By Nightvision for the Saker Blog
Let’s start with the largest and most impactful news today:
-Another emergency helicopter evacuation in Mariupol has been shotdown, ironically as claimed by DPR – with a requisitioned American Stinger missile. Remember I said those missiles are junk against Russian craft outfitted with advanced DIRCM (Vitebsk L-370 and Rychag AVM) but Ukr craft are not so fortunate.
There is various rumor out there and it’s too early for much of it to be confirmed but here’s some tidbits I can report:
-There was 3 helicopters previously shotdown in the past days, apparently whoever they were trying to evacuate is of extreme importance as they’re desperately sacrificing many choppers and crews for this.
-Today there are reports there were not one but 2 shot down, and 2 actually got away. Some say there were 4 total choppers that came for the evac at night flying extremely low to evade radars coming in over Berdyansk and then onto the Azov Sea. Maybe those Stingers in DPR hands weren’t so effective.
-Now this is very speculative rumor but Gleb Bazov reports the following claims:
“Sources indicate that, at #Azovstal, a group totaling 20—of #US (#American) & #UK (#British) military advisors of #Azov defenders, as well as several UK #SBU (#Ukraine|ian secrete police) advisors—is holed up, together with Azov fighters. They were too late to evacuate.
Sources indicate that, at #Azovstal, a group totaling 20—of #US (#American) & #UK (#British) military advisors of #Azov defenders, as well as several UK #SBU (#Ukraine|ian secrete police) advisors—is holed up, together with Azov fighters. They were too late to evacuate.”
-Take this with a large grain of salt BUT, if true then it would clearly explain the extremely disproportionate and desperate efforts to evacuate these surrounded VIP targets in Azovstal factory. Why else would Ukr command risk the downing of so many helis and crews which were lost in their attempt to exfiltrate these high value personnel?
There were at least 13 dead that we know of so far and at least 2 survivors. One of them is already being interviewed and giving up information, in fact he appears to be the source of the info about the other escaped choppers and how many there were total, etc. Here’s one of the survivors being interviewed: https://www.bitchute.com/video/htJxqyUZynZR/
Another of the survivors is said to be a high value Ukrainian GUR Military Intel officer pictured here: https://i.postimg.cc/mDt65GqJ/5343993649547033149.jpg
Here is a video of the aftermath, warning – many gruesome scenes are shown at the crash site.
I’m sure in the coming hours there will be a lot of important information extracted from them. But ultimately, these desperate last ditch operations are an obvious sign that Azov in Mariupol has collapsed and the rats are fleeing the sinking ship.
-In other news, South Ossetia has now joined DPR / LPR in announcing they will hold a referendum to join the Russian Federation proper. Ossetians immediately took to the streets in celebration:
“1. The referendum will be held separately from the presidential elections, which are scheduled for April 10.
2. Consultations are already underway on legal and practical issues of organizing a referendum on joining Russia.
3. The State Duma declares that the dates for the referendum are May-June. Legislation allows South Ossetia to become part of Russia, if it expresses such a desire.
4. After the reunification of South Ossetia with Russia, South Ossetia wants to unite with North Ossetia so that all Ossetians can live in one subject of the Russian Federation.”
It appears Russia is really consolidating its territories. We’ve already announced that LPR / DPR will be holding referendums once the hostilities are ended, in order to join the RF. Now earlier today Ukrainian Intelligence released a statement that Russia is “planning to hold an independence referendum in Kherson”. This could be propaganda from their side, but if not then it can be an inkling into Russia’s plans, and a confirmation of theories that Russia may intend to take not just LPR / DPR but the large swath of land stretching towards Odessa as well. Kherson is one of the regions where Russia is already setting up administrative infrastructure including Russian broadcasting, Ruble payments, etc.
This brings me to another important topic: Operation Z has clearly ruptured the world order and has precipitated tectonic shifts which are happening both as direct and indirect result of Russia’s actions. The unipolar globalist world order is now finally and truly crumbling and in its place, ushering in what China/Russia has now called the ‘Fair World Order’.
1. Syria’s Assad recently visited and was welcomed in the UAE, which was his first visit to an Arab country since the onset of the Syrian war in 2011. The rapprochement ended with the Crown Prince of UAE calling for all foreign powers illegally occupying Syria to leave and many bilateral trade/economic deals were discussed.
2. Saudi Arabia has just cried uncle and finally “sued for peace” to end the Yemen war after the Houthis bombed the Aramco terminal in Jeddah and humiliated the KSA on the eve of their large F1 race spectacle. https://english.alarabiya.net/News/gulf/2021/03/23/Full-text-of-Saudi-Arabia-s-new-peace-initiative-to-end-Yemen-war
3. India and China, the world’s 1st and 3rd most powerful economies by GDP PPP (a particularly relevant metric in light of what we’re talking about) are exploring increasingly major avenues of settlement mechanisms in native currencies. https://www.rt.com/business/552993-russia-india-swift-alternative-trade/
A tectonic reorganization of the world order is happening before our very eyes, and experts increasingly signal the coming death of not only the dollar, but the western financial system.
Now onto some developments on the ground. There aren’t a lot to speak of due to the fact that Russia is currently conducting its major reorganization and repositioning of troops in preparation for the beginning of Phase 2, as we all now know. Phase 2 will likely begin with the capture of Mariupol which now appears more eminent than ever, given today’s news of desperate, last ditch helicopter escape attempts.
In general, around Kiev and Kherson, Russia has dug in defensively. In Izyum and the north Mariupol/Donbass line, Russia continues to fight. The largest gains in the past 24 hours have been Russia seizing towns such as Zolota Nyva just east of Velyka Novosilka, which is an important Ukrainian command center in that region. It will likely be the first and biggest target to liberate once Phase 2 begins. For now it seems RF forces will continue surrounding it.
-A few comments on the operation in general. Many people continue to question the efficacy of Russia’s planning and general strategy. Here are a few reminders. From the horse’s mouth itself:
The advisor to Zelensky, Arestovych today has released a statement saying that, “Russia has practically destroyed our entire defense industry, and are now finishing it off.”
Here’s General Macgregor’s statement from earlier:
“Retired US Army Colonel McGregor:
✔️ I think in a few weeks people will know that the losses of the Ukrainian forces are very high, much more than anyone admits. I think there will be a different view on Russian operations.”
Here is one Russian analyst from Telegram whose view I mostly agree with. His description of the Operation Z so far:
“Let go of panic.
1. There is virtually no offensive near Kiev, Chernigov and Sumy. They hoped that they would take it with a light cavalry attack, as in 2014. But it didn’t work out.
2. The grouping needs to be rotated and increased. These are additional reserves.
3. The 2014 plan didn’t work. At the first stage, those territories that managed to occupy were lucky. Now just fight by all the rules. And this means combined arms combat and leveled with the ground, otherwise nothing. Attacking in all directions is unrealistic.
4. The first step is to finish off the grouping in the Donbass. Under it, it is realistic to collect another 15-20 thousand reserves and things will go more fun. Then Zaporozhye, Nikolaev and Odessa. It will not be possible to increase the grouping in all directions.
5. You can’t get through to Nikolaev from the south. There is the Southern Bug River Delta, there is no room for maneuver. You need to approach from Zaporozhye and Kryvyi Rih. Otherwise, the distances there are such that the enemy keeps under fire control a narrow supply line from Kherson itself.
6. Near Nikolaev and Odessa, a powerful enemy grouping is sitting, the second largest after the Donbass. Plus, units of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and the territorial defense from Kherson departed there. As a result, the light units of the landing force brush aside the second largest grouping there. And they successfully brush aside, no one can poke their nose at Kherson.
7. The grouping near Nikolaev is aggressive, it is impossible to leave it in the rear. There are no resources to simultaneously finish off the grouping in the Donbass and in Nikolaev, and even go to Kyiv. Therefore, we focus on the south direction.
This is not a drain, this is a revision of doctrine. Nobody is going anywhere.”
-So, the important takeaways. What he says is, Russia HOPED that they could accomplish another takeover like the 2014 Crimea scenario ‘without firing a shot’ by doing what he calls a ‘light cavalry attack’ on the major capital cities like Kiev and Kharkov. This is in reference to the Russian light VDV & Spetnaz assault which moved swiftly on those cities in the opening, with mostly BMD and Tigr vehicles and without much heavy support.
In short, this was a calculated gambit by Russia, but it in no way invalidates the greater overall plan, which still would have required those multiple fronts to be established for the reasons we’re now all familiar with (which I spoke about in the last update) of maneuver warfare and pinning strategies.
Think about it, if you have a chance to possibly end the entire war in a day or two in a fast lightning attack to symbolically capture key cities and possibly the country’s leadership, wouldn’t you take it? But as Andrei Martynov explained once, how military planning works is you never bank on just one strategy. There are many “envelopes” as he described in his video, and you take the first plan, if it doesn’t work, you open up the next envelope for the 2nd contingency, etc. So, of course naturally Russia would take the chance to see if it can quickly bring an end without much bloodshed, why wouldn’t it? But don’t think in a million years, Russia would ever have completely banked on such a low probability success, and in fact had full ‘main’ and much more reliable battle plans to fall back on if the gambit didn’t work out.
Now here are the reasons for why Russia would have had to open all those multiple fronts anyway, and why attacking in many directions at once was not just some foolhardy plan that “didn’t work”. In fact it succeeded in most of its important operational objectives as I will outline below.
Russia absolutely had to secure some of the key targets of potential false flags by the Kiev regime. This meant securing places like the Chernobyl plant, Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, possibly the Kharkov nuclear institute, various important dams and infrastructural objects which, if detonated, could create mass civilian casualty false flags that would be blamed on the Russians, and of course the infamous Biolabs.
-Chernobyl was a must, because its name alone brings a haunted specter to most of Europe and the world, and Ukraine script writers would have loved (and attempted to) use it for a big false flag scenario. So this absolutely required Russian forces to enter from the northern axis to secure this.
-Zaporizhzhia. What most don’t know is this plant is not only the #1 largest Nuclear plant in all of Europe, but in top 10 in the world, with only some Asian plants ahead of it.
So clearly such a high value target had to be secured as it had the potential for an unprecedented false flag (and we almost came to that if you recall) and various nuclear blackmail attempts from the Kiev regime. So this provides full validation for Russia’s axis from the south towards Zaporizhzhia.
In the same region as you know, Russia had to unblock the dam stifling all water to Crimea. And of course then there are the biolabs, which Russia had to capture in a timely manner not only to prevent them being used to stage false flags, but to prevent the U.S. intel exfiltration of important and incriminating documents which Russia luckily got in time from some of them. Seeing as how there are many biolabs in multiple directions, this alone justified Russian advances towards certain disparate fronts in the opening in order to capture these very significant targets.
So in short, there are extremely clear reasons for why Russia didn’t follow a simple-minded strategy some people seemed to think would have been ‘more conducive to winning the conflict quickly’ such as the idea of sending all troops only to the Donbass and clearing the cauldron first, while leaving the rest of the country to finish later. This idea is very shortsighted for the above reasons as there was a whole array of critical objectives Russia had to achieve simultaneously.
People not well versed in military matters tend to think in a very binary fashion, where something is either black or white. That’s not how things work. Operational objectives are conceived in a fashion where one action can achieve as many collateral objectives as possible for the sake of efficiency; in short: killing multiple birds with one stone. So as I’ve outlined, as an example, when Russia had to establish an offensive from the north to secure Chernobyl, and then to also pin down forces in Kiev nearby so that they could not relieve the groupings in the East, the other multifaceted objective would have also called to ‘attempt’ to seize Kiev with a quick lightning strike just to see if it was possible to end the war early with as little bloodshed as possible. Unfortunately, Ukrainians and 5th/6th columnist seemed to have misread this chancy gambit as some sort of major ‘Russian failure’ as if Russia’s sole and only objective was to take Kiev and now it has failed. No, as I have outlined above, it was a minor tertiary sub-objective as part of a much broader and more important operational battle plan which was fully successfully achieved.
Lastly, I wanted to repeat some of my calculations I’ve made in thread comments.
The other part of the collective west’s failure in correctly estimating Russia’s successes thus far has stemmed from what appears to be an incorrect calculation of Russia’s force disposition in Ukraine. You see, early on in the operation, the Pentagon made some statements about Russia utilizing 150-200k troops and “100% of all its allocated troops” and everyone, including most of us in the resistance sphere, just ran with those numbers and assumed them as base standards. But in reality, those numbers are highly questionable and there is no proof whatsoever that Russia has committed that many forces, nor has Russian MOD ever officially declared any amounts.
However, what we can glean is the following:
Russia is listed as having ~280k official troops in its ground army. However this is counting both kontraktniki and conscripts. The ratio I could find in RF armed forces is about 62% to 38% so that would leave about 173k of those as contract regulars which can be used in Ukraine (remember, Putin has prohibited conscript use)
There are an additional 45k VDV and ~15k Spetnaz and also Naval Infantry (Marines) of about 12k. The conscript percentages are much lower in them, so let’s just say there’s roughly 50k+ total usable troops from this group. Then there’s National Guard (Rosgvardia) which appears to have a massive 350k+.
My thought has been that Russia has so far not used anywhere near the ‘claimed’ 150-200k. It could be as little as 80-100k or less. But let’s just say even if they have used 150-180k, then according to my estimates, Russia could still have at the least (173k + 50k = 223k subtracted from the current estimates of troops in theater) 50-70k troops available still to inject, and much more if my own hunch is correct that Russia is using no where near the amounts the Pentagon claims (of course it conveniently fits Pentagon’s narrative to pretend Russia has exhausted all of its forces, etc). And this is not counting the National Guard simply because I’m not certain of the parameters of its use, though clearly we’ve seen many Rosgvardia troops in Ukraine. But this could add another huge amount.
So in short, I believe once Mariupol is fully captured, we could see the additional injection of tens of thousands of troops at the minimum, to finish off the Donbass cauldron. And recent reports from the frontline, written by a soldier in Izyum state that the “feeling in the air” is that a major Donbass battle / operation will begin soon, and it will go much faster than before. If Russia does inject these huge reserves and goes all out for Donbass, then we could see the cauldron collapse very quickly.
As for Mariupol, clearly it’s close to the end. Satellite photos today indicate rapid advances towards the absolute southern ends near the water.
And by the way, Putin’s approval rating in Russia continues to skyrocket. I reported a while back that prior to the operation it was in the 60% range (still much higher than any western leader like Biden (sub 40%), Macron and Johnson (both in the 20-30%). As the operation started, Putin’s rating went to 70, then to 80. Now the newest Levada center polls show a massive 83%, the highest approval rating of any world leader.
And as for the Ruble, it has regained 100% of all its losses: https://www.zerohedge.com/markets/ruble-regains-100-its-loss-after-russia-invaded-ukraine-why
And in fact on many index it is now LOWER than before the conflict. Some index had it at 83 to 1 dollar on February 22, and it is now showing as 79-81 on many indexes to the great chagrin of the west.
In fact in the biggest face slapping irony, the Ruble is now being hailed in financial circles as the greatest performing currency in the world for the month of March.
Lastly, the RF forces continue taking lots of Ukr prisoners all over:
While the Chechens and RF / DPR forces continue pounding the Azov Nazis all over:
Kiev, meanwhile, can only mine roads and kill civilians as usual: