How to Do a “Kiev Feint”

A real one, not a 5D "feint"

Lukashenko is tying down Ukrainians with mere spoken words. Absolute unit

Do you want want to do a “Kiev feint”?

Do you want to tie down disproportionate enemy forces in Kiev and the north, while keeping your own focus elsewhere?

Here is how to do it:

  • Have Lukashenko repeatedly talk about how Ukraine is up to something no good on the border and how all bets are currently off:
  • Have Belarus carry out small-scale, but numerous, drills testing everything from bandit-hunting to mobilization call-ups:
  • Send a small number of Russian troops, say 9000, to Belarus (3% of the mobilization wave):
  • Before you send the 9000, announce that you are forming a joint “Russia-Belarus grouping of forces” to make sure everyone notices and infers as much as possible from this small deployment:
  • To really ramp up the psyops introduce new cool tactical signs:

As a special bonus you can also:

  • Carry out cheap harassment attacks on Kiev with flying bomblets, keeping the air defences occupied and fixed on the capital:

And this is how you do a Kiev feint. The secret to a feint is economy. Do things that the other side has to respond to, and encourage it to read more into your moves than is really there so that it may respond to that as well, but you yourself keep your investment small and do not allow your main focus to suffer.

And here is also how not to do a Kiev “feint”:

  • Park your entire (!) Far Eastern Military District in Belarus to the north of Kiev. Park your entire (!) Central Military District to the northeast of Kiev on the main highway. And Park your entire premier 1st Guards Tank Army (of the Western District) to the east of Kiev opposite of Sumy. Formations that together represent 60% of Russia’s ground power.
  • Move these units to the border with as much secrecy and obfuscation as humanly possible. For example move the equipment first, weeks and months ahead, and only then start shipping in the men as well, but say it’s just an exercise, nothing to see.
  • Cross the border with all of said formations and race directly for Kiev along no fewer than 3 axes of advance (the entire invasion had 6). Have one half of the Far Eastern District (‘V’ sign) taking the Belarus shortcut to advance southward on Kiev beyond the Dnieper, while the other half tries the same southwardly advance on Kiev to the east of the river by squeezing past Chernigov. Meanwhile have the Central District (‘O’ sign) race along the big main highway from Russia. (1st Guards Tank was supposed to assist to its south but fell apart and didn’t move much past Sumy so that it is now derided as a favored “parade” formation that was “found out”.)

Do you spot the “tiny” difference between the current Kiev feint, and the February Kiev not-feint?

What is happening now is a textbook example of how to feint. What took place in February can only be a textbook example of how-not-to feint.

If your “feint” is tying down half of your forces, then it’s not a feint. (Which it wasn’t.)

The February strategy may have been a good one (or not), but what it wasn’t was a feint.

If a supposed Russian feint has no sense of economy but is taking up as many resources as all the other operations combined then what you are saying is that the Russians are the dumbest feinters in world history. I’m sorry but I have a slightly higher opinion of Putin-Shoigu than that.


In actuality, far from trying to draw and fix Ukrainian forces to the north, the Russians in the north (even more than elsewhere) went to extreme, suicidal lengths to try and bypass and avoid Ukrainian forces so as to preserve speed and then paid a costly price for that (their supply lines did). In other words, Ukrainian presence on Kiev approaches was entirely unwelcome to their plan.

The current development in Belarus is a feint, but it is also more than that. It is a quid pro quo.

Lukashenko wants security and deterrence. He is under NATO microscope and his iron curtain is being incessantly penetrated by electronic interception, hacking, opposition assets in Minsk, and possibly Ukrainian special forces recon. He is understandably nervous and pissed off.

Military readiness tests provide him with a measure of security and deterrence, and options. A contingent of Russian troops does the same. And now that they have mobilized, the Russians have the troops to give him.

That is what he gets out of it. Defense.

But what the Russians get out of it is offense. A feint.

They are moving troops to Belarus and Lukashenko is readiness-testing his military and making strong statements to frame both, so the Ukrainians have to react. And if they react by shifting even more resources than is warranted then even better.

Lukashenko feels like he’s deterring Kiev-Brussels-Warsaw-Washington and the Russians feel that for a small investment (of green reservists) they’re drawing some Ukrainian forces away from Donbass or Kherson. It’s a deterrence-feint partnership. A partnership in which Lukashenko’s raised rhetoric force-multiplies the effect of a small Russian deployment.

(It’s interesting how possibilities open up when you’re operating with 550K ground troops rather than 250K.)

  1. Agarwal says

    I hope you’re right and it’s a feint. Because if Russia tries again for Kyiv with a small force then I don’t know what to say.

    What do you think of the Shahed’s? They seem to be getting through AD mostly, and have definitely changed the vibe around this war to Russia’s advantage. The question is what they are hitting. Russia used what, about 4,000 missiles so far? It didn’t seem to do them much good. If you’re going to waste resources better to use cheap drones than expensive missiles.

    If I were an optimist, Russia’s launching of a new military satellite yesterday, which will presumably be devoted to the Ukraine conflict, along with all these drones (apparently bigger ones soon to come as well), suggests that Russian strikes will get more effective imminently. I know Marko is not into the strikes on the electric grid but they are better than strikes on empty 2-story buildings which was what was happening before a lot. Russia can at least identify substations and keep hitting them until Ukraine can’t bring them up again.

  2. Estragon says

    There should be a 4th bullet point on your “how not to” list – “Leave tons of equipment and weapons behind for your enemies to use against you.”

    BTW I’ve heard from unverified sources that Belarusian saboteurs had a lot to do with wrecking the Feb advance, by slowing down rail traffic from Belarus. Not sure if it’s true though.

  3. Jim says

    Russia is over. If you paid attention to global events instead of Russian conspiracy theories you would understand that. So is China. Both will be broken up by 2030.

  4. Oscar Peterson says

    Good piece.

    Agree that the Kiev move in Feb was not a feint. Hard to believe some interpreted that way.

    The question is just how many GoU forces this feint will actually tie down. If you can do this analysis, so can the folks in Kiev.

    Is Russia on track to defeat the Starlink network? (I still don’t understand why Musk backed off his very reasonable demand that DoD kick in money rather than expect Spacex to pay for it. But maybe there are sweetheart government space launch contracts in the background to “compensate” Elon.)

    And what is the truth about missile and other munition shortages? Lots of claims–but always from those whom one suspects of turning everything into propaganda.

    Strelkov is a bit optimistic.

    The game is afoot!

  5. Blackledge says

    How long until the the Polish Armed Forces openly join the fray? Whether in the Ukraine, or used against Belarus, or Kaliningrad – appearances suggest that Poland is slowly winding up for direct action.

    1. Panos says

      Poles will not do anything because then it will be open season for them,and no article 5 can be invoked.

    2. Oscar Peterson says

      What appearance suggest that to you?

  6. RegretLeft says

    The top photo of “Luka” – that’s him, under arms, during the CIA-led assassination attempt in 2020, correct? (After he refused to play Covid.) Foiled, in large part probably, with Russian intelligence sharing. After which Putin said “You may have your own opinion about Lukaschenko, but… [don’t send your kill teams into our space]” Ah, those were the days!
    I for one, would like to hear more about Luka on these blogs – to from a better “opinion” – particularly whether he persisted in his Covid-refusal. Someone claimed that Belarus did eventually “lock down” – (true?) – but the vax mandates never got invoked? I do recall a lovely photo of a debutante’s ball – Jan 2021 – probably in Minsk with unmasked dancers while most of the rest of Europe was in a hard lockdown.

  7. stumble guys says

    We are in agreement that the advance toward Kiev in February was not a diversion. It’s hard to comprehend that some people took it in that direction.

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