The Ukraine War

I just read a thread on twitter by a German I am following. It appears that Russia and Iran are developing and very tight trade relationship in weapons.

Specifically, Iran is delivering drone and ballistic misiles in return for Russian weapons and captured western weapons. (Iran had a western based military until 1980.) Iran seems to be pretty good at reverse engineering western weapons.

My thoughts turn to this though. How hard would it be to ship 250 pounds of plutonium down the Volga river across the Caspian sea to Tehran?

The following is my uneducated speculation.

Or simply put 10 pounds of well shielded plutonium in each fighter delivered in place of explosives in the missiles attached to the hard points. In a matter of months Iran would be a nuclear power with advanced fighter and long range ballistic missiles tipped with fission weapons.

Back stopped with nuclear weapons, Iran could open a second front against Saudi Arabia.

End personal speculation.

Finally, there are rumors Moscow is going to run an offensive against Kiev. I suspect that sooner is better than later. The ground is not frozen yet, but once it is, an early move would help avoid the mess the Russians faced last spring when the early thaw caught their columns and forced them the paved roads. (Not that hubris was the biggest problem there)

My speculation

I am not convinced that Russia wants to take Kiev, are even a large part of Ukraine. Handing the west a broken country and millions of refugees and a massive energy crisis may be a better outcome than an out right victory. “To the victor goes the spoils” In this case it is more like “To the victor goes the expense”.



I’m certain Putin would like to capture a large part of Ukraine. He’s been framing Ukraine as part of Russia for a couple decades and that is how Russian state media has been framing it as well. Their viewpoint is that Ukraine’s existence is a threat to the Russian state and must be eliminated.

Ukrainian General Valery Zaluzhny gave an excellent interview to the Economist recently. He indicated he believes the Russians will conduct an offensive in the next few months but the offensive will be unsuccessful. He makes it clear he needs more western weapons though. IMO, we should provide them.

That a future offensive would be unsuccessful seems credible based on the NY Times article below examining the state of the war thus far. Russia’s newly mobilized troops are clearly not ready to fight and suffering from morale problems.


I would like a Tartan 34.

I will probably get a Hobie Wave

What I need is neither as both are expensive time consuming and unproductive .

While Putin may want all of Ukraine, he probably realizes he cannot have it, or even control it. He thought he needed to control Ukraine for Russian security. He was wrong. Wars are not fought that way anymore.

I am pretty sure that Putin can give Ukraine to the west. It will probably look like this when he gets finished with it.

Whoever wins this war loses. Ukraine has a disadvantage, they cannot launch large scale strategic attacks against Russia, but Russia is launching large scale strategic attacks. With the 50 percent of the power grid damaged and more to be destroyed, the economy of Ukraine is wrecked. This strips Ukraine of the ability to feed itself, or to pay for arms and munitions. Further, with the power out, it is more difficult to move the arms and munitions that they do acquire.

So in my mind Ukraine never had, and currently does not have the sovereignty that it (and the UN) claimed it had. As such, this is not really a war between Ukraine and Russia, it is a war between the west and Russia. (I am not clear on who in the west is the most interested in prosecuting this war) In any case if the west abruptly with drew support, Ukraine would quickly fall under Russian rule. This would be a disaster for Russia. Their economy would not be able to take the load.

If Russia keeps prosecuting the war as they are, by spring, Ukraine will be completely wrecked. A withdrawal to the regions they held before the war, with maybe a land route to Crimea. would leave the west to pick up pieces while Russia kept a low level insurgency going.

Further, if Iran opens a second front by attacking Saudi Arabia, or ramping up the war in Yemen, or creating more armed insurgencies in Iraq, and they have nuclear weapons to try to keep the USA and Israel out of the conflict, then Russia gains an advantage because they reduce middle east oil shipments, raise the energy input costs for the west and get more for their oil.

The winners from this scenario are the Chinese and Indians who get to buy discounted oil from Russia. Russia will lose anyway. It is like they stabbed themselves in their right leg so they decided to go ahead and stab the left so it would seem like the right did not hurt so bad.

I am not confident that Iran would do so well, they have a border with Turkey. Right now the Turks and the Iranians are avoiding direct conflict why subduing the Kurds, but the west would likely attempt to open a conflict between Turkey and Iran to refocus any war efforts in the Persian gulf. As Turkey is a rising regional power, it may not take a lot of clandestine work to make a conflict between Turkey and Iran happen in Kurdistan.

I say all this show that the headline of a growing arms trade between Russia and Iran may have significant world wide economic repercussions.



Iran is using their getting nuclear weapons as the chip the US will listen to and allow them free trade globally.

Iran does not actually want the weapons.

Iran and SA know they are not mature governments. They are rivals. If Iran gets the bomb then SA has to. Both do not want the bomb in this generation of leadership.

The US needs to get on with bringing Iran back into the western world. We need to stop the dumb blowhard in congress crap.

Iran is supplying the EU with NG this winter. The US is turning a blind eye. A type of lifting of sanctions. There is progress in our talks with Iran but little is really known outside of the private talks. I believe the talks are done through other nations.

Came across this today:

Speaking of Zelensky and Ukraine, you might like this, set to the tune of ‘American Pie’:


Some breaking news: Germany’s chancellor, Olaf Scholz who previously refused to allow Leopard tanks to be sent to Ukraine, not only lifted that restriction but announced that Germany would send 14 Leopard 2A6 tanks. The Leopard 2A6 is a top end tank, with the latest of everything, and widely considered to be one of the best, if not the best, tank in the world. Other countries have said they want to send their Leopards as soon as Germany gives the nod. So I assume that’s a go.

And at almost the same time, the US announced it was sending 50 Abrams M1 tanks, version not specified. In Gulf War I, Abrams tanks obliterated Soviet-era Iraqi tanks. On Twitter, retired General Mark Hertling (who fought in Gulf War I) stated he’d rather have one Abrams than 50 T-72s. That may have been an exaggeration, but he clearly believes Abrams is vastly more capable.

Most experts seem to think it will be a month to two months before these tanks can be delivered and the crews trained. That might be too late for a winter offensive, but in light of previously announced weapons packages this certainly–if not changes–affects the game.


It is interesting news. Do the Russians have anti tank weapons unused to defend their lines? Anyone know?

Can’t say. However, the tanks built by the West do not have the inherent design defect of the Russian tanks.

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I was just in the process of putting together some information, intending to title the post “Ukrainian Tower of Babel, aka a Perkins water pump does not fit an MTU engine.”

At present, the Ukrainian army has a reasonably homogeneous tank force of ex-Soviet hardware: several hundreds of T-64s, T-72s and PT-91s (Polish copy of a T-72), with their existing force being backfilled with captured Russian hardware, and donations from ex-Warsaw Pact NATO members.

So, they have expectations of receiving, from various parties, some 100 Leopards. The “news” tonight announced the POTUS is approving the transfer of 50-M-1s. The Brits have donated 14 Challenger 2s.

Ukraine will have three different models of tanks, in small numbers each, with three different powertrains, to support. At least the M-1’s gun uses the same ammo as the Leopard’s Rheinmetall built gun. The Challengers, that paltry 14 Challengers, don’t even use the same NATO ammo.

Jordan is retiring nearly 400 Challenger 1s. The UK is pouring money into new turrets for 148 Challenger 2s so they can carry the Rheinmetall gun and fire NATO standard ammo. Seems that, in the absence of detailed information. the logical thing would be for the Brits to buy Leopards, and ship their Challenger 2s and the Jordanian Challenger 1 to Ukraine, a package of over 600 tanks with the same engine and use the same ammo.

Steve…bets the Challengers in Ukraine are run until they break, and are quickly abandoned due to the impossibility of supporting them, with the M-1s close behind.



NATO can do the logistics. All along we got some stories of logistical nightmares for Ukraine’s army if they used our tanks. The reality is our logistics will make it possible. And defend those tanks in the field with intelligence on where not to go.

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Well, we will see. I have read that the Brits, in particular, are notorious for being too cheap to buy adequate supplies of spares. I have read that, to keep the Challengers running during Desert Storm, MoD stripped all the other units in the UK and all the parts depots, so the tanks in Iraq could be kept running.

In a war, with hundreds of Ukrainian tanks running around, how will the parts, and the non-NATO standard ammo find those specific 14 tanks? At least the M-1s have ammo compatibility with the Leopards, but not parts for that crazy gas turbine engine. Parts going to the wrong place, at the wrong time, were a running gag during WWII. One of the store managers at RS spent weeks trying to get the right part for a CB base antenna. He ended up having almost enough of the wrong parts to build another complete antenna.


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All that is needed for is for one to three battles to be decided in the next five months. Maybe more if the tanks survive that long. The life expectancy may be very mixed results. The battles have to be won. Once in place some of the tanks might not even move for a few weeks. In case of a Russian attack along the lines a tank is a big repellent.

“It’s Costing Peanuts for the U.S. to Defeat Russia.” Timothy Ash, an associate fellow in the Russia and Eurasia program at Chatham House, argued in a guest post that “from numerous perspectives, when viewed from a bang-per-buck perspective, U.S. and Western support for Ukraine is an incredibly cost-effective investment… A Russia continually mired in a war it cannot win is a huge strategic win for the U.S. Why would anyone object to that?”

The cost of the war thus far is not, contrary to Ash, “peanuts.” The U.S. support for Ukraine in 2022 amounted to $68 billion, and the White House requested another $34 billion. In comparison, the war in Afghanistan cost $23 billion per year in its first two years. In 2011, at the height of the surge, the war cost $107 billion. The Iraq War cost $54.4 billion and $91.5 billion in its first two years, respectively. According to the Cost of War project at Brown University, the failed global “war on terror” cost $8 trillion and caused more than 900,000 deaths over the course of 20 years.

Let’s hope this foreign adventure turns out better than Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria & Libya interventions. Just think on how much the trillions could have improved the US power grid, refurbishing bridges, roads and rail beds.

an aside:

Mr Zelensky said he was “sincerely grateful” to Germany for Berlin’s “important and timely” decision to provide Kyiv with battle tanks.

But the number promised was expected to fall short of the 300 being requested by Kyiv, though this may well soon be ratcheted up.

Best not to be too stingy in giving tanks as the Ukrainians will not likely be able to maintain them and the offensive will fail if there are not enough tanks.

Support within US is ebbing for the Ukraine War due to cost.

Support for financing Ukraine’s defenses is showing [cracks among the public]****(, as the number of Americans who believe the U.S. is doing too much for Ukraine rose from 6 percent in March to 30 percent in November.

February 19, New Anti-Interventionist Coalition To March to White House From Lincoln Memorial.

The above protest is getting no coverage from the Main Stream Media. I suppose they will have to cover the story if significant numbers of folks show up on February 19th.

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That would change very quickly when (not if) the US military had to send combat troops–and the talk of a draft to meet military manpower needs began. MY kids drafted? Suddenly, things change a LOT.

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This is a Red Herring argument. Those are different conflicts with different goals, motivations, and likely outcomes.

I believe supporting Ukraine is indeed costing us peanuts. A large portion of our military (and therefore military budget) is devoted to act as foil to Russia. Not only is the equipment being used for its intended purposes, our allies are also stepping up with lots of support, and the best part is US soldiers don’t have to do the fighting. This is a bargain. And top of that, most of the equipment we’re sending is made by US manufacturers, so we actually get to keep the money.


I suspect many recognize that those other wars were at Shiny-land’s discretion. The Iraqi op in particular driven by disinformation. All cases, save Syria, it is clearly understood who was the aggressor.

There is no doubt who the aggressor is in Ukraine. It is an interesting conceit that opposition to aggression is only justified if it is profitable in dollars and cents.



The munitions and equipment will need to be replaced. That will require more government revenue expenditures…so more taxes.

Some of it will need to be replaced. But for example, the HUMVEE is already in the process of being partially retired, so instead of sending them to the scrapyard we can send them to Ukraine (which I assume is what is being done). The Pentagon has been saying for three decades they don’t want or need any more M1 Abrams, yet Congress keeps buying them anyway. So presumably we’re just sending the ones that Pentagon doesn’t want and they don’t need to be replaced either.

On the upside if this goes well, Russia will be destroyed as a military force for a couple decades. That will reduce our defense needs a lot.


Zeihan cheery look at the war. He points out Ukrainians are vastly outnumbered. They can not slug it out with the Russians. They need to inflict 4 to 5 times the number of casualties to reach parity. The Ukrainians have to make the war about maneuver & movement. The Russian plan is to stack large numbers on the front & attack late spring/early summer on a broad front with the hope that the Ukrainians will not have sufficient troops to repel & be overwhelmed. And the Russians will shift targeting from the energy grid to agricultural targets. The suffering will extend to Africa & South Asia as wheat exports will be diminished if not ended from Ukraine.
This war is not close to the ending. And if the war goes south on Zelensky I doubt he will hesitate in requesting bodies from the US & NATO. Then what?

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LOL I’d wager the US defense budget will continue to rise into perpetuity. It is in the interest of our defense industry & military to find threat to fund new increasing costly/complicated weapon platforms to our nation. The defense industry hires retired generals/admirals to lobby former colleagues and the K street lobbyists stuffs wads of cash… err… campaign contribution into legislators pockets to buy them. There will NEVER be a peace dividend. Too many rice bowls depend on perpetual war.

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