Posts Tagged ‘Ukraine’

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 100s of videos of RU prisoners, and it is clear that many, if not most, are poorly trained, poorly led, and have no knowledge of the true purpose of their being sent to Ukraine.

Russia has lost 100s of tanks and armoured vehicles mostly destroyed, but also captured and now being repurposed by the Ukrainian forces. I’ve read estimates that 60-90% of Russia’s total ground forces have been or are being committed to the campaign. Equipment is being redeployed from the Far East districts to the western district.

The Russian AF (VKS) is not dominating the skies, and this has many analysts wondering what is happening on that level. Also, much of the Russian communications are on commercial platforms and equipment. Again, a bit of a mystery as to why.

The attack on and capture of the Zaporozhya nuclear station has 2 effects, one intended and the other probably unintended. Intended: Russia will be able to shut it down to cut power to Ukraine. That is probably why they wanted to capture Chernobyl at the start of the campaign also.

The unintended outcome is that it is misdirecting outside media coverage. There appears to be an operational pause to the west of Kyiv. This gives RU cover to do something there. The intent is to surround Kyiv (and other major cities, e.g., Kharkiv). They’re having a very hard time of it though.

The WSJ had a write up this morning about the initial RU attempt to seize the major Kyiv airport at Hostomel. It’s changed hands several times since then. The intent appears to be to seize major airfields near the capital to airlift in “élite” VDV airborne forces.

© 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

man looking at a tentacle monster that destroys the city, digital art style, illustration painting (c) grandfailure

There is a widespread belief that poverty and inequality are causes of war and aggression. It’s the other way around. War is the cause of poverty, famine, pestilence and misery.

War is caused by people who are unwilling to create valuable products and services to trade for other people’s valuable products and services. Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Maduro, etc. never worked a day in their lives.

Aggressors are thieves and bullies. They prefer to steal and murder to create their own prosperity for themselves and their supporters. Everybody else can go to hell as far as they are concerned.

© 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

We live in a Hobbesian world governed by force and counterforce. I believe it was Israeli diplomat Abba Eban who said that the UN was nothing more than a continuation of war by other means, or words to that effect.

Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) on engraving from the 1800s. English philosopher.
Engraved by J.Pofselwhite from a picture by Dobson and published in London by W.Mackenzie.
Copyright candyman

The UN was formed in 1945 to prevent future wars, especially on a global scale. There was supposed to be a combined command and military staff. The Security Council was supposed to issue orders and direct military operations against transgressors. War was outlawed and declared an illegitimate means of resolving international disputes. There is a World Court (or something like it) along with a whole raft of international treaties, protocols, and institutions. There are financial structures to ensure no one runs out of money so the banking systems in each nation don’t collapse. The non-security bodies were supposed to alleviate poverty and suffering under the assumption that they are the fundamental cause of war and aggression. It’s all mismanaged and it’s a mess.

The dirty secret is this. Aggression is caused by aggressive, violent people, 99% of whom are men. Most crime is attributable to young men. Wars of conquest and domination occur when overly aggressive men in gangs gain control of the state apparatus and decide to use the instruments of internal coercion to attack other nations. The only effective means of countering aggression at the international level, where reigns a state of nature, is through credible armed forces, defensive alliances, democratic governance of nations internally, mild taxes, security of person and property, and free markets and open trade.

Nations must build credible alliances to deter and, if deterrence fails, counter aggression and conquest. NATO is one such alliance. We see the limits of this means of deterrence and defence when an aggressive, powerful neighbour — Russia — threatens nuclear retribution against what it perceives as hostile encroachment on its sphere of dominion and geopolitical influence and interest. If Ukraine were in NATO, the invasion probably wouldn’t have happened, at least not in the way it is happening now. Conversely, if Russia had no effective nuclear capability and the invasion had occurred, NATO would be bombing Russian forces as we speak.

This is why nuclear proliferation is such a threat to world peace. Up to now, the United States, the UK, France, India, Pakistan, Israel, and China have been reasonably responsible with their respective nuclear capabilities and have kept them as purely defensive deterrents. Even the USSR was deterred throughout the Cold War. Russia under Putin is manifestly not deterred, and is in fact using Russia’s nuclear capabilities to threaten retaliation against direct military intervention in support of Ukraine. Now, imagine if North Korea and Iran had significant nuclear capabilities with reasonably accurate and effective delivery vectors. Right now, they seem to have ballistic missiles of varying ranges and accuracies under development and trial. From what I can gather, their bombs have all fizzled. But what happens when they no longer fizzle?

In sum, dreams of world government are just that, dreams. Global governance is a pipe dream. That’s a good thing, because if it existed it would be a technocratic nightmare. We need force to counter force, deterrence to counter threats. That’s the lesson of history and human nature and the signal in the noise.

© Richard Martin

Richard Martin served as a career infantry officer in the Canadian Army, and is now an author, educator, and trusted advisor. He focuses on extracting valuable lessons and signals from chaos and noise.

by Richard Martin

The Russians are racking up casualties, including senior officers, formation commanders, chiefs of staff. Hospitals in Belarus are full and civilian authorities are saying “leave them on the battlefield.” 

For someone like me who has studied the Russian front in Ww2 I am starting to understand how the Red Army could stack up such massive casualties. There is little concern for the rank and file. There are multiple sources indicating officers abandoning their units the closer they get to the front. The Russian units with solid officers appear fairly effective though.

The manoeuvring appears to be limited, with poor coordination of fires and mutual support. The RU air force is much bigger than the UkAF, at least on paper. However, there are limited numbers of precision guided munitions and Russian pilots are poorly trained. They are also having a hard time coordinating ground based air defence for columns. Fuel shortages and logistics deficiencies are massive. Command and control is disorganized and most of their radio comms are in the the open, and easily picked up by civilians.

Meanwhile, the Ukrainians appear to be disappearing into built up and wooded areas. They are using ambush tactics and destroying tanks, light armour and trucks with antitank weapons like the US designed Javelin and British NLAW. These are fire and forget missiles that basically only require a safety briefing to operate with a high kill probability. The scenes of civilians filling sandbags and making Molotov cocktails in Kyiv and Kharkiv look like pictures of the defence of Moscow in November 1941.

The drones also are very effective, but they appear to be using them mainly against air defence systems and command vehicles. Some of the footage shows RU vehicles in open leaguers as if they were on parade. They come under attack by drones without seemingly any awareness that they are being sighted. It’s incredible.

That massive RU traffic jam in the north is a choice target. A squadron or two of A10s would wipe it out in a day.

© Richard Martin

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