Changing Geopolitics

The Russian Army has lost substantial amounts of irreplaceable (on any short term) equipment and a large number of irreplaceable professional soldiers during Putin’s adventure in Ukraine. As the war continues, the Russians will have to move more of their remaining cadre of professionals from around the country to the active war zone, and that will require staffing other garrisons with inexperienced, poorly trained conscripts.

If I were a senior commander in the Peoples’ Liberation Army, the view to the North across the Amur River might become more tempting than the view to the East across the Taiwan Strait.

Warfare: 20th Century v. 21st Century

My podcasting partner Stacy McCain has a post up about the Russian casualty figures that were “leaked” yesterday. If true, they indicated that the Russians are taking around 1,000 casualties (400 killed) per day. I’m skeptical. That the figure seems high, but, considering the Russians’ general incompetence, their losses could be that bad.

While the Russians have improved the technology of their weapons since the Second World War, they made few significant changes in the structure of their army. It is in many ways the same force Zhukov led almost 80 years ago, mostly a bunch of poorly trained conscripts led by corrupt NCOs and inept officers. The equipment may be more technologically advanced, but that makes it more susceptible to poor maintenance. However, today’s Russian army is very different from the Zhukov’s force—it is not repelling an invader; it is not fighting a Great Patriotic War. For now, the Russians are losing senior officers to snipers and drone strikes. How long will it be until the fragging begins? If it hasn’t already.

Meanwhile, Ukraine is fielding a highly motivated force armed with some of the be best weapons of the 21st century. The best Western technology backed by the West’s manufacturing capacity isn’t being sent as aid to Russia but to Ukraine. The Javelin and other anti-tank weapons are doing to Russian armor what the machine gun did to Infantry in the First World War. And Western intelligence service are clearly providing real time information.

The Russians may still win through brute force and sheer numbers, but the race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong. Sometimes the victory belongs to the smart and the brave. That’s beginning to look more like the Ukrainians than the Russians.

Keeping Warm and Fed

One of the reasons the Russian advance had gone more slowly than Putin expected is that the Russians are having trouble getting food, fuel, and other support to their troops.They clearly lack the assets to maintain a reliable supply train. Poorly maintained trucks running on cheap, unreliable Chinese tires may be the undoing of their campaign. While the Russians may not be able to keep their soldiers fed, the Ukrainians are helping them stay warm by the fires of vehicles set alight by Javelins and Molotov cocktails.

Of course, the Russians may still pull off a costly win via overwhelming numbers, but the war in Ukraine shows the truth of the principle that amateurs study tactics and professionals study logistics.

A Low Budget Remake Flops?

Justin Trudeau’s attempt to use police violence in Ottawa for a low budget remake of the Odessa Steps has flopped. He’s announced he is pulling the plug on the Emergencies Act.

The original Odessa Steps sequence is part of Serge Eisenstein’s propaganda masterpiece Battleship Potemkin. In the end, it appears that Trudeau’s propaganda efforts did more to expose the true nature of his Potemkin village government than anything else.

I’m Not Making This Up, You Know

Justin Trudeau has announced the following in response to Russian activity in Ukraine:

Canada and our allies will defend democracy. We are taking these actions today in a stand against authoritarianism.

The actions he is taking against authoritarianism include sending 460 soldiers, a frigate, and a patrol aircraft to Europe. Apparently, horse units will be retained at home for domestic authoritarian operations.

And In Canada …

… The House of Commons has voted 185 to 151 to confirm the Prime Minister’s use of the Emergencies Act.

There’s no word yet on whether the Mounties will be swapping their red serge tunics for proper Chekist leather coats.

UPDATE—The matter is still before the Canadian Senate which has a vote scheduled for Friday.