The Russian Invasion Later this Month
Assume the worst about the Russians
I am a little more than two weeks out from a year in Ukraine. If there is one thing I have learned, it is that you can’t underestimate the Russians’ capacity to do the most horrific thing.
You and I have the honor of working with many Ukrainian military units, supplying them with things like generators and Starlinks. Last week, the Ukrainian Special Operations Forces (SOF) reached out to me for help with an $800 item, and I need your help.
First, when I say special forces, I'm not talking about Seal Team Siz. I am talking about Ukrainians who a year ago were university professors and lawyers who are building the plane as it is flying. Think WWII partisans.
The Ukrainian SOF estimate that 500,000 Russian troops are massing on the border. For perspective, the active duty Marine Corps numbers about 180,000 people. The Ukrainians have a 1900 mile, heavily-mined border to defend. They expect that the Russians will use humans for de-mining, meaning the Russians will send waves of soldiers into the minefields to clear the way for other soldiers and armored vehicles.
Given these medieval tactics, the SOF guys assume that some parts of Ukraine will be overwhelmed and temporarily occupied.
They asked me to help them with a large number of $800 devices that they can give to civilians ahead of the invasion that will save lives and has a real potential to shorten the war. I don’t want to give details on a mass blog because of security concerns. But if you reply to this blog or reach out to me on Signal, Telegram or WhatsApp at +1-630-200-6485 I will give you the color commentary.
The Ukrainian SOF expect the invasion as soon as ten days from now. Putin likes symbolic dates. The 21st is his annual address to Parliament, the 23rd is Defende of the Fatherland Day and the 24th of one year of the full-scale invasion.
If you have $800 to donate, please do it today. This is one of the best opportunities I have seen for direct action from the Ukraine Freedom Project to shorten the war and save lives.
Thanks very much. Please see below for more details on how I see the future of the war in Ukraine.
PS - Despite what you may hear about how much the US spending on the war in Ukraine, this is a war on a shoestring. The US Department of Defense spends more than $2 billion per day, and the US is not at war. US contributions to Ukraine cost each of America’s 157 million taxpayers about $26 per month. More than Netflix, less than basic cable.
PPS - Rest assured (mom) I am watching this stuff closely. My car is full of gas, I have an extra gas can, a sat phone and half a dozen other survival devices to help me get out of here quickly and stay in communication.
Above is yesterday’s assessment of the status of the Ukraine war from the Institute for the Study of War. If you want to have the best information about the Ukraine War, visit the ISW web page frequently. Or call me personally.
The thing to note on the map above is the areas north and west of Kharkiv. These were all at one time red like the southeast part of the map, all the way from Kharkiv to the border area due south of the S in Belarus on the map. The amazingly courageous Ukrainian military, with the help of US and NATO weapons and training, has taken back more than half of the territories occupied by the Russians last year.
With, quite literally, soldiers to burn, the Russians will likely take another run at these border areas.
The Ukrainian Armed Forces estimates 136,000 Russian soldiers have died in combat in Ukraine in the last year. This is more than double the 58,000 American troops who died in 14 years of US involvement in Vietnam, or 9x the losses the Soviets sustained over ten years in Afghanistan. Ranges of killed and wounded combined range from 200,000 to 500,000.
Below is a graphic of Russia’s total losses of people and equipment as of today.
This has been a bloody war for the Russians with heavy losses of troops and equipment.
How does this play out?
I like to think about the macro forces at play.
The first wave of Russian soldiers were poorly trained and were driven out of Kyiv, Kharkiv and Kherson. The second wave will be less well trained.
Russian conscripts don’t want to be in Ukraine. When Putin announced the conscriptions, 300,000 Russians were forced into the military and 700,000 Russians left the country.
Russians thought it was fun to watch Ukrainian apartment buildings being bombed on TV. They had a good time going to Europe on vacation and harassing Ukrainian refugees. But when it come to them personally, Russians have no stomach for this war.
The Russian military was poorly led prior to Ukraine killing twenty or so generals. The junior officer corps has been decimated. The Russian military is using Soviet-era equipment, and at this point they have lost much of the "good" Soviet-era equipment. See the graphic above.
But Russians have a large number of people who they will push across the border.
In contrast, the Ukrainians are highly motivated because they are fighting to defend their homes and families. And they are confident. Sixty-three percent of Ukrainians polled expect victory in 2023.
Ukrainian soldiers are battle-hardened and are being trained by NATO forces. One of my good friends in the military is going to Spain next month for training.
And the Ukrainians are getting some of the best weapons in the world.
It comes down to this - will the highly-trained, highly-motivated, battle-hardened Ukrainians with the world's best weapons be able to stop what is essentially a zombie apocalypse of Russian bodies coming across the border?
Last year, the Ukraine Freedom Project facilitated Force Recon Marine Tim Ney’s training of Kyiv Territorial Defense volunteers. Because of Tim’s excellent training, several have gone on to special operations units in the Ukraine military.
But more importantly, how many dead Russian sons and husbands will it take before the Russian people express their displeasure with their leadership?
Some scholars say that the 15,000 zinc coffins coming home from Afghanistan greatly contributed to the demise of the Soviet Union.
However, with 9x that number dead in Ukraine, polling shows little change in the Russian attitudes toward the war in the last year.
I am not aware of any anti-war protests generated by the 700,000 recent Russian emigres, although I did meet a handful of nice folks from Russians for Ukraine helping refugees at the Polish border.
Having done a deep dive on Ukrainian history in the last year, the Atlantic Council piece calling this war the last gasps of the Russian Empire resonates with me. Something in the Russian psyche makes them believe they are born to rule.
With that in mind, peace talks while Russian soldiers are in Ukraine are simply a tool to Putin to re-arm.
Here is how I think of it. If Russia lays down its arms and leaves Ukrainian tomorrow, there will be peace. If Ukraine lays down its arms tomorrow, the Russians will plow through the country, slaughtering hundreds of thousands of innocents on their way to threatening Poland.
I hope my view of the situation is helpful. Thanks for your support.Back to Blog