Battleground: Ukraine

A history podcast that explores the narratives, turning points and characters that shape conflicts, encompassing a blend of social and military history. Following on from the series on the Falklands War, best-selling military historians Patrick Bishop, and Saul David turn their attention to the war in Ukraine.

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18. Britian's contribution

18. Britian's contribution

Fri, 09 Dec 2022 01:00

On this week's Battleground: Ukraine, Saul and Patrick look at the British contribution to the war so far, speaking to veteran journalist and defence analyst Robert Fox.

Robert is a member of the International Institute for Strategic Studies and with excellent contacts with the British military, gives an insightful interview. They also discuss the latest big developments coming out of the war, and discuss some fascinating listeners questions.

Producer: James Hodgson

Twitter: @PodBattleground

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Acast powers the world's best podcast. Here's the show that we recommend. Hi, I'm Zivi Owens and I'm the creator and host of the award-winning podcast, Mom's Don't Have Time to Read Books. I am a mom and I am a huge reader. If you love to read like I do and I've dedicated my whole life to it, I am also an author, a publisher and a bookstore owner. If you love books, you will love my show. Every day I interview a new author for 30 minutes and by daily, I mean really daily 365 days a year. You'll hear from celebrities, chefs, athletes, authors, poets, everyone who has written a book, which is a lot of people. So tune in to Mom's Don't Have Time to Read Books whether you're a mom or not. It has great literary content. Join me. Acast helps creators launch, grow and monetize their podcast everywhere. Hello and welcome to the Battleground Ukraine podcast with me, Saul David and Patrick Bishop. The big news this week is Ukraine's use of UAVs, unmanned aerial vehicles or drones, to strike targets deep inside Russia, including two military airfields and an oil facility. We'll also be discussing reports that the Ukrainians have made an amphibious landing on the strategically important Kimburn spit, and possibly even more significant reports that the West would back peace talks if Putin's forces withdrew to all territory held on the eve of war. Our guest this week is veteran journalist and defense analyst Robert Fox. Now I first came across Foxy and the fault clumsiness we both there together as war correspondents. And we were both also on the telegraph together. We're all mates. We've done a lot of war corresponding side by side in various theatres. Believe it or not, Foxy is actually originally an Italian expert. He's an expert on Italian literature, but his knowledge is very vast as we'll be hearing about all sorts of things. He's now a member of the International Institute for Strategic Studies. He's got excellent contacts with the British military, so he'll be giving us an assessment later of Britain's contributions to the war in Ukraine, what might happen next, and what the conflict tells us about the future of warfare. OK, back to the drone attacks. There were two earlier this week against airfields used by strategic bombers, the Engels airfield, and yes that is as in marks and angles, and the Dio Galavo military base. Now the latter is just a hundred miles from Moscow. A third attack hit an oil depot in the Kursk region, 80 miles from the border. And a spokesman for the Ukrainian Air Force said that the damage to the airfield at Engels was minimal, but that it was as he put it an alarming signal for Russia. In other words, the effect was more psychological than material because it was, of course, taking the war deep into Russia. Now, interestingly, American officials have denied that they had any part in this. We're not enabling Ukraine to strike beyond its borders. What a State Department spokesman said. We're not encouraging Ukraine, etc. We're providing Ukraine with what it needs to use on its sovereign territory on Ukrainian soil to take on Russian aggressors. So this fits with NATO's overall strategy of not providing Ukraine with stuff like long-range missiles that could be used against Russian territory. But I mean, we have to ask ourselves, does this make sense? I think a non-military person, someone who's not thinking about the big strategic pitch, might say, well, when you've got this kit, Russia is firing swarms of these long-range missiles against civilian infrastructure. It's a validly doing this in order to freeze the Ukrainians into surrender. So why not give them this equipment? The Ukrainians are actually doing a fair job. It seems that they are being pretty successful at shooting down and coming missiles. But nonetheless, this is where the war really is at at the moment. So what's your thoughts about this? Well, I think the strategy of confining everything to Ukraine, in my view, doesn't make sense, where either in, in terms of NATO support for Ukraine or we're out, if we're providing Ukraine with military support, my view is let's give them everything they need to deter Russia's aggression. And that would include, of course, planes and long-range missiles. Now a related subject to this, of course, was that there was more nuclear saber-attling this week, where the Russian spokesman complaining that the West was not taking its nuclear escalation threat seriously. We also had a slightly rambling speech by Putin this week in which he said something similar, we're not mad, he said, we need to be taken seriously on the nuclear threat. And yet he went on to contradict himself, as he often does, by saying, well, actually, we're not going to use nuclear weapons unless we have nuclear weapons used against us. So there's a reason the nuclear threats aren't being taken seriously, because, in my view, and I think in the view of senior people in NATO, there are bluff and nothing more. If Russia has few allies at the moment, it's going to have even fewer if it uses a nuclear weapon. And it would, of course, have more enemies in the form of NATO. So no, I don't think the threats need to be taken seriously. Yeah, I think I'm beginning to come around to your point of view on this one, Saul. I think that the threat is receding quite dramatic, and I think China has played a big part in this. It's made it very, very clear to Russia that this is not a direction they want to see the war going in. And given that that is the only real friend or quasi-friend, the Russia has of any value at this moment, then that's something they really, really have to listen to. Moving on to the battleground, let's just think about these reports. Ukrainian learning on the Kinburn spit. We've talked about this for the last couple of episodes, and it seems to be developing. This is at the mouth of the Deneepro River, and the latest information coming from the US Institute for the Study of Wars suggests that Ukrainian forces have reached the East I, the left bank of the Depro. That's you go in the direction of a flow of the river, so it's on the East side flowing south. It's across from chaos on city, and it confirmed that this incursion on the East Bank could open avenues for Ukrainian forces to begin to operate on the East Bank. So this seems to confirm the view that the war will continue into the winter. There'll be limited operations, not mass, all out of sorts, but things that are going to actually create new opportunities, create new realities on the ground, which are advantageous of the Ukrainians. Yeah, I mean, there's other evidence for this on social media. I mean, we should stress unconfirmed reports, but images have been posted on social media that actually show the Ukrainians what seems to be Ukrainian Marines raising the Ukrainian flag on the Kinburn spit. And other indications that the war is going to continue on into the winter and that it might be advantageous for Ukraine have come from very interesting briefing given by Admiral Haynes, who is the US Director of National Intelligence. And she suggested in her briefing that there could be brighter prospects for Ukrainian forces in the coming months. No real detail there, but she talked about the likelihood that Russia will not be the likelihood the actuality that the Russian military was running out of ammunition, whereas the Ukrainians might be in a position to launch a counteroffensive in the spring. It's interesting. She didn't go into details about where she's getting her information, but obviously some of it is intelligence. The relevance of the Kinburn spit, of course, is that if the Ukrainians get onto the East Bank of the Denepro, they're one step closer to the Crimean peninsula. Which brings us onto another big news story, a report in the I newspaper that's the independent online quoting Western officials suggesting that if Russian forces withdrew to territory held on the eve of war, which means they're still in control of Crimea and the Donbass, then that might be a basis for the starting of some sort of negotiations with the Zelensky government. So, this seems to be a softening of the West's position. You've got to assume that the officials are saying this is something that Ukrainians might actually be up for. Now this sounds very strange to me, so I don't doubt that this has been floated, but I wonder how much support it's actually got from inside Ukraine. It's probably what certain Western capitals would like to see happening, but what do you think the likelihood is of it actually flying? Well, it's pretty extraordinary, isn't it? If it's true, and I'm sure there'll be people listening who are thinking, well, actually, that's not a bad idea, but just think of it logically here. I mean, first of all, Zelensky's stated position, and he is not shifting from this at all, is that for peace talks to begin, Russia's got to leave all Ukraine in territory, and of course by that, he also implies Crimea. So that's not a return to the status quo anti-Bellum, the situation immediately preceding the war. It's a return to pre-2014. Interestingly, in these same sources, actually went on to say, of course, any peace talks are absolutely a matter of Ukrainians, so there's an indication that maybe they haven't spoken to Zelensky on this, or at least they're not going to put pressure on Zelensky. But by even making these statements, of course, that is exactly what they are doing. It's bound to infuriate him. By would he, honestly, agree to such terms when in effect he's winning the war at the moment? It's interesting. This seems to be part of this kind of the new mood music around war weariness. We've talked about this before. Now up until now, I've been thinking, well, this is really just a kind of journalistic phase. This is inevitably what happens. The commentary at people who write columns were living, et cetera. I have to say something different, so they have to take the story forward. This tends to follow well-worn tracks. This news is very formulaic. The presentation of news and how it develops is pretty routine, really. A lot of it is often asking questions. They raise a question, which no one has actually asked. The answer is usually no, but it's just a kind of opportunity to air various subjects, not much thoughts gone into it. This seems to be following that track. It's like, OK, the war's going on for a one now. The answer is going to end. Let's start saying that people have fed up with it. I haven't seen much evidence of that at a kind of democratic level. No voters seem to be calling for an end to the war. But I think this actually is insignificant in the sense that there are stirrings in Washington, in Paris, in Berlin, and to a much less recent, I think, here about where's this all going? Where's this all going to end it? We're going to hear a bit about this in Robo Fox later on. But I think it's just inevitable that people want to know what is the end game in all this. I think this is an example of that. Yeah, we are in a tricky position. We've aired this situation before, Patrick, which is that, you know, a little bit like the First World War. You can discuss the possibility of peace, but actually getting both sides to the table with their sort of pre-stated conditions. And those pre-stated conditions, even vaguely meeting, is the problem. And as I say, I don't think in a million years, Zelensky's going to agree to a status quo anti-belem scenario. That is this year, not 2014, as a basis for peace negotiations. I simply can't see it happening. Yeah, just before we move on, I just reminded that one of the air bases attack was called Ingalls Air Base. I got a message from an old mate of mine who'd actually been to Ingalls Air Base. That's Julius Strauss, who's another old colleague of mine, former foreign correspondent. He turned conservationist. He runs a brilliant bear watching ranch in the worlds of Northern British Columbia, called Wild Bear Lodge, which is well worth a visit. The anyway, back in the day, in the early 90s, Julius was the telegraphs-mosco correspondent when the Chechen war was raging. Now, he was a very enterprising guy, and he managed to persuade the Spetsnats, the Russians equivalent of the SAS, to take him on operations in Chechnya. He was able to do this. This is an interesting story because it tells you the degree of shambolotness, if one can use that word, of the right-shed military. So he's able to do this by bribing a Spetsnats major. They get to the Moscow air base. Of course, their name is not the manifest, but that's easily so. They just bung the crew a couple of bottles of cognac, and they're all. And the real point of the story is that as they're then diverted to Engle's air base, where they're taking on an extra cargo, which is this apparently state-of-the-art new Russian some kind of electronic warfare device, which they're meant to be taking. They've got to carry on into Chechnya with this thing to be deployed for the first time in a kind of test basis in theatre. But when it comes to it, they can't actually get the whole thing onto the plane because it's too tall in there in the Great Britain Transport plane. So they end up flying off the front half of the apparatus and leaving, having to leave the back half behind. Now, Julius says it is, he writes a brilliant blog called Back to the Front, which I strongly recommend our listeners to check out. And he says, well, this was way back then when they were apparently entering the modern world. But here they are. You know, fly. When he says, look, surely this thing is useless without the back half. They say, no, well, that's all right. We've done our best. That's what... And so he says this, you know, he's echoing what some of our other guests have said. There's idea of this sort of super efficient, 21st century army. Where did that come from? Great stuff, Patrick. And we're talking about the best they've got there, the Spetson ads. Yeah. It's, you know, it is laughable, frankly, some of the military performed. It sort of underlines it, doesn't it? There is one last bit of news we should mention, actually. And that's this curious building of fortifications actually inside Russia, or at least air raids, precautions that they seem to be taking. Patrick, have you heard anything more about that? And what do you think the significance of it is? Well, I think it's purely psychological. It's another propaganda exercise. It's trying to tell the Russians, yes, we really... It's changing the whole kind of thing from we've gone into sort out these Nazis in Ukraine to, oh, actually the Nazis are coming after us now. So that sort of obliterates the whole story of the utter failure, utter military failure, and turns the thing back into we are the victims, which is something that, you know, Russian propaganda historically has always done. So it's interesting, I think, as a reflection of the government mindset, the Kremlin mindset, and what it's trying to get Russians to think. But I don't think it's in any way really genuinely helped belief. Okay. Well, we're now going to hear from this week's guest, Robert Fox, Defence Analyst, and Long-Serving War correspondent. We asked him to assess Britain's performance and posture so far in the Ukraine War, and this is what he told us. We're just going to question one, which is how would you describe Britain's military posture and performance so far in the Ukraine War? Britain has been smaller in its performance than its government politicians, particularly would like to proclaim, and probably some of its senior military officials. It has had a significant role, particularly in training and intelligence, and still to be revealed in a great deal of detail, cyber. The training has been particularly good. The equipment has been useful at crucial stages, but not nearly as vital as was proclaimed initially. For instance, the supply of end law, shoulder-launched anti-tank rockets, fire and forget, standard equipment. Yeah, very important. Also, Javelin, a certain amount, I suspect, theode, have depleted some of the stinger stock from the special forces, important, very gratefully received by the Ukrainians, but not nearly as decisive as not only the briefings would have us believe, but also reporting from the ground. And that's a fascinating story, the opening stages of the battle for Kiev. Yeah, tell us a little bit more about cyber, Robert. This is fascinating. We know we're hearing lots of whispers that the Ukrainians in particular have been playing a pretty good game in this sense, but tell us about Britain's contribution in this vital area. I think there's been a lot of training and exchange. In fact, Lindy Cameron of the National Cyber Service has revealed as much, but it's very much part of an interesting story for any reporter and analyst and commentator on this, engaged in it, is how they're feeding information, and it's quite difficult to put together that most egg. But somebody who really does seem to know, and got a clue about this, is Marcus Willett, now of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, and indeed his article in the current or October, November issue of survival, has to be looked at. He is an expert in cyber warfare from the National Cyber Service, and I think from the secret intelligence service. So that having been said, what he said is very important is that Britain and America and Ukraine were prepared for this as far back as last September. By that I mean September 21. They knew it was coming and they had prepared cyber operations. Now my understanding is that cyber operations began in January. The invasion took place on February the 24th, and that's why they were on the front foot. Russia at the beginning of February tried to whack the systems, the communication systems, particularly low level satellite systems of the Ukrainians with a terrific assault. They very nearly got away with it, but in fact the staff had prepared the cyber operations in Ukraine to preempt it, and it was touch and go for three weeks, but by mid-March they knew that they had the advantage. Now the way the advantage is playing, I think is absolutely fascinating. One it is basic, serious digital aid warfare battlefield stuff. By that I mean jamming signals, missed directions, finding out who's emitting, and this has been very much the key to I star targeting, and the ISR, the big operational intelligence picture. Then move on. The thing that is truly fascinating is the information operation, which I think is high stakes, high risk. But the sort of thing that they've got into is that they've picked up techniques of digital facial recognition. By the way bog standard staff now with authoritarian regimes. This is what is going on in Iran, and this is what's going on in China. This is why you know they're not doing mass arrests on the streets in either case, but they're taking the pictures of the demonstrators or whatever, identifying them and then doing the knock on the door. There has been an equivalent, rather a spooky equivalent, with the Ukrainians. They've been photographing the faces of dead Russian soldiers. Through digital visual facial recognition, they are identifying soldiers, knowing who they are, name, address. And so they've been firing through the unofficial channels, the huge sludge of social media, which they can get into. And they seem to be getting into the homes of these dead soldiers. So they will tell a babushka in Voronechn or maybe tell it Hanebah or Hanebah, son and nephew who's on these media. This is you think your boy is in a training camp. You're a favorite grandson in Iran, somewhere preparing to go into Ukraine, possibly. No, he's dead outside Buckwood. And here we can show you and they show the face and they show the location. And we believe it is having an effect. Why do I believe it's having an effect? Remember Putin very recently has had a meeting, unusually, with the families, with the mothers, a select bunch of mothers of soldiers. He said, do not believe what you're seeing on social media. It is fake news. It is all a western plot, etc. This is why I think I do feel for my colleagues on the front line doing a terrific job. But A, the front lines are very spread out because of the cyber and digital operation. We can come to that in a minute. But so much is going on where you don't see it. It is truly, operationally, in Europe, the first digital war. Yeah. And we're hearing, Robert, which may link him with this, that there is waning support. I'm various sources are coming out of Russian now that suggest that support for the war is now down to about 25%. Do you think this cyber warfare, this use of these digital photos, it's really extraordinary if all of that's accurate, is playing into this, is having an effect? Well, I'd love it to give accuracy to my customers and audience. But there we go. Yeah, no, it's a very important component. Now, it's very interesting that when Putin called for a partial general mobilization, wasn't clear what it was from September the 21st, that he was trying to keep it away from the West. By that I mean the West of Russia, from the big conurbations, Rand, Petersburg and Moscow. But what I'd be hearing from people, friends, colleagues that really do know a lot about the minorities. And in fact, they, some of them wonderfully have the languages and the dialects, the English and Dagestan, places like that, my friend, Dometilla Sagromoso, eminent authority at the war studies department at King's. And she says that this is where you're getting unrest among the minorities who have been told that it's their war. They're not calling on patriotism so much, but particularly we found it on the borders with Georgia is that they've been bribing people to join up. And it's very, very patchy. Can I just leap forward and say that I think that it looks as if Putin is going to go for another partial mobilization early spring because he needs another army, frankly. He's got to replace large parts of what he's got. It's got 40,000 of the new draftees there in Ukraine. Now when he comes to a second wave, which the old Soviet told us say, oh, this is the thing that makes Soviet military work, doctrine work, you know, the shock army big wave approach, I think he's going to be hard push to do it. This is where the doubters are beginning to come in to say that, you know, the confident Putin is looking in the photographs much less confident. He's got to deliver something that looks like V for victory, certainly by next June. And it depends on this. And it's this algebra of recruitment of support of the psychological operations. Mind you on the other side, Zelensky and the chief of staff also have their equivalent problems of just keeping momentum going. But that is very much one of the big issues. It's human. It's soft bar. It's that it's the human flashing blood. The other thing where you come back to your initial question is really how much are Western nations putting into this because they're desperately short of material. Still, you can see it. I mean, they've had great success with the M-Triple Sands or the M77 how it says, but America's only put in about just shy of 150 of them. And Russia is still pulling out the old Soviet stocks. And I mean, they are old and that's part of the problem. They do have a lot in debt. The question is, of course, added to them on both sides, ordinance, ammunition. And that's where the bricks are absolutely on point of being absolutely caught out because what this is showing is how we've planned our defenses for far too long for everything short of war. You could do expeditionary operations and we didn't do them too well as far as the UK is concerned in Iraq and Afghanistan. But even towards the end of the deployment in Afghanistan, there was exhaustion of both equipment and human resources. Britain actually couldn't keep two brigades in the field. So the whole picture for Britain's contribution is blowing back very seriously at the moment because it's questioning our whole defense posture. And we can go into the behavior and performance, particularly of the ground forces of the Ukrainian forces, which I think should be saying to somebody in the MOD in Whitehall, but also in Army Command and and over, we've not got things very right in the way that we're postured and the way that we can perform. The one thing that the Ukrainians are showing again and again is improv. They can improvise like crazy in a way that there's a general realization that a medium small size army like the British Army is too stuck in its doctrine to actually change posture. And we can talk about that. The other thing I think that is absolutely wonderful about the British relation, they have a very close relation. I mean, we have a mission in talking to the Ukrainian command is it's very much now you see me now you don't. They're not telling us everything. And people, the old and bold, like general Lord Richard, former Chief of Defense staff, is outraged about this, why should we obey Zelensky's instructions or follow his command? We need ground strategy, both propositions are nonsense, by the way. And where are Zelensky and his really brilliant command? That is the thing I'd play it exactly the way that they would. I would not even tell a secret to a Brit, a Pole, an American or a German, because it would be out on Twitter, probably within an hour. But in terms of Britain's contribution, physical contribution, you've spoken about the lack of firepower, frankly, we know that ammunition on both sides is a big problem. But specifically, I'm getting a lot of indications, particularly from my special forces contacts, that we do have special forces on the ground. I'm not saying they're in the front line and I'm not saying they're going on operations. But when you talk about boots on the ground in Ukraine, do you believe we've got soldiers on active service there? Oh, yes, but I have to be quite careful about this, because I get head to the, in London N1 encounters and parties, who'd say I had a lady who'd been rather a grand dam head of an Oxford College in contemporary. I'd say, who I hope you're not saying boots on the ground. UK has a military mission. I would think the military mission goes to a few hundred, and it is really in advice at telling them how to get the bits of kit in. I think it's generally known who's commanding this, and it's come from 77 brigade. 77 brigade is a real dog's breakfast of an organisation, because it came from the old siops unit, 15 siops, and it does everything, does a bit of intelligence, does a bit of language, trailing, it does a bit of this and a bit of that. But for once it's come good in this, in providing rather key personnel, people who might really be very familiar with Ukrainian culture and language, which is so important. UK, I think, has been very careful in that this is a military mission, and it's an extension of the former training mission, which we have had in Ukraine over the years under partnership for peace since independence, you know, cleaning them up a bit. They were very corrupt the Ukrainian forces when they were initially after independence and joined unpriful, for example, in Croatia, Bosnia in particular. They were there, and they've been doing this training, which the Ukrainian military like very much. They like it because we devolve responsibility at such a lower level, so you have a far far section commander, a ten man or a ten person troop commanded by corporal. This is I think the crucial changing training that's been going on in deal, in Kent and in Yorkshire, not that many, they're just shy of 10,000. But what, of course, inevitably you must do in these circumstances, you train the trainers. That is, I think it will continue if some of it in Britain and it'll go slightly up the scale, I think, will change training officers. And I think there's quite a bit of training of officers with battle experience going on. They come out, but the other place to look to for this where the Americans are on the front foot is in Poland. Poland is now becoming a major European defence partner. It is up there in its significance with France and Germany. It is certainly superior to Italy. It is certainly a linchpin with the joint expeditionary force, ten, led by Britain, Finland, the Bolts, the Scandinavians, plus the Dutch, all very valuable. They're all talking to each other, but you look at the stats for Polish defence industry. They're doing basic stuff, but where they are brilliant, and it locks in with a lot of what we've been saying, they're very good at refurb. So the base workshops in and around Heidelberg, I think it is, maybe corrected, but they're corrected there for Eurocommand of the US forces. A lot of those elements have now been moved forward to Poland. The Americans are very important to this. Unfortunately, to be quite blunt about it, I think the training that the Ukrainians appreciate is training in the English language. And I think that that's why the Brit teams, as we know, we have Canadians, Australians, New Zealanders and the Americans, because what they're trying to do, which will be no surprise to you, and it's the laschnies, the chief of the armed forces of vision, he's doing a remarkable thing. He is moving what was a small, rather slow, Soviet-style army into a highly adroit, adept, pretty damaged NATO, modern army. It will be one of the medium army models of the 21st century, of the state of the 21st century. And this is where there's a dialogue going with the Brits, because what sort of exactly heard actually in Prima Persona of an escort, quite a senior British officer, taking a military party from Ukraine to Andover to look at things on the swordsman, being bullfired and so on, is that apparently these major captains, that sort of level colonel, were absolutely relentless in asking them what was wrong with the British army, what would they do different, what went wrong in Afghanistan, what was this, and they're really picking it up, and they're very hard headed about it, and they're not telling them what they're going to do with it. And I think, but what they're going to do with it is at some points, the way that they're doing deception, I think, at times, given the sophistication of modern media that we have 24, 7, particularly in the US, UK, Germany, France, is how they're doing deception operations. Whenever I hear people say, oh, we're expecting a big push in the east around Luhans, you know something's going to go off around Kesson and Crimea, the way they mass that, I mean, they told Jeremy Bowen of the BBC. Oh, not much is going to happen in Kesson. Oh, it's very difficult. You see, wide open country in step, oh, they've got their best troops that have taken a month at least. And they knew it was Krumbleg. They were in there with an affort night. There is something comedic about it, and the other thing, whether it will be a great play is Zanansky's relationship with their staff, and with Klitschko, the mayor of Kiev, although they get a great result, relations I understand from time to time are less than harmonious, and they even get to Fisticas from time to time. Okay, that's all we have time for in part one. Join us in part two when we'll hear the rest of Foxy's interview and answer some listeners' questions. Welcome back. In part one, we heard the first part of our interview with Robert Fox, and here's what we asked him next. You're putting forward a sort of fascinating scenario here, Robert, that actually the laughing stock that was the Ukrainian army, certainly pre-2014, could actually become a model for medium-sized NATO armies of the future, including Britain. I mean, is that what you're suggesting? That's what I'm suggesting, but there's one big problem, and it's a cultural problem. Remember, think of the great authors of Ukraine, even Russian authors who wouldn't have called themselves Ukrainian, like Chekov, born on the sea of Azoth, lived in Crimea, but people particularly Bulgakov and Gogol and Tarris Bulba, these people, they've had such a hell of a history since the late Middle Ages, their gangsters, their the Kossaks, their clansmen, and that's why you get the Azoth Brigade, this was, you know, Millwall supporters absolutely to the Nth degree, and that's the way they work. And funny enough, the British, really, I'm betraying my intellectual Marxist origin, so the British mentality in public services really rather bourgeois, you know, the fact is that we're all behave really rather nicely, and we're very interested in decency. Well, the Ukrainians are fighters, enough fighters for their own survival, and their fighters, I think, for their own neighborhood, because this is the really interesting cultural development for this. If what Putin has done, he finally made contemporary Ukraine a nation. And I think quite a few Russians won't forgive him for that. Moving on to, well, let's get your crystal ball out, Robert. I know it's almost impossible to anticipate exactly what's going to happen next for obvious reasons, but you're talking about the next crucial six months for Russia, this sort of make or break period where he's going to try and raise a second conscript army and almost certainly fail. So what do you imagine is likely to happen in the foreseeable future? Well, first of all, I won't say that Ukraine has got to keep the lights on. It's got to keep the candles on and the communications going underground. They've got to be able to hold. And I think that that is really the big thing. I think that they will hold, they will punch, and they will jab, and I think, you know, watch for the surprise. The Friday surprise comes 24, 7. It's not convying it just to one weekend. Let's go and do something. And can I just sort of move completely left field and feels the wrong word for it? I think Crimea is crucial. And I think that this is very worrying. And it's where if Putin thinks he's going to lose Crimea and he could quite easily lose lumps of it, I think that that will cause trouble. They will go berserk, it was popular, it was initially, you know, the beginning of the whole scheme. But I'm watching Aqua and Sub Aqua in which the Brits, I think, have had an advisory role because we have an evil understanding sent to mines we put so on. So we do that kind of coastal clearance operations. I don't say that we're doing sabotage, but we would certainly know about it. So I think that that's where, you know, you put your big toe and a bit more on the throat. If something goes badly, say round back, there's a real breakthrough there, then I think you have to watch there. That is crucial. The other thing that nobody is talking nearly enough about is air. Is that I think that this is where the squeamishness of the Americans, particularly of Blinken and Sullivan must be called out. It's because I think Ukraine really doesn't need an Air Force. That the, you know, the Poland wasn't allowed to pass on the big 29's and I think that that's still in play. But it's got to have an operational Air Force, particularly if the Russians build up with ground attack missiles from Iran, which is what they look, they're doing. They're running out of their own medium range ballistic missiles, the things that can, then come from do a thousand to 600 kilometers. They're buying more drones, but there does seem to be a work around with drones because then we're into a whole new sphere. We're into the electronic warfare, electromagnetic spectrum. And I think that's how they're going to deal with that. And I don't think cheap and cheerful drones used on a strategic basis, sort of blanket across Ukraine as they have been on the infrastructure. I don't think that goes on forever. And I don't think it goes on for much more, in fact. So I'm working out which way you go forward. My instinct is that say by February March, Shultz, you never know who might come into play and do the brokering. Erdogan always fancies himself, you know, it's part of his neo-automated vision. Yeah, we're a black sea power and we can help you out. I think the world will be an attempt to get to another kind of Minsk agreement. And it will be about as unsatisfactory as Minsk. This is what I call it. It won't be a gradual, it'll be a sludge war that we've had the frozen conflicts that suddenly thaw out. As we speak, there's more fighting. As if I'm John Nagorno-Karabakh, South of Seteer, is very vulnerable. And this is what the stands are telling Putin. Don't think we can be part of a grand Stalinist project because we have big problems and boy they have big problems because let's go off on another one. The big catalyst, which hasn't been noticed, how hum, last five years is the devastating effects of climate change, which are hitting populations very fractures, a lot of break up, a lot of ethnic violence and quite a few water wards incidentally. So I think it's quite messy. But I go back to, you know, I remember the first days I used to watch history on Tally and Black and White by a man I got to know very well, the famous AJP Taylor, famously gave talks about how wars began. And you will see, you could probably fill a dozen libraries with books on how wars began. But historians have very poor profits. There is by this journalist of being profits, you know, they never know how wars end. And I haven't a clue how this one will end. And it will not end in any pattern that we've seen before because of the cyber dimension, because of social media, because of the metaverse, which has come in that so much of this is being fought for opinion and sympathy outside IRW in the real world. It's all to play. I mean, it's scary. It's fascinating. And it makes life very difficult for the reporter on the ground. You have to have the reporter on the ground because you must have at base a modicum of facts on the ground as seen. But don't think that that is the last word because rumour takes place so quickly and it's so distorted. I mean, the myth to go back where we started about how Kiev was defended. You know, David and Goliath, it was absolutely that motif. You know, the equivalent of the slingshot was the emlauer weapon, the Sheldon launch though, these plucky people who were called out and they could identify tanks coming down the ground by their iPhones and sending pictures back to an extent it was true. That's why Russian soldiers, you know, shot people with phones. But the Russian soldiers were scared. But the thing was prepared and it was prepared in a completely different way. Three brigade groups of artillery were arranged to the extent that they knew. The staff knew that if the Russians came in from Belarus, from Chernobyl, from that direction, they had three MSRs, three main supply routes and they know that they could get stuck on it. What was so brave about the decision in Zelensky went along with it was that they didn't decide to attack them on the border or on route. They waited for them to come in towards the suburbs so you get butcher and all these terrible incidents and to start dropping there a elite who would go in and get the surrender, the airborne forces on the airfields, particularly Kostymel. They allowed them to land at Kostymel and then crash them with artillery and rocket fire. It was an old-fashioned Hannibal style, not Hannibal Lecter, but Hannibal style, double development spring trap. That's the sort of thing that they're capable of. But what they feel is that then the fighting picked up in the east for Donetsk and Learhance and they just didn't have the forces to cover hair on in the southwest. They've got to keep up the professionalism. Obviously, I see young men who are completely fired up. They've found a mission in life. Killing is absolutely terrible. It's when you get the downtime. It's going to be a tremendous problem. But the calculation you talk to any serious gathering of British defense contractors who are going in there who are selling stuff and assessing this all the time, they calculate it's going to go on, there'll be the odd pause for three years at least. Right, Guy. Well, it's a fascinating tour de Rizon. You've just given us, Robert. It's immensely complicated. You're absolutely right not to fix on a prediction because we simply cannot know. I would love to be looking back in 20 years time with the benefit of all the bits and pieces and information we have at our hands as historians, but we're just, you know, we're plotting our way through it. It's extraordinary. It's terrifying. It's tragic. There's the last question I want to ask you, which you sort of already answered is, this is indicating a completely different way of warfare for the future. Is it not this conflict? It's very interesting talking to the hands-on British generals. They all say that. They know that. This is the way it's going to be. And it's one thing, two words I would say that they've got to pick up from the Ukrainian forces. Even if they get smashed a bit now, it's flex. And they have proved masters at that. The way that they've been pulling Russian tanks that have been disabled, not badly disabled, and turning them round within 10 days. There's something going on here that way that they think about it. And what they've been doing pretty successfully up to now is that they've been outthinking their enemy. And a final word on the British military. You know, you're hinting there that the senior people know that this is the way we need to go in the future. Could this be the best thing that's happened to our military? And could we be looking at a future in which both us and the Americans don't actually fight wars? We fight proxy wars. We use all the things we're really good at, the intelligence, the cyber, the special forces. And we assist our clients. It sounds cold blood. It doesn't it? But maybe that is the future of Western war. I think we have to have a found army. It will never fight as a found army. And I think we should throw one bit of doctrine straight out of a window. This idea that why we're so valuable to the Americans and NATO, like the French, we're the only European power that can put a division in the field. It's nonsense. What do you mean by a division? What I think the fighting alongside the guidance, the capability, the SF, the raiding capability that I think this is where the Marines, British Marines are going in the right direction. The fighting ability has to be there still, but it's the fighting with and the fighting alongside. And this, you know, when General Lord Richard said, oh, no, no, no, we need grand strategy. We shouldn't be dictated to by the ally, Lutton Zelensky. He's talking absolute nonsense. Also, it has very little historical respectability because Britain has always fought at its best coalition wars. And people like, as I have indicated, boy, are they good fighters when they fight? Are people like the Poles? Curiously, they've been in a lot of peacekeeping. The Swedes and the Finns are going to be very, very important indeed. And I think that that's the way America wants to pass NATO. And this is where Britain has got to be in this, where Britain has a problem, just to stamp my foot firmly on the footbreak at the moment, is particularly in this government, the notion of Europhobia is completely ludicrous. I'm sorry. Global Britain, little Britain. Britain is a European power with global interest, but not global reach. And our business is, we're focused there. We've got a war in our neighbourhood. And it affects us. Robert, thanks so much for that. And in passion, but really fascinating, description or analysis of what's going on and hugely important for the future. Thank you so much for coming on the podcast. Wow, is all I can say at the end of that Patrick. Robert, toward a rise on from Robert, is interesting. He thinks that our government has overestimated its role in the war, yet it's been significant nonetheless. You get the sense what Robert gives with one hand. He sometimes takes away with the other, don't you? But he talked about training, supplying weapons and intelligence, but also, and he is the really interesting thing, because we haven't heard that much about it, cyber warfare. And the fact that actually we began, in terms of the support for Ukraine, cyber operations as early as January, that's before the war even began. And also that fascinating point about Russia trying to knock out Ukrainian systems, digital systems, including satellites, but they failed because we were helping them. I mean, that's all news to me. Yeah, you really just contradict the narrative that the Ukrainians were slightly caught on the hop. I mean, Biden himself said that Zelensky didn't want to hear what US intelligence was telling him. And this completely seems to knock that point of view on the head. I was also struck by his point about the information war with the Ukrainians using digital facial recognition technology to identify Russian corpses. Now this is a very rather kind of eerie story. And he says that this may be a factor in weakening support of the war by the Russian people. I'm not so sure that, depending on how you use this information as, if you send, let people know that their sons and brothers, et cetera, who they think are aware of training camp are in fact dead. This could be, I think, interpreted as gloating and might indeed have the opposite effect of reinforcing not support for the war, actually, but sharpening the desire for revenge, which is always a big factor in keeping people fighting. So I think they're going to be very careful in the way they use this tactic. I think the whole point should be really trying to say, look, we're all in this together, let's stop the killing now, rather than appearing to, like I say, glute over the death of a young man. Yeah, it can work both ways, of course, Patrick Kantit. I mean, you know, one of the great points, and we've made this before on the podcast, about the end in Afghanistan, was when the realization that an awful lot of bodies were coming back. And I think this is an attempt to emphasize to the Russian public. You are losing an awful lot of people in this completely mad war. So it can work both ways, but I do take your point, Patrick. I mean, the idea that you're actually being sent a picture of your dead relative son, you know, is pretty foolish, isn't it? I see he's not very kind about David Richards, Lord Richards, former chief of the defence staff. We both know him pretty well. I'm going to speak up for my old friend, David Richards. I think it, you know, David Richards is just saying something that really needs to be said, which is that the West ought to have a kind of grand strategy approach to what's going on here. Yes, we should support the Ukrainians, of course. But we've also got to think about very much along the lines of what, where this is going on, what does it mean for us, and what do we want it to mean for us? So do we want to, David has been saying, you know, should we be looking at a relationship with a weakened Russia, which to feet will make it more open to the idea of an alignment, to kind of align up with the West, and most importantly, take it out of the Chinese sphere of influence. Now, that seems to be something that definitely needs to be discussed. You know, the alternative, the Ukrainian maximalist approach to take at the moment means that the end result would be an utterly humiliated, utterly defeated Russia, which could make it more dangerous, less likely ever to come back into the community of nations. Now, these have seemed to me to be completely reasonable things to discuss. And if that sounds like we're being a bit tough on a Sylvensky world, so be it. He made what other interesting point I thought, and that is, you know, the Ukrainians are not like us. They're quite tough people. Look at their history, you know, some of them descend from Kossaks, and they tend to fight a war in a very different way. And he described the West as having sort of bourgeois attitude. Well, actually, Patrick, if we go back to the Second World War, I'd hope that you could call Britain and America some approach to war, particularly with regard to air power as a sort of bourgeois attitude, we can be every bit as ruthless, I suspect, when we really get into things. But it is worth reminding ourselves that, you know, people from Ukraine, Eastern Europe do have a slightly different mindset to the West. Yeah, and there's a lot of bitter memories at work there, particularly on the Ukrainian side. So yeah, they do have a different perspective. I take completely agree with you about where just as ruthless as anyone would want to be, but we're all so very good at dressing it up in flowery language that suggests we're actually not, we're rather softhearted. Anyway, let's get on to some, we've got some really good listeners' questions this week. So do you want to start off, Saul? Yeah, we've got our old friend Ibaras from Lithuania back again. He's actually calling us out a little bit on our last response to his question, because he thinks we slightly misunderstood it. He points out that his last question about volunteers influence on modern war was not about soldiers. It was about supporting equipment, and he's seeing from his perspective in Lithuania millions of euros donated for equipment for Ukrainian soldiers from people as charity, and he himself has donated to the Lithuanian fighting legion, which is in Ukraine. That's interesting, didn't know there was one. Do Ukrainian soldiers fighting in back moot to buy them a drone so that they can see on the battlefield as he puts it? So I mean, his question really is, do we think that these types of volunteer organizations supplying equipment in particular are going to shape modern war? What do you think about that Patrick? I mean, it is interesting, but I think it's always been there, hasn't it? Yeah, I think before it was things like sending food parcels to prisoners and stuff like this, but this is a really interesting new thing. I don't know if you read the other days, or the Timothy Snyder, we both those work brilliant American historian, Professor at Yale University, who wrote the book on bloodlamps on the enormous violence done in all the different permutation that's going on between the Russian purges and Soviet purges in the mid-30s right through to the end of the second world war, and all in this strip of land that goes from the Baltic down to the Black Sea exactly where this has been fought in southern half of that anyway at the moment. Now he was asked by the Ukrainians, can you raise some money for it? His first thought was, okay, I'll get some money together to rebuild a destroyed library, and then he thought no, in his own words, he thought this was morally self-indulgence, it's dead. He started a crowdfunding effort to raise $1.25 million to buy an anti-Shahidron system. So I think this is a new thing. I mean, Barbara Streisand is doing it. That guy was in Star Wars, what's he called Mark Hamill, is it? So this is kind of as well as Timothy Snyder, you've got the love he's got to go down that road as well. So this is definitely a new development. Okay, we've got another repeat question. This is from Ted King from Nova Scotia and Canada. Thank you, he says, for addressing my naval question in the most recent episode. I suspect you're both correct though, the Russians won't sortie and Ukraine is hampered from easily reaching the Russians at Sevastopol. Well actually they've pulled out a lot of their assets from Sevastopol as far as we know. Now he goes on to say, I know I shouldn't wish the Russian fleet to be sent to the bottom from the human cost angle and knowing full well what that would entail for fellow sailors. And as long as they're complicit with sending in land attack munitions against civilians and we do know that some of the missiles that were sent this week came from Russian naval assets in the Black Sea. Ted goes on to say, game on, let them all burn. I do hate being caught up with the with the podcast now waiting a whole week between episodes is sheer misery. Well, sorry about that Ted and he goes on to say, I wish you both your families and all your listeners are happy Christmas or holiday season and made 2023 be a better year for all of us. Well, we agree with those sentiments. Hey, man, to that arm the subject of Christmas, we are recording later on today are I suppose you could call it the battleground Christmas party. I've mentioned it last week. A bunch of us around the table talking about military books of the year. It's going to be lighthearted. I hope it will be entertaining. So do look up for that. I think you'll be going out from next Monday. Yeah, tiny bit of light relief. Okay, another question from Zach Kies. He's also from Canada and he writes, since the ghost of Kiev, which if I recall has been proven a hoax or clever propaganda, I have not heard much word of any largely regarded individual competence arising out of the conflict on either side. Are there any individuals fighting in the conflict who are gaining broad esteem or infamy? I'm thinking along the lines of such figures as the white death, Seymour Hire in the 1939 to 1940 Winter War. That's of course the fins against the Russians or the Red Baron, Manfred von Richtoff. And I think he's right, isn't he, Patrick? Do we know any notorious or famous fighters on either side? No, there's a couple of different things going on. I think it is a question. One is the ghost of Kiev was proved to be, or rather the Ukrainians came out and said there wasn't a ghost of Kiev. This is a mythical... It's the pilot, wasn't it?...Mig 29, who's been to a shot down six Russian planes in the first 30 hours of the war? Well, the Ukrainians themselves had a little, you know, doesn't sound very likely, even while they were kind of social media was disseminating this. What I think you got there is sort of wishful thinking and this happens in war. It's like the Angel of Monz. Remember that one when this angel was meant to be seen above the city of Monz by soldiers and the trenches who, Arthur would say, yes, I definitely saw it. It's a kind of group psychosis, I think. And then you got real kind of hero figures like the white death character, Seymour Hire, who was a Finnish sniper, who was meant to kill. He himself claimed to kill 500 people in the course of the winter war. And that is that figure. He's probably an underestimate. All the deaths were attested, witnessed by his comrades, etc. Now, an interesting point on this, actually, he was able to do this at least in part. He's brilliant marksman for Mahanta, in a country boy hunter. But because the Russians didn't wear white camouflage uniforms or overalls as the Finnish did. So they just went into battle in their regular fatigues, which stood out, basically, there was a huge target painted onto your right when he went into battle. So another example of gross military incompetence. The Red Baron, Manfred von Riefluffen, he was, yeah, he was picked up by his own side almost immediately. Once he started emerging as being one of the great aces, if not the great ace of the war, 80 kills to his name. German propaganda got into it and said, you got a right to book. Before his death, his autobiography, Der Router, Canflieger, the, I suppose you translate that as the Red Battle Flyer, was a big bestseller shortly before his death in April 1918. So, yeah, even in back in those days, they were able to seize on somehow outstanding performer and turn it into a big propaganda thing. Why we haven't seen it in this war? I don't really know. It's part of the general Ukrainian strategy, information strategy, of keeping everything focused on Sylinzky and not allowing attention to be distracted onto other figures in the Ukrainian story. Okay, moving on to a question from Becca Kenison, and she writes, I find your podcast fascinating and have been listening every week since I discovered it. Her particular interest is behind the lines partisan work. And she points out that the ISW, that's the Institute for the Study of Warfare's map of the conflict, shows persistent pockets, a reported partisan activity in Russian-Oct-Gyder areas. Her question is, she'd be interested to know how they started, where they stay behind parties as the auxiliary units were planned to be in Britain in World War II, and was tried in parts of Asia in Malaya and Thailand, for example, by the SOE, or did they arise spontaneously, and how are they being resupplied if indeed they are? Embogglingly, courageous, however they got there. Well, there is a little bit of information about this, actually, Patrick, that I noticed last week since the liberation of Kesson, some of the people who were operating as partisans there have spoken about what they were up to. And actually, they were ordinary bloats. You think that this is kind of, you know, thought about in advance, it wasn't at all. These are ordinary guys who volunteered to do their bit to find out intelligence. They were resupplied, interesting enough, and given weapons. And it was all, you know, very spontaneous. There were links, of course, with special forces who occasionally were coming through to bring them some kit, but really interesting, unbelievably dangerous. And as Becca points out, incredibly courageous. Yeah, I saw those stories too. It was very struck by that fact that they hadn't been given any kind of training beforehand. There wasn't any plan in place, and they just acted very bravely, as you say, and effectively, it seems off their own bat. OK, we've got another one here from Alexander Martin. Why does command of operations in Ukraine not resemble man's signs? I either kind of blitzkrieg commander. More than the third world plotting that we see. If it's reduced to trench warfare, why does neither side apply the German stauntrupper tactics? Oh, I see, of 1917 to 1918, he's saying. To break out. First of all, is that arm is very vulnerable on the battlefield, and that's why we haven't seen it used in that fashion. What do you think, sir? Yeah, it's interesting. He mentions Manstein, a very controversial character. Of course, he's been credited with the plan, the blitzkrieg plan, to come through the Ardenne Forest in 1940. But I think Alexander's actually referring to some of the operations that Manstein conducted in Ukraine itself. He was, of course, the commander when the 11th Army, the German 11th Army, took Sevastopol in an unbelievably bloody siege. But I suspect Alexander's actually referring to Manstein's contact of the... I think it's known as the third battle of Karkiv, which was this kind of brilliant hook operation, which destroyed or virtually destroyed three Ukrainian armies. Manstein was a brilliant operational commander. We know that for sure. I think the idea that you can have something similar in this conflict is a bit optimistic. For the simple reason that you've already pointed out, you can't really use armor on the battlefield. We've discussed that before. But also the Ukrainians are, I think, have been very clever in this war. They are fighting it, really, using artillery to knock out supply systems and make it almost impossible for frontline troops to survive. In other words, it's a very efficient way of fighting, which we've heard from some of our contributors and the idea that you want to use mass attacks, which is really what Manstein was up to, albeit tipped with armor, to produce huge breakthroughs. You're going to lose an awful lot of people. You're going to lose an awful lot of kit. The Ukrainians don't want to do that, and they're very sensible not to. Just one last point about von Manstein. There have been an awful lot of kind comments made by British military historians. He was very close to the little heart after the Second World War. But Manstein is a very dubious character with extreme anti-Semitic views, who was complicit in a lot of the war crimes committed, not just by the Einsatzgripper behind the lines, but also by his own soldiers. People who put Manstein up there on a pedestal need to understand the darker aspects of his personality. I completely agree with you on that. There's a sort of sentimentality to sort of I find among people who are kind of, you know, get deep into military history and lose the moral dimension of warfare. You see that, particularly with the activities of the 11th Army, wasn't it? In that theatre, where they were all all these, you know, von, this and von, that, with a sort of sense of soldiers on it, happily cooperating with the Einsatzgripper who were going around murdering Germany's perceived ideological racial enemies. And also sanctioning reprisals, you know, if there's a partisan attack, they're probably happy to go and burn down a village, kill everything that moves. So the idea that there was some, you know, big moral divide between the SS and the Vermak I think is very dubious proposition. Yeah, now I think this one's for you, Patrick. I, you know, this is quite tricky pronunciation as you know. I'm very good at pronunciation. This is from Kirin Osegda, so this is obviously from Ireland. Really enjoy the podcast, Jens. Very interesting analysis made about the reckoning of the German people after World War 2, and potentially what Russia may face post-Empire if they do indeed collapse next year. As an Irish listener, however, I could not help but wonder if that is something that modern Britain could benefit from as well. A reckoning, of course, for colonialism and empire. And I think he's, you know, particularly referring to Ireland. What's your feeling about that? Well, I'm glad he would clarify that bit, because I thought he was might say he's looking forward to a collapse of Britain. Well, that seems to be going on anyway. But I think the pendulum swung back the other way on regarding the empire as something that was actually rather a dark project. I'm old enough to have been brought up. Actually, being taught the empire was quite a good thing for the first decade of my life. And now it's completely opposite. I think the balance lies somewhere in between. There was some good done by the empire quite a lot of good, whether intentionally or not is not a matter. But I think we've got to retain a sense of a proportion there on Ireland. I was brought up again by my Irish mother. And to regard the British presence there as being almost wholly negative. And I think I'd probably agree with her on that one. But it's great that time does heal. And there is no, as far as I can see, no enmity whatsoever apart from a little bit of residual friction here and there between our two great nations. All right. This next one's absolutely fascinating. We've been asked not to use his name, but suffice to say that he works at Bryze Norton and is, as he puts it, perhaps well placed to confirm some suspicions and throw some ideas our way. Now the first, he tells us, is that the British model of sending out kit to Ukraine is that it must be surplus. In other words, we can't send any kit that we actually are going to need ourselves. Now he assumes this is similar with the Americans too. And the case in point he makes is that we ran out of surplus end laws. That's the anti-tank weapon that was so effective. And mid-March and had to go to industry to make more. That's easy enough as he puts it for small kit. Now the second point he makes is more of a theory. This is really getting fascinating, patching links into some of the stuff we've been talking about. The week before the Kirch bridge to Crimea was hit, he saw many special forces jet skis being sent to the theatre. That's to Ukraine. Now it sounded at the time that some witnesses saw something resembling a jet ski or water born drone in that attack. It goes without saying, I'd rather my name didn't make it to the podcast if you use any of this. Nothing here is particularly secret, but work might not like my input. Well, I bet they won't, but really fascinating, patching because he's really confirming what I've been talking about for weeks on this podcast. And that is that our special forces, almost certainly the SPS, are assisting in some way. And how interesting that maybe our kit was actually using that attack. Yeah, and it does completely back up what you've been saying before. So it's nice to be right, isn't it? Okay, well that's all we've got time for this week. Don't forget the special extra podcast we're doing, which I think will go out on Monday, which is like I said, our sort of Christmas party will be discussing with some guests, all the big or some of the big, almost interesting military books of the year. Yes, it should be a lot of fun, so please join us for that. Before we go, just a quick reminder to email any questions to Battleground, Ukraine at and to follow us on Twitter at atsalldayvid66 or at podbattleground. Goodbye. I'm Arthur Snell, and I'm uncovering more of the dangers threatening our world in a brand new season of Doomsday Watch. From the deadly mission creep that comes from our increased use of drones and special ops forces to the invisible war between Saudi Arabia and Iran to America's worsening political crisis. That's the new series of Doomsday Watch out now on your favorite apps. So subscribe now. Before it's too late.