What Next in the Electric War for Ukraine – How Marshal Kutuzov’s Golden Bridge for Napoleon’s Retreat Is Working Today

Yves here. John Helmer provide another insightful post on the Russian campaign against Ukraine’s electric grid, today providing more information of the logic of the targeting and how it is intended to advance Russian strategic aims.

One big quibble is where Helmer quotes a North American expert on military infrastructure expert who makes statements that go way beyond his expertise. He opines that the Russians are working against a November 15 timetable so that Putin can talk to Biden and Zelensky at the G20.

Huh? First, Putin hasn’t even decided if he is going. Second, Russia knows the West is not agreement capable so there isn’t any point in talking until perhaps Ukraine is allowed to sue for peace (I don’t see how that happens because the West is better served by maintaining that Russia is an illegitimate victor, but Nassim Nicholas Taleb reminds us that tails are fat). Russia-West relations are so bad that TASS reported that Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov recommended cutting back on diplomatic missions in the US/EU regions:

It makes no sense to maintain the former diplomatic presence in Western countries; Russian diplomats work there in conditions that can hardly be called human. This was stated on Tuesday by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov at a meeting with university graduates who were first accepted into the diplomatic service.

“It makes no sense and desire to maintain the same presence in Western countries. Our people work in conditions that can hardly be called human. They are created constant problems, threats of physical attacks. any economic cooperation. You won’t be forced to be nice,” Lavrov said.

Biden has also said Putin must ask for any talk at the G20 but Ukraine is off limits, and Biden is willing to entertain (only) topics that he’s made obvious are of keen interest to him, like the release of Britney Griner. BTW bringing up Griner again is another diss, since the Russian Foreign Ministry said it isn’t prepared to talk about her at high levels or in public; this sort of prisoner swap is to be handled through channels.

Finally, if Putin were to negotiate any time soon, even assuming a Damascene conversion all across the West, he’d face an internal and popular revolt at home. Ironically, the path to regime change in Russia would be to attempt to end the war.

However, some Russian commentators have said Ukraine has been told it needs to take Kherson by November 15. That’s been taken to mean Biden wants to be able to claim a big win by the midterms, or at worst the G20. General Surovikin explained how the most likely way Ukraine will act against Kherson is not a military campaign but a large scale terrorist attack, like blowing the dam at the Kakhovskaya hydroelectric power station to flood the city.

By John Helmer who has been the longest continuously serving foreign correspondent in Russia, and the only western journalist to have directed his own bureau independent of single national or commercial ties. Helmer has also been a professor of political science, and advisor to government heads in Greece, the United States, and Asia. Originally published at Dances with Bears

In war, force and money do the talking on the ground. Not talk in the air.

On the electric battlefield in the Ukraine, the targeting of Russian attacks is being calculated to cut the command and control links between the Galician capitals of Lvov and Kiev west of the Dnieper River and the Russian east, according to fresh analyses prepared by a North American military specialist in infrastructure demolition.

In the first round this month, he says, the missile raids were a “reconnaissance in force. The Russians were experimenting with, and proving, their operational concepts; for instance, how well Iranian drones perform in concert with their other weapons options and tactics. They were  testing NATO counter- measures as well.”

For the time being, this is allowing the wealthy quarters of both cities to enjoy plentiful electricity; even rising house prices according to Kiev realtors in interviews to European media.  They are the sources for western media reporting of how normal and resilient the two cities are.

However, the BBC is now reporting President Vladimir Zelensky as saying  “that 30% of Ukraine’s power stations had been destroyed in the past eight days. Parts of the capital Kyiv have no power and water after new strikes on Tuesday.” The state propaganda organ added: “UK defence intelligence said it was highly likely that Russia had become increasingly willing to strike civilian infrastructure, in addition to military targets, since its setbacks on the battlefield.”

The North American military source has a different assessment. “The power losses in those cities have been targeted to pit those without the money or means for relief against those who have it. The Russian General Staff goal, in my estimation, is not to break the Ukrainian population’s will to fight, or their western backers’ stream of cash and arms. It’s quite the opposite, in fact. The Russians are even allowing the electric trains to keep moving between Lvov and Poland carrying western reporters, rotating NATO staffs, and military resupplies.  It’s to concentrate the new US arms supplies where they can be attacked more cost-effectively in the east; to prevent Zelensky’s men from communicating with their units and with the civilians across the Dnieper, in Kharkov and Odessa; and to allow those who want to leave to head for Poland and Germany. The Russian general who defeated Napoleon once called that his ‘Golden Bridge’ strategy.”

He is referring to Marshal Mikhail Kutuzov (lead image, left). The deadline  in the Russian calculation is November 15, when President Joseph Biden (centre) will meet President Vladimir Putin (right)  at the G20 summit in Bali, Indonesia, along with a Ukrainian delegation headed by Zelensky. “A quick glance at Ukrainian rail ticket sites shows that the trains are still running between Kiev and Lvov. I don’t believe this is an accident, nor a failure, of the Russian side. With the escalation this week, I believe we are in the attrition phase of the Electric War which coincides with the Ukrainian electricity market data releases, and the approaching Indonesia meeting.”

Zelensky, the BBC and the British Ministry of Defence were lying about the dates and fudging the damage disclosure.

MoD tweet, source: https://twitter.com/

On October 13, following the first round of Russian attacks, the Ukrainian oligarch-owned DTEK utility published a notice for its customers, revealing:  “In two days [October 10-12], Russian missiles damaged about 30% of Ukraine’s energy infrastructure. Before the start of the heating season, the occupiers cynically hit the CHP [combined heat and power plant system], substations and networks, trying to sow panic and plunge the country into a total blackout. Power engineers are working 24/7 to eliminate large-scale destruction that no European country has known so far. To balance the power system, NPC Ukrenergo had to take steps which were talked about in the summer — the introduction of an emergency power outage schedule.”

“These measures are not [sic] associated with a shortage of resources. Ukrenergo reports that Ukraine does not yet need electricity imports, although such a possibility technically exists and is being considered. The restriction of supply is necessary, first of all, to complete the restoration work, reduce the load on the power system and regulate capacity. To this end, the government called on the population and business to reduce electricity consumption during the peak period from 17:00 to 22:00. Ukrainians responded to the authorities’ request — on October 10, in the evening, electricity consumption in the country decreased by 10%, and separately in the Kyiv region this figure was 26.5%. However, this is largely due to the outages that began on the same day in the capital and the region.”

“When to prepare to turn off your home? By order of Ukrenergo, distribution system operators promptly drew up hourly schedules for power outages and informed their customers about this. For Kyiv residents, they are posted on the DTEK Kyiv Grids website. However, unlike peacetime, the current situation changes every hour and makes its own adjustments to the observance of plans.”

“For example, now the average daily consumption in the capital is 1000 MWh, and during peak loads – 1100-1300 MWh. To balance the power system in the face of an infrastructure shortage, Ukrenergo can at any time instruct the distribution system operator to reduce the load. Instead, the distribution system operator must urgently limit the power supply to consumers, guided by a number of factors — the criticality of objects, their total consumption and load on the network, technical features of connection, etc. To maintain the stability of the power system, this process must occur in a matter of minutes. In addition, at the request of Ukrenergo, a more massive and prolonged supply restriction may be required than planned.

“That is why real-time changes occur in the basic shutdown schedules, and given the special mode of power system control, you need to treat this with understanding. For the first time, Ukraine faced energy terror and now all structures are working in an enhanced mode to eliminate the consequences as soon as possible. The energy front needs the support of everyone The tense situation in the energy sector requires decisive action on the part of all enterprises in the industry. But despite the tremendous efforts that energy workers are now making, the responsibility also remains with all consumers. Today, more than ever before, the wise use of resources is important. Changing everyday habits should be transformed into a culture of rational consumption. Therefore, it will enable Ukraine to stay with the light and survive the most difficult heating season since independence.”

Two days later, on October 15, DTEK acknowledged the supply situation had become more critical. “Due to the damage, caused by rf’s [without caps Russian Federation] shelling of energy infrastructure facilities, state power company NPC Ukrenergo warns about possible stabilization power cutoffs. They will be applied only in the event of an imbalance in the energy system and upon an NPC Ukrenergo order. In order for the residents of the Kyiv region to be prepared in advance, DTEK Kyiv Regional Grids posts an indicative list of settlements, where power supply will be limited, if required. An indicative list of settlements, where power supply may be missing, is available via DTEK Kyiv Regional Grids website and social networks. Temporary stabilization cutoffs may begin in the evening after NPC Ukrenergo order and will last until the load on the energy system decreases and state power company stabilizes the energy system. We will inform about possible power cutoffs and resumption of electricity supply additionally via DTEK Kyiv Regional Grids website and social networks pages. In order to support the energy system we urge all residents of the Kyiv region to minimize electricity consumption – not to switch on energy-consuming devices and reduce electricity consumption as much as possible in the evening from 18.00 to 23.00. We urge business customers to limit usage of exterior lighting of facades of offices, restaurants, malls, etc.”

“Take care of yourself and your family! We believe in Victory!”

Consumers were less confident. They were warned by the Mayor of Lvov, Andrei Sadovy, speaking from his home in a wealthy city neighbourhood, that evacuation to Poland is unpatriotic. In Kiev, the head of the Verkhovna Rada Committee on Tax Policy Daniil Getmantsev  praised Ukrainians for buying candles and firewood to help the state in such a difficult period…It is incomparably better than Kiev-Warsaw train tickets. The fire of these candles is the fire of our Victory!’”

For the time being, the Ukrainian state utility Ukrenergo and its power trading agency, Market Operator, are providing open-source daily data tables and charts revealing the real-time situation on the battlefield, not the propaganda.

What the Russian tactics are doing, the North American source confirms, is to disable electricity production from coal-fired plants and cut high-voltage transmission lines at the sub-stations and running between them. The impact is to cause severe, volatile, and constant imbalances between state supply and public demand; they show as spikes on the demand and the electricity price charts.


Only the Ukraine, the Baltic states, and Russia  operate 330kV transmission lines This is making it increasingly difficult to replace the damage.
Source: https://www.entsoe.eu/data/map/ 


Click on source for enlarged view and data points for each source of power generation:  https://www.iea.org/ 

Click on source for enlarged view and data points: https://www.iea.org/


For enlargement and definition of data lines, click on source: https://www.oree.com.ua/index.php/IDM_graphs


Market Operator is a Ukrainian state enterprise, established in mid-2019 and then converted to a state stockholding company which cannot be privatized. Its role is to organize the sale and purchase of electricity on the Day-Ahead Market and the Intraday Market, and thereby balance demand and supply.  “On the Day-Ahead Market (DAM), electricity is sold and bought on the next day after the auction. A price on this segment of the market is determined by the marginal pricing principle, with an aim of minimizing price and maximizing trading volumes. None of the DAM participants see the offered prices and volumes of buying / selling of electricity by other participants. This technology is described by Market Operator as promoting competition of bidding on DAM. On the Intraday Market (IDM), electricity is sold and bought continuously after day-ahead auctions and during the physical supply of electricity. This market segment enables market participants to adjust their trading positions and works on the principle that ‘each product has its own buyer’. That is, sellers and buyers declare the volumes and prices at which they want to sell / buy electricity, and they then wait for a counterparty.” Source: https://www.oree.com.ua/

By sustaining the attacks with low-cost drones, the North American source comments, “it is unlikely that the Ukrainian utility crews, certainly exhausted now and terrified from working around the clock to effect repairs, using what must be dwindling stocks of spares, will be able to keep up.  Where will Ukrainian utilities like DTEK, find in-time spares for 330kV gear that is unique to Russia and the CIS countries? Furthermore, will 1000MVA, 750kV-330kV autotransformers, with all their required metering, control and protection relays, breakers, etc.,  fall out of the sky like the Russian, Iranian, or Turkish drones do? The answers to those questions are nowhere and no.”

“We can anticipate that the strongest attacks, in terms of concentration, accuracy and impact, will occur with lower temperatures.  Now, with winter just weeks, if not days, away, inclement weather including high winds, heavy, wet snow — all famous for knocking down power lines —  will only compound the problems for the Ukrainians.”

“Who can doubt that the Russians will coordinate their strikes with the poor weather, using it as a force multiplier? Just like old Kutuzov did the French.”

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  1. zagonostra

    “Ironically, the path to regime change in Russia would be to attempt to end the war.”

    It is ironic, but only in Russia. In the U.S. the MSM can flip the script on demand. This week we are at war with Oceania, next, Eastasia. I hate the term but, Mass Formation Psychosis, is real and it is perfected in the West, in Russia, they lived through Pravda and propaganda on a level we are just now experiencing.

    1. sinbad66

      “Ironically, the path to regime change in Russia would be to attempt to end the war.”

      Only because the Russian public feels that if they have Ukraine on the ropes, then quit BSing around and deliver the knockout blow. Let them come to the negotiation table, but let it be on YOUR terms. As the former heavyweight champ Lennox Lewis once said “let your hands be your judges”. And we all know that, if Russia doesn’t do this, then Ukraine (with help from the West) will keep coming back like Freddie Krueger. Then they will ask ‘what have we really accomplished here, then?’

    2. WhoaMolly

      Re: in Russia, they lived through Pravda and propaganda on a level we are just now experiencing.

      I would argue we are experiencing far worse levels. The difference today is weaponized individual propaganda driven by persuasion science, social media, institutional monitoring of all electronic communications, AI driven algorithms, and a smartphone in every pocket.

  2. Old Sovietologist

    The Ukrainian’s have of tens of thousands of soldiers in place for an attack on Kherson They have two choices either drive them forward in order to create a total advantage in the sector and break through the Russian defences or they command “disperse” if the offensive is inexpedient. 

    Considering NATO’s attitude towards the losses of Ukrainians, the choice is obvious. Very soon there is going to be a major move forward. Winter is near and the mid terms in the US are coming. Add in the fact the Russians by the turn of the year will have 300,000 reinforcements in place, They are going to have move very quickly.

    This main battle of the conflict so far is about to begin. This one will be studied in military academies for decades to come.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Ukraine tried to do precisely that about a month ago, in the last Kherson offensive. They had to move across the open steppe and were a pigeon shoot for Russian artillery. Russia did let them advance a few kilometers in places only better to cut them off and down.

      The hospitals all across southern Ukraine were full of wounded. Horrific levels of casualties and deaths.

      Russia has had plenty of time to replenish ammo and replace its (comparatively few) lost vehicles. It has more men than before due to the partial mobilization resulting in some additions to the manning levels in Kherson.

      Ukraine has no more weapons than it did the last time it tried and got slaughtered. It is believed to have only comparable numbers of men. Even if it has more now than before, it appears the critical variable is materiel, and Ukraine is no better now than before.

      So there is no reason to believe this frontal assault will fare any better than the last one.

      If you read the remarks from General Surovikin, the worry for Kherson is not an attack by an armed force but the use of WMD or blowing up the nearby hydroelectricity dam, which would flood Kheson.

    2. The Rev Kev

      Any advance on Kherson is going to have a new complication that cannot be ignored-

      https://www.bitchute.com/video/SKnK1UYN8CH5/ (40 secs)

      That is the stuff of nightmares. Stick to the main roads to avoid that mud and you make yourself an easy target by the Russians. Go off-road or go on minor roads and chance getting stuck – and hoping that the Russians don’t spot you.

      1. hemeantwell

        Thanks for that. In his 10/18 video Mercouris apologized for having previously said muddy conditions had developed, for which he was then being corrected by some of his informants who thought this coming Friday would be the start of the rains. Maybe the soil is such that liquefication, if that’s the term, occurs without much liquid, but the video shows a Mire.

        1. Polar Socialist

          The thing with Ukrainian steppes is that there’s a thick layer of clay (in most places) right under the thin topsoil, so any water is really slow to drain from the topsoil. When it rains, everything turns to mud pretty quickly.

          At least that’s what I’ve been told.

    3. Abraxas Hardpickle

      Lessons for future generations: Don’t let your infantry get trapped on the West Bank of the Dnipro River. Don’t wait to mobilize your reserves. In fact, if you have a spare two million men in the army and internal ministry, deploy them before they realize one’s war strategy is ineffective. Don’t annex what you can’t defend; your credibility turns to ash. Don’t start your energy war way too soon. Don’t become your opponents single largest supplier of 155mm munitions by leaving them behind during a rout. Don’t rely on painted Z’s and V’s for friend-or-foe identification, especially if your opponent’s IFF is data-linked. It’s, in fact, internationally lawful for Ukraine to wear Russian uniforms, speak native Russian, while maneuvering so long as they remove the disguise before killing. Don’t treat your prisoners poorly; you want them to surrender. Don’t treat your soldiers poorly; they will defect.

      If trying to conquer Europe seems like your only option, don’t. You clearly haven’t thought it through. Turns out, facing annihilation, men being led by the last guy who tried found their best chances of survival was actually in a POW camp ran by the Western Allies. — Think about that. — Today, maybe a country can lie about the total number of dead; they die without witnesses. But when the mortality rate of those wounded ticks up above 50%, people notice their buddies not being evac’d in time. The Russians being treated by Ukrainian medics are more than twice as likely to survive than if they were treated by their own Russian medics.

      1. Skip Intro

        That will be the lesson plan for the neocon clique enhanced embubblement operation, where they strengthen their defenses against reality, and double down on the act that tops their glorious victories in Iraq and Afghanistan: the destruction of the EU, NATO, and the petrodollar!

      2. tegnost

        The Russians being treated by Ukrainian medics are more than twice as likely to survive than if they were treated by their own Russian medics.

        surely you can verify this claim?
        I have seen no credible casualty figures for russia.

        1. Polar Socialist

          There is Shoigu’s claim from a month ago that 90% of the Russian wounded have returned to service.

          Then there are the stories of returned POWs about Ukrainians killing wounded Russians (not to speak of video evidence of the same).

          Then there are all those stories in western media how the Ukrainian wounded die in the trenches because they can’t be moved due to the constant artillery barrages.

          Maybe dear Hardpickle doesn’t know that Russians practically invented field medicine. Already 1804 they had medical corps in the army, and during the WW1 the Russian field medicine organization was the best equipped and most efficient of all participants. Just saying.

      3. nippersdad

        Dude, both you and the Washington Post/New York Times need to read something about how Russians fight wars. They are slow to anger and mobilize, but when they do it might be an idea to run.

        They lost twenty million people in WWII; they can take the kinds of pain we have never experienced and then turn them into a national holiday.

      4. GW



        I’d like to take a deeper look at your info. Thanks in advance for (presumably) being willing to name your media outlets, journos, and pundits.

        Also, as best as I know, the Kremlin’s neither said nor done anything suggesting it regards “conquering Europe” as an “option.”

          1. GW

            And the rest of your sources?

            You made many assertions about the military facts on the ground, in addition to the overall strategic situation, with clarity and self-confidence. I’m impressed that you have faith in your words. Which explains why I’d like to check out a range of your sources.

            Other media outlets? Journos? Pundits? Bloggers? Kindly share.

          2. Polar Socialist

            I don’t think that paper says what you think it says.

            “All studies were conducted in healthy volunteers” and “however, effectiveness in patient transport has not been evaluated” kinda give it away.

            Elsewhere in literature it seems that there’s very little actual knowledge of junctional tourniquets, except that they may help in 5 to 15% of otherwise lethal injuries. Or they may cause more harm than prevent – as all tourniquets when used wrong (or even too long).

            1. hk

              And do we know who is and isn’t using junctional tourniquets and how different it is from other varieties? Assertions of wunderwaffe (now in battlefield medicine!) make me very suspicious.

      5. Yves Smith Post author

        Scott Ritter flatly denies your claims. He has pointed to the unusual ratio of Ukraine deaths to casualties, way off the normal 1 dead to 3 wounded. They look to have more deaths than wounded, an unheard of ratio.

        Ritter says that Ukraine is not treating anywhere near enough men in the “golden hour,” the critical first hour after injury. If they don’t get aid then, they die pronto.

    4. Skip Intro

      An interesting complication vis-a-vis NATO’s cavalier use of Ukrainian lives: It was reported that the Western ‘mercenaries’ (i.e. deniable NATO soldiers) serving as the shock troops in the recent counteroffensive are refusing to go on (more) cannon fodder missions. So there is a downside to importing experienced professional soldiers into war fought for PR.

      1. GW

        ” It was reported that the Western ‘mercenaries’ (i.e. deniable NATO soldiers) serving as the shock troops in the recent counteroffensive are refusing to go on (more) cannon fodder missions.”

        Source? I’d like to check it out.

        There are credible reports that many militarily inexperienced Westerners who volunteered to fight in the UAF became disillusioned by the experience. That’s not surprising.

        But well-trained NATO troops disguised as mercenaries are something else altogether. If there’s reliable evidence that they’re in the UAF, and burning out to the point where they’re not willing to fight anymore, I’m interested in learning more.

        1. David

          Me too. It would be impossible to hide the departure of enough NATO soldiers to make a difference from their own country, and impossible to hide their presence in Ukraine. They would have to use their own equipment, since Ukraine is fast running out, and as far as I know none such has been recovered after the battles. Groups of infantry alone without armoured vehicles would be useless. Since a dead foreign soldier, even more a prisoner, or a piece of foreign equipment, would be a priceless propaganda for Russia, and they haven’t made any such claim, I think it’s safe to assume that if these people exist they must be in tiny numbers and away from the front line. In any cases, most NATO countries would face enormous legal and constitutional problems in doing any such thing.

          1. Polar Socialist

            I think this has to do with Vladimir Rogov, member of the administration of Russian controlled Zaporozhye, claiming today that there are 5000 Polish “servicemen” (or mercenaries, according to TASS) at the front line in Zaporozhye and large number of Polish-speaking “citizens” treated in hospitals in the area.

            He provided no proof for his claims. Although it can be assumed that he does have connections to the Ukrainian controlled Zaporozhye.

          2. The Rev Kev

            They may be using the same model as the renowned “Flying Tigers” from WW2. They used top line fighter planes supplied by the US government and ‘of the pilots, 60 came from the Navy and Marine Corps and 40 from the Army Air Corps.’ But on paper they were a bunch of mercenaries so nothing to do with the US government-


            1. hk

              There was the “Chinese People’s Volunteer Army” during the Korean War. Officially, all volunteers. PRC govt had nothing to do with them and was not at war with Western powers, or so it claimed. But some countries went with the charade. In fact, UK and PRC maintained “normal” diplomatic relations throughout the Korean War (UK recognized PRC in 1950–but yes, there were complications), even as UK forces were fighting the not-Chinese Army in bloody battles.

        2. Skip Intro

          Dima reported this (the foreign volunteers not doing suicide runs) on Military Summary channel a day or 2 ago. I don’t know his sources, but it doesn’t seem improbable. He was referring to the open area above Kherson.

          1. GW

            How do I access Dima’s Military Summary channel? Is that a Telegram account? I don’t think I have the URL in my list.

        3. Greg

          None of the leaked or published videos of Ukrainian soldiers that I’ve seen contain troops disciplined enough to be active duty NATO troops. The western mercs in videos are all cowboys and chancers, much more like the sort of riffraff that go off for a foreign adventure on their own recognizance.

    5. redleg

      Massing combat units against an opponent with freedom of movement, artillery superiority, and available reinforcements is a recipe for enevelopment. This is analogous to how the German Sixth Army got wiped out, and how the Russians nearly enveloped the entire German Army Goup B in early 1943.
      If I were a Ukrainian colonel or general (speaking from my experience as a battalion and brigade staff officer) I’d be watching for this, detail a dedicated section in the staff to this, and have an immediately executable counter-envevelopment operation ready.

  3. 1 Kings

    Well, it probably won’t end with Tckovisky”s 1812 Victory March blasting down Wash DC lobbyists house…(The Capitol), but it could.

    1. JBird4049

      I almost would wish this. Honestly, with this American and on these fools and their unending wars, it would be true schadenfreude.

  4. Patrick Donnelly

    MH17 was a few minutes ahead of Putin’s plane. He was returning from the Soccer World Cup. MH17 had possible deviated slightly from the usual route.

    Putin and Xi and many others, would be assessing the likelihood of accidents in the air. Meeting enemies to swap jokes and drink cocktails? There is an undeclared war on.

    1. Greg

      Got a source for that claim about Putin’s plane? First I’ve seen that theory of cause for MH17. Thanks

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      New York Magazine wrote up hat rumor, which was from a single anonymous source, said “none of it appears to be true” while reporting that it went viral.

      John Helmer has been all over MH17. He’s never mentioned this as a theory.

  5. El Slobbo

    On my Panda VPN in January, there were two Ukraine nodes (in Kiev and Kharkov), with latency numbers better than France or Germany. And today, those same two nodes are still up, with the same kind of latency.
    So 30% of the electric grid doesn’t seem to cover data centers and the high-speed internet infrastructure yet.

  6. Patrick Donnelly

    Good insights in that article into what matters in war.

    Snipers try to wound. That takes several opponents from the battlefield and ties down resources and damages morale.

    I can see The Joke lasting many months, until the sanctions on Russia cease.

    Ireland now has 54,000 ‘refugees’ from the Ukraine and 25,000 homeless. Plenty of space for more! Multilayered effects on European nations

  7. timbers

    “However, some Russian commentators have said Ukraine has been told it needs to take Kherson by November 15. That’s been taken to mean Biden wants to be able to claim a big win by the midterms, or at worst the G20.” Dems going after the 2% of those polled who say Ukraine is an important issue while exacerbating the anxiety of 40-ish% who say inflation is. Wonder how thats gonna work out for them?

      1. Adam Eran

        That video of AOC being confronted about the war is certainly how I feel. As a previous donor to “progressives,” I’m out this mid-term.

        1. nippersdad

          “As a previous donor to “progressives,” I’m out this mid-term.”

          Seconded with only one alteration:

          “As a previous donor to “progressives,” I’m out. Permanently.

    1. Anthony G Stegman

      The mid-terms are held on November 8th, so won’t a Biden “victory” (the re-taking of Kherson) need to be accomplished before then? Less than 3 weeks away; the Ukies better get moving.

  8. Polar Socialist

    While not really about the “electric war”, the State Security Council took several next steps in today’s meeting:
    – starting midnight martial law will be in effect on Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporozhye oblasts.
    – a Special Coordination Commission will be established to “meet the needs arising during a special military operation (including with regard to the supply and repair of weapons, military and special equipment, materiel, medical and sanitary services, repair and restoration, construction and installation and other works, and logistics provision)”, headed by Mishustin (Putin’s trusted technocratic fixer) and having representatives from all relevant ministries and federal authorities.

  9. Dave in Austin

    On Putin and the G20 meeting, go to the middle of: https://natyliesbaldwin.com/2022/10/full-transcript-of-putins-press-conference-after-astana-meeting-on-10-14-22/. When I can get a transcript, the Putin press conferences are valuable information.

    In 1812, 1814-5 and 1941-42 the Russians evacuated the civilians to the East while retreating because the civilians represented the source of strength- soldiers and workers. The same thing appears to be happening in Kherson, which I think will soon be abandoned because it is on the west side of the river. It was a city of 300,000. The Russians are saying “We are evauating 60,000”. So either many people are choosing to stay and the Russians are not forcing them to leave (a reverse Mariople situation), or many people have already left. Anyone here have any news on that?

    The past week’s events seem to me to be “A sound and fury signifying… very little”. Winter is here.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Please go read General Surovikin in Links today and do not speculate based on Western propaganda, as you seem wont to do.

      Russia is not abandoning Kherson. There is zero evidence. In fact Dima of Military Summary in Links says Russia is moving 100,000 to 150,000 troops in to the NW of Kherson city so as to then move on to Nickolaev and Odessa.

      For Putin to lose Kherson would be a regime change event. His Administration won’t allow that because ti would be fatal to them too.

      Surovikin explains they are concerned about WMDs and even more so, destruction of the nearby hydropower dam which would kill 50,000 unless they were evacuated. Russia could remain in possession of the city yet take horrific civilian deaths. That is what they are worried about.

    2. hk

      Funny. I kept thinking about August, 1914. As the Russian 2nd Army was marching into East Prussia, they were spooked by how the entire place, all the way to the sizeable-ish city of Allenstein, was completely deserted, and everyone knew something was wrong but they kept going in partly because of inertia (they didn’t know what else to do) and because they were “winning” (and people outside were excited by the prospect of actually advancing into Germany while the “Guns” were threatening Paris. Well, the whole thing was, obviously a trap and the 2nd Army was annihilated when the Germans, ironically led by a “Frenchman” (well, a German of Huguenot descent) attacked in force. This could easily happen to the Polish, I mean the “Ukrainian,” Army around Kherson. (NB: while the reference to the “Polish” Army is sarcasm, I am genuinely curious as to where this army is coming from–I don’t think you can conduct large scale offensive without a fairly well trained army. IIRC, Ukraine began with about 50k such troops (10-12 brigades was what I heard, IIRC) and they likely have been attrited so far, and I don’t think they had the wherewithal, or indeed, the time to have trained comparable quality troops to replace them with.)

      1. indices

        I should have bookmarked it, but in one of the more reliable sources it was mentioned that 50-60,000 foreign troops (including officers) and mercenaries appear to be part of the force Ukraine is readying for a move on Kherson.

      2. GW

        ” I am genuinely curious as to where this army is coming from–…”

        It’s well known the Ukrainians have activated 450,000 troops since the war started. So far, they’ve called up three tranches of reservists. The quality of these soldiers ranges from excellent to poor.

        Ukraine’s least combat effective troops seem organized into two categories. One is the so-called territorial defense units, comprised of older men possessing minimal training who normally wouldn’t be sent into battle. The other consists of younger conscripts who’ve had given less than ten days preparation. NYT and WaPo documented that large numbers of these troops fought in Lugansk during June and July, when the UAF was taking a terrible pasting. Both media outlets (which normally cheerlead for Ukraine) acknowledged widespread demoralization and the potential for mass desertions by these soldiers.

        Pro-Russian Telegram channels, and General Suvorikin himself, claim the UAF is relying on masses of these low quality troops in its Kherson offensive. Allegedly the UAF game plan is to let the inefficient conscripts and territorial defense units to suck up punishment, after which the high-quality, combat-effective Ukrainian soldiers are sent into the fray.

        Needless to say, the Ukrainian army includes a considerable number of top notch soldiers, apparently well-trained, experienced, and highly motivated. Successful UAF operations, I guess, hinge on the shelf-life of these top-of-the-line fighters. Kiev can’t afford to burn them out or get them killed off.

        Lots of observers believed Ukraine burned expended its best troops during the May, June, and July defeat in Lugansk. But obviously that’s not the case. At least not yet.

        These are my impressions of the UAF based on months of scanning a wide variety of media reporting the war. Disclaimer: I’m not an expert on the subject.

        1. hk

          I think your observations are sensible. Here are my thoughts:

          1. Relatively small % of modern armies would be combat troops and, if these, a fairly small pct, yet again, would be trained and equipped for proper large scale operations. So 50,000 or so seems fairly accurate as Ukraine’s initial “regular” troops. But, yes, it seems highly improbable, especially in retrospect, that Ukrainian military threw them away early on (for precisely the same reason I dismiss claims of very high Russian casualties–these guys know how valuable experienced troops are.). So, whatever casualties that fell on the Ukrainian army fell on low grade troops, most likely, and the higher quality troops were almost certainly largely left intact.

          2. I’m skeptical of the claim that Ukrainians are throwing untrained cannon fodder at Russian lines. I don’t think it’s even possible to conduct any meaningfully organized offensive operation of a decent size without fairly well trained troops and staff officers. This is the cream of the crop among the Ukrainian army that’s shown up to fight, I think.

          3. While Kharkov and Kherson are probably indicators that Ukraine has left a lot of these troops up their sleeve still (and why continuing SMO as it has been going was untenable for Russia–you can keep your footprint small only if the other side is no longer capable of mounting serious attacks so that you can control the tempo of operations), they do open up the question as to how to conduct the war, for both sides. If the trained army that Ukraine is sending out stands and fights, it will be attrited to stump, unless the Russian really has fallen apart (which is highly improbable to say the least.). Ukraine is better off launching sharp, but short offensives to keep the Russians on edge, but without committing large forces who would be held down in a particular area for a long time where they can be smashed up by Russian firepower. A sort of “army in being.”. For the Russians, whatever endgame they have in mind, destroying Ukraine’s ability to conduct significant offensive operations, I think, has to be done first. Luring them to a trap would be a good idea–and I thought that was the rationale behind Kharkov, especially, but that doesn’t seem to have been the case (or did Ukrainians see through that and hold their forces back?). Could Kherson be it? I suppose, in order for a trap to work, it needs to be convincing. I suppose we’ll see soon enough.

          1. Skip Intro

            2 – There were reports (from the Russia side, from POWs) that new conscripts were dropped into Pisky to act as rearguard/decoys while the nationalist militia retreated. I think most of the best were already decimated in the first months of the war, as they were gathered and poised for a massive offensive when Russia invaded. In the meanwhile, new ‘best of the best’ groups are being formed in various NATO countries and funneled back in with a menagerie of weapons and transport systems, and probably a number of ‘advisors’.

            1. hk

              Given what we know of UK training program, among others, it seems implausible that NATO could have trained any sizable group of Ukrainians to any high degree of competence from scratch. Either they have held onto at least a sizable fraction of their existing “regulars” while Russians beat up riffraff or something’s very strange about this “Ukrainian” Army.

      3. GW

        “….the Germans, ironically led by a “Frenchman” (well, a German of Huguenot descent) attacked in force.”

        Who was that German commander? I looked up the bios of Hindenburg, Ludendorff, and Hoffman, but didn’t find the Huguenot connection.

        I’ve read a lot about the Battle of Tannenberg, for a layman, at least. It’s scary to realize the Russians could have been that disorganized. All the more amazing is the realization that the entire disaster could have been preempted if Rennenkampf hadn’t been so pig-headed. Or if Samsonov hadn’t been been appointed to a position of authority that wasn’t justified by his resume.

        As you’re no doubt aware, the Russians pulled-off a mini-Tannenberg at Ilovaisk in 2014. They did everything perfectly, luring the numerically larger but less professional Ukrainian military into a trap on that occasion.

        I expected the current war to be a large scale replay of what happened at Ilovaisk. But I guess the Ukrainian military has improved infinitely since 2014. Another surprise was that the Russians, at least at the beginning of the war and at certain intervals since then, have had difficulty executing efficient combined arms operations involving lots of troops and equipment.

        1. hk

          Herman von Francois. Insufferable tactical genius and first class prick, apparently, and one of the three claimants on the German side for having “won” Tannenberg, along eith Erich Ludendorff and Max Hoffmann. Surprised that you had not heard of him.

  10. The Rev Kev

    Although Kherson has not really had their power taken out yet, Gonzalo Lira reports that that city is turning out the lights at night to save on power. So people there are making their way around the streets using flashlights and he says that it is quite spooky. Of course Russia cannot cut all the power in the Ukraine as that country still has a coupla nuclear power plants that need uninterrupted power to keep their reactors cooled down. Unlike the Ukrainians, doing so is not seen as a win when you think about what could happen.

    Just in passing, would, you believe that the Ukrainians had another go at the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant? Using a combination of artillery and 37 boat-loads of commandos, they tried to get into the nearby city of Energodar to advance on that plant. The Russians said that they lost about 90 soldiers and 14 boats in this latest failed attempt-


    1. nippersdad

      Isn’t Lira still in Kharkov? As regards the amphibious attack on Zaporizhe, that is wild. It is almost like that wasn’t a good idea the first time they tried it. Knowing them, maybe they think the third time will be the charm.

  11. David

    I agree that the 15 Nov date is a diversion as regards the resolution of the conflict. Negotiations don’t happen at summits like this, and the only circumstances where they might be relevant would be if we were very close to a deal, and there was a need for a personal meeting to settle the last details. We’re obviously not there. The main entertainment is going to be to see who has which bilateral with who. Look out for reports of Russian bilaterals with, for example, Saudi Arabia, Argentina, South Africa and Indonesia, as well as the obvious China and India.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      I think Putin should skip it. The West will try to turn this into high school with lots of open hectoring of him. This would help Russia in the long run but why should he waste time this way? Particularly since the Western press would delight in all these childish slights…which have already hit the point of enraging the Russian public. Their uber hawkishness has now become a new problem for Putin to have to manage.

      The Kremlin said there are lots of other forums that month.

      And the Ukies are crazy enough that they could try a Red Wedding.

      1. SocalJimObjects

        “And the Ukies are crazy enough that they could try a Red Wedding”.

        That’s what I thought as well. In fact Xi Jinping should skip the event as well. Supposedly Jokowi and Xi might take the new Chinese made high speed train for a spin after G20, but it’s just too easy to sabotage the whole thing IMO, and the West would not think twice of sacrificing someone like Jokowi in order to take Xi out. Heck, Jokowi’s refusal to exclude Putin from G20 probably put him on the West’s kill list already, so taking out both of them is akin to killing two birds with one stone.


      2. Tom Pfotzer

        I think he should skip it, too.

        For Russia, the key conversations among allies have already been conducted. The action is now centered on lower-level implementation details.

        There is significant downside risk, and little upside potential. That says “no”.

        Everyone will understand perfectly well “why”.

        The negotiations are going to happen on the battlefield.

      3. David

        I think Putin should go, for reasons that have nothing to do with Ukraine in the narrow sense, but are much more about Russia’s image in the Global South. Going will create some amusing problems for western nations, who will probably manage to make complete fools of themselves, whereas staying away will look like a victory for the West, and suggest that Russia has been successfully marginalised. By contrast, most of the world will see Business as Normal, and Putin talking to a whole set of world leaders. It’s useful to remind ourselves from time to time that there’s also a global level game going on here.

        1. Tom Pfotzer

          Those are all the right political reasons. Absolutely.

          And all those objectives can be achieved at a subsequent meeting held in a region that has better security, like China, for ex.

        2. anon in so cal

          I think he must skip it. The Global South already sees and understands the US/UK/EU psychopathy.

  12. John

    The high water mark for Ukraine in their war with Russia was the moment before the Russians took out their air defense and air force in February. The high water mark for NATO in their war with Russia will be the dawning realization that the cupboard is bare of all but nuclear weapons and civilizational suicide is unappealing. (At least I hope it is unappealing. One can not be sure what these loons favor.) Just as it took two years after Stalingrad and three years after Midway to bring those conflicts to a conclusion, it may take some time to conclude the Ukraine phase of the Russia-NATO war. The political-economic struggle between the Collective West and the rest of the world is likely to be protracted by the time required to get institutional alternatives to the dollar, IMF, World Bank etc, up and functioning. The displacement of the dollar as the reserve currency is the key.

    1. hk

      Russians never took Stockholm, but the Swedish Empire was finished after it’s Ukrainian adventure, after all….

  13. Louis Fyne

    “…even rising house prices according to Kiev realtors in interviews to European media.”

    i call shenanigans on this. that has to be a flat-out lie, sham transactions.

    the Ukrainian currency is on the verge of collapse and only propped up by Western cash.

    any sane ukrainian with semi-liquid assets should be selling those assets and converting them to a hard currency.

    though I doubt that you’re ordinary middle-class Ukrainian can get a reasonable bid on their property

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      even rising house prices according to Kiev realtors

      This is what I saw when i read the same line.

  14. amos untermench

    I’m new here but could I ask a question. Why all the emphasis on the g-20 date Nov 15. The crucial date appears to be Nov 8, when the US election occurs. If the Repubs overwhelm, the chances of a change of Dem policy is greater, influencing the g-20 meeting. So the US-Ukronazi power system of Ukraine wants victories before Nov 8 not Nov 15.
    Just asking.

    1. Tom Pfotzer


      The Ukraine game is primarily run out of the White House, State Dept, CIA and DoD… not Congress. So far as I can tell, there is currently not much opposition to Ukraine / Russia war coming from the Republicans, so even if Congress swung to Republican control, they wouldn’t likely use that control to curtail EU-theater war operations.

      Republican, Democrats. Very little difference on foreign policy. Tulsi Gabbard is one of very, very few exceptions to that rule.

    2. Irrational

      Also, while the elections may be in November, they do not take up seats until Jan 2023, right? So if the Biden administration wants to do some insane that is more likely between a November set-back and January reality. Or am I being overly paranoid?

      1. hunkerdown

        #Ukraine™ is a professional-managerial class all-hands effort. The usual form of the lame-duck session is to focus on internal discipline, but Kinzinger and his lot will certainly feel like one last suck of the sav on the way to Raytheon or CFR or wherever so “something” to own the cons is a real possibility. “For war is essentially the health of the State” was just one famous sentence in a very fine, well-aged essay.

  15. elkern

    Sorta OT, but still Ukraine War…

    New article in Maritime Executive has “First Imagery of Blast Damage to Nord Stream Pipelines” (like below?). The video is just Water at the Bottom of the Ocean, to me at least; maybe someone here sees something there that I don’t?

    But the article contains two *very* interesting claims: (1) {some?} edges of the pipe appear to be blown outwards, as if the explosion was inside the pipe, and (2) 150 feet of {one?} pipe are “missing”.

    Explosion inside the pipe is consistent with the (pro-NATO) theory that Russia Did It, by arming their internal Maint Droids. OTOH, it is also consistent with the possibility that anti-Russian actors were smart about framing Russia.

    “150 feet of pipe missing” sounds to me like the explosion was done by inserting/releasing a bunch of Oxygen inside the pipe, waiting for it to spread a bit, then triggering a delayed spark. A Fuel-Air explosive, only backwards. That much missing pipe implies that most residue of the sabotage is missing, too.

    Anybody here know enough about pressurized pipelines to confirm or kill my theory? How much O2 would it take? Would it be possible/practical to force enough Oxygen into the pipe from outside to do this, at that depth? Or could this only be done from inside the pipe?

    In any case, if the article is correct, early theories about a “simple” attack with drones, ROVs, UAVs, bombs, or missiles are ruled out. OTOH, the complexity of doing this from outside would increase chances of failure, which might explain why only 3 of 4 pipes were blown. If so, there would likely be plenty of evidence of the failed attempt lying around down there…


    1. Tom Pfotzer

      If oxygen was injected into the pipeline and detonated, they’d have to control the mixing of oxygen and methane (nat gas) along the entire length of the pipe.

      How can the oxygen be localized on one segment? It’ll mix throughout the pipeline it’s injected into.

      It’d be tough to localize (concentrate) the explosion. How do you get multiple segments of the pipeline to explode in the same place?

      Your theory might work if the explosions took place in rather different segments of the pipeline. Also, you’d have to see seams (longitudinal sections) blowing outwards, following seams / structural weak points in the pipe. Interior forces will “find the weak spots”, and expand those points first.

      Did the individual pipelines fail in the same place, or different places?

      My (limited) understanding of the pipeline fail-points is that they were localized to two points. Two or more pipes failed at two different co-located points. To emphasize: at the _same_ place (many kilometers apart), and that says “localized, focused forces applied” to me.


      BTW: good analysis and generation of alt view-points.

      1. elkern

        Fluid Dynamics is not the prettiest Science, but it should be able to predict how long one should wait to strike the match once one has released X amount of O2 at pressure P1 into a cylinder of diameter Y containing NatGas at pressure P2, eh?

        But as Acacia points out below, the gas pressure was 100-200 bar; so injecting O2 from outside would not be easy. Quick Goog shows that “Current high-pressure oxygen cylinders… store oxygen at 3,000 psi (206 bar)”, so extra fancy canisters should be able to overcome the internal NatGas pressure, but poking a hole in the pipe to pump in O2 would risk rupture. So, easier to do from inside (Russia) but prolly possible to do from outside (anti-Russia).

        I don’t understand what you’re saying about “fail-points… at two different co-located points”, especially “…the _same_ place (many kilometers apart)”, which is too non-Euclidean for my aging brain. Early reports indicated breaks in different places on different pipes; is that what you mean? Yeah, each pipe would have to have been sabotaged separately, regardless of the method. So yeah, more complex, more expensive, and more risky (and higher probability of partial failure – 75% success?).

        And anyway, this is mostly specklation, based on tiny blips of info which is suspect for various reasons (who to trust???).

        1. Tom Pfotzer


          Injecting oxygen into the pipe at an underwater location would be nearly impossible without some highly visible equipment doing the work.

          They’d have to drill a hole in a pipe… that’s encapsulated in concrete… and the pipe is highly pressurized. That is a major job, requiring highly specialized and very heavy equipment.

          How do you attach the drill securely enough to withstand the enormous pressure of the outflow once the pipe’s penetrated?

          How do you seal the drill well enough to prevent natGas escape once the pipe’s penetrated? How do you then remove the drill, and attach a line to inject oxygen?

          Then consider the size and power of the compressor that’s pressurizing that pipeline with natGas. The oxygen injected would have to be pressurized at a higher level in order to inject the oxygen. How big would the pump and pump engine have to be to accomplish that?

          I’m thinking that would have to be pretty sizeable, and easy to spot for what it is.

          And there would have to be a surface ship, with pressurized lines from surface to depths capable of delivering pressurized oxygen. Boy, would that be obvious.


          Suppose Russia injected the oxygen at their end of the pipeline.

          That means the oxygen has to propagate a few hundred kilometers to the blast site. There’s no flow through that pipeline at the moment. How does the oxygen get to the blast site without mixing throughout the pipeline?

          If oxygen is mixed with natGas throughout the pipeline, how do you get blast points co-located (as they are).

          The blast would cause ruptures throughout the pipeline, and the exit points would occur at structural weak-spots along the line, such as at seams, joints, etc. where the containment was (slightly) irregular. The leaks would appear to be randomly placed.

          That doesn’t appear to have happened; the holes are at two tightly-co-located spots, which is where the gas bubbled to the surface.

          1. Tom Pfotzer

            On further reflection, a tank of liquefied oxygen would work as oxygen source for point-injection of oxygen into the pipeline. No surface pump required.

            The rest of the problems – drill, seal, etc. stand as-is.

    2. The Rev Kev

      If such a long length of pipe is missing, perhaps the Swedes cut the pipeline for that section that exploded and brought it up topside for forensic examination onshore. It would make sense and one guy said that one section looked like it had been cut. But as the Swedes have shut down their investigations, I would not be surprised to learn that that retrieved section of pipeline has already been melted down as scrap metal so that it could never be examined again. And I would not be surprised to learn that that area where the pipelines were destroyed has been swept clean of fragments of whatever it was that destroyed those lines. You’d think that even the Greens would have been jumping up and down about all that gas released into the atmosphere because of the explosions but they have been pretty silent as well. So many dogs not barking.

      1. elkern

        “Truth” on this is likely to remain as murky as Baltic Sea. Can we trust Denmark and Sweden to investigate this honestly?

        Greens (aging children, I am one) are torn by internal differences. Those who prioritize Social Justice side with Liberals, demonizing Russia and advocating support for Ukraine. Those who prioritize Peace advocate for negotiations. Those who prioritize Ecological Wisdom (like me) are mourning and wishing we had options (other habitable planets or accessible time-lines?).

    3. Acacia

      A quick search suggests that the internal pressure of the NS pipeline was from 105 to 220 bar, which is 1522 to 3190 psi. Quite a lot.

      Not an engineer here, but if an explosive were placed against the outside of the pipe, and that blew away part of the structure, wouldn’t the internal pressure cause the pipeline to burst outward?

      Also, the failure of the pipe probably isn’t uniform. In some places, it could appear to be blown inward, and outward in other places. Images or video of a “missing” 150 foot section could be cherry picked, so a complete inspection of clear images of the entire area of damage — including of the surrounding seabed — would really be necessary for making judgements, I think.

      1. elkern

        Hmm, yeah. Looks like water pressure at 80 meters would be about 8 bar, so yes, *any* break could have resulted in outward bending of pipes, merely from gas pressure inside? (or do I not understand “bar”?

        Cherry-picking is inevitable in a situation like this where most sources seem to have clear agendas. That’s why I like Maritime Executive for this: even if they & their audience want NATO to win (not sure they do, but seems likely), they still want to know what’s really happening, to protect their investments.

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