Regathering of the Russian Lands

Regathering of the Russian Lands. By Anatoly Karlin, written a week before the war started. So much here that the western press either doesn’t know or isn’t telling us.

As of today, Russia has concentrated ~70% of its land and missile forces (105 out of 169 Battalion Tactical Groups (BTGs), with 14 more on the way even as the “exercises” wind down) and ~50% of its airpower in a ring of steel around Ukraine. In so doing, it has stripped its military presence in the Far Eastern MD [Military District] to a level unseen even in the desperate last months of 1941. …

Russia wants to regain Ukraine before it becomes too westernized and anti-Russian:

Although Russia still has a window of opportunity to reintegrate Ukraine, it is steadily closing over the years, as Ukraine phases out Russian language instruction in its schools and rebuilds its identity as an “Anti-Russia”. This year might well be Russia’s last good opportunity to do so after it missed 2014 …

Sanctions are a cost worth bearing:

Russia has spent the past eight years insulating its economy from sanctions through import substitution and pursuing tight fiscal and monetary policies, which allowed it to build up a formidable war chest of $600 billion in foreign currency reserves.

In any case, most of the sanctions that could be imposed on Russia cheaply have either already been implemented, or are simply absurd (Russian vatniks will be very sad if Navalny-supporting hipsters were to lose access to the latest iPhone models… maybe not), or are downright impractical, like cutting off its oil exports or cutting it off from the Internet (a popular Reddit fantasy). Even SWIFT is ultimately just a financial messaging system and its removal will just be an inconvenience.

Ultimately, Russia has a 2x bigger population, much bigger GDP, and far more developed technological base than Iran, and as Iran mostly gets by, it’s unclear why Russia should be expected to do worse.

Furthermore, it’s not like Russia has no capacity to retaliate. European “green energy” boondoggles have resulted in spiking gas prices this winter, so their capacity to sanction Russia is limited …

Militarily, this will be uneven and swift:

From a military perspective, Russia still enjoys absolute superiority over Ukraine. …

[The Ukrainian military] is not built to refight the Third Battle of Kharkov. The Russian military is not a militia which will considerately engage the Ukrainians in infantry vs. infantry battles, as in the Donbass. Nor will it even be a war of tanks, infantry, and artillery as in World War II. This war will be defined by precision-guided Russian rocket and tube artillery, ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, and fighter jets pummeling any enemy concentrations that offer up resistance, breaking them and subsequently sweeping them up, in an environment in which Russia enjoys total air and electronic warfare (EW) supremacy.

Any military force that is not either strongly ideological (e.g. the various Neo-Nazi battalions) or held together by draconian discipline … will disintegrate within hours, if not minutes. ...

Now yes, conquering Ukraine would have been much easier back in 2014, when the Ukrainian Army had virtually ceased to exist as a coherent force for a few months. Conversely, it is much easier now than it likely will be in another eight years, in 2030. Due to nationalist pressure in domestic politics, any hypothetical Ukrainian regime will remain committed to recovering the Donbass, and the growth of its military potential will force Russia to commit more and more of its own military power to safeguard the Donbass over the next decade or two. This is not a pleasant situation in a world in which Russia’s own relative military capabilities are likely to decline vis-a-vis the two leading superpowers.

Ukrainian sympathies for Russia are strong:

Finally, despite assiduous Ukrainization efforts, it must be noted that its results are as yet ambiguous. …

A solid majority of Ukrainians use the Russian language in their daily life and 41% of Ukrainians agree with Putin’s claim that they and Russians are “one people.” In a recent poll, 33% of Ukrainians claimed they would put up armed resistance if Russia invades; remarkably, this would mean basically no change relative to a similar poll carried out in April 2014. …

Online bravado aside, it’s already clear that Ukrainians are smart enough to recognize that their prospects in a war with the “country-aggressor” are quite hopeless. Their oligarchs are fleeing in private planes. If the Ukrainians were serious about preparing for a Russian invasion, they would be dispersing their air defense assets, and moving their units to more defensible positions. None of this is happening.

What is happening is larp [live action role play] photo op after larp photo op, featuring sturdy grannies being trained by Nazis, middle-aged women with rifles that cost several months’ worth of paychecks, pretty girls in makeup brandishing guns…, tacticool squares who are wearing masks outside which basically nobody in Eastern Europe does (will Russian soldiers social distance?), young kids with wooden toy guns… they even found a POC boy to showcase disassembling a gun for the intersectional part of their intended demographic i.e. Americans.

Now might be an apt time to mention that there are jokers who believe Ukrainians are going to fight an insurgency against Russia. That’s right. They believe that Ukrainian hipsters in rainbow masks who use their cell phones every hour (i.e. will be monitored by SORM 24/7), in a country with a Total Fertility Rate of 1.3 children per woman, with de facto open borders with Poland, are going to fight an “urban war” against many of their own Russophile countrymen and siloviks. It’s too ridiculous to comment.

Embargoes?

Is Putin going senile? Isn’t he worrying that his oligarchs will have their yachts and football clubs confiscated? (Spoiler: That’s a feature, not a bug). …

Why, Mr Putin? It’s the people, stupid — something the West no longer understands. (In contrast, the US is importing 2m people per year along its unguarded southern border, but its ruling class does not understand that they are not blank slates.)

The value of Ukraine is not in its territory, nor less its sovok rustbelt industries, nor even less its position on the invasion route to Moscow (spoiler: We live in the ICBM age).

Ukraine’s value is, forgive the triteness, in its people, or its human capital — namely, 35 million 95+ IQ people who are very close to and compatible with Russians, who are indeed an intrinsic part of the All Russian nation.

Now if Russia was prepared to expend a rather high cost in welfare funds and knock on effects on integrating 1.5 million genuinely quite “alien” Chechens, then paying a drastically more modest price (per capita) for 35 million of its own kith and kin is eminently rational.

Although Russia’s 145 million people can still generate sufficient economies of scale to maintain political sovereignty and to run a largely self-contained technological civilization, complete with its own IT ecosystem (read: sovereign memetic space, “socially distanced” from the Woke nihilism of the West), space program, and technological visions. But creating and then sustaining such a world-civilization will certainly be considerably easier in a restored “Russian World” that unites Russians, Belorussians, and Ukrainians under one banner in a Slavic superpower of 200 million people stretching from Brest to Vladivostok.

Predictions:

Russia’s goals seem to be maximalist. It is possible we see the occupation of most or all of Ukraine …

The duration of the conflict will depend on the extent to which Ukrainian soldiers are prepared to fight. In conventional models, it will take several weeks, with a few thousand Russian casualties and several 10,000’s of Ukrainian casualties. However, given those very disparities — inevitable given Russia’s vast preponderance in materiel, mobility, and technology — I suspect there’s a very good chance that the collapse might happen much quicker.

By moving its Embassy to Lvov, the US has already implicitly acknowledged that Russia will win, so the correct game theory move for Ukrainian soldiers is to follow their own oligarchs into defection and accept the 2-3x salary increase from joining the Russian Army.

So far, reports of the war seem to bear out his prediction.

Nowhere in western commentary have I seen the obvious  explanation presented here, that Putin is doing this — despite the inevitable opprobrium and sanctions — primarily because in the long run it is worth it to regain “35 million 95+ IQ people who are very close to and compatible with Russians, who are indeed an intrinsic part of the All Russian nation.”

Putin presumably sees it as rescuing people from captivity by toxic Western influences and returning them to the Russian family. Or something like that.

The ruling class in the west no longer thinks like this, and ruthlessly stomps out any commentary that IQ matters, that blood is thicker than water, or that serfs are not interchangeable blank slates. A clash of civilizations indeed.