Since NATO supplied air defense systems are failing to stop Russia’s relentless missile attack on Ukraine’s electrical and power grid, may be it is time for Volodymyr Zelensky to bring in Tom Bodett. Most U.S. residents know Tom Bodett because of his tag line in a Motel 6 commercial — i.e., “We’ll leave the light on for you.”
Bodett’s promise to keep a light on stands in stark contrast to the reality facing Kiev and Lviv and other major cities across Ukraine. Ukraine, even with NATO support, is struggling to keep the lights and heat on. It is a grim situation and will only get worse in the coming days as temperatures continue to plummet and Ukriane’s power generating system degenerates. Gonzalo Lira provides a report from the front lines on this reality.
Gonzalo sent me some additional comments that are salient:
So an electrical outage might be two hours or forever—you cannot find out while you’re waiting. This uncertainty is what I think will drive a HUGE number of people to lose their nerve and flee to the West. Which is why I think a second migration wave this winter is definitely coming to Europe, from Ukraine. And since this wave will not be by rail—obviously, because no electricity means no rail system—then it’s going to be by car. Which will be chaotic, disorganized, completely clogging up the roads as whatever vehicle is available will be used by civilians to get out. And of course, many of these vehicles will run out of gas in this parking lot, creating even more havoc.
There’s another factor: Heating cars. Most people keep their cars in heated garages during the winter. Car batteries die very quickly when it’s 15 below 0. If there’s no electricity, there’ll be no heat—so cars might not run, once winter fully sets in. That might factor into people’s decisions whether to leave or stay, or whether they CAN leave or stay. If your car battery is dead and there’s no electricity to charge it, your car becomes a tchotchke.
Bottom line, it’s going to get supremely ugly, if the power is permanently cut in Ukraine. Because it is not possible to survive in this winter climate without heat and water, and the entire infrastructure to deliver both is dependent on electricity, with no substitutes or practical large-scale workarounds.
The war in Ukraine has exposed the fact that United States and NATO do not have a viable anti-missile defense system that can shoot down Russian hyper sonic missiles. Russia enjoys a clear technological edge over the West, not just with viable hyper sonic missiles but with an integrated air defense system that is designed to shoot down hyper sonics that the West does not yet have in its inventory of weapons systems.
I had planned to write more on this but Andrei Martyanov beat me to the punch with his piece, Hypersonic Ad Nauseam On Thanksgiving. He writes:
There is some constant media “movement” and hassle around the US program of development of hypersonic weapons, which even a few short years ago, especially before March 2018, very many in the US in general, and Pentagon in particular, counted as a gimmick and boutique weapon systems. Boy, did they miscalculate. Now, suddenly, the United States are into hypersonics big time primarily into what could be defined as medium-range glide body for CPS (Conventional Prompt Strike). . . .
And here is the point of which we can now start talking confidently. As I write non-stop and ad nauseam–NO weapons system, even the most advanced exists in the technological and operational vacuum, the thing which Pentagon still didn’t learn. Real integration comes with REAL, that is making operational sense and impact, integration of weapon system into the network of other weapons and systems which operate as unified organism. And here is the point: the United States now is involved in a life and death struggle with Russia, trying to preserve its increasingly untenable (and grossly exaggerated) status of a hegemon. But! But, if Russian hypersonic weapons created a revolution in military affairs, American ones will fail to do so. Here is an interesting explanation from Colonel (Ret.) Knutov, who today is a Director of Russia’s Air Defense Forces museum. This is how he assesses the US program and the state of the affairs.
I encourage you to read the entire piece. One of the other major consequences of Russia’s campaign to turn off the electrical power in Ukraine is the psychological damage inflicted on the population. Gonzalo mentions this in his video above. The modern generation, whether in Ukraine or the United States, is accustomed to having information in real time and readily available. Very few in modern industrial nations know what it is like to be cut off from news about world events. That knowledge or information plays a key role in shaping public attitudes. I lived in rural Honduras in 1978. We only had electricity, thanks to a generator, two hours a night. If I was lucky I was able to pick up a BBC broadcast and get some idea of what is going on in the world.
What we will see in the coming weeks from Ukrainians who remain in darkened, electricity starved cities are people cut off from their political leadership and filled with a genuine feeling of being abandoned. This is not an imaginary condition. People will be compelled by the cold, the lack of heat and dead batteries to come up with some sort of survival strategy. This will erode dramatically Ukraine’s ability to maintain a viable army in the field. Soldiers who, until now, have been able to phone home and chat with loved ones will no longer have that lifeline to the outside world.
Have you ever been in a situation where you were separated from a loved one and could not communicate with them for more than 24 hours, especially when you do not know if they are alive or dead? During World War I, soldiers in the trenches in France had no expectation of any immediate communication. They depended on letters from home for news and those communications were delayed by days and even weeks. But we live in a different era and there is now an expectation of immediacy. Once expectations are set at a high level and a gap emerges where reality falls far short of the expectations, that is a recipe for unrest and even revolt.
Can you imagine the withdrawal the 20 and 30 year olds in Ukraine will experience when their phones and computers are dead and they can no longer text or call a friend? I am not sure the intelligence communities of various nations have even taken time to cogitate on the implications of such a development. The most likely outcome is that people will vote with their feet and go to where they can charge their phones and make a call. This means mass emigration into neighboring countries with viable power girds.
What do you think?