Saturday, March 8, 2014

Eureka Russians: ready to ruin geopolitical norms in Europe

So it appears the Russian Fed is in the process of upsetting European stability. My colleagues and I have been generally puzzled about the goals of this action for the past week or so, as we tend to subscribe to the realist school of international relations and the benefits of violating sovereignty in the Crimea certainly don't appear to outweigh the the long-term negatives.

Regardless, we know one thing: this is a good excuse to paint mandollies.

One thing I've noticed about the 'digital flora' camo uniforms we've seen on display in Ukraine is that they appear to effectively fade to a monotone. Pictured here you can see a fellow with what appears to be newly-issued helmet cover and plate carrier, contrasted against a more worn in jacket and pants set.

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Shemaghs: apparently ubiquitous military issue, regardless of geographical location

This left me with a bit of a dilemma. At 15mm the nuances of such a subtle color palette would be so miniscule as to barely warrant attempting to actually paint it as a camouflage scheme. As such, I decided to represent digital flora as simple monotone green, without worrying about attempting to reproduce the pattern itself. I also decided to add some variance by painting jackets and helmet covers in the 'partisan' pattern. On top of this, I sculpted on balaclavas and knee pads to most of the figures, as these appear to be fairly ubiquitous in the contract soldier ranks.

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As with Eureka's ADF range, the details on the Russians are simply stellar. The variance of Sphera and regular helmets in particular really is a nice touch  There is little to critique about the range apart from a decided lack of RPKs (all the MGs are PKMs which I don't believe are actually as common as the former at the squad level) and ATGMs (of which I have discussed with Nic who has said he will likely get either a Kornet or a Metis-M sculpted in the near-to-mid future).

Given the Chain of Command ruleset we will be using to field these guys I also need to do up some assets. I've been playing around with a few ideas.

First up, combined the Khurasan T-90A with Zvezda's T-72BM kit. I was quite impressed with Khurasan's offering from the outset, but the hull always seemed a bit too squat for my tastes. I'm not a rivet counter, by any stretch, so I can't comment on the authenticity of the measurements. However, aesthetically I wanted something that loomed a bit more, so the Zvezda hull seemed to be the appropriate way of counteracting this.

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I also updated a couple gaps in Zvezda's BM kit - mainly the decided lack of AAMG and smoke launchers. Here I used a Eureka NSV cut down from its tripod and scratch built the launchers. I also added some empty fuel barrel cradles from the Khurasan T-62 kit

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Finally, I wanted to beef up the Zvezda BTR-80s a bit. The easiest option seemed to be upgrading them to the A model with a 30mm autocannon. Here I took QRF's own BTR-80s and scrapped the hulls; combining the turret with the Zvezda hull. I also retooled the barrels, as they were a bit 'iffy'

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The end result should be 3 BTR-80As, 2 T-90As and a T-72BM to outfit the platoon.


  1. Do you have a blog with your musings and insight about the situation in Ukraine/Crimea? I for one miss your posts on WAU about the subject of geo-politics and conflicts.

    The man dollies look great as well, the basing in particular stands out for me with the variety of textures and materials being something out of the ordinary.

    1. Haha, thanks man. At the moment I'm so smothered by my thesis research that I've had very little time to publish in the public sphere. My main take away from the whole issue is that the current punditry class continues to be utterly awful.

    2. I love your blog and bow to your painting skills!

      A bit off topic- in the issue of conflict between states, the causes of conflict need not be entirely rational. People are people, and being such are driven by emotions such as pride, envy, honour, revenge. Current conflicts are often cloaked with perceived grievances as a form of internal rationalization to justify aggression and it can flower into war much easier in autocratic societies than in societies reliant on consensual government.

      On the face of it, Russia has much *much* more to gain in working with the West. They are an economy based on resource extraction with (if my information is correct) a declining birth rate. They are engaged in a grinding conflict with a radicalised Islamic Caucus. And Siberia, which holds a lot of resources is poorly populated and abuts a burgeoning China- a state that is determined to assert its dominance militarily. If nothing else, containing a potential imperialist hyperpower would be in their interest....

      ... but people being people, rationality doesn't seem to figure prominently. I suspect Putin is resentful about losing the Cold War and he delights in getting his 'one up' on the West. So much so that he would cut off his nose to spite his face.

      An American political commentator, Victor Hansen lays out this idea much more eloquently. He cites conflicts between Greek city states- who battled over unproductive border lands, the Falkland Islands- definitely not a battle over natural resources, and Hitler's invasion of the Soviet Union- ridiculous attitude to living space that you don't hear of today. (In terms of natural resources, the Soviet Union delivered it to Nazi Germany on a silver plate and in higher volumes and with less cost but despite all this, Hitler felt he just had to go to war with them).

      Mr Hansen lays out a very interesting fact. Post 9/11, there was a poll in various arab countries on anti-Americanism. The country with the highest amount of anti-American sentiment? Kuwait. Almost 3/4 of the surveyed participants did not trust the US. The most commonly cited reason was US support for Israel in its conflict with the Palestinians. Interestingly, after the first Gulf War- when they were restored to sovereignty by a US led coalition- they ethnically cleansed hundreds of thousands of Palestinians (packing them off to Jordan and elsewhere).

      My point is that war does not always (and in fact a lot of the time) need to have its underpinnings in rationality.

      People like to think they are civilized and have evolved beyond being emotionally driven- that somehow being educated and liberal allows the west to transcend this primordial muck.

      It doesn't.

      - People are people and subject to ugly human emotions
      - Ugly emotions are hidden through internal rationalizations (and some cognitive dissonance as well!)
      - War is caused more often by ugly human emotions than rationality
      - Education/ conflict mediation is no cure when the basis of war is irrational and emotionally driven
      - the West needs to carry a metaphorical big stick and be prepared to use it

      I'd be delighted to hear your thoughts.

    3. I appreciate your position, but I tend to disagree. I subscribe to a very particular strain of international relations theory that follows the neorealist school which tends to assume that the emotions of individuals are counterbalanced by the structures surrounding them (proponents include Waltz, Walt, Mearschiemer). Thus, while theoretically one leader may potentially act in an irrational manner, they are constrained by the various institutional organs of state surrounding them (military, state department, senate etc), preventing despotic behavior and more specifically, irrationality. Their decisions do not take place in a vacuum and they must find some level of consensus with the surrounding elites, even in autocratic societies.

      To take two of your examples - the Falklands and Op Barbarossa. In the case of the former this was a war waged to placate domestic pressures which erroneously assumed the Brits would not respond to a backwater bit of territory in the middle of nowhere. Stupid? Well, hindsight is 20/20, but in terms of rationality it displayed a high degree of instrumental rationality in achieving a particular goal, the main issue being the miscalculation of the UK response.

      In regards to Barbarossa, if you look at it in the context of the previous 100 years and the post Bismarkian desire for German hegemony in Europe, I don't really see this as out of sync with those prior goals. Yes, it happened to be wrapped up in a veil of racial Darwinian rhetoric, but another core assumption of international realism is that words tend to be fairly meaningless in IR, the main concern is power politics/Realpolitik.

      I can't comment too heavily on the Greek stuff, but I would suggest checking out Thucydides's works, as he is generally considered the father of modern realism and his history of the Polynesian war really cuts deeply into the power politics and counterbalancing underlying the causes of that conflict.

      As for Crimea, I tend to think this is largely for domestic consumption in Russia proper, but I can't help but think it seriously damages broader engagement policies with the West and wonder if a little peninsula with a naval base that realistically should have been relocated to Sochi is worth undermining norms in the European system.

  2. The Russians look great, really got to get me some Eureka minis!

  3. Great painting. I too miss your insights on WAU.

    1. Unfortunately(fortunately?), my tolerance for the open-sourced derpage that is internet forums has all but dried up.

  4. nice conversion and interesting way of using zvezda models !

    as for me, I simply painted my eureka russians green for the uniform with regular flora gear as seen often in the recent years. and I looove partizan partern, really nice touch ! not sure they have helmet cover in this pattern though.

    1. I think you are right! It appears they only come as a tunic, pant and boony-type hat in the Russian arsenal.

      Back to the painting board for me :)

  5. Looking awesome as always. I also miss you on WAU. This Ukraine business has got me wanting to start moderns in 6mm. Wargame a possible Nato/Russia conflict.

    1. Hah, so 15mm isn't enough for your moderns appetite? :)