Today was only day two of the Russian military operation. And yet, what a day it was!!!
First, a quick update on the progress of Russian forces. Here is a bulletpoint summary for today:
- Kherson: liberated
- Nikolaev: fighting taking place in outskirts
- Konotop: taken by Russians
- Chernigov: blocked by all sides by Russian forces
- Melitopol: surrounded
- Mariupol: is under attack, street fighting
- Severodonetsk: under attack
- Kharkov: very heavy mopping up operation
- Suma: mopping up operations
- Kiev: blocked from the West and under attack, the authorities are distributing weapons
- Gostomel airport has been captured by Russian forces
- Zaporozhie: Russian forces expected there tomorrow
- A land corridor from Crimea to Russia should be opened by tomorrow.
- Odessa: big question mark – so far, no Russian attacks reported (that I know of!)
Now about Donetsk and Lugansk:
- Both cities are still under fire, and that goes to show that the advance of the LDNR forces has been slow, which is hardly surprising considering that the Ukronazis had 7 years to prepare their defenses. Still, things ARE getting better. Not only that, but the LDNR air defenses shot down a Ukie Tochka-U missile aimed at Donetsk. So it sure looks like the long awaited A2/AA “protective cupola” is being extended over the LDNR.
- That being said, the LDNR forces did break through in at least two directions today, which means that the life left for the Ukie artillery shelling the LDNR will soon come to an end.
But that does not really tell the full story. So I will try to clarify things a little.
A typical battalion has about 400-600 men, depending on the type. Let’s also assume that that battalion has 3-4 companies with APCs, a mortar battery, an air defense platoon, an automatic grenade launcher platoon, a signal platoon, supply platoon, and a few smaller more specialized subunits. If that battalion loses its APCs it has basically lost its most important source of firepower. If its communications are down (destroyed or jammed), then that battalion cannot operate as part of a bigger force and if its supply routes are cut, then its ability to operate (more or fire) will rapidly dwindle down. So, on paper this battalion will remain combat capable, but in reality it will have broken up and cannot be considered a truly combat capable battalion anymore.
So, to destroy/incapacitate a battalion only a few precision strikes are needed. Such strikes though, will leave most of the soldiers alive and quite capable of resistance, but not as a battalion anymore, but more like a typical infantry company or even squads armed with small arms, machine guns, RPGs, mines, etc.. They cannot maneuver very much, but they can conduct small hit and run operations against the enemy force. Which means that specialized infantry/police forces must now be sent to find these small forces and deal with them in potentially bloody mopping up operations.
Of course, rather than a few precision strikes, it is much more effective to strike the entire battalion with, say, MLRS strikes which will not only destroy most of the hardware, but which will kill most of the soldiers, especially if they did not prepare and seek cover. But that means 400-500 dead in one single strike. That is if this battalion is somewhere in the steppe. But if it is in downtown Mariupol such a strike will inevitably result in even more scores of dead civilians, especially since the Ukies are very careful to always position their artillery near or even on top of buildings.
Does Russia want that?
Not if there is ANY other option left.
Please keep in mind that Russia has the reconnaissance-fire complexes needed obliterate an entire battalion anywhere in the eastern Ukraine in one single salvo. They have deliberately NOT done so today (with one possible exception during the very heavy battle for the Gostomel airport, which was taken by Russian special forces and is now secured as a safe bridgehead for Russian Military-Transport aviation right next to Kiev).
Something similar can be seen in urban offensive operations. It is one thing to get to a city or town’s outskirts, and quite another to penetrate inside the city or town. If the city is lightly defended by small arms fire, that is one thing, but if the city is well defended, in specially engineered defensive circles, with minefield, IEDs, very strong building used as command posts and if the city’s houses and basements have been prepared by combat engineers, then it is much harder to take. Again, one option is to send its dedicated urban combat groups while the other is flatten any building which is used by the defenders as a fortress.
The Russian forces have the means to flatten any building anywhere in the Ukraine, including by cruise missiles, ballistic missiles, MLRS with cluster or fuel-air munition or by using howitzers, heavy mortars and even the TOS-1/TOS-1A heavy flamethrower multi-barrel rocket launch systems.
But, again, that can only be done at a major cost in human lives. Russians won’t hesitate to obliterate some Nazi deathsquads, but to massacre hundreds of regular Ukrainians, irrespective of their personal views, is only and truly a last resort option.
There is a lot of evidence that the Russian forces have moved into the outskirts of many Ukrainian towns, including Kiev, Mariupol and others. Here is how Russian military practice works:
- First, approach and try to block or surrender the city
- Second, suppress the main enemy firing positions
- Third, make sure that the city is truly blocked (except for a few special corridors, see below)
- Fourth, hold your position and reconnoiter the outermost enemy lines (by fire when appropriate)
- Fifth, send in special reconnaissance groups inside the city to observe and coordinate attacks
- Sixth, once the city is surrounded/blocked and once you get a pretty decent picture of what is inside you take the next decisions which might include any of the following: open corridors for civilians to flee and for military personnel to surrender and cross over, determine the main axes of attack and begin slowly grinding down the opposition with heavy firepower (artillery, air, missiles).
- Seventh, once the city’s defenses have been sufficiently disorganized, begin a house to house mopping up operation by specialized forces.
Before I go further, I want to remind you that during WWII the Soviet Military freed a whopping 1’200 (one thousand two hundred!) cities from the Nazi forces. Russians know how to do this better than anybody else.
Furthermore, during both Chechen wars, the Russians always managed to take Grozny, which was extremely heavily fortified and defended by some of the toughest fighters on the planet in spite of the fact that at that time the Russian army was it its lowest and badly disorganized, especially during the first Chechen war! But even in the first Chechen, the Russians did seize Grozny, twice, admittedly a huge cost (on both sides), but they did.
That was almost three decades ago.
Speaking of the Chechen war, in the first one the Russian military lost a big part of an entire brigade which had quickly entered the city, moved into the city center only to find itself surrounded and cut off, with terrible communications, quasi-non existing reconnaissance capabilities. That debacle left a very painful memory in the Russian collective memory and if somebody was expecting Russian APCs to reach the Mariupol or Kharkov at full speed with flags and screams of “hurrah!” – they don’t understand what is taking place: the (truly criminal) mistake made by Eltsin’s generals during that first Chechen war will never be repeated by modern Russian commanders.
Any defeat is always a terrible tragedy, the only and best thing anybody can do after a defeat is to understand why and how it happened, and never repeat such a (criminal) mistake again.
That is the true reason why today Russians stopped on the outskirts of so many cities.
The bottom line is this. These are things which the Russians are trying to achieve
- Destroy the Ukie armed forces but kill the absolute minimum number of Ukrainian soldiers (real Nazis will probably be destroyed no questions asked). Why? Because these surviving Ukrainian soldiers and officers are the ones who will play the main role in finally cleaning the Ukraine from the Nazi scum.
- Get to the outskirts of as many major Ukrainian cities and gradually begin the steps I outlined above.
- Convince civilians to flee and convince Ukrainian solders to lay down arms
- Delay any Russian penetration inside the cities until the moment is “just right” (not too early, not too late)
Because Russia has ZERO intention of occupying or, even less so, rebuild or police the Ukraine, that’s why. The LDNR (in its legal borders) is as far as the Russians will go (with only a few possible exceptions).
The Kremlin decided that the goal of the operation was to 1) disarm and 2) to denazify the Ukraine. As soon as these goals are reached, the Russians want to get the hell out of the Ukraine and back into the LDNR and let the Ukrainians fight their own anti-Nazi civil war. That means that:
- The Russians now must identify reasonable Ukrainian commanders and/or politicians to negotiate with
- That Russia needs to offer the leftover Ukrainian ground forces the same deal which the Ukrainian forces which were tasked with the control of the Chernobyl nuclear plant were given today by the Russian forces: let’s secure this facility together and keep it secure together, with no combats of any kind. The Ukrainians gladly accepted, by the way, and now they are jointly patrolling area.
- The Russians might also try something which worked well in Chechnia: tell the local town/city authorities that if they guarantee that not a single bullet will be fired from that town/city not a single Russian bullet will fly back and not a single Russian soldier will enter the city, unless accompanied by locals and in order to ascertain the reality of the situation. But if a city is declared “open and peaceful” and then is used to attack Russian forces, it will be simply flattened with artillery. I call that the “Shamanov ultimatum” and, after a few false starts (and subsequently flattened towns) it worked very well.
The crucial factor is this: during the two Chechen wars or during 08.08.08 the Russians never saw the local people as their enemy and, if anything, they were hoping that the locals would start their own “housecleaning operation” which was a bad joke in the first Chechen war, but worked very well in the second Chechen war, and failed again during 08.08.08.
In military/combat terms the Ukies are much more similar to the Georgians than to the Chechens, so there is a good chance Russia might have to leave unconditionally and let the locals slug it at between each other for as much as they want (which is what Russia did in 08.08.08 even though Russian Airborne units were at the outskirts of Tbilisi).
Which brings me to THE QUESTION for tomorrow: how will the Ukrainian soldiers and civilians behave?
Right now, Ukrainian losses have been minimal (considering the undeniable fact that this is a fullscale strategic offensive), the Russian forces have reached their positions on the outskirts of many towns and tomorrow or the day after will be “decision time”.
I hope and pray that Russian and Ukrainian soldiers find a common language in as many locations as possible. Those who will choose a heroic stance (hardcore Nazis mostly) will be offered the possibility to die for their ideas.
In that context, “Ze” released a video in which he offered to negotiate directly and unconditionally, even about neutrality and any other topic. The Russian reply was simple and to the point:
- Russia is immediately ready to start negotiations after the Armed Forces of Ukraine lay down their arms.
- The Ukraine must be demilitarized and declared neutral.
- The Ukraine must be denazified.
- Russia will no longer allow the Nazis to rule in Ukraine. Ever.
After that reply, “Ze” and his aides stopped communicating.
I personally doubt that he has any control over anything. And the fact that a huge amount of weapons has been distributed to whomever wanted one today in Kiev shows that “Ze”‘s handlers have given him the order to make the biggest possible mess and bloodbath before he is evacuated.
This is very sad, and utterly immoral, but there is nothing Russia can do about that: the Ukraine will be flooded by well armed criminals, gangs and Nazi insurgents for years to come.
Putin today made a speech in which he suggested that Russia’s beef was only with the Nazis and their deathsquads but that Russia would seek to cooperate with the Ukrainian armed forces (well, what’s left of them, really) should they overthrow the Nazis. See his full message here.
So, today was “we get to our staging positions” day.
So what did not happen (yet)?
- The operational envelopment of the Ukrainian forces along the LOC with the LDNR forces has not happened yet, there is still a corridor by which these forces can withdraw. The Russians could have shut it down already “by maneuver by fire” but, apparently, they want to keep it open for a little longer.
- The Russian Black Sea fleet has not engaged in any major combat activities (that I know off, so take that with a grain of salt).
Will that happen tomorrow? Maybe, it all really depends on whether the regular Ukrainian units will agree to surrender or whether they will fight to their last soldier. It also depends on how the Ukrainian civilians will react at the sight of approaching Russian forces.
So what to look for tomorrow?
- A further penetration of Russian forces deeper inside Ukie territory, with cities bypassed.
- The gradual penetration of Russian forces into blocked/surrounded cities
- The intervention of the Black Sea Fleet in combat operations (with maybe Odessa as a strategic target, not necessarily to take, but at least to threaten and weaken).
- A Western false flag (some “Russian atrocity” no doubt)
One more thing:
Western PSYOPs are in “max attack mode” and they are being helped by Russian 5th columnist websites. For example, I was trying to find a halfway decent map of the combat operations today, and ALL the Russian websites which offered such maps were hardcore 5th element. Okay, I get it – 5th columnists don’t need any real facts to make their maps, while the real patriots are afraid of both getting it wrong and leaking info. Still, I remember during the first two wars in the Donbass, there were some pretty decent maps available out there.
Today I see such zero. If anybody can recommend semi-decent military maps of the combat operations I would be most grateful.
The fact that the Russian 5th column is allowed to continue to operate the way it does really frustrates me. Could the Kremlin not tell them to “zip it” at least during active combat operations?
I did not even bother checking the output of the 6th column today, I fully expect it to be indistinguishable from the output of the 5th, and so I have no interest in it.
What is certain are two things: the joint efforts 5th and 6th column efforts have had some success, especially in locations where Putin is hated and pro-Western views more common than in most of Russia. The best poll I have seen says “Three-quarters of the respondents rather support the decision of the President of Russia to recognize the independent Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics (73%), rather do not support – 16%, and every tenth Russian found it difficult to answer (11%). The majority of Russians – 78% – expressed support for the President’s decision to sign an agreement on friendship, cooperation and mutual assistance between Russia and the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics. Rather, 14% of respondents do not support this decision“. Putin personal rating is at 67,2%.
My guesstimate that no more than 5% of Russian support the 5th column and not more than 15% support the 6th column. Toss in another 5-10% which is afraid and on the fence. This is only a guess following my readings of the Russian social media, not a precise figure or even one based on serious research!
Next, the main thesis of US PSYOPs today was “the Russian movement is very slow, much slower than expected” hinting at some formidable Ukrainian defense operations. I hope that while I did not post any maps today, the above will tell you all you need to know to identify this thesis for what it is: Western information operations, nothing more. The problem is that there is no “smartphone confirmation” of any of that, and by tomorrow I expect the main Western PSYOPs thesis to change from “no/slow advance” to “Russian atrocities” (the smartphone coverage for that will, of course, be provided by the Western press corps).
So, in conclusion, and once more – the “fog of war” is real, and to read through it takes both time and experience. By tomorrow, I only expect this “fog of war” (powerfully augmented by PSYOPs) to drown us all in all sorts of nonsense, rumors and wild claims. Again, please don’t post panicked questions such as “is it true that the Ukrainian forces are already on the Red Square in Moscow” or something equally insipid.
Two quick ones just in, then I need to crash (sorry, I am exhausted).
The US decided to impose personal sanctions personally on Putin (and others) which will result in a full termination of any diplomatic relations (as Russians warned the US many times). Note: such sanctions are entirely symbolic but maximally offensive, so a full break with Russia is what the US wants.
Twelve thousand Chechens will be sent to the LDNR if needed, so promised Ramzan Kadyrov, the President of Chechnia. Actually, I think that this is a very good idea, like in Syria, the Chechens should get involved in policing and public security operations. FYI – when the “toughest” and “NATO trained and equipped” Georgian brigade heard that the Chechen battalion Vostok was approaching, they all ran abandoning all their fancy (and secret) equipment. Russia then organized exhibits of all that NATO kit.
Today, the LDNR authorities report the seizure of large Ukie weapons depots including the famous Javelins and NLAWs. This is all very good news.
I am done for tonight barring some huge event.
I hope to “see you” all tomorrow.
And, again, thanks for all the help (see ADDENDUM in yesterday’s post if you have not yet)!!
You are simply the best :-)
PS: I don’t have the energy to proofread what I wrote, sorry. I have to prioritize info over form.