Ukraine/Russia Tidbit

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.

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


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

Past, Present, And A Hungry Future

Huge Grain Of Salt

The Moskva

Retribution Inbound

Uncertainty And Preparation

Honest Question

Monday Morning Quick Brief

War Of The Memes

A Little Free Ice Cream

Rumors Of War

Three Times Is…

If It’s Wednesday, This Must Be Moldova

Going Nuclear

How To Spy On The Russians

Here’s Hoping I’m Wrong

Pins And Needles Time

Mock Away

Intel Wars

The Revenge Of HUMINT

A Funny Thing Happened

Rumors of Rumors

Ukraine, Uvalde, Oh My

Very Interesting

A Quick Russia/Ukraine Update



Hmmmm Follow-Up


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9 thoughts on “Ukraine/Russia Tidbit”

  1. If Putin is removed or dies in office, he will be replaced by a hardliner, and there will be a major escalation of the war. Throughout his tenure in power, Putin has been reactive and cautious and a moderator, although he clearly is opportunistic, too.

    Note that even Medvedev, widely thought to be an Atlanticist, is now very supportive of the war. This is likely a political move, because 70 to 80% of the Russian people strongly support Putin and the war, which they regard as the Second Great Patriotic War.

  2. The best possible resolution for Ukraine and the world was put on the table by Russia before the invasion started. All Zelensky had to do was negotiate the meaning of “independence” for the Donbas states, insisting that it must mean permanent real democracy, with all the necessary requirements detailed in the constitutions of the new states, sufficient to guarantee that none of these states would ever be usurped by Putin-like or Biden-like election-stealing in the stalinist vein of phony democracy where “what matters is not who votes but who counts the votes.”

    This resolution would not be favored by either Putin or Biden, but neither would be able to resist it because it would be overwhelmingly favored by the *people* of Russia and America, along with the Europeans, the Ukrainians, and the people of the Donbas states themselves.

    All would know that this was the best possible answer for the people of those states, giving them the true democratic power that has rarely existed and no longer exists almost anywhere in the world. If permanent real democracy could be won for the Donbas it could set a model for establishment of and return to permanent real democracies around the globe.

    Zelensky is no democrat. He’s the totalitarian potentate of one of the most corrupt countries in the world, long compromised by Russia, by corrupt American senators on both sides of the isle, and even by lowly American crime families seeking petty personal wealth like the Clintons and the Bidens.

    But Zelensky could greatly increase his stature by becoming a democrat. Instead of being a corrupt puppet he could create a political wave by offering to place into the Ukrainian constitution the same fully adequate protections for permanent real democracy that he demands for the Donbas states, and urging that Russia and America and Europe do the same.

    Instead of being a weak puppet fighting Biden’s illegitimate proxy war against Russia “to the last Ukrainian,” Zelensky would instead become the hero who started throwing the usurpers out, and it’s not too late.

    Earlier would have been better, but there is a world of destruction that can still be avoided. Ukraine is still far from losing even most Ukrainians, never mind the last, but Ukraine must negotiate. It cannot defeat Russia, which can keep switching to ever more powerful standoff weapons, and Biden would love a little tactical nuclear exchange on what is left of Ukraine.

    It would be the perfect excuse to steal another round of national election via mail-in voting. Of course we can’t expect voters to vote in person under Defcon 1.

    And defeating Russia would be the inferior solution for all of the peoples involved anyway. The Donbas would then be under a totalitarian usurper (Zelensky) along with the rest of Ukraine, and there would be no pushback against the usurpers in America, Russia, and the rotten anti-democratic EU/EC. Far better to let the Donbas states go free as models of true freedom.

    The power is all in Zelensky’s hands. He can choose good or evil, and whichever he chooses will certainly redound to him in full.

  3. Some possible reasons why nuclear weapons have not been used, all of which might be true and none of which I can actually prove…

    Firstly, it would end any possibility of Ukraine ever surrendering or ceding territory in negotiations. Most Ukrainians already believe that Russia wants to destroy their nation and their culture. Any use of “special weapons” would convince them that Russia intended to exterminate the Ukrainian people completely, and that anything less than unconditional resistance would mean certain death. So, it would preclude any victory conditions for Russia other than an indefinite and enormously costly military occupation of the entire country.

    Secondly, there is the possible effect on Russian forces. Putin obviously doesn’t care about casualties, but demoralized, poorly-trained and badly-equipped soldiers might panic or mutiny if they were ordered to advance into an area that had just been nuked.

    Thirdly, the international response would be very difficult to predict, and the “escalate to de-escalate” tactic depends on the aggressor being able to control the speed and extent of the escalation. It’s not at all certain that he could do so in this case.

    Fourthly, it may not be all that easy to identify suitable targets. Ukrainian forces have relied on mobile defence to avoid creating any decisive centre of mass for the Russian artillery to hit, and a tactical nuclear weapon used on mobile, dispersed forces might have far less effect than was expected. If they hit a city, then the international response would be even harder to predict, especially if foreign diplomats, aid workers and journalists were killed.

    Fifthly, there could be concerns about the security of the special weapons, given the amount of intelligence that the Ukrainians have previously seemed to have about Russian plans. What if the weapons are captured, or destroyed before they even reach the front line?

    Finally, Putin may believe that Russia can force Ukraine to accept Russian control of the Donbass through a conventional war of attrition, and that nuclear escalation isn’t necessary to obtain something he can claim as a victory.

  4. As you said NO magical handwavium, so where are your cites to back up your assertion that
    ” the Russians have been threatening the use of nuclear weapons, including full-scale global nuclear war, pretty much from the start.” No citations, NO TRUTHS!

    Maybe that lightening was a warning product from the One, reminding you LIARS need to stop!

  5. OSINT has an entire hotel adjacent to the Kremlin being used exclusively to house a pile of those roided-out heavily armed Kadyrov Chechens, who are notably not in any Russian Army chain of command, and who are, through Kadyrov, personally loyal directly and only to Putin.

    Any kinetic retirement plan for Vlad the Shirtless would have to both take into account state troops whose loyalty is to the Russian state through formal chain of command, and thus conceivably transferable away from specifically to any one individual given the right argument, but also palace-guard praetorian units like these Kremlin-proximate Kadyrovites.

  6. If Putin passes, RU would withdraw, giggling.

    The war now is all about logistics, which favors the defense. The Russians can’t get across the river in force. They are spent. They can consolidate, but not make a major advance. Things should start to calm down. Ukraine may be able to push them away from Kherson…

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