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What in the World?

Ukraine’s home-modified drones strike Russian bases

Dec 08, 2022


At a time when Russia is turning to Iran for more drones and surface-to-surface missiles, Ukraine – in an unprecedented move – sent long-range drones to strike two Russian air bases this week, hundreds of miles from its border. The drones were modified Soviet-era surveillance aircraft and may signal a shift in strategy for a country that relies mostly on imported weapons from Western allies.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken made it clear that the U.S. neither encouraged nor enabled Ukraine to carry out the attacks, emphasizing that the United States has provided equipment to Kyiv for defensive purposes only. As Straight Arrow News contributor Peter Zeihan notes, Ukraine’s drones are striking military sites where Russia is launching bombs against Ukraine’s civilian infrastructure.
Excerpted from Peter’s Dec. 8 “Zeihan on Geopolitics” newsletter:

Western countries have gone out of their way NOT to provide the Ukrainians with weapon systems capable of striking Russia directly. So they are building their own.

This will not change the tides of war overnight, especially since Russia has never backed down from a fight without losing at least half a million men first. However, it does present an interesting opportunity for the Ukrainians.

By targeting Russia’s nexus points (i.e., oil refineries), the Ukrainians could eliminate Putin’s economic ability to sustain its military complex. Then we’ll have a much more interesting conversation to have.

Everyone, Peter Zion here coming to you from Colorado, I wanted to talk today about something that went down on the fourth of December. The Ukrainians use some long range drones in order to striking military airfield deep inside of Russia, something that was several 100 kilometers from the border. This is one of those things that if the war had gone on long enough, was always going to come into play. One of the big misconceptions in the wider world and in Russia, specifically, is that all the intelligence of the old Soviet system were Russian, and therefore everyone else was just a subject peoples. There were a lot of things about the Soviet system that were a hot mess. But one of the big social advances they got was actually relatively minimizing the differences ethnic in terms of ethnicity, of who is a real person who can get training and who can contribute to society. So for example, the guy who designed mere was an ethnic totter. And in the case of aerospace, there was a heavy concentration of that industry within Ukraine, as opposed to within Russia. And in post Soviet Ukraine, aerospace design has continued now, it might not meet American or Western specifications, but that’s as much about protectionism as it as about skill set differences. And so there’s never been this belief anywhere that the Ukrainians didn’t know what they were doing when it comes to aerospace. So assuming that they could hold out long enough and assuming they could scramble the regular resources, there is never a doubt that a country that found itself in a position where it needed drones, and had to buy them wouldn’t be able to make their own. Well, now they have here we are roughly 10 months into the war. And the Ukrainians have put together a long range drone that has a range of according to them about 1000 miles. They will never be able to put enough of them up to overall change the overall tenor of the war. The the Russian military has massive assets throughout the western space, the Western Russian space, whether it’s recruiting stations, or air bases, or missile silos, and any weapon that is going to be able to go that far is not going to be able to carry much of a payload. But initials indicators suggests that the payload was in excess of 150 pounds, which is pretty good for a drone. And if the Ukrainians can throw enough of them, they can do some very real damage. Now, we only have one days of data to work off of. But right now the Ukrainians are focused on on the military assets that are launching bomber attacks on Ukrainian civilian infrastructure. So kind of one of those that flies both ways. But we need to start thinking about what it means should the Ukrainians throw a wider net and striking much longer term, because their goal here isn’t simply to degrade Russia’s military capacity, their goal is to degrade Russia’s military capacity enough so that the Russians have to give in the Russians had never backed down from a war without losing at least a half a million men first. And we’re probably between 80 and 90,000 right now, so we have a long way to go. And if Ukraine can degrade Russia’s economic capacities to fight the war, that’s how you prevent the Russians in the mid to long run from rearming in a way that they can throw weapons into Ukrainian urban areas. The easiest way to do that isn’t to go after apartment blocks or even power stations, but to target refineries and the Nexus points, where lots of Russian pipelines come together to a single facility for redistribution. There are a number of refineries throughout the Russian space. We’ve got a map attached to show you the biggest ones, but the one facility that I want to draw the most attention to is the city of Samira. Samira is a pipeline Nexus and refining center for pretty much all of the Russian stuff that comes in from south central Siberia, as well as in Tatarstan and Bush, Kyrgyzstan, and a lot of the oil projects that the Russians have that are not subject to some of the constraints that they have in the permafrost. If you shut down an oil field in the permafrost, you probably never started up again because the pipes freeze from the inside but further south and west curious town and Tatarstan. That’s a different picture. It’s not permafrost so the Russians can turn those on and off. But if you remove some Lara from the equation, then Russia’s ability to be flexible in anything that relates to energy, including domestic supplies, suddenly goes away. That’s the soft point in the Russian system, and the Ukrainians know it. Okay, that’s it for me. Until next time.

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