Things We’re Watching
by Richard Cameron
Vladimir Putin Pivots To War Crimes And Genocide After Military Failures
The first phase of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s planned, unplanned invasion of Russia’s neighbor, Ukraine, was, in theory at least, to be a swift moving assault on Ukrainian military defenses. That has demonstrably, in the view of credible military analysts worldwide, been an abject failure.
A failure, because on paper at least, Putin’s superior numbers of troops, weapons and the multiple points of attack, should have resulted in effective control of the targeted country and its cities, in a matter of 24 to 48 hours, with a minimal loss of troops and hardware.
What we have witnessed this past week, demonstrates an abysmal lack of understanding of the capabilities of the opponents’ defenses and the grit and determination, not to mention, adaptability of the Ukrainian people.
As a consequence of miscalculations, Russia has sustained a shocking number of casualties and loss of materiel. But we have also witnessed how Putin, incensed by the failures to engage the enemy, has pivoted to a campaign of atrocities against the civilian population.
In the ten years the U.S. spent in Vietnam, we lost over 58,000 service members. Reports of Russian losses are said to be over 18 percent of that total in just slightly over a week’s time. Western analysts in military intelligence are gobsmacked at the disorganization and unbelievable cluelessness of the Russian field commanders, all the way up to the Generals and Putin himself.
Yet, the results are not entirely surprising, when some basic factors are taken into account. Yes, it would be hyperbole to label Russia’s military a “paper Tiger”. It is not quite that, at least in terms of statistics.
Russia’s military budget is number four among the ranks of world military powers – behind India, China and the United States and just slightly ahead of the United Kingdom. Russia also ranks 4th in the number of men and women in uniform, at 3,568,000 – as compared to the U.S., with 2,233,050.
It can generally be said that with the exception of a few cutting edge missile technologies, Russia is considerably more dependent on conventional strategy and the United States and NATO are more technology and platform based. For example, the Russian Navy has a cumulative fleet tonnage of 845,730 – while the U.S. has 3,415,893 lbs. at its disposal.
Even with the disparities between the two, the Russian armed forces are nothing to be sniffed at in terms of potential.
The problem for the Kremlin and its arch despot, Putin, is that Russia, when the chips are down, is living down not up, to its potential as demonstrated in this current episode.
We won’t catalog every shocking mishap that has occurred with Putin’s operation, but just highlight a few shining examples:
- A sizable detachment of special forces from the semi-autonomous region of Chechnya, under the leadership of the leader of the republic, domestic terrorist Ramzan Kadyrov, had been dispatched by Putin, to assassinate Ukrainian President Vlodymyr Zelensky. On February 26, Ukrainian forces destroyed a column of 56 Chechen tanks near Hostomel, a key battleground outside Kyiv. Ukrainian authorities report that only a few survivors were taken captive.
- Among the Chechen casualties was a top general and the commander of the operation, Magomed Tushaev, pictured above. The Chechen unit was part of the 141st Motorised Regiment of the Chechen National Guard. The particular team, now dead with a few taken prisoner, were veterans of horrific domestic terror operations within Chechnya, including operations targeting LGBTQ citizens for torture and murder.
- Ukrainian forces, having been supplied by Turkey, with Bayraktar TB2 armed drones, have inflicted substantial losses to Russian military convoys. Open source intelligence from Stijin Mitzer, reveals that as of March 1 – at least 32 Russian vehicles have been destroyed by the drones, which have exposed the inability of Russian (BTG) Battalion Tactical Groups, to function coherently as such on the actual field of battle. Samuel Bendett, with strategic think tank CNA, says that “The fact that there may be surviving Bayraktars somewhere is an embarrassment to Russia … clearly.”
- A Russian convoy 65 kilometers long, of tanks and other motorized weapons was reduced to ruins by Ukraine forces in the area of Bucha, using shoulder fired anti-tank munitions – Next-generation Light Anti-tank Weapons (NLAW) launchers supplied by Great Britain as well as other firepower such as artillery, drones and Molotov cocktails.
- Morale among the rank and file of Russian invasion forces is extremely low. Reports indicate that captured troops are telling Ukrainian officials that they were totally misled by their commanders about the nature of the mission, such as that it was represented as a joyful reunification of Ukraine with Russia and that the occupation would be met with virtually no resistance.
- Many are in a state of shock and some observers attribute the stalled column of trucks and troop transports for logistical resupply heading toward Ukraine’s capitol, Kiev, in part, to sabotage by the conscripts themselves. Training for many of the men in uniform, is known to be woefully inadequate and as a result, a sizable number of them are willingly surrendering to Ukrainian forces.
- Craig Hooper, writing in Forbes, reports that the conscripts are, by numerous accounts, “abandoning gear, deserting, and showing other signs of strain, (and) an urgent push to further erode Russian morale could throw Russian President Vladimir Putin’s tottering military into complete disarray.” Hooper, in the article, also describes the golden opportunity the Ukrainians have, to begin an, “information operation”, to capitalize on the current state of mind of so many of the Russian forces.
- Shashank Joshi, a reporter with The Economist, reports that a Pentagon source told him “with certainty” that “Russians are sabotaging their own military vehicles.”
- Low troop morale has actually been something reported as a weakness in the Russian military for years and it is playing out now at a crucial time and is being exacerbated by problems with adequate supplies of food, water, fuel and equipment failure. This combined with the totally unanticipated ferocity of the Ukrainian military and citizen militias, is having a severe impact on these young soldiers.
- A Pantsir-S surface to air missile array was abandoned by Russian troops, for reasons that are matters of speculation and subsequently destroyed by Ukrainian partisans in a local village near Nicolaev. Just one of these on a mobile platform, costs the Kremlin $14 million.
- Add to all of this, the broad support from the U.S., Western Europe and NATO’s Eastern European member states, as well as from many other countries joined in opposition to Putin’s move against a sovereign democracy. Ukraine is continuing to receive defensive systems and armaments as well as humanitarian aid from a diverse number of nations.
- According to NATO – Belgium, Canada, the Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, the U.K. and the United States have already sent or are approving significant deliveries of military equipment to Ukraine, as well as millions of dollars, while other member states are providing humanitarian aid and welcoming refugees.
Putin is a jilted lover.
“Ukraine resisted my advances, so now she’s going to suffer.”
The above is not an actual quote, but it might as well be, since Putin is responding to Ukraine’s rebuff of his operation to pull their country into Russia’s cold embrace, in the manner of a business executive who fires a subordinate for refusing to go to bed with him. Only this version of sexual harassment has taken a deadly turn with ferocity.
The unwilling partner has now been marked for genocide. The world has seen this play out in many other settings in the last two decades, where no concept of rules of engagement enter into the execution of a military campaign. This was true in places such as Syria, Libya, and Northwest Africa (Mali).
Putin has concluded that since his military engagement with Ukrainian defense forces and armed citizen brigade has proved a colossal miscarriage, he will turn his rockets, missiles and bombs on civilians, even children. Honest observers acknowledged that Russia was a terror sponsoring state, but now it officially has exposed itself as a terrorist state, employing weapons of mass destruction on non-combatants.
Homes, apartments, restaurants, shopping centers, schools and hospitals are all being hit with Russian munitions. In its entirety, it is all to the extent that no recitation of it is necessary here; You see it yourself on the hourly news reports and online media. We can believe our lying eyes that this is deliberate and it is genocide. Not only is it all that, but it constitutes war crimes.
“We know very clearly that if civilians are directly targeted, if civilian residences or locations are targeted, that is a crime. And it’s no defence to say that they may be a military necessity if wide-ranging weapons are used; weapons that are not precise or that have a large footprint in very heavily populated civilian areas,” ICC Chief Prosecutor Karim Khan told FRANCE 24.
We speculated that Putin’s capture of the failed Chernobyl nuclear power plant last week, could be an effort on his part to threaten against any further assistance of Ukraine.
Since that report, evidently I am not the only observer that has taken this into their calculations. And, Putin is likely considering an array of deadly chemical and bio-weapons for use against Ukrainians, in addition to radioactive exposure.
How far can Putin proceed with his genocidal targeting and murder of civilians before the West calls his bluff on the nuclear blackmail and steps in to put an end to the carnage?
The answer to that might lay in some aggressive overreach on the part of the Russian dictator, such as an event that exceeds the national boundaries of Ukraine and results in loss of life in one of the bordering NATO countries, which in effect, triggers the provisions of Article 5 of the NATO charter.