Posts Tagged ‘Russia’

by Richard Martin

This is a longer post than usual. My aim is to provide a better understanding of Russian strategy, operations, tactics, and logistics in its invasion and attempt to conquer Ukraine.

War is the systematic application of violent means to attain political ends. It is a contest of wills, with the aim of imposing one’s will on the enemy. The ultimate Russian aim is therefore to destroy Ukraine’s will to resist and to neutralize NATO’s will to commit to the war other than through indirect and long-term means.

We must therefore analyze the war from Russia’s perspective at the four levels of the hierarchy of ends, ways, and means: grand strategic, military strategic, operational, and tactical. Each level provides the ways to achieve the higher level. To this we add logistics, which provides the means to implement the ways to achieve the ends.

Grand Strategic Level

Ukraine conquered, fully merged into Russia, either de jure or de facto. Rally the international Axis of Lies and Resentment (Iran, North Korea, China, etc.). Keep the rest of the world guessing and off balance, wondering how far Putin is willing to go, up to and including World War III and global thermonuclear exchange.

Military Strategic Level

Destroy Ukrainian armed forces and national will to resist. Isolate Ukraine geographically and militarily, while keeping NATO off balance with threats of nuclear escalation. Exploit Western and NATO reluctance to engage in the conflict. The following diagram provides a quick visual overview of the military strategy.

Assessment of RU War Plan as of 12 Mar 22.jpg

Operational Level

Manoeuvre on exterior lines. Attack on 4 axes to keep the Ukrainian military dispersed and guessing as to the focus of main effort. Since the start of the invasion on 24 February, the Russian main effort has been on the Belarus-Kyiv axis. The initial attempt to execute a coup de main to capture or eliminate the Ukrainian government in Kyiv failed. It was based on seizing the major airport at Hostomel with heliborne forces then bringing in air transportable mechanized forces to rush to seize Kyiv. The aim was apparently to install a puppet regime. Ukrainian forces foiled the initial and repeated attempts to seize Antonov Airport (Hostomel) and the subsequent “thunder run” to Kyiv. This forced the Russians to fall back on a ground assault plan. I won’t speculate on how far the apparent “plan B” was developed in advance, but I will say that weather, logistics, and terrain were major factors in slowing the Russian advance.

Tactical Level

The Russian army basically follows military doctrine developed and honed during the Soviet era. The best way to characterize Russian tactics is as follows: “Who needs tactics when you can mass a thousand tanks in a square kilometer?” As best I can make out, tactical proficiency, low-level and individual initiative, and welfare of troops on the ground are the last consideration of the Russian command. Russian units, up to and including divisions, tend to follow prescribed patterns of movement and rigid drills while relying on concentrated mass at points of breakthrough followed by exploitation forces. What is considered basic field craft in Western armies is, for all intents and purposed, non-existent in the Russian army.

Sidebar on Russian Logistics

We need to also briefly consider Russian logistics doctrine, which is closely intertwined with fighting doctrine, as in all armies. The best way to do so is to compare US and NATO logistical methods with Russia’s.

NATO armies mainly use a “push-pull” system and keep large groupings in the field for extended periods. Combat stores (ammunition, rations, water, and fuel) plus spare parts and medical supplies are kept close to the front lines in the logistics train and called forward by combat units as their stores are depleted, at minimum daily, and more often in high intensity combat. Smaller armies, such as Canada’s, tend to be more “forward focused” in their logistics and maintenance. For instance, Canadian Army doctrine is based on forward maintenance of equipment: repair as many vehicles and weapons as possible as far forward as possible. The US Army approach is based more on workshops and depots in depth that can exploit specialization, replacement, and economies of scale. This obviously stems from its huge size compared to smaller countries’ armed forces. Regardless of the implementation, the basic philosophy is the same: soldiers are the most important resource; they must be cared for and treated with respect.

The Russian army basically follows Soviet doctrine, upgraded somewhat to reflect the evolution of combat since the end of the Cold War. From what I gather, Russian units and soldiers basically go into combat with a basic load of ammunition and fuel, and they are expected to fight until depleted, to be replaced by new units. When I was studying this stuff in the 80s and 90s, the expectation was that a Soviet unit or formation could be in the line until it was down to 30% fighting strength. If you look at the 2nd World War, sometimes it even went lower than that. We’re currently seeing that approach being tested, especially north and west of Kyiv, but it fits with what I know of Soviet logistics doctrine that the Russians have adapted. They fight with smaller, more flexible units than under Soviet structures, e.g., Battalion Tactical Groups (BTGs) grouped into task-organized brigades, divisions, and armies. However, Russian fighting forces appear to have about two thirds less support units within their organizations than NATO/US ones.

© Richard Martin

Richard Martin was an infantry officer for over 20 years in the Canadian Army. He is currently an entrepreneur, strategic advisor, and information warrior focusing on extracting valuable information and signals from chaos and noise.

By Richard Martin

Ukraine and Russia appear to have to diametrically opposite approaches to Information Warfare.

Ukrainian Information Operations

For consumption in Russia: See what your government is doing to your Ukrainian kin?

For consumption in Ukraine: Rally the people, armed forces, successes, how to pass on important information, leadership

For international consumption: Support us, we are fighting for YOU, and YOUR freedom, see what the Russians are doing?

The Ukrainian information strategy combines selective truth telling with the theme of Ukrainian heroism and resistance to Russian brutality tyranny and aggression.

Russian Information Operations

For consumption in Russia: Focus on internal IO to keep the people and forces onside.

For consumption in Ukraine: Sow panic, disinformation, misdirection, false flags, confusion, “we’re here to liberate you”

For international consumption: Generate distrust in ALL information, cynicism, nihilism

The Russian information strategy can be summed up as nihilistic. The idea is to sow the most fundamental doubts in the receiver’s mind about the reality of what they are seeing, reading, and hearing. It’s gaslighting on a massive scale. It’s basically about saying: “Who are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes?”

© Richard Martin

Richard Martin was an infantry officer for over 20 years in the Canadian Army. He is currently an entrepreneur, strategic advisor, and information warrior focusing on extracting valuable information and signals from chaos and noise.

By Richard Martin

We need to talk about the economic impacts of the Ukrainian invasion on Russia and, by extension, China. Key strategic takeaways:

1) Russia is heading toward an autarkic situation, with trade limited to China and other countries in the Axis of Lies. In essence, it is in the process of becoming a huge North Korea.

2) Russia needs Ukraine for its resources and productive capacity (Lebensraum).

3) China is crucial to Russia to provide markets, access to capital, and a conduit for advanced technology and outside innovation.

4) The United States must lead the West in cleaving China and Russia apart and play them off against each other, as was achieved with the Opening to China strategy of the 1970s.

5) The United States and Canada should stop tilting at windmills – literally and figuratively – and ramp up production and export of hydrocarbons, especially gas, to supply Europe, Japan, and other friendly and like-minded nations.

Most Western countries have imposed a raft of economic and financial sanctions on Russia since the invasion began on 24 February 2022. These are in addition to the sanctions that had been imposed since the annexation of Crimea in 2014.

Depending on the country, measures run the gamut from cutting Russia off from the Swift payment network, seizures of financial and real assets of regime members and oligarchs, embargoes on oil, gas, and petroleum products, trade interdicts, massive tariff increases, banning of Russian civil aviation, and other less prominent sanctions too numerous to mention.

So much for state-level sanctions. Transnational companies have also announced they are pulling out of Russia or will do so imminently. Many of these have decided to liquidate their investments in Russia, or simply abandon them and take massive write-downs on their assets. The most prominent of the latter are some of the biggest oil and gas companies in the world, such as Shell, BP, and Exxon.

On the other side of the equation, the Russian government has been banning foreign media outlets while threatening draconian prison sentences on anyone contesting the official Kremlin line on the invasion. This includes foreigners, and some of the most credible and courageous news organizations are being forced out or cowed into more insipid coverage.

To add to the informational chaos, Netflix, Facebook, TikTok, and other social media platforms have either ceased operating in Russia or have been banned. Putin and the Kremlin has threatened to completely cut off the country from the Internet. This will give the Kremlin full rein to poison the minds of Russians and indoctrinate younger generations even more than is already the case. Russia has adopted a strategy of information chaos with the goal of generating cynicism and nihilism internationally and complete obedience internally. When combined with autarky and complete top-down control of the economy and country, Russia is well on its way to realizing its brand of fascist nightmare.

While all this is happening, China, Russia’s non ally “strategic partner,” has continued to supply resources and maintained trade with Russia. In my estimation, this relationship will only get closer. I assess that Russia is headed for autarky, with China constituting Russia’s principal market for raw materials while providing access to technology, high tech manufacturing, and investment capital. Chinese companies have already started circling abandoned or divested Western enterprises like vultures. The pickings should be reasonably good for China.

This puts the invasion of Ukraine in a different light. In effect, Russia needs Ukraine as Lebensraum (living space). Yes, I use that term in the very specific sense of Nazi Germany. As many commentators have pointed out, Ukraine has tremendous resources, including agricultural, industrial, and other economic capacity, actual and potential. Whether Russia can fully exploit that potential will depend on the technical, financial, and industrial support the country receives from China in addition to what it can muster internally.

This assessment suggests a few inferences. First, to be successful, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine must end in its conquest and incorporation into the Russian economy and sphere of influence. I believe that is the ultimate war aim of Putin and the Kremlin and will lead to the near complete reconstitution of the Russian/Soviet Empire. This would explain Putin’s willingness to sacrifice so much military combat power and his readiness to destroy civil infrastructure and housing. We should be on the lookout for deliberate preservation of industrial and other productive assets by Russian forces with a view to restarting production as quickly as possible post-occupation or conquest.

Second, China has a crucial role to play in assisting Russia in its ultimate intent of reconstituting its territorial empire and in sustaining Russian autarky. China can give Russia access to markets and innovation. There is also considerable opportunity for China to act as an indirect channel for technology and sales of commodities and raw resources. Western powers, starting with the United States, should find a way to cultivate improved relations with China, like what was achieved in the 1970s with Nixon-Kissinger opening to China. As unpleasant as that may seem, the West has no choice but to cleave China from Russia to relieve the pressure on Eastern Europe and give some chance of success to Ukraine’s resistance.

Third, Western nations with significant hydrocarbon resources (i.e., oil and gas), must replace Russian supplies as quickly as possible. There are two aspects to this approach: A) The need to ramp up production in the US and Canada, especially of gas, and develop the supply chain to get the gas from the ground to LNG terminals quickly and effectively; and B) The imperative to develop alternate sources of oil and gas for the free world, such as the Iran, Venezuela, and other locations, as repugnant as that may be. During the Cold War, Persian Gulf oil was essential for the prosperity and security of Europe and the Far East. Now is no different.

© Richard Martin

Richard Martin was an infantry officer for over 20 years in the Canadian Army. He is currently an entrepreneur, strategic advisor, and information warrior focusing on extracting valuable information and signals from chaos and noise.

by Richard Martin

Here is my assessment of the information front. I’d appreciate you commenting to get alternative viewpoints or amplification.

General Public:

  • Most people seem to openly support Ukraine and Ukrainians and to have a negative view of Putin and his Kremlin gang. Most appear to distinguish the “Russian people” from the Putin and his henchmen. Is this what others are seeing?
  • Still some holdouts of the “Russia has legitimate security concerns” variety, but I’m not seeing much of them. Maybe it’s because I’ve blocked or unfollowed them on my social media feeds? Need more confirmation.
  • In the USA, where it probably counts the most, there appears to be strong sentiment in support of Ukraine, or at least the Ukrainian people, with abhorrence of Russia’s indiscriminate bombing and killing.
  • On the other hand, there is a strong “isolationist” current in the US, mainly in financial and/or economic circles. I could be wrong, so correct me if my assessment is wrong.

Traditional Media:

  • Superficial war coverage, at least 12 hours behind the curve in written media (mainly corporate media sites).
  • Written media is mostly big headlines with empty articles, a few pictures, some quotes from “experts” in think tanks and universities, as well as government talking points from various countries.
  • Written and visual media (mostly TV) are full of human interest and humanitarian coverage. There is also a lot of hand wringing and apocalyptic reportage. “If we cut off Russian oil to Europe, they will all freeze.” “What if Chernobyl blows up?”
  • Lack of in-depth strategic and operational analysis, much less understanding of real issues. Talking heads with either an axe to grind or little/no actual military experience at the tactical, operational, or strategic levels.
  • Probably more like 24-36 hours delay on network TV news, due mainly to the restrictions of the medium and fixed scheduling.
  • I don’t know about the 24-hour news channels because I can’t stand them. I occasionally watch a bit of Fox News on You Tube, mainly to listen to Gen. Jack Keane’s interventions. Not because I necessarily agree with all his points, but he’s less objectionable to me than all the others. If someone has the stomach to watch the 24-hour news drivel, I’d appreciate your insights.

Social Media:

  • All the above, but with some wheat among the chaff.
  • The best coverage of the war on the ground from an operational, technical, and logistical standpoint is on Twitter. The best sources are the most widely shared.
  • Lots of commentary that doesn’t add much to ground truth.
  • We need people with the operational, tactical, technical, and logistical expertise and experience to template Russian and Ukrainian moves. I’m seeing a lot of that here, but I think we need more of it.

Please add to this picture and feel free to comment or to provide a different (informed) POV.

© Richard Martin

Richard Martin was infantry officer in the Canadian Army. He is now an entrepreneur, trusted strategic advisor, and information warrior focusing on extracting valuable lessons and signals from chaos and noise.

By Richard Martin

Fascism is the worldview, the Weltanschauung, that sees the grassroots, deeply felt social solidarity and cohesion of nations as both a model and a threat. Fascism is thus an attempt to recreate the same level and type of social cohesion as what reigns seemingly naturally and effortlessly in liberal democracies, but from the top down, rather than the bottom up and laterally between individuals.

Similarly to socialism, fascism sees independent centres of social solidarity, cooperation, and community as threats to this top-down cohesion. Both are inherently collectivist in nature, but in different ways. Whereas socialism and its revolutionary incarnation, communism, see these threats and the need to united authority and control in terms of transnational classes and other categories (e.g., gender, sex, race), fascism sees the nation or people (e.g., German Volk) as the basis of top-down control, authority, and cohesion.

German National Socialism (i.e., Nazism) and Italian Fascism were the primary incarnations of “small f” fascism in the 1st half of the 20th century, with the disastrous consequences of World War 2 as main effects.

Current Russian nationalism, let’s call it Putinism, is a variety and instantiation of “small f” fascism. When I say, “small f,” I specifically mean that it stems from the same worldview as Italian Fascism and German Nazism of the 1920s, 30s, and 40s. That worldview interprets Western power and, especially, success, prosperity, and cultural attractiveness as a threat to the solidarity, cohesion, and security of the Russian nation, defined in a wide sense to include White Russians (Belarusians) and Little Russians (Ukrainians) in addition to Great Russians (Russians proper).

From this perspective, Putinism is an ideology of resentment, envy, frustration, and anger. It views all Western influences as subversive of Russian purity and security. The military doctrine of Russian “hybrid war” (gybridnaya voyna) tries to distill the secrets of Western success and cultural magnetism as encroachments and offensive manoeuvres. It identifies a “Western playbook” for world hegemony, particularly from the American perspective, and tries to apply the same playbook to Russian defence and counter-encroachment.

Western observers who say that Russia’s concerns vis à vis NATO, the United States, Europe… and Ukraine, fall into the trap of accepting Kremlin claims of being surrounded and under foreign domination and threat of invasion at face value. Just like Russian fascists and other Putinists around the world, they are blinded to the basic truth that Western, and especially American/Anglo-Saxon cultural, political, social, and economic “hegemony” stem from the inherent attractiveness and magnetism of Western values and civilization, not from any master plan for world domination. (That would also include those in the West who fear the World Economic Forum.)

This article is just a first installment of what is proving to be a fundamental metanoia for me. It is a journey of “seeing through the world.” I hope you will accompany me on this adventure.

© Richard Martin

Richard Martin was infantry officer in the Canadian Army. He is now an entrepreneur, trusted strategic advisor, and information warrior focusing on extracting valuable lessons and signals from chaos and noise.

By Richard Martin

I am now amending the 7th point of my previous posting. That’s what happens when there are indicators of a potentially evolving situation.

There are good reasons to believe that a ceasefire or truce could be on the horizon. There have already been talks between the Ukrainian government and Kremlin representatives near the Ukraine-Belarus border in the last few days.

It appears that a Russian presidential command plane was/is on its way to North America. Last night, a US C3I aircraft was in the air and using the callsign “Truce18.” This may be an indicator of high-level negotiations forthcoming between the US and RU with a view to ending the conflict or declaring a ceasefire or truce.

This is important for several reasons, but the main one is that the invasion of Ukraine is not going well for Russia. Ukrainian resistance is much stronger than anyone anticipated before the war, including the Russians. We don’t have a clear picture of what is happening operationally on the ground, especially west and northwest of Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital.

May be an image of outdoors
Destroyed Russian MTLB

The Russians need a truce to buy time to reorganize and resupply their forces in Russia and Ukraine. This a well-known tactical manoeuvre to create an operational pause so the Russian forces can attempt to regain or solidify the initiative. The side with the initiative is the one that is on the offensive.

A ceasefire would also be advantageous for Ukraine and for essentially the same reasons, though with a different implementation. An operational pause for the Ukrainians would provide them with the opportunity to shore up defenses, bring in reinforcements from outside the country, and rebuild combat stores, mainly ammunition and weapons.

This would also be an opportunity for NATO and other Western nations to supply much-needed aircraft and more advanced weapons systems to the Ukrainian forces. NATO has made it crystal clear that it has no intent of declaring a no-fly zone over Ukraine to provide air cover.

A NATO no-fire zone would escalate the conflict and the Russian nuclear threat is a major deterrent. This does not mean, however, that there couldn’t be delivery of highly capable weapons and combat aircraft which could give the Ukrainians a massive boost in firepower, manoeuvrability, survivability, and accuracy.

Moreover, Ukraine is already recruiting foreign fighters to assist in its war effort. I believe that many of these foreign recruits have the knowledge and experience to operate and man high-tech weapons systems.

I readily admit that this may be wishful thinking on my part. But if I can see these possibilities, then others can also. The greatest danger at this point is to confuse wishes and hope for real possibilities. Are these feasible courses of action for Ukraine? I invite your comments and discussion.

© Richard Martin

Richard Martin was infantry officer in the Canadian Army. He is now an entrepreneur, trusted strategic advisor, and information warrior focusing on extracting valuable lessons and signals from chaos and noise.

By Richard Martin

1st Falsehood: Russia has legitimate security concerns about its borders and NATO encroachment. Wrong! Russia would have less security concerns if it weren’t constantly threatening, badgering, or bullying its neighbours.

Highly detailed physical map of Russia,in vector format,with all the relief forms,regions and big cities. (c) bogdanserban

2nd Falsehood: The United States/West/NATO caused this crisis by wanting to expand to Russia’s borders, thus threatening the latter. Wrong! The reason NATO has expanded since the end of the Cold War is that Russia’s neighbours felt, and continue to feel, threatened by Russian aggression and expansion.

3rd Falsehood: The Russians are just like us; they want freedom and democracy with a free market system. Wrong! There is little or no evidence to support this assertion, at least since the end of the Cold War. There have been attempts at economic and political reform, but the Russian people have remained relatively quiescent and followed the official ideology and worldview.

4th Falsehood: Ukrainians are just a part of the Russian nation. Wrong! That’s like saying the Flemish and Dutch; Austrians and Germans; Czechs and Slovaks; or even the French and Quebeckers are unitary nations. They’re not. Ukrainians and Russians speak closely related languages and have intertwined histories. But they are different nations, and this has been asserted and realized to varying degrees over hundreds of years.

5th Falsehood: NATO and non-NATO countries not at war with Russia. Wrong! Russia has been conducting what it calls “hybrid warfare” against the U.S., Canada, U.K., and other NATO nations since at least 2016, and one of the main theatres is cyberspace, where Russia has been conducting continuous cyber and information warfare to disrupt communications, infrastructure, military, and financial networks.

6th Falsehood: Economic sanctions and financial restrictions are sufficient to bring Russia to heel. Wrong! Only military defeat of the Russian invasion either by Ukraine acting alone (though with foreign support) or outright foreign involvement will force Russia to leave Ukraine.

7th Falsehood: A negotiated solution is in the offing. Wrong! Everything indicates the exact opposite. Putin and the Kremlin appear determined to solve what they perceive as the Ukrainian problem once and for all. Even if there were a negotiated withdrawal, Russia would only do that to buy time, just like Saddam did after the expulsion of Iraqi forces from Kuwait in 1991.

© Richard Martin

Richard Martin was a career infantry officer in the Canadian Army. He now plies his trade as an information warrior and strategic advisor to leaders and decision-makers. He focuses on extracting valuable lessons and signals from chaos and noise.

By Richard Martin

There are those times in life when we get a revelation, and a great truth appears in a flash of insight.

Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine started on 24 February, I’ve been having about 3 of those a day. This morning though (March 1st), I had the biggest one of all, as intimated by the title of this article. In fact, my worldview has altered significantly in the last few hours. In a nutshell, Russia was the threat all along!

I know, that sounds idiotic. “What do you call the Cold War?” True enough, but my realization goes deeper than that. The Soviet Union was Russia garbed in an attractive to some (many), and not just Lenin’s “useful idiots.” And this on a global scale.

The end of the Cold War and the dismemberment of the USSR ended the Marxist-Leninist fiasco that had threatened freedom and peace around the world in 1989-91. Western countries, the United States, Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, Europe, and beyond, we all greeted Russia with open arms into the community of nations.

We assumed that, with the Communists out of power, Russia would become a “normal” country again. Leningrad reverted to its old name, Saint-Petersburg. Former Soviet Socialist republics were left to their own devices for a few years. Western countries extended friendly relations and offered credit, investment, and relatively free trade. The United States scrapped its remaining space shuttle and entrusted its astronauts to the Soyuz rockets of Roscosmos flying from Baikonur. We built a massive international space station with key modules and components from Russia. The United States even allowed critical launch providers and rocket builders like United Launch Alliance to put Russian rocket engines in Atlas V rockets, many of them used to put American defence satellites on orbit!

But Russia claims to be surrounded and threatened by Europe, NATO, and especially, the United States. The goal is to reconstitute a Grossrussland consisting of Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine, the cost be damned. After that, will the Baltics, Moldova, and eastern Poland be next?

I was an infantry officer in the Canadian Army for 21 years (1985-2006). I served with Canada’s NATO brigade in Germany from 1988 to 91. I was there when the Wall came down, when Ceausescu and his wife were murdered, when German Chancellor Helmut Kohl rolled the dice and integrated East Germany, reuniting Berlin in the process. I was there when Soviet hardliners staged an attempted coup in 1991 and Boris Yeltsin rose to the occasion. And I was also there when the Soviet Union dissolved itself in late 1991 and Ukraine affirmed its independence in a national referendum.

And now it dawns on me. NATO has always been a defensive alliance against Russia, not the Soviet Union. The latter was the Russian bear in Marxist-Leninist garb. If you can, watch or listen to Jordan Peterson’s interview with Prof. Frederick Kagan on Russia’s history and designs. It is a sobering reminder that Russia has been fearful of its neighbours for centuries.

To this you can add a video by Peter Zeihan of a briefing last year to US Army officers. He explains the geopolitical and strategic situation clearly and succinctly, complete with pictures to reinforce the point.

We need to realize that World War III has started. It’s not unfolding the way any of us expected, especially after watching the disintegration of the Soviet Union and the poverty and corruption of Russia since 1991. A clique of murderous psychopaths and exploitative oligarchs is running Russia, and they very well take Eurasia down their country in this last-ditch reckless gamble.

At this point in the rapidly evolving situation, I consider that the probability of escalation is high. At some point, NATO and like-minded countries in Europe, Asia, and the Americas will be drawn into the fighting. Right now, this is limited arms shipments, and war on the moral plane: economic/financial sanctions, cyberwarfare, psychological operations, information warfare. Ukraine needs serious air power right now, and it can only be provided by NATO and the United States. When that happens, all bets will be off. It can happen, and the odds are high.

I don’t mean to be alarmist, but that’s what I see right now.

© Richard Martin

Richard Martin is a veteran, thinker, educator, and trusted advisor. He focuses on extracting valuable signals from all the noise.

by Richard Martin

I don’t have enough information to recommend any particular course of action or predict specifics of what could unfold. However, history, geopolitical and strategic analysis can provide some indicators.

At the level of ends

Ultimate goal: Putin is seeking to reconstitute the Russian empire to at least the Cold War extent, possibly even pre-WW1 Romanov Empire.

Intermediate goal: Force reintegration of Ukraine with Russia, either formally, or as a Russian “ally,” like Belarus.

Immediate goal: Destabilize Ukraine with a view to annexing all of Luhansk and Donetsk Oblasts, possibly other areas, such as Mariupol, to reunite the entire Donbass.

Other than that, specific objectives and timelines will depend on circumstances and opportunity. In the current instance, I believe Putin is going to push as far as he can go while keeping the US and allies out of Ukraine.

Ukraine has been trying to get into Nato for years, but Russia wants to avoid that at all costs. Once Ukraine is in Nato, then it is linked by mutual defence pact with 30 other nations and comes under the US strategic deterrent, thus making any further Russian moves against Ukraine much riskier, if not impossible.

At the level of ways and means, any combination in whole or in part of kinetic operations, ideological struggle, psychological operations, cyberattacks against government/military communications and C2 networks, intelligence gathering, subversion, clandestine financing, disruption of utilities and banking, destruction of financial and academic networks, disinformation, deception, misdirection, etc.

This war is already on, and we are in the rear area, as far as Russia is concerned. Canada is under attack as we speak. Russia did not cause the truckers’ convoy nor the stupidity of our federal government decrees which are the proximate cause of the revolt, but they have been taking advantage of it. We are seeing massive disinformation on social media and being fed to traditional media, some of it so ham handed that it should be obvious. Unfortunately, so many people are running around with their hair on fire right now that they can’t even see what is happening.

I believe that Canada has been under sustained cyberattack of our governmental, infrastructural, and financial networks for at least 3-4 weeks. There is probably direct funnelling of funds to some of the protesters or groups, most of whom probably don’t even realize who the source is. This is not a bunch of “Trump supporters” in MAGA hats, the World Economic Forum, or far-right neo-Nazis. The disruption is being deliberately orchestrated and conducted by state-level power(s) with tremendous resources. The attack on Canada is aimed at driving a wedge between us and our allies, especially Ukraine. Either it’s because Russia sees us as a conduit to harass other countries, or we really get under their skin. Probably it’s both.

Trudeau proclaimed a public order emergency on 14 Feb under the federal Emergencies Act. The act gives two specific criteria for this type of emergency, one of which pertains to grave threats against our sovereignty, national security, and security of Canadians. We’re not talking about people waving banners. I am no fan of Trudeau but I think he took this action as a means of regaining control of the situation, from a geopolitical standpoint. It may prove in hindsight to be an overreaction. Time will tell. The reasons he is giving for maintaining the emergency appear lame and indefensible.

I have discussed with like-minded friends and colleagues why he doesn’t just come out and say what is happening, but that would be even more speculation than already.

Whatever happens in Ukraine or even Canada, just remember that most of the news is noise.

I hope that helps to understand the situation from a strategic standpoint.

© Richard Martin

Richard Martin is President, Alcera Consulting Inc. He focuses on extracting signals from all the noise.