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I’ll bet my entire net worth at even odds on your theories. Heavy hopium. And this would be the best investment risks-reward anywhere in financial markets.

I'm not Sloppy Goppy.

sloppy Goppy is a guest poster I host on my substack.


My Ukraine theory is that the conflict is becoming increasingly unstable and the escalatory equilibrium could break soon, with both Ukraine and Russia attacking vital infrastructure, which would end with Ukraine as a failed sate, and the entire region destabilized.

Here's the full take

A few thoughts.

  1. Largely agree war more likely to be a stalemate. Ukraine probably takes Kherson but the old 2014 lines will be difficult. Even the real Russian army before they lost most of their equipment couldn’t do that.

  2. Russia can’t cripple Ukraine infrastructure in an afternoon. Don’t have the quantity of missiles. And Ukraine is getting better equipment to shoot down missiles.

  3. You neglected the real risks that Russia turns into a failed state. Probably more likely than Ukraine turning into fiefdoms. They’ve United as a people. Revolution in Russia and breaking apart into different ethnic groups with a stub of Russia around Moscow. Lost war loses respect for the regime and Moscow doesn’t have the troops to keep regions in line.

This has all to play out yet, so I guess we'll see.

A side question presents itself: Do you think there is enough of a morale boost, both to Ukraine as a wobbly state and its international supporters, to make the commitment of their combat power worth it? Russia may or may not reverse the situation, but it seems to me that everyone was waiting to see if the Ukrainians had a shot at some semblance of victory, or whether all this money and guns were just going down the toilet. At the same time, by waiting until they had lost significant ground to mobilize, the Russians look weak, and that may well affect the morale on their side, especially for those mobilized soldiers.

…but it seems to me that everyone was waiting to see if the Ukrainians had a shot at some semblance of victory, or whether all this money and guns were just going down the toilet.

I know there are a non-zero number of American foreign-policy think tankers that view the proxy war as a good on its own, to the extent it weakens a potential rival in an emerging multipolar world. For those folks, the money and arms are not wasted so long as the conflict was prolonged.

Throat clearing: this can be true even if the Ukrainian cause is worthy of support on its own merits.

Regardless of weather the US thinks it's worthwhile the UK believes it to be worthwhile as do the Poles and other Baltic states.

These two comments don't seem to square:

By July Ukraine’s pre-war Army was effectively defeated


Ukrainian soldiers, supplemented by western mercenaries, have been trained in the UK and Poland and formed into fresh units. The ability to field high quality formations , trained, equipped, and largely commanded by NATO

So the pre-war Army defeated and there are fresh units trained in the past 6-8 months that supplanted the pre-war army? That is not how armies work, The pre-war army is still the Ukrainian Army.

I do see the perspective that the maneuver defense in the Kherson region has prevented large scale encirclement and reduction of Russian Ground Forces in Kherson, it seems to be leading to the eventual RGF withdrawal west of the Dnieper into a sustained linear defense along a significant piece of hydrology, as opposed to a transition to the offensive.

Rasputitsa will slow a Ukrainian offensive, and perhaps devolve the southern theater into an urban war in Kherson, but it remains to be seen how the Russians will turn any slowing in Ukrainian tempo into an advantage, as the Ukrainians will be focused on consolidating gains in territory that was essentially Ukrainian-controlled up until Feb 2022.

Russia for reasons not yet clear, did not match this escalation and marshal the resources necessary to counter it in a timely fashion.

To quote a decade-old video game:

The answer is really quite simple. Incompetence. Incompetence at the highest echelons of power. We put our trust, our faith, in halfwits. Our intrepid leaders had everything they wanted. Power. Wealth. Prestige. And it made them lazy, America. Oh yes. And laziness breeds stupidity.

It's hard to point at something Russia did well in this war. The fifth columnists in Kherson were a good stratagem, but they were supposed to surrender multiple border regions. But everything else was badly mismanaged. And making mistakes is not the worst thing one can do, not learning from them is. Russian military has a disgustingly long feedback cycle.

Now Russia has to deal with multiple long-term trends:

  • its military is learning to wage war (+ve)

  • its military is losing matériel (-ve)

  • its economy is being drained by sanctions (-ve)

Reversing the two negative trends is impossible right now, the degradation can at most be slowed down. From my perspective, the total sum of these three trends is negative, that's why I expect the mobilization to continue: flooding the frontline with mobiks will make Izyum-style breakthroughs much harder to execute, while professional forces will be able to pull back, R&R and redeploy for another strike while there's enough matériel to strike with.

For Ukraine the situation is different:

  • its economy is on life support

  • its military supply is on life support

  • its military is losing manpower (-ve)

  • its military is getting better training and better weapons (+ve)

The collapse of their economy will be postponed until the war is over, so it's easier to view Ukraine as an army with an unusually large group of camp followers. And for the sum of their long-term military trends, I think they can be viewed as broadly neutral.

This means Ukraine has two goals:

  • prevent Russia from utilizing their remaining short-term advantage (NATO intelligence is a great help)

  • accelerate Russian negative trends by lobbying for more sanctions and more precision munitions

Their economy will crash either way, but if it happens in 2024 it won't be as bad as if it does in 2026. Their job is to not lose.

Their economy will crash either way, but if it happens in 2024 it won't be as bad as if it does in 2026. Their job is to not lose.

Indeed, the way I see it Ukraine today is in a similar boat to Finland in the 1940s, thier goals are simple. A) Survive. B) Inflict sufficient casualties on Russia to deter future incursions. Everything else is gravy.

This just has the same affect as all the previous similar pro-Russian predictions and accountings I've read. Always the same terse, affected style, supposed to convey an image of brute realism (very unlike those pro-Ukrainians who are so soyjack and Reddit in their childish enthusiasm and with their memes! Adults speaking here!)... and that realism always ends up being that this time Russians are just on the cusp of total victory and destruction of the Ukrainian army.

The fact that pro-Russian sources have been making similar prognosis for the entirety of the war is not mentioned, or if it is, it's excused as merely a result of Western support and "mercenaries" (we're just going to use that word to describe all volunteer foreign or returnee troops in a conflict from here on, aren't we?) or by Russia holding itself back from sheer kindness or incompetence... and now all that is ending, and the inevitable victory is on the way, and in a few months we'll lather, rinse, repeat. Of course pro-Ukrainian sources do the same - the ever-starting Kherson offensive and so on.

Of course it's always possible that Russians will eventually win, even in the coming months, wars often hinge on factors not currently visible, but this analysis doesn't really offer anything that hasn't been seen before or would convince me it's more than usual pro-Russia boosterism. Why feature it at all?

This could be solved by offering bets. In particular, Insight Prediction has a bunch of liquid markets:

I made a bunch of predictions at the old forum, at least.

At this point it looks like I actually overestimated Russia's drive - I thought they'd reach Kramatorsk, and ceasefire would probably also require more yielding from Ukraine, at this point. Of course there's still two months left.