Biden Authorizes Ukraine to Make “Limited” Strikes on Russia With US Weapons

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As the pundit classes have been consumed with the implications of the 34 count conviction of Donald Trump in New York, the Biden Administration has authorized crossing a big Russia red line, that of using US (and other foreign) weapons to hit targets in Russia. The New York Times’ version of the decision:

The decision by the Biden administration to allow Ukraine to strike inside Russia with American-made weapons fulfills a long-held wish by officials in Kyiv that they claimed was essential to level the playing field
The shift in policy followed declarations from nearly a dozen European governments and Canada that their weapons could be used to fire into Russia.

Freed from those constraints, Ukraine can strike into Russia with SCALP missiles from France and, potentially soon, the identical Storm Shadow missiles supplied by Britain. Although the British foreign minister, David Cameron, said on May 3 that Ukraine should be able to attack Russia with Western weapons, London has not yet given its full permission…

The SCALP and Storm Shadow missiles have a range of about 150 miles and are fired from Ukraine’s aging fleet of Soviet-designed fighter jets.

Several countries — Britain, Germany, Norway and the United States — have given Ukraine ground-based launchers that can fire longer-range missiles. Those systems are known as HIMARS and MLRS launchers, and they can also shoot the American-made Army Tactical Missile Systems, or ATACMS, which have a range of up to 190 miles.

However, in disclosing the new policy, U.S. officials said their policy would not permit the use of ATACMS or long-range missiles that can strike deep into Russia. Germany also has so far refused to donate its Taurus missile, with a range of 310 miles, in part out of concern that it would be fired deep into Russia and escalate the war. It is now even less likely to do so, Rafael Loss, a weapons expert at the European Council on Foreign Relations, said in an interview on Thursday.

Additionally, Britain, Canada and the United States have supplied Ukraine with medium-range missiles or ground-based small diameter bombs that can reach into Russia from 50 to 90 miles away.
But the new authorizations may have their greatest impact in the war for air superiority — especially if the allies allow their donated jets and drones to attack within Russia’s air space.

On Friday, the Dutch foreign minister said Ukraine could use the 24 F-16 fighter jets that the Netherlands has pledged to fly into Russian territory on war missions.

And from a Politico exclusive, Biden secretly gave Ukraine permission to strike inside Russia with US weapons (note the Times does not credit Politico and Politico oddly has this story way below the fold):

The Biden administration has quietly given Ukraine permission to strike inside Russia — solely near the area of Kharkiv — using U.S.-provided weapons, three U.S. officials and two other people familiar with the move said Thursday, a major reversal that will help Ukraine to better defend its second-largest city.

If I were cynical, I would see this as a pretext of more of the same elsewhere. Putin said Russia has no immediate designs on Kharkiv. Kharkiv is a big sprawling city. Taking it would require a lot of resources. Zelensky nevertheless seems to have devoted an excessive amount of his dwindling resources to defending it, when Russia would be better served to bypass it for now if it wanted to move further into Ukraine, say to cut more supply lines. If Russia wanted to increase the intensity of the war and accelerate the attrition, the more obvious way would be to elongate the front even further by moving forces into Sumy. Russia may have even planned to do so but is now holding back to see how the latest episode of NATO derangement plays out.

Keep in mind that the pretense that these are somehow Ukraine weapons because they are being allocated to Ukraine for use is a canard. Ukraine depends on its Western backers for targeting information. Most experts believe that even the operation is done substantially if not entirely by little green men from the Collective West. These are complex systems and it’s not plausible that Ukrainian soldiers could have been trained to a level to deploy them independently. Putin addressed the issue long-form in an interview earlier this week, suggesting that NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg must have developed dementia to suggest otherwise. He also warned that this move could stoke a “world wide conflict” as in Russia might respond by striking US military assets in other theaters.

I don’t know what the US is trying to achieve by playing this half pregnant game. On the one hand, Russia has been able to take down most long-range missiles thrown at it. For instance, Alexander Mercouris yesterday cited a fresh Ministry of Defense report that Ukraine had fired 8 ATACMS missiles at Crimea and Russia had shot all of them down. That does not mean there was not collateral damage from the falling missile or anti-aircraft missiles. And as Mercouris likes to stress, this is a game of odds, with some missiles like to get through now and again.

On the one hand, the Times included the Dutch F-16s in its weapons list. That should actually be reassuring to the Russians as an empty threat. Scott Ritter has said that any pilot who flew them against Russia has only 20% odds of returning alive. They would be detected almost immediately upon takeoff and aggressively targeted. F-16s also require golf green runaways to take off. Ukraine does not have any that are up to snuff and Russia would quickly strike any runways that Ukraine managed to bring up to the needed standard. That then lead to the next issue, that Russia has said that any country that launches an attack against Russia, and that would include allowing pretend Ukraine F-16s to take off from airbases in Poland or Romania, would put that country at war with Russia and subject it to return strikes. It does not appear that Romania or Poland have yet decided to go there.

On the other, if NATO members in the guise of being Ukraine do hit something non-trivial in Russia, and odds favor that happening, what does Russia do then? Even though some have criticized Russian forbearance as a sign of weakness, I would hazard that Russia, and many of its allies, recognize that the US is run by reckless incompetents who act as if nuclear war is no big deal. Admittedly, Aurelian in his must-read NATO’s Phantom Armies has explained long-form that NATO is institutionally incapable of mounting any kind of meaningful operation against Russia even if it could get out of its own underwear (although Auerlien did not consider a less awkward “coalition of the willing”). But the western powers are still woefully short of men and weapons. And NATO’s or a NATO subset’s disparate weapons systems creates a logistical nightmare.

So a conventional military escalation is self-limiting even if it were attempted. The risk is nuclear war, say the US trundling a submarine over to Russia’s east coast and thinking it would be a dandy idea to lob a tactical nuke into Siberia. This bunch is loony enough to do that.

I don’t think Russia will need to do anything unless and until one of these newly authorized weapons does real damage in Russia. Failed attempts work to Russia’s advantage even if they are nervous-making. But if the West were to land a blow, Russia’s best move, despite the gratification of making a tit-for-tat response and hitting a NATO target, would be to greatly accelerate its destruction of the Ukraine electrical system. Russia probably by now has several variants worked out. Destroying more of the grid now would of course make a lot of military operations more difficult, and would increase the movement of refugees into Europe, which would in particular not make Polish citizens very happy.

Needless to say, at this point, all we can do is speculate about yet another dangerous escalation that (assuming no nuclear war) won’t change the outcome of the war. So keep watching what transpires.


1 From the Kremlin website:

With regard to the strikes, frankly, I am not sure what the NATO Secretary General is talking about. When he was the Prime Minister of Norway, we communicated and addressed challenging issues concerning the Barents Sea and other issues, and generally, we were able to come to terms, and I am positive he was not suffering from dementia back then. If he is talking about potentially attacking Russia’s territory with long-range precision weapons, he, as a person who heads a military-political organisation, even though he is a civilian like me, should be aware of the fact that long-range precision weapons cannot be used without space-based reconnaissance. This is my first point.

My second point is that the final target selection and what is known as launch mission can only be made by highly skilled specialists who rely on this reconnaissance data, technical reconnaissance data. For some attack systems, such as Storm Shadow, these launch missions can be put in automatically, without the need to use Ukrainian military. Who does it? Those who manufacture and those who allegedly supply these attack systems to Ukraine do. This can and does happen without the participation of the Ukrainian military. Launching other systems, such as ATACMS, for example, also relies on space reconnaissance data, targets are identified and automatically communicated to the relevant crews that may not even realise what exactly they are putting in. A crew, maybe even a Ukrainian crew, then puts in the corresponding launch mission. However, the mission is put together by representatives of NATO countries, not the Ukrainian military.

So, these officials from NATO countries, especially the ones based in Europe, particularly in small European countries, should be fully aware of what is at stake. They should keep in mind that theirs are small and densely populated countries, which is a factor to reckon with before they start talking about striking deep into the Russian territory. It is a serious matter and, without a doubt, we are watching this very carefully.

The focus is on the developments on the outskirts of Kharkov. But they were the ones to provoke those events. I made it clear publicly, I think it was six months ago, that if they continue to target residential neighbourhoods, we will have to create a security area. Not long ago, we started doing what I said back then…..

Are they looking for a global conflict? I think they wanted to agree upon strategic arms, but we do not really see them being really eager to do so. They are talking about it but are not doing much to make it happen. We will wait and see what happens next.

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  1. Rip Van Winkle

    Anybody else planning on chllin’ at home, away from the big city next Thursday, June 6, 2 4 ?

  2. juno mas

    Yes, US political ‘leaders’ are now more vile, vicious, and vacuous as EVER!

    Does it not ever register with these folks that real human beings (mostly in Ukraine) are being slaughtered? Oh, wait…that’s also what’s happening to civilians in Gaza!

    There is no shame in America.

    1. Reply

      News cycle management, that evergreen poisonous plant native to Washington, D.C.

      Hide the bad stuff in the frothy clickbait of inflammatory stories.

      Would’ve scored 10/10 except for that trial verdict on a Thursday, instead of the time-honored Friday.

      War clock ticking closer to midnight? 🕛 Road Trip! Rehoboth Beach is lovely now.

  3. Ignacio

    What if the Russians have been “using” the attacks in Crimea with missiles as a testing program for them to check how efficient their AD systems are in real conditions?. Also, there is the possibility that they have been learning how to detect the deployment/launching sites (how fast and how accurate who knows) and for now, they have decided not to show if they can retaliate against these launching platforms and runways. But if and when these are directed against core Russia it might be not as easy as some believe. Just sayin’.

    1. hk

      There are two considerations: first, Russians would have been learning and gathering intelligence in the first place, so whether they were intentionally “using” the current attacks would not be pertinent, I think. The real challenge is that, well, Russia is huge and has a lot of potential targets. Crimea is fairly heavily defended, in terms of the density of pertinent equipment. I doubt Russia will be able to adequately defend more than a relative handful of high priority targets so there will be plenty of “soft targets” to hit, if NATO were to go ahead with open attacks. If so, the only thing that’d stop the attacks is if the NATO no longer has the ability (i.e. means to command/control/guide/etc) the missile attacks are destroyed) or the supplies of missiles to Ukraine are completely interdicted. Probably the latter route is what Russia will try next, which, in turn, will leave NATO to contemplate attacking Russia directly from NATO countries…then the Age of Mammals may well be over.

      1. Amfortas the Hippie

        late to this party…been bein a farmer.
        i wonder how well usa legions…land, sea and air…could function without certain objects in orbit?
        specifically, in geolocation.
        (minds a funny old thang,lol…i can remember Glossnass, but not our own)
        are there contingency plans for that?
        if not, why not?
        did we expect to just be the big boss man forever?(seems rather likely)
        what effect would the removal of GPS(digger in mind caught up) have a measurable effect on the already poor performance of usa/nato?

        i know, i know…they and china and india etc have stuff up there…and kessler event, and all…but still.

        1. sarmaT

          I can’t answer your questions completly, but can give some hints.

          There have been reports that (in)famous CAESAR self-propelled howitzer does not have manual mode at all. It requires GPS for ballistic calculations needed to fire regular rounds. Also, US Excalibur guided shells are no longer delivered to Ukraine, reportedly, because Russian GPS jamming has rendered them inaccurate. They are still sending HIMARS ammo, though.

          On the other hand, on videos of Russian artillery working you can see the guy setting up a tripod, and looking trough an old-scholl thingamajig (Артиллерийская буссоль, artillery compass). I wanted to post a link to Wikipedia page but there isn’t one in English, only in Russian and Ukrainian. :)

          did we expect to just be the big boss man forever?(seems rather likely)

          Yes you did. You named it “The End of History”. Yes, really.

      2. Tannhaeuser

        Read carefully what the Kremlin said above. Quote:

        So, these officials from NATO countries, especially the ones based in Europe, particularly in small European countries, should be fully aware of what is at stake. They should keep in mind that theirs are small and densely populated countries, which is a factor to reckon with before they start talking about striking deep into the Russian territory. It is a serious matter and, without a doubt, we are watching this very carefully.

  4. GC54

    Thank you for posting the lucid footnote, because Spectrum ISP of course blocks anything from

    1. JL

      I’m a Spectrum customer as well, and was (naively) surprised that I couldn’t access I did a traceroute to, and it appears the trace got as far as, which is owned by Vodafone in the UK. So perhaps the shenanigans are happening over there ?

      1. hardscrabble

        I’m also a spectrum isp customer. It took minutes to come up and it could not confirm a secure connection; but I seem to get the full page. They’re trying our patience?

  5. hk

    The real danger, I think, is that NATO is in fact incapable of doing something “organized.” It does not preclude NATO from being able to inflict real damage, the kind of damage that can’t be left unaddressed by russia. Rather, it ensures that such attacks will be carried out thoughtlessly and carelessly since no one will be in “control” as such. So you can start a chain of catastrophic events without being aware that that is in fact what’s taking place.

    I don’t think it would matter how severe Russian retaliation on “Ukraine” is: it won’t be causing the Western elites who are bumbling through this to wake up because it won’t hurt them–only those quasi-Russians (i.e. Ukrainians) whom they don’t care about. So the only response that Russia can undertake that matters is on “Ukrainian targets” in Western Europe and North America (spinning around Baerbock’s and Stoltenberg’s excuse that the NATO weapons in Ukrainian hands are Ukrainian weapons and none of their business–if the assets are being used for allegedly Ukrainian military operations, they are no longer American or French or whatever, but Ukrainian, even if they are located in Western Europe or North America. Targets in Poland where NATO arms and personnel are transiting on the way to Ukraine (e.g. Rzeszow) have been mentioned by Russian government figures, so that’s probably the next step, were “serious” attacks that are openly carried to take place.

    1. Polar Socialist

      Mr. Medvedev today addressed NATO (Telegram, in Russian) stating that it can’t hide behind “individual members”. And said directly that NATO better start preparing for Article IV and V consultations, for they may be needed soon.

      Maybe Europe just is due for another big one. It is a historical fact that military alliances cause war way more often than prevent it (I’m looking at you, NATO).

      1. hk

        I suspect that he is right. If Russia responds to alleged “Ukrainian” attacks by taking out “Ukrainian” transit points in Poland with conventional weapons (with the hints that the next wave will be tactical nuclear weapons,) will NATO members dare try to invoke Article V and actually do something about it (I mean, they are not a party to this war since the targets are “Ukrainian,” right?)? If the stories about NATO air defenses are true (i.e. there’s nothing worth speaking of, b/c they have all been shipped to Ukraine), there will be nothing stopping missiles falling on Berlin, Paris, or London.

        1. AG

          RU will not strike NATO territory.
          Putin has ruled this out. And it makes no sense.
          It´s what everybody in NATO wants. But that´exactly the idiotic trap.
          That´s NATO´s only hope to conduct a Roman-style “bellum iustum”.
          They are desperately “pining” for it.
          But it would only make things worse.
          Since it would certainly NOT stop NATO.
          And the RUs are very well aware of this.
          In this case Medvedev peforms as the frontman to absorb RU public sentiment.

          1. Ingolf Eide

            “RU will not strike NATO territory.
            Putin has ruled this out. And it makes no sense.”

            AG, whether it makes sense or not, are you sure about this? I have the impression Russia has made it clear that if attacks on Russian territory are launched from non-Ukrainian territory, the source of those attacks becomes a legitimate target . . . in effect, a co-belligerent.

            1. AG

              Legitimate question and issue, sure.
              I was referring to the current situation without such a scenario.
              However I don´t think RU would strike Western territory.
              What difference would it make?
              This is the underlying problem: How are therapists supposed to react to maniacs? Stay calm. Don´t strike. This is the RU position.

              p.s. The US had a secret nuclear posture advisory by STRATCOM in 1995, which suggested the US should act like a crazy person when it came down to waving with the use of WMDs .

              The RU have been familiar with this kind of razor-dancing by the US for a very long time. Most incidents we don´t know about. We can be sure of that. (SSBNS acting crazy, US-bombers with provocations. Mostly as deliberate stress tests on the enemy.)

              The document is here:

              It says e.g.

              “(…) We must be ambiguous about details of our response (or preemption) if what we value is threatened, but it must be clear that our actions would have terrible consequences (…) While it is crucial to explicitly define and communicate the acts or damage that we would find unacceptable, we should not be too specific about our responses.

              Because of the value that comes from the ambiguity of what the US may do to an adversary if the acts we seek to deter are carried out, it hurts to portray ourselves as too fully rational and cool-headed. The fact that some elements may appear to be potentially out `of control´ can be beneficial to creating and reinforcing fears and doubts within the minds of an adversary´s decision makers.

              This essential sense of fear is the working force of deterrence. That the US may become irrational and vindictive if its vital interests are attacked should be a part of the national persona we project to all adversaries. (…)”

              Sure I could be wrong. But one must consider steps 2,3,4,5 xyz.
              And there is always China in this.

              1. Ingolf Eide

                Yes, Russia’s patience over the past decade has been off the scale. Like you, I think it will hold but the rhetoric (not only Medvedev’s) sure has been heating up.

                Some of that may be Russia’s version of the “crazy person” approach. Or, perhaps more likely, hyping the volume hoping to break through the west’s profound deafness to danger.

                Russia might up the ante if we see: the relatively open insertion of Western troops à la Macron; and/or the F-16s, which would almost certainly have to fly from non-Ukrainian bases.

                The odds of the latter seem pretty high to me. The former, who knows.

                1. ISL

                  F-16s can carry nuclear armed cruise missiles, as can Taurus. I see nothing slowing the NATO escalatory escalator* except NATO itself to start paying (in blood) for its war. Russia has been quite clear that they will treat a potential nuclear attack as a nuclear attack.

                  That said, there are numerous US (and NATO) targets around the globe – many like in Syria that could be over run with plausible deniability.

                  1. AG

                    That RU might make a”statement” via a move in non-European areas seems most plausible.
                    On the other hand I don´t get why someone like NATO´s Cavoli would do such a foolish thing and make the RUs believe a nuclear attack is imminent.
                    The risk is not worth it.
                    I don´t like alarmism or exaggeration but nuclear underwater missiles like the RU-made Poseidon, I think is its name, with a 9Mt warhead are out there and can inflict enough damage on any coast.
                    Not to forget lauch-on-warning, as well as RUs dead-hand system.

                    And as Ingolf writes, yes the Medvedev (or Karaganov) statements made are indeed intended to get trough to Washington.

                    In this podcast – which I recommend despite its essential pro-US-stance – the two guys have interesting things to say about Washington D.C.


                    With Lee Slusher and Brandon Weichert (I don´t entirely appreciate Tommy´s Podcast´s style but just ignore it.)

                    D.C. used to be a rather quiet place (I can confirm this from my own visit in the 90s.) And then when after 9/11 the wars as money-laundering operations started there was an incredible influx of capital into the capital and people became richer and richer, bought real estate and displayed their wealth in an unprecedented way.

                    These folks are indeed “deaf”.

              2. Balan Aroxdale

                However I don´t think RU would strike Western territory.

                Right now they don’t need to. The western political class is dismantling the economic, social, and military capacity of its own society for them. Every day that neoliberals and their satraps remain in power, the west slips further and further from an effective military response, to Russia, China, hell to the Houthis. The smartest thing Putin could do right now is get Biden, Sunak, Schultz and Macron reelected, but there are probably limits to even the KGB’s power.

          2. Hickory

            That’s not what medvedev said at the telegram link. They will not use tactical nukes, but if it really comes down to it, they will use strategic nukes and fight to win. Of course, nobody will win then.

            1. Kalen

              That is not precisely correct. In his position paper in Russian about new concept of Russia’s security borders prepared for internal conference Medvedev clearly stated that in case of war with NATO that has superior manpower Russians will use all their long range weaponry including as he put is special munition to prevent concentration of NATO military manpower and equipment in western and central Europe or U.S. that would have been prepared to fight war with Russia. In other words Russia would hit all NATO bases in Europe and NATO related military bases in U.S.

              It is obvious that special munition are tactical and midrange nukes perhaps up to 150 kiloton that as a matter of fact are about to become legal now.

              Interestingly just today Chinese top general suddenly out of nowhere I think for the first time stated so blatantly paraphrasing that PLA stands with Russian Armed Forces against foreign aggression. That’s after North Korean generals said the same months ago.
              Or response to US allowing usage of US weapons deep in Russia.

              1. AG

                “It is obvious that special munition are tactical and midrange nukes perhaps up to 150 kiloton that as a matter of fact are about to become legal now.”

                What does that actually mean? “are about to become legal now”

          3. Kalen

            Don’t count on it. Russians not supposed to intervene in Syria or Ukraine according to all western experts. And they did. It’s supposedly been Russian and specifically Putin’s red line. I have been working in 1970s in Russia for two years I knew many Russians. They don’t bluff. They strategize, they won’t tell enemy their strategy but they won’t lie or deceive by words. What they know is game of chess not poker. It is they who want to force enemy into making own mistakes. It is in their culture. If they wanted to stop the war before it’s begun they would have obliterated Kiev regime on day one. But it was never about Ukraine but NATO from the start. Russia building 1.5 million army is not about Kiev as western experts panicked. Target is removing US hegemony from Europe as US became intransigent and belligerent.

            If Medvedev a vice Chair of National Security Council said that they have cassus beli we better believe him. Those drones that attacked four strategic nuclear installations in Russia in last two weeks were dynamically real time controlled by NATO reconnaissance and targeting satellites and AWACS with no Ukrainian input.

            Russians can now exercise that option of attacking NATO assets worldwide or declaring war at any convenient moment. What Putin cares about is BRICS+ and Global South not NATO. Recent visit to Beijing gave him all but card blanche as he got unlimited support in all fields including joint ventures for weapon production in China.

            With China backing they can’t lose conventional war. Beijing shares the same Byzantine political tradition of luring enemy into trap under guise of boundless patience misinterpreted as weaknesses. They know that defeat of Russia is against their vital strategic interests and that negotiations with desperate U.S. is meaningless and futile.

            The BRICS+ summit in Russia this summer will be critical. It is clear they both didn’t and don’t want this war but are prepared for it with clear idea how to end it.

            What we have in is NATO endless tiring string of lies, deceptions and provocations backed by nothing as they running out of weapons and threats. What they’ve left with is psychological warfare primarily targeting western public opinion.

            No one single truthful word NATO communicated to Russia in last ten years at least. Their strategy is to double down on their own failure. They are so weak that they can’t take defeat in Ukraine without disintegration of US hegemony.

            They are desperate as a poker player with weak hand and lots of his dough on the table. Check facts. Russians noted it as they rely of facts and intelligence not lies to make their decisions. Putin noted that there is no one legitimate in Kiev to negotiate. Even Financial Times ridiculously claims that Zelensky turned uncontrollable, erratic and anti American. It is all smoke and mirrors. It’s all NATO has been left with theatrics.

            As US is bound on embarking on nuclear blackmail it is another of their losing bluffs they can back by nothing.

          4. Yves Smith Post author

            Putin has said the exact reverse. Read the footnote from him, FFS. He has made it clear that if a NATO member attacks Russia (say Poland lets its airbases be used for sending F-16s to hit Russian targets), it has initiated war with Russia and Russia will retaliate.

            1. AG

              I am aware of the various statements.

              The problem with all this is, what would various scales of attack by Russia on European soil do? Either they stop NATO and force it into accepting certain RU demands. Which frankly is 0% likely in my view. Or we end up with some form of nuclear war. Either immediately or after a certain period of “pause”.

              Bluff or not bluff, threat or no threat, warning or no warning.
              It doesn´t matter how you call it and it doesn´t matter what statements we know of have been written down. If it´s nuclear that threshold is over and done with and nothing said matters any more.

              The only final line that matters here is the fact that US strategic command knows that the the US most likely will not get away unharmed when RU is hit.

              One consequence of the US scholarship about the “End of MAD” in the mid 2000s is this: That eventually everyone outside the US and EU understood what was going on in the US on WMD level. Including those 90% who have no classified access.

              And this strategic threat might have been among the most overlooked single reasons for RU and CHINA to ally. Which would suggest that this alliance has been in the making for serious at least since shortly after 9/11 and the war on terror, when Bush fucked over Putin in that major deal with Iran I think, which Putin canceled FOR Bush.

              The FA text “End of MAD” by Lieber and Press came out 2006. And that was only after the US had started to modernize their WMDs with super-fuzes, as e.g. described by Hans Kristensen heere, in 2017:

              “Warhead “Super-Fuze” Increases Targeting Capability Of US SSBN Force”

              “As a consequence, the US submarine force today is much more capable than it was previously against hardened targets such as Russian ICBM silos. A decade ago, only about 20 percent of US submarine warheads had hard-target kill capability; today they all do.”
              In the article we conclude that the SSBN force, rather than simply being a stable retaliatory capability, with the new super-fuze increasingly will be seen as a front-line, first-strike weapon that is likely to further fuel trigger-happy, worst-case planning in other nuclear-armed states.

              All of this is not new. What I don´t know – as I am not a genuine expert – how to judge the hype over hypersonic and in how far RU and CHINA are able to counter the US supremacy. Is US a paper tiger as Andrei Martyanov suggests? Are the Chinese and RUs in fact superior? Or is this equality or superiority yet to be achieved?

              It is certain that neither CHINA nor RU want(ed) an arms race. But for that you need the other side somehow play along.

              1. sarmaT

                That “Super-Fuze” article is hype. In case of nuclear war, missiles in silos will be fired while the incoming super-ones are still on their way. Those super-duper-fuzes would most likely destroy empty Russian ICBM silos. More importantly, Russians do have ICBMs on mobile platforms (trucks and submarines), and no extra-great-fuze makes a difference there.

                Martyanov is a bit over the top, but he is right for the most part. US does not have supremacy in military matters, but it still wields enough power to destroy humanitity in its death throes.

                1. AG

                  The physicists I have talked to who are from this area (including high level negotiations with Russian scientists in the 1990s) are not your average commentator.

                  So, unless there is serious data, super-fuze is no hype. Which doesn´t mean others couldn´t produce one of their own.

                  p.s. I find it odd that among the blogs where the sane are, like here – however when it comes to the issue of US military might and possible supremacy I encounter a reflex that suggests that anything confirming such a superiority is most likely bogus on some level. But there are scientific facts. Which cannot be entirely discarded.

                  I myself am not a disciple of this. If serious data suggests something else, serious people can substantiate claims I reconsider things.

                  Comparing with my position a couple of years ago I have done so e.g. in regards of the Russian progress in certain areas like missile and electronic warfare. Neither am I sure any more that RU SSBNS are still victim to US targeting (a well kept secret of course). However RU is vulnerable to a certain extent still in some areas.

                  The fact that NATO is failing in Ukraine is no reason to automatically assume the US would or will fail everywhere else too. NATO has always been a nuclear force not a conventional one. So the strategic focus has basically not changed.

                  As the navy is concerned, even Martyanov concedes that the US there still has some capabilities. Of course adding that China is taking over for the sheer size of the country and productivity.

                  In case you are interested on more super-fuze, here the lengthy entry:

                  “How US nuclear force modernization is undermining strategic stability: The burst-height compensating super-fuze”:


                  by Hans M. Kristensen, Matthew McKinzie, Theodore A. Postol 2017

                  And less technical a few paragraphs on the general issue of higher missile efficacy:
                  From “The Myth of the Nuclear Revolution” by above mentioned Keir Lieber and Daryl Press, 2020, Cornell Univ. Press:

                  The end of fratricide is just one development that has helped negate hardening
                  and increased the vulnerability of nuclear arsenals. The computer
                  revolution has led to other improvements that, taken together, significantly
                  increase counterforce capabilities.

                  First, improved accuracy has transformed the role of ballistic missile submarines,
                  turning these instruments of retaliation against population centers
                  into potent counterforce weapons. Recall (…) that a 1985 submarine-launched
                  ballistic missile (SLBM) had only a 9 percent chance of destroying a hardened target. This meant that although ballistic missile submarines could destroy “soft” targets (e.g., cities), they could not destroy the hardened sites that would be a key focus of a disarming attack. Increased SLBM accuracy has added hundreds of SLBM warheads to the counterforce
                  arsenal; it has also unlocked other advantages that submarines possess over
                  land-based missiles. For example, submarines have flexibility in firing location,
                  allowing them to strike targets that are out of range of ICBMs or that
                  are deployed in locations that ICBMs cannot hit. Submarines also permit
                  strikes from close range, reducing an adversary’s response time. And because
                  submarines can fire from unpredictable locations, SLBM launches are more
                  difficult to detect than ICBM attacks, further reducing adversary response
                  time before impact.

                  Second, upgraded fuses are making ballistic missiles even more capable. (…) The new “burst-height compensating” fusing system, now deployed on all U.S. SLBM reentry vehicles, uses an altimeter to measure the difference between the actual and expected trajectory of the reentry vehicle, and then compensate for inaccuracies by adjusting the warhead’s
                  height of burst. Specifically, if the altimeter reveals that the warhead is off
                  track and will detonate “short” of the target, the fusing system lowers the
                  height of burst, allowing the weapon to travel farther (hence, closer to the
                  aimpoint) before detonation. Alternatively, if the reentry vehicle is going
                  to detonate beyond the target, the height of burst is automatically adjusted upward
                  to allow the weapon to detonate before it travels too far. Without this
                  technology (…) the lower-yield W76 warheads are much less effective against hardened targets than their higher-yield cousins, the W88s.

                  The improved fuse cuts the effectiveness gap roughly in half, making the hundreds of W76s in the U.S. arsenal potent counterforce weapons for the first time. The consequences of the fuse upgrades are, therefore, profound, essentially tripling the size of the U.S. submarine-based arsenal against hard targets.

                  More broadly, the technology at the core of compensating fuses is
                  available to any state capable of building modern multistage ballistic missiles.

                  A third key improvement, rapid missile reprogramming, increases the effectiveness
                  of ballistic missiles by reducing the consequence of malfunctions.
                  (…) when accuracy increases, missile reliability becomes
                  the main hurdle to attacks on hardened targets.

                  For decades, analysts have recognized a solution to this problem: if missile failures can be detected, the targets assigned to the malfunctioning missiles can be rapidly reassigned to
                  other missiles held in reserve. The capability to rapidly retarget missiles
                  was installed at U.S. ICBM launch control centers in the 1990s and on U.S.
                  submarines in the early 2000s, and both systems have since been upgraded.
                  We do not know if the United States has adopted war plans that fully exploit
                  rapid reprogramming to minimize the effects of missile failures. Nevertheless,
                  such a targeting approach is within the technical capabilities of the United
                  States and other major nuclear powers and may already be incorporated
                  into war plans.

            2. AG

              p.s. re: F-16 bases:

              Imagine Putin would have publicly stated “We will not attack those bases”.
              Pentagon would have laughed their asses off since everyone knew it´s impossible as strategic doctrins are concerned and nobody would have believed him. So instead say nothing? Ignore the issue? Since communication between RU / US on the highest level has broken down on many such issues Putin had to get across the talking points publicly.

      2. Balan Aroxdale

        Maybe Europe just is due for another big one.

        In fact no. There are no pressing ideological, economic, military, or political reasons why ANY European country needs to go to war with anyone right now, let alone is capable of doing so. A major war of any kind is going to come as a septic shock to countries, and to most people especially in western Europe where governments will struggle mightily to contain the backlash, let alone organize themselves for mobilization.
        There is no reason to assume the present political class will be any more competent at organizing a mass society on a war footing than they have proven competent at just about anything else. Of course that will not stop them pushing for one*, but the outcome is likely to be very bad.

        The nearest historical analogy I think applies to the present day is the Franco-Prussian war of 1870, with the collective west in the role of the prickly French Empire. The French were serious about their reputation, but the Prussians were serious about war. The resulting disastrous defeat ended the French empire and brought about the 3rd French Republic, and also brought about the unification of Germany, upending the European diplomatic map ever since.
        You could try explaining this to our political leaders, but I think they would go back to tweeting on their phones.

        * Their general incompetence domestically is indeed likely to BE the cause of their push for foreign wars.

    2. Richard

      I’d say, Russia’s first response to a deep strike would be to knock down an AWACS over the Black Sea. It would respond directly to the provocation, and it would hit the boss not the minions. Message not received? They they could hit an AWACS over a European country. Again, the attack responds to the provocation and the hit is again on the US, though another country would be involved, complicating matters. After that, satellites, I suppose. After that?

      I agree with Aurelian assessment of a conventional ground war. I would that it months of set up before the US was ready to go into Iraq, and that a large number of the US soldiers involved were reserves, that is middle-aged, middle-American mom’s and dads. Lotsa luck with that.

  6. David in Friday Harbor

    Hey, look over there! A dumpster fire! Never mind World War III…

    Thank you for pointing out this reckless escalation, Yves. I always benefit from the Kremlin read-outs of what President Putin is actually saying. The Russian aerospace forces have recently developed the capability of knocking-out the U.S. Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) system.

    The GPS system consists of 31 satellites, but for the system to function ground devices need to fix on four — take out 8 satellites and the system loses accuracy. Take out the right two or three and the Little Green Men operating all these wunderwaffen can’t find their targets.

    Thanks to Joe-Totenkopf shooting down Chinese weather balloons, American GPS satellites are now fair game under international law. People are going to need to re-learn the use of paper maps and charts because airliners and ocean-going vessels are completely dependent on GPS to avoid crashing into mountains and bridges. Oh, and Russia and China aren’t…

    1. Louis Fyne

      I presume that those 31 GPS satellites share the orbits. take out a couple GPS satellitrles, I presume that the space debris would render certain orbits unusable for a fair amount of time….perhaps degrading the entire constellation unsuable

      I doubt US Space Command has wargamed this scenario out to that degree.

      This is a perfect research topic for the Federated Atomic Scientists to deliver an authoritative answer

      1. hemeantwell

        “I doubt US Space Command has wargamed this scenario out to that degree.”
        As a start they could watch the movie Gravity, in which Russia’s destruction of a satellite generates a debris field that takes out various and sundry satellites, along with Sandra Bullock’s space station.

        Yves, thanks for your work on this post.

        1. Alice X

          The problem with the movie Gravity, which I liked, except that the debris field was going in the opposite direction, which it wouldn’t have done. Or it was going in the same direction but much, much faster than the protagonists, which would have sent it into a different orbit.

          But it’s Hollywood, so never let facts get in the way of a good story.

      2. Captain Obvious

        They are in medium Earth orbit (MEO), which is nowhere near as populated as low Earth orbit (LEO). Kessler effect will happen in LEO.

      3. Hickory

        It’s an obvious problem. Likely they just realize there isn’t much to be done. Why wargame it?

    2. Captain Obvious

      “Thanks to Joe-Totenkopf shooting down Chinese weather balloons, American GPS satellites are now fair game under international law.”

      Nope. Balloons are in the airspace, not in outer space. They were always a fair game, and Soviets have been shooting US spy balloons back in the day.

    3. Mike Like Michael

      They are not just limited to those “31” satellites. They also have access to Elon Musk Starlink satellites as well. And he has hundreds, if not thousands (once done, there will be thousands of them in orbit, and nobody is asking who is financing those satellites.)

    4. Randall Flagg

      I would say go long Rand McNally Maps and Atlas but it turns out they are into GPS guidance software now these days too…

  7. Kouros

    I am curious of how good the counterbattery fire will be, and their stores of munition.

    Also, people might / will continue to die in Russia, things will be destroyed, but I don’t think any of the weapons Ukraine has from the West can do as much damage as the terrorist attack on the Krokus Mall in Moscow. SO the Russians will keep calm and carry on grinding the Ukrainian forces. If that is realized, taking Kharkiv, or Kiev, or Odessa, will not be that much of a problem…

  8. ciroc

    Perhaps the warmongers in Washington and Brussels remember that during the Cold War the threat of nuclear exchange was always averted by Soviet compromise. If the Kremlin is not preparing for nuclear war and is confident of a Russian victory, why spoil it with a direct confrontation with NATO? But Putin is sensitive to public opinion. He may feel that some retaliation is necessary. Shoot down a NATO drone flying over the Black Sea, for example. The Russians complain that the sandal-wearing Houthis can do that and the Russian military cannot.

    1. ilsm

      Seems the Houthi are getting good at taking down MQ 9 Reapers, maybe some tech advice…..

      USN very quickly told the world “nothing hit” its CVN!

      Why shoot up NATO in Europe?

    2. GC54

      Russia needs mayhem producers in the West who they “supply but cannot control” as US/NATO does for Ukraine. Ideally strikes into Poland & Germany should come from deep within Western Ukraine.

  9. Chris Cosmos

    The whole point of the war against Russia on the part of the Imperial force (NATO) is to attempt to drain it of resources over time. The added benefit to this war is to attempt (will it really work?) to put the EU/NATO or a “war-footing” by capitalizing on the monopoly that intel services have on media-influence. They seem, in the past few years, to be able to “sell” any outrageous lie as reality. So I see no end to this war. There is no downside for the Western Empire in all this. Sure, average people may have a diminished standard of living in the coming year but people will accept the benefits of war, i.e., it gives people a sense of meaning and common purpose which is a direct human need all societies must have to maintain unity. Europeans tend to be easily led and easily fooled which is a notion that used to be thought applied mainly to Americans.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      To quote Herbert Stein: “That which can’t continue, won’t.”

      NATO is running out of weapons.

      Russia was already ahead of NATO (not just the US, NATO) in production in most weapons categories. Russia has greatly increased its output over the course of the war. If it is behind, it’s only in selected areas not amenable to quick expansion, like the newest fighter jets.

      New ISR strategies greatly favor Russia’s long preferred strategy of attritional war.

      Attritional war requires simple to use, robust weapons since you will need a lot of them and you have to assume a worst-case scenario, that you might have a lot of new conscripts using them. We instead have fragile, difficult to use and very expensive weapons.

      And NATO militaries are not big. The US total armed forces (total!!!) are only somewhere over 400,000. Russia has 1.3 million in service NOW.

      1. Polar Socialist

        On a tangent, I saw some speculation in Russian media of possibility of pulling out of storage several thousand KS-19 100mm anti-aircraft cannons from the 50’s. At the time they were quickly replaced by missiles, but the modern ballistic/cruise missile paradigm actually fits them quite well, provided that they would be refitted with computerized aiming and radar support. One of these can throw 190 kg of shrapnel out to 15 km in a minute, a battery of 8 could place a ton and half of high speed fragments on the trajectory of the approaching missiles.

        That would actually continue a trend of bigger caliber AA guns returning to service in Russia. In Syria they tested the 57mm S-60 (also from the 50’s) and it turned out to need fewer rounds to destroy the attack drones used by “the moderate opposition”. So it could engage more targets within the time limits than it’s smaller caliber brethren. After somemore testing in SMO, a month (or so) ago it was accepted for Russian Army as 2S38 Derivaciya.

      2. Willow

        I worked in a large French bank. NATO is the type of European organisation you ‘promote’ into all the very bright but completely useless people you don’t trust anywhere near the real business. These people are inherently too bright for their own good and fundamentally dangerous due their capacity to really fuck things up.

      3. SocalJimObjects

        NATO is running out of weapons. This actually scares me quite a bit, because what will they do once they’ve run out of conventional weapons? First strike using nukes?

        1. AG

          Dan Ellsberg, RIP, said something interesting 1 year ago:

          RU now behaves like NATO did during the Cold War – due to lack of conventional forces operating on the basis of WMDs. (With the caveat that USSR´s strength was exaggerated back in the day.)

          The problem with this was his misconstruing the present situation.

          Since as of now, RU still has the upper hand conventionally. So in fact nothing has changed since the Cold War.
          Which doesn´t make me feel better, of course.

          However, NATO needs RU strike first for nuke chess. I have said this here before. That could be fabricated by false flag, sure, but it does take the Russians to play along on some level which they won´t.

          There is some unnecessary hysteria in the West, which is cool for the government because now it allows imbeciles like German Agnes Strack-Zimmermann, who is representing the German Liberals in the Council on Defense, to demand the call upon Germany´s 900.000 reserve force. Which makes zero sense of course but it´ll keep us busy until June 14th and the European Soccer Championship and at the same time NATO´s Steadfast Defender!! – Sounds like Fast Times at Ridgemont High.

          … I have gone back watching “Starship Troopers” and “The Producers” from 1968 (“Springtime For Hitler and Germany”)…After that: Singin´ in the Rain.

        2. Balan Aroxdale

          First strike using nukes?

          Not until the higher-ups have evacuated their families to New Zealand, or Switzerland, or Dubai, etc.

      4. Roland

        According to the figures on Wikipedia, US armed forces have over a million active duty personnel, not counting reserves, national guard, or “contractors.” Roughly 450k army, 330k navy, 320k air force. Counting reserves and national guards, about 1.8 million. With the contractors, another half-million.

        Combatant personnel would be a much smaller number, of course, but that’s true of all modern militaries, including Russia’s.

        At any rate, the critical factor is commitment level. Seldom are powers adequately prepared for the sort of war, or scale of war, upon which they have embarked. But if they really want to fight the war, then fight it they will, whether ready or not.

        This Ukraine War has been characterized by a series of failures, by each of the major parties involved, to properly appreciate the commitment level of their adversaries.

        The Russians underestimated the Ukrainian nationalists’ willingness to suffer. NATO underestimated Russia’s insistence on Ukrainian neutrality. And everybody in the world is going to get shocked by just how far the Western elites will go, in order to preserve their self-imagined world order.

        To me, it looks like this war and its sequels will impose a cumulative death toll crossing into the low nine digits. It won’t be the end of the world, but it will be the start of a lot of new normalcies.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          Apologies. Various YouTubers (Douglas Macgregor, Scott Ritter, and Larry Johnson among them) have been touting the in the 400K range for the US army, and comparing that to Russia’s 1.3 million army. I erred in saying “armed forces” and not “army.”

          I believe that it apples to apples because all three present it as such (Russia also has reservists and territorial forces). Ritter and Johnson have also been banging on how the US cannot meet its recruitment targets while Russia is still getting plenty of enlistments.

          Russia’s navy is much smaller than America’s. Air force surely is but Russia has a completely different philosophy, of using missiles and air defense weapons and going very light on manned weaponry. So the almost certainly much small Russia air force somewhat belies its potency in combat.

          1. Jak Siemasz

            As PZ said, Russia doesn’t have an army, it has a mob with guns. Also, no discipline, alchoholism, drugs, poor training, poor leadership, shitty morale.

            1. Sergey P

              Surprised to see such tired tropes here. A number of analytics have been pointing out that Russian doctrine is now much more advanced than NATO. Russians have been known to be the greatest scholars of war for a long time too. And the difference in performance in Ukraine is tremendous.

              On some level, I even wish for NATO boots on the ground, to see that boundless Western arrogance burn in agony.

              1. Polar Socialist

                Considering that NATO troops are getting beaten by “sandal wearing goat-herders” and now by “undisciplined, untrained drug addicts with bad morals and no leadership” one could think the boundless Western arrogance would have burned already.

                Hmm… maybe Mr. Howareyou is hiding agony behind that strong projection?

                  1. The Rev Kev

                    Gawd. Ryan McBeth. I had forgotten about that guy. He is so bad that parody videos cropped about him.

    2. John Steinbach

      Checked the WAPO comments on this story this morning. 90% or more were enthusiastically & uncritically cheering this unhinged policy escalation. Anyone the least bit concerned is a Putin lover.

      1. Bugs

        That cheering section should be cheering for Putin to stay on as long as possible, because whoever comes after him is not going to be happy with the spectacle of the West and its foolish meddling in other states’ affairs.

      2. chris

        The State Borg is real. It is kind of amazing to watch in person. You’ll be talking to colleagues, neighbors, acquaintances, even friends, people who you know, and the specific NARRATIVE TOPIC will come up and suddenly, they all have the same opinion and can’t be swayed. Like they all pick up on the same frequency or something. I have no doubt they will continue to cheer in unison when the first bombs hit US soil in retaliation for our gross stupidity.

    3. Stan

      I am shocked and awed at the degree of sense of meaning, and common purpose within the US today. The benefits of constantly losing unprovoked, offensive wars against non-nuclear armed, pre-destroyed countries are literally countless. And despite an anemic, China-dependent US weapons supply-chain And All That, Uncle Sam will reap lots of goodies from direct war with Russia — always a pushover when attacked from the West.

      Add that to the benefits reaped from the US/Israel genocide in Palestine — also a another tick in the L column. Almost makes me want to move back to the USA! USA! USA!

  10. Samuel Conner

    > On Friday, the Dutch foreign minister said Ukraine could use the 24 F-16 fighter jets that the Netherlands has pledged to fly into Russian territory on war missions.

    in view of the density and quality of RF air defenses, the thought occurs that this should instead have been phrased:

    “…. to fly into Russian territory: one-way missions.”

    1. jan

      I was wondering the same, but the Google AI tells me

      In an air-to-surface role, the F-16 can fly more than 500 miles (860 kilometers), deliver its weapons with superior accuracy, defend itself against enemy aircraft, and return to its home base.

      So I guess that’s a fair distance. Also, that’s a long time it’s opening itself up to detection.

  11. ilsm

    ATACMS is not numerous enough nor responsive to changing data for interdicting logistics, or line of communication that job is for strike F-15’s.

    Tactical cruise missiles similarly not optimum for interdiction.

    Too little, unsuited, and immaterial.

    But no one will say we did not try to prove we could have shuttered the Ho Chi Minh trail!

    To we old Vietnam era vets this is 1969 only this enemy has more, better, and nukes.

    1. AG

      “ATACMS is not numerous enough nor responsive to changing data for interdicting logistics, or line of communication that job is for strike F-15’s.

      Tactical cruise missiles similarly not optimum for interdiction.

      Too little, unsuited, and immaterial.”

      Could you describe those points a bit more detailed?

      1. digi_owl

        I am guessing that in the end these systems are artillery, and artillery is great for hitting a static point on the map. But they are less suited for hitting moving targets like say a truck convoy. Planes on the other hand can loiter, observe and strike.

        Things may change though as drones and such become more capable. For examples NATOs new NSM anti-ship missile is supposedly able to find its own target based on built in sensors alone. That said, it is one thing to find a warship on the open ocean and quite another to find a truck in a forest.

      2. ilsm

        GPS guided Russians discovered, improving how to mitigate navigation!

        ATACMS is essentially a longer range MLRS, it is larger, 2 fit in the wooden round “pod” where 6 MLRS reside. With ATACMS software loaded you can use same launcher/controller.

        Both missiles were designed to carry cluster bomblets, and X MLRS rockets would essentially bombard a battalion sector of front. The bomblets are a mix: anti personnel, and anti light vehicle.

        The “dud rate” is problematic, if you shoot CBU’s your trooops cannot advance without engineering clearing the unexploded bomblets.

        ATACMS also has a large unitary warhead, which is <300 pounds TNT but gets extra damage if fuel remains in rocket section. The accuracy is not up to taking out hard targets, what the unitary head is for: lack of air support.

        Both missiles are tactical, shooting at Russia is strategic thus less than useful for interdiction.

        I could go on but my conclusion is: US is encouraging a rocket campaign not different than Hitler's V-1 and V-2, neither tactical nor operational effect!

        Justify Russia paying in?

        1. AG


          “I could go on but my conclusion is: US is encouraging a rocket campaign not different than Hitler’s V-1 and V-2, neither tactical nor operational effect”

          which confirms “RU propaganda” …

          a couple of questions for any expert here:

          -Is there any serious statistical data on the true nature of missile attacks by both sides and what their real targets have been and what casualties eventually turned out to be. And where those struck? My little knowledge here tells me almost all of it was in the East where we have this war since 2014 going. But I am looking for verifiable data.

          I am aware that much “friendly” damage in UKR was caused by missile interception by AFU and those crashing into urban areas. But how many were those? 1%, 10%, 50% of the casualties caused?

          -How many civilians got killed that way and how many in fact by RU missiles?

          -And what about the UKR missiles on the RU side? What are the ratios there civilian vs. military? (which belongs to the above V1/V2 statement.)

          -Western internal assessments of how RU tries to fight with constraint (compare carpet bombing by US in Iraq and Syria, but those are the only comparisons I have) and RU trying to get as little non-military killed wounded/buildings hit? Comparison of general conduct of war that is.

          I know about only a couple of quotations by US personnel in Newsweek, WaPo, NYT during 2022 where unnamed officers were upset about how this topic was treated in the Western public. Such items are highly valuable, I haven´t run across any for many months.

          There would be a huge load of work for any serious analyst/military scholar /NGO to be accomplished here.

          The first big war in the digitial age is probably the worst publicly documented and most disinformed about in the West. It´s maddening.

          1. sarmaT

            You won’t be getting any verifiable data in the middle of the war, and in some cases never. For example, how many civillians US killed in Iraq? No one knows exactly. Even when numbers can be known, they are manipulated for propaganda reasons, and will always be.

            Number of Ukrainian civilians killed by RU missiles is minuscule, and one can tell that just by watching the news, and social media. Events in Gaza have shown that deaths of civilians can no longer be hidden, even if MSM tries to do so. In Ukraine MSM is trying to amplify Ukrainan civilian deaths for propaganda reasons. If you have not seen dead and wounded Ukrainian kids all over the news (not even staged ones), a la Aleppo Kid, then there can’t be many, if any. Those that don’t know who Aleppo Kid is, should google it.

            The first big war in the digitial age is probably the worst publicly documented and most disinformed about in the West.

            Nah. I could bet that you are significantly more disinformed about other relatively recent wars, but just don’t know it. ;)

            1. AG

              re: no data available – is what I fear.
              re: the last point – seriously I am unsure

              But looking into the technology availabe to get out news today vs. 20/30 years ago the truth if treated with respect (ha-ha) ought to be spread much more easily.
              Why is it not?
              One reason is the real loss of independence of classical news media which used to provide us with foreign news – the stuff that´s expensive.

              This sort of independent reporting has mostly vanished.

              (see the U.S. on this, Patrick Lawrence e.g. here, but he has several others about this on Scheerpost:
              “Independent Journalism as It Was”

              So the means for a decent coverage of the war technologically are available – yet the social framework won´t allow it jeopardizing media independence more than it already did before.

              (French media is owned by, I think 5 billionaires, the numbers in Germany are not much better.)

              The differences to 30 years ago might be limited in scope. But in Germany 10 years ago I could read alternative papers. Now – except for the small left “Junge Welt” – no paper is left that would tell the truth.

              Additionally most papers used to at least have individuals who did good work.
              Foreign/war correspondents.
              Most of those people are still working but they too act like brain-washed.

              One of the prominent cases is Ulrich Heyden, RU correspondent who has lived there since the 90s. He was kicked out of FREITAG (founded by the Augstein-heir Jakob Augstein) – for his good reporting on Russia in the spring of 2022.
              FREITAG does feature critical stuff from time to time (by German low standards) – but the other much bigger papers don´t even have that.

              And the reason I am talking about papers only – forget TV/radio.

              Foreign TV RU-correspondents who are trying to explain the RU viewpoint have been shut out since 2022. See e.g. Gabriele Krone-Schmalz (formerly state TV). Who has been in fact canceled by her own TV-folks in scandalous ways.

              The German media labour union (!) was conducting lengthy interviews with respected historians explaing why people like Krone-Schmalz are spreading RU-narratives and should not be trusted.

              German non-fiction bestsellers and their authors have been banned. (Just like Ilan Pappe´s Palestine bestseller was banned with Oct. 7th).

              There is a substantial shift. Not earth-shattering. But it´s serious over the long period of decades: I cannot rely on a single major This is new.

              1. AG

                an exampe which I just read in one of Germany´s VIP dailies, SÜDDEUTSCHE ZEITUNG (I grew up with this paper.)

                In a book review from today about the German campaign against France in 1940 the introduction of the review has this:

                “(…)Against this backdrop, some passages in Raffael Scheck’s book “Spring 1940” about the German campaign in the West convey
                a disturbing topicality, since the present does indeed seem to be
                reflected in the past:
                While Russian propaganda today cynically claims that the USA and its allies want to fight Russia “to the last Ukrainian”, the German propaganda leaflets dropped behind the front in France in 1940 stated “that England and the English bankers will gladly fight to the last French”.(…)”

                The madness is obvious:

                1) That we should fight to the last Ukrainian is proven, factual statement on record by several high level US-politicians and in documents.The reviewer is either an idiot or a liar. (in fact honorary professor who has published much on France.)

                2) Since Febr. 2022 whenever it is possible, reviewers are somehow trying to draw parallels to RU and the war now. It doesn´t matter if the comparison is hair-rasing. It´s being done. And it´s happening everywhere.

                Thousands of Germans are reading this book review e.g. And these tropes change war reporting and recorded history in unprecedented ways.

  12. scott s.

    The discussion reminds me of Korean War and the Yalu bridges/”sanctuaries” across the Yalu.

    1. hk

      Yes, but, unlike 1950, there aren’t a million NATO “volunteers:” who would flood the battlefield (I keep being reminded that the CVF was technically and legally made of “volunteers” and PRC was not legally a party to that war), and unlike MacArthur, I suspect the Stavka is preparing for an “overt” NATO intervention.

  13. micaT

    Ive been a dem my whole life. I’m not voting for biden. I’m probably not voting for any democrat, as the ones in my state all voted for more war money.

    I”m not voting for war

    But there is not one standing for peace.
    I’ve without a party

    1. Jana

      It’s not about a party. They are not even trying to hide this!

      War, with it’s destructive tools of propaganda (hate, fear), armaments or BIOLOGICAL weapons, is merely a symptom.
      The Constitution, underlying our Republic, is like a court-ordered restraining order for a domestic violence criminal: meaningless.

  14. Fastball

    If I were Russia, I would respond to this latest insanity by conducting an underground nuclear test with a threat to do more later. Something has got to happen to bring the madmen and madwomen in the West to their senses.

  15. Lefty Godot

    I think your predictions are spot on. Russia will absorb some punishment to achieve its goals and will try to calibrate its responses to provocation. At this point the West is like a gangrenous limb that is going to be lopped off soon, so Russia will just live with it until the surgeon gets the saw going.

    The people who equate Russia’s actions and “excessive forbearance” with weakness or “Putin dithering” had better have some very serious credentials and inside information. I doubt that Russia’s decisions have been made without a lot of collective input from the military, intelligence, and industrial experts (so it’s not the terribly “isolated” Putin in a room alone bumbling through this, as the US media were claiming in early 2022). Putin making every decision down to whose laptop some hackers will break into is one of those myths that the Western media love. He has to trust his subordinates to decide many issues and to carry out tasks that get delegated to them. And, like every good manager, shuffle around or revamp his team periodically to account for some people outperforming and others floundering.

    They may not have made the best decisions, when looked at with hindsight, but they certainly tried to make the best decisions at that time based on their knowledge of the opposing military forces, of their own capabilities (which were not that great at the start of the SMO), of what their industrial base could do to support the war effort, of what steps they needed to take to not frighten off other nations that were potential business partners (and who could help mitigate the effect of US/UK/EU sanctions), and of how to keep the West from leaping into some precipitate escalation. It’s easy to be a Monday morning quarterback, it’s making decisions in the moment that is excruciatingly difficult when potentially millions of lives are on the line.

  16. XXYY

    Thanks for the good post, Yves.

    Russia’s best move, despite the gratification of making a tit-for-tat response and hitting a NATO target, would be to greatly accelerate its destruction of the Ukraine electrical system.

    I’m wondering also if Russia can effectively play against the divided loyalties of the Ukrainian population and their very justified fear of dying in a pointless war.

    It’s clear that there is little or no enthusiasm among the remaining fighting age males in the country to join the anti-russian military effort. Reportedly the streets are deserted since the new laws permitting the virtual kidnapping and “drafting” of anyone walking around. (The British Navy used to do this in seaport cities at least as recently as the early 1800s; they described it vividly as “the Press”.) Seems like Russia could do both media efforts to explain what awaits the average Ukrainian who gets drafted into the military, and set up elaborate and effective ways to exfiltrate anyone who wants to escape the conflict for temporary or permanent resettlement outside the country in relative safety.

    Seems like this would not only be effective in its own right, but also drive the leaders of Ukraine bonkers as they visualize their threadbare country being rapidly stripped of its remaining soldiers.

    One of Russia’s oft-stated goals in his conflict is to demilitarize the Ukraine.

  17. Telee

    Victoria Nuland was the first to advocate this policy on Sunday Morning news. While no longer part of the Biden administration her views still have great sway. It didn’t take long before Tony Blinken and company to pick up the call and for Biden to put the plan into action. Eventually Russia and China will realize that the US will not give up on their goal to destroy their countries. The only option will be to be to meet the US in an all out global war, most likely nuclear. Hold on to your seats and kiss the world goodbye.

  18. GF

    Biden needs a war to “rally the troops” and unite the country under himself prior to the Nov. election. /not sure this is sarc

  19. Wukchumni

    We seem determined to start WW3, that is if opening ceremonies haven’t already taken place.

    What is to become of us after we are defeated and have to stop playing war as a way to make money?

    1. Willow

      Learning some Mandarin 30 years ago on a whim may end up being more useful than I thought 🧐

  20. Willow

    Russia won’t take Kharkiv militarily. 1) there’s no point because if there are any negotiations Kharkiv will be traded, 2) Putin won’t want to destroy a city that is largely pro-Russia, 3) is already essentially captured due to proximity to Russia & easily cut off from Ukraine. 4) Russia still has to cover a lot of ground to get to the Dnipro river.

    Russia is likely waiting for European election to be completed before changing gears. If there is any major escalation in retaliation of West’s statements about targeting Russia, it’d likely be Russia starting to take out West’s ISR assets. This would be a major setback for West & Ukraine by reducing effectiveness of their long range attacks. It would also have consequences for Middle East & China.

  21. CA

    May 31, 2024

    Swiss peace conference on Ukraine falls short of China’s requests; China won’t attend: FM

    China confirmed on Friday that it will not attend a Ukraine peace conference in Switzerland next month, as the meeting falls short of China’s requests, according to Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Mao Ning.

    Mao emphasized that China values the hosting of the Ukraine peace summit in Switzerland and has maintained close communication with Switzerland and relevant parties since the beginning of the year.

    However, Mao expressed that the meeting arrangements have fallen short of China’s requests and the general expectations of the international community, making it difficult for China to attend the meeting.

    The Chinese spokesperson emphasized that China consistently insists that the international conference on Ukraine should have the recognition of both Russia and Ukraine, equal participation of all parties, and fair discussions on all peace proposals, as these three elements are crucial for the effectiveness of restoring peace.

    China’s requirements for the summit are fair and impartial, not targeting any specific party, as reflected in the recent joint statement with Brazil on the political resolution of the Ukraine crisis. It also highlights the global concern, especially among developing countries, Mao continued…

    1. The Rev Kev

      Not even Biden is going as he has that Hollywood fundraiser to go to and a debate to get ready for. And the Russians have said that even if they were invited they would not go as Switzerland has dropped it’s centuries old neutrality policy and become a hostile state to them. The whole Switzerland thing is just a PR event and nothing will come of it.

      1. Polar Socialist

        Can’t remember where I read it, but somewhere somebody mentioned that the main purpose of the whole endeavor in Switzerland is legitimizing Zelensky as still-the-president, so that these notions of “democracy” and “values” don’t seem too ridiculous.

        And of course, for the street gang know as “Rules Based Order” it’s also a check of what colors countries are wearing.

  22. AG

    Thx for this crisp assessment which I mostly agree with.
    In a nutshell: “So a conventional military escalation is self-limiting even if it were attempted.”
    Which makes it plausible that the hysteria which is limited to Western publics, is the true intent here, and as such the major goal.
    As Jacques Baud correctly says: what the West lacks in military expertise/success it compensates with PR competence.
    The RUs are the other way around.
    In truth I would speculate the Biden decision is concerned more about preparing us for using the new „liberties“ for attacking the real target, Crimea.

  23. The Rev Kev

    The guys at The Duran have noted that the Neocons have not only no reverse gear but also no brakes. Than when things blow up in their faces, that their only instinct here is to double or even triple down. So let’s get down to basics here. You have the US and other countries like the UK and Germany wanting to attack Russia itself using their missiles as if they were at direct war with Russia. And now they are going to be doing it in the open. They claim that it will be Ukrainians doing this but that it mostly a fiction as it will be NATO troops doing the targeting and relying on space based reconnaissance backed up by US drones in the region. Maybe they hope to intimidate the Russians or think that the Russians will back down or sweetest of prizes, that there will be regime change in Moscow as a result. But for Russia this is an existential fight for the safety of their nation and they will fight. For the west it is also an existential fight but not for the safety of NATO nations but for the safety of political careers and the reputation & standing of NATO itself. Not the same thing. So what will they do? Maybe knock out the rest of the power in Kiev or maybe declaring a no-fly zone in the northern half of the Black Sea and start shooting down those US drones. But it is only a matter of time until you have NATO contingents enter the Ukraine to try to save the situation – they can’t – and of course will be targeted by the Russians to deter actual NATO brigades entering the Ukraine. But to a large degree, this is all about keeping the Ukraine going till the November elections whereupon the White House will dump the whole mess onto the Europeans to take care of – and to get the blame.

  24. matt

    was watching a talk with colonel lawrence wilkinson and he was talking about how bewildering these escalatory policies are. and he said it seemed as if the usa was trying to wear russia down through the war in ukraine. keep everyone down through infighting and such. and if that is true, it would fit into the overarching usa characteristic of trying to keep everyone fighting and in a terrible condition such that usa reigns supreme. same thing they did in south america. same thing they did in the middle east. same thing they did in western europe. classic henry kissinger ‘”it may be dangerous to be americas enemy but to be americas friend is fatal.” usa built its empire on keeping others down, and yeah it worked for a bit, but is simply not sustainable.

    the issue is, firstly, everyone tires of this behavior. is sick of the usa keeping them down and having them take policies actively detrimental to their interests. (great example of this is germany right now, unable to get russian oil.) plus the usa committing genuine moral atrocities in palestine. secondly, russia and china can and will beat us if we ever actually go toe to toe. usa has zero effective industrial capacity, see our declining factories and all those crashed jets. thirdly, climate change and other global catastrophes increase the amount of stress placed on countries. there are a lot bigger problems to be fighting than wars.

    im still trying to figure this all out. i know the ultimate result will be complete usa decline, everyone rushing into russia and chinas arms, but i want to limit the amount of people dying in the process. and the prospect of nuclear war being thrown out there greatly distresses me.

  25. timbers

    Putin should respond by by authorizing limited strikes on US homeland and foreign military bases, for example NATO nations. Remember It’s a whole new world with new realities.

    1. Late Introvert

      I am really tired of this “Putin should” construct. It’s not just the one guy, and unlike The West, Russia has strategic plans and the ability to back them up. It would be foolish to attack US homeland or foreign bases, as they are winning just fine where they are.

      As I’ve said before NATO has already lost and the only end game they have is nukes. Gawd help us.

      1. Ingolf Eide

        “As I’ve said before NATO has already lost and the only end game they have is nukes. Gawd help us.”

        Yeah, amen, that’s always been the big worry.

        Also probably accounts for the change in tone coming out of Russia. They’ve long known they’re not dealing with a rational opponent and now show and tell is just around the corner . . .

  26. Yaiyen

    I have come the conclusion that Putin did wrong strategy when he dint let Russia army bulldoze Ukraine, by going slow he made Europe public and politicians think Russia army is weak when in reality its they have empathy towards Ukraine’s that maybe explain why Zelensky is fighting like no tomorrow to keep these pro Russian regions, Ukraine use them as hostages. I even think if someone investigate it you will find the cannon fodders Ukraine use , most of them come from East Ukraine. So in a way bandarites are stronger than ever. If this is true this war will not end if Russia dont control whole Ukraine.

    1. hk

      I don’t think he erred by “not bulldozing Ukraine” in ’22. I kept adding up numbers and it didn’t make sense that Russians could be attacking on such wide front–at that time, Russian army didn’t have the men and resources required. And, lo and behold, we have found out since then that that was indeed the case. You need time to properly train and equip the army as it expands, as well as give the people (both soldiers and civilians) a sense of righteousness, that you are on the side of good so that they would fight willingly. FWIW, Russia has succeeded at all these by “going slow” and where necessary, giving up unimportant territory when the resources were short. If, as we believe, Russia now has a far more formidable, motivated, and well-resourced army and civilian population on hand, and not just for Ukraine, that’s a different story.

    2. Jana

      What if the entire operation is simply an on-the-ground-demonstration of the weapons of war each side produces for future sales to nations? The drone operators are directly from our kids playing video games! It’s just business and the order books are being filled as we rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic!

      Didn’t the US government, along with their eastern ‘enemy’, just demonstrate their effective biological weapon (Sars CoV2) along with the most EFFECTIVE marketing campaign that continues today paid for with YOUR taxes? And what about that 95% effective and safe ‘vaccine’ forced on citizens? All those lucrative patents! All those new patients-customers! All that MONEY! Golly gee!

      All great marketeers show off their wares.

      “It’s just business” and death of humans is an intended consequence. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

      I live my life delighted that I do not have to live in thinking about these things when there are so many people who have deep needs that I can meet if I am aware. Go! Live your life to benefit, not destroy or capitalize on others bad deeds.

  27. Glen

    I really don’t get where Biden is going with this. He’s not FDR. This is not 1940 Europe conquered by Germany, and not Asia with China half conquered by Japan. Ukraine’s war is not an existential threat to America, nor even really to Europe.

    It’s the end result of American neocon foreign policy disasters expanding NATO that have made it clear to the American people, the American VOTER that Biden will spend hundreds of billions on war rather than on Americans at home that need help. And when Americans learn that a over half a million Ukrainians have died, tens of millions have fled the country, and the country is pretty well wrecked, I doubt the VOTER’s opinion is going to get any better.

    1. hk

      If it’s 1940, I suspect the best analogue might be Japanese PM Konoe (not Tojo–he came in later to fix the mess Konoe made and made it a lot bigger.)

    2. The Rev Kev

      For Biden, he has made it personal. He actually hates Putin and if you recall, in a speech in Poland he actually demanded that Putin step down as leader of Russia. Not sure, but I think that a coupla years ago that Biden demanded Putin to not stand for President in a main election in Russia. And as Biden has gotten older, all his self-control is going out the window. Maybe he though that using the Ukraine to wreck and split apart Russia was going to be his legacy or something. Who knows? But on this subject he is not rational.

    3. Jules

      Biden has no sway in any of the decision making. Remember all the deals and contracts uktaine has given to US banks, asset managers and reconstruction companies ? They will not be happy if all of this was for nothing.

  28. vargas

    There is no doubt any more. The west is going to attack Russia. They just need a pretext for that kind of attack. They are slowly destroying Russian early warning radars.
    The ruling class does not care for the riscs if such operation. The masses are safely indoctrinated. Everything is in perfect position and thexwestern leaders thruly believe in their moral and intelectual superiority.

  29. SocalJimObjects

    What do Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, etc think of this? Do they have some kind of Westworld like technology that would allow them to transfer their mind/consciousness into another body, thus allowing them to survive the apocalypse? It’s like in the end, even the people belonging to the billionaire class have zero power to determine their own fates ………..

    1. Yaiyen

      Well Zuckerberg is building 200 million dollar bunker, have to give it to these billionaire they now what happening so they are getting ready, if i was him with his wealth i would build 20 billion dollar bunger so it can last but maybe Zuckerberg is just thinking about his close family so it don’t need to last for centries.

      1. SocalJimObjects

        I’ve heard of that but living in a bunker can not be fun, and he may not get to see the sun again in his lifetime because the surface world will be too irradiated from nuclear fallout. So he would prefer that kind of existence over one where he would still be one of the richest people in America, but not the world?

        1. yaiyen

          So he would prefer that kind of existence over one where he would still be one of the richest people in America, but not the world?

          I think its his B plan just in case the world end. These guys have no limit with their greed, they are going for all of it even if the world end. Even Bill Gates have bunker but smaller in every home he have. These guys can see just like us where the world is going.

  30. Thomas Wallace

    This is not the most likely scenario, but no one has mentioned it. What if Euro. politicians realize the hopelessness of trying to win in Ukraine and are positioning themselves for the inevitable? Positioning themselves against the argument that if only they had done more…F 16’s, targeting Russia itself, etc. the outcome would have been different?
    Surely they aren’t so stupid as to think this will change anything on the ground in Ukraine? Are they doing it because they are stupid or because they are cynical?
    OK…stupid, but cynical shouldn’t be categorically ruled out without discussion.

  31. Victor Sciamarelli

    Russia and China have become remarkably close allies. Thus, as Russia manages the war in Ukraine it keeps one eye on China’s future goals as well. The goal is to unite Europe and Asia into an area of trade, development, and cooperation.
    The crucial obstacle to this goal is the continuous, often violent, interference by the US. Thus, I think with China’s support, Russia will manage the Ukraine war in such a way as to alienate the Americans from the West Europeans.
    The war in Gaza has accelerated the process by allowing not just Europeans but the world to view for themselves the violence and hypocrisy of the US as it supports plausible genocide in Gaza.
    Established in 2001 by China and Russia, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization is a Eurasian political, economic, international security and defense organization. Israel applied for membership as a Dialogue Partner; Winds change and Israelis aren’t stupid.
    Moreover, China and Russia have made diplomatic inroads into the ME. The only thing standing in their way is the US whose waning influence in the region they would like to replace.
    I think the crucial European country is Germany. There are signs Germans are growing tired of their foolish backing of the US while their economy and standard of living tanks. There is, imo, a good chance that if the Ukraine war escalates, Germany will kiss and make up with Russia and reject its unconditional support for the US. Once Germany changes its position much of Europe will follow, NATO will wither away, Eurasia will be integrated, and the US will become isolated.

  32. Rolf

    I am indebted to Yves and NC for this assessment, available no where else. I’m also reading all the above with enormous anxiety and sadness. Is Biden really this effing stupid? So much for US “leadership”, increasing the odds of nukes flying and the end of most things. So much for MAD as a self-limiting safety valve. With Russia posing no direct threat to US, the only conclusion I can come to is that voiced somewhere above, that the Dem brain trust has calculated that being at or close to war during an election will produce a reluctance to change horses, particularly if the orange one’s threatened with jail. What a disaster.

    So we now rely on Russia’s strategic intelligence and patience to avoid the escalation that NATO/US clearly lust for. Is this the inevitable endgame of letting Wall Street and the MICIMATT run things?

    1. mc

      Yes, he is that stupid. Combined with being a geriatric warmongering puppet for Wall Street and all that entails. Second questions answer: Yes, this is exactly what happens when unrestrained greed gets to run the whole show.

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