Ukraine Observations 6 April, 2022

While it seems clear now that the Russian offensive aimed at Kiev is dead and buried, the war in Ukraine continues on with no end in sight. It is hard to believe that back in early February the consensus among experts was that Russia’s war against Ukraine would last little more than a week at most. Kiev was expected to be in Russian hands within 72 hours and the rest of the country would quickly follow suit. The latest round of predictions is nowhere near as simple. It’s become clear the war in Ukraine will be a protracted conflict probably lasting through the remainder of 2022 at the least. The intensity of the fighting will diminish in the coming weeks as both sides look to replace loses, resupply and repair equipment. Also, during this coming lull Russia will continue to refocus its future efforts in the Donbas region and away from Kiev and south-central Ukraine.

At this time, there are far more questions than answers available concerning a myriad of war-related subjects. The photographs and information coming out of Bucha and other towns speak for themselves. Murder, rape and other atrocities have almost certainly taken place. Ukraine claims Russian troops are responsible for massacres, torture and execution of civilians, and sexual assaults. The Russian government says otherwise, calling the discovery of bodies a sham concocted by Kiev and the West. It will take years to sort out the truth. Unfortunately, barring a regime change in Russia, I do not believe any Russian military officers and NCOs will ever be held accountable for their actions.

As the days go by, I find myself liking Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy less and less. This is not to say I do not support his country because I do. But as I’ve mentioned in previous posts, the guy is just a little sketchy. His recent rants to the UN Security Council, other distinguished bodies, and the media have adopted a demanding, almost arrogant tone. For example, he continues to forcibly request combat aircraft from the West, even going as far as assuring the world that Ukrainian pilots can learn to fly an F-15 or F-16 in three weeks. Now, he is more or less correct about the Viper. A rhesus monkey could fly that jet after two weeks of training. 😊

The F-15, on the other hand….no pilot is going to learn how to fly and then fight the Eagle in three weeks. Take my word for it.

Looking at the Russian military, it’s safe to say it is in desperate need of an overhaul. For the foreseeable future, Russia is out of the modern conventional war business. It’s experiences in the first month of the Ukraine war are not exactly unique. Russian history over the last 120 years or so reveal multiple instances of Russia beginning a war woefully unprepared and bringing about negative consequences on the battlefield and beyond. The Russo-Japanese War in 1904-05, the Winter War of 1940 and Operation Barbarossa a little more than a year later are three examples. There are more, though. Now the 2022 Ukraine War is fated to become the next entry on this shameful list.

Whether or not an overhaul will improve Russia’s military fortunes is unknown. The last few attempts to overhaul and modernize the armed forces obviously did not take. Putin was lied to by his intelligence people, defense minister and senior military leaders. Instead of ordering a modernized military led by motivated and capable officers and NCOs into battle, he unknowingly sent a paper tiger instead.

Now Putin and Russia are forced to live with the short and long-term consequences of this failed ‘military operation’ and unfortunately, so is the rest of the world.

27 Replies to “Ukraine Observations 6 April, 2022”

  1. What if said pilot has a thousand hours “flying” in Micro Prose’s F-15 or F-15 III Strike Eagle? LOL Wasn’t it Stealey that said something like “it is so real you will think you are in the cockpit?”

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Agreed …. TBH I wasn’t sure Putin was even going to invade – I thought it more likely it was all an attempt to generate political pressure on Ukraine (and indirectly the West) to get concessions, although if he did, I was thinking more along the lines of a couple of weeks for checkmate. To be fair, if the Russian Armed Forces WERE the force we thought they were, then it would have been all over by now. There’s a lesson in there somewhere about having your upper echelons filled with ‘yes’ men.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Definitely a lesson to be learned there.

      A lot of folks didn’t think Russia would invade. But they did and it went about as bad as it possibly could’ve gone. Now the question is: What comes next?

      Liked by 1 person

  3. “Looking at the Russian military, it’s safe to say it is in desperate need of an overhaul.”

    Well they’re certainly going to be in the market for a whole new main battle tank.

    I wonder if Putin or his commanders are desperate or stupid enough to throw the Armata into the fray.

    As to Zelensky, yeah, I find myself leaning your way too, Mike. It’s an interesting cognitive dissonance I see out there. People expect that if I say “Well I think Zelensky is a bit of a creep” then I’m some pro-Russian guy, and I’m not. I’m experiencing levels of schadenfreude never before seen with the Russians getting kicked in the teeth. I just wish it didn’t come at the expense of the Ukrainians (or anyone).

    But on the other hand…yeah, sorry, the Ukr. has this in hand. The Russians:

    Cannot establish air superiority
    Have absolute rock bottom morale
    Are by all metrics depleted as a fighting force (anywhere from 10-15 percent casualties makes an army combat ineffective, and at thirty percent they’re essentially destroyed, and Rus. casualties in some areas are topping 25 percent so I’ve heard)

    …let’s maybe hold off on pouring Eagles and Falcons into Ukrainian pilots’ hands.

    There was a very very good piece written by a couple of pilots, one USAF and another Ukrainian AF, about the state of things over there; maybe you read it? The Ukrainian pilot went by his USAF-given callsign “Juice”. Personally I think Poland should get F16s and F35s and “sell” their MiG 29s to Ukraine, ASAP. But US fighters in Ukrainian hands? Nuh-uh, no-way.

    Sorry for the long post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I read that article. Interesting piece and the idea has good merit. Problem is, if Poland transfers its MiGs to Ukraine, Russia can label them as a co-combatant. Nobody wants that. The fact they didn’t gain air superiority within the first couple of days makes me wonder about how capable Russia’s air force truly is.

      I’ve had the same problem with some people thinking I’m pro-Russian because I think Zelenskiy is a little shady. Ignore them. Since the shooting started, everyone on social media, as well as every middle-aged American male is now a defense and geopolitics expert 😉

      Russia needs new battle tanks, new doctrine, new air defenses and more than anything else, Russia’s military needs a professional NCO corps.

      No problem. Long posts are fine with me 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. The usual suspects (corruption, overpoliticization, not expecting to fight like this in multiple ways) are valid, but I have a theory about manpower that’s probably totally wrong, but here goes.

    The push to professionalize the military actually made it move DOWNWARD in terms of economic class, as it shifted from a comparably representative sample (all but the clearest draft dodgers) to the rural poor.

    Another, less wild theory is that dynamiting the Soviet-surplus mobilization system completely was a mistake in hindsight.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Interesting theory and it does have some merit, given how the Russian military has operated in Ukraine. And yeah, the Soviet-surplus mobilization system never should’ve been blasted down to its foundation

      Liked by 1 person

  5. The Sovi- er, Russian Army is going to be a very long time in recovering from this adventure. There is no incentive, other than the Gulag, to fix things on the level they need to be fixed at…. and those pieces really are at the high end of their command structure. You always hear about top down reform and never has there been a better example of an org that needs it.

    And, because of culture (or lack there of), efforts will fail the MOMENT focus is not on it. Because, well, the System they have for governance and leadership made all this possible. And is incapable of repairing itself. Someone would make off with the tools before they can be used.

    I don’t want to believe he (Putin) was that unaware of the problems. By indications, of course, it appears he was 100% clueless as to all the problems.. which seems to be against type. I think we talked about that a while ago, the manic drive behind this adventure… and for some reason it seemed rushed. As my wife would say, he’s JAR- Just Ain’t Right… and thats a concern. On a bunch of levels.

    Zelensky- I don’t have the level of dislike for him you have. What I do think is he’s pushing it a bit much to the point of being a parody (if thats’s the right word).. but I am also not in his position therefore any arm-chair quarterbacking by me would be dishonest. I have though on what I would have or not have done were I in his shoes….. and I don’t know how much I’d have done different…. other than have had my reserves mobilized far faster than he did and maybe be better prepared to evacuate civilians. Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda… I’m not there and not in the Big Chair. Just a spectator… as is most everyone else not actually there at this point.

    All we ultimately are is spectators.

    F-15/F-16: I’ll take your word for it on the easiness/difficulty of learning to fly those fighters- you’re the pilot in this conversation. 🙂 That said, is the 15 that much different than its supposed contemporary the Su-27 and the follow on Su-30? Just curious.

    Buca. Apparently there is satellite imagery showing the bodies there BEFORE the Sov-er Russians departed. Well before… At this point, the only folks who are believing the Russians on this are those with a vested interest to suck up to Russia.

    The Chinese are hedging… but when don’t they?

    This has such potential to get worse before it gets better…. and I am inclined to agree domestic issues there will increase if Putin orders that big increase in Conscripts to send west into Ukraine.

    We’ve discussed history and Russia before. One item of historical note I was hoping on in a macabre way was the History of March being unkind to their leadership’s health. Vlad escaped that one… for now. *shrug*

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can’t even imagine where they will start the repairs. Their officer corps is hollow now after barely a month of fighting, morale is rock bottom and they have serious supply and equipment issues.

      Putin had to have been 100% clueless. Remember the ‘Bill of Goods’ discussions we’ve had. Looks like that was more accurate than either of us wanted to admit.

      Aircraft types are unique and have distinct features. The Flanker and Eagle families match up well, but not 100% in many ways. Flanker and even Fulcrum pilots can learn to fly an F-15 but it will take a while. Three weeks? No way. Three months? Same answer. Figure a B Course runs for 110-120 training days or so, that’s how long I’d say your average Ukrainian Fulcrum or Flanker pilot needs to make the transition.

      Ok, he survived March but will he make it to the summer? That’s the million dollar question

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Its really looking like Bill of Goods was an understatement. And the movement to go after the Eastern parts isn’t going to go that well I think. Between Morale on the Russian side (damn it, I still wanna type Soviet!) being somewhere below whale shit and the Ukrainians being as high as it is BEFORE the news of the atrocities… this *new* objective, which should have been the original (we talked on that too…) is not going to go as well as he thinks.

        The Ukrainians are getting more and more weapons every day- and their troops are learning more an more. While I do not see a rout coming, I DO see some major setbacks and potential retreats of Russian troops in the offing. At least in the east. Down south, who knows? I think its developed into stalemate leaning Ukraine right now.. My reason for that thought I’d love to talk on at some point. Whenever…

        Thanks for the training answer. I figured Transitioning to a new bird takes time.

        And yeah… Putin making Summer is an interesting question. Our agreement of Easter being the likely end of all this… still might happen. Someone somewhere has a death pool on him… If you happen to find one, let me know.
        I’ll pitch in 5 bucks..

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Well, Easter is the end of the first phase of combat operations. So I think at best we should get partial credit.
          Definitely need to discuss it more. When i get back in town on Monday I’ll give you a shout

          Liked by 1 person

  6. Well, you’re right about Russia needing an overhaul and being out of the conventional warfare business for at least a while. How long will they be so? Who knows? Maybe a decade at least for all we know, judging by the rate things are going, especially in regards to the sanctions, which will damper Russia’s economic ability to help improve its military (barring China). As for the paper tiger, we still don’t know what Russia can do effectively but I still wouldn’t regard it as a “joke”. Maybe it is and I’m mistaken, but since Zelenksy’s constantly requesting outside and NATO reacting tells me something that Russia still may have a few tricks up its sleeve, all barring nukes.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good question. I think some of the factors that went into planning and preparation for Ukraine need to be examined. Such as the fact that most Russian troops were told the Ukrainians did not have military equipment and would not resist. Whoops.
      I think Russia can still cause trouble in other places with its military. Not to the degree it would like though. At least not for a while. I’d say they’re out of the conventional warfare business for six months minimum.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I agree with your comments about Zelenskiy. He is a right wing dictator with a history of repression. We don’t need to repeat the history of the cold war where right wing tyrants were our “friends” because they were anti communist. I cannot think of a single case where one of those “friends” didn’t drag into us into some kind of a conflict. We can support Ukraine without falling in love with the dictator running the country.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree. I think it would be dangerous to call Zelenskiy a friend or ally at this point. We certainly do not want to go to war to protect Ukraine, as much as he’d love that.


    2. What has Zelenskiy done to make you think he’s a right wing dictator? I just haven’t really heard the case for this and I’m curious to learn more.

      Liked by 2 people

  8. The big problem for Ukraine is that they have no ability to replace their losses domestically, and the limiting factor on Putin appears to be his physical health, not his political health.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We’re moving into a down period in the conflict now. Both Russia and Ukraine need to resupply and replenish. I wonder how receptive the West will be to Ukraine’s needs now


  9. You’d think that the same guy who started an insurgency to offset the risk of a shooting war with Ukraine would have played his cards right in this case? I would have thought so before this happened.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I thought so before all of this happened too. This was a miscalculation of epic proportions on his part. Just unreal, really.


  10. “His recent rants to the UN Security Council, other distinguished bodies, and the media have adopted a demanding, almost arrogant tone.” Considering that he had just come back from Bucha, and that the kind of sanctions being imposed continue to be somewhat jocular, I actually thought he was quite restrained. The EU has paid Russia USD35bn since they invaded Ukraine. They’ve given Ukraine USD1bn in aid.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I wonder what will happen now that Europe won’t need as much Russian natural gas for the next six months (warm season.) Will they pull the trigger on stricter sanctions now as a result?


  11. On a side note, it was also Russia that mobilized first in WW1, to defend the Serbs, then Austria, then Germany, then France, etc. The mechanics of mobilization with no off ramps. Pretty sure none of the Powers wanted war, but once the trains started rolling…..
    Also, my sentiments almost exactly re: Zelensky, but I’m chalking some of it up to cultural differences and him playing to the homefront. IE if UKR starts to falter he can blame the West for not enough weapons, and take a shit peace deal from Rus. If needed.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The stage just before WWI was very interesting. The strictness of the formal alliance system left no margin for interpretation. If war was declared by an ally, you went to war beside him. No questions asked. No clauses for abstention or anything like that. I did my dissertation on this topic more or less. The dynamics of June and July, 1914 are just unbelievable.

      I think cultural differences are definitely a factor. Probably more so than most people realize.


  12. I guess I am willing to give Pres. Z a little slack. The Ukrainians are being asked to take a lot of old Soviet gear like the Swedish upgradef BMP 1s. I guess I could forgive them for asking for some modern Swank. F15s are a little over the top for a training rotation. I am kind of curious how they are going to use the Harpoons Britain promised them. Maybe Norway could spare a Penguin or two? All said, Ukraine is doing far better than the experts gave them credit for. Turns out the Russians are not 10ft tall and do not actually poop ice cream…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t blame them for wanting F-15s, but my opinion on the matter is biased 🙂 As for the old Soviet equipment, I think the West should give them everything in the storage areas. The former Warsaw Pact allies sure aren’t hesitating to do just that.
      I’m still curious about the Harpoons. Can’t fire them from helicopters or any fixed wing aircraft the Ukes have. The Brits do not have land-based Harpoons but they do have some land-based Exocets at Gibraltar, but those haven’t been mentioned. We’ll have to see.
      Yeah, Ivan is nowhere near as proficient as we were led to believe…..again. 🙂


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