Russian Tactical Adaption : Russo-Ukrainian War

Times Up - Ukraine Implodes

21-Jan 2022: We have moved this post from 2015 to the top. We have been watching events in Ukraine for quite some time. We will be writing a new post shortly - as it beginning to appear major hostilities in the form of a Russian invasion may be imminent in some weeks.

Why an invasion? To date, Russian annexation and activities in the Donbas have not yielded the political result the Kremlin would prefer in Kyiv. So why would the Kremlin simply repeat those types of actions now? For these reasons, we think invasion is more likely. We hope we are wrong. No one wants war.

For some background here is our writings in 2015:

With a destroyed economy brought on by the combined weight of insufficient internal history of/with democratic institutions, a systemic Kleptocracy, a 2008 Wall Street Crash, and a toxic housing bubble in Ukraine including a run on Ukrainian banks in Oct 2008, and finally, an I.M.F. Neoliberal stipulated austerity program (directed against pensions, social spending, and fuel prices) – the suffering is too much - economic desperation too great – the resulting nationalistic/xenophobic surge too strong. Times up - Ukraine implodes.

Though airpower has yet to be leveraged in a serious way directly in the fighting, the sheer seriousness and implications of events in and around Ukraine force us to write, as this could draw the Russian Federation and NATO (read: the United States) into a direct military confrontation. If Ukraine passes a referendum to join NATO this could mean (would mean?) NATO is effectively in a shooting war with Russia. Not only would it be a war that no one wants - it would end (fracture) the NATO alliance - and reduce events in the Middle East to child's play?

05-08 July 2016: New reports from PBS:

[Above] A still from a video from 30-May 2015. The USS Ross (DDG-71) Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer in the Black Sea is overflown repeatedly by a Russian Federation Su-24.
22-Aug 2015: Eight A-10 Thunderbolt II anti-tank/CAS aircraft from 303rd Fighter Squadron, 442nd Fighter Wing, Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, has deployed to Estonia for training with Estonian & Finnish Forces. This was after a 15-Feb 2015 deployment of 12 Thunderbolt attack planes and approximately 300 personnel from 355th Fighter Wing, Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona, to Spangdahlem airbase Germany as part of Operation Atlantic Resolve. These deployments are so small they remain symbolic.

28-July 2015: New frontline reports from Vice News. Again - Ukraine has cut pension payments to everyone in rebel-controlled areas - so Kiev has given up on unification or winning hearts and minds. The modern state of Ukraine no longer exists. The West simply refuses to acknowledge the events they helped create – they are not in control of.

03-June 2015: Major offensive appears to be underway by Russian/Pro-Separatist forces towards Maryinka and Krasnohorivka.
GIATSINT-B 152mm towed howitzer in action reportedly near Krasnohorivka
[Below] Massive fighting (offensive) underway in/near Maryinka dated 03-June 2015.

21-Aug 2015: Increased fighting to the east and north of Mariupol. A new springtime offensive by Russian/Separatist forces might already be underway.

15-May 2015: [Below] Russian-Pro Separatist tank fires its main gun and then is hit likely by elements of the Ukrainian Azov regiment close to Shyrokyne (east of Mariupol). Doesn’t look like a penetration. The reactive armor boxes on the tank may have done their work - making the exposition bigger than it normally would. Tank crew is probably ok - but surely they got their bell rung. It is a scary thing to witness.

19-Feb 2015: [Below] Russian/Separatist T-72 and infantry, clear out Debaltseve.

The idea that the US is to go to war with Russia to protect/impress Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, or Ukraine - would never be accepted by the American public (the American public is not internationally savvy so an actual confrontation would be rejected). The alliance would fracture. Our fear is some in the West may perceive bolstering-rescuing-expanding the alliance as having greater importance than antagonizing Russia with NATO forces at her border. This line of thinking is exceedingly dangerous. Bucking conventional wisdom - NATO would have 'a very bad day' in any military confrontation with the Russian Federation.

Why we believe that Neoliberalism, also called ‘The Washington Consensus’ orthodoxy has a central role in global destabilization and producing armed conflict. Wall-Street deregulation in 1999 are the type of activities stipulated by Neoliberal doctrine and the Washington Consensus:

"After serving only nine months of his sentence, Hitler left prison in December 1924. He continued to build his party and waited for a crisis that would rock the republic and make his movement a force in national politics. The Great Depression, which began in the United States at the end of 1929, provided that crisis. Desperate and demoralized people lined up in front of government unemployment offices. Street peddlers, beggars, youth gangs proliferated; suicides increased, particularly among middle-class people shamed by their descent into poverty, illness, and uselessness. As Germanys economic plight worsened, the German people became more amenable to Hitler’s radicalism. His propaganda techniques worked. The Nazi Party went from 810,000 votes in 1928 to 6,400,000 in 1930, and its representation in the Reichstag soared from 12 to 107” (475). - Perry, Marvin. Western Civilization: A Brief History, Volume II, 7th Edition. Wadsworth: Cengage Learning, 2011, 2008. Print.

Neoliberalism and Washington Consensus ideology and associated apparatus - must (must) be dismantled and jettisoned and as quickly as possible.

In addition, no Russian leader is going to allow a continued military-block expansion (read: NATO expansion) on its borders - given European history. The Kremlin has repeatedly made this clear. Ukrainian arms manufacturers have a number of weapons conforming to NATO standards - (offered to export markets) and this would by definition - be a militarily sensitive issue for Moscow.

[Below] Thankfully the White House does not appear interested (yet?) in calls for 'lethal' military assistance to Kiev? The Russians would simply counter any such move with evermore sophisticated weaponry.

[Above] So we are not sure what US General Breedlove is referring to precisely - but he is going to get us into a war with Russia if this behavior is not reeled in. The qualitative edge NATO enjoyed has largely evaporated over the last 30 years. The United States went off to develop stealth fighters, and Europe built new aircraft, but neither has an answer to the latest Сухой Су-27, Су-30, Су-35 Flanker series from Sukhoi.

The Soviet military that entered Afghanistan in December 1979 - is not the same Russian military that came out of Chechnya in May 2000. Invaluable lessons were learned. In 2008 Russia routed the Georgian military in very short order - and operating under impossible IFF (identification friend or foe) conditions no less. It appears a similar outcome is taking shape in Ukraine - and Russian airpower has yet to be leveraged. Analysts and historians in Russia and the West, really need to take a look at this.

09-Apr 2015: [Below] Good interview with a Separatists fighter. He alludes that more fighting is coming and that they may face Western TOW anti-tank weapons (delivered to government forces).

[Below] Report from Vice News dated 27-Mar 2015 that documents the airlift of US Humvees to Ukraine. Employment by Ukrainian self-defense forces of Western hardware will help delineate the IFF environment for both sides:

We did not help Ukraine in any real way in the last 20+ years. Time simply ran out on the Washington-NATO playbook for Ukraine. Time is not infinite for people suffering economic hardship. It should be noted the Crimean economy pre-annexation was in even worse shape than the rest of Ukraine. This only breeds desperation - not loyalty. The United States was necessarily incapable of constructing an authentic economic policy or security arrangement for Ukraine regardless – as the Americans refuse to re-regulate Wall Street and its banks in an authentic manner.

17-Feb 2015: Debaltseve falls to Russian/Pro-Separatists forces.
Photo: Baz Ratner/Reuters
Last summer,  Kiev cut off pension and other social service payments to the rebel regions around Donetsk and Luhansk. This policy would seem incompatible with the desire to "unify" the country by force. Kiev has already cut it off - so why the continued fighting to retain, recover, and/or occupy those areas?
[Above] New map of the Debaltseve pocket.

Some serious eyebrows have also been raised regarding: "The most recent top official to join the Ukrainian government is Natalia A. Jaresko, a long-time State Department official, who went to Ukraine after the U.S.-sponsored Orange Revolution. Jaresko was made a Ukrainian citizen by the president on the same day he appointed her finance minister."

It is important to remember that information control (misinformation-disinformation) are tools of war. However we will do our best to filter through to find authentic facts - but it remains challenging. Wading through a seemingly endless array of armored vehicles of Russian origin used in the conflict, make Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) extremely difficult.

[Below] 15-Feb 2015: No let-up in the fighting near Debaltseve. Footage shows what appears to be NAF 'Novorossiya' T-72B3 MBTs. T-72B3 is a recent Russian upgrade of the aging T-72B. Ukraine is not known to operate the type - however, a handful have been captured and may have pressed into service against separatist forces.

[Below] Footage from 'Azov battalion' fighting alongside Ukraine on the southern front outside Mariupol. Pay special attention to the symbology of the graphics in the intro.

[Below] 12-Feb-2015: Luhansk suburb being hit by GRAD or artillery fire. Power is knocked out.

12-Feb 2015: British supplied "Saxon" light armored vehicles supplied to Ukraine are reportedly for sale on the black market.

12-Feb 2015: A tentative ceasefire agreement reached in Minsk. With so much heavy weaponry deployed by both sides, it remains to be seen if it will hold. Expect heavy fighting in the interim. This is a dangerous time and the West should resist the temptation to supply arms or equipment to Kiev during a lull.

10-Feb 2015: The Debaltseve pocket has collapsed. The possibility of a double-envelopment increasing. How many Ukrainian troops have been cut off is unclear. An immediate cease-fire is urgently needed.
The real issue at hand is the inherent danger of having large opposing Russian-NATO forces in close proximity. We would encourage the White House and the Secretary-General of NATO to read the Pulitzer Prize-winning book by Barbara Tuchman 'The Guns of August.' We now know that President Kennedy drew from this book to help the United States navigate the Cuban Missile Crisis, including the need to avoid the unpredictable, uncontrollable, and indeed unimaginable sequence of events that rapid escalation can produce. Let's hope that both NATO and Russian generals impress this upon their leadership respectively."Eyeball-to-eyeball" is an inexcusable dangerous myth.

[Below] 10-Feb 2015: A truly frightening video of Kramatorsk being hit by Russian/Pro-separatist artillery or BM-30 class artillery-rockets. Indeed, Amnesty International said both sides could be guilty of war crimes. Another reason for the west to stop picking sides and stay out.All sides in this conflict have shown disregard for civilian lives and are blatantly violating their international obligations,” - Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s Secretary-General.

[Below] 08-Feb 2015: NAF/RUS firing 2B16 Nona-K 120mm "howitzers" near Debaltsevo. Produced in Russia since 1992. No known exports.

[Below] 07-Feb 2015: NAF/RUS motorized infantry in Chernukhin (midway between Luhansk and Donetsk).

[Below] Pantsir-S1 (Russian: Панцирь-С1, NATO name SA-22) reportedly paragraphed in Luhansk. Ukraine and Belarus may also operate the type. The main purpose of the Pantsir-S1 is to intercept PGM (precision munitions) and HARM class anti-radiation weapons.

Henry Kissinger asked whether he believes the West has “at least a kind of responsibility for” the escalation in Ukraine, Kissinger says:

"Ukraine has always had a special significance for Russia. It was a mistake not to realize that. Europe and America did not understand the impact of these events, starting with the negotiations about Ukraine’s economic relations with the European Union and culminating in the demonstrations in Kiev. All these and their impact should have been the subject of a dialogue with Russia."

Finally, in a video that frankly defies comprehension - American generals are handing out medals (coins/tokens) to Ukrainian soldiers wounded in the fighting against separatists. A sign of the entrenched interests encouraging escalation? Whatever this is - it plays beautifully into the Kremlin narrative about American intent.

[Avove/Below] Knocked out NAF tank company reportedly near Vuhlehirsk. Below is a T-72B which Ukraine and Russia both operate. The particular T-72 below may have been a former captured Ukrainian machine in use with NAF forces. With the exact same vehicles changing hands back-and-forth - IFF (Identification Friend or Foe) conditions in this conflict should be understood as 'extreme.'
We wish the Russians were not conducting their affairs in this manner - but we are seeing a textbook example of Russian 'sphere of influence' and strategic interests. The West should steer clear of this mess they helped create. Besides, we have not helped Ukraine in any real way in the last 20+ years, so the clock finally just - ran out. Time is not infinite for people suffering. Indeed, Ukraine has become a country where well-trained workers and professionals earn wages that are (or fast approaching being) below China. Many perceive a better future with Russia.

Statecraft never operates in a vacuum.

Since last year UKR defense forces have been losing heavy equipment (tanks and armored personnel carries) at a rate in excess of 5-to-1. These loss rates are unsustainable.

Remember all combatants are operating under impossible IFF (Identification Friend or Foe) conditions. Another reason for the West to stay out.
[Above]  Increasing reports of UAF (Ukraine Armed Forces) units being hit by their own artillery. IFF (Identification Friend or Foe) conditions in the conflict are extreme - as these brightly colored ID markings on these UAF troops attest.

05-Feb 2015: The Debaltseve pocket is collapsing.
[Below] A break in the weather and this iPhone captures Hind attack helicopters on the move. Almost impossible to determine if they are UkR machines or NAF. Likely UkR as we have seen no known use of CAS by the Kremlin in the conflict - as of yet.

[Below] Compilation of fighting from both sides largely from Donetsk Airport:

[Below] 01-Feb 2015: Major upsurge in fighting in the last 2 weeks. Ukrainian defenders are facing encirclement around the city of Debaltseve (Donetsk Oblast of Ukraine) by Russian/Pro-Separatist forces. Debaltseve is a city of some 25,000. Russian/Pro-Separatist forces are on the offensive in eastern Ukraine the middle of winter. What remains of the UkAF (Ukrainian Air Force) remains largely grounded and cannot affect the battle.
New insight into the Pro-Separatist/“Russian” forces fighting in Ukraine is that large numbers might be - to coin a western term – ‘private contractors’ (read: mercenaries).

[Below] 31-Jan 2014: Novorussian T-64BVs (?) either hit by UKR forces or drove over antitank mines. Reportedly near Vuhlehirsk. 
Event moving quickly - information will change.

Wading through a seemingly endless myriad of armored vehicles of Russian origin used in the conflict, make the identification ("IFF") extremely difficult. Ukraine is known to manufacture/possess and/or operate:

The T-64 BM2 'Bulat.' Ukrainian indigenous modernization of the T-64. Russia does not operate the type.
[Below] The T-64BV1. Officially Russia does not operate the type, however, could have some 4000 examples in storage.

[Below] The T-72A. Russia operates the type as the modernized T-72B3/BM/BV  (not pictured).

[Below] The T-72AG. Russia operates the type as the modernized T-72B3/BM/BV (not pictured).

[Below] The T-72-120. T-72AG with a 120mm KBA-2 [NATO standard ] main gun in place of the Russian 125mm gun. Russia is not known to operate the type.
[Below] The T-72MP. Russia operates the type as the modernized T-72B3/BM/BV (not pictured).

[Below] The T-72B1 and BA. Russia operates the type as the modernized T-72B3/BM/BV (not pictured).
[Below] The T-72UA1 Ukrainian upgrade of the T-72 made for export markets. Russia does not operate the type.
[Below] The T-80BV Officially Russia no longer operates the type.
[Below] The T-80UD Ukrainian upgrade of the T-80U. Both Russia and Ukraine operate the type.
[Below] The T-84 'Oplot' MBT. Ukrainian upgrade of the T-80U. Only Ukraine operates the type. There exist several derivatives of the T-84. Two are represented here.

[Below] T-84 KMDB 'Yatagan' Main Battle Tank
Whatever one's views are on who is at fault for this war in Ukraine - one issue seems to stand out more than all others. The United States and NATO appear to have no credible military deterrent any longer against Russia. We find this remarkable - but not surprising. The Russian military is more than a match for NATO and the United States - but only spends a fraction in real dollars of what America spends.

There appears to be no evidence to support a direct correlation between sophistication-quality of an army one can field - after say $150 billion dollars. The United States is allowing the Pentagon to spend ~$700 billion on overhead and junk while only getting ~$11 billion on authentic capability. The Russians can take-on our most advanced weaponry for ~10% of the amounts we are spending.

If NATO expansion eastward causes instability and war rather than stability and peace - then the alliance no longer serves any useful purpose.

Having NATO and Russian military forces on/near the Russian border in close proximity - not only increases the inherent likelihood, but also the consequences of an accident, misinterpretation, miscalculation, and misjudgment.

You are going to run out of luck one day.

Not to possess the wisdom to acknowledge this truth - is reckless.

A buffer zone is necessary with no NATO military deployment(s) or exercises east of a line stretching from Varna, Bulgaria to Gdańsk, Poland.

Your thoughts?

#NATO, #UkraineConflict

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  1. about money:
    1. the budget of military in US as i understand has all the research and development programs for new weapons in it, but in Russia research and development costs are paid from different budgets, because all design burros in Russia are state owned ( i think same is in china )
    2. US has a lot of bases all other the world, always has a presense everywhere, as no other nation has, this has a lot of costs for movement in between and to logistics of keeping these bases runing, the only other nation that has now many territories all other the world is France, but they do not keep military bases there.

    1. Hi Lulian, the same voices in America that say the US has the most powerful military in the world by a wide margin – are many of the same voices now complaining about the F-35 program as expensive garbage. We ask these voices “So which is it?” You can’t both assert you’re the best and also assert your biggest weapon programs are junk. Then you’re not the best – just the most expensive. So they’re both idiots - and not the best.

      - Boresight

  2. 3. the average wage of an US soldier is 15 times more that of an Russian and Chinese one

  3. U know that last separatist offensive is result of bombing donetck with arty for last two weeks or more?

  4. I've counted 39 separate "this time for real" invasion dates in the last 6 months, all claimed by either some part of US government or media aligned with them. I am certain I have missed some of them, because MoA has counted more.
    Ukrainians openly say (and even scream) how it's all just blatant BS, but they can't get the word out.
    Russians are doing nothing, an occasional exercise, but otherwise they sit in their home barracks (confirmed by localizing the satellite imagery supposedly showing them right on the border). They don't have any plans to invade Ukraine. What for?
    On the other hand, there is a word out about some upcoming NATO exercise in Ukraine...
    Someone wants Russia to attack Ukraine very much and everything is being made to make that real.
    But at least two countries are trying to prevent the madness - Ukraine and Russia.
    It is probably going to end very, very badly. Especially when westerner diplomacy is being done by people like Mr. Borrell and Mrs. Truss.


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