Monday 7 August 2023

Marking Putin's card at a critical juncture

Chancing my arm with the trolls again ...  In May of last year, after Russia had proved itself quite unable to execute Putin's offensive plans (though it was still advancing westwards - by inches - from the Donbass start-line and supposedly threatening to turn Slovyansk and Kramatorsk into a classic 'cauldron') we gave him the following advice, (based purely on a military assessment): 
Putin's orders must surely now be: Define a defensible subset of what we now occupy - categorically including whatever it takes to water Crimea. Dig in; set up the resupply lines; and hold that territory to the last mercenary. Lay waste and abandon the rest ... the chunk in the map running north and east of Luhansk up to fiercely-contested Kharkiv looks to me like turf to be abandoned on the theory outlined here.

Well, well.   And what did he do, starting about 4 months later?  Yup, abandon the extension of his gains up to Kharkiv, and dig in on a defensible subset.  No charge for the strategic advice, L'il Volodya.  Unfortunately for Putin (and for a 100% C@W clean sweep), the chosen defensible zone didn't - in the judgement of his generals - include the west (right) bank of the Dnipro river[1] - so he doesn't get to water Crimea and other large agricultural swathes of his captured territory in the south east.  

Still, thus far his defensive lines are holding.  Going on the offensive against a prepared defence was, for Ukraine, always a massive stretch without (inter alia) serious air cover, as we made clear.  Plus he seems, just about, to have recovered from the Wagner flying column episode[2].  So: he's in the lead at half time in the Round 4 match.  But now we're at a perilous juncture, and things could start to go horribly wrong - not strictly for military reasons, but rather from the dumb strategic calls he's making.

- Scrapping the grain deal, and blasting grain storage facilities, looks like a serious blunder.  At long last, Ukraine is essaying some serious diplomacy in the "non-aligned" / Third World, which ain't happy.  FFS, there have been "talks about (peace) talks" held in Saudi, to which almost everyone was invited except Putin - and China attended!

[- While we're on the subject of China, Xi has banned export of all dual-use drones, detailing just the specs that define the very drones Russia has been importing as fast as it could raise the funds (often crowd-sourced).  Obviously, there will be "ways around this" - but what more of a stinging, demonstrative slap in the face could Xi dish out?]

- The corollary of the grain deal fiasco - declaring the western Black Sea unsafe for shipping - certainly makes things awkward for regular merchant shipping dependent on ordinary maritime insurance.  But - exactly as predicted some while back by the more astute Russian milbloggers - this opens Pandora's box: and Ukraine has predictably countered by (a) declaring the north-eastern Black Sea unsafe, followed by (b) successfully attacking Russian shipping there, just to prove the point.  It's one helluva logistical feat to mount a naval drone-strike off Novorossiysk, but that's what they've done.  For those who don't know, Novorossiysk is as important to Russian maritime exports as Sevastopol is / was for its navy.  Getting insurance for anywhere in the Black Sea has just become, errr, difficult.

This all looks to me like the potential for a grotesque Putin mis-step coming along soon.  As critical Russian commentators have been quick to point out, a de facto Russian blockade of Odessa will drive Ukraine to export via the Danube.  Now: much as Russian historians love to recount the Battle of Izmail[3], do they really plan to blockade the Danube, arguably Europe's greatest river linking 9 countries (mostly NATO members), 4 national capitals and a large amount of trade?  Really?  Article 5 looms large here; and although the Americans have cleverly declared that almost nothing will cause them to react with nukes, they have said it'll be a decisive conventional hammer-blow that will befall.

Putin's capacity for cocking things up on the world stage has known few limits since 2021: he'd better pause now, before crashing forward on this new path.  I can't guess what he'll do next. 


UPDATE:  in BTL comments, I offered the following - 

I'd be interested to know what either side's response would be to freezing the current front line and giving instant NATO membership to 'West Ukraine' as defined by that line.  It's not on offer, anyhow. 

Well, er, maybe it will be:


[1] If you want to hold a river, you must hold both banks - old military precept.  Then again, Putin doesn't seem to hold with any basic military notions whatsoever

[2] There is a long Russian history of pretty bellicose "petitioning" of the Tsar but, so long as certain proprieties are observed, this has generally been an opportunity for an adroit Tsar to reinforce his position, with everyone conveniently blaming the "bad boyars"

[3] As did Byron in his epic Don Juan - over two characteristically ripping cantos!  (and historically quite accurate, too)


Anonymous said...

I expect some more russian military factories will catch fire over the next few months.
It looks like they lack the ability to rebuild.
If ukr manages to break supply lines too a war of attrition is in their favour

Wildgoose said...


Back to "trolling", (otherwise known as simply pointing out even-handed facts).

Resupplying across a major river is no joke. Abandoning the territory on the West Bank of the Dnieper makes perfect strategic sense to me. Especially seeing as Russian war strategy has never paid much attention to territory - they are famous for retreating for miles, stretching out opponent supply lines and then waiting for "General Winter".

As for "scrapping the Grain Deal" - it isn't much of a "Deal" if the other party never holds up their side of the "Deal", (allowing the sale of Russian grain and fertiliser). Furthermore, seeing as only 3% of the Ukrainian grain ended up supplying the Developing World, (as opposed to fattening Spanish pigs), it wasn't much of a Deal in any event.

Finally, blockading the Danube would be stupid. At least we agree on that. But given all the games being played with denying insurance to Russian shipping, it seems that playing some insurance games with Western shipping looks reasonable. (I also remember we declared a shipping exclusion zone in the Falklands Conflict).

Whatever anybody likes, Russia is winning. Ukraine has probably had 350,000 men killed and I hate to think how many injured. For the size of their population that is worse than the carnage of WW1. Russian losses are a small fraction of that. And unlike Ukraine, Russia is slowly increasing their war manufacturing capability.

Look at what I said last year. This only ends one way, and the sooner the fighting stops, the better for Ukraine.

Caeser Hēméra said...

The Russia-less peace talks are of definite interest, Russia looks to have tested the patience of China and OPEC past their limits now. I suspect something will be handed to Russia, with the option to agree, or watch oil prices plummet and the Eastern market evaporate.

All seems to have gone quiet on the nuclear reactor front too, perhaps it has dawned on Putin that bringing radioactives in to play with an enemy that has the capacity to strike your capital, does not come with the smell of success.

As for Putin making another major error, we'll see what happens if/when Ukraine make a major breakthrough - without air cover it's been made hard work for them, but the amount of bellyaching coming from the milbloggers, the Russsian TV and Medvedev, indicates all is not well for the defences.

All depends if Russian defences collapse again.

dearieme said...

I have no military experience. I don't know a lot about the histories of Russia and the (as we used to say) Ukraine. And I don't "have a dog in the fight": I can quite see that Putin is a nasty piece of work who started a war of aggression in an unintelligent way but also that the USA/NATO have been trying to provoke Russia for years.

Even I, however, have felt emboldened to judge that a Ukrainian frontal assault on well prepared Russian defences was probably a dreadful blunder. It's not like 1914: there can be no equivalent of the trench lines stretching from Switzerland to the North Sea because the Steppes are too big and the men too few.

Why do it? What do they lack that might permit outflanking manoeuvres? What is their purpose? Are they narrowly focussed on acreage or broadly focussed on bringing Putin down?

BlokeInBrum said...

I think the general gist is to put Russia under sufficient pressure (bleed them dry), that internal forces give Putin the boot, Russia caves, and peace and goodwill (and lots of Trannies) will go gaily skipping into the Globaltastic WEF future.
Or something like that.

Anonymous said...

@ Wildgoose 9:48

“Russia is winning” is a classic troll / Russia skimping propaganda trope, when it’s not specified exactly how “winning” is to be defined. But let’s overlook that. That, and the casualty figures, which I noticed weren’t accompanied by a source or a basis for calculation — casualty figures being, of course a closely guarded secret by all combatants, so you can basically make up a number that suits your purposes anyway.

I’ll leave it to you to add further and better descriptions of what winning is, or isn’t. Certainly, the originally stated aims “denazification”, “demilitarisation”, “de left bone connected to de right bone” etc. seem a distant wish, seemingly bartered down to “any territory we can have some vague hope of grabbing and holding”.

And even on what is generally regardable as being a “win”, such as the invasion, occupation and regime change In Afghanistan can, barely a decade later, end in a shambolic and embarrassing retreating in the face of low level but relentless local opposition from lightly (comparatively) armed militias, partisans and out-and-out bandits.

Anonymous said...

"It's one helluva logistical feat to mount a naval drone-strike off Novorossiysk, but that's what they've done."

"THEY", ND ? I think it highly likely that "WE" were involved from targeting to launch through navigation.

It does pose a problem, no doubt at all. I see there are nets/buoys round the bridge now, but IIRC then you send one to bust a hole and another through the hole. But 15 months back the Bayraktar drone was the WunderWaffen, and where it it now?

[- While we're on the subject of China, Xi has banned export of all dual-use drones, detailing just the specs that define the very drones Russia has been importing as fast as it could raise the funds (often crowd-sourced). Obviously, there will be "ways around this" - but what more of a stinging, demonstrative slap in the face could Xi dish out?]

China is doing a balancing act, wanting to keep selling as much cheap (and no so cheap) stuff to everyone, but how many more times do I have to get it in your head that China will not let Russia go down, simply because they are next on the US list. There's a declared* economic war on semiconductors if it's not been noticed.

But the longer China can keep opening factories and the US/UK/EU closing them, the better position she'll be in if and when TSHTF.

In a few years we'll be buying lithium salt reactors from them, having abandoned our own research 50 years ago.


Anonymous said...

You might think that, while doing a decent-ish job on Russia in the 90s and noughties, that the US might have asked itself - is the 1990s Wolfowitz/Brzezenski doctrine still a viable one for the US? It strikes me that while forcing Russia into the slow lane, the US missed China coming up on the outside.

“it is imperative that no Eurasian challenger should emerge capable of dominating Eurasia and thus also of challenging America’s global pre-eminence…"

Nick Drew said...

dearieme @ Why do it? What do they lack that might permit outflanking manoeuvres? What is their purpose? Are they narrowly focussed on acreage or broadly focussed on bringing Putin down?

What (by 'conventional NATO standards') they lack is tactical training / air cover / a command structure capable of prosecuting combined-arms manoeuvre warfare (= another, deeper type type of training deficit). But in any case, Ukraine has more-or-less given up trying the NATO approach in favour of what they understand: advancing by companies under heavy artillery cover (for which, eventually, they may lack ammunition - though not for a bit). Mercifully, they learn(ed) quickly, whatever the lesson.

Why do they try to advance?

- genuinely desperate to reclaim lost territory from a hated foe - not an unknown motivation, ask West Germany pre 1989 / China right now
- genuinely shit-scared of Trump as President and one of his "deals": gotta act now, next year may be too late
- generally, seized with the notion that holding the initiative maximises their options for who-knows-what diplomacy still to come (which must surely be right)
- generally, reckoning that while the situation is in flux, or at least prevented from sinking into stalemate, there's always the likelihood 'something' snaps in Russia (which could be anything from seemingly improbable mutinies at several levels, to Putin making an unforced error of major proportions)

One might add: 8 weeks ago they also had expectations of retaking Melitopol this summer - currently looking a bit unrealistic

Sadly, their Theory of Victory revolves around NATO guarantees. Well, they ain't getting under the Article 5 umbrella while they still intend fighting for lost territory. (I'd be interested to know what either side's response would be to freezing the current front line and giving instant NATO membership to 'West Ukraine' as defined by that line. It's not on offer, anyhow.)

Nick Drew said...

Anon @ 2:48 - "China is doing a balancing act ... how many more times do I have to get it in your head that China will not let Russia go down"

Hhhhhh. Have I disagreed? But I'm inclined to add: Confucius, he say - unfriendly man nervously conducting balancing act is less of a problem than unfriendly man confidently standing full-square on the ground ...

you might also note the public Chinese disgust at how Putin's regime incorporates a wild-card phenomenon like Wagner: he's a real embarrassment to their notions of how political leadership works

"the longer China can keep opening factories and the US/UK/EU closing them, the better position she'll be in if and when TSHTF."

A discussion we've had around these parts several times before. And their control of rare earth metals and other key resources. You're right, of course. BTW, Biden seems intent on reversing all this. I'm less sure about Germany / EC / UK

dearieme said...

"bleed them dry": oh God, Verdun.

Anonymous said...

ND - "Biden seems intent on reversing all this."

Do you really think he has much input one way or the other? Methinks if he vanished tomorrow and whatsername took over policy would be the same. Said before, a deep state has its uses even if bad ones.

TSMC are opening a plant in Dresden, btw.

If you think (and I do) the UK is bad, Canada is even worse - immigration on 2 or 3 times the dreadful UK levels. Remember the Coppersblog guy who left for Canada? Wonder how he feels now.

For the first time ever I probably won't vote next election. What's the point, with 3 low wage/high house price/immigration candidates? Enough to make you long for Wilson or Callaghan.

E-K said...

Well. This little BTL troll only ever said that a lot of good Ukrainian guys and a lot of good Russian guys are now dead because Putin was a proper nut job with a pretty modern capability (unlike Gadaffi or Hussain or the Taliban.)

Why was he provoked to come out of his box ? How come it took 20 years for him to become a warmonger ?

I'm not impressed with our ruling elites. This is a tactical error on our part.

Look at our utility bills and the prices in shops and the upsurge in boat-blokes and the harm to Germany. The threat to the Tories is existential and "extinction level" in their own words.

Diogenes said...

Never thought of Putin as a politician. He's just your average kleptocrat. Nukes are there to keep others out of the money making schemes.

The reaction to Wagner and their appearance in Niger shows exactly what they are doing. Ramping up commodity prices including grain; grabbing strategic resources in return for 'protection'; all in the name of Mother Russia.

Ukraine was another strategic resource - food - by which they could exert influence over poorer countries.

Whoever controls the Wagner thugs will control Russia.

Anonymous said...

Gaddafi was a pretty good ruler of Libya, as rulers of Libya go. Search for Great Man-made River. Then Obama/Hillary/Cameron killed him and a price was paid by a load of holidaying pensioners in Tunisia, and a load of teenage girls in Manchester

E-K said...

In his book Frontline Ukraine, Professor Richard Sakwa, of the University of Kent, states: 'The formal procedure required the establishment of a dedicated investigatory committee… its conclusions to be reviewed by parliament and then a vote in favour of impeachment if so decided, followed by a decision of the Constitutional Court and the Supreme Court, and, finally – most importantly – a vote by no fewer than three-quarters of the constitutional total of the parliament (338 MPs).

'Instead, MPs were simply instructed to 'sack' Yanukovych.

'Even then, the vote did not reach the required majority: 328 of 447 MPs (73 per cent) voted to remove Yanukovych from the presidency on the grounds that he was unable to fulfil his responsibilities, even though an hour earlier on TV Yanukovych had insisted that he would not resign and at that point had not left the country.

Article 111 of the constitution lists four circumstances in which an incumbent president may leave office – resignation, a serious health condition, impeachment, and death – none of which applied in this case.'

Peter Hitchens - former Russia correspondent during the Cold War era. William Hague misled the UK parliament on this matter.

The EU tried to broker a deal whereby Yanukovych would test his mandate peacefully in an early election.

Outside forces instead opted for a violent putsch (and a corrupted vote afterwards) triggering a war which started in 2014 and not 2022. American officials were caught directing events in Ukraine immediately after the ouster.

This doesn't make me pro Putin. I hope offering a cogent opinion (all be it based on someone else's - and whose isn't !) doesn't class me as a troll.

Nick Drew said...

Nobody has you down as a troll, Kev!

Clive said...

@ E-K

But even if this is an unvarnished, balanced and incontrovertible version of events (and I don’t know the truth of that matter, but then again none of us here is running a court of law, able to subpoena witnesses and question them under oath or sift through many volumes of written evidence, so we’re inevitably going to resort, to some degree, of opinionating). Let’s, though, take everything you’ve said as definitive.

The invasion by Russia in 2022 has had no beneficial effects at all on Russia’s geopolitical aims. Crimea was always under Russian control from 2014, with tacit acceptance from the west. Ukraine was not in a position to threaten that. The civil war in the Donbas was a largely frozen conflict. Russia could have stepped up arming the insurgents but did not do this (for, from what I understand, very good albeit murky reasons related to control of fiefdoms and influence peddling within Russia itself).

Everything that has happened since the invasion weakened Russia’s hand. Crimea has moved from security and stability to being under non-trivial attacks. The annexed oblasts are partially ruined and requiring constant inputs of manpower and resources to hold, with little obvious prospect of immediate or even medium-term improvement. And any justifications along the “the government of Ukraine is rotten and subject to interference so we had ‘no choice’ but to intervene militarily” is pure unadulterated revanchist thinking. When did Carl Schmitt’s reanimated corpse rise from the crypt to bring us this “strategy”?

Caeser Hēméra said...

The news on the Chinese economy today is something of a hint as to why Xi has gotten weary of Russia's blundering.

Rather difficult to sort out your economy when there's a big enough war to sizeably distort global trade, something the West is already well aware of, and for all Xi's grip, he still fears the people enough - witness the massive u-turn on covid.

I'll give another of my hit and miss predictions, on top of the earlier one, end of September, the southern Russian campaign will be in utter disarray, with the only thing between the Ukraine forces and Crimea being rotting Russians.

It won't be over by Christmas, Western or Orthodox, but by then Putin's going to have pick which poison chalice to drink from.

dearieme said...

"Then Obama/Hillary/Cameron killed him and a price was paid by a load of holidaying pensioners in Tunisia, and a load of teenage girls in Manchester": well said.

Cameron really was a diluted version of Toniblair, wasn't he?

Anonymous said...

@ Clive 11:09, Everything that has happened since the invasion weakened Russia’s hand

You didn't even mention the revival of NATO and its material expansion with Finland and Sweden, both regional heavyweights in military terms. Oh, and Russia's loss of almost all of its lucrative European markets for gas, oil, coal.

Anonymous said...

Doesn't the loss of cheap oil and gas weaken Europe's hand more than Russia's? It's not as if we were the only buyers. I'm still paying a lot more for my heating oil than I was 2 years ago, because Indian refineries rather than UK ones are producing it.

Anonymous said...

I do love reading about China's economic woes - remember the Ghost Cities that were going to doom them 10 years ago?

"end of September, the southern Russian campaign will be in utter disarray, with the only thing between the Ukraine forces and Crimea being rotting Russians"

It's a pity no one's taking bats afaik

Clive said...

@ Anonymous 5:37

I'm sorry about your heating oil but you're paying the same price as October 2022... and October 2018 (and that's not inflation-adjusted so the 2018 cost was higher)

So I'm not sure what you're expecting, give you're paying historically average prices. Not as cheap as in the COVID lockdown era, sure. But I'm not sure many would want to go back to that, just so's you can have cheap heating oil.

Indian imports of Russian oil. Hmm... That's an interesting one. India is importing a lot, because, in short, no-one else (except China maybe) will. But that raises an interesting question. Russia is willing to accept Indian rupees. India, of course, being classed by Russia as a "friendly country".

But what, exactly, is Russia going to do with all those rupees it can't ever spend as it can't convert them into something useful (like US dollars) and can't buy anything like enough back from India given the monumental scale of the trade imbalance between the two trading partners?

And India is a fellow mercantilist in terms of economic policy and a serial devaluer of its currency because it needs a continual export boom. So Russia is sitting on a potential currency loss as well as being the Scrooge McDuck of rupee hoarding. Can't go on forever, can it? and Russia can only lose in that trade. It doesn't sound like a win, to me. Rather, it sounds like trying to make a virtue out of necessity that will only end up with Russia selling something valuable for something much less valuable or even worthless. Tell me again about "sanctions not working"...

dearieme said...

The Russians have a demographic problem. Maybe they can use the rupees to buy comely wenches from India to restore a bit of population growth.

(I say "restore" but when was the last time Russia had any population growth?)

E-K said...


I'm not saying Russia's actions have been anything but bad for them but Putin has been known to be a killer for a long while.

Yanukovych had been threatened by Russia and backtracked on his promise to his people to take his country closer to the EU and Nato.

What he wanted to do was offer them an early election to get his mandate to remain neutral and was basically saying "EU and Nato membership risks war with Russia and if you want that then vote for the other. If you want a safe future then you need to vote against."

The Ukrainians were never given that choice and I wonder if they would have chosen war (or the risk of it) in 2014.

Anonymous said...

dearieme - I'm not sure Russia's demography is worse than ours.

But they have one advantage - they're aware it's a problem.

Over here our traitors like Boris just think "another million visas! Sorted!"

The only good thing is - who would fight for "Britain" now?

dearieme said...

Proposition: Putin was so dismayed by his army's incompetence at the beginning of the war that even their successful conquest of the shore of the Black Sea hasn't changed his mind. He therefore doesn't want to gamble on a war of manoeuvre: he's happy to have his troops in trenches behind minefields, with conventional artillery blasting away. "oh God, Verdun" may be about the size of it.

Also, it's conceivable that he is happy with the conquest of the Donbass and the corridor to Crimea. Maybe he now thinks that killing Ukrainians until they, and/or the USA, give in is the cheapest way to bring about an armistice that lets him keep what he already holds. In other words, maybe like Bismarck his aims are finite and, on his calculation, will in the end prove acceptable to his foes, real or imagined.

I now expect to read more about American "sources" saying 'After all, much of the population of the Donbass is really Russian not Ukrainian. And even more so in Crimea.'

If Geriatric Joe could distinguish Ukraine from Iraq doubtless he'd say the same thing. If so instructed.

Anonymous said...

Fair play to the US, it looks as it they're going for both Russia and China simultaneously.

Ah, but "they can't make anything themselves, they can only copy" - you wait. I don't see why they can't do a Japan, on whom I think the world still depends for ultra pure silicon.

A pity the people in charge of the West - namely the people who fund/bribe the parties and politicians - are such cretins. A high-wage, high-productivity manufacturing economy is a nice thing to have. High wages and low house prices are even better for the good life - as say in most of US history up to the 1980s and in the UK 1950-1980.

A lot of people my age, nice people, are still mentally in the 1970s. TThey just don't realise how utterly crap life has become for today's young, with 30-something graduates paying £200pw for one room in a shared house, when in 1980 they'd have been buying their own. It's a good job youth are resilient, but it's a disaster for family formation.

Clive said...

@ dearieme 9:50

The problem with that (let’s just acquiesce to a Russian occupation of Donbas or Donbas+) is the same as I alluded to in one of my earlier rambles — why didn’t Russia better arm the Donbas militia and/or backfill with Russian military resources?

Because Donbas was never a coherent campaign, there was no structure to how to occupy any territory taken and no civilian administration that anyone in their right mind would want to live under except if they had no other choice. I think the Cesspit of Lies, sorry, Wikipedia is a fairly good approximation of this tale for once

When you look at the problems caused by Wagner, you can sort-of figure why Russia didn’t want yet another armed, unstable acquisitive faction intent on looting and influence-peddling to deal with. You could certainly make a case the the Russian invasion in February 2022 was in many ways an attempt to resolve the mess it had managed to create with the Donbas militia by replacing it with professional Russian army forces. But it’s just taken that mess, and made an even bigger one, in my view. So I’m not sure Russia itself wants a “just give it the Donbas” solution.

Anonymous said...

dearieme - "killing Ukrainians until they, and/or the USA, give in is the cheapest way to bring about an armistice"

I think the Nuland/Kagans are happy to fight to the last rump Ukrainian (we must remember the Ukrainians of Donbass, Crimea, Luhansk who fight alongside Russia).

Plus, how many times in the entire history of the US have they said "hang on, we've bitten off a bit more than we can chew here" when they're not actually doing the fighting?

By making it existential for Russia, the US have made it so for themselves. If Russia win when the US make it a big deal, I can see Africa/ME heading East at a rate of knots.

Interesting times.

Anonymous said...

On topic, have the World Bank gone mad?

Latest (2022) GDP figures by purchasing power parity (PPP) as we know cash goes further in some places than others.

What's that place in 5th, between Japan and Germany?

(Mind, GDP's not everything, our GDP is up a lot (22%) since 2000, whereas Japan's is up precisely 2%. Maybe its just that all of the additional GDP here has accrued to the 1%, which is why 30somethings with doctorates are sharing houses like undergrads, while a third of undergrads live at home)

Clive said...

Purchasing Power Parity is used, primarily, to determine whether a currency is overvalued or undervalued. Hence its somewhat simplistic (but still a useful tool) “Big Mac Index” which shows the cost of a Big Mac in a particular country when the local currency price is converted to US dollars.

The high GDP-in-PPP figure for Russia says one thing: it screams “undervalued rouble”.

But why is the rouble undervalued? We can answer that for ourselves, easily enough. If I gave you, say, £100,000 cash and asked you what you’d do with it, you’d list an endless set of possibilities. Or the same sum in US$. Or €’s. You could enjoy spending them to your hearts content.

However, if I gave you the same amount in roubles, what would you do with it?

dearieme said...


Anonymous said...

Gold. Vodka. Natashas. Kalashnikovs (to defend the gold).

Anonymous said...

Guardian tells a remarkable tale

"They were harassed by the same person who basically told them if they refuse to have sex with him, he’s sending their husbands who were also in the brigade to their deaths."

Also, 12 soldiers killed in Orikhove air strike. Tried to find it in english media. One report of a 46 year old man being injured. Hmm.

dearieme said...

if they refuse to have sex with him, he’s sending their husbands who were also in the brigade to their deaths."

Someone in the Old Testament did something like that. Was it King David? Anyway, that period. It contains descriptions of an extraordinary collection of psychopathic behaviour, the OT.

Anonymous said...

It was King David, and Uriah the Hittite was his victim.

He deliberately sent him to be killed because he'd got Bathsheba pregnant. The prophet Samuel dissed him severely for his crime.

Anonymous said...

2 little items - Ukraine are replacing all the heads of military recruitment, perhaps because its known you can buy your way out of service, also they are asking that Israel be left out of the Rammstein (US base in Germany) strategy meetings because they can't be sure stuff discussed won't get to Russia.

Not at all sure why Israel were there anyway. Are they in NATO now?

Nick Drew said...

The Ramstein meetings are a jamboree: gives loads of folks a feeling of importance & engagement. That's not wrong. But nothing of strategic substance there.

Anonymous said...

I had an old work colleague of Ukrainian descent who said his dad fought "on the German side" when I asked how he'd not been sent back to Russia.

Think he must have been with this lot, who ended up in Canada and the UK.

Bill Quango MP said...

Probably, Anon.
The Galician division was formed to kill Russians.
Like many SS units it was a way of getting round the Nazi’s own strict race and bloodline laws.
Non Germans were inferior. Slavs, extra inferior.
However, Christian Slavs, who hated Bolsheviks, might be permitted.

They were granted concessions on formation.
Allowed to have chap,ins.
Only to fight on the eastern front, against the communists.

Bill Quango MP said...


dearieme said...

When I was a boy we had "Ukes" living locally - I have no idea of the detail because I never met any. Maybe their children all went to the Roman Catholic school.

Anonymous said...

Chaplins? Wot, Charlie Chaplins?

Anonymous said...

When I lived in Bradford there were Polish clubs, Ukrainian clubs, I think clubs for the various Baltic peoples.

"Polish Anna", by the 70s a clumping, masculine figure, was said by people to have been the subject of experiments.

Along with her tragic figure we were also blessed by Bradford Jesus, who walked the streets nonstop in robe and sandals with a smile for everyone. There were some right characters around then.

Anonymous said...

Russia's GDP is sooo bad compared with UKs.

Just think, every couple of hours another T90M tank rolls off the production line at Uralvagonzavod. But in that time the UK has produced more than 3,000 lattes, 1,000 Americanos, 1,500 McDonalds and sold 105 houses, while UK nurseries picked up another 4,000 children whose mothers have to do lowly-paid extra jobs to afford the rent on their cramped new estate home.

Russia may as well give up now!

Clive said...

@ Anonymous 9:32

It may be rubbish, but it’s British rubbish! Or, at the very least, American rubbish distributed under a highly successful licensing and franchise model.

Fun fact: since the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, America has added the equivalent of an economy half the size of Russia’s to its own economy.

Anonymous said...

Maybe if they manufactured fewer T90 and more consumer goods Russians wouldn't feel the need to steal the electronics, white goods and white children form its neighbors during their frequent wars for territory.

Then again, if the replacement for the T-72 wasn't just as likely to flip its turret due to the exploding auto-loader as the ancient cold war T72 it was supposed to replace, perhaps they wouldn't have to manufacture so many.

A $215,000 FGM portable Javelin Missile can take out a $2,500,000 T90m.
So the Russian's need all that GDP, just to remain in the war.

Anonymous said...

We may not make any consumer goods in the UK, but we surely lead the EU in the vital Kurdish barber, eyebrow threading and nail bar sectors, not to mention cannabis farming.

And our capital's most prominent shopping street is the target of looting gangs, attracted by world-renowned names like Footlocker and JD Sports.

Slava UK rain, I say!

Anonymous said...

Clive, but that huge increase in the US economy consists entirely of Popeyes Chicken Buckets, Taylor Swift concerts and fentanyl! The latter could win the Ukraine war if you can persuade enough Russians to take it.

In the economy that makes things...

TSMC wants bigger subsidies, and fewer rules. The project is behind schedule, and over budget, with production already pushed into 2025, from 2024. There is talk of US-made chips costing more than those made in Taiwan, which would mean Apple would likely buy only a token number of them. Finally, US job creation has been brought into question as TSMC wants to bring in around 500 Taiwanese workers to speed up construction work. American unions are naturally unhappy about this, and are petitioning for Taiwanese worker visas to be denied. As if all that weren’t bad enough, the whole controversy now appears to be creating bad blood between American and Taiwanese citizens. A popular Taiwanese YouTube channel, with almost 3 million subscribers (about 12% of the country’s population), has run a piece accusing American workers of being lazy, and incapable of building the plant.

It may be the US China trade/chip war is all sound and fury, but just in case I invested in some new hardware this week while it still exists.

Clive said...

“TSMC wants bigger subsidies, and fewer rules…”

Ahh. Corporate welfare, then. Make a fuss, do some special pleading, get your PR agency to plant some stories and see if you can shake down the government money tree. Tale as old as time, that one. You could substitute TSMC for the renewable energy sector, the pharmaceutical industry and, especially, the car manufacturers. To name but a few. Heaven forbid these bastions of capitalism should, you know, actually want to be capitalists and act like them.