A Marine’s Assessment of Russia’s Military “Operation” in Ukraine (a “Profound Appreciation of All Three Realms in Which Wars Are Waged”)

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

We — I’ll use the royal “we” here — at NC have long been aware that analysis and coverage of Russia’s tactics and strategy in Ukraine that is not dictated by organs of state security here in the United States is an inverted pyramid resting on a very small point: A small group of dissidents willing to go on the record with their views. These dissidents — Mercouris, Military Summary, Martynov, Moon of Alabama, Lira, New Atlas, and Ritter, among others — are all variously monetized and have been marginalized in one way or another, and their analysis rests in turn on an even narrower point: Telegram accounts and Russian/Ukrainian sources that are not available to us. But now we have evidence that the dissidents are not alone, and analysis parallel to their own has been taking place.

It was with a sense of relief and amazement that I noticed the following outraged Tweet occur on my timeline:

(I’m not including the actual tweet because it contains readable images of the entire article I am about to example, which I think goes beyond fair use, but here is a link to the tweet, which is sadly not in the Internet Archive.)

Hmm, I said. “The Russian Invasion of Ukraine.” In a thing called “Marine Corps Gazette” (MCG). I’d better go find it, I thought. First, I encountered the MCG paywall. A search on the author, “Marinus,” yielded nothing useful. Next, I searched for the subhead:

Four hits, one in Japanese, three in Russian. Not very promising! So I went another hop out to the article in Aftershock (fourth on the results list), a Russian-language aggregator, and read the comments thread, where I found a quotation from the article in English, which gave me a string to search on (“The most important of these resulted from the avoidance of collateral damage”), giving me some hope that I could find a full text version of the article. Here are the results:

Two from Reddit (August 12), and the known article at Aftershock (August 9). The Reddit article does not include a full text version, but does include an eBook-like reader where you can click through each of the four pages, along with a not very illuminating discussion.

So, let’s back up and ask ourselves what the Marine Corps Gazette is. From Small Wars Journal:

Marine Corps Gazette is a professional journal for U.S. Marines founded in 1916 at Marine Corps Base Quantico for members of the United States Marine Corps. Begun by then Col John A. Lejeune as the vehicle to launch the Marine Corps Association (MCA), the journal is known as “The Professional Journal of U.S. Marines”. Today the MCA continues to publish the Gazette….

And the Marine Corps Association (MCA):

The Marine Corps Association (often abbreviated MCA) is the professional organization for members of the United States Marine Corps and friends of the Corps.

The Marine Corps Association, the Marine Corps University Foundation, and the Marine Corps Historical Foundation, however, are unique in that they were organized and exist for the primary purpose of supporting ongoing programs of the active Marine Corps. To effectively serve their purposes, their activities must support and be carried out with the guidance and cooperation of the active Marine Corps leadership.

In 2015, the Marine Corps Association had 66,000 members and spent over $1,000,000 in support of Marines. The Marine Corps Association gives out a number of professional writing awards annually to serving Marines.

So the MCG is not a negligible publication, and the MCA is not a neglible institution (albeit a literal NGO).

This is August 14. “Marinus”‘s article in the August issue of MCG has been available since July 29 at the latest, the first hit at the Japanese source. The second hit appears on August 9, in a Russian-language aggregator. The third appears August 12, on Reddit. It’s been two weeks, and the media, collectively, have a ravenous news hole. So where is the coverage the Times? Where is the Washington Post? Where is Foreign Policy? Where is Foreign Affairs? Where is The Atlantic? Where is the Council on Foreign Relations? Where is the Institute for the Study of War? Where, further afield, is Defense One? The Drive? They are all silent. And yet what we have, as the quote in the headline to this post alone shows, is a significant break from orthodoxy on Ukraine and Russian capabilities generally in the professional magazine of the United States Marine Corps. Odd, very odd!

The rest of this post will be very simple. I’m going to fair-use slabs of the text as graphics, and not necessarily in order. (An enthusiastic reader, not me, has done a lot of highlighting.) Most, if not all, of the points made by “Marinus” will be familiar to readers, whether from Yves’ posts or from comments. I’m not going to give any hat tips, for reasons that I assume are obvious from the current climate of opinion. People may, of course, choose to do their own happy dances in comments (ideally with links). I also encourage readers to comment on the substance of the piece!

So let’s start.

* * *

First, the avoidance of collateral damage:

Second, the relatively gentle treatment of the rail system:

I’ve always been a little non-plussed with all the claims of Russian brutality — beyond the brutality of war itself — when the trains are still running, the electrical power grid is still on, the Internet functions, and there’s potable water. Very different from, say, Fallujah. (Granted, the Russians want to integrate the Zaporizhzhia power plant into their own grid, but that’s consistent with their policy of making outcomes more stringent the longer the war goes on.)

Third, artillery really is “the king of battles”[1]:

(Sorry for the ugly join, there.)

Fourth, Kiev really was a “feint” (or “raid,” as “Marinus” characterizes it).

“Marinus” concludes:

John Boyd[2], eh? Yikes. Just the kind of ally we need against China. Ah well, nevertheless….

* * *

I wonder who “Marinus” is. Probably another Colonel or Lieutenant-Colonel who couldn’t, or couldn’t bear to, climb the greasy pole to become one of the loser Generals (Iraq, Afghanistan) at the Pentagon. I encourage you to read the whole piece, which you can do either at the original tweet or on Reddit. It contains a more sophisticated argument on Russian doctrine than I have been able to include here.


[1] Take that, flyboys.

[2] More on John Boyd from, sorry, Wikipedia.

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. Karl

    Thanks Lambert for this fascinating research.

    According to a reply to the James tweet you linked to, the author (“Marinus”) is Lt. General Van Riper. This Marine Corps. University entry says this about him:

    General Van Riper’s personal decorations include: the Silver Star Medal with gold star; Legion of Merit; Bronze Star Medal with Combat “V”; Purple Heart; Meritorious Service Medal; Joint Service Commendation Medal; Army Commendation Medal; Navy Achievement Medal; and the Combat Action Ribbon with gold star.

    I wonder who is the author of this “tweet” and whether it’s legit? The MCA seems way too well institutionalized to trifle with, and yes, if this has truly hapenned, it should be big news. It may yet….

    1. Yves Smith

      Van Riper is famous from being the most formidable leader of the Red Team in war games, notably in the Millennium 2002 Challenge:

      Red, commanded by retired Marine Corps Lieutenant General Paul K. Van Riper, adopted an asymmetric strategy, in particular, using old methods to evade Blue’s sophisticated electronic surveillance network. Van Riper used motorcycle messengers to transmit orders to front-line troops and World-War-II-style light signals to launch airplanes without radio communications.

      Red received an ultimatum from Blue, essentially a surrender document, demanding a response within 24 hours. Thus warned of Blue’s approach, Red used a fleet of small boats to determine the position of Blue’s fleet by the second day of the exercise. In a preemptive strike, Red launched a massive salvo of cruise missiles that overwhelmed the Blue forces’ electronic sensors and destroyed sixteen warships: one aircraft carrier, ten cruisers and five of Blue’s six amphibious ships. An equivalent success in a real conflict would have resulted in the deaths of over 20,000 service personnel. Soon after the cruise missile offensive, another significant portion of Blue’s navy was “sunk” by an armada of small Red boats, which carried out both conventional and suicide attacks that capitalized on Blue’s inability to detect them as well as expected.


      1. Watt4Bob

        The funniest part of the Millennium Challenge story, if you see the humor, is the fact that the higher-ups, not willing to live with the embarressing defeat by Ripper’s Red Team, called a halt to the operation, and the restarted with new rules meant to negate his superior tactics.

        IOW, the losers called “Do-overs”

        Considered the shortcoming of the simulation it was decided to re-float various Blue ships in order to proceed with the exercise, while still validating the attack by Red forces.[3] After the reset, both sides were ordered to follow predetermined plans of action.

        Among other rules imposed by this script, Red Force was ordered to turn on their anti-aircraft radar in order for them to be destroyed, and during a combined parachute assault by the 82nd Airborne Division and Marines air assaulting on the then new and still controversial CV-22, Van Riper’s forces were ordered not to shoot down any of the approaching aircraft.[5]

        [6] Van Riper also claimed that exercise officials denied him the opportunity to use his own tactics and ideas against Blue Force, and that they also ordered Red Force not to use certain weapons systems against Blue Force and even ordered the location of Red Force units to be revealed.

        1. Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg

          Supposedly this happened with the Japanese planning for Midway. Team Japan got their clock cleaned and insisted on a do- over.

        2. Mark

          There was something to Blue’s complaints that when you are annihilated in the space of less than an hour, an exercise which is years in the planning results in little to no training. Hence the restart. However, when you then rig the outcome in your own favour and while the teaching points of a surprise attack which will only work once are still fresh, you learn all the wrong lessons.

    1. lambert strether

      Sane talking points from a Marine, as opposed to YouTubers, some of whom have funny names. Useful!

      1. Revenant

        I read this a few days ago linked from Russians With Attitude on Twittee, which is good for Ukraine reporting. Also Dr Snekotron, on Twitter. ArmchairWarlord was great but has gone follower-only and I refuse to sign up to Twitter so I can no longer read him.

        1. Greg

          Yes, it’s frustrating that ArmchairWarlord locked down. A bunch of the more sane tweeters have gone silent or locked down in the last few weeks. The pro-ukrainian spam and ban exploits have drastically increased, using tools like this https://osintukraine.com/hate-scraper/ to abuse twitters automated banhammers. Lots of discussion of it in the telegram channels that parallel the twitter accounts.

  2. Will

    On maneuver warfare, an interesting thread arguing that it was not a natural evolution from trench warfare but instead a result of the landscape put into contention by the particular makeup of the coalitions who fought each other in WW2.


    In other words, training and preparing for maneuver warfare is simply an example of the generals preparing to fight the last war.

    1. Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg

      The developments on all sides had a great deal to do with how to integrate novel weapons. In WW1, everyone was figuring out what to do with dreanought batteships, airships an airplanes. Also trucks being used for dragging supply as opposed to oxen.

      1. Yves Smith

        I would argue something different, that many of these “novel weapons” are not fit for purpose. Brian Berletic went though a report on Javelins. It assumed well trained and seasoned operators, a fact not remotely in evidence in Ukraine. Even so, the Javelin hit (mind you hit) a tank only one shot out of 6. The report did not comment on whether the damage was meaningful. Given the silence on this key issue, one suspects not often.

  3. LawnDart

    Excellent piece: I loved how you showed readers how you pieced-together information. I would add that installing the “t” app will give information from other, non-West, sources– depending on your internet provider! When I was using Spectrum, I could not connect with moex[dot]com (even while using Tor), but I could with Concast.

    Showing how to search will pay dividends– step-up to verifying and refining the information rather than smashishig rocks and panning for the glittery-stuff.

      1. LawnDart

        I totally understand hesitation/reluctance, but so far that info seems to have only been used for t-channel notifications– I’m seeing no increase in phishing, spam, or other crap– the app seems to provide clean, raw info (I use it to follow stock ADR/ADSs too).

        Here’s the apps fact-page, but also check-out independent reviews:


          1. LawnDart

            For those who don’t know, “moex”[dot] com is the Moscow Stock Exchange. I had held a bit of OGZPY last year and saw some very nice gains, saw what was happening in Dec/Jan and bailed, well-up for my meager holdings. I bought again a token amount in Feb., my F/U to TPTB– a protest-vote, if you will.

            Yes, OGZPY got/is frozen, however, the Russians now allow OGZPY to be converted, 2 for 1, to ordinary shares (GAZP) on the Moscow Exchange. As it stands, the value of my protest shares have more than doubled (thank you sanctions!) although, should I wish to redeem, it’s a process that requires about five-sets of paperwork and takes a while. But here’s how it works:

            How to convert Gazprom ADRs and other Russian DRs to local shares


            1. LawnDart

              I’m sorry, 1 OGZPY (frozen/non-tradable in USA, at present) is worth 2 GAZP shares on the Moscow exchange, which is doing very well, by the way (I wish I “protested” more loudly, as the company is mandated by the Russian government to return most of it’s excess profits to shareholders).

              It’s a neat trick, and another way of bypassing sanctions (which are falling-apart anyway). And it’s one that I may personally benefit from, so I’m paying attention. If our congress-critters can trade pharma, make deals with head-choppers, ChiComs, make millions in sweetheart deals with MIC, and support racist, apartheid states, I have absolutely no qualms with investing some savings in solid Russian companies– it beats the crap out of that .02% I’d get with a savings account from Bank of America, where I’m just losing money to inflation and service fees, one bite at a time.

              1. Alex

                Gazprom cancelled dividends for 2021. In a neat trick, government, which is controlling the company, altered legislation regarding natres royalties, eliminating both profit for 2021 (full amount) AND cutting deeply into CY 2022 profits.
                Having excess profits, are you? Aaaand it’s gone.

        1. Yves Smith

          This is not a matter of phishing, it’s a matter of keeping the minimum information footprint possible. I won’t deal with any online service that wants my phone unless it’s for a transaction and hence not avoidable. And I do not want to own a smart phone. Lots of reports of people not being stringent about keeping it for limited use. I am looking forward to getting my 4G dumbphone soon.

          1. Dave in Austin

            Yahoo, Meta, and Google all demanded I “confirm” my phone number within the past 10 day to continue using their service.

            I tried to sign up for T and sent them my phone number. The confirmation code was never sent to me. I confirmed with one friend in a third world country that his relatives has signed up and gotten the confirmation code. So either the US or the T people are playing games.

            If you get a full “.me” (Montenegro ) address on a T link you can open it by playing around with the settings.

          2. LawnDart

            You guys have online personas and reputations that you need to protect, even if noms de guerre– bad actors would love to mess with them to discredit you and your work, and I get that. My point is about accessing other sources of primary and useful information, safely. Tele gram can be one of those, as it is not aligned with Western powers– check out the FAQs page and come up with questions to put to your readers just like you did with VPNs… I’m not expert, but I trust it more than twits.

            I do understand that a person can be identified from their browsing habits (an additional concern). And while I do like Revenant’s idea, I am not familiar enough with VPN plus virtual machine to endorse, as I’m worried about the ISP (find free hotspots?), especially since I’ve experienced being blocked from numerous, legitimate sites (news, government, and business) seemingly by the internet provider (even while using TOR).

            Again, maybe creating a new and totally different persona with different browsing tastes exclusively for a burner smartphone (which can be purchased for cash at the wall mart), and use it at coffee shops to somewhat indulge your new-found habits of porn and gambling (still much of internet traffic– get footprints lost on a well and heavily travelled path) while casually monitoring t-channels. Depower and cage the phone when not in use.

            Or maybe just assign different channels for readers to follow and report on– I’m sure that there are many who would help.

            Just some thoughts.

            1. Yves Smith

              I know Telegram is very useful, but I am allergic to doing anything complicated since I don’t have the time (just trying to set up a VPN took more time than I have so I bailed). And it would have to be complicated for adequate distance from me personally.

              1. LawnDart

                I understand, but at least give some thought to the idea of “homework.” You have some great eyes, ears and minds already at work in the commentariat– have us help with the heavy-lifting.

                1. Yves Smith

                  My time would be better spend learning to read and spell 300 words in Russian so I could search Russian language sources and then run them through a translator.

                  Seriously, you have no idea how much I despise dealing with new programs. As a CIO I worked with once said, “If technology is complicated, it’s bad”. And everything I deal with is like that, feature bloated and fragile.

                  Part of that is I break any software in 15 minutes. And it is invariably confirmed as a real bug, not user error. I have pretty much a homing instinct for that. So attempting to do anything new is a huge and frustrating time sink. No thanks.

                  1. johnf

                    I can sympathize as the same happens to me. I bought a new, mid-range Miele washing machine last summer. Within six months I had found a like number of software defects and somehow got the machine to throw late cycle, temper tantrums, twice, which you address by repeating the 2–3 hour wash cycle. With my luck, the tantrums were (or are?) another software defect.

                  2. JohnA

                    Yves, apropos learning to read Russian, I can recommend ‘Learn to read Russian in 5 days’ by Sergei Orlov, which I found very useful.

                  3. LawnDart

                    I often enter my query into yandex, hit “translate” to turn it from English to Russian, then hit “search” which will bring up results in Russian, hit “translate” again to view the search results in English– a whole new world with just a few clicks of the mouse.

                    My Russian sucks, but is gradually improving thanks to yandex.

                    1. jrkrideau

                      Hey, I like it. My Russian is “reads the street signs’ level but this could help.

                      My Russian courses did help reading the street signs in Athens.

                  4. venice12

                    You could try to type english words into


                    and they will suggest russian articles for the subject matter, that you can translate with


                    or google translate.

                    The problem with this: Russian is a rather difficult language and the programs sometimes don’t get the sense and translate the exact opposite or simply nonsense. So knowing some Russian
                    is helpful.

                    One funny example: Maidan gets translated to either “virgin” or “maid”, but that is simple to detect.

                    PS Russian is not my mothertongue, but I’ve been studying it for some time. If I can be of any help, let me know by email any
                    subject you are interested in.

                    You don’t need to publish this

                  5. Sergey P

                    Long-time reader and fan. Would be honored to help. Feel free to email me or I can provide some other contact info. Most of the days I can do a quick translation for you on the spot, or if something longer-form is needed — please allow for some time.

                    Though I myself mostly read stuff in English, an intellectual discourse seems more mature and one has to adjust less for political biases: Russian sources are mostly either too state-aligned or in the “liberal” camp, totally uncritical to the official Western narratives.

                    1. Daniil Adamov

                      “Though I myself mostly read stuff in English, an intellectual discourse seems more mature and one has to adjust less for political biases: Russian sources are mostly either too state-aligned or in the “liberal” camp, totally uncritical to the official Western narratives.”

                      Funny, it is the same for me. Out of curiosity – where do you file Kommersant? To me, it seems at least a little better than the typical examples of either camp, though it is arguably also both state-aligned _and_ liberal.

                    2. Sergey P

                      Re: Daniil Adamov

                      Sorry the thread seems to have run out of reply options. I don’t read Kommersant, so can’t elaborate on it. I do occasionally enjoy Belkovsky and Olshansky and that’s about it.

          3. Bsn

            And of course a starting point is to avoid using google search engine. People can try Brave or Quant. Duck Go has gone over to the dark side (it tracks you).

      2. Revenant

        Lambert, there is a telegram PC client IIRC (I had it on previous laptop because FTalphaville marketslive moved there after FTav stopped presenting it.

        You can also download an android development environment (there are decent free ones) which will include an android phone emulator and you can run that on your laptop to connect. I used to do this when I had my much missed Windows phone, to get to various corporate Apps my employer insisted on using (could not log into annual partners’ MTG otherwise!). If insufficiently paranoid (I.e. you don’t believe the NSA has your data and the Russians have the NSA’s…), you could run it on a virtual machine and with VPN.

      3. JustTheFacts


        They don’t need to know that, and I don’t care to be “notified” about anything.

      4. Arul

        Install an android emulator app like Bluestacks on your computer, create a dummy google account and download “t” app. That’s how I keep all my snooping apps confined to one basket.

        1. No va

          Not sure what’s wrong but I’ve done all of those things and Telegram still insists on a phone number, which it then tries to verify. ???

          1. Revenant

            Bluestacks! That’s the android development environment I used. It was very useful when I simply had to use a Google spyware app for work purposes and to buy an Android phone.

            I now have an eOS phone from the eFoundation, which has many Android apps available from its app store (no credit card details required, unlike Google) but not all. I must download Bluestacks again!

            I remember being able to use Telegram. Perhaps I just gave it my work mobile….

      5. Synoia

        I have a inexpensive new phone I’m willing to donate.

        Please send an email to me and I will send it. to you.

    1. Safety First

      Blanket response slash PSA.

      I’ve posted this here months ago, but, clearly, no-one is paying attention. You do not need to install the Telegram app to read Telegram posts and channels. You can do this by modifying the URL of the channel you want to view by inserting “/s/” into the address (I am guessing it stands for “sample”).





      This cuts out about 50% of the videos posted, but you can view all of the images and read all of the text (plus the other 50% of the vids). Or select and copy the text into Google Translate. Or just scroll through the channel content endlessly, whatever is your pleasure. I’ve been reading Telegram through Firefox (private browsing mode, some scripts disabled, clears all history on close) using this method since the start of the conflict.

      1. JustTheFacts

        That doesn’t work on all channels though. I’m guessing the channel has to set some setting. But it does work on many.

  4. duffolonious

    Just like the amnesty report, that tweet is of the same reaction to something that anybody who has been paying attention is a reasonable argument, if not obvious.

    1. lambert strether

      Could be. Van Riper is great, and suitably iconoclastic, but the authority of the piece derives from its analysis.

    1. Clonal Antibody

      That would explain it. Born 1938. Well experienced, and probably having conniptions about a politicized US DoD

  5. Raymond Sim

    Not to deprecate Marinus in any way, but his observations are commonsensical – our situation in the West is one where seemingly all professional orthodoxies have become utterly detached from reality, and commonsense observation and interpretation is radical merely due to being grounded in reality.

    I say “commonsensical”, and I guess that’s not exactly true. The common sense of Americans seems to have been bonsai’d in the years since WW II into a fitting object for servicing by our professional classes.

  6. Maxwell Johnston

    Great stuff, thanks for finding this and sharing. There are still some smart honest people in the USA’s MIC, like Van Riper (assuming he is the author). I’ve been skeptical that the initial RU attack towards Kiev was actually a clever feint (as opposed to a botched attempt at blitzkrieg), but this article is pretty convincing that it was in fact a feint that pinned down a large chunk of UKR forces.

    I’m not at all surprised that this article has been comprehensively ignored by the MSM, as it goes so totally against the prevailing narrative.

  7. Bazarov

    Interesting–this hits all the major points emphasized by the “heretical” war analysts on twitter, certain youtube and Telegram channels, essays by military experts, and Scott Ritter interviews. The arguments and observations are so similar, I wonder if this Marine commentator hasn’t been influenced by them. If this commentator has, it would imply that in military circles the dissident view of the war in Ukraine has gained real traction.

    It could also be a coincidence, many reasonable observers converging on the same compelling conclusions.

  8. gabon 45

    Contrast the granular strategic analysis of specific Russian military tactics in the excerpts noted above by an educated serious analyst – with the observations and generalizations of the American General named James Mattis in Seoul, South Korean Speech reported on July 1 , 2022:

    “Asked about the biggest lesson that could be drawn from Russia’s war in Ukraine, Mattis replied, “Don’t have incompetent generals in charge of your operations.” He also said the Russian invasion was “tactically incompetent” and “strategically foolish.”

    “War is enough of a tragedy without adding stupidity on top,” he said.”

    Propaganda speech or actual limitations of American Top Senior Management ???

    I wonder who “Marinus” is. Probably another Colonel or Lieutenant-Colonel who couldn’t, or couldn’t bear to, climb the greasy pole to become one of the loser Generals (Iraq, Afghanistan) at the Pentagon

    1. Ignacio

      I wouldn’t say Mattis is incompetent. In his role he has probably have to run with the Western narrative. A different case is for the media. They should, supposedly, be news suppliers. Instead they are PR and propaganda suppliers. Not for the first time of course but they have killed the myth of “free press” that was faslely created before.

  9. ChrisPacific

    I am unsure about the Kiev feint theory. It’s a hypothesis worthy of consideration but I think it’s unclear whether it was that or a mistake (in practice it probably doesn’t make a lot of difference, since it led to the same end result in strategic terms).

    Other than that, there are a lot of specific assertions and analysis here that align with evidence and the progress of the war so far. They require refutation by any contrary position. So far the Twitter replies seem to fall into two camps: scornfully dismissive and content-free (I’m guessing these people didn’t read most of it) and specific interested feedback which seems mostly supportive of the thesis.

    1. Skip Intro

      What is the relation of the withdrawal of the Kiev offensive and the contemporaneous talks between Russia and Ukraine in Istabul? BoJo had to intervene and stiffen Zelensky’s spine, otherwise there might have been an early negotiated end to the SMO.

    2. Tet Vet

      Consider the possibility that the “feint” was the worst case scenario when they planned the invasion strategy. IOW, if nothing else is achieved, we can freeze a good portion of the Ukranian defense forces which will help in other areas. I agree with you that it’s appropriate to be skeptical because wars are never planned as exactly as the Monday morning Quarterbacks claim. But we also need to be concerned that we don’t jump to a conclusion based on our own biases – i.e. The Russians are incompetent and failed with their first goal to take Kiev and install a new government, blah, blah, blah. George Patton said: “Wars are not won by fighting battles; wars are won by choosing battles”. I’ve heard a lot of people cite Clauswitz as the father of the strategy the Russians are following. I would give some consideration to Patton. One would hope that our own generals would have some knowledge of Patton too – but that’s another subject.

    3. NotTimothyGeithner

      I don’t see it as a feint but an easier way to control the river. There Russians didn’t control two bridges by day 5 and could devote air assets. The Ukrainian army was basically stuck on day 5. Taking Kiev would require the whole Russian army but controlling the approaches required the famed convoy.

      My gut is once enough forces were brought up and freed up from Mariupol they could manage a larger front and leave Kiev.

      Since the Russians aren’t going scorched Earth, they aren’t blowing up anything that moves. They may be in an a no man’s land type situation southeast of the city.

    4. albrt

      It seems to me that even if the Kiev feint was initially a mistake, the Russians very quickly reassessed the situation and took advantage. Either way the Russians appear to have done a John Boyd and are OODA looping much faster than anyone on the western side.

      1. digi_owl

        From day one the thinking of western media etc was something like the second Iraq war. A full on broad front banzai charge westward, with Putin staging a photo op in Kiev.

        It didn’t happen and thus said media keep harping on about Russia being bogged down, failing, and being on the verge of general collapse.

    5. Scylla

      I think we can see that it was intended as a feint- no way you could take Kiev with the limited amount of personnel they shoved at it (reportedly around 40k). I have also seen many claims on Russian/Ukrainian TG from accounts with excellent track records that state that the initial charge toward Kiev had at least one secondary objective- to seize nuclear sites and biological labs, where they secured dangerous materials and captured records. I think it is also possible that Russian leadership could have added another possible objective- as in “Hey you never know guys, maybe this will also put the fear of god into them and bring them to the table”. That one was not achieved obviously, but the evidence I see indicates that it was never the primary objective, else the drive toward Kiev would have been accompanied by many more resources.
      Either way, the article fits with what many of us have observed and concluded for ourselves, even if the author articulated it much better than we possibly could.

      1. JTMcPhee

        I wonder what the Russians actually found at the “biolab” sites they nabbed. They’ve made a (to my mind) pretty cogent presentation to the UN about some very Joseph Mengele-level research and practice being done by the US and certain ugly US-based supranational corporations. Nuland’s minions were at pains to destroy or remove as much evidence as possible from those 40-plus “we don’t have any biolabs” before the Russians crossed the eastern border and started the special military operation. (Despite all the common narrative that the Russians would not dare to — or at least would not so soon — invade across and along Donbas, somebody in the black infrastructure must have felt there was some jeopardy in leaving the info and organisms in place, where the now increasingly credible and stolid Russians could take it.)

        It’s telling, to me at least, that the Russian presentation, so far, https://www.sitescroll.com/post/un-session-on-biolabs-with-proof-from-documents-obtained-in-ukraine-by-russia-12292483 of the fraction of information from the biolabs they have obtained has been given the dead crickets treatment by the few media outlets that reported on it at all, with, at best, a “debunking” based on a naked assertion that “this is simply not credible, the US [that has deployed chemical and biological — and nuclear — weapons not just on Others but on good ol’ US citizens], would never ever engage in such horrific activities as the duplicitous and sneaky Russians report…” https://www.yahoo.com/news/russia-ramps-crazy-biolabs-presentation-152215958.html

        There is every reason in the world, rooted in pretty sound history, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Sea-Spray for one example, to lay the burden of proof on “alleged” US dirty secrets, like the “alleged” biological warfare activities of the US and US public-private-partnership corporations in Ukraine and other former Soviet areas, squarely at the foot of the rotten US government. In this age of “transparency,” obliterated by a sneaky-Pete, Narrative-controlling dark government that can voice, with a laugh and a sneer, that “We will know our campaign of disinformation is complete when nothing the American public believes is true.”

        1. Skip Intro

          Evidence that couldn’t be removed has apparently turned up in the bloodwork of Ukrainian POWs, according to the Russians. They are evidence of inoculation against or exposure to some unlikely pathogens that happen to be studied at those biolabs.

    6. Victor Valencia

      My take, for what is worth, is that in the first days of the war Russia expected little resistance and some rerun of 2014 Ukrainian army disintegration. It was, by the way, also an idea widely held in the West. With that expectation it made a lot of sense a fast advance to Kiev: if Ukraine hadn’t wanted to fight, the city would have fell and Zelensky’s goverment could be coerced into negotiations or deposed (I think Russia preferred the first option). And it seems that this ending was feasible in March. And maybe fixing Ukrainian troops around Kiev was seen as an additional benefit, but I doubt that was the main objective.

      By the way, I don’t see the developments around Kiev as a Russian defeat. It seems that they retreated in good order without being chased, and Ukraine only reoccupied the lost territory two or three days later. If Russia wanted to keep fighting they would have done that. But, given that a negotiated end of the war was out of reach, they decided to center their efforts in the Donbass.

      At least this is the interpretation that sounds more reasonable to me. But I don’t have any military background.

      (Long time reader, first time poster. Greetings to all).

      1. Yves Smith

        But the initial move to Kiev and to take part of the south (which everyone oddly omits, that’s when Russia took territory in Kherson and that stuck) led Ukraine pronto to the negotiation table in Istanbul and very substantial concessions on March 30-31. Russian doctrine follows Clausewitz, to see war and politics as integrated. So they did get what they wanted until the UK and US meddled and made Ukraine renege on its negotiation stance. Russia may not hav expected the level of casualties and certainly did not expect the ferocity of the sanctions.

    7. Yves Smith

      Russian doctrine does not follow US. The objective is to destroy the enemy’s army, not to take cities. And Russia called the invasion a special military operation to signal that it had narrow and specific objectives. The idea that Russia wanted to take Kiev is 100% American projection.

      1. IF

        I don’t understand why you are unable to see this as an attempted rerun of the beginning of the Afghan war in 1979:

        Then Soviet special forces decapitated the leadership. The same nearly happened on the first day in Kiev:


        As night fell that first evening, gunfights broke out around the government quarter. Guards inside the compound shut the lights and brought bulletproof vests and assault rifles for Zelensky and about a dozen of his aides.

        Russia lost a some of its elite forces around Kiev and called it a day. It was probably neccessary that they had to try. But the decapitation failed.

        Of course Russia has the industrial capacity to wage war and kill any opposing forces. But that is another tragedy. Are these soldiers really dead if nobody knows about them?

        1. Polar Socialist

          Whatever Russia aims to achieve in Ukraine, they need to legitimize it to both Russian and Ukrainian people. In the end there will be a negotiated settlement, and you can’t negotiate with decapitated people.
          Removing Zelensky doesn’t solve the demilitarization or the denazification issues, so he’s clearly not the problem for the Russians.

          1. digi_owl

            The goal may not have been a kill, but a capture and isolation from Azov battalion and western “advisors”.

          2. Sibiryak

            Whatever Russia aims to achieve in Ukraine, they need to legitimize it to both Russian and Ukrainian people

            I disagree. Russia’s war aims have already been legitimized for the vast majority of Russians; on the other hand, Russia’s aims will never be legitimized for the pro-European bulk of Ukrainians. The full spectrum of Ukrainian nationalism, from the ethnonationalist right to the liberal nationalist left, is now united as never before against Russia and what they think Russia stands for.

            Please take a look at this typical example of Ukrainian progressive/left opinion. There is simply no room for any legitimization of Russian aims.

            What Russia does need to do, however, is legitimize Russian rule/ pro-Russian independence in the territories it eventually keeps when the hostilities end. That process will begin with referendums but will have to be followed up with economic and cultural development, reliable security arrangements, etc.

            In the end there will be a negotiated settlement

            Perhaps, but I wouldn’t bet on it. I don’t think any non-puppet Ukrainian government will be capable of recognizing Russian territorial gains made since Feb 24. And while a return to the pre-Feb 24 status quo via some kind of Minsk 3 arrangement might be acceptable to the Ukrainians (and their Western backers), it would certainly not be to the Russians.

            Russia is going forward with referendums etc. so that the issue of the ethnic Russians and Russian speakers in South/East Ukraine will be solved once and for all. Minsk is dead as a doornail.

            So instead of a negotiated settlement, I see only a negotiated cease-fire/armistice leading to a long-term frozen conflict.

              1. Sibiryak

                Personally, I see Medvedev’s map more as a form of trolling than a serious prediction. I have trouble imagining a rump Ukraine being officially carved up by neighboring EU countries, given the central Western propaganda talking point about the sacredness of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity.

                As far as what Russia ends up taking, as things now stand, I see the bare minimum as the full Donetsk and Lugansk republics, plus most of Kherson, Zaporozhye, Kharkov, Nikolaev and Odessa regions (Crimea being beyond discussion).

                What territory Russia will try to take beyond that for security/demilitarization reasons, I have no idea. In any case, the war is far from over and unpredictable things can still happen.

                1. JTMcPhee

                  As long as the Sacred Combined West keeps pumping and dumping weapons and half-trained cannon fodder into Ukraine, the “demilitarization” will never be complete. We can bet the propaganda organs of the CW are assisting the “nationalist” memes in Ukraine with all-stops chords from the Mighty Wurlitzer. If the Russians continue to be concerned about depressed-trajectory decapitation weapons being aimed from close range at at Moscow and other “targets,” i wonder where the SMO could reasonably stop.

                  As to this being a Clausewitz war of continuum of politics and destruction, there’s not much mention here of how successfully the Putin creature has managed to build Russia into a largely self-reliant nation with dominance of the immediate future from a resource control and financial standpoint. And exposed the vast incompetence and corruption of the political economies of the Combined West (formerly “Free World,” amazing how truth has erased that epithet from discourse.) See any motion by the governments of the formerly free nations to serve the welfare of their citizens? Appears to to be a lot of people interested in migrating to Russia. Of course large parts of Russia are burning and affected by global heat wave, so it’s no panacea.

                  The Narrative holds that the Russians lost the PR war, buried by Western disinformation and Narrative control. But it now seems it’s a Mike Tyson moment, where the reality has punched the effing liars and sneaks and looters of the West square in the face. It’s increasingly apparent, to me at least, that Putin’s Russia is the nation acting in good faith, not the imaginary nation I enlisted to “protect” back in 1966.

                  The thing about lying, is you have to keep telling more lies to cover the lies you have already told. So the Empire of Lies is slip-sliding down the self-selected skids, into the bin that holds past fallen empires.

                  1. Yves Smith

                    Oh, I think Putin/Russia will continue to lose the PR war. Look at how the shelling of the power plant is being presented as Russia’s doing, when that makes zero sense. The West will continue to spin and mislead its public, even after Russia has finished grinding through the extensive Donbass bunkering and then starts moving faster through Ukraine and it becomes very difficult to deny that Russia is winning.

                    The problem with the intensity of the propaganda is that it supports pouring more Western money into the Ukraine black hole, throwing more Ukraine lives away, and continuing to subject Western, particularly European, populations to what are becoming punishing costs of sanctions.

                    1. Skip Intro

                      But burning the last shred of credibility for short term PR gains, which has worked so well at, for example, the CDC, is the current ‘burn the seed corn’ M.O. of our society and institutions.
                      I tell myself that every 180 they do breaks a few more believers. It is reminiscent of the way the PMC media went all in on russiagate then doubled down whenever they hit a set back. As the cognitive dissonance increases in true believers, some will be lost. In this sense, the ‘losses’ in the PR war also cause attrition of the influence of the winners.

                      Ultimately it seems modeled on a private equity style bust-out, where they leverage assets, infrastructure and reputation to the hilt, then cash out, leaving a crumbling husk behind. IBGYBG

                    2. ChrisPacific

                      For what it’s worth, I feel like some cracks are showing with the story about Russia supposedly shelling the nuclear plant (that it controls). A lot of the big media sites obviously balked at reporting such a nonsensical interpretation as fact, and went back to a neutral framing (“each side blames the other”). This included some big players like Reuters.

                    3. fairleft

                      The West’s propaganda, especially its racist demonization of Russians, leaves Russia no choice but to take all of Ukraine and not leave a rump state the West can use for endless Ukraine dead-ender missile attacks on and terrorism into the peaceful part of Ukraine.

            1. Polar Socialist

              I may have used the terms rather loosely, but by a negotiated settlement I mainly meant an armistice and Ukraine at least temporarily yielding the factual control of Eastern Ukraine.
              I don’t think Ukraine can afford a long, frozen conflict given the loss of GDP already, and all the undemocratization and privatization going on. Not to speak of the horrible loss of the workforce trough casualties and refugees.

        2. Scylla

          I think most, if not all, of those Kiev gunfights were among people that just got their free guns and ammo. Never saw any actual evidence Russian military even attempted entering Kiev. If they wanted to decapitate leadership, its as easy as launching a couple of cruise missiles. Russia has already proven they have excellent human intelligence capabilities and that they know where leadership/planners are located and what they are up to. The Russians need Ukie leadership intact to perform negotiations/surrender. They need the legitimately of existing leadership capitulation. Remember that Russia is working very hard to create perception of legitimacy in the eyes of the global south. This is another reason why they don’t do things the way the west does.

          1. fairleft

            How much Russia ‘needs’ the legitimacy of existing leadership capitulation is overrated, I think. It’s something the West can easily deny, so I don’t think Russia is losing sleep over it. Russia just needs to behave according to the laws of war and do its best to have elections asap after it takes over. Get elected Ukrainians quickly governing the new smaller, neutral, demilitarized, de-oligarched Ukraine. Subsidize the economy and spark some tangible economic progress. All that will maximize legitimacy in eyes of the world that’s not captive to Western propaganda.

        3. Zaitsev

          As night fell that first evening, gunfights broke out around the government quarter. Guards inside the compound shut the lights and brought bulletproof vests and assault rifles for Zelensky and about a dozen of his aides.

          But the gunfights were nothing to do with the Russians. It was Ukrainian criminals using the weapons that the government had recklessly handed out to settle their own scores. Russian forces were nowhere near the government quarter in Kiev.

          This Time article is just a pack of nonsense as usual. Same as Twitter where Russia continues to lose the war as it has been for 7 months.

        4. Zaitsev

          The military informed Zelensky that Russian strike teams had parachuted into Kyiv to kill or capture him and his family. “Before that night, we had only ever seen such things in the movies,” says Andriy Yermak, the President’s chief of staff.

          As Ukrainian troops fought the Russians back in the streets, the presidential guard tried to seal the compound with whatever they could find. A gate at the rear entrance was blocked with a pile of police barricades and plywood boards, resembling a mound of junkyard scrap more than a fortification.

          This is all complete fantasy. None of this happened except the barricades.

        5. Yves Smith

          That Time story is yet more shameless Ukraine propaganda repeated uncritically. As Scott Ritter pointed out repeatedly, Russia very much wanted Zelensky to stay in charge so they had someone with whom to negotiate. And remember Ukraine did negotiate and made important concessions in Istanbul on March 30 and 31.

    8. Raymond Sim

      I think ‘raid’ is a better term, and as Marinus notes, it’s the English translation of a type of operation codified in Russian doctrine.

      In point of fact, facing a competent adversary, how do you ‘feint’ without making an attack that does in fact pose a serious threat?

      1. Yves Smith

        Scott Ritter discussed that at length, that Kiev was a “fixing” operation and you need enough troops and materiel and most important, enough in skirmishes to seem credible.

        That 40 km line of tanks (and I assume armored vehicles) was part of that. It was widely seen as a sign Russia was going to Do Something, when in the end it mainly proved they had complete control of the air.

    9. Soredemos

      My take, for whatever it’s worth, is that Russia went in with a set of contingency plans. The first month or so may indeed have been a genuine attempt to end the war quickly and force Kiev to negotiate. Not by taking the city, but by making it clear they could attack it whenever they wanted. Or it was a multi-function action that might work by itself to end things quickly, or would function as a feint for a slower plan if it didn’t work.

      Either way, when the quick surrender didn’t happen, Russia shrugged and said ‘alright, guess we’re doing this the hard way’, and transitioned to the backup plan. For all the cries about ‘Putin is running out of tanks/men/ammo/missiles/food/fuel/whatever, it should be abundantly clear by now that Russia not only has no supply problems, but went in fully prepared to maintain its supplies over a multi-month campaign. They went in fully prepared for a slow war if it was required.

      One thing that has always stood out to me is that Russia was hitting key Ukrainian military infrastructure from day one. I think it’s clear that they were laying the ground work for a prolonged campaign, if that’s what things came to, from the beginning. At no point did they suddenly switch to hitting key infrastructure; they’ve been doing that from the start and have merely ramped up the number of strikes over time.

      1. WJ

        Note that initially they did not hit barracks when they could have done so when hitting other major military infrastructure. I believe this was in keeping with a gambit to force a quick capitulation: if it was unnecessary to kill large amounts of Ukrainian soldiers to do so, Russia was not going to kill them. Once it became clear that the conflict would not end quickly, Russia began hitting barracks, troop centers.

  10. digi_owl

    Reading about Boyd and his thinking reminded me of Nordbat2, and their “loose cannon” swedish commander.

  11. NotTimothyGeithner

    Current events aside, it would be wonderful if we returned the USMC to its proper place as the navy’s troops instead of a second army grift with the best pr in the world.

  12. Tom Bradford

    I would suggest that the move on Kiev and other ‘blitzkreig’ thrusts into Ukraine at the beginning of the war were intended to either frighten the Zelenskiy et al to come to an agreement at the Istanbul negotiations, or give them cover for doing so in order to accept whatever personal sweetners the Russians were offering under the table. When grandiose offers of assistance (and/or alternative sweetners) from the West stiffened ‘Ukraine’s’ spine to resist the Russians realised the war was going to get serious, their incursions were far too exposed to all-out counter-attack and withdrew for a slog-out.

  13. Robert Gray

    Speaking of the Ukraine …

    On his Military Summary today (Sunday), Dima had an interesting speculation. He noted that the Russians have a lot on their plate: they need to encircle Kharkov before the winter; they need to secure the remainder of Donetsk oblast; and in the south they need to both consolidate Kherson and take control of Nikolaev. These tasks are complicated by the self-imposed constraints on using the manpower of the Russian Army. Current practice is for only contract/professional soldiers, along with auxiliaries — but no conscripts — to be deployed outside of Russia. Thus, the referenda to be held next month in Kherson and Nikolaev are crucial; if, as expected, the people there choose to become part of the Russian Federation, then large numbers of conscripts can be sent there for security and perhaps counter-insurgency duties, freeing up the battle-hardened regulars for further advances (e.g., toward Odessa). Interesting hypothesis.

    1. Skip Intro

      I’m skeptical of that theory. We are led to believe that Russia is minimizing their losses by using artillery and rockets. I’m not sure tons of conscripts was really what was missing, and that they will decide to accept more losses for faster progress, or because the personnel are freed up from occupation-style duties. OTOH they are already forming local battalions from Kherson, etc. so concerns about legal authorities, which we regard as quaint and obsolete, may indeed be significant.

      Also, how much will the winter really change the battle plans? It seems like deciduous forests will be less cover for their defenders, and western Ukraine may be under considerable energy/economic stress.

      1. Scylla

        I noticed that one of those local battalions has been named the “Odessa Battalion”. Not sure whether that is a statement of intent, or that it is simply made up of individuals originally from Odessa. Quite interesting to see, either way.

      2. Franco

        The idea was to use to conscripts to man the already occupied territory, which is already the size of an average European country and requires a lot of manpower to manage. The number of offensive units wouldn’t change.

        1. Polar Socialist

          Mostly Russians are using Rosgvardija and FSB units to maintain order in the areas in Ukraine with undetermined status. As soon as the local administration is capable, some of the policing is transferred to the locals.
          It must be said that while the Chechen as part of Rosgvardija, most Rosgvardija units are not designed or capable of front line fighting. Mostly they are a mixture between a swat team, riot police and a bouncer. Their main purpose is to help other law enforcement when needed, mainly regarding crow control – be it a flood of refugees, a riot or a natural catastrophe.
          They are much better an “occupying” force than 19-year old recruits.

  14. chris

    The reaction to the article in the Twitter thread is fascinating. No attempt to engage with any of the arguments. Just ad hominem attacks on the alleged authors. This kind of article strikes me as the kind that make people hate you for being right. I guess we’ll see how things resolve.

    I have a tough time believing the Ukrainians will ever win this. When the top goals of your military, as espoused even by arch propagandists, are to retake territory… you’re not winning. When ever the biggest pro-war boosters assert that without continous materiel supplies from the west the Ukrainians will fold immediately… you’re not winning. When your leader takes time out for a Vogue photo shoot, instead of planning how to negotiate terms… you’re not winning.

    1. Skip Intro

      And note the quiet change on Zaprozhia NPP, from ‘The Russians are shelling it’, to Zelensky saying they would continue to shell it because Russian forces were there. Somehow we now quietly accept Ukrainian artillerypersons holding Europe hostage, and seamlessly blame the Russians for Ukraine risking catastrophe.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Yesterday I heard Zelensky make an actual personal threat to all Russians stationed at the Zaprozhia plant. The guy is a thug. And a few days ago the Ukrainians upped their game by shelling the Kakhovka hydroelectric power dam. This is the one responsible for supplying the water need to keep the reactors of the Zaprozhia plant cooled down. I am beyond disgusted with how we Western nations are turning a blind eye to this or pretending the Russians are doing this-


        1. chris

          I haven’t heard that yet. We’re in for bad times over there if they follow through on that threat.

          The largest, most deadly power plant accidents throughout history have all been at hydroelectric plants. If you really want to mess stuff up and cause massive damage to the surrounding area, pick a dam and turbine set to destroy every time. The Russians have suffered a few dam failures recently. If they’re responsible for cleaning up another due to Ukrainian actions they will be really pissed off!

          1. Yves Smith

            No no no no no. This is more Ukraine propaganda, although Russia went along with it to make a stink at the Security Council. Russia despite being very smart about battle is pretty dumb about propaganda.

            That reactor is massively overbuilt. It’s not vulnerable to attack.

            What could be damaged is the refrigerator system and the spent fuel storage.

            If the refrigerator system gets hit, they shut of the reactor. No one gets hurt, just no power.

            Experts have looked at the spent fuel issue. Depleted uranium is heavy and does not diffuse by air. If there’s a hit the people are risk are in the immediate area, as in staffers attending to the reactor and the Russian soldiers, not the general public. This has been written about in the context of dirty bombs. They don’t do more damage than a conventional bomb but the bomb blast area will be contaminated, so it’s the psychological impact of having to cordon that area while it is decontaminated that has an impact.

            This is BTW why we haven’t seen dirty bombs used by terrorists. For the same size of bomb (think truck bomb), the more radioactive material you put in, the less room you have for explosives. So there’s a tradeoff between contaminating a smaller blast area or maxing out on the explosion. Seems the bad guys like bigger booms.

            1. chris

              The other issue hinted at in the article Rev linked to is the back-up power to the nuclear power plant comes from the hydroelectric dam. Back-up power is required for safe operations and is typically sized to provide coolant flow to accommodate safe shut down procedures at a plant when the power supply is interrupted. This is often accomplished with large on-site generators, like the diesel engines that famously failed at Fukushima.

              If the plant loses access to the back-up power then that may prove a larger issue for managing the plant. It would likely shut down until repairs could be made to that system.

              1. Yves Smith

                I don’t disagree and I didn’t mean to seem to be jumping on you. So sorry for that.

                But the drift of just about all the commentary is “**ZOMG!** Chernobyl in the making” as opposed to “Ukraine may shut out the lights for a while” (ironically in classic cut off its nose to spite its face, since the reactor powers a huge swathe of Ukraine, so if they can’t have it, they want no one to have it) or “Ukraine hopes to fuck up workers/soldiers at site bigly.”

                1. chris

                  Understood. That’s probably in the media coverage I have been strenuously avoiding. I didn’t take that tone from the discussion here but as in so many other things I appreciate your efforts to keep the salon here free of hyperbolic contagion.

                  For what it’s worth, it’s not that hard to damage containment structures. We do it accidentally in the US during construction activities. But to do it, you need to be conscious of the design, like, is it a post tensioned structure or not. I know we design against all kinds of things in the US but I don’t know what standards the containment vessels were built to in Ukraine/USSR.

                  The dirty bomb angle depends on a lot of details I’m not familiar with. I have no idea what their spent fuel storage is like. If they’ve cintered any of the old fuel it may be easier to create dust that could spread. But as you say, a dirty bomb using civilian nuclear fuel is much more a psychological hit than a physical attack.

                  1. Yves Smith

                    This is an old Soviet reactor. It was built to sustain a huge strike, on the order of a big plane full of ordnance doing a suicide attack. It was assumed to be a target. That’s not the case with most reactors.

                    1. Revenant

                      My understanding is that this is the case with all *civilian* reactors. Certainly the UK advanced gas cooled reactor fleet of the 1970’s and 1980’s were built to this standard and I believe it is the design spec of the new Hinkley Point C and Sizewell C reactors.

                  2. Polar Socialist

                    I have no idea what their spent fuel storage is like.

                    Not sure I recall correctly, but some days ago I did read that they use vertical dry storage (by Westinghouse?) with passive cooling. So basically big, sealed concrete/steel barrels at least partially buried into the ground.
                    Not sure if the initial cooling is done in water pools or in the same barrels but with active cooling. Sorry I can’t find the source anymore – it was likely in Russian, anyway.

                    1. Yves Smith

                      There were reports that is it is mainly in cardboard boxes, as in really spent. Remember this is a very old plant.

                      Before you say that’s nuts, I know people who visited the site in upstate New York where all the Manhattan Project bomb experiments were done. They found old nuclear material similarly in cardboard boxes.

                    2. Flux

                      These are concrete cylindrical containers parked outdoors, about 200 of them. They are loaded with spent rods produced by Westin House. Half of the power plant works on these WH rods. The other half of the facility uses Russian rods. They store them this way on site because Westin House refuses to take them back. Unlike the Russian ones, which are collected and sent to Russia for recycling.

                      https://youtu.be/EYGFmGwS2Xs?t=2262 (starting 37 min 33 sec)

          2. Bart Hansen

            Periodically I have been firing up Windy.com to look at the wind directions in that area, and they have been all over the map. Some come from the NE and bend toward Turkey and some from the SE and head toward Poland. It seems not to always follow our W to E prevailing winds at this time. Fallout hitting Russia would not be a given.

    2. Goober Snacked

      An additional lesson: don’t open three fronts if you have a limited number of troops at your disposal. It’s not a feint if you commit resources to it. Today all three of Russia’s stated objectives remain unresolved. The article is flattery by folks who want Russia to continue to do what it has been doing without correcting course, to its detriment.

      If the Russian weapon systems are accurate 60% of the time, it takes five shots to guarantee 99% target destruction. NATO requires 90% accuracy which lends to smaller, lighter, and higher velocity rounds, taking two shots to guarantee 99% destruction. Now the Russians are expending weapons at 1000% the peacetime rate. Adding third shifts at their facilities only seems to improve production output by 20%. There is a finite expiration date to the Russian campaign based on non-strategic reserve stockpiles. The whole enchilada has to be at stake to dip into the strategic reserves. If an escalation needs to happen, it needs to happen soon. Like yesterday.

      1. The Rev Kev

        ‘It’s not a feint if you commit resources to it.’

        No, it was a fixing operation. The Russians deployed some 40,000 men to Kiev which kept those Ukrainian forces pinned there while they took over the south and started operations in the Donbass. And now the Donbass is cracking and there is a pattern now of Ukrainian forces having to leave their positions and bug out. Here is how it looks to the Ukrainian military-


        But in all seriousness, try looking at the Military Summary channel to keep track of what is happening in the real world-


  15. Scylla

    I saw this a week or two ago. Had no idea that Marinus was Van Riper. That should be a name that is familiar to many here, as he also demonstrated that the US cannot defeat Iran.
    Also, after perusing the replies to that tweet, I am glad to see that my decision to depart from the twitter was definitely the correct one.

  16. The Rev Kev

    ‘These dissidents — Mercouris, Military Summary, Martynov, Lira, and Ritter, among others’

    First, kudos to Lambert for that fascinating piece of detective work retrieving this buried article. To that dissidents list I would also add-

    Defense Politics Asia (https://www.youtube.com/c/DefensePoliticsAsia/videos)
    The New Atlas (https://www.youtube.com/c/TheNewAtlas/videos) and
    Douglas MacGregor (snippets at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCiBR6Z16tXxC5mQO3nsSBEg/videos)

    Say what you will about the Russians,they are operating in a professional manner which appears to drive some US generals like Mattis nuts. The Russians don’t wage war like they do and have done in other countries. Things like bombing electricity, water & sewerage works and even hospitals. Things that you will actually find listed as ‘war crimes’. The Russians have been watching this and have decided ‘Nyet.’ Doing so only turns the population against you. The Russian military really began to change after their five day war against Georgia in 2008 when they defeated another NATO trained army. Yes, they won but they had all sorts of problems doing so as their services had been neglected for so long-


    The army that quietly and quickly took over control in Crimea in 2008 in their Ratnik gear was another animal altogether. Not only in the personal gear of their soldiers but their professionalism and how they went about their business. And here we are eight years later and is obvious from that article how Russian military philosophy is still advancing. They knew that the war was coming and prepared accordingly.The NATO plan seems to have been for the Russians to slaughter themselves launching ground attacks against the cement fortifications of the Donbass but the Russians got out of that business in WW2. You can bet that US/NATO are watching this fight like a hawk and though they know that the Russians are holding back on their best gear, have proved that a NATO force in their region is hopelessly outclassed. The Russians have not the desire or structure to go to Paris but as a defensive force, it is formidable. But will NATO now reform themselves? In a word – no.

    The EU countries buy their weapons individually of course which means that arms dealers have to bribe 30 different governments to buy their gear. Well the European Commission – not NATO note – wants to centralize that process so that all this gets done in Brussels. So in future it will be the European Commission and the other bureaucrats that will be getting all that lovely bribe money instead for buying junk weapons that the 30 EU nations will have to use-


    1. Tet Vet

      “First, kudos to Lambert for that fascinating piece of detective work retrieving this buried article.”

      Kudos and thanks from here!

    2. Yves Smith

      Also Jacques Baud who I don’t think has a regular social media platform but has written articles and been interviewed IIRC on Postil. Here is a republication of two April articles with lots of maps!: https://www.marxist.com/nato-lies-exposed-former-agent-speaks-out.htm

      Also I do have a tiny quibble with Lambert. The “not on board with the narrative” commentators are going on more than Telegram and Ukraine/Russian sources. Martyanov wrote three books on US military decline and was in the Russian military, so a lot of his commentary is debunking MSM reporting based on his knowledge of weapon systems, order of battle, etc. Brian Berletic of New Atlas makes a huge point of basing his commentary almost 100% on Western sources, particularly DoD briefings. I sense whatever Russian Ritter once had is very rusty and he’s going on readings of the maps and skepticism of/insight into MSM commentary.

  17. Tom Pfotzer

    Marinus’ concluding remarks remind us that war is a physical, mental and moral contest.

    The U.S.’ last several wars left out the “moral” part. Look what we left behind.

    Russia is attempting to navigate to higher moral ground. If you read Putin’s and Lavrov’s press releases and speeches, they often repeat their commitment to international law.

    In the lead-up to the invasion of Ukraine, Putin made repeated efforts to explain to the West what Russia’s red-lines were, what the consequences of backing Russia into a corner were, etc.

    After the invasion began, Putin expressed great regret that Russia was conducting war against their “brothers and sisters” in Ukraine. Putin repeatedly drew a clear distinction between the Nazis that had political control of Ukraine .vs. the citizens of Ukraine, many of whom have family relations with Russians.

    Russia’s primary goals are Russia’s security, and to bolster Russia’s political standing with the rest of the non-Western world. It looks to me as if both of those core objectives are being achieved.

    In contrast, the world watches as the U.S. throws Germany under the bus. Wrecks its economy. Causes Ukraine to be dismembered; it’ll never recover from this. The E.U. itself may be ruined. Japan, Korea and Taiwan wonder if they’re going to be the next to get run over. And they may well be. And all this so the U.S. can continue to rule its Empire.

    Who wants to be the friend of the U.S.? Everyone’s looking for a way out.

    So that’s the moral and political angle. Russia is currently cleaning the U.S.’ clock.

    The mental aspect is the economic and political gamesmanship of this contest. The sanctions, the counter-sanctions, the clear expression of nuclear reprisal should the U.S. intervene militarily, the payments-in-rubles maneuver, the lining up of world-wide political support, the slow ratchet down of Nord Steam 1…these are all highly skilled mental and psychological forces being applied directly against the U.S. via EU proxies.

    When has this ever been done before? Even the Cuban missile crisis did not involve this wide a spectrum of engagement across economic, political and military realms.

    So, for Gen. Mattis to say “these people are incompetent” is quite a stretch. They’re quite competent.

    Going back to the moral issue. How does the rest of the world, including the E.U., perceive the U.S. as it causes (I didn’t say enable, I said “cause”) shelling of an active nuke plant that can poison a big swath of eastern, and possibly western Europe?

    How’s that for competent management of the moral and political realm, General Mattis? Are you on-board with that move?

    Nobody outside the U.S. consumer-news-recipients thinks that horrible, phenomenally monstrous action is emanating from Russia.

    We are painting ourselves into a very bad corner. General Mattis, if you’re looking for incompetency, go visit with the NeoCons. That’s where it is.

    1. fairleft

      Yes yes yes, great comment!

      The US continues to win only the PR game within its censorship zone. But that’s now only just barely running ahead of reality.

    2. chris

      I’m not a military analyst. I assume I can’t trust any of what I see in our media and most of what I read. But I agree with much of what you’re saying. It seems like the architects of our “success” in Libya have engineered another opportunity for us to “lead from from behind”.

      I do wonder what the heck is going on in Europe though. Can their people really be in support of what’s happening in Ukraine? I know my friends in Poland are. I know some of my associates in the UK are too. But when I look at the consequences I don’t understand how they could be. However, I do know that many people in the EU and UK are confused about important details about their economy and infrastructure. I had a friend say to me the other day that they were worried about energy costs this winter, but that they weren’t concerned about access to fuel because the UK was on a different set of energy sources relying on the north sea. I told them that the UK has been importing more and more fuel for years and that UK storage capacity is an issue. That they need to worry about both. That just because they get their gas imports from Norway doesn’t mean they’ll be less exposed to these issues come November. And when I showed them the numbers behind those statements… they didn’t know what to say.

      I wonder about Germany and Italy. Can it really be better for them to pretend the EU works and that the US is their ally than to try to change things? Or is this more of what Mr. Lira was saying the other day when he was postulating that all our elites know a crash is coming and they don’t care as long as they get the most out of the market before it happens?

      1. OIFVet

        I don’t think you realize just how captured the EU elites are by the various institutions used by the US to exert influence and control: NATO, ECFR, innumerable entities in the NGO world, and just plain greed and stupidity. The EU liberal upper middle classes are like lemmings; here I speak from my position as one who is part of these circles and I get daily front seat to see their profound inability to process any info that threatens to produce even mild cognitive dissonance. Throw in deeply ingrained biases that have been strengthened by a rather successful media propaganda since 2014 and you have Europe willingly headed for the abyss. It’s not a hopeless situation just yet, but it’s close. The problem, as I see it, is that the man/woman on the street realizes something profoundly bad is happening to them but the response is to to move toward the far right as there is very little of the old left that still exists. That only gives the EU elites the excuse to cry “Russian hybrid warfare” and tighten control and further reduce the range of acceptable speech. It’s a bad self-reinforcing cycle and one hopes that it will be broken by European industry realizing that it’s being sacrificed by the US and by its governments.

        1. chris

          Hrmm… V for Vendetta and Watchmen were not supposed to be guidebooks. Moore’s witchcraft must have cut too close to reality in those stories for his own comfort :/

        2. Ignacio

          I sense that you are quite right on this to the point that a few of these elites look very much like CIA assets rather than the European servants they are supposed to be. Whether there is money involved in some positions, who knows, but it wouldn’t surprise me if there is. What I feel not sure about is about how far the cognitive dissonance goes. My guess is that most are well aware of real developments in the war front and they are all betting or praying that the real game is on the sanctions front. This would be why they still believe that Russia will kneel in front of the West praying for mercy and a negotiation. My intuition goes on the contrary. Motivation is here a plus and I think Russia will run along any economic suffering created by the sanctions with stoicism while Europeans, and particularly Germans are going to suffer the most and they are not so highly motivated to endure the coming difficulties. We will see. If for instance Russia feels the need to close Natural Gas spigots to Europe to force negotiations this might suggest some fragility on the Russian side: willingness to put a brake and stop the war or needed supplies from the West. If they keep supplies on their conditions (payments in rubles etc) this will instead suggest Russia feels strong and in charge. In that case the ball will be in European roofs. Is the EU strong enough to endure the energy crisis plus the industrial crisis or will it break into pieces?

        3. Colonel Smithers

          Thank you, OIFVet.

          You “hope that it will be broken by European industry realizing that it’s being sacrificed by the US and by its governments”. I worked for a German bank until the spring 2021 and joined a Dutch bank from new year, so keep an eye on what their clients say and do.

          Unfortunately, what little German dissent / skepticism expressed by German firms and unions in the first month or so has been muted after Zelensky singled out some French firms and Sarkozy and Merkel for facilitating the Russian war machine. No one wants to be the target of a social media attack, consumer boycott etc.

          In the past decade, in part due to the early rumbles of what became Brexit, the US has sought to build a network of proxies in Europe. John Kerry was particularly involved in this mobilisation. One of the most prominent is the Atlantic Council which employs former French diplomat Gerard Araud and academic turned Macron depute Benjamin Haddad.

          Even FIAT, which has had business links with the former Soviet Union since the 1960s, has kept quiet and allowed its press affiliate La Stampa to join the condemnation of Russia. Since the more Americanised Elkann branch of the Agnelli extended family took over the running of FIAT, the group has loosened its Italian / European links.

          This month, I have come across some new and expensive SUVs with Ukrainian number plates in my home county of Buckinghamshire.

          1. OIFVet

            Lots of expensive UA-registered vehicles here in Bulgaria as well, which only feeds the natives’ resentment now that the initial welcoming period is long gone.

            Yes, Zelensky has been very effective as a “moral arbiter” of what European “values” should be, never mind that he and his government don’t follow any of them. Still, I get the sense that Euros have had enough of his hectoring and of his never-ending supply of olive drab tee shirts. His messages only resonate with the NGO and think tank crowd these days, at least in Bulgaria. And the fall of the BG government should be one of the canaries for the EU, if it had any sense left. I seriously doubt that the regular people will buy the narrative about Putin’s energy warfare once they start getting the heating bills in November, what concerns me is a sharp swing to the far right in any number of countries. That’s the mood I am sensing and it’s not at all reassuring.

            1. Colonel Smithers

              Thank you.

              In the UK, many of the refugees are on the streets as relations with host families break down or the hosts are struggling with bills. Local authorities have stepped in, in part as it’s embarrassing after so much grandstanding, but they are now screaming for central government help.

              Ukraine has become a local political football as local politicians grandstand and try to shame people into not complaining about local services.

            2. Stephen

              I have been seeing them in Vienna and Innsbruck this week. One wonders how these people are funded, in the context of such a poor but corrupt country.

              Agree that many people have had enough. The ones continuing to whip up this frenzy are the “elites” and corporate media.

              I have spoken to precisely two Bulgarians about Ukraine and both were 100% pro Putin.

            3. Stephen

              I have been seeing them in Vienna and Innsbruck this week. One wonders how these people are funded, in the context of such a poor but corrupt country.

              Agree that many people have had enough. The ones continuing to whip up this frenzy are the “elites” and corporate media.

          2. Gregorio

            It seems to me like a consumer boycott is a lesser evil than having to shut down factories due to cutbacks in electrical generation.

        4. David

          It’s a big mistake, in my experience, to imagine to imagine the EU “elites” are in any sense “captured” by the US. The reality is much more complicated.

          They come from the same population pool as those who can be described as “NATO elites” “IFI elites” or just “politico-media-intellectual elites.” They express the same opinions in the EU as they express in NATO (and don’t forget the two organisations overlap almost perfectly, so that’s what you’d expect). Most of them agree with the idea of a close relationship with the US on security issues, but even those who don’t, or who are suspicious of the US on other grounds (such as trade) often share US perspectives for their own reasons. On Iran, for example, European countries like France and Germany are at least as hawkish as the US, for their own reasons.

          But for Europe there’s an extra added dimension you don’t find in the US, which is the normative, post-nationalist, post-historical, post-cultural social liberalism which is the ideology of the EU. Opposition to this within the EU (Orban, Le Pen) is bad enough, but Russia, with its old fashioned-ideas of patriotism, culture, religion, history, society etc. is a monstrosity and an existential threat just because it’s there. It really is a clash of civilisations, and this accounts for the violence and hysteria of the European approach. It’s a profound mistake to think this is imitated from the US: it was there long before.

          1. OIFVet

            I can see your point. However, let’s not forget that little “F*ck the EU!” episode between Nuland and Piatt from early 2014. It really showed who is in the driver’s seat as far as instigating a crisis and forming a US-friendly government in Kiev. Then there are the Minsk accords, to which Germany and France were parties. I very much doubt that the failure of UA to implement these agreements was with the implicit wink and a nod of France and Germany, at least not Merkel’s Germany (Scholtz’s Germany is a different beast altogether). Then there is the qui bono of the conflict, which arguably is the US MIC, what with all of these Euros finally finding their 2% of GDP spending on defense, a lot of which Lockheed will be very happy to take.

            So yes, I do get your point and I agree about the clash of values/civilizations of it. But the Euros did not have any interest in instigating a war over values, and certainly not while Merkel was still in charge. Then there was Macron’s vain attempt to at least have a dialogue with Putin, something the US couldn’t be bothered with. So at the end, the only one with a real interest in having a shooting war was the US, with the Euros basically the big losers economically. That the EU elites are ineffectual is beyond dispute; looking at Scholtz’s government one starts to believe that they are fully captured by NATO/US interests to an extent that could have never happened under Mutti. And then there is Eastern Europe whose elites, Orban excluded, are fully captured by the US (writing this from Bulgaria and being close to some of the actors, I just know).

            Bottom line, I truly hope that the sense comes to the EU and it begins to be an independent actor. That’s sorely needed not only for its own sake but for the sake of the Eurasian landmass as well. Cultural differences aside, Germany and France used to understand economics and the need to rope in Russia into a mutually beneficial economic relationship. Therein lies the displeasure of a decaying US and the root of what is happening now. Ot boggles the mind that the Euros will have gone along with it for the sake of the 23rd gender or some such. Captive elites and Eastern European’s wagging of the dog are the more likely explanation IMHO.

            1. Tom Pfotzer

              The capture mechanisms can’t survive an economic meltdown of Germany.

              Germany has nearly closed off commercial access to Russia and China. That damage will take decades to repair, and by that time, China for sure and SE Asia and India will probably have permanently displaced them. That is a done deal; damage done.

              Germany’s industry is now badly disadvantaged by high energy costs, which aren’t going to abate until and unless NordStream 1 and / or 2 is restored. That may take quite a while, and the prices of energy post-restore are going to be substantially higher. There will be a price extracted.

              These are now durable facts.

              If German industry shutdowns actually do occur for more than a few months, then that’s the end for Germany’s manufacturing. It doesn’t take long for orders to get re-pointed to other suppliers.

              It’s not just the workers that will suffer from this. It’s everyone, top to bottom. There will be no place to hide. And where Germany goes, so goes the rest of the E.U. Germany is the cash cow.

              And there is absolutely _no_ way that the entire management team of every single German manufacturer – and manufacturer’s bank – doesn’t understand this crystal clear. If the management team knows it, labor knows it. They know it.

              I expect the public relations charade – captured or not – to end in a few months, certainly by December of this year.

              What I don’t know is how much farther into the bag of dirty tricks the NeoCons will reach as the end looms in front of them.

              The nuke plant shelling is the NeoCons saying “we’re crazy! we’ll do anything! we’re desperate!”. *

              And indeed they are.

              Wonder what General Mattis is going to do.

              1. chris

                You are correct.

                The global machine can and will redirect its supply chain purchases if Germany has to shutter its production of any particular item for any length of time. And that time is measured in weeks, not months. It’s interesting to think about that in the context of what the options are. The “cha ba duo” article on links today is important to understand in this context. Things like standards for threads on plumbing fittings, to take one example, are either correctly enforced or they’re not. If not, you start to get problems with things leaking that shouldn’t. That’s annoying with water in residences. Deadly with natural gas. And then you think about things like brakes on cars, or trains… well. It doesn’t take much of a deviation in produced component tolerances to create a situation where chaos ensues. Even if the chaos is driven by a procedural response to the manufactured defects. The increase in inspection time needed to verify a shipment is within tolerances would be enough of an issue for most companies to see a significant difference in throughput. And that’s assuming they have the staff for a significant increase in workload for QA/QC procedures. Most companies don’t.

                I hope we see some articles or open threads on NC to tease out what kind of a multi-polar world we’d inherit if the US really did lose the EU as a reliable patsy. If Germany goes into serious decline because it’s wedded to US/NATO orthodoxy, does that create the impetus for a Gerxit? GExit?

                I know during the prior currency crisis in Greece there were a lot of people on NC discussing what could and could not happen because of mundane details like who had printing presses for currency and more arcane details like how to re-introduce the Dracma into our globally interlinked world. I recall Yves and others talked about a timeline of roughly 5 years to get everything in place to accomplish a project of that scale assuming you had the right people with the right skills.

                But Germany? Could the Germans do it better and quicker? If the German people saw that keeping to the limits of the US/NATO alliance means that they will suffer endless degradation of their standard of living, would that push them out of the EU? Or would it create an opportunity for some new frustrated water color artist to rise to power and take over the mechanisms of the EU from inside of Germany?

          2. Yves Smith

            I don’t see how they can be depicted as anything other than captured in light of their willingness to destroy their economies and create hunger and social unrest to purse a US proxy war with Russia. They are America’s cannon fodder. They have to be captured not to see that. Or else corrupt and getting payoffs, but I don’t see mechanisms for that to happen on a big enough scale.

            1. digi_owl

              There may be some elements of TINA and hypernormalization in there was well.

              By far most of the people running Europe right now was brought up on the idea that USA was special and saved Europe from the combined threat of Nazis and Bolsheviks.

              Thus they side with USA, even at their detriment, as they are completely unable to envision an alternative.

          3. Revenant

            Interesting observation. I wonder if it can be extended. I would argue the EU PMC class also despised Trump or, more precisely, his church-going, MAGA, deplorable voters, for the same reasons. Trump = Putin for the globalists.

            Of course, China ticks all those boxes too….

            Still, I don’t Germany would have refused to approve Nordstream 2 without US pressure. I think the EU would hold its nose and trade with Russia because, monstrous though it is, the EU realises it is no military threat. I don’t think the intersection of the EU and NATO is 100% among the business class but it is looking like it is among those of the political class with any short-term ambitions to power….

            1. chris

              That comment matches what I see on social media. The most reliable anti-Trump meme posting in my FB/Insta connections are from my acquaintances in the UK and Germany. I have one friend in the UK who is posting memes about how stupid Trump is everyday. He’s not a bot. He’s not paid to do it. He just does it. I have said things about BoJo being awful but the former PM never lived rent free in my head like Trump appears to reside in so many of my EU friend’s psyches.

          4. Mac na Michomhairle

            This seems accurate as regards the motivation of the political-media-intellectual elites.

            They are also, in effect, also acting as America’s cannon fodder, but I don’t think that is their intention.

        5. hemeantwell

          I’d urge some historical perspective on the EU elite capture thesis. It’s important to remember that after the Soviet collapse the early 90s saw the emergence of a more Eurocentric approach to European security, one that incorporated the Russians within the OSCE. For a time both the French and Germans were on board but the US successfully shaped the development of the Balkans crisis so as to require a military approach that Europeans were not prepared to burden themselves with. In their appeals for revised security guarantees Putin and Lavrov are drawing on that period. While it would certainly be very difficult to revive those ideas now, it also seems that a revival of the T-34s in Paris hysteria that fueled the Cold War is even more unlikely.

      2. digi_owl

        A mix of massive propaganda, and a leadership brought up on “America Hoorah” and angling for some cushy job in some US lead NGO etc after their poltical tenure.

        1. Colonel Smithers

          Thank you and well said. Please see my reply to OIFVet if / when it comes out moderation.

    3. hk

      I think the moral hubris of the West has been that, at least as far as the politicians are concerned, they are so convinced of their superior morality that they consider “little sins” entirely justified: to paraphrase Madeline Albright, what are lives of a few million subhuman children compared to the greater morality of “human rights (for the right peoples)” and “democracy(tm)”?

  18. Tom Stone

    Officers of the USMC had a tradition of Integrity from its birth until quite recently.
    And it has also welcomed intellectuals and innovators, there’s a statue of John Boyd at Quantico while Boyd is “He who shall not be named” at the Air force.
    “Marinus” is fine example of what I came to expect of a Marine growing up ( Two Gunnery Sergeants among my Mother’s siblings).
    “Mad Dog” Mattis on the other hand is an example of the”New Improved” Marine officer and a disgrace to the Service.
    Thanks for this, Van Riper may be old but he still knows how to set an example

  19. Dave in Austin

    There is a difference between the goals of annihilation and attrition warfare in Soviet military theory.

    A recent article on the subject can be found in the July issue of the Journal of Military History (JMH vol 86 number 3, page 670) entitled “Still Misreading Svechin: Annihilation, Attrition and their Strategic and Operational Implications” by Dmitry Plotnikov.

    Some JSTOR users may have access to it. If not, check a major research library.

  20. Soredemos

    Reading through the response tweets, they’re universally vapid. But one that really stuck out to me was one sarcastically saying ‘oh yeah, losing a 40km convoy was part of a master plan, right’. But…that convoy wasn’t destroyed. I’ve never even heard the claim before that it was. For months the propaganda has been that it was stuck and turned back, so implicitly I guess the propaganda narrative is that it was defeated. But that’s not the same thing as destroyed.

    It’s amazing to watch people who are wrong about literally everything, as in they’re fractally wrong: they’re wrong in their overall picture, but also if you zoom in on any specific part of their worldview it’s completely wrong in all of the particulars as well. It’s amazing to watch people like that act smug. They probably consider themselves media savvy, and that they’re informed voters, etc.

    1. Yves Smith

      That convoy was a huge decoy, likely to reduce the manpower needed to make the Kiev fixing operation seem credible. It ostentatiously sat there, totally unmolested by the West or Ukraine. If Russia wanted to move it into combat, they could have. They didn’t.

      No one ever mentioned what became of it. I assume they pulled most/all of it back when they took forces away from Kiev.

    2. Polar Socialist

      Funny part about that convoy is that according to US Army standards, in a “restrictive terrain” (one is stuck to roads) the column length of US Armored Brigade Combat Team is 120 kilometers. It’s preferred to use two roads if possible, but that’s still 60 kilometers per column.
      It’s always a choice between the risk of enemy air (or artillery) action or being able to actually deploy your firepower when you need it. 100 meters between vehicles makes them harder to hit from air (or a distance), but in case of an ambush or a meeting engagement the units can’t support each other.

    3. Michaelmas

      Soredemos: But…that convoy wasn’t destroyed.

      To state the obvious: That a convoy of wheeled or tracked Russian vehicles strung along 40 miles/kilometers of a single road leading to Kiev was not cut and strafed to pieces by ground attacks from both sides and by air attacks — as, forex, the Iraqi army of Saddam Hussein were turned to ‘crispy critters’ during its retreat along the Basra road during Gulf 1 — should have been pretty conclusive evidence to everybody that the Russians had operational preponderance over the Ukrainian forces, especially in the air.

      That nevertheless over the last few months the MSM propaganda has so ludicrously continued claiming the opposite is best taken as just part of the human comedy.

      Soredemos: It’s amazing to watch people who are wrong about literally everything, as in they’re fractally wrong: they’re wrong in their overall picture, but also if you zoom in on any specific part of their worldview it’s completely wrong in all of the particulars as well. It’s amazing to watch people like that act smug. They probably consider themselves media savvy, and that they’re informed voters, etc.

      The Dunning-Kruger effect is a much, much stronger force in human affairs than we like to admit.

      Best just to enjoy the human comedy and to continually ask yourself if it’s you who is being the smug fool this time.

  21. VietnamVet

    The American Civil War was famously going to be a short until the first battle of Bull Run. Then the politicians and their ladies had to turn tail in their buggies and rush back to DC for their lives. The Ukraine/Russia war is almost six months old and no end is in sight.

    The media is in full bore war propaganda except for some reason Fox is giving a platform to Tulsi Gabbard to tell the truth about war profiteering. The big lies proliferate on all sides but a bloody red banner goes to UK intelligence for pushing Ukraine the hardest to fight an endless war to trigger a regime change the Kremlin. This winter will tell if Germany and the EU can survive without Russian energy. The ruling oligarchy appears to have no concern over the thousands of people dying weekly in Europe from war, the pandemic, summer heat and winter cold next. The simple fact is that there is no leader or nation capable of signing an armistice of end the proxy world war before it is too late and escalates into the use of tactical nuclear weapons and a global nuclear war if Russia finally breaks through Ukraine’s defenses and heads west.

    The blame rests with the “for-profit – money only” ideology of neo-liberalism.

    1. Yves Smith

      Sorry, you have this wrong. The Russians have methodically chewed their way through massive fortifications in a way that minimized their losses (except of artillery) and maximized those of Ukraine. And with a peacetime, expeditionary force that gets rotated when Russia wants to (as in they are in so much control of the tempo that they can rotate troops at their leisure). By contrast, Ukraine has not made a single meaningful counteroffensive this entire war and is now down to putting raw conscripts on the zero line.

      Russia is nearing the end of that phase. The rest of Ukraine is not bunkered. They will be able to quickly march to the Dnieper if they chose. But they may assign higher priority to taking Mikolayiv and Odessa.

      1. José Freitas

        Yes, the fact that advance is slow obscures the HUGE losses and destruction of military gear the Ukrainian army has suffered, catastrophical, I would say. Leaked UKR documents say 190,000 kia and wia, there is an estimate of 90,000 mia, many probaby dead (the rest deserted), with Kiev having big incentives to downplay the kia, for financial reasons, and plenty of accusations in UKR telegram channels that they refuse to recover bodies in the battlefield. Plus RU is holding at least 20,000 prisoners. That’s close to 300,000 men ‘disappeared’ from the battlefield. Plus russian-era artillery ammunitions are almost at an end. Leaked documents plus US assessments recently published hint at a very low efficiency for Javelins et. al. in the order of probably 1-3% actual rate of fire. Etc…

        When the end comes, it will be VERY fast, in terms of advance.

    2. hk

      Highly doubtful that tactical nukes will ever come out. No one will be able to dispute that, were that to happen, it would be NATO, or, more specifically, US overstepping a very bad red line, and Russia is not exactly powerless to respond. I’d sooner expect a coup in DC before use of tactical nukes, and, no, I don’t think that coup would ever happen either.

      1. David

        I agree about tactical nuclear weapons, which just seems a fantasy, as indeed does the escalation of the present conflict to a nuclear one. This article argues the same point.

        More generally, what surprises me is actually how conventional this analysis is. Any US officer who’s been to Staff College will be able to follow the analysis, and anyone who’s done an advanced course (for aspirant Generals for example) should have been able to write it. I think the distinction is not between knowledge or skill on the one hand and ignorance on the other, but rather between a willingness and capacity to apply what one has learned, without regard to consequences, and a reluctance to do so. I think (to pick up CS’s point below) there is the question of responding to incentives; The more rigid and doctrinaire an organisation is, the more promotion will be dependent on conformity. It doesn’t mean that such people are stupid, or even incompetent, but it does mean that any temptation to hold minority positions must be resisted in the interests of professional success. But in some ways they are only responding to the prompts given by the system, and the system is the problem.

        1. hk

          Absolutely agree on the analysis. It is the simplest analysis one could make based on the best evidence available. Any analysis that, even as subsidiary claims, would argue anything like “Ukraine might win,” “Western weapons (will) make decisive difference,” or “Russia is using up resources at unsustainable rates” require such twisted arguments based on dubious “facts” that they should just be unbelievable, except to the “true believers.”

  22. Colonel Smithers

    Thank you, Lambert.

    @ readers: Lambert probably does not emphasise enough the point about colonels not making general and how often alternative voices, not necessarily dissenters, are colonels who, for one reason or another, did not progress, vide Anne Wright, Larry Wilkerson, William Astore, Douglas MacGregor and, pre-Ukraine war, Pat Lang.

    It’s the same in the UK civil and armed services, whether over the wars in Asia or Brexit.

    One hopes former UK official David pipes up about this sad state of affairs.

    1. Bart Hansen

      It should be noted that the individuals mentioned above have been largely banned from the media. For example, it’s been many years ago that Col. Lang and Juan Cole were banned from The News Hour on the Public Broadcasting System. During Iraq, Lang used to say that they didn’t like his ideas.

  23. Tom Stone

    The US Military has many thousands of career counselors and one of the biggest bars to promotion beyond the rank of Major is “Too much time with the troops”.
    “Career Counselors”….

    1. cfraenkel

      Too true. The path to promotion always included a stint at the Pentagon as a Powerpoint Ranger. (which existed long before Powerpoint was created – the slides were typed by hand directly onto transparent sheets. Edits and typos were fixed by retyping the whole thing all over again).

      The corrosive flip side to this is the ones who did this best, and so got promoted faster, were the ones who best internalized the prevailing BS. You spend two – three years producing this junk 24 hrs a day and it changes how you think. So you grow up, get your star and demand the new crop of majors produce more BS and the cycle perpetuates.

      1. David

        To be fair, he said judiciously, although any military needs lots of officers up to Lt-Col/Col level to command units and structures, beyond that level, a lot of the jobs involve working in a political and bureaucratic environment, and being an efficient manager. It can’t be otherwise in a modern military. If you are a Brigadier General responsible for developing a piece of equipment, head of an office dealing with finance and budgets, or someone responsible for briefing a General who spends a lot of their time involved with the Foreign Ministry or the media, then being a tough, hard-bitten combat veteran isn’t necessarily going to cut it. I have seen such people in various countries flounder hopelessly.

  24. Clonal Antibody

    You might also find this interesting

    Let me start by suggesting you read the excellent, comprehensive analysis by Sundance at The Conservative Tree House. I can sum up the Trump documents very succinctly–the documents show that there was a coordinated effort by the CIA, the FBI and DOD starting in the summer of 2015 to interfere in the 2016 election. Part of this effort involved using NSA produced intelligence.
    When the conspiracy started in the summer of 2015 to interfere in the 2016 election on behalf of Hillary Clinton by the leadership of the CIA, the FBI and DOD, Donald Trump was not the only target. Few believed at the time that Trump had a snowball’s chance in the raging inferno of Hell to win the nomination, much less the Presidency. There were active searches for compromising intel on all of the leading Republican candidates, including Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, and on Bernie Sanders.

    The CIA, with the knowledge of the Director of National Intelligence, worked with British counterparts starting in the summer of 2015 to collect intelligence on Republican and at least one Democrat candidate. John Brennan was probably hoping that his proactive steps to help the Hillary Clinton campaign would ensure him taking over as DNI in the new Clinton Administration. Regardless of motives, the CIA enlisted the British intelligence community to start gathering intelligence on most major Republican candidates and on Bernie Sanders.


    I believe Donald Trump is holding trump cards that irrefutably show that the CIA, the FBI and DOD were communicating in Top Secret channels about these activities and that the coordination also included foreign intelligence personnel in at least the UK and Australia.

    I hope this helps you understand the desperation of the U.S. national security agencies to keep this stuff hidden. The revelations, if they come, will be devastating.

  25. Jeremy Grimm

    [Hope this does not double post. My mouse is getting quirky]
    I hope the War College, TRADOC, and its counterpart in the Marine Corps, are making close study of the Russian strategy and tactics. The Air Force and Navy still have their turns at the trough but I think the Army and Marine Corps might leverage analysis of the Russian actions in the Ukraine to craft a new procurements strategy for equipping future u.s. ground forces and get a bigger slice of the DoD budget. I am not in favor of the MIC or military spending or warfare but if the u.s. government is going to continue spending the last of of our national wealth on the MIC it might be nice if our services procured well-designed and useful equipment coupled with strategy and tactics that actually support our Warfighters and better defines the kinds of mission they may be called upon to execute.

    1. Louis Fyne

      uphill climb for the army, marines as the weapons systems that shined in Ukraine are the ones that are unsexy and relatively low margins: dumb drones, mobile artillery, mobile anti-aircraft systems.

  26. elkern

    I suspect that the early moves toward Kiev were a two-pronged strategy. There was a chance that the Gov’t (& military) of Ukraine would collapse, in which case, those tank columns could have just rolled into the capitol & declared victory. Russia probably thought this was unlikely but worth a try, but weren’t surprised that they had to let that go & live with the alternative success of tying down most of Ukraine’s mobile forces for a few months.

    OTOH, I doubt that Russia expected the “Western” press to be so uniformly enthusiastic about dispensing pro-Ukrainian/anti-Russian propaganda. Most of the “news” we got in those early weeks of the war was either (1) Russian “atrocities” (“Russia destroys cute Mriya plane at Hostomel”) or (2) Ukrainian tactical successes (“Brave Ukrainian forces recapture Hostomel”). (I guess NATO IO strategy hasn’t really changed since then…)

    The result was instant uniform support by Democrats for helping Ukraine, and slightly slower, slightly less uniform support by Republicans. There were a few hard-core Trumpists who took Russia’s side, but they were quickly marginalized by (1) financial & ideological interests (Oil/Gas, Israel) controlling the old Big Money wing of the GOP (like Ted Cruz) and (2) reversion to the norm by veterans & anti-communists (like Pat Lang). Even Trump had the sense to just shut his burger-hole for a once!

    This near-unanimous support from all politically relevant groups (sorry, we here don’t count…) predictably led US/NATO to send lotsa new weapons to Ukraine, endangering both Russian troops *and* objectives. HIMARS haven’t “turned the tide”, but they may have stemmed it, costing Russia a fair about of equipment, ordnance, & casualties, forcing them to reorganize their logistics & slow their advances. Would US have reacted with such unanimity if Russia had limited their attacks to Luhansk, Donetsk, and Zaporizhzhia Oblasts?

    I kinda hope that Russia merely underestimated the effectiveness of the pro-Ukrainian propaganda, because the alternative is even scarier: that Russia is playing a bigger, longer game. The political divisions & economic decline of the US makes this a good – but very dangerous – time to “poke the Eagle”.

    Delusions about the primacy of the Financial Economy bolster the illusion of power & invincibility among US leaders/elites; Russia knows that money isn’t what keeps one’s house warm in Winter. Lotsa US Gas will be diverted to Europe this Winter, driving up heating costs in most of the USA but increasing profits for Big Oil – who will gladly share some of that with their pet political party (GOP, duh).

    The Democrats are incompetent, but the GOP is evil, and with or without Trump, they will use that extra money to finish their multi-decadal project to privatize the US Government, speeding the end of US Hegemony.

    But if Russia is really playing this Long Game, how are they planning to deal with longer-term problem of inevitable Chinese expansion into Siberia?

    1. Daniil Adamov

      “But if Russia is really playing this Long Game, how are they planning to deal with longer-term problem of inevitable Chinese expansion into Siberia?”

      Now what is so “inevitable” about that?

      1. hunkerdown

        The current psyop is to play up the Western narrative and their occasional accidents of successful prediction, in order to validate their scary, tendentious, self-serving predictions as warrants for their authoritarian prescriptions.

      2. elkern


        China has a few hundred million spare people; Russia has a few hundred million spare acres of empty land.

        Using your favorite Map Ap, cruise the Amur River. The density of farms, people, and new infrastructure on the South side is way higher than the North side. It’s only logical that the Chinese (people & money) would develop Siberia faster & more efficiently than Russians.

        I expect this to become a serious thing in the second half of this century.

        1. Daniil Adamov

          It remains to be seen whether the Chinese would want to come here, though. Also, they are in for some measure of demographic decline, and still have plenty of underdeveloped land within China. I just don’t think looking at the map is necessarily all that revealing. (Lord Salisbury’s quote on the subject resonates, for me.)

          I can buy some level of migration. Conquest? Well, if we collapse on our own, maybe. Otherwise it really seems like more trouble than it is worth.

  27. scott s.

    I suggest that in the current environment, it is worthwhile to consider these articles in light of emerging Expeditionary Advanced Base Operations doctrine and the ongoing battles in the USMC over force structure.

  28. Cat Burglar

    US media focused almost entirely on the northern and Kiev offensive, though it was well-known at the time that the majority of Ukrainian forces (and their best units) were in the southeast. But until the siege of Mariupol, there was just about no reporting on the significance or facts of military action in the southeast.

    Media silence on any topic confirmed by more reliable sources over time to be important is a good tipoff to any well-read nonspecialist that something big is happening, and it was noticeable in this case. Glance away from the prestidigitation and legerdemain and you usually see something important while it is happening. The realities of propaganda and secrecy force the use of shorthand tricks like this one on the regular reader.

  29. Van Res

    By moon of alabama

    “Lambert Strether and Yves Smith at Naked Capitalism discuss a piece on the Russian operation in Ukraine that had been printed in the Marine Corps Gazette and of which facsimile pictures were published two weeks ago on Twitter and later in full at Reddit and by Southfront.”

  30. Sin Fronteras

    You need to adopt a journalistic style of writing for this article: give people the punch line FIRST, then provide the detail. The headline is pretty good, but the first few sentences should summarize the findings.

    This article is really important, especially in a propaganda sense, because of who the author is.

    I post your stuff on Facebook, and my Friends are a motley crew. They need to see a lead that is an immediate grabber, or else they will ignore the post. I learned this the hard way, both in activism and engineering: people are extremely likely to ignore stuff if they don’t get an immediate hook. Something like “US Marine Says the Russians were RIGHT in Ukraine”: well maybe not, but something with that kind of immediate punch.

    1. hunkerdown

      Tabloids are not journalism. Strange that someone would confuse the two. Frankly, I come here to get away from that childish nonsense.

      Anyone who wants to can editorialize a breathless title on a blogspot, grab a fair-sized paragraph from the article, and post the link in the tabloid teaser style. People who need drama can and should generate it for themselves and leave non-consenting people out of it. Which is not far from the post’s grand point, as I read it.

    2. HotFlash

      The reason that newspapers start with the most important then follow with less important is so that editors can cut from the bottom to make the material fit on the printed page (finite space) with minimal rewriting (because deadlines) . This was necessary in the old days of print-on-paper and press-time, not necessary for web pages. Applies to both tabloids and ‘serious’ newspapers.

      However, this article is not news but is an essay, different rules apply. You can look them up if you like. Lambert is a master essayist, you could learn a lot from him.

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