TL;DR: Shortages in Russia are so bad the Russian people are reusing Soviet jokes.

These posts are read by Ukrainians, Russians and veterans. Here is a gem by former American paratrooper ryan_b.

I feel like the biggest item here is the peacekeeping mission charade.

The Russians in this video are acting like they actually believe themselves to be on a peacekeeping operation.

Though clearly implied, I want to make it explicit for emphasis: peacekeeping operations and offensive operations are maximally different. Let us put aside the question of night vision or optics, since the Ukrainians don't have them either, and consider this problem instead: how the hell do you get your people to do what you need them to do when you won't tell them what they need to do?

comment by ryan_b

American ryan_b's compassion for his Russian comrades is exactly the kind of universal love we need right now.

Scorched Earth

Ukraine is putting up fierce resistance. The Ukraine-Russia War already looks like a repeat of the disasterous War in Afghanistan. I'm not talking about the 2001–2021 War in Afghanistan between the US and the Taliban. I'm talking about the Soviet–Afghan War of 1979–1989. The Soviets lost, but it took ten years and the death of between 6.5% and 11.5% of the Afghani population.

The Russian Armed Forces outnumber the Ukrainian military. The Russians have more soldiers, more tanks, more vehicles, more artillery, more fighter jets and the second-most-powerful[1] nuclear arsenal in the world. The Ukrainian's advantages are morale, allies, the terrain advantages of fighting a defensive war and desperation. The Ukrainian population is as united as it is possible for a population to to be. The Russian military's morale is "meh", at best. I predict Russian troops' morale will monotonically decrease the longer Russian forces remain in Ukraine (excluding the Donbas region).

Urban warfare is harsh on invading forces. Insurgents can strike at you in three dimensions and then instantly flee back into the buildings.


A general who grows impatient, angers and storms a city will kill one third of the attacking force and fail to take the city.

Chapter 3 of Sunzi

Russia is attempting to surround major cities. Once they do, you should expect a siege. Food and utilities will be cut off. Your priorities are.

  1. Don't get shot.
  2. Warmth. Don't freeze. Clothes are your best investment because they are infinitely reusable.
  3. Water. You need a water source. If the water comes from a lake or stream you will need a way to kill the microbes in it. One way to do so is to boil it. I'm not a big fan of boiling water for drinking because it takes a long time and uses a lot of fuel. My preferred method of water purification is a hand pump filter, but they can be expensive and constitute a single point of failure. Ultraviolet purification bulbs are probably the best investment from a cost-benefit analysis. A filter straw might do the job but I have little experience with them. I don't know how well a filter straw will endure long-term use. Iodine tablets work in a pinch, but you might need a lot of them to endure a siege. Learn how to make an emergency still.
  4. Rice and beans are cheap. Consider fermenting vegetables. Fermenting vegetables is a low-tech alternative to cooking that requires no fuel. Fermenting vegetables preserves them for longer than sitting on a shelf (but not forever the way canning does).

Prepare a bug-out bag with your most important papers, supplies and survival tools. Do not let your wounds get infected.

[Assess] what kind of hardware you see around you:

-Fast jets, missiles - Front line is far away, run.

-Helicopters, especially transport ones - Decision point, if you don't go right now you will need to stay put.

-Shelling or mortar fire - Front line is less than 20 km from you. It isn't safe to be out anymore. Go into a basement and hunker down during the day. Unlike cruise missile attacks (there have been multiple today so far), shelling is persistent and lasts for hours or days.

-Armored vehicles - You are in occupied territory. There will be checkpoints on the roads. Depending on their orders you might get turned around or just shot on sight.

The situation can change in hours. Just because it was safe to go out before you fell asleep, it doesn't mean it will be safe when you wake up.

Survival guide written by a survivor of Sarajevo

Wars tend to become less humane as they drag on. Russia is already blasting apart civilian apartment complexes. Expect things to get worse. We're probably not going to see strategic carpet bombing of entire cities like the United States did to Dresden and Tokyo in World War II. This has nothing to do with ethics. It's just that Russia doesn't have enough money; carpet bombing civilians is expensive and inefficient. But the possibility is not out of the question for Kyiv. [2022/03/07 Edit: Russia bombed at least one city into rubble in the 2004 invasion of Chechnya.]

Reports of Russian soldiers raping Ukrainian women and girls are beginning to trickle in. They should surprise nobody. War and rape have occurred hand-in-hand since before Homo sapiens speciated. Russian soldiers are already looting grocery stores for food. Sending under-supplied conscripts on a scorched-earth war of conquest increases the odds of mass rape. Under such circumstances, it would be bizarre for rape not to accompany the looting. We should expect the rape of Ukrainian women and girls to increase hyperlinearly as the war drags on and Russia occupies more territory. The Soviet Union is infamous for the mass rape of women and girls in occupied territory at the end of World War II.

In 2017, [Russian Defense Minister] Shoygu changed the army dress uniform to make it resemble the Soviet uniform of 1945—known in the military as the winner’s uniform. The new design became his uniform of choice when he inspected military parades on Red Square; it also, not coincidentally, made him look like Georgy Zhukov, Stalin’s vaunted field marshal during World War II.

The Man Behind Putin’s Military

Meanwhile, the President of Ukraine has offered to return Russian POWs on the condition their mothers pick them up from Kyiv. This is a brilliant move. The damage the released soldiers might do to Ukraine is negligeable compared to the public relations boon.

The West has thrown all the sanctions it can at Russia. Microsoft has shut down all services in Russia. Including Windows licenses and Azure! The West is providing guns, ammunition, body armor, rations, Javelin anti-armor rockets, anti-air rockets and medical supplies to Ukraine. The EU is not currently sending its old MiG-29 fighter jets. Ukraine has many willing fighters but limited military hardware. Supplying Ukraine with weapons is a very efficient way to for NATO to assist Ukraine while minimizing nuclear escalation risk.

The new Javelin anti-armor rockets are really cool. Old rocket launchers required you to aim a guidance laser at the tank until the rocket hit it. Javelins have a fire-and-forget function. You can run away after firing your rocket instead of staring at a tank, in direct line-of-sight of the enemy, for several seconds after revealing your position. You can instruct the rockets to perform a top-down attack too, which is useful because modern tanks' armor is relatively thin on top.

The disadvantages of the Javelins is they are fragile and expensive. I do not envy the Ukrainian soldier who has to tell his commanding officer that he dropped and broke a Javelin missile. He is never going to live it down. A launcher costs more than $100,000 and the missile costs more than $100,000, for a total over $200,000. But a Javelin still costs much less than a Russian tank and Russia's economy is much smaller than NATO's. I would love to make a falsifiable public prediction of exactly how many Ukrainian soldiers break their Javelin missiles by accident. Alas, we will probably never know for sure.

Turkish drones are fighting alongside MiG-29s. It's like we're living in a Star Trek alternative timeline.

According to Pravda (this has to be an alternate timeline), nearly 80,000 people, mostly young men, have returned to Ukraine to fight. Ukraine is accepting foreigners with military training too. An interesting comment (now deleted by Reddit) wrote something along the lines of "I cannot promise your safety. To the contrary, I can promise only extreme danger. We will use against the Russians the tactics that were used against us in Iraq and Afghanistan."

As a Iraq vet this is basically how I feel about it.

1st Iraq deployment the Iraqis basically welcomed us and it was easy to think that we were doing a good thing.

2nd and 3rd deployments wrecked me and my buddies. We just wanted to leave and we were disillusioned on what we were doing there because the Iraqis hated us and would tell us to go home.


I imagine there are some American veterans out there who will be going to Ukraine for a shot at redemption.

Russia has attempted to provide humanitarian aid to Ukraine. It was refused.


Economist: "Today I'm drinking carbonated water. Dear stock market. You were close to us. You were interesting. Rest in peace, dear comrade."


Reporter: "I'm not going to comment on this stunt because I don't want to believe it."

Russian television interview with economist and investor Alexander Butmanov

This is a video of a Russian TV channel protesting the War in Ukraine by resigning en masse on-camera.

Even the most trusted agents inside Putin's death squad system are opposed to the war. According to Ukraine, double-agents in Russia's FSB have foiled three of their own assassination attempts against President Zelenskyy of Ukraine in just the past week. This is not a joke.

It is impossible for Russia's state media to sell the true story of the war in Ukraine to the Russian People because the true story is so horrific. Truth and transparency are on the side of the Ukrainians. Thus, falsehood and obfuscation are on the side of the Russian government. Russia's propaganda strategy (inherited from the Soviet Union) is to fill the memesphere with so much confetti it is impossible to tell truth from fiction.

Also, for the opinion "we will never know the truth" in the state media, there was an undermining of trust in science: films about the fact that water has a memory, about the dangers of GMOs and its ban, the dangers of vaccinations and chipization through them (which unexpectedly became a problem when it was necessary sell your own covid vaccine to people), terrible radiation from microwaves, phones and calling a red indicator on the TV a dangerous laser, homeopathy in official state recommendations for medicines, a battle of psychics that is presented as something documentary, not fiction. Not to mention the fact that the TV channel, where there was a film about the fact that the Earth is flat, was awarded an award for education.

comment by EniScien

The balance between right and wrong is zero-sum. The evilest organizations want everyone to be more wrong. We can oppose them by being less wrong.

The best time to protest is when your nation's army is bogged down in a foreign war. Here are photos from the February anti-war protests in Russia. (Source: The Atlantic)

Нет войне. Over 8,000 protesters have been arrested as of March 3rd. Protesters are facing the Mother Russia of all coordination problems. But it is a chance.

In Moscow, just under 4,000 people have been arrested while over 2,700 were arrested in Saint Petersburg. The other arrests come from an additional 124 cities, according to the report.

―OVD-Info via Fox News

More protests appear to be planned for March 6th. (I have not verified this information.)

  1. Technically-speaking Russia has a slightly more nukes than the US, but the numbers are comparable and I suspect the US's holistic nuclear arsenal (especially its submarines) are vastly superior. ↩︎


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"This is a video of a Russian TV channel protesting the War in Ukraine by resigning en masse on-camera." Amendment, they're leaving because the law on punishment for fakes (anything different from state TV channels) do not give them any opportunity to tell the truth about the situation. Radio "Echo" already was turned off from streaming on fm and website, only YouTube exists. "More protests appear to be planned for March 6th. (I have not verified this information.)" Yes, it's by organization of Navalny


Reports of Russian soldiers raping Ukrainian women and girls are beginning to trickle in.

How reliable are those reports? Propaganda about Russian military incompetence is one thing, but spreading false rumors about war crimes is a huge moral hazard, as is underreporting them.

We should expect the rape of Ukrainian women and girls to increase hyperlinearly as the war drags on and Russia occupies more territory. The Soviet Union is infamous for the mass rape of women and girls in occupied territory at the end of World War II.

The world today (or for that matter late 80's Soviet Union) is a very different one from WW2. I still expect the Russian military to be incentivized to suppress both the reporting of- and the war crimes themselves.

How reliable are those reports?

I'm mostly working from priors.

Propaganda about Russian military incompetence is one thing, but war crime is a whole other beast. Spreading false rumors about war crimes is a huge moral hazard, as is underreporting them.

My priority here has nothing to do with pro-Russian or anti-Russian propaganda. I am concerned for readers in Ukraine. I want them to be prepared.

The world today (or for that matter late 80's Soviet Union) is a very different one from WW2.

I disagree that it's different in a relevant way. What would be the critical difference for the parties involved?

  1. Stalin had much tighter domestic control using much more brutal means than Putin has over Russia today. Maintaining the narrative that Russians are the good guys becomes more difficult with publicized war crimes
  2. Risk of dying in war is much lower for Russian soldiers now than in WW2 while risk of persecution for war crimes is higher, i.e. they have something to lose. At the very least, it's going to be a problem if said Russian soldiers had any plans of surrendering/emigrating to the West at some point
  3. Pressure for the West to intervene directly as more war crimes become public
  1. The conscripts actually in Ukraine care very little about the needs of the Russian propaganda machine. Their decision to hurt or not hurt people will be based on their personal moral compunctions, opportunity, and Russian armed forces' institutional culture.
  2. I'll register a prediction that if Ukraine wins the war, and such war crimes are proven beyond a shadow of the doubt, a very small proportion, if any, of the foot soldiers will be prosecuted. Even when the perpetrators unconditionally surrender, normally, most of those complicit in wartime atrocities like the Holocaust get away with it. The average Russian soldier realizes this, and so concludes they are unlikely to face justice from anyone except their superiors in the Russian military, who will be hesitant to intervene because intervening would mean acknowledging such crimes to the public and their CO's.
  3. NATO is not willing to start a nuclear conflict over a few crimes against humanity. The west has at this point pretty much out run out of diplomatic ammunition in its efforts to support Ukraine, so there's no incentive anymore for Putin to consider what we think. 

I'll add another point related to 2. but somewhat distinct:

In war, the more brutal the fighting, the more savage soldiers tend to become as they both become desensitized to violence and are more driven by a thirst for retribution. Conversely, since the fighting in the current war is much less brutal than WW2-days, we should correspondingly expect less savagery towards civilians.

Russia doesn't have enough money; carpet bombing civilians is expensive and inefficient


Didn't Russia actually use carpet bombing over the past several years in Chechnia and in Syria? If they were willing to do it in those cases I can't imagine money being the limiting factor now... And from what I see so far is consistent with the Russian army switching their strategy more and more towards bombing the enemy into submission like they did in Syria.

>The Soviet Union is infamous for the mass rape of women and girls in occupied territory at the end of World War II

I saw a convincing debunking of this as a myth, but it was from pretty pro-Russian source, so the debunking itself could be fake. Can someone provide some reliable source with description of how the statistics were collected?


Two tactics I could see the EU/NATO employ in the near future:

  1. As some rationalists have proposed, open door for Russian soldiers to defect and immigrate to the EU, possibly with additional financial incentive for early adopters. Ukraine has already announced such an offer, but it would obviously be much more credible and attractive if the EU did as well
  2. Providing air support for Ukraine by sending in "little green men in little green airplanes". Considered to be escalatory but has been done before in the Korean war by the Soviets at just as tense a time as today, when both superpowers were already nuclear-armed

I would appreciate any insights as to why these schemes would be flawed

Kamil Galeev makes a case for going hard on scheme 1. You may want to view the original thread as almost every Tweet has a related image.

Today I’ll suggest some specific measures to end this war. To start with, the very idea of deescalation as the ultimate goal is absolutely insane. It would mean repeating Napoleon’s mistake. Napoleon worked hard on deescalation – that’s why he lost a war he could’ve totally won🧵

You may object. Invasion to Russia with an enormous pan-European army doesn’t look like deescalation, does it? Yes, Napoleon’s means were destructive. And yet his goals were highly constructive. He didn’t want to overthrow the Russian empire, he wanted to reach a favorable peace

Wars are not launched for military goals. They are launched for political goals. And the political goal of Napoleon was to force Russian Emperor Alexander I into the alliance against Britain and into the Continental Blockade system without breaking Russian empire

Napoleon didn't view Alexander as an enemy. He didn't want to destroy him. Thus he avoided playing on inner social divisions of Russia . Napoleon launched a purely military campaign and didn't even try provoking a social chaos in Russia - as Russian authorities feared so much

To start with, most Russian people were slaves. Calling them "serfs" is simply a lie. In 1600 Russian крепостничество was indeed comparable to European serfdom. But with every generation it would become worse. By the late 18th c it was very similar to American plantation slavery

I'll give you an example. First *real* Russian code of laws Соборное Уложение 1649 allowed serfs to complain on their masters who mistreated them. Authorities would investigate these claims. In the age of Alexis they often recognised peasants were right and punished their masters

By the age of Peter it was impossible. Nope, nobody abolished this 1649 Code of Laws, it still functioned. But by 1700s we can find almost no cases when authorities would recognise serfs' complaints as valid. Yeah, you can complain. It's just 99% it will be dismissed as a lie

That's why it's absurd to analyze the statute law without considering how it is enforced. Statute law regarding the peasants' rights didn't change much. But the law enforcement changed completely, peasants were stripped of every real instrument to enforce their theoretical rights

The apotheosis of Russian slavery was reached in the reign of Catherine who stripped peasants of even a formal right to complain on their masters. Now they were whipped and exiled to Siberia for even attempting to complain against their owner

This is the elephant in the room so often ignored when discussing Russian Empire. Yes, it had European high culture, beautiful palaces strong army. But it was paid by 70% of population reduced to plantation slaves, sold on auctions and slave markets, like in Jamaica or Barbados

That wasn't a purely Russian phenomenon. After 1500 peasants all over Europe to the East of Elbe were losing their freedom. It was widely criticised by urban elites, e.g. Stralsund alderman Balthasar Prutze in 1614 described Pomeranian serfdom as ‘barbaric and Egyptian servitude’

In a sense Russia followed this Eastern European trend with peasants becoming less free with every year. However, in Russia it went lower than anywhere else, to the literal plantation slavery. Why? It was the combined policy of state and aristocracy not checked by any other force

Enslavement in East Germany didn't go that far, partially because it was sabotaged by the urban elites who feared landlords and resented them. So relative freedom of peasants was a result of elite war. But Russian urban classes were weak and the power of aristocracy unchecked

What used to be limited serfdom in 1600 by 1800 evolved into a literal chattel slavery. Consider this advert:

"For sale three beautiful girls of 14 and 15 y. They do needlework, knit purses with monograms, one knows plays gusli. See them and ask the price at Arbat 1 apt N1117"

What did serfs think? Official propaganda claimed they are happy. One aristocrat wrote to Catherine how deeply serfs love their masters

"Yeah, that's why they're killing masters so often" wrote Catherine on the fields

She knew everything. She just wouldn't do anything about it

Problem of serfdom was linked to the military problem. Old Muscovy was built on their idea of "justice". Muscovites were either white or black. Black people черные люди had to pay taxes and work. Black people (like these) owed "pulling" тягло to the Tsar. That was their duty

White people, or more correctly, the "white bone", had to fight. That was their duty to the Tsar. That wasn't always true factually, but at least theoretically military service was considered the duty of the white, noble class. Peasants work, noblemen fight

Btw when you are reading old Russian texts, you should keep in mind that "white" and "black" are not racial, but purely social terms. When Poland-Lithuania and Muscovy were negotiating on finishing the Livonian War, Poles suggested that Moscow is weak because of its inner threats 
Poles told: "You just conquered Kazan, it can rebel at any time"

Muscovites told: "All the princes, murzas,and uhlans (=nob;es) in Kazan are exterminated извелись. Only the black people remained, they can't do anything"

= We cleansed the elites, the rest can't launch resistance

Theoretically Muscovy had some justice - whites fight, blacks work. Since Peter I it changed. First of all, to launch his total war against Sweden he introduced the draft рекрутчина. The state was forcibly drafting a number of commoners every year for a life long military service

Military service was brutal. You were drafted since as young as 15 or 16. After they chose you for service, they'd put your to chains so you can't escape and transport you to the army, where you'll be subject to excruciating discipline and drilling with little chance of promotion

Discipline was maintained by punishments like "dragging through the lines". Two lines get sticks and beat a punished soldier dragged through. Typically 3 000 was enough to kill, but they could give 5 000+. In 1800s they would typically kill one soldier from a regiment per week

Discipline in most European armies was brutal from the modern perspective. However, Russian army had a lifelong service. In late 18th c it was reduced to 25 y. but practically speaking it didn't matter. Once you're drafted, you never get out. A soldier = unburied corpse

Very importantly, while Muscovy had some idea of justice: commoners work, noblemen fight, Russian Empire didn't even try to keep it. While subjecting commoners to serfdom, taxation, corvee and the most hated duty - military draft - it relieved nobility from any duty at all

In 1760s nobility was relieved of compulsory service, be it civil or military. This created a hugeasymmetry. Commoners, work, pay, fight - in terrible conditions - while nobility is free to do whatever. Russian Empire was much more obviously unjust than the previous regime

This created a huge social tension. Both greatest Cossack rebellions in Russia - of Razin and Pugachev - never presented much danger military-wise. But wherever Cossacks went, serfs would massacre their masters en masse. Besides, many soldiers would desert and join the Cossacks

If American dream was to be a millionaire, a Russian dream was to be a Cossack. That's what pretty much every Russian peasant wished. They didn't aim to be nobles, social envy doesn't go that far, only Cossacks. Cossacks knew it and offered Cossack status to whoever who joins

This tension seldom led to soldier mutinies. It mostly led to voting by legs via desertion. Russian soldiers deserted en masse to Ottomans, Chechens, Old Believers, Cossack rebels, to whoever would give them the way out. They were instrumental in remodelling Persian army in 1800s

To put it simply, Russian Empire had enormous, incredible social tensions even among its ethnic Russian population (minorities made it even more complicated). Imperial government was very anxious Napoleon would play it. And you guess what? He didn't

(I'll pause for like 15 min)

Trying to negotiate wasn't wrong idea. But the question is - what leverage will you use to negotiate? Threats work only that far. Moral preaching, too. Usually you need to give some carrot. NB you should give not what *you* consider to be carrot, but what *they* view as such 
How were the large animals initially domesticated? I really like the theory that ancient people used the same trick modern hunters use - salt traps. They would give animals salt (which they need badly), so they have to come. Even husbandry has an element of bribe and negotiation

You *have to* bribe. If Napoleon wants sth from Alexander - join the Continental Blockade - he has to offer him something he needs. But Napoleon couldn't. He used preaching, seductiion, force, but in vain. Because he didn't have a real material carrot and the British did

Any form of Russian-French alliance was doomed, because Napoleon couldn't offer Alexander salt. He tried to use military leverage, and it didn't work out. Why? Because to maximise the damage on Alexander he should've offered salt to those who needed the salt Napoleon had 
You need to give people want they want they want. Now what do they want? That's usually very simple to understand, they won't shut up about it. They may express indirectly through projections though. For example based orthodox Russia is largely a projection of Western right wings

Western right wings desire a great Christian conservative power which will save them from the wokes. They dream about it day and night. That's a very need and of course they project their need to the nearest available candidate - Vladimir Putin, viewing him as a parental figure

The same way Western intellectuals idolise Dugin. Why? Because it's their projection. Since the days of Plato intellectuals have been dreaming of taking a position of a Philosopher, advising a tyrant. The smartest of them like Plato and Carl Schmitt tried, it usually ended badly

Western intellectuals know they'll never become Tyrant's advisors. But they want to believe that in some frozen Hyperborea there is a tyrant consulted by a mysterious philosopher. They chose Dugin to project their own needs on him. Why Dugin? Well, he has a beard, easy to idolise

Why Dugin is so well known in the West, his importance being hugely exaggerated, and Galkovsky - the most important figure of modern Russian nationalism, who created its language of hatred, is unknown? Perhaps he doesn't look menacing, difficult to project your own dreams on him

If you want to negotiate with someone you usually need to offer them salt they *really* need and not what you think they need. How do you know what they really need? Usually they won't shut up about it and will project 24/7. That's how you figure out what you must offer them 
Now what Russian people were projecting on the eve of Napoleon's advance? Oh, that's pretty easy. Primarily - the abolishment of serfdom. Dreaming, projecting and praying for Napoleon's conquest of Russia started long before he crossed the border 24th of June 1812

Russian police archives contain lots of cases of serfs arrested for treasonous talk. Most importantly, that the imminent Napoleonic invasion brings them freedom. Earliest arrests that I know of were done in 1807, but in months preceding the invasion, the number expanded greatly 
A typical treasonous rumour - the real cause of war is that Napoleon wants to liberate Russian serfs. And that he wrote to Tsar Alexander he'll fight against him until he liberates peasants. As you see, it's pure projection. Serfs were projecting on Napoleon their real needs 
Governor of Moscow Rostopchin wrote to the emperor Alexander. Yes, we amassed huge levies. But they'll become nothing as soon as the "rumours of a supposed freedom will rise the people to earn it and massacre nobility which is the only aim of low classes in all their mutinies"

Few weeks before the Napoleonic invasion, general Raevsky wrote to emperor Alexander:

"I'm afraid of Napoleon's proclamations that could give freedom to the people, I'm afraid of internal unrests in our country"

What is missed in the history of Napoleonic invasion is how eagerly peasantry tried to switch to Napoleon. Governor of Tver Kologrivov learnt that villages in Porechsky district "fantasise about belonging to the French forever". Indeed, they decided they're now French subjects 
Polish-Lithuanian support of Napoleon is well known. It was quite common, even though Napoleon didn't play fully. He didn't even declare the restoration of independent Rzeczpospolita - if he did, he'd get *way* more support. But people collaborated even in purely Russian lands 
Attacks on landlords, burnings of their houses were starting weeks before the French would actually come to a town. After Napoleon occupied Moscow, many villages in the Moscow region refused to obey their masters claiming that since Napoleon rules in Moscow, he's their Tsar now

Interestingly enough, governor of Moscow Rostopchin ascribed these unrests to the "bad influence of the levy". Peasants were drafted to the levy en masse without proper training or control and they turned into the unruly force dreaming of Russia's defeat. Many had to be disbanded 
As you see Russia had huge social tensions and divisions which could be easily played on. But Napoleon didn't. He thought he needs strong Russia as a tool in his continental blockade, and didn't want to disrupt it, turning it into chaos. He wanted to keep the machine intact

Another concern was ideological. Napoleon established a monarchy and now viewed any anarchic movements as highly problematic. He avoided weaponising mass discontent, even if he totally could. Peasants were making up that he wants to liberate them, because they were projecting

Napoleon aimed for an unreachable goal - alliance with Alexander. It was unreachable because Napoleon didn't have a salt to offer him. He had a salt to offer to the many discontent in Russia, but didn't, because he believed he can work out a compromise with Alexander (nope) 
What would be the best salt strategy for Napoleon?

1. Freedom to the peasants
2. Freedom to the soldiers. You don't have to fight me, just go home and skip next 20 years of military service
3. Independence to minorities and the conquered
4. Equality to the Old Believers

Jewish role in Russian revolution is discussed a lot, but it's largely a projection. Westerners project their own culture wars on Russia. Meanwhile the elephant in the room - dissidence *within* the Orthodox Church is ignored. It's difficult to weaponise in Western culture wars

So now let's get to the policy recommendations for the current conflict. The best strategy would be playing on internal divisions which are enormous. Giving salt to the ones who need the salt you have and not fantasising about deescalation with the ones who don't

First. Make surrender of Russian troops in Ukraine as easy and lucrative as possible. Ukrainians understand it and try to work on that. They try to lure Russian soldiers to surrender "to save their lives", they're offering pilots a million usd to turn over their jet to Ukrainians

I don't think it gonna work well. First, Slavs don't really believe in Slavic financial guarantees. If it was let's say a Swiss company offering money, it would have stronger appeal. Great strategy would be - offer cash for 1) turning over 2) destroying Russian military equipment

The very fact that you might get a lot of cash in hard currency for destroying a Russian missile system, adding sugar to the oil or doing other sabotage would very much destroy the trust among the troops. Especially regarding that many already look for the way out

Another obvious question is - ok, I surrender. Now what? Honestly speaking, right now I don't see any attractive perspective. What you gonna do after, return to Russia where they investigate how and why you surrendered? Doesn't look that promising to be honest

Some speculate about giving surrendering Russian soldiers refuge on the West. It could be a good idea, but I don't think it may really be organised soon. And in order to have an impact on the course of war the green corridor for surrendering Russians should be organised asap

A more realistic option would be negotiating with some warm countries with easy immigration policy (Colombia, Argentina, etc) and simply paying them to accept surrendered Russians. So they would get them some sort of visas + small cash for surrendering + a lot for active sabotage

I know that doesn't sound efficient moral crusade wise. But it absolutely can be efficient goal wise. With the conflict ongoing, much of the world would be in a deep economic crisis, and there will be warm countries with easy immigration policies desperately looking for cash

Many Russian troops in Ukraine have very low motivation. Conscripts were sent by force. Many national guard paramilitary feel tricked into the war. When they transferred from the police to the newly created guard, they thought they're getting military benefits with no risk

Cops thought they get military mortgage etc with no downsides. Instead they were sent to a bloodbath. Many started complaining that the entire reform was about "tricking cops into the war". If you watch this video with destroyed Russian convoy, you'll see why they want to escape

Finally, many of the "Donbass and Luhansk army" are also low motivated. In the jargon of Russian irredentists there there is such a word as twenty-five-thousanders, двадцатипятысячники. What does it mean?

On the early stages of Donbass war, it was launched my highly motivated fighters. Russian security apparatus, intelligence and many local volunteers. As it usually happens on wars, they ran of volunteers quickly. Their casualties are huge, while the supply is limited

Fortunately for Russia, Donbass fall into humanitarian catastrophe. Most businesses closed, remaining like cpal mines, paid minuscule salaries among the rampant inflation. It was very difficult to earn your living. So Russians would pay 25 000 rubles for joining "Donbass army"

These people were called twenty-five-thousanders because they obviously joined for pay check, around 400 usd per month. They were looked down upon because they had lower motivation and honestly they'd prefer to collect the pay check and skip the fighting

This case shows first of all, that the Donbass crisis was manufactured and maintained by Russia. They portray it as a natural mass rebellion, but almost all of actual fighters were unmotivated ones who literally fought for food, because of humanitarian catastrophe Russia created

Secondly, American military always exaggerate how easy it is to crush this or that group by force (with no salt offered) and underestimate how cheap it is to bribe them. As a rule, people who end up on war are poor (by standards of a region). There are few rich kids in trenches

Thirdly, huge number of Russian military in Ukraine are low motivated. They don't want to fight. They would rather turned back and go to Russia, but that's not an option now. They would escape, but don't know where. Give them the way out. Give a green corridor to a *warm* country

Add a small cash payment for the fact of surrendering and large ones for documented sabotage/turning over the military equipment and you'll be surprised how quickly Russian fighting ability deteriorated, partially because of sabotage, partially by decline in mutual trust

I'll finish with a little known fact. Borodino Battle near Moscow was the single bloodiest day of the Napoleonic wars. Russian soldiers stood all day beating off one French attack after another. They lost 39 00 men, but didn't run away being gunned, shelled and charged by cavalry

You know where Russian army lost more men than at Borodin? In France. After Russian army occupied France, soldiers realised that this is a far richer nation. And after Napoleonic wars it has few men in countryside. So you can easily find a girl wit HER. OWN. PLOT. OF. LAND.

In a rich country with few adult males who now how to farm their positions on sexual and economic market were great, far better than they could ever be in Russia. Bonus point, the country had no passport system, so you could just disappear and it would be hard to find you

And the army started disintegrating. It probably lost around 45 000 men due to desertion, much more than at Borodino. Tsar Alexander was very upset and asked king Louis if he could find them. Louis said sorry no - and Alexander marched out with remaining forces out of France asap

The same soldiers who stood to death against Napoleon when they had no way out, deserted in huge numbers the moment they saw they way out and advantageous perspectives after. So they voted by legs, ending Russian occupation of France quicker than planned

This should be taken into account when planning modern policies. If you want to influence people, you should give them salt. And you give it to those who *really* need the salt you have. Napoleon deluded himself he has salt Alexander needs, but he couldn't offer him anything

So the reasoning shouldn't go like "Cooperation with whom would be the most useful for me?" but "who desperately needs the salt I have and will need it for sufficiently long time?". These will be the only on whose cooperation you can truly rely

The West can very easily and very cheaply give salt to Russia military in Ukraine. It's way cheaper than sending military equipment there. It also can reasonably give salt to Russian officials many of whom now see their situation as desperate and hopeless

West can even give salt to Russian military and intelligence chiefs. It seems Putin didn't consult them about his invasion of Ukraine and dragged them all into existential war without their knowledge or approval. Many of them will be looking for way out and will cooperate

I just don't see which salt the West could give to Putin. Lift sanctions and resume trade? Well, he'll accept it, but now it'll just buy him time to re-orient to China. It won't influence his long term goals, it will just make meeting them way more realistic. End of 🧵

  1. Ukraine's offer was for surrender and amnesty, not defection, and I think the word choice makes a difference. I would not be surprised if Russia punishes friends and family for defections. I think there's also an escalation risk of EU offers it. But overall worth considering.
  2. Unnecessarily risky. Drones and portable AA can accomplish the same goals. In fact, portable AA may be preferable. Much easier for Russia to knock out Ukraine's ability to keep jets in the air than it is for them to knock MPAA and drones.

If an EU/NATO country also managed to extend the amnesty/defection deal to immediate family, and introduced @maximkazhenkov's quite clever "first defectors" incentive, then I am not certain the war would last longer than a couple months.

Providing air support for Ukraine by sending in "little green men in little green airplanes". Considered to be escalatory but has been done before in the Korean war by the Soviets at just as tense a time as today, when both superpowers were already nuclear-armed

What does this mean?


NATO warplanes painted with Ukrainian colors fighting in Ukraine.

It means the people flying the planes are 'private citizens' -- probably retired ex-military and acting as private citizen volunteers, technically, but organized through unofficial channels and with support. If there were truly no other options I might consider it but I think there are less escalatory and still effective ways to help.

>Нет войны. Over

At the beginning of last paragraph, should be "войне"

Fixed. Thank you.


The EU is not currently sending its old MiG-29 fighter jets.

I'm not too surprised by this. Fighter jets are sophisticated machines. As good as the move sounded initially, there might be practical reasons why these jets simply can't be deployed effectively in the hands of Ukrainians.

Turkish drones are fighting alongside MiG-29s. It's like we're living in an Star Trek alternative timeline.

I must say I'm not too thrilled by this development. Even though it is good news for Ukrainians right now, this is further evidence that drones will absolutely dominate the battlefields of the future. During the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, the effectiveness of drone strikes was brushed aside with "these slow, relatively low-tech aerial assets would be sitting ducks against a major-power adversary". Now that excuse doesn't fly any more.

I have high confidence that the dominance of drones in conflicts between technologically-sophisticated powers is (barring world peace and civilizational collapse) inevitable. This is a public, registered prediction.


It's not just that drones will be a decisive factor, that has already been the case with air power for >30 years. What's terrifying to me is that drone warfare intrinsically favors the attacker - drones can't defend you against drones, you can only retaliate, like with nuclear weapons. Unlike nuclear weapons, the threshold for using them in war is very, very low, as is the technological barrier to entry.

Digital image enhancement technology is also used by most night vision devices, making them lighter and smaller. Using a complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor (CMOS) sensor, night vision devices convert light into a digital signal. An LCD display then receives the digital signal, which is enhanced electronically. The larger the CMOS sensor, the higher the resolution of the image. Some recent digital night vision devices even produce color images.

As much as I don't want to be the guy that ruins the mother of all coordination problems, do protests work in a place like Russia? There are strong methods of resistance that don't rely on overt declarations like protesting, so it's not the only option. As far as I can tell, all protestors in Russia have done over the past hundred years or so is get themselves arrested or killed, and I'm not sure what a reasonable success story would look like.

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As far as I can tell, all protestors in Russia have done over the past hundred years or so is get themselves arrested or killed, and I'm not sure what a reasonable success story would look like.

Ok, that's a damaging enough counterexample that I'm a little confused as to why I wrote my original comment. 

[+][comment deleted]2y0