Past, Present, And A Hungry Future

This morning’s homework is fairly easy and quick. First, go read Kamil Galeev on Vladimir’s rise to power. Then, Trent Telenko has an interesting take on cohesive teams, and some strong thoughts on the de-escalation team in the Biden administration.

If you are not reading Kamil Galeev on a regular basis, you should be. Yes, he has his own biases and a somewhat unique position and perspective on things. That doesn’t mean that he isn’t sharing a lot of good information. This morning’s read is one of many that get into Russian politics in a way that is probably too “inside baseball” for many — including our politicians and intelligence agencies — but make a fascinating and fact-filled bit of food for thought. It also drives home that it is a very different system, which makes a good reminder of the danger of mores when evaluating people and events.

Also, within that, notice some of the names. Several of them feature strongly in what is going on today, and in particular I want to point out the role of Abramovitch in Putin’s rise. There are still pieces in this tale that are missing and/or don’t make sense when it comes to that man and his actions. Those pieces have the potential to be crucial when it comes to the step after next.

It is also worth noting the mass arrests underway. To say the FSB is being purged is both accurate and potentially an understatement. The question being are they getting rid of the deadwood or is the deadwood getting rid of those who could be a threat to them? You should also pull from the homework above that past support and assistance to Vladimir gets you nothing. What matters is the here and now, and if saving his skin means sacrificing even those (formerly) close to him, well, it’s a sacrifice he will cheerfully make.

With the purge underway, it also makes the question of if there will be FSB or other special units involved with upcoming military operations in the style of what KGB special troops performed in the Soviet Army. If you weren’t familiar with them, they were the troops that made the point that if you advanced you might die; but, if you failed to advance or follow a given order, you would die. Charming people.

The first Telenko video shows not only how you do it, but the absolute failure of U.S. Intelligence, who completely missed that the Ukrainians could do it. That they could have teams that had built the absolute trust necessary for that type of operation. Pro Tip: to have that degree of target focus you have to have absolute trust in your partner/team. That doesn’t happen overnight. Following up on yesterday and comments here and at the links, do you really think any intelligence agency or analyst did even the most cursory debrief of the troops we had over there advising and training? How many other incorrect, incomplete, biased, and outdated assumptions are in our assessment of both the Ukraine and of Russia? Elsewhere? Members of Congress and others really do need to be asking some strong and pointed questions of our intelligence agencies.

As for the second Telenko link, I think he’s correct and he does have a point. However, I don’t think Vladimir will just sit by if we start supplying major weapons systems to the Ukraine. He literally can’t, and assuming (against all odds) that there is someone competent in government service, a realistic assessment of Vladimir’s options is needed before upping the ante in this way. It is the same as establishing a no-fly zone: it’s pretty much guaranteed to start WWIII on a grand scale.

I will also say that I share Telenko’s contempt for the so-called de-escalation faction in the Biden administration. The disaster that is the invasion and it’s start are on them almost as much as it was on Vladimir. Their foot dragging ultimately increased casualties on both sides, civilian and military. Their continued foot dragging is virtually guaranteed to escalate the situation. They are not serious people and they do not have a fucking clue.

I’m hoping that the Russian’s delay their new offensive for a few days longer. It’s not hard to figure out that Ukrainian logistics systems are overwhelmed. This has prevented efforts to push back on the Russians, to liberate Mariupol and get ready for the next attack on it, and to prepare in depth for the new offensive. They are doing what appears to be an amazing job, based on what I am getting. It’s just that they need supplies and help too. Since it is logistics that are ultimately going to decide things, I hope they get the support they need.

Now, every expert and armchair tactician and strategist is opining on what the Russians will do next. Let me set an example and state that while I have suspicions, I don’t have a flippin clue exactly what they will do and how. There are troop buildups that give hints, and I can offer a couple of takes on things.

I would expect to see large numbers of troops used to seize what would normally be considered small objectives. I would expect to see units used to test trying to do things differently this time. In the long term, the Russians pretty much have to take the Donbas and the Southern front and ports. They might could try to claim victory with just the Donbas (and the land bridge to the Crimea), but that will fool no one and Putin will die.

While not very professional, I have to admit I am laughing at how far behind the front lines they are unloading troops and ammo. It says volumes of their consideration of Ukrainian capabilities.

The other thing I expect to see is efforts made to prevent planting and other food production efforts over the widest area possible. If Vladimir can cut off the ability to export wheat and other products, it cuts off hard cash and the ability to buy weapons. Hence, one of the reasons (among many) to seize the ports. It also makes starvation a weapon against the Ukrainians. That is Vladimir’s focus on this tangent, though those around him might want to consider the wider context.

If you watched and read the links over the last week, it was pointed out how many areas/nations are dependent on the fertilizer/fertilizer components exported by China, Russia, and the Ukraine. It was pointed out how many areas/nations are dependent on wheat imports from the Ukraine, Russia, and elsewhere. Now, take a moment to go read this, this, and this. Now, does anyone remember what happened the last time there were shortages of wheat that didn’t rise to the potential levels we are looking at today? Bueller? Bueller?

Anyone remember Arab spring and the revolutions and unrest it sparked? What happens when it’s not just the Middle East/North Africa that’s starving?

Now there’s the scary thought. The Middle East and Africa are bad enough, but consider that while there is not likely to be starvation, you are going to be talking shortages in Europe and Asia. It is a situation that in some ways would be even more flipped up than Europe in 1914. Welcome back Carter my fuzzy fluffy rump… We should be so lucky.

Do keep in mind, the nice thing about looking into the Mirror of Galadriel is that it can show you what will happen; but, it can also show you what might happen. To be blunt, a great deal of analysis right now is looking into the Mirror. We can see what might happen, but the choices of individuals can change what happens. Remember, the so-called experts looked into the Mirror and confidently said that the Afghans would hold for six months, and the Ukrainians for 72 hours. Decisions by individuals high and low rendered that moot.

The one thing about which I have confidence is that it is going to be nasty, brutal, and bloody. If you think the special troops with the lists were busy before in torturing and executing civilians, you ain’t seen nothing yet. Especially with even some of the Russians/Russophiles in the Donbas getting cold feet. Vladimir has to go all in, he has no other choice. Buckle up.

Some Previous Posts:

Vladimir And The Ukraine

Answers, Ramblings, And A Bit More On Vladimir And The Ukraine

Your Must Read For The Day On Russia

The Puzzles In Play, And The Missing Pieces

Quick Thoughts On Ukraine/Putin

The Thing Behind The Curtain

Missing Pieces And Surprise Pieces

Thursday Update

Not A Lot To Add

Noted

Monday Update

Burn Notice

Accuracy, Reliability, And More

Putin, Trump, And The Coming Storm

Three Futures For Russia

Quick Thoughts

Saturday Update

Mismatched Locomotives

War, Ag, Demographics, And The Worst Is Yet To Come

The Threat Horizon Expands

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