Feb. 23, 2022

E11: Ukrainian Roulette - Part 5: Wrench Against the Machine

Apple Podcasts podcast player badge
Spotify podcast player badge
Google Podcasts podcast player badge
RSS Feed podcast player badge

This is Part 5 of a multi-part series on the Russia-Ukraine conflict. After delving into the inner workings of the Russian military we now look into what would happen should an invasion occur. We no longer discuss what we can do to prevent a war but instead focus on how Ukraine and the West could deal with such a terrible onslaught - throwing a proverbial wrench in the Russian War Machine.

Support the show (https://www.buymeacoffee.com/codbsm)


Henri (00:00:00):

Welcome to Part 5 of Ukrainian Roulette -- our ongoing series on the Russia-Ukraine crisis. Where we last left off, we delved into the inner workings of the Russian war machine: how they are organized, how they fight, and with what they fight. Armed with this knowledge, we will now explore ways for the Ukrainian army to throw a proverbial wrench in this war machine, and what we should be on the lookout for, should an invasion occur. Let's have a listen.

Henri, ending of Part 4 (00:00:27):

Well, now that we have a reasonable understanding of how the invasion of Ukraine will commence, what can Ukraine do about it? I mean, we already discuss about what the West can do to prevent the war, but that's in the past now, let's assume, Okay, the invasion has happened, what can Ukraine do militarily? And what can the West do either a little bit militarily, but mostly diplomatically to at least even the odds a bit against this overwhelmingly superior Russian army.

Intro (00:01:02):

Come On, Don't Bullshit Me!

Henri, Intro (00:01:15):

Also. I mean, let's not forget here that the Russian people's unofficial motto's "to suffer is the live". Any type of hardship from international sanctions is gonna do diddly squat to them.

Intro (00:01:35):

Welcome to "Come On, Don't Bullshit Me!", where we peel away the messaging of talking heads to get to the crux of today's issues.

Henri (00:01:46):

First off, we're gonna have to assume that the Russians will have achieved air superiority, which means that the Russian forces will have the freedom to move over Ukrainian airspace. Whereas the Ukrainian forces will not have liberty to move within Ukrainian airspace. And air superiority is the primary mission of any Air Force. So when earlier, when we talked about the primary mission of an army is to hold territory, to hold ground, well, the primary mission of an Air Force is to achieve air superiority. And all air superiority means is, is just two Air Forces duking it out over each other, and if one Air Force can defeat the other Air Force, well, then that means they have the freedom to fly in those skies relatively unimpeded, which gives the overall military freedom of movement. And again, freedom of movement is essential in maneuver warfare. And we're gonna have to assume that the Russians will have air superiority.

Henri (00:02:49):

Well, now you're saying, wait, hold up a second. Didn't you just tell me that these Turkish drones that the Ukrainians have are awesome? So why are you telling me now that we can assume that the Russians will have air superiority? Well, yeah, well, that's the whole point here is that the Turkish drones that the Ukrainians will be using are very good in a static insurgent type of environment. And the Ukrainian Air Force right now, if you can call it Air Force at this stage, but basically the Ukrainian military forces have air superiority by virtue of the fact that they have these drones and the separatists don't. So the whole point here, the reason why Putin is being forced to invade, he has to go and invade and use his Air Force to regain air superiority, to neutralize the effect of these drones. And of course, once you're invading, well, then, I mean, you cross the Rubicon, if you will, so you might as well go in with your army and actually grab and hold land.

Henri (00:03:44):

Now, all these Turkish drones that we are talking about are not gonna be effective, because while they're very effective for a static insurgency type campaign, for an outright dynamic war, especially considering that you don't have air superiority, those drones will be severely limited.

Henri (00:04:03):

So given that their air superiority is assumed -- for the Russians and not for the Ukrainians -- the main consideration for the Ukrainian forces will be to not give the Air Force a target. So what you want essentially is to replicate the situation in Chechnya, rather than in Georgia, and force the army to conduct the kinetic strikes. And how do you do that? Basically by not giving the Russian Air Force targets.

Henri (00:04:33):

But you have one thing going for you is that unlike Western Air Forces where you have strategic bombing and air interdiction is a common doctrine for Western Air Forces, especially for the US Air Force, Russian Air Forces are particularly focused on close air support. So rather than having the Air Force go out separate from the land forces and attacking targets, which is much like how the US Air Force works, Russian Air Force is more closely intertwined with the Russian army, where their job is to exist not as a separate branch to conduct separate military operations, but to be closely in line with the Russian army, with the land forces and conduct missions or sorties in direct support of the land forces. So even though we can assume that the initial phase of a Ukrainian invasion would be where the Russian Air Force will be taking out high priority targets, it'll quickly devolve into the Air Force going back to their traditional role of close air support, which is again, supporting the Russian army.

Henri (00:05:45):

And part of this is that, another thing that landed me to believe this, is that the image of bombing Ukrainian cities would be extremely bad optics for Russia, and in the court of public opinion, again, you know, it's one thing to be killing or bombing Ukrainians troops in the field, it's another thing to be outright bombing Ukrainian cities. And you can call that "Western bias" or whatnot in the sense that we've been essentially desensitized to aerial bombings of Middle East countries and whatnot. And that's a, and that's a valid critique. But even though it's a valid critique, it doesn't change the fact that the optics of bombing Aleppo, unfortunately, is much different than the optics of bombing Kyiv. And in at least in Western media, the image and video feed of seeing a Western city being bombed by a Russian Air Force would not go so well.

Henri (00:06:41):

So the point here is to focus on limiting the effectiveness of the Russian Air Force, and you do that by not giving them juicy targets. So normally the juicy targets would be the cities, but now if we're assuming that they're not gonna be doing any strategic bombing and mostly gonna be close air support, well, then that means that their primary targets are going to be the Ukrainian land forces.

Henri (00:07:05):

And therefore, if the Ukrainians don't mass up to meet, you know, like I said earlier, that the Russian land doctrine is about, yes, they do maneuver warfare, but it's maneuver to fire rather than fire to maneuver. The traditional thought process would be to, okay, mass your forces together to oppose the rhinoceros' charge. But of course, if you mass your forces like that, then your primary target for the Russian Air Force. So one thing that you could do is spread your forces broadly to limit the effectiveness of the Russian Air Force. 'Cause they, by not giving them juicy targets, mass targets to engage with, they're going to be limited.

Henri (00:07:49):

We've seen this before, particularly in the Georgian war, we saw this as in the Russian Air Force would tempt the Georgian forces into firing on either them or on Russian land forces as a kind of a decoy -- expose their position. And then there, the Air Force would come in and just obliterate them. Or at least coordinate with the Russian artillery and obliterate them. So we saw that a lot of these fake decoy attacks to have the Georgian army expose their position and then annihilate them.

Henri (00:08:31):

So the point here is to address all these critiques from arm trans general saying, Oh no, we need to give the Ukrainians these jet fighters and all these tanks and everything, and really help them push back against the Russians. And I'm like, that's a stupid idea. 'Cause none of these advanced, amazing weapons are going to help the Ukrainians when they don't have air superiority. And you just can't give them all this equipment without any training. This is part of the strategic damage that was done for the fact that we wasted essentially eight years between 2014 and now, where we haven't been... Like if we were going to give the Ukrainians this type of equipment that all these armchair generals want, well, then we should have given it to them before and not now, because all of these complex machinery require a lot of training and a lot of maintenance.

Henri (00:09:26):

It's not an iPhone that you can just give it to a five year old, and they could figure out in five minutes. No, tanks and jet fighters, and what have you, take a lot of... You have to have a whole infrastructure behind you to be able to support the actual flying. The flying or the driving of these jets or tanks. So everyone's saying, Oh, Biden's an idiot, he needs to give the Ukrainians all of our fancy jets and tanks. They just, they don't understand what it means, what it takes to train and equip an army. You can critique Biden for a lot of things, but this is something that just doesn't hold water. If anything, we should have done this earlier, so if you want to critique anyone, you should be critiquing the Obama administration and definitely the Trump administration. This is one of the disadvantages we have, when for four out of the past eight years, we've had a Manchurian candidate, Russians' agent in the White House, but that's a topic for another time.

Henri (00:10:24):

So the point here is that any weapons that we're going to give the Ukrainians has to be something that's relatively low tech, easy to use. And most importantly not require a lot of maintenance. And not only that, but you want the military aid that you give them to have small footprints. 'Cause again, if you give them jets and tanks, all that's going to do is give, like I said before, juicy targets for the Russian Air Force to immediately destroy. So it's a complete waste. So the fact that we're giving them these Javelin missiles and shoulder fired missiles like stingers, I mean there's a reason why we gave, why the stingers that we gave the Afghan Mujahideen in 1979 was such an effective weapon against the Soviet army.

Henri (00:11:13):

And maintenance isn't something like in civilian terms, it's not like it's your BMW. Well actually it is kind of like your BMW, 'cause BMW's always breakdown, but that's a different story. But it's not like your Honda Accord, where you only have to do an oil change once every three or four months. No, the military hardware requires constant maintenance. And we're not talking about annual maintenance, we're not even talking about monthly maintenance. What we're talking about is weekly and more likely, especially during a war time situation, you're talking about daily maintenance. So these advanced weapons that we're talking about here are constantly, I'm not gonna say like they're constantly breaking down, but they constantly require maintenance and upkeep to maintain their war fighting and combat capabilities. And this is just something that requires, not only requires a lot of parts and resources, a dedicated logistics chain, but also requires immense amount of training. Again, training that should have happened eight years ago and not eight days ago.

Henri (00:12:12):

If anything, I mean, I will give some credit to the armchair generals in that there's at least one advanced weapon that I really do think would be kind of nice. Is that, uh, okay. So the Turks are giving the Ukrainians UCAVs [unmanned combat-area vehicles]. There's all this talk about UUVs as the next autonomous warfare domain. So these are instead of unmanned aerial vehicles, you have unmanned underwater vehicles. So basically the submarine drones, for lack of a better terminology. And if the Ukrainians can be trained up quickly to use Turkish air drones, well, the Ukrainian forces also could be trained up very quickly to use unmanned maritime drones. And these unmanned maritime drones, for example, would be enormously effective. Actually we don't know, 'cause the UUVs haven't been tested a warfare yet. So just like Russia used Syria as a bunch of test subjects for ironing out their battle plans and battle technology, we can use the Russians in the Ukrainian battle space as our own personal test subjects and test out our new technology here.

Henri (00:13:20):

In sense that's okay, well we already talked about those six, uh, amphibious landing ships that are going to be presumably used in some sort of amphibious invasion in the Southern flank, well UUVs would be a perfect platform to be able to engage these amphibious landing ships. And only that: if they're even halfway successful here, that would greatly cripple the Russian Navy. And hell if you want to even make it a personal thing, because again, this is not really Russia's fault, it's not really a Russian Army's fault. Like I said in the very beginning of this five hour discussion is that, this is entirely in Putin's mind, and any invasion is all Putin's doing. It has nothing to really do with the Russian people. So you could even take these UUVs and go to that palace, that Alex Navalny was talking about in his documentary, the Putin's palace in Gelendzhik, which is also on the Black Sea. And do a long-distance mission there and take out his palace. If you really want to get fancy with UUVs. So there are ways that we can give advanced weapons to the Ukrainians that are not what you would consider tanks and jets and things like that, because frankly, they just don't have the time and the resources for training and maintenance.

Henri (00:14:41):

Another aspect of not giving the Air Force a target and again, spreading your forces around is to let the Russians come into Ukrainian territory. Not give them a target and they again, let the rhinoceros charge through, and basically let them pass your forces, and then encircle them once he's exhausted. Because again, this has been readily documented in the wars that Russia conducts, is that they don't use their artillery like we do in the sense that in fixed positions and indirect fire from far away. Like I said before, in 2014--2015 85% of the kills were artillery kills, but they were all within two to six kilometers of the front line. This is indicative of the fact that the Russians use their artillery as a, essentially a mobile platform. Whereas we would generally speaking use our artillery in a more static platform.

Henri (00:15:39):

So by doing that, by allowing the Russians to advance deep into Ukrainian territory, you're essentially kind of doing a "reverse Napoleon" here or you're doing a "reverse Kutuzov" here -- the famous Russian field marshal, who commanded the Russian forces against Napoleon's Grand Armee in 1812, where he constantly pulled back away from Napoleon's Grand Armee and made Napoleon come deeper and deeper into Russia and extended his supply chain, his logistics chain. And then from there just hit them off. And this is particularly because Ukrainians don't have air superiority, which again, translates to mean that they don't have freedom of movement. And because they don't have freedom of movement, their options as a land force are limited. So by letting the Russians pass through and deeper into Ukrainian territory, eventually the Russians are going to run out of steam, where they have to stop and refuel, do maintenance, like I talked about earlier. And this -- a lot of military analysts say -- should happen within 12 to 48 hours of an initial assault. So whatever the Russian army is going to do, they're going to have to pause between 12 and 48 hours. So during that pause, where they regroup, do the maintenance, reload their ammunition, feed their troops, et cetera, et cetera, that'll be a time where they're static, where then you can potentially engage the Russian forces and do an encircling tactic.

Henri (00:17:11):

Because encircling tactics are enormously effective during out the history of warfare. In fact, one of the most famous encircling tactics was the German Blitz Krieg on the French. Well, the French, slash, British. And this was the whole point of Dunkirk, right? In the sense that, a lot of people say, Oh, the German army was so powerful. And of course they steamrolled through the French and the, of British as well. And the only thing that saved a British was Dunkirk. Well, that's only kind of half true. In the sense that on paper the French army was vastly superior to the German army. To the point where the plan that Hitler proposed of just making a mad dash into France was probably, in any other timeline, France would've immediately destroyed them. And then Hitler, would've been kind of a footnote in history, just another crazy dictator that immediately got shut down. But the thing is that, because of their breakthrough success that they didn't anticipate, the German army didn't anticipate their success through the Arden forest. So they actually overextended their lines to the point where the Southern French forces actually had some counter attack into German territory. But what happened was, those German land forces that push through were able to regroup and encircle the French and British army, particularly centered around Dunkirk. And even though the French army and the British army were, on paper, vastly superior to the German one, because of the fact that they were encircled, meaning that all their supply lines were cut, which meant that the French and British army couldn't be sustained. And that's a serendipitous encircling tactic that the German army did, led to the evacuation of Dunkirk and more importantly, the surrender of France.

Henri (00:19:04):

Now I don't wanna be lazy here and just cherry pick this example from World War II and the evacuation of Dunkirk as a way to shoehorn my argument. That's something that American historians tend to do: everyone likes to focus on World War II, because it was such a virtuous war and America had a stellar record. So pretty much like every example that people like to bring up, is always World War II. We can look at the practically the entirety of the Chinese civil war between 1946--1947 after Japan was defeated, to give ourselves a stellar concrete example of the importance of logistic trains and how attacking a weak logistics train can wreck havoc to an enemy.

Henri (00:19:50):

If we remember, after Japan was defeated, the Soviet union moved in towards the end and reclaimed a lot of the Imperial Japanese territories, most notably being Manchuria. And back then Manchuria was a big industrial region. So during the Chinese civil war the Soviet union gifted Manchuria to the Chinese communist. And at that point it seemed like the Chinese nationalists, led by Chiang Kai-Shek were in dire straits. So Chang Kai-Shek made a military gamble there and convinced the Americans to airdrop his forces throughout key cities in Manchuria as well as in inner China. And it was a massive success. To the point where he pretty much controlled almost all of Manchuria and almost all of China, to include Yan'an, which was the capital city of the communists. So at that point it would seem like, okay, it looks like the Chinese nationalists are going to win the civil war, and things were going to be winding down.

Henri (00:20:54):

But the problem there was that because of this overwhelming success of the Chinese nationalists, which was of course on the back of the United States logistics train in the sense that the United States essentially airdropped the Chinese nationalist army into these key cities, the Chinese nationalists didn't have an established logistics train. So in essence, they didn't earn their way into these cities. By capturing these cities they were essentially isolated. And the logistics trains to feed them and re-supply them did not exist. Or if they existed, they were in a precarious situation. And the Chinese communists at this point then rather than attacking the cities and trying to regain control of them, which of course they couldn't do, because just like with Russia and Ukraine, the Chinese nationalist army was ridiculously stronger, compared to the Chinese communists. So doing a frontal assault on the cities was a non-starter. So instead what the communist did was attack the logistics trains of the nationalists and slowly start to starve out these cities. To the point they severely weakened the nationalist forces and eventually regained back all the territory. And of course, now we know that China's obviously communist state, so.

Henri (00:22:18):

By studying the communist assaults on Jinzhou, Shengyang, Changchun, Xi'an. There's countless example after countless example during this time period of a supposedly weaker military, that being of the Chinese communists, completely decimating the overwhelmingly strong conventional military of the Chinese nationalists by not attacking the military proper, but their logistics networks.

Henri (00:22:47):

So throughout this history of this stage of the China civil war, because the Chinese civil war lasted multiple decades and there are different stages, but at this specific stage, it's a prime case study in the effectiveness of a, quote, "inferior" military, attacking logistics train of a, quote, "superior" military and bringing them to heel. So while the Dunkirk example is nice in an isolate situation, you just look at the Chinese civil war, you have all these examples here, right in front of you. And this is not the only time: we could probably look through other examples throughout human history of one army attacking logistics network of another army to bring them to heel.

Henri (00:23:29):

Now, imitating that and having the Ukrainians encircle the Russian forces deep in the heart of Ukrainian territory and cutting off their logistics chain could be a viable option. But again, that option would only be available if you don't oppose the initial frontal assault of the Russian army.

Henri (00:23:49):

And a lot of this can be enabled in the sense that once the war happens, actually the best help that Western force can give is not necessarily military equipment. I mean, of course they should give military equipment, but the best support that they can give is the superior intelligence and electronic warfare that the West provides. So all of our satellite imagery, communications intelligence that we can glean off of Russian radios would be enormously beneficial for the Ukrainian forces. Because one of the reasons why you want air security is yes, of course, for freedom and movement of your forces, but another reason is so that it's always about... Another axiom of warfare, which funny enough is again from San Tzu, Art of War, is to always have the high ground. Because from the high ground you can see much more of the battlefield. Which means as a commander you can go through that OODA loop a lot faster, because you can see more the battlefield. So therefore you can direct your forces in a manner that is superior to your enemy, because your enemy can't see as much as you can. Generally speaking, he who has the high ground has the advantage, because again, you can see more of the battle space. So therefore in the past, prior to the invention of aircraft, whoever had the control of a specific hilltop or elevated position was usually at advantage, because they could see more of the battlefield. To the point where you even had the experimentation with hot air balloons and what have you. But then of course, airplanes are the ultimate high ground in the sense that airplanes fly higher than any hilltop or ridge line. So by that logic with the Russians having air superiority, well, they will have the advantage. But wait a second, what's even higher than aircraft? Well, that's satellites.

Henri (00:25:38):

So with our satellite imagery, and again, we already got a taste of this when the Brits released a lot of that intelligence, authoring the possible initial invasion of Ukraine, is that by feeding the Ukrainian armed forces our satellite imagery, our communications intelligence and whatnot, not only would they be able to achieve the high ground through the satellite imagery and have a good accurate intelligence to be able to locate and engage Russian land forces. The other thing, we already see all these false flag operations and electronic warfare, all these reports of Russian cyber operations against the Ukrainians right now and potentially using those as false flag operations to, for casus belli for an invasion into Ukraine. Well, having these Western EW to hijack their military coms and cause some fratricide Chechen style would be a nice taste of their own medicine. So with the advantages of our technology, of electronic warfare, and our space assets, we could give an enormous advantage to the Ukrainian forces. And that type of military support would be way more effective than any other military hardware that a lot of these armchair generals are proposing.

Henri (00:27:09):

Now, I don't really want to go too much into battlefield tactics, because well, first of, there's this expression that no military plan survives first contact with the enemy. I think like Mike Tyson said, everyone's got a plan until they get punched in the mouth. But the other expression that I really like is that: amateurs discuss tactics, whereas professionals discuss logistics. And we've kind of briefly touched upon this before with that encircling thing. And there was a point about me bringing up encircling, not to present as a tactic, but more in the sense to analyze a weak spot of the Russian army. In the sense that we say that the Russian army is an artillery army surrounded by tanks. Whereas I would go and say that the Russian army is an artillery army supported by trains. Even when you look at their training, the way the Russians train and how other logistics network is set up, it is all centered around being within 90 kilometers of a railway supply depot.

Henri (00:28:13):

So they are enormously dependent on railway. How can you maintain this rhinoceros push of an artillery Blitz Krieg strike and not get encircled? Well, part of it is that, if you're constantly advancing along the lines of railway, then your logistics chain is gonna be incredibly efficient and incredibly fast, where you can immediately replenish your troops, replenish your weapons, provide any spare parts that are needed, and also cycle in and out fresh troops and equipment as needed. And this is a well documented phenomenon of both Russian training and Russian warfare is that, any land attack that they do is always within 90 kilometers of railway.

Henri (00:28:58):

So I kind of like to think of, you know, there's the story about how one way that Switzerland maintains this neutrality... I don't know if this is true or not, but at this point it could be an urban legend, but it said that all of the bridges and tunnels, and roads around Switzerland are all under tripwire, so that if anyone dares to invade Switzerland, they'll just bomb all these tunnels and roads, and then of course Switzerland is smack down in the middle of the Alps, in the middle of the mountains, so that any invading army wouldn't be able to actually come into Switzerland, because they completely destroyed all the access into Switzerland.

Henri (00:29:35):

So if Ukraine could adopt a Switzerland situation here, and of course, probably at this point, it's probably too late already. This should have been done many years back, but, and this is why we talk about "amateurs discuss tactics, professionals discuss logistics", is because the weakness of the Russian army is not gonna be found by certain military tactics, or if there is going to be military tactics, it's gonna be a very difficult thing to do. Whereas the weakness of the Russian army is in their logistics chain. And particularly their over reliance on rail networks. So if you destroy Ukrainian rail, then the Russian army would not be able to sustain their rhinoceros charge or artillery push through Ukraine and march to Kyiv or to the Western border.

Henri (00:30:23):

And destroying your rail network forces the Russian army, because they're not just gonna like not stop, they're not gonna not invade or not continue the fight. What they're going to do, what that forces the Russian army to do is to use their trucks as a truck convoy. And this is one of the things that, I've mentioned rasputitsa earlier. And a lot of people are probably in the know-how are gonna roll their eyes, because rasputitsa is not really a big deal. One of the reasons why it's not really a big deal anymore, particularly because the Russian military's train railway logistics system is so on point. And rail doesn't really care about mud. But the point here is that by destroying the rail network, not only are you destroying the Russian weak spot of their logistics network, but you're also forcing to use their convoys, or their truck convoys. And trucks very much would be susceptible to rasputitsa, which again further slows down the advancement of any Russian invasion.

Henri (00:31:25):

To kind of give you a bearing on this is that during the first desert storm, not the second one of George W. Bush, but the first one in 1991 under H. W. Bush, that was when we had that the largest tank battle in history and was massively successful, lots of studies have been done on it. Even with how massively successful the United States army was in that the advancement of our tank forces was only at a sustained speed of 25 miles per hour. So you can assume that the Russian army, like so the best case scenario, their truck convoys could move at 25 miles per hour. The reason why this is such low speeds is because it's war, right? You're not just driving on the highway here. So by using those distances, if you look at the distances of rail hubs, well that's why you kind of understand why the Russian army typically does their invasions along rail routes because any supply of parts and equipment and whatnot needs to be done by trucks, of course, from the railhead to where the troops are. But now if you destroy the railhead, well then all these convoys have to start back in Russian territory.

Henri (00:32:40):

And if we look at the map of Russia. We'll take Kyiv for example, 'cause you can look at any baseline, but we'll just use Kyiv as a baseline for now. Kyiv is about 700 kilometers from the Donbas demarcation line right now it's about 300 miles from the Northeastern border from around Belgorod and Kursk. And, and then from the north, it's about 150 kilometers from the Belarussian border. So given these type of considerations, let's be generous and say, since we're talking about kilometers, we'll say that the trucks can go at 45 kilometers per hour. The United States army has actually done a study on this. I mean, this is how well documented the logistics weak point of the Russian army is, is that the US army has actually done studies on this. So you consider that the ammunition required to maintain one artillery barrage is exactly one Russian truck load. So for each piece of artillery that you have in a BTG, so let's say you have 60 artillery pieces in a BTG, well then you're gonna need 60 trucks to take care of them all at once, because one truck corresponds to one weapon load for one artillery piece.

Henri (00:33:51):

So if you do rough calculations here, again, this is all from the US army, they say, okay, the Russian army needs an hour to load and then it would two hours to drive 90 kilometers, if it's at 45 kilometers per hour, an hour to unload, and then another two hours to go back to 90 kilometers. And this is again the point of the 90 kilometer of a railroad strategy that the Russian army does. So that means that's that whole resupply from the maximum extension from a rail head is six hours. Which means, especially when you're talking about, and remember we said, all military equipment requires maintenance and downtime. And that includes trucks. Trucks are not gonna be operating 24 hours. They're more likely are gonna be operating 12 hours according to US army studies. So that means that when you're a maximum extension away for of 90 kilometers, it means that you can only resupply your artillery pieces twice. So the artillery pieces need to make sure that their ammunition counts.

Henri (00:34:51):

But now if we assume rather than 90 kilometers, let's just say to make things easy, we say we destroyed the rail network, and now they are a 180 kilometers from the border. Which again, if it's 180 kilometers, maybe from the Belarussian border that's good, you've reached Kyiv, but let's just look at the Eastern flank for it right now, where the distance is around 300, 700 kilometers. So if you're 180 kilometers in, within Ukraine, you're right smack in the middle of Ukraine territory, you're far away from Russian resupply depos.

Henri (00:35:23):

So 180 kilometers away means all of a sudden now that the Russian convoys, again a best case situation, not considering any slowdown of rasputitsa, that they're going at 45 kilometers per hour sustained, is that they can only resupply their artillery pieces once a day. And that doesn't even consider the fact that trucks like if you're talking about you need 60 trucks to maintain a BTG. Well, a line of 60 trucks is a really juicy target for Ukrainian insurgents, Ukrainian freedom fighters, and the villages. And of course, if the artillery doesn't have weapons to fire on the Ukrainians, well then they're stuck. Then you're getting a repeat, the exact situation of Dunkirk, where you've effectively encircled the superior army and you've forced them to capitulate.

Henri (00:36:10):

So this is one of the reasons why it's extremely beneficial to look at logistics. And another reason why we'd look at the railway and if we were smart back in the day before when this thing first happened in 2014, I would say, we should have looked at providing not just military aid, but civilian aid to the Ukrainians, where they would essentially retool their track gauge of their entire rail network.

Henri (00:36:37):

Cause as we know, all the Russian and former Soviet Union states, their track gauge is 1,520 millimeters in width, whereas Europe and most of the rest of the world uses what's called standard gauge, which is 1,435 millimeters. So the physical rail cars of Europe are not compatible with the Russian rail network. And likewise, the Russian rail cars are not compatible with the European network. And the two networks not only have different rail gauges, but they also have two different electrical grids. So recognizing that the Russian army is sustained by rail network, by having Ukraine switch out of their 1,520 millimeter to a 1,435 millimeter standard gauge rail structure means now, that not only from, again you can talk about this from an economic standpoint because, supposedly, for the past eight years it's been allegedly peace, so this is more of a way to connect, physically connect Ukraine to Europe, 'cause obviously just the general trade economy, especially in Europe runs on rail. So that it's a physical way to further connect Ukraine to Europe.

Henri (00:37:51):

But more importantly, there's a hard stop there, that prevents a Russian military logistics trail to seamlessly move into Ukrainian territory. And also changing their electrical grid system from DC, which is what it's currently at, which is also what Russia uses, to an electrical grid system of AC would also go a long way towards breaking that compatibility of the Russian and Ukrainian rail networks.

Henri (00:38:19):

Now of course there's technology, where rail networks can switch gauges and whatnot, but those things are time consuming. And particularly when you're in the tempo of war, those are not necessarily feasible at all times. And also it's a very apparent weakness that you can exploit.

Henri (00:38:34):

So this is the thing is that, had we had foresight for the past eight years, they could have switched their rail network and pose a big obstacle that would if not stop the Russian army, would give them pause, where they would have to consider that and that would be an extra thing that they would need to take an account for. But right now, obviously it's too late. The Ukrainian rail gauge is the exact same rail gauge as the Russian one. So the Russian military rail has no problem moving into Ukrainian territory and sustain their military. Which is why I propose the Switzerland concept of basically if the invasion does happen first, let the Russian army through and then just bomb, sabotage, bomb, destroy your entire rail network from behind them and basically isolate them within Ukrainian territory.

Henri (00:39:35):

The thing is though, despite all this talk about possible military tactics and, more importantly, the weakness of the Russian logistics train, these are all nice things to talk about and dream about, but realistically I'm not gonna be betting my life savings on any of these things happening realistically. Me personally, I'm pretty pessimistic about Ukraine's chances here. But not so much from a military standpoint, it's mostly because of the one ace in the hole that Russia has, is their greatest strength. And Russia's greatest strength is the West itself. In that Russia's, and you know, we talked about all these different possible avenues of attack and about what the end goal of Putin is with all these different flank discussions, but actually I was being a little cheeky there. The main goal for Putin in my opinion, is to move in, do this rhinoceros charge, cause carnage, and have the West call for a plan for a cease fire. And with a call for a cease fire, he then basically can consolidate his territory that the rhinoceros charge has consolidated within Ukraine, and do what he needs to do and maybe stop and go back to the Russian people, turn on his propaganda apparatus back onto full swing and say: Look what we did, we just gave Ukraine a lesson.

Henri (00:40:59):

And one of the reasons why I think of this is, because traditionally in military circles, it is assumed that the defender has a three to one advantage against an attacker. Which means that if you're going to be an invading force, you need to have three times the military strength as the enemy, as the territory that you're invading. Now of course, with United States, obviously we don't have three times the troops as a lot of the countries that we go into, but this is the concept of force multiplier, right? The technology and high fidelity intelligence assets that we have are called force multipliers, because that's what they do: they multiply your force. So you can go in with significantly less physical assets, but with those force multipliers you essentially curb that three to one advantage that defenders have. That's why I say you don't need to have three to times as many troops as the defender, you just need to have three times the military force. Given this force multiplier concept, even still the Russian army does not have that significant of an edge against the Ukrainian forces. To the point where Russia can be like the United States and the go with a token size army. I mean, this is the whole point of their buildup. This is why they're saying that practically with a hundred BTGs near the Ukrainian border, that literally half of the Russian army is within 250 kilometers of the Ukrainian border. So which shows that they're not looking at any force multiplier technological advantages here.

Henri (00:42:32):

So when we look at that, we basically have to assume here that the Russian Army's capabilities is more about actual physical troops. So we have to see, can Russian troops really sustain invasion? Can they overcome this three to one defensive advantage that the Ukrainians have? But when we look at, depends on who you ask, some people say 125,000 troops, some people say 150,000 troops. It is somewhere around that area. This is the number of troops that Russia has. Well, the troops that Ukraine has mobilized is around 175,000. So at best, the Russian forces are at a one to one ratio as the Ukrainian, which flies in the face of any military recommendation. So Russia right now at best is on par one to one with Ukrainian troops, which means that the Russian army does not have three times as many forces to overcome the defensive advantage. That's my first indication that Putin is not planning for an outright invasion of Ukraine.

Henri (00:43:33):

The other thing is that, okay, if they do invade Ukraine, they don't have any plans of holding Ukraine. 'Cause I mean, we've already talked about this earlier within this five hour discussion about why they don't actually want to hold Ukrainian territory, but more have it as a destabilizing force. And we've talked about it diplomatically, but here I'm going to illustrate to you that from a military standpoint he's pretty much exposed his cards that he has no designs on actually holding Ukrainian territory.

Henri (00:44:01):

And that is because the other statistic that conventional military thought assumes is that, when you're fighting in insurgency for every 1000 people in a population you need 20 troops. So for every 1000 people in a territory, you need 20 troops there to successfully fight an insurgency. And this was the whole controversy, well, it's not really controversy, but it was more like the hoopla back in the day when Congress asked general Shinseki to testify about the Iraqi troop surge, and the Bush administration was trying to play it down. It's like, oh no, we don't really need that many troops. And of course, Congress asked the point blank how much troops you need, and he said, we need a hundred thousand, which was totally against Rumsfeld's projections that he was saying now to the public, and of course that alarmed everyone saying, No, you can't send a hundred thousand troops to Iraq. We had enough of this. And of course Shinseki kind of got blackballed after that a little bit. But that comes from this 20 to 1000 ratio.

Henri (00:45:04):

So if we look at it, I mean, I did some calculations earlier and to look at the major urban centers within Eastern Ukraine, excluding Donbas, 'cause we can just assume that Donbas is sympathetic to Russia, so they wouldn't be counted in insurgency. So excluding Donbas the total population of the urban centers of Eastern Ukraine and also not including Kiev. I did not want to count Kyiv in there either, is 8 million. So for this 20 to 1000 ratio means that you're gonna need minimum 160,000 troops to fight what everyone presumes to be a very stiff Ukrainian resistance or insurgency against a Russian occupation. And Russians are not stupid. The Russian military is definitely not stupid, so they know this as well. And so the number of troops that are mobilized at the border of Ukraine, again while significant and alarming for an invasion, the numbers just aren't there to show that these troops would be sufficient for a proper invasion, where your intent is to hold territory and incorporate within your own nation. So I don't see this as a, the troop numbers just don't tell me that this is an invasion proper, but this is more about Putin trying to move in as quick as he can gain as much territory as possible and rely on the fact that the West is going to say, Oh enough carnage and everything like that, we need to have a cease fire, we need to have a cease fire. And then from there consolidate any wins back home and shore up is popularity and support amongst the Russian people, and of course the Russian oligarchs.

Henri (00:46:42):

And of course, if you doubt me on this, well, you can just look at how the invasion is going to unfold. Because again, remember when we talked about earlier that the Russian army does not have the financial resources that the US army does? So while it is extremely capable, it has forced itself to have trade offs. And one of the trade offs that we said is they famously did not go into UCAVs, they went into UAVs. So UAVs don't have offensive firing capability. It's purely a reconnaissance platform. The other thing is, again, they don't use smart bombs, because smart bombs are too expensive. So they just use the effect of mass carnage with dumb bombs. 'Cause they don't really care about collateral damage and it's a lot cheaper to fight.

Henri (00:47:25):

Well, the other thing is part of this lack of resources has actually forced the professionalization of the Russian army because they simply can't afford the large volume of troops that a conscript army entails. One of the reforms that Putin carried out was the reduction of the manpower of the Russian army, which meant reducing the reliance on conscripts, which force the remaining Russian army to become more professionalized, to maintain their effectiveness. So there's less of reliance on Russian conscripts now, which overall for the Russian army, just in isolation, is actually a really good thing and is something to commend the Russian military on, is the general professionalization of the Russian army. But this leads us to its own challenge in itself is that, the battle tested professional soldiers are going to be in...

Henri (00:48:21):

If there's any indication of the past, which is a very reasonable expectation, the first wave or this invasion, if it's going to happen is going to be done with these battle tested professional troops. So if Putin really does have a intent to stay and continue the fight, then what the West needs to look at is not just the reconnaissance on the Ukrainian battlefield, but also reconnaissance back home in the Russian Homeland to see if there's going to be reserve deployments. If it's going to be reserve deployments, then that would indicate reserve deployments to refill the presumed dead Russian soldiers in the initial invasion. That would indicate that, yes, Putin is in it for the long haul. But if there is no reserve deployment, that gives us further evidence that this is all just a giant rouse and Russia's relying on its greatest strength -- the West -- the West's own queasiness for war and their desire for an immediate cease fire.

Henri (00:49:20):

So if the West can tamper its kneejerk reaction of a cease fire and allow the Ukrainians to defend their Homeland, well, if the Ukrainians, especially with all this military hardware that we've been giving the military aid, if you manage to kill the first wave of Russian invaders, you knock out a significant portion of their veterans and limit the institutional knowledge of the Russian military. A lot those battle tested battle-hardened. Russian troops are now going to be... There's no one nice way to say it, but they're going to be dead. And the forces that are going to be left, are going to be untested.

Henri (00:49:55):

And just in general discussion, consider also the fact that the Russian training cycle for new troops starts on April 1st. Well, this shows that, especially if the Ukrainians cause a lot of damage in this first wave, this is more incentive, more pressure on Putin to say, Hey, look, we need to cut our loss here and go back to maintaining our training regimen and get the training pipeline back up, which again starts on April 1st, so there's a limited window there.

Henri (00:50:22):

So the more you can delay a ceasefire and the more you put your trust in Ukraine and let them fight. 'Cause in essence, immediately pushing for a cease fire discredits the West message here in the sense that it's saying that, Oh, the whole point of this Ukrainian-Russian fiasco is that Russia is treating Ukraine like its own client state and dictating what it has to do. Well, the West pushing for a cease fire is essentially doing the same thing, dictating to Ukraine what they have to do. If the Ukrainians want to fight and defend their Homeland. Well, that's their right. Otherwise, what the hell's the point of a country? So by delaying a cease fire and allowing the Ukrainians to continue to fight on a Russian army, particularly if you can collapse their logistics network and force the Russians to fight a static war, you can further attrite and erode Russian morale.

Henri (00:51:15):

And then like we said before, with Armed Forces Day coming up and International Women's Day coming up, all those coffins coming back. We've already seen this war, this is not like something I'm just imagining in my head. We've already seen this happen in Chechnya and Georgia, where Russian grandmothers and mothers crying in the streets over their dead sons, is a very powerful image that not even Putin's propaganda apparatus can combat. So allowing Ukrainians to fight and resisting the temptation for calling for an immediate ceasefire is essential. It's critical for the West to do. Of course, I don't really have much confidence in the West being able to do this, particularly with all this discussion back and forth with France and Germany, trying to enforce the bullshit Minsk II accord.

Henri (00:52:17):

Now that we're on the talk about diplomatically, what was another thing a lot of these armchair diplomats are suggesting? Saying, Oh yeah, we should totally, we should sanction the Russians and take them off the SWIFT system, the international banking system. I have bad news for you: the sanctions aren't going to work. We've already had our first round of sanctions and that did very little to affect the Russians. Having more sanctions is not going to do anything, particularly because the Russians have over the past six years, they've actually been strategic. Whereas in the West, once again, we've failed to be strategic. Where they've used all these gas imports that we've been talking about to build up their reserves. So back in 2014, when the initial Ukrainian invasion happened, the Russian central bank had about $350 billion worth of reserves. Now in 2022, they have over $650 billion in international reserves. So they have the fourth largest amount of international reserves within their central bank. So they have plenty of money to defend a currency attack in face of the sanctions, or if the West threatens to cut them off of SWIFT, well, they have plenty of reserves to be able to still function with their economy.

Henri (00:53:35):

In fact, this just shows us how long Putin has been planning for this invasion of Ukraine. In that for the past eight years, he's been solely building up this reserve treasury of over $300 billion. And rather than taking all that money from these gas exports to, like Norway does for example, and improve the lives of the citizens, he took all that money to build up his war chest, because he was planning on having this invasion of Ukraine and he was anticipating another round of sanctions. So by building up these reserves, he was able to arm himself for the eventual second round of sanctions, which he knew he was going to incur.

Henri (00:54:16):

And also a key thing about this is that unlike in the last episode, we're talking about with Turkey being reliant on foreign investment and exports, well it's related here in that Russia is an incredibly self-reliant country in that they have gas, they have agriculture, they have industry. Sure the Russian people are miserable and suffering from the quality of life, but that's never really phased Putin before, and it's not gonna phase him now, but as far as the country being able to move along in spite of the West, in spite of the international community, the Russians will have very little problem with that. Again, partly because their economy is so self-sufficient, they have an abundance of resources to be able to do whatever is it they need to do within their own borders. Not only that, but this whole proposal of cutting off the SWIFT system is not even on the table. As of the date of the recording of this podcast, Biden has not proposed that as on his list of sanctions. Now, he may have said something about that in private to Putin, but that's not on us right now in the news. Also, I mean, let's not forget here that the Russian people's unofficial motto is "to suffer is to live": any type of hardship from international sanctions is gonna do diddly squat to them.

Henri (00:55:33):

But now as far as sanctions are concerned, what will work though is individual sanctions. We talked about how the Putin's dynasty, if you will, is based off of an oligarchy. And his personal wealth is spread, it is basically distributed to the circle of oligarchs that use that money or hide that money for him. And having individual sanctions against not only Putin's assets, but the Russian oligarchs' assets, would be enormously effective. Not only effective because we are not specifically targeting the Russian people, because again, the Russian people are not our enemy, it's the Russian government that's our enemy. It won't needlessly antagonize the Russian people so that eventually, if a regime change could happen, that new regime would be more amicable to the West. But more importantly, it is just plainly more effective to hit the people who are responsible for this aggression, rather than the Russian people.

Henri (00:56:32):

And in fact, the individual sanctions are actually doubly worse for these Russian oligarchs, because it hits them twice. One, it hits them where they get cut off of access to the Western financial markets. But two, what Putin uses this as a power grab to basically say, you know, Hey, Oleg Smichnaev, your company is now sanctioned by the international community, so you effectively lost control of your company. So now the Russian government will seize your company and administer it. So the oligarchs not only get hit by the West, but they get hit again by Putin taking over the company. So targeted individual sanctions, again these oligarchs -- would hit them twice and make them more antagonistic towards Putin. Which is ultimately what we want to affect regime change.

Henri (00:57:23):

And if we're talking about here like, Oh, who are we talking about here? Who the hell should we individually sanction? Well, first of, that ridiculously in-depth documentary by Navalny, that was released last year, he goes through all the different oligarchs that should be targeted. So he pretty much says it right there, you can just read off the list and do the sanctions one by one there. But also I am pretty sure you can look at the US secret service, the Department of Treasury, they know who these Russian oligarchs are and exactly which ones to target. Of course, we also need a buy-in from the British, and it's nice that the British are doing a lot of intelligence exposure, if you will, the last couple of days exposing what the designs are, but if the UK really wants to be helpful in the situation, they need to join in on any individual sanctions that we want to give. 'Cause you know, a lot of these assets that these oligarchs have are actually in the UK. Famously. I think it's Chelsea and Arsenal for example, are owned by some of the Russian oligarchs. So liquidating their share of these teams would be something that I'm sure the British soccer fans or football fans would be very happy to hear. But again, this requires the cooperation of the UK government and without all the Western governments, that house in oligarch's, assets being in on this scheme, it won't work. So if there's going to be solidarity within the West, this would be one of the primary focuses of solidarity for the use of these targeted individual sanctions.

Henri (00:58:59):

And I think that would hurt the Russian government the most. And this is good from an economic sense. But from a diplomatic sense, I would say we would have to do what we call "Ratchet Diplomacy". Ratchet being like a ratchet wrench, where you can go in one direction, but you can't go back into the other direction. And this is exactly what Putin has been doing. He did this in Georgia, where he moved in and caused the disturbance and instability within Georgia: South Ossetia and Abkhazia are now, they're unrecognized, but they're de facto independent states. So that halted Georgia's ascension into the EU and NATO. He did the same thing with Moldova with Transnistria. Now he's doing the same thing with Ukraine. And these things are like static, so we can't go back. Even famously the German chief of Naval operations famously said, Hey, Crimea is lost, forget about it. And of course he had to resign and whatnot, but the fact that Western officials are saying, Oh, we lost Crimea kind of shows the, this ratchet diplomacy in the sense that Russia takes incremental steps and changes the status quo, and there's no going back.

Henri (01:00:08):

And what the West needs to do. If I was Biden on these phone calls with Putin, I already criticized him before for saying, Oh, if you invade, we're gonna deploy troops to the Baltic states in Poland. It's completely ineffective. Putin doesn't give a shit about NATO troops in Poland, in the Baltic states. He has no designs on NATO. All these NATO deployments to the Eastern edge are just for show. But what Biden could say is that, this ratcheting that you've been doing stops now. Should you go ahead with his invasion, could you do the modern equivalent of crossing the Rubicon, here's what's going to happen: one, we're going to be doing these targeted individual sanctions to you and all your cronies; and two, what we're going to be doing is we're going to doing all these targeted individual sanctions, and they're going to stay there not simply until you leave Ukraine, but you'll also have to fully leave Crimea, you'll have to leave Moldova, and you'll have to leave Georgia. We are going to use this invasion to put the most egregious sanctions that you have ever seen, and they will not be lifted until not just you leave Ukraine, but you completely leave Georgia and Moldova. In other words, we're not just going back to 2014, we're going to go back to 2008. And in the case of Moldova, we're even gonna go back to 1992. We're gonna set the clock back to 1992. 'Cause again, these countries deserve that territorial integrity. And these targeted individual sanctions will not be lifted until you do that. So you can be happy with a status quo right now and not invade Ukraine and still have your little playgrounds of Georgia and Moldova, but as soon as you cross the line, not only are we gonna hurt you in Ukraine, but we're going to keep hurting you until you not only get out of Ukraine, but Moldova and Georgia as well. And this would be a way for the West to decisively remove the Russian ratchet and try to bring back into the international stability -- to a pre-2008 norms.

Henri (01:02:11):

In fact, as bad as an invasion of Ukraine could be, this actually presents ourselves with the unique opportunity, should we play our diplomatic cars right, to undo a lot of the ills of the past two decades by Putin, and bring in the other European nations together in a more enduring peace and stability framework for Europe. And place in concrete institutional frameworks to prevent a slide back of Europe towards authoritarianism. I mean, look at, for example, Hungary and Poland, even though they're part of the West, you can see that their governments are sliding back. We have the first signs, how they're sliding back towards authoritarianism. So using this Ukrainian invasion has pretense to place enduring institutional frameworks to prevent these slide backs and go back to the peaceful time period of the early 2000s to bring about this prosperous Europe in the future. And that will discuss in the next episode.

Henri (01:03:42):

If you would like to comment on this podcast or on the topic covered within it, or you'd like us to raise a new topic in our next episode, please feel free to leave us a message or voicemail on www.codbsm.com. That's Charlie, Oscar, Delta, Bravo, Sierra, Mike.com. Thank you for listening and see you at the party, Richeter!