Russian Army Turning Out the Lights: US Losing Electricity War in Ukraine

Yves here. John Helmer’s sources contend that Russia has been taking out more of Ukraine’s electricity generating capacity than is widely acknowledged and is doing what amounts to reconnaissance in force on Ukraine’s power infrastructure.

Notice the scenario below of an electricity winter. No electricity = not enough heat = burst pipes. Normally frozen pipes are a not-too-costly problem, but that presupposes the owner/tenant is home or back soon and turns off the main.  I invite experts to comment….but  it seems as if much greater damage could result, and not infrequently, due to leaking. And there’s a second order problem, that differences in degree are differences in kind. Widespread burst pipes will put pressure on supplies and professionals. And remember Ukraine’s GDP contraction is depression-level, so it’s not as if there will be a lot of money around to fix things.

Russia is having an emergency security council meeting tomorrow and Western press outlets are reporting that it will decide what retaliatory measures to take in response to the Kerch bridge attack. Larry Johnson argues Putin won’t stoop to that, but sentiment in Russia is running high. Yours truly thought Russia might hit Ukraine’s electrical grid again, as it did after the Kharkiv offensive, although those strikes looked as if Russia choses its targets so as to only do readily repaired damage. However, an alternative would be to take out a bridge (as opposed to merely damage it). As Alexander Mercouris has repeatedly pointed out, bridges are hard to destroy because they are so overengineered. However, a hypersonic missile could do it, and strikes by some of Russia’s more powerful ballistic missiles probably could too.

Update: As you likely know by now (shortly after this post went live), Russia has launched 75 missiles so far at Ukraine cities, per the BBC, and this attack may not be over.

By John Helmer, the longest continuously serving foreign correspondent in Russia, and the only western journalist to direct his own bureau independent of single national or commercial ties. Helmer has also been a professor of political science, and an advisor to government heads in Greece, the United States, and Asia. He is the first and only member of a US presidential administration (Jimmy Carter) to establish himself in Russia. Originally published at Dances with Bears

In the propaganda war the Ukrainian-supplied western media, led by Rupert Murdoch’s newspapers, have just announced the discovery of a box of gold teeth “in a suspected [sic] Russian torture chamber, prompting claims [sic] they were wrenched from victims [sic] of President Putin’s occupying forces in Kharkov [sic].” .

They are concealing that the Ukrainians of Kharkov whose teeth are fully intact inside their mouths can no longer operate their electric tooth brushes. There’s no electricity. Not for torture. Just enough for the allegations to be fabricated, published, and transmitted on the internet.

According to Ukrainian sources, about 1,700 cities, towns and villages, with about 1 million consumers, were without power in mid-March; the most seriously affected were the regions of  Sumy, Chernigov, Nikolaev and Donetsk. . On May 3, Ukrainian and western media reported a missile strike against power plants in the western Galicia region capital of Lvov; sub-stations supplying electricity to the railway system in the region were also hit.    The biggest of the Russian attacks on Ukrainian electricity plants was reported in the western press, again quoting Kiev sources, on September 11-12.  Power plants in Kharkov, Sumy, Poltava and Dnipropetrovsk regions were stopped.

A report by the International Energy Agency (IEA), issued on October 6, confirms there was a sharp fall in consumer demand for electricity following these attacks; this appears as a gap in the data chart between September 11 and 13. Kiev officials claimthat the generating plants were  repaired and power restored.   The IEA report,  which relies and repeats data provided by the state utility Ukrenergo,  claims that just before the Russians strikes,  demand was running at 9.07 GW on Saturday, September 10, and that by the following Tuesday it was 13.56 GW.

According to the IEA, “Ukraine’s electricity demand has fallen by about 40% since Russia’s invasion with no sign of recovery. Demand keeps decreasing slowly every week. The resulting decline in power generation has mainly taken place in nuclear. But coal-fired generation has also decreased.”  An IEA chart of power generation figures shows that from a peak of 21.87 GW on January 25, the production of electricity reported on October 5 had fallen to 11.41 GW – a cut of 48%.

However, the same IEA report claims that since a low point was reached on June 26 of 9.13 GW, Ukrenergo has also been managing to restore output by 25%.

A North American military specialist in infrastructure demolition and salvage, now retired, says these data are being faked by Ukrenergo. “The Russian strikes also interrupt data recording and reporting. The Ukrainians are not too keen to show weakness as they are anxious to be seen as a reliable supplier of electricity.”

Slowly but surely, but also secretly, the war is destroying the electric generation on which the Ukraine depends for everything –  trains, water pumps, sewage treatment, light, heat, mobile telephones, refrigerators, radio and television, not to mention production lines in factories, in abattoirs,  sausage making and other farm and food processing.

However, there remains electricity for the Ukrainian military operations to continue on the eastern front, and for cross-border trains to run into Lvov from Poland with fresh arms,  ammunition, and rotating allied military staff advisers, together with NATO politicians and journalists keen to advertise their support.

In the wake of the attack on the Crimean Bridge, the electric war can now be expected to escalate.

In this Ukrainian report of March 2022,   the “base installed generating capacity” of the country was reported at 56GW at 2020 —  64% from thermal power plants, 25% nuclear and 10% hydro. The remaining 1%, offset by some hydro storage, was accounted for by solar, wind and other small generators.

Source:  Olga Sushyk, Deputy Director of the Centre for European Studies at the Educational and Scientific Institute of Law, and Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv: “Ukraine’s Power System: Power and War”, published on March 17, 2022.

Source for enlarged view: file:///D:/Backups/Downloads/

Source:  Lyudmila Vlasenko, Head of Electricity Sector Development Unit, Ukrainian Ministry of Energy and Coal Sector – report titled “Power System of Ukraine: Today and Tomorrow”, July 2013.  Since  July of this year DTEK, the generation company owned by Ukrainian oligarch Rinat Akhmetov,   has reported that “about 90% of Ukraine's wind capacity and 30% of solar parks are offline because they are in occupied territories.”  

The Sushyk-Shevchenko report says that “due to damage to the electricity infrastructure, as of March 16, 2022, more than 1,679 Ukrainian localities remained without electricity – that’s about 928,000 consumers. The worst situation with electricity supply is in Sumy, Chernigov, Nikolaev, Kiev, and Donetsk regions.”

An earlier background briefing paper from the International Energy Agency (IEA), dated 2021, confirms the pre-war details.  Here’s IEA’s backgrounder on Ukrainian electricity generation, apparently as of 2018.

The IEA also publishes daily updated charts of the collapse of Ukrainian electricity production; these are based on data supplied by Ukrenergo. These charts show the losses as of October 9.

The same source also shows this chart of Ukrainian electricity demand; demand responds to the cutoff of coal, gas and nuclear fired generating plants by increasing use of domestic electrical heaters and back-up electrical generators.


Since 2014 Ukraine has lost a third of its energy generation which had been located in the breakaway Donetsk and Lugansk regions. Another 10 power plants were lost in 2014-2015, and seventeen more in 2022, according to a new assessment publishedlast Friday in Vzglyad  of Moscow by Nikolai Storozhenko.

“Zaporozhye NPP [Nuclear Power Plant] stands out among them, of course. But this does not mean that the others are not worth attention. For example, the Zaporozhye thermal power plant (Energodar) has an installed capacity of more than 3,500 MW and can potentially produce 23-25 billion kWh (the annual plan for the NPP for 2022 was 37 billion kWh). In other words, the loss of this energy supply is a hole which, practically, the Ukraine can do nothing to close, and which will largely determine the problems of the Ukrainian winter of 2022/23.”

“Ukraine lost another 4% of electricity generation as a result of the fighting from February to September, according to the assessment of the National Council for the Restoration of Ukraine. However, it is obvious that these data do not take into account the blows to the energy infrastructure  which were inflicted on September 11-12 (Kharkov CHPP-5, Zmievskaya CHPP, Pavlodar CHPP-3, Kremenchug CHPP). In general, the damage and reduction in the capacity of the energy system looks enormous for Ukraine and it is not entirely clear how Zelensky manages to sell electricity to Europe against this background.”

“But, firstly, sales [to Europe] will soon stop, which Zelensky has already warned Europe about, declaring recently: ‘We will not have enough volume to heat our homes, and this time is approaching.’ Secondly, Ukraine’s energy system is losing power simultaneously with a decrease in consumption…Yury Korolchuk, an expert at the Institute of Energy Strategies [Kiev],  is urging consumers to be ready for five to six-hour rolling blackouts. Rolling blackouts are not news for Ukraine, but the realities of the last few years. Moreover, this year in the reports on the procurement of fuel for the winter, firewood began to appear…and the mayor of Lvov said in August that the city is buying and stocking wood for fuel.”

“What about gas supply? In the summer, Naftogaz asked for several billion dollars to purchase 5-7 billion cubic meters of gas – to bring reserves to 19 billion cubic meters. But there was no money for this – and to date, only 14 billion cubic meters have been accumulated. On the one hand, the situation for gas is about the same as with electricity: consumption is falling. Kherson, Zaporozhye, Donetsk, Lugansk and Kharkov regions are either completely written off…, or their supplies will be cut to a minimum. “In most cities of Kharkov, Donetsk, Nikolaev,  Sumy, Chernogov regions and Zaporozhye there will be no heating. There will be no gas in winter, there will be light periodically —  such a frightening forecast was published in the Telegram channel…half of this source’s forecasts come true – and they shout loudly about them. The second half does not come true – and no one remembers about them.”

“But in this case, the forecast is not groundless….[Ukrainian state] Naftogaz is delaying the conclusion of gas supply contracts with the gas distribution companies in the Kharkov and Dniepropetrovsk regions. At this point, it is worth remembering how, back in early summer, Zelensky’s office directly told the residents of the Donetsk region: go wherever you want, there will be no heating in winter.”

“In other words, the Ukrainian strategy is something like this. There are the combat areas and those adjacent to them. There the population has already dispersed or has greatly decreased; there is a risk of attacks on the facilities themselves and fuel depots. So, it is in these areas that it will be hardest to winter. It will be more comfortable for Kiev which has its own thermal power plants and there is an opportunity to add power from western Ukrainian nuclear power plants, and for the Galician region of western Ukraine [Lvov]. Also, there are about three to four million internally displaced people  in Ukraine who have resettled mainly in these regions. Who should be kept without electricity and gas: the half-empty areas of the Zaporozhye region or Kiev? The choice is obvious.”

This is how the Ukrainian energy experts view their choice from Kiev. The strategic options for the Russian General Staff and Kremlin remain secret, if not undecided.

In the aftermath of the Crimean Bridge attack, Moscow television figures like Vladimir Soloviev have broadcast calls to extend the military campaign westward to Lvov and the Polish border. “It is obvious,” Soloviev said on Saturday, “that the NATO command took part in the development of this [Crimean Bridge] sabotage… What is our plan? Not to follow the enemy’s scenario, but to disrupt their plans, striking unexpected blows in directions where the enemy is not anticipating them. Ukraine should be plunged into dark times. Bridges, dams, railways, thermal power plants,  and other infrastructure facilities should be destroyed throughout the territory of Ukraine. There should be no administrative office building operating in both Kiev and Lvov. And not only that.”

Left: a screen shot of a Kharkov substation after the September 11-12 attacks. Centre: Vladimir Soloviev, Moscow broadcaster and advocate for escalation. Russian and Crimean government officials are quieting the tone by announcing that train traffic on the Crimean Bridge has already resumed; that one road span is undamaged and will resume operation shortly; and  replacement of the damaged road span will follow.   

A combined US and European Union (EU) plan to link the Ukrainian electricity grid to the EU system, and thus provide supply back-up in case the Ukrainian grid was attacked by the Russian Army, has already failed. A US publication headlined the attempt “The Race to Rescue Ukraine’s Power Grid From Russia”; click to read.

“The test was years in the making, one of the final rituals in a drawn-out courtship between the Ukrainian and European power grids known as “synchronization.” But before it could join with Europe, Ukrenergo first had to prove it could keep the lights on without its connections to Belarus and Russia—in ‘island mode.’ The plan was to reconnect with its neighbours after a few days. Then in 2023 it would switch on the links with Europe.”

“That’s not what happened. Instead, on February 24, the same day as the test, Russia invaded. Since noon that day, Ukraine—in coordination with its southern neighbour Moldova—has been powering itself solo. It’s a balancing act. Changing where the power comes from and where it goes means some lines suddenly get clogged with electrons while others dry up. It can be difficult to maintain balance for any length of time. So far, the Ukrainian grid is humming along at a frequency of 50 Hertz—stable, in other words—a Ukrenergo spokesperson told WIRED by email. But it’s risky to continue that way indefinitely, especially during a war. When stuff breaks in the power grid, the whole system has to absorb the shock and rebalance. And right now, a lot is breaking across Ukraine…Last week, Kadri Simson, the European commissioner for energy, said  the group representing the region’s transmission operators, will come to the rescue, potentially within weeks.”

This was wishful thinking on the part of the Latvian official in Brussels. For Simson’s record of faking on the EU’s gas substitution schemes, and the Russian response, read this report from October 2021.

The assessment of the North American expert on military operations against energy infrastructure focuses on the Russian side’s strategy until now, before considering the military options for the future. In addition to covering up the evidence of power generation losses by the Ukrainians which the source reports from Urkrenergo and IEA, he says the Russians have limited their attacks until now to “a form of reconnaissance by force. Their purpose, he believes,  has been to determine what generating capacity remains, what can be repaired, how to interdict the human repair logistics, what is irreparably lost, and then to attrite the remaining Ukrainian materiel and human resources as the winter season approaches.”

“It appears to me that the Ukrainians are extremely hard-pressed to maintain and restore their electrical grid, most especially in the eastern regions. They are just as concerned to the point of adding and testing back-up generators at key nodes of the grid, especially in Kiev. By the way, the precedent for the Russian General Staff and Kremlin for destroying a country’s electrical grid was set during the NATO bombing of Serbia and then by the US air bombing of Iraq.”

For a history of US Air Force (USAF) strategy in attacking electric generation and distribution grids, read this USAF University thesis, entitled “Strategic Attack of National Electrical Systems”, dated 1994:   “The USAF has long favoured attacking electrical power systems. Electric power has been considered a critical target in every war since World War II, and will likely be nominated in the future… The evidence shows that the only sound reason for attacking electrical power is to affect the production of war materiel in a war of attrition against a self-supporting nation-state without outside assistance.”

Left: Major Thomas Griffith’s USAF study of 1994. Centre:  Iraqi electric relay unit bombed by the US Air Force in Operation Desert Storm in 1990-91.   Right:  Serbian generating plant damage after the USAF and European bombing campaign of May 1999.

The western military source again: “War is war, whether you want to use terms like hybrid war or proxy war. It means destroying the enemy’s capacity to make war.  Shutting off the power in the rump Ukrainian state will do just that to the Ukrainians. If they then start to flee for refuge to Poland and Germany, this will be a disaster unparalleled in recent European history. Just the attendant collapse in telecommunications will make the place a madhouse. You can well imagine the rest. Already there are queues for water in Nikolaev, and who knows where else. How does  queueing for water, if there is any, in temperatures of minus-20C to minus-40C sound?  This won’t be like the blackouts from US sanctions and attacks in Cuba or Venezuela – there they didn’t  have to worry about freezing to death, the pipes bursting, or irreparable damage being done to billions of dollars’ worth of pumping, electrical,  and other equipment due to freezing.”

“How many people realize that a sulphur hexafluoride (SF6) circuit breaker,  commonly used in electrical substations, requires an electric heating blanket to be functional in sub-zero weather? Most westerners don’t. They are common in high voltage substations which ultimately feed the grid lines with power. In the Ukrainian case, I suspect  there is a mixture of those and older style oil circuit breakers (OCB), along with oil-filled large power transformers (LPT),  which are essential to electrical distribution. And guess where most of the oil comes from to fill these devices?”

“I suspect that most of Zelensky’s officials and officials in the supporting EU governments have persuaded themselves with their own propaganda. They aren’t daring to think through these questions, any more than they care to understand that the housing of the pumps delivering their water and treating their sewage will freeze and split apart if they are not heated via electrical means. Even if the gas is on — and it won’t be — electricity is needed to ignite, then control, furnaces. How many of these officials understand the long lead times, compounded by manufacturing shutdowns due to high energy costs, which you must have to replace and restore everything?”

“Who then will ‘stand with Ukraine’ when the gas and electricity rationing and unpayable consumer bills  roll over the Ukrainian border and into Poland, Germany, France, and the UK, as they are already doing?”

“The Russians have been hitting the Ukrainian electrical distribution system for months now. As we know, they started with the rail traction power yards which are largely branches of the wider electric grid. Now they have moved to the substations and so-called ‘thermal power’  plants, hitting them in what seems to be pellmell fashion. I expect that the Russians are gathering intelligence now on repair times, re-equipment availability, deliveries, repair crew composition and coordination.”


“So let’s imagine this. Winter arrives. The power is cut in Kharkov, Dnepropetrovsk, Pavlovsk, Nikolaev etc. and due to the unavailability of spares, repair crews, respite from attack, or all three, the outlook for the power outage is indefinite. What do people do? They migrate to where there is power, running water, heat etc… For millions this means west. So off they go. And when enough of them get there, bam! the power goes off there too.”

Source for enlarged view: -- page 6.

Reading the grid maps of the Ukraine,  the source says “it is obvious that the real vulnerability, in my estimation, lies in the approximately 88 substations for 330kV distribution and 33 substations for 220kV distribution. Note the nodes or junctions. Those are substations connecting the distribution lines which crisscross the Ukraine. These substations contain large power transformers, switchgear, DCS equipment [Distributed Control System] and other power quality and control equipment, spares etc. Widespread coordinated strikes on these substations will quickly overwhelm the Ukrainian ability to effect repairs and re-balance the loads on the generation stations. This will create a cascade effect whereby overloaded power plants, and distribution gear will ‘trip out’ over wide swathes of the country – if the protection between the Ukrainian and EU grids does not operate in time, or there is wild voltage/frequency oscillations there could be large interruptions in the EU countries being fed from Ukrainian sources.”

“Any repair efforts will also be severely hampered, if not crippled, if utility yards where spare cables and other gear, as well as vehicles (bucket and line trucks, cranes etc.) are stored and parked are struck. Personnel losses among the finite number of utility crew members due to follow-up attacks and the inevitable mishaps that come with interacting with damaged or compromised high voltage electrical equipment, will quickly mount. If the attacks are launched during the hard winter months, the impact will be exponential, increasingly unmanageable and catastrophic as the hours go by.”

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  1. skippy

    I’ll just point out there is no warehouse full of large power transformers and lead times for new builds is quite long as well you just can’t Mfg anywhere or the amount of various skilled people needed just laying around.

    Done a bit of this back in the day, especially the replacement gear ordered especially for the Sydney Olympics, big terrorism scare days thingy …

    1. redleg

      IIRC Poland is one of the few places that manufactures these things. That means short transit times but also easy to target.

    2. Mike

      Lead time for a decent size transformer in Denver right now is 1 year. So if you have a project with a shorter duration you have to have strings to pull so you don’t have a completed project sitting there…

  2. Polar Socialist

    According to “Novorossian” social media electricity, water and internet services are failing all over Ukraine following last nights strikes. Ukrainian media is reporting four strikes in center of Kiev.

    1. LawnDart

      Well, Johnson was right: Russia did not stoop to terrorism.

      Tass and Sputnik are doing live updates, and there’s a lot of video sprouting up throughout the T channels.

      1. Sibiryak

        Western MSM: It’s terrorism! “Russia believes the strikes will terrorise the Ukrainian civilian population and likely threaten a humanitarian catastrophe” (The Guardian)

        1. Polar Socialist

          And here I thought the war itself was already a humanitarian catastrophe – with all the refugees, atrocities and all.
          What on earth the Guardian thinks is going on in Ukraine? Some first person shooter extravaganza?

        2. LawnDart

          When they make the connection that no water and no electricity means no Starbucks in the morning, only then for the PMC will the crisis be truly existential.

          1. Tom Stone

            lawndart, Russia has been building its soft power both abroad and with its Military.
            Russian troops know that their lives are unlikely to be wasted so that their “Leaders” can loot a few more Millions of Euros or Dollars.
            The formalism of Russia’s prosecution of the War is reassuring to the majority of Earth’s Nations as is their measured response to provocations that are flat out nuts..
            The sabotage of NS1 and NS2 was both cruel and stupid and I believe the delight in cruelty played a large part in the USA’s decision to betray Western Europe.
            If you look at the Biden Administration’s policies and behaviors toward the US Populace and the rest of the World they share common characteristics.
            Cruelty and in your face lies.
            “The Pandemic is over”
            Russia, again.
            “Russia” never gets tired.
            It’s been pretty much non stop since 1917 with the exception of a few years when
            “Good old Uncle Joe” was Uncle Sam’s BFF.
            Just for fun I sometimes substitute “Soviet” for “Russian” in conversation and Americans older than 30 seldom blink.
            No Nukes would be nice…


            1. Mike

              “Russian troops know that their lives are unlikely to be wasted so that their “Leaders” can loot a few more Millions of Euros or Dollars.”

              I would disagree with that. They wouldn’t be conscripting 300k otherwise. They also wouldn’t be conscripting mainly from their territories or rural areas but are doing so for political reasons. There are tons of videos on telegram of Russian troops right now from the mobilization effort being sent to Ukraine with little to no training. When you do that you don’t have any regard for your populace. People are forgetting that Russia right now is the lesser of two evils, not a white knight.

  3. Sibiryak

    The Guardian (08.40 BST):

    Russia’s missile strikes on busy city centres in Ukraine are widely seen as Vladimir Putin’s response to the explosion on the Crimean Bridge. Unable to halt his losses on the battlefield, Putin has chosen to terrorise and kill ordinary Ukrainians as proof that Russia will not admit it is losing its seven-month-old war.

    The missile strikes are being framed in Russia as attacks on critical infrastructure in Ukraine. In the Kremlin’s thinking, it is a response to the attack on the Crimean Bridge, which Putin called a “terrorist attack aimed at destroying the critically important civilian infrastructure of the Russian Federation.”

    Russia believes the strikes will terrorise the Ukrainian civilian population and likely threaten a humanitarian catastrophe, with reports that several large cities were already without water and electricity. Targets also included a popular pedestrian bridge in Kyiv. A missile also struck near a children’s playground.

    In part, Putin wants to quiet anger from Russian hardliners who have accused him of failing to wage all-out war against Ukraine. The cadres of Russian war pundits, who have grown more critical of the Kremlin of late, were broadly happy to see Russia launch missiles into the heart of Ukrainian cities, often focusing on damage to infrastructure rather than the deaths of scores of civilians.

    “It was a good morning in Kyiv,” wrote Colonelcassad, a Russian military blogger with nearly 800,000 subscribers on Telegram. “Look how much better Kyiv has gotten under Surovikin,” wrote another, referring to the new Russian military commander installed on Saturday to lead the invasion force.

      1. Michaelmas

        Glad to hear the Guardian can read minds.

        The Guardian is a provider of (unintended) comedy, too. An article posted there on Satuday, ‘Behind Moscow’s Bluster, Sanctions Are Making Russia Suffer,’ concludes with this gem from an ‘expert’:

        Ash has visited Ukraine for 35 years and is convinced the country can maintain its rout of Russian forces with the financial and military support of the west. “Nato is a $40tn economic bloc while Russia is a $1.7tn economy,” he says. “Nato is spending 2% of its income on the military, which means whatever Russia spends, Putin doesn’t stand a chance.”

        The hubris and the cluelessness is epic, the kind of material the classic Greek playwrights wrote tragedies about.

  4. Tom Verso

    This is the only site that I have come across that carries Helmer’s articles.
    It speaks volumes about your commitment to informed and intelligent discussions.

    I just wish you would provide similar objective balanced climate discussions that include such commentators as Tony Heller et al.

      1. chris

        You shouldn’t feel any need to apologize. Mr. Heller is a kook who believes we’ve created climate change out of thin air due to statistical manipulation. He’s welcome to his opinions but I’m glad they’re not entertained on this site.

      2. Candide

        Many thanks for the swift response to the Tony Heller pitch. (I just searched the name and the claim.) When delusional or special interest claims are tolerated without response, community is handed over to chaos.

        1. Mike

          And yet AGW research is both a technocrats wet dream as well as anybody in need of research funds for their labs.

          1. jsn

            This message brought to you by the Heartland Foundation.

            A great deal more careers and profits are at stake in the fossil industry, but corporations never lie for profit.

            Have another Marlboro, there the smoothest.

            1. tegnost

              for those counting that’s $20 bucks an hour for 40 hour week….
              sounds great, until that’s your wage and you need to find a place to live.

  5. Lex

    Welp. People with functioning brains pointed out that Russia was limiting its strikes out of choice. Many in the Russian side wanted total war, yet Putin held back and was obviously hoping to settle things at a table through negotiations. Bankova and its sponsors mistook Russian behavior for weakness. They miscalculated, very badly. They miscalculated so badly that they didn’t even see this coming; the embassies weren’t evacuated. I’m guessing there will be fewer floating selfies with representations of war, less meming on social media and the rest.

    Publishing video of killing civilians for fun yesterday probably wasn’t the best idea. We can be fairly certain that it hardened some hearts in the kremlin and that Putin took it personally because it was the result of his attempts to behave rationally.

    As someone with some experience in electrical generation and grids, Helmer’s piece is strong. Today’s destruction is probably unrepairable on any realistic timeline and potentially not repairable at all.

      1. Lex

        I mentioned this in the links thread, but that’s not at all what Ukrainian telegram channels are saying, nor what the video evidence all over TG indicates. Most of the information about Ukrainian air defenses suggest that it is totally overwhelmed and there’s quite a bit of evidence of a lot of misfires. In fact, some of the photos being posted of “Russian missile” attacks are pretty clearly air defense missiles that misfired, simply because there is no crater or the crater is far too small for any Russian missile that would be used in these salvos.

      2. chris

        Would like to understand that better too.

        Perhaps they did it with some amazing telekinesis? Since many outlets are claiming to read the minds of people in the Kremlin this AM, no doubt they can bend spoons from across the globe!

      3. redleg

        Remember that the warhead of an intercepted missile goes somewhere. Very rarely does it explode harmlessly in the air like in movies. The “missile strike in a civilian area” might be intentional or it might be because that’s where the warhead of an intercepted missile happened to land.

      4. Greg

        Ukraine still has signficant S300s and other systems around Kiev and Lvov, it’s likely they intercepted a fair few. What we’re seeing is that in modern missile warfare, its a quantity game. Just as HIMARS gets a few through for every dozen launched, the Russian salvoes have more missiles than needed to allow for intercepts.

        That said, I’d be surprised if they intercepted more than half, given they’ve been intercepting fewer than 10% previously. Could just be that Russia is targeting harder targets now. Maybe. More likely there’s the usual Ukrainian media inflation going on, on top of a baseline slightly higher interception rate.

    1. ChrisRUEcon

      > Bankova and its sponsors mistook Russian behavior for weakness

      Exactly this. Those who know understand that Russia is totally capable of launching a “shock and awe” campaign that would effectively raze Ukraine. No sane person, including Putin, wants to see that happen, but the hateful Azov and Zelensky do want to see it happen because they are hopeful it will lead to NATO ascension and all out war. They have both miscalculated.

      BTW, I am pleasantly surprised by the language of this article (via Newsweek). Excerpts:

      “From day one of Russia’s incursion, this column has argued that (1) Ukraine, like Russia, is a deeply corrupt and oligarchic country, and Zelensky is a highly flawed leader; but (2) despite his myriad flaws and status as a pawn of the Davos/NGO globalist class

      That our present ruling class demonstrates no interest in common sense de-escalation, and instead demonstrates a seemingly interminable interest in escalation and Ukrainian territorial maximalism, speaks volumes about how out of touch that ruling class is. If nothing else, hopefully the American people speak up and begin to rein in our sordid, war-hungry ruling class at the ballot box next month.”

      [Emphases mine]

      Well, well … who let that pass at Newsweek? Say a prayer for them if you’re so inclined.

      1. LawnDart

        …our present ruling class…

        Much more honest than “our representatives.” And I share your surprise that this use of language got a pass

      2. Anon

        I will say it one more time… this war is existential, for the empire; Why I don’t put nukes past them… who wants to live in a world without Starbucks? The scary part, is that only the American people can disarm them, but are seemingly along for the ride.

        Saw someone post a meme after the bridge bombing, with zelensky saying a knock knock joke, the punchline being “Crimea River”… like that act of terror was some decisive blow… I blanched at the naïveté of this (educated?) 41 year old man, and grimaced when I saw Russia’s response. War is treated so flippantly here. Just another video game.

    2. anon in so cal

      “🔻By now, Rybar’s team has managed to confirm the following strikes:

      ▪️Kyiv: Kyivska CHPP-3, Kyivska CHPP-5, PS 110 Vokzalna, Darnytska CHPP – there are massive hits.

      But no strikes were recorded on the Brovary substation, the Severnaya substation and the Kiev CHPP-6. Either they were not included in the list of objects for fire destruction, or the Ukrainian air defense systems partially worked.

      ▪️Rivne: Substation Rivne 330 kV – a hit on the object caused an overload of 110 kV substations and the loss of electricity in the city.

      ▪️Khmelnitsky: Khmelnitskaya substation 330/110 kV – since there is no electricity in the whole city, only the 330 kV substation could be affected, which provoked the shutdowns of the Rakovo, Stara, Thermoplast, Ozernaya, Dubovo substations and the Grechany traction substation.

      ▪️Ternopil: Ternopil substation 330/110/35 kV – there is no light in the whole city, it is powered by 110 kV substations of Zagrebl, Ternopil support, Galicia, Industrial, Plotycha, concrete concrete.

      ▪️Sumy: 330kV Konotop substation – the hit caused interruptions with light in the entire area.

      ▪️Kharkiv: in the whole city there is no light, water, communication, the metro has stood up.

      This may mean the simultaneous disabling of the Zalyutino, Kharkiv, Losevo, as well as Kharkiv CHPP-5, Zmiivska TPP, Chuhuivska CHPP-2. But due to the lack of communication in the region, it is not yet possible to confirm the disabling of all facilities.

      ▪️Kryvyi Rih: Kryvyi Rih TPP, one of the largest in Ukraine.

      ▪️Zhytomyr: Zhytomyr substation 330/110 kV

      ▪️Lviv: Lviv CHPP-1

      ▪️Ivano-Frankivsk: Burshtynska TPP

      ▪️Vinnytsia: train delays are recorded, which may be evidence of the failure of individual traction substations. But there is no data on this in open sources.

      🔻The strikes caused shock among the Ukrainian population. The disabling of certain key structures of the Ukrainian power grid caused an overload of the entire energy system of Ukraine: the nuclear power plants could not cope with the load.

      Those who gave the order for a massive fire defeat need to take into account that all the damage caused can still be restored. If the purpose of the strike was to cause a short-term shock – well, it worked.

      But if the goal is to overload the energy system of Ukraine for prolonged panic among the population, the fall of the moral and psychological state of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and the victory on the battlefield, then such actions need to be repeated.

      ❗️It is necessary to break up the 750 kV switchgear at nuclear power plants, responding with symmetrical measures – as it was with the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant. Particular attention should be paid to the Khmelnitsky NPP – there is a direct power line to Poland.”

      1. Skip Intro

        If they can destroy the infrastructure points at will, doesn’t it make sense to let them be repaired, as a matter of attrition? At some point repairs will be impossible due to a lack of parts anyway.

      2. lambert strether

        > The nuclear power plants could not cope with the load

        I don’t like the sound of that

        1. Polar Socialist

          I believe it has to do with the frequency of the grid – all power plants are designed for certain frequency – which will start to raise when the demand drops faster than the power generation can follow. If the imbalance between production and consumption is too big, the power plants have to disconnect to prevent issues with generators (as in breaking stuff).

          I also think that for the same reason Poland disconnected from Ukrainian grid to prevent the imbalance/disturbance spreading to European grid.

          1. Acacia

            Yeah this is an interesting point. If you have a power grid with a bunch of giant generators, they all need to be spinning at the same rate to keep the AC power consistent, and IIUC they need to be in sync. If the grid frequency starts changing, e.g. from 50 Hz, the generators have to change their speed. This puts all kinds of mechanical stress on the generators, which is why if things go too out of whack, they disconnect and then the whole process of getting back in sync has to be repeated. Somebody who understands this better may correct me, but the essential point is that it’s non-trivial to keep a power grid operating and a war can really eff things up fast.

  6. timbers

    ‘Shutting off the power in the rump Ukrainian state will do just that to the Ukrainians. If they then start to flee for refuge to Poland and Germany, this will be a disaster unparalleled in recent European history.”

    Surely Starbucks is hiring? And here in USA, Lowes and Home Depot are owned by upstanding conservatives folks who might help out.

    “Just the attendant collapse in telecommunications will make the place a madhouse. You can well imagine the rest. Already there are queues for water in Nikolaev, and who knows where else. How does queueing for water, if there is any, in temperatures of minus-20C to minus-40C sound?”

    Poland and Germany absorbing the cold freezing hungry Ukraine refugees sounds like a plan I can sign on to given the gusto they shown supporting Ukraine. Of course the Ukraines will need to be told how to shower by the Germans so as to save fuel.

    The electric grid is complex but if there is a way to protect the Galacian grid in western Ukraine, it might help direct some migrations towards that area which Russia likely has no interest in.

    Still there is this pesky voice in the back of my head saying many of these refugees will end up in USA and probably in the warm south. Maybe DeSantis can organize some bus and plane trips to NYC and Martha’s Vineyard. Ukrianes can be staffing Starbucks and serving coffee to Michell Obama by tomorrow maybe if he gets on it right a way.

    Finally, hope the Russians have plans to rebuild the Donbass and liberated areas and supply them with fuel and electricity. There’s a potential for lots of good jobs if planned correctly. And if the Russians do that right, something tells me there will be a flow of people coming from the West into eastern Ukriane.

    1. Irrational

      Not everyone in Europe signed up to the war of the elites, but nobody asked us for our opinion. Please remember that.

      1. chris

        The thing about all of these wars post 9/11/2001 is that no one specifically signed up for what we’ve been told we have to agree to. No one volunteered fo torture Iraqis at Abu Graib. No one asked to keep random people imprisoned in Guantanamo indefinitely. No asked to have their minds and bodies blown to bits during repeated tours in Afghanistan. No one said “yes, I’ll be part of the mission that creates new slave markets in Libya.” No asked to support Al Qaeda in Syria. No one said we’d be happy to keep bombing Somalia. No one asked to pressure China over Taiwan. And no general vote is being held in the US is to support Ukraine. Our leaders are simply doing what they want to do, lying to other people in control who don’t want to go along, and sending our military and resources into conflicts that make no material difference to the lives of US citizens.

        These wars will continue to exist as long as the people in power can make money off of them. Votes that threaten the ability of the people in power to profit from the war will not be tolerated.

  7. eg

    While I understand the strategic value of destroying such infrastructure in “total war” terms, I’m not sure that it’s consistent with Russia’s wider goals to ingratiate itself towards the global south as a reliable partner in a more fractured, regional future.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Um, I don’t think so. The Global South appears to be of the widespread view that the US lead or supported the NS pipeline attacks. That is an attack on an ally. That is utterly heinous. Doomberg compared it to 9/11 in significance. It’s only in the propagandized Western press that the fact this locks Germany into very bad outcomes is ignored.

      The Kerch bridge just after that establishes cements the impression that Ukraine/NATO are in cornered animal lashing out mode and doing harm for the sake of spite, and not advancing their strategic aims.

      1. Tom Stone

        I have very little doubt that the USA was responsible for the attacks on the pipelines, just freaking unbelievable malevolence and stupidity.
        I see no benefit beyond spite, which is the Biden Admin’s approach to the World as a whole.
        The USA is not agreement capable, but is capable of betraying long term partners because the man at the top is feeling dissed and pissy.
        If we can just avoid Nukes we have a chance as a species…

      2. Tom Bradford

        I would suggest that Russia has been very careful to claim, and demonstrate, that it has the moral high-ground in this affair, but is in danger of throwing it away. Responding to terror attacks with terror attacks is lowering yourself to your opponent’s level.

        Taking out electricity to stop the railways running in order to hamper military movements merely inconveniences the public and is quickly repairable. Depriving the population of electricity for heating, water &tc with winter approaching as the above article describes, is an act of war against the civilian population even if you’d argue its not a ‘terror attack’ per se.

        When this war ends however it ends Russia is going to have to live with its neighbours. If it is a rump Ukraine, a devastated country with a freezing, impoverished population with a real reason to blame and loath Russia is going to be a running sore for years. If Russia now feels it has to take the whole country it’s going to have a massive immediate emergency to deal with and a hugely expensive reconstruction project to undertake. Either way it loses.

        When my half-Danish wife first took me to Denmark to meet that side of her family in the 1980’s I was surprised by the loathing many of the older generation still harboured even towards ordinary Germans for the events of 1940-45. Lord knows there are tensions enough in Eastern Europe without Russia going out of its way to generate more.

        So far I’ve supported Russia, understood why it had to do what’s its done and have been hugely impressed by its restraint towards ‘total war’. I’d regret seeing that thrown away, especially as I think they’d win anyway, and win more with it.

    2. OIFVet

      The Global South is not stupid. Oppressed, exploited, impoverished by said exploitation, but not stupid. The difference in approach between Russia and US/NATO could not be any starker: every off-ramp offered by Russia has been blown up by the US or its proxies and lapdogs. OTOH, Russia has shown restraint up to now while standing up alone against the global bully and his dimwitted sidekicks (moral support does not count as support in war). So no, I don’t believe for a second that the Global South will in any way take today as anything other than a message to US/NATO that they will not prevail in this struggle. I am not f4om the Global South and yet I find this reassuring. I can only imagine how the bullied nations feel seeing someone standing up against their bully and declaring that it will not back down.

      1. hk

        You are in Bulgaria, iirc, and are watching local media and popular reaction to what’s going on to the east. How have these beem evolving last few days (or even weeks), eg Ukrainian counterattack, shelling of the nuclear plant, NS attacks, and now the Kerch bridge?

        1. OIFVet

          Media: depends on the media. The one that receives grants from the America For Bulgaria Foundation is predictably pro-Ukraine, with no let-up in sight. Though today they are unusually subdued in their denunciation of the mini Shock-and-Awe display. Perhaps they are still hungover from celebrating the Kerch Bridge bombing and couldn’t summon their usual level of outrage. The rest of the media has been rather indifferent to the war lately.

          Populace: it’s a predominantly Russophile country still, though the Russophobes predictably dominate the larger cities. I’ve long been avoiding talking about the war with my GF and her friends, they are predictably uninformed educated liberal class and all I got for my efforts to have a serious discourse with her is being called a Putinist and blue balls. Anyway, the actively talking part of the population is rather small, though the decibels are rather high. The pro-Western liberals dominate due to the fact that their voices get inordinate airtime and column inches. The majority of the population is quiet for the most part, perhaps some small talk in close circles, the consensus is Russia will win and the West is mostly to blame. They are worried about surviving the winter financially and frankly want this to end ASAP. Little talk of the ebbs and flows of either side outside of partisan circles.

          Politics: yet another early election just passed and we are headed for more gridlock because it seems impossible to form a government given the highly fractured parliament. In this background, two of the former ruling coalition parties, We Continue the Change and Democratic Bulgaria, are going after the president for not joining the Baltics and Poland in supporting Zelensky’s bid to apply for NATO membership. Funny enough, they don’t call for Stoltenberg’s head. Color me shocked. They will also propose legislature as soon as the Parliament convenes, which will require Bulgaria to provide heavy weapons and other lethal aid to Ukraine. And they wonder why they couldn’t win the elections, it’s as tone deaf as it could be given Bulgarian reality. Perhaps they are trying to reaffirm their fealty to the US Embassy but I doubt anyone ever had any doubts about it, so we possibly have the worst type nofollow politicians at all: Western-type liberal ideologues.

          All in all, Kharkov created a bit of noise and Kerch some noise, but it has been relatively quiet. I suppose that quiet will end if Russia launches a full scale combined arms offensive once it places the pieces on the board. But again, most people are worried and scared about the winter and the inflation of energy and food prices so the talk mostly revolves around these kitchen table issues.

          1. hk

            Thanks! I’d been both fascinated and confused by the Bulgarian public opinion since late 1990s, especially the way elite and mass opinions seemed to be diverging. It seems that, on that front, things are continuing to slide further, although, like, seemingly, in all other countries, the external affairs (even if it is fairly close by) are not having much traction with regards most of the general public.

            1. jsn

              Integration into the US economic empire relies on well paid local compradors to manage the local population and resources into the imperially ordained division of labor.

              Historically the US comes in under the umbrella of the cultural capital built first by well intentioned, progressive New Dealers during WW2 and then by Hollywood propaganda from the Cold War on.

              Lately the cultural capital hasn’t been buying enough time for complete colonization before the natives start to see through it. And Putin’s original sin, from the US perspective, was to refuse the comprador role assigned him.

      2. Thuto

        Yes, we are not stupid and I doubt many in the global south will be lining up to join the “coalition of the horrified” on this one. Russia has warned repeatedly that Ukrainian attacks on targets inside the Russian Federation will be met with a forceful response, up to and including striking critical infrastructure and decision making centres in Kiev. The same sycophantic stenographers in the msm and their social media bluecheck troll brigade allies who cheered on when the bridge was attacked and the NS pipelines were sabotaged are today attempting to corral and cajole everyone into a condemnation fest for an event whose seeds they helped sow by branding Zelensky’s recklessness as heroism. We have a cleareyed view of the situation and Russia’s reputation in the Global South is being cemented, not destroyed, by its response to an attack on its territory.

    3. Greg

      I think it’s important to compare the casualty counts in this “shock and awe” to those imposed by US and allies in the global south previously.

      News reports I’ve read so far say 5 civilians killed by 75 missile strikes that hit all across Ukraine. That’s two or three orders of magnitude below the sorts of numbers the US racks up. People who aren’t in shock have noted that restraint continues, even as the strategic goals escalate.

  8. Bart Hansen

    Any house that is unoccupied in a northern Winter must have its water pipes slightly slanted downward on each floor so they can be drained down in the lowest level.

    It is doubtful this is routinely done in Ukraine cities.

    1. Ignacio

      A possible solution that is already used in domestic thermo-solar instalations (very common in Spain) is adding antifreeze such as propylene glycol to 30% or 50% depending on lowest temperatures. Only for heating and in close circuits never mixing with drinking water. Don’t know whether this is done anywhere.

  9. Louis Fyne

    a good point made by a Twitter account and never touched upon by the pundits….the Kremlin is largely made up of Soviet-era aged people, who see Ukraine as siblings/cousins, while Ukraine-Zelensky leadership are largely post-Soviet aged people and don’t have such sentimentality.

    Crimea bridgea attack may have finally shaken the Kremlin’s rose-tinted glasses.

    gloves are coming off, more death and the goal of de facto unconditional surrender for Russia for a poltical outcome that could have been resolved in january.

    1. Igancio

      The Ukrainian military have this obsession with Crimea… which i believe is mostly US-led military obsession.

  10. The Rev Kev

    If I was Russia and wanted to de-electrify the Ukraine, I would not do it in a big strike like was done against Iraq. I would have experts tell me how much electrical gear is in operation, how many spares there could be in the pipeline and more important, how much the west could send the Ukraine. So I would make occasional strikes that would force the Ukrainians to use whatever spares that they have and here I am thinking about transformers. But there would have to be a point reached where you know that after another strike or two, that it will not possible to repair the damage. The problem might be a lack of transformers at any price from anywhere. And without electricity, the whole Ukrainian war effort grinds to a halt. No power means no communications, transport scaled back, factories & businesses shut, etc. but I would make sure to take out the power eventually in Kiev and Lviv so that they get a taste of what their people in the east are going through. And a short while ago I saw a very short clip showing that at least one of those missiles hit a thermal power plant near Kiev. Eventually making the Ukraine look like North Korea at night will create pressure to negotiate and end to this war. Maybe- (4 secs)

      1. timbers

        It’s warmer now with more time to pour into Germany or wherever. So it’s plausible to argue doing it sooner and all at once is more humane.

      2. MichaelSF

        Probably by letting the spares be put into place and then destroyed too, as Rev Kev says. If you only take out all the active equipment and then stop, then existing spares can be deployed to bring the system back into operation.

  11. redleg

    Don’t think of frozen pipes on a per building level. Consider instead the effect of widespread leaks in a water supply system. As long as the pipes stay frozen, the system will continue to operate normally as the ice stops leakage. Once the ice melts from all of the small leaks, the water pressure of the system can plummet to the point where it runs dry, burns out pumping systems, draws non-potable fluids into the system, can render disinfecting systems inoperable, or makes fire suppression impossible. Further, rapid pressure changes in a piped system can create more breaks through water hammer.
    Now imagine trying to fix multiple large pumps, motors, valves, etc. given existing supply chain issues, wartime conditions, and fuel problems. It’s a much bigger problem than it appears.

    1. Objective Ace

      Don’t they have shut-off valves throughout the system just like you do in a house? These could be shut off as needed to maintain pressure

      1. Greg

        Unless your maintenance crew is running skeleton thin because you sent everyone else to the meatgrinder

  12. hk

    For millions, especially in places like Nikolaevsk, the more obvious place where there is power would be to the east.

  13. Cristobal

    I tend to be sceptical of most news from Ukraine. Russia is surely demolishing critical infrastructure that has facilitated the war effort, as well as maintaining a “normal” quality of life for civilians. Russia may be engaging in the type of terror bombing favored by the US, but the strikes in urban areas may more likely have been directed at “decisión centers” manned by Ukrainian and NATO war planners, something long overdue.. Of course the Ukranian dominanted press will spin It their way. We just don’t know.

  14. Cetra Ess

    I don’t think burst pipes will be a problem at all, not in Ukraine. These are people who, like Canadians, Swedes, Finns and Icelanders, know enough to insulate their pipes. Even in the towns they’re mostly rural and used to being self-sufficient, especially if there’s older people around who remember the Soviet era, it won’t be catostrophic for most to be without electricity. Though it probably will be for a military that was trained to operate from ipads.

    The Ukrainians are hardier than their European and American counterparts in this regard, they’ll have communities hovering around drum stoves, lots of rubble around for fuel, making tea and sharing whatever food they have.

    Unsure if the larger Ukrainian cities have this skillset but it was in evidence during Maidan when they build all sorts of outdoor ramshackle, non-electrified fortifications in deep freezing winter and everyone was standing around outside, moving between sites, delivering supplies by car. Zelenskyy certainly doesn’t seem like he’s built of the same stuff as everyone else around him, I wonder where he was during that…

    1. chris

      Insulation does not generate heat. It can prevent rapid heat loss in piping if installed well. But you can have insulated piping that reaches 0 C. If the water inside is stagnant, it will begin to freeze.

      1. Cetra Ess

        Right, hence why we close exposed pipes for winter but let a slow drip through. The insulation does keep pipes at warmer than ambient air temperatures. I suspect Ukrainians know this stuff, same as Alaskans, but definitely not Texans or Californians, or peope who’ve grown so accustomed to reliable heat (e.g. Europeans) they’ve not had to know these things for some time.

  15. Boomheist

    I think maybe even the MSM might have to start realizing that maybe, just maybe, these missile attacks are in response to both the bridge attack AND the pipeline explosions of some days ago. Winter is coming within mere weeks and no matter what else, surely the burden of finding warmth and power in Ukraine is soon to become intolerable. A human catastrophe is rising, this seems certain. The question is, what does the West now do when, as I fully expect, Putin and Russia again offer to talk? Lots of commentators believe the time for talking is over, at least until Odessa is taken. They may be right. But Putin has been steadily measured and deliberate throughout, ratcheting up the pain, and that ratcheting is going to rise very very fast with the cold weather and lack of power. What happens when millions of people are freezing to death at the Polish border as US citizens go to the polls in November? Will Biden and Blinken and Nuland try to bring an anti-Russia hysteria into the polling booth, nuclear war be damned? Or will people begin to see the huge risks facing us all and groups finally take to the streets to stop this madness? The utter lack of ANY anti-war movement in the West is extremely weird.

  16. Tom Pfotzer

    What I find interesting is that John Helmer wrote this article a day or two before … what he posited in the article actually happened.

    When I read his article early yesterday, the first thing I noted was that the policy of leaving the door open for future de-escalation and wound-healing is over. That’s a significant policy change, and it’s got long-term implications for EU. The door to their future is closing rapidly.

    The next thing I note in Mr. Helmer’s report is that the loss of electricity in Ukraine means that western Ukraine is going to become uninhabitable, and it’ll happen quickly, and under the most awkward circumstances. This will result in a rapid and chaotic exodus of people from Ukraine, heading west.

    That potentially quite large influx of people into the EU, at a time when the EU is having increasing problems taking care of its own will bring the conflict right into the living rooms of the key supporters of the Ukraine war.

    Where will the resources come from to take care of all those people?

    As usual, when I read John Helmer’s piece on the imminent dismantling of Ukraine’s electrical grid, I thought “too extreme, too fast, Putin will put the brakes on it”. Just like I doubted Dr. Hudson when he said, months ago, that the EU and Germany in particular were key targets in this war. I’ve been a step behind, and a little naive the whole time.

    In an effort to calibrate my expectations with reality, the lesson I draw from this is that things are about to get a lot worse. These people are deadly earnest: the West to maintain its hegemony, and the rest of the world, leading with Russia, to thwart them.

    There are no (current) bottom-up brakes being applied from any western polity. We’re in a cocoon, and it’s a very effective cocoon. That leaves only blunt-force impacts as the tool to get people’s attention.

    The spin will be “you’re being attacked. You must fight back!”

    The military brass knows this spiral well. I ask the Top Brass: “are you ready to enter that irreversible spiral?”.

    Maybe now’s a great time to re-earn those stripes on your chest – the ones for bravery, and will-power, and integrity. Those stripes.

    We little people take a great risk when we speak out against the NeoCons, et. al. We’re defenseless – easy to squash. Are you Big People wind-socks, or patriots?

  17. elkern

    I suspect that the recent Russian attacks on Ukrainian electricity infrastructure is a response to continued Ukrainian shelling of the ZNPP, not the blast on the Kerch Bridge. I expect Russia to respond to that with attacks on bridges over the Dnipro, from Zaporizhzhia up to Kiev.

    Other Naked Capitalists have pointed out that it’s hard to kill bridges with missiles & bombs, but I suspect that Russia – and USA/NATO – have worked on the technical problems involved. Judging by history & stereotypes, the US solution would be some high-tech, pinpoint accuracy weapon, while the Russian solution is more likely to be brute force.

    1. Jams O'Donnell

      You’ve got that last sentence the wrong way round. So far, Russia is using hi-tech, and the US is the proponent of ‘brute force’, as seen in Iraq and Syria.

  18. Dave in Austin

    My take based on the local Ukrainian blogs.

    75 varied missiles can overwhelm a defense. I saw pictures of at least 15 hits inside the cities in very public places all early in the morning so there were few casualties. And as far as I can determine, not one building in the middle of a city was hit, a remarkable achievement. Less than a dozen dead, not bad. But read “All Quiet on the Western Front” to be reminded of what “all quiet” means. This was a warning, not an all-out assault.

    A big chunk of the country east of Kiev and Lvov is without power. It is being restored. Again this is a warning, a reminder that a “Death by a thousand dead transformers” will not be hard to do. But Putin didn’t do it.

    Finally on frozen pipes. The small towns and villages often don’t have modern central heat. And everybody will drain all the local single-family houses pipes. But the majority of the population lives in those seven-story apartment blocks and these use district heating plants. If the heating plant is damaged and there is no heat or if the electricity is shut down and the heating system can’t deliver the water, the people and the building superintendents know what to do; drain the pipes and move into the basements with the mattresses and lots of blankets. Remember February in Melitipol last year? Not exactly comfortable but safe under layers of concrete and not too cold because the ground five feet down never freezes. I remember the pictures from last year. Oddly cozy with your neighbors from the building and the kids having, as usual, a good time. Traditional Slavic wartime glucklich. The subway platforms of 1940 London.

    The only difference will be more refugees heading to Poland… lots more if the Russians want to shut the place down, which I don’t think they do. The Ukraine public according to the blogs I check seems to be taking it in stride. They don’t look scared, are singing patriotic songs together and trust Putin’s sanity more than we do.

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