[Discussion] Ukraine - Russian Invasion and Discussion

A place for aggregated discussions of a possible conflict, it’s implications and effects, news updates and personal accounts if any. If the expected conflict kicks off, I will change the title but the function will stay the same.

Paleocon wrote:

With all the hypersonic saber rattling from Putin, I thought it would be appropriate to remind folks that talk like that isn't harmless. This event happened over the weekend here in the Washington, DC area and had we been at a higher state of nuclear readiness, it is entirely possible it would have triggered a world ending event.

The meteor had all the wrong characteristics of a nuclear attack so it very likely wouldn't have triggered anything even if we were at a higher state of nuclear readiness.

First, in order for something to be that high it needs to be boosted there. That means the satellites we have parked over Russia to monitor for the heat signatures of a ballistic missile launches would have had to been tripped. Which didn't happen.

Next, the meteor was traveling in a northeast direction, which is the opposite of what a Russian attack would look like. A Russian nuclear attack would have objects coming in over the North Pole and traveling to the southeast.

The speed of the meteor was also about double what an ICBM re-entry vehicle would be.

The speed was also more than double the speed of the hypersonic glide vehicle weapon Russia announced back in 2018 (if it actually exists given what we know now about the actual state of their military), which is the only hypersonic weapon they (might) have with the range.

The rest of Russia's hypersonic weapons fly much, much lower than the meteor and much, much slower. Not to mention their ranges are so comparatively short the that they'd have to be launched from an attack submarine or boomer parked right off the US coast.

All Russia's sabre rattling does is reinforce the fact that they can't be allowed to remain a nuclear armed country.

As long as Putin is in power he will continue to threaten their use to get what he wants. And if Putin falls we'll have a repeat of the early 90s where broke-ass scientists and military officers were trying to sell weapons and nuclear tech so they could eat.

Any post-Ukraine discussion of dropping economic sanctions against Russia has to be coupled with their complete nuclear disarmament. They can choose between being a nuclear power or having a functioning economy.

OG_slinger wrote:

Any post-Ukraine discussion of dropping economic sanctions against Russia has to be coupled with their complete nuclear disarmament. They can choose between being a nuclear power or having a functioning economy.

I'm listening.

Top_Shelf wrote:
OG_slinger wrote:

Any post-Ukraine discussion of dropping economic sanctions against Russia has to be coupled with their complete nuclear disarmament. They can choose between being a nuclear power or having a functioning economy.

I'm listening.

N korea chose nukes. i doubt russia would be different. Putin would think an invasion is imminent after giving up nukes.

Was listening to people discussing the Brittany Griner situation while I got breakfast this morning, and while I understand the frustration, it's just like....

Irrespective of what she did (and the charges and sentence is obviously horsesh*t), but she got caught in literally the worst possible place at the worst possible time.

There is currently not a whole lot more that the Biden Administration can reasonably do to secure her release, outside of basically giving Putin Ukraine, and not only is that not going to happen, I wouldn't bank on it working either. And there are some people who quite reasonably aren't exactly thrilled with the idea of giving up Viktor Bout in exchange.

Moreover, I wouldn't put it past Putin to decide to hang onto her no matter what, because f**k the United States and Biden. And the added bonus of this creating division and anger at Biden and the Admin for not bringing her home, despite the fact that right now, the only thing that even theoretically could work would be something out of a straight-to-Netflix action movie with Chris Pratt/one of the Hemsworths as the leading man (which is also, of course, insane to even consider and would likely lead directly to WW3).

It's an absolute, terrible train wreck and I feel awful for her and I want her back. But she might just be triple-do-deca-f*cked.

Meteor or Missile? How will the military know?

It's been a minute since I've watched War Games, but even in that movie they referenced detecting launches.

Ally Sheedy forever.

Everybody who runs a despotic regime chooses nukes (if they can) or they risk ending up like Saddam or Gaddafi.

I mean yes it's nice to think of a future where we merely kill each other with non-nuclear means (well that's already happening frog in a boiling pot style) but it's such an existential guarantee I doubt it's anywhere within the realms of negotiable outcomes.

FiveIron wrote:
Top_Shelf wrote:
OG_slinger wrote:

Any post-Ukraine discussion of dropping economic sanctions against Russia has to be coupled with their complete nuclear disarmament. They can choose between being a nuclear power or having a functioning economy.

I'm listening.

N korea chose nukes. i doubt russia would be different. Putin would think an invasion is imminent after giving up nukes.

North Koreans never had things good. A lot of Russians--especially the Russians that matter in Moscow and St. Petersburg--have and they aren't going to like their standard of living taking a massive hit for the foreseeable future.

Putin will have a hard choice to make between keeping that power base of his happy with foreign tech and consumer goods or trying to maintain an aging nuclear weapons program (and the big, expensive things you need to use those nuclear weapons).

Putin's going to worry about being invaded because his little invasion has broken his military and chewed through a lot of the leftover Soviet stock of weapons and vehicles. Experts have estimated that would take about a decade of production for Russia to get its military back to where it was pre-invasion and that assumes no sanctions would be in effect.

No chance Putin gives up nukes. A post-Putin Russia that actually throws out the idea they should dominate others? Maybe.

But Navalny doesn't make that deal. Neither does Khodorovsky.

The leaders in waiting don't like Putin because they aren't in the driver's seat.

Yeah. There is no way in any timeline that Russia gives up nukes. Ukraine provides the example of what happens when you do.

But as you stated above...the real question isn't whether he has them...it is whether they work or not.

Edit: But then thinking about it, whether they work or not doesn't matter when using them as political leverage.

Nevin73 wrote:

But as you stated above...the real question isn't whether he has them...it is whether they work or not.

Edit: But then thinking about it, whether they work or not doesn't matter when using them as political leverage.

I spoke with a buddy of mine that worked as a arms reduction monitor for the US Air Force in the 1990's. He did a lot of the verification in some of the Central Asian Republics. When I asked him about the quality of Russian nukes, he replied that there were many things that the Soviets economized on. There was a lot of janky ass sh*t. But nukes were not one of them. He said all the ones he saw would have worked and that making the calculation that their nuclear threat is not serious would be a bad one.

You really don't want to install an IMU upside down in a nuke.

Even if we assume that the majority of Russia's nukes no longer work, what percentage would need to still work to make things Really Really Bad(tm)? I'm guessing not a large percentage, all things considered.

Putin's hypersonic saber rattling, however, does make me wonder if he really understands the nature of nuclear deterrence. That and it has fueled the aforementioned speculation about the efficacy of Russia's nuclear arsenal.

If the assumptions we have about Russia's nuclear capabilities hold, they possess the warheads and the delivery systems to ensure a robust enough nuclear response to a threat on their sovereignty and political continuity to deter such action. That is, at least, their stated nuclear posture. Regime change = nuclear annihilation.

In that sense, it is not terribly different from our own. Neither the US, Russia, NATO, or any other significant nuclear power for that matter has committed to a No First Use (NFU) policy. All nuclear powers reserve the right to effectively end the world if their own existence is threatened by hostile action inside their own borders.

Another important aspect of deterrence is the principle of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD). The idea being that should one party use nukes against a nuclear sovereign (or ally under the agreed "nuclear umbrella"), the result would be a massive nuclear response that would effectively end national continuity of the offending party. Some folks refer to this as "second strike".

The efficacy of this deterrence depends upon a few things. One is the ability to detect and respond to a nuclear strike prior to one's own nuclear strike assets being destroyed. This is generally made possible by early warning capabilities like satellites and response networks like NORAD. These would allow one to launch one's own response assets before a "first strike" would reach them. Another is the ability of such assets to survive attempts to destroy them. The latter emphasizes the importance of the "nuclear triad" (bombers, land based missiles, sub launched missiles). The idea being that hardened land assets like buried silos and mobile assets like submarines and bombers make the ability to issue a crippling first strike infeasible. Either in isolation or both in concert would, in theory, ensure enough of a nuclear response to make first use irrational.

Putin's obsession with hypersonics and missile trip times, however, demonstrates either a complete misunderstanding of these doctrines and physical realities or, as many have speculated, a concern and doubt over the efficacy of his own assets to deliver on the threat of nuclear annihilation. If MAD is assured by capable strategic assets, the amount of time it takes for a missile to go from Kharkiv to Moscow wouldn't matter.

A third possibility (which I find more rational) is that his "concern" is mostly just blowing smoke up everyone's ass and an excuse for his global ambition to recreate some kind of Russian empire. This would actually make the ratcheting up of nuclear tensions more rational. If he can create greater strategic ambiguity about the use of nuclear weapons, he gains the "crazy man" advantage and pushes the Overton Window in the direction of letting him have Ukraine and the Baltic States.

If it is, indeed, the third situation we are dealing with, the rational response is to call his bluff, give Ukraine the capability to defend itself, and do everything short of direct intervention to demonstrate that his territorial ambitions will be resisted until he gives up. And so far, that appears like it is precisely what we are doing.

Paleocon wrote:
Nevin73 wrote:

But as you stated above...the real question isn't whether he has them...it is whether they work or not.

Edit: But then thinking about it, whether they work or not doesn't matter when using them as political leverage.

I spoke with a buddy of mine that worked as a arms reduction monitor for the US Air Force in the 1990's. He did a lot of the verification in some of the Central Asian Republics. When I asked him about the quality of Russian nukes, he replied that there were many things that the Soviets economized on. There was a lot of janky ass sh*t. But nukes were not one of them. He said all the ones he saw would have worked and that making the calculation that their nuclear threat is not serious would be a bad one.

The 1990s was decades ago. And when the Soviet Union broke up Russian military spending essentially flatlined until the 2010s. That's about 20 years where they had no money to maintain their nuclear arsenal outside of what we were paying to decommission their nukes.

And when Russia finally started spending money on their military again they were only dropping single digit billions of dollars on maintaining (and modernizing) their nukes. We, on the other hand, have consistently spent $50 billion+ a year on ours (which is in addition to all the money we've spent on the various delivery systems).

Ukraine has exposed that Russia likes to talk a big game, but it simply doesn't have the military budget to do all the things it claims it can.

It's army is built around a few thousand upgraded and modernized vehicles that it took them a decade to scrape together. And over 5,000 of them have been lost in Ukraine, including about a third of all their modernized tanks. For APCs the OSINT community is rapidly coming to the conclusion that Russia's already burned through its BMP2 and BMP3 stocks and is now relying on on ancient BMP1s (and even PT-76s from the 50s). The army has a grand total of 20 of its advanced T-14 Armata tanks, which is all Russian industry has been able to produce since 2015.

It's air force can't even gain air superiority over Ukraine--a country it expected to conquer in just a few days--nor have its pilots shown any capability to conduct SEAD/DEAD missions. It's fighter-bomber pilots were taping Garmin GPSs in their cockpits because the Russian air force hadn't upgraded any of its planes to have that basic functionality. And those same pilots were either firing dumb rockets or dropping iron bombs because the Russian military never produced any significant quantity of precision guided munitions. But to distract against that, Russia talks about its hypersonic missiles (while firing converted S-300 SAMs and 1960 anti-carrier missiles at Ukrainian cities).

And it's navy is also a shadow of what they claim it really is. I mean they lost the flag ship of their Black Sea fleet to a nation that didn't even have a navy.

Russia *wants* to have the military the Soviet Union did. But it can't afford it. And that's made worse by it trying to maintain a big army, navy, and air force that it can't afford while also trying to modernize old equipment and build new, high tech weapons. It just can't afford everything it wants on $50 billion a year, doubly so when 20% of that spending just disappears due to corruption.

Could Russia scrap together a functioning nuke and a launch platform? Probably. But that's just more reason for NATO and the West to maintain the sanctions after they get the boot from Ukraine to take them off the table in the future, whether or not Putin (or Russia as we know it) survives.

All hat. No cattle.

Like those mansions in Dallas with no furniture inside.

Today US Defense Undersecretary Colin Kahl causally dropped the fact that the US has already provided Ukraine with anti-radiation missiles during a briefing about the next tranche of aid we're providing. More significantly he let it be known that the missiles could be fired from Ukrainian aircraft (about 28:00 minutes in).

This follows photos of AGM-88 HARM fragments showing up on Russian social media over the past couple of days and a notable uptick in the number of Russian air defense systems the Ukrainian military has reported damaged or destroyed recently.

So either we've also secretly provided Ukraine with F-16s configured for Wild Weasel SEAD/DEAD missions, we've retrofitted Ukraine's MiG-29 with the rails/electronic systems required to shoot AGM 88s, or a former Warsaw Pact NATO country donated old Soviet aircraft to Ukraine that had been updated to fire NATO weapons.

Either way degrading/destroying Russia's air defense/counter-battery radar network is the next step in the conflict and one that will help them move on to destroying more artillery, armor, and troops.

EDIT: It's likely that Ukrainians are using the Pre-Brief fire mode for the AGM-88 in which the GPS coordinates of radar sites are pre-loaded into the missile beforehand. Then all that's needed is for the missile to be taken to altitude and released. It will travel to the preset coordinates, turn on its seeker head, and attack. If no radar emissions are detected, it'll still attack the GPS coordinates. Those GPS coordinates are very likely being provided by RC-135V/W Rivet Joint reconnaissance aircraft that have been flying over Romania since the first days of the invasion.

And, speaking of aircraft, Reuters reported that Aeroflot is now cannibalizing some of its jetliners to get spare parts to keep its other planes flying. Wonder how long it'll be before there's a crash.

Good update from Michael Kofman on the War On The Rocks podcast talking about how ammo limits really could hinder UKR ability to drive RUS out of territory.

No matter how atrocious the planning and execution of their war has been to date, RUS still has so much manpower/materiel that UKR needs nigh-unlimited amounts to drive them out. This is Kofman's argument.

That seems pretty reasonable unless RUS is so weak now that their troops are a few more weeks or awful events from just resigning en masse. But I can't really think of good examples of modern armies doing that, even under worse circumstances. Is the RUS military even capable of revolting?

Top_Shelf wrote:

Good update from Michael Kofman on the War On The Rocks podcast talking about how ammo limits really could hinder UKR ability to drive RUS out of territory.

No matter how atrocious the planning and execution of their war has been to date, RUS still has so much manpower/materiel that UKR needs nigh-unlimited amounts to drive them out. This is Kofman's argument.

That seems pretty reasonable unless RUS is so weak now that their troops are a few more weeks or awful events from just resigning en masse. But I can't really think of good examples of modern armies doing that, even under worse circumstances. Is the RUS military even capable of revolting?

They have tons of (on paper at least,) artillery and small arms rounds, that should theoretically last them for a very long time, even assuming their ability to produce new munitions is compromised.

The problem for the Russians continues to be the logistics of getting that ammo to the front lines.

Before the introduction of HIMARS the Russians were able to maintain a massive FIRES campaign in the Donbas, but that front is, by far, their most logistical friendly front in the war. And since HIMARS, even in the Donbas, the rate of Russian arty fire remains a fraction of what it was just a month or so ago.

Furthermore, the Ukrainians have moved on from targeting the established ammo dumps, and have begun hitting rail lines and trains, often at the time of unloading.

Basically, the Russians are stuck transporting small amounts of munitions at a time often via inefficient civilian trucks and vehicles. That will be very problematic in the Donbas.

It will likely be death in Kherson Oblast.

The supply lines are much longer in that Oblast, making it that much more likely that HIMARS strikes will continue to find Russian ammo supplies. Furthermore, while details are sketchy, the Russians have been dealing with partisan attacks since the invasion.

The introduction of anti-radiation missiles, especially as they found their way to the war without being announced previously is a possible sign that the Ukrainians are preparing for a combined arms counteroffensive.

Finally, as to the Russians collapsing. Their retreats in Kyiv and Kharkiv were not total routs but they were definitely on the hasty side. I've seen several speculative takes that the Ukrainians are likely to aim the spear of their offensive at Nova Kakhovka and then continue to push towards Crimea. They don't want to destroy the city of Kherson in the process of liberating it, nor can the afford to sustain a siege. By cutting the Oblast in two, they cut off supplies to the Russians in the city or force them to once again, hastily retreat.

Badferret wrote:

It will likely be death in Kherson Oblast.

The supply lines are much longer in that Oblast, making it that much more likely that HIMARS strikes will continue to find Russian ammo supplies. Furthermore, while details are sketchy, the Russians have been dealing with partisan attacks since the invasion.

Russia's supply lines in Kherson are very vulnerable. The one from the south has to cross over the Dnipro River and the one from the east, which is much longer, is exposed to GMLRS attacks along the way, and still has to cross the Inhulets River.

There are three bridges over the Dnipro: the Antonovsky which has been repeatedly GMLRS'd/Excalibured (including last night when a bunch of repair equipment got blasted), a railroad bridge which as also been repeatedly hit, and the Nova Kakhovka bridge (on top of a dam) which, surprise, surprise, has also been repeatedly hit.

Basically all supply from the south has been greatly reduced and the Ukrainians have demonstrated they can pretty much turn off the spigot any time they really want to.

And the supply from the east has been hampered as well because the Ukrainians have also been methodically targeting bridges over the Inhulets River as well as striking supply trains.

At the same time, Russia has been shifting BTGs to Kherson because the Ukrainians have been pushing hard here for weeks and making some gains. The Russians obviously fear that this is going to be where Ukraine's counter-offensive is going to start/has started.

So you have more and more Russian forces deployed to an area that has extremely vulnerable and already stressed supply lines. So you get sh*t like this: Russian soldiers complaining they can't get enough food and water, that supplies constantly get destroyed and take longer and longer to get replaced, all while the population actively hates them and rats out their location to Ukrainian artillery.

Some are now thinking that the Ukrainian counter-offensive might just be trapping a significant portion of Russian forces in Kherson, starving them, and then and only then, pushing them out.

Importantly, Russia's own manpower issues mean that it can't defend Kherson *and* conduct an offensive push somewhere else. It can only do one thing.

And the more troops Russia moves to Kherson, the less it has in the east meaning Kherson could just be Ukrainian bait and that its counter-offensive could be somewhere else. And politically any Ukrainian victory, no matter how small, would rally its allies and be a huge blow to Russia.

Two possible ammo dumps hit at a airbase deep in Crimea....... ATACMS have arrived?

The Ukrainian R-360 Neptune anti-ship missile has a max range of 280km and an secondary ground attack mode.

I'm also hearing on social media that Ukrainian military officials are making it clear that during the attack "a device exclusively of Ukrainian manufacture was used," which pretty much means it was Neptunes.

Of course is also means that Russian air defense for one of their major air bases is pretty f*cking sh*tty in that they didn't detect or shoot down what is essentially a sub-sonic cruise missile.

Or, that the base was largely stripped of air defense units, presumably to ship them to the front to replace losses...

It's the primary training base for Russian naval aviation and it's within range of enemy missiles--both Neptunes and ATACMS (should they be deployed).

It would be one hell of a short-sighted f*ck up to strip a major base of its air defenses rather than ship in radars and SAMs from somewhere further than 300km away. Not that the S-300s and S-400s were shooting down GMLRSs in Kherson.

Of course it could be that the Neptunes weren't detected because they flew in a wave height.

Or, you know, everyone was reacting to the drone(s) that suddenly appeared in sky...

Some of the eyewitness accounts, and possibly video indicate multiple explosions at once. A quick google search seems to indicate that Neptunes have a single warhead.

ATACMS on the other hand have warheads that can contain anti-material bomblets or airburst munitions.

Meanwhile,

Jay in Kyiv
@JayinKyiv
We may have just witnessed the greatest single day of losses for the Russian Air Force, ever.

From satellite 4 hours before the explosions, I count 37 jets and 6 helicopters.

The explosions were spread out, across the area. So, maybe targeting groups of aircraft.

But don't worry, Russia MoD has already stated that no aircraft were effected..... so, they are probably all kaput.

And finally, the Ukrainian MoD's statement on the matter:

IMAGE(https://pbs.twimg.com/media/FZvycHUXgAAz-2e?format=jpg&name=medium)

What if it wasn't ATACMS or Neptune, but instead Thunder?