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Old 03-04-2022, 04:04 PM
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Posted in the Putin's War in Ukraine thread:

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Originally Posted by Mahatatain View Post
Is anyone else surprised by how poor the Russian troops have performed? Don't get me wrong, I'm glad that they are doing badly, but I thought that even without their heavy artillery they would make quicker progress than they have. Has the average Russian infantryman been proved to not be as capable as we expected them to be?
Yes. And it's got me thinking. If the Soviet military at the height of the Cold War performed nearly as poorly as the Russian military in 2022, then Twilight:2000 becomes a fantasy RPG. We can't have that.

One could certainly argue that Russia's poor performance in the first week of its Ukrainian adventure is evidence that the Soviet Army wouldn't have stood a chance against NATO in a large-scale conventional war. Although there is a strong case to be made for that, in the spirit of this thread's foundational premise, I'm going to argue against that conclusion.

The Soviet military performs best when there is an existential threat to the Motherland. It did not perform well in the largely unprovoked Winter War against Finland, or the 1939 joint invasion of Poland. The Soviet Army excelled when it's back was against the wall (Moscow, Stalingrad, Kursk), then turned successful defense into devastating offense. After almost collapsing under the weight of Barbarossa '41, the Red Army staged an epic come-back and went on to smash the Wehrmacht decisively, time and again.

In the v1 T2k timeline, the USSR is once again under existential threat. It really only starts kicking ass in central Europe when NATO forces are on the doorstep of the Soviet frontier.

Also, the Soviet military was designed to be wielded like a sledgehammer, not a precision scalpel. Russia's clumsy attempts to ape the successful strategy and tactics of the US invasion of Iraq has revealed its ill-suitedness for such focused operations. In T2k, the Soviets start having success when they begin employing massed artillery fires, Army-level attacks, and waves of AFVs. And then, of course, there's its use of battlefield tactical nukes.

Lastly, say what you will about the clunkiness of Soviet-era Red Army organization, logistics, and CnC, but its virtue lay in its simplicity, redundency, and sheer scale. Russia's attempt at a lean, mean military machine has revealed systematic flaws and shortcomings resulting from the last decade's attempts at "streamlining".

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  #302  
Old 03-04-2022, 07:54 PM
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Part of the confusion, I think, is that Putin has tried to paint this conflict (to the West) as an existential threat. NATO on the doorstep of Russia itself!

Yet judging from the confusion and awful morale of the Russian troops (which could be less than the full truth but seems too widespread to be made up) along with the substantial internal protest, it seems that Russians themselves don't believe this, at all.

(the same thing could be said to some degree about Iraq in 2004, but the coalition troops themselves were pretty gung-ho about it at least, for the most part)
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Old 03-04-2022, 10:36 PM
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Originally Posted by Raellus View Post
Posted in the Putin's War in Ukraine thread:



Yes. And it's got me thinking. If the Soviet military at the height of the Cold War performed nearly as poorly as the Russian military in 2022, then Twilight:2000 becomes a fantasy RPG. We can't have that.

One could certainly argue that Russia's poor performance in the first week of its Ukrainian adventure is evidence that the Soviet Army wouldn't have stood a chance against NATO in a large-scale conventional war. Although there is a strong case to be made for that, in the spirit of this thread's foundational premise, I'm going to argue against that conclusion.

The Soviet military performs best when there is an existential threat to the Motherland. It did not perform well in the largely unprovoked Winter War against Finland, or the 1939 joint invasion of Poland. The Soviet Army excelled when it's back was against the wall (Moscow, Stalingrad, Kursk), then turned successful defense into devastating offense. After almost collapsing under the weight of Barbarossa '41, the Red Army staged an epic come-back and went on to smash the Wehrmacht decisively, time and again.

In the v1 T2k timeline, the USSR is once again under existential threat. It really only starts kicking ass in central Europe when NATO forces are on the doorstep of the Soviet frontier.

Also, the Soviet military was designed to be wielded like a sledgehammer, not a precision scalpel. Russia's clumsy attempts to ape the successful strategy and tactics of the US invasion of Iraq has revealed its ill-suitedness for such focused operations. In T2k, the Soviets start having success when they begin employing massed artillery fires, Army-level attacks, and waves of AFVs. And then, of course, there's its use of battlefield tactical nukes.

Lastly, say what you will about the clunkiness of Soviet-era Red Army organization, logistics, and CnC, but its virtue lay in its simplicity, redundency, and sheer scale. Russia's attempt at a lean, mean military machine has revealed systematic flaws and shortcomings resulting from the last decade's attempts at "streamlining".

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You are making a significant mistake here. Not in assuming that the PACT forces would be as ill-prepared logistically, but in assuming that the effect would be the same as this modern-day conflict with Ukraine. Russia and Ukraine have roughly the same number of ground combatants with all of the Ukrainian people defending their soil. The Ukrainians have compact logistics tails (they are literally fighting in their own front yards) and short lines of communication. Russia's Command and Control as well as her logistics tail are at the very end of their "reach" in range. Training is roughly equal as the Russians have very little money to train their conscripts. This is a 1v1 scenario. The outcome is uncertain because Russia can only supply around 150K troops with her current logistics tail. This is obviously stretching her command and control to the limits as well. Victory is not certain due to Russia's limited economy (10th in the World) potentially collapsing and leaving her army starved of supplies and munitions. The Russians may have a majority conscript army, but there are several elite volunteer units too. Those units are fighting in the Crimea and Donetsk regions and have done FAR BETTER than the conscripts from Belarus.

The PACT, however, was an economic beast (because of the number of countries Russia could exploit). They also outnumbered NATO between 3 to 1 in troops and tanks, and up to 5 to 1 in APCs. They also held a 3 to 1 advantage in artillery. Even IF half the PACT forces turned tail to run, it was STILL a 1v1 fight for NATO. In addition, NATO really didn't hold a technological superiority in equipment until the late 80s. An M60 with a 105mm is technically just a match for a T62. Thus nothing could be guaranteed for certain given the numbers NATO was facing. Even if the first waves panicked and fled in terror, how do you [NATO] resupply when the next wave is rolling over the hill? Numbers DO MATTER, just not as much as they used to. Additionally, the Soviets had the ability to resupply from a number of countries so they could build multiple logistics tails coming in from many directions, whereas the Russians in Ukraine do not.
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Old 03-04-2022, 10:38 PM
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Originally Posted by unipus View Post
Part of the confusion, I think, is that Putin has tried to paint this conflict (to the West) as an existential threat. NATO on the doorstep of Russia itself!

Yet judging from the confusion and awful morale of the Russian troops (which could be less than the full truth but seems too widespread to be made up) along with the substantial internal protest, it seems that Russians themselves don't believe this, at all.

(the same thing could be said to some degree about Iraq in 2004, but the coalition troops themselves were pretty gung-ho about it at least, for the most part)
With US troops in Iraq, I think they still were running on the wave of anger over 911. Combine that with US Iraqi relations and it was enough "motivation" to take the fight to the Iraqis.
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Old 05-23-2023, 01:54 PM
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I have recently read this analysis by RUSI, a high-quality British think tank (and the longer document that this page is a summary of).

It summarizes many of the tactical changes the Russian Army has udnergone since the outbreak of the war in Ukraine. A big picture summary is that they have been forced to abandon their elaborate combined arms-deep strike doctrine and revert to a much more typically Russian form of warfare - throwing hordes of low quality troops at enemy defensive lines, supported by massive amounts of artillery fire. (The report notes that the artillery fire is slacking off this year in comparison to last year as supplies run low, and that the anture of fire support has shifted, with much heavier use of 120mm mortars and much less use of MRLs and 152mm howitzers.) Tanks have in many cases been relegated to heavily protected mobile artillery (better able to withstand Ukrainian counterbattery fire than towed guns or mortars) or long-range standoff fire support; the armored thrust into gaps in enemy lines has once again proved suicidal when the enemy closes the gap and surrounds the cut-off armored force. The document also details other changes in infantry organization, engineer operations and electronic warfare.

I think that many of these changes would be mirrored in the in-game 1998 and (in some parts 1997) campaigns. (Some, such as the extensive use of low-cost drones for reconnaissance and artillery spotting, would not). On ground human tactical and operational reconnaissance by Spetsnaz teams has largely ceased as the highly trained operators are used as assault infantry, lavish artillery fire is curtailed by low stockpiles, and tanks are used as fire support rather than to create breakthroughs. Mobilization-only divisions from the interior are used as cannon fodder infantry to hold ground and create opportunities for better formations to attack through. Mortars replace tube artillery as ammunition becomes scarce. I think current Russian engineer and EW operations are better than their Soviet counterparts would be, since the Russian economy produces more and better construction materiel that can be used by engineers and export control failures have enabled the Russians to field much more sophisticated electronic warfare equipment than the Soviets could.

What are your thoughts folks????
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  #306  
Old 05-23-2023, 10:37 PM
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Originally Posted by chico20854 View Post

I think that many of these changes would be mirrored in the in-game 1998 and (in some parts 1997) campaigns. (Some, such as the extensive use of low-cost drones for reconnaissance and artillery spotting, would not). On ground human tactical and operational reconnaissance by Spetsnaz teams has largely ceased as the highly trained operators are used as assault infantry, lavish artillery fire is curtailed by low stockpiles, and tanks are used as fire support rather than to create breakthroughs. Mobilization-only divisions from the interior are used as cannon fodder infantry to hold ground and create opportunities for better formations to attack through. Mortars replace tube artillery as ammunition becomes scarce. I think current Russian engineer and EW operations are better than their Soviet counterparts would be, since the Russian economy produces more and better construction materiel that can be used by engineers and export control failures have enabled the Russians to field much more sophisticated electronic warfare equipment than the Soviets could.

What are your thoughts folks????
No arguments from me.
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  #307  
Old 05-24-2023, 08:20 AM
Ursus Maior Ursus Maior is offline
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I concur with the RUSI analysis being a good blueprint for T2K with some caveats: First of all, I think the Soviet Army (and, depending on the timeline/edtion used: its allies) would have to fare a lot better in initial attacks on Western forces than the Russian Armed Forces did during the 2022 invasion of Ukraine. Eventually, however, Soviet forces would be depleted as much as Russian forces are and when this bough breaks, Soviet solutions to the operational situation will look similar to Russian ones. I also think, the authors of the game have anticipated some of these solutions fairly well.

First, force generation will resort to mobilization, but it probably would not be full or even total mobilization in the beginning, because that would tank the industry. With no Western allies providing food, ammunition and transport vehicles via lend & lease, the USSR needs to come up with these resources on its own. That limits how many men it can take out of the labor force. But mobilization will creep up eventually, partially because it's bound to happen and partially because alternate sources will run dry. These alternate sources are international volunteers, a limited resource, given that many parts of the world are aflame at the same time, and prison populations.

Generation of war materiel will fare similarly, I presume. We all know of the hodgepodge of vehicles in T2K, the constant downgrading of planned inventories for a unit given. One just has to look at the development of Wehrmacht divisions from 1939 to 1945: the final waves of deployment were hardly recognizable from an early war point of view. What is also likely is that local workshops near the front would set up production, delivering much needed support weapons and mobility solutions. While a local shop cannot produce field guns, cannons or howitzers, let alone ATGMs, mortars and recoilless rifles are much easier to manufacture with primitive tools, as are first generation assault/battle rifles and submachine guns. For mobility, carts - both hand and animal drawn - are easily constructed as are bicycles.

All in all, Soviet solutions might look similar to Russia solutions today on the tactical level, because operational and strategic possibilities and solutions will dictate certain developments. However, with key components of today's Ukrainian solutions and developments missing, counter batter radar, artillery outranging Russian guns and drones aka tactical and operational real time aerial reconnaissance missing, some developments will not take place. The Soviet army of 1997-2000 will not have to worry (or at least far less) loosing troops and assets in its rear area to long range strikes. This will enable the Soviets (but also the Western allies) to set up cantonments for regiments/brigades upwards and dispatch individual (augmented) companies to the frontline (i. e. into artillery ranges) with the cantonments in villages or towns no more than 30 km from the respective FLOT. This makes transits to and from the front possible without motorization, i. e. per bicycle, horse, cart or even on foot. Between FLOT and division cantonment a battalion HQ will provide C in the assembly area, about 5-15 km from FLOT.

Also, with aerial reconnaissance playing almost no roll, the ratio of indirect rounds fired and infantry killed (especially in massed attacks) will look very different. Additionally, scouting ahead of small unit assaults and raids will have a more conventional look with LRRP becoming an important asset for all units battalion size and up. Often lacking radios, information will flow extremely slowly, with no reinforcements or "cavalry to the rescue" available if a patrol comes under fire. The former will mean that along static front lines infantry can move unprotected, but once in sight and range of the enemy, these troops will fare the same as in World War One: water cooled machine guns and mortars being available en masse. The difficulty of generating reliable intelligence on the enemy, especially behind FLET will maximize the fog of war, making all assets of aerial reconnaissance (IMINT) as well as HUMINT and SIGINT forms extremely valuable. To be clear on that: The front lines in Poland might be as static as the Western front in parts, but commanders will have less reconnaissance available to themselves than their counterparts in France in Belgium 80 years earlier.

This would a) make offensives much more riskier to conduct and b) would necessitate reconnaissance by force much more often, depleting relevant and highly specialized units much more quickly than previously. This might be the most important reason, why we only get about one offensive per side per year: Readying personnel, materiel, logistics and especially one's intelligence picture would be too much a task to conduct more than once, especially after the nuclear attacks devastating most industries, population centers and critical infrastructure.

The NATO attack of Operation Reset probably had a fairly good picture of the next 100-200 km of enemy positions, but had the misfortune of running into a Soviet offensive force just having finished preparations for their own offensive.
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  #308  
Old 05-24-2023, 10:34 AM
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Great analysis, guys. I'd like to add a few thoughts.

As I've stated here before- ad nauseum, probably- the Soviet military was scarily effective when it fought following the model established by the Red Army of the last two years or so of the Second World War- utilizing the blunt instruments of massive artillery prep, large-scale infantry attacks, and massed heavy armor. Historically, when the Russian army has tried to ape Western armies, it's failed pretty miserably.

In Ukraine over the last year, we've witnessed the rise and fall of the Russian Battalion Tactical Group. It's ironic, because I think divisions in 2000 (T2kU) would resemble BTGs, albeit on a slightly larger scale (roughly equivalent to 2 BTGs- what the Russians now call a brigade). This article does a good job of explaining the BTG concept, its evolution during the Cold War, and its apparent failure in Ukraine.

https://rusi.org/explore-our-researc...tactical-group

This excerpt is particularly germane to our discussion of warfare in the later years of the Twilight War.

Quote:
"Over time, divisions and regiments became fairly proficient in combined arms combat, but the nature of the battlefield was changing. Modern weapons forced units to spread out in order to survive. The future battlefield would be fragmented, with gaps between units, open flanks and combat not only at the front line, but also throughout the battlespace. The concept of the front line itself was being challenged. It thus became obvious that the battalion was a prime component of future war and battalions had to fight combined to win. The problem was how to combine branches into battalions and fight effectively."
A fragmented battlefield, with "gaps between units, open flanks, and combat not only at the front line" is almost a perfect summary of how canon describes the European battlefield in the last year or two of the Twilight War.

Before condemning the Soviet military of the late Cold War period based largely on the piss-poor performance of the modern Russian military in Ukraine, we have to remember that warfare has changed quite a bit over the past 30-plus years. One very big difference is the proliferation of UAVs/drones, especially small, relatively inexpensive off-the-shelf civilian models repurposed for combat roles. To say nothing of their direct strike capabilities, UAVs/drones provide real-time aerial reconnaissance capabilities- often down to the platoon level- that even the most modern NATO militaries lacked through the IRL 1990s. Combined with the more widespread availability/use of long-range precision artillery munitions (e.g. Excalibur), there's very little that can't be spotted with drones and hit by artillery within 10-20 kilometers of the forward edge of battle. Precision munitions aren't even necessary, as drones can still provide BVR spotting and corrections for unguided artillery. The drone-artillery team makes concentrating assault forces behind the lines for large-scale attacks without quickly coming under accurate artillery fires nearly impossible; likewise, ammunition and supply depots, headquarters, SAMs, and other rear area services are now much more vulnerable to destruction by accurate artillery fire.

None of this would be the case- at least to the degree that it is today- in a WWIII fought in the mid-to-late 1990s. Drones did exist of course, but in nowhere near the numbers that they are today. Corps and divisions would have had access, but not, as it is today, companies, platoons, and even squads.

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Old 05-24-2023, 05:58 PM
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One area where I think the T2K Soviet Army would fare better than modern Russia is getting reserve materiel refurbished and into service. The Twilight Soviets didn't go through the period of neglect and looting where everything that wasn't nailed down was sold off and everything that could be pried up wasn't nailed down. It would take much longer for them to have to dip into the deep reserves of obsolete vehicles.
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Old 05-26-2023, 02:17 AM
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One area where I think the T2K Soviet Army would fare better than modern Russia is getting reserve materiel refurbished and into service. The Twilight Soviets didn't go through the period of neglect and looting where everything that wasn't nailed down was sold off and everything that could be pried up wasn't nailed down. It would take much longer for them to have to dip into the deep reserves of obsolete vehicles.
I'd say that's a solid yes and no. We now know that this looting, neglect and corruption were already rampant during the 1980s and possibly earlier. However, the wholesale clearance of depots worth of older tank models, complete neglect of maintenance and pilfering of high-value parts (especially optics and electronics) probably started only in the 1990s or maybe the late 1980s. It then continued in the 2000s and probably became even worse under the current (and then) president, when organized crime and security apparatus became fully one and at the same time the big army was de facto abolished with the concept of maintaining only a small expeditionary force with far fewer conscripts and a focus on contract soldiers ("kontraktniki").

In fact, for those timelines that incorporate the 1991 August Coup or any other hardliners and their reforms and internal cleanings, getting rid of organized crime metastasizing within the security apparatus as well as other forms of corruption and pilfering would be the main goal. No Soviet (or other) army can hope to win a long war without knowing what it has in stores and how long it will take to refurbish depot material or manufacture new equipment and vehicles.
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Old 05-27-2023, 12:53 PM
KozmasSchmierfink KozmasSchmierfink is offline
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A problem I have with the current timeline in-game vs what we've learned of Russian forces in Chechnya (twice), Georgia, and Ukraine since 2014, is the hand-waving over the internal dissent inside the Soviet Union around the time of the failed coup. The army with which the USSR would be attacking Sweden and the Balts would be one that had suffered significant internal purges and expended much of it's combat power fighting internal enemies along the fringes. I see motivation as a serious problem due to the forces of entropy and dissolution that were already full-steam ahead when the coup happened. Maybe they maintain order in the Moscow/St Pete corridor and some other places... but we should talk about what that post-coup environment would have really looked like...
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Old 05-29-2023, 10:43 AM
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A problem I have with the current timeline in-game vs what we've learned of Russian forces in Chechnya (twice), Georgia, and Ukraine since 2014, is the hand-waving over the internal dissent inside the Soviet Union around the time of the failed coup. The army with which the USSR would be attacking Sweden and the Balts would be one that had suffered significant internal purges and expended much of it's combat power fighting internal enemies along the fringes. I see motivation as a serious problem due to the forces of entropy and dissolution that were already full-steam ahead when the coup happened. Maybe they maintain order in the Moscow/St Pete corridor and some other places... but we should talk about what that post-coup environment would have really looked like...
That's a good point. This is a big reason that I favor the v1 chronology (no coup, no end of the Soviet Empire) over the 2.2 and 4e chronologies. I've also homebrewed a timeline where the coup occurs in late 1989, before the East Bloc and Soviet Union really start falling apart. There would probably still be insurrections in a few particularly restive SSRs to put down, but the Soviet military would not be in such a shambles as they were IRL, around the beginning of the First Chechen War (c.1994). A stronger, less disorganized, less demoralized Soviet military probably would have dealt with localized rebellions and such more effectively.

Alternate 1989 Timeline:

https://forum.juhlin.com/showthread.php?t=6906

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Old 05-30-2023, 08:30 AM
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I think we can get there but with a partial slide to oligopoly as key functionaries who control state industries and local commanders of CA and interior ministry troops become de-facto social controllers. I would envision the Tsentr having tenuous control over local officials on whom they would rely for the illusion of continuity. I see the beginning of the required conflict as more local commanders, whether out of delusion, Caesarism or accelerationist aims, start local trouble that they cant solve and force Moscows hand. Its not hard to get to a local commander recommending nuclear employment over a military task they can no longer solve through conventional means.
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Old 05-31-2023, 09:56 AM
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I think we can get there but with a partial slide to oligopoly as key functionaries who control state industries and local commanders of CA and interior ministry troops become de-facto social controllers. I would envision the Tsentr having tenuous control over local officials on whom they would rely for the illusion of continuity. I see the beginning of the required conflict as more local commanders, whether out of delusion, Caesarism or accelerationist aims, start local trouble that they cant solve and force Moscows hand. Its not hard to get to a local commander recommending nuclear employment over a military task they can no longer solve through conventional means.
Could you expand on these ideas a bit? I'm interested, but I don't quite follow. Is this pre or post-coup (I assume post)? Is this part of the lead-up to WWIII?

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Old 06-01-2023, 06:06 AM
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Even with a successful coup the empire’s falling apart and separatist/nationalist tendencies have metastasized in the Baltics, Caucasus, the ‘stans and even Ukraine though that’s more nuanced and complex. To hold the system together would have required the buy-in of the controllers of state enterprises and the chairmen of the various constituent republics, oblasts, okrugs and so on along with local forces whether those were army or interior ministry or KGB border forces. So how do you get their buy-in? Autonomy of some sort. And it would be obvious to any but the most ardent true believers at this point that if the Tsentr is conceding more authority in order to maintain the illusion of control then local control is really what matters.
But when you ceded central control then local decisions can get out of hand and local commanders become local powers and hold the loyalty of their troops by having access to food, money and other rents to distribute to them and their families. Hence oligopolies and caesarism.

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Old 06-01-2023, 07:13 AM
KozmasSchmierfink KozmasSchmierfink is offline
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So now you have the ambition of local commanders and Party apparatchiks creating local realities and when that involves breakaway states and former Pact members you get incursions that Moscow may or may not have the means to stop or turn back so has to support. Or has to manufacture an existential threat to provide a justification for continuing. And in a situation like that, one cant very well lose
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