by Dmitri Orlov for the Saker blog
I keep trying to write serious articles about serious issues, but current events keep injecting minutiae into my train of thought, which I then have to spend time on. If I didn’t, many of my readers would think I am ignoring them, and that would be bad (in their esteemed opinion) because these current events are sooo important! Several large-diameter pipes get blown up at the bottom of the Baltic, which weren’t being used in any case. A truck bomb exploded on the bridge that links Crimea with Krasnodar, shutting it down for almost a whole day. Oh, and before we forget, Krasny Liman, a railroad junction in Donetsk was temporarily surrendered to the relentlessly attacking Ukrainians (mostly Polish mercenaries, actually) who drenched it in their blood and festooned it with their billowing entrails in the process. These and other less significant events have caused some small but noisy part of Russian social media to explode in consternation, baying for revenge and generally acting dissatisfied with the progress made since the Special Operation was declared on February 22, 2022. Sure enough, plenty of these hysterical voices are actually paid Ukrainian agents tasked with spreading fear, uncertainty and doubt and, sure enough, the Special Operation will proceed regardless, so this is all just a temporary annoyance. But I will comment on it because I feel that I have to, and then move on to more important things.
The bridge across the Kerch Strait was under discussion for many decades. It was in the planning stages even while Crimea was still an autonomy within the constitutionally intact Ukraine, prior to the US-instigated violent coup of 2014. After Crimea rejoined Russia, it became extremely important to create a ground transportation link between it and the mainland, and the bridge was built in record time. It was a massive undertaking and is a high-prestige item for the Russian government. But there have also been some organizational issues.
As it stands, yesterday a large tractor-trailer packed with explosives was detonated on the highway portion of the bridge just as a cargo train with cisterns of diesel was passing through. The resulting explosion demolished two reinforced concrete highway spans and sooted up the rail bed. All train traffic and half of the road traffic were restarted that very day. There is equipment to X-ray all cargo passing through, but it wasn’t being used because of certain bureaucratic inadequacies; these, I am sure, will now be remedied.
The reason the bridge was extremely important was because there was no land connecting Crimea to the rest of Russia; but now that Kherson and Donetsk are again part of Russia, traffic from Simferopol to Rostov can be sent around the northern shore of Sea of Azov (which is now an entirely Russian body of water); the difference is between 690km and 730km. The bridge is by means superfluous because the distance to Krasnodar, another regional hub, is 1030km by land and just 460km via the bridge. But the new land route from Moscow to Simferopol is 350km shorter. But it’s a very nice bridge, building it cost lots of money and a bit more due diligence is definitely needed to keep Ukrainian terrorists from trying to blow it up.
We are waiting for the results of the investigation to determine how exactly this terrorist act was planned and executed but judging from the fact that the Kiev regime endlessly promised to carry it out and had prepared to celebrate it before it occurred, it is reasonable to expect that it was indeed behind it. In that case the Kiev regime has in effect officially declared itself to be a terrorist entity and any appeals to its territorial integrity and other rights under international law are now groundless. It is now yet another terrorist entity, like ISIS or Al Qaeda, to be destroyed as swiftly and efficiently as possible.
There are, however, two problems. First, the terrorist entity that is the Kiev regime is holding several million people hostage. What’s worse, the Ukraine’s progression from just very corrupt to criminal to full-on genocidal terrorist has been gradual taking some 30 years, and quite a few of these millions are now suffering from Stockholm Syndrome, thinking that black and white and terrorists are the good guys. Some of these victims are beyond hope while others can be deprogrammed over time and revert to what they actually are, which is a provincial sort of Russian. Given a proper educational system, this can be achieved in at most two generations; but this is not something that can be fixed in a hurry using tactical or strategic weapons.
The second problem is behind the Kiev terrorists stand Washington terrorists, along with their many and varied vassals in the European Union. The vassals are indeed varied, ranging from Hungary, which has stood its ground, realizing that it can’t survive without Russian energy imports, to France and Germany, which are almost feckless but do try to do as little to help the Ukraine as they can get away with, to Poland, which is rabidly hell-bent on self-destruction and eager to supply all the cannon fodder the Russians can easily destroy. There is also Britain, which is eager to make mischief on the continent just to assure itself that it still exists.
But behind them all stands Washington, which just blew up some pipelines. If the Crimean bridge incident was for Kiev what 9/11 was for Al Qaeda (obvious fakery notwithstanding), then the Nord Stream pipeline incident was the same for the Washingtonians. The problem is that the Washingtonians are nuclear-armed and can’t be put out of their misery without triggering global destruction. Also, the number of hostages the Washingtonians are holding is orders of magnitude larger and the Stockholm Syndrome is much, much stronger. The difference, from the Russian perspective, is that the Washington regime is on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean and, once the US economy collapses, will be easy to ignore. Already your average Russian is revolted by news of Americans castrating their children, having gay sex and dosing on fentanyl; if it wasn’t for Biden falling down and shaking hands with ghosts or Pelosi’s empty-eyed blithering, there would be nothing to report. The pipeline incident is, of course, lamentable, but then Gazprom has earned a huge fortune by specifically not using that pipeline. But the Kiev regime is right there on the Russian border lobbing missiles at kindergartens, schools and hospitals, and now trying to blow up the damn bridge! This sort of behavior fills your average Russian patriotic Putin-lover with rage; yet what s there to do—beyond what the Special Operation is already doing?
Why didn’t the Russian army liberate Kharkov, for instance, instead of retreating from the region? Well, Kharkov is a city that has almost no industry but has several hundred hipsters who would have had to be fed, clothed and entertained—or they would go and work for the enemy. Most of these hipsters are Stockholm Syndrome sufferers par excellence, and deprogramming them would absorb scarce resources best used elsewhere. Same logic applies to Kiev—times five or ten. Why doesn’t the Russian army blow up bridges, severing communications across Kiev-controlled territory? Well, then they would have to rebuild those bridges when the time comes, and that costs money. Why doesn’t the Russian army demolish border crossings, cutting the Ukraine off from the EU? Well, it’s not time for that yet; that time will come when life in the EU becomes worse than life in the Kiev-controlled portion of former Ukraine and people start trying to come back. Then it will be time to set up filtration camps, to separate the wolves from the lambs. Why doesn’t the Russian army use rockets to destroy the Ukraine’s electric grid and the rest of its energy system? Well, that would just create a humanitarian disaster, for which Russia would be to blame, making it no better than the terrorists and providing ammunition for enemy propaganda.
What is there left to do? Oh, you know, just use a small fraction of Russia’s army to liberate 110.000km2 of territory over a period of a little under nine months, maintaining a better than 10:1 kill ratio, organize referenda on liberated territories and accept them into the Russian Federation. Pretty shabby, I know, but then these 110.000km2 include prime farmland, lots of factories and mines and several million Russians who are very excited to be one with the Motherland once again.
Before I sign off for the day, I’d like to report what seems like a really positive development for the Russian side. Elon Musk’s Starlink satellite network has allowed the Ukrainians at the front to receive up-to-date information and instructions, allowing them to target Russian forces and civilians alike. Ukrainian commanders at the frontline had a continuous internet connection to NATO commanders, who took care of tactical planning and targeting for them. But now the Ukrainians report that Starlink has been failing. At the same time, mysterious pillars of light have appeared over several Russian cities, which were, laughably, ascribed to light pollution from greenhouses. What stands to reason is that the Russians have invented a way to irradiate the ionosphere, saturating it with nose at just those frequencies used by Starlink satellites. Without an internet connection to NATO, the Ukrainians are now as blind as newborn kittens, and just as helpless. Instead of being forced to play “shoot and scoot” Russian artillery and rocketry will be able to pull right up, take out the Ukrainians with line-of-sight targeting, then pull up some more. This should speed up progress quite a lot.
Another development that should speed up progress is the arrival of winter. Foliage is disappearing, and with it the ability of the Ukrainians to hide behind trees and bushes. With the arrival of cold weather, targeting will become a matter of picking out hot spots on infrared images, killing anything that’s still warm. Add to this the arrival of mud season: it will severely hamper the Ukrainians forces’ ability to maneuver. Most of their Soviet-era armor, which was designed for fighting in mud, ice and in snow, has been destroyed already, while its NATO replacements, mostly designed for dry, sunny weather, are exhibiting a marked tendency to get stuck.
In all, I just don’t see too much for the Russians to worry about at this point. As for the Americans, I really don’t see any face-saving way for them out of this. They should just do what they always do under such circumstances: declare victory and go home. To keep their minds off the Ukraine fiasco, maybe they could start a civil war. If they do, I’d be willing to go to Alaska, to help organize a referendum on it rejoining Russia. The US lease on it ran out back in 1966, you know.