A State That Spends Under 5% of GDP on a Big War Is Not Serious About Said War

"And expectations have to be adjusted accordingly"

Source: Anatoly Karlin

Russia is withdrawing from Kherson.

While Z sphere & Russian patriotic Telegram copes, I just view it as a belated recognition that the kremlins are not fighting the war seriously, and war aims need to be pared down correspondingly.

This is what I wrote in another channel.

TLDR, if Russians couldn’t defeat Ukraine when they had massive materiel superiority, that’s certainly not happening now; not when kremlins are either ideologically or organizationally incapable of implementing a war economy.

Basically none of the ideas I suggested for ways to defeat Ukraine now that they dithered for half a year sees any signs of being adopted. Clear now that Kalibr strikes carry a coercive nature, as they’re not on the scale needed to suppress electric grid.

For whatever reason, they’re not serious about sourcing necessary supplies from China (not even just heavy weaponry, which might have been refused, but things like first aid kits, etc.). Astounding, much of the provision has actually been left to the regions.

In effect, as with COVID, the federal center devolving a core state responsibility to sub-polities that vary widely in their level of wealth and conscientiousness (and on a separate note setting up any number of problems for the post-war era).

But those are all details, at the end of the day, a state that spends ≤5% of GDP on a big war is not serious about said war, and expectations have to be adjusted accordingly; namely, hanging on to the Crimean Corridor and eventually forcing negotiations.

Losing Izyum and Kherson were my two pre-stated conditions for considering that Russia is losing the war, and both have been fulfilled. Former rules out Slavyansk and Kharkov. Latter, even more decisively, rules out Nikolaev and Odessa.

And no amount of idiotic copium – MAGA cutting Ukrainian aid (stillborn anyway), shivering europoors throwing in the towel (German gas tanks are full), Belorussian front, Ukraine’s depopulation (de facto turning it into an armed camp), more anti-gay laws – is going to alter that.

So short of Ukrainians/Westerners losing a standard deviation or two of IQ to converge with the kremlins, or China opening a Pacific front (not necessarily that even that will be relevant if there’s no war economy), there’s just two actually *realistic* scenarios going forwards.


Russian “Pyrrhic victory” with the frontline (as initially predicted by @shanggyangg this March) encompassing the LDNR and the Crimean Corridor, but not Kherson — abandoning which is at least good step to increasing the likelihood of that happening.

  • Veterans freed up from Kherson and new mobiks used to reinforce Crimean Corridor.
  • Focus on fortification, re-equipment, training, and preparing for upcoming Ukrainian surprises – ATACMS, fighters, drone swarms – which are likely to appear by summer.

The Crimean Corridor obviously has to hold. Without it, the Crimean Bridge is cooked as well, and Crimea’s fall becomes a matter of time at that point. (BTW, a schizo scenario in which Crimea falls, but urban LDNR with tight logistics ties to Russia holds, is not impossible).


The alternative is that the kremlins figure that one mobilization wave is enough; deplete existing manpower with costly frontal assaults on podunk villages; continue to run a peacetime economy and not think ahead.

In that case, it simply cannot be logically excluded that the Ukrs sweep away this depleted army in early summer 2023, occupy the Crimean Corridor, besiege Crimea; kremlins order another mobilization in panic, but who would even cooperate with such losers at that point.

Regarding nukes: If you treat this as a colonial type war by spending ≤5% of GDP on it, and flip flop on decision day to day like the whole grain deal saga, all these threats are meaningless and will not be acted on. So Crimea at any rate will be doomed.

Now whatever the kremlins themselves might think — and in this respect, the planned surge in spending on domestic security/police, while there are ostensibly much more pressing military demands, is quite foreboding:

…the regime will not survive a lost war. I am very sure about this and have said this from Day One. In this scenario, Putin (or whoever he might try to push forwards as a replacement President) in 2024 would be toast.

Obviously my preference is for the whitepill over the blackpill scenario, but kremlin decision-making has surprised so starkly to the downside that the latter one will not surprise me. Hence why I’m not making any predictions on this matter now.

  1. Blackledge says

    The “white pill” solution is immature, wishful thinking, and unrealistic. “MAGA aid cuts” will not materialize any more than the Tooth Fairy will manifest. The US regime will continue to wage war on Russia via Ukraine (et al), regardless of which empty suits occupy chairs inside the Potomac Green Zone or the political party [sic] to which they belong. Moreover, fortifications won’t save Russian forces for long; as pointed out by others, here, NATO will roll right over them when they decide to move.

    Putin is finished, his clique is finished, and Russian Federation is finished. The real questions out to be: how long before China is also broken up, and the United States is broken up? One World Government is the real goal, and large, cohesive nation-states obstruct that goal from being reached.

    1. YakovKedmi says
      1. Blackledge says

        Thanks so much for the excellent link! 🙏

  2. Dr Livci says

    ,Anatoly hammers here what the copium/”abandoning Kherson was just military necessity” crowd are totally ignoring. With out Moscow escalating its war, or as Marko said “changing the context” of events on the ground the war is lost. Maybe the regime can survive a stalemate temporarily but the loss of the populations faith in the regime will be immense and might very well lead to serious instability anyway. An outright defeat where Crimea is lost will just lead to regime change and how that will go nobody can accurately predict. IMO it will be back to the 90s for Russia but perhaps some actual patriots will take power. Or maybe Russia really just will be dismantled in totality. So far I dont see any reason to believe Moscow will escalate and all signs so far indicate that the people calling the shots would rather die than fight like their lives depend on it, but how can they not see that their lives depend on it?

    I saw a banner dropped by some nazibols somewhere in Russia that had “if you don’t want 1945 you will get 1917” written on it. That sums up everything pretty well in regards to Russias current political leadership. They wont survive on their current trajectory and its just insane how blind they are.

  3. Agarwal says

    It’s not that Russia is losing, it’s that it is losing from absolutely sh*t war management, the worst I am aware of from any major power over the past 200 years.

    It’s not even mostly a problem with the Russian military, which seems to be fighting reasonably well, defeating all previous incursions into Kherson with minimal losses, holding out at Izium for quite a long time against a numerically much superior force, etc. The problem is the strategy and limitations placed from above. Retreat rather than fight, attack strong points rather than weak points, insufficient troop levels that are then subdivided even further, waste 4000 missiles on God knows what and just as the electricity strikes are having success wind them down, don’t attack supply routes, choke points, known Nato advisor HQs, SBU HQ, it just goes on and on. Worst war management in many generations, makes American losses in the Middle East look like masterstrokes of generalship.

    1. Oscar Peterson says

      “Worst war management in many generations, makes American losses in the Middle East look like masterstrokes of generalship.”

      Amazingly, it seems to be true, yet still hard for me to believe.

      Maybe they thought they could replicate the limited Syria commitment in Ukraine while carrying off a sort of reverse-2014-coup. I did wonder about all the “brotherhood” talk at the beginning, but I didn’t imagine it would constrain operations to the extent it evidently has.

      I imagined that Plan B was to take the entire coast and being able to restrain Ukraine form NATO-affiliating behavior in the longer term by being able cut off its exports, having taking control of all the industry in the East and that the 300,000 reservists would play a role in that.

      But that Plan B–if it ever was a Plan B–is shot now.

      Still hard to believe that a dozen HIMARS could flummox the ability of Russia to hold on in Kherson. Kherson seems–seemed–to be the key to some larger workable strategical goal/endstate.

      Nothing Russia is doing seems logically connected to anything else it does.

      1. Agarwal says

        Imo everything stems from three problems, insufficient troop levels, unwillingness to take casualties, and a belief that total Russian military superiority could allow Russia to go easy on brother Ukrainians without hampering the result.

        Insufficient troop levels caused them not to be able to surround Ukrainian strong points in the east, so instead they did direct attacks with superior artillery, that on net resulted in very paltry to the point of laughable gains in the Donbas. Insufficient troop levels also caused the Kharkiv front to fold on itself, which coupled with deathly fear of casualties caused Russia to withdraw from Kharkiv, withdraw from Izium, withdraw from Kherson (the last time without even a Ukrainian offensive pushing them out!)

        Taking it easy on the Ukrainians kept the Russians from targeting troop barracks on day 1, from making infrastructure strikes until more than half a year in, and apparently is causing Putin to wind down electric grid strikes right now rather than freeze hundreds of thousands of Russian-speaking pensioners to death. Russia may be running low on Kalibers (I don’t know) but I very much doubt it is out of Shahed drones, which are perfect for electric substation strikes.

        Why Russia has avoided hitting tunnels leading into Ukraine from the West, avoided hitting bridges, avoided hitting unofficial nato advisor bases, avoided hitting the SBU headquarters and generally propaganda outlets (which Ukrainians put a lot of emphasis on), I don’t know. They don’t want to hit their own informers? Or maybe I should put my tin foil hat on and Putin is losing on purpose? I won’t go that far.

  4. Agarwal says

    Anyhow, what next great victories await Russia? My prediction is for a Ukrainian push into Zaporozhye toward Mariupol, followed by HIMARSing the Kerch Bridge, and maybe the water canal into Crimea, thereby precipitating a Russian evacuation of Crimea and another great Russian humanitarian victory like Kherson, only 10 times larger. At this point I doubt the Putin government would be able to stay in power, there would likely be a color revolution and quite possibly breakup of the country, with American puppet states in the Russian eastern territories complete with American military bases, and a rump European Russia bereft of its natural resource base and never to challenge the West again. Finishing the process of disintegration which Gorbachev started 40 years previous.

    1. peterinanz says

      Pretty much.

      Not so sure, unfortunately, about “….I doubt the Putin government would be able to stay in power…”.
      It’s quite possible that the current cleptocracy stays in power ruling over a rump European Russia; an Orthodox version of North Korea.

  5. TRM says

    What do you think of the Russia, Poland, Cargil carving up Ukraine? The withdrawal means the deal has been struck. Interesting but I don’t know what to make of it myself. Possible? Yes. Probable? Maybe.


    I’m of the opinion that Russia realized the dam upriver could not be defended. Once the Ukrainians blow it up a 4-5 meter wave would hit Kherson. The quarter million civilians and all the troops would be stranded without supplies.

    Russia retreats just like they’ve done for centuries. Retreat and wear your opponents out with artillery. I’ve seen this vs Sweden (success), France (success) & Germany (success). They will be back.

  6. Sundance says

    Russia’s strategy for victory differs from what your concept of what Russia’s strategy should be. Also, this conflict is between USA/NATO and Russia. Ukraine is the battleground. So, whatever strategy failings you see for Russia to “win” in Ukraine, you are missing who and what Russia is really fighting for.

    Russia is fighting to break NATO and the USA. There can be no end to this conflict until the bully hegemon can no longer sanction, bully, invade and destroy other nations.

  7. Seamus Padraig says

    I used to be Putin’s biggest fan. I thought he was such a clever guy, and I would sing his praises at the top of my lungs. No more.

    The first thing that shook my faith in him is how the Russian government went along with the Covid-hoax just like every country in our ‘decadent West.’ At first, I was willing to forgive him — ‘Oh, he thinks it’s real. He’s just being careful, that’s all.’ — but then he did lockdowns again the second year, even after it was obvious that excess deaths in 2020 had been completely normal. And then, of course, Russia rolled out its very own clot-shot. (Well, sort of. It turns they made it in partnership with AstraZeneca.)

    Nevertheless, I still thought he was some sort of foreign-policy genius, if nothing else, so when the Ukraine War erupted, I initially reverted to my original pro-Putin stance. When Marko complained that the SMO was two was too small to do the job properly, I waved him off with the excuse that Russia would still retain escalatory dominance, if needed. Then the months passed, and a funny thing happened: Russian wasn’t winning. And a victory at this point looks quite unlikely, unless Putin is willing to go full-on Great Patriotic War.

    I have since had to let go of my erstwhile faith in Putin and face the fact that he is probably just another globalist puppet like every other major world ruler today.


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