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Simplicius The Thinker

Simplicius The Thinker
25 Feb 2024 | 5:58 am

1. Avdeevka Denouement: Russian Momentum Turning Point


A lot of revealing things have come to light in the continuing coverage of the Avdeevka denouement. For the first time, the U.S. mouthpiece was forced to acknowledge Russia is having success:

This was followed by a series of MSM articles that blew the lid on some of the true losses incurred by the AFU at the final collapse.

https://archive.is/zmMkJ

The above WaPo article begins with:

KYIV — Ukraine failed to safely evacuate all its troops from the eastern city of Avdiivka during its disorderly retreat last weekend, despite claims from its new top military commander that the move was designed to save lives and avoid encirclement by the advancing Russians.

But the most shocking report came from NYTimes which stated that soldiers close to the action confirmed upwards of 850-1000 AFU were captured during the chaotic retreats:

https://archive.ph/8hDz0
https://archive.ph/8hDz0

They go on to write:

But the capture of hundreds of soldiers could change that calculus. American officials have said in recent days that morale was already eroding among Ukrainian troops, in the wake of a failed counteroffensive last year and the removal of a top commander. Because of those problems, the officials said, Ukraine's military has struggled with recruitment.

So why is this so shocking? Beyond the simple admission of such a huge amount of captures in merely a day or two, the most profound thing is that it confirms Russian figures, which I reported last time. I wrote that Russian sources said at least 500+ had been captured, and pro-UA accounts had scoffed at this number. Thus, if this proves that Russian estimates of captures were accurate, it means Russia's other even more critical figures are likely accurate as well—for instance, about total AFU losses in Avdeevka.

Shoigu gave the figure as 2,400 casualties just in the final two days of the collapse:

And as for Russia? Shoigu reported the final capture of Avdeevka happened with "minimal losses" on the Russian side:

Some would laugh at the disparity—but as I said, NYTimes already grudgingly proved Russia is giving accurate figures. For anyone who's been watching the many 'clean up' videos that have streamed out post-liberation, you've likely seen the mountains of AFU corpses being cleared by Russian forces.

Estimates have total Ukrainian losses in Avdeevka anywhere from 30-60k, but it's difficult to know the total amount. As for Russian losses, the Ukraine side claims their usual unsourced exorbitant numbers, like 50-100k, etc. One interesting aspect was a Russian blogger named 'Murz' who wrote a long despairing rant days ago, claiming Russia lost 16,000 men in Avdeevka, and then took his own life. Murz was close with Strelkov, and together they had long formed the backbone of what some could call a 6th column 'bloc'. Murz was famous for his constant viterupative complaints and insults against the Russian MOD, as well as regularly wrong 'predictions' about Russia losing or not being able to capture anything further.

In light of that, it's difficult to take Murz's casualty count seriously, as he was merely a blogger with connections to the military but would not actually be privy to casualty tallies. Also, it should be noted that he expressly said the 16,000 figure was for the entire front ranging from 'Nevelske to Novoselovke', which encompasses the very active battlefield of Pervomaiske through Avdeevka and more.

Ultimately, MediaZona has Russia averaging something like 200 weekly dead across the entire war since early October, when the Avdeevka offensive began.

This would allow for something like 3000 dead along the entire front since that period, of which Avdeevka would only be a fraction. If I had to guess, I would say it's possible Russia lost 2000-4000 in Avdeevka. But recall, Shoigu said Ukraine lost 2500 just in the final two-day collapse—so, extrapolate that out for the entire 4 month campaign. After all, Shoigu said Russia threw 200 tons of precision bombs on Avdeevka daily, equivalent to 200 1000kg Fab glide-bombs, or 400 of the Fab-500s.

Soldiers from Wagner who fought in both Bakhmut and Avdeevka indirectly support this assertion as they've recently stated that it was easier in Avdeevka as Ukrainians much more often simply fled rather than putting up a fight:

But the remarkable thing is that the losses for Ukraine appeared to be so grave, that it seems to have set off a downward spiral of panic and collapse. Figures all across the pro-UA side are now ringing alarm bells. For instance, White House spokesman Sabrina Singh said that if aid is not given soon, Ukraine will have to start choosing "which cities they can or can't defend":

Top Ukrainian figures are now publicly echoing that the AFU lines may soon collapse, or are already collapsing on every front:

Here, Vladimir Raschuk, the commander of the Rubezh Brigade from Dnepropetrovsk, predicts the liberation of Dnipro itself "soon" if emergency measures are not taken:

Now the acting commander of the Azov Brigade, Bogdan Krotevich, laments on Ukrainian TV that Russia is attacking everywhere and Ukraine not only does not have enough troops to defend, he hints that Kiev and Kharkov could end up falling:

The auto-translation messes up a little at the end, but he essentially states that "Russia is rotating troops back and forth everywhere, from Avdeevka, Kupyansk, Rabotino, etc."

Those who've just read my new paid report will recognize these words immediately—this is precisely what I wrote about, and will expand on later in this piece. The short of it is: with its far superior mobility and logistics infrastructure, Russia is able to totally dazzle the enemy by constantly reorienting its forces through roughly 5 major fronts, keeping the Ukrainian force invariably off-balance due to their inability to keep up the troop rotations.

Though it seems hyperbolic to say this, especially since we've said it many times before, but there is a definitive tone shift going on now. A clearly palpable panic is beginning to set in, with the directness of the warnings coming from officials reaching new levels of urgency. Foremost of this recent spate is the following:

https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/us-estimates-ukraine-military-shortages-grow-catastrophic-late/story?id=107169502

Recall we've had statements before, from around January, saying that Ukraine's stockpiles could last 'two months'. This seems to concur with that.

But here's the kicker from the article above:

U.S. officials predict similar scenarios will play out elsewhere in Ukraine as the government there is forced to make tough choices on where to put its remaining air defenses -- and as Russia makes greater use of its airpower, including lobbing satellite-guided glide-bombs much as it was in Avdiivka.

"The things that are protected today -- they will not be able to protect all of these locations in the future if they don't maintain supplies of interceptors," the senior defense official said. And if Russia gains control of the skies, "it completely changes the nature of this fight."

Followed by:

Added one Ukrainian official: "Our primary goal is to deter Russian aviation. If we can't do that, it's time to pack our things."

And here are a few more examples showing just how the commentary is shifting:

https://time.com/6695261/ukraine-forever-war-danger/

On Ukrainian TV the secretary of the Verkhovna Rada Committee on Defense stated soon "total mobilization" may have to commence:

Former head of CIA and US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates says the war is not a stalemate, but in fact the tide has turned to Russia's favor, and says the loss of Avdeevka was important:

"TIDE HAS TURNED IN RUSSIA'S FAVOR" - Former head of the CIA & former US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates says, disappointed.

Many people are talking about this military conflict as a stalemate. I believe that it's not a stalemate - the Russians have regained momentum.

There is a feeling that they are now going on the offensive. The loss of Avdeevka (https://t.me/IntelRepublic/34184) was important. This creates an opportunity for the Russians to push the front line further east - Gates reiterates.

Bloomberg agrees:

And Reuters did a report whose utterly bleak accompanying video is a must-see:

And another report states shortages in the AFU are now 'so extreme, they're counting bullets':

This culminated in a new Politico report that even claimed that Ukrainians are getting shelled in their trenches while scrolling their phones for updates on the Congressional aid package:

Things are clearly heading in a direction where the Russian war machine is picking up full steam on all sides of the front, which just so happens to coincide with the not-too-distant start of spring. Of course, we must traverse another Rasputitsa mud season first—but the trajectory clearly points to a very bad situation for Ukraine by April or May.

Russian forces have all the initiative, all the tempo, and are breaking through in every sector of the front, according to latest updates.

New York Times on the next likely strikes of the Russian army after Avdiivka. The most likely scenario is the development of an offensive north of Ugledar with an overhanging strike and encirclement of the city.
Another point of focus of the Russian Armed Forces is Rabochino, where events are taking place right now, and the AFU command considers this area to be the most tense, and the concentration of Russian forces is more than near Avdiivka. Another 100 thousand Russian soldiers are gathered in the area from Kremennaya to Kupyansk.

The BBC, meanwhile, already writes that the fall of Avdiivka will mark the biggest change in the front line since the battles for Bakhmut and will have a much stronger impact on the situation than the same Bakhmut.
The commander of the infantry platoon of the 53rd brigade of the Armed Forces of Ukraine stated as it is-almost the entire group of the Armed Forces of Ukraine west of Donetsk was tied in logistics to Avdiivka, there are no similar distribution hubs and interchanges west of this city for tens of kilometers. Of course, the capture of Avdiivka will have the greatest impact on the front line in the coming weeks.

And that's the big question on everyone's mind—what next after Avdeevka? We now know Ukraine has been exhausted by their 'counter-offensive' so clearly they're not ready for another try, particularly not when they're openly signaling 2025 as the earliest next attempt date:

Right now the situation on the front can only be described as: Russia is advancing everywhere. And there have even been moments of alarm that seem to point to a potential cascading AFU collapse.

After Avdeevka fell, Stepove in the north was totally captured, followed by Severne in the south being currently overrun, with Russian forces already controlling part of the settlement.

Ukrainian channel confirming:

And even as of this writing, Lastochkino just to the west of Avdeevka has reportedly been totally captured:

Multiple videos of Russian forces planting the flag at the center have been released.

Just south of there near the key town of Kurakhovo, it was said Ukrainian command had begun to flee:

https://pravda-en.com/usa/2024/02/21/333519.html

Then, Russian forces totally captured the village of Pobeda (Victory) which is near the same axis:

It's more important than it looks because it begins putting the strategic town of Novomikhailovka in a cauldron, as seen below:

And Novomikhailovka itself is being stormed from the east:

This may seem scattershot, but follow along and I'm going to segue it into an important, larger overall picture.

Firstly, Ugledar is slowly being cut off at its most important supply routes by the undermining of Novomikhailovka with the recent capture of Pobeda—all three seen circled here for better visualization:

Ukrainian correspondents are urging attention to this area as Kurakhovo is next in the crosshairs and Ugledar may soon become enveloped:

Summary of the above with notes:

Both Ugledar and Kurakhovo are key strongholds with importance equal to that of Avdeevka as they hold the keys to the entire AFU front east of the Vovcha River and reservoir. Here's a good analysis thread of this front by Mikael Valtersson:

The useful map above shows the water source (map is slightly outdated from right before Avdeevka capture, so ignore that). I point this out because, as you may recall, in a report 10 days ago I outlined how Ukraine is building its second echelon defensive line roughly along that Vovcha River, from Kurakhovo to Prohres/Progress. To use the older map from that previous report:

Valtersson likewise shows how the Vovcha River second line is the next main barricade west of Avdeevka—that blue line from Prohres southward is the river:

Not far from there, Russian paratroopers are said to be storming Ivanovske, on Bakhmut's western flank, and have already lodged themselves in the important town as well:

Not to mention they have reportedly begun storming the outskirts of Krasnogorovka, north of Marinka. During this, Russian planes delivered a massive Fab-1500—or Odab-1500 as per some accounts—to AFU positions in the industrial sector at the center of the town (Krasnogorovka):

The raw power seen above just highlights how the collapse of Ukraine's defenses may begin accelerating. With a shortage of demoralized troops, and Russia pumping out such bombs at record volumes, it's difficult to imagine how long they can keep taking such poundings.

Now there's continued word that Russia gathers a 'huge force' in the Zaporozhye region:

That's in regard to the offensives that have already begun around Rabotino. And as of this writing, reports are now streaming in that Rabotino has either been totally captured or almost entirely, as well as AFU having fully retreated behind the first dragon teeth of the Surovikin line just east of there near Verbove:

That would mean Ukraine is back almost entirely to the starting line of their 'counter-offensive'.

Unfortunately for Ukraine, rumors of huge embezzlements undermined any defensive preparatory work on Zaporozhye, which is likely why Russia is now able to swiftly retake territory:

The Ukrainian Cabinet of Ministers did not have enough money for "dragon's teeth" for Zaporizhzhya Regional State Administration of Ukraine

The capital construction department of Zaporizhzhya first opened an auction, but then it was closed due to the lack of funding from the state budget. The local authorities expected to buy 45 thousand concrete pyramids for 88 million hryvnias to fight tanks.

Thus, defense expenditures are simply ignored by the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine. They simply removed half of the military commanders from their posts, and there is not enough money not only for weapons, but also for concrete blocks. And all because the overseas sponsors have not signed the check yet.

As well as this from Rezident UA:

Our source reported that defensive structures were never systematically built in Ukraine, due to the desire to make money on this issue.

Now information has emerged that the Ministry of Defense team was unofficially strengthened by ex-deputy OP Kirill Timoshenko

According to available information, he is seen every day in the ministry itself.

The functionary, as a former curator and manager of the "Big Construction", was entrusted with the work of coordinating the construction of fortifications. Kirill Timoshenko knows how to make money on construction sites and manage large budgets, which is why Bankova really needs such a person.

But the biggest news of all was Zelensky's visit to the Kharkov front on February 19th:

Some have noted how he visited Avdeevka literally weeks before it fell, and usually stages his desperate visits to buoy morale on a front that's set to heat up massively:

I'm not sure if the above 'superstition' anecdote is tongue-in-cheek or not, but the pattern does bear out.

But it was followed by this report:

Kiev prepares to surrender Kharkov region: almost all reconstruction money has been taken away from the region.

In the social networks of the Ministry of Development, Kharkov region was the first to receive funds: 993 million UAH were to be allocated for the reconstruction of the region. However, the map was later updated and only 1 million UAH was left for Kharkov region.

None of the oblasts has a smaller amount, except Sumy and Kherson oblasts, which will receive no subsidy at all," writes Ukropa Fresh. According to the new map, the Lvov region (424 million UAH) and the Dnepropetrovsk region (341 million UAH) will receive the most. We would like to point out that the entire Kharkov region has been declared evacuated and the active removal of archives and industrial equipment from the regional centre has begun.

The above claims that all governmental assistance funds to both Sumy and Kharkov have been retracted as if Zelensky sees their loss as a foregone conclusion.

And on that final note, we have continued word about something big potentially coming down the line in Sumy region. I saved this for last because, as chance would have it, this is the one piece of news I have actual exclusive, personal confirmation for with my own on the ground first hand source.

So what is the news?

Top Ukrainian officials have been talking about a Russian build up in the north, but not just Kharkov—specifically the Sumy region:

Mosiychuk commented on the above:

I won't name the exact villages just in case, for OPSEC reasons, but I now have a direct report that villages on the Russian side of the border in Sumy region are being quietly evacuated. Russian authorities are offering families money and a roughly two-month time period to get out of dodge—for an unknown reason.

Given all the above and recent reports, there is strong possibility that Russia may be finally planning a strong Spring campaign coinciding with the opening of a new direction from the north. As 'Pyotr Chernik' said above, there are no direct signs quite yet—he believes Russian forces stationed there are still too few. However, Russia could quickly bring up the grouping to an army corps—or several—in size, when the go date nears.

This brings us to the final part which I promised would be a continuation of the ending of the last paid piece.

For free subscribers who couldn't read the paid piece, I will start off by first pasting the final portion of it to tie into the concluding analysis:

It is the age of paradox in warfare: where de rigueur total dispersion of forces appears to make high casualty densities obsolete, yet the entire length of the battlefield is overwatched by the most unprecedentedly powerful and accurate systems in history, like Iskanders, Kinzhals, Zircons, HIMARs, etc., which allow the carrying out of near-instantaneous kill-chains—from detection to transmit/distribution, to fire order within moments.

This is why the only way to fight and advance has come down to dispersing your strategic operations over the widest possible scale, so that the end goal becomes the totality of victory rather than specific operational objectives like: "Capture this area of cities." Such a task requires the concentration of forces, from divisions, brigades, battalions, whose every staging action is monitored with almost total transparency by the enemy.

This 'war of the future' will be won by the most flexible, resilient, and adaptable force—the force which can pull punches, use feints, and reorientations all along the entire combat line in the most expedient manner. Russia is showing this today by utilizing a confounding rotation of active fronts to not only unbalance the AFU, but to stress their mobility and logistics to the extreme. When you have the advantage in logistical infrastructure and facility, you can 'daze' your opponent by conducting small operations across a scattered range of fronts, causing them great stress in trying to keep up.

In the Avdeevka battle, we saw Ukraine being forced to pull significant amounts of elite units from several fronts like Zaporozhye and Bakhmut to reinforce the crumbling Avdeevka lines. When that finished, Russia launched a Zaporozhye attack, overrunning depleted AFU positions there as a result, with AFU unable to reinstate reserves fast enough. The same goes for the Kupyansk and Kremennaya regions: reports spoke of AFU's desperate troop pulls from Kupyansk to bolster defenses in northwest Bakhmut, where Russia has likewise started a series of attacks.

It's like pricking a spinning drunk with a needle from every side—he hardly knows where he's being hit, nor has time to orient himself correctly. Lacking logistical mobility—in the form of physical haulers like HETs, transports, etc.—Ukraine gets the worst of it in being forced to constantly run around plugging leaks in the flooding deck.

Taking into account everything I said above and in the rest of the paid article regarding Ukraine's NATO ISR overmatch plus the prevalence of drones in general and how they've vastly limited maneuver warfare, we know that the only way to truly win is to stretch your enemy on every front and defeat him in detail while bringing to bear your greater logistical and economic resources.

Ukraine is now beginning to crack—the floodgates have opened and lines are collapsing everywhere, as seen in many of the updates from the various fronts above. In the paid article, I outlined how Russia has much greater logistical mobility, where it can transpose large amounts of units faster than Ukraine can. What we're seeing now is Russia utilize this ability: it is transferring and rotating units around the map from one sector to another, conducting lightning assaults and raids which cause Ukraine to begin transferring emergency reserves to reinforce the front. But since Ukraine's logistical mechanization is far more sclerotic compared to Russia's, by the time Ukraine displaces its reinforcements, Russia has already conducted another rotation to a different front, or even back to the one Ukraine just divested of its critical reinforcements.

This is allowing Russia to attack Ukraine at weak spots in rapid-fire fashion while an exhausted AFU is forced to react with increasing delay. Once more I'll plug the article where I predicted this would be precisely the method Russia would utilize to tackle the AFU:

As noted above, all the worst possible indicators are currently converging for the AFU: manpower is low, morale is low, weapons are low, political will and support from 'allies' is low, armor and critical types of ammunition are low. Ukraine has an increasingly smaller amount of critical weaponry to 'juggle' between fronts where lines are breaking. We just saw that in Avdeevka when they were forced into a desperate attempt to stanch the flow by bringing Bradleys and Leopards there, and now even the very first M1 Abrams, which was seen doing a quick fire mission in Berdychi, trying to stop Russian forces from advancing west of Stepove:

We've long talked about Ukrainian lines showing 'signs' of buckling, but never have they actually been breaking to the extent they are now. For instance, even several months ago things looked bleak for the AFU, yet they were still advancing and conducting some successful operations at least in one or two places: for instance, in Klescheyevka and Andreevka area (south of Bakhmut), where they pushed Russian forces behind the railway line, and even in Khrynki, where they were initially making some minor outward expansions of their phantom 'lodgement'.

But now, things have never looked so bleak for them: even all around the Bakhmut area Russian forces are advancing—mostly in Bogdanovka and Ivanovske. And Khrynki was just announced as "liberated", though it's a tad premature and it seems AFU still holds some buildings, but the entire beachhead has collapsed in from the sides to a fraction of its previous size.

It would be one thing if these circumstances presided under the promise of soon-to-come aid or massive mobilization. But the problem is, full-scale societal mobilization has failed, and Ukrainian citizens have a historically low confidence for victory, as well as tolerance for forced recruitment, as recent polling shows. Likewise, aid is no where nearer, and as you've seen from the recent articles and statements from officials, a "catastrophic" situation is being predicted for late March and onward.

Taking this totally intractable situation at face value: imagine, now, that March and April comes, Ukrainian lines are at the breaking point and Russian forces continue upping that impossible pressure, squeezing the life out of the AFU. And then: what if that fabled northern front is finally opened, and the already tattered AFU lines are forced to divest themselves of their last nonexistent reserves to desperately stop a new advance on Sumy and/or Kharkov.

I still hold that despite the signals, a northern front isn't necessarily probable at this point for several reasons, including that Russia doesn't particularly need to open it at the moment; but if it has the available resources, then doing so could definitely precipitate a catastrophic situation for the AFU.

The important point is something I made in the last paid article:

The way Russia is prosecuting this boa constrictor style strategy is such that there is no particular operational goal, per se—there are of course longer term ones, but the way you accomplish them is by merely depleting your enemy with the 'death by a thousand cuts' strategy from every side, which can then later facilitate real conventional operational goals.

War has different phases. Not every phase is about directly fighting a bee-line toward the precise city you intend to capture. It's sort of like combat sports, where in the first half of the fight, the objective is not necessarily to "go for the kill" against a tough opponent, but "work the body" and slowly deplete the opponent's punch resistance and stamina with hard body shots. Only in the second half, once one smells blood, one can go for the kill and start trying to land the finishing head shots.

Similarly here, Russia does not need to aim for one specific goal like those big arrows going from Kharkov to the Dnieper and meeting the southern big arrow from Zaporozhye. All Russia has to do is continue constricting and suffocating the AFU with its superior economic, logistic, and manufacturing potential, which will totally erode the AFU's resistance and ability to even function. Then at that point, actual big arrow campaigns toward tangible objectives can begin.

The concluding point is that it's not about capturing particular towns or regions, the real work being done is internally—the AFU is being gutted and hollowed out. This is why it's so difficult for blinkered pro-UA observers to understand the true underlying dynamic of the conflict. They judge the war algorithmically: Russia has only captured a few kilometers so that means Russia is not succeeding. But they fail to take into account the intangibles, that the very moral and mechanical fiber of the AFU is coming apart at the seams.

In short: the proper way to think about the war is not necessarily about capturing Kiev or all of Ukraine, but rather doing whatever is necessary to force the surrender of the Ukrainian army—which can come by a variety of ways; for instance a breakdown in leadership leading to a military coup amenable to Russia's surrender terms, etc.

It's true that I've written similar words somewhere near a year ago. And it's true it can be argued that: "Well, you claimed AFU was deteriorating last year and still nothing major is happening."

But to those understandable critics I ask again: have you really ever seen the situation as it currently is? What part of last year or the year before have we seen lines breaking on literally every front? The situation is clearly tangibly different despite some surface level similarities of the seeming 'endless deterioration' of the AFU. And let's not forget: their aid has totally stopped—this is unprecedented, and a very precipitous collapse can happen in the next few months if emergency aid is not subvented.

Is there anything Ukraine can do?

I've said this before, but the only thing Ukraine can possibly do is focus on the 'big ticket' items like Russian ships and A-50 planes which can create a global stir and the appearance of some kind of operational success. This includes terror attacks and various saboteur actions all across Russia. But every single one of these is meaningless and has no effect on the war's outcome.

However, their best chance lies in merely delaying Russia as much as possible until Europe and the US can potentially ramp up ammunition production in 2025. They can do this by vastly increasing focus on FPVs to make Russian assaults as costly as possible. Despite the advances on every line, Russia is still losing relatively high amounts of armor in general. It appears to be a sustainable amount, but Ukraine could potentially make it unsustainable by upping the lethality of attacks even more. This will not "stop" Russia in its tracks, but it can slow the offensives to such a crawl that Ukraine could buy time for itself to continue mobilizing and training in the rear, as well as allowing NATO to ramp arms production.

The problem is, most pro-UA commentators—for some reason—talk about ramps in production in a vacuum, as if Russian production stays static while that of Ukraine's allies goes parabolic. In reality, Russia is ramping as well. Even if NATO were to successfully ramp—which is already a very shaky proposition—Russia is ramping at similar scales. So what good is it for Ukraine to go from a ratio of 2,000 UA vs. 8,000 RF fired shells to 10,000 UA vs. 40,000 RF fired shells if the disparity remains proportionally the same? There is no logic to this.

Lastly, recall my recent argument: even if Ukraine were to get enough men and arms for a new offensive, where could it possibly take place? Russia has fortified the Surovikin line to an even greater impenetrability than the first one which totally wiped the AFU. Zelensky, for his part, continues to maintain that they will mount a new offensive eventually, and other recent statements of his claimed that Ukraine will capture Crimea with a mass amphibious assault—these are wild delusions.

Remember: it's not just my opinion that Ukraine will be forced to go in Zaporozhye again, they themselves are saying this:

Read above: 'the goal of splitting Russian forces at Melitopol'—so again, another attempt through the Surovikin line. It's beyond comically absurd, particularly given the news that Russia just recaptured Rabotino and all lost territory near Verbove, taking AFU virtually to the starting line of June 2023.

Recall the earlier Azov commander's words: he says Ukraine soon won't even have enough troops to defend Kharkov and the north. This is precisely why Russia may finally be in position to open another front. The only question is does Russia itself have enough spare troops and materiel.

Troop wise, Medvedev just gave a new update for the beginning of the year regarding troop signups:

More than 53,000 people have been enlisted in the Russian Armed Forces for the purposes of the special operation since January 1 of this year, Medvedev announced.

Also recall last year Russia was said to be averaging 40k+ monthly new enlistments and volunteers. The above quote is from about a week ago which means Russia appears to still be enlisting 30-40k men per month, growing steadily larger and stronger.

One last dark horse event that can upend things into a new direction that's worth mentioning. There have been rumors for over a week now that Pridnestrovian authorities have signaled their intention for a referendum to join Russia. I filed away the rumors initially, but the new rumor is far more impactful: it claims that Putin himself will catalyze the PMR accession during a broadcast speech on February 28th:

PMR

The situation around the PMR began to escalate again. This happened before, it ended in nothing, but now everything is a little more interesting.

First, information appeared that on February 28 the PMR would ask to join Russia, and this coincides very well with Putin's planned Address to the Federal Assembly on February 29. Allegedly, there he will voice this request, and the Assembly will urgently consider it.

The PMR oppositionist reported this. And indeed, a congress of deputies of all levels of the PMR is scheduled for the 28th, the first in 18 years. Then, however, the information was denied, including in Ukraine, that such an appeal was not planned. Also in Moldova they believe that the situation will not worsen.

It would seem that one could ignore the information noise, but now the official authorities of the PMR have announced that Moldova is preparing terrorist attacks on unrecognized territory. It turns out that "zhzhzh" is not without reason? Apparently not, the situation is being escalated again, and the initiator here is clearly Moscow.

Why might this be necessary? Well, the PMR is isolated on both sides by Ukraine and Moldova; the PMR has no other communication with the "outside world". If something happens, Russia will not be able to help them in any way other than rocket attacks.

The grouping of PMR troops does not pose any danger to Ukraine; together with the Russian contingent there are about 10 thousand people, two brigades. For comparison: now in the Bakhmut area alone, on the Russian side, 19 brigades and 21 regiments are involved, much better equipped than the "PMR army," which has only a dozen tanks on the move. That is, not only the capture of Odessa, but in general they cannot carry out at least some strategic task on the territory of Ukraine against the Ukrainian army.

The only threat that comes from them is for Moldova itself. The army of Moldova is smaller than the army of the PMR. That is, the capture of Chisinau is quite real, unless, of course, third forces, Bucharest or Kyiv, intervene. The fact that Romania is a NATO member adds to the interest of the situation. And they have those very "imperial ambitions" on the topic of Greater Romania, which in practice are expressed in the slow assimilation of Moldova. There are many people there who have Romanian passports; they were essentially distributed to everyone who wanted them, and under the new government, the official political course has been taken towards rapprochement even at the level of the "one people" policy. This is how recently Moldova itself officially abandoned its language, declaring that there is no Moldovan language, and they speak Romanian.

That is, there is no point in considering the option of opening a "second front" against Ukraine at the expense of the PMR; these two brigades with 10 tanks will not do anything to Ukraine. But against Moldova, it makes sense to at least think about it. And taking into account the statements of the PMR authorities, who talk about the training of saboteurs, we are talking specifically about Moldova, and not about Ukraine.

The motives, however, are not very clear; why escalate the situation essentially with NATO, if everything is going more or less well for Russia at the front now, in any case, the initiative has been seized. Well, on February 28, we'll find out soon whether this is another empty escalation or "something will happen.

PS

Apparently information on Avdeevka and the adjacent sector will fade into the background by the end of the month.

Difficult to know what to make of that, but the fact that it appears to be on Russia's initiative is quite interesting giving the timing of Ukraine's seemingly terminal deterioration. What could Putin and co. possibly have up their sleeve here? We'll have to wait and see if anything bears out or if it's merely more smoke and mirrors as in the past. But I could see it as a potentially preventative measure taken precisely to preempt the Western/NATO axis from trying to destabilize Russia with some unforeseen oblique attack via the Moldova vector, just at the moment when Russia is finishing off Ukraine.

We've long talked about here the potential for the US and co. to try and stoke such a conflict at the 11th hour to save Ukraine from being finished off. Perhaps, sensing Ukraine's demise, Putin knows such an 'intervention' is being prepared, and so he seeks to swiftly cut it off at the root by preempting them with his own quick PMR accession.

WWII Parallels

As a final rumination on the Ukrainian war at this key time, not only due to Ukraine's deterioration but the symbolic two year anniversary of the SMO. Allow me a slight figurative indulgence.

Wars, one comes to find after study, have a certain rhythm to them. They breathe and flow with an almost organic motion that often parallels other seemingly distant conflicts. One of the reasons is the demands of logistics and the human condition are comparable in each era, proportionally speaking. Thus, different armies from two distinct eras that suffer devastating defeats could take a similar length of time to recover, draw reserves, and mount another effort. Also, much of warfare revolves around the temporal rhythms of the earth and nature themselves, conditioning major military operations on the seasons of the year and their idiosyncratic characteristics.

The Ukraine war can, in some broadly artistically-licensed gestures, be compared to the Eastern Front of WWII. In the most fundamental terms, each year of WWII can be summarized as follows:

1941: Germany attacks and gets its first unexpectedly abrupt setback at Moscow.
1942: Still dismissing it as a minor miscalculation, the Wehrmacht regroups and instead of trying to 'behead' Russia at Moscow, goes south to capture the Caucus oil fields as 'Plan B'.
1943: This push culminates in Stalingrad as 'gateway to the Caucuses', which acts as the final buffer to thwart the Caucus plan. Then the second costly loss is a turning point at precisely the middle mark of the conflict: a final desperate attempt to broach Russia's central defenses at Kursk fails and it's all down hill from there.
1944: From this year onward is Russia's clean up operation to the end. Operation Bagration destroys Army Group Center and it's a slow roll of unceasing liberation of territories until Berlin is reached in 1945.

So, having read the above, indulge me this juxtaposition.

Ignore the incongruity that Russia attacked first in the role of 1941. In the spirit of ebb and flow dynamics anchored in logistics lead times and personnel exhaustion, if we assume 1942 to be equivalent to Ukraine's first successful counter-offensives of Kherson and Kharkov in 2022, where they first brushed off initial losses, and grew drunk on misperceived 'victories'—which were actually strategic Russian withdrawals with little losses—if we start start off with such a comparison, we get the following:

The Wehrmacht's 1942 'Plan B' redirection toward the Caucuses becomes Ukraine's 2022 counteroffensives, which filled the AFU with overconfidence. Bakhmut thereby becomes Ukraine's Stalingrad. That's where the AFU's hubristic conceits found their end.

However, after Bakhmut/Stalingrad, the Wehrmacht-AFU had one final massive hail mary push left in them: Kursk/Zaporozhye. What's most interesting is that the exact equi-distant midpoint of WWII's Eastern Front is July 1943 (exact middle between June 1941 and May 1945), which is when the Battle of Kursk began, making it the true middle turning point of the war.

Zaporozhye is where Ukraine attempted their final massed breakthrough, utilizing all their main forces and reserves. They took so many losses they were never the same afterward, just like Germany after Kursk.

That is all to say that it would appear in the Ukrainian war, we have been in the post-Kursk moment for a while now, and are in fact verging on entering the 1944 Operation Bagration moment, which finally broke the Wehrmacht's back by annihilating their most powerful Army Group Center.

Using the comparison, if the grand Zaporozhye offensive is to be the midpoint of the war in June-September of 2023, we can infer that the end of the war would be somewhere around October 2024 to roughly April 2025 (if we use the end of the 'counteroffensive' as the midpoint). Some may recall the first or second quarter of 2025 is precisely where I've personally pegged the war's ending to come, particularly given a Trump election victory would be a final nail in any further US support.

Using this outline, we would hypothetically expect everything from this point on to merely be the steam-gaining momentum of the Russian army prosecuting their Bagration offensive to totally break Army Group Center, which may very well have been symbolized by the Avdeevka victory.

Of course, take the above speculatively fanciful 'artistic-license' indulgence with a grain of salt, as it was merely meant as a fun and thought provoking diversion, rather than truly serious military analysis. Things could still very well go totally left beyond our neatly deterministic outlines. However, I would say the probability is fairly high that the rest of the conflict plays out not too dissimilarly from the above.

To leave you with a last few invigorating and titillating items.

Many have heard tale of the raucous Avdeevka Pipe Heist, where Russian stormtroops poured through many ungodly kilometers of sewer drain to heroically burst out and capture the Tsar's Hunt area. For those who haven't seen it yet, here is an extended report on the unprecedented feat:

But for those who imagine some Hollywood-style escapade, I urge you to read the grisly details of the unromanticized version, and learn what the heroes truly sacrificed for this heroic feat:

Since the president mentioned the pipe, then we can...

The pipe is one of the key successful elements of the capture of Avdiivka. Its diameter is 1.4 m. Its length is 3.7 km. Imagine that in a half-bent state in armor with a load you need to go this way and be ready to perform further tasks...

Along the way, in some places there is waist-deep water, and in some places there is not enough oxygen. Equipment is scattered all over. Helmets, body armor... People simply shed excess weight to get there.

Along the way, you may encounter naked soldiers who have gone crazy... Wounded, dead, and it is now almost impossible to get them out, since the entire route in full equipment takes 12 hours...

The audibility is such that you can be heard perfectly at 300 meters if you speak in a normal voice. And when you arrive into the tube, you simply lose consciousness and come to your senses after 3 hours... Communication with the outside world by telephone on a wire (tapik) which stands at 1.5, 2.6, 3.7 km. The wire periodically breaks and here the signalmen act as a separate heroic core, wandering back and forth in search of a break.

Now you've reached the point. You need to warm up somehow, sleep, eat something, go to the toilet... You also need to dig a hole outwards. Only God knows where you will get out. And if the enemy notices the hole, it will be difficult to get out of the situation...

Next is the accumulation and forays into the assault. The holes are spotted sooner or later, copters fly there, gas is released, artillery works. We rotated groups every 2-3 days. Everyone who returned had pneumonia, and the crowd was slowly ending...

This is the feat that is hidden behind the "pipe" operation and 'funny' pictures of Russian ninja turtles in the Avdeevka storm drain.

And speaking of Avdeevka, here's a look at just a sampling of the purported ~1000 AFU prisoners taken in the final assault and mass retreat:

In the aftermath of Avdeevka clearing, Russian troops made some interesting insights in the famed reinforced bunker system. One such discovery was that apparently Russian Fab bomb attacks even ripped open nuclear shelters made to withstand nuke attacks:

One can quickly understand why AFU gave up and fled after the Russian airforce began unloading 200 tons of bombs per day on Avdeevka alone.

Lastly, in light of the pipeline story above, I'll leave you with this striking painting posted by one of the official Russian VDV channels, which signifies the sacrifice of the Russian troops, who, Atlas-like, struggle beneath the indifferent tread of society, whom they bear up with all their worldly strength:

Their sacrifice must not be forgotten.

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Simplicius The Thinker
22 Feb 2024 | 1:43 am

2. The Future of the SMO [Part 2]


Note: I have decided to make the final, most important part of the analysis, which will revolve around the coming Russian offensive strategies, free in an upcoming regular article. I was going to include it here, but realized the information is too important and should be widely accessible. So, this article will continue the series via the promised think tank analyses and an introduction section on Russia's upcoming strategy, but stay tuned for the full continuation.

The present article is another large 7,500+ word one, and I have left about 1,000 of that as free preview.

US Turns Its Eyes on Future

The US and NATO allies are hard at work at re-envisioning their own battlefield priorities in light of the revolution being witnessed in the Ukrainian war. Think tanks are churning out piece after piece, with the latest offering from Substack's own retired Major General Mick Ryan of the Australian Army and Lt. General S. Clinton Hinote of the US Air Force:

https://www.scsp.ai/wp-content/uploads/2024/02/SCSP-Drone-Paper-Hinote-Ryan.pdf

They start off with the one major admission necessitating this very paper—that the Western edge has not only been eroded, but rapidly so:

During the post-Cold War era, for example, several one-sided battlefield contests occurred where Allied militaries quickly dominated adversaries stuck in older paradigms.

Unfortunately, this advantage—what some have called "overmatch"—has eroded, and has done so rapidly. As the U.S. competition with China and Russia grows, we seek new ways of fighting.

They move directly into another powerful confirmation of something we've long discussed here apropos the differences between Western and Russian military systems. Couching it in self-serving terms of seeking ultimate 'protection' for troops, they admit that Western systems have gotten so expensive that their operators are afraid to even use them—defeating the whole point of warfighting equipment:

Western minds have taken a long time to come to conclusions drawn by Russia ages ago, and by us here in articles like the following, which expounded on precisely this disparity in the warfighting principles between Russia and the West:

Mick and co. clearly have Yemen and Iran in mind as well when they go on to write the following:

Our competitors know this; they have spent two decades developing sensors and weapons designed to find and destroy these costly assets. Relatively cheaper technologies that make exquisite modern weapons vulnerable have proliferated to our potential adversaries. This is the definition of cost imposition, and we have been on the wrong side for many years.

As a brief aside on this topic, it's remarkable how much the narrative is shifting in this direction. Almost every thing the West once skewered Russia for, they are now fumbling to adapt into their own doctrines. Top military figures from both the UK and US have recently urged the re-establishment of national conscription, i.e. compulsory service, belatedly realizing that an "all volunteer force" is simply not feasible.

Similarly, the tune has now changed on 'premium' weaponry. This recent Forbes article from last month makes an absolutely stunning argument:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/craighooper/2024/01/02/want-200000-155mm-artillery-shells-a-month-for-ukraine-simplify-production

To eke the maximum safety, shelf-life, and performance out of each and every shell, Western artillery ammunition is over-engineered—and then, on top of already daunting engineering requirements, the shells are subjected to an array of boutique national requirements.

Having each Western shell lovingly crafted to the exacting tolerances of a Formula 1 race-car engine offers measurable benefit. In ideal circumstances, Allied artillery systems outrange, outfire and hit harder than equivalent Russian systems. But conditions are no longer as ideal.

In short: they argue that Western artillery shells are over-engineered and should be stripped of their tedious quality control measures to favor 'quantity' over 'quality' instead. Interesting proposition!

Put another way, precision ammunition machining doesn't make much difference when the shell goes up an overused gun barrel that, in peacetime, would have long been consigned to the scrapheap thousands of shells ago.

They add that, in essence, Western military engineering is made for peacetime conditions—in real war conditions, a totally new rough-and-tumble ethos must be adopted. Where have we heard that before? Recall my article pasted above, which speaks precisely of that philosophical clash, and how Russia had already long learned the lesson having been habituated to real existential Total Wars on its territory, rather than the predatory wars of opportunity the West is accustomed to waging.

The article finishes with:

Cherished rice bowls will break. Old, longstanding methods may go away. But, right now, the overarching priority—at least for general purpose artillery ammunition—is lower price and greater speed.

Anything less helps Russia.

If that wasn't remarkable enough, last week's new interview with popular pro-UA podcaster-analyst from Australia, military veteran William OAM, emphasized this point even more urgently:

"Do we need the quality? Or do we just need the fuckin' quantity?"

He goes on to argue that 5000 "shitty North Korean shells" do more damage than 100 "fantastic" American ones, manufactured with loving care to industry-leading tolerances. The fact is, the West tailor-made their modern showroom armies for specifically fighting localized, controlled conflicts against very limited Middle Eastern opponents. In a true Total War scenario, no country on the planet has the manufacturing capacity or resource supply chains to produce the gargantuan amounts of "smart munitions" necessary for serious long-haul warfare against near-peer adversaries.

You can sense the desperation in the West as the realities begin to dawn on their leading thinkers. Years of building showroom 'good-weather' armies meant to impress buyers at MIC-enabled arms expos have left Western military doctrines woefully out of date concerning how real wars are fought.

Read more

Simplicius The Thinker
19 Feb 2024 | 5:56 am

3. SITREP 2/18/24: Avdeevka Liberated


Well, it finally happened: Avdeevka has fallen, or should I say Avdeyevka, as it's being styled by many outlets like Sputnik now that it has returned home.

Ukrainian forces retreated—or attempted to—from every part of Avdeevka, even in the Coke Plant, leaving the new front looking like this:

The yellow lines represent the rough direction of current battles as Russian forces reportedly attempt to storm Latochkino—with some early reports already claiming it has been taken, or at the least that AFU has withdrawn from it, creating a gray zone—with the logical extension that forces from the south near Severne will attempt to close the new gap formed north of the old Zenit/Air Defense Base area.

Interestingly, rumor has it that Zelensky was desperate to hold Avdeevka through his time at the Munich conference, so as not to be humiliated. However, the withdrawal order was only given because the 3rd Brigade (Azov) had already totally countermanded orders and began withdrawing on their own, with other units possibly following. To stave off total collapse of the command, Syrsky was forced to give an official order of withdrawal, but Zelensky is reportedly furious, as per Resident_UA channel:

Our source in the OP said that the Office of the President instructed the General Staff and the Security Council to conduct an investigation in the 3-brigade, which refused to comply with the order and enter Avdeevka in position. On Bankova, they are very angry at Syrsky, who promised to keep the city while Zelensky on a EU tour, but I had to urgently leave the most fortified positions that had been created in Avdeevka for ten years.

In quickly taking over such a large area, Russian MOD's official numbers claim a likely record day with around 2300 AFU either killed, wounded, or captured:

And while the pro-UA crowd scoffed, interestingly Ukrainian MP Peter Derbal gave the number as 850 soldiers lost in the Avdeevka retreat:

There were some unconfirmed Russian reports of over 500 AFU prisoners being taken, and while I haven't seen quite that high of a number, I can confidently say that yesterday was possibly the most videos of captured AFU that I've seen. I myself have posted probably over a dozen videos, and there are still yet others I didn't even bother posting. Some samples: One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven, Eight, Nine, Ten, and many others.

The most striking however was this young company officer, a lieutenant, who gave the juiciest details about the AFU's battle order and plans for the Avdeevka zone:

Some of the revelations confirmed some long-standing reports, like that the zone's battalion commanders sit 40km away in Pokrovsk and refuse to come to the front.

Naturally, the usual suspects were utterly despondent—and in fact, a new tone of total cynicism and distrust in the tired and predictable propaganda of Ukrainian authorities was noted among some of the biggest luminaries:

Putin issued an official decree congratulating Colonel General Mordvichev who, as commander of the 'Center' group of forces, was the sector commander in charge of the Avdeevka capture. In the message he also outlined precisely which Russian units were involved in the heroic feat:

Supreme Commander-in-Chief

of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation

to General Colonel MORDVICHEV A.N.

Today, the troop group 'Center,' while advancing, has completely captured the city of Avdeevka of the Donetsk People's Republic.

The units involved include: the 30th separate motorized rifle brigade of the 2nd army; the 35th separate motorized rifle brigade, the 55th separate mountain motorized rifle brigade, the 74th separate motorized rifle brigade of the 41st army; the 1st separate motorized rifle brigade, the 9th separate motorized rifle brigade, the 114th separate motorized rifle brigade, the 1454th motorized rifle regiment, the 10th tank regiment of the 1st army corps; the 6th tank regiment, the 80th tank regiment, the 239th tank regiment of the 90th tank division.

I express my gratitude for the excellent combat actions to all the troops under your command that participated in the battles for Avdeevka.

Eternal glory to the heroes who fell in battle while carrying out the tasks of the special military operation!

Supreme Commander-in-Chief

of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation V. Putin

In particular brought to light were units of the 41st Combined Arms Army of the Central Military District. Both the mentioned 55th Separate Mountain and 74th Motorized Rifle Brigade belong to the group, and are said to be comprised of a lot of Tuvans and Buryats, which led to figures like Roepcke claiming Putin is "exploiting ethnic minorities".

And here the 30th Separate Motorized Rifle Brigade of the 2nd Guards Army from Samara, Russia give their side of the story of how the final capture went down:

The general gist of the Avdeevka battle appeared to happen along these lines: in the earliest stages, DPR units like the 114th were used as the spearhead and damage-soakers, reinforced heavily with Storm-Z penals. As the breakthroughs increasingly came, more Russian units were inserted from the 41st CAA. This culminated in the final couple weeks, as Ukrainian lines began to break, Russia inserted more elite Spetsnaz and scout units to push through swiftly and surround flustered and haggard Ukrainian defenders.

By the way, interestingly, the 74th seen above in particular had already liberated southern Ukraine once in WWII, as per wiki:

It's tradition for them.

Ukraine's final consolatory cope is that Russia suffered upwards of 50-100k losses in taking Avdeevka, or so they claim. Unfortunately, this is not backed in even the slightest by their own most meticulous casualty analysts like MediaZona, which still has Russian losses dipping sharply in the last couple months:

Granted, January/February figures will likely be revised upwards retroactively, but probably not dramatically.

The problem is, UA sources pulled wool over their followers' eyes by continuously replaying old losses or showing highly edited videos which didn't actually represent many casualties. One recent demonstrative example: one of UA's top accounts, Dmitry from 'WarTranslated', posted a video earlier in the week claiming to show a Russian soldier walking around a corpse-strewn battlefield in Avdeevka. But his own geolocation of it was far east of Stepove, near Krasnogorovka, where battles had not raged in many months. In fact the strongest battles of that area were in early 2023, which is likely when the footage is from—as that's when Russia first captured the adjacent area, leading to the conditions which facilitated the later Avdeevka assault.

The flagrant lies and exaggerations, as usual, work against Ukraine.

Conversely, the losses as recorded by direct Ukrainian troops from Avdeevka are staggering, by all accounts. Some samples:

And many of the captured POWs speak of high losses in their units as a universal fact.

But while the events on the ground had been a foregone conclusion, some of the more intriguing developments swirled behind the scenes, as the world's power elite scrambled to shore up Ukraine's corroding reputation at the Munich conference this weekend. There Zelensky was given a customary standing ovation by the cretinous nomenklatura of dying Europe:

Days ago, Mosiychuk had predicted that Zelensky would seek a desperate tour of European capitals for optics' sake:

And optics is one way of putting it. While Zelensky hobnobbed with world leaders, his own shadow cabinet rubbed elbows with figures like Soros:

Who was even an honored guest at Yermak's table:

Yermak presses the point about needed ammunition, which was the theme du jour of Kuleba, Zelensky, and co.'s petitions during the conference.

But most insightful was what Kuleba and Zelensky said about artillery in particular.

First Kuleba complains of Ukraine's artillery compatability problems: even though NATO uses 155mm as standard, the actual rounds of various NATO 155mm systems are not totally interoperable between the various guns:

This is because there are other considerations like the powder charges meant for each cannon's specific pressure/PSI thresholds, etc. It's akin to tank rounds; for instance, though they're both 120mm, the British Challenger has a rifled barrel and cannot use the same ammo as the unrifled 120mm Abrams, Leopard, and Leclerc barrels, etc.

But Zelensky struck the biggest bombshell on this count. Remember the months and years of propaganda revolving around the one key linchpin in the narrative of Ukraine's so-called 'dominance'—that of NATO's artillery advantage in accuracy and range over that of Russia. Well, the truth has once again slowly crept to the light:

Some may recall I've solely been belaboring this point, to combat this most far-reaching of deceptions. I've outlined how some NATO systems like the Caesar can achieve higher ranges than most—but not all—Russian systems; but it also requires special ammo, which Ukraine has nearly none of.

Yes, highly specialized ammo can propel the AH Krab, M777, Phz 2000, Caesar, etc. to ranges of 35-40km or higher, but the average round they use most often has a range of about 24km, slightly less than the average round Russia uses. Russia has systems like the 2S5 Giatsint and 2S7M Malka that can do 30-40km with even normal rounds, and in the case of the 2S7, upwards of 50-60km with specialized ammunition.

As I said time and again, the US was forced to gin up the ammo shortage with DPICM cluster rounds—and their range is even worse, at a measly ~15km or so. This is all not to even mention the fact that Russia's barrel situation is far better than Ukraine's, which means Russia's guns maintain their accuracy far longer, while Ukraine is forced to shoot at minimal distances like 14-16km even with its most long-ranged systems due to barrel wear and the fact that firing at max range would be totally useless. Oh, and by the way—specialized ammo stresses and depletes barrels even faster; you can't have it both ways.

Russia's advantages here are particularly the case in light of reports like the following that Russia is heavily expanding its barrel production specifically, with Motovilikha and other plants reportedly purchasing new Russian and Chinese heavy duty CNC machines for the process.

The Munich conference brought little more than empty speeches, as well as this, which is sure to devastate Putin:

Jokes aside, there was a pledge from France and Germany for about ~$4B total in military aid specifically:

Kuleba continues to contend that the war costs Ukraine $100m per day, so that should be about 40 days' worth.

Interestingly, while European and German leaders steadily bankrupt their nations for Ukraine, the latest poll from Germany shows the number of citizens who believe Ukraine will win has drastically plummeted:

The number of Germans who believe in the victory of Ukraine fell by 6% over the year from 20% to 14%

— survey by the sociological institute INSA

As a last note on Munich: rumor had it that one of the main reasons for Zelensky's gala tour hinged specifically on galvanizing European leaders around the question of Zelensky's legitimacy in the post-May 21 period, when his martial law extension expires, technically making him an illegitimate president due to having bypassed elections.

https://tass.com/world/1745821

"The powers of the President of Ukraine expire on the night of May 20-21, 2024 and cannot be extended, while those of the Verkhovna Rada can. After May 20, the Rada will be legitimate, but the president will be not," Dubinsky wrote in his Telegram channel.

Zelensky likely sought secret reassurances from European leaders that they will vocally back his presidency's legitimacy during that troubling expiry period, when questions will certainly begin to arise at the least, if not outright challenges to his authority.

In fact, swept under the rug was that along with the more high profile elimination of Zaluzhny, Zelensky did a clean sweep of the entire vast fold of the general staff: check this link for a detailed list with bios.

https://militaryland.net/news/changes-at-the-command-of-armed-forces-of-ukraine/

The point is that, Zelensky has clearly used the 'headline' removal of Zaluzhny as cover to actually wipe out the entire general staff and put in people hand-selected by Yermak to be utterly obedient who, most importantly, will not challenge his authority or legitimacy after the critical May 21 expiration. This is all about a power grab—there's no other explanation, particularly given the fact that Zelensky's stated reason for firing Zaluzhny was that "he did not present a military plan for 2024." Obviously, neither has Syrsky, nor is any real plan even conceivably possible given what is public knowledge about Ukraine's ongoing catastrophic limitations.

No, Zelensky's only chance and hope is to continue biding his time until he can figure out a way to rope NATO into the war via some form of provocation or falseflag. It's one of the reasons he wants F-16s so badly: they have no real effect on Russian airpower, their true threat comes from the escalatory potential of their technical ability to be nuclear-capable weapons carriers, not to mention can be made to fly from the airfields of other countries. Both things have the potential of causing Russia to enter into direct war with NATO.

One last important topic to cover.

Since the buzz of the Tucker Carlson interview, there has been a spate of narrative pushes about Putin allegedly seeking negotiations with Ukraine, or at the least being "open" to it.

Putin definitely played coy and ambiguous in the interview on purpose. The reason is he wants to appear the peacemaker to the right audience but in a slightly disingenuous way. You see, he's 'open to negotiations', but only after Ukraine totally surrenders or "takes into account the new realities"—which is deliberately left open ended.

New realities obviously means things like Russia keeping all the captured territories, among other things. Being clever, Putin knows these are things Zelensky could never accept, because it would mean his overthrow by the hardcore nationalist factions. That means Putin is fairly safe in making the "offer" while knowing realistically it will never happen, and the true goal is to keep the war going to achieve Russia's maximalist objectives.

Arestovich's 'seditious' video above is still partly true though, just not in the way it seems. He's right: Putin is the only one of the players that actually wants peace, it's just he wants it after Russia gets what Putin feels it is owed—which is its historical lands back. The main US establishment on the other hand doesn't want peace at any cost, because the whole point of this war is to wage eternal conflict against Russia until it is totally destroyed or subjugated, or at the least wounded and kept in a weakened, enervated state perpetually. Either option requires unceasing escalation and conflict no matter what other side objectives are achieved.

This was supported by a variety of recent utterances from top Russian officials like Medvedev, Peskov, Nebenzya, and Putin himself.

For instance, here Nebenzya states that there is no way the currently controlled regions will ever go back to Ukraine—it is a total nonstarter:

And since we know that this is a red line for Zelensky and co. as well, that means when Putin offers negotiations, he knows it's from the standpoint that the other side will never accept them.

Now, a new Putin statement hammers this point home. He says that everything Ukraine does in the war is merely a form of attempting some tactical gain, the difference being that for Russia, this isn't about such trivial technicalities—it's an existential matter:

Further proof comes from a new report around alleged 'secret talks' that were happening in late 2023, when rumors floated that 'Putin was sending signals he was ready for a ceasefire':

As you can see above, the source claims Putin said he knew nothing would come of it, confirming that Putin likes to merely make the gestural offer on account of optics, knowing full well that Ukraine is institutionally not able to accept Russia's bare minimum negotiations requirements.

This Twitter 'community note' even dispelled the narrative with a legitimate quote from Putin's interview:

As you can see, he did say that he can negotiate with Ukraine after it's "over"—i.e. Ukraine has surrendered. And Putin's cunning, in my view, is after this very result:

I.e. generating the perception that it was in fact the US and allies that continue to reject ceasefires and negotiations.

However, as a small food-for-thought counterpoint, I will say that Arestovich once more has an interestingly insightful take on this count:

In short: he believes he's got Putin psychologically pegged, and that Putin, morally, is loath to the idea of fighting this brother war. We must admit that judging by many aspects of Putin's 'soft-gloved' approach thus far, there is some substance to this idea—though it certainly doesn't mean Putin will surrender. But rather that he may be a sort of tortured figure, allowing his principled faculties of reason to overpower his moral sentimentality to the detriment of his psyche in doing what he knows must be done.

On the topic of polls, here's a new survey from Ukraine showing the population's current sentiment in the wake of the Zaluzhny debacle—you can cleary see why Zelensky had to remove him post-haste:

The first sociology after Zaluzhny's resignation was a survey of Advanced Legal Initiatives.

▪️ Ukrainians are categorically against Zaluzhny's resignation (against -80.45%) and forced mobilization (against - 89.72%).

▪️The absolute majority supports voluntary mobilization with financial motivation (for – 93.97%) and the conscription of security forces working in the rear (for – 86.54%).

▪️ If the presidential elections were held today, the result would be as follows: Zaluzhny - 38.16%, Zelensky - 16.17%, Tymoshenko - 9.91%, Poroshenko - 8.08%.

▪️If Zaluzhny did not take part in the elections: Zelensky - 21.01%, Tymoshenko - 18.83%, Poroshenko - 14.14%, Klitschko - 6.64%.

▪️4 parties would enter parliament: Zaluzhny - 36.92%, Zelensky - 12.76%, Tymoshenko - 9.84%, Poroshenko - 7.65%.

The survey involved 5,105 respondents aged 18 years and over, using the face-to-face interview method and by telephone through the IQR application. The error is no more than 2.0%.

Note the fourth item above: even if you knock Zaluzhny out of the picture and a hypothetical election takes place in the near future—perhaps forced onto Zelensky after the May 21 expiry—Zelensky would only enjoy a tiny, and likely shrinking, lead over Yulia Tymoshenko, and even Poroshenko. His fall from grace is almost totally complete.

And some more (link to polls below):

Only 40% of respondents trust the new Commander-in-Chief of Syrsky. The survey was conducted in February and 35% (!) did not know who the Syrsky was, — KMIS
Most Ukrainians trust Zaluzhny — 92%.
For 2 months, the rating of Ukrainian confidence in Zelensky decreased by 13%.
In Ukraine, the share of those who believe that things are developing in the right direction continues to decline. In December 2023, 54% considered the direction to be correct, and now the figure has dropped to 44%. Residents of the West of Ukraine are more critical.

The trajectory of every single figure shows a dramatic and catastrophic decline in confidence in everything, from the country's leadership, to its direction. Such a path is not sustainable in the least—the question is: when will the dam break?

For the past week or two, there have been rumors that a massive Russian force has been gathering on the Zaporozhye line. Here's the AFU spokesman days ago:

Now as of this writing, the offensive seems to have begun, with reports rolling in by the hour of breakthroughs of Ukrainian lines near Rabotino:

This appears to have been a well-timed plan to capitalize on any potential disarray from Ukraine's hasty Avdeevka collapse, to nab them in another unsuspecting direction. Once again, this is part and parcel to the boa constrictor strategy of which I'll write in the upcoming Part 2 of the paid piece in a couple days.

A quick update on the space doomsday weapon situation: it appears our report here was accurate, as CNN now 'confirms' that the weapon in question pretty much fits the description I hypothesized in the previous article:

https://us.cnn.com/2024/02/16/politics/russia-nuclear-space-weapon-intelligence/index.html

Russia is trying to develop a nuclear space weapon that would destroy satellites by creating a massive energy wave when detonated, potentially crippling a vast swath of the commercial and government satellites that the world below depends on to talk on cell phones, pay bills, and surf the internet, according to three sources familiar with US intelligence about the weapon.

In fact the article suspiciously almost seems to mimic my own word for word:

Experts say this kind of weapon could have the potential to wipe out mega constellations of small satellites, like SpaceX's Starlink, which has been successfully used by Ukraine in its ongoing war with Russia.

I mentioned Russia's 55th Brigade from Tuva. Ukrainian Nazis showed their colors and were very upset by the Tuvan heroes:

The particular poster above has 'Azov Enjoyer' in his bio:

Well, to rub it in and end on a positive note, here's the same 55th receiving their prestigious honorary 'Guards' title just last month, for heroism and unbreakable courage in combat:

Lastly, here's a segment from a new report in liberated Avdeevka showing a resident who waited out the Russian army. Listen to what he says when asked about the Ukrainians who have been kicked out: "Those Germans? Drive them to Berlin!"

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Simplicius The Thinker
16 Feb 2024 | 5:30 am

4. Planetary Scare: Russian Doomsday Space Weapon Steals Headlines of Avdeevka Collapse


Yesterday, reports of a new Russian DOOMSDAY WEAPON sent corporate media into a shark-feeding frenzy:

Jake Sullivan broke the news to a wide-eyed pressroom, keeping mum but claiming he will be having what sounded like emergency meetings with 'the gang of eight'—these are the top Congressional leaders who are privy to the most classified information.

Of course, the irony of the scare tactic was not lost on some:

The customary 'leaks' followed soon after and pointed to some type of new Russian "space capability" that reportedly threatens US and its partners, though Sullivan seemed to even imply that it's a threat to the population while claiming he didn't want to 'cause mass panic.' Ironically—or not—everything about his announcement appeared designed to do precisely that. Gee.

The announcement sparked a swell of theories on the internet from an endless array of people who aren't really knowledgeable on the subject matter, and used their ignorance to further the attempt at scaremongering. And most likely this was the whole point: people immediately and rightfully pointed to the obvious timing of this scare tactic.

The Senate had just passed its side of the Ukraine-Israel aid bill and the bill once more had the door slammed shut in its face in the House, courtesy of Speaker Johnson and co. So what do they do? Predictably roll out some deus ex machina doomsday weapon totally out of thin air to terrify defiant Republicans into enriching the MIC with another cool ~$100 billion.

But getting to what it actually is, as I said wild rumors flew about everything from the 'Rods of God' kinetic weapons, to FOBS space nukes for hitting cities in the same way a conventional ICBM would, to EMP weapons and beyond.

Yes, this is one of the top pro-UA experts actually falling for a Goldeneye meme.

Let's try to demystify it, and see what the actual platform realistically and most likely does.

The main misconception around the usage of this potential weapon from armchair 'experts' on social media revolves around a misunderstanding of how satellite warfare works. To sum it up very briefly: everyone knows Russia has anti-satellite missiles that can fly into orbit and shoot down satellites. But in the modern age, this ability has become nearly meaningless and, in some ways, neutralized by the advent of mass saturation of small satellite constellations.

Anti-satellite weapons like Russia's A-235 'Nudol' are some of the most advanced and expensive assets, and are primarily designed to take out the large flagship Electro-Optical style spysats like US's 'Keyhole' systems, which are $4-5 billion dollar a pop and few in number. Yes, it's critically important to have the capability to take out these E/O satellites, which create regular high-res optical imagery of military targets.

However, there are many other types of much smaller and cheaper satellites like ELINT/SIGINT and GPS ones which number in the thousands, and most certainly cannot be taken out by conventional anti-satellite missiles like the Nudol as they are simply too numerous. The latest and biggest intractable problem is of course SpaceX's Starlink, which now numbers nearly ~4,000 total small satellites in orbit at this time. There is simply no way to take them all out via manual targeting of each, one by one.

So: what is the only other option? To blow vast swaths of them out at the same time, either via space Kesslerization, of which I wrote about several times, or via triggering several large nuclear/EMP explosions to wipe out entire constellations in one go, even if it doesn't trigger total breakaway Kesslerization of common orbits.

What the 'Russian threat' sounds like is potentially some version of the old American-attempted Project Excalibur, of which I also wrote about several times in past mailbags. A quick primer from wiki:

It's a very complex topic and much of it remains classified, but the basic gist is a sort of satellite that has special 'rods' which can point toward and target other objects like Soviet ICBMs or satellites. At the center of these 'rods' made of special reactive material, is a nuclear bomb. When that bomb is detonated, the 'rods' are heated up and create ultra powerful 'x-ray lasers' which shoot out and can zap objects like ICBMs/satellites from thousands of kilometers away in space, as long as they're within the visual field of view of the Excalibur system. The nuclear explosion is necessary and therefore central to the system.

Chapline attended a meeting where Sobel'man's work on X-ray lasers was presented. He had learned of the unique underground nuclear tests made on behalf of the Defense Nuclear Agency (DNA), where the burst of X-rays produced by the nuclear reactions were allowed to travel down a long tunnel while the blast itself was cut off by large doors that slammed shut as the explosion approached. These tests were used to investigate the effects of X-rays from exoatmospheric nuclear explosions on reentry vehicles. He realized this was a perfect way to pump an X-ray laser.

The Soviets created a somewhat related system called Skif, which was a space-based laser that could reportedly take out other satellites. Neither project got off the ground for either country.

So here's what some of the 'experts' are saying about the current secret doomsday weapon:

James Acton, co-director of Carnegie Nuclear Policy, writes on Twitter:

NewsHour reporting that the Russian mystery weapon may be a nuclear-POWERED (not a nuclear-armed) anti-satellite system. If so, it could be highly effective, though also grossly irresponsible.

I assume the advantage of a nuclear reactor is that it could generate large amounts of energy that could be used for electromagnetic attacks across a large volume of space. (2/n)

More speculatively, I wonder if this is a reaction to U.S. military interest in proliferated constellations, i.e. constellations comprising large number of small satellites that are resilient against kinetic attack. (3/n)

It appears to be grossly irresponsible because what do you do with a nuclear reactor in orbit when the satellite has finished its useful life? You really, really don't want it to burn up on re-entry which is the normal disposal "solution" for satellites in LEO..

Caveat: There's a ton we don't know. Is it nuclear powered or nuclear-armed? What orbit? Has this thing been launched or is it at an earlier phase of development?

Here's another account writing on Russian 'Super-EMP' capabilities. And this astrophysicist clarifies a bit of semantics in that 'EMP' is not precisely the effect that kills other objects in space:

Rather, according to him, it is the direct gamma ray radiation from a nuclear explosion that would destroy all other objects like satellites in line-of-sight.

Lastly, we get to the possibility of secret Russian project Ekipazh.

The article is a very interesting investigative attempt to put together clues as to what the top secret project could potentially be about, and one of the conclusions they come to is the following:

While not going into too much detail, the articles acknowledged that Plazma-2010 had been designed with the possibility of installing EW payloads. The presence of a nuclear reactor would make it possible to install "jammers operating in a wide range of frequencies" and place such payloads into highly elliptical and geostationary orbits for "uninterrupted suppression of electronic systems in large areas."

The spacecraft would be delivered to their operational orbits by an electric propulsion unit and are therefore referred to in the articles as "transport and energy modules." The EW mission would require a reactor generating at least 30 to 40 kilowatts, allowing the satellites to be launched by the Soyuz-2-1b rocket. For more advanced EW missions, the performance would have to be increased to 100 kilowatts, necessitating a switch to the more powerful Angara-A5 rocket. The 2016 article (as quoted by Izvestiya) said KB Arsenal was working on two types of reactors with a capacity of 30 and 50 kilowatts respectively. It was also noted that satellites flown under KB Arsenal's Liana program could provide intelligence in support of the EW mission. It would even be possible to adapt the solar-powered Liana bus for a "more limited" electronic warfare mission requiring less power.

They quote a Russian dispatch that states:

More specifically, it talks about the need to deploy "multifunctional space-based EW complexes for reconnaissance and suppression of radio-electronic systems used by radar, navigation and communications systems."

The article was written in 2019, and says that a testflight could be done within several years by 2021, give or take, so the timing is interesting, particularly given that some of yesterday's reports claimed this asset may even already have been launched by Russia and is already in space. They conclude with the following:

It is hard to say what exactly the role of the space-based component is. Assuming that the EW satellite is indeed Ekipazh, the most plausible objective would be electronic attack, the only of the three that would seem to require the amount of energy warranting the use of a nuclear power source. However, a combination of the various functions is also possible.

In essence, it's a satellite requiring a huge (nuclear) power source, as much as 1 megawatt, or a million watts, for some type of very powerful electronic suppression of enemy satellites.

So, as a summary: land-based anti-satellite weapons are useless against the mass proliferation of small satellite constellations like GPS, Starlink, etc., because it's far too impractical to shoot them down this way. Even the mass amounts of NATO/Western/Five-Eye larger electro-optical, SARs, etc., satellites poses a problem as the fleet has now grown pretty large and would likely present a challenge—or be nigh impossible—to shoot down or significantly degrade in its entirety.

Thus, the only truly 'economic' option that exists is by using some sort of space-based nuclear weapon that can take out dozens or even hundreds of such satellites in a single blow.

Interestingly, last year the Resident channel reported the following—check the date below:

But let's broach the most important point: why this, why now?

There are several options:

1. The entire story is either fake or exaggerated and being rolled out by Democrats at a strategic time to achieve several purposes: scaremongering Congressmen into voting on Ukraine aid, as well as potentially conditioning the masses and setting the stage for a black swan falseflag to cancel the 2024 elections later this year. What better way to do a 'mail-in voting hoax' redux than to claim a secret Russian nuclear satellite "disabled" all communications and thus voting machines, allowing the deepstate to either fiddle with the results or outright cancel/postpone elections if things are getting dire for them.

At least that's the theory if you ask this guy:

2. U.S. establishment wants to use some new scare tactic to take attention away from the current ongoing Avdeevka collapse—a standard headline-smothering tactic. They know that support for Ukraine is hanging by a final tiny thread, and emerging news of the total collapse of the AFU could be the last nail in the coffin, potentially spurring 'on-the-fence' lawmakers to question what the point of any further "aid" is when Ukraine is already collapsing. This is doubly possible given the recent headline-dominating fiasco about Zelensky firing his entire general staff, which has already soured appetites for conflict extension by a large margin. Following this recent news, for example, many headlines have turned particularly despondent, even compared to some of the previous most 'downer' examples. For instance:

https://www.businessinsider.com/things-going-badly-for-ukraine-war-russia-putin-zelenskyy-aid-2024-2

3. This explanation is something I've been thinking about for some time. The constant slow encroachment from NATO/U.S. has been making itself increasingly painfully felt for Russia. Not only have red lines famously been eroded a little at a time, but most of it has to do with the West's ISR overmatch, allowing them to have total strategic informational awareness of Russia's military designs at all times.

This has increasingly led to painful losses like the recent attack on Russian Black Sea Fleet ships, as well as various infrastructure terror strikes happening over the course of the past few weeks, on oil and gas refineries, civilian cities like Belgorod, and much more. There had to have come a point where Russia says "enough" and flexes some sort of asymmetrical muscle to signal for the West to back off.

Thus, this could be a potential new escalation on Russia's behalf to draw a final red line and issue the implied threat that if you continue meddling and harming us with these assets, we will consider wiping out your entire space-based ISR assets.

Of course, the problem with such an approach—if we're talking about the nuclear/EMP-style option, at least—is it would indiscriminately wipe out everything in sight, including friendly and allied space assets. But I agree with one analyst who said that China likely wouldn't mind trading a few of its own destroyed satellites in exchange for seeing the entire fleet of U.S./NATO assets go up in smoke.

Such a weapon could truly be a 'hand of god' that totally erases the Empire's most crucial capabilities, instantaneously blinding it in every theater all over the world, allowing Iran, Yemen, North Korea, China, and anyone else to run rampant. I said before that Russia knows how to fight blind—hundreds of videos attest to its artillerymen, for instance, using Bussols and other scopes to accurately hit targets day in and out, while NATO relies primarily on satellite-guided GPS for almost everything.

We'll see over the coming days or weeks which option may prove true—it could even be a mixture of both: a well-timed propaganda release of an actual legitimate Russian asset/threat to serve the deepstate's interests at a strategically opportune moment.

Now onto the actual most pressing and significant news: Avdeevka is undergoing a catastrophic terminal collapse:

Presented in three parts here by the ever-dependable Jihad Julian:

We spoke last time of lines being overrun, with Syrsky having brought in the AFU's most elite units to try to stem the Russian advance. Now it's being reported they're merely acting as cover for the mass retreats:

Here's one alleged report on that matter:

The headquarters inside Avdeevka received a directive to withdraw along three "logistics corridors." The key role was played by the commanders of the 3rd "Azov" brigade of the Ukrainian Armed Forces; after entering, they quickly understood the situation, lost one and a half battalions and decided to leave "due to the lack of positions and logistics routes prepared for defense." (there were also reports on TG channels about Ukrainian soldiers leaving position without permission in the very eastern part of the cauldron - I think what we see now is a sort of narrative damage control - Russian sources also report: We won't let them leave - they can surrender or they will die - there is no escape)

This highlights pervasive rumors that the Azov Brigade in fact countermanded direct orders and fled due to heavy losses. One claimed report directly from Azov itself seems to corroborate the brutality of the foregoing clashes:

Ukrainian TG channel reports: Avdeevka . Briefly from the deputy commander 3rd Brigade (AZOV): "Our third assault carries out combat missions in conditions that were difficult even for us to imagine. The confrontation is not just with superior enemy forces - there are a huge number of enemies, coming from all sides. The battles in Avdievka were several times the hellish of the hottest battles of this phase of the war, which were in Bakhmut."

Some videos and photos have come out depicting a hellish landscape in Avdeevka:

Avdeevka
02/15/2024 photo of a day going down in history.
FABs continue to fly now...

The main breakthroughs occurred in the suburb sector, totally bisecting the city and even extending a deep salient outward toward supply lines:

Sensing the coming collapse, yesterday Russian forces were said to have broadly transmitted a surrender ultimatum to the entire Avdeevka garrison, giving them upwards of one day to lay down their arms en masse:

Avdeevka. "Ultimatum" . "The command of the Armed Forces of Ukraine this morning, on their frequencies, was asked to surrender and avoid losses of personnel. In return, a safe corridor was proposed to reach our rear and guarantee the preservation of lives. No answer. The Ukrainian Armed Forces continue to conduct fierce resistance. Over the course of 24 hours, about 50 people reached our positions. All of them were frostbitten."

Soon after, the rapid collapse began as Russian forces pushed in virtually from every single side of the embattled town.

Zelensky himself reported on the situation, seemingly referencing "saving personnel"—a euphemism for "retreat":

And the AFU spokesman confirmed an evacuation "to more advantageous positions" was in order, while trying to downplay the situation:

In this animation you can see the area called 'Zenit' of the old air defense base, which had been in a boiler, completely falling:

Russian troops posted a flag raising ceremony from there:

Geolocation:

And as Jihad Julian referenced earlier, they reportedly put up flags at the entrance to the Coke Plant where Zelensky took selfies last month (yes, the joke writes itself…):

My understanding is that the geolocation for that is here:

And the map further shows that Russian troops have reportedly now begun even entering the premises of the Coke Plant at the south and southeastern sides.

All sorts of reports have been streaming out from the Ukrainian side about the catastrophic nature of some of the proceedings. For instance, this video of a trapped AFU soldier speaking to his loved one:

John Kirby and the administration went into overdrive begging for aid to help the foundering AFU:

Note his laughable characterization of Russian 'conscript forces'. If Russia is able to decimate and humiliate the combined power of NATO just with its 'conscripts' then I'm frightened to imagine what would happen if Russia put its real professional troops into the fight.

Biden's handlers desperately chimed in as well:

Meanwhile half-conscious Floyd conspicuously sported a Ukrainian flag in his hospital roo—I mean 'Pentagon office suite':

Unfortunately for Ukraine: the House went into recess until basically March without voting on or approving any Ukrainian aid:

That means, once again, the timeline gets so compressed as to be extremely unfavorable for the AFU: even if the House returns and manages to approve something in March—unlikely in itself—aid would not begin streaming in to Ukraine until potentially two months after that; and recent statements from Ukraine's own Rada deputy Arakhamia claimed Ukraine could last "two more months" on their current munitions:

https://pravda-en.com/world/2024/02/10/313388.html

Though it should be said, I don't put particular store in such reports, but it's merely something to take note of.

One of the only last remaining things to be seen is how much of the AFU garrison can escape Avdeevka without being captured. There are various contending and often contradictory reports: some from the Russian side claim upwards of 2000-3000 AFU are trapped, while the Ukrainian side claims an orderly retreat.

From the official 35th of the AFU:

A final interesting aspect of ongoing events is the brewing theory, posited by the famed hackers of DPR Joker and others, that the most rabid 'nationalistic' formations were in fact 'fed' into the grinder of Avdeevka for a very specific purpose. According to the theory, Syrsky was onboarded precisely to help 'destroy' the nationalist groups that Zaluzhny husbanded and cultivated in order to facilitate the proper conditions for an ensuing negotiations or surrender—which the nationalist groups would not have allowed, were they at full strength:

I don't necessarily buy the theory, but as usual, it's something to file away just in case. Even so, the reports from the front claim the nationalist Azov, for their part, are being torn apart. From Slavyangrad:

I just received good news from the officers who are killing the enemy in Avdeevka. Azov residents are simply rolled into the ground. The neo-Nazis' losses are colossal. They don't retreat, they remain in their positions as corpses. Soldiers and commanders of the Russian Army, especially after today's tragedy in Belgorod, are tearing the enemy to pieces. Artillery and aviation are burning enemy positions.

In the north of Avdeevka, west of the coke plant, the Russian flag is already flying. And this means that the noose is tightening. The Avdeevka meat grinder has already become the site of colossal losses for the formations of the Kyiv regime. The situation is such that even if the command of the Armed Forces of Ukraine decides to withdraw personnel, the flight will be accompanied by significant losses.

Glory to the Russian soldier. Thank you, brothers.

Some last items:

British Intelligence published an official endorsement of Ukraine's findings that Russia used the Zircon hypersonic missile for the first time in strikes on Kiev:

An earlier Kiev report claimed that they found the missile "did not match the stated characteristics"—a somewhat awkward, if not humorous, assertion given that the missile penetrated Kiev's formidable air defenses and hit its target.

Next:

Last time I reported on Syrsky and Yermak having Russian relatives still living in Russia. Now the Head of Presidential Office Podolyak has been exposed as not only having an older brother who lives in Russia, but one who may be working in the FSB:

Next:

The American 'Avenger' AD system, equipped with Stinger missiles, had an encounter with the Russian Lancet. While the Lancet couldn't catch the truck, which fled at high speed, the Avenger missiles tried several times to shoot the drone down, missing each attempt:

The Avenger is the same system which failed multiple times in protecting American troops in al-Tanf from various rockets/drones. It seems to be quite a dud.

Lastly:

Putin visited Russia's premier tank building plant of Uralvagonzavod, inspecting T-90M, T-72BM3, and BMPT Terminator production lines as well as praising workers for their 5x tank output boost:

Noteworthy in light of this is the fact that Western press suddenly bemoaned just how vast Russia's productive capacities were revealed to be:

All this while Europe and allies circle the drain:

Even a top Ukrainian analyst yesterday admitted that Russia has more modernized tanks now than before 2022, but appears to claim units have fewer tanks due to structure changes—if I'm understanding correctly:

Most striking in all the latest admissions like that of the article above is how closely they match the hubristic revelations of Hitler vis a vis Russia's productive potentials. Some may have seen the infamous train ride video where a dumbfounded Hitler expresses disbelief at the sheer inhuman scale of Russia's manufacturing capacities, admitting that if he knew how large their tank factories were before hand, he would have never invaded:

And does this sound familiar, also?

How does the saying go? History doesn't repeat itself, but it does rhyme.

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Simplicius The Thinker
14 Feb 2024 | 5:48 am

5. SITREP 2/13/24: Avdeevka Turns Critical as Iskander Strike Devastates AFU Staging Area


Another huge breakthrough has occurred in Avdeevka that may have put the final nail in the coffin of the bitterly disputed town. Though Avdeevka is smaller than Bakhmut, Mariupol, and many other captured towns, it actually—in some ways—represents a crowning offensive achievement of the war because it has been fought for continuously the longest, and as a consequence, was the most fortified of any town.

I posted 'Sitrep' maps and updates from literally 2015 before, showing how the same exact areas like Yasinovskaya to the east of 'Tsar's Hunt' was being contested with footage of battles nearly a decade ago. So for Avdeevka to fall now would be a monumental and symbolically watershed moment of this conflict.

The latest news brings us confirmation from both sides that Russian forces have in fact broken through to the 'Industrial Avenue' and beyond, which has entirely severed the city into two parts, cutting the supply route:

Here's Ukrainian channel DeepState confirming it themselves:

As well as Bild's Julian Roepcke:

You can see above that since our last update here there have been other advancements and expansions of territory, particularly around the big lake area and the suburb zone of the salient.

A wider view with supply routes visible:

Rumors have abounded in the past few days that Syrsky had withdrawn elite units from the Rabotino and Verbove fronts to immediately reinforce Avdeevka. This includes more of the 47th as well as the 3rd Assault Brigade, better known as 'Azov'.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/davidaxe/2024/02/11/ukraine-may-have-deployed-one-its-best-brigades-to-try-to-save-avdiivka/

Some rumors claimed Syrsky was getting ready to launch a major northern 'unblocking' attack, in order to pull Russian forces away from the center. It is precisely what he did previously in Bakhmut, attempting to assault areas around Berkhovka to pressure Wagner's flanks as they were making their way through the city. But seeing how telegraphed such an assault would be this time, many are rightfully skeptical.

It's been four days since Syrsky withdrew from the southern front and transferred 3 brigades of the Ukrainian Armed Forces to Avdeevka. The successes of this best elite assault brigade so far have been only failures.

Initially, I considered the actions of the 3rd OShBR on Avdeevka, and naively believed that they would be concentrated north of the city, and relying on the bridgehead in Ocheretino and Orlovka, they would try to "pull apart" the RF Armed Forces along the flanks, accompanying the assaults of 5-6 Btgr with artillery preparation.

But Syrsky's command turned out to be "smarter." They brought them into the city. And also in Berdychi and Tonenkoye, apparently to contain our "mites". At the moment, yes. But not in the long run. Keeping the city and flanks in the fields with stormtroopers is a big deal.

What the above post is saying is, instead of using the new brigades to open up a new direction on Russia's weaker flanks to the north, Syrsky instead threw the brigades directly into the center of battle. This was corroborated by a new video showing what is purported to be a 3rd 'Azov' Brigade MaxPro MRAP taking mortar fire precisely near the center of the AKHZ Coke Plant:

Geolocation:

What's interesting though, is that reports claimed the 'elite' 47th was complaining that there aren't any proper fortifications, and no time to set them up:

Avdiivka. The command of the Armed Forces of Ukraine is increasingly throwing artillery and supplies from the rear into infantry battles in order to stop the offensive of the Russian Army. The 47th Brigade of the Armed Forces of Ukraine reports almost complete absence of fortifications and lack of time to equip them - round-the-clock attacks, they are more busy with evacuation and rotation. They sit in pits.

Such an expensive defense by artillery was observed by the AFU in Bakhmut exactly a year ago, obviously it did not justify itself, but allowed for a short period of time to plug holes in the front line.

Avdeevka was the most fortified place in existence but Russian mass fires and airpower has been regularly destroying all such fortifications, leaving little time to rebuild or fashion new ones.

Pro-Ukrainian channels, even military-linked ones, are fairly disconsolate as they fear Syrsky will once again grind down the best men in pointless defenses. One of the largest pro-UA OSINTers:

Deepstate UA:

Ukrainian TG channel DeepState reports: "It is worth making decisions that will first of all save the most valuable thing - the lives of soldiers, and not turn Avdiivka into another "fortress" with songs and poems."

After witnessing the nightmare of Bakhmut, they now understand what awaits the soldiers in Avdeevka. But what's most interesting, is you'll recall that their narrative was previously that Bakhmut was a 'successful operation' because it allegedly grinded down such a disproportionate number of Russian troops, that the city defense served its purpose. But when that truth is put to the test in reality, Ukrainians instead recognize that it's actually them getting ground down amid desperate calls for withdrawal. If Bakhmut was such a 'success', then they would be happy to keep their men in Avdeevka and inflict another such 'success' against Russian attackers.

In fact, the Bakhmut comparisons are making the rounds even on French TV. The report below confirms how Russian forces have fire control of the supply routes, which is generating far more casualties in the past few days than ever before. Soldiers who fought in Bakhmut and other tough battles told the French team that Avdeevka is now worse than them all:

One of the cited reasons for it being worse than Bakhmut is the Russian airpower is far more active in Avdeevka. With the industrialization of the UMPK bombs, Russian planes are dropping them round the clock, upwards of 100 per day just here alone. In Bakhmut, there was no such firepower.

For instance, read this report from a Ukrainian volunteer below:

A Ukrainian volunteer reports that in the first third of February alone, the Russian Aerospace Forces dropped about 460 aerial bombs from UMPK on the positions of the Ukrainian Armed Forces. This includes FAB-250/500/1500 and ODAB.

Here's one view of Avdeevka from the south Tsar's Hunt area, looking northward toward the AKHZ plant, through the Khimik highrise sector, with Fab bombs going off on AFU positions:

Here an AFU 'defender' in the AKHZ Coke Plant complains that Russia is raining down bombs on them 24/7 and not letting them 'breathe':

But it gets even worse for the AFU.

Amid rumors that Syrsky was planning a large-scale 'unblocking operation', the past two days were witness to several videos showing large AFU force concentrations allegedly 'training' somewhere in the rear area not far from Avdeevka:

It's uncertain if it was meant as some kind of 'threatening' message toward Russian forces, but it may have instead precipitated something the Ukrainians didn't expect.

Today, two devastating missile strikes occurred on Ukrainian troop concentrations. The first was a massive Iskander-M ballistic missile attack on precisely one of the 'rear staging areas' less than 30km from Avdeevka, in a town called Selidovo:

Sources began reporting that there were as high as 1,500 Ukrainian casualties because the Russian attack allegedly "triple-tapped" them by first hitting the gathering, then waiting until evacuation forces arrived and hitting them again—and most notably, some believe it was precisely the 'Azov' units that were there:

Even the top pro-UA accounts reported the potential for 1,500 casualties at once:

Rezident UA channel:

"Our source in the General Staff reported that Syrsky has ordered to suppress any information about losses at the training ground in Salidovo, the city was the main transit base for the reserves of the UAF, which were being gathered to unblock Avdeevka."

All kinds of reports flooded in from both sides, with one of the common themes between the two being that the entire city was locked down, with SBU allegedly searching for infiltrators who might have transmitted the data about the gathering:

As well as reports from Ukrainians in the area of mass amounts of ambulances flooding the hospitals there:

Ex-Aidar deputy commander Ihor Mosiychuk once more confirmed the news from his sources:

He mentions something corroborated in Russian reports: that Iskanders with cluster munitions were allegedly used on the troop gathering.

More:

In the Selidovo area, traffic has been restricted; in the next 24 hours, the dead will be removed from the landfill. The SBU began searching for gunners among the locals who could help strike a concentration of enemy manpower at the training ground, which was hit by several missile strikes. The death toll is in the dozens.

AFU sector general Tarnavsky issued a damage control statement that there was no strike, or rather the number of casualties is Russian propaganda. However, a few AFU channels like the one below confirmed; though they made a strange 'brag' of it by basically saying "Russia only killed 200, not the claimed 1,500!"

Some of course have extrapolated that to mean 200 KIA with perhaps hundreds more wounded, but we may never learn the real amount. Needless to say, this was meant to be Avdeevka's last stand and what is arguably an entire battalion was wiped off the face of the earth with a single strike. It's a pretty demonstrative symbol of how Avdeevka is going.

If that wasn't bad enough, on the same day there was another strike on Tsukirino, only 5km south of Selidovo at geolocation 48.090782, 37.290670:

Against the backdrop of a highly debated attack on the temporary deployment point of Ukrainian forces in the city of Selidovo, footage has emerged of a strike on a parking lot of Ukrainian equipment in the village of Tsukurino, which is located slightly to the south.

The enemy's position was identified from the air, and rocket artillery was used to attack the targets. The video shows that the Russian Armed Forces initially used shells with cluster warheads. After the equipment was evacuated, conventional ammunition was used.

Coordinates: 48.090782, 37.290670

Meanwhile, the content of the material sharply contradicts the claims made by propagandists of the Kyiv regime, who stated that only two two-story buildings were damaged during the shelling of the populated area. If we judge by this, then more than just a couple of these "buildings" will end up in Avdeevka, where they were intended to be sent to strengthen the troop grouping.

For this strike there was footage:

However, I'm not aware of any real data on the losses in this strike, though you can clearly see that a concentration of vehicles and some buildings appeared to be hit.

As a last note on Avdeevka, the southern-most area near the old air defense base is pretty much in a boiler now:

If that falls, it will flatten the line and allow Russia to bring its forces to bear on the Khimik section with the highrises which connects to the last usable supply route—seen with yellow arrows bellow—for that semi-encircled southern grouping:

A more zoomed out view shows that the cauldron is very close to shutting, and can trap the entire contingent of what's said to be 2500-3000 remaining AFU in the main part of Avdeevka, leaving just the northern Coke Plant with its small supply lifeline toward Orlovka:

Rumors from about a week ago had already said that AFU knew Avdeevka was a done deal, and were merely delaying in order to build the secondary fallback line they could retreat to afterwards. One report states this line is roughly as follows:

The enemy creates reserve lines between Kurakhovo and Progress, as well as Kalinovo-Toretsk. The fate of Avdiivka has already been decided, the city is being held only to delay time for building a new line of defense for the summer of 2024.

As a result of the latest assaults by the Russian army, the supply corridor in the southern part of the city has narrowed to 1 km and is being completely shot through by our artillery and other means of destruction.

When it collapses completely north of the railway station, the APU will have to supply semi-surrounded units only through underground communications, and with such logistics they will not stand for a long time.

In the near future, an air defense unit is expected to fall on the southern front, after which our attacking units will connect with units in the area of Chernyshevsky, Sportivnaya and Sobornaya Streets, thereby creating conditions for an assault on the Khimik district. According to the most optimistic forecasts of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, they will begin withdrawing forces at the end of March, according to pessimistic ones, in 1-2 weeks.

The mentioned towns circled in yellow: Progres, Kalynovo, and Kurakhove:

If you look closely on the map north of Kurakhove and southwest and west of the circled Kalynove, you can see the towns of Selidovo and Tsukirino merely a few kilometers away. This shows they are the direct 'rear staging area' of the new defense line the AFU has designated for when the Avdeevka front falls.

One must recall that Russian forces have been making advances in both Pervomaisk, just south of Avdeevka, as well as Novomikhailovka, south of Marinka, and Georgievka just west of Marinka. For instance, as seen in the latest Suriyak maps, a major portion of east Novomikhailovka has already been taken:

This is pushing the entire front toward that yellow line in the map above. And when all those areas fall, the frontline will begin straightening out directly across from that claimed new 'defense line'.

Some more info:

Avdiivka. The defense of the Armed Forces of Ukraine is being built in three echelons, and the main supply hub is located in the village of Novaya Poltavka-located between Konstantinovka and Pokrovsky. From Novaya Poltavka, through the village of Progress to the south, Novoselovka Pervaya and to Orlovka, supplies have been built. Ocheretino railway station is no longer used by the Ukrainian Armed Forces as it was at the beginning of the battle for the city.

Also, the head of public relations of the 110th mechanized brigade of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Ivan Sekach, said that currently they do not have sufficient capabilities to hold Avdeevka, with some sources even claiming the 110th was forced to withdraw entirely due to heavy losses:

I mentioned that Russian forces have been advancing in Pervomaisk, Georgievka, Novomikhailovka, all on the Donetsk front. However, there have also been big new advances on the northwest Artemovsk front with Russian Airborne forces pushing in toward Chasov Yar:

"Russian troops advanced south of the Popovsky forest and west of Khromovo in an area up to 1.55 km wide to a depth of 750 m," they write, underestimating our advance by about a third on their maps and reports.

"To the east of Ivanovo, the Russian Armed Forces (11th Airborne Brigade) continue attacks to improve the tactical situation along forest belts, attacking with small infantry groups."

"The Russians advanced in the northern outskirts of Ivanovsky, occupying the lowlands," write other Kyiv resources.

As well as reported advances in Kupyansk area, most notably in Belgorovka:

Ukrainian journalist Butusov confirms how Russian forces appear to be breaking through Ukrainian defenses on every front:

The defense of the Ukrainian Armed Forces is bursting at the seams along the entire front line. The panic sentiment is being dispersed by a Ukrainian journalist, a former adviser to the Minister of Defense of Ukraine Yuriy Butusov. According to him, a critical situation has developed for the Ukrainian Armed Forces along the entire front line due to the offensive of the Russian army. The Russian Army had a great advantage along the entire line of combat contact and went on the offensive "in almost all sectors," and Kiev left the Armed Forces of Ukraine without reinforcements, Butusov summarized.

And an inebriated looking Syrsky even told German ZDF channel that Russia is 'advancing on every front':

This is particularly notable given my upcoming Part 2 article, which will deal precisely with how Russian forces will continue taking up the next phase of offensives to exhaust and break Ukraine via the 'death by a thousand cuts' strategy, though there are some rumors to a few potential 'surprises' as well. Stay tuned for that 'not-to-be-missed' report in the next few days.

Lastly, most notable is during these advances of the past few days there has been a large uptick in captures of POWs, with at least half a dozen videos or more being seen, such as: Here, Here, and Here—and many more:

A last few sundry items:

A Ukrainian Mi-8 was spectacularly shot down by a Russian manpad in the Zaporozhye region:

Next:

On the topic of losses, here a Ukrainian soldier discusses his time on the Kremennaya front, and how 100+ per day simply disappeared in the Sebrensky (Silver) Forest there:

Next:

Commander of the infamous Nazi battalion 'Da Vinci Wolves' says Ukraine needs minimum 250,000 more soldiers or they simply won't be able to fight:

Next:

The editor-in-chief of Rothschild-owned Economist rag, Bilderberg member Zanny Minton Beddoes, has some jaw-dropping words about Ukraine and Ukrainians:

In essence: "They're being killed, not us! So let's keep this racket going!"

Next:

Last time I reported about General Syrsky's ties to Russia. Now there's new videos showing the next door neighbor of his Russian parents, who live in Vladimir near Moscow. The neighbor says she overheard his parents having video calls with him every day, during which he openly told them he hates Ukrainians:

The mother and brother of Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Syrsky live on the outskirts of the Russian city of Vladimir. A neighbor of Vladimir and Galina Syrskikh said that they regularly call up via video link and General Syrsky himself speaks about the Ukrainians as follows: "They are cunning and sneaky. I can't stand them."

That's not to mention this video of a family friend who states:

"This is grief for her" - Syrsky's mother, living in Vladimir, cries after his appointment as commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, their friend said.

The friend told Ruptly that his parents are patriots of Russia. They are already elderly people and they lived their lives the way the whole country lived. So they are very sad. She's crying. It doesn't matter what position he holds there, what matters is that they are on opposite sides now. When they found out what their son was doing in Ukraine, they were ashamed to look people in the eyes, another friend of the family told RT earlier.

And sleuths have apparently uncovered the video showing Syrsky taking part in the 1986 military parade on the Red Square as part of the Red Army:

❗️The new Commander-in-Chief of the AFU, Alexander Syrsky, took part in a parade on Red Square in 1986. He was spotted on a video shot during the event.

At that time, Syrsky was a cadet at the Moscow Higher Combined Arms Command School.

It does begin to lend a case to the theory that perhaps he's some kind of Russian plant tasked with sabotaging the AFU. After all, why would he be secretly telling his parents he hates Ukrainians while serving in the highest ranks of their military?

I'll end on this more uplifting note, a video from the Chechen Akhmat forces showcasing the vast multiethnic and multiconfessional nature of Russia and its Armed Forces which together fight for one Fatherland:

They all fight for one FATHERLAND.

Special forces "AKHMAT" is a symbol of the unity of the peoples of Russia. Here, each warrior represents his people, centuries-old history, and wonderful culture. The flame of love for the Fatherland burns in their hearts, which unites them in a common desire to defend our Motherland. Here, among different cultures and nationalities, one can hear pride for one's country, for one's brothers in arms, for every flag raised and every task completed. Together they form an indestructible shield protecting our historical land. The AKHMAT special forces are, without exaggeration, the pride of Russia, which by their personal example shows that together we are capable of great achievements in the name of a great goal!

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Simplicius The Thinker
11 Feb 2024 | 4:23 am

6. Special Anniversary Report: The Future of the SMO [Part 1]


(cover art credit: Rybar)

Well folks, a week ago was our official one year anniversary here. My very first article was published on February 1st, 2023. Since then, the dashboard here tells me I've done 182 articles, with an additional 34 on my second newsletter.

From memory, the first half year or so of writing I seemed to have been averaging 6-8k words per article, only semi-recently finding ability to tamp down my wild flights to maybe 3-4k per. All things considered, this could put me at somewhere in the 4-6k average range x 182, which would put me at over 900,000 words just from this news letter alone. You can add perhaps another 34 x 3000 = 100,000+ from the second one.

That means in a single year, I've outputted potentially over 1 million words here, which is equivalent to more than 10 average-sized novels, which are usually around 90k words. A cursory search tells me Tolstoy's War and Peace clocks in at 587,287 words, with the Lord of the Rings trilogy tallying ~480,000.

I note this partly because I myself find this an astounding figure, and can hardly imagine where all those words came from—but also because one recent unsubscribed customer complained that they could not justify paying the monthly subscription owing to, what they said, was a low output.

Of course, pure quantity is never praiseworthy in its own right, but in a tongue-in-cheek and jesting spirit, I think it's evident here that my output is certainly the last thing anyone can fault me for. In fact 182 articles divided by 12 months comes out to 15 per month, which averages to an article every 2 days or so. That doesn't seem bad at all; and that's not counting the second publication.

Of course, this is also a subtle sell: for all those interested in becoming paid subscribers, here is quantitative proof you will not be let down, at least when it comes to the regularity of quality, well-researched posts.

And unfortunately you will have to become a paid subscriber to read the rest of this massive report on the state of the war, and the future outlook thereof. It ended up coming in at such a hefty scale that I decided to split it into two parts. The first part here is ~6000 words, and the second—in my opinion more interesting—part is already fully written, but will release in a day or two, so as to give you time to read and digest the first one.

The report mainly breaks down several new prominent thinktank pieces on the rapidly evolving modern battlefield and how it ties into Ukraine's chances to turn the conflict around, as well as what the US and allies are desperately doing to catch up. Some of the covered topics are: the little-seen extended and more detailed version of General Zaluzhny's latest CNN thinkpiece, Rob Lee and Michael Kofman's new War on the Rocks essay, Mick Ryan and Lt. General Clint Hinote's new policy paper on the future of combat systems, as well as a surprise piece from Russian military thinktank-land, with some eye-opening admissions on Russia's critical weaknesses exposed by the conflict and what to do about them, some of which will be in Part 2.

If that piques your interest, please subscribe today—you won't regret it, and will be able to enjoy many subscriber-only premium pieces coming down the pipeline soon. And to all subscribers paid and free, I give a big thank you for joining me on this journey, as your support has definitely made it all worthwhile and continues to put wind in my sails against the rising waves of censorship and other threats that may be brewing on the distant horizon; there will be plenty more rousing content to suit you all.

Now, without further ado, let's celebrate the one year anniversary by first looking back at how it all started, and where things are headed.

My first article came on February 1, 2023:

It was part one of an ongoing series where I attempted to divine precisely what the future of Russia's offensive strategy would look like. The first part dealt with establishing a correct historiography of the early part of the SMO, as I felt that the most common misunderstandings of the present SMO developments stemmed from an incorrect set of assumptions—or indoctrinated fallacies—about the actual numbers and motivations involved at the beginning.

The second part is where I began to break down more of how Russia's Phase 2.0 would look like:

This is now more relevant than ever because, while we were expecting a potential major post-mobilization offensive phase for 2023, what we got instead was the AFU's own "all in" offensive. Russia's general staff chose to devote 2023 entirely to active defense in crushing the AFU's grand summer 'counter-offensive' and exhausting their potential. Shoigu has now stated on record multiple times in recent months that this was the main military-objective aim of 2023, as well as building up the Russian Army's combat potential, arms and industries.

But now that the offensive has come and gone, and Ukraine has exhausted itself, Russia is positioned much closer to the type of offensive Phase 2.0 we expected as the natural evolution of the war. And this is why many of the earlier discussions regarding Russia's future approach are more relevant now than ever.

At the very end of the Part 2 article above, in the section titled 'Stealth Offensives and Ghost Brigades', I explained the strong possibility that Russia's future offensive would not be the "big arrow" push many expected, but rather a 'death by a thousand cuts' which squeezes the AFU from every side with simultaneous pressure. This method would cut down the NATO ISR overmatch by distributing the action over so many 'hotspots' as to prevent any centralized easy-to-monitor front. In effect, it puts heavy strain on ISR infrastructure, analysts' workload, etc., requiring far more satellites to go into many different non-cooperative orbits, stretching lead times longer, and thus diminishing accuracies of OODA loops, etc.

I carried this theme further in the next unofficial part of the series:

In the above article, I predicted specifically this scenario that Russia will utilize to stretch a battered Ukrainian army to its breaking point:

At the time of writing much of the strategic expectations were more intuitive hunch, as drone warfare had not yet escalated to the emergent levels seen today, which only now lend certainty to the conflict's future development, not to mention all peer-level conflicts from this point forward.

Based on today's unprecedented small drone saturation, we can say with confidence that large arrow offensives are out, replaced with the atomized, highly dispersed style of combat revolving around small semi-autonomous groupings.

Fascinatingly, some Russian theorists I pointed to previously had long expressly predicted this type of warfare evolution. For instance, take this article:

In the above, American Lt. Colonel Lester Grau comments on Soviet theoretical developments around the time of the Cold War's final years:

The Soviets see non-linear battle as one in which separate "tactically independent" battalions and regiments/brigades fight meeting battles and secure their flanks by means of obstacles, long-range fires and tempo. . . . Large units, such as divisions and armies, may influence the battle through employment of their reserves and long-range attack systems, but the outcome will be decided by the actions of combined arms battalions and regiments/brigades fighting separately on multiple axes in support of a common plan and objective. . . .

Tactical combat will be even more destructive than in the past and will be characterized by fragmented [ochagovyy] or non-linear combat. The front line will disappear and terms such as "zones of combat" will replace the outdated concepts of FEBA, FLOT and FLET. No safe havens or "deep rear" will exist.

This matches what we're seeing today.

In the article I went on to quote Russian theorist Major General Vladimir Slipchenko, who emphasizes these points:

Read more

Simplicius The Thinker
9 Feb 2024 | 3:54 am

7. Zaluzhny Finally Dismissed as Chaos Reigns in AFU


It finally happened, Zelensky has let Zaluzhny go, replacing him with Syrsky:

Defense Minister Umerov issued his own statement:

There's a lot to unpack. Let's start with the mentions in the video above of needing a general who is on the frontline, and who understands the Avdeevka situation, as well as others, deeply. This appears to be a riff on the stereotype that Zelensky/Yermak and their team were trying to seed the ground with, characterizing Zaluzhny as someone who 'never leaves his office'. These are just small, subtle threads in the narrative fabric they attempted to weave together to undermine Zaluzhny. In reality, there's no real evidence that Zaluzhny behaved in the way they accuse him of.

Following this news, a meltdown of epic proportions has ensued in the Ukrainian commentariat—the top names and influencers are not taking this news well:

WaPo, Der Spiegel, and Telegraph reporter:

You can see the reactions in one of Ukraine's largest channels below:

And why are they not taking the news in stride? Many believe that Syrsky is hated by the Ukrainian troops, particularly those on the frontlines.

This is from a pro-Ukrainian thread:

He's being called a 'butcher' and is known in other circles as a meat-grinder who refused to give an inch in Bakhmut while calling for frontal meat-assaults, leading to the extermination of an entire field army group.

Zelensky on the other hand praises him for his grand achievements: the Kiev "defense" and the Kharkov offensive. Unfortunately, as sector commander in 2015, he was also reportedly responsible for the infamous Debaltsevo cauldron:

We have collected the most famous operations of Syrsky, the new commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine:

Debaltsevo-2015

Soledar-2022

Bakhmut-2022 All these operations of the Ukrainian Armed Forces ended in encirclement and defeat for them. Two majors.

A more detailed explanation:

In 2014, after the start of the war in Donbass, Major General Syrsky was appointed chief of staff - first deputy head of the ATO. Many Ukrainian officers blamed Syrsky for the huge losses that the Ukrainian Armed Forces suffered in the Debaltseve cauldron in early 2015 and gave him the nickname "Kotlovoy General." According to various sources, more than 3,000 soldiers and officers of the Armed Forces of Ukraine were killed in the city of Debaltsevo and its environs, and almost all artillery and armored vehicles were lost. Even by the standards of a larger NWO, these losses are significant. They believed that if the general had given the order to retreat in time, the Ukrainian Armed Forces would not have suffered large losses.

Despite this, thanks to his ability to lick the ass of the Ukrainian president, in 2016-2018, Syrsky was able to buy himself a plot of land of a thousand square meters near the city of Bila Tserkva, Kiev region, received a service apartment in the center of Kyiv with an area of more than 100 square meters, and also purchased a new Renault Megane sedan for 23 thousand dollars. In addition, Syrsky received a new rank - lieutenant general.

Now, according to my sources, Syrsky is preparing a "de-blockade" of Avdeevka. To do this, he will begin to drive more and more forces and means there, exposing the front in other areas. He will send his soldiers into meat assaults in order to demonstrate that he is cooler than Zaluzhny and his overlord Zelensky did not put his bet on him for nothing. Zelensky, in turn, needs to show at least some success in order to beg for more money from his Western masters. Neither Syrsky nor Zelensky cares how many Ukrainian soldiers and officers will die for this money. They always have somewhere to run.

This is partly why some are dubbing him 'General 200' or the 'Boiler Master'. His specialty appears to be getting his troops into killboxed boilers wherein he waits to the last moment to withdraw, when the troops are already all ground down. He also famously called Russian troops in Bakhmut 'semi-encircled'—one of the more famous examples of 'cope' in the war thus far:

https://kyivindependent.com/syrskyi-all-conditions-created-to-retake-bakhmut/

There's also the fact that Syrsky was born in Russia, not far from Moscow, and graduated from the prestigious Moscow Higher Military Command School.

In fact, Syrsky's parents and brother all still live in Russia, and his father is a retired colonel of the Russian army, as is currently being reported by Readovka:

The parents and brother of the new commander-in-chief of the US-backed Armed Forces of Ukraine, Alexander Syrsky, still live in Russia, and his father is a retired colonel of the Russian Armed Forces, and now a pensioner, writes the Russian publication Readovka.

Parents, according to the publication, live in Vladimir. Brother Oleg also lives there and works as a security guard.

The publication also reports that before the start of the war, Syrsky's parents were active on social networks, where they posted posts, for example, from the march of the "Immortal Regiment" in 2019, where they stand with St. George's ribbons.

The TASS agency spoke with Syrsky's brother Oleg. He confirmed that he lives in Vladimir, but has not communicated with his relative for many years.

"I don't communicate with him, I don't even know where he is. I don't know anything about him. It's been a long, long time since he left there (to Ukraine - Ed.). He's been there all his life, he started his service there and continues it , he has a family there," Oleg said.

That's not to mention the following:

The new commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Syrsky, celebrated Russia Day in 2013.

At that time he held the rank of major general and commanded the 72nd Mechanized Infantry Brigade. His brigade, six months after celebrating Russia Day, in March 2014, entered Mariupol, was at the Donetsk airport, and ended up in the Izvarin cauldron.

And in 2013, he ate a cake with the Ukrainian and Russian flags on top and hugged Russian military personnel at a reception. I blurred out the faces in the photo because it was not possible to accurately determine where the participants of that celebration are now, except for Syrsky.

But here's the most important angle that few others, it seems, have noticed.

Ask yourself, why would Zelensky appoint a commander that the entire armed forces allegedly hates?

In fact, this is a 'design feature' not a bug.

Recall that the reason Zaluzhny was given the boot was he had become too powerful: he was too loved by the troops, and by the people. Why? One of the reasons is likely because he fought for the troops multiple times. In early 2023, documents were leaked showing that he nearly begged Zelensky to pull troops back from Bakhmut, but the narco-Fuhrer refused, wanting it as a symbolic city defense—perhaps taken with romantic delusions of Stalingrad.

During the grand summer 'counteroffensive', Zaluzhny pulled the brigades of the 10th Army Corps back and began to use them sparingly—much to the chagrin and disapproval of US sponsors—after the initial first few wipes devastated columns of Leopards and Bradleys along the infamous road of death near Rabotino and Mala Tokmachka.

Recently it was claimed Zaluzhny likewise attempted to get Avdeevka totally withdrawn. It does not seem that he likes to waste men for what he knows to be fruitless efforts. Syrsky on the other hand appears glad to grind them down.

So, has it become obvious yet? Zelensky needs a commander-in-chief he can control, someone not universally loved by the troops; someone who cannot use those troops at a time of opportunity to 'march on Kiev' and oust Zelensky from his citadel. Syrsky appears to fit the perfect prototypical role: undefiant, unpopular, uncharismatic, and most importantly, untempted by political ambitions—the ideal subserviant factotum to Zelensky's regime.

Also to note: some calls to stage a new protest on Maidan Square have already begun, but nothing has materialized as of this writing:

Supporter of Poroshenko, blogger Karl Volokh after Zaluzhny's sacking called on people to go out to Maidan.

💬 "Zaluzhny didn't write any statements and didn't agree to any positions. I think it's worth consulting with you and me about changing the strategy and new approaches - which is what President Zelensky is so worried about. I plan to start this tomorrow at 17:00 near the monument," he wrote on Facebook.

The post has already received 5.6 thousand likes, over 700 reposts, and many comments in the same vein.

💬 "Kiev should start, and we will join from the regions," says the first comment.

This brings us to the timing. First, just yesterday the Rada approved the draft bill on mobilization:

https://www.pravda.com.ua/eng/news/2024/02/7/7440777/

However, the bill still needs to go through potential revisions and be held to another vote on February 21. The article states it will then likely be fully ratified, to be instated into law by April:

"Therefore, it is most likely that the draft law will be accepted in its entirety in the last week of February, will be signed in early March, and will take effect a month later, in April," Zhelezniak summarised.

In the meantime, Avdeevka continues to catastrophically collapse. One of the current rumors reported by RezidentUA channel states that Syrsky has already called for immediate reinforcements to try and break the near-blockade in the embattled city:

"Our source in the General Staff said that Syrsky began to transfer reserves to Avdiivka in order to break through the encirclement of the city and fulfill his promise to Zelensky. The new Commander-in-Chief, unlike Zaluzhny, does not oppose the President's decisions and will hold Avdiivka as a new symbol of resistance."

So, the guy known for getting into boilers in virtually every battle he's ever led—and losing them all—now reportedly doubles down into…another boiler?

The key takeaway, however, is that Zaluzhny may have been dragging his feet, deliberately 'sabotaging' the Avdeevka front by withholding the transfer of reserves so as to force a withdrawal, knowing that it's hopeless to fight bitterly for it while losing mountains of men. Syrsky on the other hand has no such compunctions and is happy to turn Avdeevka into Bakhmut 2.0—at least according to these rumors.

The latest developments from today prove that it would be almost certainly pointless. New breakthroughs have occurred, with Russian troops pushing even further into the suburb sector, almost totally bisecting Avdeevka in half:

Zoomed out view:

As can be seen, only a narrow strip of land about 400-500m wide stands between Russian forces and the edge of the residential sector there. That means the entire southern quarter of Avdeevka would be soon cut off from the north AKHZ Coke Plant sector.

Here's a look at the last remaining supply routes:

The main MSR in yellow through Lastochkino would be severed for the forces in the south of Avdeevka.

All the top Ukrainian figures and accounts are wailing:

▪️The speaker of the operational-strategic group of troops of the Armed Forces of Ukraine "Tavria" D. Likhovoy confirmed that in Avdeevka the fighting is taking place not only in the north of the city in the private sector, but also within the urban area.

▪️"All the media are asking, and I can confirm that yes: military clashes are no longer taking place only in the private sector in the north of the city, but also within urban areas.

▪️The enemy's plan is obvious: he is trying to cut off Ukrainian forces by entering between the Avdiivka coke plant and the quarry," Likhovoy said on the telethon.

And in the past few days, reports on almost every frontline have been absolutely cataclysmic for Ukraine. The ammo shortage appears to be so bad now that they're barely able to hold on, taking unprecedented losses in the process.

Most notably, heavy action is occurring on Sinkovka and Novomikhailovka where Russia is pushing through Ukrainian lines:

For the most shocking evocation of the frontline horror look no further than the following account posted by another one of Ukraine's top propagandists:

This is backed by several new articles with the same well-trodden headlines. From Washington Post today:

https://archive.is/gK7dw

It's getting so bad that a Ukrainian battalion now has as few as 40 capable fighting troops:

One battalion commander in a mechanized brigade fighting in eastern Ukraine said that his unit currently has fewer than 40 infantry troops — the soldiers deployed in front-line trenches who hold off Russian assaults. A fully equipped battalion would have more than 200, the commander said.

This is a battalion we're talking about, not a company or platoon.

The dismal report goes on:

Oleksandr, a battalion commander, said the companies in his unit on average are staffed at about 35 percent of what they should be. A second battalion commander from an assault brigade said that is typical for units that carry out combat tasks.

"The basis of everything is the lack of people," Oleksandr said.

"Where are we going? I don't know," he added. "There's no positive outlook. Absolutely none. It's going to end in a lot of death, a global failure. And most likely, I think, the front will collapse somewhere like it did for the enemy in 2022, in the Kharkiv region."

This is one article I recommend reading in its entirety, it's that eye-opening.

But to get back to Avdeevka: the reports of losses in the AFU there are terrible. Such an anecdotal one says they're losing a battalion a week just there alone:

The most interesting aspect surrounds rumors as to how and why Russian forces were able to break through so decisively the past week or two. It turns out, according to many reports, that Wagner has been heavily involved in the units in the breakthrough sector. Not only have multiple videos of Wagner-patched troops emerged (Here and Here), but there are outright reports like the following:

Interesting information from the field, allowed to share. Why did the advance in the north of Avdeevka begin so quickly? Many Wagners have been appointed to the positions of commanders of assault groups, who use Bakhmut's experience. It is these groups that are now making their way to Industrial Avenue.

As well as:

There are rumors that the command of the Armed Forces of Ukraine approved the withdrawal from Avdeevka. They are already mining some of the houses that are still ahead of us. This indicates that they actually want to withdraw. But it is definitely too early to talk about a complete withdrawal. There continues to be heavy fighting in the city.

In particular, it is worth highlighting the 115th Special Forces Brigade of the Russian Guard (where 80% of PMC Wagner fighters serve). They do impossible things. But also all other units in Avdeevka. Continued good luck and strength! There will still be tough fighting for the city.

By the way, the top portion of that came a few days ago before Zaluzhny was let go. So it is very interesting that Zaluzhny was sacked right as rumors of an Avdeevka withdrawal began rolling in. If true, it seems to indicate once more that he attempted to pull out and was terminated for good.

Last few random items:

If you were startled by Syrsky's ties to the Russian homeland, it's only a microcosm in the larger 'brother war' theme. Andrey Yermak too is half Russian (Russian mother) and according to circulating reports, his parents still reside there as well:

But the wildest new story is the following:

Oleksandr, a Ukrainian Bradley commander—proudly sporting an American flag patch—fights against his own father, who is a tanker for the DPR. But that isn't all: they fight on the same front and have even squared off against each other, with the father on his Russian tank proving victorious in knocking out his son's Bradley with a shot that sent it fleeing. Unfortunately, the father reportedly perished afterwards in a different battle:

Next:

As more and more videos of female AFU platoons roll in, it was only a matter of time before we saw a POW. This one was reportedly captured in Khrynki, Kherson—a particularly shocking fact, given what we know about that cross-Dnieper meatgrinder:

Female AFU POW taken: her husband is MIA, she has 3 kids, no job, went to the army to pay the bills, was sent to Krynki (Russian bank of the Dnieper), wounded, denied evacuation (not valuable enough), left to die, saved by the Russians.

Next:

One of the key factors responsible for the decisive advances in Avdeevka of the past week were mass Russian bombing campaigns via UMPK Fab-500 glidebombs. Today alone a reported 80-100 such Fabs were dropped on Avdeevka alone onto Ukrainian positions and withdrawing units on the supply routes.

A new video has dispelled doubts of the UMPK bombs' accuracy for the first time, showing them hitting several large Ukrainian warehouses in closeup fashion. But what is most notable is the sequence at the end. Three bombs hit, two of them choosing adjacent warehouses—but note the third bomb: it is said to be a new type of airburst variety equipped with an altimeter or proximity fuze, allowing it to rain fragments and shrapnel down at the target from above:

In some of the freeze-frames you can clearly see the extended wings of the glide-bomb for identification:

Lastly, Tucker Carlson's long-awaited interview with Putin finally dropped. You can watch it on X or on his site. There's nothing particularly ground-breaking there, and Putin mostly repeats the same talking points he's been trying to convey to the West for many years. For us afficionados who follow events, there is nothing new here, as I expected, but if you're interested it's worth a watch.

Here's one of the more striking excerpts, where Putin compares the progressing collapse of the US to that of the late Roman Empire:

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Simplicius The Thinker
6 Feb 2024 | 5:52 am

8. Avdeevka Defenses Continue to Crumble


I had a more substantive piece coming, but for now I'll hold off and give another Sitrep-style update on events to clear the plate since there's a lot of ongoing things that could boil over in the near future.

As cliche as it sounds, things are turning dire for Ukraine—at least for this current phase of things. Zelensky finally openly confessed his intention to purge not only Zaluzhny and his assistants, but a lot of other staff in what is essentially a 'great reset' of the Ukrainian leadership:

Immediately after that, Ukrainian Deputy Yevhen Shevchenko reported that, according to his information, Zaluzhny has already internally accepted the position of ambassador to the UK:

As the above article states, if this is true, it means Zaluzhny would effectively be 'shipped out to the farm' to be placed under close watch in the UK, and as far away from Ukraine as possible to keep Zelensky protected.

There's no word on how true any of this is, but rumor had it that the US had already earmarked Budanov for Zaluzhny's position, which is why Budanov was flown on his high-profile tour of Washington DC late last year: it is said the planners and controllers—i.e. Nuland and co.—were likely using the opportunity to introduce Budanov around town to all the new shot-callers he'll soon be taking orders from. Likewise it was to put his face front and center in the beltway and sell him as the next replacement.

What's most eye-opening about these events is that Avdeevka happens to be suddenly crumbling, just in time for these reversals. It suggests the non-coincidental nature of the proceedings; i.e. Zelensky may suddenly be pulling the plug on Avdeevka to time its fall with the crescendo of anti-Zaluzhny machinations in order to throw him under the bus by blaming Avdeevka's fall on him, and using that as the final impetus to announce his dismissal.

Ex-Aidar deputy commander Mosiychuk very bluntly underscores this very reasoning:

What is uncertain, however, is what exactly the purge is supposed to accomplish for Zelensky. The fact is, Biden's Ukrainian aid is still held up and seems no closer to fruition. Yesterday, the administration announced the new revised bill and it was met with immediate furor by House Republicans:

While establishment shills and Democrat senators reacted with vitriol:

Here are the main provisions of the bill, for those interested:

It's clear that the bill is DOA, and Ukrainian aid is no closer—though that didn't stop Chuck Schumer from dialing up the fearmongering and once more not so subtly threatening Americans with the promise they'll have to fight Russia in eastern Europe if the money isn't given:

But what can Zelensky change in the frontline calculus of the war by simply rearranging the figureheads?

The only other explanation for the purge is that the nominal date for what should have been the presidential election is coming up in March, and I've already written about speculation that certain 'factions'—perhaps including Zaluzhny—could use Zelensky's illegitimacy to overthrow him after that point, even though the Rada technically ratified the martial law provision which effectively cancels presidential elections during war time. This could be a move by Zelensky's consort to ensure that there is no one influential or powerful enough left at the top that could challenge his supremacy or legitimacy after the 'would-be' election date.

The other thing is Zelensky needs some kind of patsy that can take the fall for the new mobilization bill. Rumor has it Zelensky is desperate to force through this bill no matter what, with claims that his team is even bribing Rada deputies up to $1 million dollars to sign off on the bill. But the problem is that a potential mobilization bill is becoming increasingly unpopular in society, and this is being reflected by Rada deputies as well, many of whom want to flee the country but are blocked from doing so.

For instance, here's Tymoshenko again:

And many prominent figures and institutions in society are warning that a new mobilization bill could collapse the economy. For instance, one of the new proposed measures to shut down mobilization evaders' bank accounts will, according to some, cause a run on the banks as all eligible Ukrainian men will immediately withdraw all their money from the banking system.

Other business associations are issuing stark warnings as well:

The adoption of a government bill on mobilization can paralyze the economy of Ukraine, says the European Business Association.

"Business is convinced that the key task should be the creation of truly working norms, balanced, that can be fulfilled and which do not paralyze the work of part of the country. Actually, therefore, according to the European Business Association, the aforementioned bill cannot be adopted, but we must once again consciously approach its revision – so as not to stop the country's work and, in particular, its economy", - says the statement.

Business is concerned about the rules, in particular, about electronic summons and imposing restrictions on evaders in court.

It is mentioned that the TCK began to check the drivers of the trucks on the border, which increased the queues, and with the armor of employees there are great difficulties.

Tymoshenko called the bill a draconian disaster, and it's a sentiment echoed widely. Zelensky is desperate for a dupe that can 'fall on his sword' by owning the bill under his name.

On that note let's turn to Avdeevka.

As I said, very 'coincidentally' the city appears to be totally collapsing. Only days ago I reported major breaches and now there have been even larger ones, as AFU lines collapse entirely. Everyone is in a panic, including dozens of Ukrainian accounts:

Mosiychuk too sounded the alarm:

What happened first was Russian forces collapsed the entire area of the "northern shore" of that lagoon / sand quarry:

That's a massive area that just fell apart in a single day. And the area just under that lagoon/quarry is known as 'Little Terrikon' (mini Slag Heap) and is said to be the tallest height of the whole outlying area, which means it's a highly strategic point Russian forces captured:

But that wasn't even the half of it. Russian forces continued to push both southeast past the quarry and west into the city proper:

Here's a wider view from the eminent mapper Suriyak:

And a granular view of the city extension:

This portion admittedly is the most in question and up in the air, presently. But as can be seen above, the distance from where Russian troops were geolocated to the western-most border of Avdeevka is as little as 500m, by some accountings.

This means that Ukrainian forces are in danger of now being entirely cut off from their supply routes, which means Avdeevka is on paper almost finished.

The yellow arrows below point to the supply routes—you can see how close Russian advanced forces are to cutting both the north from the south, as well as each of the separate areas from their actual final supply roads:

There are many ongoing geolocations proving various positions, for instance this one showing AFU under Russian drone overwatch:

Which is here at geolocation: 48.159085592522565, 37.7234303419742

Ukrainians on the other hand have a video capturing a few overextended Russian storm troops at: 48.157798, 37.727516 which is precisely here, proving the advance:

The southeastern Tsar's Hunt quarter is still seeing heavy action. Ukraine brought in reinforcements with Bradleys, and one took a wipe on a mine:

This happened here:

As some may have heard, Ukraine has sent all its most elite units to try and staunch the collapse, which is why yesterday we saw a glimpse of the first ever M1 Abrams finally appearing near action on what is alleged to be the Avdeevka front:

When they send that thing in as a last resort, you know the final line of defense has been reached.

Lastly, some in Ukraine have attempted to downplay Avdeevka's coming fall, as usual, but the stats tell the true story. Ukraine is said to have sent dozens of its most elite battalions to try and hold off Russia's advances:

Continuing the tradition of covering how much the enemy is gathering forces for battles for the city, let's look at Avdiivka

The picture in fact does not correspond in any way to the words of Tsaplienko or Butusov, who either have the 110th brigade alone fighting for Avdeevka, or they are also assisted by the 47th and 53rd. The section from Vodyanoye to Novoselovka (about 25 km) was taken.

This time, for convenience, units are divided by type and line brigade battalions are not displayed. The location of the brigades is approximate; line battalions are more accurately located on the interactive map.

* The only thing is that artillery brigades were not taken into account, because they are located further away on the map.

How correctly noted. stories about "one brigade that holds everything back" are not true. Avdeevka is defended by several brigades and a heap of attached units. It was exactly the same in the Battle of Artemovsk, where a large number of Ukrainian Armed Forces brigades acted against Wagner and units of the Russian Armed Forces along the entire front line, which were also rotated after losses suffered.

Besides that, Russian forces continue to advance in several other areas, such as approaching Yampolovka on the Kremennaya line and coming closer to surrounding Novomikhailovka with the recent capture of the 'Menagerie' strategic point.

A few other interesting updates:

A new Forbes article says the Russian artillery advantage is so vast now that Russian gunners are getting "cocky" in how they operate:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/davidaxe/2024/02/02/russian-artillery-gunners-are-getting-cocky-as-ukraine-runs-out-of-ammo-russian-guns-gather-for-devastating-salvos/

Where as recently as this summer, Ukraine's artillery enjoyed parity with, if not superiority over, Russia's own artillery, today the Russians have a fivefold advantage. Ukrainian batteries fire around 2,000 shells a day. Russian batteries fire 10,000.

And as a result, Russian gunners are getting cocky. Unworried by the risk of Ukrainian gunners firing back at them, the Russians are concentrating their biggest guns and launchers for devastating salvos targeting Ukrainian positions in front-line cities.

Ukrainian analysis group Frontelligence Insight detected the trend in satellite imagery of the 600-mile front line of Russia's 23-month wider war on Ukraine.

"In January alone, Frontelligence Insight recorded over 14 concentrations of artillery and enemy forces," the group reported. "Our analysis suggests that this resurgence signals a decreasing fear among Russian forces, possibly fueled by renewed ammunition shortages on the Ukrainian side."

What they're saying is that, before Russia operated much more carefully with single batteries widely dispersed. Now there is satellite evidence showing Russia is massing large groups of artillery batteries together in certain fronts to fire off huge salvos, like the types we see during exercises:

Sample photo for visualization purposes.

On that note, a long-awaited new episode of Zvezda's military show came out showcasing the brand new Russian 2S40 'Phlox' combined 120mm mortar and artillery system currently being rolled out to the front in test batches. This is a unique system that's able to fire both 120mm mortars and howitzer shells, giving it great versatility. Its mobility is likewise demonstrated here, where they show the record fast deployment time from park to fire-readiness in under 30 seconds (the French Caesar is said to take 60 seconds minimum):

The automated system even showcases its rare MRSI (Multiple Round Simultaneous Impact) mode. This is a mode only the most advanced modern howitzers are capable of replicating where several shots are fired via different computer-calculated trajectories in order to land on target at the same time in one deadly barrage:

Here's the full episode for those interested, click "CC" (closed captioning/subtitles) at bottom right:

Next:

Interesting new photos show the Russian ship Askold undergoing repairs beneath a constructed canopy:

Western satellites recorded, presumably, repair work on the Askold MRK (Project 22800 Karakurt) in the dry dock of the Zaliv Shipyard in Kerch after its defeat on November 4, 2023 by several Strom Shadow cruise missiles.

This is evidenced by the construction of a roof over the ship, as well as the presence of scaffolding around.

Recall when it was hit last November, and Ukrainians totally wrote it off. I said it would be repaired:

Next:

A somewhat troubling report that Zelensky, by way of his Foreign Affairs Minister Kuleba, is courting Moldova's president Sandu with a plan to utilize Moldova's airspace for Ukrainian F-16s:

The President's office has been negotiating with Sandu for several months, but so far the question has been hanging, and the drain of the letter has been beneficial to the President of Moldova, who does not want to get involved in the Ukrainian conflict. The delay in the supply of F-16 is due to the fact that we cannot prepare airfields for basing fighters, the enemy constantly strikes and destroys the infrastructure. That is why Bankova is looking for alternative ways to use the F-16, a working scenario for the passage of fighters over the airspace of Moldova.

The plan is clearly two fold: as the above states, Russia has been destroying Ukrainian airports and runways as of the past few months, particularly targeting the ones where F-16s were planned to be housed. Thus Ukraine has a major issue with actually being able to even accept any F-16s.

But the second part is clearly another provocation to try and entrap other countries, leading up to NATO itself, in a war with Russia as a last ditch escape from the bear's tightening claws.

Lastly, to end on an uplifting note, when Putin declared 2024 to be the Year of the Family a hearth was lit, to be symbolically passed around the country as a spread of 'love and fidelity'. Here is a video showcasing this program to promote traditional and family values all across the vastness of Russia:

❤️ From Sevastopol to Magadan: the fire of the All-Russian Family Hearth "Heart of Russia" continues to spread across the country.

On the day of the start of the Year of the Family , declared by the President , the fire of the family hearth was lit at the Russia Exhibition . Twelve married couples received a piece of the flame to spread it throughout all regions of the country as a symbol of love and fidelity.

It is symbolic that the start of the Year of the Family was given at the Exhibition, says Anastasia Zvyagina , Deputy General Director of the Russia Exhibition. " The fire has already been delivered to 74 regions of our country . The day before, it was received by the Oryol region, the Republic of Udmurtia, the Leningrad region, and the Saratov region. I hope this fire will become a symbol of unity and harmony of all families in our country . It reminds us of how important it is to preserve and strengthen our family values, to love and care for each other," she noted.

Participants of the "Family of the Year" competition and the All-Russian forum "Relatives and Loved Ones," large families and representatives of professional dynasties deliver and participate in the ceremonial transfer of fire. For example, the city of Russian sailors, Sevastopol , received a flame from representatives of the creative Elizarov dynasty, founded by choreographer Vadim Elizarov, the creator of the first theater in the choreographic world.

" The attention to family, to traditional values, to dynasties, which is set by our President, is what makes us invincible. Of course, all year we will carry out the mission and the edification that the President gave us. Family is the basis of the traditional values of our country ," emphasized Alexander Elizarov , a participant in the "Relatives - Loved Ones" forum.

The fire was brought to the Magadan region by Vadim and Alena Gorelovs , parents of ten children. " A strong family means a strong society. A healthy family means a healthy society. The fact that today the Government wants to help, contributes to the unification and preservation of the family, this makes me very happy ," said Vadim Gorelov.

Come to the Russia Exhibition - we give warmth and light up hearts!

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Simplicius The Thinker
3 Feb 2024 | 5:59 am

9. SITREP 2/2/24: Biden Launches Attacks as Russia Again Breaches Major Avdeevka Lines


As of this writing, Biden has finally begun his retaliatory attacks, hitting targets in Syria and Iraq. But sources claim that almost every target was known in advance and evacuated, as we suspected would be the case.

But the most interesting development on this front is the following. Recall in the last update I indicated rumors that, amid a welter of secret talks, Israel was considering some kind of full ceasefire and, presumably, an end to the war.

Now there are new reports that the US has fully doubled down on the creation of a Palestinian state—in other words, the long-sought-after two-state solution:

https://archive.is/yCGaO

The United States is actively pursuing the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with security guarantees for Israel and exploring options with partners in the region, the State Department spokesperson said on Wednesday.

Whitehouse Spokesman Matthew Miller confirmed:

He says the carrot is "security guarantees for Israel". You have to understand how politi-speak works. In diplomatic/political terms, "security guarantees" is translated as: bribes. It effectively means, we'll give you x amount of billions of dollars for weapons if you do what we say.

A new WaPo piece confirms these developments by adding that Blinken will soon head to the MidEast to try to finalize this deal by convincing Saudi Arabia to agree to normalize its relations with Israel on the express condition that Israel not only fully ends the Gaza conflict, but commits to creating a Palestinian state which includes Gaza and the West Bank.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken plans to travel to the Middle East soon. He'll probably stop first in Saudi Arabia, where he hopes for a renewed pledge from Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to normalize relations with Israel if — and only if — Israel ends the Gaza conflict and commits to the eventual creation of a Palestinian state that includes Gaza and the West Bank.

It's difficult not to be somewhat impressed by these developments. For all the corruption and evil of the US regime, we can almost give them credit for coming to reason—under great duress and social pressure, of course—and for once doing the just and honorable thing. What it further means is that the US realizes it has no choice remaining but to hardball an 'end game' against Israel, otherwise US risks being dragged into an Empire-ending war with Iran.

It does look more and more likely that such a deal can occur, and the war on Gaza will end. But: one must remember that from the perspective of diehard Likudniks and Israeli rightwingers, such a 'premature' cessation would effectively doom Israel for good. We've covered the angle at length before, but in essence, due to Israel's demographic discrepancies with its Arab neighbors amongst other things, to allow a Palestinian state to grow on its borders, protected by a legitimate UN seat (rather than "observer" status), would mean the eventual total dissolution of Israel and the forfeiture of all prophecies of Moshiach's return.

Thus, the radicals amongst them could never allow this—so it will have to come to a major head, and may get bloody. Israel's internal situation and stability in many ways mirrors that of Ukraine and its ultra-radical faction.

The final biggest issue, which would be an immense thorn in Israel's side, and a grave humiliation, is highlighted at the end of the WaPo article:

Then there is the problem of stopping settler violence and relocating as many as 200,000 Israelis from a future Palestinian state. Biden took a strong step Thursday by sanctioning four Israeli West Bank settlers who committed violence against Palestinians. That's just a start, but it enhances U.S. credibility with Palestinians as peace broker.

Yes, you see, given that Israel has hundreds of thousands of illegal settlers occupying ostensibly Palestinian territory, the creation of a legitimate state would necessitate the total expulsion of all settlers, which would play like a sort of Israeli Nakhba on TV. Recall, the whole point of the illegal settlements was always about one thing only: keeping a Palestinian state from forming. So this would mean the end to a grand plan spanning many decades, and a historic failure of an age-old Zionist vision.

As a sidenote, new reports point to promising normalizations between KSA and Syria as well:

Saudi Arabia prepares to open embassy in Syria

The process of normalizing relations between Saudi Arabia and the Assad regime is gaining momentum.

According to a report by Al Watan, Saudi Chargé d'Affaires Abdullah al-Harith and some other diplomats will travel to Damascus on Saturday to resume Saudi consular services.

According to the Saudi newspaper, Al-Harith will present his credentials to the Assad regime's foreign minister and begin work with his team at a hotel in the Syrian capital. Once restoration work is completed on the Saudi Arabian Embassy building in Damascus, the embassy will move into this building.

The United Arab Emirates also sent an ambassador to Syria for the first time in 13 years.

UAE Ambassador Hassan al-Shehhi took office on Tuesday, presenting his credentials to the Assad regime's foreign minister.

I tentatively propose that 'things are looking up'.

But the most explosive developments come from the Ukrainian front, as usual. There are a few very interesting breakthrough stories to tackle.

Firstly, the Zelensky-Zaluzhny affair heats up. As reported last time, there is further confirmation that Zelensky plans to issue a decree to fire Zaluzhny:

In fact, Seymour Hersh dropped another "bombshell" today claiming that his sources told him the reason behind the coming dismissal is that Zaluzhny has been conspiring with the West to not only oust Zelensky—an obvious point—but to end the war entirely:

While I'm on the fence about Hersh's sources, the fact is that I myself have reported a month or two back on various rumors that a Zaluzhny faction was forming, with Poroshenko working to recruit various oligarchs like Akhmetov to back the embattled general, with some even claiming that there were associated talks on secret deals with the Russian side.

From the TASS article above on the Hersh piece:

The new US policy on Ukraine envisages support for Commander-in-Chief Valery Zaluzhny, a cessation of hostilities, economic reforms and an end to President Vladimir Zelensky's rule, Hersh said.

"The actual concept is far more complicated and far more ambitious, I was told by the official, and envisions sustained support for Zaluzhny and reforms that would lead to the end of the Zelensky regime," Hersh wrote on his blog on Substack.

He said that forging a new strategy requires "consultation and education of key patriotic and realistic Ukrainians."

"The danger with such reform is that there will be leaks to the press and an effort by the entrenched corrupt beneficiaries of the US 'free lunch' policy to derail the process," the journalist continued.

"The strategy now being proposed is to settle the war and settle the financial plan for Ukraine," he quoted a US official as saying.

Now an avalanche of new "intrigues" has ensued. For instance: Zaluzhny was involved in a seemingly indirect threat to Zelensky with the posting of this photo, exemplifying his far-right radical nationalist backing:

Zaluzhny on eve of his expected firing by Zelensky shows his backing from far-right, which has power to overthrow Zelensky. Zaluzhny takes selfie with leader of far-right Right Sector & commander of Right Sector brigade of Ukrainian military in front of portrait of Nazi collaborator & far-right OUN leader Bandera & red & black flag of OUN-UPA & Right Sector.

It would be a way of hinting to Zelensky: "Don't try me, or I'll send the real wolves after you."

That's not to mention that after news of the attempted dismissal, Zaluzhny immediately released a new article on CNN:

https://www.cnn.com/2024/02/01/opinions/ukraine-army-chief-war-strategy-russia-valerii-zaluzhnyi/index.html

Though it deals with the mechanics of the war, it does take a couple of arguable swings at Zelensky and co., for instance:

We must acknowledge the significant advantage enjoyed by the enemy in mobilizing human resources and how that compares with the inability of state institutions in Ukraine to improve the manpower levels of our armed forces without the use of unpopular measures.

Finally, we remain hamstrung by the imperfections of the regulatory framework in our country, as well as the partial monopolization of the defense industry. These lead to production bottlenecks – in ammunition, for instance – which further deepen Ukraine's dependence on its allies for supplies.

I do plan to delve more indepth into the article in a planned coming piece of my own, which deals more specifically with the issues of the current war, so for now that's all I'll say on it.

But the simple fact he released the unapproved article could be viewed as a double-edged blow because if you recall, the last time he penned such an unsanctioned piece following the counter-offensive he angered Zelensky, drawing immediate censure. Thus, this too seems like an intentionally timed bit of defiance and needling on Zaluzhny's part, and new 'rumors' from Ukrainian Legitimny channel do claim that Zelensky is already furious about the latest stunt. Partly, it likely also has to do with the fact that the carefully timed release is meant to show Zaluzhny as the intrepid commander, still in charge and powerful, dissertating on doctrinal matters to the world. It becomes difficult to 'dismiss' such a man who appears active and engaged with solving Ukraine's military tasks.

The fact that he hammers on the 'too few soldiers' theme is an obvious jab at Zelensky and the ongoing mobilization saga, which is at the center of Zaluzhny's ongoing removal from power. I said last time that Zelensky tried to pin the mobilization on his general, so Zaluzhny immediately wrote an article stating mobilization is one of the main reasons for AFU losing, implying that this is on the leadership—i.e. Zelensky.

This was followed by alleged leaks of a Zaluzhny telephone call, where he reportedly savages Zelensky with a slew of colorful epithets:

While as of yet this is unsourced and therefore questionable, it does follow in accordance with previous confirmed stories of SBU wire-tapping Zaluzhny's office from a few months ago. Further, a new video from Zvezda shows Ukrainian ex-SBU—now defected to Russia—Vasily Prozorov discussing another 'leaked' letter potentially written by the SBU, that claims to reveal that Zaluzhny was being 'insubordinate to Zelensky', or in other words, stopped taking orders from Zelensky entirely:

❗️EXCLUSIVE ❗️

Zaluzhny may leave his post so as not to become a "scapegoat" - Prozorov showed a secret letter about the generals' disobedience to the commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine

The letter was "leaked" from the SBU, it could have been prepared by the military themselves so that Zaluzhny would have an official reason for dismissal, ex-SBU officer Vasily Prozorov, who received the document from his Ukrainian sources, said in the Open Air program on the Zvezda TV channel.

"They (the Ukrainian military) understand perfectly well that they need a "scapegoat" on whom all military failures will be blamed. Zaluzhny understands that the last one [to be in the post] will be blamed for everything. But leaving on his own is not nice. And if Zelensky fires him by his decree, then "the scoundrel president simply devoured him almost on takeoff," the expert noted.

Prozorov's theory is that Zaluzhny actually wants to "get out of dodge" himself because when Ukraine is forced to surrender to Russia, the general doesn't want to be made the scapegoat.

The other huge news is another startling 'surprise advance' has occurred on the Avdeevka front:

This time it was from the north, and was initially confirmed via geolocation of a Ukrainian FPV attack on advanced Russian forces:

It's difficult to tell how definitive it is because of that, since it could have just been forward scout units. However, there's been so much hubbub about it now from reliable sources that it appears they have begun to dig in, though we'll know for definite over the next few days or so.

Julian Roepcke, of course, once more led the pack in alarm:

As the former platoon commander of the nationalist battalion "Aidar" Yevgeny Dikiy said, the Ukrainian Armed Forces will apparently have to leave Avdiivka.

According to Dikiy, the likelihood of the Ukrainian Armed Forces withdrawing from Avdeevka is growing every day for one reason: "shell hunger", as well as the approach of Russian troops to the supply route.

On that note, it's not looking good for the AFU, and the given reason continues to be due to mass shell hunger and inability to fire artillery. Several new articles evocatively delve into this topic, as well as other revealing matters. One from Politico:

https://www.politico.eu/article/ukrainian-army-suffers-from-artillery-shell-hunger

One of the revelations is that the EU will only end up scrounging up 524k total shells of the promised 1M for Ukraine. If you recall, last time they were "on track" for 600k+, but the total number keeps dwindling:

The European Union had promised to send a million shells by March but won't meet that target. EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell said this week that the bloc will ship only 524,000 shells by then, while promising 1.1 million by the end of the year.

The quote of the article goes to this, however:

They repeat the same tired spiel about their FPV usage as replacement for artillery, but one soldier even admits that FPVs can't entirely do the job. And he's right, you can go far with them but nothing can totally replace the 'god of war'.

Another one from Bloomberg hits the panic button:

https://archive.is/5YWL0

The common theme with both is that Ukraine has too few ammunition not merely to go on assault or "win", but even to defend and hold back Russia's troops:

Recent waves of Russian missile attacks killed dozens in Kyiv and other cities as Ukraine's air defenses, which rely heavily on expensive interceptors provided by the allies, weren't able to destroy as many of the incoming weapons as in the past, according to a European diplomat.

The next piece is from Der Spiegel:

https://archive.is/PbJ9P

Here's one summary of the article's most poignant points:

‼️🇺🇦 Soldiers share trenches with the dead, out of 100 company soldiers, only 20 can still fight, - Spiegel about the situation at the front

🔸The Armed Forces of Ukraine do not have enough personnel, and those soldiers who are currently fighting are tired of the fighting and difficult conditions of service.

🔸The wife of a soldier who has been near Bakhmut for more than a year reported that her husband "is sitting in a dirty, cold position, less than 100 meters from the enemy."

🔸 "Sometimes he shares the trench with the dead, because the shelling is so strong that no one can take out the bodies. Once he went to the position and there was no contact with him for 10 days," said Irina Topinko, a resident of the Zhytomyr region.

🔸The military says that mobilization needs to be strengthened, but now it is taking place "not according to clear criteria developed in public discourse, but secretly, with accusations of arbitrariness and corruption."

🔸"Anyone who doesn't have money or connections, or simply doesn't act quickly enough, can fall victim to increasingly brutal methods. Authorities catch men on the street or at work and drag them to training camps."

🔸But those who end up at the front this way are often incompetent soldiers.

🔸 "There are alcoholics among the recruits, says one of the commanders of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, Oleg. They couldn't even dig trenches, and the military police detained them for drunkenness."

🔸Therefore, there are "fewer and fewer soldiers" on the front line.

🔸 "Soldiers report that out of almost 100 people in their company, only 20 can still fight. There are not enough people in all units," - Spiegel interlocutors say.

And this is becoming a big theme. Today Rob Lee's tweet made the rounds, wherein he acknowledged that Ukraine faces a shortage of infantry:

To anyone with a brain, the reason why that is, is obvious.

Putin confirmed something I've been long proclaiming: that the POW ratio between Ukraine and Russia is 10:1 in Russia's favor. From RT:

https://www.rt.com/russia/591606-prisoner-exchange-putin-ukraine/

And here in Putin's own words:

This is finally official confirmation of what I've been solely compiling for a long time, based on official statements from both sides, as well as tracking the actual facilities Ukraine uses to house POWs. The fact is, Ukraine only has a few hundred Russians while Russia has had anywhere between 10,000-15,000 Ukrainian POWs at various points, fluctuating with exchanges.

Given the fact that each category of casualty should scale relatively comparatively, this means we can expect a similar disproportionality to exist between Russian-Ukrainian KIA figures.

Commenting on the above, one analyst wrote:

Putin said that the proportion of Russian and Ukrainian prisoners is approximately 1:10. And why? What does it mean?

Option 1: Does this mean that the ratio of losses between the Russian army and the Ukrainian Armed Forces is 1: 10?

Option 2: Or are the losses comparable, but the morale of the Ukrainian Armed Forces is so much less than the morale of the Russian army that Ukrainian soldiers surrender 10 times more?

My answer is both. The losses of the Ukrainian Armed Forces are approximately 3 times greater than Russian losses.

But the morale of the Ukrainian Armed Forces is significantly lower, so that prisoners surrender in a proportion 3 times higher than the proportion of losses.

And the third option is tactics. The Russian army surrounded many Ukrainian Armed Forces in Mariupol, the largest city liberated.

His rationale makes sense. The KIA doesn't have to be exactly 10:1 like the POW ratio owing to, as he states, the disproportionately lower morale of the AFU. However it could still be much closer to the 10:1 than the 3:1 he posits. Either way, we know it means for a fact that Ukraine's KIA figures are far higher than that of Russia's, and Putin's is the highest level confirmation of this.

To touch on something else quickly: I've been keeping tabs on the thread regarding NATO's escalations toward Russia, particularly in line with their future designs. We have a couple new developments in light of that.

This new article from the Netherlands states the following:

https://www.defensie.nl/actueel/nieuws/2024/01/30/duitsland-nederland-en-polen-willen-snel-militairen-en-materieel-kunnen-verplaatsen

Next in the troubling trend, a new Polish poll states that most Poles support for Poland to effectively help Ukraine create a 'no fly zone' for Russian missiles in the west of Ukraine:

https://www.rp.pl/konflikty-zbrojne/art39770341-sondaz-czy-polska-powinna-strzelac-do-rosyjskich-rakiet-nad-ukraina-polacy-sa-za

The article discusses the possibility of Poland using its air defense to protect Ukrainian airspace up to a depth of 50km under the guise of concerns for Russian missiles crashing in Poland—despite the fact that it was already determined that the largest such incident was a Ukrainian falseflag.

But most interesting is what's at the bottom of the article. Polish Brigadier General Stanislav Kozey—if I'm reading it correctly through the spotty auto-translation—appears to suggest that the Western bloc should basically annex some of western Ukraine under the auspices of this 'air umbrella':

"It could indicate that we are an active actor in the strategic field," adds Stanislav Kozey. - Today we can talk about a soft border, which can be violated by Russia accidentally or intentionally. Such actions could deter Russia and increase the security of our territory, and would also be a win-win for Ukraine, " he said.

General Kozey recalls that Western Ukraine is to some extent integrated into the hub, which is located in Subcarpathia, from where military and humanitarian aid goes to Ukraine. In his opinion, the seizure of the territory of Ukraine by the Western alliance should be publicly announced" " so that Russia knows what it can expect."

Obviously, the designation of such a zone will require changes in the response procedures of the military, including NATO. Now it works in a peaceful mode. Legal changes will be required to allow shooting down alien missiles or drones, he adds. A separate issue should be finding out with Ukraine who bears the costs of possible damage caused by downed missiles.

I think the autotranslation may be referring to a 'seizure' of the air defense space, but either way, this is something I long predicted in some of my earliest articles: that the Western bloc would "slide in" to Ukraine in very gradual and subtle fashion that would appear, initially, to be provisional or relating to some humanitarian issue.

On that note, the final item which 'coincidentally' ties into the above is a new report that the UK has 'offered' to send a NATO force into Ukraine, as well as establish a 'no fly zone':

https://ria.ru/20240202/nato-1925140885.html

MOSCOW, February 2-RIA Novosti. The United Kingdom has offered its NATO allies to consider sending an alliance expeditionary force to Ukraine, an informed source told RIA Novosti.

"Due to the unfavorable development of events in the Ukrainian theater of operations (Theater of Operations) for Kiev, Britain suggested that NATO allies consider sending an alliance expeditionary force to Ukraine, as well as establishing a no — fly zone over the territory controlled by the Kiev authorities, and increasing the supply of weapons and equipment to the Armed Forces of Ukraine," the source said.

And the following is straight out of my playbook, which I outlined precisely to this effect in some of my earliest predictions:

Nevertheless, the British side expects that with a significant weakening of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and the successful advance of the Russian army deep into the territory of the former Soviet republic, the allies will approve the initiative, the source said.

He clarified that the kingdom offers to secretly transfer large highly maneuverable NATO forces to Ukraine from the border areas of Romania and Poland to occupy defensive lines along the right bank of the Dnieper.

My long-time readers will recall that I always said at the moment when Ukraine was near to total collapse, there will come a point that NATO will strongly consider creating some kind of 'event' or justification for them to save western Ukraine from falling into Russia's hands. I talked about the American 82nd and 101st going from Romania to 'block' Odessa in the same way Russian forces once did in the Pristina airport incident. As well as other forces potentially in western Ukraine, particularly those that can create a shield for a Ukrainian government-in-exile once Kiev falls.

Britain intends to complete the preparation of such a scenario by May of this year, the source concluded.

And speaking of that, on the issue of the Zaluzhny dismissal, some recent articles have begun to cite plans to eventually relocate the Ukrainian 'government-in-exile' to Lvov, as I had long spoken about.

From AsiaTimes:

Here is my own prediction from many months ago:

On that note, there is again increased talk of mercenaries everywhere. As Ukraine runs out of men, NATO hawks hatch their plans for a desperate last-bell save, as well as pump their disrobed soldiers into the country to stem the losses. Not only have recent Russian reports mentioned a lot of 'German chatter' in intercepted comms in Kupyansk, but more and more foreigners have been eliminated in recent strikes.

Earlier today:

https://www.france24.com/en/europe/20240202-russian-strike-in-ukraine-kills-two-french-nationals-says-kherson-governor

Of course, they call them 'aid workers', as always.

A female German merc was just laid to rest as well:

Not to mention this Polish specimen seen in a video today, discussing with his Wehrmacht reenactment enthusiast partner how to take Moscow:

As well as French:

Some sundry items:

I found this unearthed admission in New Yorker interesting. Zaluzhny told Milley in late 2022 that "Ukraine had almost no jet fighters left":

It's eye-opening for the reason that many people claim Russia hasn't attrited the Ukrainian airforce while I have said repeatedly that Ukraine has continued to get re-ups from 'partners', relaying many odd stories about Migs dumped in the 'woods' on the UA border to be 'found'. Well, here's proof from the horse's mouth that Russia had already brought them down to nearly zero in 2022.

Next:

The type of people in leadership positions in Ukraine:

Former Prosecutor General of Ukraine Lutsenko admitted that he enjoyed killing Russians. "Of course, I hate Russians too. I honestly say that I killed them and enjoyed it. I counted 14 corpses and for me it was a gift," he said proudly.

Next:

Ukraine sank another middling Russian boat, of a 'cutter' class by Soviet designation—project 1241. Problem is, Russia seized four of these from Ukraine itself:

So who's really up on the exchange?

Next:

AFU soldier dejectedly tells host there is no hope:

- Nobody survives at the front. It's impossible to do.
- Is there a real scenario of how you can survive there?
- There's no such thing.
- Why are so many guys sent there? The best of the Ukrainian nation?
- There are no such people anymore.

Next:

Ukraine now not only has the lowest fertility rate on earth, but its male life expectancy has dropped to 57 years. How low will it go before the conflict ends?

That's according to this new Times article:

https://archive.is/Y5yVh

Next:

Putin gives a very honest appraisal of Russia's weaponry. He openly admits that many NATO systems are slightly superior to the older Soviet designs, but Russia's newest stuff is nonpareil:

And lastly, on a humorous note, when commenting on sanctions, Putin proudly tells Western countries that he'd like to give them a very 'familiar gesture', but he won't do so because there are ladies present:

"I would like to show the West a well-known gesture, but I will not do this - there are many girls here," Putin said.

For unfamiliar Westerners who may be thinking of the middle finger, Putin instead likely had this in mind:

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Simplicius The Thinker
1 Feb 2024 | 5:05 am

10. SITREP 1/31/24: Secret Back-Channel Talks Spur Hopes on Iran De-escalation + Zelensky-Zaluzhny Showdown


Twists and turns put new ruffles in the ongoing MidEast saga.

Last time we left off with American troops suffering some of their first ever direct deaths at the hands of "Iranian proxies", inflaming major retaliatory talk by the Biden administration.

But the latest clarifying updates reveal that a whirlwind of 'secret negotiations' has ensued behind the scenes, with the Biden administration desperately trying to signal an "understanding" with Iran without losing face. These are complex and multi-faceted talks because there are rumors of the direct and indirect involvement of many parties, including Hezbollah. In general, it can be summarized as: Israel is on a scorched earth tear, and the US is running behind it with a fire extinguisher, desperately trying to keep the flames under control.

Biden, dazed and confused as always, embodies US' headless chicken mien:

The most significant of the rumors states that US has tried to 'quietly' send signals to Iran via Swiss embassy back channels, which is the main go-to method they've used for a long time:

> It was reported, that the U.S. offered through the Swiss embassy to Iran, to strike one of their sites but Iran should not retaliate. This would allow the US to save face. Looks like it was REJECTED:

"The US sent more than one message to Tehran over the past two days via third parties. Washington's messages said that it did not want an open war and warned that expanding the war would be met with the US action. Tehran rejected Washington's threats and said targeting its territory is a red line, and crossing the line would be met with an appropriate response. Tehran's message said that it does not want a war with Washington either, but it will forcefully confront any American adventure." — Iranian sources to AJArabic

Let's piece this together. First, the above report states that US basically begged Iran to allow it to strike some symbolic targets with the promise that Iran would not retaliate, so that US can get a lick in and save its reputation on the world stage. Iran reportedly replied that no attacks on its territory would be allowed.

What's interesting about this is that subsequent reports stated that US is now shifting to potentially a wider scale campaign of attacking Iranian proxies in Syria and Iraq, but not directly attacking Iranian territory. However, they are considering doing cyberattacks on Iran, which would be a sort of 'compromise' as it would technically affect Iranian territory but not in an overt physical way. You can see how ridiculous this type of theater gets, as US policy has devolved into nothing more than a delicate and performative balancing act, all for the sake of protecting its golden calf of Israel in the region.