a British voice and an American voice in a video during fighting, and they refer to a Russian helicopter overhead, the likelihood is that it has nothing to do with fighting in Afghanistan, although I can think of operations in Northern Africa where this might have occurred even though it doesn’t purport to be anything other than Ukraine).  The major things (e.g., strategy) are obvious from looking at the blunders to date.  Some of the videos simply cannot be completely verified without financial resources and backing.  Trust at your own risk.  That’s the best I can do.

It should also be stipulated that Elon Musk has virtually assured Ukraine of connectivity (Starlink service is now active in Ukraine.  More terminals en route), while Anonymous has declared war on Russia, causing all sorts of hacking, connectivity and banking problems (video embedded below).

At the moment, Ukraine probably controls the information war.  That’s the way of things, and you may want to take that into consideration in your own assessments.  Glenn Greenwald makes some interesting observations concerning the moral certitude some people feel in their position and how it leads to the propaganda campaign.  He mentions such examples as the following.

It may be that the lazier among us see these things through the lens of confirmation bias, but I never saw the first example as anything but a Ukrainian vehicle that had a track seize up (I’m part of a discussion thread where someone pointed out the signs of that).  As for the second example, I couldn’t care less.  I didn’t even read the whole thing.  It sounded like trash to me.  As for the third example, this is the most interesting.  I confess that I fail to see his point.  “Possible.”  Virtually anything is possible.  Moreover, it seems to me that if it’s true that it was a Ukrainian missile that caused the damage to the apartment, it doesn’t change the conclusions one iota.  Ukraine could have very well pointed out that machinery malfunctions and parts fail.  This sort of thing happens in warfare.  In order to have prevented this, Russia could have chosen not to invade, giving Ukraine the opportunity to choose not to launch the missile.

Most of Glenn’s examples invoke the intellects of people who wish to see an outcome and grab for evidence for the chattering class or the ten-second snippet crowd.  In other words, the Twitter crowd with the short attention span.  I mostly loath Twitter except for informative videos, and sometimes I’ll even accept unconfirmed videos if I can learn and hone TTPs (Tactics, Techniques and Procedures) from them.

Geopolitical Considerations

Copious Soros cash likely caused the upheaval that led to the election of Zelenskyy.  He has been referred to as a comic, but he is much more than that.  He earned a law degree.  If the data is to be believed, and assuming that there was no corruption in the election, he won his election with 73% of the vote.

For whatever reason his proclivities turn him towards the West for economic cooperation rather than towards Russia.  Whether this is a wise move on his part with the feckless and highly corrupt Western leaders is anyone’s guess at the moment.  But this is Russia’s “near abroad,” and allowing such close cooperation with the West might be compared to the U.S. allowing China to buy up massive amounts of land in the U.S. and Mexico (which is happening as we speak) or ensconce weapons on the Southern border.  Putin has a legitimate concern for the safety of Russia when it comes to an ever-expanding NATO and living with military infrastructure on his border.

That’s not the reason for the current war.  Putin’s real concern is replacing the petro-dollar with the petro-Ruble.  This all has to do with energy – its production, transmission and usage, and the wealth this creates.  NATO is a pretext for the current war.  Putin is certainly corrupt, Zelenskyy may or may not be (time will tell), and the Western leaders are most assuredly massively corrupt.  Most world leaders are corrupt.  Picking one corrupt leader over another corrupt leader from a moral perspective is rather like bathing and smooching with swine.

The most important consideration is the fact that Ukrainians don’t want the Russians there (as I will demonstrate in the data below).  They are uninvited, hated, and considered enemy invaders.  I have always believed in the moral right of secession (including here in the U.S.).  Covenants may be dissolved when the terms and conditions of those contracts have been violated.  In this case, Ukrainians don’t even consider themselves to be Russians or even Russian in origin, much less was there ever a covenant or contract that had to be dissolved.  The fact that the Soviet Union once controlled Ukraine is more evidence for tyranny, not justification for a future contract.  Control of others by force of arms is not a covenant or contract.  The main reason for opposition to secession is the desire to control others, and that doesn’t weigh in the positive for moral considerations.

As for my personal views, I’ll observe that Putin is a gun controller, and I consider gun controllers to be my enemy, whether in the U.S. or abroad (as for that matter, Ukraine has been fairly strict concerning carrying weapons in public until this war, although not as strict concerning ownership as in Russia).  As far as the desire to control others and the willingness to use force and cause pain and suffering to achieve wealth, I don’t see a dime’s worth of difference between Putin and “the controllers” in American politics.  The controllers only favor gun control because they fear their own people.  They fear their own people because they know they’re doing some illegitimate or immoral.

Logistics, Strategy and Tactics

As best as can be determined, Putin’s original goal was to drive in heavy armor, rush to Kiev, surround the capital city, and then drop paratroopers in to kill or arrest Zelenskyy and his government.  Then install a puppet regime, and leave (or leave some contingency of troops behind for stability operations).  This seems to comport with the actions we’ve witnessed thus far.  But Kiev wasn’t really surrounded and incapable of self-defense, and Russia didn’t control the battle space.

The most amazing thing about this plan is the ability of the generals to sell Putin on the idea.  It’s bad logistically, it’s bad tactically, and therefore it could never work properly from a strategic standpoint.  Meeting resistance, the convoys had to splinter to effect rear guard protection and answer defilade fires.  Eventually, the units splintered to the point that they were no longer a cohesive drive.

Logistically, trains had to move heavy equipment to the front, along with fuel.  Fuel was the limiting factor in much of the main drive through France and into Germany during WWII.  Under such heavy loads, armored vehicles are gas hogs.  They apparently didn’t believe they would encounter much resistance, and that they would either make it to Kiev before their tanks were empty, or refuel along the way, being met with Russian flag-wavers cheering them on as freedom fighters and liberators.

A stationary armored vehicle is a massive risk, and unless it’s a large scale tank battle (such as seen during WWII).  But the column typically goes much slower than a mad dash to an endpoint, with infantry in tow to provide protection for the vehicle.  At least, this is classic armored vehicle TTPs.  It’s what my son learned at 29 Palms.  The Russian army tried to use battle tanks as race cars.  More than that, when they figured out (late to the game) that there was no possibility of refueling because of the impossibility of providing security for refueling trucks, they began carrying additional fuel on the outside of the tanks.  This practice makes for quite the bomb for users of Molotov Cocktails.

Now Putin is having to turn more violent and send in his remaining forces currently deployed on the border (or near it).  He is meeting resistance he didn’t anticipate, but should have if he had listened to anyone outside his echo chamber of yes-men.  Yes-men are dangerous to leaders, but it seems that those are the sort of people who always get promoted.

Years ago at the height of the campaign in Iraq, an anthropologist deployed to Iraq to observe and assist and analyze (for example, they can understand things about tribal loyalties and cultural issues that the military leaders can’t or don’t have time for).  He and I exchanged copious email, and he remarked to me one day that while the military had discussed and even planned for massive hunger during the campaign, it suddenly occurred to him why that could never happen.  In addition to the largest population centers being near the Euphrates and Tigris rivers, he could go outside along the rivers and find ripe Pomegranates freshly dropped from the trees in any quantity he wanted.  It was literally impossible, he told me, for anyone to starve in Iraq.

Similarly, a good psychologist could have explained to Putin why the initial plan would never work.  Ukrainians don’t consider themselves Russians.  Ukrainians want the Russians to leave.  Thus, an elderly lady has the courage to call out a Russian soldier and tell him to put sunflower seeds in his pockets so that they would grow there when he died on their soil.  “You’re occupants!  You’re fascists!”  I have other videos of this same sort of thing occurring.

The tactics are also peaceful, and probably won’t be so peaceful in the future depending upon the tentative outcome of this war.  There is a lot of homemade weaponry being constructed as a result of events.  In spite of UAVs, modern warfare looks a lot like ancient warfare.

Folks trying to leave are living in a line of cars at the Polish border that is 20 miles long and takes three days to finish.  This sort of thing doesn’t happen when people trust the incoming government.  It’s fairly simple, really.  In America we teach our children to hate our elders.  Education at Marxist universities is the capstone of that treachery.  In this part of the world, this isn’t at all true.  We know folks who hail from this part of the world.  They virtually worship their elders.

The little old lady who busted the Russian soldier feels that way because she remembers life under the Soviet empire.  She doesn’t want to repeat that.  She wants to be left alone.  She has taught the younger kids around her, and they listened.  The vast majority of the Ukrainians see the Russian troops as invaders, occupiers and terrorists.  This is especially true when they target power plants, gas pipelines, oil depots and apartment buildings.

So the Russian generals misunderstood the culture, allowed their columns to splinter, overestimated their own resolve and underestimated the resolve of the Ukrainians, didn’t allow for protection of lines of logistics, and didn’t communicate very well with their own troops concerning TTPs or overall goals.  When my son deployed to Iraq, the Lt. Col. for his Battalion trained them using PP overheads on ROE (as a reminder for the training they had received), goals, comms, and general standing orders (among many other things).  He issued a ‘no surrender’ ‘die in place’ order, and explained why he did it.  He shared the full presentation with me.  So not only did my own son understand all of this, the Lt. Col. made sure that I did too.  The Russian troops seem confused as to why they are there.  In fact, one has to wonder if they are considered fully deployable units who have been trained, range certified and fully briefed.  Did they undergo the full workups required for deployment?

Here I wanted to embed a picture of what I believe to be Russian troops (and I believe to be accurate and timely), but I could not assure it so I didn’t do so.  Anyway, it shows virtually an entire platoon of Russian soldiers (along with multiple armored vehicles) securing a bridge.  My son remarked to me that it shouldn’t have taken any more than a fire team to do that, and that you would never park armored vehicles that close together ifs you follow proper protocol.

Concluding Thoughts

I think this has been a fair assessment.  Naive belief in the capability of long term victory against Russia is probably a pipe dream without more weaponry and more well-trained men.  It can be done without air assets (witness what goat herders did to the U.S. in Afghanistan), but it will require much more anti-tank weaponry.  Russia planned poorly.  Ukraine was late to prepare.  Putin is basically a thug who wants control of oil and energy.  Putin believes in gun control.  The Ukraine isn’t far behind in its limitation on the right of self defense.  I do not advocate U.S. involvement in the conflict.  I have never advocated for foreign misadventures.  I will not change my views on that.  In fact, I do not even advocate that the U.S. send weapons to foreign buyers without first rescinding the NFA, GCA and Hughes Amendment and legalizing ownership and manufacture of machine guns for the general population in the U.S..  We have human rights problems at home before we tackle problems abroad.  Before we send machine guns to foreigners, we need to send them to Americans.

Russia clearly hasn’t engaged all of its armor and troops, nor even its air assets.  There is more to come, proven by the fact that more is on the way as I write.  It would be wildly inaccurate (or at least without basis) to assert that Ukraine can hold out against all of Putin’s assets for any protracted length of time without more hardware.

But his strategy at the beginning of the war was retarded.  Ukraine was unprepared for the conflict, apparently believing that Putin was bluffing.  I never for a second believed that Putin was bluffing.  Putin has always wanted control over Ukraine.  Despite Ukraine’s laziness to become involved in preparations and in engagement of a civil defense force (acquiring weapons and training the fighters), they are more prepared now than they would have been a few days ago.  Putin’s retarded plan now ensures a much more violent campaign and many more lives lost, both Russian and Ukrainian.  His generals should be hung from the nearest lamppost, along with most U.S, generals.  Putin will not give up – and neither will Ukraine.

As for the armored column approaching Kiev, this is what it looks like.

For a quick analysis, in order to defeat this column, weaponry is needed, a lot of it, and immediately.  On the other hand, my son says, “Give me just one good IED to stop the lead tank and force the others to come to a stop or splinter off from the column.”  You can ask him how he knows what happens when an IED destroys the lead tank in a column.  There is an “oh f***” moment after recovery of your senses if you’re still alive when SAW gunners are expected to lay down massive suppressive fires while others seek cover and concealment.  No other vehicle moves, and the entire operation is at risk.  Everyone is a sitting duck until they can muster a squad rush or something else.

Video & Continuation of TTPs

This will be a stream of consciousness regurgitation of things with running (and brief) commentary.

This Ukrainian soldier is self-confident.  Perhaps too much so.  He has a false sense of security.  But it shows that morale is high among the troops.

Ukrainian soldiers engaging Russian troops after abandoning damaged armored vehicles.  This is an example of why infantry is usually in tow with armor.  We discussed that.  These aren’t conventional tactics.  At least at the moment, the Russians are trying to engage in conventional warfare.

This video shows Ukrainians making homemade weaponry.  These are civilians, not army.

This video shows what appears to be a dead Russian soldier, or what’s left of him.  When bodies can’t even come home in body bags and there is nothing left to bury except a rib cage, it’s easy to lose support of the people.  The value of including graphic images such as this is that it shows the horror of war.  It’s not a pretty or clinical thing.  Warning: graphic images.

This is what appears to be a saboteur caught in a non-military vehicle.  From the pictures it’s hard to see if he has insignia, but if not, he won’t even be treated as a POW.

This is the video posted by Anonymous.  Thus far it’s causing massive problems for Russian TV and banking.

This is a discussion where retired Major John Spencer, chair of Urban Warfare Studies at West Point’s Modern War Institute gives practical advice to the Ukrainians.

In this video, you hear the voices of both British and American fighters (this is certain from the accents), presumably volunteers.  They discuss a Russian helicopter, so it seemingly cannot be of different origin than the front in Ukraine.

Reddit Thread

In these two videos, what appears to be Russian soldiers stole a money vault or safe from a Ukrainian bank and looted a grocery store.  This is exactly the sort of thing you do when you want to “win hearts and minds.”  Steal wealth and food from the population in a time of shortage.

My assessment at the moment is that Russia failed with their initial strategy.  They are calling up more armor and troops, and this is a perilous time for Ukraine.  It’s equally perilous for Russia.  They haven’t won hearts and minds.  Ukraine doesn’t want them there.  Their campaign is going to have to become much more brutal and full scale if they are to win.  If reports are to be believed, they have thus far lost 3500 troops.  That’s 70% of the deaths the U.S. lost in the entire campaign in Iraq during a ten year occupation.

Continued losses with boys coming home in body bags risks loss of the Russian public and continued cyber attacks risks loss of the Oligarchs and their business.  It will also cause a run on the banks, and could quickly tank the financial system.  Here consider what Trudeau did in Canada and how the banks and people responded.

When the dust settles, Putin cannot leave his troops in Ukraine.  They simply cannot stay there on a permanent basis, any more than the U.S. could remain in Iraq or Afghanistan on a permanent basis.  They will be hated, they will sustain a tremendous rebuilding burden, they will drive the psychology even more sour than it already is, and eventually they will be burned with gasoline or shot.

The financial burden will become too great (similar burden bankrupted the Soviet Union), and Russia should consider the experience of the U.S. in our foreign misadventures (where it cost the taxpayer multiple trillions of dollars to sustain the occupation).

War is expensive.  So is occupation.

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Comments

  1. On February 27, 2022 at 11:02 pm, George 1 said:

    Interesting.

    Thanks Herschel.

  2. On February 27, 2022 at 11:18 pm, Fred said:

    Had a nice conversation with Victoli of Ukraine today. Apparently there are Ukrainians in Knoxville. (Yes I talk real people, strangers, dozens of them every week. If you’re team doesn’t have an asset that can move among verying different people’s and interact to, ahem; share information, then you are behind.) Him and his friends in their early 30’s aren’t happy with the Russians. (That’s said a little tongue in cheek. Yeah, they’re po’d.) We discussed the fact that the west will destroy their national sovereignty just as thoroughly as Russia but through the soft means of global banking, mineral wealth extraction, and importing foreigners. They were aware of this if only remotely but they have an immediate problem In the form of a Russian military invasion.

    The reports (real people not fake news) are largely true. Russia is having problems on multiple levels including resistance which appears to be becoming massive, decentralized small cell groups. No government can beat that type of resistance. It’s going to end up being a huge plus for the Ukrainians that they were unprepared. Thousands small cells that have no idea whatever of the other cells, who is in them, capabilities and etc etc. Yeah, Russia is in trouble at this level BIG TIME. It’s a decentralized nightmare the likes of which can never be crushed.

    Also the word of mouth is true about poor coordination among Russian military forces, and also supply problems.

    Victoli ( I suspect that’s not his name) seemed most happy to hear that someone understood their rights to personal and national sovereignty. I’m too old to go fight in Ukraine I told them. They understood.

  3. On February 28, 2022 at 12:08 am, A. C. said:

    “Putin has a legitimate concern for the safety of Russia when it comes to an ever-expanding NATO and living with military infrastructure on his border.”

    Americans and the citizens of the original NATO members either don’t know or forgot something that the new NATO members haven’t and don’t want to: The boot of Soviet oppression on their necks. Why did a Polish artist feel he had to make a statue of a Red Army soldier raping a woman at gunpoint in 2013 decades after the worst of the Red Army plunder and rape? It caused a minor international incident. Those nations still remember. Speaking of remembering, remember also that Putin was a part of that rising through the ranks of the KGB, the Soviet organization tasked with, among other cruel things, ensuring the Russian boot stayed firmly on the necks of those nations in the Warsaw Pact.

  4. On February 28, 2022 at 12:17 am, Herschel Smith said:

    @Fred,

    A thought occurs to me. Imagine learning that Putin’s strategy was to conquer Ukraine in order to stall or stop the advance of NATO on his borders, and that he was happy to learn that Ukraine was now on the front lines of a NATO attack rather than his motherland Russia.

    Does that make you feel better about being an apparatchik of Russia? Does that win hearts and minds in Ukraine?

    He has replaced his risk with yours. How’s that for winning hearts and minds?

  5. On February 28, 2022 at 2:21 am, Ray Kempisty said:

    The Russian leaders obviously never watched the movie A Bridge Too Far!

  6. On February 28, 2022 at 3:33 am, Beans said:

    You can use armored vehicles like sports cars to push a fast force quickly into a location. But it requires the proper terrain. Like the First Gulf War.

    What we see is more akin to Field Marshal Montgomery’s absolutely brilliant plan called ‘Market Garden’ and trying to push armored columns up narrow, restricted roads with clear line of sight to the columns’ flanks from easily hidden locations. Perfect killing ground for anti-tank rockets, light armored vehicles, heavy machine guns and even friggin smooth-bore black-powder cannon from Napoleon’s era (if available, and with ammo and powder.)

    As to the improvised anti-armor hedgehogs, that’s how you make them. Link them together with multiple rolls of barbed or concertina wire and an armored vehicle will have extreme trouble breaking through. The hedgehogs will slow vehicles and break tracks, while the wire will entangle the tracks and sprockets and jam up the tracks, bonus point is that broken strands of wire flailing around are a major danger to supporting infantry.

    An interesting thought: Relations between Soviet and ‘Free’ Russian and the Communist Chinese haven’t been very good since the early 70’s. Several actual ‘wars’ have been fought over the shared borders, with both sides sucking badly. Now that Russia has shown itself to be a tad bit of a paper-bear, I wonder what the ChiComs are thinking? Good time to push into Siberia? Wouldn’t be surprised if it wasn’t being considered by the CCP leadership.

  7. On February 28, 2022 at 6:26 am, Wes said:

    Thank you for rolling all that together, sir.

    Anecdotal, contact with acquaintance there in Kyiv I reached out to; someone I’d conversed with briefly online over several years. (He confirmed previously for me that many regard the events of 2014 as a coup, fomented by US oligarch-based establishment.)

    He confirmed what has been seen in a couple of video interviews floating around as to resolve of many Ukrainians to defend their land. As one mother put it (having her ‘Red Dawn’ moment), she would tell Russian soldiers to “leave this land now because you will be buried in it,.”
    Putin has been suckered and is likely now as frustrated as the suits in Mordor-on-Potomac who weren’t able to entice Zelenskyy to leave.

  8. On February 28, 2022 at 7:37 am, Fred said:

    @Herschel, I had similar notion when I was putting together my thoughts about the conversation with those nice young Ukrainians. Putin doesn’t have to do anything other than create the chaos he’s already started. The mess, money, time, effort, and the rest are now squarely in the west’s court.

    Putin doesn’t have to win or even try to win. He’s disrupted economies and focused all attention in one place. Everybody wants to bleed the west dry (sadly, including the west’s own leaders) but from Putin’s PoV why not help the end of the America empire along a little. In fact, I’d be watching what Putin’s other hand is doing also.

    It’s just a thought.

  9. On February 28, 2022 at 7:47 am, Allen Collins said:

    Its my belief that there is something very wrong with Putin medically. The reports that Putin has physically withdrawn from everybody in his inner circle could be a sign imo. That strange visual with Putin some 12-15 feet away from Lavrov sitting at that long “empty” table says something to me. He is damn scared of COVID. Why would he be thaaat scared, underlying conditions. This is a man that tries to exhibit physical strength, show off just how physically fit he is in the years leading up to COVID. What has his Doctor found? What is my point with this? Putin is a product of the old Cold War (as am I), he believes Ukraine IS Russia imo and always has. I believe it is his dying wish to reestablish Ukraine as the Russia he has always believed in. That is why I believe he is that dangerous, and this move on Ukraine is sooo dangerous for Europe and the rest of the world. Why make the move now? He believes Biden to be weak, he believes that some faction of Americans in politics will back him, and Zelenskyy to be even weaker. Well who is Zelenskyy? He’s an actor/comedian suddenly thrust into leadership, he doesn’t have the experience, savvy of a political wonk, he isn’t a proven military strategist, in fact, he is the exact opposite. I believe Putin thought that once he amassed 190,000 worth of advanced air, armor, artillery, infantry assets in a U- shaped ambush formation around Ukraine, that Zelenskyy would fold. Zelenskyy would take the “first ride out” that was offered, and Putin would peacefully install a Russian friendly Gvt and that would give Putin what he wanted for the last some 30 years and got it done before he died. I believe Putin sees this as his legacy ever since the USSR dissolved. Well, Putin is screwed now, Zelenskyy didn’t fold as expected, in fact, the exact opposite happened, Zelenskyy has now become the image of resistance, a STRONG leader in the “HEARTS and MINDS of the NEW Ukrainian state. This is what makes PUTIN so dangerous right now. This twerp actor has motivated the resistance that will make Ukraine a thorn in Putins side, and Putin will do whatever it takes to get his vision, his dream, before he dies no matter the devastation to the land, the people of Ukraine, or the west. What do I mean by that, I believe he will employ tactical nukes. before he accepts defeat. I believe Putin is done as a Russian leader now. His citizenry don’t want war on their Ukrainian family, he has scared the shit out of his russian friendly european states (Germany, Hungary, Belarus, Romania, etc). How does he get out of this and save face? He doesn’t, which makes him dangerous yet again. If he employs Tactical Nukes, he destroys the tillable land on his doorstep, and what happens to his own border towns when the wind blows out of the west? Dangerous times my friends, the twerp actor bloodied the nose of the great PUTIN and the entire world is seeing this. I don’t see an outcome short of disaster.

  10. On February 28, 2022 at 8:27 am, Nosmo said:

    If US “leadership” is paying attention – and that’s a huge if – what they’re seeing in Ukraine is what Knoxville, Indianapolis, Lubbock, Des Moines, et al would look like if they attempt to force their will on us strongly enough.

    Fred’s point (above) about resistance cells popping up randomly with no structure is an important one; we saw that with the Tea Party and it took a massive coordinated effort on the part of the Uniparty Elite and the legacy media to damage, then destroy, it; I think the Ukranians are much smarter than the Tea Partiers were, with some additional tools – which seem to be arriving from outside Ukraine (better a little late than never) – they can make the situation untenable for the bear.

    The only thing I can come up with that would be better would be that same random cell creation coupled with the Swiss model of training and practice (Pro Tip: if you don’t already have at least one AR (or similar, plus ammo for it), why not, and have you gotten some good training with it?)

    As for NFA ’34, GCA ’68, etc. I’m quite a bit more than slightly irritated that Ukrainians have more Constitutional rights than we do. And, once issued, those tools will never be relinquished, if for no other reason than however it turns out, Russia will still be on the other side of the border potentially poised to Do It Again. And, with widespread possession of the Tools, a smart Ukranian government would move toward the Swiss preparedness model; Ukraine is in a similar position to Switzerland (so is about 44 of the 50 states, but that’s a different discussion).

    We should take heed of what’s necessary to resist a large government seeking to impose its will on a large population and not rest until we’re similarly well equipped and prepared because it’s now been proved to anyone with more than a 1-digit IQ that “preparedness prevents aggression” and strength, not weakness and indecision, is the correct position to maintain, and perhaps even negotiate, from.

    In the meantime, think about how you can support Ukraine and its citizens. The outcome will be important.

  11. On February 28, 2022 at 9:55 am, George 1 said:

    I had a neighbor 8 years ago who was a Russian immigrant. He had come here when he was 10 years old but still had family members in Russia. After the CIA led coup in Ukraine in 2014, he told me that he was afraid that Ukraine would be brought into NATO. He said that could be very dangerous because Russians would consider that a mortal threat. So there is that.

    I am no military man or much of a military historian but it seems to me Putin squandered the moral high ground. Since 2014 the Ukrainians have been shelling the Eastern Ukraine population. After the coup the Ukraine government actually banned speaking Russian in the East. Some reports say that tens of thousands of civilians have been killed by the Ukraine militias and the shelling. Most of the population consider themselves Russian.

    Had Putin limited the invasion to creating a buffer between the new LDNR entities so as to protect Eastern Ukraine and force out the Ukraine units he would have had the support of nearly all of Eastern Ukraine and much from the rest of Ukraine. Remember Crimea. People there wanted to be part of Russia not Ukraine.

    To attack Kiev for the purpose of regime change is a bridge too far IMHO. Not that Putin might not make it happen anyway but it seems to me he did not need to do that. All of his military objectives would be met by setting up a buffer zone in Eastern Ukraine. No more civilian deaths, no NATO on Russia’s Border.

    After all if it is OK for Israel to flatten entire neighborhoods because they occasionally get hit with crude homemade rockets that do comparatively little damage, then civilians in Eastern Ukraine should not have to put up with taking fire from modern artillery pieces. No?

    Question: Why did Zelensky intensify the shelling after Russia recognized the LDNR? Putin warned him after the Russians moved in to stop the shelling, instead he doubled down. That makes no sense unless you are trying to provoke an invasion.

  12. On February 28, 2022 at 10:24 am, George 1 said:

    I forgot to state my opinion of the tactical implications.
    # 1. Don’t bite off more than you can crew.

    #2. Try not to P.O. the majority of the population in any particular area.

    #3. When the enemy is over extended make full use of that opportunity.

    My probably simplistic observations.

  13. On February 28, 2022 at 10:35 am, Drake said:

    As a rule, I am doubtful of anything I see on the news. When it comes to the Ukraine, that goes double – I assume it’s a lie.

    The only question here is how long, and home much destruction is required before Russia gets exactly what they want – buffer states and guarantees that the Ukraine won;t join NATO.

    A few weeks ago, Biden and the Ukrainian leadership could have signed an agreement not to join NATO and this all would have gone away, which makes me suspect our leadership wanted this.

    8 years ago the Budens, McCains, etc. could have not staged a violent coup in the Ukraine against an elected government – and none of this would be happening.

  14. On February 28, 2022 at 10:39 am, Fred said:

    @ Nosmo, I get your point about the tea party but a peaceful political insurgency is different from a kinetic one. Frankly, if a hot war breaks out in the US anybody who shows up and claims to be able to help will be shot in the face and buried out back. No time outside “influencers” especially anybody with government ties.

    @George 1, I’d been thinking about the Russian east vs. rest of Ukraine historical and language mix. I don’t know enough about this to discuss it but it seems to be an important factor for Putin, the US, and especially on the ground.

  15. On February 28, 2022 at 10:54 am, Herschel Smith said:

    @Drake,

    He may (or may not) get exactly what he … “wants” … short term, but he’s going to get much more than he wants.

    He’s going to get an insurgency, and not only that, one with modern weaponry flowing into Ukraine, one with machinists and welders who know how to make IEDs, and one with teenage boys running around the countryside shooting at him rather than goat herders in Afghanistan.

    Welcome to Afghanistan on steroids. This isn’t going away for a LONG, LONG time.

    I confess I’ve been somewhat surprised at some of the comments. After what the old Soviet empire went through in Afghanistan, and after what the U.S. went through in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan, people (mostly Putin sycophants) are discussing this in terms of his “genius” and this being over in days.

    Days is a joke. Weeks or months is a pipe dream. This is going to go on for years and years with the insurgency he is creating. I guess people have short memories.

    As has been said before, if you break it, you own it.

  16. On February 28, 2022 at 12:15 pm, billrla said:

    The amount of spilled ink and spilled pixels will far exceed the amount of spilled blood in Ukraine. The West should have left Russia and Ukraine to settle their own differences. Instead, we have the leaders of the EU, NATO and JoeBama flapping their gums and trying to appear tough, while accomplishing nothing of value.

  17. On February 28, 2022 at 12:20 pm, Herschel Smith said:

    “The amount of spilled ink and spilled pixels will far exceed the amount of spilled blood in Ukraine”

    Is that a prediction? Are you predicting this ends peacefully?

    Anyway, if you don’t like me “spilling ink” over this, you’re welcome not to visit.

  18. On February 28, 2022 at 12:35 pm, billrla said:

    Herschel: I am a fan of your site and was not commenting on your analysis. My intention was to comment on the 30,000 foot-level view of the MSM and blogosphere at this moment. We are less than a week into this event.

  19. On February 28, 2022 at 1:08 pm, Herschel Smith said:

    Well this is all true. I have studiously tried to avoid stupid things like discussing the “Ghost of Kiev” which sounds to me like propaganda. Propaganda is expected.

    I’d like to focus on TTPs and learn from all of this.

    To wit, I don’t think Russia has learned anything about COIN, not from their experience and not from ours. Even in spite of the brutality of the USMC upon going into Iraq, my own son remarked to me just today how dumb this all seems to be and how unnecessary some of the untargeted strikes are in turning the people against them. So Putin’s strategy is now to get even more brutal, seeming to point to his belief that the answer to resistance is to kill them all and let God sort it all out.

    That would leave nothing left except scorched land.

    But he can never really kill them all. This would portend trouble ahead for them if true. He is building his own war chest of enemies, not war prizes.

    I don’t want fans (I’m sure that was just a figure of speech). I want readers to keep me honest.

    Y’all all do that pretty well.

  20. On February 28, 2022 at 1:39 pm, scott s. said:

    Don’t see much reporting on events on the Black Sea, other than Turkey has declared a state of war exists which allows it to exert certain controls over movement of warships in/out of the Back Sea. It seems Odessa is an important objective and can see long-term advantage of Russia holding that, if it was somehow joined to Crimea.

    As far as larger strategic issues, I have always seen it as a battle between Poland (or Poland/Lithuania) and Russia which goes back to the 17th century.

  21. On February 28, 2022 at 3:39 pm, bob sykes said:

    Putin’s goals for Ukraine are denazification, disarmament, and neutralization. All of those are achievable. Occupation is not one of his goals. A puppet regime is not one of his goals.

    Moreover, Russian progress on the ground is typical for large armies, and is comparable to the advances made in the 2003 Iraq war: 15 to 25 km/day. It took us over 3 weeks to reach Baghdad and another week or so to get some sort of control over it. We still don’t have solid control some 19 years on.

    Virtually everything in the news is a lie. Wait until the end of March, and then we can judge how successful the Russians have been.

  22. On February 28, 2022 at 3:48 pm, Herschel Smith said:

    Those aren’t goals. They’re stupid buzzwords that have no metrics or measurable outcomes. They’re just excuses.

    You’ve said nothing in 114 words.

  23. On February 28, 2022 at 6:19 pm, Max Barrage said:

    “If reports are to be believed” and they are not. The media has been lying to us for years, why would they be truthful about tis current mess?

  24. On February 28, 2022 at 7:19 pm, Hudson H Luce said:

    Putin laid out his initial goals in a pretty long statement, made right before he invaded. Replace the government with one that wouldn’t join NATO, and establish Donbass and Crimea as Russian protectorates. The history of Russian control of Western Ukraine goes back, not to 1920, but to 1783 – and for Eastern Ukraine, it goes back to 1645. Despite this, the people of the majority of the country have a distinct ethnic identity and culture as Ukrainians – even their alphabet is different. And they’ve maintained this for over 200 years under, essentially, Russian occupation. In Eastern Ukraine – Lugansk and Donetsk a/k/a Donbass, the people there, after nearly 400 years, are essentially ethnic Russians. Those latter two provinces attempted to secede from Ukraine in 2014 and form autonomous republics, and fighting has been going on there ever since. Here’s part of Putin’s statement on that:
    “This brings me to the situation in Donbass. We can see that the forces that staged the coup in Ukraine in 2014 have seized power, are keeping it with the help of ornamental election procedures and have abandoned the path of a peaceful conflict settlement. For eight years, for eight endless years we have been doing everything possible to settle the situation by peaceful political means. Everything was in vain.

    As I said in my previous address, you cannot look without compassion at what is happening there. It became impossible to tolerate it. We had to stop that atrocity, that genocide of the millions of people who live there and who pinned their hopes on Russia, on all of us. It is their aspirations, the feelings and pain of these people that were the main motivating force behind our decision to recognise the independence of the Donbass people’s republics.

    I would like to additionally emphasise the following. Focused on their own goals, the leading NATO countries are supporting the far-right nationalists and neo-Nazis in Ukraine, those who will never forgive the people of Crimea and Sevastopol for freely making a choice to reunite with Russia.

    They will undoubtedly try to bring war to Crimea just as they have done in Donbass, to kill innocent people just as members of the punitive units of Ukrainian nationalists and Hitler’s accomplices did during the Great Patriotic War. They have also openly laid claim to several other Russian regions.” https://streamfortyseven.substack.com/p/ukraine/ – the whole statement is worth reading if for nothing else to get some insight into Putin’s state of mind pre-invasion.

    One of the things not mentioned by Putin is the existence of either 26 “public health” labs – Bulletin of Atomic Scientists/Pentagon, 2022, or of 11 “bioweapons” labs, according to a Bulgarian journalist who may be a fount of disinformation – or not. But I’ll bet that these are a concern, and I’ll bet that Russian military strikes will be aimed at these sites: https://streamfortyseven.substack.com/p/public-health-or-bioweapons-research

    I hope the negotiations today were successful at ceasing hostilities – and that the Ukrainian people hold on to those guns and engage in regular practice with them. Si vis pacem, praeparat bellum…

  25. On February 28, 2022 at 7:37 pm, Fred said:

    @bob Sykes, it’s about O. I. L.

  26. On February 28, 2022 at 7:40 pm, George 1 said:

    To support my assertion that Putin should have kept his invasion to the east side of Ukraine, (actually better if no invasion had happened) see the attached map. The Blue areas are pro Russian and the Red Areas are not. This is from an Article on the Unz Review.

    https://www.unz.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/StockmanHistory-1.jpg

  27. On February 28, 2022 at 9:49 pm, Kimmon D Johnson said:

    bob sykes @3:39 pm

    “…to reach Baghdad and another week or so to get some sort of control over it. We still don’t have solid control some 19 years on.”

    You just made Herschel Smith’s argument about Ukraine for him. Think harder next time.

  28. On February 28, 2022 at 10:24 pm, Zorost said:

    If there was a war, where are the videos of battles? Both sides shooting at each other. Ukraine presumably has camera phones, where are these combat videos? I’ve seen better urban warfare footage on Worldstar. Where are the drones? News orgs have war correspondents over there; why aren’t they corresponding about actual war?

    It’s fake. Ukraine isn’t fighting back. Russia is hoping they come to their senses and agree to a deal. If they can’t, Russia will annex the Russian-speaking portion of the country and utterly wreck the rest of it.

  29. On February 28, 2022 at 10:30 pm, Herschel Smith said:

    George 1,

    If Putin had confined his invasion to areas (a) where they had taken a vote to secede from Ukraine and join Russia, and (b) Ukraine was trying to stop that, I would have supported that without hesitation. And I would have written so.

    As I said, I believe in the right of secession. Including today in the U.S.

    I am unconcerned about desired “buffer zones” for nation states because they fear some other country. You don’t get to invade other countries because you want them to be first to fall in case of some connected or neighboring country wants to wage war against you. That’s immoral.

    There is still such as thing as “just war theory” in Christian thinking. Or “Good Wars.” See:

    https://www.firstthings.com/article/2001/10/good-wars

    We will all bend the knee to King Jesus one day and answer for what we have done.

  30. On February 28, 2022 at 11:13 pm, George 1 said:

    Herschel:

    I don’t support Putin. Sorry if I led anyone to think that. No. There are no white hats in this conflict except people who are protecting their homes. I was merely trying to analyze what has happened. Not doing a very good job apparently.

    I was speaking to the 4th generation war aspects of the conflict. The entire thing is immoral IMHO because all of the motivations of the leaders are not to just save lives or bring stability. From the 4th gen war perspective a military needs the perceived moral high ground. IMO Putin lost that when he attacked Western Ukraine. He might have maintained the moral high ground if he had stayed in the East. IMO more areas that just the LDNR would have been in favor of leaving the Ukraine. Most people in the East IMO probably were not happy with people in the LDNR being shelled constantly.

    As far as the buffer zones, yes those would have to be with the consent of the people who lived in those areas to succeed. I believe Putin could have had that consent if he had played his cards right. It is a moot point now as that ship has sailed and Putin will most likely not get a do over.

  31. On February 28, 2022 at 11:21 pm, Herschel Smith said:

    @George 1,

    Yes, all on all counts. Frankly I don’t think he is very smart. He could have been honest with his troops about what their mission was. He could have politicked better. And even if none of that was successful, I would still have supported force of arms if Ukraine had tried to stop secession.

    In fact, back in 2014 I was thinking to myself that Crimea had every right to join Russia.

    As for your basic assessment of my views on this, I am not so much focused on geopolitics as I am the little man.

    “There are no white hats in this conflict except people who are protecting their homes.”

    True words my friend. True words.

  32. On March 1, 2022 at 10:16 am, JoeFour said:

    Here’s an assessment from Col Douglas Macgregor:

    https://twitter.com/skifflegirl/status/1498162217908273152

  33. On March 1, 2022 at 10:28 am, George 1 said:

    Another possible angle. Carl Denninger has done some math. He estimates that at present 1 in 30 vax recipients are suffering from debilitating side affects or death from the vax. As time goes on that percentage is bound to go up. We are only a little over one year into the mass vax program. That information is being furiously suppressed. This is all starting to come out so could it be that the cabal needed a little distraction.

    Is this why we needed a war right now? Just a thought.

  34. On March 1, 2022 at 10:49 am, Herschel Smith said:

    I wouldn’t put it past them, but such a plan would require Putin’s willing participation in the scheme – presumably.

  35. On March 2, 2022 at 2:20 am, Matthew said:

    I didn’t see this post until after I’d commented on your tank column post. Quite the discussion here. I stand by what I said above, especially after seeing your sources. We really have no idea what’s happening in the real battleground, which is the east between Mariupol and Kharkov.

    I don’t think Putin is necessarily in a quagmire that he can’t get out of. The Israelis have pursued a strategy for decades of destabilizing the countries on their borders. This prevents a large military force from threatening them directly, while also allowing Mossad to operate with impunity against whatever small terrorist groups do set up camp. There’s no reason at this point to think the Russians don’t have that as their goal.

    As a side note, perhaps unique in Christendom, the Orthodox Church does not have a Just War theory.

  36. On March 2, 2022 at 2:36 pm, Herschel Smith said:

    @Matthew,

    “As a side note, perhaps unique in Christendom, the Orthodox Church does not have a Just War theory.”

    Yes, I know. I have read Philip Shaff’s History of the Christian Church extensively, as well as many other studies in systematic and historical theology, and church history.

    The Eastern Orthodox Church has been able to survive in the SU all of these years because they see the church as subservient to the state. There would be no reason to have a just war theory.

    A better way to say it would be that the Eastern Church sees God as saying nothing whatsoever to the state about how to conduct its affairs. They are immune from God’s law, which exclusively pertains to individuals and the church.

    In contrast, the reformers see three distinct economies in God’s order: the family, the church, and the state. All are equal, none is subservient, and all must obey God’s law.

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You are currently reading "Logistical, Strategic And Tactical Analysis Of The Russian War Against Ukraine", entry #29493 on The Captain's Journal.

This article is filed under the category(s) Russia,War & Warfare and was published February 27th, 2022 by Herschel Smith.

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