in which vlad putin drives a truck over his own dick

First, let’s admire the courage and determination of the Ukrainian military and the civilian volunteers. I think we all knew Ukraine would put up a fight; we all knew they were scrappers. But damn.

Their resistance has been inspiring. And let’s be honest, it’s also been intimidating as fuck. “Here, carry these sunflower seeds in your pocket so the ground on which you die will flower.” That’s ice cold, right there. That goes beyond Josey Wales ‘plumb, mad-dog mean’ levels of scrappiness; that’s deep into Keyser Söze territory. We’re talking grim poetic borderline pathological resistance. And it shows.

Just over seven thousand US troops died in twenty years of combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. Russia has lost more than that in three weeks.

I say Russia ‘lost’ that many troops, but it would be more accurate to they’ve ‘thrown away’ that many. It’s increasingly obvious the Russian military is hollow. The inside has rotten away. A couple decades of systemic corruption left a facade that appeared solid and sturdy, but masked a military that was drastically unprepared for sustained military operations.

Ural-4320 supply trucks.

What it comes down to is this: the Russian army doesn’t have enough trucks.

We hear a lot about Russia’s 190,000 troops involved in the invasion, the majority of them are support personnel. In the military we refer to this as “tooth to tail”ratio–the number of support troops (the tail) necessary to keep combat troops supplied and fighting (the tooth).

Russia is big. Really big. So big that it takes forever to get from one side to the other. Because of that, their military depends on railroads to rapidly move equipment from one place to another. Trains are more efficient; the army can move military units and supplies around inside Russia pretty quickly. But that all stops at the Russian border. Beyond the border, it comes down to trucks and truck-like supply vehicles.

We know that in the weeks leading up to the invasion, the Russian army amassed a LOT of troops and supplies on their border with Ukraine.

So this is what you need to know. The standard Russian military truck is the Ural-4320. The Ural-4320 is a multi-use truck; there are armored versions to carry troops, versions to transport fuel, and it’s also used as a platform for the BM-21 rocket launcher. But mostly, it’s just a really solid truck used to haul stuff. It has a top speed of around 50mph and can carry about 6.5 tons of material on hard surface roads.

Bones of a Ural-4320

Now, let’s say Ukraine’s road/highway network will allow a Ural-4320 to move at a sustained 45mph, which may be a wee bit optimistic. Let’s say it takes an hour to load six tons of supplies (food, ammunition, replacement parts for armored attack vehicles, medical supplies, fuel, etc.). It takes another hour to dive 45 miles into Ukraine. Another hour to unload supplies. And one more hour to return to the supply depot. That’s four hours.

Let’s say that truck can make four trips per day–sixteen hours. The other eight hours will be spent on stuff like truck maintenance, drivers eating and sleeping. That’s the very best case scenario. That’s assuming nothing disrupts the process–no ambushes, no caltrops in the road, no flat tires or engine issues, no loading or unloading problems, no refueling issues. That means Russian combat troops and assault vehicles can expect to be resupplied up to four times a day. If they’re only 45 miles from the Russian border.

If elements of the Russian army are 90 miles from the Russian border, the very best case is they could only count on resupply twice a day. At 180 miles, only once a day.

Kyiv is about 230 miles from the border.

Ural-4320 with BM-21 rocket launcher

We see lots of photos and videos of tanks and other armored vehicles destroyed by the Ukrainian army–and yay for that. But perhaps more importantly, they’re taking out resupply trucks at an astonishing rate. That’s one reason we’re seeing so many abandoned Russian vehicles and tanks. No fuel, no food for the troops, no ammunition to fight.

Russia will do as much damage as it can in the hope that Ukraine will give up, but it doesn’t have enough trucks to keep it up or take it very far. And the Ukrainian army won’t relent enough to allow the Russians to establish safe supply depots inside Ukraine. It’s not very dramatic, but in a contest between Ukrainian grit and Russian trucks, the trucks lose. And if the trucks lose, so does Russia.

11 thoughts on “in which vlad putin drives a truck over his own dick

  1. As a former 11-series grunt and a 92-series officer, I hate that Ukrainian citizens are suffering, but I have absolutely loved the fact that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has illustrated that logistics are sometimes much more important than the pointy end of the spear.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Also just how important moral is and the actual belief in what you are trying to do. The Ukrainians have that in spades. The Russians not so much. They are cowardly. Relying on missiles and rockets. Killing innocent people and raising cities, towns and villages to ash. The most cowardly acts of war ever seen.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Sue, from all reports, morale among the Russian invaders is dismal. But I’m suspect it’s a mistake to see the attacks on the civilian population as ‘cowardly’. I think it’s more accurately described as ruthless.

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      • Yes, it’s ruthless. But sending rockets hundreds of kilometres, sometimes much less than that, is not engaging, it’s trying to murder without being able to see what you are doing and that seems cowardly to me. Would they be so keen to smash civilians to bits if they could see the whites of their eyes? Perhaps they would of course. It’s hard to tell with the Russian mentality.

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      • Most aspects of combat are impersonal. Whether you’re shooting somebody from fifty meters or shelling them from half a mile, you’re not treating the target as an individual. Deliberately shelling civilians is a violation of the Geneva conventions, which clearly says attacks must be on a military objective and justified by military necessity. But the truth is, the prosecution of a war (as opposed to combat) has little to do with the courage or cowardice,

        Liked by 1 person

      • Like everyone else I’m just horrified at how fast this happened. I have since learnt that the West seemed keen to ignore various signals from Russia that pointed towards this over the last 10 years, but it just seems to have happened so fast. I know a young woman (via YouTube and her painting channel) who lives in an apartment in Kyiv, right in the middle, by the government quarters and the river. The week before she was nervous, but still certain that Russia would not invade, just make everyone worried. She was still making her art and showing us her work, chatting away on YouTube. For the past 3 weeks she’s been basically living in an underground car park. Her family decided to stay in the city because they didn’t want to women to leave the men. But they thought the central area was too dangerous so they moved out to stay with friends in another apartment in a quiet suburb of the city. Ie the areas that are currently starting to attract missiles. From night one out there they have been in the car park under the block. It’s really cold. She made short social media updates, mostly sharing photos of her favourite places in the city and giving us a little update on her situation. Then for a week she was silent. No contact. At the weekend she posted a short update on Instagram to explain that she had needed some time to try to come to terms with the terrible changes that had taken place in her life so quickly and how her life would never be the same again. She is trying to help a group of people distributing food and medicines to elderly people who can’t leave their apartments and are too scared to open the door to strange men. Then last night she posted a very short video, an image and a voice over. Her voice is so different. It’s obviously her, but the change in demeanour is stark. Quiet. Shell shocked. Traumatised. And it’s barely started in Kyiv yet. A month ago they were all just going to work, doing the shopping, eating dinner, going out etc. I think it’s the speed that has shocked me the most. There but for the grace of god and all that.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. And here you can see an apparently abandoned Ural-4320 with the BM-21 rocket launcher being towed away by Ukrainian troops. Why abandoned and why towed? I assume because it ran out of gas and the resupply trucks never got to it.

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    • So many Twitter videos of farmers nicking stuff too. Guns, tanks, trucks. They have the diesel stashed away and so they just help themselves. 50 years from now people will be learning ancient relative’s farms ready for sale and open a barn and find a tank under a pile of junk.

      Liked by 1 person

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