Thursday 17 February 2022

Russia Has A Painful Precedent In Mind

 ... and it's Finland, 1939-1940.

Russia hasn't had stellar success of late, even in Georgia and Chechnya, both a damn' sight easier to chew off than Ukraine.  

But the real pain must come whenever they think of Finland, whose heavily outnumbered forces dealt them a serious bloody nose.  It's generally reckoned the Soviet casualties in the 'Winter War' were of the same order of magnitude as Britain suffered during the whole of WW2 - and that in just three and a half months.  For not much gain  (a bit of Donbass-style land-grab), and substantial international opprobrium.   (Not that Joe Stalin cared very much.  Nor about casualties, for that matter.)

That's what can happen when you take on a nation that is (a) very big, geographically, with unlimited ability for tactical retreat by the defender, and overstretch trouble for the attacker;  (b) fiercely nationalistic.   Given their own dealings with Napoleon and Hitler, we might imagine that for the Russians, this lesson is not lost ...

It's been fairly noted recently that successful guerilla wars are fought by youthful fanatics, not middle-aged populations - with the suggestion that under this precept Ukraine has the wrong demographics for that kind of resistance.  Maybe so: but surely Finland is a much more relevant case study.

Oh, and that extremely interested observer President Xi will also be recalling China's own less-than-glorious attack on Vietnam in 1979.  Still, at least Putin hasn't pooped on Xi's Winter Olympics party in the unseemly way he did with Georgia, slap bang in the middle of Beijing's 2008 summer games, to China's profound disgust.  Well - not yet, anyway.



Thud said...

Again, competent military, decent kit, western goodies and some help from special 'teams' coupled with real time intelligence means more body bags than even Putin can deal with....perhaps.

andrew said...

Is there a good book on this war?

dearieme said...

The terrain in Ukraine
Won't cause the Russkis pain.

Ideally for guerrilla war you'd like mountains, forests, and bogs, wouldn't you?

Anyway, for all I know the whole thing is a figment of Washington's imagination.

If I wanted to invade would I perhaps wait for the late Spring, with the ground dry, the daylight long, and the skies clear? I think I might.

E-K said...

Whatever Putin's intent it is dampening the mood for a Covid bounce in the West right when we need to be at our most bull-ish.

4 D chess rather than war perhaps.

Bill Quango MP said...

The Finns were able to use their ski troops to great effect. And had good officers. The Red Army had recently purged itself of its officers. Soviet troops suffered terrible attrition. Had little to no arctic training. The advantages of aircraft and artillery were lost in a mobile war when the reds were static. Like the Italians in the desert war.

The Ukrainians won’t have the same advantages that allowed the Finns to smash the Bear.
The Japanese at
( in the end the Finns had to accept peace on Russian terms.)

Battles of Khalkhin Gol Saw the Soviets beat the Japanese. 1939, right before the Polish assault by Hitler.

At the time the Russian propaganda made it seem the Japanese had been crushed for minor losses.
Frightened the Japanese enough not to try their luck with them again. Made Zhukov the Hero.

In fact the Russians had lost more men killed and wounded. And more equipment and aircraft.
What made the difference was the intelligence. Stalin knew the Japanese wouldn’t attack elsewhere. Concentrated his best forces and went for it.

Putin also knows no one is coming to attack him elsewhere. ( except maybe China.)

Can concentrate all he has.

Seelby the Berk said...

Jeez Kevin
It’s like you have to post some whinging shite. Well done for putting covid. Prick

Yes I get the irony.

hovis said...

I'm happy to stick my neck out on this and wager Russia will not invade Ukraine. Lets put a time limit on this as even Sean Connery came back to play Bond badly, so rather than never say never again, lets say within the next three months while the usual suspects the US/UK as well as various Russophobic Baltic states and NATO fellow travellers try their damnedest to whip things up.

Anonymous said...

.. Russophobic Baltic states

These states have significant Russian minorities that get treated like s**t by the larger ethnic populations. Post USSR, rather than seek integration some states have gone out of their way to do the opposite. It's no wonder that Putin can appeal to these significant minorities in the Russian sphere.

dearieme said...

In my cuttings drawer I found a 2018 piece by Christopher Booker that included this:

“the one disaster the West has never understood was one entirely of its own making. The one public figure who correctly read the crisis erupting over Ukraine in 2014 was Tony Brenton, our ambassador to Moscow from 2004 to 2008, who recognised only too clearly that the trigger for that shambles was the hubristic desire of the West to see Ukraine, the historic cradle of Russian national identity, absorbed into the EU and Nato.

The crisis was set off by the [CIA] coup whereby one corrupt but pro-Russian ruler of Ukraine was replaced by another willing to sign the agreement leading to Ukraine’s EU membership. The response of the Russian-speakers of eastern Ukraine and Crimea was wholly predictable. They wished to be ruled by their fellow Russians in Moscow rather than by some mysterious, alien bureaucracy in faraway Brussels, and were prepared both to vote and to fight for it.

Why should people with such a fierce sense of national identity have wanted to become part of an empire deliberately set up to eliminate national identity?”

Don Cox said...

"Why should people with such a fierce sense of national identity have wanted to become part of an empire deliberately set up to eliminate national identity?

Because tiresome though the EU is, it's not as bad to live in as Belarus.


E-K said...

The grand old Duke of York

He had twelve million quid

He gave to one that he'd not met for things he never did

E-K said...


Well Biden's gone full retard for sure.

Back to the premise of the original post... supposing China is pulling Putin's strings.

What is the aim of protecting the Winter Olympics ?

Xi is obsessed with sport and physical display, the ceremonies an expression of racial and national supremacy - a cultural zenith. There follows:

Control of production

Control of resources

Control of capital

Control of land

Putin's is a reaction to the aggressive Atlantic power system of which Biden led Nato/EU incursions into the Russian buffer zone (installing his worse than useless son in a plum job in all that chaos.)

Well done the West ! We have built the sino colossus and turned a potential ally into an intravenous catheter into our very blood stream - our vital energy supply, and China is underwriting it.

Just as Ukrainians may be getting NATO equipment and expertise I expect Russia can enjoy similar Chinese support.

Then what next ? Taiwan, to add control of micro electronics, to the list above ?


Our hibernation during Covid (the origin of which we still cannot state for fear of offending the Almighty) had NOTHING to do with the stridency we witness today. *sarc - of course*

I'm not 'whingeing'. I've been telling you all this would happen from day one of the Covid crisis.

While all of you were saying restrictions were for a few weeks I was the only one saying "This will last until spring 2022 - they're using the Spanish flu rule book." And it seems I was right... almost exactly to the day. As well as winning the best of 15 year's prediction competition for last year - not so much a prick as a horse's cock.

I don't expect respect but a modicum of courtesy from you would be appreciated.

Anonymous said...

EK for PM.

E-K said...

Thanks but no. I prefer keeping fit, sex and dog walking.

BBC at it yet again. Ant and Dec... yet another weary Trump impersonator... after over a year of Biden buffoonery !

The world was never so peaceful as under Trump (except for BBC/Hollywood shrieking.)

So when do we get the Biden impersonators ? The Woke installation of him as President is what has caused the Ukraine crisis.

hovis said...

Nobod wants the wager then ...

Anonymous said...

I don't know what is going on other than that Ukraine in NATO is obviously unacceptable to Russia from a security perspective, VP has stated so dozens of times and the US have told him to boil his head.

In an ideal world NATO would have been abolished at the same time as the Warsaw Pact, given that NATO was directed against Soviet Communism.

How would the US react to Canada allying with Russia?

So in one sense everybody involved needs a conflict.

Putin needs to either ensure Ukraine never joins NATO or at the worst to move his frontiers west, as Stalin did in 1939. "I fully realise the advantages you gained by forcing the enemy to fight on a forward westerly front" said Churchill to him.

"we have made it absolutely clear that NATOs expansion to the East is absolutely unacceptable. What is unclear about this? It is not Russia that deploys missile systems to US borders. It is the other way around. The United States has brought its missiles to our borders. They are on our threshhold …. What would the US do if we deployed our missiles to the Mexican or Canadian borders? …We are not the ones that are threatening anyone. They came to our borders.”

Biden and still more Boris need a war for domestic reasons, because their own electorates think they're crap.

Furthermore the US State department is packed with people whose great-grandfathers had their shop windows broken by drunken Cossacks, so they'd like one out of pure ethnic revenge.

So there are motives a-plenty for trouble.

Trouble is, I can't believe a word our government or our broadcaster tells me. They tell me diversity is a strength. They tell me a man in a dress is a woman. They tell me Britain's best days lie ahead of us. They tell me we've never had it so good.

They told me about the poor Kuwaiti babies ripped from their incubators. They told me about the 45 minute readiness time for Saddam's WMDs.

They tell me Putin is a brutal invader, while keeping Yemen strictly off the news. They tell me he doesn't respect Ukrainian autonomy as if Kosovo, Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan never happened.

So I can pretty much discount everything I read in the Guardian or see on the BBC.

Bill Quango MP said...

I doubt Churchill was being anything other than diplomatic to his current, untrusted, ally, Marshall Stalin.

On this very topic, the winter war, the British and French diplomatic and military planners are at their most reckless and ridiculous.
Britain and France very nearly made the Soviets into actual enemy partners, along with Sweden and possibly Norway, into Axis allies, just months before the Wehrmacht crossed the Meuse and crushed the allies in continental Europe.

From wiki,

During the early stages of World War II, the United Kingdom and France made a series of proposals to send troops to assist Finland against the Soviet Union during the Winter War, which started on 30 November 1939. The plans involved the transit of British and French troops and equipment through neutral Norway and Sweden. The initial plans were abandoned because Norway and Sweden declined transit through their land for fear that their countries would be drawn into the war. The Moscow Peace Treaty ended the Winter War in March 1940, which precluded the possibility of intervention.

This was all due really to the idea that without Swedish iron ore, the Nazis wouldn’t be able to continue the war.
So fixated with this idea were the Entente allies, that the German invasion of Norway, is only their invasion by a matter of hours. If Hans had been even slightly tardy, it would be recorded today as the allied invasion of neutral Norway. That was liberated by the Germans a few weeks later.

The delay on the allied side was due to the French, who very, very keen to fight anywhere but in France, but didn’t want to start the strategic air war by mining the German shipping in the Rhine.

A botched affair all round. Success and failures for both sides, that had profound long term consequences for all sides. Not least for Neville Chamberlain, who finally got the boot..

Worse for the allies who lost a whole neutral country, in a key zone, to the Axis.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Churchill was being diplomatic, but what he said was true.

I agree, we nearly declared war on Russia over Finland. But in the end, and very reluctantly, we declared war on Finland!