Saturday, July 1, 2017

Let's Try Q & A And Whatever Else Sticky Post

Here is the post which I will try to keep sticky for people to ask questions and share their thoughts which are not on topic. This, I think is known as Open Thread. Fire away.

Friday, June 23, 2017

They Don't Make Them Like They Used To.

Universal, transcending borders: 


Oh, France.

It is Friday, and it is throw back to 80s and this amazing sound in Baku, before the whole world went to hell. 


It did go there, to hell, but there was a moment.... Like we thought that Fantomas and Mylene DeMoungeot were the coolest objects in universe in 1960s and 70s.

 

Raiders?


Nothing is new under the sun. Installing weapons on merchant ship is as old as navigation itself. 


While history does not repeat itself, it certainly rhymes. I hate cliches, but this one works, sort of. Enter Israel's testing its LORA weapon system (basically land-attack missile) from the commercial vessel. 


Now recall this: 


or this and behold the immense power of a standard commercial container. Are we back in the time of commercial raiding? We very well could be. Indeed, the only thing you need in case of 3M54 stored in a regular container is a targeting data, which can be obtained either with own means (radar) or through outside "providers"--they give you either bearing and range or current coordinates. You can even add these rather attractive girls in assisting you with target acquisition  and entering the "flight plan". 

 
Standard 3M54 (3M14) "Package"
But on a more serious note, proliferation of the container-based anti-shipping missiles, not to speak of land-attack ones with the launch ranges in excess of 2000 kilometers, may throw this whole littoral and A2/AD business completely off the rails. The whole notion of some of yours everyday, prosaic, run of the mill, merchant container ship, such as this:

  
She is only 2000 tons of displacement. Calculate potential salvo yourself;)
being able to launch 4-8-12 or even 16 cruise missiles when is called upon--this is a scary thought. Suddenly, both high seas but especially littorals become a very dangerous place. At the dawn of a nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles US Navy dabbled with an idea to place SLBMs on one of its cruisers--the idea which never was realized--you can find info on that if you are interested. Today game changed completely. Virtually anything, in terms of strike weapon systems, can be placed on practically any commercial vessel thus transforming it in a modern day raider. Considering modern advancements in navigation and radio-communications, building the network of strike platforms suddenly doesn't seem that difficult, especially when one has a decent size commercial fleet. Scary. But even scarier is a proposition of getting a salvo of land-attack missiles from thousands kilometers away--go find who did it. In the end, innocent looking commercial vessel can always blame it on some lonely Russian Oscar-II sub which did the nasty from the same area where this vessel was peacefully navigating for a commercial purposes. Thus, the number of variables grows exponentially and military intelligence agencies will have their hands full trying to figure out which vessel and in what capacity is sailing God knows where during this proverbial threatening period.

At this stage, this problem hasn't been studied in depth it requires. There is no doubt that with further proliferation and improvement of the cruise missiles' technology, merchant fleet suddenly becomes not only a serious logistical consideration, it becomes a serious combat factor. Any ship capable of carrying containers potentially becomes a battery of deadly missiles, whose salvo may alter the best naval operational plans or even have a direct strategic impact by wrecking a havoc on Shipping Lanes Of Communications. Having 3M54 it is not that difficult to do and it will be done (hopefully not) should the opportunity present itself.    
   

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Goddamn You All: I Told You So. (Partially Personal)

H.G Wells' last words to this world seem most appropriate, when one considers the reason I started this blog--when events in Ukraine came to a bloody and tragic resolution, which started a global realignment of such a scale and speed that we can not still grasp all its ramifications. Enter last weekend and my family visiting our very close friends from... West Ukraine. Yes, yes, the ones who not only could be called Bandera's sympathizers but who welcomed, despite initial reservations, a chaotic coup in Ukraine in 2014 and till recently were repeating most (with some important, and, probably, personal relations with us driven, exceptions) of the tired talking points about Russia and Putin personally being the culprit of this all. It was a hard time in our relations. Yet, things eventually returned almost to normal. We love our friends because they are simply good people and we saw and, as the last weekend demonstrated again, what a difficult task it is to face a reality.

While chatting with their very close relative I was faced with what I feared and didn't want to talk about. This old man just asked me how could it have come down to this--Russians and Ukrainians--hating each-other. The question sounded almost desperate and was, in no small measure, inspired by the fact of our decades long very close friendship, which, for the lack of better word could have been compared to family relations. Of course, it is Putin, of course it was Russian side but still, compared to three years ago, those statements sounded almost pro-forma and unconvincing. And then he brought up Yuzmash. "Russia still depends on it", he said. He needed the positive response to this, one could sense it. I couldn't oblige, I do not lie--a lesson I learned in my life a hard way. A good man, good father, man with golden hands--I hated to see him suffer and I saw this coming in him, so, I, with the help of my wife, changed the subject and convinced him to go join the party. 

This, seemingly unimportant, anecdotal evidence of some turnaround, even in minds of people you would never expected to change their mind, suddenly found a much more public (and coincidental) continuation today with the interview of the second President of Ukraine, Leonid Kuchma, formerly a General Director of this very Yuzhmash, to Ukrainian TV Network 112 (in Russian, no less). The title of the interview is grim and correct: Neither US, nor Europe Will Help Ukraine. We Are Alone.

It is very strange to hear this realization from a man who defined Ukrainian national identity in 1990s as "Not Russia".  He also was a man who supported a rabid Russophobe and Ukrainian chauvinist Victor Yushchenko in 2005 Ukraine's Presidential Elections. In other words, Kuchma was the man who is responsible to a very large degree of plotting the path of Ukraine to ruin. This lucidity is especially remarkable from a man who lied most of his political life. He also continues to lie even in this interview--you can't teach an old dog new tricks, I guess. Yet, today once mighty Yuzhmas barely exists as a viable entity and once mighty industrial and agricultural heart of the Soviet Union, after getting its independence, is being reduced to nothing more than a third world black hole right in the middle of Europe. Of course, these will be Russians, again, who are guilty of that, since refuse to depend on a highly unstable, hostile Russophobic puppet of foreign masters, next to their borders and decided to produce what Russia used to buy from Ukraine, thus supporting her high-tech industry. Those times are over. But then again, Russians are also guilty of Hurricane Katrina and Global Warming. 

Yet, Kuchma still found it in him to blare out a correct diagnosis:

Мы становимся сырьевым придатком. У нас металлургия осталась, химия, сельское хозяйство. Высоких технологических производств практически нет. Куда мы идем? Мы радуемся свободной торговле с Европой. Чем мы торгуем с Европой? Посмотрите статистику. Пшеница. Кроме сельского хозяйства практически более ничего нет. Квотирование идет жесткое. За первый квартал мы практически все квоты выбрали. А теперь вы смотрите, как европейцы ставят нас на колени – "давайте лес рубите и везите к нам". Где какая-то конкретная помощь Украине, чтобы мы становились на ноги?! Если мы будем бедными, как сегодня, мы никому не нужны!
Translation: 
  
We are becoming a raw materials appendix. What's left is metallurgy, chemical industry and agriculture. We practically do not have any high tech industries. Where are we going? We rejoice at the free trade with Europe. And what do we offer for this trade with Europe? Look at the statistics. Wheat. Other than agricultural products there is nothing more to offer. Quotes are rigid, we filled practically all of our quotes in first quarter of this year. And now observe how Europeans put us on our knees--"harvest your forests and bring timber to Europe". Where is any concrete help to Ukraine, to put her on her feet!? If we remain poor nobody will need us. 

Get it, boys and girls? Everyone owes it to Ukraine to "put her on her feet". Russia owes her gas transit, buying everything Ukraine (less and less) produces. And, of course, Ukraine's main idea about Europe, as even her former President still thinks so, is to get to EU, get a truck load of free money (aka investments) and start living as European upper middle class. I am not exaggerating. Of course, the fact that Ukraine became what it became by 1990 was largely thanks to the Soviet economic system somehow got lost on such people as Kuchma, not to speak of very many average Ukrainians. The scale of de-industrialization and of de-modernization Ukraine achieved in short 26 years since the collapse of the Soviet Union is nothing short of mind-boggling and unprecedented. The same as the scale of de-Sovietization, which is a euphemism for de-Russification. Yet, the more the scale of the failure to utilize even a small part of a remaining Soviet industrial, scientific, military and educational potential was becoming evident, the more hatred of everything Russian was growing. In the foundation of this hatred, coupled with a bizarre sense of entitlement and self-proclaimed Europeanness (after all, Ukrainians preceded ancient Greeks in developing... everything) were simple envy and jealousy of those dirty backward, dramatically not-European, Asiatic Russians. 

Ukraine wanted to be "independent", she got it. Obviously, nobody explained to Kuchma, let alone other "Europe-oriented" politicians that it is advisable to be careful with what you wish for, since some desires may come true and that there are no free lunches. Ukraine is needed for Europe (and US) merely as raw materials source and as a ram against Russia, through fomenting troubles at her borders, no matter how many Ukrainians may die from war or even starvation. And it is true that Ukraine doesn't have anything to offer to the world other than some raw materials and wheat. Nobody in Europe or US, or, for that matter elsewhere, needs anymore anything produced in Ukraine and many Ukrainians begin to understand this, especially when they begin to look at those backward Asiatic Russians and their Russia, where millions upon millions, including from this very Western Ukraine, Ukrainians travel to each year in hope to find a seasonal job to sent some Asiatic, dirty Russian money home. It is a sad end and it was predictable, too bad very few listened, including in the US who financed and, together with Germany, and others, unleashed a bloody coup in Kiev. Did they even know what they were getting themselves into? Did they read what I wrote almost three years ago?
it is not going to be "another fall" (c) of the Ukrainian Government. It is going to be the end of Ukraine, which, so far, exists mostly because the forces of Novorossya are being held back by Kremlin.
Today, Ukraine is finished as a modern industrialized country. Short of hundreds of billions of dollars (or euros) given to her, a scenario which can only be called ludicrous, and even then under the assumption that those funds will not be stolen, there is nothing Ukraine can do to return to the rank of even moderately developed nations. What is, probably, most disturbing for Ukrainians is the fact, that Russia doesn't care that much about Ukrainian feelings anymore. Eventually Nord Stream-2 will be built and Ukraine's blackmail of Europe by gas transit will be over. She will become even more grim and desolate place but surely free from those ghosts of Soviet and Russian past. It is a sad end, but in this cynical world of ours, real power is the only commodity which makes one a real player globally. I think every reader of this blog by now knows Correlli Barnett's superb definition of national power. Ukraine made her choices and it will not get any better. But it was predicted, it was this Wellsian "Goddamn You All: I Told You So" moment from the get go. 

Couple of years ago, Russian delegation to one of the world's large air shows (don't remember which) gave interview in which they talked about the embarrassment they felt for their former colleagues from once great, in fact, legendary Antonov's Design Bureau, which was purged of everything Soviet and Russian so thoroughly that, instead of continuing with manufacturing world's largest cargo planes, was reduced to producing trams and obsolete small aircraft such as AN-178. This contrasts dramatically with what today was presented by United Aircraft Company in Le Bourget, that is after MS-21 flew for the fifth time yesterday. 


I guess it is true as they say in Russia--Those born to crawl can not fly. Too bad it took so long and so many lives to figure that out.
   

If Anyone Wonders Why Putin's Approval Rating Is Above 80%.

Today is a tragic date in Soviet/Russian history. 22 June 1941, Nazi Germany together with the forces from the most of Western Europe unleashed its Barbarossa Operation and invaded Soviet Union. In 1418 days of that war European part of USSR was flattened, 27 millions of Russians, Ukrainians, Belorussians, Jews, Tatars, you name it, lost their lives--most of them civilians. Every single Russian family was touched by that war. 76 years later Russians forgave but never forgot. 

Today, as it was a tradition for decades before him, President Putin laid the wreath at the Tomb of Unknown Soldier in Alexander's Garden near Kremlin. As if heaven was crying for dead, it was a downpour over Moscow today. Yet, Putin did what he did:


Anyone needs any explanations why this man has an overwhelming support of Russia? Does it tell the story of present day Russia herself? I think, most of it is understandable without any words. That is what national leaders do and not for media circus. People can spot phonies miles away, Putin is not the case.