Russia Invades Ukraine XVI

Tidewater

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And Russian popular opinion on the war.
Take this with a grain of salt, however. Who wants to give and honest answer if you disagree with the war? You could be arrested or fall out of a window.
 
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JDCrimson

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So its okay for Russia to engage mercenaries in the fight on its side but an act warranting a nuclear response if Ukraine uses mercenaries on its side?

May as well start the next thread.
Russia's Meatgrinder" strategy.
Sergey Radchenko is a Ukrainian, working at Johns Hopkins.
 

Tidewater

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So its okay for Russia to engage mercenaries in the fight on its side but an act warranting a nuclear response if Ukraine uses mercenaries on its side?
It does not have to make sense.
Honestly, the Russians have looked at the correlation of forces with NATO in terms of men, tanks, airplanes, ships, GDP, general population and come to the realization that the only category they have near parity in is nukes, so they leverage nukes hard.
How do you leverage nukes? By rattling the nuclear saber frequently and loudly.
The problem is that when you cry "wolf!" too many times it loses its effectiveness.
 
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4Q Basket Case

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It does not have to make sense.
Honestly, the Russians have looked at the correlation of forces with NATO in terms of men, tanks, airplanes, ships, GDP, general population and come to the realization that the only category they have near parity in is nukes, so they leverage nukes hard.
How do you leverage nukes? By rattling the nuclear saber frequently and loudly.
The problem is that when you cry "wolf!" too many times it loses its effectiveness.
Until the Russia - Ukraine War, I didn't know that nukes require a LOT of maintenance.

Turns out that unlike a conventional high explosive weapon, you can't just build them, store them away, pull them out years or decades later, and shoot them off.

We know that Russia hasn't maintained much of anything, and that most of the material and money that would have been allocated to such things was stolen by Putin and other Russian "leaders." Plus, they pretty much stopped high-tech education in the 1980s. So people capable of performing the maintenance are at the end of their working careers, already retired, or (given Russian life expectancy), dead.

Point being, I wonder how effective their nuclear arsenal really is. On top of which, fully operational western military missile defense systems are danged good. Keep in mind, the Patriot system that has gotten a lot of attention in Ukraine isn't anywhere near today's state of the art.

Of course, it takes only one to get through and cause massive localized problems. But I'm not nearly as worried about it as I was earlier in the war.
 
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Tidewater

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Point being, I wonder how effective their nuclear arsenal really is.
That is the $64,000 question.
They probably have a horrific "dude rate." (A big part of the MoD reshuffle in China last year was due to Xi discovering lots of corruption and malfeasance in the Chinese nuclear arsenal). But you never know until you shoot one.
If the West gambles that the overwhelming majority of Russia's nukes are inop, it might find out that the one warhead heading towards Brussels was the one that was properly maintained.
In maritime strategy (Sir Jullian Corbett), there is a thing called a "fleet in being."
As long as the Franco-Spanish fleet did not sortie in 1805, the British Royal Navy had to blockade the French & Spanish ports. Once the Franco-Spanish fleet did sortie, and the Brits made short work of them at Trafalgar, there was very little Franco-Spanish fleet left and the Brits no longer had to guard the entire French and Spanish coast. Life got a lot easier for the Royal Navy after that.
Likewise, as long as the Russians are merely threatening to use nukes and not actually using them, the threat is (a little) credible. Once they try to use a few and show that most do not function, then the bluff is much less effective.
 
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CrimsonJazz

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Russia's economy is completely dominated by its war in Ukraine, so much that Moscow cannot afford either to win or lose the war, according to one European economist.

Renaud Foucart, a senior economics lecturer at Lancaster University, pointed to the dire economic situation facing Russia as the war in Ukraine wraps up its second year.

Russia's GDP grew 5.5% year-over-year over the third quarter of 2023, according to data from the Russian government. But most of that growth is being fueled by the nation's monster military spending, Foucart said, with plans for the Kremlin to spend a record 36.6 trillion rubles, or $386 billion on defense this year.

"Military pay, ammunition, tanks, planes, and compensation for dead and wounded soldiers, all contribute to the GDP figures. Put simply, the war against Ukraine is now the main driver of Russia's economic growth" Foucart said in an op-ed for The Conversation this week.

Other areas of Russia's economy are hurting as the war drags on. Moscow is slammed with a severe labor shortage, thanks to young professionals fleeing the country or being pulled into the conflict. The nation is now short around 5 million workers, according to one estimate, which is causing wages to soar.
 
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NationalTitles18

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US says Russia used choking agents against Ukrainian troops, breaching chemical weapons ban

The United States has formally accused Russia of using chemical weapons “as a method of warfare” against Ukraine and imposed sweeping new sanctions on Russian firms and government bodies.

In a statement on Wednesday, the US State Department said it had “made a determination … that Russia has used the chemical weapon chloropicrin against Ukrainian forces in violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC).”

It added that Russia had also used “riot control agents,” or tear gas, during the war in violation of the CWC.

“The use of such chemicals is not an isolated incident, and is probably driven by Russian forces’ desire to dislodge Ukrainian forces from fortified positions and achieve tactical gains on the battlefield,” it said.
 
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Tidewater

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US Soldier detained in Russia.
A US soldier, in the process of "PCSing" (conduct a Permanent Change of Station) from Korea to somewhere in the states decided to take a side trip to see his Russian "girlfriend" in Vladivostok, where, surprise! He was arrested on what are most likely trumped up charges.
His government provided itinerary, I'm sure, did not pass through Vladivostok, but he changed it on his own.
I know for a fact that a trip to a foreign country on your own dime requires prior declaration and permission from government authorities, so this probably was not declared and approved. (If he had asked, his chain of command would have asked him, "Are you high? You're being set up. Of course you cannot go to Vladivostok. Permission denied."
Now this guy is learning of the wonders of the Russian justice system, just like Brittany Griner, Paul Whelan, and Evan Gershkovich.
When will people learn: Do not go to Russia. Your innocence has nothing to do with you being arrested or not. Your passport says everything.
 

crimsonaudio

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First, and most acutely troubling, is the northern border near Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second city. Russian forces have crossed the border in multiple locations and claim to have seized nine villages. Their move 3 to 4.5 miles (5 to 7 kilometers) into Ukraine, in the border area above Ukraine’s second city of Kharkiv, is arguably their fastest advance since the first days of the war. Russia has thrown five battalions at the border town of Vovchansk, Ukrainian officials said, which has been hit hard by airstrikes over the weekend.

The town of Lyptsi is at risk, say some military bloggers, and from there Russian forces could hit Kharkiv with artillery. This is a nightmare for Kyiv for two reasons: firstly, they liberated this land from Russian forces 18 months ago, yet failed, clearly, to fortify the area enough to prevent Moscow sweeping back with the ease with which they were swept out.

And secondly, Russia can again tie up Ukraine’s over-stretched army with constant and grinding pressure on Kharkiv, exacting a toll with crude shelling on a vast urban center.
The rest of the world wants the Ukraine war to go away. Putin has other ideas
 

TexasBama

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And there is this. Tangentially related to Ukraine.
At Army’s special-ops school, the biggest changes in a generation
This will be interesting.
I heard about this on the new a few days ago, that they were over here training us.

I was at a lunch party yesterday and one of the attendees was West Point class of 2004 (infantry). We talked quite a bit, and I mentioned and he agreed that at lot of what he learned at WP is no longer the way fighting is done. OTOH, we also agreed that Ukraine bears a resemblance to WW1 in a lot of ways.
 

JDCrimson

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Well, if we don't help Ukraine crush Russia, we will be committing our own to do it.

Thing is Russia has shown their hand on how they plan to do it because it's the only they can do it WWII style lobbing a few nukes. Problem is us and NATO abandoned fighting a war this way 40 years ago. So Russia knows we can't and won't commit waves of men to an invasion whereas they will.

Russia must be neutered. As long as they are a threat, China, Iran, and North Korea will be very difficult to deal with. If Russia is defanged, then the others are much easier to neutralize.
 
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