The question that continues to be asked is if we are going to have a nuclear war. The honest answer to that is: I don’t know. There are a large number of variables and based on where everything is this morning, I think the odds might be as high as 40-60 right now.

The real question people should be asking is if we will have a nuclear incident. I use that phrase deliberately, as there is an option on the table that is either being ignored or overlooked. Right now, I think the odds of a nuclear incident are 60-40.

There are a lot of factors in play. Here’s my take on just a few of them.

First, to say there are cracks emerging in Russia is an understatement. It would appear that a number of factions are not just jockeying for position, but are attacking each other. There are reports indicating that Prigozhin, head of the Wagner Group, is going after Shoigu, head of the military. If it is indeed a fight between them, I might put $10 on Shoigu given his experience with infighting. Where it gets interesting is with the rumors that Kadyrov is joining in to go after Shoigu. For a number of reasons, Kadyrov is the king keeper or king maker in Russia right now. If he joins in, my money is no longer on Shoigu to win.

Second, if it doesn’t happen in Moscow, it doesn’t matter. People can riot and hang Putin in effigy in multiple cities in districts outside of Moscow, and it really won’t matter. The only city for which that does not hold true is St. Petersburg. What happens in St. Petersburg has a tendency to slide over into Moscow. It’s real only if it happens in Moscow.

Third, there are some very interesting, and extremely unconfirmed, rumors of various factions shifting positions (as it were) in Moscow. Are they looking to perhaps push things along, or just preparing for Vladimir to no longer be in power? And, yes, Vladimir’s position is no longer stable even with the lies, propaganda, outside troops, and cultural issues.

Fourth, this brings us to the situation on the ground in the Ukraine. The Russians flat out have been humiliated, and it’s not over yet. Even with throwing conscripts into the cauldron (without training or even working gear in some cases), odds are good the Russians are going to get pounded. Which actually puts things back to where they were early on with the Russians limited to trying to terrorize the civilian population. Keep in mind, they see this as a legitimate target, because you either are a good Russian at heart pining to be a part of Russkiy Mir, or you are a Nazi who deserves to be raped/tortured/maimed/killed/etc. Obviously, since they have resisted the heroic Russian army of liberation…

Fifth, Vladimir is going full-Hitler. He is taking over more and more of the decision making, and otherwise trying to run everything. Didn’t work for Hitler, won’t work for him. There are already signs of some extremely poor decisions being made, including using up extremely limited stockpiles of precision weapons on non-precision targets (Xi smiles). I really hope anyone who reads me is also reading the ISW, Stephen Green, and others for combat and other analysis, and Kamil Galeev for his insights on Russian culture, history, and more.

There is more, of course, but those are the high notes, which bring me to my trying to read the tea leaves. Here we go.

Based on his latest statement, Vladimir appears to actually be trying to slow walk both an escalation to nuclear or special weapons, and to temper the expectations of his hardline followers. Part of this could be from a small bit of reality about his military breaking into the bubble in which he and so many of the oligarchia live, but I wouldn’t count on it. I suspect it is more from pressure from fellow oligarchs who realize a nuclear war would be bad for business and that while they don’t mind others dying for the Rodina, they object to the fact that they would die.

The layered response discussed means, however, that those evil Ukrainian civilians are going to get what he thinks they deserve as often as possible. Setbacks, defeats, anything happening on territory that he even faintly imagines might have belonged to Russia at some time in another reality means attacks on civilian targets.

As he steps up the escalation, however, it also increases the chances that we might see the use of non-nuclear special weapons. For all that the U.S. has equated use of such as being the same as the use of a nuke, reality is that we have never responded as such when they have been used previously. So, Vladimir is quite likely to consider such use on that basis, and to react badly if we do suddenly decide to enforce our convention. He will pitch a public tantrum no matter what, that’s a given.

Vladimir could decide to do a demonstration, as it were. Sal, aka CDR Salamander, has a very interesting take on such. Back in the days of extensive testing of systems and weapons, the goal (on our side) was to have at least 80 percent of the systems and weapons work if the button(s) were pushed. Right now, I’m wondering if even 20 percent would work on any side. No, I really don’t want to find out but Sal’s take is a good one.

There have been a number of highly-realistic wargames done where a tactical nuke was used. I would feel much better if anyone could name one where it did not end up going strategic. Yes, a number of limited scenarios (and extremely unrealistic larger games) have avoided it. Just not the ones based on reality. With calm, competent, stable, and intelligent leadership, I think it can be avoided. With the Regency, Vladimir, Xi, Macaroon, et al, well, we may be having to pin our hope on ol’ 20 percent (or less).

As scary as that is, let me give you something else to think about. By luck we avoid the use of a nuclear weapon by anyone for any reason. The fact is, we can’t give in to such blackmail, otherwise the use of such will never end. Sanity would be for everyone to realize that, and step back. Yet, Vladimir is facing a humiliating defeat not just for himself, but for the dream of Russkiy Mir. If he can’t have the Ukraine, no one will.

The last cruise missiles go in, carrying conventional warheads. They hit at every nuclear power plant in the Ukraine. The goal is not to hit the reactors themselves, but to take out power and control. The idea being to create a situation at each that makes Chernobyl look like nothing. Hit Chernobyl to damage the shield. Vladimir seems to have already hinted at this once, and it is not something I would put past him. Particularly since he’s been playing that very game at Zaporizhia for weeks now. In fact, I would expect a massive maskirova based on what he’s been doing there to go with it, to try to shift the blame elsewhere. How would we react to that?

What can we do? Two things. First, pray. I mean that very sincerely. Second, prepare. It’s going to be a long nasty winter around the world, no matter what happens, so if you haven’t gotten into practical preparedness now is a good time. If you aren’t familiar with preparedness or my version of practical preparedness, start here and work forward. While the potential number of disasters is infinity-minus-2, there are only three things that can be damaged and that makes planning and preparations much easier. Even if we avoid any form of nuclear incident in or because of the Ukraine, being prepared is likely to help make this winter easier.

Meantime, I don’t expect things to go ballistic in the next few hours. In fact, with what Vladimir said today, I see some breathing room as it were. Possibly several weeks worth. I think before we get to any form of go/nogo situation, we will see a number of things happen.

First, I expect to see Belarus invade the Ukraine along with Russian troops. This week or next week at the latest. Vladimir desperately needs that second front to draw troops away from the east and south. There are a number of reasons for Lukashenko to join in, including his own ambitions. Ed Morrissey has his take up at Hot Air. I will note that Lukashenko has cultivated a bumbling, country bumpkin image with Russian media and leadership, and an amazing number of them seem to be stupid enough to buy it. He’s used that image to stick a finger in Vladimir’s eye before and get away with it. He’s joining in, but don’t expect slavish devotion as his Number 1 is not Vladimir or his goals. Oh, and I think his birthday gift of a tractor to Vladimir was very well played. ISW does not agree with me on this, and I hope they are right and I’m wrong.

Second, I expect to see Russia lose more ground in the east and south. How much is going to be the question. Vladimir will be looking for any chance to claim that something was done on Russian territory so he can hurt more civilians, so expect to see the Ukrainians fight smart.

Third, I would expect to see MOPP gear show up for Russian/Wagner troops. Open question for any OSINT who read this: is anyone seeing any MOPP gear with any Russian troops anywhere? Heck, is anyone seeing any MOPP gear anywhere? Right now, the Russians don’t seem to be able to supply uniforms, cold or wet weather gear, or much of anything else. Even with the Russian attitude towards the life of the troops (eh, we can get more), you are likely to get squeamish commanders who are going to balk at using any special weapon if it’s going to kill more of their troops than the enemy. So, I would expect to see at least some attempt to protect the Russian troops first.

Fourth, I would expect to see several levels of escalation first. After all, Vladimir wants to make the case that he tried everything else first. That it also allows him to study the board and see if his threats are having the intended effect is important too.

So, no boom today. Not seeing it tomorrow either. The Day After? We will see.


If you would like to help me in my recovery efforts, feel free to hit the fundraiser at A New Life on GiveSendGo. Getting hit by lightning is not fun, and it is thanks to your gifts and prayers that I am still going. Thank you.

11 thoughts on “60-40”

  1. So if Prigozhin and Kadyrov do double team Shoigu and take him down, how long before you see the survivors going after each other?

    Given the incredibly bad shape of all other Russian gear, I would think their MOPP suits would be especially bad. Any indication how well Russian neoprene holds up in non-climate-controlled (hah!) warehouses for 35-40 years?

    1. I think it will happen before his body, metaphorically or literally, hits the floor.

      At one point, the Soviets were supposed to be ready to fight in a NBC environment for an extended time. It’s one reason their APCs suck for getting into and out of, and why so many ride on the roof. Great for driving around a nuclear hellscape, not so good at anything else. Their MOPP gear was reported to be good; but, most of the Soviet era stuff was not that good a quality IMO. Now, if they even have any new (figure new MOPP gear paid for are with the 1 million uniforms that are “missing”), I would question the quality even more. Any that was stored? Heh.

      1. EPDM, Butyl, Nitrile, Neoprene all have a recommended shelf life (by US Industry Standards and Practices, anyway) of 5-10 years.

  2. Belarus has already allowed the Russians to stage an attack from their territory, but that didnt go well for the Russians.

    I don’t see them doing any better the second time around, even if stiffened by the Belarus Army.

    Attacking thru the Pripyet Marshes was, I suppose, the Russian version of attacking thru the Ardennes. But that didnt go well either.

    Perhaps we’ll see a repeat of the Western pincer by itself.

  3. I would not count on seeing the Russians issue MOPP gear before an attack. After all, they got about a battalion’s worth of Russian troops stuck in Belorussian hospitals because they did not treat the Red Forest around Chernobyl as the irradiated ground that it is. Sr-90 and Cs-137 are not good in large doses, as one gets when digging trenches and kicking up a lot of dust from movement without taking adequate precautions.

  4. If Russia nukes the shithole hives, what’s not to like? Get rid of the Big Craphole, Filthydeplphia, Ratlanta, the District of Corruption, and the Windy Shitty would be a good start!

  5. The gloves have come off…60% of Ukraine’s power system was knocked out by a missile barrage, and now General “Armageddon”, famous for his stellar performance in Syria, has taken over..Putin has been sidelined for that decision, because the public was outraged by the attack on the bridge, a bad mistake by the Ukro-nazis…

  6. I realize that the preverbal horse is now out the barn, but the friction between corrupt Ukraine and corrupt Russia was really none of corrupt America’s business. Nor corrupt EU’s. But the EU is just an American puppet as we all know. The West, of course, was deteriorating anyway due to home-grown engineered chaos and the demographic shuffle with the infusion of barbarians. Now the rot is on steroids pushed along by a small minority of psychopaths inhabiting various rat’s nests like Davos, the WEF, WHO, all Western capitals, central banks, the MIC, and a hive of numerous agencies and bureaucrats of pasty-faced nincompoops “just following orders”. Welcome to a big *S* sandwich, and we all will be taking a bite!

  7. It is very interesting to cruise all these associated blogs and see so many of the ‘dissident’ community in the U.S. go full flag waving retard over a conflict we are allegedly not even a party to. The boomer tier takes on the ‘Ruskies’ and ‘Mad Vlad’ are particularly illuminating to the susceptibility of ostensibly rational people to their biasis and prejudices.
    A truly poignant example of why we are in such a mess here in The States, at this rate we’ll have 9/11 war fever from the dissident community in now time.

  8. The Russians have already won. In fact it can be argued they won in 2014 when they took Crimea.
    The real war is in the banks.
    Russia, China, Saudi Arabia, India and dozens of other countries are about to boot the US dollar out of it’s reserve currency status, which will turn the western world into a tier-2 economy.
    This has been planned for decades.

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