I mentioned the book “Russian ‘Hybrid Warfare’ and the Annexation of Crimea” by Kent DeBenedictis in at least one recent post. I have since added the book to my list of indispensable, essential reading for understanding Russia, its actions over the years, the Soviet Union, and the history and meaning of Russian hybrid warfare. I have only just started digesting the book- it has so much information, leading to so many other sources and required reads (some of which I list below,) that it will take me some time to get through the entire thread.

In summary DeBenedictis explains hybrid warfare, (aka, new-generation warfare, non-linear warfare, or indirect warfare- used interchangeably but certainly with nuanced differences if the terms were deconstructed) as nothing new. Rather it is a rebranding, and adaptation for the 21st century of Soviet counter-revolution theory, used throughout Soviet history to confront its enemies. For analysis of Crimea, the author uses the Soviet invasions of Czechoslovakia in 1968 and Afghanistan in 1979 for comparison, offers an assessment of operational and tactical aspects of modern, hybrid warfare compared to “classical” soviet political warfare, that is Soviet counter-revolution theory as opposed to today’s Russian color revolution theory, and applies and contrasts both models.

For a deeper look at new-generation war/ hybrid warfare and the origins of color revolution theory, see the following sources, which include the writings of top Russian military leaders:

At the NATO Defense College publications page there are countless downloadable PDF’s; see specifically “Handbook of Russian Information Warfare” by Keir Giles, from November, 2016. It provides an introduction to Russia’s assault on information space, how they categorise information warfare, how their definitions and acceptability of targets differ from those of NATO and the west, and how the west is currently and has long-been under such an attack. A useful term from the monograph is “perception management,” an age old practice of course, but one that I tend to reiterate and force in every blog I write; it is nothing short the ongoing process of narrative creation, of Orwellian “mobile truth.” Again, beware any “information” coming out of Russia posing as news.

Also see General of the Army Gerasimov’s article from the Russian journal Military-Industrial Kurier, 27 February 2013- The Value of Science Is in the Foresight (translated and published by Robert Coalson of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty), reprinted in the U.S. Army’s Military Review, January-February 2016.

For and analysis and interpretation of Gerasimov’s article, see “Getting Gerasimov Right”, by Charles K. Bartles, also from the U.S. Army’s Military Review, January-February 2016.

Finally, there is “The Nature and Content of a New-Generation War” by Chekinov and Bogdanov, cited by DeBenedictis and others as another source for Russia’s doctrine of new-generation war.

Update on Russian combat losses- another 1010 invaders killed yesterday, with a total fast approaching 150,000 dead. An Aljazeera report states the fully 30,000 of those deaths were Wagner “mercenaries,” with 90% of those casualties being released convicts.

Russian combat losses as of 18 February, 2023

Russian combat losses as of 18 February, 2023

And to end this post on a lighter note, comedic at this point, but also a disturbing in its clarity and applicability, I turn to the past. On the horizon: economic confusion, political instability, chaos, and no more Pizza Hut.

I have recently been researching Russian military doctrine. The latest official release of their doctrine that I could find was from 2014, though there appears to have been a more recent revision apparently without significant changes. One document that clearly outlines and analyses the 2014 doctrine is a NATO Research Paper (from 2015)- “Russia’s 2014 Military Doctrine and beyond: threat perceptions, capabilities and ambitions.” Clicking the link takes you to a downloadable PDF.

The paper opens with a quote by George Kennan writing as “X” in Foreign Affairs Magazine in July, 1947, which fairly summed up the doctrine then and does so even more accurately today (just substitute “Russian” for “Soviet” if you feel the need):

Today the major part of the structure of Soviet power is committed to the perfection of the dictatorship and to the maintenance of the concept of Russia as in a state of siege, with the enemy lowering beyond the walls. And the millions of human beings who form that part of the structure of power must defend-at all costs this concept of Russia’s position, for without it they are themselves superfluous.

There you have it. In my estimation, the “new Russia” project, which grew out of the collapse of the Soviet Union as of 08 December, 1991, began as a recovery and stabilisation project. As it progressed it became less passive and cooperative, even obsequious, and developed the current doctrine of intervention, power projection, and offensive enlargement. Again, back to the same old tricks, that is, the promotion of total state power through control of the media, security apparatus, a growing army and military industrial complex, withdrawal from treaties and cooperative security organisations, increased missile testing and development, increased numbers and capability of nuclear arms, disregard for the UN and the rules it has agreed to abide by as a member, and broken continually, and so on ad infinitum.

All of this leads to the present day- blatant invasion of a sovereign country with concomitant genocide and war crimes and plans to continue the same across Europe and Asia until Russia’s “great power” has been restored. Regarding war crimes, those in Ukraine are certainly not the first Russia has engaged in- read about recent warrants issued for war crimes in the Georgia war of 2008.

For background on the Georgia war, and an assessment of both Georgian and Russian performance in the war, see the United States Army War College Press Monograph 576, “The Russian Military and the Georgia War: Lessons and Implications.”  Although the war was conducted in 2008, and the monograph published in 2011, it provides detailed and useful background data on Russia’s largest military operation up to 2008, discusses Russian shortcomings, and is a good starting point for understanding changes in Russian forces and doctrine since then. The monograph together with the NATO Research Paper noted above highlight the changes that Russia sought to make and how their failure to implement many of those changes are clearly visible in their performance in Ukraine.

So where does that summary leave us? First, we are on the right track- the west, US, Europe, and the world at large with support for Ukraine. We must continue to support them, and continue to increase our support whether it be food and clothing, medical supplies, ammunition, or the most high-tech weapons systems at our disposal. Russian resources are growing thin. Russian support of Putin’s war of conquest will soon reach a tipping point, and perhaps we’ll see the entire structure come tumbling down. And when that happens we must take full advantage of the situation, and not squander it, and the security of Europe and the world, as we did in the 1990’s!

For today, there are so many ways that each of us can help Ukraine. See the list of links to sites where you can donate in the upper right. United24 is the main Ukrainian government clearinghouse for donations. The Ukrainian Army of Drones is one of the most effective ways you and I can help Ukraine defend itself. Right now Mark Hamill, of Star Wars fame, has become an ambassador of UNITED24 and its Drone Army.  Follow the link to learn more, and to to make a “dronation” to help Ukraine protect its skies.

As of today, 30 January 2023:

Russian combat losses as of 30 January, 2023

Russian combat losses as of 30 January, 2023

 

Finland and Sweden are on their way to being NATO countries.  Good for them!  Next up, Ukraine, at the very least… is Moldova ready yet?

In other parts of the world, elections in Lebanon- from Aljazeera- Hezbollah and its allies lose seats, independent candidates make gains. 

A good read- if you have access to Foreign Affairs online, read the article The Coup in the Kremlin- How Putin and the Security Services Captured the Russian State.  Pay attention to the author’s choice of words- “state organs”, “chekists”, “siloviki”, the KGB (now FSB and still in the original Luyanka KGB headquarters?), NKVD, and so on- these and other references to the Stalinist Soviet Union are very timely. History repeating.

If you have a couple of free hours, you can view the Brookings Institute webinar from today- Threats to American Democracy, the Thirteenth Annual A. Alfred Taubman Forum on Public Policy . The webinar had two parts, the first one covering the electoral and institutional challenges facing the US, the second part covered digital threats, misinformation, and disinformation. The second part interested me immensely, making comparisons to the autocratic decision making processes of Russia, China, and corporations!  Each has a very specific agenda, and tailors information to its needs. There were mentions of tribalism, discord, and division, all of which are necessary, sought after, and promoted by authoritarians and corporate media in order to thrive and profit. Give that some thought.

Finally, if we abandon Ukraine, we abandon freedom, democracy, justice, and a bravery that is protecting us all, whether we realise it or not.

Arm Ukraine Now!

Arm Ukraine Now!

 

I could not pass up reposting this report and its images from the Telegram channel Ищи своих.  This type of “enforcement” smacks of Stalin’s methods for the purges. Back then any “infraction”, meaning in pretext whether true or fabricated, could be used against any citizen as cause for their arrest, torture, and execution.

Here is the translation through Google Translate of the original Ukrainian post:

Detentions for the blue-yellow color in Russia.

👉 In the center of Moscow, a girl was grabbed by the police for her manicure in the color of the Ukrainian flag. Two protocols were drawn up against her about allegedly discrediting the Russian army and violating the rules for holding a public event.

👉 And in Pskov, the police came to a woman who had a blue and yellow fence. They said that these colors are undesirable in the Russian Federation while the war is going on in Ukraine. The fence was forced to be repainted completely blue.

Russian arrested for having wrong color of nail polish. Russians harassed for having the wrong color of fence.

 

 

Another day of war in Ukraine, and there is death on both sides. We must remember that this war is on two fronts: in Ukraine, on the ground, and in Russia, against Putin and his mafia state. Ukrainian soldiers and civilians stand strong, and have sworn to fight to the end. Meanwhile in Russia the war is just getting started. There are of course Russians who side against the war, against Putin, and against his authoritarian system. But there is not enough dissent- it needs to grow, and it must happen across the ranks, from the top down, and through the entire society- meaning in the government, the military, and the populace. The people of Russia must take a stand. While they have a history of living in fear, compliance, and resignation, the time has passed for that. The best way to characterise what will not work is to quote Solzhenitsyn, from The Gulag Archipelago:

Someday our descendants will describe our several generations as generations of driveling do-nothings. First we submissively allowed them to massacre us by the millions, and then with devoted concern we tended the murderers in their prosperous old age.

Moving on, according to a 28 March, 2022 article in Foreign Affairs entitled How the West Can Weaken Putin by Stephen E. Biegun and David J. Kramer, some 200,000 Russian troops have been deployed to Ukraine which amounts to about 70% of their available ground forces. The same article cites a NATO estimate that some 40,000 Russians have been killed, captured, wounded, or are missing. Those are high numbers, no matter how you look at them. I cannot help but wonder if the Russian people know about these figures, and if they do (which is unlikely) what do they think about them?

On a positive note, I have noticed recently in many of the articles I read that there has been a shift from speaking about if Putin will be removed, to just how and when he will fall.  No more “if.”

 

Russian combat losses as of 20 April, 2022

Russian combat losses as of 20 April, 2022

Today is another day, a good day for most of us, but not so for the people of Ukraine. Below is a repost from the Telegram Channel  The Center for Countering Disinformation. They are posting daily, countering disinformation from many different sources. The takeaway from all of it- beware ANY information that comes out of Russia, no matter where you read it.

Hybrid warfare, the kind the world is currently engaged in, includes digital warfare- manipulation of data, imagery and video, not to mention standard hacking operations. Propaganda and disinformation, and specifically in Russia, the use of conspiracy theories, have long been methods used to manipulate populations. Today the same tactics have instant global reach, swaying huge numbers of people in many countries in a relatively short time.

The CCD staff has compiled a selection of russia’s fakes, manipulations and disinformation bogus stories on April 18, 2022

❌ During a report at a meeting of the Commission to Investigate the Activities of Biolaboratories in Ukraine, Vice Speaker of the state duma of russia Yarova said that russia “discovered the fact of bacteriological terrorism against children in the ORLO in 2020”
🔻Warning: it’s a fake!

❌russian media published words taken from the publication of the former President of the Czech Republic V. Klaus for the “iDNES”: “Now everyone is literally radiating love for Ukraine and Ukrainians, but isn’t this love just a screen that hides “hatred for russia”
🔻Warning: it’s a manipulation!

❌russian propagandists stated that “the United States has already handed over to Kyiv more than a third of its missile reserves for Javelin anti-tank systems, and Germany and Canada have already exhausted opportunities for military assistance”
🔻Warning: it’s a disinformation!

Let’s stop #infoterror!

Russian Emigration
An Aljazeera article posted today cites 300,000 Russians leaving the country as of 16 March, as well as others who were out of the country when the war began who are not returning. The article speaks of the fears of many in Russia- mainly those who have an anti-war and anti-Putin stance- fear of physical retribution, fear of imprisonment, and fear of being “purged“, a word used by Putin himself in a mid-March speech, according to the article. Welcome to Putinist Russia, Stalinist Russia rebranded.

Wondering how you can help?

The links to the right are a place to start. You can help feed Ukrainians, donate to help journalists continue to report, or donate to the Ukrainian Red Cross. Another way to help is to support the purchase of electronics, defensive equipment, training, and rehabilitation of brave Ukrainian fighters. The website Defending Ukraine Together allows you to help.  Here is a paragraph outlining their purpose, taken directly from their website:

How Come Back Alive Helps

Our fund supports the Armed Forces of Ukraine through financing purely defence initiatives. Since 2014 we have provided around 1000 thermal imagers and over 250 UAVs. In addition to the material support, we increased technological capabilities of the Army through providing 1,500 tablets with Armor software aimed at stopping the artillery. Come Back Alive also organizes trainings to equip our military with crucial skills. In 2015 we launched trainings for medical workers, artillerists, snipers, minesweepers, and defence analysts. After coming back from the front line, our military members have access to sport rehabilitation and veteran business opportunities.

Our organization does not use funds for purchasing arms. Our mission is limited to supplying technology, trainings, and accouterments to help save lives of Ukrainians and help our warriors defend Ukraine.

As Russian combat losses continue to mount, there are claims that Ukrainian marines have surrendered, and of torture of captured Russian soldiers. Beware of disinformation!  These claims may be a sign of desperation on the part of Russia. When all other tactics of the aggressor fail, that is, when wholesale destruction of cities and the murder of citizens no longer seems to be working, Russia can always fall back on using the rules of war, and rule of law to get attention by displacing blame from the aggressor to the victim.

Beware any information coming out of Russia, no matter what the source!

 

Russian combat losses as of 13 April, 2022

Russian combat losses as of 13 April, 2022

You can help the people of Ukraine by donating to World Central Kitchen.  They were helping feed victims of Russian aggression in Kramatorsk during the Russian missile attack. You can see tweets and a video from Kramatorsk here.

I wake every morning these days wondering what madness the day has in store. News from Ukraine is of course at the top, and today there is talk of tens of thousands killed in Mariupol, of a new Russian offensive, and war crimes. Russia seems set on continuing to murder Ukrainians, as well as sending their own citizens to be slaughtered. More war means, if the past weeks are any indication, more war crimes. That is the immediate, and then there is the trickle down- rising prices, food shortages, gas shortages, and a growing sense of fear of tomorrow, world wide.  Oh, brave new world, that has such people in it!

Ivo Daalder and James Lindsay, in their recent Foreign Policy article, warn against our focus changing from “restoring Ukraine’s sovereignty and independence to a policy of active regime change in Russia.” My opinion, as always: unrelenting and increasing pressure on Russia, from all sides, in all possible forms (short of all-out third world war.) If this means regime change, and I hope it does, then so be it. It is either now, when the scene is set, or later when it will cost even more. We are only putting off the inevitable. Russia will someday fall; it is only a matter of when.

Some numbers, for perspective- in Russia there are approximately:

  • 146,000,000 people
  • 850,000 active duty military personnel
  • 250,000 national guard troops
  • 75,000 FSB “officers”
  • 750,000 regular police

There are clearly more citizens than FSB, police, and military. And how many of those paid by the state would, in the end, side with the people? Always a question when a coup might be on the horizon.

In the meantime, Russian combat losses continue to increase.

Russian combat losses as of 11 April, 2022

Russian combat losses as of 11 April, 2022 from the Telegram channel Center for Countering Disinformation.