• Possible New Iranian Types of Drones to Enter Russian Army Service — a Commentary on Rybar’s article.

    There is a speculatory post on Rybar’s Telegram channel, celebrating the rumors of possible new types of Iranian drones to be purchased by Russian MoD.

    It talks about two types of drones, the long, ~2,000 km range drone with simple valve motor propeller engine, and an Iranian clone of the US-made Switchblade tactical drones.

    The article concludes with positives for both sides: for Russian it is the “increase of its combat capabilities”, and for Iran its “ideal proving grounds to combat-test its weaponry against western weapon systems”.

    This is an idiotism, of course. First of all, “Russia will increase its combat capabilities” is nonsense. You cannot increase combat capabilities by inducting inferior weapon systems into service. Russia has much more sophisticated nomenclature of “smart” weapons. What it really meant to say, is what Russian depleting arsenal of standoff precision weapons, which wasn’t ever intended to de-electrify entire country as large as Ukraine, will be supplemented by Iranian cheap rip-offs of western weapons. Whis is a consequence of the Russian government letting its military industrial complex (MIC) to die in agony, with exception of some luckier companies like Almaz-Antey. The later one, by the way, was nominated as the least corrupt one in the Russian MIC, which, by the way, gives up a clue why it is still able to produce things and be profitable.

    And the second “pro”, is the battle testing of Iranian weaponry using Ukraine as testing grounds. Which is, of course, to say it may not be effective or a good value at all. Like we see with the often usage of the Shakhed-136 drones in shorter range strikes, which could be more effectively done using Russian own developed and made GPS (Glonass) guided 120 km range 330 mm rockets. And those cannot be shot down with AK-47, by the way, as sometimes happen to the Shakhed-136. Instead, it seemed a good idea to pour Russian MoD budget into developing Iranian standoff capabilities. Iran, which is a threshold nuclear state governed by radical Islam movement.

    So, let’s examine those state of the art, as Rybar group wants us to believe, drones.

    Arash-2 (infographics here) is a 50 hp driven, 185 km/h slow, ~2,000 km range, 200 kg stealthy looking drone with supposedly sophisticated guidance system. If I’m not mistaken, MD550 is the same engine that propels the Shalhed-136. With more fuel onboard it range can be extended from 1,200 to ~2,000 km. So it will be a realatively easy target for Ukrainian air-defence, just like Shahed is. It also has much more costly guidance system onboard. The GPS navigation that Shakhed-136 uses costs pennies in comparison with IR, thermal or radar (passive or active) guidance. Which means it won’t be cheap anymore. And it would be massively inferior to the Russian Kh-101 or Kalibr or Iskander-K cruise missiles in performance. And, considering how standoff weapons have become the only Russian means to gain superiority over Ukraine, Iran won’t sell them for cheap. Even if they will be inferior in any way imaginable, if Russia buys them, it will flow a great deal of its military budget to Iran, advertise their weapon systems and test them for free. I can see the “win” for Iran, but not for Russia.

    Meraj-521 (infographics) is an Iranian rip-off of the Switchblade family of suicide drones, which prove themself so ineffective in Ukraine. Considering Iran has no hi-tech industry to speak off, it will use expensive off the shelf components, which will be far inferior to the ones that US has access to. Is there a need to say any more?

    In fact, Russia has developed, in some cases decades ago, weapon systems which would dominate the battlefield in Ukraine, not only over the Soviet legacy weaponry, but also the modern western ones. For example, the mighty Smerch long range, large caliber MLR systems has an upgrade that will put its effectiveness on par or above the M142 HIMARS/M270 MLRS. But there are only very few Smerch MLRS in Russian inventory, even if a significant number of them were produced and exported to third countries. The same goes to the only modern effective anti-fortification (conventional) ground weapon system which is TOS-1/2 heavy thermobaric rocket launchers. There are only a small number of them in service, and I believe all or nearly all of them were produced in the USSR. There isn’t yet promised and widely advertised in the past new generation of Koalitsia-SV self-propelled howitzers, that should have dominated the artillery duels against not only old Soviet and US SPH’s, but also modern ones (like German PzH-2000). And the modernized Soviet era Msta-S is still nowhere to be seen. The truly revolutionary infantry support artillery system Vena was abandoned long ago, and the much-simplified self-propelled Nona is also missing the action. Both are universal artillery systems capable of using mortar, gun or howitzer type ammunitions. Including the guiding ones. Yet, what Russians are using are old guns and howitzers which have no netcentric capabilities or even automatic fire control systems.

    Instead of speaking of all this, the Russian “patriotic” alternative media is drooling over some Iranian drones. How pathetic is it, really.

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  • Destroying the Legacy

    The Dove of Peace, president Rasputin Rasputinovich himself, made a TV appearance, where he “received a briefing” from his best buddy Shoigu, regarding the completion of the Rasputin’s “partial mobilizations”. The other comedian in this farce, the minister of defence Shoigu, was unusually quiet-spoken and jittery in his expressions and responses. Maybe, he feels his heals are starting to smolder above the firepit of the popular rage over his ministry’s conduct in the last 8 months and before.

    Yet the Rasputin himself seemed extremely self-confident and decisive. I personally am unable to understand if he is really that stupid not to see what was done by his buddies under his watch, or is he truly believe himself to be above any responsibility? I’m pretty sure he isn’t such a great actor to just fake it.

    In any case, the bottom line was as usual — Rasputin instructed the MoD and the authorities to strive for improvements and to fix any issues that were surfaced during the mobilization. It seems he doesn’t think that all his improvements that made the Russian Army into a joke, were apparently enough. I shudder to think what those farther improvements will lead to, considering where all the previous ones led.

    For now, those improvements, reportedly, led the Russian MIC to think about restoring the production of the past generation infantry combat vehicles (IFV). By “past generation” I get it means BMP-2, since BMP-3 is still theoretically in production, and the new generation IFV is still nowhere to be seen after almost a decade of “fielding” it. Or, alternatively, the KurganMashZavod plant will instead restore and upgrade the old IFV’s — in the event they wouldn’t be able to restore the 80’s Soviet production line, I’ guessing.

    Meantime, the plant is outputting simplified simplified modern IVF. My browser thinks I’ve made a mistake, repeating the same word twice, and it underscored the second “simplified” with a wiggly red line. But in fact, I’m pretty sure it isn’t a mistake. Since the IFV in question is the BMP-2 with added armor and simplified “Epokha” unmanned turret. Simplified, i.e., without all the high-techy devices and new light guided missiles. The unsimplified, original production version was supposed to be a new generation platform, the T-15 Armata, of course. So, in a course of a few decades of peace and less than one year of low intensity (for Russia) war, the future Russian IFV went from T-15, to simplified variant of BMP-2 with full Epokha upgrade, and then to simplified simplified BMP-2 with limited upgrade.

    Meantime, the patriotic video clips from the Russian Army’s training grounds show middle aged man loading their T-62’s. Here, from the promised T-14 Armata new generation futuristic main battle tank with active protection system and a more potent main gun, Russian Army went to the Robert Kennedy era tanks with no effective protection against modern AT weapons and with a smaller caliber (than is currently in service) main gun.

    The Russian mobilized soldiers (who are for some unholly reason referred in some Russian Media by an oxymoron “mobilized civilians”), are a nostalgic picture of a Soviet military contingent in the Republic of Afghanistan. With their SSh-68 “steel helmet type 1968”, designed to be worn on top of their ushanka fur hats, their AK-74 and simple body armor.

    Yet the Shoigu’s “briefing” to Rasputin is meant to fill the hearts of his Russian compatriots with the certainty of the Russian military might to fight and win against their “brotherly nation”. Exactly (?) 300,000 people were mobilized, and about 80,000 of them are already in the conflict zone. Of which some tens of thousands are taking part in the fighting.

    I guess those two clown didn’t rehearsed this line good enough, or maybe Shoigu couldn’t read his script straight because of all acknowledgment of his total incompetence, but Rasputin demanded for some explanations for the sake of the people, who still watch government produced spectacles on their TV sets. I suppose those are mostly the elderly, but sadly not exclusively. So, he asked the great general about the rest of eighty thousand who are in the conflict zone, but aren’t taking part in the fighting — are they in fact also still undergoing training, some kind or another? And the Shoigu answered something like: of course they are, it is exactly like Thou sayeth! If Rasputin says the MoD trains its soldiers in the war zone, than that’s how it will be. Sadly, he didn’t elaborate to the reason of training soldiers in the former Ukraine. I guess HIMARS rockets falling on their heads make them learn faster of something.

    They (I don’t remember now which one of the two) also reminded to those unwashed morituri, tah they would get paid some rubbles. At least in ancient times then soldiers were sent to fight (and die) in a war, they were given trophies (their enemies’ riches) or lands or something. Here they would get ~200,000 rubles a month, for as many months as they will be able to survive in their T-62’s and their SSh-68’s.

    This all happens in the background of my personal realization that if only Rasputin’s Russia had preserved the Soviet Army legacy, this war would be over long ago. But not only under Rasputin’s watch this legacy was looted, wasted and destroyed, the lie of a modern and more efficient army was created. With Su-57’s and T-14’s and netcentric warfare and high-tech drones and best-in-class electronic counter measure systems and what not. Sure, some of it is seen in expositions or on victory parade days, but the reality is 60-80’s era weapons are now doing the real fighting. And those were “modernized” and “optimized” to the point they are talking now about restoring the production of the “older generation IFV’s”. How many did they managed to lose, for God’s sake!?

    And a short story. There was a profit whom the God gave a mission of great importance, to save an entire city from destruction. Ancient cities were often actually city states – little countries. Yet the profit feared so much of taking the responsibility for the entire city, even under God’s guidance, he tried to flee, and ended up being eaten by a sea monster. He spent days and weeks inside this monster, until he was finally accepted this mission. You know the story.

    My point is, today, people who succeeded in gaining their top position as rulers of their countries, have no sense at all of their personal responsibilities for everyone and everything living under their rule. If they did understand, they would flee from their position of power even if it means risking their own lives. I look at president Rasputin, and even now he looks so comfy in his chair.

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  • Iranian Drones and the Mainstream Media — Spinning to the Point of Vertigo

    It’s more a filler article, since I didn’t post anything for some time. The reason being nothing is really happening. Nothing of note, that is. Ukraine is still sacrificing its population on the altar of western Russophobia, Russia is still not ready to accept how much rotten its bureaucratic machine is, especially the Ministry of Defense, the Europe is still rolling down the slope of economic collapse and consequent civil mayhem, and the US is still pushing the world to the brink of apocalypse.

    Meantime, Reuters is demonstrating again how white could be spined into black by withholding just two words:

    Iran will not remain indifferent if proven Russia using its drones in Ukraine – official

    https://www.reuters.com/world/iran-says-it-will-not-remain-indifferent-if-proven-russia-uses-its-drones-2022-10-24/

    So, the header is apparently telling us that Iran does supply drones to Russia, but on the condition that it won’t be used in Ukraine. This is the only way to read it. Because if Iran wasn’t supplying drones to Russia, it wouldn’t be possible for Russia to use it against Ukraine, and this statement would be nonsensical. Also, after acknowledging implicitly that it is supplying drones to Russia, the header apparently reads as if Iran doesn’t know that the supplied drones are intended to be used in Ukraine, or that it had a hard requirement for Russia not to do so.

    In the body of the article, we finally read the real Iranian statement:

    “If it is proven to us that Iranian drones are being used in the Ukraine war against people, we should not remain indifferent,” state media cited Hossein Amirabdollahian as saying.

    So, in reality the Iranian official said that the Iranian drones shouldn’t be used against people, i.e., against non-military targets, which would be a war crime, of course. Here we learn that not only Iran is acknowledging that it supplies drones to Russia, but it also knows very well that those drones are intended to be used in Ukraine. That being said, if it will be proven that Russia is using those drones against non-military targets, such as kindergartens etc., it won’t be happy about it. It most probably wouldn’t do anything about it, but it won’t be happy. Diplomatically speaking.

    So, I don’t know about you, but my head is spinning. And this manipulation by what is supposed to be fair and balanced international news agency is so obvious, that it hardly makes any sense. It’s like they lie, and they know that the critically thinking readers know they lie, and still they don’t care. It became a farce, such as only the most indoctrinated or stupid people can still believe they get the real news from the mainstream media.

    In fact, this is so incompetent and/or dismissive of the target audience, that it reminds me of Russian government and MoD in that particular aspect. Is there not a place in the world for normal people to live and be governed by the normal government? I’m not asking for ideal government and society, but just a bit of common sense, that’s all. If there would be such a place, I would really want to move there.

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  • The State of Russian Army — Back to the USSR

    In last days I saw three articles on BMPD (a Russian CAST military “think-tank”) Telegram channel:

    T-62 main battle tank (entered service in 1961)

    Let’s start with the first article. T-62 is a second post-WWII generation MBT. It succeeded the first past-war generation T-54/55. In turn, it was followed by the third generation T-64 and T-72, which were followed by the fourth generation T-80/T-90. The latest Russian MBT is a fifth generation T-14 Armata.

    (From my memory alone, without checking sources:) Following the collapse of the USSR, Russia has been left with about 30,000 MBT’s, about 10,000 of which were from the later Cold War era: T-72, T-80 and T-90. Each one of those have a number of modifications. For example, Before the SMO, only the most recent modifications of those were considered as modern and more or less equal to the latest Western main battle tanks. Only the newest, and practically speaking, still experimental T-14 Armata is supposed to be better than the latest Western modifications of tanks.

    So, theoretically speaking, at the start of the SMO, Russia had the largest tank force (not including obsolete tanks of the post-WWII generations) in the world. Even if most of those were of the 70’s and 80’s vintage, i.e. 40-50 years old, this is a very large reserve of tanks which can be upgraded using the existing upgrade programs into modern modifications, capable of fighting efficiently with the bulk of western M1 Abrams and Leopard-2.

    Instead, for some unknown reason, it was decided to create a new modernization program in order to upgrade almost a thousand of the desperately obsolete T-62’s…

    Basic T-62’s have much lower specs than T-72, and especially T-80 and T-90 tanks. No matter how much passive or reactive armor you add, they won’t come close to the upgraded T-72 and T-80. They also have much weaker engines, a much less potent gun and ammunition, and much more primitive target detection and fire control units.

    The article states that some additional armor will be installed. It also says a new, thermal imaging system will be provided. Well, the thermal systems are a costly and hard to get component, which would be better used in modernizing the T-72’s or later tanks. And the additional armor, as I’ve said previously, won’t get its protection level to that of the modernized T-72.

    If so, what can be the reasons for arming the newly mobilized with this old junk, exploding 4 of them each time and RPG or ATGM reaches the ammo storage? (And by the way, starting with the T-64 and T-72, Soviet tanks have only 3 crew members, thanks to the automatic gun loader.) Obviously, those tanks are intended for the Russian Army, and not for export.

    I can think of a few different reasons, each one of them worse that the previous:

    1. there are not enough T-72’s left in good enough condition to restore and modernize;
    2. there is not enough competency remained in Russia to restore quickly a large number of 50 years old tanks — only the much more primitive models of the second past-was generation are simple enough to be restored and put into service;
    3. the current Russian military industrial complex cannot produce enough 125-mm ammunition for the T-72/80/90, instead large Soviet stocks of 115-mm tank gun ammunition will be used.
    4. The field repair units are not able to repair and maintain a large number of more modern tanks due to the higher than usual losses and maintenance needs in a time of war.
    5. It is much simpler to train new tank crews for the Gagarin-first-human-in-space era tanks that for the Mir-space-station era tanks.

    Whatever the reasons might be, this is beyond ridiculous. It’s crosses the enemy-of-the-state line, for the ones that brought the situation to this point.

    The SSh-40/60 steel helmets (entered service in 40’s/60’s)

    If the 70’s tanks could be considered as too much high-tech for the current Russian MoD managed MIC, the most basic protective equipment of every infantryman cannot. Yet, for some unfathomable reason, the Army is now “upgrading” the WWII and post-WWII era steel helmets, in order to equip the mobilized. So not only a middle-aged office worker with health problems and no military experience would be sent into battle after shooting a few rounds from his corroded AK, he would be also put in a Gagarin era tank and protected by a WWII era helmet. (Firing squads don’t sound so ridiculous anymore, right, Jacob?)

    This is from an article in a Kalashnikov journal. The author ends this report like this:

    Очевидно, что появление такого «эрзаца» на головах мобилизуемых обусловлено исключительно некомпетентностью соответствующих служб МО РФ, оказавшихся не готовыми к масштабу боевых действий, развернувшихся на территории Украины в ходе Специальной военной операции.

    It is obvious, that the appearance of such ersatz good on the mobilized men heads is exclusively a result of the incompetence of the appropriate Russian MoD services [i.e. branches], who turned out to be unprepared for the scope of the combat action, unfolded on the territory of Ukraine during the Special Military Operation.

    Modernized BMP-1 (entered service in 1966)

    This is a least outrageous new between the three. A “new” combat reconnaissance vehicle BRM-2AM is entering service. It is produced by replacing the old 73-mm low ballistics gun turret with a new, unmanned turret armed with 30-mm A-72 autocannon and 7.62 machinegun.

    The BMP-1 is a very good platform for second echelon or internal troops. It has somewhat adequate ballistic protection and a very good mobility. A new turret is also quite adequate, especially for the lower intensity situations.

    The problem here is that not only the now almost decade old last generation infantry combat vehicles (IFV) and armor personnel carriers (APC) are still have not entered combat service, but that the Soviet era BMP-3 are still, 30+ years later, aren’t present enough in the Russian Army. Instead, a 60’s era IFV’s are being upgraded in order to equip Russian troops.

    ***

    If there is a hell, its worst parts should be reserved for the corrupt officials, who betray future of their own country and the well-being of their own people in order to squeeze a bit more enjoyment from their short life on this planet. But ordinary people shouldn’t rely on divine judgment to avenge their griefs. It takes too long, and more evils will be done in the meantime.

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  • Theological Question in Regard to Russian MoD Modus Vivendi: Sinners and Heaven

    There is a theological axiom which is hard to understand: as long as a sinner truly repented all his crimes, all his previous sins could be forgiven by God. If that is how it is, then isn’t it possible to sin and enjoy your life to the fullest, as long as you can repent before you die? What is then the point of having a dull and tiresome life of a good man, if any sinner could can be forgiven?

    I don’t know the answer for sure, but I suppose the reason is that hardly any sinner can do it, is because each and every evil act makes his should more callous and the will needed to truly repent much harder. In the end, even if knowing for sure their only way out of hell or whatever awaits them in the afterlife is to repent their past, they just cannot do it.

    And here I come the conduct of Russian MoD and high-tier Russian officials. They know all their sins are coming out to the surface during this war. Logically, they should start changing their ways and serve the country and the people, to avoid possible retributions. Instead, we see them starting to pressure the alternative media in order to squeeze the jinnee back into the bottle.

    In one of Rybar’s Telegram channel reposts, there is now an open warning towards those officials, that this kind of conduct will only agitate the public and make them resent the MoD, and eventually all of the government, leading, at worst case scenario, to the popular revolt.

    People can be lied and politically oppressed to the point. As long as they are safe, entertained and their bellies are full, the majority will stay quiet. But then their life is starting to fall apart, with random people being mobilized, abandoned and then sent to the fronts underprepared and underequipped, when the Russian Army is looking like a sad joke, and half of the world is openly hates them and wish their country to fall apart, then the people are starting to be angry.

    Russia didn’t see a real popular revolt since the Bolshevik Revolution of the 1917. We are still far from it, but things are heating up. There is still no government lead initiative to reform the Ministry of Defense and the armed forces. Instead, some club members of the military top echelon are being reshuffled with other club members.

    Until someone could explain to me how a ground forces general could become an air-force commander, I would think he is just a tool of the “siloviki” (a political fraction in government which has its base of power in military and other armed agencies like the National Guard) to crush any remaining disloyalty to Shoigu and his lackeys among the power holders in the Russian military.

    And all this is done under the protection of Putin’s authority and reputation. The usual Russian naivety is crystalized in the belief that the Tsar is being lied to by his ministers, which prevent him of knowing the reality. And if only he knew the truth, he would instantly purge all the corrupted ones. This is a sentiment which is continues from the Russian tsardome, under which any injustice people are subjected to is seen as opposed to the will of the Tsar, who are like God himself, is the ultimate force for good. Well, at some point this sentiment wears itself down until the Tsar is being dethroned, and usually killed violently.

    But exactly like old sinners, president Rasputin and his Great Dukes Shoigu, Medvedev etc., are aware of the dangers and know they have to repent, yet they cannot do it, for their souls have been corrupted to the point of no return. If any of them fall, he will try to drag all the rest down with him. So, their most basic principle of personal loyalty to their group, no matter what kind of crime they committed against the motherland and the people, stands in a way of true, meaningful reforms, starting from the very top of the Russian statehood.

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  • No Such Was Strategy to Lose Battles in Order to Win a War

    It is mainly a response to Alexander Mercouris latest video, there he again raises the possibility of Russian retreats as some kind of possible strategy. I’m sure, being very knowledgeable in historic matters, he wouldn’t find a single example of such strategy.

    Alexanders point is based primarily on the fact he still can’t fully accept how many systematic problems are finally surfacing in the Russian Army. The Army that was supposed to be the strongest on European continent. I had no idea myself, of the degree of its decay. But now it clear — the military command under the current MoD leadership is totally inadequate. All the supporting services like reconnaissance, intelligence gathering, communications, command and control (including the much spoken about new netcentric capabilities), coordination of artillery and aviation support for ground forces — all of them are lacking at best. The ground forces themselves turned out to be unmotivated, having no clear understanding of the war’s goals, the nature of their enemy, and having no trust in their commanding officers. I’m generalizing, but the war isn’t won by some exceptional men or units, but by the Armed Forces as a whole.

    That being said, I believe the Russian Air Force is still quite adequate and hasn’t been corrupted to the levels of the ground forces. The Navy, particularly the Black Sea Fleet, turned out to be quite helpless. The state of the space grouping of military and dual use satellites is still unclear to me, but it seems it is in a bad shape as well. I still assume the strategic forces and some of the special forces are in a very good shape, but they have no real impact on such war. Missile and air-defense forces seem to be in a good shape. Paratroopers seem to be able, but a big war cannot be won with paratroopers alone. And their usage as a positional defence forces in Kherson region is borderline criminal, military speaking. I assume the ultimately absolutely pointless capture of the airfield near Kiev, that was later just abandoned, took a heavy toll on them. And the current defensive is taking a heavier toll still.

    The Russian military mostly use the Soviet legacy weaponry and ammunition. In fact, towards the end of the USSR, the Soviets were ready in induct into service systems more capable than the majority of the ones used today, 30+ years after, the collapse of the Soviet Union. At best we see some minor upgrades to the Soviet hardware, but their actual availability has fallen by many times since then. And the bulk of the hardware is from the 70’s or 80’s, so of the 40-50 years old vintage.

    Even that hardware hasn’t been maintained properly. The most widely used weapon systems are the simplest ones, which means they require the least amount of maintenance and are the simplest to fix (including by cannibalization). It is frightening to think what the state of the Russian Army would be, if the Soviet Union were to produce military hardware similar to the Western, which requires much more competence of its operators and much heavier on maintenance.

    On top of that, the even more distressing systematic failure has surfaced to the point of being painfully obvious — soldiers are not seen as the most valuable asset the Army has, but as some kind of serfs to be abused for the benefit of the military brass.

    Which brings us to the point of supposedly very large reserves concentrating on the Russian territory. Those are probably untrained and not very motivated people, who are underequipped and not armed to the standards of the Russian Army. As such, they are not combat ready or combat efficient.

    The reason Russian general staff doesn’t send reinforcements or rotate the personnel for many months, is because they have no men to replace them. And while generals are trying to create some kind of combat capable force, the ones on the battlefield are experiencing high level of attrition.

    Now let’s talk tactics. I’m not a military man, so anyone of the opinion that it makes me unfitted to discuss such topics is welcome do disregard it. But I believe the point of the war is inflicting military defeat on the enemy. Military defeat means killing of enemy troops and destruction of military hardware and military industry. To kill the enemy, you need to use the advantages you have. If the enemy force had attempted offensive, but was knocked back, you can leave it as it is, and give him time to regroup, reinforce and rearm and try again with the lessons he learned, or counterattack and destroy the retreating force. The counterattack requires some reserve forces standing ready for such occasion. If you have no reserves, or they aren’t sufficient, your successful defence would be of little effect.

    Ukraine had been reported as having a great deal of losses in its initial attempts to retake the Russian bridgehead across the Dnepr. Yet those were as a result of passive Russian defences and massive artillery support. The initial successes were not developed into the ultimate defeat of the Ukrainian units, they were merely thrown back and given enough time to recuperate. Russia has no initiative on the battlefield, except there the non-MoD managed forces are in play, such as the Wagner Group or the militias.

    If so, there is no cunning plan by the Russian MoD or the general staff to lure Ukrainian forces or to inflict on them enough damage to ensure successful counteroffensive. Moreover, Ukrainian infrastructure, critical for the supply and reinforcement of the frontline troops is still being ignored by the Russians. One noticeable exception was the strike on Ukrainian power-generating facilities. As I speculated, that wasn’t a sign of the escalation, but an expression of anger and frustration by the Russian military command. We haven’t seen any other strike of the similar magnitude since.

    Alexander also rises the point of Russian diplomatic efforts to bring the large non-Western powers to its side. The problem is no one cares about losers. If Russia would seem weak, unable to take down even the Ukraine (not mentioning the entire NATO), no amount of mediocre diplomacy could keep China and, especially, India, on the Russian side. We are now at the point of Armenia, the closest Russian ally after Belarus, is turning to the West for support against Azerbaijani military ambitions. Kazakhstan, the other major Russian partner on its borders, is openly defiant towards Russia, even after Russia managed to militarily support its current regime and to prevent a color revolution. Russian military becomes a joke, and no one is afraid of Russia, not even the countries like Kazakhstan. Russia is in quite a unique position to be able to do whatever it deems necessary for its own good, not being dependent on the UN. It has the veto vote, it has all the natural resources it need, it has all the food it needs.

    While international diplomacy is important, its importance is of a very secondary nature for Russian prosperity. The first is a strong military, and an image of the power no one should take lightly. The second one is a strong civil society, which can hold the government in check. The third one is self-sufficient economy. And the fourth one is scientific and technological competency. Only after those achieved, the diplomacy can make any sense. Because, as we can see now, no one is ready to fight for Russia. China isn’t ready to supply Russia with everything it needs. India, the country which has belligerent sentiments towards China and Pakistan, on which it didn’t hesitate to act when deemed necessary, and the country which was greatly supported by Soviet Union against the West, is preaching Russia about the new era of peace in the world. Syria is detaining Russian military journalist for no obvious reasons. And I’ve already talked about the Caucasus and Central Asia states. The West is openly and extremely hostile towards Russia. The African nations have much to gain from Russia, but almost nothing to give in return. The Turkey is using Russia in its political and economic games, while openly supplying weapons to Ukraine. The Gulf states are similarly using Russia for their own benefit.

    In the end, Russia gets nothing useful from its mediocre diplomacy, except for some opportunities for president Rasputin to give speeches from the Captain Obvious’ notebook and feel all grand and important about himself, like some kind of a simpleton. While Russian military is being pounded by Ukraine, a state which was designated by the West to be unimportant enough to serve as a sacrificial pawn in its evil games of world domination by the select elite. The only thing that works in Russian favor right now, is the Russian abundancy of its natural resources, the government-trusting, law-abiding and simple nature of the majority of Russians, and the impossible position the West put itself into, which has very little to do with Rasputin’s deeds of the last decade or the Ministry of Foreign Affairs initiatives. Russian diplomacy can be seen as being successful only in comparison to the deeply rooted systemic failures of the Russian MoD.

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  • Responding to Jacob Dreizin’s video “Who deserves the Firing Squad” (in Russian)

    Jacob’s video: Кого на расстрел? (1st exclusive video for my Russian audience)

    He makes a few points I want to address. For some reason, my comments on his blog aren’t being published. I assume the reason is him approving each comment one-by-one, and if there are a large number of comments, not all of them may pass through. Whatever the reason is, those points are important ones, so I would like to voice my commentary of them.

    First point: those journalists who are now criticizing the MoD and demanding radical changes in command structure, are the first ones to blame, since they haven’t reported any of the now surfaced problems.

    I would like to remind people, that some time ago, maybe a year and maybe more, long before any criticism started to come out from the independent sources like Rybar and Strelkov, the Russian Parliament has adopted new legislation, that made any specific criticism of the Russian MoD to be illegal. Any mention of any specific problematic issue, any mention of a problematic official, could land you in jail or some forced labor penal colony. As a result, the most serious defence related media outlets, like the CAST institute, changed their approach to reporting. Only foreign sources could be published, instead of the local sources. Unless they were approved or released by the Russian officials themselves.

    If so, any criticism of the MoD officials or reporting of specific problems would be highly dangerous for the ones who report it. And even now, then the reported problems are so obvious they cannot be rationally dismissed as false, those reporters are being threatened and black-PR’ed as some kind of traitors.

    Second point: Only Strelkov was talking from the start about the need for wide (300,000 for starters) mobilization. The rest were supporting the president Rasputin’s decision to only use the current standing force of professional soldiers.

    Well, as we have seen, in the beginning of the operation, the Russian numbers were sufficient to throw them in pointless offensives in the North (Kiev and Sumi regions), as well as quickly conquer the most of Zaporozh’e and Kherson regions. The military conduct of those operations was disastrous, but the number were sufficient indeed. And those numbers were still sufficient to hold the lines in Kherson, Zaporozh’e, Donetsk and Lugansk, with some local offensives in Kharkov region.

    Until suddenly, the number of Russian troops has imploded. I’ve already explained the reasons as I see them: the moral of troops has crushed due to the disastrous management of the campaign by the Russian MoD. Their trust in the Army has disappeared. And, naturally, they exercised their options to leave the military service.

    If, instead of playing the usual president Rasputin’s Grand Diplomacy games (which he usually loose), he would take all the steps to inflict as much damage to the Ukrainian military, industry and logistics, then at this point the situation could have been entirely different. As much as I agree with the sentiment, voiced by Alexander Mercouris, that time is on the Russian side, this is no good reason to waste it. Especially if the other side doesn’t.

    Now, if someone thinks that throwing more people into the war is the obvious solution, then those people should also agree that Ukraine’s tactics are the right ones. “Do not concern yourself with the casualties, just throw as much personnel and hardware into the meatgrinder as you can, and things will turn out just OK.” This is a terrible idea, on many levels. The most basic one is that each soldier needs to be quipped and armed. Most importantly, those people need to be competently commanded and managed. And since we can see that the Russian military industry, for some exceptions, cannot provide even the current number of troops with all the needed, and the military command is extremely incompetent, those newly mobilized soldiers would have very low efficiency on the battlefield, and a very high attrition rate.

    Towards the second half of the WWII, Soviet Army reformed itself to the point it became as good as the Wehrmacht, and the numerical superiority, extremely powerful military industry and the abundance of natural resources allowed it to start decisively winning the war. At the end of the WWII, the Soviet Army was at its peak, the strongest military force in the world. In the beginning, it was suffering terrible loses in personnel and territories. The deciding factor wasn’t the numbers (which were always present), but the overall efficiency of the military machine. Today, Russian military efficiency is probably at its lowest, thanks to the runaway corruption and degenerate bureaucracy under the supervision of the president Rasputin himself.

    That is not to say that there was a need for plan B, which would allow to induct an effective mobilization before the front start to crumble. But obviously, Putin had no real understanding of the state of the Russian Army (or the Russian people). As usual, he distances himself from the particulars, in order to stay above any blame. There were always enough signals that the state of the Army and MIC is problematic. Yet he took no steps to examine or fix any of it. Ultimately, he can blame it all on the Shoigu, if things become really bad. This is a cowardly position, unfitting the unreplaceable ruler of Russia.

    Third point: Rasputin has reached the status of unflawed and holly demigod in Russian mainstream media. Not a single word of any criticism is tolerated against Rasputin himself.

    This is a point with which I totally agree. It is tolerable, as long as things are going well. Guarding the status of the country’s president has its merits. But then things are falling apart, not letting any critique to slip through is highly demoralizing for the population. Since the lack of criticism implies lack of any possible changes to improve the situation. And if situation won’t improve even when the Russia is losing a war to Ukraine (not NATO, not China, but Ukraine), that country has no future. This is a sentiment which will weight on regular Russian. And if they can flee, then they would. Not because they are traitors of the motherland (well, some probably are, but they have already fled in the first days of the SMO), but because their country’s government openly betrays them.

    When Hannibal waged his war on Rome, the Senate became almost empty of its senators. Because the senators were of the equites (knights) class, and as such took part in the battles. They were killed, so they and their families experienced as much pain and sorrow as the regular Roman citizen, maybe even more. Rasputin and the current elites are totally detached from the reality of a regular Russian citizen. And the taboo on any criticism of the Rasputin himself only widens this chasm between the people and the elites. This happened before in Russia, with the disastrously mismanaged Russo-Japanese war and the WWI. The people said enough, and we know what happened in 1917 to the Russian royal family and the rest of elites. Only this time the lucky ones would have to flee to China instead of France. So, they need to ask themselves, is this really the end they are striving for? Is the hold of corruption so strong it can’t be broken by (arguably) rational people even when facing their own political (or worse) demise?

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  • Russian Military Usage of the Iranian Drones

    We see Russian Army started to use Iranian drones Shahed-136 (dubbed “Geran’-2” in Russian service) on regular basis. Those drones are now used as cheap cruise missiles.

    They don’t have an imaging sensor, so they cannot be used for reconnaissance or for autonomous target detection. Instead, they rely on a GPS navigation, which, as I understand, can be updated in flight. So, the only way to use it to designate and engage targets in real time, is to use them with a more sophisticated drone which have an onboard video camera and a targeting computer. (Such drones are Mohajer-6, which Russia have also received.) In which case, the targeting drone can find targets and assign their GPS coordinates to the Shahed-136 in real time.

    Russia had received both types of drones: the targeting drone and the suicide drone Shahed -136, but recently it mostly uses the cheaper ones for engagement of stationary targets. If the reports of the usage of Iranian drones are representative of their actual usage, then it seems the scheme of targeting drone + strike drones are no more in use. The possible reason is the depletion of the more expensive and less abundant targeting drones due to the Ukrainian air-defence and electronic countermeasures. But whatever the reason might be, we see that now the Iranian drones are used in a much less effective way.

    I would explain why I see the drone usage for striking stationary targets as less effective. Theoretically, Russian Army possess a large nomenclature of ammunition for precision strikes on stationary targets in ranges from ~120km (modernized “Smerch” GPS-guided rockets) and up to 2000+ km. What Russian Army is desperately lacking is sufficient number of attack drones, able to find and engage targets in real time, or at least reconnaissance drones provide quality intelligence for the regional command and fire solution for the artillery.

    Russia had in its possession a number of such drones, starting from the Israeli IAI licensed Fort (Searcher-2), Orlan family strike drones of the privately owned Kronshtadt company, Zala reconnaissance and Lantset suicide drones. All of those were used quite actively in the beginning of the war, but after some months of fighting, their usage has dropped almost to a zero. Obviously, the reason is the depletion of those drones in the military stocks, and the inability to produce them in sufficient numbers to compensate for their losses.

    Russian Army had a good overall experience with the usage of drones in Syria. But the bigger war showed the inadequacy of the Russian stocks and production facilities. Which isn’t really a shock, since the only company, which was effective in designing and producing drones, the Kronshtadt, has received in previous years a very unfavorable attitude from the Russian MoD. Instead, the ministry preferred to flow large sums of money in failing government-owned factories, which produced not much more than a pretty concept pictures. It isn’t hard to guess why it is — corruption is the usual answer.

    So, the way out of this mess in the near term was to buy Iranian drones. In the longer term, the money was finally flown to the Kronshtadt company, but we won’t see the results for months or even years. Now, for the Iranian drones. I hear some people think they are something special. They are not. For example, the Shaheb-136 is visually similar to the Israeli “Harpy” suicide drone, but the latter has its own camera and sophisticated targeting computer. Even the Russian “lantset” suicide drones have their own camera. Shahed-136 only real virtue is that they are accessible for the Russian military to purchase in numbers. China probably could supply more and far better drones if it wanted, but for some reason it doesn’t. North Korea would probably be very interested in supplying Russia with drones (in exchange for Russian air-defence systems, fighter jets etc.), but they don’t have the necessary technology. And the militias, volunteers and even the Russian military personnel purchase commercial drones with their own money or with donations made by private citizens.

    To come back around to the Russian usage of the Iranian drones. Now, they are being used as poor-man cruise missiles. For example, the latest report from Rybar telegram channel mentions a Shaheb-136 strike on some target in Krivoi Rog. This city is within the range of the modernized Smerch MLRS system, which has (for many years now) GPS guided rockets. Those 300-mm rockets are much more potent than the Shahed-136, and are technically in Russian service.

    So why the need to use the drones against stationary targets then? The only answers I can come up with, is that either Russian stock are low on those GPS guided rockets and other types of ballistic and cruise missiles, or they lost the ability to use the drones as intended (targeting drone + the suicide drone), and instead using them the only way they can — as less potent cruise missiles. I say: “less potent”, because they are slow, easy to shoot down even with small caliber anti-air artillery and have relatively small warhead. In other words, one modern “Smerch” rocket can speculatively have the same effect as half a dozen “Shaheds”. And it will also be much cheaper and smarter, to purchase from your own MIC instead of your frenemy’s.

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  • As the Russian Government Pretends Everything is Okey-Dokey, the War Becomes More Hybrid Than Ever: Possible Long-Term Implications for NATO in Europe.

    So, the Nord Stream I and II there taken out of commission by someone. The mainstream media doesn’t point fingers — they are probably in shock and don’t have clear instructions from their patrons on how to spin that to the public. In the lack of the mainstream narrative, the alternative media is blaming the US.

    Let’s assume it was the US. I won’t speak about economic implications, since many people smarter than me already did it. I will also not speak about the possibility it was intended to disrupt the secret EU-Russia ceasefire negotiations. As much as I hope there are none, it does seem very much like something Putin would do. In that case, I’m glad for the sabotage, and hope it will achieve this specific goal.

    But what I want to examine is the implications on the US-EU relationship, specifically their military alliance. If Americans did it, or enabled someone else to do it, Europeans would find out eventually (if they don’t know already). And when they do, they’ll have a new understanding of their position in the American World Order — not more frenemies, that support each other to the outside, but are economic and political rivals on the inside. But competitors who are actively sabotaging each-other with military means.

    If the core American ideology behind their international politics is the “zero sum game”, then Europeans are only differing from Russia and China in the place on the American checklist. They can’t control the US foreign policies, and they can’t rely on US protection.

    There is a possibility that the EU leadership was given the heads-up, or even gave their concession for this act. But if they did, it seems they didn’t prepare any narrative or spin to present it to the public in a beneficial way. Instead, they seem shocked. Which leads me to believe they didn’t know or approved.

    If so, the next logical step for the EU is reevaluating their alliance with the US in the NATO format. They gave the US Navy the carte blanche to do in their territorial waters whatever, assuming it will only be directed against Russia. Now that they themselves became a target, the NATO alliance suddenly will seem like a burden at the very least.

    As I’ve already talked about, the only real reason EU needs US is for its MAD (mutually assured destruction) nuclear deterrence forces. Without the UK, only France possesses its own nuclear capabilities. Maybe this is the reason US is so keen on creating the illusion of the Russian nuclear threat to the Europe — to remind Europeans they can’t leave “la Familia” no matter what. And if Russia won’t nuke Europe, maybe someone else will. That wouldn’t be much escalation after blowing the pipelines, the lifeline of the German industry.

    Assuming Europeans are smart enough to understand that Russia doesn’t have anything to win by nuking the EU, but only stands to lose its major export destination, and assuming they know Putin has a fetish for Europe in general and Germany in particular, they actually can disregard such a threat. If they do, then the only question which remains is: “is the NATO worth it?”. After the sabotage of the Nord Stream, both I and II, the most obvious answer is: no. Especially given the public pressure in Europe to restore the energy supplies and save the sinking EU economy.

    Jacob Dreizin wrote that US is playing chess. That may be, but they play against themselves. Schemes only work for some time — after a while they produce an opposite effect. Evil never wins in the long run, because evil is ultimately destructive not only to the outside, but also to itself. Whomever sabotaged the pipelines, is at high risk of creating a long-lasting rift between itself and Europe. If it indeed was the US, then the next (historically speaking) logical step would be for NATO-OTAN to become just NATO, or even ASTO — Anglo-Saxon Treaty Organization.

    P.S.

    Putin has shown his total incompetence in running a government. There is still almost no criticism of him personally, except for the usual NGO- and foreign-run media. It seems fixing the problems of corrupt system is too much to ask of him, even in the time of national emergency. Instead, he would probably prefer to sign some kind of Treaty of Versailles. Easy to guess how it will end: popular support for Putin will plunge, and more aggressive elements will gain support instead to replace him (maybe even by force). Since Putin have strengthen the “Vertical of Power”, the new leaders will have almost no counterbalances in place to check their rule. No wonder people who have options (including bad options) are fleeing Russia — distrust in Putin’s government, its infuriating cowardly silence regarding the true state of the war, detachment from domestic reality and the disastrous management of the military campaign (which resulted in middle-age office workers with no previous military service to be mobilized, the volunteers with combat experience to be turned down, and there is no training or equipment ready for many of new recruits) — all this resulted in uncontrolled panic. Even the ones who didn’t receive a mobilization notice, fear that next waves of mobilization will follow, and the borders will be closed for able men to leave Russia. Bravo! Whatever the West tried to do to Russia and failed miserably, Putin is doing by himself.

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  • Partial Mobilization: Theory and Practice. P.S. Prisoners Exchange.

    Another spectacular failure of Russian Ministry of Defense of Russia (MoD) is the implementation of the “partial mobilization” plan implementation. I speculated, that the intent was first and foremost to mobilize the professional soldiers who have recently discontinued or breached their contracts with Russian MoD and other military related structures, like the National Guards. The publicized parameters for the mobilization support this theory. They list relevant combat experience as one of the main requirements.

    In practice, there is no centralize system in place to conduct this kind of mobilization. Instead, the local “military commissariats” (“voenkomat” in Russian) –which are local military enlistment offices charged with enlistment and mobilization– are receiving the required number of reservists to be called into mobilization from the MoD. There are no specific names, just the number of people such local office receives according to the number of reservists registered in each area.

    As I understand, the system works something like this: each military service able man (or a woman) required to register in their local voenkomat. Then this information is being passed up to their parent offices until it reaches the MoD itself. In the event of mobilization, the orders are coming down from the MoD until they reach the local voenkomats. So, the MoD has the general information and statistics, but it doesn’t actually manage the particulars than it comes down to the question of who is to be enlisted or mobilized. All it does is send down the mobilization orders according to the number of registered reservists in each federal republic, then region, then city, then local area.

    The local voenkomats receive the only the number of people they are required to produce, but they are the ones who are tasked with choosing the specific individuals to be called to mobilization. For example, it may well be that the local area has 10,000 registered men. It was tasked to mobilize 100 (the 300,000 men mobilization is roughly 1% of the mobilization pull in Russia, as I’ve heard, hence the 100 which is 1% of 10,000). But only 50 of those 10,000 are actually combat experienced soldiers of required professions, who left the service in last few years. So, the rest 50 of those 100 could be the ones who haven’t any combat experience, or don’t have the required military profession, or left the active service decades ago.

    It may also be that the local enlistment office has the required number of men who are young, combat experienced, and have the needed military profession. But the office personnel don’t have the means or competence or motivation to go through all the 10,000 registered men and choose the most suited ones among them.

    So instead of mobilizing the professional soldiers, we hear of middle-aged men who served decades ago, or younger IT professionals who never served a day in their life, or people with health problems etc. And there are credible reports that some of the more suitable people who come voluntary to those enlistment offices and asked to be mobilized are sometimes sent back because the local bureaucrats don’t want to deal with the paperwork.

    At the same time, Ukrainian and Western psyops operation against Russian speaking public is at full swing. They want to upgrade this Russian MoD’s made disaster into a full-blown crisis. They tell Russian people their sons, husbands and fathers are sent to slaughter. Since many Russians distrust their government to tell them the truth (and for good reason, obviously), they are naturally seeking alternative sources of information, and that is that they are getting.

    By the way, there is a considerable young men flight from Russia. Specifically, I know of train from Moscow to Orenburg near the Kazakhstan border, to which all the tickets have been sold (which is highly unusual). It is happening, and it will have implications on the Russian economy. In general, the mood is not supportive of this debacle of mobilization, but most are going with it. But any unnecessary deaths of those mobilized, especially of the ones who aren’t suited to the criteria announced by Putin and the MoD, will have a stronger antagonizing effect on the Russian public. Putin, unwilling to clean up the swamp the Russian MoD has become, will lose a portion of his popular support. Not the support for the war (which is strong), but support for the current government. And people should make this distinction.

    P.S. Prisoners exchange.

    By the way, the recent prisoners exchange felt again as betrayal. Look up the Strelkov and Rybar telegram channels (in Russian) for details. The failures of the government are coming just coming one after another. And, as usual, there is an information vacuum coming from the government, leaving the people with the Ukrainian and Western produced narrative. By many it feels like betrayal of the Russian people core interests for the sake of some “diplomacy” and “good will gestures”. The most high-profile and the most evil ultra-nationalists were exchanged for the lest high profile allied soldiers plus one Poroshenko supporter, Medvedchuk in 4 to 1 ratio (50 Russian soldiers for 200 ultra-nationalists and foreign mercenaries). Which reinforces the impression that Putin and his government couldn’t care less for the Russian prisoners as long as they can play in diplomacy.

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