back to article US, NATO military plans leak: Actual war strategy or pro-Kremlin shenanigans?

War plans apparently detailing secret US and NATO support for a Ukrainian offensive to regain land invaded by Russia were leaked via social media Thursday – and almost as quickly as they appeared, their legitimacy came under fire. The purported classified documents surfaced on Twitter and Telegram, and immediately sparked a US …

  1. Yorick Hunt Silver badge
    Big Brother

    Neither one nor the other.

    This "leak" is just as credible as the group of friends hiring a yacht and scooba gear. The mere fact that the mainstream press is slobbering all over it is testament to that.

    1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

      Re: Neither one nor the other.

      The mere fact that the mainstream press is slobbering...

      All perfectly normal. The usual suspects are acting as the usual suspects do, ie acting from the same hymn sheet. 51 current or former intelligence officers say this has all the hallmarks of a Russian disinformation campaign. Maybe it's real, maybe it's not, maybe it's something NATO's leaked to feed misinformation to Russia. It's a game everyone's playing and both sides try to manipulate and control shape the narrative.

      But from what I've seen, there are several versions of the documents floating around, usually photos of printed materials. Some do appear to have edited casualty estimates to favor one side, or the other. This is an interesting project-

      https://en.zona.media/article/2022/05/20/casualties_eng

      Mediazona, working with BBC News Russian service and a team of volunteers, continues to collect data about the casualties sustained by the Russian military in Ukraine. These numbers do not represent the actual death toll since we can only review publicly available reports including social media posts by relatives, reports in local media, and statements by the local authorities.

      So a semi-open source project to try and provide estimates. Neither of the two partners are exactly neutral, or impartial wrt to the Russian government (or 'regime'), but the methodology appears sound. But the numbers diverge widely from 'official' casualty estimates given out by the US, UK, Ukraine, NATO or even the Institute for the Promotion of War. Casuality estimation is an inexact science though, because reports use different metrics, ie counting deaths, or counting deaths plus wounded, then differentiating between wounded that can rejoin vs those that can't.

      There's also some common sense. If Russia's suffered 200k+ and Ukraine <50k, then.. how? Most of the conflict so far has been artillery driven, and Russia's outgunning Ukraine by 6-8x, and has significant numerical advantages in number of artillery pieces and volume of fire. It could be that Ukraine's artillery is much more precise and effective, or it could be the usual fog of war.

      Hopefully both sides will come to their senses soon and there'll be serious attempts at peace negotiations. If not, actual casualty numbers are just going to keep climbing.

      (oh, and I do not have any copies, won't link to any I've seen, or comment on any of the specifics. If they are classified docs, they're classified docs)

      1. Lars Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: Neither one nor the other.

        "If Russia's suffered 200k+ and Ukraine <50k, then.. how?".

        I don't know if there is any truth to that or not, but for the "why", lets remember it's the Russians coming over the border and fairly easy to spot.

        And the motivation to defend ones own country tend to be a lot higher than running around in a foreign country for no good reason and being shot at.

        1. FlamingDeath Silver badge

          Re: Neither one nor the other.

          This is basically the Cuban Missile crisis, but in reverse.

          Idiocracy a great documentary, I recommend it

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: If Russia's suffered 200k+ and Ukraine <50k, then.. how?

        well, for starters, because - generally - the casualties of the attacking side v. defending side are about 3:1 (casualties being both dead and wounded, i.e. those that can't carry on, for now). Or, at least, this is a 'common wisdom' repeated in mass media. You might claim that 'it's a trench warfare, so the casualties should be equal, if not more leaning to the benefit of Russians, who still have, if not overwhelming, at least significant superiority in artillery pieces and ammo' (well, maybe less so with ammo). This might be the case, if it wasn't for the fact that the Russians KEEP attacking, so it's not just an artillery duel and whoever has more shells buries more enemies. Russians keep sending their men (for now) forward, much more often, with much less care for their lives than the Ukrainians, who generally, though not always, mow them down, also with support of accurate artillery fire. There was, recently, a rather hilarious admission by Sladkov (a Russian war correspondent), who lamented that the Russian artillery shelled some chicken farm, wasted hundreds (I don't remember details) of shells, some Russian troop finally occupied it, and then quickly withdrew, after a sparse, but deadly accurate Ukrainian artillery fire. Sounds familiar re. WW1?

        Another reason for such 200K/50K discrepancy is simply motivation. Or lack of.

        All that said, I would not be too focused on those two figures, though I personally believe that, indeed, the approx. 3:1 ratio is, more or less, accurate (less so in Bachmut, where it could, recently, be approaching parity, but that's an exception rather than a rule).

        1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

          Re: If Russia's suffered 200k+ and Ukraine <50k, then.. how?

          This might be the case, if it wasn't for the fact that the Russians KEEP attacking, so it's not just an artillery duel and whoever has more shells buries more enemies. Russians keep sending their men (for now) forward, much more often, with much less care for their lives than the Ukrainians, who generally, though not always, mow them down, also with support of accurate artillery fire.

          Maybe, but then Ukraine's been a sitting target given the extensive fortifications it's been occupying. Plus Russia using nasty weapons like it's TOS-1 systems. There's also the propaganda around this, ie claims of repeated Russian 'human wave' attacks with little evidence to support this. Ukraine has also been attacking, often with disastrous results like some repeated river crossing attempts. But there are reports of a lot of probes by both sides. As for places like Bakhmut, that seems mostly Wagner vs Ukraine, and it's the lot of a mercenary to die for your employer. That's also where the MSM reporting has been strange. Bakhmut is inconsequential, yet Ukraine keeps pouring men and materiel into defending it.

          But this is also the IT angle, eg the use of social media and OSI to attempt to collate casualty data. As the numbers increase, it gets harder to hide those events given the popularity of social media and the ease of Tweeting that out. So I think the only accurate statement for casualty numbers for both sides is 'too many'.

          There was, recently, a rather hilarious admission by Sladkov (a Russian war correspondent), who lamented that the Russian artillery shelled some chicken farm, wasted hundreds (I don't remember details) of shells, some Russian troop finally occupied it, and then quickly withdrew, after a sparse, but deadly accurate Ukrainian artillery fire.

          Yup. Early on in the conflict there was the same kind of reporting about Russia's misguided missiles hitting a chicken farm in Deliatyn with a Kinzhal. Seemed a bit wasteful, but then there was a very large ammunition bunker under there. Russia knew this, because they built it. Well, the Soviet Union did. But battling over outbuildings has been a theme of the conflict. One side occupies one and uses it as an OP or firing position, other side shells it, rinse and repeat. Quantity still has a quality of it's own, and there have been plenty of eye-witness reports from Ukrainian soldiers saying they fire 5 rounds, Russia fires 50. Plus the logistics of extended artillery shelling, eg the US had problems with all the M777's being shot out at it's firebases in Syria. Those are lightweight field guns not intended for sustained fire. Same with any artillery piece, ie accuracy degrades as barrels wear out. Russia started the conflict with many more guns, and seems able to produce far more than we can thanks to our short-sighted de-industrialisation policy and constran defence cuts.

          1. IceC0ld

            Re: If Russia's suffered 200k+ and Ukraine <50k, then.. how?

            [quote]Bakhmut is inconsequential, yet Ukraine keeps pouring men and materiel into defending it.[\quote]

            it MAY be inconsequential, but it is their homeland, and as such ALL land will be fought for, and if they HAD just pulled back, say 10 miles, and then fought, would THAT be the correct decision ?

            the reality is that wherever the Ukrainians draw a line, and fight, there will always be some back room / non fighter arguing that they needed to do X, Y .......

            it may be that the losses now are so large that ANY thought of withdrawal would be seen as a betrayal of those who fell, but it also could became the straw that breaks the Russian back, even though it is a Private Military Contractor [PMC] doing the fighting, should they be exterminated, it will have a major impact on Russia's ability to progress the war at all

            read somewhere that the Russian's still do have superiority in artillery, but are having the 80/20 fail, for every 100 shells fired, 80 miss their target

            Ukraine may well have fewer guns, but their 80/20 ratio is of 100 fired, and 80 hit the target

            know someone with intimate details of the conflict - military guy - and says the Ukrainians use artillery the way we use Uber :o)

            in that the unit will put out a call, and any gun in range - NOT units - will respond, and so the target is hit, from multiple angles of the compass, none are firing more than a couple of shells, and the counter fire, is therefore unable to detect a location, let alone respond to it

            anyway, stay safe all, we are SO much better off where we are, and here's to Ukraine stopping Russia DEAD

            they have already destroyed the myth of the Soviet Super Soldier

            to clarify 'extermination' should a military unit suffer more then 50% losses - dead / wounded - it is counted as no longer fit for combat, and withdrawn to regroup, retrain. Should the damage to the unit go to more than 80%, it is effectively gone, destroyed, and sometimes units with the bad luck to have been so badly mauled are never re instated, and a new unit will be raised in its stead

            1. DS999 Silver badge

              Re: If Russia's suffered 200k+ and Ukraine <50k, then.. how?

              I've read they are defending it because Russia views it as so vital they are willing to lose a nearly unlimited number of soldiers and contractors to take it. Supposedly (and this is presumably coming from Ukraine so it may be exaggerated) Russia is taking casualties at a 10:1 ratio compared to Ukraine's, due to the way Russia is conducting that offensive. So it is worth Ukraine's while to make them pay with as much blood as possible so long as they maintain the ability to retreat if it ever looks like Russia might encircle their forces.

              Obviously Putin can draft as much farm boy cannon fodder as he needs but he is losing a lot of Wagner contractors who are about the only competent forces left on his side so even if he drafts enough soldiers to replace all his losses the average level of experience and competence on his side continues to decline. Russia is also having a difficult time equipping their forces even with basic stuff like a working rifle, so the more injured soldiers on the Russian side the more logistics they will need to expend on those not in the fight. The more the Russian people see their countrymen come back from the "special operation" missing limbs the more people will question Putin's leadership. That might not change anything today as there is no indication his grip on power is weakening, but over time as Putin gets older the less support he has amongst the Russian population the more difficult it will be for him to hold onto power.

              1. katrinab Silver badge

                Re: If Russia's suffered 200k+ and Ukraine <50k, then.. how?

                Russia is a big country if you count km², but it is not such a big country if you count people, and even less of a big country if you count young people.

                After WW2, the Soviet Union plus other Soviet-aligned countries were the second largest "country" in the world, after China. India overtook it in the 1960s, and when the Soviet Union collapsed, the population was about 1/3 Russia, 1/3 other ex-Soviet Union countries, and 1/3 other Eastern Block countries. Now it is only a little over twice the size of the UK, and smaller than such giants as Bangladesh and Nigeria.

            2. Jellied Eel Silver badge

              Re: If Russia's suffered 200k+ and Ukraine <50k, then.. how?

              it MAY be inconsequential, but it is their homeland, and as such ALL land will be fought for, and if they HAD just pulled back, say 10 miles, and then fought, would THAT be the correct decision ?

              the reality is that wherever the Ukrainians draw a line, and fight, there will always be some back room / non fighter arguing that they needed to do X, Y ...

              Sure. But this is also the problem. There was the 2014 coup, the new policies stripping regional autonomy, the de-Russification, and the start of the civil war. Crimea seceded pretty much bloodlessly, Donbas.. didn't, so there'd been fighting there for over 8 years until the most recent escalation. So essentially Ukraine's ethnic Russian population is also fighting for their homeland. Sure, that might be illegal, or unpopular, but such is secession theory. The pesky Colonials across the pond rose up against their oppressors in 1775, won their independence and this is now widely celebrated. The UK voted to secede from the EU more recently, in a less bloody process that's.. celebrated by some, not by others. The UK still has terrorists/freedom fighters who seek to re-unite Ireland using violence and intimidation. Scotland wants to secede from the UK and join the EU instead, and there are numerous other secession movements ongoing around the world.

              So both sides are motivated, and the situation is complicated. Which is also the challlenge with peace negotiations. This conflict could probably have been avoided by restoring autonomy to the break-away regions and allowing more self-determination. That would probably have resulted in Ukraine becoming more of a constitutional republic, like the US, but Kiev refused. So the civil war escalated, and positions became (literally) more entrenched. Propaganda and influence campaigns played a major part in this, both in fomenting the 2014 coup/regime change, and subsequently, ie the Minsk process. It's perhaps unsuprising Russia doesn't trust current proposals for more talks, or cease-fires that it isn't proposing.

              it may be that the losses now are so large that ANY thought of withdrawal would be seen as a betrayal of those who fell, but it also could became the straw that breaks the Russian back, even though it is a Private Military Contractor [PMC] doing the fighting, should they be exterminated, it will have a major impact on Russia's ability to progress the war at all

              Yep. Again a problem with the propaganda campaigns. Bakhmut isn't important and we don't need it anyway. Probably not what Bakhmut's defenders want to hear from their leaders. Or it is important, and Zelensky presents a flag to US Congress signed by the heroic defenders of Bakhmut.. And they are heroic given the horrific conditions they're fighting in. But it's also important because Bakhmut is a major logistics hub for the Donbas region, as anyone could tell from simply looking at a road & rail map. So from a propaganda/influencing campaign, Western messaging has been.. mixed. Ukraine might prefer to have retreated from Bakhmut, but been overruled. It may have ignored advice to retreat and conserve assets, and has continually reinforced. Russia needs to take Bakhmut and consolidate it's control over the regions its claimed. It may be in no hurry to do this given it's stated objective was demilitarizing Ukraine, which it appears to be doing by a war of attrition. Our media claims Russia's failing because it's not been taking territory, but again, that's never been Russia's stated objective.

              Then there are other narratives. The 'best' of the Ukrainian armed forces are defending one of Ukraine's largets and most strategic cities against Russia's version of Blackwater(ish). And losing. Reality seems to be it's defended by territorial units that were raised to defend their parts of the homeland, which has created morale problems. Meanwhile, the UAF has been training and assembling 9 fresh brigades ready for the much hyped Spring Offensive(s). That could be anything from 40-100k+ fresh troops, supplied with the best NATO equipment, who'll re-conquer Bakhmut, Crimea, Mariupol/Melitopol and maybe even Moscow.

              Which is kinda back to the 'leak'. It's over a month old, and probably doesn't tell the Russians anything they don't already know. What is more probable are events are in motion. The West needs something to happen to avoid war fatigue, so does Ukraine, and Russia. What that will be is probably why Zelensky went to Poland last week to be briefed face-to-face. But this is one of those pivotal moments. If Ukraine suceeds, it'll be in a much better position to negotiate any peace. If it loses, it's going to struggle to try again. Again this is a policy problem because we've been busily de-industrialising and making manufacturing & heavy engineering much more expensive. This is again a huge political problem because our 'leaders' have been busily creating insane energy and environmental policies, which means we can't deal with national security threats like these. A failure for project Ukraine means a massive failure and loss of face for NATO, the EU, and the US. The world knows ths and has already started adapting to the new New World Order.

              This is a very high stakes political game we've been sucked into, and much harder than baking and handing out cookies.

              know someone with intimate details of the conflict - military guy - and says the Ukrainians use artillery the way we use Uber :o)

              in that the unit will put out a call, and any gun in range - NOT units - will respond, and so the target is hit, from multiple angles of the compass, none are firing more than a couple of shells, and the counter fire, is therefore unable to detect a location, let alone respond to it

              Maybe. But Russia can do that as well. Fairly early on in the civill war, a UAF position was caught in a cauldron, abandoned and there were pics of pretty much complete US counter-battery systems still in their travel cases. There were similar situations in Yemen with Saudi abandoning a lot of kit which probably ended up with Iranian and Russian intelligence. Russia already had it's own systems, and well versed in networked & integrated FCS and could have updated it's systems and tactics based on that. And again it's a numbers game. If Russia has more battlefield surveillance kit, it can cover more of the battlefield, and detect those artillery. If Russia out competes, it'll reduce Ukraine's ability to fire because it's artillery will have to keep moving to avoid counter-battery fire. Especially if it wants to use artillery in support of any counter-offensive.

              But this is why war is hell. Russia's been busily digging in along likely directions of attack, creating it's own layered defences of trenches and fortifications. Any Ukrainian counter-offensive faces the same theoretical attacker vs defender ratio challengs, plus Ukraine may have to be advancing across pretty open ground. With very limited artillery or air support. It's going to be brutal. Again this is where the propaganda and IT angle comes in. Failure is going to impact morale. Some parts of the media are already starting to question narratives, eg the Times just wrote an article about an attempt to recapture the Zaporizhzhia NPP last year. At the time, Ukraine and the MSM denied that operation, now, it appears to confirm it.

              to clarify 'extermination' should a military unit suffer more then 50% losses - dead / wounded

              Or just combat ineffective. But again it's a propaganda thing, eg-

              https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-65213426

              Estimates on total losses vary, but most US and European officials put the Russian death toll at well over 60,000.

              This appears to contradict the Bbc/Mediazona's own research. Why could this be? Again I think it's the IT/social media angle. It's not the message our leaders want to tell people, even when there's copious evidence to contradict it.

              But being Easter, I just hope the parties to this conflict can finally come to their senses and end all this bloodshed.

              1. ryokeken
                Happy

                re:"our 'leaders' have been busily creating insane energy and environmental policies,.."

                "If Ukraine suceeds, it'll be in a much better position to negotiate any peace.

                If it loses, it's going to struggle to try again.

                Again this is a policy problem because we've been busily de-industrialising and making manufacturing & heavy engineering much more expensive.

                This is again a huge political problem because our 'leaders' have been busily creating insane energy and environmental policies, which means we can't deal with national security threats like these. .."

                I’m confused,

                who is "we" and "our leaders"?

                what are those "insane energy and environmental policies"?

                i feel i've read something similar but can't remember, are you affiliated with any policy institution yourself that reflects this position or is it just your own thoughts on the subject?

                maybe it was you whom i actually read , it happens “¯\_(ツ)_/¯“ =)

                1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

                  Re: re:"our 'leaders' have been busily creating insane energy and environmental policies,.."

                  who is "we" and "our leaders"?

                  The collective West. Which is a small subset of the rest of the world.

                  what are those "insane energy and environmental policies"?

                  The root cause of much of this. We must wean ourselves off cheap and efficient oil & gas. We must not depend on a tyrannical state that arrests and locks up it's political opponents on trumped up chages. We must waste billions on windmills, which created even more dependency on gas for electricity generation. We must use these policies to make energy costs far more expensive and deindustrialise our economies because they're dirty. We must ban nitrogen products as well, even though agriculture, explosives manufacturing and many other products use nitrogen and chemicals like ammonia. They're usually produced from gas as a feedstock.

                  Then we have a bit of a conflict with another oil, gas and generally resource rich nation, and discover our policies mean we can't produce the stuff that's needed to beat them. You can order food from UberEats, you can't order field guns or artillery shells from your phone. Well, some authorised buyers may be able to do that, but will probably be told they're out of stock or on back order. The conflict has provided a useful distraction from these self-inflicted policy failures, but our leaders don't care and are largely unaccountable. Inflation is Russia's fault, not the fault of extremely dumb and short-sighted policy decisions.

                  i feel i've read something similar but can't remember, are you affiliated with any policy institution yourself that reflects this position or is it just your own thoughts on the subject?

                  Nope. Just someone who exercises free will. I often make these same points, but there is a growing realisation that our leaders have screwed up in spectacular fashion. Probably because there are a huge number of policy institutes that have been promoting 'renewables' and other planet-saving products and services because regulatory capture is a way to make trillions in easy money.

                  Which is also one of the reasons why our leaders are so keen to fight Russia down to the last Ukrainian. Russia is immensely resource rich, and we want to profit from those resources.

              2. veti Silver badge

                Re: If Russia's suffered 200k+ and Ukraine <50k, then.. how?

                This appears to contradict the Bbc/Mediazona's own research. Why could this be?

                Probably the conflation of "casualties" with "killed". 200,000 casualties is not inconsistent with 60,000 killed.

                Lazy reporters and commentards (and believe me, there are few people lazier - intellectually speaking - than those who write commentary and leaders in the British press) often tend to overlook the difference, and start talking as if all "casualties" were dead. 'Tain't like that.

              3. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: If Russia's suffered 200k+ and Ukraine <50k, then.. how?

                re. So essentially Ukraine's ethnic Russian population is also fighting for their homeland.

                They're not, they're already practically wiped out, I've heard it admitted more than a few times from the Russian side. And the 'separatist' (only technically, because they're all supposed to be One Big Mother(...) Russia) - they take in more and more Russian mobiks, because they combat-ready 'locals' from Doneck / Luhansk areas are all dead or no longer able to fight (unable to return because of the long-term inuries, usually lost limbs).

              4. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: If Russia's suffered 200k+ and Ukraine <50k, then.. how?

                re. That would probably have resulted in Ukraine becoming more of a constitutional republic, like the US, but Kiev refused.

                - they refused on two reasons, first, because they're too proud to admit defeat, but more importantly, they're pragmatic and see the bleeding obvious: loss of Crimea was their first loss. Then, the Russians sent volunteers and effectively cut off a very important economically, part of the country, i.e. Donbass. They also claimed that the real Russian intention for Minsk agreements was, under the pretext of 'decentralisation of Ukraine' to get to such a point, legally, when Donetsk and Luhansk regions would obtain right to 'self-determination'. Then, another, Crimea-style, referendum for that area, another success for Putin and boost for his ratings (Peter The Great 2.0, etc.) Then, how about Kharkiv and Odessa regions that, 'traditionally' had some fairly strong pro-Russian stand (well, no longer, post 2022). It would be extremely unfair, with Ukraine, a 'fallen state', to ignore the rightous voice of the people of Odessa and Kharkiv regions, not to mention Zaporoshya and Cherson, who prefer stability and prosperity enjoyed by 140M Russians (flourishing in harmonious cooperation with Europe).

                So yes, Kyiv refused.

              5. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: If Russia's suffered 200k+ and Ukraine <50k, then.. how?

                re. Maybe. But Russia can do that as well (ref. to uberisation of artillery).

                - Russia can - in theory, but it is unable to, in practice, and the reasons are not technological, and not even structural on the logistics level, but structural in the most fundamental way of how Russian chain of command (military and civilian) operates throughout the Russian 'system'. Essentially, Russian can't do it, because it goes against the grain of the whole 'roof' system, when you're . To do it, they'd have to disassemble their corrupt system, and re-build it from scratch. Which they won't do. They manage to succeed on a micro-scale, but this can't be scaled up, because there's a huge number of 'glass ceiling' levels above them (more like ferroconcrate ones) that firmly resist any change. It's ferroconcrate all the way up to Kremlin (all's good boss, we're winning!). There are a couple of documents on RUSI site that give an overview of this structural problem, by the way, also a few texts in 'Foreign Policy'.

                Incidentally, the very same problem persists with the Ukrainian army (and political system) too, but it appears less widespread. Ironically, inflexibility / inertia / ass-covering appears to be a common problem with any, sufficiently complicated, organization, including Western military-political complex (think of the numerous debacles and mega-uber-fuckups re. implementation and cost overruns of military hardware).

              6. IceC0ld

                Re: If Russia's suffered 200k+ and Ukraine <50k, then.. how?

                you mention the 2014 Crimea occupation, yet fail to mention the Ukraine THEN was a totally different country to now, the leader then took off and emptied the treasury, the country was officially THE most corrupt, and they are still fighting that tag, but to compare the Russian populace in place in Crimea, with a Ukrainian population that is not fighting for its very existence is to clearly miss the point.

                it's why the 'Nazi' epithet was used against the private military force in Mariupol, The Azov Regiment, they were the ONLY active unit in the army that had sufficient weapons and supplies, but also had some links to right wing influences, this has now been passed, as they were effectively eliminated in the steel works

                the latest influx of Russian's into Crimea is all since the occupation, and they are now finding out that maybe, just maybe, Moscow wasn't telling all the truth about their acceptance into society there

                should Ukraine get into effective range over Crimea, the game is up, the population will abandon ship as fast as they can, there has been some data released onto the WWW recently, both sides agree it is looking real, but all sides can see there has been editing ............. specifically the Russian KIA / WIA has been considerably downgraded, and the Ukrainian numbers inflated - why would there be a need to do this ? IF the Russian / Ukrainian numbers were correct, meddling will only disprove the new figures

                also both sides are claiming it as dis information in regards to future plans / ability / readiness

                the answer will unfold in the next few months, as all followers of Russian history know, General Winter is a deadly foe, but the initial release form the cold comes at a price of the thaw, making all movement hard if not impossible

                the big push is coming, I truly believe Russia is fast approaching a position here they will no longer be able to pursue the war at all, Ukraine is a smaller country, but in numbers their respective armies are now coming close to parity, and that coupled with decent kit, and plenty of ordnance should be the turning point to make the world a different place, not necessarily safer, but most definitely different

              7. Casca Silver badge

                Re: If Russia's suffered 200k+ and Ukraine <50k, then.. how?

                Thank you for all of the russian talking points in one entry...

            3. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: If Russia's suffered 200k+ and Ukraine <50k, then.. how?

              Commonly a unit is considered combat ineffective after taking 30-35% casualties. A unit is considered destroyed in action after taking 50-65% casualties. Note that this depends on many factors; notoriously the Iron Brigade (1st Brigade, 1st Division, 1st Corps, Army of the Potomac) took over 35% casualties on several occasions, and continued to fight. (The Irish Brigade of New York and the Irish Brigade of Pennsylvania also took heavy casualties and continued to fight; the 1st Minnesota took 81% casualties and continued to attack. Examples from later wars include the American torpedo bombers at Midway, Japanese troops all over, and 5 and 6 SS Panzer. And 2 Para on Arnhem Bridge. And the Glosters on the Imjin.)

              1. disgruntled yank

                Re: If Russia's suffered 200k+ and Ukraine <50k, then.. how?

                Alas, the US torpedo bombers at Midway were combat ineffective before they took off. The main purpose they served was to keep the Japanese Combat Air Patrol occupied shooting them down while the dive bombers approached.

          2. EvilDrSmith Silver badge

            Re: If Russia's suffered 200k+ and Ukraine <50k, then.. how?

            M777 is not a 'lightweight field gun' in the sense of being less robust than other equivalent systems. It's a standard medium artillery system.

            It has a lighter weight than the weapon it replaced, true, but that's through selection of materials to obtain tactical advantage (lighter = easier and quicker to move, more choice of tow vehicle).

            All artillery systems wear out their barrels with sustained firing. Given the amount of artillery being used, it will be an issue for both the Ukrainians and the Russians.

            1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

              Re: If Russia's suffered 200k+ and Ukraine <50k, then.. how?

              M777 is not a 'lightweight field gun' in the sense of being less robust than other equivalent systems. It's a standard medium artillery system.

              It was originally the "Ultralight Field Howitzer" and has a recommended barrel life of 2,500 rounds. See also-

              https://www.nytimes.com/2022/11/25/us/ukraine-artillery-breakdown.html

              Ukrainian forces have also received 155-millimeter shells from countries besides the United States. Some of those shells and propellant charges had not been tested for use in certain howitzers, and the Ukrainian soldiers have found out in combat that some of them can wear out barrels more quickly, according to U.S. military officials.

              After the damaged howitzers arrive in Poland, maintenance crews can change out the barrels and make other repairs. Ukrainian officials have said they would like to bring those maintenance sites closer to the front lines, so that the guns can be returned to combat sooner, the U.S. officials and other people said.

              All artillery systems wear out their barrels with sustained firing. Given the amount of artillery being used, it will be an issue for both the Ukrainians and the Russians.

              True. There may be differences in basic barrel life, ie D-20 or 2A36 may last longer, or doctrinal, ie Russia cares less about accuracy and makes up for it with volume. The bigger difference is logistics, so Ukraine has to schlep M777s 1,000km+ back to Poland to repair and refurb, then 1,000km+ back. Russia has maintenance depots much closer to the front lines, plus more units in the first place. Then there's barrel production (or sleeve), so UralTranSmash capacity vs Watervliet Arsenal. Yekaterinburg is much closer to the front than Troy, NY.

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: If Russia's suffered 200k+ and Ukraine <50k, then.. how?

            re. TOS usage, I'd count that in single digits over the last couple of months (honestly, no more than up to 4 - 5 in total, a couple against Uhledar, and one or two against Bakhmut. Obviously, not all of them are recorded and made public, but given the number of video recording devices on Ukrainian and Russian side, I'd say, this is a good reflection of actual usage. The reason they're used so sparingly is because they're slow, easy to spot, and their range is relativey very low (10K or so), which makes them an easy target, even for a granade carrying drone (recently, one successful kamikadze drone attack against a TOS near Uhledar caused the Russians to bolt a 'chicken cage' on a few of their TOS units. Technically this should help, but in reality it's just an minor nuisance to change an attack angle, as with attacks against 'caged' Russian tanks (which, by the way, have now been seen reinforced with caged active defence bricks):

            t.me/horevica/10838

            (by the looks of it, it's ex-Marinka)

            re. it's not true that there's 'little evidence' of Russian human wave attacks, there are numerous videos (by now dozens, if not hundreds) and numerous interviews with Ukrainian soldiers and Russian POWs. Obviously, you can always claim the interviews are 'faked' (boost for Ukrainian morale) and the videos are actually same vidoes just filmed from various angles / different drones of the same spot. This, from my observation, happens, randomly, but not on purpose, it's just that case of more than one soldier with a phone camera, more than one drone, etc. Obviously, the 'juicier' videos are then picked up by official, propaganda channel of both sides and re-used. But I don't see any artificial amplification for propaganda purposes on the 'organic' level, i.e. primary source. They will, obviously, only show what's good for their side, and publish less, or nothing of their own misery, but no signs of artificial 'inflating' of their victories (other than by individual soldiers with a tik-tok mentality, for personal glory).

            Incidentally, those leaked US documents (I'm now more inclined to believe they're real, not leaked on purpose), claim the KIA rate as up to 43K for the Russians and up to 18K for the Ukrainian side, which looks almost like that 3:1 ratio. That said, I do believe that the Russian ratio is underreported (also the Ukrainian, but less so), simply because of a large number of Wagner convict troops (up to 50K), of which, allegedly, up to 30K or more have been killed or seriously wounded around Bakhmut alone. While the Russian site, in the long run, do collect the bodies, whatever the Ukrainians say, when the Russians move into this or that captured territory, they don't have enough people to collect bodies and the battle for Bakhmut still rages on, so they're not sending any civilians (or POWs) to collect those bodies. Which, to me, implies that many thousands of bodies are slowly decaying, unclaimed and uncounted.

            re. Bakhmut being inconsequential, it is very important for the Ukrainians, or became so, at some point this winter. Firstly, for the internal audience, as the Ukrainian public is as hysterical (if not more) than any other, and the fall of Bakhmut would (or will) be seen as the first 'lost battle' after successful victories last year. This would (will) compound their recruitment / draft problems, which they hide and the Russians try to amplify. They also fear, right or wrong, that the Western leaders' decisions on how / whether to support Ukraine is emotional, i.e. a Ukrainian 'victory' converts into a boost of Western help, or at least 'increases confidence level', while any loss / fall, even if not consequential, strategically, goes the opposite way. And, finally, there's the 'unknown' factor, at some point, in Jan / Feb, they decided to keep defending Bakhmut, rather than to withdraw. I presume this was a decision based on some calculations, rather than a whim, based on some assessment, perhaps intelligence. Now, there's been speculation in public sphere, internally and in the West, that this Ukrainian decision / calculation has been to 'exhaust' Russian forces, perhaps cause some internal fractures (political), perhaps to concentrate the Russian forces on that inconsequential battle in order to lauch Ukrainian counteroffensive. Maybe.

            As to Russia being able to produce more (guns), there's no evidence that it can and that it is (likewise Medvedev's widely ridiculous claimed, even in Russian social media, about 1500 new tanks to be produced this year). There's been a constant trickle of older and older systems being moved from storage and used in the conflict. That said, it happens on the Ukrainian side.

            As to why the US have decided to donate their M777s (whom the Ukrainians revere as much as the himars systems), it's one of those mysteries nobody can explain, particularly as the US have thousands of the older variants (exact nomenclature escapes me), main difference being they're heavier, non-titanium. Perhaps the US storage is as much a myth as the Russian storage, i.e. it's all crap with only a small fraction really able to be re-used.

            btw, New York Times pieces on the leak, in the header:

            www.nytimes.com/2023/04/09/us/politics/leaked-documents-ukrainian-air-defense.html

            btw2, if NYT block access after 2 - 3 free articles, they can still be accessed via 'print friendly' extension, i.e. printed to pdf.

            btw3, ironically, in this day and age, OSINT data is the most accurate source, to the point that official, gov sources, quote that open-source kill list of Russian hardware, and some intelligence agencies are claimed to use, without citation, osit, in their public releases, while some gov orgs think of setting up yet another intelligence agency (or five ;) that would gather only osit, because osint seems to have been such a success.

        2. Binraider Silver badge

          Re: If Russia's suffered 200k+ and Ukraine <50k, then.. how?

          Lots of campaigns fought in budgetary circles concerning the 3:1 ratio over the decades. Mark Herman, formerly a DOD contractor and professional wargame designer has written various essays on the subject that make for interesting reading; and relate to DOD procurement decisions on whether fractional differences between one-unit or another would result in the force ratio assessment shifting.

          It is a fact of the matter that an attacking force has to expose itself in order to advance. In the absence of effective armour and air cover, the attacking force has must expose itself to move up. With the potency of recon assets as they are now, the disparity is somewhat unsurprising. It is being made worse by throwing green and/or untrained forces into the mix. Plenty of examples in WW2 of green forces being thrown away, not changing the result other than increasing the butchers bill.

          For Ukraine to go on the offensive, they know they are facing more or less equivalent recon capability and have similar problems when it comes to armour and air cover. They are also much able to absorb losses. Thus we have a mostly attritional stalemate that, for the moment, favours Ukraine. Erode enough Russians and eventually, an opportunity may arise similar to what happened in the sudden rush last year. It's probably why "unimportant" locations like Bakhmut are still worth defending: they are making the russians pay heavily for no real strategic gain.

          1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

            Re: If Russia's suffered 200k+ and Ukraine <50k, then.. how?

            They are also much able to absorb losses. Thus we have a mostly attritional stalemate that, for the moment, favours Ukraine. Erode enough Russians and eventually, an opportunity may arise similar to what happened in the sudden rush last year. It's probably why "unimportant" locations like Bakhmut are still worth defending: they are making the russians pay heavily for no real strategic gain.

            I think this is the huge gamble, ie who's 'winning' the attrition war, and who can bring forward the most BCRs. Again I think this is mostly a propaganda thing, ie who's got the high score. Reality is nobody is really winning because a lot of people are dieing, and there's been an awful lot of destruction. It's also who 'won' Ukraine's last two offensives, and at what cost. If you're scoring based on territory, then sure, Russia lost a lot, but overall, it's still quite a way ahead of where it was when the conflict started. If it's as Russia's stated a war of attrition with the intent to demilitarise Ukraine, it may be winning given Russia withdrew to conserve it's forces.

            I personally don't think Russia was very serious about holding that territory anway because it never really seemed to have dug in. Compare that to what's been happening along the current 'land bridge' bewteen Crimea and Donbas where they've been heavily fortifying over the last few months. But as history has shown, attackers can often try to go around those defences. Especially as that's where most of Russia's reserves seem to be, and there's a large river in the way. I think it's much the same with Bakhmut, and again back to attrition. It pins troops from both sides, and allows them to be attrited. But it's still a strategic location for logistics, and if Russia punches through, it potentially puts a big hole in the Ukrainian defence lines it'd been building over the last 8 years.

            I don't think it's certain, and it will be a tough battle given both sides view this as an existential threat. I also wonder about the propaganda angle, ie the MSM has been expressing more doubts recently, Russia's been using it's airpower more frequently, and if that's just an attempt to lure Russia into a false sense of security.

            1. Binraider Silver badge

              Re: If Russia's suffered 200k+ and Ukraine <50k, then.. how?

              The alternative to the attritional strategy is a mobile offensive or capitulation. Mobile offensives need air cover or they will be obliterated. See the Ardennes, 1944; Iraq 1990-1991, or Kyiv, 2022 for examples.

              On the subject of winning, well yes, stating the obvious nobody really wins. But, Do you really advocate capitulation in the face of the bully that will only make them hungry for more? Which state is next on the sacrificial block at the bullies greed? And where does it end? Now with that rhetorical, and unnecessary argument out of the way, lets consider subject matter.

              A Ukrainian offensive is a much much bigger gamble than the attritional warfare that has seen Russia rolling out museum pieces as reinforcements.

              Air superiority is absolutely the key to breaking the stalemate for either side. Neither side has the equipment to do so directly. Aerial attrition, such as the Iranian drones - that can't be ignored but each one eats up an expensive SAM to eliminate - is one route to do it.

              If it were NATO, large scale air power and PGMs would be used to neutralise the air defence threat from S300/S400 etc.

              But it's not NATO at hand, leaving few options.

              Diplomacy is out because of aforementioned feeding the troll.

              In it for the long haul, or not on it at all.

      3. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
        Coat

        51

        51 current or former intelligence officers

        Any relation to "Area 51"?

        1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

          Re: 51

          Any relation to "Area 51"?

          Nah, think it was to do with some laptop or something..

      4. Schultz

        Simple explanation for low Russian death count on Mediazona

        According to the Mediazona website:

        "These numbers do not represent the actual death toll since we can only review publicly available reports including social media posts by relatives, reports in local media, and statements by the local authorities.

        The real death toll is much higher. Besides, the number of soldiers missing in action or captured is not known."

        So they don't count soldiers who were not officially killed in Ukraine. And the Russian Army seems to have a lot of I centives to keep the official numbers low: Financially they are on the hook for widow pensions, etc., if they acknowledge a war death. And I won't have to spell out how hight casualty numbers might affect their PR efforts.

        So, pointing to the Mediazona numbers to question other counts is a bit nonsensical. RtFM!

        1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

          Re: Simple explanation for low Russian death count on Mediazona

          So they don't count soldiers who were not officially killed in Ukraine. And the Russian Army seems to have a lot of I centives to keep the official numbers low: Financially they are on the hook for widow pensions, etc., if they acknowledge a war death. And I won't have to spell out how hight casualty numbers might affect their PR efforts.

          So, pointing to the Mediazona numbers to question other counts is a bit nonsensical. RtFM!

          This is true for both sides. Ukraine is also very sensitive about it's own casualty figures for exactly the same reasons, hence why they're regarded as unreliable or should be taken with a pinch of salt. The Mediazona part is perhaps more interesting given that's a joint project with the Bbc, yet the Bbc prefers to use 'official' estimates and very rarely mentions it's own. But that could be related to it's latest Twitter spat.

          But there's some common sense. If Ukraine is winning, it should be continually sending troops into Bakhmut, just rotating troops to rest them. Russia apparently has 97% of it's entire armed forces committed to Ukraine, yet still has maybe 200k+ of the reservists it called up waiting to counter or conduct the Spring offensives. Then there's the IT angle. If Russia really had lost 200k+ troops, you'd expect more chatter on social media etc about those deaths. The more deaths, the harder it'll be for either side to conceal those.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Simple explanation for low Russian death count on Mediazona

            re. If Russia really had lost 200k+ troops, you'd expect more chatter on social media etc about those deaths.

            - there's a lot chatter on Russian social media about those deaths, e.g. vkontakte. However, it's a common phenomenon that people don't like to accept bad news / draw conclusions. If the sources of information you've listened to / watched all your life (i.e. peddling pro-Russian version of reality) say losses are 'minimal', a natural tendency is not to go out and search for other sources of information who claim it's all false, and the losses are huge. It's a natural instinct, and I feel the same, when I force myself to comb pro-Kremlin sources. My natural instinct is to seek out those sources, that support the pro-Ukrainian narrative. It's nicer to stay within your prefered info-bubble which claims all those cia-sponsored, corrupt 'sources' are just fakes.

            Nevertheless, there is this phenomenon that seems to baffle people who study social trends, perhaps you can call them 'sociologists'. If the number of (high) Russian casualties is true and it is _personally_ verifiable by individual Russians, i.e. their family members or friends have died or come back wounded, they can't refuse this as 'Western propaganda' and 'fakes', and this, surely, should convince the Russians that their losses are, indeed, huge, right? I don't follow this subject too closely, but some explanation might still go back to human tendency to bury the bad news. Think of the Jews who first heard about extermination - they refused to believe it. They then received some verification when their own relatives and friends 'disappeared', yet they still refused to believe it, buying into the most absurd fantasies and rationalisation. Then the death squads started picking from their own community, and even though there was no doubt any longer, they still remained passive, awaiting their turn. Some sort of 'fatalism' and interita (carefully nurted by Russian authorities), which goes back, perhaps, hundreds of years, might be at play today. Also, combined with the fact that the brighter and more affluent were the majority of those that ran away from last autumn mobilization, and what's left is a docile herd. Perhaps they need another million (or more) casualties to reach the level of discontent similar to 1917?

            1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

              Re: Simple explanation for low Russian death count on Mediazona

              - there's a lot chatter on Russian social media about those deaths, e.g. vkontakte.

              Again the point re Mediazona & the Bbc. This chatter is what they're monitoring and draw their estimates from. Those are much lower than the official estimates..

              My natural instinct is to seek out those sources, that support the pro-Ukrainian narrative. It's nicer to stay within your prefered info-bubble which claims all those cia-sponsored, corrupt 'sources' are just fakes.

              That's basically confirmation bias, and common. I read and watch a variety of reports from pro- and anti- both sides and draw my own conclusions. I sometimes even watch Denys's YT channel. I agree that sticking inside your own bubble, or comfort zone can be misleading, eg the 'Ghost of Kiev', or this chap-

              https://www.newsweek.com/james-vasquez-ukraine-american-soldier-fraud-donations-1789755

              But the MSM can be easily fooled-

              https://www.theguardian.com/world/video/2022/mar/25/us-volunteer-soldiers-ukraine-frontline-footage-video

              as they were when trying to explain why Russia would be attacking an NPP it occupied and controlled. Or there's the whole Azov thing. The NYT ran a story showing trainees wearing WW2 vintage insignia. or there were official videos featuring this woman-

              https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vita_Zaverukha

              and others shot on the same set as Vasquez used. Complete with what was probably a Ukrainian vehicle behind them. That part is less certain given both sides are using essentially the same kit, or captured kit. Both sides are making heavy use of propaganda and media manipulation, which is a bad thing because it'll continue to lower people's trust in the MSM. One of the huge problems Ukraine has is many of it's ultra-nationalists don't want Ukraine joining the EU either. Not so sure how they'd feel about 'Plan B', and Ukraine being partioned along the Dniepr, with Poland restoring part of it's old Polish-Lithuanian Empire. The EU's been pretty hard on Poland, so wouldn't suprise me if they're merrily acting in their own interests.

              Perhaps they need another million (or more) casualties to reach the level of discontent similar to 1917?

              Look at the polls. Russians still seem to like Putin, and his approval ratings in the US are catching up with Bidens. Again this is why there are huge political pressures. Biden's offered pretty an open chequebook and will support Ukraine 'Whatever it takes'. So what do you think will happen, if the much hyped counter offensive fails? Putin of course faces exactly the same risk, which is why whatever happens is likely to be very brutal. Both sides want to send a message, neither side wants to back down.

            2. Binraider Silver badge

              Re: Simple explanation for low Russian death count on Mediazona

              US losses in Vietnam were, according to the National Archives, 58,220 fatalities. US population in 1965 was ~200m. In a country with a (mostly) free press, this ratio was enough to drive out LBJ and elect a President mandated to get out of Vietnam.

              Russia's population today is ~144m; and has also entered stage 5 of the demographic transition model model. It's reported negative growth for a few years; assuming the stats are to be believed.

              For comparison, the Soviet Union's population in 1939 was about 170m; and total losses in WW2 estimated in excess of 25m. Obviously, the losses of that era had a multitude of their own causes; but it illustrates the degree of tolerance that media manipulation and existential threat enabled.

              As large as the Russian losses undoubtedly are; Ukraine probably cannot rely on manpower erosion alone to force Russia to the negotiating table on terms it would consider.

    2. Zolko Silver badge
      IT Angle

      Re: Neither one nor the other.

      group of friends hiring a yacht and scooba gear

      wot ? You don't believe that you can fit helium tanks, a decompression chamber and 1.5T of military C4 explosives on board of a recreational sailing yacht ? But they had a doctor, and Biden said it's true, so it must be.

      On the other hand: why is this article on El Reg at all ?

      1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

        Re: Neither one nor the other.

        wot ? You don't believe that you can fit helium tanks, a decompression chamber and 1.5T of military C4 explosives on board of a recreational sailing yacht ? But they had a doctor, and Biden said it's true, so it must be.

        Not sure Biden did say it's true. It differs from the Hersh version in it did get more widely reported in the media. Mostly without commentary, or any criticial thinking or journalistic investigation. Like the Tardis-yacht problem. If Lewis were still around, he may have offered an opinion as ISTR he was a Navy diver. Problem with the yacht theory is you wouldn't need most (or any) of the stuff you listed. You could dive using rebreathers. Those are compact, allow extended depth and bottom time and commercially available. This also means there are lists of certified rebreather divers, because if you aren't certified or at least well trained, you'll just end up on a list of diving fatalities instead. You wouldn't need a deco chamber unless you were saturation diving, and many technical divers dive off yachts or small boats without them. You would need some gas staged on your surface line, and would ideally want a compressor, mixer and cylinders for that.

        Then there's the explosives. You could buy commercial shaped charges used in the oil & gas industry specifically to poke holes in pipes. They're small. The explosions were also reported as being around 100kg of TNTe, and commercial charges are more powerful than TNT. There's also physics like hydraulic tamping that increase the effect of underwater explosions. So you wouldn't need 1.5T, and that claim was one that made me doubt the original report, ie it's overkill for people that know what they're doing. But apparently 2 of the charges failed to detonate and were recovered, so there's evidence. There's also been some reports recently that residue recovered identified an un-named, specialised military exposive. So again questions the quantity of explosives needed. Plus enthusiastic amateurs can and do make their own explosives. Some even more than once.

        Curious part for me was why the finger got officially pointed at Ukraine. Answer might be the ongoing oligarch wars, because any of their oil & gas oligarchs would know, and have access to the people and materials needed to poke holes in pipelines. That's the business they're in.

        On the other hand: why is this article on El Reg at all ?

        Because there are IT angles. The world has changed, and we no longer need to rely on the dead tree press to educate, inform and entertain us. Which means propaganda and information warfare has changed, and is exploited. The Internet allows us to be informed, misinformed or 'fact check' stuff faster than at any time in human history, whether that's about diving or pretty much any of the claims made around this conflict. Problem with that is it also means we can quickly fact check the MSM or other official claims, which can lead to increased distrust in those media.

        We live in interesting times.

        1. Stork

          Re: Neither one nor the other.

          The reports I’ve seen in Danish media talked about 350-500kg of explosive, assuming it was something like TNT or Semtex, and also commented that was not an amount your friendly local supplier was likely to have in stock.

          The Swedish investigators stated that while the yacht theory was in principle possible, they were assuming a state actor.

          Perhaps the Norwegians? [/joke]

          1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

            Re: Neither one nor the other.

            The reports I’ve seen in Danish media talked about 350-500kg of explosive, assuming it was something like TNT or Semtex, and also commented that was not an amount your friendly local supplier was likely to have in stock.

            Well, there's a lot of it floating around these days. Report I saw was around 100kg per event, so your numbers seem to match that. Not the 1.5t the media ran with.

            The Swedish investigators stated that while the yacht theory was in principle possible, they were assuming a state actor.

            Perhaps the Norwegians?

            Yep. I think it'd be possible, just not very plausible. This is the problem we face with assorted nutjobs who might have access to all the stuff that's beein pouring into conflict zones lately. So there's a long list of potential suspects ranging from anti-fossil fuel ecoterrorists to Ukraine, Norway, Poland and of course the prime suspect. NATO members attacking one of there own. It's still strange that despite it being the biggest act of sabotage in history, none of our leaders seem very keen to tell us who did it.

            1. Stork

              Re: Neither one nor the other.

              I really don’t believe in Norway, I don’t think they would find it worth the risk; they will sell their gas anyway.

              As for independent groups, it’s quite an operation to set up, with significant risk.

              I suspect the investigators want to cross the t’s and dot the i’s and even then need approval for publishing something that political.

              1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

                Re: Neither one nor the other.

                I really don’t believe in Norway, I don’t think they would find it worth the risk; they will sell their gas anyway.

                Yep. I think if Norway were involved at all, it'd probably have been pretty passively. Much of the conspiracy theories seemed to relate to timing of a new pipeline, but as you say, Norway benefits either way. Downside to the dream of weaning the EU off Russian gas is the EU has a distinct lack of LNG terminals, and those aren't cheap or quick to build. The UK also benefitted because we have those. Well, UK businesses benefitted, consumers obviously did not. It's much the same with Poland given their energy policy has been rather more sane that Germany and much of the rest of the EU.

                As for independent groups, it’s quite an operation to set up, with significant risk.

                Therein lies the problem of our age. The Internet makes it ever easy to plan this kind of operation, and we have a wide range of nutjobs who do this kind of thing for their 'cause', or just publiciity or notoriety. So the challenges are more about getting away with it than doing it. Thatcher once said we should deny terrorists the oxygen of publicity, now we have ecoterrorists attacking our infrastructure and economy, and getting a lot of publicity because they're 'saving the planet'.

                But getting back to the topic in hand, WaPo, NYT and others are covering the 'leaks' more, and the extent seems to be growing to include other countries. Kinda embarrassing, if true. But also not particularly suprising given nations are supposed to act in their own national interests first and foremost. It may be considered unsporting, but this is the way the game has been played for centuries. Thanks to our love of technology, we've just made it a whole lot easier to do, and a whole lot harder to defend against.

                1. Lars Silver badge
                  Coat

                  Re: Neither one nor the other.

                  "EU has a distinct lack of LNG terminals, and those aren't cheap or quick to build."

                  Yes but the reality is that they are built all the same, Several now up and running since the war started.

                  Finland got a new one very quickly by ordering a Floating Storage/Production LNG Tanker.

                  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zI4LU7s3E64

                  1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

                    Re: Neither one nor the other.

                    Finland got a new one very quickly by ordering a Floating Storage/Production LNG Tanker.

                    Problem is if we've normalised sabotaging critical infrastructure, then Finland could also lose one very quickly. The EU could ban yachts I guess.

                2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

                  Re: Neither one nor the other.

                  "and we have a wide range of nutjobs who do this kind of thing for their 'cause', or just publiciity or notoriety."

                  While that is true, they are also the people who will make sure you know it was them, either publicly or in their circle of peers. We'd almost certainly know by how if that was the case. It's far, far more likely to be a nation state and their military than any form of nutjobs.

              2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

                Re: Neither one nor the other.

                "I really don’t believe in Norway,"

                Me neither. A country with all those crinkly edges would have eroded away years ago. It's a just a fairy tale to frighten the baby Vikings at bedtime.

            2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

              Re: Neither one nor the other.

              "It's still strange that despite it being the biggest act of sabotage in history, none of our leaders seem very keen to tell us who did it."

              Maybe they don't know? Sometimes, in real life, it can take a long time to work out what happened and who did it. And the consequences of pulling in the "usual suspects" for a session with the rubber truncheon can be a bit severe when you get it wrong and the "usual suspects" are nation states. It likely won't be all tied up with no loose ends in a hour, before the credits role. And even if some of "they" do know, there might be $reasons, political or strategic, not to blab about it while there's still a related conflict going on, but if "they" do know, "they" will have made sure the "them" know that "they" know, by various subtle, possibly diplomatic, means. :-)

              1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

                Re: Neither one nor the other.

                Maybe they don't know? Sometimes, in real life, it can take a long time to work out what happened and who did it.

                That certainly wasn't the case with the MH-17 shootdown. That was pretty much a same-day blame assignment, followed by much denial and blame-shifting by both sides. Several years later, there was an official verdict, but that's still been disputed. Possibly for good reason, ie Ukraine denied it was using Buks and they weren't operational, yet some obviously were given they'd lost an An-26 @ 6,500m a few days ealier. That was above manpad reach, and Ukraine should have closed it's airspace to civilian flights. But their Buk's are certainly operational now and have been used extensively in Ukraine's air defence.

                There's also social media misinformation like this-

                Such air defence systems cannot reliably identify and avoid civilian aircraft.

                Which probably relies on 'reliability'. If you do an image search on 9K37M1 Buk-M1 you can see images of the interior clearly showing an IFF waveform on a display inside the launch vehicle.

                1. Casca Silver badge

                  Re: Neither one nor the other.

                  Disputed by russia no one else.

                  You really like to come out as an russian mouth piece dont you?

        2. Zolko Silver badge

          Re: Neither one nor the other.

          You could dive using rebreathers. Those are compact, allow extended depth and bottom time and commercially available.

          In order to dive below 60m (some say 40m) you need special helium mixture, it can't be done with compressed air. Diving to 80m with simple compressed air is medically impossible. Which means that if you need to do it 4 times on 4 sites, you'll need huge amounts of helium tanks to refill the diver's dive tanks. Also, decompression from such depth takes very long and needs helium tanks all the way.

          Also, you won't be able to do that with only 2 divers, you'd need at least 2 spare divers remaining on alert for rescue if something goes wrong.

          In real-world scenario, you'd have a team of probably 6 divers in a decompression chamber for several days, staying at 80m depth pressure with helium atmosphere, and the decompression chamber would be lowered to working depth where 2 divers would exit and do the stuff, 2 were on alert for emergency, and 2 would be on observation and guidance probably with a small remote-controlled submarine. All this without being noticed by the NATO navy in the neighborhood.

          1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

            Re: Neither one nor the other.

            In order to dive below 60m (some say 40m) you need special helium mixture, it can't be done with compressed air. Diving to 80m with simple compressed air is medically impossible. Which means that if you need to do it 4 times on 4 sites, you'll need huge amounts of helium tanks to refill the diver's dive tanks. Also, decompression from such depth takes very long and needs helium tanks all the way.

            Have a free clue..

            https://www.thescubanews.com/2014/04/03/british-diver-breaks-rebreather-world-record-for-depth-to-290m/

            On March 26th, 2014, following a year’s training in Indonesia, Will Goodman, 37, a technical diving Instructor Trainer, and Guinness World Record holder for the longest scuba dive (48 hours and 8 minutes), descended to a recorded depth of 290m using an unmodified, JJ-CCR (closed-circuit rebreather). Though all depth gauges stopped registering further, it is estimated the actual depth exceeded an astonishing 300m.

            You could dive >80m on regular gas, but it would be a very silly thing to do. People do though, and often end up in coroners reports. In a perfect world, yes, you would have safety divers, but again, many divers don't have those, or deco chambers. You would need a solid dive plan, and enough gas staged at the right depths on the surface line for the required deco stops.

            you'll need huge amounts of helium tanks to refill the diver's dive tanks

            Nope. Just enough high-pressure gas cylinders to mix and fill enough dive cylinders for 2-person deco stops. Plus a few buckets of sodium or calcium hydroxide to refill your CO2 scrubbers.

            All this without being noticed by the NATO navy in the neighborhood.

            Yes, well, I said this would be possible.. I didn't say it would be plausible.

            1. Zolko Silver badge

              Re: Neither one nor the other.

              Because of the breathing mix, I had high narcosis from the nitrogen levels and whole body tremors from the helium

              thank-you for confirming what I said. But what's your point ?

              You could dive >80m on regular gas ...

              no you couldn't, you just proved it yourself. A re-breather only eliminates CO2 and re-injects 02, it doesn't change the fact that N2 is toxic at those pressures. The yacht theory is technically impossible.

              1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

                Re: Neither one nor the other.

                But what's your point ?

                The bit you ignored..

                Since there is no pre-existing information, Will explains, ‘there are so many options, all theoretical. Coupled with physiological and equipment limitations, it was a difficult descent with a very hard, working ascent to maintain the strict decompression schedule to avoid injury.

                He was diving into the unknown, relying on the theory. That was 10yrs ago, knowledge has advanced, as have rebreathers, eg-

                https://www.kissrebreathers.com/catalog/KISS-Sidewinder-p207591749

                KISS Sidewinder Specs:

                Depth rating: 300 fsw / 91 msw

                and the sabotage occured at a reported 60-80m.

                A re-breather only eliminates CO2 and re-injects 02, it doesn't change the fact that N2 is toxic at those pressures. The yacht theory is technically impossible.

                No, it's possible. Rebreather divers dive off small yachts and boats all the time. Most of them survive. If you don't know what you're doing (it's O2, not 02), you'll die. O2 is also toxic at depth/high pressures and people die from oxygen narcosis as well because they don't plan their dives carefully. Also why I think all rebreather manufacturers won't sell you a system unless you can show you're certified.

                1. Zolko Silver badge

                  Re: Neither one nor the other.

                  KISS Sidewinder Specs: Depth rating: 300 fsw / 91 msw

                  you don't understand the difference between the breathing hardware and the breathing gaz used ? The mechanics might be rated at 1000m below see level, but that doesn't mean you can use any gaz at that depth.

      2. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
        Alert

        Re: Neither one nor the other.

        On the other hand: why is this article on El Reg at all ?

        At the very least, an IT angle in following the leak-trail.

        Otherwise, if the icon were still available, one could just as well ask what the "Paris Hilton" angle is

  2. Sanguma

    Welcome to the jungle - you'll never walk alone

    "To be fair, Russia isn't the only country adept at information operations. China, Iran and even the US and UK are quite good at it, too. "

    The actual past masters of information warfare are the House of Windsor; that they aren't absolute bollocks/monarchs is a tribute to other players occasionally outsmarting them. That they have endured to this day in spite of displaying an inordinate pleasure in the taste of their own toes, indicates that they have been playing it very, very well over the past two centuries. You'd never recognize Gilbert and Sullivan's The Pirates of Penzance as a propaganda masterpiece, would you? I doubt they'd consider it that either - but I'm sure that was the effect of that tribute to Queen Victoria at the end.

    1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Re: Welcome to the jungle - you'll never walk alone

      The actual past masters of information warfare are the House of Windsor; that they aren't absolute bollocks/monarchs is a tribute to other players occasionally outsmarting them. .... Sanguma

      The House of Windsor needs to absolutely rehash and fundamentally up its Great Games Play, Sanguma, ...... drag itself out of the Doldrums and energise and/or employ and have deployed something otherworldly and uniquely different and spectacularly surprising, for the barbarians and traitors are at their gate and a'knocking, and seemingly quite determined to have their pound of flesh with as much bad blood as they can spill and spread.

      And in such an eventuality and reality, the inescapable fact that cannot be denied, nor should it either be ignored to allow for its further putrid infection, is only a new strain of blood at the heart of Royal Household Operations going to help them overcome their mounting creeping difficulties. I Kid U Not. Things really are that dire for those thought to be in control of the majesty which has fate and destiny in accord with heavenly wishes opposed to diabolical deeds.

    2. martinusher Silver badge

      Re: Welcome to the jungle - you'll never walk alone

      Read "A Man Called Intrepid" to get a feel for how UK information works. Its a biography of a Canadian active during WW2, quite brilliant.

      (An earlier testimonial to the efficacy of the UK's propaganda efforts from the WW1 era is in "Mein Kampf".)

    3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Welcome to the jungle - you'll never walk alone

      "The actual past masters of information warfare are the House of Windsor; that they aren't absolute bollocks/monarchs is a tribute to other players occasionally outsmarting them."

      I think you'll find the British monarchy haven't been absolute monarchs for a very, very long time and haven't been in a position to become so for most of that time. There's a thing called a Parliament, and a constitution even it it can be a bit difficult for some to access, what with it being a collection of multiple documents rather than a single one.

  3. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Quite Good is Nowhere near Good Enough to Lead Anything Anywhere Great

    Jessica, Hi,

    To be fair, Russia isn't the only country adept at information operations. China, Iran and even the US and UK are quite good at it, too.

    To the victor, the spoils, is the Great Game being played out here, and in a novel field of brainwashing endeavour, to be quite good at it rather than trailing and trialing excellence for overwhelming unassailable advantage, has one’s wars lost even before any battles have begun.

    And although a pedantic point, it is misleading to report that countries are adept at information/misinformation/disinformation operations, whenever they are solely the responsibility of humans leading others in a certain direction with the sharing of their view of a possible future with the application of the exercising of their greater intelligence/viable imaginanation, although even that unique ability, in these days of 0days and phishes and virtual trojans and AI wannabe ChatGPTs, may have one following and believing the thoughts for deeds to be done dirt cheap delivered by A.N.Others foreign and/or alien and SMART Virtual AIMachine-like.

    But you were made aware of the difficulty in actually knowing about where anything truly ground breaking and Earth shattering comes, and quite specifically so, and not so very long ago too, on February 12, 2002, ..........

    Reports that say that something hasn't happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns—the ones we don't know we don't know. And if one looks throughout the history of our country and other free countries, it is the latter category that tends to be the difficult ones. ..... United States Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld

    ...... for now is the age of the practically unknown virtually unknown exercising absolute command and control of the future with Remote Semi-Autonomous MetaDataBasICQ Leverage here to prove and demonstrate the point.

    :-) The capture of hearts and minds is what drivers the delivery of future space and ground events on and from Earth. How are your current leaders progressing, or not as the case may be, with that AI ProgramMING? Are they struggling to understand what can and needs so easily to be done for the greater good of everyone and everything?

    From here where I be, it certainly appears to be so. What do you see from where you sit? Everything going along nicely, in reverse?

    1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
      Alert

      Re: Quite Good is Nowhere near Good Enough to Lead Anything Anywhere Great

      The problem with AI is, the inference is based on re-enforced learning on "known knowns" - what happens when AI encounters "unknown unknowns"?

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The purported classified documents surfaced on Twitter and Telegram

    well, they first appeared on reddit first, then some 'improved' variants surfaced on telegram and twitter.

    btw, NYT claim a new batch has appeared, but I haven't seen any actual images.

    1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Re: The purported classified documents surfaced on Twitter and Telegram

      No images? .... it never happened .... is a common mantra that fakers and piss takers and bullshit merchants alike, dislike and despise. Show the evidence if it exists.

      And another well known observation is .... Truth is the first casualty of war ...... which then means that the main stream media is constantly pumping and pimping for war, for they, the lily-livered pathetic shower that they be, appear to be permanently terrified of revealing and deep see reporting on it, invariably just in case it offends anyone presumed and assuming themselves to be powerful and maliciously vindictive with consequences/repercussions likely to negatively impact upon their continuing employment and regular pay check ....... which is the very simple way in which such things work to have everyone remain dumb and stupid, and compliant and weak and appearing to be meek in the depths of serial ignorance and desperate unhinging arrogance.

    2. Zolko Silver badge

      Re: The purported classified documents surfaced on Twitter and Telegram

      they first appeared on reddit first, then some 'improved' variants surfaced on telegram and twitter

      I've read a lot that the documents were falsified, but if it were true it would be easy to proove: simply show the portions of the images that were altered, photoshopped. But apart from the claim that the Russian casualties cannot be as low as 17000 (as is apparently written in those documents) I haven't seen any actual images. And if there were 2 versions of the documents, the "original " and the "improved " ones, it would be even easier to prove the forgery.

      Yet : nothing to see apart from some photographed charts

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The purported classified documents surfaced on Twitter and Telegram

        there's been a shot of this one 'corrected' image on several pro-Ukrainian telegram channels, showing the original photo and one photoshopped. Rather clumsy job, and most probably done by one of the pro-Russian channels which had nothing to do with original leak, just an opportunistic hand-job.

        Incidentally, the chain of what appeared where first, is a bit more convoluted:

        www.bellingcat.com/news/2023/04/09/from-discord-to-4chan-the-improbable-journey-of-a-us-defence-leak/

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Actual war strategy or Russian fake news?

    I wouldn't think it's the Russians. Yes, probably they grabbed the chance and 'corrected' some of those photos, once they grabbed the original photos, purely for propaganda purposes, to post them on telegram channels. Generally, the avalanche of information and disinformation is so massive and constant, that I can't imagine they would bother to spend that much time to create such 'documents' from scratch - by the time they finish, this would have been old, stale, boring news. Plus, the benefit to them isn't that great (they've been talking about this Ukrainian offensive, actually unintentionally hyping it up among themselves since at least January), and all the figures in those documents are either publicly available (western equipment), or speculative (losses).

    More likely, it was either a genuine leak, or an intended one. I can't exclude the first option, last summer there was something similar, less hyped up, but even more interesting, tha showed how detailed intel is passed from the US to the Ukrainians (which explains, to some degree, their fantastic accuracy in artillery deployment). And those documents might have been distributed among the Ukrainians during their numerous visits and military consulation / coordination with the US, usually in Germany or Poland. Likewise, might have been photographed by one of the millenial junior US staff, when the old boy, aka 'the old fart' went to take a leak. Or by the Ukrainian millenial junior staff, when the Ukrainian old boys returned home, etc. But my gut feeling is that it's an intentional leak, perhaps to test waters and see if the 'audience' is receptive and how quickly the leak spreads.

  6. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Alien Planned Leaks ... Factual Ware to get the FAANGs ur2die4 into ....

    ...with El Regers providing Situations Publishing Stealthy Insertions into Applications Programming Future Hearts and Minds.

    A boldly going, headline title ably supported by the following evidence ......

    In its report, issued in March of that year, the commission [National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence] warned: that China could soon replace the US as the world’s “AI superpower”; that AI systems will be used (surprise, surprise!) in the “pursuit of power”; and that “AI will not stay in the domain of superpowers or the realm of science fiction”. It also urged President Biden to reject calls for a global ban on highly controversial AI-powered autonomous weapons, saying that China and Russia were unlikely to keep to any treaty they signed. ..... Sat 8 Apr 2023 16.00 BST .... https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2023/apr/08/as-ai-weaponry-enters-the-arms-race-america-is-feeling-very-very-afraid

    ...... which is a similar warning to the one also provided earlier in the day [Sat 8 Apr 07:13 BST] by El Reg AI Think Tanker Fleet AIR Armourers [Advanced IntelAIgent Researchers] for ITs Special AIR Services Operations, albeit with the following earlier one being considerably more sophisticated and stealthily developed and exercised ......

    …… for now is the age of the practically unknown virtually unknown exercising absolute command and control of the future with Remote Semi-Autonomous MetaDataBasICQ Leverage here to prove and demonstrate the point.

    :-)The capture of hearts and minds is what drivers the delivery of future space and ground events on and from Earth. ..... Quite Good is Nowhere near Good Enough to Lead Anything Anywhere Great

    And there you all were, probably thinking the The Register [Biting the hand that feeds IT] had lost its cutting technology edge. Shame on you. Now pay more attention because from here on in things are gonna get real spooky and surprisingly lively and more LOVEly. Listen not to the purveyors and surveyors of Doom and Gloom and FUD with nothing but more threats of terrifying terror and catastrophic collapse on offer. Their goose is well and truly cooked with them having burnt it to a crisp and ashes all by themselves.

    Light years ahead of any negative competition has one leading way out in front with no 0day opposition ?

    1. martinusher Silver badge

      Re: Alien Planned Leaks ... Factual Ware to get the FAANGs ur2die4 into ....

      Actually, when it comes to not keeping to treaties the US is by far the front runner. Part of this is due to it being practically impossible to ratify them (they have to be ratified by the US Senate) and partly because whether or not they are kept to depends entirely on the needs of the next election cycle.

      It doesn't help that with regard to Ukraine the Minsk agreements were described as shams, devices to buy time while Ukraine militarized, by people who should know better such as Merkel, Macron and (I think) Portishenko. Negotiating in bad faith seems to be a recognized tactic even though it puts all treaties into doubt.

      As for the notion "AI Superpower" this assumes that there is but one sort of AI, a sort of omni-cognisant Deep Thought that knows all that can be 'possessed' -- we've got it and they haven't, that sort of thing. The reality is likely to be a bit more diffuse. China will succeed in becoming an AI Superpower merely because its putting the hours in -- instead of think tanks fretting about whether they can be stopped (and politicians devising every more Byzantine methods to try to stop them) they're just beavering away putting the hours in. Our politicians, short sighted and stupid, merely provided their focus by attacking them for being enterprising and successful.

      1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

        Re: Alien Planned Leaks ... Factual Ware to get the FAANGs ur2die4 into ....

        ...Otherworldly Business Deliveries ‽ *

        That post deserves an upvote, martin, ushering in as it does more of the emerging future truth than a terrorising and terrified mainstream media and its puppet moguls and muppet receivers are able or enabled to accept and believe and transfer to the masses for their Advanced IntelAIgent Education and Entertainment .... AI Enlightenment and Stealthy Edutainment. A virtual reality which has them rendered as King Canutes in an age with places and spaces as have IT and AI running riot and rampant throughout their SCADA Command Systems .... and just doing their thing, sticking IT to the man/Biting the hand that feeds IT garbage.

        With particular regard to ....

        As for the notion "AI Superpower" this assumes that there is but one sort of AI, a sort of omni-cognisant Deep Thought that knows all that can be 'possessed' -- we've got it and they haven't, that sort of thing. The reality is likely to be a bit more diffuse.

        ..... to work on, and work in the reality that SMARTR AIs realise there can be any number of omni-cognisant Deep Thoughts that know all that can be 'possessed’ whenever sharing what is known for the Holy Grail Prize and Grand Surprise that then supplies and delivers an AI Singularity of Common Greater Purpose, is the fog of diffusion transformed into/with the clarity of super future augmented vision with/into a vast and expanding series of NEUKlearer HyperRadioProACTive IT Operations for Universal Sympathetic Semantic ReprogramMING.

        * And yes, that is an honest offer and revolutionary opportunity presented to FAANGs in the East and the West currently sat on their fat arses doing nothing spectacular and Earth-shattering with their facilities and utilities, assets and riches.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Vladimir

    They’re coming for you.

    Sleep tight.

    1. Tail Up

      Re: Vladimir

      Do you mean Vladimir Lenin, lying peacefully in his Mausoleum? Is that really Saxon - attacking those who won't notice you, thus you suppose they will do you "creepy creature" no harm, and that you can exercise all the rainbow of offensive syllables being quite sure you fulfill a kind of a noble mission... how sad then of the Saxons...

  8. xyz123 Silver badge

    A genuine "NATO" plan would just be: Blow up the WW2 era weapons Russia claims are "state of the art". We'll all be in Moscow to share their Potato and poor-quality Vokdka by lunchtime.

    1. Zolko Silver badge

      NATO

      wait ... I thought that NATO was a purely defense organisation promoting peace and democracy, how could they make plans for an all-out attack on a nuclear superpower ?

      And besides, France and Germany have already tried that master-plan of yours, and it didn't go very well for each of them.

      1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

        Re: NATO

        And besides, France and Germany have already tried that master-plan of yours, and it didn't go very well for each of them

        Europe is steeped in tradition. This time, it's either a cunning plan to repeat Germany's Kursk Offensive, or a repeat of the misinformation used to support the D-Day landings. Can't remember the name of the op, but there was a famous one using a body and a fake but plausible looking set of invasion plans.

    2. Tail Up

      Confuuusee))

      dude, they serve what you say only in military prisons, have you just issued a prophecy?

  9. Tron Silver badge

    Point of order.

    No sensible individual trusts anything any government or politician says. If you still believe anything the British government says after 3 years of Boris as PM, you need psychiatric help.

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