Russia’s General Patience and the Pause That Refreshes

Yves here. Helmer gives an important and sobering sitrep, on the accelerating damage to the Ukraine’s war effort and society from Russia’s attacks on Ukraine’s electrical and rail systems. One major issue is field hospitals able to handle mass casualty events are in Kiev and further west, meaning survival rates among seriously injured soldiers will be low compared to other modern conflicts (I am still sticking with my view that the oft-applied rule of thumb of one death to three or four wounded will be low for Ukraine; the death toll will be simply horrific and the survival level much worse than now believed).

Helmer points out that refugee flight is almost certainly higher than what is being reported, and if mass evacuations of towns and cities with impaired water systems don’t start soon, disease outbreaks will follow. And that will further complicate departures. Ukrainian refugees may wind up being put up in camp, not just due to lack of housing but potentially also to quarantine them (of course, segregating refugees to contain one set of pathogens runs the risk of creating Covid and RSV superspreader sites).

Men are not being allowed to leave Ukraine, save via liberal application of bribes. The dearth of jobs for departing Ukraine women is leading to a big increase in sex trafficking and prostitution.

Finally, Helmer points out that much of Ukraine will not have reached all day freezing temperatures as of January 1. That means, if Russia wants to wait until the ground is frozen before launching an offensive, the timing may be mid or late January.

However, Andrei Martyanov mentioned in passing (see at 17:40) that even though many believe Russia will launch a major campaign this winter, he thinks that may not be necessary. Russia may be able to achieve its goal of the “physical annihilation” of Ukraine’s combat forces and weapons by continuing as it is.

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

When the US economy was in collapse in 1929, the advertising copywriters for Coca Cola were told to come up with a new slogan. The chief executive of the beverage company thought that for  Coke to beat its rivals, it was necessary to persuade Americans who were desperate financially to pay five cents for a bottle of something to calm themselves down and cheer up.  This is how the slogan “The Pause that Refreshes” was born (lead image, top).

General Patience, in league with the Russian Stavka (lead image, bottom), have a bottle of something similar. Calming down and cheering up are not what it’s meant to do, particularly  if you have been drinking the Kool-Aid bottled in Kiev, Berlin and Washington, DC.

This is what it tastes like. Take a pause to refresh your understanding.  In the conditions of this war, understand also that refresh is not the word for it.

The weather in Kiev and along the eastern front is staying relatively warm, with rain instead of snow, at least until the first week of January:

Source: Gismeteo

The Russian missile and drone raids of December 5 and 6 have been announced by the Defense Ministry in Moscow to be targeted at the Ukrainian logistics required to sustain Kiev’s military operations. As Monday’s bulletin said, “the production and repair of Ukrainian weapons at the enterprises of the military-industrial complex were stopped, rail transportation of military equipment for the Armed Forces of Ukraine, including foreign production, was disrupted. The transfer of reserves to combat areas is difficult.”

Unstated is the reverse logistic: this is medical evacuation to the west for Ukrainian casualties. The blast and shrapnel intensity of artillery, missile, and drone weapons has been acknowledged by Ukrainian sources to have triggered the intensive hospitalisation requirements of NATO care levels 3 and 4. The hospitals working at these standards have all been located from Kiev westwards  to Lvov, including over the border in Poland.

Polish Radio and the Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki  reportedfrom Lvov  on April 29 that Polish personnel and hospitals were prepared for treating up to 10,000 Ukrainian military casualties.

Reporting by the western press agencies have also confirmed that train evacuation to the west was increasing through May; this reporting appears to have stopped since then.

The Moscow daily bulletins have been reporting between 200 and 300 men killed; reading these bulletins is censored in many NATO areas.  The Russian evidence suggests that the Ukrainian wounded number between 600 and 900; altogether, a toll of almost a thousand per day, the magnitude of which was confirmed last week by the European Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen.  When road and rail lines are cut, and military medevac operations stopped, this means that Ukrainian unit surrender rates will rise. The first Moscow sign from the General Staff that this is beginning to happen was published on December 2.

A US military source comments: “The field hospitals, triage areas, and ad hoc facilities to handle casualties – schools, for example — will become charnel houses. Along with the trenches and dugouts, they’ll also be riddled with disease. If they don’t surrender, they’ll literally rot. And unlike Korsun, or even Stalingrad in the early days of the pocket, there will not even be a meager airlift.”

American and Canadian military medical specialists have reported on treating their combat casualties in Afghanistan a decade ago.  An American source reports this week: “I provided service to a Role III NATO hospital at Kandahar Airfield. There is no way anything like that level of care will be available at Bakhmut, let alone in the Liman sector. The logistical support required to provide even a NATO forward operating base level of care is immense.  Generators, fuel, refrigeration, medicines, diagnostic equipment, blood plasma — all have to be constantly replenished and maintained 24/7.  I remember the panic when the generator broke down and we were told we had less than two hours to get it working, or a replacement tied in, before the blood and medicine went bad – and we weren’t under nearly the intensity of fire those on the Donbass Front are.  We didn’t face nearly the logistical issues either. Those Ukrainian aid stations and hospitals will be a nightmare in short order, if they are not already.  If I were a Russian, I would want to have contact with prisoners. They’ll be teeming with who-knows-what.”

By NATO medevac and hospital standards, the NATO manuals say that a “mass casualty event” amounts to about 20 casualties per day. The Ukrainian army rate is currently ten times that number. NATO veterans point out that in the present situation in the east, following the line from Sumy through Poltava to Dniepropetrovsk, Nikolaev and Odessa – this is western line of the Ukrainian demilitarized zone described here — the daily medevac rate may be more than 200, while the electric war raids are simultaneously cutting off the power and transport. “How can you stabilize the wounded in these areas? What means of transportation will they be put on, and where will they be sent to, with fuel and electricity in short supply and the transportation network smashed or under Russian fire?”

The Tuesday, December 6, raid targets have been identified as including the regions of Odessa, Nikolaev, Dniepropetrovsk, Vinnytsa, Poltava, Zhitomyr, Cherkasy, Kirovograd, and  Zaporozhe. The General Staff have also announced: “We emphasize that there were no missile strikes on the city of Kiev.” Lvov, the de facto capital of the US and NATO officers directing the war, is being targeted. On the ground on the eastern front at the same time, the Russian army is moving on to the offensive in directions intended to disperse and dilute the firepower of the Ukrainian forces.

US, NATO and Russian military intelligence are following the heat, light, gas, noise, cell telephone and radio emissions from locations where there are combat units in order to pinpoint their position and mobility. Open-source civilian video clips are being published showing the impact of the electric war on urban civilians attempting to replace central system heating with home generators and other appliances.

These screenshots from a smartphone recording in Odessa illustrates what is happening as residents turn up their thermostats and heaters and overload the remaining grid infrastructure.

Over-voltage on the lines in Odessa. Cellphone camera records the result of overvoltage or overcurrent on the distribution lines hours, possibly days after an attack. Incorrectly installed, tapped or damaged transformers have created an over-voltage condition, or lines are carrying too much current as utility crews place too much of a load, or damaged/short circuited gear, on them.

A NATO infrastructure specialist explains: “utility technicians are more than likely trying, but failing, to make fast repairs in order to restore power. They’re sure to be feeling the pressure from state officials, their management, the population and of course, the Russians. They’re overworked, underpaid, exhausted, and terrified. This means the likelihood of them making very dangerous technical mistakes is quite high.  What you’re seeing in photographs like these means untold numbers of appliances and sensitive electronic devices (computers and cell phones) that are plugged in downstream are being destroyed.”

A Kiev source confirms that friends are no longer able to contact each other by cellphone. “The  telephone networks are breaking down unpredictably in the city [Kiev]. The only normality is in Lvov where the luxury hotel was full. The city restaurants were functioning as normal. It had more lights than Kiev.”


In these conditions the eastern Ukrainian cities in which gangsterism has long thrived are reporting marauding, mugging, looting, and thefts of fuel, food, medicines, and other necessities; click to read in Nikolaev   and Odessa.  Local Ukrainian media are reporting the conditions; the mainstream US, Canadian, British and German media are concealing them. As water and sewerage pumping stations fail, the diseases of siege, well-known since the English armies imposed them on the French during the Hundred Years War, begin to spread.

The last Voice of America report of the cholera threat was at the end of June.  

A surge of Ukrainian refugees across the Polish border must start soon, Polish, German and European Union officials openly acknowledge. The Polish Border Guard daily reports of Ukrainians entering Poland and also returning to the Ukraine are not yet confirming this. Follow these official bulletins from Warsaw here,   and for earlier analysis of the September-October refugee movements click to read here.


The improbability of some of these numbers is obvious. There is unofficial evidence in Poland that the Border Guard bulletins are being manipulated, and that far fewer Ukrainians are crossing the border to return home than the Border Guard tweets are reporting. According to this Ukrainian source in Poland, “the number of forced Ukrainian migrants in Poland continues to grow significantly from week to week, confirming the forecasts and expectations of experts regarding a new wave of refugees from Ukraine with the onset of cold weather. According to Polish portal, the largest number of refugees has recently been recorded in the Lublin Voivodeship. For example, in just one day, November 26, for the first time in many months, more than a thousand newly arrived Ukrainian refugees were registered in the Lublin Voivodeship.”


Polish sources, as well as social media evidence in Lvov, indicate there is a significant process of civilian relocation from east to west, and that for as long as the roads and trains are open westwards,  this is accelerating. As the numbers of refugees mount in and around Lvov, spillover into Poland is inevitable. To anticipate and prevent this has been Polish government policy since April,  when the first refugee camp in Lvov was built by the Poles and opened by Prime Minister Morawiecki.  In recent days, as the weather has deteriorated, the Polish government has been paying for heating centres on the Ukrainian side of the frontier.

Unreported in the Ukrainian media, or the western press, is the desexualization of the Ukraine, except for Lvov.  To resupply the army, the Zelensky government has imposed a prohibition on men leaving the country. Those who have escaped managed to do so by paying bribes of up to $25,000. The stream of Ukrainian refugees reported in Poland are predominantly women and children. The flow-on effect reported in Germany, Sweden and Norway is similar – and the result is widespread sex trafficking.

A source in Oslo: “Of 30,000 refugees in Norway, I’ve been told that 95% are women. For the first time in their lives they have decent living, education, training, welfare stipend and prospects of jobs. In return, they will solve the demographic crisis of northern Europe. I see many Arab migrants [to Norway] with Ukrainian women. In Germany, Britain and Sweden, men are having a great choice of feminine and not feminist women. The Swedish police also say that nearly 100% of the prostitutes they arrest are now Ukrainian. Some of this is what I read in our mass media. I’m not sure what is the truth.”

A source in Kiev:  “Broken-family girls move abroad, those in stable relationships, with their men mobilized, do not. Undereducated or working class women, or men,  eventually will leave  because they know there is zero economic future. Their Ukraine is wrecked and people will leave. Just when, we can only guess. The Ukrainians who profit from the US and EU cash and from the arms trade – the westerners – they will stay until or unless the Americans evacuate Zelensky.”

Russian and NATO military sources suspect but are not yet sure that the Russian General Staff have “baited a trap” for the Ukrainian military along their eastern front. But the sources concede that the evidence of this week’s raids indicate that no one will be crossing the Dnieper River in either direction very soon.

“This is the calculus of General Patience,” a Moscow source claims. “There’s a clock on the wall of the Defense Ministry situation room, and its hands aren’t reacting to whatever the Ukrainians or Americans think of doing next for their PR. The timing of what General Patience has decided is helping the Ukronazis destroy themselves. That’s the denazification war aim. As for the demilitarization objective, remember that Russia is not at risk as it was in the ancient Swedish and Polish invasions; in Napoleon’s war or Hitler’s. Nor is there any chance of the Brits and Czechs sending their units to march on Yekaterinburg and put the tsar back in the Kremlin. No, this Russian defence is a war that will be fought with great patience, leveraging our strengths, minimising our losses, and ending the enemy’s capacity to threaten us for the future.”

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  1. Louis Fyne

    One nitpick as the point stuck out—I doubt see how UA migration will alter declining birthrates.

    You are going to see a generation of women scarred by their sex work (whether it was voluntary, under duress, or involuntary).

    While for other women—having a hypothetical couple who don’t care a common language or culture or religion decreases the odds of a sustainable, healthy family. (not saying it’s impossible, just more difficult)

    I cringed at Mr. Helmer’s Oslo source—-the comments reeked of “Western White Person’s Savior Complex”.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      There are different levels of sex work. The “negotiable affection’ sort actually does not hew with your perceptions. In fact, a lot of poor/immigrant sex workers become sex workers to support their kids:

      A handful of researchers have suggested that sex work and motherhood are strongly entwined: researchers studying sex work in non-industrial countries documented high pregnancy rates, with many sex workers (up to 90% in some cases) having dependent children (Elmore-Meegan, Conroy, & Agala, 2004; Feldblum et al., 2007). Moreover, a number of qualitative researchers have indicated that many women enter and continue sex work to support their families (Basu & Dutta, 2011; Bucardo et al., 2004). This is true in the Canadian context where researchers have found that sex work was among the few economically viable options to support indoor sex workers’ families, particularly impoverished women and migrant workers with limited training and English proficiency (Bungay, Halpin, Atchison, & Johnston, 2011). Contrary to popular opinion, American researchers have documented sex workers to have a strong desire and dedication to raising their children (Basu & Dutta, 2011; Sharpe, 2001).

      On top of that, a lot of men want wives and mothers of the fantasy Asian postcard bride type: attractive and subservient. A Ukrainian refugee is ethnically more acceptable (witness all the cringe-making comments about blond, blue eyed Ukrainians in US and European media) and would be assumed to be so economically desperate and isolated as to assure obedience. So they would be seen as very good breeders.

      1. Colonel Smithers

        Thank you, Yves.

        The studies cited are echoed by anecdotes provided by and an informal survey of “elite courtesans” and other SWs conducted by a concierge services company that is often used by my former private bank employers in London.

        With regard to the image, the quality is sought by certain societies and classes outside Europe and North America. That can be attributed to a colonial cringe, but also the reward the distaff side of the progeny may fetch for her family when unions are arranged. Please excuse the equine terminology.

    2. William Verick

      The aftermath of the Vietnam War in America opened our eyes to what the trauma of war does to people. A good friend had panic attacks whenever he heard someone scream. These attacks would flip into blind violence that he couldn’t control, and that put him into serious legal jeopardy. My next door neighbor came home after two tours and could be seen in uniform goose stepping down our shade-tree-lined suburban streets. The alcoholism, the drug abuse, the domestic violence, the homelessness — we grew to understand the connections between all that and the War.

      The trauma Americans experienced in Vietnam, generally, was nothing compared to what is happening in Ukraine. Plus, the Vietnam War only indirectly inflicted trauma on America’s home front.

      Ukraine will pay a price (and so will Russia) in damaged human lives that will echo down through future generations because some of the effects trauma brings are epigenetic. The effects are passed physically from one generation to the next.

      War is never not a tragedy for both (or all) sides.

      1. digi_owl

        > Plus, the Vietnam War only indirectly inflicted trauma on America’s home front.

        And that is the ongoing reason why the blob can keep the adventurism going, because it only comes home as “suicide by cop” news entries (baring once in a blue moon events like 9/11, and it may be that it was allowed to happen).

        The only slowdown right now is that with the vanishing of manual labor, more and more of the potential recruitment age for the armed forces fail fitness requirements. Thus replenishing the marines after a “forever war” takes longer and longer.

  2. Colonel Smithers

    Thank you, Yves.

    The sex trafficking goes beyond Europe.

    The Mauritian reports the sudden arrival of Ukrainian women in the north and west of the island where hotels and gated communities frequented by well to do visitors, business and pleasure, are located.

    Two Ukrainian women, both flying from Belgium, and a Mauritian associate were arrested for drug smuggling in late October.

    Many Mauritians study in Ukraine. The men often return with a wife. The relatives of such wives have often found safety on the island.

    Former colleagues in Istanbul report an increase in the number of Ukrainian women in their neighbourhoods.

  3. John R Moffett

    It is disgusting how the West uses Ukrainians as cannon fodder while pretending to save and protect them. I have never seen a more cynical and ruthless military fiasco, where a relatively small number of psychopathic fanatics in a country are given all the weaponry they need to keep a war going that most of the Ukrainians don’t want anything to do with. When Russia gets around to turning out the lights in Lviv, things will go from horrible to game-over for Ukraine. This can’t be sustained, no matter how crazy the Nazis there are.

    1. Robert Hahl

      Since Russia is not molesting the power system in Lviv yet, it seems to approve of Poland’s refugee facilities. I think this means there won’t be as many more Ukrainians moving to Europe as people expect. It is apparent that there probably will be little left to come back to, so why let them leave at all? Of the original 40 millions, ten went to Russia (6m took their land with them), and ten to Europe. So who is going to help 20 million people move west? I think they will let half of them freeze in place, so the survivors can populate a rump Ukraine.

      1. Polar Socialist

        There are also surprisingly lot of people in Ukraine taking the risk and waiting for the front line to pass (sometimes again) them and the Russians to come. I’ve read that in Bahkmut/Artemovsk 20% of the population has refused to leave, even if the city is being shot to pieces. And the relations between them and the Ukrainian troops are somewhat… stressed.

        1. Daniil Adamov

          I’d be extremely reluctant to leave my home city, even if it did become a warzone. Leaving aside political allegiances, a lot of people are attached to their homes. Many people also have nowhere else to go, or difficulties with leaving – for instance if they are disabled, or caring for someone who is disabled and not easily moved. Friends of family have relatives not far from the frontlines in Ukraine who are or were in that kind of situation.

        2. johnherbiehancock

          Yeah from my experience there (was married to a Ukrainian, and visited her family & friends from different walks of life, from upper crust kids in Kyiv to grandparents in a small farming village), the poor and small villagers will stay in greater numbers than we Americans would expect.

          They’re used to greater privation than we are – especially middle-aged and older Ukrainians – and more self-sufficient,
          esp. the small farmers. And there were more small farmers there than we’d see here or in Western European countries.

          They can grow corn, potatoes, and grain, raise pigs & chickens and make their own booze… they don’t need much more than that. Some of them have been living without indoor plumbing, or with rudimentary indoor plumbing for decades already.

          Last time I visited (2018) the loss of cheap Russian gas for heating meant they were already burning trash and scrapwood
          for fuel overnight.

          Such people aren’t going to leave their villages merely b/c they lost electricity or internet access… only at gunpoint. And I doubt it will come to that. They really don’t care whether they’re ruled from Kyiv or Moscow. They’ve seen both in their lifetimes.

    2. Aaron

      My initial reaction to your comment was “but what about Iraq?!!”
      But after 3 seconds of reflection, I realized that the conditions are completely different. In Ukraine, the leader of the people is a Western plant – the west had deep embedded tendrils in the Ukrainian government. This was not the case in Iraq. The west had to explicitly impose itself in the area and it was obvious to everybody where the dividing lines between local and foreigner were. Not so in Ukraine.

    3. timbers

      “It is disgusting how the West uses Ukrainians as cannon fodder while pretending to save and protect them.”

      That was my reaction, too. The situation makes the alleged agreement btwn Zelensky/Putin in March look like paradise in comparison to now. Guess we will see how good the Collective West is at providing humanitarian assistance to the disaster they’ve created. Something tells me it won’t be nearly and well funded nor as prompt as her rush to militarize Ukraine was.

      It’s unfortunate how effective America’s propaganda is at shaping pubic opinion…in this case Russiaphobia.

      1. nippersdad

        I think we have already seen how well we do with nation building in Afghanistan. We spent twenty years there and then pulled out only to freeze their foreign reserves in a snit and then watch people starve as we talked about womens’ access to education facilities.

        I really do loathe the people who run this joint.

    4. Kouros

      I think the west’s cynicism is equal to that of those in power in Kiev. Listening to that twat, Oleksiy Arestovych can only give cold shivers along the spine to any human being.

    5. Jay

      It is disgusting how the West uses Ukrainians as cannon fodder while pretending to save and protect them

      You can’t absolve the Western Ukranians. They stood by and watched Kyiv use artillery on civilians in the Donbas, applauded as Russian speakers were discriminated against, etc.

      1. Daniil Adamov

        Frankly, why not? They’re no more a monolith than Central Ukrainians, Eastern Ukrainians, Russians or Americans.

  4. Lex

    That weather may not be good for a Russian advance but it’s worse than real winter for frontline troops, especially the Ukrainians. Those temps and rain are the literal worst. You don’t necessarily get wet when it snows and stays below freezing. In the forecasted weather conditions you are always wet and always cold; not to mention that kind of damp cold goes right into your bones. (Source: years of always outside work in cold climates.)

    Zelensky desperately needs an escalation. Blinken can say that US policy is not based on public opinion, but politicians are beholden to it and polling trendlines are unfavorable for Ukraine. And without something better, the news is starting to cover (slowly) how bad things are for Ukraine. Russian patience is a weapon. It’s grisly but effective. It’s also an effective weapon against the US, a famously impatient nation.

    1. Ignacio

      I think you are quite right on this. Damp and cold might feel hellish. I also believe that Martianov is quite right. Russians have repeatedly shown their strategy consist on a slow grinding and they don’t bother with capturing a lot of terrain possibly with the exception of the rest of Donbass which they might try to complete this winter. So far they are grinding Ukrainian military forces around Bakhmut and Donetsk and the Ukrainians are collaborating with by sending more and more troops to the grinding machine instead of retiring. Bakhmut is a sink of Ukrainian resources and Russians might think that this is OK with their strategy.

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      To your point, I don’t know how cold the really cold nights get in the winter, but I recall from my Jack London that when temps get well below freezing, it’s warmer to sleep in your sleeping bag buried in snow than in the open air.

      See also:

      There was similarly a scene in the Disney movie Eight Below (romanticized story of rescue of working huskies at Antarctic research station) where the dogs unbury themselves. A lot prettier than the clip above.

      1. Lex

        Yes. Snow is a good insulator so long as you’re not wet. My dog is a shepherd/malamute mix (malamute coat with shepherd coloring) and while she doesn’t bury herself she also doesn’t care at all about cold. Waterproof double coat. If I forget she’s outside and it’s snowing she’ll come in with all the fresh snowfall sitting on top of her coat; I try to brush it off on her way in so she doesn’t shake it all over the dining room! Her coat is totally dry under that layer of snow though.

        The trenches and bunkers of the front may be helped a bit by the snow but if they’re allowed to fill with snow movement will be problematic. The quick bunkers we see with just some boards or branches over the top will be helped by a good layer of snow on top but with the earth cut, those bunker/trench walls will just radiate cold.

      2. kam

        Even if you are damp/wet, so long as you have hot food and can keep moving, your body can handle it. But if you are eating cold food or none at all and you are immobile, your body will slowly succumb to the loss of internal heat.

        1. truly

          I have to respectfully disagree with this statement. I have slept in snow caves (Boundary Waters, northern MN) at temps down to negative 30 F. Spent several consecutive days out in those temps with no access to any heated buildings and stayed comfortable the whole time.
          The coldest I have ever been- about 30 years ago, helping a farmer prep for a bank forced auction. It was about 34 F degrees, a light rain falling. We had to work all day moving equipment- this meant some bare hand work, gloves off, hitching and unhitching equipment, hooking and unhooking hydraulic lines, PTO shafts etc. In my 54 years this particular day still stands out as horridly cold. Handling metal objects bare handed in 34 damp degrees will do you in rather quickly. I think of that day on the farm and imagine holding a rifle (cold metal), crouched behind a bunker, not being able to move without risk of being shot.
          Those poor Uk cannon fodder guys. Hope and pray this ends soon.
          On a positive note, they say hypothermia is a pleasant way to go.

          1. Jay

            Well, yes: if all the ukranians have to is shelter in snow caves, they’ll be fine. I’m not sure war works this way though. If you’re loading 100lb artillery shells all day out in the open you’re going to need 8000 calories a day to stave off exhaustion at the lowest of the temperatures given. Good luck with that with railways out of action and hundreds of thousands of troops in the field…

            1. Jay

              Also, even when they have food, how are the Ukrainian troops going to be able to eat? Unfreezing it – forget making it hot – will need a heat source. Which will show up like a flare on IR, after which you’ll get an artillery round.

              Then there’s the problem of digging new fighting positions in frozen ground. Which won’t matter nearly as much for the Russians because they have fire superiority.

              I think a lot of people aren’t thinking this through. Yes, cold wet weather s miserable – but it doesn’t create the same problems for undersupplied and outgunned army that winter warfare does. If anything it helps by hindering mobility.

      3. Kouros

        Camus used to say that the coldest times he experienced were during winter in Algeria, on the coast: wet and cold, above freezing – cutting through the bone and freezing the marrow. Humid air and wet clothes are of course more conducive for heat exchange (from hot to cold), and all bodies’ heat is vacuumed mercilessly into the air…

      4. Fox Blue

        As a Boy Scout here in Canada, one winter our troop (well, those that volunteered) built snowbanks then hallowed them out allowing us to fit our 14-year old bodies into our cold-weather sleeping bags. We wore wool hats and our heads were peeking out all night just in case the makeshift snow-house collapsed. We did it for two straight nights as the night time low was -20C. Key thing was it was dry and calm winds. All of us were very warm and comfortable. I distinctly remember our troop leader not allowing us to do this on night three as the overnight temperature rose to -1C (not an usual temperature swing for January in Prince Edward Island) and he remarked that it would be “too damp” to bother.

    3. MT_Wild

      I moved from PA to MT to escape that kind of weather. I’ll take 20F and sunny over 34F and cloudy any day. And the mud. Every step just sucks the life out of you. It was always a relief when it would just freeze.

      As to snow cover, most animals that do not hibernate bury themselves in the snow as thermal cover at night. Cold winters without snow are particulary hard on animals such as ruffled grouse and New England cottontails because of the increased demand for energy. The subnivean environment is full of animals going about their daily business in the depth of winter, we generally only see the snow.

    4. Polar Socialist

      As someone who has had the pleasure of playing war for a week in -26°F and another week in 30°F I can attest that while the first one makes for much better stories while having a beer, the latter was much more taxing on the body and soul.

      We learned (quickly) to always have access to a source of warmth and a dry pair of socks and gloves/mittens to keep your extremities as comfortable as possible. And use layers. A lot of layers. Back then ours were natural fibers (cotton, wool, leather) so even if damp or wet, they still retained body heat pretty well. When possible, dry the inside layers first.

      1. The Rev Kev

        I once had the pleasure of stepping out of a German railway station in winter time when it was about -20 Celsius (about -4 Fahrenheit) and everything looked still. I swear that I could feel the cold slowly penetrate my clothing layer by layer until it reached my skin. Extreme cold is no joke.

      2. Joe Renter

        Yes, a having dry socks and gloves and maybe dry base layer really helps with the attitude. I have spent many days mountain biking in Bellingham WA in that temperature between 30 and 40 F with rain and snow mix. Taking a break and changing out of the wet stuff is a game changer.
        War is hell and more hellish in those conditions.

    5. Will

      Yes, my thoughts exactly. Extended exposure to wet and cold is a killer. Ukrainian troops getting rained on and shivering in the trenches waiting for a Russian attack may be living a kill me slow or kill me fast dilemma.

      You may have heard that the heat in Arizona etc is not that bad because it’s a dry heat. Well, the same goes for cold. It’s a wet cold here in Toronto and having experienced the dry cold of a Saskatoon winter, I’d much rather the dry. And if you’re lucky, maybe even see the northern lights. I hope the poor buggers in the trenches experience some beauty before they’re sacrificed for “democracy”.

    6. Jay

      > That weather may not be good for a Russian advance but it’s worse than real winter for frontline troops, especially the Ukrainians.

      No, it really isn’t. Not when real winter means constant exposure to temperatures as low as -23c. You can lose the use of your fingers in just a few minutes in those conditions. Unless you’re trained and equipped and have tge logistical support, warfare – which involves lots of contact with frozen metal things – becomes a double nightmare. The Russians will have the logistics and equipment, the ukranians won’t.

      Yes, working in the cold and wet is nasty. Enough so that I prefer moderate subzero temperatures. But -15c and below? Hell no. In those conditions a lot of under supplied Ukrainian units may be completely unable to fight.

      1. Lex

        I’m not saying that extreme cold is comfortable, but I am speaking from experience including working outside all day with no access to heated buildings at -23C. I’ve experienced -37C in both St. Petersburg and Murmansk. I won’t argue that it sucks really bad to be that cold, but it’s easier to cope with that then 0 C (or around there) and it being wet. The insulation of your clothing doesn’t work as well (unless your outer shell is completely water proof but that causes other problems from the heat you generate and if you sweat in those conditions your insulation gets wet anyhow) and there’s a different, arguably worse sort of cold than the extreme bite of -23C. This is personal opinion.

        1. Jay

          Lex – you’ve obviously had a lot of experience. But were you outdoors 24 hours a day and short of food? And very possibly proper clothing? Ukrainian logistics are going to hell and that makes a big difference. Being physically active in that temperature range without any shelter requires 8000 kilocalories a day. Without those calories, the body will break down and performance will drop extremely fast. Combine that with ukraines loss of trained troops and imagine what performance is going to be like trying to eg load shells fast. Physical shutdown, unfamiliar job, dangerous environment you haven’t been trained for, and people trying to kill you – one’s who don’t have those problems?

          (Also, if you have to work in the wet and cold, try UK style Buffalo gear – it works on a warm while wet principle instead of trying to seal you up and risking death by sweat. Weird stuff!)

      2. displaced platitudes

        Working outside a fair amount in MN winters (often for hours at a time), even sub-zero Fahrenheit can be tolerated for several hours. After that, one’s extremities take a horrible beating, such that running your hands under hot water to warm them is excruciating. You start with cold tap water and only gradually raise the temperature. My circulation is much less optimal to those extremities as I age, and fingers especially are much less tolerant due to such constant exposure.
        I agree that neither wet & cold or subarctic cold can be tolerated for long, all the layers in the world will only keep your torso and upper legs warm; one’s extremities are prone to frostbite in subarctic temps and wet feet and hands will eventually lead to hypothermia.
        The horrors facing those soldiers are perfect conditions for the Nulands and Blinkens of the world to experience firsthand.

  5. Amfortas the hippie

    “…The dearth of jobs for departing Ukraine women is leading to a big increase in sex trafficking and prostitution….”

    it occurs to me that this is a great opportunity for preening, yelling at deplorables and overthetop virtue signalling.

    also, a couple of questions:
    1. is it still the case that Russia is leaving the westbound trains alone, for to facilitate evacuation?

    and 2….a sort of relevant question.
    i taught myself to read Latin…and found that i could then read italian and spanish newspapers with relative ease. my question is: does the same phenomenon of mutual intelligibility obtain in slavic languages…ie: russian/Ukr(answered affirmatively already some time ago), Polish, Czechy, etc etc?
    i’m 1/4 Czech, and despite my rudimentary efforts, can’t make heads or tails out of it, spoken or written…same with Polish.

    1. Stephen T Johnson

      With the slavic languages, there’s the added complication of alphabets – East slavs use Cyrillic, west slavs Latin, with the south slavs split (As I understand it, Serbian and Croat are +/- the same language when spoken, but written in different alphabets)
      My experience as a kinda sorta Russian speaker, I can manage in Belarussian, but find Ukrainian a very hard slog and can only pick out some words in Polish. YMMV

      1. David

        Yes, there was (maybe still is) a taxi-rank in Sarajevo where half of the Mercedes taxis, owned by the Muslim Mafia, had “Taxi” on their signs, and the other half, owned by the Serb Mafia had “Taxi” in Cyrillic. And I do mean “half”: there was a dividing line between the two queues.

        1. The Rev Kev

          People can learn to share. Once saw a church that sat on the Protestant-Catholic “border” in Germany and the border ran right up the middle of a village with Catholics on one side and Protestants on the other. It was said that it was only during WW2 that you started to have the first marriages with young people across that street. But there was only the one church so through mutual agreement, the Catholic and Protestant services were held at different times. It worked.

    2. John Beech

      Somehow, I can’t imagine standing on a street corner is a situation where language matters beyond the universal terms for negotiating sex. I feel terrible for this and despair for people in this circumstance. But we have a considerable amount of it homegrown otherwise known as human trafficking.

      That said, governments do what they perceive to be in the own interests and after WWII, and after witnessing the Bolshevic revolution that gave birth to Lenin and then Stalin, the monied class had no illusions where their interests lay vice stamping Communism out. That battle continues because the MIC remains in hyperdrive and thus, perpetual war is the basis of economic growth. Subjugation of the economy came about from this, otherwise known as war profiteering. Point being, I am not even a mote in all this, and neither are you reading this, so who am I to say they’re not right?

      Anyway, circling back around to this article, it strikes me like someone has been captured propaganada-wise. An author in Russia who fancies himself a bureau chief and whatnot is only there because they like him there. Minor point, the term useful idiot comes to mind. Major point being, I like salt on my eggs and rarely take things at face value when served up with such dispatch. Why? Experience.

      So despite not even being a pimple on the flea’s back standing on the elephant, my interests align with my country’s – the USA – and I reject a fair bit if not all of this for what it is. Influence peddling.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        First, Helmer has made clear he has not been in Russia for many years, so your assumptions about him are totally wrong. See this post:

        In my case I’ve been driven into exile more than once. The current one is lasting the longest. This is the one from Moscow, which began with my expulsion by the Foreign Ministry on September 28, 2010. The official sentence is Article 27(1) of the law No. 114-FZ — “necessary for the purposes of defence capability or security of the state, or public order, or protection of health of the population.” The reason, a foreign ministry official told an immigration service official when they didn’t know they were being overheard, was: “Helmer writes bad things about Russia.”

        Second, your comment is a long-form exercise in bias. You make clear you don’t like what Helmer is saying but you can’t even begin to refute what he says….which BTW is sourced, and the sources are nearly all Ukrainian and Polish. Instead, this is a long form whinge/ad hominem attack.

        I really should not have approved this comment since it violates house rules and is ZERO value added. I will not approve any further comments by you that are so far below our standards.

        1. Tertium Squid

          You see he says “from Moscow”, and not from Russia. This also squares with the bio he maintains on his website.

          John Helmer is 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. He first set up his bureau in 1989, making him today the doyen of the foreign press corps in Russia.

      2. Jay

        Minor point, the term useful idiot comes to mind.

        Then perhaps, given that your attack is pure ad hominem, you should consider getting it printed on a t shirt??? Or tattooed on your forehead?

        …Helger made a sustained argument using facts and logic. You’re free to challenge either and doing so might even be helpful. But just calling people idiots because you disagree makes you look a fool. Especially when the core of the argument is that winter warfare with no logistics or medical evacuation will be a nightmare. Are you denying that the Ukrainian winter is cold? Or are you saying that lying in an overcrowded improvised hospital without medical supplies is going to be fun and will raise morale???

      3. Anon

        The irony of you accusing someone of being a useful idiot… after you assert first, your ignorance, and then your blind loyalty. At least they were useful.

        1. John Beech

          Yes, that’s it boiled down . . . my country right or wrong.

          That, and I recognize propaganda when I read it. And his is propaganda that doesn’t favors my country’s interests. Kindly reference the first line. It was uttered through the keyboard, with pride. Yes, I acknowledge it makes me a useful idiot as well. But I know where I stand, and it’s not with those against the USA or her interests.

          1. John Merryman

            What if various of those welding political power in the United States do not have the long term interests of the United States at heart. Can you discern the difference and why it might be of consequence?
            The fact is that life is complicated and being able to see beyond simple black/white, us/them distinctions is necessary for an informed citizenry and therefore democracy.
            Otherwise you qualify as a serf.

          2. The Rev Kev

            ‘those against the USA or her interests’

            Late to reply to this comment but do you mean those against the people of the USA or her interests or do you mean those against the oligarchy running the USA or their interests? I am sure that you have noticed that they are not one and the same but are even in direct conflict with each other.

          3. Yves Smith Post author

            Help me. You seriously believe the US has a legitimate interest in Ukraine? That Russia was an enemy of the US before we made damned sure she was by threatening her with regime change and national disembowelment?

            You are really clueless. Putin made a very earnest go at having good relations with the West. All he wanted was for Russia to be treated like any other country and engage in international commerce.

          4. Daniil Adamov

            I think that is entirely fair, however, as others point out, the interests of the US government and the USA as a nation are not always aligned – no more than the interests of Russia and the Russian government. All nations have their own interests which often do not align, but I think both our governments are clearly interested in exaggerating our conflicts, since they benefit from them.

    3. Exile

      Yes – most Slavs can (mostly) understand each other sorta like Spanish-Italian – or maybe like a Scot communicating in with a Texan

      And of course all orthodox Slavs can communicate in church Slavonic

    4. hk

      My sense is that it varies: according to acquaintances (no real firsthand knowledge–I found Western Slavic languages to be completely mysterious myself), you can sort of manage Polish if you speak Slovak, and vice versa. Czech and Slovak make quite a bit of sense to each other. But Czech and Polish are much less compatible. Not sure if there’s a lot of politics being projected here, though–Czech-Polish relationship, historically, has not been cordial, but Slovaks and Poles have been at least okay with each other.

  6. The Rev Kev

    As a data point, I see that Estonia has already put a “We’re Full!” sign at their border-

    ‘Estonia will not be able to handle a possible new influx of refugees from Ukraine and expects other EU nations, such as Finland, to accommodate them, Prime Minister Kaja Kallas has said. Tallinn already has a tentative agreement with Helsinki on the issue, she stated on Tuesday in a radio interview.

    Kallas expressed pride in the generosity shown by her nation toward Ukrainians since the start of the conflict with Russia, but added: “everything has its limit, and once we are no longer able to accept people because we ran out of housing and jobs, then others will do more.”’

    Finland has already agreed to take some of these refugees but the Estonians have woken up to the fact that that they have lost track of how many refugees are in country and where they all are.

    And this is before there are any further waves of refugees coming from the Ukraine.

    1. nippersdad

      She is wonderful! That is the sort of thing that I expected when we were sending money to people like AOC when she was first running for office. They have been a huge disappointment.

      1. Colonel Smithers

        Thank you, both.

        Her partner and fellow MEP, Mick Wallace, and other MEPs in their left wing grouping are also good. They “make good trouble”. They are also good at skewering the often pompous, hypocritical and ill informed officials and other MEPs in Q&A and debates.

  7. David

    Helmer is absolutely right to point to problems with medical evacuation. Even at Stalingrad, the Germans had an airstrip about twenty kilometres back, from which the seriously wounded could be flown to a proper hospital for treatment. Here, so far as I can see, that’s not even a possibility. Field hospitals can do a lot (in the Falklands the British hospital treated wounded of both sides and never lost a patient) but you need a constant supply of drugs and medical equipment, power and a sterile environment, as well, of course, as trained personnel. I’m not even sure the UA have field hospitals. Particularly given the conditions, I think we’re going to find that basically any UA soldier who is seriously injured is going to die. It wouldn’t surprise me to find that the final survived/dead ratio among casualties is close to 1/1, not because so few people are wounded but because so many of the wounded die.

    The nearest equivalent to these circumstances, especially with the weather, would be the Western Front in WW1. There, so far as I recall, units were rotated through various stages of proximity to the front, and no unit would spend more than two weeks in the very front line. I don’t see any sign of such a policy here. Remember also that until recently sickness, entirely unrelated to combat, was a major killer of armies. In some cases it was the major killer. I can’t begin to imagine what these poor bastards must be going through.

        1. JBird4049

          It depends on the sources, but everyone seems to agree that wherever the flu started, what with the overcrowded training camps, the front lines with their stress, cold, often wet, soldiers, and the often malnourished civilian communities behind them especially at the rail stations and in Eastern Europe itself…

          The disease likely did start in Kansas, traveled by train and troopship to World War One Europe with its vulnerable population to then expand and become deadlier. Then to the rest of the world.

          1. Kouros

            The secret ingredient was the fact that the Army muzzled public health officials and kept a lid on the situation, at least in the beginning, since it wanted bodies shipped to Europe, alive or dead.

            1. The Rev Kev

              Woodrow Wilson was faced with that very question. Shipping American troops aboard transports that would lead to many of them getting sick and more than a few going over the side. Or ignoring the immediate demand for troops in Europe. So he chose the former and ordered them sent.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Re your 1:1 point, I’ve been arguing that for a bit and so am gratified to see you’ve independently come to similar conclusions. The other factor arguing for an out-of-band death rate is the intensity of the shelling.

      Not that this is good for Ukraine, it’s more horrible but points to the additional costs of our “all propaganda all the time” approach to this war and the lack of actual reporting. It weirdly winds up favoring Russia continuing to prosecute the war. As you might have seen from our link to a Patrick Lancaster video where he interviews a handful of Russian, there’s a lot of ambivalence about the war. No one likes it even if they accept the necessity. And some are not happy about having to kill Ukrainians, who they correctly see as forced by their (corrupt) government to fight.

      Sergey Shoigu reported in early Sept that Ukraine deaths were 61,000 v. 49,000 injure. I was gobsmacked but as I thought I realized that was plausible.

      1. Greg

        1/1, or Shoigu’s suggested 1.24/1 even more, is horrific and yet makes a sort of sense in the specific context.
        If light wounds are treated and rotated back to the front, and heavy wounds are fatal, gradually everyone dies and very few wounded remain.
        If it was already like that in September, winter is going to turn it to as David says, WW1 Western Front. Trenches that are easier just covered over as impromptu mass graves because they’re so full of corpses.

    2. Keith Newman

      @David, 9:25 am, re “until recently sickness, entirely unrelated to combat, was a major killer of armies. In some cases it was the major killer.”
      Indeed. A horrifying example regarding “…the Crimean War (1854-56) … between Russia on one side and Britain, France and Turkey on the other, and in which it is estimated that over 600,000 men perished, almost half a million of them of disease…” (Eric Hobsbawm, The Age of Capital 1848-1875, Vintage 1996, p. 76). It so happens I’m reading the book now.

    3. The Rev Kev

      I suppose that the only good thing is that it is so cold, that men will bleed out slower and so stand a better chance of medical treatment if they can be evacuated to a field hospital.

      1. Polar Socialist

        Unfortunately cold weakens proper coagulation by a third and causes clotting instead, which while kinda preventing bleeding also causes more problems by blocking circulation.

        Even more unfortunately wounded are much more prone to hypothermia (loss of blood, immobilization) which lessens very much their chances of survival – mostly by being an independent high risk factor that should be treated first.

      2. Greg

        Or alternatively, it’s so cold that men don’t feel small wounds and bleed out before they notice.

  8. nippersdad

    “….In Germany, Britain and Sweden, men are having a great choice of feminine and not feminist women…..”

    That paragraph was just all kinds of ick.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      The older I get the more I suspect people like Larry Summers genuinely understand the outcomes of their economic views.

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      Hate to tell you but I said more or less the same thing above but in a more PC manner. Many men do not have enlightened views. Having a subservient woman, even if via circumstances rather than via temperament, suits them fine. And they would stereotype that as feminine.

      1. Soredemos

        It’s still ick, and I say this as a man. I don’t want a doormat for a partner. That sentence is catering to a very specific, Gonzalo Lira type of sex tourist.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          I have to tell you, from my time in New York, that quite a few men who think they are mature enough to have a bona fide partner marry the non-doormat, spend 16 years arguing with her, divorce her, and marry the bimbo. Or start cheating with bimbos and the wife divorces him.

          1. Soredemos

            Sounds like boys playing at being adults then.

            ‘Non-doormat’ does not at all automatically equate to ‘you argue all the time’. Some people just aren’t compatible. It’s entirely possible to find someone who isn’t a completely subservient submissive, but who you also get along with.

            1. Yves Smith Post author

              Did you read what I wrote? I made the caveat of the men having overestimated their personal maturity. If if is a matter of not being compatible, they usually divorce in four years or less, when the sexual heat starts to fade (studies on that, BTW)

              As many of my women friends have discussed, the substantial majority of men expect women to do for them and I don’t just mean sexually. All sorts of surveys show how even in working couples with the wife as a substantial earner, men don’t do even close to half their share of chores or child duty. Men also take very badly to having a wife who earns more than they do. So the underlying assumptions and behaviors are far less egalitarian than you posit.

                1. Yves Smith Post author

                  Marriage is also much less a thing among younger age groups. Marriage imposes much stronger role expectations.

                  See the decline in marriage since 1990:


                  And as you can see from this older Pew chart, the 1990 level is down from the 1980s level….a full decade after the sexual revolution, so it can’t be attributed to that:


      2. anahuna

        The objection is not to the fact that many men look for subservient women, but to the complacent opposition of “feminist’ and “feminine.” To my ear, it sounds as if the writer shares the view that the two are incompatible and is taking advantage of an opportunity to slam feminism. A gratuitous remark, considering the subject. He’s close to saying ‘Isn’t it lucky for men that so many Ukrainian women are desperate.’

        1. Jeff

          You’re reading words on a screen that a stranger typed. All due respect, you should assume nothing.

          1. anahuna

            Following your advice would wipe out the entire field of literary criticism and most political commentary too — possibly a good thing, but certainly a form of suppression.

            1. Daniil Adamov

              I think we would all do well to voluntarily abstain from making hasty assumptions. Granted, I am not sure if it is always practicable or possible. But in the context of an idle discussion, it could cut down on a lot of nonsense. (No offense intended – I can see where you are coming from there, and I did get a similar vibe from it myself, though I am not sure that it necessarily invalidates the observation.)

        2. Sergey P

          Well, it does SOUND terrible. But is it not a cynical, yet very realist perspective? Eastern European women tend to try hard to make themselves attractive, at least from what I have observed. One could argue that is a logical incentive in an economic model where men tend to provide for a family, rather then contribute their half-ish share. Attractiveness becomes one of the key traits for female success then.

          So in the end it does result in more attraction being created. Doesn’t mean happiness or some such, that is a wildly more complicated matter. But at least initially that would feel desirable an outcome for quite some men.

          It does sound awfully transactional and evo-bio, but it does not contradict my observations.

          1. The Rev Kev

            ‘Eastern European women tend to try hard to make themselves attractive’

            Heard a Russian saying yesterday – which I do not know if it is true or not – that Russian girls are born with high heels on already.

            1. Sergey P

              Never heard that one to be honest. But there is definitely a sentiment that Russian women do wear makeup and heels in winter for a quick grocery run. Something that is being seen as both somewhat absurd — but also praiseworthy, in contrast to more gender-neutral Europeans.

              That sentiment does tend to be somewhat lower among the city youth, naturally, all brought up on Netflix and the likes.

              Then again, the common feeling has always been that women in Ukraine are notably further along those lines, quite often being referred to as the most beautiful women in the world.

            2. nippersdad

              The Doctorow piece the other day?

              “Dressing down, coming to the opera in torn jeans and sloppy sweaters, is an unmistakable statement that the rest of the world can go to hell, that one is concerned and absorbed only with Number One.

              Not so in Russia. The old saying that Russian girls are born in high heels remains utterly true even in the midst of the present dull mood driven by the war in Ukraine.”


              That stuck in my mind as well.

          2. Daniil Adamov

            More to the point – I keep hearing that there is a demand for Eastern European women in other parts of Europe, precisely because they are more likely to meet the demand for “non-feminist feminity” among a certain type of local men than local women. Especially if they are refugees – objectively in a somewhat desperate situation compared to well-established locals. Sleazy indeed, but probably true.

            1. anahuna

              This is not a new phenomenon. Speaking of Turkey 20 years ago, there were great numbers of Russian women, known collectively as “Natashas,” and greatly appreciated by Turkish men. Some of them were probably from other Slavic countries. I’m not sure that it’s exclusively the lipstick and high heels that counted, more that they were tall, beautiful blondes.

              And if you want to go back considerably further, when looking for slaves, the Vikings prized young Russians of both genders above all others.

      3. nippersdad

        “Hate to tell you but I said more or less the same thing above but in a more PC manner.”

        I saw that, and you have mentioned your experiences in New York before. I think what struck me most about that quote was the deliberate description of interpersonal relations in terms of markets. There is a distance there which implies discomfort with sexual relations. When I see someone like that, in either sex, I immediately think there must be some kind of inferiority complex going on. From personal experience I can tell you, punch that button and you will have no idea what might come tumbling out.

        Getting back to your experiences in New York, I don’t know if you felt this way but the most insecure people I have ever met were also the wealthiest. You may have just been subjected to more of it due to a career choice which brought you into closer proximity to them.

        Eastern Europe has a very traditional culture which places high value on traditional gender roles; not very surprising insofar as reduced means require a different social contract than our own of the past fifty years. That the quote would come from someone, presumably a Westerner, is “ick making” because he(?) has had the benefit of a cultural system that is relatively free of the kinds of privations which would require sexualized gender roles. That would imply either a sociopathy or an inferiority complex that Helmer should have recognized before he used that quote, thereby lowering the value of his commentary by giving it some of his valuable real estate.

        Just a prolix way of saying that I was agreeing with you.

        1. johnherbiehancock

          I get that it’s “ick” but it IS happening and a lot of people have those views, so I think it’s helpful to the rest of us to inform on how this conflict plays out in so many ways.

          1. nippersdad

            As I say, just my opinion. If you want a deeper dive into that sort of mindset, Sorodemos, above, makes a good point about Gonzalo Lira being a good place to get it.

            I had to stop watching that guy after he decided it was important for us all to know that men and women who have never procreated are literally worthless. I think someone needs to tell him that Homo Sapiens are not exactly a rare species these days, and most of us have not found a deep-seated need to go to Ukraine in order to find congenial companionship.

  9. Alan Roxdale

    The timing of what General Patience has decided is helping the Ukronazis destroy themselves. That’s the denazification war aim.

    General patience is wasting his time. If he wants to know how long a unhinged regime can survive with foreign backing, look to North Korea. It’s more likely Ukraine will turn into Liberia before the current junta backers lose interest.

    Far more likely the EU will crack, or at least try to crack over its energy and refugee crises. But I also regard this possibility as low. The Thatcherites on the continent too will simply not give a shit about what is happening to their economies or social order. I expect only ridiculously gauche faux pas like the Norwegian comment in the article (citiation needed btw).

    Along the refugee lines, I think the parallel is going to be the Palestinian diaspora after the six-day war. A problem which will not go away no matter how hard it is tried to be ignored. We will be seeing Ukrainian flags all over the continent for some time I think. General Patience should think about getting married to Madame Parsimony.

    1. Jay

      Ukraine isn’t North Korea – there isn’t that sort of control over information or centralisation of authority. It’s much more like South Vietnam – but not identical. Power is split between the formal government, extremists, the military, and oligarchs. And, yes, various foreign groups via proxies – including, let’s not forget, the Russians. Almost anything is possible.

    2. Karl

      But I also regard this possibility [EU cracking] as low.

      It seems the EU is starting to crack already.

      You seem to under-estimate the economic and political implications of this high refugee flow into a weakened European economy amid deep pre-existing political strife over immigration in general.

      Ethnic conflects between Poles, Ruthenes, Hungarians and Jews are legion in the 20th century and not forgotten in Central Europe. So, yes, they are blond but ethnicity may be a more important factor in their ability to assimilate.

      Local women may not appreciate so many Ukrainian women and kids competing for limited childcare, aid support infrastructure and the available single men. Poland’s MSM is championing the plight of the refugees, but reportedly attitudes on the street are getting meaner. This will get much worse over time.

      If Putin’s goal is to weaken NATO and the EU (why not?) General Patience is his most valuable warrior. All the West can do is watch in horror what Scott Ritter calls “the death of an independent Ukraine.”

      Maybe also, we’ll witness the death of a unified Europe/NATO.

    3. hk

      North Korea survived because of a million Chinese communist “volunteers” in addition to the Soviet arms, enough that, between the end of 1950 and the end of the war, the communist army was largely Chinese. Unless the bulk of the alleged Ukrainian army is already Polish-Lithuanian, I don’t think the analogy is apt.

  10. Colonel Smithers

    Thank you and well said, David.

    My father, an RAF doctor, served in the Falklands and first (second? for Iraq) gulf war and echoes what you say.

    One of his comrades in the Falklands, the late Surgeon Captain Rick Jolly, was decorated by both sides and allowed / authorised by the commander in chief, HM Queen Elizabeth, to wear his Argentine decoration.

    1. fresno dan

      All Ice
      Incredible – it really shows that conformist dogma is how the MSM rolls. You can look at CNN and MSNBC and see that ?50%? of their commentators are former FBI, CIA and other related agency employees – of course, it begs the question of how many CNN and MSNBC employees are actually current FBI and CIA employees…

    2. John Wright

      One wonders what Zelensky’s next act will be.

      It seems inconceivable that he will be a welcomed presence in the crippled “Rump State of Ukraine”.

      Given all the surviving Ukrainians who had watched their relatives killed, infrastructure destroyed and families torn apart as a result of Zelensky’s currying favor with Europe/USA elite, Zelensky might be the “Most Despised Man of the Year 2023” and looking for a safe harbor.

      I’d imagine Ukraine won’t be the place.

    3. Yves Smith Post author

      Hitler and Stalin were also Man of the Year. So this may age differently than Time intends. Recall similarly the cringe-making SBF Lunch with the FT, what, about six months before the collapse?

  11. Peace&Justice

    China Arab Summit appears to preparing an announcement of switching to the Petro-Yuan on Friday. This should cause some new pricing issues in the market.

    The west already sees the writing on the wall and is imploding!

  12. V V Gerasimov

    Re those US casualty ratios in Iraq and Afghanistan:

    I’ve read several articles over the years about how the KIA stats were gamed by the brass to (of course!) decrease the actual numbers, both for the immediate PR effect on the domestic civilian population and to falsify the historical record.

    How the scam worked: to be “officially” counted as KIA one almost literally had to be a pile of hamburger scooped into a body bag; no way to hide the fact THAT unfortunate serviceman was dead at the scene.

    Otherwise, relatively intact bodies were rushed to a MEDEVAC plane, hooked up to medical devices, and quickly sent on their way to the Ramstein Air Base hospital. Halfway to Germany the charade was over, the tubes unplugged, and the death officially recorded as occurring “out of theater.”

    Can’t say for sure whether that reporting is 100% accurate, but it certainly sounds plausible — especially given how the US military bureaucracy has constantly lied to the American people, their political leaders, and even itself since at least the infamous “5 o’clock follies” and inflated VC/NVA “body counts” of the Vietnam war…..

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Memory is most attacks on US troops were in the form of concussive blasts. This doesn’t say much about the long term effects of the brain rattling around in the head, but the post Persian Gulf War helmets are otherwise “miracles”. One estimate I remember suggested the death toll from Iraq would be over 25k if they army was using the old style helmets which at the time put the death toll at a Vietnam era rate.

      Any time Western soldier would get into a firefight, air power/rescue was 15 minutes away. Surgery had undergone major developments. They simply don’t lose as much blood during surgery since the late 90’s. This is like having Zeus and Mercury on call.

      If the government was hiding anything significant, it would be noticed. Veterans groups would be all over it. They may be hiding the long term effects of the brains rattling around in skulls, but the families aren’t experiencing the same lie or wondering why Billy didn’t come home.

      I’m actually suspicious the kinds of articles you mention are probably psyops so people look for “missing soldiers” they will never find instead of the rates of homelessness and mental illness among veterans who were once reasonably put together before their brain was smashed around.

    2. The Rev Kev

      A Russian officer at that time said that wounded Americans were being sent to Cyprus to hide the actual number of casualties. Could very well be.

  13. XXYY

    Unreported in the Ukrainian media, or the western press, is the desexualization of the Ukraine, except for Lvov. To resupply the army, the Zelensky government has imposed a prohibition on men leaving the country. … The stream of Ukrainian refugees reported in Poland are predominantly women and children.

    I have seen no outrage in the media over the fact that only one gender is being selected for compulsory injury and death, while the other gender is being allowed and even encouraged to escape the situation.

    Evidently the most blatant and horrifying sexism is unremarkable to even the most woke media in this particular case.

    1. Paleobotanist

      Women of selected occupations are also barred from leaving Ukraine as they are considerable draftable.

      Actually both sexes are getting a pretty raw fate: cannon fodder vs being a refugee trying to keep weak family members alive with sex trafficking around (this always happens when a refugee. This filth always creeps out of dark corners). Being a refugee this winter will be very bad. Look around you at your relatives. Who can survive without shelter, without power in the Ukrainian winter? Not the very young, nor the old nor the ill. What will it be like watching for the women, helpless? Most of us (not all) find it worse watching a loved one suffer than suffering oneself.

      Poor Ukraine. Everyone is getting ground up. And it can get worse. Deity protect us from our masters who are sick as they always are. I pity everyone in this war: Ukrainians and Russians alike.

    2. Karl

      Unreported … is the desexualization of the Ukraine

      Interesting terminology. By implication, Poland, Germany et. al. are being demographically “sexualized”. Beyond just an uptick in sex trafficking, there are other implications of a large influx of Ukrainian women and children, including increased competition for childcare, medical care, education, etc. Local women will not appreciate the competition for available single men.

      The “sexualization” of Western Europe could alter the power balance between the sexes in ways that disadvantage local women and their children. The political ramifications extend to the “politics of the family” in many ways, not just the politics of elections.

      These will add to refugee-induced stresses that, if not addressed in a timely way, will increase division and raises the risks to political commitment to Ukraine, i.e. General Patience could wreak havoc on Western Europe.

  14. steven

    I just don’t get it. With the world on fire, why are sick puppies like Victoria Nuland and her ilk being allowed to make US foreign policy? And, of course, why are European statesmen & women following their lead, lemming-like, over the cliff? Start with Russia’s security concerns which with 27 million dead in WWII may be ancient history for those who are even aware of it. Unlike most Americans, who most likely are not, or many Germans who would prefer to forget it would seem the rest of Europe should at least be able to recognize those security concerns as legitimate.

    I thought this post about ‘General Patience’ was going to be about Putin and Russia’s leaders putting up with the constant stream of broken promises and undercover coups since 1989, not just military strategies. The West’s and particularly the US professional managerial class deserve particular opprobrium for their management of consent, i.e. the constant stream of lies, misrepresentations and legal sophistries that threaten not just the survival of human civilization but the credibility of ‘the system’ of power and privilege they are trying so desperately to preserve.

    Those ‘noble lies’ they have been using turn out to have been not so noble nor very wise. Whether it is the CDC’s initial pronouncements on masking or the covert involvement in Ukraine that has turned the country over to Russia-hating neo-Nazis, they have undermined the trust so essential to shoring up the institutions essential to preserving even a corrupt social order. And they have set the stage for self-serving opportunists like Trump, who only has to expose one or two of those ‘noble lies’ to acquire a reputation as a truth-teller.

    1. Daniil Adamov

      “With the world on fire, why are sick puppies like Victoria Nuland and her ilk being allowed to make US foreign policy?”

      Because the outcomes of the US foreign policy are not a life-or-death question for the US or its elite? They feel they can afford to blunder around indefinitely, probably with good reason, sitting as they do oceans away from any country that might pose a conceivable threat and with one of the world’s largest nuclear arsenals.

  15. Eclair

    So, when the dust settles and Ukraine is effectively depopulated, who will have control of all that prime agricultural land? Or does it even matter.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      -deindustrialization, and a long term deindustrialization.
      -infrastructure damage and cut off from the suppliers of replacement parts; everything has to be new and brought in by countries who are more interested in themselves than the Ukraine rump.
      -weapons aplenty.
      -nearby alternative markets. Even if the Ukraine was in relatively decent shape, it would be competing with a rising power like Turkey in the long run.

      With Germany and Japan, they rebuilt in a significantly less built up world and had quite a bit of know how already on what to do. Except for the US, the competition was colonies and a bled out UK and France with problems in their colonial empires. I think the post- colonial experience of so many countries in the Americas is probably more realistic and probably much worse as there is such a diversity of products in the modern world.

      1. Polar Socialist

        Parts of Ukraine are already being reconstructed, like Mariupol. I assume the long term Russian plan is to make their version of Ukraine better than the current has been. Not out of spite or to show off, but to prove that a friendship with Russia pays off – to win minds and hearts.

        Which, I’ve been told, is not a high standard to reach. As the Crimean governor said about the truck-bomb on the bridge: “Let them [Kiev] rejoice, it’s the first time they actually managed to do anything for this region!”

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          The locals are deemed to be Russian citizens now and will be part of the Russian economy and play by their rules. They won’t be dependent on largess of Poland or people in the US who are worried the Russians will march on Toronto, the capital of Canada :) any day now. Putin and the Duma have a different set of incentives. I’m not sure Moscow would take on too much. As for private enterprises, they won’t do anything other than resource extraction.

        2. Karl

          Excellent point–Russian missiles as harbingers of the urban renewal to come….. Something to bring hope to Ukraine.

          If I were Putin, I’d commence leaflet-drops now to win hearts and minds, e.g. with glossy “before” and “after” photos of Mariupol…..

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      The prime land is east of the Dnieper and not where the combat is taking place.

      There is also agriculture in the West but the highly productive black soil is many in the east, west of Donbass to the Dnieper.

  16. Willow

    There is another good reason for Russia to be patient and apply the meat grinder. Biggest risk for Russia after capturing territory will be West coordinated insurgency. Which I suspect was a major part of the UK/USA game plan from the beginning. A meat grinder approach has the second order advantage for Russia of removing many of the likely insurgents from the playing field.

    1. Jay

      No, there is zero risk of a significant insurgency. The population in the areas the Russians are after is strongly pro Russian. And the Russians won’t have any qualms about “encouraging” the easily identifiable disgruntled minority – the non Russian speakers – to leave. Also the “occupation” forces will be mostly natives like the current Donbas militia, who have done a lot of the fighting against Western ukranian forces. So even if you attritted some of them in an insurgency, you’d just be reducing Russian *gains* in military manpower…

      This isn’t Afghanistan. Perhaps some usian think tank types are insane enough not to understand that, but no British military officer would imagine an insurgency is possible- the British army has specialised in this sort of operation for literally two centuries. This would be like the Northern Ireland campaign…. Only without the need to protect the catholic minority from the Protestants. You just stand back and watch the blood flow if the minority makes trouble.

  17. Doug Graves

    Anybody who served in the Canadian military probably spent time in the Arctic where -50C temperatures were very common and lasted for weeks. Despite having the very best gear available it does wear on you over time. Going to the toilet, having to shed layer after layer until presenting was arduous. Also the loss of calories living in sub-zero temperatures makes maintaining weight difficult. Russia is smart; they are entrenched, resupplied and secure. This winter will be difficult for Ukrainian forward units.

  18. Exiled_in_Boston

    For how many months now have we been hearing from the commentators about the imminent collapse of Ukraine?

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Straw man. No one until the attacks on the power grid. The parts of Ukraine with no power will collapse, and that is a result Russia can inflict.

      There was premature discussion, which BTW included a prediction from the Pentagon that Ukraine’s military would fall within days of the Russian invasion (they had assumed a big hammer, not Putin’s minimize civilian harm approach), then amplified by military types like Scott Ritter. After the initial Russian campaign, even with what amounted to a peace-time expeditionary force, was gaining gradually despite very heavy fortifications, and inflicting unsustainably high manpower and materiel costs on Ukraine, US and NATO essentially built a second Ukraine army by supplying pretty close to a full set of weapons to replace the ones they ran through and have also participated heavily in training and providing mercs and “volunteers” that have been sheep-dipped as Ukrainian fighters (Russia picks up comms chatter and has found of late that as many as 70% of the unit members are foreign, usually Poles and Romanians).

      You’ve repeatedly straw manned us and/or readers and Made Shit Up. These are violations of our written Site Policies.

      I trust you will find your happiness on the Internet elsewhere.

      1. Jay

        Douglas Macgregor is another name worth mentioning.

        I think Putin’s strategy is now clear: he couldn’t afford a blood bath in the early stages of the war because it would have alienated Russian opinion. So he made a demonstration attack on Kiev to encourage negotiations or regime change, with the secondary benefit of forcing ukraine to move forces from the east.

        When that didn’t work he shifted back to the east. This was pre-planned – you don’t move entire armies that quickly otherwise- and shifted to a meat grinder artillery driven war. This kept his casualties low, didn’t require a larger force, and suited the terrain-weather – heavy vehicles have limited mobility in the very deep soft soil except in winter.

        Most importantly of all, this gave time for the Russian population to get angry at the ukranians. So they’re now ready to accept a large number of Ukrainian deaths, which would have been problematic earlier. Meanwhile pro western elements at home have been weakened. So have the oligarchs who were his main internal threat, because they’ve lost the assets they keep in the west.

        Honestly, the man is very, very good. I’d never been that impressed with him before, but this is Bismarck level stuff. And the fast troop redeployment and sustained artillery campaign, which required vast quantities of ammunition, show that it was planned rather than improvised.

        Also note that he’s kept his airforce largely back, so it’s ready to fight NATO if it has to.

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