Ukraine IV: Adding Context to What You're Seeing on the TV Networks
In Part IV We Delve into the Weapons of War, Current Scorecard, Media & Morale
March 21, 2022 / NYC Neighborhoods / News Analysis & Opinion / Gotham Buzz NYC.
I found the map at right on Al Jazeera, an Islamic news site founded in Qatar, which is located in the Persian Gulf, about 2150 miles south of Crimea. It provided more detail than most other maps I found, showing the status of the cities and nearby lands.
Recap of Parts I, II & III
We began this series immediately after the Russian invasion of the Ukraine, in order to better understand ourselves what was going on, because it was difficult to find anything on the American television networks that seemed to provide a solidly contextual view of the evolving situation.
Thus, in Part I, I looked at the size of the populations and economies, a brief look at recent history, the changing borders defining the Ukraine, and the warped, fascist-leaning coverage, of Australian-born, billionaire propagandist, Rupert Murdoch's Fox News.
In Part II, I looked at some of the geography and topography of the Ukraine, its strategic value to Russia because of the north / south Dnieper River which begins in Smolensk Russia and empties into the warm water Black, again provided a bit deeper dive into Ukrainian history and the role of the Cossacks in the Russian Revolution, WWI and WWII [some of which Putin has been trying to leverage in his propaganda campaign], stumbled upon and looked into Putin's incredible alleged corruption and his $1.4 billion grand palace overlooking a resort town of the Black Sea, how Putin's crony corruption and Russian army conscription of primarily poor people appears to help explain the Russian army's failures since the war began, and how Americans - who appear to be Putin enablers and apologists - have been disrupting our response to the crisis, and distorting the information the American people are getting.
Since before Putin's Russia invaded the Ukraine, Tucker Carlson has appeared to be a Putin toadie. This is no surprise as Tucker visited Viktor Orban in Hungary last year, because Joe Biden called Orban a thug. Again President Biden appears to know what he's talking about as according to Wikipedia,
"... Because of Orbán's curtailing of press freedom, erosion of judicial independence and undermining of multiparty democracy, many political scientists and watchdogs consider Hungary to have experienced democratic backsliding during Orbán's tenure. Orbán's attacks on the European Union, while accepting its money and funneling it to his allies and family have also led to characterizations of his government as a kleptocracy..."
In one of Carlson's broadcasts the Tucker rhetorically states that,
"... anything less than hating Putin is treason ...".
Tucker then goes on to attack those who don't think Putin is such a great guy, blaming "the elites or the liberals or the Democrats" for pushing us around. This is the same old tired narrative Carlson uses in show, after show, after show - and yet somehow all of those 'bright people' who watch him don't tire of it. Carlson's multi-billionaire, Australian born boss - global propagandist Rupert Murdoch - has been using that narrative [blame the elities] since at least the 1960's, to undermine English-speaking democracies around the globe, in order to enrich and empower himself, in a manner comparable to Putin - but more slowly and insidiously, and with fewer casualties.
Hey, You Dumb Tucker, Putin is a War Criminal - Women & Children Dead
So, to answer the Tucker's question, why should we hate Putin, I've included a few photos of Putin's recent handiwork. At right and below is an man injured by Putin's goons, followed by another man that Putin's goons killed, and further down is one of many locations, housing some of the 3.5 million Ukrainian refuges fleeing the war. Another 6 million Ukrainians have been displaced within their own nation. And countless others have been murdered by Putin's unprovoked invasion and war.
It's worth noting that within the past two weeks, Putin's goons have bombed a maternity hospital, a theater housing children and a number of schools - all in Mariupol which is located in southern Ukraine along the Black Sea, as well as a shopping center in Kyiv. None of these targets were military, all of them housed women, and at least three of the four locations housed children. So, to answer Tucker's question, the reason we might not like Putin is because he's a murderous war criminal, who continues to be aided and abetted by Tuckers like you, and your billionaire boss, Rupert Murdoch, who controls Fox News ... because of your deceitful and distorted reporting of the news - including omissions of some of the information and photos provided here. The photos above right was shown on Amanpour & Company, a news hour that provides very informative interviews, and below right was shown on CBS Face the Nation, a Sunday News program.
- CLICK here to read the rest of our report on the Russian Ukrainian War - Weapons, Tucker Carlson & Vladimir Putin Love Affair, Putin's Alleged War Crimes, Nuclear Warheads, Hypersonic & Other Missiles, Aircraft, Tanks, Stingers, Javelins, NLAWs, Russian Navy issues in Black Sea, Kamikaze & Turkish Drones, Army Sizes, Logistics, Casualties and Morale.
And in Part III, I explore some of the demographics of the Ukraine, provide more visibility on Putin's alleged corruption - this time a near $1 billlion yacht [about $750 million], discuss what Biden is talking about when he says he wants to avert WWIII because 1) Russia has thelargest nuclear arsenal in the world [we're a close #2 and with NATO allies remain are at parity in numbers], and 2) Russia and China recently signed a pact to Hitler's and Stalin's 1939 Pact of Steel which preceded the beginnning of WWII, compare Australian born billionaire Rupert Murdoch's War in Iraq under the guise of removing WMD [Weapons of Mass Destruction] to Putin's attempted false flag operations of saving the Ukrainians from Nazis. Both were lies and / or intended deceits. And lastly, I begin to talk about weaponry and the military battle.
Part IV - Weapons of War, Current Scorecard, Morale & the End of 'Putin the Great'?
In Part IV, I look into the weaponry being used in the war, as well as how the weaponry balance is playing out on the battlefield, the reportedly low morale of the Russian army, and Putin's use of Russian media.
It's difficult to accurately assess the probability of this at this time, but there's a small chance that could grow with time, that the Russian people who are fighting this unnecessary war - designed to glorify, enrich and empower the man who started it - will rebel and throw the Putin-Devil out of office, in a manner not unlike how the Italians fired Dictator Il Duce Benito Mussolini, or the French deposed the dictator King Louis XVI.
The end of Putin 'the Great' [or so Vladimir thinks], or as former President Donald Trump calls him, Putin 'the Genius'. I call him Putin the Indecent Idiot. Time will tell who's right.
The photo at right shows one of the many refuge locations housing 10 million displaced Ukrainians.
Weapons being Used in the Ukraine War
I've spent a fair amount of time researching the war capabilities of both the Ukraine and the Russian Federation in order to provide you with an overview of the weapons situation. Please be advised that this information is taken piecemeal from open source websites, that I believe to generally reliable, and consolidated herein. While I have cross referenced most - if not all of the information provided herein - I suggest you view this information as directionally correct, but possibly containing informational gaps, in a fast-moving and very dynamic conflict. That said, I believe what's reported herein to be at least as reliable as what the corporate TV networks are reporting.
Russian Federation Capabilities at the Beginning of Putin's War - Nuclear Warheads
At the outset of the invasion, Putin's war machine was believed to be one of the most powerful armies in the world. Both super powers [the U.S. and Russia] have significant land, sea and air nuclear warhead capability.
The most deadly weapons in Putin's arsenal are somewhere between 6,000 and 6,500 nuclear warheads, of which about 1,600 are actively deployed nuclear warheads. The estimates of the U.S. nuclear arsenal don't vary much and are estimated at about 5,500 nuclear warheads, of which about 1,600 are actively deployed. The U.S. strategic allies, namely France and Britain, make up the difference in the number of nuclear warheads held by the west, versus the Russian Federation.
In the graphic at right, you can see a missile being launched from an American submarine. The missile can easily be mounted with a nuclear warhead, should WWIII break out.
InterContinental Missiles vs Hypersonic Missiles - Speed and Targeting
The intercontinental nuclear missiles of each nation travel far faster than the vaunted hypersonic missiles, two of which were used by Russia last week BUT THEY WERE NOT MOUNTED WITH NUCLEAR BOMBS BUT RATHER TRADITIONAL BOMBS. The hypersonic missiles can travel at about five times the speed of sound [Mach 5], which is about 3,800 miles per hour, while intercontinental missiles can travel at speeds ranging from 4,800 to 6,000 mph, so intercontinental missiles are far faster. The strategic difference between the hypersonic missiles and the intercontinental missiles is that intercontinental missiles travel on an expected trajectory, while the target of hypersonic missiles can be changed after firing. This makes the hypersonic missiles harder to intercept or shoot down ... theoretically.
The graphic at right shows a Kinzai hypersonic missile mounted on a Russian jet. Russia fired two of them into Ukraine last week.
The U.S. has been testing hypersonice missiles and one is expected to be ready for use sometime this year. Also, the hypersonic missiles developed by Russia are reported to have a limited range of about 1,200 - 1,600 miles, which puts most of western Europe within Russia's air and land hypersonic reach - but not the U.S. The only possibility of the U.S. being hit by a nuclear hypersonic missile would be if they were launched by submarine, which Russia said they did in October 2021 according to The Hill. That said, the U.S. and Europe have nuclear capability in Europe, which would shorten the nuclear strike time to Moscow / St. Petersburg and other parts of Russia by NATO forces.
Let's assume and hope that even Putin isn't crazy enough to go there.
But that said, given Putin's nuclear sabre rattling, and the manner in which he's backed himself into a corner, a nuclear war is not out of the realm of possibilities and the threat must be taken seriously, which President Biden has done. Posthumously, Putin would go down in history as the first dictator on the planet, to ever use a nuclear weapon, and in an attempt to further an offensive war, in an effort to glorify himself. But like other dictators in the 20th century who tried to glorify themselves by starting wars instead of doing their jobs, and solving the nation's and people's problems, Putin would go down in history as a Global War Criminal, not unlike Adolph Hitler.
The fascist-leaning propagandists of Fox News appear to have no conception of any of the above - or just don't care - given what they say in their dumb-down-the-American-electorate programs, which largely seem hellbent at undermining President Biden's steady hand, and the will of the American people to help free peoples defend themselves against a ruthless invading dictator.
Aircraft & Non-Nuclear Missiles - Taking Command of the Air Space
It's been obvious for weeks now, that the Russians haven't been able to take command of the Ukrainian airspace. This is in spite of the Russians reportedly have about 4,500 air craft [including their naval capability]. Reports, early in the war, indicated that about 600 of the aircraft had been deployed to enable the Ukraine invasion.
By contrast the Ukrainians have about 275 air craft, of which all are being used. Thus, the Ukrainians airforce representing less than ten percent the size of the Russians. The U.S. has 15,000 aircraft, which is between three and four times as many of the Russians. It's worth noting that oftentimes the Russian equipment figures are believed to include very old weaponry, which may not be useable in modern warfare.
In the two graphics at right you can see the Russia SU 35 fighter plane [above] and the Russian MIG 29 used by the Ukrainians [below]. The MIG 29 is an older, gas guzzling plane which is a bit less maneuverable - but nonetheless still highly effective, as the Ukrainians have shown.
The Russian Federation occupies a land mass three times the size of the U.S. So all of the Russian's air power cannot be deployed to the Ukraine, without leaving Russia vulnerable to significant exposure along its long Asian border, which includes former Soviet Republics, some of which have fallen back under the heavy-handed influence of dictator Putin's Russian rule. Chechnya and Georgia, suffered rollbacks of their self determination since Putin became the dictator president. I am sure those republics, and possibly others like Kazakstan, are watching closely, as this could be an opportunity for all of them to reassert their independence from Putin. Not to mention, an opportunity for the Russian people to finally rid themselves of being governed by self-serving, ruthless dictators.
The No Fly Zone Calculus - American Stingers Help Save the Day
As of March 14, 2022, the Ukrainian military told CNN that they had shot down 77 Russian aircraft and 90 helicopters. A March 16, 2022 article in Forbes explained why the Russians have lost so many aircraft in such a short period of time, telling us that the Russian air force isn't designed like the American air force and has limited guided missile technology, so they are forced to fly low in order to hit their targets. Because they must fly low, the Ukrainians have been effective in shooting them down with the U.S. made stinger missiles and javelins which can be carried by one or two men crews and launched from almost anywhere.
The javelins have guided missile technology and a range of 5 miles so they can hit lower flying planes and do considerable damage / take them out. The stingers have a 3 mile range and infrared guidance system and are good for taking out helicopters and tanks. Both are light weight [about 40 lbs for the launcher] and the warheads weigh only a few lbs., so they can show up almost anywhere. Reportedly, the Ukrainans success with them has demoralized the Russian army, half of whom are poor, younger Russians who have been drafted into the Russian military to do Putin's killing.
In the graphic at right you see a javelin handheld missile which are being used by the Ukrainians to thwart the Russian invasion of their nation.
As such and noted above, the Russians have been unable to take control of the Ukrainian air space, which is why Putin has resorted to what seems indiscriminate missile bombing of Ukrainian cities - increasingly from missile sites located on Russian soil. Between March 5th and March 17th, the estimated number of missiles fired by the Russians rose from about 500 to nearly 1,100. Because the Russians have pulled back on flying missions over the Ukraine and resorted to missile bombings from their own territory, U.S. President Biden has told the Ukrainians that America would NOT enforce a 'No Fly Zone'.
Biden has taken this position firmly and from the start, because to do so, the Russian missile sites would have to be destroyed in order to ensure the safety of American pilots, and that would mean knocking out sites on Russian soil. This would essentially bring the U.S. directly into the conflict with Russia, in an escalation of direct confrontation by the world's two largest nuclear powers. Hence his short statement that this would lead to WWIII.
In the photo at right you see the nuclear cloud billowing above Hiroshima in 1945 following the detonation of one of the first and only nuclear bombs used on humanity. The human and structural damage were unbelievable, and the bombs today are many times more powerful.
The majority of Americans agree with Biden's approach, but Murdoch's Fox News uses Biden's American restraint against the President whenever they can to undermine the President. And sometimes, it seems, that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky doesn't help the man who is helping him the most. I understand Zelensky's position, because I see all the damage being done to the Ukraine, but I also understand Biden's position on this, because this sort of tragedy could be multiplied many times - if the war escalates. But Murdoch's Fox News propagandists - the Kremlin's and Putin's Choice - don't talk about things in a fair and balance manner. In fact, they do just the opposite.
Russian Tank Busters - British NLAWS & American Javelins & Stingers
The Russians reportedly have upwards of 12,000 tanks on paper. But, as noted above, oftentimes the Russian statistics are made to look better than they are, because they hang on to old equipment. Of those 12,500 or so tanks they have, about 2,500 are reportedly ready for modern warfare.
The Ukrainian military told CNN in a March 14, 2022 report that they had destroyed or captured about 400 of the Russian tanks. Note that these statistics provided by the Ukrainian military are believed to be optimistic, as they have not been verified independently, but usually within a week or two later, such numbers are verified - but could include more recent activity.
Here again there's an explanation as to why the Russians aren't faring so well. Again it has to do with modern American and western European weaponry. In this case, it's a mix of NLAWS [Next Generation Light Anti-Tank Weapons] made in Britain, along with the American made stingers and javelins - all of which are essentially short range bombs, that can be fired by a one or two man team from almost anywhere. As mentioned above, the successes of the Ukrainians with these weapons has demoralized the Russian army, half of whom are young, generally poorer people draftees.
In the photo above right is a Russian tank graveyard in Ukraine, made possible by the American made javelins.
Is the Russian Navy in the Black Sea Waiting for Reinforcements?
The Russian fleet is estimated to include about 350 ships. The Ukrainians have about one ship and a number of smaller, lighter boats. One of the reasons Putin invaded the Crimean Penninsula in 2014, was to get its deep water port at Sevastapool. There are reportedly about 21 Russian ships floating off shore just west of Sevastapool and south of Odessa, likely in preparation for the siege of that city.
The Russian Navy Stalled in the Mediterranean Because Turkey, a NATO member, Denied Passage through the Bosporous to the Black Sea After the War Began
In late January 2022, the U.S. Naval Institute observed that about half of the Russian navy, or 141 ships from their Black Sea, Baltic and Northern stations were activated for exercises. This is consistent with the Russians lining up troops along the Ukrainian border around the same, shortly before invading.
Around January 21, 2022 about six of Russia's Baltic fleet headed for the Black Sea, passing through the Bosporous Straits with Turkey's permission, because there wasn't any war at the time. But when Putin's planners decided they wanted to reinforce their naval ships already in the Black Sea, after the war was underway, Turkey denied them permission to pass through. At present there is reportedly at least a dozen or more Russian ships loitering in the Mediterranean, with many at least four more from Vladivostock on their way.
There was a treaty signed by Russia and NATO, whereby it was agreed that any military vessel passing through the Bosporous Straits, which connects the Black Sea to the Mediterranean, must obtain permission from Turkey. Turkey is a NATO member. There is an exception to this agreement and that is that ships may return to the home base of any of the nations bordering the Black Sea.
The map above right shows the Mediterranean Sea [lower left], the Black Sea [center right] and the Bosporous Straits connects the two at Istanbul, Turkey. Also you can see the old Soviet Republics, including the Ukraine, sharing the Black Sea with Russia. If Putin is successful, many analysts think his ambition to become a conquering leader will - like Hitler's - be insatiable.
Are the Four Russian Ships Heading to the Black Sea, to Help Those Russian Ships Loitering in the Mediterranean, Blast Their Way Thru the Bosporous Straits?
Japan reported last week that four large Russian ships had left Vladivostok, which lies due west of Alaska, across the Bering Straits, heading south. It was believed they were heading to the Black Sea to join the other Russian Navy ships stalled in the Mediterranean. Is Putin going to try to force his way through and escalate the war to take on NATO?
It seems the Ukrainians, to the extent they can muster the resource, should send a few commando teams to Odessa and / or Mariupol, to devise a way to take out some or all of those 21 Russian ships [according to CNN on 3/23/22] which are sitting an estimated 20 to 50 miles south of Odessa and west of Sevastapol, in the Black Sea. Torpedoes, sea mines, water bikes, scuba divers, submersibles, mini-submarines, javelins and switchblade drones all seem like possible weapons, but based on my research they'll need to put a half dozen or more holes in those ships to sink them.
In the photo at right, you see Russian Naval ships in the Black Sea conducting military exercises back in April of 2021 in preparation for 'Putin's War'.
Turkish Drones & American Aid Package that Includes Switchblade Drones
The Ukrainians had purchased a number of Turkish drones which the Ukrainians have effectively used for reconnaisance. I believe the Ukrainians may use other drones too. Last week, with the passage of the spending bill by Congress, the Ukrainains will soon get their hands on what are called switchblade drones.
The switchblade drones can be used like normal drones, or turned into kamikaze droids, to take out tanks, supplies or whatever. They have a six mile range, can fly as high as 15,000 feet, are light weight like the stingers and javelins, and guided by the operator - which is added capability vis a vis the latter mentioned weapons.
The Russians have just started stepping up their use of drones, having not used them much following the beginning of the war. And the Russians are said to have moved aircraft to help in the bombing of Mariupol in the south, as they were being driven away by Ukrainians armed with stingers and javelins in Kyiv and Karkhiv in the north. Sending some of the newly authorized American and British supply of stingers, NLAWS, javelins and drones to Mariupol would seem an obvious and quick hole to fill in the Ukrainian military defense. Strategically the loss of Mariupol would enable Russian forces to congeal along the southern Ukrainian border, enabling and facilitating the possible Russian onslaught of Odessa.
The graphic above right shows a Switchblade drone, which becomes a highly maneuverable, highly capable kamikaze bomber.
Army Sizes, Casualties, Strategy, Logistics & Low Russian Morale
Putin's intelligence in planning the war was obviously way off the mark - underestimating both the will of the Ukrainian people and the will and unity of the NATO Alliance. This was followed up on by poor strategic planning, by dividing his troops to encircle two thirds of the nation, thus opening up multiple fronts which he couldn't support. And Putin's Russian army has also been plagued by logistical problems - partly arising out of the strategic failures, but also because of equipment failures or sub performance, inadequately resourcing the supply lines, underestimating the resistance and low morale.
The headline at right was published in the third week of the invasion, showing how badly bogged down the Russian troops were with their own inept planning.
The Russian Army has about 900,000 members, and 2,000,000 reservists. At the outset of the invasion, Putin had initially deployed about 130,000 soldiers to the various fronts, and increased that number to between 150,000 [U.S. estimate] and 190,000 [British estimate] all in. The Ukrainian army has about 250,000 members, which is the second largest army in the region [Russia is first]. The difference is that the Ukrainians are motivated because they are fighting for their parents, spouses, siblings, children and homes, while the Russians are fighting for measly pay and to assauge the manbaby ego of a selfish, egomaniacal, cold hearted dictator. So if Russian soldiers are motivated in any direction, they're likely motivated to jump ship.
Putin's Russian army has taken any number of hits. They lost aircraft, helicopters, tanks, and reportedly somewhere between 7,000 and 10,000 men, with another 15,000 injured. I have heard reports that put the number of Russian generals lost in the war has already crept up to five and that Putin is holding two of his intelligence chiefs under house arrest, because he, Putin, is furious with how badly the war has gone. The Russians have captured a couple of cities, but they've not yet captured any of the major Ukrainian cities. That said, they have moved into skirmishing in Mariupol in the south, where the Russians have reportedly entered the city.
Putin's army now has also taken some Ukrainians prisoners. Putin calls them refuges, but reportedly they were taken to Russia against their will. One has to wonder if he's planning to use them as hostages, chattel or barter?
Hitler, Stalin & Putin - State Media Control & Imprisonment of Protesters and Opposition Candidates
Putin is reportedly furious and in a televised address last week, shortly before his Crimean Invasion Anniversary 'rally', spewed venom at his Russian countrymen, threatening to "cleanse them", calling protesters 'traitors' and 'scum'. People like Putin always call others what they themselves are in order to deflect attention to themselves. In psychology that's called projection. It's a offensive / defensive mechanism.
Putin lied to his own people telling them at first this was a military exercise, and then that he sent the Russian troops into save the Ukrainians from the Nazis. To stem any dissent, which began to emerge immediately after the war began, Putin outlawed the use of the words 'war' and 'invasion' and made it a crime to say anything contrary to what Russia's dictator says is 'reality'. Putin called if the 'Fake News' law.
The graphic above right shows a state television employee making a statement by protesting the war on air, standing behind the anchorwoman on the TV set.
Now some of the Russian soldiers are coming home in body bags. So last week Putin held what looked like a staged rally, attended by at least some state actors, in a stadium for his war. Marina Ovsyannikova, a state TV journalist, upset at seeing reality versus what she and her team at state television were telling people, bravely showed a placard behind the State TV anchor person telling those Russians watching,
"Stop the War! No War!" and her placard said, "Stop the war, don't believe the propaganda, here you are being lied to."
Since the war began, about 13,000 Russian protesters were arrested. On one weekend alone, the weekend of March 5 & 6, 2022 [over two weeks ago], between 3,500 - 5,000 protesters were arrested. Putin cracked down hard, threatening protesters with 15 years in prison for disobeying his orders, which includes no talk of war or invasion.
And this week, after first sentencing Russian Opposition Leader Alexei Navalny to two and a half years in prison, Putin's thugs threw on another nine years to Navalny's sentence for 'fundraising fraud'.
The headline at right came in the first week of Putin's invasion. Since then the dictator 'president' has clamped down on free speech, essentially causing independent media outlets to shutter, outlawing the use of the words 'invasion' and 'war' and threatening to lock up protesters for 15 years for speaking out.
End of Part IV - Part V to Follow Next Week
I had hoped to finish this series this week, but have found reporting on this war too complex and interesting to give it short shrift. So, as of today, I think I have somewhere between one and three more reports to do in this series, to bring us all up to speed on the Russian invasion of the Ukraine. Next week we'll start with supply lines and follow it from there.
Then we'll all have a fuller understanding of what's going on, since we can't find this kind of in-depth background / contextual reporting on the hollowed out TV networks, who place a premium on wardrobe, fluid and proper teleprompter diction, and shallow headline news reporting - in lieu of good old fashioned hard news analysis.
Have a good week. The Weekend Things To Do Post will arrive on Friday as usual.