I’m not going to do a full update, but two things came out of the OSINT community today that caught my eye. One is a reminder of how fast things can get out of control. The second is a pipe dream that deserves to have a flamenco done on it in hobnail combat boots.
H. I. Sutton this morning shared the NavalNews story that the Knyaz Vladimir, a Bulava-class boomer, has had the “Z” invasion marking painted on it. While the marking has been going on a LOT of equipment that is in no danger of being sent to/used in or on the Ukraine, this is a very clear message that is well in keeping with some of the official comments and unofficial RUMINT coming out of Moscow.
For those just joining in, the Russians have been threatening the use of nuclear weapons, including full-scale global nuclear war, pretty much from the start. If this were a formally declared war, instead of a special military action, doctrine would have seen the use of special weapons (nuclear, chemical, biological) long ago. Given that Vladimir is a cheerleader for “escalate to de-escalate” philosophy, this is not a happy making thought for many of us. “This business will get out of control” is valid, and how easily and how fast it can do so is keeping a lot of good people up at night.
Also, DefMon asked a question yesterday that I saw this morning. It very simply was if Vladimir was a valid military target. Short answer: Yes, just as Zelenskyy was and is.
The longer answer is that any action by the Ukraine against Vladimir will rapidly escalate the situation and the scope of the war. An attempt to kill or kidnap him via military action, similar to what the Russian’s attempted with Zelenskyy in the early days, simply aren’t practical. Using other weapons simply to try to kill him are both unlikely, given the lack of long-range weapons or covert deep-strike capabilities. Finding a way to do it, however, is guaranteed to move things from special action to full war.
As Evergreen Intel dryly noted, a palace coup is not likely to work out as many would like to fondly imagine. Any internal coup is likely to pit various units/ministries against each other in literal, not figurative, battle. While things are not quite like they were when Tom Clancy and Larry Bond wrote Red Storm Rising, you are going to be talking troops, militias, and “security” troops that are former military turned mercenary involved in protecting Oligarchia and others. Would I be surprised at full-scale/small unit combat between groups? No. Would I be surprised at some form of maskirova with small special weapons? Honestly, sadly, no. Once the dust settles, things could get very interesting very fast depending on who won, as Vladimir is far from the most militant person involved, as there are others who make him look like the voice of reason and restraint.
As I noted on Twitter, “If Vladimir keels over dead for some reason, the claim he was assassinated will be used by those shooting for the top (all puns intended) to further their goals. Even if he knows it’s coming and tries for orderly succession, odds of pulling it off long-term about zero.” Even in the short term, I’m not sure Vladimir could pull it off. Given the prize, expect to see those looking to be come the new Czar go all in to the point that we will indeed see it get out of control to the point we will be lucky to live through it to modify the quote.
If some power outside of Russia and/or the Ukraine were foolish enough to try to assassinate Vladimir, much less succeed, things will get out of control pretty much immediately, with the unthinkable becoming the thinkable and implemented very, very rapidly. Especially as that is one of the automatic scenarios for which Dead Hand is supposed to monitor.
So, just a couple of tidbits of food for thought. As always, if you can shoot holes in the analysis using real citations, logic, etc., go for it. But, show your homework and no magical handwavium allowed.
Oh, has anyone else noticed that a portion of the Kremlin seems to have gone radio silent? As in almost no RUMINT, comments, or general chatter? Not a huge block, but interesting.
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