"May we never confuse honest dissent with disloyal subversion."
- Dwight D. Eisenhower
"The United States has long maintained the option of preemptive actions to counter a sufficient threat to our national security. The greater the threat, the greater is the risk of inaction— and the more compelling the case for taking anticipatory action to defend ourselves, even if uncertainty remains as to the time and place of the enemy’s attack. To forestall or prevent such hostile acts by our adversaries, the United States will, if necessary, act preemptively."
- President Bush, West Point, New York, June 1, 2002
We decided that this image of a downed Ukrainian Su-25 best captures Ukraine's complex and intertwined history with Europe, the Soviets, and conflict - and its struggles after the fall of the Soviet Union. Promises smashed.
|Ukrainian Su-25M down 27-Feb 2022 between Kherson and Mykolayiv, Ukraine|
[Editors note: We are working on a new post.]
The rules-based international system takes a second massive blow. Perhaps even a fatal blow. This time it is not an American invasion of Iraq in 2003 using Nigerian yellowcake forgeries and waving glass vials at the UN but a Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022. The Unipolar world order that left America at the center at the end of the Cold War, has been toppled and returned to the Bipolar system. The implication(s) of which are beyond the scope of this writing presently.
If the Russian Army is floundering in Ukraine as badly as were are told - then NATO can reconfigure its defensive posture to stop a Russian invasion into NATO with a low-cost force of ISR, Patriot batteries, handheld weapons (MANPADs/ATGMs), slow-fly propellor drones, laser-guided artillery, and some landmines. Done. If the Russian Army is floundering in Ukraine as badly as were are told - this spells big trouble for bloated Pentagon budgets?
[Below] We now know why we only saw mobile phones uploaded onto social media from the Ukrainian side. "In Ukraine, it is known that the Russians are using the Leer-3 electronic warfare system - comprised of two drones and a command truck - as a means to locate Ukrainian forces. This system can pick up more than 2,000 phones within a 3.7-mile range"
From the avalanche of tweets and images coming out of the war, the Ukrainians are dominating the Red Army. Fair enough. The question becomes, why didn't the Ukrainians push the Russian separatists out of the Donbas sometime after 2014?
This video was brought to our attention by military author/historian Tom Cooper. Thank You, Tom. We have been trying to illuminate this issue with our readers. It is one reason we don't include or comment on every tweet coming out of this conflict:
The Turks have " closed " the Dardanelles and Bosphorus to Russian navy ships under the 1936 Montreux Convention. How this plays out is unclear. We think this is exceedingly dangerous because it could be (or is intended to be) escalatory. Perhaps the Russian can get around this by "reflagging" their vessels. We (the United States and NATO) are not at war with Russia. Let the Russians get bogged down in Ukraine - and stay out of it.
When Soviet tanks rolled into Hungary in 1956 and Czechoslovakia in 1968, both US administrations at the time did nothing. The risks were too high. Obviously, in this situation, any-all humanitarian and evacuation support should be provided to Ukrainian civilians caught in or escaping the fighting.
"In the late nineteenth century, the great powers of Europe involved themselves in a complex network of treaties and informal understandings. Most of these treaties were defensive alliances in which one party promised to come to the other’s aid if either were attacked. In this way, diplomats strove to maintain the balance of power in Europe. In practice, the continent divided itself into two armed camps, a development that anticipated—and arguably caused—war."
"In deciding how to respond to Khrushchev, Kennedy was influenced by his reading of “The Guns of August,” Barbara W. Tuchman’s 1962 account of the origins of World War I. The most important lesson he drew from it was that mistakes and misunderstandings can unleash an unpredictable chain of events, causing governments to go to war with little understanding of the consequences."
"The U.S. military has refused to keep a tally of Iraqi deaths. General Tommy Franks, the man in charge of the initial invasion, bluntly told reporters, “We don’t do body counts.” One survey found that most Americans thought Iraqi deaths were in the tens of thousands. But our calculations, using the best information available, show a catastrophic estimate of 2.4 million Iraqi deaths since the 2003 invasion." Link
The Kremlin invasion is unspeakable. We are simply illuminating the hypocrisy and duplicitous behavior of the main NATO underwriter - the United States - that lies and flouts international norms when those norms are deemed inconvenient - and so is equally repugnant. Let us hope this Russian action never approaches the Iraqi loss of life figures that the 2003 US invasion of Iraq produced.
The concern right now is that heavy resistance will see the Russians go back to a Second Chechen War strategy - that flattens everything. Like the Americans in Iraq, the Kremlin we think will have difficulty or be unable to achieve its political aims in Ukraine. But this is conjecture at this point. However, the Russian action in Ukraine combined with its relationship with China and India, in our view, rebalances the international system into two blocs.
|Russian attack on Ukraine as of 27-Feb 2022|
Russian vehicles are strewn about, out of fuel and crews have a runoff. We shall see what develops. So far only 50 percent ( higher as of 04-March) of Russian combat power has been committed. There are stories of Russian soldiers told: "that Ukraine had already capitulated so just drive to Kyiv." We count 9 areas where Russian forces have entered the country.
This so far has been a sobering departure from observations made on Russian military proficiency in Syria. We don't have much to say with respect to Ukraine's military except fighting in the Donbas - which evolved into a statemate/frozen conflict. Obviously, the Ukrainians are putting up stiff resistance now - and their fighters are motivated. We have seen almost no ATGM (Anti Tank Guided Missile) engagement video loaded into social media like we saw in Syria. Russian combat losses in Syria have been minuscule while at the same time strategically upending the Syrian war in Assad's favor and keeping the Syrian state from collapsing.
|Flight tracks of RC-135s|
Be careful of the cacophony of talking heads in Western media making all manner of assertions. And trying to figure out what occurring through the lens of social media is a daunting task. One is at the mercy of whatever is uploaded and/or screened. Presently the vast bulk of material uploaded on English language channels is mostly showing Ukrainian victory and Russian defeat. Lord knows what actually is occurring.
|Russian attack on Ukraine as of 24-Feb 2022|
- Poor Russian coordination and CAS appear to be true. Just like Syria.
- Russian don't have enough PGMs. true.
- Some TB2 reconnaissance videos have shown long slant range angles of 40+ km (stay out of range of AD).
- Navigating Friendly-fire/IFF problems would be an issue for both sides - not just Russia.
- Little to no video evidence so far of actual video engagement recordings - of MANPAD success - against fixed-wing aircraft (for either side). Success evidence is anecdotal at best.
- To the extent that both sides initially needed to fly low to avoid enemy AD and your own AD.
- A successful SEAD campaign requires some form of enemy AD powerup "emissions" (and own AD power down) for anti-radiation employment.
- Why is Ukraine asking for AD systems (and/or NFZ) if they had wrestled air control away from the Russians?
- The Soviet doctrine has always been to fly low when confronting high threat AD (at least initially). At least that's my understanding.
- Russia never used MiG-29 (presumably to avoid fratricide issues).
- Something is extremely strange about the Kyiv requests for aircraft. If Ukraine has established air control over places like Kyiv with AD, why introduce its own aircraft? If Ukraine is not flying then - anything that IS flying - is Russian - so you can engage it with AD. Does not a Ukraine aircraft request simply invite a muddier IFF picture for the defenders?
|'Blue 31' / ACIG|
|Su-30SM Unit 59882, Naval Aviation Black Sea Fleet.|
[Above] Confusion as to this. Appears to be a Su-34 from 559th Bomber Aviation Regiment.
|39th Helicopter Regiment based at Dzhankoy Air Base, Crimea.|
|Russian Hind down near Bashtanka|
One question with all this is why is Ukraine still demanding MiG-29 fighters from Poland and a Western no-fly zone? One possibility is this is a healthy dose of fratricide. Nearly 50 percent of Russian losses of aircraft in Georgia in 2008 - were due to fratricide.
|Su-25BM Russian Air Force RF-93026 / 08 Red 2022-03-04 down near Volnovakha, Donetsk.|
- CAA - Combined Arms Army
- CAS - Close Air Support
- BTG - Battalion Tactical Group
- VKS - Vozdushno-kosmicheskiye sily (Air-Space Force, direct translation)
- GTA - Guards Tank Army
- GTD - Guards Tank Division
- MRB - Motorized Rifle Brigade (throw a G in the front if Guards)
- MRD - Motorized Rifle Division (ditto for the G for Guards). Majority of the Russian Ground Forces are Motorized Rifle (i.e. Mechanized Infantry with supporting tanks)
- NLAW - Next generation Light Anti-tank Weapon (often confused or just lumped into everything being a Javelin)
- SEAD - Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses
- UCAV - Unmanned combat aerial vehicle
- VDV - "Vozdushno-desantnye voyska Rossii" (Воздушно-десантные войска России) Russian Airborne forces
|Su-25SM Russian Air Force RF-91961 / 07 Red 2022-02-27 down over Irpen' - Makarov, Kiev.|
|Canopy of Ukrainian Su-27 in the streets of Kyiv|
|A fully armed Ukrainian Su-27 landed at Bacau in Romania citing "fuel issues. 23-Feb 2022."|
|Ukrainian port of Ochakiv|
"A veteran New York Times correspondent charges that Putin “has put a gun to the head of the West.” In an op-ed recently published in the Times, a former US national security official accuses President Biden of “sending the message that the United States is afraid of confronting Russia militarily.” “In an era when fascism is on the march,” a Boston Globe columnist warns, “much more may hang in the balance” than simply the security of a single country on the far eastern fringe of Europe.
|We surmised whatever TB2 ops by Ukraine, will be short-lived. |
|ACIG / Michael Kofman|