We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Challenger tanks are no panacea

Like many Brits the fact that we were the first to promise to supply Ukraine with modern main battle tanks was a source of tremendous pride. And Jingoism. Let Putin eat British lead, depleted uranium, HESH etc,. Rule Britannia, Britannia rule the steppes etc,.

Luckily, the YouTuber Matsimus has come along to pour a bucket of cold water – mixed in with a few unpleasant substances that one wouldn’t want to mention on a family blog – over any triumphalism that might be in the air. Sure, the Challenger 2 can be a very capable tank, but it is not invulnerable – especially in the configuration that the Ukrainians will receive – and keeping it in the field will be no cakewalk.

Samizdata quote of the day – Росію необхідно перемогти edition

Putin’s insecurity might start with anxiety about his personal future, but he has extended this into a vision for Russia that involves a permanent struggle with the West and its liberalism. There is little NATO can do about this vision except to ensure Russia’s defeat in Ukraine. Trenin’s bleak logic works both ways. There is no turning back for either side. Putin’s future and that of his inner circle is a matter for the Russian elite. The fragmentation of the Russian Federation is not, despite allegations, desired by Western governments in that this would be a source of yet more upset and instability. By and large they would prefer that Russia held together – but again this is not up to them. Moscow’s decision to use outlying regions as a source of military recruits to pursue a catastrophic war means that it will have to cope with the consequences. Whether or not an alternative liberal and democratic vision for Russia can develop in the future, upon which any more stable European security order depends, will also be up to Russians. The West can help if there is something to work with for the consequences of continued chaos and anger will be dire, but the first requirement will be a different sort of leader in the Kremlin, with a strong enough political base to confront the harsh reality of Russia’s situation. In the end the biggest threats to Russian security do not lie outside its borders but inside its capital.

Lawrence Freedman

A soldier returns Part I

Lindybeige (1.2m YouTube subscribers) hardly needs our endorsement but this interview with a British member of the Ukrainian Foreign Legion is excellent. Organisation, disorganisation, treachery, office politics, death, Walter Mittys, mess tins, big bangy things, tea; it’s got it all, apart from Part II.

Samizdata quote of the day

Russia has always been a colonial power in denial. While conquering and ruling multitudes, it insisted that—in contrast with violent Western conquests—the indigenous peoples themselves sought Russian protection and that Russian rule was benign. This gap between rhetoric and reality is evident in the country’s current designation as a “Russian Federation”.

Michael Khodarkovsky.

Samizdata quote of the day

I don’t want to take anything away from the Ukrainians, who have basically been a banner case of military transformation, but it also helps that the Russians are really, really bad at the whole “war that involves more than bombing hospitals” thing.

Adot Crawley

Discussion point: what do you think of the apparent sabotage of Nord Stream 1 and 2?

On February 7th, Joe Biden said, “If Russia invades…then there will be no longer a Nord Stream 2. We will bring an end to it.”

Today the Guardian reports: “Fears of sabotage as gas pours into Baltic from Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines”

Was it sabotage? If so, who did it and was it a good thing to do?

Samizdata quote of the day

The alternative to the cornering and humiliation of Russia would be for the United States and its allies to halt or reduce their aid to Ukraine and impose a stalemate. But that would mean delivering a victory to Russia, because it would still hold more Ukrainian territory than it did in 2014 and would have gone unpunished for pervasive war crimes, including mass murder. In three or four years, a rearmed Russia, thirsting for revenge for the losses and defeats it has suffered, would do the same thing again, and against a dispirited Ukraine. If that were to happen, it would be an utter disaster for American policy and Western security. Such an imposed stalemate would be profoundly immoral, but equally to the point, it would be profoundly stupid.

So this is indeed a dangerous moment, because Putin will inevitably find himself humiliated and cornered and may very well look for a way to lash out. But as General James Wolfe said before storming the heights of Quebec in 1759, war is an option of difficulties. The error lies in thinking that one can titrate the application of violence to achieve exquisitely precise results. To the extent that the West continues to attempt to do so, it will merely ensure more mass graves like those of Bucha and Izyum, and more soldiers lying limbless or in the burn wards of Ukrainian military hospitals. So now, as ever, Churchill’s observation that courage is the virtue that makes all others possible holds, particularly for the leaders of the embattled West. Zelensky could not put it better himself.

Eliot Cohen

Pondering the ongoing Ukrainian counter-offensive

Here is an interesting thread about the ongoing Ukrainian counter-offensive by Mick Ryan.

Ukraine’s counter-offensives – “Seven months from Kyiv to Kharkiv”

Yet another outstanding dissertation from Perun looking at the big picture. It is long but jam packed with good analysis.

Recommended.

Well he does have a point…

The next version of the Stugna software is going to have a “share to social media” button on the screen

– ‘Disruptive Politics

The breakthrough continues

These maps become out of date by the time I post them (Izyum has actually fallen it seems).

The general directly presiding over this astonishing display of operational art is General Oleksandr Syrskyi, who along with his boss Valerii Zaluzhnyi is going to be much studied in the future.

See larger version of this excellent map by Martinn

A Russian military disaster unfolding

The news from Ukraine is so remarkable, I have spent three days oscillating between exuberance and sceptical incredulity of the claims of a huge penetration of Russian lines. But now there are images of Ukrainian infantry on the edge of Kupyansk, a crucial strategic rail junction, others showing units on the banks of the Oskil river. This suggests that in three days, the Ukrainians have come close to undoing what took Russia four bloody months to achieve.

This graphic is already out of date, with video evidence showing Ukrainian mechanised forces approaching Izyum from the north.

Having drawn Russian reserves and focus towards Kherson to face a much announced offensive, Valerii Zaluzhnyi appears to have totally played his opposite number: Ukraine has struck with a fast moving combined arms offensive on a completely different section of the front, achieving near complete tactical and operational surprise. Astonishing.

Update: Ukrainian infantry in Kupyansk, and next to the town hall. Last week it was 60km behind the frontline.

Update again: claims that Ukraine has taken Lyman, which if true suggests at least possibility of Russia retreat a considerable distance away from the Ukrainian axis of advance north of Izyum. However treat as RUMINT at this stage until we see OSINT pictures & videos.