Ukraine Invasions – other questions

I answered 7 questions as best I could. Along the way, I selected links to provide more information. There are other questions, which I can not answer or only partially answer.

How will the Ukrainian war end?

Military experts are surprised how well Ukraine has done, in spite of being vastly outnumbered by Russia. I don’t know how this will end. The position of the US is the outcome is up to negotiations between Russia and Ukraine.

Why did Putin invade on February 24, 2022?

The invasion was unprovoked. On 21 February 2022, Russia recognised the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Luhansk People’s Republic, two self-proclaimed statelets in Donbas controlled by pro-Russian separatists. (Wikipedia)

Prior to the invasion, Russia began a joint military exercise with Belarus, beginning on February 10, 2022. The large-scale military exercise will last until Feb. 20. Russia’s Defense Ministry said the joint operation in Belarus, which includes warplanes, missile launchers and live-fire exercises, will focus on “suppressing and repelling external aggression during a defensive operation.” Approximately 30,000 Russian troops participated in this exercise. The US and NATO considered this exercise was an excuse for preparations for an invasion. President Joe Biden observed that the Russians had set up a large military hospital on the border of Ukraine, as proof that Russia was getting set up for an invasion. Russian warships were sent out to the Black Sea.

This does not answer the question of why on February 24, Putin made the fateful decision to invade. Many observers felt Putin had badly misjudged the response of the Ukrainians and their allies. Putin has justified the invasion, as necessary to protect Russian lives in the Donbas region, but both the US and NATO conclude that Russia was supporting the separatists in the regions with military equipment.

What events radicalize Putin thinking, to the point where he felt military action was necessary?

Many experts have given opinions on the events which embolden Putin to invade Ukraine. Some have pointed out the successes Putin had achieved through the use of Russia’s military in both Syria and Chechnya. Other experts have stated that Putin became more radicalized after the US invasion of Iraq in March 20, 2003.

I believe NATO’s involvement in supporting the no-fly zone in Libya during their civil war in 2011, increased Putin’s anger towards NATO and the US. In support of the no-fly zone, NATO forces bombed numerous military installations including Qadaffi’s compound in Tripoli. This was part of “Arab Spring” rebellion which lead to protests in many countries including Russia. I believe this is one reason why Russia attempted in interfere with the presidential elections in 2016.

Putin considers NATO has far gone beyond the initial objective of collective defense of Western Europe and is a threat to countries outside of NATO including Russia. He also considers NATO is simply a tool of the US.

Ukraine was first attacked in 2014, by the takeover and annexation of the Crimean peninsula. It was done quickly and without bloodshed. His popularity in Russia increased. So, attacking Ukraine is presented to the Russian people today, as simply taking back what always belonged to Russia (or the Soviet Union).

Is Putin married? Does he have children? Does he ever smile? Is he wealthy?

Putin married in 1983 and was divorced in 2014. The marriage produced two daughters. Wikipedia states “An investigation by Proekt published in November 2020 alleged that Putin has another daughter, Elizaveta, also known as Luiza Rozova,[648] (born March 2003),[649] with Svetlana Krivonogikh.[4][650]” It has been widely reported that Putin has a serious relationship with Alina Kabaeva, Alina Maratovna Kabaeva or Kabayeva is a Russian politician, media manager, retired individual rhythmic gymnast, and Honoured Master of Sports. Kabaeva is one of the most decorated gymnasts in rhythmic gymnastic history, with 2 Olympic medals, 14 World Championship medals, and 21 European Championship medals. (Wikipedia)

A smiling Putin is very rare.

Putin is likely a multi-billionaire with many residences and other possessions in Russia. He denies this.

See link: Wikipedia Vladimir Putin

Stay tuned,


Q+A (Part 3) Did NATO expand too quickly to the east?

There are two major expansions, one occurring in 1999 with 3 countries being admitted under President Clinton and the second in 2004 with seven countries being admitted under President Bush. I do not believe that NATO expanded too quickly. I know for a fact they did not break any assurances with Russia in accepting these countries. Denying admission to the Hungary, Czech Republic and Poland would have been a serious strategic mistake. Russia would have been angered by the admissions whether it was done in 1990, 2000, or 2010.

The argument against admission is that the US now is committed by the NATO Article 5, to defend any member country which comes under attacked, and thus this would override the Senate’s right to declare war. See link NATO Article 5. This is referred to as the collective defense principle. The US and other allies look for a general interest in the country as a whole as wanting to be part of NATO.

From Putin’s perspective, the admission of any Eastern European country into NATO was denounced as an act of aggression. He believes the Soviet Union should never had granted independence to the 15 former republics. The Kremlin is quoted as follows:

“Above all, we should acknowledge that the collapse of the Soviet Union was a major geopolitical disaster of the century. As for the Russian nation, it became a genuine drama. Tens of millions of our co-citizens and co-patriots found themselves outside Russian territory. Moreover, the epidemic of disintegration infected Russia itself.” He has also stated, that NATO is really controlled by the US.

NATO is a collective defense organization, and the reasons for joining NATO was because the smaller countries felt they were vulnerable to Russia expansionary policies, particularly once Putin took office.

Putin and other autocratic nations use fear of the West, to gain popular support in their countries. As Putin has shut down news stations that are not supportive of the invasion of Ukraine, the population of Russia hears Putin’s propaganda, and not much honesty seeps in.

Admission to NATO is not judged by its proximity to Russia or how much of their culture and history is tied to Russia. To do so, would cause NATO to cater to the whims of Russia and undermine their mission.

The first criteria for acceptance is:

“Willingness to settle international, ethnic or external territorial disputes by peaceful means, commitment to the rule of law and human rights, and democratic control of armed forces”

I am very glad that a commitment to human rights is included. Yet, it does make the criteria more subjective.

I would agree to prior statements by Robert Gates, former Department of Defense Secretary under President George W. Bush that decision to allow admissions was more political (and also economic) rather than military. At least, we can say that in 1999, the immediate military need was not apparent.

However, I would argue that to deny admissions would have made the newly independent republics very weak just as the Russian government under Putin began massive military spending. Countries outside of NATO on Russia’s border have done poorly. Two good examples are Chechnya and Belarus, which are authoritarian regimes and very dependent of Russia.

Another example of a country which is suffering because it does not have the collective security of NATO would be Ukraine. It is the best example of Putin’s expansionary policies which makes NATO membership necessary for surrounding countries, to remain independent and free. Russia’s initial attempt to take Kyiv was a total failure. Now, they are targeting civilians with missile attacks at schools, hospitals and apartments. They are going after farm equipment and grain silos in the farms. They have blockaded the Azov and Black Sea ports.

A country must alone decide if it is in their interest to join NATO. The decision to join NATO must be done when the country can assure NATO that it can live up to the rules governing NATO, a stable, democratically elected government.

Opinions to the contrary

George Kennan, the father of Russian containment policy, believe this was a mistake in his 1997 Op Ed, published by the New York Times. George Kennan: A Fateful Error

Boris Yeltsin was president in 1997. Kennan recognizes that Hungary, Czech Republic and Poland would be admitted, and this would be perceived by Russia as a hostile move into their area of security. History shows that this is right, particularly once Putin came to power.

Also, Tom Friedman, New York Times, And now, a word from X (May 2, 1998) echoes the same points as before. Friedman recounts a discussion with George Kennan, who calls expansion a tragic mistake, and goes on to say, “There was no reason for this whatsoever. No one was threatening anybody else.”

Also, in 1997, Susan Eisenhower, the grand daughter of President Eisenhower, sent a letter to President Clinton which was signed by 47 prominent retired military leaders, diplomats, senators and scholars, opposing expansion of NATO. See letter.

Among those signing the letter are Robert McNamara, Stansfield Turner, Sam Nunn and Paul Nitze, very prominent Americans with long service to our country. They went on after government service to lecture at universities, write books, or work for non-profit organizations.

Robert Gates in his book, Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War published in 2014, writes “moving so quickly after the collapse of the Soviet Union, to incorporate so many of the formerly subjugated states into NATO was a mistake.” Further he states, “Trying to bring Georgia and Ukraine into NATO was truly overreaching.” He harshly criticizes NATO expansion as a political act.

Note that Ukraine and Georgia are at present not members of NATO. So, the US did in fact, move quite cautiously in admitting the newly independent countries in NATO.

It is also noted that Robert Gates became Secretary of Defense in 2006, for President George W. Bush, and he was not involved in the decision to admit seven additional countries into NATO in 2004. He had the task of dealing with an angry Putin at the Munich Conference in 2007. Each president from Clinton to Trump supported the application of newly independent republics to NATO.

Gates’ book is a great memoir of his time as secretary of defense under both George W, Bush and Barrack Obama. His comments must be taken in the context of the times. Under George Bush, the US pulled out of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM Treaty) in 2002. Interceptor missiles are by nature defensive weapons. But, it can be argued that if a country has enough ABM’s, then it would be able to conduct a first missile attack without concerns about retaliation. A proposal by the US to base ABM’s in Poland with radar stations in Czech Republic was approved in December 2006, which Gates writes angered Putin as it would further encircle his country with missiles.

From Wikipedia “In interviews with Oliver Stone in 2017, Russian president Vladimir Putin said that in trying to persuade Russia to accept US withdrawal from the treaty, both Bill Clinton and George W. Bush had tried, without evidence, to convince him of an emerging nuclear threat from Iran.” This is consistent with Gates’ book. It is well described how we tried to work with the Russian on defensive missile systems.

Recently, others have joined the argument, that the US should have more respect for the Russian point of view that NATO expansion or establishing bases in countries within Russia’s “Security belt” would be de-stabilizing, and hurt the very necessary disarmament efforts.

Gravitas: Did NATO push Russia into attacking Ukraine?

This video is certainly controversial. I do not accept that Russia has reason to be fearful of NATO. Moreover, this is in the mindset of Putin, having been in isolation during Covid-19 pandemic. The statement that George H.W. Bush promised Gorbachev it would not expand NATO eastward was never part of any agreement. Gorbachev said it just didn’t come up in the 4+2 Treaty negotiations, except in regard to NATO deployments in the former Eastern Germany. NATO had no plans to expand eastward, in 1990, because the countries belong to the Warsaw Pact. No new members for 9 years following the tearing down of the Berlin Wall. The Warsaw Pact was dissolved because its member nations no longer considered it necessary.

The comment by William Burns in 2008, that accepting of Ukraine into NATO would be viewed as a hostile act, is also accurate, and it is noted that Ukraine is not a part of NATO. The strong protest of NATO expansion from Russia at the 2007 Munich Conference is correct.


Just as I was concluding this rather long piece, there was an exchange between Secretary Blinken and Senator Rand Paul on the Ukrainian crisis. Rand Paul stated Russia had reasons for the attack. Blinken pushed back saying the invasion was unjustified and unprovoked. Youtube likely has this exchange.

In summary, the Eastern European countries, gained independence from Russia in a legal manner in December 1991. As independent countries, they are free to chose whether to make application for NATO membership which is a collective defense organization. I believe the acceptance by NATO, US and the allies should not have been slow tracked or denied.

Stay tuned,

David Lord

NATO/Russia/Ukraine – Chronological Recap

Putin goes back decades in justifying the invasion. The last question I answered was whether there were verbal promises made to the Soviets around the time of re-unification or the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact in 1991 to limit NATO expansion. My response was no. And the Soviet leader at the time, Gorbachev, agrees with this. The best Putin can come up with, is that in 1990, the head of NATO said they had no plans to expand NATO eastward. Of course, this was said when the Warsaw Pact was still in place, so these countries could not join NATO.

World politics in 1990 is very different from today. Still, Putin’s justification for the invasion go back decades. So, before going ahead, I thought to summarize as quickly as possible key historical events 1985 forward. Leonid Brezhnev, the hard line leader of the Soviet Union, died in 1982 while in office as the General Secretary of the Communist Party and the Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet.

Vladimir Putin at the time of Brezhnev’s death, was 30 years old and an agent in the KGB. From 1985 to 1990, he was a KGB agent working in Dresden, Germany. There is an excellent videos produced by Frontline, of Putin’s rise to power, and how the dissolution of the USSR likely influence his perspective.

Frontline: Putin’s Way (produced in 2015, after the takeover of Crimea)

TIMELINE (1985-1991)

Date Event
March 11, 1985Gorbachev becomes the General Secretary of the Communist Party and is eager to make changes to make the bureaucracy more efficient and responsive, through Glastnost (openness, freedom of press and information) and Perestroika (democratic restructuring, including multi-candidate elections). See link Mikhail Gorbachev.
June 12, 1987President Reagan’s “Tear down this wall” speech in Germany. It is broadcast over the radio, and was heard in East Germany and the Soviet Union.
June 1, 1988Disarmament agreement between US and Soviets on intermediate nuclear missiles went into effect.
Mar 29, 1990Gorbachev had introduced competitive elections for the Boris Yeltsin is elected president of the Soviet parl
May 1989In May 1989 Gorbachev is elected chairman of this Supreme Soviet and thereby retained the national presidency.
Nov 9, 1989The Berlin wall is torn down. Re-unification required the acceptance of the four major powers that created a divided Germany, USSR, France, UK and the US which is not complete until 1994 with the withdrawal of Russian troops.
July 1, 1990 East Germany adopts the West German currency, all de jure border controls ceased, although the inter-German border had become meaningless for some time before that. The demolition of the Wall was completed in 1994.
July 1, 1991Warsaw Pact dissolved. NATO Declassified: Warsaw Pact Also,
Aug 18, 1991The military launches a coup against Gorbachev. Boris Yeltsin stands on top of a tank and delivers a speech to the crowd to defy the military leaders. Coup attempt ends quickly, but Gorbachev’s authority greatly diminishes in September. Yeltsin begins to gain control.
Dec 8-12, 1991Belavezhskaya Accords: On 8 December, Yeltsin met Ukrainian president Leonid Kravchuk and the leader of Belarus, Stanislav Shushkevich, in Belovezhskaya Pushcha. In the Belavezha Accords, the three presidents declared that the Soviet Union no longer existed “as a subject of international law and geopolitical reality,” and announced the formation of a voluntary Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) in its place.

According to Gorbachev, Yeltsin kept the plans of the Belovezhskaya meeting in strict secrecy and the main goal of the dissolution of the Soviet Union was to get rid of Gorbachev, who by that time had started to recover his position after the events of August. Gorbachev has also accused Yeltsin of violating the people’s will expressed in the referendum in which the majority voted to keep the Soviet Union united. On 12 December, the Supreme Soviet of the RSFSR ratified the Belavezha Accords and denounced the 1922 Union Treaty. It also recalled the Russian deputies from the Council of the Union, leaving that body without a quorum. While this is regarded as the moment that the largest republic of the Soviet Union had seceded, this is not technically the case. Russia appeared to take the line that it was not possible to secede from a country that no longer existed.
Dec 26, 1991The dissolution of the USSR, occurred in 3 years and 1 month and by the end of 1991, there were 15 newly independent republics.


Other YouTube links are provided at the end of this blog.

Boris Yeltsin

He was the first freely elected president of Russia. He was a very popular president at the beginning, but as the economic crisis worsened, his popularity soon dropped. He had attempted to make drastic changes in the economy, by lifting price controls and other governmental controls, and at the same time, liberalize the government at a more rapid pace than under Gorbachev.

There are so many good documentaries and summaries on Yeltsin and Putin, that I will not attempt provide more information.

Inside story: Boris Yeltsin Part 1 on YouTude

Inside story: Boris Yeltsin- Part 2 on YouTube

Wikipedia: Boris Yeltsin

Vladimir Putin

Frontline: Putin’s Way (produced in 2015, after the takeover of Crimea)

Frontline: Putin’s Road to War

Wikipedia: Valdimir Putin

Military spending as a percentage of GDP is similar, with a low of 2.7% in 1998 and a high of 5.5% in 2016.


Acceptance into NATO

Acceptance of applications to NATO required the approval of the Allied powers, including the US and Canada. For the US, the Senate must vote to approval acceptance. By the accords to re-unify Germany, the former state of East Germany dissolved, so the united Germany was a member of NATO.

Since Bush, every president has supported entry of Eastern European countries into NATO.

Bush, HWEast Germany, due to accords of German re-unification, 9-Oct-90
Clinton, W.Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland, 12-March-1999
Bush, WBulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, 29-Mar-2004
ObamaAlbania, Croatia 1-April-2009
TrumpMontenegro, 5-June-2017
BidenNorth Macedonia, 27-March-2020

Required steps for Entry

There are a series of necessary steps prior to admission. It begins with a country expressing a desire to join. A country’s participation in the Membership Action Plan (MAP) entails the annual presentation of reports concerning its progress on five different measures:

(1) Willingness to settle international, ethnic or external territorial disputes by peaceful means, commitment to the rule of law and human rights, and democratic control of armed forces
(2) Ability to contribute to the organization’s defense and missions
(3) Devotion of sufficient resources to armed forces to be able to meet the commitments of membership
(4) Security of sensitive information, and safeguards ensuring it
(5) Compatibility of domestic legislation with NATO cooperation

The foreign ministers from the Allied countries meet, and review the application for admission. If approved, then the US Senate must vote for admission. The last country to be admitted was North Macedonia.

NATO Military Operations

See: Wikipedia, List of NATO operations

What is striking about the list of NATO operations, is since NATO was founded in 1949, for the first 43 years, there were no NATO operations. Many of the operations were done in accordance with UN Security Council Resolutions. Russia can always use its veto power to strike down a Security Council resolution.

NATO Expansion Promises

Putin claims NATO promised not to expand in 1990. The best repudiation of this claim is given in the link below:

Brookings Institute: Did NATO Promise Not to Enlarge? Gorbachev says “No.”

You Tube Links:

Gravitas: Did NATO push Russia into attacking Ukraine?

This video is certainly controversial. I do not accept that Russia has reason to be fearful of NATO. Moreover, this is in the mindset of Putin, having been in isolation during Covid-19 pandemic. The statement that George H.W. Bush promised Gorbachev it would not expand NATO eastward was never part of any agreement. Gorbachev said it just didn’t come up in the 4+2 Treaty negotiations, except in regard to NATO deployments in the former Eastern Germany. NATO had no plans to expand eastward, in 1990, because the countries belong to the Warsaw Pact. No new members for 9 years following the tearing down of the Berlin Wall. The Warsaw Pact was dissolved because its member nations no longer considered it necessary.

The comment by William Burns in 2008, that accepting of Ukraine into NATO would be viewed as a hostile act, is also accurate, and it is noted that Ukraine is not a part of NATO. The strong protest of NATO expansion from Russia at the 2007 Munich Conference is correct. I may comment on this video in my next blog.

Tech ARP Did Russia Promise NATO not to expand one inch to the West?

Well done video.

Frontline: Putin’s Revenge

FRONTLINE tells the story of how Russian President Vladimir Putin came to see the United States as an enemy — and how U.S. intelligence came to believe he targeted the 2016 presidential election.


Unlike other posts, this posting is meant to be informative rather than address a particular issue. The buildup of hate against NATO and the US by Putin, can not be attributed to a single event. Visitors are free to add their own comments and/or links.

It does not in anyway provide justification for the Ukrainian invasion.

Stay tuned,


Q+A (Part 2) Germany re-unification and limits to NATO expansion

(6) Did the US make verbal promises not to expand NATO around the time of the re-unification of Germany?

Yes, if you listen to Putin, in his February 2007 remarks to the Munich Security Conference:

And we have the right to ask: against whom is this [NATO] expansion intended? And what happened to the assurances our Western partners made after the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact? … I would like to quote the speech of NATO General Secretary Mr. Woerner in Brussels on 17 May 1990. He said at the time that: ‘the fact that we are ready not to place a NATO army outside of German territory gives the Soviet Union a firm security guarantee.” Where are these guarantees?

The General Secretary was right at the time. NATO’s final acceptance of other countries to the east of Germany did not begin until 1999. It was the policy of President Clinton in 1996 that the former Soviet republics should be admitted. In 1999, the newly emerged republics, Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland joined NATO. Links are given below.

This was good timing. In May 7, 2000, Vladimir Putin assumed office. He had been the prime minister from 1999 to 2000. The change was to consolidate authority and reverse the direction of both Gorbachev and Yeltsin into a more pluralistic governance.

The Soviet gained legal authority over of East Germany as a result of 1945 accords with the allied powers. As the USSR and our allies became nuclear powers, the situation in Germany only became worse. The period 1989 to 1994 was the great turning point. East Germany was in bad shape in 1989, both in terms of economics and politics. The 1989 election had been “flagrantly rigged” (Wikipedia): “In May 1989, local government elections were held. The public reaction was one of anger, when it was revealed that National Front candidates had won the majority of seats, with ‘only’ 98.5% of the vote. In other words, despite larger-than-ever numbers of voters rejecting the single candidate put forward by the Front (an exercise of defiance that carried great risk—including being sacked from a job or expelled from university), the vote had been flagrantly rigged.”

See Link: Wikipedia: History of East Germany Wikipedia: Enlargement of NATO

Re-unification of Germany is generally considered to have occurred on October 3, 1990, but American and Russian army units were still stationed in Berlin. The so called “2+4 treaty,” signed by the two Germanies, plus USSR, UK, France and the US went into effect on March 15, 1991. By July 1994, all Allied and Soviet ground troops had been withdrawn from Germany as required by the treaty.

Per Wikipedia (enlargement of NATO), “In 1990 the Soviet Union and NATO reached an agreement that a reunified Germany would join NATO under West Germany’s pre-existing membership, although restrictions were agreed to on the deployment of NATO troops on former East German territory. “

Also in the same Wikipedia article: There is no mention of NATO expansion into any other country in the September–October 1990 agreements on German reunification.[16] Whether or not Hans-Dietrich Genscher and James Baker, as representatives from NATO member states, informally committed to not enlarge NATO into other parts of Eastern Europe during these and contemporary negotiations with Soviet counterparts has long been a matter of dispute among historians and international relations scholars.[17][18][19][20][21] Baker delivered to Gorbachev the famous line ‘If we maintain a presence in a Germany that is a part of NATO, there would be no extension of NATO’s jurisdiction for forces of NATO one inch to the east’,[22] which many have interpreted as applying to all of Eastern Europe. However, Gorbachev himself has stated that this only pertained to East Germany and that the resulting agreement was upheld by NATO.[23][24] His main aide in these negotiations, Eduard Shevarnadze, likewise agreed that NATO never made any such commitment regarding other countries in Eastern Europe and that “the question never came up [in the talks on German reunification].”[25][26] That is presumably because all of the countries in question were still in the Warsaw Pact at the time and hosted large Soviet garrisons.[27][28] Nevertheless, both Gorbachev and his successor Yeltsin felt that NATO’s later acceptance of countries such as Poland violated the “spirit” of the earlier agreements.[23][29][30]

So, in 1990, NATO not only had no intentions of expanding into Eastern Europe, it also could not accept a country to join, when there were Soviet ground troops within its country.

Wikipedia: NATO Enlargement

Wikipedia: Germany Reunification

Background – A divided Germany

This answers the question, but raises another one. Why did it take so long? A divided Germany existed from 1945 to 1990. Having two super powers, with large military bases opposite each other, certainly put the perils of World War III far too close.

In 1952, re-unification of East and West Germany was proposed by Stalin under conditions of complete neutral Germany. The West German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer rejected this and pursued a policy of re-arming West Germany to defend his country against potential Soviet aggression. If there was any doubt that Adenauer made the right choice, this was clearly erased when the Soviets under Brezhnev and other Warsaw Pact country attacked Czechoslovakia in 1968, removing Dubcek because he dared liberalize the country.

The contrast between East and West Germany continue to grow with a Germany with a repressive and economic stagnant government on the eastern side of Germany and a prosperous Germany on the western side, part of the European Union, NATO and the UN.

Many critical events contributed to re-unification. In East Germany, residents could listen on their radio to the translated speech on the July 12, 1987 by President Ronald Reagan in front of the Brandenburg gates in West Berlin:

“General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization, come here to this gate.
Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate!
Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”

See links: Wikipedia, German Re-unification Wikipedia, Enlargement of NATO

National archives: “Tear Down this wall – How Top Advisers Opposed Reagan’s Challenge to Gorbachev—But Lost” (A wonderful piece of history, and thank God, Reagan didn’t deliver this line in German)

Approximately 30,000 East Germans fled across the border to Hungary by September 1989. After this border was closed, East Germans fled into Czechoslovakia. By Gorbachev must have noticed. Vaclav Havel was elected president of Czechoslovakia in December 29, 1989 and was democratizing Czechoslovakia. So, November 9, 1989 the wall came down in Berlin and December 29, 1989, Havel was elected, and people were celebrating.

History- Warsaw Pact

The Warsaw Pact was a collective defense treaty signed in May 1955 in Warsaw, Poland, and it was in reaction to the NATO defense alliance. The members were Albania, Bulgaria, Eastern Germany, Hungary, Poland, Romania, and the Soviet Union. It was meant to counter-balance NATO, but there was never an engagement between the two alliances.

The Soviet Union ordered the Warsaw Pact nations to participate in the invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968, because their leader, Alexander Dubcek was in the process of liberalizing the country (Prague Spring). He was replaced with a hard line communist by the Soviet Union. Only Poland, Bulgaria and Hungary sent troops. Romania and Albania did not support the invasion. East Germany supplied logistic support. Albania left the Pact in 1968. Romania became more aligned with Communist China during the 1960’s. East Germany left the Pact in 1990 as part of German re-unification.

Per the Wikipedia link:

On 25 February 1991, at a meeting in Hungary, the Pact was declared at an end by the defense and foreign ministers of the six remaining member states. The USSR itself was dissolved in December 1991, although most of the former Soviet republics formed the Collective Security Treaty Organization shortly thereafter. In the following 20 years, the Warsaw Pact countries outside the USSR each joined NATO (East Germany through its reunification with West Germany; and the Czech Republic and Slovakia as separate countries), as did the Baltic states which had been part of the Soviet Union.

Wikipedia: Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia

Wikipedia: Warsaw Pact

So, the Warsaw Pact lost 3 of it’s original members by February 1991. The other member states did not see a danger from NATO. In fact, they saw the benefit of NATO to ensure their independence and movement to more liberal forms of government.

Wow, this was a lot to cover. The next question will be much easier, but still contentious today. Did NATO act too hasty in accepting the newly independent republics? In answering this question, I am reminded of a great quote, “There’s no rewind button on history.” No do-overs.

Stay tuned,

David Lord

Q+A on Ukraine, Part 1: Was Russia threatened before the invasion by NATO? Are Ukraine and Russia really one country? and more questions.

“Justifying what can not be justified” as one article put it, is very apt. Yet Putin has spent considerable time and effort doing exactly this. It is an invasion. Ukraine is a real country, has been for 104 years.

“The first casualty in war is truth,” Hiriam Johnson, 1917. Putin has been creating myths about Russia and its neighbors for more than a decade. An autocrat doesn’t have to worry about being contradicted.

Under Putin, Russia adopted expansionary and interventionist policies. I will comment on this in Part II or perhaps Part III. I wrote about Russia’s puppet government in Chechnya. Belarus also has a highly repressive government, and the 2020 elections were considered rigged.

Multiple attacks are going on, beyond the tragic and brutal attacks of Ukraine. Once Putin felt he could send Russian soldiers to die for some big lies, like Ukraine is part of Russia, then truth really was under attack. Putin has directly attacked truth and interestingly history going back to the Stalin years.

This series of blogs provide a more solid background into the current war. There is a lot of disinformation on Ukraine and Russia. I want to present this information in a complete unbiased manner. There have been actions of NATO which has upset Putin, but nothing that justifies an invasion of Ukraine.

I applaud the actions of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who yesterday in Kyiv made it clear that Russia could end the war tomorrow just by leaving.

(1) Was Russia provoked in invading Ukraine? Did Russia feel threatened by Western European countries and the US to the extent that their only recourse was military action?

No. Certainly not by the conflict in Donbas region where Russia supported separatists. Certainly, it is Putin’s allegation, that Ukraine, backed by the US and NATO, provoked this war. Much of this goes back to concept of spheres of influence or security belt. Putin has also tried to justify the invasion based on the mistreatment of Russians in the Donbas region. Of course, the Ukrainian army was justified at suppressing violence caused by Russian supported separatists in the Donbas region. It is part of Putin’s interventionist policy to encourage pro-Russian groups in other countries. It also set up a pre-text to launch an invasion.

I will cover the history of NATO’s expansion in later in this series along with the collapse of the Warsaw Pact. Yes, the expansion of NATO upset Putin. It is more correct to say that NATO’s acceptance of the former Soviet republics application to NATO angered Putin. This acceptance definitely put bounds into the countries that he could destabilize or control, without risking World War III.

The idea that Ukraine could pose any military threat to Russia is absurd, as Russia has a military force roughly 10 times larger than Ukraine. The allegations of biological weapons laboratories made at the UN Security Council was a total farce, as Russia could supply no evidence of their existence.

Wikipedia: Disinformation in the 2021–2022 Russo-Ukrainian crisis

I suspect Wikipedia will have to keep adding to this list.

In a more broadly based justification, Putin has claimed that Ukraine correctly belongs to Russia and through a “military operation” they are simply taking back what was always part of Russia, which leads to the next question.

(2) What about Putin’s claim that historically Ukraine and Russia are “one people” – is this true?

“I am confident that true sovereignty of Ukraine is possible only in partnership with Russia. Our spiritual, human and civilizational ties formed for centuries and have their origins in the same sources, they have been hardened by common trials, achievements and victories. Our kinship has been transmitted from generation to generation. It is in the hearts and the memory of people living in modern Russia and Ukraine, in the blood ties that unite millions of our families. Together we have always been and will be many times stronger and more successful. For we are one people.”

Vladimir Putin, July 21, 2021

Yes, there was kinship. Ukrainians and Russians married, and had children. But, one people, no.

Much of Putin’s narrative is highly selective, and what he wants Russians to believe. Russian soldiers invading Ukraine were told they would be welcomed by most Ukrainians and any conflicts would be very brief. Ukrainians have died for their country. Historically, Ukraine emerged as a nation state since 1918. (see link)

Professor Lenoe, University of Rochester, NY Fact-Checking Putin’s Claim that Ukraine and Russia are “One People”

Yes, just after the Russian Revolution and the creation of the Soviet Federation of Republics. By their constitution in 1917, each republic had the right to secede from the Union. So you can thank comrade Lenin, for formally recognizing the Republic of Ukraine, as a self administrating nation state.

(3) Didn’t Putin made the claim in that Ukrainians greeted the Nazis as liberators in 1941, as they invaded the Soviet Union, demonstrating their pro-Nazi sentiments?

Putin likes to take cherry pick his facts, and often out of context. Ukraine was part of the USSR during World War II.

Per Brittanica link: The Nazi occupation of Soviet Ukraine

“Initially, the Germans were greeted as liberators by some of the Ukrainian populace. In Galicia especially, there had long been a widespread belief that Germany, as the avowed enemy of Poland and the U.S.S.R., was the Ukrainians’ natural ally for the attainment of their independence. The illusion was quickly shattered. The Germans were accompanied on their entry into Lviv on June 30 by members of OUN-B, who that same day proclaimed the restoration of Ukrainian statehood and the formation of a provisional state administration; within days the organizers of this action were arrested and interned in concentration camps (as were both Bandera and, later, Melnyk). Far from supporting Ukrainian political aspirations, the Nazis in August attached Galicia administratively to Poland, returned Bukovina to Romania, and gave Romania control over the area between the Dniester and Southern Buh rivers as the province of Transnistria, with its capital at Odessa. The remainder was organized as the Reichskommissariat Ukraine.

In the occupied territories, the Nazis sought to implement their “racial” policies. In the fall of 1941 began the mass killings of Jews that continued through 1944. An estimated 1.5 million Ukrainian Jews perished, and over 800,000 were displaced to the east; at Baby Yar (Ukrainian: Babyn Yar) in Kyiv, nearly 34,000 were killed in just the first two days of massacre in the city. The Nazis were aided at times by auxiliary forces recruited from the local population.”

Further, in this post, the treatment of Ukraine under Germany was devastating. “Ukraine’s human and material losses during World War II were enormous. Some 5 to 7 million people perished. Even with the return of evacuees from the east and the repatriation of forced labourers from Germany, Ukraine’s estimated population of 36 million in 1947 was almost 5 million less than before the war.”

(4) Didn’t Putin claimed the invasion is necessary for the demilitarization and denazification of Ukraine. How does he justify this given that the Ukraine’s president is Jewish.

Yes, the claim is farcical (see link from Business Insider). See link: Putin tried to justify his war against Ukraine by calling for the ‘de-Nazification’ of a democratic country led by a Jewish president

President Zelenskiy said it best. “You are told we are Nazis, but how can a people support Nazis that gave more than 8 million lives for the victory over Nazism? How can I be a Nazi? Tell my grandpa, who went through the whole war in the infantry of the Soviet Army and died as a colonel in independent Ukraine.” Perfect!

(5) As long as we are going back into history, under Stalin, wasn’t there a massive famine in Ukraine in 1932-1933, as a result of the Soviet’s policy of collectivizing agriculture?

Yes. Whether this was intentional genocide is still under debate, as there were multiple factors to Hodomar. From Wikipedia: “According to Natalya Naumenko, collectivization in the Soviet Union and lack of favored industries were primary contributors to famine mortality (52% of excess deaths), and some evidence shows there was discrimination against ethnic Ukrainians and Germans.[67]”

Wikipedia: Holodomar


More will follow.

Stay tuned,

David Lord

Ramzan Kadyrov – Russia’s well paid puppet leader in Chechnya

Ramzan Kadyrov – Russia’s leader of Chechnya

The dissolution of the USSR from November 1988 to December 1991 created 15 recognized new republics, including Russia and Ukraine. The only way to understand modern Russian history, is to start in 1985, with the election of Mikhail Gorbachev and his efforts to liberalize the USSR including free speech and the right to assembly. From 1986 to 1987, open protests to the Soviet rule occurred in Latvia, Kazakhstan, Armenia and other Republics. Independence occurred first in the Balkan states (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania). By 1988, Gorbachev was losing control in both the Baltic and Caucasus states. January 22, 1989 is independence day for Ukraine.

Chechnya independence from Russia and a more liberal government has failed. Today, Ramzan Kadyrov is Russia’s puppet leader in Chechnya. He fought on the side of Russia in the second Chechen war. He is currently a Lieutenant General in Russia’s military. He has become rich, with the help of Russia. He owns a Lamborghini Reventón, one of only 20 sold. He supports Putin, and sends Chechen military whenever Putin wants – to Syria, Georgia and now Ukraine. Kadyrov stated that his troops were not injured in Ukraine. It is very likely that many have died in combat.

Per Wikipedia:

“Kadyrov rules the Chechen Republic through despotism and repression. Over the years, he has come under criticism from international organisations for a wide array of human rights abuses under his watch, with Human Rights Watch calling the forced disappearances and torture so widespread they constituted crimes against humanity. During his tenure, he has advocated restricting the public lives of women, and led anti-gay purges in the Republic. Ramzan Kadyrov has been frequently accused of involvement in the kidnapping, assassination, and torture of human rights activists, critics, and their relatives, within both Chechnya as well as in other regions of the Russian Federation and abroad, through the political use of police and military forces. He publicly denies these accusations.”

How Ramzan Kadyrov came to power

Chechnya sought independence along with the other republics while Gorbachev was in power, but things went horribly wrong. Chechnya declared its independence in November 1991. Perhaps a bit too late, as Boris Yeltsin took office in July 1991 and was against Chechnya’s independence.

Ramzan Kadyrov fought with his father Akhmad, during the first Chechen war (1994 to August 1996) against Russia. They won independence with the peace treaty in 1997, during the time Boris Yeltsin was President.

Following their victory, Chechnya had a weak government, which failed to unite the country. They lapsed into a failed state. Chechen warlords had been steadily increasing abductions and raids into other parts of the Northern Caucasus. In place of the devastated economic structure, kidnapping emerged as the principal source of income countrywide, procuring over $200 million during the three-year independence of Chechnya. (See Wikipedia link)

Russia invaded Chechnya for a second time in August 1999. This began a 10 year war for control of Chechnya, largely conducted during Putin’s regime. The initial phase ended quickly with the direct rule of Chechnya in May 2000. According to Wikipedia:

But by the autumn of 1999, Akhmad Kadyrov – a leading figure in the resistance movement – decided to abandon the insurgency and offered his support to the Russian federal forces in the Second Chechen War. Aslan Maskhadov immediately fired him from the Chief Mufti chair, although this decree was never accepted by Akhmad Kadyrov, who abdicated himself a few months later due to his civilian chairman career. According to James Hughes, Akhmad Kadyrov’s U-turn may have been motivated partly by personal ambition and partly by a concern with the desperate condition of the Chechen population, and was also driven by a fear of the growing sectarian Wahhabi influence on the insurgency.[6]

Akhmad became Putin’s administrative leader in Chechnya during the time of the insurgency. In May 2004, he was assassinated by Chechen Islamists. His son, Ramzan, was too young to be president. The Ukrainian Constitution required the president to be at least 30 years old. In 2007, Ramzan became president.

Ramzan’s Wealth, paid for by Putin

Foreign aid is usually given to governments to help its people. In the case of Chechnya, it goes straight into Ramzan Kadyrov’s pocket. According to Wikipedia:

“The Russian Federation funnels money to the Kadyrov family. The distinction between the Chechen government and Kadyrov are blurred.[23] In 2015, Chechnya received around 57 billion roubles a year from Moscow (about £550m).[23] The family gets money through the Akhmad Kadyrov Fund, a non-transparent foundation headed by Kadyrov’s mother, Ayman.[23]

In 2011, the foundation (which describes itself as a charity) funded Kadyrov’s lavish 35-year birthday party, which featured celebrities such as Seal, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Vanessa-Mae and Hilary Swank.[261][23] Journalists have been targeted by Kadyrov’s regime for reporting on his opulence.[262]

Kadyrov is a noted collector of sports cars. He owns a Lamborghini Reventón, one of only 20 sold.[263][264] He is known for his extensive collection of Chechen daggers.[265][266] When journalist Marianna Maksimovskaya asked him where the money for the live-televised celebration was coming from, he reportedly laughed and said “Allah gives it to us”, before adding: “I don’t know, it comes from somewhere.” Kadyrov has also been linked to the ownership of a private jet.

Kadyrov’s family members own luxurious real estate in Moscow. Two of his wives own property valued at $8 million in total, which is more than twice Kadyrov’s declared salary since 2008.”

In Support of Putin’s War

His latest claim is that he is in Ukraine, fighting along side of the Russians. See link from the Guardian. Of course, he just wants to impress Putin, rather than do what is in the best interest for Ukraine. He will undoubtedly be sending more Chechens to fight along side the Russian troops.

I can only sympathize with the poor Chechens who have been sent to fight in Ukraine on the side of the invading army.

See much more information in the links provided below.

Stay tuned,



Al Jazeera: Chechen leader, a Putin ally, says his forces deployed to Ukraine

Wikipedia: Ramzan Kadyrov

Wikipedia: Akhmad Kadyrov

The Guardian: Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov says he is in Ukraine

How China sees the Russian invasion

It should be the story of an autocratic aggressor, who through military might, launches an unprovoked attack on its neighboring country. It should be the story of the brave Ukrainians, who were extremely outnumbered and had a tenth of the military budget of Russia, not only defended their country, but in some cases repelled Russians from captured cities. Well, at least for now.

Yet, neither Russian nor Chinese state media is broadcasting the truth. China is repeating the lies told by Putin and Russian officials.

Russia has been using the state owned media stations to justify the “military operation” as a means of re-uniting their country. To Putin, Ukraine never was entitled to be an independent country. Part of their justification is the NATO acceptance in the 1990’s of the break away Eastern European countries, which they consider part of their security zone. By their logic, NATO is the aggressor and the US, being the largest contributor to NATO, is part of this aggression.

Russia concocts ludicrous stories for their own television networks. The “biological laboratory” story was quickly dismissed by most US networks. Ukraine does not have secret bioweapon labs. It has public health or research biological laboratories, to help identify dangerous pathogens and prevent their spread. The US and other countries became rightfully concerned about the accidental escape of these pathogens when Russia began bombing Ukraine and helped Ukraine safely destroy their laboratory samples. Yes, the US was involved in biological laboratories, but in a very good and necessary way.

The Russians say that the Ukrainians were studying the use of migratory birds to spread disease to Russia. European and US scientists, involved in agriculture and public health studies, identify the possible pathways by which pathogens can travel long distance including migratory birds. Contaminating birds with diseases would likely do damage their agriculture or make their own populations sick.

Nevertheless, the Chinese passed along the Russian story of bioweapon labs discovered in the Ukraine to their own population. The war is called a military operation, not an invasion. Civilian casualties were not mentioned until recently.

In the UN, the Chinese ambassador did not vote with Russia, against a condemnation of the invasion. Instead he stayed on the sidelines. Unfortunately, for the populace, the Chinese have sided with Putin in the misinformation war. Autocrats, like Xi Jinping, support other leaders like Putin. Today Xi backs Putin, as he allows the brutal killing of civilians in Ukraine. Putin can turn a blind eye to atrocities committed by Xi, in the internment, rape and force labor of Uyghurs. Having control of the media is essential to autocrats.

China makes up 1.4 billion of the 7.9 billion inhabitants worldwide. India makes up another 1.4 billion for a total of 36% of the world’s population. India’s news media has condemned the war, but the government seems to turn a deaf ear to the suffering. I hope to add more on this topic. It is too big to ignore. See links.

Stay tuned,


Al Jazeera: Russia-Ukraine War: In Chinese Media, the US is the Villain

CNN: As the world reacts in horror to Bucha, China’s state media strikes a different tone

France 24: India tries diplomatic dance on Ukraine, but Russia is an awkward partner

Russia’s Advance from the North: Belarus to Kyiv

It is clear that Russia miscalculated and their invasion has bogged down. The devastation is tragic. In this blog, I hope to clarify the locations of attacks in the northern area of Ukraine. Russia’s invasion is a multi-prong attack from the north, east and south of Ukraine. The objective of invading northern Ukraine is to take Kyiv.

At the onset of the war, Russia entered Ukraine and took Chernobyl. Then the column of tanks got bogged down on the advance to Kyiv. I believe Ukraine has retaken Irpin. Now, Russia has evacuated Chernobyl. They claim that their next strategy will to concentrate on the east, namely the Dunbas region, but their military actions say otherwise. They want Kyiv, and this will be a very bloody fight.

The shelling of the city of Chernihiv located north of Kyiv tells you that bombs speak louder than words. They failed along the west side of the Dneiper river, so they are invading from the east side. They are also shelling Brovary, to clear a direct route into Kyiv.

In the east, Muriopol is critical to link up Dunbas region with Crimea. The Russians have bombed many civilian targets, including hospitals and schools. It is proper to charge Putin as a war criminal. To the south, their next target will be the port city of Odesa.

The brave Ukrainians have somehow slowed Russian advances, and in some cases, retaken cities to push back their advance. I am skeptical of a peace accord when Russia wants only to control Ukraine. I feel lasting peace between Russia and its neighboring countries will come when Putin and his comrades are removed from power.

Stay tuned,



Wikipedia: Kyiv

Strollers in Lviv

109 empty strollers are placed outside the Lviv city council during an action to highlight the number of children killed in the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine, Friday in Lviv, Ukraine.
Photo credit: Alexey Furman/Getty Images. No words could possible add to this single image.

Alexey Furman is a Ukrainian freelance photojournalist and alumni of Missouri School of Journalism where he attended on a Fulbright scholarship. He has been covering Ukrainian daily news since 2009. In 2013 he became a frequent contributor to Ukrainian’s local edition of National Geographic Magazine.


Autonomous warfare

My prior posts gave only a short summary of Switchblades, Javelins and Stingers. They all have the capacity to search and destroy a particular target through cameras and electronic navigation. The Switchblade allows intervention by pilots on the ground to redirect the drone (missile). See prior discussion, this drone is a missile because it self destructs on impact.

Autonomous simply means there is no person is directly involved. If it is a vehicle, there are no driver or passengers aboard hence no one to protect. The general topic is referred to as LAW or lethal autonomous weapons. Much of my knowledge in this area comes from excellent summaries prepared by Wikipedia, using only public documents.

As noted by Wikipedia, the oldest LAW is the simple landmine used since the 1600’s and now banned by international treaties and policies. (The US did not ratify the 1996 policy) The problem of course, is that landmines keep on killing long after the conflict is over. A landmine is a good example of a LAW without any human oversight or control. There are “smart” landmines which deactivate after a set period of time.

The new innovations in LAW unfortunately drive a new arms race for both offensive and defensive weapons. A inexpensive $6,000 2-ft Switchblade 300 drone which can be positioned 6 miles from the target, dramatically changes on how wars are fought. But getting the drone to the right location in the field requires people. Well, maybe not in the future. The armored Humvees were designed primarily for personnel and light cargo transport behind front lines, not as a front line fighting vehicle. It is difficult to add a lot of armor and still keep it as a relatively fast vehicle (60 mph+). From Wikipedia:

“One suggested a future role for the Humvee is as an autonomous unmanned ground vehicle (UGV). If converted to a UGV, the vehicle could serve as a mobile scout vehicle with armor features removed to enhance mobility and terrain accessibility, since there would be no occupants needed to protect. Because there will still be tens of thousands of Humvees in the U.S. inventory after the JLTV [Joint Light Tactical Vehicle] enters service, it could be a low-cost way to build an unmanned combat vehicle fleet. Autonomy features would allow the Humvees to drive themselves and one soldier to control a “swarm” of several vehicles.”

So, interestingly, instead of upgrading the Humvee (usually at costs often exceeding $100,000) in order to protect the soldiers in case of an attack or IEDs (improvised explosive devices), the military might opt for unmanned Humvee that can carry multiple missile launchers or other weapons. They could get on location fast, and move off location as soon as the missiles are launched to evade attack. I would think the Humvee would be equipped with cameras to allow for manual override as necessary.

Once autonomous, the Humvee doesn’t need windows or doors. It’s not multi-purpose. It just to get certain weapons to a location as fast as possible.

It is another evolving dimension in warfare for good and bad. Per Wikipedia: “In October 2018, Zeng Yi, a senior executive at the Chinese defense firm Norinco, gave a speech in which he said that “In future battlegrounds, there will be no people fighting”, and that the use of lethal autonomous weapons in warfare is “inevitable”.[17] In 2019, US Defense Secretary Mark Esper lashed out at China for selling drones capable of taking life with no human oversight.[18]”

Obviously, the Switchblades going to Ukraine serve a good purpose, to deter Russian aggression and they have human oversight. But, imagine autonomous warfare against civilians to quell protests in autocratic countries, Belarus, Russia, North Korea, China, to name a few. There may be no people fighting, but there are people being injured or killed. Sometimes, entire cities are leveled as in Aleppo, Syria, because the government attempts to rout out anti-government militias. Even worse, if terrorists in the future are able to buy autonomous weapons. Or perhaps a sympathetic government gives these weapons to terrorists.

These are real moral problem that come with “no people fighting.”

Stay tuned,


Wikipedia, Lethal Autonomous Weapons

Wikipedia, Humvee

(Please never confuse this with the Hummer).

Switchblade drones

Switchblade 300 from AeroVironment website

Biden announced that the US would be sending Switchblade drones to Ukraine. These are called kamikaze drones because their purpose is to crash into their target, to destroy the drone and the target. The are called “loitering munitions” or missiles instead of drones because they can not be re-used. So, please excuse me for calling them drones, but it seems everyone is calling them drones.

Per NBC new link: ” Dubbed kamikaze, suicide or killer drones, these unmanned aircraft don’t fire missiles — they are the missiles. But unlike typical missiles, they can circle above a target, wait for the ideal moment and strike with incredible precision.”

They are really small, lightweight and inexpensive. The Switchback 300 is 2 feet long, weighs only 5 1/2 pounds and can travel 7 miles to hit a target. They are called “Switchblade” because their bladelike wings spring out on launch. The cost according to Wikipedia is around $6,000. This is dirt cheap, compared to Hellfire missiles at $150,000 each.

The Switchback 300 is designed to kill individuals. The larger Switchback 600 can destroy a tank or armored vehicle and weighs about 50 pounds. Its maximum range is 25 miles.

The drones are equipped with daylight and IR cameras to help navigate the Switchback to its target. The images are displayed on a laptop, so they can be manually piloted or the mission can be aborted, and the drone can be exploded in the air. More of the technical details can be found in the links below.

If you are thinking these kamikaze drones might be great for rebel or terrorist groups on a tight budget, you are right. One example from NBC News link: “Iranian-backed Houthi rebels used them [kamikaze drones] to blow up Saudi oil facilities in 2019.” They give several other examples.

Basically, I’m glad they are going to Ukraine, to hold out against the Russian invasion.

Stay tuned,



NBC News: Kamikaze drones

Wikipedia, AeroVironment Switchblades

ABC News:

What to know about the 100 US ‘Switchblade’ drones heading to Ukraine
Unlike larger drones, it’s not meant to return after its mission.

Aerovironment website

What Democracy brings to the Table

Before Putin, Russia seemed to be on a path to a more democratic government. Certainly under Mikhail Gorbachev (leadership positions, 1988 to 1991), a new openness and transparency (glasnost) had begun. Political reform within the communist party within Russia is called Perestroika. I note Gorbachev is still alive (age 91 years) and lives outside of Moscow. He has been critical of both the US and Putin.

I had a few conversations with friends of how democracies are terribly inefficient. The president has one agenda and Congress has another. And we may be entering one of these periods, if Republicans gain control of the Senate and/or the House. So, democracies bring with it, a lot of in-fighting between parties. Right now, very few Republicans approve of Joe Biden. They blame him for just about everything.

Companies seem so much more efficient. The CEO and Board of Directors sets out objectives, and the employees do their best to follow the plan.

We can see what a democracy brings to the table, by examining the autocracies. I will define them as follows:

“Autocracy is a system of government in which absolute power over a state is concentrated in the hands of one person, whose decisions are subject neither to external legal restraints nor to regularized mechanisms of popular control (except perhaps for the implicit threat of coup d’état or other forms of rebellion).” Wikipedia

Churchill’s quote on democracy still holds:

Many forms of Government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.…’

There are several pillars that hold up a democracy, to keep it from turning into an autocracy. First is the right of free speech and the right to assembly. The right to a fair trial is also fundamental to a democracy. It is the amendments of the constitution which put limits on what government can do. As Putin increased his power, critics were silenced. Television stations critical of the government were closed. Other critics have been assassinated.

The second pillar is free and open elections and term limits. They are not perfect. But they do result in no one being the leader of a country for decades. Elections should be the result of people making informed decisions. So, some awareness of the responsibility of the electorate, not to vote strictly on the basis of party line, is needed.

The third pillar is our constitution is the supreme law of our country, is not easily amended and can not be scrapped altogether. Otherwise, a strong president could be ordering changes in the constitution to favor his re-election and concentration of authority. What goes along with this, is a respect for the legal system, and the concept that no one is above the law.

The fourth pillar is our system of checks and balances, designed to keep no one branch of government as the exclusive source of power and authority. A good example is that every cabinet level nomination must be approved by the Senate. Supreme Court nominations are all subject to Senate review and approval. Yes, our checks and balances don’t work perfectly, but they are there.

The benefits to a democracy are best understood by looking what an autocracy lacks and how it can bring ruin to a country. We now see this nightly, as we follow Putin’s war. Putin is looking for support and he really hasn’t found it. No functioning democracy supports Putin’s invasion.

Putin is not faced with massive opposition to his war, because he controls the news stations. Anyone who protests the war will be jailed. No court is going to dare not convict protestors. No Congress is going to impeach him for abuse of power. No checks and balances. No fair elections. And way to transfer power when one day Putin steps down.

So, remember the 4 pillars, (1) The civil liberties from our bill of rights (2) Free and open elections, (3) Our constitution is the supreme law of the country and can not be easily changed and (4) Our system of checks and balances.

Giving up democracy to make the system more efficient or effective, is a terrible idea.

Stay tuned,



Wikipedia Autocracy

Wikipedia, Mikhail Gorbachev

Javelins and Stingers

Javelins are portable anti-tank missile. Stingers are portable anti-aircraft missiles.

A Javelin missile costs about $80,000 (Wikipedia) and weighs 49 pounds. It can be fired by one person. It has infrared radiation tracking to locate its target, which can be a tank or low flying aircraft such as helicopters. Per Wikipedia: “The missile system is most often carried by a two-person team consisting of a gunner and an ammunition bearer, although it can be fired with just one person if necessary. While the gunner aims and fires the missile, the ammo bearer scans for prospective targets, watches for threats, such as enemy vehicles and troops and ensures that personnel and obstacles are clear of the missile’s backblast.” Also, Wikipedia notes that the exhaust from firing the missile contains lead. Gunners are instructed to hold their breath during firing. The Javelin is a “fire and forget” weapon as after firing, the team can quickly relocate to avoid enemy fire. See links:

It is unclear how many Javelin missiles and launchers Ukraine currently has as they are actively using up their supply and more missiles are likely being sent from the neighboring countries. Wikipedia states Ukraine has 377 launchers and 1200 missiles. The actual number is likely higher than this as there has been air shipments from Poland.

Stingers are portable surface to air missiles, and similar to Javelins, they can be fired by one person, but usually a team of two is used. A stinger weighs 33.5 pounds, and has IR and UV detectors to track the target. Apparently, adding UV detection increases the reliability of target seeking electronics. The missile is also capable of being deployed from a Humvee Stinger rack, and can be used by airborne troops. A helicopter launched version exists called Air-to-Air Stinger (ATAS).

Stingers are also “fire and forget” missiles giving the team an opportunity to relocate after launch.

As shown above, a small ejection motor in located behind the missile. The motor pushes the missile out a safe distance from the operator before engaging the main two-stage solid-fuel sustainer, keeping the gunner safe from the missile thrust. (Wikipedia) The cost of stinger missile is $119,000.

Wikipedia reports that the US has sent 2,000 stingers to Ukraine. It is always difficult to know how many Ukraine has available at any moment, as they are being used and more are being slipped into Ukraine.

More technical details can be found in the links.

Stay tuned,



Wikipedia, Javelins

Wikipedia, Stingers

There are many informative websites on these missiles, and their use in the Ukrainian war.