By Nightvision for the Saker Blog
Today we start with the largest news. Ukraine continues escalating provocations in the asymmetrical/guerilla/insurgent direction as we’ve outlined in previous sitreps. Last time an oil depot was hit in the Belgorod district, it was reported that Russia moved a new S-400 system near the Kharkov border. So now Ukraine shifted its tactics further north out of range, and we see sabotage of various sorts occurring on the Russian border 250-300km NW of Kharkov.
Not only oil tanks hit in Bryansk (no evidence of air attack this time, possible on the ground sabotage), but various shelling of villages, and attempts to sabotage Russia’s rail systems, as explosives were found: https://i.postimg.cc/Y9qskhtC/FRPzb-S6-Vk-AAcy-U9.jpg
Also in the region it was said two new Bayraktar TB2’s were shotdown. Photos of one of them:
A new Turkish cargo plane landed in Poland yesterday as well, likely carrying a fresh batch of TB2’s, so we expect to see more shotdown in the near future. Over 40 have already been shot down.
Now Ukraine is stirring something up in Transnistria. Multiple sabotage attacks have occurred, including one on a military installation, destroying two radio towers and damaging others.
Transnistria now erecting barricades: https://twitter.com/AZmilitary1/status/1519045236617584640
There is a lot of talk and rumor now, like the following: “Now Transnistrian telegram accounts are claiming Ukrainian military massed on their border: “According to subscribers. On the border with Transnistria, a large concentration of Ukrainian troops was noticed, in particular tanks and other armored vehicles”
And much of this rumor could be dismissed if it weren’t for the suspicious attacks that now suddenly occur on Transnistrian land, and the following statements from a prominent Ukrainian journalist and as of last year ex-advisor to the head of the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense, who reportedly said today:
“Ukraine has the legal right to demilitarize the military facilities of the Russian troops that threaten us,” the editor-in-chief of the odious publication Censor wrote on social networks. no, adviser to the head of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine Yuriy Butusov.
He said that this would make it possible to capture Russian prisoners for exchange, “eliminate the threat of a breakthrough by Russian troops”, seize large arsenals of ammunition. Release two Ukrainian brigades that are stationed on the Ukrainian-Moldovan border
There is only one chance left to save Mariupol – a strike on Transnistria” – Advisor to the Minister of Defense of Ukraine.”
(Russia, by the way, has over 4000 AFU prisoners, 300 of them officers. More POWs were taken in Illych Steel Plant alone than all of RF and LPR/DPR prisoners in Ukrainian hands combined.)
So, not only is he floating this idea as a way to seize large arsenals of ammo as we’ve already outlined above, but as a final hail-mary shot to save Mariupol by seizing enough Russian prisoners that could be used as leverage in an exchange. Interestingly enough, this comment coincides with yesterday’s demands from Arestovych/Kiev, that:
1. there should be a negotiation with Russia done right at the walls of the Azovstal factory and
2. that Russian POWs should be exchanged for all the Azov militants and 36th Brigade marines currently trapped in the factory.
The problem with this demand is that Ukraine doesn’t have anywhere near the amount of POWs that would match the number of remaining militants in Azovstal. Ukraine “claims” to have around 500 total POWs for Russia/DPR/LPR, and this number is likely greatly inflated by double or more. Azovstal on the other hand has 2000+ trapped militants remaining by some reports. So apparently some in Kiev imagine the capture of Russian peacekeepers in Transnistria could equalize this trade and allow the exchange for the trapped Azovites.
“#Ukraine and #Romania plan joint aggression against #Transnistria (Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic) late April-early May. Romanian military disguised as Moldovan military are training in camps in Romania and arrive in #Moldova in large numbers. Details: https://t.me/ZradaXXII/1959”
There’s rumor that a ‘large number of Romanian soldiers and officers’ have been deployed to Moldova under Moldovan uniforms, including officers and commanders replaced by Romanian counterparts.
The objective appears to be a huge military storage site in Kolbasnaya, that people are hyperbolically saying has enough artillery shells to last a 10 year war. Ukraine is understandably foaming at the mouth to acquire this ammunition as they are in dire shortage of same. “Rumors” that an attack on Tiraspol is already being planned for late April to early May.
This is troubling due to the compounding nature of other reports about clandestine buildups from Poland and other countries.
This was a report from around the time of the Moskva hit:
“Two days ago: The NATO Secret Monitoring Service started working in Odessa and tracking the ships of the Russian Navy. This was reported by RIA Novosti with reference to a source in the Russian law enforcement agencies and his Ukrainian informant.
According to the interlocutor of the agency, the NATO monitoring group operates in one of the suburbs of Odessa. Service workers are equipped with equipment that allows determining the exact coordinates of any vessel in the Black Sea within a radius of 200 kilometers.
The main specialists are employees of the Romanian PMC Nordstarsupport Group.
The interlocutor also noted that the tasks of the group are to prevent the landing of Russian troops in the Odessa region and the issuance of the location of Russian ships for targeting Ukrainian anti-ship missiles “Neptune”.”
Russia then announced the investigation of at least two British SAS special ops groups in Lvov: https://www.rt.com/news/554380-ukraine-uk-sas-sabotage
And one report says that: “French sources report that servicemen of the 13th Parachute Dragoon Regiment, which is part of the Special Operations Forces, were deployed to Ukraine. The group includes instructors on the use of MILAN anti-tank systems and AT-4 grenade launchers”
As for Poland, we hear this rumor:
“❗️Poland is secretly preparing a “liberation campaign” against Ukraine. For this purpose, a set of measures is being carried out – the supply of weapons, equipment and mercenaries across the Polish-Ukrainian border. Several formations of the Polish Army – the 18th motorized rifle division and the 6th airborne brigade – are preparing for a “peacekeeping mission”
The Polish Army stepped up measures to the maximum extent possible to complete the units to wartime states. The recruitment of “volunteers” is carried out through the websites of the Ministry of Defense of Poland.”
Now, much of that is very speculative but they add up to a growing concert of evidence regarding western powers / NATO’s increasing involvement in Ukraine’s western flank. In fact some of these are from a few days ago and I held them back due to their speculative nature, but due to today’s concrete attacks on Transnistria, these things begin to look more and more real.
While some of this could revolve around an effort to free Azov militants, much of it is likely an escalation to thwart Russia’s coming destruction of the JFO grouping in Donbass. More and more reports pour from the Donbass of how badly it’s starting to look for Ukraine. Not only are there dozens of daily surrenders on every front, but huge losses in KIA each day and more and more from both groups are being identified as reservists sent from the far West, with little training.
Here’s one report
#UKRAINE—In preparation for #Russia|n offensive & due to severe lack of personnel & low morale among servicemen, #UA General Staff is preparing the following Territorial Defence Brigades for immediate transfer to #Donbass: —101st #Uzhgorod —102nd #IvanoFrankovsk —103rd #Rovno ½
These are lowly trained territorial defense showing up now on the eastern front. And judging by recent surrenders, they look it – many of them old and haggard. Last sitrep around 20 surrendered near Donetsk, today we have another batch of ~80 captured from Yampil on the northern front.
🇷🇺🏳In Yampol, Donbass, a group of 79 troops of the Armed Forces of Ukraine chose life.
We are seeing more and more mass casualties and surrenders. This coincides with the show of Ukrainian desperation in the west. pic.twitter.com/5tHo693qz1
— Chebureki Vibes (@PelmeniPusha) April 26, 2022
And the KIAs coming from the new pushes are more numerous than ever. I’ve refrained in the past from posting too much of it but the recent uptick in Ukrainian/Western propaganda about how Ukraine is ‘winning’ requires me to offset it by showing the stark reality of what’s happening on the ground:
Warning graphic (18+). These are the types of massive losses the AFU is taking just in the past day or two alone:
— Middle East Update (@islamicworldupd) April 26, 2022
And for those that keep talking about phantom AFU campaigns in Kherson. Here’s what really happened in Kherson yesterday, Russia stormed AFU positions in Oleksandrivka with huge AFU losses. Complete destruction of their positions:
I don’t think we’ll be seeing any ‘offensive’ from them anytime soon.
Russia launched massive attacks on infrastructure last night as well, destroying many key rail lines and bridges.
A map showing all the strategic rail crossings that were hit:
And another map: https://twitter.com/RWApodcast/status/1518587585664274432
Russian MOD confirmations: https://twitter.com/Levi_godman/status/1518636779720564736
Western supply lines in Ukraine destroyed – Russia
It is believed that this is the final softening phase before a stronger offensive in Donbass begins. Western weapons will now have a much harder time getting to the frontline, particularly heavy weapons like tanks/artillery which are now said to be provided soon to Ukraine. These require railways to get to the frontline.
And on that topic of heavy arms to Ukraine, something important to note: many countries are now cobbling together a Frankenstein list of “high end” heavy arms to contribute. T-72’s and M-84’s from Poland and Slovenia, Marders, Leopards, and PzH2000’s from Germany, Cesar Howitzers from France, Mastiffs, Wolfhound, and Husky vehicles from UK, Archer artillery systems from Sweden, Humvees, M113 APC’s from U.S., and M777’s from Canada, and on and on and on.
For anyone versed in military matters, this is absolutely ridiculous. There is no way in hell the Ukraine will be able to utilize any of this stuff in any productive capacity for long. Firstly, the vast majority of it will never reach the frontlines and will be destroyed in transit. But just to play devil’s advocate, even if it were to actually reach the frontlines, any military analyst worth their salt knows that it’s a huge detriment to operate many non-interoperable systems on the frontlines due to the complete nightmare it creates in lack of parts and ability to properly maintain or repair this equipment.
In fact at the start of the SMO, Russia was heavily criticized by some military blogs because Russia uses so many different variants of each system concurrently, and this creates problems for maintenance and logistics – for instance T-72, T-72a, T-72b, T-72b3, T-72b3m, etc, etc. But of course Russia has the military infrastructure to deal with this, Ukraine doesn’t.
In a previous sitrep I already reported how Ukraine no longer even has an ability to repair its tanks and they have to be shipped out to Czech Republic who will now be handling the repair outsourcing because Russia has destroyed the AFU’s maintenance infrastructure. War is all about logistics, and to have this gigantic Frankenstein mess of dozens of different systems all utilizing different types of ammunition and parts that can’t be sourced adequately on the frontlines is a complete joke. It will never work and would quickly bog down into an intractable mess of quickly abandoned equipment.
In short, all this equipment is not much worry as the logistics problems it creates are simply insurmountable in the long run, even if it makes it to the frontlines in the first place. I would worry more about the supply of legacy soviet ammunition for the artillery systems Ukraine still operates.
There are signs of desperation from Ukrainian commanders in that regard:
“First Lt. Ivan Skuratovsky, serving in Ukraine’s 25th Airborne Brigade: “the situation is very bad, [Russians] simply destroy everything with artillery, shelling day and night.”
“Grenade launchers are good, but against airstrikes and heavy artillery we won’t be able to hold out for long.” Ukrainian troops told me they need Western military aid, particularly drones & artillery, ASAP. They fear if they don’t get it they could end up like those in Mariupol.”
-On the frontlines, Izyum continues to get reinforced by the 1st Tank Army and elements of the 20th Guards Combined Arms Army.
Some advances have been noted. The west flank of Izyum is being secured:
And since the mentioned prisoners were taken in Yampil, that town is likely to fall in the near future, opening up the way for Lyman.
Here’s a good map of the current: https://twitter.com/Denyo666/status/1519023312722137088/photo/1
Note that Zavody on the western end of Izyum is still disputed but RF is actively attacking it as we speak. And south of Kurul’ka (the salient south of Izyum), forward scout units of the RF are advancing on and have been attacking around Pashkove, which is only a few kilometers from an all-important railway that runs through Barvinkove. This railway has supplied Slavyansk from the west and whether Russia has hit its junctures with strikes or not, the goal here is clearly to advance south a few more kilometers and capture the railway and Barvinkove as well, cutting Slavyansk agglomeration off.
The only other thing of note is reports that Russian forces are now fighting at Gulyaipole which is a major stronghold town of the AFU on the west Donetsk line which Russia has been creeping towards for weeks. Once Gulyaipole and its eastern stronghold neighbor of Velyka Novosilka are captured, it creates an almost free pathway towards the main highway artery that supplies the Donetsk grouping from Zaporizhzhia.
As for Mariupol, there are more images of the Azov wounded:
DPR head also announced that Azovstal factory will not be rebuilt, while Azovmash and Illych factories to the north of it will be. This could be an ominous warning for Azov remnants as it would mean Russia would have no qualms in destroying the Azovstal completely. The only thing that appears to be stopping them is the apparent confirmation that Azov is in fact holding many civilians (they claim 1000) hostage in the basement, including many children, of which videos have now been released.
They are clearly using the civilians as their last bargaining chip and it’s a difficult situation for Russia to navigate as it does not want to create a massacre of women and children by bombing the positions nor be responsible for their starving by besieging the factory indefinitely. This is the chief reason that negotiations continue.
There were some reports that Azov doesn’t trust Kiev and in fact now wants to be released to a “3rd country”, which is reportedly Turkey. If true, this would make sense as there were reports weeks ago that Kiev in fact even launched Tochka missiles at Azov in Mariupol, showing a clear secret friction of some sort between the nationalist battalion and Ukrainian authorities.
Here’s a current map of Mariupol, with a confirmed location of where the civilians are being held in the bomb shelter:
A few other random bits of news:
Governor Kim of Nikolayev has admitted to the creation of death squads to root out and kill “traitors” extra-judicially
This is further proof of what was done elsewhere in Ukraine, notably in Bucha where it’s now proven that the SBU hit squads liquidated ‘traitors’ on the heels of the Russian troop pullback.
Also, a commander of the DPR named Eduard Pelishenko, with the call sign “Crimea”, was said to be ‘seriously wounded’ near Donetsk by a “loitering munition”. This could potentially be the first sign of Switchblade-300 usage on the battlefield. Though he is expected to survive but it shows what we’ve discussed long ago, that the Switchblade-300 in particular will be used for covert assassinations of VIP targets.
Ukraine wants $2 billion per month from the Biden admin. https://www.rt.com/news/554520-ukraine-wants-2bn-dollars-month-from-us/
And lastly, Nikolai Patrushev, Secretary of the Russian Security Council, has stated what’s been on all of our minds:
Ukraine May Collapse Into Several Independent Countries, Russia’s Security Council Secretary Says
This appears to be the first such verbalized confirmation from the Kremlin side of the likely direction Ukraine is headed in.