Larry posted yesterday a very good description of CIA in relation to modern Russia and what load of malarkey all those "reputable" spooks provide on Putin and Russians:
Read Larry's excellent piece which frames extremely well other news which many military "analysts" types got excited over. But, in my opinion, this is a good news in a bizarre sense which confirm the assertion of many, yours truly included, from the start of the SMO that most of Russian ground forces are held in reserve precisely for this kind of contingencies:
The US Army's 101st Airborne Division would not hesitate to enter Ukraine should a conflict break out between Russia and NATO, CBS News reported on Friday citing the unit’s military commanders. The elite division is currently conducting war games in Romania, close to the country’s border with the war-torn state. The unit's commanders told CBS that they would be prepared to cross into Ukraine if the fighting escalates – without elaborating what that would entail – or if NATO were to come under attack. They highlighted that their current deployment in Europe, the first since WWII, is “to defend NATO territory.” "We're ready to defend every inch of NATO soil”, Deputy Commander Brigadier General John Lubas told the news network.
It is a classic Western militaries' huffing and puffing and performing a Haka, against the backdrop of a dismal record of war for NATO and the US, who managed to lose everything in every single war they fought in the last 30 years against small nations. So, there are a few points of note:
1. NATO will NOT come under attack if it stays where it belongs--within NATO countries. "Escalation in the fighting" is a deliberately opaque term, because even the level of fighting happening right now in former Ukraine is beyond tactical, operational and strategic experiences of the US Army. The operational "acumen" of Pentagon's and British planners and commanders will be studied for decades in serious military academies on how not to fight a real war. But then again--a shining example of Zap Brannigan and his approach to overwhelming enemies by wave after wave of cannon fodder seems to be the guiding light in training NATO's military leaders.
2. The deployment of 4,700 US paratroopers to Romania is risible even against the realities of a single operational direction of SMO theater, which sees currently about the same weekly number of casualties (KIAs, MIAs and wounded) of VSU and no American officer or soldier ever faced such combat realities in their life. Nor did US Army ever face the level of attrition VSU faces today. It is simply outside of America's military experience. What will be the duration of combat stability--that is the ability to perform combat tasks while sustaining attrition--of the 101st under present fire impact conditions one can only speculate, but I would say at best--two-three weeks.
3. But then, of course, comes this other issue which Brigadier General John Lubas misunderstands--the only way 101st can "enter" Ukraine is under the condition of an all out war of NATO against Russia, which will require even in conventional (non-nuclear, that is) framework something between 500,000 to 700,000 NATO ground troops for the first "wave"--an impossible task for NATO and the US, unless NATO goes into full draft and I am sure American public will meet this news with enthusiasm and resolve. This, BTW, is the thinking of Mr. Petraeus, who never won shit in his life, yet somehow became a general. He thinks about "multinational" force now--I am sure his stellar experiences in Afghanistan will also be studied (already are) around the world on how not to fight COIN, forget real combined arms operations of scale of which he has only vague understanding.
4. Lastly, but not "leastly"--I reiterate this my point for years, ad nauseam--no US service, including USAF ever fought anything like this in the life of several generations of American servicemen, top-bottom, from a regular grunt to CJCS. Period. And, of course, nobody in NATO (primarily US) armed forces has any concept of seeing their homeland devastated and losing their loved ones to attacks, famine, cold, illnesses and other things which real war brings on a massive scale. The US NEVER in its history, including in WW II, fought the enemy which could easily strike at strategic and operational depths with ease, and can deny NATO most of its ISR assets. So, as long as the US military only huffs and puffs--it is OK, but it has to be stated, Ukraine and VSU demonstrated perfectly a real worth (very low) of the NATO "standard", with NATO excelling only in PR and shelling civilians and this is without main Russian forces even engaging, so far.
So, what was that all about yesterday, then?
Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu has had rare direct contact with US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, the Russian military reported on Friday. According to the short readout, the two top officials “discussed issues of international security, including the situation in Ukraine” over the phone. The last phone call between Shoigu and Austin was reported in May, with both sides giving away few details about it. It was the first direct conversation between the officials since Russia sent troops into Ukraine in late February.
My speculation would be that Austin called Shoigu to inform him that arrival of 101st's Brigade Combat Team to Romania was only for training and not the part of the assembling forces for some nefarious purposes. This, plus some other "business" re: 404. No matter how one may detest Austin or Milley, it is good that both Russian and US militaries talk. Meanwhile, the head of parliament of Crimea, Vladimir Konstantinov, suggested to four 404 regions: Nikolaev, Odessa, Dnepropetrovsk and Kharkov to get ready for referendums (in Russian). This is the first "batch", the second one, as Konstantinov asserted, are Sumy, Poltava and Chernigov oblasts. Indeed, who knows what is this all about, right? I am also waiting for appearance of the excellent discussion between Peter Lavelle and George Szamuely about American paleoconservative so called "realism" and why these people and their views are becoming increasingly irrelevant. I know many of those, not just Pat Buchanan, but as I said--history is not strong forte of US politics.