Archive for the 'Ukraine' Category

The revenge of the material economy

1 year, 8 months ago

Don’t confuse “material economy” with the Materials Sector of the market.


America’s narrow escape last week from a major rail-worker strike brought home an important truth: people who make and ship real things – let’s call them material workers – now hold the whip hand over our supposedly ‘post-industrial’ economy. Firms trading non-tangibles – currency, bits and bots – may still hoard the most cash. But when it comes to eating, staying warm and, for many, making a living, the material economy is what matters most.

Necessities always lag in the boom times as people consider that hard years may never come again, but when things get tight, suddenly everybody wants to eat and stay warm in the winter. FYI, that rail strike may not be totally averted yet. The workers are a brotherhood; if one company strikes, they all likely will.

Yet the material economy has been hugely constrained in recent years – and deliberately so. This has become all too apparent since the war in Ukraine. Back in the pandemic era, thanks to the recurring lockdowns, the biggest winners were the tech giants and their supporters in Wall Street. Now Silicon Valley, suffering from the worst IPO market in 20 years, resembles something akin to a psychiatric ward, while Goldman Sachs is contemplating mass layoffs. Today, many green-energy projects and ESG funds (that is, funds rated as environmentally sustainable) are languishing, despite benefitting from massive government subsidies and relentless public-relations campaigns in recent years. Meanwhile, oil companies, once demonised by climate-obsessed politicians and activists, are now enjoying bumper profits, as are some commodity firms.

Massive subsidies and relentless propaganda don’t change physics or any reality.

The conflict between the material economy and the economy based in ephemera – such as the creative industries, tech and financial services – is likely to define the coming political conflicts both within countries and between them.

Economic wars can be devastating. Outside of the OPEC embargoes of the 1970s, America has only faced internal economic conflict allowed or initiated by its own government. There may be other instances; let us know. We’re not sure how the author is using the term conflicts. Also, consider ‘politics by other means’ in the same vein.

All wars have an economic component at least, and most, at their root, are a struggle for resources. Note carefully how the term “limited resources” was purposefully omitted from that statement. The US has no lack of resources and needs nothing from Ukraine or Eastern Europe.

The US first offered allied status with Ukraine. Then Russia offered a better deal, but Ukraine told the world they would like to stay independent. Oops, global bankers don’t like that. So, the US facilitated a coup in ’14. That was the start of the current trouble. Readers here at TCJ probably have more details to fill in about that bit of history.

Some investors look for disconnects between the broader stock market and certain sectors that should be bucking the trend. Despite the growing war, wall street does not appear to be gobbling up defense stocks. The three main Defense ETFs shot up in July ’21 but have since languished, giving back all or nearly all of their gains. XAR, run by State Street, has more midcaps and smaller defense firms, making it more volatile (stock price rises and sells off faster) than the largest by total assets, ITA, which is run by Fink’s Blackrock. PPA is the second largest by assets and is managed by Invesco. Wall Street doesn’t think Ukraine will amount to much for US Defense stocks, apparently. That may be true, but we consider that the war will likely spread into a regional conflict or possibly a situation involving much of the northern hemisphere. This is not investment advice. Keep reading.

The biggest threat to the material economy is likely to be the green agenda. Even before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the global energy crisis, problems with often unreliable and expensive renewable energy were accelerating the deindustrialisation of the UK and much of the EU – including Germany, which had long been an industrial powerhouse. Energy rationing could be on the horizon in Europe this winter. Globally, energy-price inflation threatens to drive far more bankruptcies than the 2008 financial crisis. And food inflation, which in some countries has been driven by green agricultural policies, has led the percentage of people worldwide experiencing food insecurity to double since 2019.

Speaking of Clausewitz:

Clausewitz’s most famous saying about war, that it is the continuation of politics (policy) by other means.

Here is the passage in full:


We see, therefore, that War is not merely a political act, but also a real political instrument, a continuation of political commerce, a carrying out of the same by other means. All beyond this which is strictly peculiar to War relates merely to the peculiar nature of the means which it uses. That the tendencies and views of policy shall not be incompatible with these means, the Art of War in general and the Commander in each particular case may demand, and this claim is truly not a trifling one. But however powerfully this may react on political views in particular cases, still it must always be regarded as only a modification of them; for the political view is the object, War is the means, and the means must always include the object in our conception.


2 years, 2 months ago

“And I also have given you cleanness of teeth in all your cities, and want of bread in all your places: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the LORD.” – Amos 4:6

In Amos, God is pronouncing curses in judgment for disobedience. In Chapter 4, verse 6, He explains that He has withheld food that the people might hunger and cry out to God for sustenance only to realize that they had forsaken the Lord their God. God is calling them back. Warning after warning. Famines, plagues, pestilences, and wars; it is the judgment of God.

We’re just making applications from the Bible, but these two facts exist; America has forsaken the God of her fathers, and hard times are coming. Make of it what you will.

In verse 12, He says; “prepare to meet thy God” and goes on: “For, lo, he that formeth the mountains, and createth the wind, and declareth unto man what is his thought, that maketh the morning darkness, and treadeth upon the high places of the earth, The LORD, The God of hosts, is his name.” Amos 4:13

The Ukraine “conflict” reminded me why I preferred to stick to the Pac Theater when I worked for the Navy and DoD. The history in Europe, especially East Europe, is complex. There’s no point in listening to Americans about the Ukraine conflict because they are detached from the history, and almost all of the political analysis is ignorant prattling.

But this war will affect you and not by some phony “I Stand With Ukraine” or “Support the Troops” sloganeering tripe.


It’s even worse than you might think. We have a global economy. That means this war will have a global impact. Expect food prices to rise seriously this year. Both Ukraine and Russia have other things on their minds than harvesting. Next year, there won’t be a harvest. Simply because there won’t be enough men and material available for seeding, let alone harvesting.

Oil and gas prices are rising sky-high. That makes your daily commute unaffordable. Not only that, it will affect food prices, too. Next year we will also have a severe shortage of fertilizer. Much of it is produced with oil and gas, and potash normally comes from Belarus.

Solution Primer

Both Via WRSA.

Conservative Sympathy for Russia in Ukraine War an Exercise in Cognitive Dissonance

BY Herschel Smith
2 years, 3 months ago

David Codrea writing at Firearms News.

That includes from the “right” as well as the “left,” and what that’s doing is diverting attention away from the one now-undeniable truth that destroys the “gun control” narrative: An armed populace is essential to a nation’s security. Citizen disarmament works to the advantage of a nation’s enemies.

So, instead of relentlessly hammering that point to where it cannot be ignored by that part of the electorate still receptive to reason, some “conservatives” are dividing into camps and descending into squabbles, with no small amount of name-calling, accusations, and vitriol.

[ … ]

Ehrlich interviewed Lira on YouTube and accepted his assertions unquestioningly when he condemned the arming of citizens and attributed the motive to the “Zelenskyy regime” wanting the Russians to commit “atrocities” (he never seems to say “Putin regime”). “This is clear,” he asserts as Ehrlich nods in agreement, “You don’t hand out weapons to civilians unless you want them to get killed.”

” … are dividing into camps and descending into squabbles.”  Dumb self-inflicted wounds.  Sometimes trying to talk to the patriot community is like trying to herd cats.  It’s an “us four and no more” mentality, with the four having to agree on literally everything if the peace is to be kept.

As for “You don’t hand out weapons …, I stopped right there.  I hate the controllers.  All of them.

Make sure to read David’s insightful piece this weekend.

Interview With HPS On The Ukrainian-Russian War

BY Herschel Smith
2 years, 3 months ago

Disagreeable Malcontent (DM): I noticed you haven’t posted much on the geopolitical aspects of the conflict.

HPS: And that bothers you?

DM: Yes, I want you to agree with me or else you’re a Nazi just like Putin said.

HPS: Oh, I see.  He said that about me?  He’s been paying attention to me?

DM: So let’s get started.  Do you agree that Putin is the savior of Christianity and all of the West?

HPS: No.  Putin is an assassin who came to power by killing, arson, and terrorist threats.  He has bastard children from a woman who wasn’t his wife, has never sent me Christmas cards, doesn’t care about me, has never met me, doesn’t care about the West, and isn’t a Christian and isn’t defending Christianity.  Besides, Christianity already has a savior.  And beyond that, Christianity isn’t a code of conduct.  It’s a salvific relationship with the Son of God.  Putin is not in that group.

DM: Huh?

HPS: Study the history of the church.  After the death and resurrection of Jesus, who is The Christ, Christians were being slaughtered in vast coliseums by Nero, and then by other emperors.  By the year 325 AD (Anno Domini), Christianity had so taken the Roman empire that Constantine was calling for a church council to settle the doctrine of the trinity.  In 325 they decided against Arius and for Athanasius, and declared Arius a heretic as they should have.  When it looks the most bleak, when Christians are under attack, and when believers pray, trust and obey His law, God uses that to conquer the world.  He is even now calling His people back to Himself and will use that to expand and grow His church.  God doesn’t need Putin for that.  He is the only sovereign.  Jesus Christ is the only savior, the only way to the Father, the perfect lamb of God who takes the sins of His people on Himself and saves them.  There is no other savior.

DM: You mean you want George Soros to win?

HPS: Um … what?

DM: Soros overthrew the last president of Ukraine and helped to install someone else, the current president, for oil, gas, and alignment with the West rather than Putin.

HPS: I don’t doubt it one bit.

DM: So by not admitting that Putin is the destroyer of the wicked, you align yourself with the wicked.

HPS: Have you ever taken a course in formal (classical) or modal logic?

DM: No and I don’t have to in order to know that you’re a Nazi because you don’t love Putin.

HPS: You keep saying that word.  Putin said he was going to “de-Nazify” Ukraine, without any metrics, without explaining what that means to him, and without any idea on how to get it done.  Likewise, one of the Russian billionaires called Putin a Nazi.  Apparently, no one knows what that word really means.  So I think you’re a Nazi.

DM: Am not.  You’re a Nazi.

HPS: No, you’re a Nazi.

DM: Am not am not am not am not … (covers his ears with his hands).

HPS: See what I mean?  You sound like a second grader.

DM: So you don’t think Ukraine needs to be saved from Soros by Putin?

HPS: Ukraine, like Russia, like America, needs to be saved by Jesus Christ.  The outcome of the war won’t matter in the least to the advancement of His kingdom, nor the need for the only savior.

DM: So you actually hope Zelensky wins?

HPS: I don’t hope any leader “wins” anything.  I generally despise all world leaders.

DM: Then who do you want to win?

HPS: The pipefitters, welders, roofers, mechanics and electricians of Ukraine, who did nothing to warrant this, didn’t ask for it, many of whom have lost their homes, livelihoods and places of work, and maybe the lives of loved ones.  I hope they win.  The common man.  I identify with the common man.  Rooting for wicked world leaders in light of the suffering of the victims of war is loathsome, nasty and despicable to me.

DM: But you know that NATO was a threat to Russia and that’s why Putin attacked, right?

HPS: Oh, I thought it was to de-Nazify Ukraine.

DM: Yea, that too, or whatever else he said.

HPS: Yea, well, maybe they are, maybe they’re not, but that’s not the reason for the war.

DM: Okay smart guy, tell me the real reason.

HPS: Well, I’m being patient with your disrespect, but I’ll go ahead.  Everything else is a pretext.  The war is being fought over energy.


HPS: When Russia attacked the nuclear plant, in an odd change of tune for Russia who has thus far mostly refrained from dancing in public (and for good reason, they haven’t had much to dance about), they went to social media and gleefully claimed that they now “own” the plant.  A lot of people have forgotten all about the standoff at the Malheur Preserve and why it happened.  Farmers were being driven off their land on trumped up charges of fire, when the fire was actually an approved, managed burn.  The FedGov wanted that land.  Do you recall the reason they wanted it?  Uranium.  As part of her authority as Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton had arranged the sale of a lot of land for which Putin wanted mineral rights.  She had arranged the sale through a Canadian shell company called Uranium One.  She did all of that for a significant donation to the Clinton Foundation.  With his “ownership” (theft) of the nuclear plant, Putin can also confiscate the spent nuclear fuel and reprocess it for use again (Jimmy Carter stupidly outlawed that for the U.S.).  This means money, money, and more money.  Putin wants to control the bulk of the world’s Uranium supply.  His actions demonstrate that.  The oil and gas pipelines are the other huge source of revenue.  This war is being fought over energy.

DM: But Zelensky made his agreements on energy with the West!

HPS: Well, I didn’t say he was a wise or good leader.  I don’t know what was best in that situation.  What’s best is whatever serves the interests of the Ukrainian people.  Given that he is a world leader, I have my doubts that will happen.  As for nuclear energy, Ukraine was about to make a deal with Westinghouse for the AP1000 reactor.  Putin knew that.  I know something about that reactor design.  I also know an awful lot about the RBMK-1000.  It would have been unwise in the superlative for Zelensky to have sided with Russia and ordered an RBMK-1000.  It’s not a safe reactor design.  On that issue, he made the best decision and I support that.

DM: Smart men have observed that history dictates that Ukraine be a buffer state between East and West.  It’s geography man, you can’t deny geography.

HPS: That sounds to me like people who aren’t Ukranian and who don’t live there deciding the fate of people who do live there.  Why should I pay them any attention?  What if Ukrainians don’t want that?  I guess they could either flee or fight.  I wouldn’t blame them for either choice.  But I won’t decide for Ukraine what kind of state they should be – that would be wrong.  That’s their decision.

DM: You’ve said that attacking a nuclear power plant was stupid.  The fire was in an office.  Do you now retract what you said?

HPS: Where did you get your engineering degree from?

DM: Just answer the question.

HPS: Attacking the nuclear power plant was stupid, and did not comport with just war doctrine because of its potential for harm to innocent life and long term harm to the environment.  Fires can spread.  The administration building is appurtenant to the auxiliary building, which is in proximity to the reactor building.  The reactor building is similar to a “Butler Building,” not the hard containment shell designs common here in America.  Furthermore, fires can spread from unit to unit.  This is a multiple unit site.  A fire could potentially take out MCC (motor control centers), power distribution panels, essential power supply load centers or switchgear, or plant power supply (e.g., D/Gs), rendering the ultimate heat sink unavailable for cooling of the core or SFP (spent fuel pool).  In America we have design criteria for fires in 10 CFR 50 Appendix R and NFPA-805.  Russian reactors are not designed to those criteria.  They are very susceptible to fires.  For the unmotivated and ignorant among us, that has nothing whatsoever to do with fire hoses.  It has to do with fire separation criteria, such as not having redundant trains of essential equipment in the same fire zone or allowing essential equipment to be susceptible to a common mode failure.  Attacking the nuclear plant was stupid and ill-conceived.  And go get an engineering degree and nuclear experience before asking anything else about this.  It’s making me tired to explain this to someone who is so totally and abjectly ignorant.

DM: Did you see the article at SWJ where a writer (JAG) justified the attack?

HPS: Yes.  His argument was basically that since the plant wasn’t destroyed and there was no release of radioactivity, the attack didn’t violate the laws of war.  So basically it all boiled down to a post facto determination that since nothing really, really bad happened, it was all okay.  There was no consideration of the fact that really bad things could have happened.  But then, this is the sort of crap I’ve come to expect from SWJ.

DM: Since you brought up the idea of just war doctrine, did you see that the Patriarch of The Russian Orthodox Church justified the war?

HPS: Yes, I saw that.  Be careful, though.  There is no doctrine of just war in the Russian (Eastern) Orthodox Church.  The differences between me, as a Calvinist and of the reformed tradition, and the Eastern Church, don’t stop with the doctrine of the trinity or even other doctrinal differences.  The Eastern church has no doctrine of just war because they have always seen the church as subservient to the state.  How do you think the Eastern Church has survived all of these years under Russian/Soviet rule?  The idea extends to the body of Christ too.  Not just the leaders, but the entirety of the church, the body of believers, should have nothing to say about proper and Godly governance in politics.  They see the church as subservient to the state.  The Roman Catholic Church has always seen the state as subservient to the church, thus they have always wanted to ordain rulers with their approval.  Only the reformed tradition sees sphere authority, with every sphere answerable to the Almighty.  Family, Church and State, all accountable to God and His laws, with the people of God teaching proper doctrine in all spheres, family, church and state, demanding obedience to the law of God (thinkers like Gary North would add Economics as a Sphere, but I disagree and see that as subsumed by family, church and state).  As for the “Patriarch,” I don’t care what he thinks.  Neither does God.  Oh, and by the way, I reject his Disney costumes, his gems and jewels and accoutrements, his wild and unseemly and fatuous getups, his puerile and pretentious clothing and crowns, as part of his station.  It won’t save him from his sins, and what he does, even when administering the sacraments, is no more spiritual than when a farmer plows his field for his family.  This is part of my reformed tradition, to see the common task as done for God’s glory and as a spiritual service.  I would sooner be around the farmer than the Patriarch, or for that matter, any “church leader” in the West.

DM: This has been a weird conversation.

HPS: Good.  Maybe it will cause you to think a bit more before trying to force me into decisions I needn’t make or pigeon hole me into geopolitical categories that don’t describe me in the least.  Don’t be dumb.

DM: Would you agree that Russia has tried to limit casualties?

HPS: By shooting at apartment buildings and hospitals?

DM: You’re just listening to fake news and propaganda.  Okay then, would you agree that Putin is a military genius and that the war is going swimmingly for Russia?

HPS: Only an idiot would claim such a thing.  They have lost more than 400 tanks now, and many aircraft and APCs, apparently cannot logistically support an army further than 90 miles from its own border, have no field hospitals and are having to transport their wounded and dead to Belarus to be cared for or incinerated because they have no refrigeration.  Mothers won’t even get to bury a body back in Russia.  If you lose support at home, the war is over.  Their tires are dry rotting, their tanks lack reactive armor, the APCs are death traps, they are having to rely on untrained conscripts who don’t want to be there and don’t know why they’re there, and they’re having to beg the Syrians for help.  How could anyone call that good for Russia?

DM: Well, do you think Putin has accomplished some of his goals?

HPS: Only if the goal was to rocket Ukraine to rubble and make even deeper enemies right on his own border.  And force NATO to think about re-arming.  Poland wants more jets, and Germany has just doubled its defense budget.  Seems like a pretty dumb move to me, but hey, I’m not the savior of Christianity and all of the West.

DM: Okay well as I said this has been a strange interview.  I can’t seem to get you to take a geopolitical stance and become a cheerleader for anybody.  Do you have any parting words for us?

HPS: I side with the pipefitters, welders, roofers, mechanics and electricians of Ukraine.  I don’t side with world leaders.  Ever.  In anything.  I don’t need another savior.  I have the perfect savior, and He is all I need.  As I’ve said before, “The desire to control others is the signal pathology of the wicked.”  The common man wants the controllers to leave him alone, and so do I.  The common man won’t be saved by Putin, Zelensky, Soros, Biden, or any sinful man.  He will be saved only by the perfect lamb of God, the Son of God, Jesus, who is The Christ.  Only he can take away sin.  Our bodies will all perish – but that’s not the end.  It’s only the beginning.  God is even now controlling the hearts of the rulers to bring about His will.  See Isaiah 46:9-10.  Stop panicking.  Have faith.  Prepare yourself and your family.  This has become distracting for you, and most of the world.

Attacking Nuclear Plants, Part II

BY Herschel Smith
2 years, 3 months ago

Via WRSA, this dumb commentary was seen.

What actually happened was:

At 11:11 AM Moscow time (about an hour ago) the authorities of Zaporozhye Region announced that Zaporozhskaya AES is under control of the Russian forces.

At 6:20 AM Moscow time the fire at the administrative building at Zaporozhskaya AES was extinguished with no casualties. It was probably set on purpose to create the media picture of “Europe’s largest nuke plant on fire!”

At 5:36 AM Moscow time the International Atomic Energy Agency announced that the fire in the area of Zaporozhskaya AES did not affect any of the main equipment at the plant.

At 4:47 AM Moscow time president Zelensky goes live to announce that the Russians are trying to create a new Chernobyl. A likely story, that.

Between 3:51 AM and 3:59 AM Moscow time fire crews were on site putting out the fire. Apparently, there wasn’t a lot for them to do.

Between 2:00 AM and 3:30 AM Moscow time there was a shootout at the power plant’s administrative building. Somehow it resulted in a fire at the administrative building.

So much for a new Chernobyl.

He has no idea what happened.  He just made that up.

Unless there is a failure investigation team on site, running fault tree analysis and MORT evaluations, and unless that team has access to event recorder logs dumping to computer point IDs (and retrievable and uncompressed), no one at the moment knows the sequence of events.  I know.  I’ve done these evaluations before for both routine events and accidents.

No one said it was a new Chernobyl (at least, one who was has any intelligence and no know who talked to me for an analysis of the situation).

What I said was very specific, and I’ll add to it here.  I suggested that the fire was either in the auxiliary building (the worst place it could be) or the service building.  Fire can spread from building to building and from nuclear unit to nuclear unit.  I further described the accident at Chernobyl at least in basic detail.  At Chernobyl, the test engineer bypassed the electrical control system that is designed to account for the fact that the reactor can have an overall positive power coefficient.  Worse still, the steam explosion blew the building apart, allowing the unmitigated escape of radioactive fission products to the environment and workers (as well as the public).

That was likely not to be exactly the same situation here.  I won’t go on about how an accident might proceed, except to say that it might involve loss of essential power MCCs, loss of emergency power supply D/Gs, loss of SFP cooling equipment, loss of SSCs necessary for the ultimate heat sink, or a host of other things.

The details aren’t the point.  It could have happened.  It was dumb then to shoot at nuclear power plants and it’s still just as dumb today.  Furthermore, regarding fire, American reactors are designed with fire protection in mind.  Here we aren’t talking about fire hoses.  We’re talking about safety train separation.  For example, you can’t have redundant trains of equipment in the same fire zone, or any other component that could lead to a common mode failure.

We have 10 CFR 50 Appendix R for that, or more recently NFPA-805.  I do not know that this plant was designed to that criteria, probably not, and certainly not upgraded to NFPA-805 or other PRA (risk-based) considerations.

Additionally, to say that a fire at the admin building wasn’t significant is stupid because the author is stupid.  Suppose that the EQ engineer has all of his records and calculations in the admin building pertaining to radiation dose to equipment and TLAA (time limited aging analysis).  They now have no capability for traceability of SSCs in the plant as it pertains to aging analysis and required replacement intervals.  From the perspective of EQ, it’s a disaster.

To say that something didn’t happen and fail to acknowledge that it could have is dumb.  That makes the quality of everything else this writer says suspect.

I don’t claim to be a doctor, nurse practitioner, tax accountant or lawyer.  I’m a nuclear engineer and have been one my entire career.  This writer should refrain from making commentary about engineering until he gets education, training and experience.

In other words, stay out of my shop, boob.  Write and ask if you have questions and you may learn something.

The Difficult Thing About Tank Columns

BY Herschel Smith
2 years, 3 months ago

News of War.

As the war in Ukraine continues, thousands of anti-tank missiles are on their way to the war-torn country from NATO member states and other countries to repel invading Russian military hardware and forces.

A total of 18 countries will be sending military support to Kyiv following a plea by Defense Minister Alexey Reznikov to send the besieged nation anti-aircraft and anti-tank missiles.

“We need as much Stinger [anti-aircraft] and anti-tank weapons as possible,” said Reznikov, seated at a conference table with a Ukrainian flag behind him. “In order to provide for reliable procurement of equipment, you may deliver it to Poland. From there we will transport them across the land and quickly saturate our defense.”

Here’s the thing about tank columns.  First, they must be able to sustain with both fuel and food, as well as other issues such as medical care, communications, batteries, power supply, etc.  That means ensuring security for lines of logistics.  Splitting off formations or splintering the column means you cannot do that.

Second, unless they splinter off, they are vulnerable to assault and loss of the entire column in the formation.

Third, the comms must be secure such that the enemy doesn’t know what you’re doing in advance.  The U.S. ensures this with encrypted communications going through MilStar uplinks.

Based on my reading assignments, the Ukrainians have so far caused huge problems for the tank formations because of two weapons: the Javelin, and Turkish-made Bayraktar TB2 drones.  Of course, these are both stand-off weapon systems.

This is fortunate for the Russians because if they had faced down a couple of A-10s, the formation would already have been destroyed by now and it would just have been a matter of collecting bodies to send home.

Never forget the Iraq Highway of Death.

See the source image

At that time it was mainly helicopters and A-10s (with A-10s doing most of the heavy lifting).  Thus far the Russians haven’t been able to ensure security for logistics, have already tried to splinter their columns (that led to disaster), and finally, they aren’t able to engage in secure comms.

Even in the first Iraq war, the M1A1 tanks used crisscrossing routes and other modern tank warfare tactics (here think Marine Corps satellite patrols) to avoid enemy fire and never give them a chance to lay in fires against U.S. tanks (see the Battle of Medina Ridge).  What the Russians are currently pursuing is more akin to tank warfare as it was planned half a century ago.

They can still win, but this will get much more bloody in either case.  But the Russians aren’t fighting German tank columns in WWII.  They’re fighting Javelins and drones.  A lot has happened in 70 years.

This is entirely intended to be a tactical analysis.  Please refrain from geopolitical remarks in the comments.

Learn from these mistakes.

Ukranian Troops Using A Wood Heater In Their Bunker

BY Herschel Smith
2 years, 5 months ago

There are a thousand political machinations we could discuss, but this one thing interested me as I looked at this photo (I am after all an engineer and logistics aficionado).  Ukranian troops are using a wood burning heater in their bunker (at least I think it would be wood burning, with a roll-up stack/flue).  At least, I think that’s what it is.  It may not be wise to mount that so close to anything.  A soldier is cleaning his weapon.

An Ukrainian soldier cleans his weapon as another relaxes in a small bunker near the front line on Jan. 17, 2022 in the village of New York, formerly known as Novhorodske, Ukraine.


Body Armor Test Goes Wrong

BY Herschel Smith
9 years, 6 months ago

Ukrainian pro-Russian separatist militants test body armor.  I … just … don’t know what to say.  Readers can complete this post in the comments.

The Coming War in the Caucasus

BY Herschel Smith
15 years, 1 month ago

In It’s Time to Engage the Caucasus we described a potential logistics route through the Caucasus region in lieu of the problematic and troublesome Pakistan routes (especially through Khyber).  The recommended route involved transit from the Mediterranean Sea through the Bosporus Strait in Turkey, and from there into the Black Sea.  From the Black Sea the supplies would go through Georgia to neighboring Azerbaijan.  From here the supplies would transit across the Caspian Sea to Turkmenistan, and from there South to Afghanistan.

In addition to this region being a potential viable alternative to Pakistan, we noted this region as being an up-and-coming economic power due in part to the massive quantities of energy buried beneath its soil.  The engagement of the Caucasus region would potentially lead not only to logistics routes, but political and energy partnership as well.  But the darker truth that accompanies this potential is that Russia is also interested.

Russia is interest for several reasons, including the fact that Russian bases in Armenia have no viable land resupply and logistics route except through Georgia.  Recent NATO exercises in Georgia infuriated the Russian administration, causing the Russian ambassador to say that “Differences between Russia and U.S. on a number of issues still persist. The most recent example is NATO maneuvers in Georgia. It disappoints us as it assures Georgian government that regardless of what it did towards Russia, it will gain NATO membership. Unfortunately, no lesson was drawn from August events,” referring to their 2008 invasion of Georgia.

This is the first admission of the real reason behind the invasion of Georgia, veiled though it was.  It was all about “lessons” for the U.S. and Georgia.  The most recent warnings are less veiled.

A Kremlin policy paper says international relations will be shaped by battles over energy resources, which may trigger military conflicts on Russia’s borders.

The National Security Strategy also said that Russia will seek an equal “partnership” with the United States, but named U.S. missile defense plans in Europe among top threats to the national security.

The document, which has been signed by President Dmitry Medvedev, listed top challenges to national security and outlined government priorities through 2020.

“The international policy in the long run will be focused on getting hold of energy sources, including in the Middle East, the Barents Sea shelf and other Arctic regions, the Caspian and Central Asia,” said the strategy paper that was posted on the presidential Security Council’s Web site.

“Amid competitive struggle for resources, attempts to use military force to solve emerging problems can’t be excluded,” it added. “The existing balance of forces near the borders of the Russian Federation and its allies can be violated.”

Medvedev’s predecessor Vladimir Putin, who is now Russia’s powerful prime minister, often accused the West in the past of trying to expand its clout in the ex-Soviet nations and push Russia out of its traditional sphere of influence. The Kremlin has fiercely opposed NATO’s plans to incorporate its ex-Soviet neighbors, Ukraine and Georgia.

Russia currently controls most natural gas export routes out of the former Soviet region, but that grip is coming under growing pressure from China and the West.

The European Union, which depends on Russia for about one-quarter of its gas needs, has sought alternate supply routes, including the prospective Nabucco pipeline that would carry the Caspian and Central Asian gas to Europe but skirt Russia.

Intensifying rivalry for influence in the ex-Soviet region fomented tensions and helped stage the ground for last August’s war between Russia and Georgia, which sits astride a key export pipeline carrying Caspian oil to Western markets.

The war erupted when the U.S.-allied Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili sent troops to regain control over the separatist province of South Ossetia, which had close links with Russia. After routing the Georgian army in five days of fighting, Russia recognized both South Ossetia and another Georgian rebel province of Abkhazia as independent nations and permanently stationed nearly 8,000 troops there.

President Barack Obama’s administration has sought to rebuild ties with Moscow, which plummeted to a post-Cold War low under his predecessor and focus on negotiating a new nuclear arms control deal. Medvedev and other Russian officials have hailed what they called the new administration’s constructive approach and voiced hope that Washington will drop plans to deploy missile defense sites in Poland and the Czech Republic — a top irritant in U.S.-Russian relations.

Reflecting the Kremlin’s hope for better ties with Washington, the strategy paper said Russia will seek “equal and full-fledged strategic partnership with the United States on the basis of coinciding interests.”

But it warned that missile defense plans and prospects to develop space-based weapons remain a top threat to Russia’s security, and said Russia will seek to maintain a nuclear parity with the United States. However, it added that Russia’s policy will be pragmatic and will exclude a new arms race.

The Captain’s Journal has recommended engaging the Caucasus by means of friendship, assistance and special dispensation for business partnerships.  This remarkable admission by Russia, signed by Medvedev, directly admits that war is possible over energy.

The romantic notions of influence in its so-called near abroad has been dropped in favor of more honest but crass verbal bullying and threats, targeted at an administration which wants to press the “reset” button with them.  The team of Putin and Medvedev intend to bloat the cash flow directly into Russia in payment for energy, this very energy being extorted by force if necessary.

Given the predisposition of the current administration to negotiate, talk, bargain and expect only the best of our supposedly erstwhile enemies, it isn’t apparent that Georgia, the Ukraine and other regional countries have any hope of continued sovereignty as it currently exists.  If extortion and threats don’t pave the way towards a re-emergence of the old Soviet style government, then they have made their only other option clear.  War is coming to the Caucasus.


Mutiny in Georgia

Obama, Russia and the Future of Georgia

It’s Time to Engage the Caucasus

Rapidly Collapsing U.S. Foreign Policy

Concerning the Soviets, Georgia, Ukraine and NATO

BY Herschel Smith
15 years, 9 months ago

Just hours before Russia escalated the crisis by recognizing the independence of two separatist Georgian provinces, Mr Saakashvili said Russian forces had advanced to the strategic Akhalgori heights 10 miles from Tbilisi.

Photograph AP

Michael Totten has written a good article from Georgia, and its introduction is hard hitting and informative.

BILISI, GEORGIA – Virtually everyone believes Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili foolishly provoked a Russian invasion on August 7, 2008, when he sent troops into the breakaway district of South Ossetia. “The warfare began Aug. 7 when Georgia launched a barrage targeting South Ossetia,” the Associated Press reported over the weekend in typical fashion.

Virtually everyone is wrong. Georgia didn’t start it on August 7, nor on any other date. The South Ossetian militia started it on August 6 when its fighters fired on Georgian peacekeepers and Georgian villages with weapons banned by the agreement hammered out between the two sides in 1994. At the same time, the Russian military sent its invasion force bearing down on Georgia from the north side of the Caucasus Mountains on the Russian side of the border through the Roki tunnel and into Georgia. This happened before Saakashvili sent additional troops to South Ossetia and allegedly started the war.

Read Michael’s whole article. Michael is always worth reading no matter what the subject is. Michael said “virtually” everyone believes …,” and that’s good. Readers of TCJ knew better, as we previously said that the war was about Russian hegemony and the reconstruction of the Soviet empire (the title of this article is no accident or slip of the tongue).

The Russians are now dug in, and Kim Zigfeld writing for Pajamas Media has asked the next obvious question.

A few months ago, the issue of Ukraine’s admission to NATO was debated. NATO told Ukraine that it was “only a matter of time” before it would be granted membership.

Let’s be blunt: That time has now run out. NATO must act immediately, and it must do more than simply give Ukraine a promise of defense. It must arm Ukraine to the teeth. It must make it such a hard target that the lunatics who “govern” neo-Soviet Russia will not even consider moving against it, as they recently did in Georgia.

The reasons are so obvious that they hardly need to be stated.

The role played by Russia’s Black Sea Fleet in brutally assaulting Ukraine has not been sufficiently reported, but Ukraine understands it only too well. Last week, Ukraine demanded that Russia give 72 hours notice before activating war ships at its naval base in Crimea, on Ukrainian territory (similar to the U.S. base in Guantanamo, Cuba). Russia said it would simply ignore the demand. The Moscow Times reported: “The chief of Ukraine’s General Staff, Serhiy Kirichenko, promised to fulfill Yushchenko’s decree. ‘The president’s decree on the Black Sea Fleet will, of course, be implemented on the territory of Ukraine. The Defense Ministry and the General Staff are among those state bodies responsible for this task.’”

As Ukraine stands up for its comrade Georgia, demanding that Russia not use ships based in Ukraine to blockade or otherwise torment Georgia without at least giving due notice to their host, Russia uses this as a pretext to ratchet up its confrontation rather than defuse it. It is a clear signal that Russia’s intentions towards Ukraine are at least as malevolent as they are towards Georgia, if not more so.

Or perhaps there are a couple of questions: [1] when will Russian designs for the Ukraine be effected, and [2] how fast can we arm the Ukraine and prepare to defend her?

Do you still doubt Russian intentions? Listen to Dmitry Medvedev concerning Russian recognition of the independence of South Ossetia:

Russia is not afraid of a new Cold War taking hold and is ready for “anything,” Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said on Tuesday in a television interview.

“We’re not afraid of anything (including) the prospect of a Cold War. Of course we don’t need that … Everything depends on the stance of our partners and the world community and our partners in the West,” Medvedev told the Russia Today channel in comments translated into English.

Asked whether Russia was ready for the consequences of recognising Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Medvedev said: “If they want to preserve good relations with Russia, they will understand the reason for taking such a decision and the situation will be calm.”

The world remains a very dangerous and brutal place, and Russia is looking to rebuild the Soviet empire, even at the cost of a new cold war. The faster we can get on top of this series of events, the easier, cheaper, and safer we will be. Lethargy and delays will only make the situation more dangerous, costly and difficult down the road.

If NATO cannot bring itself to arm the Ukraine and come to her defense, then there is no reason for its existence, and it has proven itself to be what we knew it was all along – a paper tiger. This might be the one good thing that comes from the Russian aggression.

Note: See Saakashvili’s statement on Russian actions.

Prior at TCJ:

Russian Thugs

Iraq Veterans Engage Russian Troops

Georgia Pleads for Help Against Russian Brutality and Hegemony

Russia Invades Georgia

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