According to an interview with Oleksiy Danilov, the secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine (NSDC) on 24 Channel, not only is the dictator Putin’s time limited, but the the ability of Russia to continue to wage its illegal war of aggression against Ukraine is waning. There is plenty of evidence for the latter part of the statement, I just hope the first part is as true. Here are some of the main quotes form the interview as posted on the Telegram channel The Center for Countering Disinformation (part of the NSDC):

🔹 «Some events that have been in the aggressor country indicate that the russian dictator is already doomed to defeat»
🔹 «People who are in putin’s closest circle are increasingly aware that russia has no prospects of winning the war against Ukraine»
🔹 «The issue of putin in russia is almost closed. Some people have already known the name of the person who will work there after putin»
🔹 «Representatives of the Ukrainian authorities have their own assumptions about what will happen next in russia and who can become the dictator’s successor»
🔹 «Ukrainians proved on the battlefield that they are capable of defending their independence and freedom»
🔹 «Ukraine’s partner countries will not allow russia to use nuclear weapons. And the nuclear blackmail started in the kremlin won’t have any consequences»

Here is the interview posted on YouTube (in Ukrainian without subtitles.)

Hungary’s Viktor Orban is at it again, acting as a puppet should, following Putin’s lead and stirring up trouble in the EU with disparaging remarks about Ukraine and threats of vetoes when it comes to sanctioning Russian energy. Not surprising at all. If only Orban could be replaced by a better candidate, as it seems the Czech Republic has chosen to do.  In elections there, former general Petr Pavel has beaten the billionaire Andrej Babis in the presidential election.

Comments on Russian “news and information”- remember that all “information” coming from Russia, out of Russia, via Russian sources is suspect,  tendentious, questionable to say the least, and in large part just lies. Manipulation of news and information is part of hybrid warfare and Russia is deep into it, though most of it seems targeted for a Russian audience, as anyone outside of the country with access to other sources will see right through the web of disinformation, propaganda, and in some cases downright humorous attempts at manipulation of facts that Russia passes off internally as news.

From the ISW website, see today’s RUSSIAN OFFENSIVE CAMPAIGN ASSESSMENT. From that assessment, comments on front-line Russian milbloggers and information control:

The Russian military command may also be attempting to resurrect its previously unsuccessful censorship efforts targeting the critical milblogger community.ISW previously reported that the Russian MoD conducted several unsuccessful attempts to promote self-censorship among milbloggers from different nationalist factions—including Wagner-affiliated milbloggers—in summer and fall 2022.[26] Russian military command also previously attempted to promote self-censorship among milbloggers by pushing the narrative that Russian milbloggers have been violating Russian operational security by uploading combat footage or revealing Russian positions online.[27] It is unclear if Russian President Vladimir Putin is supporting these restrictions given that he had been appeasing pro-war milbloggers by meeting with them, allowing them to autonomously operate on the frontlines, and tolerating their criticisms.[28] The Kremlin is also continuing to integrate some select milbloggers by offering to let them host TV shows on Russian state broadcasters.[29] The Russian MoD may be conducting its own line of effort to silence the milbloggers independent of Putin. ISW will continue to monitor to see if Putin overrules the Russian MoD’s efforts to silence milbloggers.

The Russian military command is likely attempting to restrict milbloggers’ frontline coverage to regain control over the Russian information space ahead of a possible new offensive. Alexander Kots—a member of the Russian Human Rights Commission under Russian President Vladimir Putin and a prominent milblogger—stated that there are rumors that Russian authorities will require war correspondents to wear bright blue press vests to identify themselves as journalists in the combat zone.[20] Kots and other milbloggers criticized the rumored decision, claiming that high-visibility vests will only help Ukrainian forces deliberately target war correspondents embedded in Russian units.[21] Some milbloggers even admitted that they have been hiding their “PRESS” labels for years and noted that this allowed hundreds of war correspondents to independently work on the frontlines without anyone’s formal orders.[22] The Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) First Deputy Information Minister Danil Bezsonov also argued that generals who are introducing these regulations should be responsible for each war correspondent’s death after making them an easily visible target on the ground.[23] One milblogger accused the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) of deliberately introducing new bureaucratic requirements that will limit the milbloggers’ ability to operate on the frontlines.[24]

Finally, an update on Russian combat losses from the Ukrinform website clearly shows increasing daily numbers of Russian casualties. Since hitting the 100,000 mark about a month back, the number of dead Russian soldiers has increased by 25,000. That is 25,000 Russian “soldiers”… some soldiers, Wagner mercenaries/criminals, and conscripted students, workers, peasants, and aged fathers and grandfathers killed in about one month. But they are replaceable- according to today’s ISW assessment, Putin is issuing pardons for criminals willing to fight in Ukraine, and has also stated that conscription age will not change in the spring conscription cycle (at least not until reporting day gets closer.)

Russian combat losses as of 28 January, 2023

Russian combat losses as of 28 January, 2023

The war in Ukraine continues, with unflagging bravery and fortitude on the part of the defenders, and the support of the free world.  This is the way it should remain, until the end- that being Russia’s surrender, return of all Ukrainian territory, and withdrawal.  We- the US, Europe, NATO, our allies, should not waver in our support. We should increase our physical support, and increase our “non-kinetic” pressures against the Russian mafia state (sanctions, denial of services, aid to states threatened by Russia). Now, with my personal opinions out of the way, on to some of the sources of data that help shape those opinions.

A recent RAND paper, from 20 December, 2022, Responding to a Limited Russian Attack on NATO During the Ukraine War discusses possible scenarios that a limited attack against NATO or European targets by Russia might entail, what might provoke such an attack, and the range of response and retaliation options that we have. The RAND paper notes the need for the US, NATO, and Europe to have this response matrix ready now in the event that Russia initiates such an attack, and notes that increasing desperation on their part might increase the possibility an attack occurring.

From the Diplomatic Courier from 14 December, 2022- RUSSIA RISKS LOSING ARMENIA AS AN ALLY– Russia further isolates itself from its neighbor and CTSO ally through inaction regarding the Azerbaijan- Armenia conflict. Armenia seeks help from France on resolving the conflict, and close ties to Europe and the US in its choice to promote freedom and democracy in the country.

From Ukrinform, from 07 January, 2023- “Belarus is being occupied by military forces that are stationed at training grounds, most likely for a long time. And there will be no future for Belarus as an independent country,” say Oleksandr Pavliuk, Commander of Kyiv Defense Forces. The story is here- Belarus has no future as independent country- Kyiv Defense Commander

If you have the time or inclination, some light reading- Russian ‘Hybrid Warfare’ and the Annexation of Crimea; The Modern Application of Soviet Political Warfare by Kent DeBenedictis, is available at Bloomsbury.com.

Another work that will prove informative is Putin’s Preventive Counter-Revolution; Post-Soviet Authoritarianism and the Spectre of Velvet Revolution, By Robert Horvath. It was published in 2014 and is available at Routledge.com.  I have both books on order, and would like to point out that I am in no way affiliated with or do I receive any remuneration from any of the publishers or sources I cite.

From ISW, update on the war for 07 January, 2023.

Finally, Russian combat losses continue to mount:

Russian combat losses as of 08 January, 2023

Russian combat losses as of 08 January, 2023

I have never been one to sleep late, and on many summer days I start my day long before the sun is up – most days around 4 or 5 a.m. Not a bad thing, as I occasionally catch radio programs that I might otherwise miss. Saturday morning on my “local” radio station, KBYU, I listened to a Top of Mind show called Humanitarian Aid: How to Help Without Doing Harm. The opening part of the show is about the organisation called To Ukraine With Love. They are located in Oregon, and have fundraised, purchased, and organised the delivery of everything from body armor to baby food to Ukraine.  This organisation definitely gets my vote as a charity doing good work. If you are thinking about donating to Ukraine, visit their site and see what they are doing.

The show goes on to more interviews- one segment with Pippa Biddle, author of the book “Ours to Explore: Privilege, Power and the Paradox of Voluntourism.” The book is about volunteering and “voluntourism” and their impacts, and brings up a couple of important questions: how much good is the effort truly doing, and why are we doing it- to help or to make ourselves feel good?  Good questions, and the answer seems to be that volunteering close to home is best, if time is what you can give. In the end, donating money is always the best for all charities- it allows them to purchase exactly what they need, exactly when it is most needed.

There is also a guest from the University of Pennsylvania, Kat Rosqueta, from the Center for High Impact Philanthropy. Their mission is to make sure donations “make the greatest possible difference in the lives of others,” that, from their “what we do” page.

Finally, Guidestar is a website where you can research non-profits and charities before you donate.  Another site I have used for this is Charity Navigator.

All of these sites can help a person negotiate the sometimes confusing realm of making donations to charity, and perhaps volunteering if one has the time. For now, if you can, every dollar sent to Ukraine will help them. My top donation list is in the upper right of this page- click a link, do some reading, and give what you can.

In the meantime, the war goes on. There are some 40,000 Russian soldiers dead at this point. The coming offensive will increase that number. Putin continues to murder Ukrainian citizens, send Russia’s own soldiers to their death, and lie- every word coming out of Russia, as far as I can tell is a lie.  Remember that- lies, deceit, propaganda, disinformation- Russia.

 

Thanks to Russia, the world is approaching a food crisis. According to reports, they are shipping captured Ukrainian wheat out of Ukraine and into Russian held lands.

From the Telegram channel Ищи своих, translated using Google Translate:

Only 10 weeks left of world wheat stocks – UN

The depletion of cereals in the bins is a challenge to the entire world community – such a formulation was used by UN food security expert Sarah Menker.

Even if the conflict ends soon, the situation in world markets will not improve without urgent coordinated action by many countries.

All the while rubbish from the Russian propaganda machine continues to be churned out. Here is an interesting read. My take is that it sounds great- the supporters of the nazis should pay reparations to all parties harmed. Of course, since Russia is the aggressing state, and at this point they are the “nazis”, the blame falls solely on them. Also, statements from the next supreme leader, Nikolai Patrushev, are beginning to make the news:

From the Telegram channel the Center for Countering Disinformation:

#CCD_reports: the russian leadership has launched a disinformation campaign on the “right to demand reparation from countries sponsoring Nazism”

🔺patrushev stated that “russia has the right to demand reparations from the countries that sponsored the Nazis in Ukraine, as well as the Kiev regime”
🔺At the same time, the temporarily occupied territories of Luhansk and Donetsk regions “may demand compensation for all material damage over eight years of aggression, and the Ukrainian people deserve reparations from the US and Britain, for support neo-Nazis and providing them with weapons”

❗️Similar theses were voiced by the speaker of the state duma volodin.

❗️The purpose of this disinformation campaign:
1⃣ substitution of the image of the aggressor in the russian-Ukrainian war in the perception of the Western world
2⃣ minimization of sanctions consequences for the russian economy at the expense of Western financial systems.

Another statement, apparently leaked, and of unconfirmed source, shows that Nikolai Patrushev may be preparing for other outcomes to the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine. Here presumably is part of a speech to be given upon upcoming death of Putin during surgery:

It is with tremendous regret that I inform our country of the death of our great leader VVP who died bravely during abdominal surgery. To carry on the immortal mission of the great president is at this time an impossibility; no one will be able to lead the country as he did, not even myself. Therefore I now wish to inform the people of Russia of the plan to liquidate state assets, to end all military and police expenditures, and to diversify the countries’ investments through mergers, sell-offs and autonomy measures.

First we will dissolve the FSB, the police, and the military. This will begin at midnight tonight. All those currently serving in these branches of government will be sent home and given one week’s severance pay.

Next we will free all political prisoners. Alexy Navalny will become head and co-leader of the interim government along with a diverse group of businessmen and citizens.

Finally the country itself will be divided and sold off in parcels. Most of the country, all that bordering other nations such as Poland, Finland, the Baltic states, and Kazakhstan will be sold to those countries. All lands belonging to the country of Ukraine, as well as Georgia and Moldova, which we have plans to occupy and to bomb into submission, will be returned and all Russian presence in those lands will end immediately.

The central part of the country will be sold to Elon Musk for some 40B American dollars, equaling in value his proposed purchase of Twitter. Nothing will change in the central state sell-off once Musk takes over control, other than the Kremlin being turned over to him in its entirety to be used as a summer home and Twitter-Europe headquarters. Also Moscow will be renamed “Muskow”. Otherwise, no changes.

Proceeds from the sale of the country will be paid to Ukraine for rebuilding and as reparations for the destruction of the country, murder of its citizens, and war crimes committed by Russia against them.

Remaining funds, as well as some state assets still held, will be disbursed amongst every single Russian citizen- adults 16 years of age and up will receive a stipend of 100 rubles, 10 packs of Belomorkanal cigarettes, and 3 loaves of bread. Children under the age of 16 will receive 75 rubles and 3 packs of Belomorkanal cigarettes.

Be careful what you believe; anyone can create any storyline they care to.

Back to facts, Russians continue to die at Putin’s whim. There are however entire units that are refusing to fight- search for Donetsk People’s Republic, or DPR army 4th Infantry Battalion of the 107th Regiment. They have apparently refused to fight for a “foreign republic” – the Luhansk People’s Republic, or LPR.

Russian combat losses as of 25 May, 2022

Russian combat losses as of 25 May, 2022

The people of Russia, if they want to be free from the tyranny they now suffer…

must arm themselves as best they can (rifles, revolvers, bombs, knives, knuckle-dusters, sticks, rags soaked in kerosene for starting fires, ropes or rope ladders, shovels for building barricades, pyroxylin cartridges, barbed wire, nails [against cavalry], etc., etc.)…. Select leaders or officers… work out signals… calls or whistles so that the comrades recognise one another in a crowd; previously arranged signals in the event of meetings at night, etc., etc…. Get weapons by attacking… a policemen, stray Cossacks… and seizing their arms… fight by getting on to the roofs or upper storeys of houses, etc., and showering stones or pouring boiling water on the troops, etc.

There is more, much more. Curious about the source?  A bit of irony here- it is from Lenin’s Tasks of Revolutionary Army Contingents, written in 1905.  I suppose it applies just as much today, to try and get out of this mess, as it did when Russians used the tactics to get themselves into it!

On to NATO:
Turkey on Finland and Sweden joining NATO, from the Telegram channel ….

The President of Turkey discussed with the leaders of Finland and Sweden their accession to NATO.

Erdogan demanded from Sweden to take action against organizations that Ankara considers terrorist, in particular regarding the PKK. And also to lift the embargo on the export of weapons imposed on Turkey due to the military operation against the Kurds.

Finnish President Niinistö called the conversation with Erdogan “open and direct”: “As NATO allies, Finland and Turkey will assume obligations to ensure each other’s security, and therefore our relations will become stronger. Finland condemns terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. The close dialogue continues.”

Sounds better than last week when the “news” would have us believe that Turkey was set against their joining.

If you are so inclined, Brookings hosted an event with the ambassadors of Finland and Sweden to the US this week, which is available to watch online- Finland, Sweden, and the future of NATO. The event was very informative, reinforcing for me a lot of what I already understood about the capabilities of both countries. I would stress that both countries are highly prepared to join NATO. Their spending levels meet or exceed the NATO member country requirements. Their armaments, preparedness, and ability to integrate with NATO cannot to be questioned.

One reason for their defensive capabilities is that both countries have a security posture called “total defense.” This means that they are prepared on all levels to defend their countries-  from maintaining a strong posture in order to deter any threats, to fighting in defense if necessary, to the creation of resistance movements if areas of the country are occupied.  This posture is visible throughout all levels of society- the entire population, business, infrastructure- everyone and everything is a part of the nations’ defenses. Look to Ukraine’s current posture, and success, and you will see total defense in action. Point of note, the Baltic countries and Poland also practice a total defense posture.

Here is an article at Overtdefense.com from June, 2021 outlining Ukraine’s total defense policy, and explaining why it can be so effective.

For more on the current status of NATO in general, and its decline in defensive ability since the end of the Cold War, see the paper by Anthony W. Cordesman and Grace Hwang, The Ukraine War: Preparing for the Longer-term Outcome. It is another very informative piece, which stresses the need for immediate and massive upgrades in NATO as a whole if it is to be a capable force. My takeaway from it: the Ukraine war has given NATO the best reference point it is going to get in relation to accuracy in planning for future threats from Russia. The Ukraine war is a wake-up call for NATO to asses its capabilities and implement changes across the board, immediatley.

Finally, Putin continues to murder his own citizens:

russian combat losses as of 24 May, 2022

Russian combat losses as of 24 May, 2022

“Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others.” The words of Winston Churchill, which need to be considered to fully understand the predicament the world is in today, the possible futures before us, and the requirements of western nations, emerging democracies, and authoritarian regimes alike. We have essentially two choices: to work towards equity, justice, democracy, freedom, and liberty. Or to work towards the opposite, the path of the pathological, authoritarian, megalomaniac “leading” Russia. Remember, there has never been a perfect political system, just as there has never been peace. Both are idealised parts of a long dreamt of world, that at best is what we strive for, work towards, never lose hope of attaining.  At worst they are, and will remain, fantasies, illusions, and far-off dreams.

Another quote summarises the Russian state. From Foreign Affairs magazine May/June 2022 issue, in the article Putin Unbound by Daniel Treisman,

“Russia is a brutally repressive police state run by a small group of hard-liners who have imposed ever-harsher policies both at home and abroad.”

Governments are at work, militaries are at work, Finland and Sweden have made their decisions, but what can the rest of us do? The simplest thing that anyone can do is to donate to help Ukraine. See the links in the upper right of this post. Not everyone can do that, so next is to fight against disinformation and help spread the truth- pass on verified information to as many people as possible within your networks. This is not just a battle against disinformation being fought against Russia- it has just as many proponents worldwide, and within our own country.  (What a sad state our democracy has fallen to!) Finally, contact your representatives and let them know we need to do more for Ukraine- more food, medicine, weapons, more sanctions against Russia, and more support for NATO and Europe.

In an article in the Wall Street Journal from last weekend, Putin Drives Finland Into NATO’s Arms, there is a quote by a 78-year-old amateur historian that stands out,

What Stalin forgot, and what Putin is forgetting now, is that if you fight for your own home, it makes the difference.

The reference here is to the Winter War of 1939-1940 where Finnish fighters did the same to Russian forces as Ukrainians are doing now- cutting them off, destroying their morale, destroying their forces, and eventually driving them out. The people of Finland were brave in 1939-1940, as they were last week in joining NATO. The people of Ukraine are brave. They are standing up for the world and they deserve our help.

The same article outlines the very prudent preparations that Finland has been making on their own over many, many years. These range from defense spending almost meeting NATO requirements, to upgrading and training with equipment that will integrate immediately with that used by NATO, to building a series of underground tunnels and shelters that will house up to 70% of the population, while stockpiling food, fuel and medicine.  Finland sets an example for all other countries to follow.

Since this seems to be a post full of quotes, I will end with one more.  “Budschego net“- Russian for “no future.”  This I learned from Masha Gessen’s similarly titled book, The Future is History. It is a commonly held and expressed sentiment in the… former Soviet Union, or today’s Russia, and says it all.

If by some stretch of the imagination someone in Russia reads this post, know that the future has not been cancelled entirely. The future is up to you. Be brave like the people of Ukraine and stand up to your government. You may suffer, and you may die. But Russians will continue to die every day until they stand together against their own tyranny.

 

russian combat losses as of 20 May 2022

Russian combat losses as of 20 May 2022

My comments for the day begin thus: Russians are falling perfectly into step with the oppressive, authoritarian state, and state sanctioned lies. The propaganda fed to them by the brutal, murderous state is not questioned; the subjects take it as gospel truth, as good Soviet (Putinist) citizens should.  The work of the KGB (FSB) makes sure that fear rules that country; anyone speaking out in any way is subject to arrest as a foreign agent, with 15 years ahead of them. If this is not history repeating itself, then I don’t know what is. See Solzhenitsyn’s The Gulag Archipelago, as I seem to be repeating in blog after blog. All of this just happened, and there are still people alive who saw it and lived it the last time.

Are we doing enough? From the Telegram channel Ищи своих, from 15 May, 2022 (translated using Google Translate):

West not doing enough to unseat Putin, Iranian analyst

“Regime change in any situation, be it in Russia, Iran or North Korea, will not be possible without the intervention of an internal factor or the people.”

Amir Taheri is sure: “Putin believes that the war in Ukraine will eventually be the first step towards the “Russification” of Europe. It is important to help the Russian people understand that Putin wants to go in the opposite direction of history and bring Russia to war with all of Europe.”

There you have it.  We are not doing enough- the US, Europe, the rest of the world. My immediate list- more opinions on my part- on what should be done:

  • Every penny that is in any way traced back to Russia should immediately go into a fund for the eventual rebuilding of Ukraine, or for the fight against Russia right now
  • Every Russian unit, every single soldier being held by Ukraine who was anywhere near the scene of any war crimes should be questioned, and if evidence indicates, put on trial immediately. The trials should be swift and just, more in keeping with Nuremberg- a year and half and they were completed. Not like the ICTY trials, and those still underway, in Bosnia- 30 years after the fact!
  • Every last resource available to us, those of us outside of Russia, should be used to bring Putin and his regime down- economic means, cyber warfare, sanctions against Russia and sanctions against US companies and multi-nationals who still do business in Russia (these in place until they leave Russia for good), and finally good old fashioned subversion and psyops (psychological operations)- getting alternative information- truth, into Russia through radio, TV, social media, and even in print. Spreading accurate information in a closed society is a form of subversion. Subversion is a tactic that can gain more ground psychologically than possibly any other.  We see a few overt, active  subversive acts going on- the firebombing of recruiting stations for example (level 3 subversion includes sabotage). These firebombings should be only the beginning.

Again, my opinions. And yes, they are harsh. But the survival of Europe as we know it, and… not to be too much of a doomsayer here, but… possibly even our SPECIES is at stake here.

Feeding the hungry in Ukraine–  an update from the World Central Kitchen.  They continue to feed so many people in Ukraine- 25 million meals served to date!  They are always in need of donations. See the links above, right.

Russian soldiers murdered by Putin so far- fast approaching twice the number who died in Afghanistan over the course of 10 years!

Russian combat losses as of 16 May 2022

Russian combat losses as of 16 May 2022

 

Points of note for today:

Finally, while we would like to believe that all large, multi-national companies are supporting Ukraine and have left Russia, this is not the case. Companies such as Nestle, MARS, Danone, Procter & Gamble, Philip Morris, and PepsiCo to name a few, are still doing business in Russia to one degree or another- still selling products, selling a limited range of products, and paying employees (and therefore taxes to the Russian government).

The following is reposted from the Telegram channel Center for Countering Disinformation, 11-12 May, 2022:

Russia as a terrorist state-

Given the beginning of Western countries’ recognition of Russia as a terrorist state, it is necessary to inform about the consequences of such a decision for it

  • A state sponsor of terrorism is a country that, in accordance with the official position of the US State Department, provides support for acts of international terrorism.
  • 10.05.2022 – Lithuania recognizes Russia as a terrorist country. The Lithuanian Seimas has adopted a resolution recognizing Russia as a terrorist state.
  • 10.05.2022 – the US Senate registered a resolution recognizing Russia as a sponsor of terrorism.

Inclusion on such a list entails severe economic and political sanctions, including:

  • ban on arms supplies (export and sale)
  • control over the export of dual-use goods
  • ban on economic aid
  • various financial and other restrictions

Baltic States deny Russian propaganda victory- 

Russian propaganda claims that the campaign launched by the governments of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia to recognize Russia as an aggressor country is not supported by the Russian-speaking population of these countries

But the kremlin’s hopes of using Russian-speaking minorities to justify the special operation proved futile.

🔺On April 21, the parliamentarians of Estonia and Latvia recognized the Russian actions as genocide of the Ukrainian people
🔺Latvian opposition Harmony party, which represents the interests of Russian-born voters, unanimously condemned the aggression
🔺Estonian faction of the Centrist Party, based on the Russian-speaking electorate, signed a statement in support of Ukraine
🔺Lithuanian parliamentarians unanimously adopted a resolution recognizing Russia as a state that supports and commits terrorism
🔺According to a survey conducted by the Baltic agency SKDS, 68% of Russian-speaking respondents support Ukraine, take part in actions in support of Ukraine and help refugees.

 

Russian combat losses as of 12 May, 2022

Russian combat losses as of 12 May, 2022

 

From Solzhenitsyn’s The Gulag Archipelago, a concise description of the Soviet, and in large part post-Soviet mind, from the opening lines of chapter 8:

We forget everything. What we remember is not what actually happened, not history, but merely that hackneyed dotted line that they have chosen to drive into our memories by incessant hammering.

Moving to other parts of eastern Europe, there are many countries that are subject to the same forces.  We must pay attention- individually and as governments, to Viktor Orban in Hungary, Alexander Lukashenko in Belarus, to Dodic in Republica Srbska, and Vučić in Serbia. Let’s add in Erdoğan in Turkey as well. These leaders do not complete the list; there are countless others working under, for and against all of them, and in so many other countries, ready to fill any power vacuum should it open up. Looking beyond Ukraine, what happens in these countries will be potentially as important for the future of Europe. Remember that the fight is not against a single ruler, but against a system, an ideology, an ignorance that corrupts individuals, families, small towns and entire countries.

Next, drones, and the future of warfare. It is clear that their effective use in Ukraine is leading to the eventual Ukrainian victory over Russia. (Clear to me at any rate; I remain optimistic that good will triumph.)  The Turkish-made Bayraktur TB2 drone is one of the UAV’s that is in use. It has a cost of 5 million USD each, and has a wide range of uses, has an 18,000 feet operational altitude, 27 hours maximum airtime, a payload capacity of 150 kg, a range of 300 kilometers, and carries 4 laser guided munitions.  This is a multi-use drone.

The U.S.-made AeroEnvironment Switchblade 600 is an entirely different type of drone, costing only 6000 USD each. It’s range is 40 kilometers, flight time is 40 minutes, and it carries one anti-armor warhead. It is proving to be highly lethal, and worth every penny.

The use of drones is morally questionable to some. A paper from September of 2020 addressing the question is Drones and War: The Impact of Advancement in Military Technology on Just War Theory and the International Law of Armed Conflict.  To summarise the arguments made in the paper, the use of drones creates a power disparity, knowledge disparity, and their precision creates another level of disparity- drones create an extreme asymmetry in warfare, and thus make their use immoral.

I counter the argument with this: if you are defending your sovereign, peaceful nation which has been invaded by aggressors that indiscriminately kill, commit war crimes with no fear of retribution, disregard the Geneva Convention and the rules of modern war, you have every right and indeed an obligation to defend against and destroy your enemy with weapons that do so with precision, accuracy, and immediate effect.

If you would like to read more about how modern conflicts are approached by countries who attempt to maintain the moral high ground, the International Committee for the Red Cross has just released a handbook for commanders and staff in partnered military operations.  A partial description of the book from the ICRC page reads:

The handbook offers planning and decision-making considerations for avoiding or lessening adverse humanitarian effects on civilian populations. It presents proactive, pragmatic practices to foster Law of Armed Conflict compliance by partners; to identify, avert, or mitigate potential risks to civilians; to positively influence partner behaviour; and to stimulate awareness in partners’ and own force’s behaviour and actions that can potentially harm civilians.

An electronic copy of Preventing Civilian Harm in Partnered Military Operations: A Commander’s Handbook can be downloaded by clicking the linked.

The Russian government… a brutal, schizophrenic, dissociated, draconian society of criminals and murderers. The question I personally always come back to is, how do so many millions, hundreds of millions of people live with such repression, hopelessness, isolation, suffering, lies, and murder as acceptable and normal? And this is not just directed at Russia, it is a global disease, that of collective insanity. But since my focus here is specific… Russia, you can fight- on the side of good, stand up, fight for freedom , like Ukraine, and perhaps die. Or you can remain passive, inactive, resigned to accept evil. And perhaps die. Do I need to remind you of Stalin? Gulags? Mass murder of your countrymen by your countrymen? It is a personal choice that many have to make- to die on your knees, or standing, defiant, fighting.

And here I will mention my agenda- I do have one; we all do. Mine is to remind people of history, to remind them of the difference between good and evil. Yes, things are mostly grey; black and white do not exist in this realm, other than as a fantasy. There will never be “peace”, bliss, paradise, perfection, so long as there is more than one human on the earth. But it is a matter of degrees- some systems are better than others, some include democracy, freedom, rule of law, human rights, endless possibilities for anyone strong enough to seek them. Other systems do not allow any of this. The line is clear. One only need look at Ukraine, and then Russia’s actions in Ukraine on this very day to see what it looks like on both sides of that line.

The Soviet dream... I would characterise it as a nightmare.

The Soviet dream… I would characterise it as a nightmare. Undated photograph from Telegram channel Ищи своих.  Maybe it’s 1982, or is it 2022?

 

Mariupol, 2022, or Sarajevo 1992? Is Ukraine on the way to the same?

And finally for those interested, a Brookings webinar from earlier this week- The Future of American Air Power is available online to watch at your leisure. A few points of note from the talk, regarding Ukraine.  First, the panelists noted that Ukraine has maintained complete command and control, free from infiltration from cyber attacks from the top down, on all levels, during the current war. Russia has not been able to penetrate any of their systems as regards the cyber threat. I wonder how much the U.S. has contributed to that stability? Another point that was made is the Ukrainian air defense capabilities and their effectiveness- the mix of old, Soviet-era equipment, offensive and defensive, along with modern weapons have allowed Ukraine to maintain security in the air. Intelligence sharing as well as the effective use of drones seem to play a large part in this model. Slava Ukraine!

Russian combat losses as of 06 May 2022

Russian combat losses as of 06 May 2022.