Ukraine War Day #140: Illarionov And The Mathematics Of Attrition, Act III

ARIEL: I prithee,
Remember I have done thee worthy service,
Told thee no lies, made thee no mistakings, served
Without or grudge or grumblings. Thou didst promise
To bate me a full year.
PROSPERO: Dost thou forget
From what a torment I did free thee? (Shakespeare, The Tempest)

Dear Readers:

It took a while, but we finally got to the meat of Illarionov’s solliloquy, that “To be or not to be” moment; and now we are talking cold hard cash. In the form of military spending. We are talking about ledger books, and busy accountants assigning number to the category of “Expenditures”. We are talking about nations other than Ukraine spending tons of their own dough for tanks and bullets, and sending all that stuff to the Ukraine. How much cash will it take for these “friends of the Ukraine” to obtain their client’s victory in this proxy war against Russia? I mentioned before that, after Illarionov finishes laying out his case for cash, his host, the dimwit Feigin, showing that he understood nary a single word, asks the dumb question: “Will Lend Lease help Ukraine?”

Putin to Illarionov: “One of the men sitting at this table, will some day betray me.”

Illarionov [at 24:00 minutes in]: Western experts estimate that Russia spends per day $900 million dollars on military operations in the Ukraine. If this is true, then we are talking about $27 billion per month. My own estimate is somewhat more modest than that; my estimate is around $500 million per day, in other words, $15 billion per month. I believe this is a realistic estimate of how much the aggressor’s coalition spends on the war against Ukraine. Taking into account both current expenses and also for equipment that has been purchased but not necessarily paid for yet; for example, we know that Russia has purchased some equipment and ammunition from Belorussia. [yalensis: True, but some of that might just be a bit of military pork, to help the Belorussian economy.]

Feigin [dimwit showing that he doesn’t understand the point]: “Yeah, the Belorussians gave the Russians their own stuff.”

Illarionov: I mean, some of that might be paid off immediately, or later, but it doesn’t matter, that’s not the point, we are just talking broadly about military expenditures in dollar amounts. So, let us settle on that estimated figure [of Russian military spending] in a range from $15 billion to $28 billion per month.

How much does Ukraine spend on the war? Not long ago [Ukrainian Prime Minister] Shmygal gave an interview, in which he named a specific amount for Ukraine’s military spending in May. Converting this number to dollars, it came to $4 billion dollars. So, $4 billion against Russia’s $15 billion. [Rolling his eyes comically, Feigin shows off his schoolboy math skills: “Nu, 3 times as much! Or something like that”. Wags his head.]

Illarioniov: At a minimum. So, a minimum factor of around 4 times greater. And a maximum of perhaps as much as 7 or 8 times greater. Taking into account whether this is a short war, or a long war, in the former type such factors as surprise and cunning play a much larger role. Using war tricks that can compensate for the equipment inferiority of one of the warring sides.

[26:51 minutes in] If, on the other hand, we are talking about a war of attrition, and if we stipulate that neither side makes a huge mistake — as, for example, the Russian side made a lot of mistakes in the first month of the war, before they got their act together — but making these assumptions and calculations, we can state that it is necessary for both sides to maintain the same levels of military spending. [Goes off on a sidebar about WWII, military spending practices of the Axis coalition vs the Allies coalition, and how the Allies increased their military spending and production. I think we all get his point, even though Feigin still looks bored and has no clue whither this is leading.]

Illarionov: My point is that these [economic] indicators are a valid predictor of the outcome on the field of battle. Nothing is guaranteed, that goes without saying, and military spending alone cannot win on the field of battle, nonetheless, it is a precondition for victory.

Therefore, in order to ensure at the very minimum a parity between the two competing sides, on the field of battle — and we are just talking about a parity here, simply holding the line, not yet talking about a massive counteroffensive; then we can see that $4 billion dollars a month, is very far from any kind of parity.

The inexorable conclusion is that the volume of military provisioning [to the Ukraine] by its allies must be increased by a factor. The current figure of $4 billion [per month] is around 30% of Ukraine’s economy [Gross National Product?]; I am talking about the current economy which, of course, has contracted since it lost some of its territories. That number could be elevated somewhat, but not by very much. There are certain economic limits.

For Russia, that number is significantly lower. We don’t know the exact numbers, but [military spending] would be somewhere around 10-12% of the economy. Therefore Russia can easily increase its percent of military spending, as it possesses much wider margins.

And Here Comes The Punchline

[32 minutes in] Therefore, if we were asked what is the very minimum amount of spending needed from the anti-Putin coalition, the anti-Putin allies should have been providing to the Ukraine military equipment, supplies and ammunition,and so on, valued at a minimum of $11 billion dollars per month. [Which, added to Ukraine’s own $4 billion to equal Russia’s $15 billion.]

“Would you believe $11 billion bucks? Per month?”

And that is just the bare minimum, to ensure parity. That is the lower end of the scale. If we take the bigger estimate of $20 billion [on Russia’s side], then you can do the math to see how much more the coalition needs to spend on supplying Ukraine’s military needs. And that is not even considering that Russia shows signs of mobilizing, preparing for a long war, etc.

yalensis: And that is where I will end it, my friends, even though the conversation goes on for much longer. I think that Illarionov has made his point, what he considers to be a realistic commitment on the part of the “anti-Putin coalition” if they actually intend to win this war against Russia. Get the assembly lines rolling, get the money and weapons pouring in. Keep fighting until the very last Ukrainian is only barely left standing. Hey, it’s all worth it, right? If only to wipe that smug smile off of Putin’s face.

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12 Responses to Ukraine War Day #140: Illarionov And The Mathematics Of Attrition, Act III

  1. yalensis says:

    FIRST! comment to my own piece, yay.
    Just happened to see this piece by reporter Dmitry Zubarev. He reports that Ukraine (Oleg Ustenko, Advisor to Zelensky) has just requested from their “allies” a monthly check of $9 billion dollars. In place of the $5 bil they are currently receiving. And that isn’t military spending, that’s just a welfare check to the Ukrainian government, which they use to pay salaries and pensions and supplement their budget, etc. In his schnorring appeal, Ustenko whined that, without a bare minimum of $9 billion, Ukraine simply will not survive. [insert quote from Dickens, something like, “Are there not poor houses any more?”]

    Oleg’s request fits in nicely with the theme of my post above. Taking Illarionov’s advice, the “anti-Putin coalition” now needs to provide Ukraine with a minimum of $20 billion each month: $11 bil in the form of military equipment, and $9 bil as ready cash to pay their bills. And that’s just for starters, no doubt the number will increase all the time. Because that’s what a black hole does when placed in the middle of Europe: It sucks in every last piece of matter, energy, and money, from the known universe!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Nah, the US sent the Ukrainians some HIMARS, it’s over, man! The UAF will be rolling down the road to Moscow any day. Well, maybe after they and their Polish pals liberate Belarus first.
    If this war wasn’t really just mind-bogglingly appalling and tragic at its core, it would be hilarious.
    The RF & allies remain amazingly bad at propaganda, but the collective west still don’t seem to understand the need for substantial quantities of supplies (Or, if they do, they just don’t care). It’s like giving someone whose throat has been cut an intravenous.
    A brief note on my random opinion about the HIMARS systems. Dolllars to donuts it’s the US doing the target acquisition, and setting up the firing solution, with their Ukrainian apprentices doing little more than pushing the fire button. Doubtless, however, the hohols get better with practice, unless the Russians manage to incinerate them first. Time will tell.
    Any bets on the July 15 emergency meeting of the RF government? I’m all aquiver with antici—pation.

    Liked by 1 person

    • peter moritz says:

      What I find astonishing is the simple fact that most of the Ukranian’s munition seems to be used to destroy civilian targets and infrastructure, without as so much as a muted “that’s not what we supplied it for” from the soon-to-be freezing western donors running out of munitions to ship..

      Liked by 2 people

      • yalensis says:

        Well, if you read the Wall Street Journal, it’s very clear that all Ukrainian rockets hit their (purely military) targets with 100% precision; whereas all Russian rockets make a beeline for children and babies.

        Liked by 1 person

    • yalensis says:

      Some bookies are taking a point spread on the July 15 meeting.
      Guesses range from “more shadow conscription” to full-out declaration of war!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Lex says:

      I don’t know about the propaganda. There’s none pointed west, but not only did much of the west effectively ban Russian media, Russia seems to have written us off. On the other hand, Russian propaganda is aimed at the rest of the world. Much of the rest of the world is marveling at Russia’s restraint and seeing a war very different than what the US wages. That’s Russia’s point. Chinese journalists are embedded with Russian forces, for example. The Chechens are ridiculously popular in the Muslim world, especially the Shia world. The videos of Russians celebrating the arrival of Muslims, or Muslims pulling Christian’s out of bomb shelters to evacuate under fire are popular and powerful. Some Muslim commentators have gone so far as to say that the Chechens are displaying the true meaning of physical jihad. But to some degree the Russians are being super idealistic and believing that telling the truth is better than propaganda.


      • yalensis says:

        Diversity pays off in the end!
        I feel somewhat vindicated, because, before this war, I had to contend a lot with Great Russian chauvinist types who wanted Russia to rid itself of Chechnya, their slogan was “Stop feeding the Caucasus”. I also had to contend (in my own small way, in the Russophile blogosophere) with outright racists who said hateful things about African-Americans, and I always fought back against that. I mean, there was a valid debate about Black Lives Matter, but some of these people went too far in their utter contempt for all American blacks, regardless.
        But now we see that much of Africa supports Russia against Ukraine, which means that Russia defining itself as a “white nation” which is what the racists wanted, was never a good idea!


  3. Liborio Guaso says:

    The UN’s impassiveness in the face of the slaughter of civilians by Ukraine and its Western masters is astounding.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Beluga says:

    Whew, glad that three days of elementary mathematics, not even algebra, are over. That was the drawn-out equivalent of: if a pound of rice costs two bucks, how much rice will a single greenback buy? Puerile, but told nicely with that yalensis style I do like so much.

    I still see avoidance of the obvious — who in hell runs the real civil administrations of Lugansk, Donetsk and the area around Kherson? I read this on the Lang website:

    “According to a Tuesday intelligence briefing from the British military, Russia is continuing to make “small, incremental gains” in Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk region, where heavy fighting led the province’s governor last week to urge its 350,000 remaining residents to move to safer places in western Ukraine.

    Comment: If anything is going to improve Ukraine’s situation it will be this. pl” What this is, pl does not explain.

    Obviously this Donetsk governor is not the guy we got the rundown on several weeks ago as a graduate of the Russian Finishing School for Intelligent Bureaucrats and Benign Administrators. No, it’s a Ukie blatherer. So, having two bosses, no wonder regular people might be “confused” unless there is some coded message the public understands when one or the other boss says something. Which I doubt. Judging by the disjointed ramblings of a Greek-ancestry person ejected earlier from the Mariupol area interviewed on our national Radio, she and others haven’t the first clue about the difference between ethnic Ukrainians. Like most folk, politics don’t interest her, and played no part in her daily life until one day boom, it was time to leave and go to Greece.

    By way of contrast to Donetskians being advised to Go West, Russia is supposedly rounding up civilians near Kherson and deporting them somewhere, selling their kids off to be adopted by Russian couples who cannot have children and generally doing the heathen Slav thing of horrified Western imagination. There is an accompanying pic of civilians clutching plastic bags and wearing winter coats in summer plus sunglasses, being herded into waiting buses. And worse, I’m reliably informed that because of the supreme humiliation and wipeout of the totally inept Russian forces, Putin is recruiting raw recruits from Russian prisons, because Russians in cities are antiwar and won’t sign up for the military to be butchered by superior rampaging Ukies on the battlefield. Man, this is Grade 4 children level stuff at recess. Unless it’s true, of course.

    The BS is slathered on thick by both sides, merely in different cultural ways, and I really have no clue what the hell is going on these days. There is supposedly a letup in fighting because the Russians are pausing to rearm, refit and lick their wounds because of the horrendous losses they are incurring. And dem Fighting Ukies of Noter Dame are chomping at the bit to get them some of those zombie Russkie asses for themselves, while a million new troops are waiting for mid-August to hurl the Russian hordes back into their own country, led by HIMARS battalions and imported Scottish bagpipers with drum and fife to keep up the marching tempo and destroy Russian ears with their caterwauling screech. There’s bagpipers around these parts who practise, so I am deeply concerned by this new development. It’s a soul-destroying sound and my background is Scottish, so I can reveal the shocking truth about the secret weapon of the Highlands. And you can’t stop them once they start, all they need is continuous refreshment of a wee dram of best quality pure malt whisky. Speaking of which, I think I warrant a glass of Highland Park myself! Ah! Yup! That put the Sean Connery in me.

    The number one story in my country is Zelensky having a shit fit about Canada overhauling those Nordstream 1 Gazprom natural gas turbines and sending them back to Germany, which is responsible for their transfer to Russia. Zelensky has pulled five country ambassadors including the one to Germany to blame Western countries for being traitors to the Ukie cause on these turbines. It’s serious enough that our Prime Minister Um Ah Twinkletoes had a major press conference this morning to explain why Germany needs some more natural gas for storage in anticipation of winter woes. Zelensky in turn says Russia is able to ship all the Russian gas Germany needs through the Ukrainian pipeline system, forget about Nordstrom 1, and Gazprom doesn’t need no stinking refurbed gas-pumping turbines, especially not ones overhauled in Canada. But no ambassador withdrawn here, and we all know why, ahem. Our deputy PM has a condo in the Maidan.

    I see no sign that this site or anywhere else is taking up this story, just more BS on the “strategic” importance of Snake Island, which I will say till I’m blue in the face is worth not one red cent. One missile strike and poof, it’s turkey time no matter which side holds the place. If it matters. Ukraine is now supposedly shipping grain from Moldovian and Rumanian ports sent their via the Danube and under the eagle watchful eye of armed to the teeth Ukies holding Snake Island. So far as I know, Russia is fine with this arrangement for now. But is Russia actually pausing its overall assault for a summer vacation? Are the dregs of RF society being “persuaded” into military service by promises of the sugar plum fairy? I can’t read Russian, you can. Tell us what the word on the street is, if you know.

    How about some analysis beyond simple math exercises, the two complete dopes discussing it, and the wonderful world of Russian bureaucracy? If it’s too hot to handle because of The Man, well, just say so, and I’ll get it, but as things stand, I see little here lately but deliberate missing of valid points and veering off course into picking daisies. Well written, mind. but not ultimately satisfying.


    • yalensis says:

      Thanks, Beluga, you have to understand that most of the “regular” people out there who read about the war in their MSM, have no clue about the underlying mathematics of it. I confess I never paid much attention to this aspect, myself. Still, I am glad you didn’t find it horribly boring, I do try to spice up even the dry material with a bit of humor, and I am glad you appreciate that!
      Regarding “who is in charge”, I think it is safe to ignore all the blatherings of the Ukrainian “governors” who have been ousted from their cushy posts. I mean, there is technically still a Ukrainian “Governor” of Crimea, but he has even less work to do than a geldiing on a stud farm.
      Also keep in mind the subtext of these Russian Governors from the finishing school. Technically, from the POV of international law, these are occupied territories. The law regarding occupied territories is different from regular times, people don’t expect regular elections or that sort of thing. It’s just a dictatorship. It is the duty of occupying forces to take care of the local population under their occupation. I am pretty sure that Russia intends to stay, but, theoretically, even if this were a temporary occupation, it is still the duty of the occupiers to make sure people are fed, etc. Hence, the payment of salaries and pensions, etc. The Ukrainiains don’t seem to get that point. If I were pro-Ukrainian, I’d be, like, “Yeah, let the Russians pay all the salaries and pensions for now, less money out of our pockets, until we take it back.”


  5. peter moritz says:

    Trying to understand what you are trying to convey, it seems to me you rely on, with a few exceptions, solely on the MSM, which I have stopped listening to or viewing for at least the last eight years ever since the misreporting on the Maidan putsch.
    If yalensis permits, here are a few of the sources I refer to and read and listen to regularly, and although they write from different political perspectives, regarding Russia and its actions they are often agreed upon:
    and last but not least, because they report what Ukraine does in Donbas, and Russia tries not to do in Ukraine (not always possible when your opponent uses civilians and civilian infrastructure as shields), which is the reason Kiev and Lviv and other major cities in Ukraine are still standing and not shocked and awed into rubble:

    ‘nough said


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