38 thoughts on “The Russian Collapse”

  1. It would be somewhat ironic, that should Russia lose to Ukraine, and if that should trigger the collapse of the Russian state, that the oligarchs that replace Putin would convince the Duma to apply for membership in the EU to rebuild their economy.

  2. Shallow Mind Reader it has been a few weeks care to give an update on how the Russians defenses are holding up against the Kherson counteroffensive?
    Looks like this is pretty prescient.

    1. It wasn’t prescient. The Ukrainians have broke through and the Russians are almost running towards Kherson. The Russians are getting, at best, a trickle of supplies across the river. If these things keep going as they are, there will be a cauldron with about 25,000 of Russia’s best troops along the Dnipro.

  3. Indeed. And so confident too.

    Well, I wonder if there’s some interesting social dynamics at play too. Maybe the people who really are getting these things wrong will hush up for a time.

  4. Hrmmm… It’s not what’s going on, it’s how you say it.

    In the Kherson region, the Russians are currently conducting a very rapid armored advance southwards in the direction of Kherson City. If they attain it (and Ukraine probably can’t stop them) the Russian forces will be in a position to attempt to heroically launch a leg-infantry crossing of the Dnieper River from west to east.

    Meanwhile, in the Donbass, the Ukrainian Karkiv offensive has fizzled due to running out of occupied Kharkiv Oblast territory and Russians to attack. Attempting to salvage this offensive, the Ukrainians have desperately renamed it the Luhansk offensive. Meanwhile, Russian forces in NW Luhansk are rapidly advancing eastward and southeastward, and at their current rate of advance, will be at the gates of Rostov-on-the-Don well before Christmas.

    The Ukrainians now face dire infantry shortages in the Donbass; they lost many infantry battalions when those battalions fell for the clever Russian trap of stopping to become armored battalions due to all the operable armored vehicles (over 400 tanks alone) the Russians left scattered around for them. The Ukrainian logistics system is likewise strained due to the massive amounts of 152mm artillery shells (That the Ukrainians ran out of in June) the Russians tricked them into taking, a very clever ploy indeed, seeing as how the Ukrainians will now have to man and operate over 700 artillery pieces that they previously didn’t have to (due to having no ammo of that caliber).

    And not to be outdone, the Russian Air Force has been using its fast-attack jets relentlessly in static-ground-defense mode at their air bases.

    And lastly, logistics. The Russians have now shown that their logistics are far superior to those of the West. They demonstrated this very clearly, via supplying Ukraine with more heavy weapons and other armored vehicles (And the ammo for them) in one month than the entirety of the rest of the world combined has done in this entire war.

    1. Getting armored forces across all the Ukrainian rivers proved extremely difficult for the Russians and isn’t very easy for the Ukrainians, who’ve used a much better combined arms approach to the problems. But crossing at roads is problematic because Russian artillery can be pre-zeroed on the banks.

      But I have a solution.

      Take the 1250 horsepower T-80U, which weights 46 tonnes (101,200 lbs) and has a cross-country speed of 30 mph. We need to get it over a 1,200 foot wide river.

      So bolted to the front and the back are twin pairs of Super Dracos, for a total of eight thrusters, each with a sea-level thrust of 71,000 Newtons (16,000 lbs), or a maximum thrust of 57.9 tonnes, which they’re rated to maintain for 30 seconds. Each of the eight thrusters consumes 30.8 kg/sec of propellant at maximum thrust.

      The seal-level ISP is 235 (Ve=2304 m/sec), so the rocket equation says that a 27-second hover is going to required a mass ratio of 1.123, since hovering in one-G is like accelerating at one G outside of a gravitation field. The final mass of the empty T-80 is roughly 46 tonnes (I’ll not count the Super-Dracos, helium supply, and COPV propellant tanks because they weigh so much less than a tank tank), so the initial mass is 51.6 tonnes, and the flight consumes 5.66 tonnes of propellant.

      So the T-80 rolls to the bank at 30 mph, fires up the flight engines, and maintains that 30 mph speed for 27 seconds (the flight control system will have to tilt for a tiny bit of forward thrust), traveling 1,200 feet right over the river. Then the engines and fuel tanks are unbolted from the T-80 and the tank rolls into battle.

      Flying tanks are such an obvious need. I don’t know why we don’t have them already.

      1. The Russian attempts to cross the Siversy Donnets river clearly show this need for flying tanks. They ended up with well over a dozen submerged tanks each time.

        HAving your tank topped by several tons of hypergolic props might seem, at first glance, a bad idea in an artillery-rich (And for that matter, rifle-rich) environment, but it’s clearly superior to just driving a T-80 into a river, which the Russians have done many, many times. (though, being underwater does make them invulnerable to anti-tank missiles, so there is that…)

        Hrmmm. And come to think of it, placing several tons of intensely reactive hypergolic props atop your tank isn’t anywhere near as bad an idea as covering an aluminum-hulled airborne-varient BMP (As used by the VDV) with reactive armor, armor so weak that it can’t withstand the reactive armor detonating, and the Russians have indeed done that.

        1. At a Rocket Test Group meeting at White Sands about ten years ago, I saw a full-scale mockup of the CEV/Orion abort system. Good lord, was it enormous, and the system complexity is just bonkers.

          1. If it was 10 years ago, that was probably the design for the Pad Abort Test, which was modified a bit to allow for bigger chutes for a softer landing when the “pad” is actually 3900′ MSL rather than 250′ MSL. Don’t test like you fly, they always say.

    2. The Russians are conducting a retrograde offensive. The Ukrainians are pushing the Russians towards Kherson and are within 30 klicks of the city.

  5. AZ CJ:
    I’m skeptical of all information from Ukraine.
    I’m not able to trust info from either side.
    From any source.
    Eventually we will come to know the truth, as best we can.
    Then, we’ll know which of the ‘certain they’re right’ folks were closer to the truth.

    1. GaryMike, I agree we must take what both sides say with a grain of salt. But my take is that while Ukraine may be guilty of selective reporting and overestimating Russian casualties, the official Russian spokespersons are typically lying through their teeth. In any case, this war is being fought by soldiers with cell phones in their pockets, with quadcopters flying overhead and satellites peering down. We have a fair amount of data to assist in sifting the claims of both sides. The Institute for the Study of War does a pretty good job of that in my opinion. They’re certainly not neutral in their perspective. But they’re reasonably objective. They publish a detailed daily report:

      1. The ghost of the Ghost of Kiev told me off the record that the Ukrainians are no more trustworthy than the Russians.

      2. The Institute for the Study of War is paid propaganda by Victoria Nuland’s in-law Kimberly Kagan.

        Russia has provided numbers of casualties on their soldiers which match the ones by the BBC. It is just that the numbers Russia provides do not include Donbass militiamen deaths, just Russian Army deaths, which are much lower. But even if you include those militia casualties Ukraine is losing troops at a ratio of around 5:1.

        Ukraine is paying a heavy price in blood for any territory they do claw back that is for sure.

        There is more to winning a war than body count though. We know how well that worked in Vietnam.

    2. The day to day details might be wrong but the overall trends are hard to fake. Cheerleaders aren’t reliable and have an overconfidence but Ukraine themselves are far more rational in the actions they take to mitigate the uncertainties of the future.

    3. Well, we can probably trust the Russians when they announce that they have been kicked out of x. There is a lot of that type of announcing going on right now.

      1. Today I saw where Russian media was bragging that their general cleverly pulled out of Lyman so as to trick Ukraine into attacking an unoccupied position.

    4. GaryMike, I too am highly skeptical about info coming from Ukrainian sources, and of course Russian sources.

      Have the Ukrainians blatantly lied? Yes. A few examples are their absurd claims (right from the top) about the risk of “Six Chernobles” worth of radiation poisoning all of Europe (said during the fighting at the nuclear big six-reactor nuclear plant that I cannot spell back in March). Wrong kind of reactors for that to be even possible. And, as FC mentions, the Ghost of Kyev, plus of course Ukrainian claims regarding the number of Russian jets shot down.

      On the other hand, independent photo verification shows that Ukrainian claims regarding the number of armored vehicles destroyed/captured are pretty darn close. Likewise, if I see a verified, clear video of troops raising their flag at a geolocated landmark, I’m inclined to believe it.

      Hence, I have no doubts at all that the Ukrainians launched an offensive, and took places like Izyum, Lyman, etc.

      Basically, my rule regarding either side is to be very skeptical.

  6. Bias alert:

    My father’s side of the family comes from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bessarabia. The eastern-most portion now part of Ukraine.

    At the time they for America in 1870, the Turks ruled to the west, the Russians to the east, and the Austro-Hungarians were the current landlords.

    The family spoke German.

    Every few generations the Turks moved in. A few generations on, the Russians. Then the A/Hs.

    The entire region has been in political flux for centuries.

    I have no particular affinity for the three great powers, so I’m leaning Ukraine-wise because only it has never actually offended my family.

    Still, I don’t trust Ukraine. They’ve never had ‘skin’ in my family’s community.

  7. QM:

    “The eastern-most portion now part of Ukraine.”

    Not saying anything. Just repeating myself. 😉

    For the record.

    No foul.

  8. I’ve seen/heard today that Ukraine possesses Trillions (Bs, maybe?) of tons of Lithium-bearing ores. Mostly in the Donbass region.

    I wonder if Lithium actually identifies as Russian

    1. I was surprised to finally learn than the Donbass stands for “the Donetsk Coal Basin”, developed by an Englishman in the 1800’s.

  9. –Elon Musk attracts controversy as he doubles down on proposals to end Ukraine war

    Tesla billionaire Elon Musk has continued to agitate political pundits with his proposed solutions to the Ukraine conflict.–

    It doesn’t seem Musk has way to end this war, and don’t think Musk do it even if he had a good plan.
    There seems to be two points: who could and what is the plan.
    It doesn’t seem you talk to Ukraine, it seems you talk to Russia.
    So question is who could talk to Russia?
    It seems Trump could talk to Russia.
    Who would be better than Trump.
    “aside from his native Russian, Putin can express himself more or less in German and English. It is said Putin’s English is “good enough to correct his translators” in some instances.”
    Who would Putin like to talk to?
    Some one with weight or said differently, someone worth talking to.
    Skip ahead of who, what could Putin want and can the “whoever” deliver it.
    Putin could want to a member of NATO. And assuming he wants that, he could give up a lot to get that.
    NATO has certain requirement such not having contested borders.
    And you got get all members agreeing and voting for it.
    And part of it, is that Ukraine can’t be member of NATO before Russia is. But there is deadline for Russia to do all it has to do to qualify {don’t have contested borders and I suppose there other things which I am not aware of]. And would be short deadline- but would depend on how long that would take- but as wild guess, less than 5 years. Or deal can’t be just about delaying Ukraine- but part of it has to be.
    So what else- if Putin doesn’t actually want to be member of NATO?
    Oh, also if Russia part of NATO, can it be member EU?
    Anyways, what else?

    1. OK, you heard it here first.

      The answer of what to do about the Russian threat of nuclear war is to look to a parallel in the 1973 October War, where Israel was by surprise attacked from both its Syrian and Egyptian borders.

      The Israel Defense Forces were losing ground and suffering high losses owing to being deceived that the massing of forces against them was only military posturing or military exercises instead of an attack. There was an element of strategic surprise with three Russian-supplied weapon systems — wire-guided anti-tank rockets along with the SAM-6 anti-aircraft missiles and their supporting radars. At the time, the SAM-6 radar was not jammable. I also believe it had a much greater altitude range relative to the earlier SAM-2 and SAM-3 systems that were most effective at high altitude. The third was a night-vision capability of the Syrian tank forces that the Israelis did not have.

      There was also a matter of “quantity having a quality all of its own” by the Israelis on the Syrian front having to fight of massive numbers of Russian-supplied tanks.

      The parallel extends to the United States with the beleagured Richard Nixon as president sending massive amounts of weapons to Israel , even digging deep into US stocks, to make good Israeli losses.

      Furthermore, owing to American resupply, Israeli resourcefulness in adapting their tactics along with the tenacity and bravery of Israeli soldiers and pilots, many who fought to the death against superior numbers until reservists could be committed to the war, the IDF turned the tide of battle, to the point of having flanked an surrounded the Egyptian Army committed to this war.

      At this point, their Russian patrons played the nuclear card. The Israelis got to “keep” the Sinai, Egyptian territory yes, but ground they regarded as essential to their security going forward, but the Egyptians got their army back.

      People here and elsewhere can repeat the talking points about “both sides in the Ukraine-Russia war engagedin propaganda” and “we don’t know who to believe.”

      What I “believe” based on my Bayesian priors from historical accounts of wars is that people can talk and talk all they want, but the facts on the ground are these. Owing to Western resupply, the tenacity and bravery of Ukrainian war fighters, the combination of Ukrainian military skill and resourcefulness with a stuff-ton of US and NATO real-time intelligence along with training in NATO doctrine along with the willingness of the Ukrainians to learn from that training, and owing to the Russian military and many post-Soviet Russian institutions proving to by Foxtrot-Uniform-Brave-Alpha-Romeo (FUBAR), the Ukrainian forces are poised to capture what for practical purposes is the entire Russian Army.

      Tom Clancy wrote “Red Storm Rising” about NATO fighting a Russian invasion of West Germany. What we are seeing here is what I call “Stuff” Storm Rising, where even the late Mr. Clancy was not so jingoistic to depict how bad the Russian forces could be.

      We make fun of President Biden here, but you know the adage about the cyclic correctness of a stopped clock, and even Mr. Biden is being fed information from people we may not agree with, many of these are smart people, and we are being told that Russia has placed the Nuclear Card face up on the poker table.

      The Peace Plan floated by Elon Musk is very similar to the Peace Plan offered by Henry Kissinger, a man who had not only a front-row seat in October some 49 years ago. It stunk then that the Soviet Union played the nuclear card against Israel and it stinks now that it is played against Ukraine, but nukes are nukes.

      Using historical precedent, Russia gets to evacuate their forces from Eastern and Southern Ukraine, and maybe even Crimea. Whether in the short-term or in the long-term, the United States will use its influence to broker some kind of deal for Eastern Ukraine and Crimea, where these provinces might be turned over to Russia or be Russian-speaking republics in exchange for Russian security guarantees. This will come about because America will promise to supply reconstruction and military aid to both Ukraine and Russa in equal proportions.

    2. I can’t figure out what on earth Musk is thinking.

      His “Self-determination” proposal to end the Ukraine war, based on the principle of universal self-determination, might actually be worth considering *IF* it didn’t ignore two massive issues in order to be in any way viable; Russia would have to withdraw before the referendum, plus the Ukrainians who fled the regions would have to either return, or be allowed to vote.

      Elon Musk’s argument for self-determination as a principle, however, is argued against by Elon Musk, who said yesterday that Taiwan should become a special district of China, with a large degree of autonomy (basically, the “one country, two systems” status that Hong Kong had until China ignored it and placed Hong Kong fully under its bootheel). Thus, Taiwan does not have self-determination, yet parts of Ukraine do? So, why the massive difference in Musk’s stances here?

      I’ve long been a supporter of a lot Musk does, but… right now, I have to wonder, is he going all-out for Hypocrite of the Year, or is he in China’s pocket due to Tesla’s vulnerability there?

      He’s also ignoring the first rule of holes.

  10. Putin has ‘already decided to use tactical nukes’, expert says
    ‘The question is how, when and where. I have no doubts we will end up on the edge of death, but I know we will be able to back off. We will be able to go through this.’ He claimed the current situation is more dangerous and closer to ‘nuclear apocalypse’ than during the Cuban missile crisis during the Cold War. ‘The cause is the Russian president Vladimir Putin who seriously intends to demonstrate the capabilities of nuclear weapons – tactical nuclear weapons,’ he said. ‘Putin cannot allow himself to be defeated. He has two tools left in his sleeve – mobilization, which he is using [and] nuclear weapons.’

    Dr Solovey – who is not a medical doctor but claims to have sources in high Kremlin circles – said Putin is in ‘very poor physiological health’. He has long claimed that the Russian warmonger is suffering from serious illnesses including cancer, Parkinson’s disease and a schizoaffective disorder. This has been disputed by Western intelligence, with the director of the CIA William Burns saying in July that Putin is ‘entirely too healthy’, although acknowledged this was an informal assessment of the Russian leader’s health.


  11. Half of the pavement portion of the Kerch bridge connecting Crimea with the Russian mainland was blown last night.

    Apparently the explosion was timed to coincide with a train passing on the parallel span that set a couple of tank cars ablaze forcing the train to stop on the bridge ablaze.

    Russia claims the train part of the bridge is now clear. However only one roadway out of the two is serviceable, if the underlying infrastructure is not too damaged. The other roadway is clearly out as can be seen from satellite imagery:


    1. That bridge has been on borrowed time for awhile now. The time has now run out. Ukraine seems to be treating it like it has the bridges over the Dnipro – wrecking them piecemeal on the installment plan.

      1. If it was a truck bomb as I’ve seen suggested it would have to been a suicide mission. But I’m skeptical. The way the span collapsed belies that. This isn’t a point spread but a severance at two and possibly more sections. Plus the timing for a truck bomb whereas the video footage shows would have to have been impeccable to catch the train. The billowing black smoke from the train fire suggests fuel oil of some kind. It wasn’t propane.

  12. AZ C J:

    “I can’t figure out what on earth Musk is thinking.”

    He’s powerless to do anything but suggest a framework for the two parties to negotiate mutually face-saving walk-backs.

    1. @ GaryMike;

      That’s the problem I have; Musk *Isn’t* suggesting a valid framework at all, he’s suggesting an invalid one. A referendum might actually be plausible if Russia withdrew first (And a neutral party, perhaps the UN, took temporary custody). That’d be a face-saving way out for Russia, too. But that’s not what Musk is suggesting. He’s suggesting a referendum while the areas mostly remain under Russian military occupation, and much of the population is thus absent.

      Musk is also arguing that self-determination is a cardinal principle that must always be the deciding factor. Arguing against this is also Elon Musk, who has made clear he does not support self-determination for Taiwan (He’s instead parroting the ChiCom position, of a “two systems” approach, like Hong Kong had before China reneged and crushed them.)

      Basically, Elon Musk’s position that self-determination should be the cardinal rule was shot down a few days later by Elon Musk. In no possible way does that make any sense at all, unless his intention was to publicly beclown himself. .

  13. The Bridge:

    Russia didn’t anticipate that Ukraine would retaliate in unanticipated ways?

    I have a Russian sister-in-law who is very smart, has a PhD (Russian literature)(a ‘useful’ workplace knowledge base!), and has no clue about why Putin is doing what he’s doing. But supports him

    I have indelible affection for her.

    I’m conflicted in a variety of ways.

  14. “Using historical precedent, Russia gets to evacuate their forces from Eastern and Southern Ukraine, and maybe even Crimea. Whether in the short-term or in the long-term, the United States will use its influence to broker some kind of deal for Eastern Ukraine and Crimea, where these provinces might be turned over to Russia or be Russian-speaking republics in exchange for Russian security guarantees. This will come about because America will promise to supply reconstruction and military aid to both Ukraine and Russa in equal proportions.”

    LOL! The USA has not the slightest interest in ending the war. The evidence is that the US engineered it over the last 20 years or so.

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