Putin’s Move

 

Hard to say, of course, but Putin seems to be far on his back foot.  The “referendum,” partial mobilization, and lack of effective counter-counter-attack so far are the things that make me think so.  I do not believe that the referendum or the mobilization were in the works as anything but potential future things before the Ukrainian counterattack.

The laughable referendum sounds like an attempt to create the appearance of a fact on the ground, and will of course be used the same way China waves about its maps with a nine-dashed line encompassing the Vietnam Sea.  The mobilization is tricky because a full mobilization would simply advertise that suddenly Russia must go to war on a national footing just to accomplish knocking over a few counties of Ukraine.  The strategic damage to Russia of merely declaring a full mobilization seems considerable.  So “partial mobilization” it is.

Ukraine seems to have gained a bunch of important ground, which is after all the point, but the meat in this sandwich is the effectiveness of Russian troops on Ukrainian soil, which looks poor.  I know Russia has a two-commander problem which is stupidly cross-threaded (the senior commander is in the south, but the northern one gets priority *when Russia’s border is in question*, which is just a recipe for command confusion.  From the outside, and squinting through a lens of near apathy, I would say that this is the chief problem for Russia.  There is of course the Napoleonic maxim about morale and materiel, a metric that also greatly favors the Ukes.  And the Russians have had no answer so far for the advance made by Ukraine.  Not a good look for a supposed superpower.

I recall some ops research which was breathtaking in its simplicity of structure yet complexity of result.  I have tried to find it off and on for about twenty years, but it went something like this:

Simulate two opposing forces which attrite each other (slightly probabilistically, based on the ratio of force remaining) on two fronts — so each force has two units deployed, and each of those units fights its counterpart.  Each side has a single reserve, and may deploy that reserve to either front (one controllable variable) and at any time (the other controllable variable).  Allow a computer to run the simulation, and to select both decision points; repeat many thousands of times (Monte Carlo) to see how the results shake out.  The high number of repetitions accounts for the “dice” introduced via “probabilistically.”  The results were chaotic across most of the domain, with only small islands of generally good combinations of decision points, the opposite of what you would expect.

Lesson learned — predictions are for suckers, and the more anecdata recruited to the prediction, the less likely it is based on anything at all.  Still, decisions must be made, and advice must be given.  The most valuable part of any such briefing or set of orders could be collected under the heading “unknowns.”

The (naval) Battle of Salamis featured a superior force squeezed into an awkward area, thereby able to bring only a small part of its force to bear at any time.  They should have withdrawn — instead they were defeated, and the remnants sailed for home at daybreak.  There is a corollary here that all of the aid from the West must still be deployed by the hands of Ukrainians.  This is a choke point on a different sort of map, a sort of phase space salient.

I remember back when the Russians were going to carve up Ukraine as easily as peeing a hole in the snow (learned a Finnish adverb today).  The Russians should have been able to wipe out the archers before the stockpile of arrows mattered.  Yet the Russian effort is hampered internally as well as externally, and good ol’ Russian incompetence and corruption are having their way.

After the Ukrainian advance in the east, it seems that the following can happen to/by them; endless victory all the way to Vladivostok, overextension, stasis with or without consolidation, withdrawal or pushback, or destruction by Russian counterattack.  Personally, I hope that on that front, they are able to consolidate while keeping Ivan on the hoof.  Depends how much force they have available.  Presumably Putin’s logistics get much better across the border, where (presumably) you can simply order up more fuel and trucks will bring it.  It would be very easy for Ukraine to overextend and get rolled up.

I very much *like* the idea that Putin just failed with his best, and now will try with the rest.  I hope it’s true, and this goofy referendum seems to be a Hail Mary attempt to legitimize the invasion — let us hope that nobody here falls for it.  And mobilization?  I saw a reference to a thing: “Go ahead.  Draft me.  Put a gun in my hand.  See what happens.”

Your move, Putin.

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  1. Columbo Member
    Columbo
    @Columbo

    I do wonder what the apparatchiks in China think of the Russian ‘Bear’ right now.

    • #1
  2. BDB Coolidge
    BDB
    @BDB

    Also seen online (reportedly) from angry Russian netizen: “They can’t send you a draft note if their office is on fire.”

    • #2
  3. Doug Watt Moderator
    Doug Watt
    @DougWatt

    Once combat losses reach a certain point the will and morale of the survivor’s crater. Soldiers fight for their fellow soldiers next to them. They are not motivated by the lofty vision of the new Czar and his imperial vision of a new Russian empire.

    • #3
  4. mildlyo Member
    mildlyo
    @mildlyo

    The other point of view is that Putin received reassurances from China and India last week that he can now proceed with their support. They no longer fear encouraging separatist movements in their own countries.

    In this theory, the four oblasts that have been in a civil war with the Kiev regime since the 2014 coup are now free to choose their destiny.

    • #4
  5. BDB Coolidge
    BDB
    @BDB

    mildlyo (View Comment):

    The other point of view is that Putin received reassurances from China and India last week that he can now proceed with their support. They no longer fear encouraging separatist movements in their own countries.

    In this theory, the four oblasts that have been in a civil war with the Kiev regime since the 2014 coup are now free to choose their destiny.

    The way I read it, Modi told Putin the window of support was closing, and now Putin is scrambling.  I would imagine that Xi is no more impressed with this Ottoman showing by Putin than Modi.

    • #5
  6. DonG (CAGW is a Scam) Coolidge
    DonG (CAGW is a Scam)
    @DonG

    I am assuming the mobilized forces will be used to backfill the redeployment of regulars.  But maybe not.   Meanwhile the economic collapse of Germany seems to be accelerating.   In four months, the people of German people will be experiencing a lot of discomfort.   When Germany sneezes, the whole of the EU catches the flu.  What effect will that have? 

    • #6
  7. BDB Coolidge
    BDB
    @BDB

    DonG (CAGW is a Scam) (View Comment):

    I am assuming the mobilized forces will be used to backfill the redeployment of regulars. But maybe not. Meanwhile the economic collapse of Germany seems to be accelerating. In four months, the people of German people will be experiencing a lot of discomfort. When Germany sneezes, the whole of the EU catches the flu. What effect will that have?

    Don’t know.

    Freedom comes with associated costs.  Now the EU gets to catch up on some overdue bills.  If they choose to be free.

    • #7
  8. JoelB Member
    JoelB
    @JoelB

    Have we been frightened by decades of propaganda to believe that first the Soviet Union then Russia was a great, fierce fighting force when all along it has been a paper tiger? Might the same be said of China?

    • #8
  9. Bishop Wash Member
    Bishop Wash
    @BishopWash

    JoelB (View Comment):

    Have we been frightened by decades of propaganda to believe that first the Soviet Union then Russia was a great, fierce fighting force when all along it has been a paper tiger? Might the same be said of China?

    I saw an interesting thread on Twitter last night. The gentlemen was thinking about what would happen if Putin did order a full mobilization. He claimed that during the Soviet Union days, the army had a lot of phantom units. They had officers, NCOs, and even bases, but no soldiers. The thought was that if something kicked off, these units would absorb the draftees, train them, and lead them into battle. It was a lot of overhead, but mobilizing a nation doesn’t do you any good if there’s nowhere for them to go.

    After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the military had to get smaller. This phantom army was expensive and scrapped. If a full mobilization is started, it probably won’t do any good. The soldiers to do the training are either killed or already in Ukraine. There probably aren’t enough supplies for a large number of draftees. The author said that Putin can call for a full mobilization but it will expose weaknesses.

    • #9
  10. BDB Coolidge
    BDB
    @BDB

    Bishop Wash (View Comment):
    If a full mobilization is started, it probably won’t do any good. The soldiers to do the training are either killed or already in Ukraine. There probably aren’t enough supplies for a large number of draftees. The author said that Putin can call for a full mobilization but it will expose weaknesses.

    Zackly.  I view the “referendum” as Putin trying to get the thing to “end itself” before his supposed menace of mobilization is expected to produce actual fighting units — which it will not.

    I don’t know if he can be forced out, but he can certainly be shown up.

    • #10
  11. Old Bathos Moderator
    Old Bathos
    @OldBathos

    In WWII, Stalin had a large supply of peasant youth to deploy as cannon fodder and a population with considerably lower expectations.  A couple of generations with a vastly reduced birthrate and a taste of self-determination and better living make for a very different Russia.  Putin is now mostly relying on what he figures is the traditional Russian capacity for pain to outlast his enemies (particularly Western patience and interest). 

    Stalin’s successors had no high-casualty experiences until their defeat in Afghanistan and Putin has already sustained more casualties than the USSR did in ten years against the Afghans.  Ukraine is far more vital to Russian interests than Afghanistan but there is still likely to be a pain ceiling.  

    It is noteworthy that the Chinese have not yet slipped Vlad some weapons to at least get some performance data.  Ukraine could then be like the Spanish Civil War where the Nazis and Soviets could put some weapon systems in play.  If Putin looks like he is not only being routed but losing power, will they intervene to prop him up?  Would it be to their advantage to wait until he is desperate for their help?

    I gather that Putin’s Plan B (having failed to take it all) is to dig in and hold the east and south of Ukraine, ethnically cleanse those areas and then dare the world to object.  The West may get tired and sponsor peace conferences to ratify Putin’s holdings (acquired at great cost).  The problem is that the Ukrainians could well push the Russians out and it seems unlikely that Putin could survive outright defeat.

    • #11
  12. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patriot) Member
    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patriot)
    @ArizonaPatriot

    I’ve been surprised by the slow pace of Russia’s advance since around April, and at the successful Ukrainian counterattack in the Kharkov area.

    I never expected Russia to try to take all of Ukraine.  I expected them to take part of the east, maybe as far west as Dnipro, and probably including all of Luhansk and Donetsk at a minimum.  Russia has taken pretty much all of Luhansk, plus a sizeable land bridge to Crimea, but has taken very little of Donetsk that wasn’t already held by the separatists at the outset of the current hostilities in February 2022.

    It was possible that Russia planned to take Odessa, too, but I see little evidence of this.  Of course, it’s possible that the slow progress in the east forced the Russians to abandon any plans on Odessa.

    On the other hand, if Russia did not plan to conquer all of Ukraine, it might want to leave Odessa in Ukrainian hands, to avoid land-locking the country.

    Based on the latest reports that I’ve seen about the upcoming referendum, it appears that Russia is going to annex all, or nearly all, of the territory that it currently holds, and perhaps the unconquered portion of Donetsk.

    My own gut reaction is that Putin could sell a victory on this basis if, and only if, he also takes the rest of Donetsk.

    • #12
  13. Clavius Thatcher
    Clavius
    @Clavius

    BDB: as easily as peeing a hole in the snow (learned a Finnish adverb today)

    Heh, I like it.

    • #13
  14. Hang On Member
    Hang On
    @HangOn

    BDB: The laughable referendum sounds like an attempt to create the appearance of a fact on the ground, and will of course be used the same way China waves about its maps with a nine-dashed line encompassing the Vietnam Sea.

    I know you might find it hard that other people don’t want to go with the west. Just look what the elites in the west offer them.

    There’s the utopia of green energy. Europe will have that good and hard. Shivering in the dark is such a wonderful prospect. Plummeting economies as a result of Gaia is the reality, but what better to prove that you are committed?

    And then there is the prospect of having to eat no meat, but crickets are on the menu. Who could not possibly want that?

    And there are the trannies showing up in the school library and everywhere else. These are what is in store for western “civilization”. How could you possibly not want this?

    This is what the Davos/Soros crowd has in mind for the world and anyone who will not kneel to these megalomaniacs must be crushed. Russia must remain a source of cheap commodities and China the source of cheap manufacturing. If they have any other ideas, crush them.

    When your military is more interested in equity and which pronouns to use, and you’ve outsourced all of your industry, and you refuse to develop domestic energy sources or sources of minerals, you expect such a government to win? I neither expect to win and I hope it is ignominiously defeated.

    • #14
  15. BDB Coolidge
    BDB
    @BDB

    Sell it somewhere else, sister.  Russkiye na xuy.

    • #15
  16. Hang On Member
    Hang On
    @HangOn

    BDB (View Comment):

    Sell it somewhere else, sister. Russkiye na xuy.

    Touched a nerve, have I?

    • #16
  17. BDB Coolidge
    BDB
    @BDB

    Hang On (View Comment):

    BDB (View Comment):

    Sell it somewhere else, sister. Russkiye na xuy.

    Touched a nerve, have I?

    No.  It’s boring, repetitious, and not even tense.  You’re just repeating your doomer screed on a post about Putin having a choice to make.  Perhaps you have something interesting to say about that.  Perhaps not.

    • #17
  18. BDB Coolidge
    BDB
    @BDB

    Columbo (View Comment):

    I do wonder what the apparatchiks in China think of the Russian ‘Bear’ right now.

    They’re trying to figure out how to milk the spleen of the great Russian bear.  Cures cancer.

    • #18
  19. BDB Coolidge
    BDB
    @BDB

    Doug Watt (View Comment):

    Once combat losses reach a certain point the will and morale of the survivor’s crater. Soldiers fight for their fellow soldiers next to them. They are not motivated by the lofty vision of the new Czar and his imperial vision of a new Russian empire.

    Support at home may be drying up rapidly as well.  Protests in St. Petersburg.  They don’t have to be aligned with the West (though that’s what they’ll be jailed for) in order to oppose a mass ^H^H^H^Hpartial call-up.

    • #19
  20. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    BDB (View Comment):

    Hang On (View Comment):

    BDB (View Comment):

    Sell it somewhere else, sister. Russkiye na xuy.

    Touched a nerve, have I?

    No. It’s boring, repetitious, and not even tense. You’re just repeating your doomer screed on a post about Putin having a choice to make. Perhaps you have something interesting to say about that. Perhaps not.

    The silly SOB gets himself Ceaușescued before the first reservist sets foot over the border. 

    • #20
  21. mildlyo Member
    mildlyo
    @mildlyo

    Hang On (View Comment):

    BDB: The laughable referendum sounds like an attempt to create the appearance of a fact on the ground, and will of course be used the same way China waves about its maps with a nine-dashed line encompassing the Vietnam Sea.

    I know you might find it hard that other people don’t want to go with the west. Just look what the elites in the west offer them.

    [There’s the utopia of green energy.]

    [ crickets on the menu.]

    [trannies showing up  everywhere]

    These are what is in store for western “civilization”. How could you possibly not want this?

    Don’t forget “you will own nothing and like it”, aka “we will rent you the American dream”.

    • #21
  22. Hang On Member
    Hang On
    @HangOn

    BDB (View Comment):

    Hang On (View Comment):

    BDB (View Comment):

    Sell it somewhere else, sister. Russkiye na xuy.

    Touched a nerve, have I?

    No. It’s boring, repetitious, and not even tense. You’re just repeating your doomer screed on a post about Putin having a choice to make. Perhaps you have something interesting to say about that. Perhaps not.

    I’m not a doomer. It is you and all the other Ukraine bots who are selling us doom by keeping the incompetent elites in power. 

    • #22
  23. BDB Coolidge
    BDB
    @BDB

    Hang On (View Comment):

    BDB (View Comment):

    Hang On (View Comment):

    BDB (View Comment):

    Sell it somewhere else, sister. Russkiye na xuy.

    Touched a nerve, have I?

    No. It’s boring, repetitious, and not even tense. You’re just repeating your doomer screed on a post about Putin having a choice to make. Perhaps you have something interesting to say about that. Perhaps not.

    I’m not a doomer. It is you and all the other Ukraine bots who are selling us doom by keeping the incompetent elites in power.

    Sounds great.  Perhaps you could start a thread about it.

    • #23
  24. Jon Gabriel, Ed. Admin
    Jon Gabriel, Ed.
    @jon

    Slightly off-topic, but I’m tempted to change my Twitter bio to “squinting through a lens of near apathy.”

    • #24
  25. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    BDB (View Comment):

    Sell it somewhere else, sister. Russkiye na xuy.

    Slava Cocaine!

    • #25
  26. BDB Coolidge
    BDB
    @BDB

    Zafar (View Comment):

    BDB (View Comment):

    Sell it somewhere else, sister. Russkiye na xuy.

    Slava Cocaine!

    Sorry, Slava is now a beluga hatchery.

    • #26
  27. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    BDB (View Comment):

    Zafar (View Comment):

    BDB (View Comment):

    Sell it somewhere else, sister. Russkiye na xuy.

    Slava Cocaine!

    Sorry, Slava is now a beluga hatchery.

    A cautionary tale indeed!

    • #27
  28. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    BDB: The laughable referendum sounds like an attempt to create the appearance of a fact on the ground, and will of course be used the same way China waves about its maps with a nine-dashed line encompassing the Vietnam Sea.

    The Chinese are not doing too badly on the ground (on the water?) in the South China Sea.  Calling it the Vietnam Sea doesn’t change that.

    If Russia annexes Southern Ukraine, for eg, and the West doesn’t accept the new border (because why should it), here are some interesting issues that could come up:

    Russia calls on CSTO for assistance; not major countries, but do they recognise the new border and come to assist or not?  Will the Ukrainians be fighting Armenian troops in Zaporizhzhia?  It’s possible.

    The West doesn’t recognise Donbas as Russia?  Well Russia doesn’t recognise Lithuania as NATO and starts some provocations.  Will NATO really risk Chicago for Hamburg and Hamburg for Vilnius?  In theory it should, but when push comes to shove it might demur.  Vilniwhere? 

    The mobilization is tricky because a full mobilization would simply advertise that suddenly Russia must go to war on a national footing just to accomplish knocking over a few counties of Ukraine.  The strategic damage to Russia of merely declaring a full mobilization seems considerable.  So “partial mobilization” it is.

    I think you’re right, but it’s also undeniable that Russia is fighting a partially NATO army in Ukraine – not overt NATO troops but a critical mass of NATO weapons.

    • #28
  29. MWD B612 "Dawg" Member
    MWD B612 "Dawg"
    @danok1

    Old Bathos (View Comment):
    Putin is now mostly relying on what he figures is the traditional Russian capacity for pain to outlast his enemies (particularly Western patience and interest). 

    • #29
  30. MWD B612 "Dawg" Member
    MWD B612 "Dawg"
    @danok1

    Bishop Wash (View Comment):

    JoelB (View Comment):

    Have we been frightened by decades of propaganda to believe that first the Soviet Union then Russia was a great, fierce fighting force when all along it has been a paper tiger? Might the same be said of China?

    I saw an interesting thread on Twitter last night. The gentlemen was thinking about what would happen if Putin did order a full mobilization. He claimed that during the Soviet Union days, the army had a lot of phantom units. They had officers, NCOs, and even bases, but no soldiers. The thought was that if something kicked off, these units would absorb the draftees, train them, and lead them into battle. It was a lot of overhead, but mobilizing a nation doesn’t do you any good if there’s nowhere for them to go.

    After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the military had to get smaller. This phantom army was expensive and scrapped. If a full mobilization is started, it probably won’t do any good. The soldiers to do the training are either killed or already in Ukraine. There probably aren’t enough supplies for a large number of draftees. The author said that Putin can call for a full mobilization but it will expose weaknesses.

    Saw that same thread. Probably explains why Vlad’s calling up reservists in certain occupational specialties first.

    • #30
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