I grew up reading books like WWIII: August 1985, Red Storm Rising, and Team Yankee as a kid. After all, I was a military brat growing up in a coastal town that was mass-producing destroyers, cruisers, and LHAs as fast as they could hit the water because the Russians– led by Ivan Drago— Were Coming.
Now we have this conflict in Ukraine, the closest thing to a modern near-peer war since 1982, and while it is many things, it is not entertaining.
I don’t have the space, intestinal fortitude, and energy to detail what is already being termed the Russo-Ukrainian War, encompassing an estimated 180,000 Russian ground troops against a mobilized 240,000 Ukrainian army and paramilitary forces.
But I do have some interesting notes that I have noticed while watching a war unfold on my phone in real-time.
While “official” losses in terms of human life are slim compared to World War daily figures– the Ukrainians claim to have inflicted 800 casualties while suffering under 450 of their own, the images and video coming from the region would seem to belay that as a gross underestimation on both accounts.
According to the Pentagon:
The assault started in darkness this morning, Ukrainian time, with a Russian missile barrage of around 100 intermediate-range, short-range, and cruise missiles, the official said. Missiles came from land, sea and air platforms.
The Russians used roughly 75 fixed-wing, heavy and medium bombers as a part of their assault. The targets were primarily military bases and air defense nodes.
The British MOD said:
In the early hours of the morning, President Putin launched a major unprovoked assault on Ukraine, firing missiles on cities and military targets. The invasion came despite weeks of Russian claims that they had no intention of invading.
Then later in a day-end update, remarked that “It is unlikely that Russia has achieved its planned Day 1 military objectives. Ukrainian forces have presented fierce resistance across all axis of Russia’s advance.”
The Ukrainians claim to have knocked out 30 much more modern Russian tanks, 130 assorted military vehicles, and 14 aircraft as well as capturing a handful of Russkis, while the Russians claim to have totally neutralized the Ukraine air defense net, made in-roads into the country from at least five points, and have shot down nine aircraft that managed to get off the ground.
A couple of key takeaways, though, is that the Ukrainian T-64BVs, ancient tanks that were obsolete as far back as Team Yankee, have taken a severe beating.
In another, it looks like the Western NLAWs and Javelins rushed to the country by NATO have taken their toll on Russia’s most advanced combat vehicles, defeating stand-off cages and other countermeasures, leaving lots of broken armor and blunted convoys in their wake. Their recently-withdrawn British, Canadian, and American (Florida National Guard’s Task Force Gator) training cadres are no doubt nodding into their whisky as they watch the footage.
Ukraine troops have shown off lots of Western-supplied Stinger MANPADS, M141 BDM (SMAW-D), the NLAW, and the Javelin ATGM, seen above their transit cases.
While the Russian VDV and Spets guys are fanatical, a lot of these Russian troops, especially those driving trucks and recovery vehicles without adequate top cover, are likely conscripts. Cannon fodder. I almost feel bad for them.
Regardless, depictions of Ukraine’s two newest patrons, of our ladies of the top attack, St. Javelin and St. NLAW, are circulating widely.
Further, while the Russians have steamrolled Ukraine’s airfields and at least one (some reports say damaged) SU-27 made an emergency diversion to Romania, there does seem to be a Fulcrum driver that is– and this could be wild propaganda– been holding his own around Kyiv, downing a reported six Russians. The feat would make him the first attributed European air ace since Korea.
They call him the “Ghost of Kyiv,” and there is a ton of buzz and memes floating around about him even if he doesn’t exist.
I can vouch that there is a stirring video purporting to be a low-flying Ukrainian MiG-29 dogfighting with a Russian Sukhoi Su-35 (but looks to me just like two Fulcrums working high-low).
The David and Goliath struggle has been exemplified by the reported lop-sided stand on Snake Island by 13 Ukrainian border guards against the Russian cruiser Moskova, with the words “Russkiy voyennyy korabl’, idi na khuy” now ringing around the globe.
Finally, in a return to low-tech, with both sides fielding much the same kit– after all, Ukrain inherited most of its equipment from the old Soviet Union– the Russians are using an “Invasion Stripe” recognition stripe in the form of a painted-on “Z” despite the fact there is no such letter in the Cyrillic alphabet, something that had been noticed by reporters in Belarus as far back as the 19th.
Either way, if you’re the praying sort, the Ukrainian people could use some.