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Simplicius The Thinker

Simplicius The Thinker
23 May 2024 | 2:39 am

1. Last Dance at the Vampire Ball: West Searches for Answers to Its Demise


As the reality of the coming Russian victory over the combined NATO Leviathan has slowly dawned on the West, it has engendered a poignant shift in the increasingly high-pitched narrative. The comprador elite class has awakened to the fact that their global order is on the brink of dissolution, following Russia's unclothing of their designs. The many decades of Gladio and other subversions are coming undone before our very eyes, as the dreams of a certain line of elite architects stretching back many generations are being washed away by the fitful birth of a new world.

Everywhere you turn, this elite moral panic is playing out front and center. As their industries die, their people gnash and seethe, and institutions flirt with collapse, the hoarse-voiced compradors crawl over each other to bleat out litanies of frantic warnings about saving themselves and their class:

https://geopolitique.eu/en/2024/04/16/radical-change-is-what-is-needed/

The Global South sees clearly the writing on the wall: the Western order is falling.

As the West comes to grips with its slow pitch over the edge, its bellwethers and canaries have raced to trace the problem's roots with the hopes of understanding how to stop it or where it might lead.

The problem with the technocrats' solutions is that they are more of the same. They are using the crisis of their impending collapse as a way to usurp control over the sovereignty of all European nations. Take the insidious 'inside man' Draghi's article above, about needing 'radical change' to compete with China and the newly shifting global order. What he urgently prescribes reads like a script from his crony controllers at Davos: a call to action to 'integrate' the countries of the EU with an iron fist, coercing them into giving up their individual points of leverage to some higher, unelected bureaucracy.

The dialectic is always the same: create a bogeyman to artificially unite people under one flag for 'security's' sake—it's the plot to 1984 and many other prescient works.

What we are witnessing is the agonizing death of a centuries' old colonialist system of exploitation. It is the hegemonic European and Anglo-Empire's corrupt extractive dominance of the global economy for the trickle-up benefit of a class of elite merchant and banking families whose power and influence spans centuries.

The way this Western order has cartelized and gamified the global economy is of course through their control of the banking monopoly, which mediates the flow of world finance and commerce to which they can apply endless arbitrage and seigniorage via control of the money supply by way of issuance of the dominant reserve currencies. To this day these remain: the Dollar and Euro, which together have combined for nearly 90% of global exchange.

This system is the direct carryover of the predatory mercantile fusions of state, banking, and corporate powers which saw organizations like the Dutch and British East India Companies ravage the world. But as the sun set on the British Empire in particular at the turn of the 20th century, the Crown began to get increasingly restive about the rising powers of China and Russia.

Now lacking military or industrial means to overpower these competitors, the waning British Empire was forced to resort to progressively devious and underhanded tactics to 'rig' the game invariably in its favor, hamstringing the Eastern giants at every turn. Over time this has led observers to wonder: what is behind the perceived infernal animosity Britain has for Russia? After all, both ruling monarchs were closely related:

Recently, Jeffrey Sachs gave an interesting account of this very question on the Duran show:

"I want to take it back to the 1840s, to the real roots of hegemony, which is Great Britain. Never was there a hegemon with such ambition and such a curious view of the world. But Britain wanted to run the world in the 19th century and taught America everything it knows. Recently, I read a fascinating book by a historian named J.H. Gleason, published by Harvard University Press in 1950. It's an incredibly interesting book called 'The Genesis of Russophobia in Great Britain.' The question is, where did England's hate of Russia come from? Because it's actually a little surprising. Britain has HATED Russia since the 1840s and launched the Crimean War that was a war of choice in modern Parliament—a war of choice by Palmerston in the 1850s—because it hated Russia. So, this author tries to understand where this hate came from, because it was the same kind of iterative hate that we have now. And by the way, we hated the Soviet Union because it was Communist, but we hated Russia afterwards when it wasn't communist. It doesn't matter. So, it's a deeper phenomenon, and he tries to trace where this hatred came from. The fascinating point is, Russia and Britain were on the same side in the Napoleonic Wars from 1812 to 1815, from the Battle of Moscow in Russia to Napoleon's defeat in Waterloo. They were on the same side, and in fact, for many years, the relations weren't great, but they were kind of normal. So, this historian reads every snippet of the newspapers, what's written, of the speeches, to try to understand where the hatred arose. The key point is there was no reason for it. There was nothing that Russia did. Russia didn't behave in some perfidious way. It wasn't Russian evil; it wasn't that the tsar was somehow off the rails. There wasn't anything except a self-fulfilling lather built up over time because Russia was a big power and therefore an affront to British hegemony. This is the same reason why the US hates China: not for anything China actually does but because it's big. It's the same reason, until today, that the United States and Britain hate Russia—because it's big. So, the author comes to the conclusion that the hate really arose around 1840 because it wasn't instantaneous, and there was no single triggering event. The British got it into their crazy heads that Russia was going to invade India through Central Asia and Afghanistan—one of the most bizarre, phony, wrongheaded ideas imaginable—but they took it quite literally. And they told themselves this: 'We're the imperialists. How dare Russia presume to invade India?' when it had no intention of doing so. So, my point is, it's possible to have hate to the point of war and now to the point of nuclear annihilation for no fundamental reason. Talk to each other."

The book he references:

As he states, Russia and Britain were on the same side in the early 1800s, during the Napoleonic Wars, then something started to change by the 1840s. There is nuance to everything: Britain long believed Russia had aims to steal India from it, which at the time was being gobbled up by the East India Company, with—as some believe—major support from the Rothschild clan:

But according to Sachs, the author concludes that there was no one real scintillating reason for the 'hatred' other than opportune geopolitical exigency in the form of Russia posing a grave emergent threat to the British order. This segued into the rush of the Great Game to central Asia, not long after which Mackinder set forth his 'Heartland' theory.

At the time the Ottoman Empire was dying and Britain's fears were once more stoked, as Russia stood to gain inordinate geopolitical heft by seizing much of the Ottoman's territory, which—in Britain's view—would push Russia over the top as a Great Power.

This Forbes article goes into detail about how British prime minister Benjamin Disraeli—to this day the only Jewish PM in British history—went to great lengths to prop up the failing Ottoman Empire as long as possible simply to keep its peripheries out of Russian reach. The author, James Kaplan, nevertheless concludes it still all revolved around keeping Russia from gaining access to India, which the British continued to believe was Russia's goal.

The escalation continued to the pre-WWI era when Britain got another bolt in its quiver against Russia in the form of the Jewish diaspora. At the time, the Russian pogroms had caused a wave of resettlements of Russian Jews to the 'Pale of Settlement', which mostly consisted of modern day Poland, western Ukraine, the Baltics, etc.

And this is where the two-pronged attack on Russia began. Benjamin Disraeli is cited by many as one of the fathers of Zionism, not only having put forth one of the first 'Zionist' visions in his book The Wondrous Tale of Alroy, but likewise even positioning himself to be the Messiah of the Jewish people by creating Israel:

The British quest to create a colony in the Middle East under the auspices of 'Zionism' was always linked to maintaining British interests in the Heartland, keeping France from the region, as when Napoleon had conquered Egypt, as well as Russia from encroaching on the erstwhile Ottoman lands.

To quote Mao:

At the time of the rise of truly international banking, Rothschild and many other Jewish bankers were ascendant. So this was perfect time to utilize these combined vectors as a new attack on Russia. It is why Jacob Schiff funded both the Japanese in the Russo-Japanese war, as well as the Bolsheviks leading up to the 1917 revolution. Since the most powerful dynasties like that of the Rothschilds made their home in Britain the country became a single coordination point against Russia. However, it's not quite as black and white as it seems. After the Bolsheviks took power and began stripping Western banking and other assets, Schiff and his brood quickly turned against them, pulling out his money. Britain, likewise, sent an expeditionary force on the side of the White forces against the Bolsheviks, who had effectively co-opted the Western plan.

Read the below, very carefully—then read it twice:

The Bolsheviks had in fact thwarted Western plans, particularly by making a deal with Germany to pull Russia out of the war, which the UK/US absolutely did not want—thus the final line above showing that Schiff toed the edict about keeping Russia in the war.

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Simplicius The Thinker
20 May 2024 | 5:36 am

2. SITREP 5/19/24: Ukrainian Streets Deserted as New Mobilization Hits


There isn't one big development today, but a series of smaller but still relevant items to update on to keep things within scope as the overall picture continues to escalate in the war in Ukraine and elsewhere. So, this report will be a bit scattershot as I cover many topics.

The biggest news is that yesterday, May 18th, the Ukrainian new mobilization strictures officially and finally went into effect. This has resulted in a flood of videos showing deserted streets, with claims that men are now in hiding like never before.

The below compilation starts with Poltava, then progresses to other cities:

Additionally, Ukrainian truckers even staged a mass protest, blocking roads. It will be not only 'interesting' to see where this goes and how successful it is, but in fact this will be one of the critical bellwethers for Ukraine as a whole. We know that the manpower issue is paramount and the entire future of this war rests on how successful—or not—this mobilization will be.

In the coming months, after lowering the draft bar to 25 years, an additional 100 thousand men born in 1998-1999 will be called up to the Armed Forces of Ukraine. During these years, 416,349 boys were born. About half of them are already abroad. Summon the remaining half.

Further, it obviously converges with the end of Zelensky's legitimacy in only two days hence, which even big Western media co's like Economist are now beginning to seed into the public consciousness for a reason. This is significant because if the 'enhanced mobilization' takes a wrong turn, Zelensky's lack of legitimacy will present an easy, ready scapegoat, and things can escalate against him very quickly.

In fact, there is some further evidence that such a potentiality is being prepared. As I said, last time was the Economist piece 'reminding us' that Zelensky's term is almost over.

But we now have something even more insidious:

https://archive.ph/5S3h6

That's right: Washington Post is now openly revealing Yermak as the shadow hand who secretly runs Ukraine. But more than that, by doing so they are calling into question Zelensky's true power and legitimacy, in effect undermining him. Why would WaPo at this exact time, merely days before Zelensky's presidency is supposed to run out, write things like this:

Yermak's closeness to the president — and evident influence over him — has drawn a barrage of accusations: that he has undemocratically consolidated power in the president's office; overseen an unneeded purge of top officials, including commander in chief Gen. Valery Zaluzhny; restricted access to Zelensky; and sought personal control over nearly every big wartime decision.

And on the topic of legitimacy, they warn flat out:

Now, however, the legitimacy of the president and his top adviser are about to face even bigger challenges as Zelensky's five-year term officially expires on May 20. Ukraine's constitution prohibits elections under martial law. But as Zelensky stays in office, he will be vulnerable to charges that he has used the war to erode democracy — seizing control over media, sidelining critics and rivals, and elevating Yermak, his unelected friend, above career civil servants and diplomats.

It appears the Western CIA-run press is trying to curtail Zelensky's power so they can bring him to the negotiating table in the near future, as signals for that are already increasing elsewhere in the Western press. Zelensky, however, knows that his power is entirely contingent on the continuation of war: as soon as anything is frozen, he immediately loses credibility and even relevance. Rezident_UA channel has reported Zelensky is now showing in third place behind Zaluzhny and even Budanov in national polls.

Zelensky's plan to expand the war for now consists of things like the following:

I agree with this X thread on Anatoli Shari's recent statements on the matter:

Ukrainian journalist and blogger in exile Anatolii Sharii about the recent trend with the calls to allow Ukraine to strike internationally recognized borders of Russia with foreign weapons and the scary prospects:

''What if Kiev deliberately provokes a strike, atleast tactical (nuclear) one, at least a small nuclear bomb, even a tiny nuclear bomb and the loss that is now happening in the battlefield and which is clearly connected with the corruption, with theft, with the stupidity of Zelensky, with the abomination of his entourage and so on. They will reformat it (the war) into something new. So when the strike happens, if God forbid there will be a strike with tactical nuclear weapons, everyone will again forget that Zelensky is a madman, that those around him are thieves, that they stole everything and so on and on. All of it will be forgotten. All the talk will be about the nuclear weapons, about opening Pandora's box and so on. Maybe they're doing this on purpose... ... Understand, the provoking of a Russian Federation strike in such way is beneficial for the government. They will increase the mobilization. So there will be precisely an excuse, ''look, what now? There is nothing we can do anymore. Now we need to throw everything at them. Lets recruit the 20-year-olds.'' Which they're already talking about and so on. Think about it.''

He makes interesting point. I would also put the strikes on Crimea and especially the recent attack on Novorossiysk port, the most critical in Russia into the same category with Zelensky looking for a major response from Russia. As long as Russia doesn't outright kill Zelensky himself any other retaliation is fine with Zelensky. He would use this opportunity to ask for more weapons, money and bigger support.

In short: Zelensky is desperate to use any excuse in escalating the war and inviting NATO into it. He knows the only way he can stop Russia is by embroiling the U.S. into the conflict, and he can do that by repeatedly pushing red lines against Russia in order to force Russia to react against NATO. But there is little chance it will work, as NATO has thus far demonstrated surprising risk aversion to the prospect of facing off with Russia.

On the other hand, it must be said that there remains a cadre of hardline hawks within NATO countries which is clearly pushing for more escalation as well:

https://archive.ph/AQfkv

From the above new NYT piece:

Ukraine's manpower shortage has reached a critical point, and its position on the battlefield in recent weeks has seriously worsened as Russia has accelerated its advances to take advantage of delays in shipments of American weapons. As a result, Ukrainian officials have asked their American and NATO counterparts to help train 150,000 new recruits closer to the front line for faster deployment.

This was followed by a lot of noise like the following, with claimed German MPs wanting to position missiles on the Polish border to create a 'no fly zone' over west Ukraine:

https://swentr.site/news/597427-germany-ukraine-nato-poland/

The problem is, all these things are cyclical and have been 'trotted out' a dozen times before whenever NATO starts getting worried and desperate. For instance, look at the date of this identical report:

And of course, that went no where as well, as most likely the new 'threats' will do. We can see that the warhawks most closely aligned with or directly controlled by the Davos/Bilderberg cabal are barking loudest with threats of existential collapse:

For example, there are continued reports like the following:

🇫🇷France is preparing "super-secretive" intelligence officers to be sent to Ukraine

❗️ The French Armed Forces are testing a reconnaissance group created to support offensive operations. Such "super-stealthy soldiers" could be useful in Ukraine, German radio station RTL reported.

We are talking about the FRAN group. The level of skill of its fighters was demonstrated as part of NATO exercises in Estonia.

"France is testing the competencies of a new unit that would be useful in Ukraine," the material says.

As RTL notes, thanks to camouflage, the unit's scouts can sit in the bushes for hours and use drones to monitor the enemy. Their responsibilities include identifying enemy strongholds, searching for trench entrances, and coordinating assault groups.

Not to mention this quite interesting video of a captured French Foreign Legion soldier who says he was active duty, having simply gotten the green light from superiors to "volunteer" in Ukraine. He makes some very eye-opening revelations and is proof positive of previous reports that 'French troops' were already fighting in Ukraine, to one extent or another:

On that topic, many of the 'boldest' or simply irreverent voices in the West are now openly saying the quiet part out loud. Here was an absolutely fascinating diatribe by the exiled oligarch Khodorkovsky, who gives precise dates for Ukraine's forthcoming defeat:

According to him, Ukraine to lose Kharkov in 2024, Odessa in 2025, and the rest of the country by 2026.

I think in some ways that's very idealistic, depending on the political situation within Ukraine. If Ukraine's new mobilization culls enough men and Zelensky manages to put out the political fires threatening to engulf his regime, then Kharkov falling in 2024 is unlikely, especially now that we see how few forces Russia is actually committing to the northern offensive at the moment.

Another such poignant confession came from CFR wig David Sanger, who likewise underscores the earlier theory that Zelensky would not survive any cessation of the conflict:

NYT is even again trotting out the prediction for the war's near-future end:

▪️The New York Times: Russia and Ukraine may negotiate and freeze the conflict according to the Korean scenario.

According to the publication, there is a growing feeling within the Biden administration that the next few months could be decisive as at some point the two sides could finally move to a negotiated truce similar to the one that ended active hostilities in Korea in 1953.

The problem is, Putin has now confirmed our theories and openly expressed the idea that Zelensky's legitimacy is a problem for Russia to negotiate with. Watch the end of this video:

"Such documents need to be signed by legitimate leadership."

Meanwhile, Estonian PM Kaja Kallas says another one of the quietest parts aloud—Russia should be entirely broken up:

She argues that it's totally fine for countries to be separated into smaller units of nations. Oh, really? So, the independence of the Donbass Republics from Ukraine was likewise completely acceptable as per 'Rules Based Order' and 'Rule of Law'. That's great to know.

Jests aside, it shows the type of craven, feckless, unprincipled and totally amoral puppets at the top of the West's pyramid of rulership. There are no principles, only arrant hypocrisy and lies.

Some other sundry items.

First, let's update on the Belbek base strike in Crimea. I wrote a long report last time about Russia's failures there, but new information appears to suggest it may not have been quite as large of a failure as we thought. You see, it's become more evident that the destroyed planes at the base were likely old part donors and already inoperable, thus not able to be scrambled out:

Satellite images confirmed: Ukraine spent ATACMS on a barrel of kerosene. Ukrainian media published satellite images of the consequences of two missile attacks on the Belbek military airfield in Sevastopol. It is alleged that two aircraft and a structure near the runway (preliminarily, a tank with jet fuel) were hit . For comparison, the satellite fixation from May 1 and May 16 is given.

However, if you compare the latest photos with the old ones from 2023, you can be convinced that both affected aircraft had been in the same place for a long time - therefore, these were long-out-of-service aircraft, taken out of service. In the photographs you can also see fake images of fighters applied to the strip to deceive the enemy.

Apart form newly surfaced photos showing old scrapped planes, the biggest piece of evidence was the discovery of satellite photos from October 2023 which appeared to show the same two planes roughly in a similar position as where they were just 'destroyed'. Note the date on the photo below:

This thread figured it out:

He states that the Russian base actually does have hardened aircraft shelters right next to where the Mig-31s were stationed:

And he points out another satellite photo showing that the entire base was abandoned of virtually all craft just weeks ago (just as I had reported), but oddly the two Mig-31s remained in the same position:

Note the date above, and compare to the photo of them 'destroyed':

He concludes:

So, are the Russians really stupid? Or is something else going on? The clear possibility is that the Mig-31s were decoys designed to attract the ATACM attack. The Russians have plenty of nonfunctional Mig-31s to use as decoys. Hundreds were built in the 1980s, but they were retired in the 1990s because they were expensive to operate and had a limited service life.

The Mig-31s presently in service are produced by refurbishing the old ones at the Sokol Aviation Plant in Nizhny Novgorod. The refurbishing process adds about 1000 hours of service life to the planes. Now, 1000 hours is 200 5-hour patrols, so it's easy to see that lifetime-expired Mig-31s could be available for use as decoys in addition to old, non-updated ones.

That being said, while it's true that likely no truly valuable planes were destroyed, the attack did still penetrate the AD and blew up a large fuel warehouse right behind where the Mig-31s were. Also, the S-400 system was still hit.

However, last night Ukraine launched what was said to be another absolutely massive attack on Crimea, with UA channels claiming literally every single Crimean base was under heavy attack.

Now Russian sources claim everything was successfully reflected, with numerous ATACMS shot down. But Ukrainians claim two ships—a minesweeper and a corvette—were hit and destroyed by ATACMS in Sevastopol bay. So: did Russians learn that quickly from their mistakes? We'll have to wait for satellite BDAs and see.

A large-scale attack on Novorossiysk was likewise reflected with dozens—or, according to some reports, hundreds—of drones shot down. This was the only known damage done:

A tiny burn mark on top of one of the refineries there.

The air defense looked quite extraordinary in shooting down the drones:

Pro-UA top OSINT confirmed no damage to Novorossiysk port:

Meanwhile, Russia's hit on Lvov is now seen to have wiped out a major gas facility:

The second largest gas compressor and storage station in Europe, the Bilche-Volitsa station, ceased to exist.

The main control room (management), SERB (operation and equipment), administrative building, and security buildings were destroyed.

Interesting note:

Forbes writes about the worrying accelerating of the "chain of elimination" of the Russian Army – this is the process from target detection to its elimination. So in recent weeks, several helicopters of the Armed Forces of Ukraine were destroyed at once. Previously, strikes were delivered with a delay of several hours, but now they count by minutes. This was largely due to the introduction of new communication systems in the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation. The publication also writes about the critical shortage of air defense missiles of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

This follows another new Russian military satellite having gone up

Information has emerged about the payload of the Soyuz-2.1b launch vehicle, which was launched on May 17 from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome.

In addition to the spacecraft launched in the interests of the Russian Ministry of Defense, six spacecraft produced by the private Russian company Sputniks were launched into orbit.

Two of them are Zorkiy-2M Earth remote sensing satellites, and the other four are satellites of the SITRO-AIS automatic identification system, which tracks sea vessels.

Satellite images appeared which reportedly show the extent to which NATO is being demilitarized by the Ukrainian conflict. A large armor storage site in Italy has been nearly emptied out of various things like M113s, M109Ls, etc.:

Russia continues advancing on the Kharkov and other fronts. The pro-UA side claims things have slowed down in Kharkov while forgetting that this is precisely the Russian plan: not to effect a blitzkrieg in the north but merely use it to divert Ukrainian forces from other fronts while capturing areas there. This has already bore fruit as Rabotino was said to have been finally recaptured in full:

Which did not pass notice with Western MSM:

A few more notable hits from "Jihad Julian":

Now, there are reports that Klescheyevka near Bakhmut has also been totally recaptured. Ukrainian channels in the meantime complain of "heavy losses" in the Volchansk fight in north Kharkov:

By the latest maps, Volchansk appears something like 40-50% taken, with Russian forces said to have begun crossing the Vovcha river which runs through its center:

Syrsky himself commented, in the process confirming some of the new Russian units activated in this region:

He names the 6th Army, with the 11th and 44th Army Corps. The 6th is the main combat element of the new Leningrad Military District. The 11th Army Corps is the one based in Kaliningrad, and is essentially the Baltic Fleet troops. The 44th is apparently another new corps from the Leningrad District, which the UK intel commented on over a month ago:

It looks like their above question was answered as to whether Russia would actually utilize this corps.

And:

Currently, 12 brigades of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and the Main Intelligence Directorate are involved in the Kharkiv direction, and the enemy's General Staff is already assessing the situation as critical. The two main problems are the lack of readiness of defensive fortifications and the lack of connections. How long the Kraken Nazis and the GUR special forces will last is unknown. At the moment, Kiev is faced with a reality - in each brigade, no more than two battalions have the maximum combat capability.

Lastly, Sumy rumors continue unabated:

Sumy region of Ukraine is preparing for defense.

There were shots of the next dumps "dragon's tooth", as if no one had noticed them before. But now, in anticipation of the Russian offensive from day to day, the Armed Forces of Ukraine are asking the question-and when will they be deployed?

Sumy border guards are driven into fortifications, given an additional BC and weapons. Vsushnikam in this direction for the most part pay 10 thousand hryvnia instead of 100, they say the money from Washington has not yet arrived, and as they come - there will be full salaries. Really, and explain yesterday's selyukam.

Police and Sbushniki evacuate their families from the region, and they themselves are prohibited from leaving the territory of their service.

The same Russian mil channel which posted "soon" to the Kharkov incursion days before troops crossed the Kharkov border has now also posted this teasing nugget:

But the most interesting rumor of all is the following:

Another source:

The Russian Armed Forces are increasing their air force in the Republic of Belarus. They are also accumulating forces and resources in the southern (Ukrainian) direction

Recall that the only two real cities Russia could possibly use Belarus as a staging area and springboard for are either Kiev or Chernigov:

It could all be maskirovka, of course—but it certainly is thought-provoking. It's in Russia's best interest to stretch the front as much as possible and totally break Ukraine's ability to resist, exhausting their units. The only question is how much of the newly-raised forces does Russian command dare commit to such a long-term operation, and how much heavy armor and gear does Russia have to equip another such large force.

Interestingly, in the new NYTimes Oped by Rob Lee and Michael Kofman, they openly admit the latest tactic is exhausting Ukraine's best brigades for precisely the reason I've outlined for months—they are being whisked willy-nilly to and fro to plug gaps because Russian logistics agility is superior:

https://archive.ph/LKLsN

The Harry and Lloyd of analysts correctly spell out Russia's objective:

Russia's aim is not to take Kharkiv, but to menace it by advancing toward the city and threatening it with artillery. While Russia lacks the forces to assault the city itself, the operation is designed to create a dilemma. Ukrainian forces are already stretched relatively thin; by drawing Ukraine's reserves and better units to the defense of Kharkiv, the Russian attack weakens other parts of the front line. Russia remains focused on occupying the remainder of the Donetsk region in the east, looking to seize key transit hubs and population centers.

A couple videos about Ukraine's ongoing fortifications problem; a Ukrainian soldier inspects the rear line in fury:

Another one says everything was stolen:

A Russian video demonstrating why the fortifications were such failures—Lancet drones kept blowing up all the Ukrainian trench-building equipment in the north:

And the most demonstrative one of all—Ukrainian workers complain that Russian Lancets took out all their trench diggers:

A Freudian slip by cookie monster:

And a last piece of excellent content—a new mini-doc about the taking of the infamous Terrikon or Slag Heap in Avdeevka by the heroic 114th Brigade (former DPR). This piece is extremely revealing about some of the things I've written so much about, particularly the unit autonomy and initiative that exists in the larger Russian Armed Forces framework. This should single-handedly dispel any NATO lies about "centralized command" merely ordering the mindless "drone-worker" soldiers to their deaths. In fact, the battalion commander here openly reveals his brigade superior gave him total freedom to act accordingly, setting their own plan for the capture of this all-important node.

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Simplicius The Thinker
17 May 2024 | 4:57 am

3. The DragonBear-Hug Signals Unprecedented Expansion of Ties


Putin has arrived in Beijing for what is a momentous meeting:

Not only is it the symbolic first foreign trip of his latest presidential term, but digging under the hood, we discover there is even much more import to the trip to distinguish it from the merely routine.

Firstly, Putin brought virtually every major figure of the Russian government with him, most notably new Defense Minister Belousov—though Shoigu remained significantly at his side:

This has led many pundits to analyze the trip on a deeper level than usual.

This thread by a Ukrainian reserve officer lists the following entourage:

Furthermore, key representatives of businesses and oligarchs are part of the expanded delegation.

- Oleg Deripaska, oligarch and founder of RUSAL

- Igor Sechin, oligarch, CEO of Rosneft

- Herman Gref, Chairman of Sberbank's Executive Board

- Andrey Kostin, President-Chairman of VTB Bank

- Kirill Dmitriev, CEO of the Russian Direct Investment Fund

- Leonid Mikhelson, Chairman of NOVATEK

- Igor Shuvalov, Chairman of VEB.RF

- Alexander Shokhin, President of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs (RSPP)

That's in addition to Lavrov, Peskov, Shoigu, Belousov, and others.

That is a full house, and represents major deals being formed. The Ukrainian officer agrees:

Such a list of decision-makers from the financial and economic sectors suggests that this delegation is not ordinary but rather an ambitious and serious effort to deepen economic and financial cooperation with China.

Given the presence of the newly appointed Minister of Defense and the Director of the Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation, we should also anticipate discussions on military-industrial cooperation. This should not be dismissed as a routine event.

The last time Shoigu visited North Korea, Russia received millions of artillery shells and ballistic missiles. However, unlike that delegation, this one is heavily represented by the financial and economic sectors, suggesting Russia's serious intent to address economic and financial problems caused by war.

Read not only the bolded, but the last paragraph above.

There are other indicators and rumors that Russia, specifically, will be making some sort of major drone-tech related partnerships.

Arnaud Bertrand sums up some of the most significant details:

Read his elucidating thread, with key points being:

Building a new world order, consisting of:

And:

Russia and China are truly shaping up to lead the world together through the adolescence of this century, reshaping the international order into one based on real principles rather than the fraudulently imagined crony "rules based order" trap of the dying Anglo-American Empire.

The other most significant event was Putin's speech in front of his cabinet council, which debuted Belousov and Shoigu in their new positions:

Also note General Lapin's prominent position at Belousov's side: Lapin is said to be the commander of the new Leningrad district, whose units—according to some reports—comprise the majority of active fighters on the new northern Kharkov front.

In the speech, Putin makes an important concession, which is a little lost in the AI translation above. In essence, he admits that Russia—like everyone else in the world—did not fully know what they were doing in the beginning of the SMO. Most likely he's referring to anticipating some of the drone developments, primarily.

"Many things were not clear to us at the beginning of the SMO. Not to us nor anybody."

The other hugely important point is two-fold. Firstly, he reinforces our earlier reports that the hiring of Belousov is entirely centered on managing the Russian economic integration of the defense and civil fields.

As you can see from the quote above, Putin is prioritizing the health of the country's overall economy. In short: Belousov's job is to make sure that the long-term economic repercussions of the military conflict do not adversely affect the general economy and civilian life.

He emphasizes this point by bringing up the next big 'bombshell': Russia's combined defense and security spending is already approaching 9% of GDP, while that of the Soviet Union's in the 1980s was north of 13%. Here's just that clip:

This is obviously a quite staggering number that no country on earth currently spends. That means Putin recognized Russia is slowly drifting into the danger zone and no pains must be spared in competently managing these economic forces. No man, by all accounts, appears better suited to this than Belousov. I've seen several former Western colleagues of his now laud him with praise.

Here's one of the latest examples, whose very revealing thoughts are worth reading; French economist Jacques Sapir:

Andrei Belousov has just been appointed Minister of Defense. It's an important appointment both because of the man and because of what it means politically. #Thread on this subject.

I've known Andrei Belousov since the early 1990s. At the time, he was a brilliant research director at the Institute for Economic Forecasting and took part in the first Franco-Russian seminar sessions held in Moscow.

To call him a "liberal" is misleading. He was "liberal" in the sense that he had noted the bankruptcy of Soviet central planning and was in favor of privatization, but so were all of us at the FR seminar!

In 1995-1996, he was shocked and scandalized by the situation in Russia and the collusion with the oligarchs, and he was one of those who spoke to me about the need for a "healthy forces" reaction if the country was to be saved.

He was held in high esteem by the two successive directors of the IPE, and in particular by Victor Ivanter, who was the real director of the Institute from 1996 until his death in 2019, and who maintained that he was the only one to understand the concept of GDP.

He went on to set up the ROSSTAT reform and, in this capacity, I had further opportunities to meet him when I took part in the INSEE -ROSSTAT assistance program. He quickly earned the respect of our INSEE colleagues.

He joined the presidential administration at the end of 2000 when Putin was elected, and quickly became one of his advisors on the economy and innovation, putting all his skills (Economics and Math) to work in his new role.

It was at this time that I wrote 2 reports for the presidential administration (2002 and 2007), which were subsequently published in "Problemy Prognozirovanija", the IPE-ASR journal.

He understood (and understands) perfectly that Russia's survival depended on its economy AND its ability to develop an innovation regime that involved an entire ecosystem as well as a financing system.

He played an important role in drafting the legislation and regulations that enabled the development of techno-parks in conjunction with major universities such as Novosibirsk (the Franco-Russian seminar relocated one of its sessions there in 2015).

He joined the government as Minister of Economic Development (maintaining links with IPE-ASR). Even then, he was convinced that investment and the construction of large, innovative groups were the key to Russia's success.

Considering him as a planner only makes sense if we understand planning as the process implemented in France in the early 1960s or in Japan from 1957 to 1971. The aim is to guide the activities of public and private groups.

For too long, it was blocked by the Ministry of the Economy and Finance and the Central Bank. It was not until the COVID crisis (2020) that he was able to emancipate himself and begin implementing his ideas.

It was at this point that Belousov, who had also become Deputy Prime Minister, seems to have taken a turn for the better. In 2022 and 2023, he accompanied and coordinated the strong growth in investment by private companies and the resulting growth in the economy.

His appointment to the Ministry of Defense is of considerable importance. It marks the transformation of this ministry into a production, design, research and innovation agency for the armed forces.

The impact on military-industrial companies will be considerable. They will see their activities streamlined, and above all they will have to be attentive to the link between the short term and the long term through innovation processes.

This also means that a number of companies from techno-parks and start-ups will be integrated into this process to drive innovation. It is likely that Russia will set up an equivalent of DARPA to ensure civil/military contact.

The purely "military" functions of the Ministry could be placed under the authority of an enlarged General Staff, including those responsible for economic affairs, transport, intelligence, etc., on the model of the STAVKA of the Second World War.

This new STAVKA would then logically be attached to the Presidential Administration. We'll have to keep an eye on the news of this possible reorganization over the coming months.

Andrei Belousov is convinced that the development of military production MUST NOT be at the expense of civilian production. It's safe to assume that he will maintain the 40/60 ratio for military/civilian production.

However, his appointment indicates that the Russian government is looking far beyond the current hostilities, and expects a period of 10 to 20 years of "cold" confrontation with NATO countries.

He knows that in this logic, Russia's ability to resist, or even win, depends not only on military production alone, but also on the vitality of its economy and the innovation processes developing within it.

Read the last bolded part again:

"Andrei Belousov is convinced that the development of military production MUST NOT be at the expense of civilian production. It's safe to assume that he will maintain the 40/60 ratio for military/civilian production."'

This is part of what Putin's momentous trip to China may be all about. Putin has recently spoken specifically about "dual-use technologies", which the Western media has picked up on in their new sanctions threats against China. This is likely what the above is referring to: Belousov will streamline efficiencies by pushing for a host of new dual-use manufacturing capabilities which can benefit both civilian and military sectors alike. The plus side to dual-use tech is it evades sanctions as it's classified under civilian rather than military imports, but of course the U.S. and Europe are trying to crack down on that as we speak.

Also note about the long term outlook. Sure, it can be read that Russia expects this conflict to last a long time by virtue of these latest moves. However, it comes down to simple pragmatic thinking: whether it lasts long or not, Putin knows this is the wise step to take in order to ensure Russia's future development. He's had two years to accumulate data about the SMO: the failures, the successes, what is going well, what could be done better. Now, he's merely acting on it irrespective of 'future prospects' for the SMO itself.

That being said, of course it's possible that Ukraine will continue to hold out if their recruitment efforts are even moderately successful—and by the way, they have no choice but to be successful if enough coercion and duress is applied. I still maintain that the conflict has the highest chance to end by mid 2025 or so, but there is a chance it could go on well beyond that if certain things fall into place. I've said that, despite relatively high losses, Ukraine having gone on the defensive is still preserving its forces considerably better than before.

Think about this thought experiment: Ukraine has about 27 regions, that means each region has to produce about 1000 men per month. 1000 divided by 30 days comes down to about 30 men per day. That's what each region needs to recruit to maintain overall strength of the AFU at around 30k recruits per month. In fact recently it may even be significantly lower than that. 30 men recruited per day from large regions amounts to just 4-5 men per town or less. That's not exactly impossible.

That being said, as Russia stretches the front and opens up new directions, the losses could get truly unsustainable as there will be innumerable hotspots where AFU sustains manpower drains.

And on that note, Sumy rumors continue to flow.

The Ukrainian post claims Russia is bringing its equipment closer and closer to the line of contact on the Sumy border. Another new Reuters report likewise cites Sumy as an upcoming front:

https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/ukraine-fights-russian-forces-north-border-town-kharkiv-region-2024-05-16/

Meanwhile, SkyNews gets alarmist over Zelensky's urgency:

https://news.sky.com/story/ukraine-war-zelenskyy-cancels-all-foreign-trips-as-russian-troops-partially-pushed-back-13136378

Other MSM articles continue the downbeat outlook:

The Economist even began to ominously remind people that Zelensky's term soon officially expires:

Why would that be, one wonders?

On the front, Ukraine and the West celebrate the slowing of Russia's northern advance. But this was expected, of course: the opening was always set to be fast until reserves were brought in. Now it will devolve into another bit of a grind, but will speed up in spurts as new cracks are formed and breakthroughs are found. Russia is still holding back the majority of its follow-on forces.

Several sources now report the vast patchwork of forces brought in to staunch the losses:

Most of them are just being skimmed from various units and do not represent whole, fully-staffed battalions.

One more exhaustive writeup reports the following units from both sides active on the Kharkov front:

According to the Pro-AFU Military land the units involved in Kharkov are the following.

****************************

Lyptsi direction:

****************************

Russian units:

- 9th motorized regiment

- 7th motorized regiment

- 79th motorized regiment

Ukrainian units:

- 42nd mechanized brigade

- "Omega Kharkov" of the national guard

- "Unit of Military institute of tank troops"

- Possibly the 113th defense brigade

****************************

Volchansk direction

****************************

Russian units:

- 153rd Tank regiment

- 138th motorized brigade

- 1st motorized regiment

Ukrainian units:

- 13th brigade of operational assignment Kharkiv

- 7th border detachment

- 82nd air assault brigade

- 1st rifle battalion, 57th motorized brigade

- Timur battalion of the GUR MO

- 117th assault battalion of the 57th motorized brigade

- 125th territorial defense brigade

- Belorussian volunteer corp

- Russian volunteer corps.

- possibly the 36h rifle battalion of 61st mechanized brigade

****************************

Notes

****************************

We know that the Krakenites are involved, but their location is not given.

- the anti aircraft missile unit based in Kharkov is also involved and being destroyed too.

The latest Suriyak maps have Volchansk about 20-30% controlled by Russian forces, give or take:

The other big update:

The past two days Ukraine launched two consecutive mass ATACMS attacks on the Belbek airbase in Crimea.

Russian sources claimed upwards of 10-16 ATACMS missiles were used, and that allegedly all but 1 or 2 were shot down. The ones not shot down wreaked significant damage, wiping out an entire S-400 unit, including launchers and highly expensive 92N6E Gravestone radar:

As well as a slew of Russian jets:

High res imagery from Belbek from Maxar tech have arrived.

1 destroyed Su-27(I think)

2 destroyed Mig-31(unknown iteration)

1 likely damaged Mig-29

The fuel depot was also obliterated.

The damaged mig-29, and possibly the destroyed jets could have been avoided with concrete bunkers

Now, let me emphasize: this is the only place on the internet where you will get a non-propagandistic take on such sensitive matters; you get both the good, bad, and the ugly with an unbiased analysis.

So let's analyze it with a truly impartial and clear-sighted approach.

The first thing to note is that, I reported just a week ago on May 8th in this article that Russia had already begun moving its most important air assets out of reach, once ATACMS had begun being shipped in to Ukraine. Thus, whatever's left within ATACMS range is generally speaking not the most important frontline fighters, but rather things like Su-27s and Mig-29s which are either not used at all, or used sparingly over the Black Sea, merely for recon or fight against drones, etc.

The exception of course is Mig-31s, which too are used for the purposes above, but they are far more valuable as Russia no longer builds them and has comparatively few remaining. Thus, the loss of multiple Mig-31s in the attack is a shocking act of carelessness on the Russian MOD's part. For two years people have warned that hardened aircraft shelters are needed—these would easily stop the ATACMS cluster munitions, which cannot pierce any hardened surface. But for some reason, in this one area, the Russian MOD remains stubbornly lax.

Ukraine for reasons of absolute necessity has evolved to prosecute the war in a more defensively responsible and agile manner in terms of preserving its planes, lifting them up in the air at the first sign of attack. Russia, having a relative glut of planes, carries out operations a bit more carelessly without much concern if a portion of them are attritioned. Either that, or they were expecting the total superiority of Russia's most advanced air defense systems over the ATACMS, which turned out to not be the case.

Although, it should be mentioned that it is suspected that some of the destroyed planes were in fact inoperative due to being old fuselages used for part transplants or merely undergoing repairs and unable to take off. There is some evidence of this: for instance some of the 'destroyed' Mig-29/Su-27s being positioned in the rear areas usually designated for inactive craft rather than positioned near the runways:

There are signs that some lone inoperative planes remained while the ones in the berths next to them had been scrambled out of danger.

Either way, the S-400 has proven to struggle with decisively stopping large-scale ATACMS saturations. This is the second S-400 in only a month that has been destroyed, the previous being in the north Crimean Dzhankoi base last month, which I posted about previously:

Keep in mind, some sources claim the attack featured other systems like French AASM Hammer missiles and other 'decoys', but this is difficult to believe given those missiles' range is extremely short, and a Ukrainian plane would have needed to get right onto Crimea to launch them—which either way would represent a massive failure of Russian AD.

The struck Belbek base is too distant to reach by almost any other Ukrainian munition given its position at the southern tip of Crimea near Sevastopol, which is why the ATACMS is the only culprit. That's not to mention ATACMS parts have been found all over the base, both the unexploded munitions as well as the discarded rocket stage:

Note above I specified large-scale attacks. The S-400 did appear to shoot down a good number of them given that the damage to the base was limited to one relatively small area which corresponds roughly to the fragment "spread" of one or two ATACMS missiles.

NASA FIRMS heatmap

Since many unexploded cluster munitions were found, particularly in areas claimed by Russia to be in villages far north of the Belbek base, it's reasonable to assume many of the missiles were shot down. So it may still represent a respectable effort by the AD systems: shooting down the majority of incoming objects is a success. The real failure here is the inability to take precautions in protecting the planes, like building aircraft shelters.

As I wrote several reports ago, one thing is clear: no country on earth currently possesses the proven repeatable capability to convincingly stop ballistic missiles. Neither Russia, nor U.S. or Israel. Ballistic missiles, even non-hypersonic ones like the ATACMS, are proving to be an overmatch to all currently fielded anti-air systems. However, as I also have stated before, I do expect Russian capability to improve as they profile the ATACMS through more engagements then update their systems. Two "launchers" destroyed out of dozens of engagements where dozens of missiles were potentially shot down is still a respectable tradeoff.

Also, it should be noted that Ukraine launched a massive naval drone attack earlier as well, and that was entirely stopped by Russian naval forces, with most of the drones destroyed, and the few remaining scampering back toward Odessa. So it does show Russia is improving, which will likely happen with the ATACMS as well.

Lastly, here's the most important takeaway:

Many pro-UA readers are rejoicing at this major Russian failure. But in fact, it represents a Ukrainian failure in the end.

Why?

Because Ukraine was provided only around 100 ATACMS for now, and they have now used roughly 25-30% of them attacking Russian targets of no strategic importance to the actual conflict, which will make no difference whatsoever in the war. Once again, the ATACMS are being used to create 'high profile' incidents meant to bolster Ukraine's international image and morale, but which are doing nothing against the actual forces arrayed against them.

1. Crimea, as we already know, and as has even been admitted by MSM recently, is no longer even a transit point for Russian military arms. Crimea has little military relevance for the actual ground war happening all over Donbass, and particularly now in the north Kharkov region. To attack targets in Crimea does literally nothing at all for your war effort.

2. As I said, Russia has removed its most valuable assets from those bases: the Su-35s, Ka-52s—i.e. things which actually serve on the frontline and contribute to the war. The targets hit mostly represent AD systems—which, once again, merely guard the already strategically irrelevant area—as well as older jets used in secondary functions like surveillance around the Black Sea. Yes, the Mig-31s are a bit of an exception there. But given that ATACMS cost over $1M each per missile, 16 of them launched on a mostly irrelevant base is quite the frivolous expenditure to an extent.

In short: while a black eye on the reputation of Russian AD systems, such attacks serve no greater purpose than the much-celebrated hits on Russian ships months ago which we now can clearly see had zero effect on the war.

In fact, we can even conversely say that rather than having no effect, the strikes negatively effect the Ukrainian war effort because—as I wrote above—Ukraine is wasting its few precious 'wunderwaffe' on inconsequential strikes when those ATACMS could have been far better served hitting significant military targets like C2 nodes, ammunition sites, etc., in Russia's rear somewhere closer to the actual front in Donbass.

At the same time as the strikes were ongoing, Russian Iskanders likewise rained down just a few miles away on Ukraine's Nikolayev region, hitting several alleged ammunition warehouses, which are far more consequential targets for the ongoing ground war.

But even so: while these strikes will not have much effect on the real war for Ukraine, they should serve as a major alarm for Russia in regard to any future NATO conflict. The U.S. with its hundreds of HIMARS launchers and thousands of ATACMS missiles now understands Russia has no way of consistently stopping them, and is likely licking its chops. But remember—it goes both ways. The U.S. likewise has zero capability to stop Russian Iskanders, Kinzhals, and other missiles. That means in a slugfest between the two giants, neither would stop anything and pretty much would destroy each other's rears at will. After that, it would come down to the grit of attrition war, which relies on manufacturing, morale, the mettle and starch of your human capital—and we already know who has the empirical advantage there.

Someone recently said this truism, paraphrasing: modern war will be all about offense, as defensive systems have not caught up in development to offensive ones. The winner will be the one who can pump the biggest "quantity" of offensive systems like drones onto the opponent.

And remember, MSM continues to highlight who's got the technological edge in many of the most important fields:

https://www.businessinsider.com/us-jamming-tech-is-worse-than-russia-ex-pentagon-officials-2024-5

As a last point:

Some take this AD failure to mean Ukraine now stands to easily destroy the Kerch bridge in the near future, since the S-400s clearly "can't shoot down the ATACMS" missile.

I beg to differ.

Since the Russian AD has proven to shoot down the majority of them, I believe Ukraine does not stand a chance to get enough of the missiles past the AD net to critically wound the bridge. If Russia is shooting down 70-90% of the ATACMS in each batch, that means Ukraine may only get a few to hit, which is simply not enough to do anything beyond cosmetic damage.

Sure, they may add Storm Shadows and other things to the mix which will complicate the matter, but even so, despite what we're seeing in Crimea, I remain fairly confident because the Kerch Bridge represents a far more complex target from a variety of angles.

In the end though it makes no difference: at most they can damage a few sections of the longest bridge in Europe, which Russia will easily replace in two months. It would have zero effect on the war, as always.

Last few interesting videos.

An unintentionally humorous interaction between Putin and Xi's security detail during the visit:

Meanwhile, in a very rare sign of personal affection that goes beyond mere politics, President Xi went so far as to initiate a hug with Putin:

I call it the dragonbear hug, and it is symbolic of the historically close relationship Russia and China now enjoy.

To further underline this, Putin not only brought up the fact that the USSR was the first country to recognize China but recalled this popular Soviet song of brotherhood between the two people:

Lastly, in the NATO trophy exhibit, this Russian soldier became a shining example of humility when questioned about his numerous medals. He demurred by saying it was merely for loving his motherland, but it turns out the humble warrior was hiding the fact he was responsible for the destruction of multiple Leopards and Bradleys, amongst others:

Humble Russian soldier doesn't want to tell his war stories.

-> He hit a Leopard and couple of Bradleys.

Here is his longer story: - On July 24 2023, near the village of Rabotino, Ivan quickly provided medical assistance to a wounded comrade and then evacuated him to a safe location.

- On July 26 2023, leading a Kornet anti-tank missile crew, Senior Lieutenant Zharsky took up a pre-prepared position and hit a Leopard 2A6 tank, causing its ammunition to detonate. After changing position, Ivan hit a Bradley IFV at close range, destroying its crew.

During the second wave of the enemy's assault, Zharsky's team skillfully destroyed six more BMP-2s in battle. As a result, the enemy retreated. (Video)

- On July 27 2023, the guardsmen continued to destroy enemy tanks and armored vehicles. Another Leopard tank, a Bradley IFV, and a BMP-1 were hit.

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Simplicius The Thinker
15 May 2024 | 3:23 am

4. SITREP 5/14/24: Putin Cleans House as Volchansk Comes to the Brink


Events continue to develop rapidly.

Putin has sealed his new government, with Belousov given his first marching orders.

Before he could hardly step foot into the Duma hall, news broke of a further MOD official being cuffed for corruption: high ranking Yuri Kuznetsov, as well as some affiliated underlings swept up in his alleged corruption scheme. Meanwhile rumors fly that deputy of Shoigu's inner circle Tatyana "Chief Accountant" Shevtsova has resigned, first deputy minister of defense Tsalikov, and others—though they appear likely to be an uncorroborated information attack from hostile 5th/6th columnists. But just given the arrests of big wigs Kuznetsov and Ivanov alone, with attendant underlings, makes it an unprecedented ongoing purge, with further rumors of other MOD-linked officials to potentially be taken down in the near future as part of the widening dragnet.

It's playing out like the end of Godfather 1. Under the hymnal anointing of the newly sworn-in savior, a host of the corrupt legacy cankers are hoisted by their own petards and dragged off to jail. Even as cell doors were still slamming shut, as if by design, Belousov quite symbolically proclaimed "You can make mistakes, but you can't lie" to rousing Duma cheers:

It's feeling more and more like a Spring renewal, after all.

Here is how informed, albeit 6th columnist, channel ChK-OGPU filled in the blanks about the proceedings:

"The system could no longer withstand the prohibitive level of corruption in the Ministry of Defense, which led to the arrest of Deputy Defense Minister Timur Ivanov, the removal of "builder Sergei Shoigu" and the promotion of economist Andrei Belousov. It is known that deputy ministers Ruslan Tsalikov and Alexey Krivoruchko, the former owner of the Kalashnikov concern and a big fan of Miami, have written reports on the resignation; there is talk about the resignation of Yuri Sadovenko. We expect in the near future a radical cleansing of Shoigu's "Augean stables" and possible new high-profile cases and arrests. Just yesterday, the head of the personnel department of the Ministry of Defense, Yuri Kuznetsov, was detained.

The "dark horses" in Shoigu's stable remain Deputy Minister of Defense Tatyana Shevtsova, who is responsible for finance, who, by definition, due to her job responsibilities, should know more than anyone about possible abuses and misappropriation of funds, Alexander Fomin, Viktor Goremykin.

Alexander Fomin was appointed "supervisor" by Igor Sechin, who knows Fomin from the time he served as a two-year student in Angola after graduating from Leningrad University, so there is a high probability that Fomin will retain his position.

Another Deputy Minister of Defense, Viktor Goremykin, who is responsible for political work and personnel, had close friendly relations with Timur Ivanov, played hockey with him in the Red Stars team. Searches and interrogation of Viktor Goremykin's subordinate - head of the Personnel Department Yuri Kuznetsov, who was taken in his immodest mansion right in his bed, can lead to serious problems for the boss."

This was all followed by news that Putin has elevated both Patrushev and rising star Aleksey Dyumin to be his personal 'presidential aides'.

At the end of December 2020, LDPR leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky named Dyumin one of the politicians who could become Vladimir Putin's successor as President of the Russian Federation

Again check the physiology and physiognomy: young and hale, alert and sharp-eyed—not slovenly, disheveled, and geriatric, like has become so sadly commonplace amongst too many of Russian elite's upper crust.

In short: Putin appears to have effected a coup in cleaning out a very diseased strain within the MOD, fortifying his executive station with a cadre of ultra hardline loyalists with proven track records. And right on time, there are now rumors that Surovikin has finally arrived in Moscow, for real this time—or so Rybar claims; a meeting in the Kremlin was allegedly being carried out. This could portend a big coming appointment for him, if true.

Scott Ritter published a new Twitter post that so succinctly and thoroughly summarizes developments, I post it here in lieu of my own breakdown:

Scott Ritter

A New Revolution in Military Affairs

The appointment by Russian President Vladimir Putin of Andrei Belousov goes beyond simply trying to bring economic structure and discipline to an expansive and expanding military industrial base.

True, the rapid growth of Russian defense industry over the course of the past two years has created concerns that a fragile yet expanding Russian civilian economic sector still recovering from the shock of stringent U.S. and European sanctions in the aftermath of Russia's initiation of the Special Military Operation (SMO) in Ukraine could find itself held hostage by unconstrained defense spending that artificially skewed supply chains and pricing in a manner which could see the Russian economy go the way of its defense industry-heavy Soviet predecessor.

Belousov, an accomplished economist in his own right, has been brought in to manage the intersection of defense and civil economies to make sure that civilian industry remains viably healthy even as the need for robust defense industry output remains high.

But perhaps the most important aspect of Belousov's appointment is his role as an industrial innovator.

Russia is heading toward a new Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA) which will be defined by the nexus of a Technological Development brought on by the experiences of the SMO (drone warfare, electronic warfare, increased lethality of munitions), b) Doctrinal Innovation that has emerged as the lessons learned on the SMO battlefield are studied, and required changes incorporated into formal military education systems responsible for producing up-to-date doctrine; and c) Organizational Adaptation which involves major structural and intellectual changes that reflect the reality of new technologies and doctrine.

Under Sergei Shoigu, the Russian military made important progress in the first two legs of the RMA trio. But the kind of structural innovation needed in the Russian military to transform systemic changes into a true RMA are Belousov's forte. Russia is on the cusp of implementing a new RMA that will be every bit as transformative to the modern battlefield that the German Blitzkrieg was to the conduct of the Second World War.

This is good news if you're Russian. For the collective West, facing the prospect of undertaking an expensive expansion of NATO, a Russian-driven RMA would be tantamount to disaster.

On the front, Ukraine is facing one of its most rapid collapses of the war thus far. There are no two ways of mincing things: Russian sources report catastrophic losses for AFU who are woefully understaffed and underarmed. The largest scale of POW captures in the past year is currently ongoing, with over a dozen new videos just from today alone showing dozens of Ukrainian prisoners, including many Kraken:

Even the Ukrainian female paramedics are pleading for help with the losses:

As of this writing, the Ukrainian General Staff has announced a withdrawal of Volchansk, the largest city and stronghold of northern Kharkov region, though it's unclear as of yet if it's a full or partial one, as the wording is ambiguous:

Frontline troops are frothing with anger at command:

Russian forces have now even gotten within artillery range of Kharkov city itself, and there are reports they are hammering AFU positions on Kharkov outskirts from about 22-24km in Glyboke/Hlyboke.

There are even reports of blocking detachments now waiting in the rear to intercept fleeing troops:

An interception plan was introduced in the Kharkov region due to the mass exodus of Ukrainian Armed Forces soldiers

There are reinforced checkpoints on the main roads of the region with "armed men without identification marks" who are looking for Ukrainian soldiers fleeing en masse from the battlefield. This statement, citing his own sources, was made by a military expert, retired lieutenant colonel of the Lugansk People's Republic (LPR), Andrei Marochko.

According to him, employees of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Security Service of Ukraine "check everyone's documents and inspect vehicles," which is why there are "kilometer-long traffic jams" in many areas.

And if you thought that might be imaginative propaganda, Russian forces reportedly captured one of the troops tasked with carrying out blocking orders of the sort, who attests to the fact:

Either way, fighting was already being reported toward the center of Volchansk, whereas Russian forces had just reached the outskirts yesterday. Some reports stated Russian forces captured the administrative buildings near the center:

But that wasn't even the most important noise by a long shot. The most shocking revelations come by way of a NYT interview with Budanov, who briskly visited the wartorn Kharkov frontline to make his assessment of things:

https://www.nytimes.com/article/russia-ukraine-kharkiv.html

First, he states frankly that Ukraine has no reserves left for Kharkov:

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/world-news/2024/05/14/russia-ukraine-zelensky-putin-war-latest-news-kharkiv/

Note: I use the Telegraph version of the story above as the NYT link is acting wonky for some reason.

❗️"We have no reserves" 🇺🇦

Ukraine's military intelligence chief Budanov admitted to the New York Times that the situation is bad:

"The situation is on the edge," Gen. Kyrylo Budanov, the head of Ukraine's military intelligence agency said in a video call from a bunker in Kharkiv. "Every hour this situation moves toward critical."

"All of our forces are either here or in Chasiv Yar. I've used everything we have. Unfortunately, we don't have anyone else in the reserves."

How's that for a frank admission?

But if that wasn't bad enough, Budanov further admits that Russia will start the long-awaited Sumy operation within days:

On the heels of that, whispers from the Sumy border have grown deafening.

Not only from Russian military channels posting teasers like the following:

But nonstop rumors of major upticks in Russian DRG action, drones, artillery strikes, and more, all along the Sumy region:

⚡️🔥⚡️After teams of Ukrainian border guards and soldiers began to disappear in the Sumy region, the work of our OMD and ROSN in the border areas and art. strikes, Ukrainian armed forces evacuate several settlements northwest of the city of Sumy. Mining and engineering barriers have already been removed and the concentration of enemy forces is minimal⚡️🔥⚡️

Another premonitory tease states that barricades are being dismantled on the Bryansk border, at the Seredina-Buda checkpoint, directly opposite Sumy:

⚠️ And the thunderstorm is already so close, it gives me goosebumps, there is a distinct smell of ozone in the air, black cumulus clouds have appeared on the horizon.

In the harsh Bryansk forests, not only terrorists lose their ears, powerful forest forces know where the enemy is subtly and are preparing for the upcoming thunderstorm; as part of this event, they disposed of mine-explosive barriers at the Seredina-Buda checkpoint.

In addition, ammunition depots and airborne assault forces of Ukrainian militants take off throughout the entire depth of the operational formation.

In the darkness of the Bryansk forest, epic warriors are preparing their instruments, others are unsheathing violins and double basses.

A sledgehammer has already been raised over the enemy's head; it will soon collapse.

✈️ NGP exploration🦇

One analysis crunched some of the numbers:

⚡️🔥⚡️Kirill Budanov has left Kharkov with a scandal and is heading to Sumy.

There he will organize the contraction of Russian DRGs and deploy detachments for TRO and OMBR, which Syrsky is transferring from the reserves.

The Ukrainian armed forces have just under 54,000 in reserve, stretching from Kherson, which may end up back in the hands of the Russian armed forces, to Sumy and Chernigov.

12,000 of this reserve have already been withdrawn to Kharkov, then another 17,000 are planned to be transferred to Sumy⚡️🔥⚡️

The part about Seredina-Buda checkpoint is quite interesting. The question was always whether Russia would come in on the east or west side of Sumy. If the east—perhaps even on the Grayvoron region—it would entail a giant pincer of Kharkov city. But the above checkpoint is far to the western side of Sumy—in fact, nearly closer to Kiev:

If Russia really entered that deep, it would seem to necessitate a Kiev push. The truth is, sieging Kiev could be one of the most fatally unexpected coups de grace, as Russia has very little territory to cover on that side and Ukraine—as Budanov himself admitted—has few reserves. Russian forces pushing in on the outskirts of Kiev would cause panic to ripple through not only Ukraine but the entire West, potentially destabilizing the situation catastrophically.

Think about it this way: Russia doesn't have to capture Kiev, or even attempt to do so. Simply by bringing its forces to the outskirts, it could sow enough chaos and panic, civilian flight, etc., so as to finally unseat Zelensky in some kind of destabilizing coup, or force him to show his hand by fleeing with a government-in-exile, to Lvov or elsewhere—which itself would be politically fatal. There are many potential plays here.

But for the time being any such potential moves are likely very far off, as the immediate objectives revolve merely around splitting Ukrainian forces and thinning the lines in order to create breakthroughs aimed at generating catastrophic losses of materiel, personnel, and morale.

Amid the ongoing collapse, Blinken sped to Kiev to deliver another round of vapid "reassurances" to keep Ukrainian morale from catastrophically plunging. This 'reassurance' ended up consisting of nothing more than Blinken jamming out an uplifting rendition of Neil Young's "Rockin' In a Free World" in a Kiev dive bar:

"What, you wanted weapons and money? I've brought songs instead."

Can the U.S. Empire get any more pathetic or embarrassing?

Kiev was a full house as the scion of evil incarnate himself couldn't let Blinken have all the fun alone and decided to join the conclave:

Headlines remain bleak as ever, even at times reaching new lows of hopelessness:

One of them even includes this handy chart for the alleged drop in Ukrainian interception rates of Russian missiles:

You may recall a few months back I had reported that Ukraine is only replenishing about 50% of its losses via its lackluster mobilization drive. The latest figures claim this has dropped to a disastrous 25%. However, the newly signed mobilization bill is said to take effect on May 18th, which could initiate a much more far-reaching and heavy-handed campaign to grab bodies off streets.

Interestingly, this almost exactly coincides with the May 21st deadline to Zelensky's legitimacy, after which there are fears things may become quite a free for all. In fact, rumors on this tack already abound, like the following—though take it with a massive grain of salt, as it's most likely fake but meant more as a demonstrative sample of the brewing troubles:

Some last items:

Amid backbiting over the Kharkov region collapse, it's now coming ever-clearer into focus what scale of corruption resulted in the gross treason:

Here's another example of Ukraine's fortification miracle. A fed up Ukrainian soldier describes the totally inept trenchworks on one of the fronts—an endemic problem:

A Chechen Akhmat Zapad (West) unit was seen among the Kharkov forces around Ogurtsovo, northwest of Volchansk, and they gave a revealing shout to a few of the operating brigades in the northern offensive:

At 1:46 they name the 153rd Tank Regiment and 41st Motorized Rifle Regiment. The 153rd is reportedly part of the 47th Tank Division under the 1st Guards Tank Army, and is a newly formed regiment from 2023, when Shoigu reinforced the 1st Guards Tank Army with 5 new regiments. The 41st Rifle Regiment is uncertain as of yet, but is claimed to be from Karelia.

Lastly, some might have seen this posted, but here's a good subtitled version of a new mock Ukrainian recruitment ad, which is now ever-more accurate:

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Simplicius The Thinker
13 May 2024 | 3:59 am

5. Putin's Cabinet Shakeup Stumps Western Intelligentsia


As many had been suspecting for days, Putin initiated a major shakeup in his cabinet. The most notable was the removal of longtime defense minister Shoigu, to be replaced with a man many have not heard of: Andrey Belousov, an economist by trade and training.

Some considered this to be a deliberate misdirection by Putin, whom many expected to replace Shoigu with rising star Dyumin.

There are plenty of angles from which to cover this, but let's take a few of the most important.

Firstly, was this a demotion or promotion for Shoigu? RYBAR, for one, calls it a promotion, given that his new position as Secretary of the Security Council is a quite prestigious one that silovik Patrushev—one of the Kremlin's most powerful men—has held himself for nearly two decades:

Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu has been promoted - to the Security Council of the Russian Federation. It is not yet known where exactly Nikolai Patrushev will go. Perhaps, just as for Medvedev in his time, an additional position and a separate area that he will deal with will be invented for him. Or perhaps, Nikolai Platonovich has simply received a long-awaited retirement. What Shoigu's arrival will mean for the Security Council - an update and reshuffling (loyal Shoigu cadres will need to be brought in). At this stage, a certain almost caste system has developed in the structure of the Security Council, without the possibility of upward growth for individual employees. Perhaps, in the current conditions, this will mean a restructuring of the Security Council's work mechanism into a slightly different plane. Perhaps.

Others naturally believe this was a long-running coup against Shoigu and "his cadre". Timur Ivanov's recent arrest has been in the works for 5 years, as Russian prosecutors told us. They could have arrested him at any time, but chose to do so very symbolically not only before Putin's re-election, but even literally on the same day he sat next to Shoigu on the defense council. While I don't necessarily buy into any conspiracy theories prima facie, I do note that there is no such thing as coincidences in the great game of power politics.

For Timur Ivanov to have been linked as a close ally of Shoigu—who was the one that appointed him—was significant. There were even rumors that the 'embezzling' charge was a cover for much more serious espionage. Some even go as far as to hypothesize that the entire operation is one grand, long-running take down of the Shoigu clan, as this analyst writes:

Timur Ivanov is one of the people Prigozhin wanted Putin to get rid of. One of the resources close to the ''Wagner'' group just posted this:

''On behalf of PMC "Wagner" we would like to express our deep gratitude to the Chairman Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation to Alexander Ivanovich Bastrykin for the arrest of a state-level corrupt official, Deputy Minister of Defense Russian Federation Timur Ivanov. Thanks to the department you lead, the leakage of huge material resources from the state treasury, which are so necessary now to maintain the economic stability of the country at a time when there is enormous pressure from countries unfriendly to us, has been stopped. Over the many years of his corrupt activities, this official has caused colossal damage not only to our army, but also to the ordinary Russian people. We believe in the justice of the law and hope that this and other corrupt scoundrels will receive a well-deserved severe punishment to the fullest extent of the Criminal Law of the Russian Federation.''

Another theory along the conspiracy slant:

"Perhaps this is not a final arrangement. While the battle at the top continues. This is the first stage of the victory of the Kovalchuk clan. A brilliant operation was carried out to eliminate Shoigu. Obviously, he will fly further down. People from his entourage will be grabbed. He no longer has real power.

Shoigu represented the largest clan. Next in line, logically, are smaller fish, like the Rotenbergs. They either have to bend under the Kovalchuks or they will be devoured. And for one thing, people from their circle, such as Kolokoltsev. I think he won't stay put for long and there will be changes at the Ministry of Internal Affairs for six months. With the FSB, I also think there may be a replacement within six months, this is also connected with the stages of internal struggle."

Lastly, and most plausibly: "Tsargrad political commentator Andrey Perla is sure that by putting Belousov at the head of the Defense Ministry, Vladimir Putin wants to solve two tasks":

The first is to nip in the bud all the arguments about the very possibility of corruption in the defense department.

The second is to divide the leadership of troops during combat operations and the organizational and economic support of the army and navy.

Perla wondered how much the agency would change Belousov, because, presumably, now a significant part of the staff is Shoigu's people.

Machinations take a very long time to develop and play out at the elite level. Prigozhin himself gravely disrespected Russia and did not "pay" for it until many months later. Therefore it is possible that Putin, not wanting to rock the boat for understandable reasons, preferred to wait until such time that a shakeup would be natural and expected, which opportunity the post-election customary cabinet reshuffle presented; to get difficult things done gradually without making too many waves is an artful science.

But whatever the true reasons, one thing I personally do believe is that Russia—like many world countries—suffers from a creeping illness of gerontocracy, as the Soviet Union itself once did in its terminal stage. It's likely not as bad as the U.S., but there are many old figures, Sovoks and the like, which should have been put out to pasture and retired long ago. Not necessarily due to any corruption, per se, but simply due to the lack of passion and vitality in improving the country.

I for one do subscribe to the importance of physiognomy, and one look at many of the eldest carryovers and perennial officials shows an at times aging, depleted-looking, uninspired lot. Shoigu is not that old himself, but lately has admittedly been looking the worse-for-wear, haggard and worn out. Belousov, at a spiffy 65, is virtually a spring chicken by global gerontocratic standards.

Looks and physiognomy can certainly be deceiving, but at first glance he looks sharp, apt, and clear-eyed. A demonstrative video making the rounds is meant to showcase his keen understanding and direct forthrightness in regard to Russian drone production and its inherent limitations:

Furthermore, it's said he's a severe technologist and drone tech enthusiast who will focus the Russian defense production on the needed directions. In the recent round table session with frontline commanders, you'll recall that Putin specifically conveyed Russia's intentions to concentrate on UGV ground bot development.

It's no coincidence that the 'drone guy' is then suddenly hired for the job. Look for this appointment to be very bullish for Russian drone advancement.

Peskov further elaborated on the appointment with an extremely significant clarification:

Read the bolded portion of the summary below:

🇷🇺 Dmitry Peskov's full commentary on the reasons for the appointment of Andrei Belousov as Minister of Defense

❗️The budget of the Ministry of Defense and the security bloc was recently still around 3%, but recently it has grown to 6.7%. This is not a critical figure yet, but due to well-known geopolitical circumstances, we are gradually approaching the situation in the mid-80s, when the share of expenses for the security bloc in the economy was at the level of 7.4%.

❗️ It is very important to integrate the economy of the power bloc into the country's economy. Write it down to fit the current moment. Today, the winner on the battlefield is the one who is open to innovation, more open to the most rapid implementation. Therefore, it is natural that at the current stage the president has decided that the Ministry of Defense should be headed by a civilian.

❗️ And this is not just a civilian, but a person who very successfully headed the Ministry of Economic Development, who for a long time was the assistant to the president on economic issues. And in the previous cabinet of ministers he was First Deputy Prime Minister.

❗️ The Ministry of Defense must be absolutely open to innovation, to introduce all advanced ideas.🇷🇺

As you can see, the appointment of Belousov is meant to streamline the economic integration of the defense industries and country's general economy. An entire essay can be written on just what this one item alone means, precisely. Some have even interpreted it to mean some type of neo-liberal coup, as Belousov is said, by some, to be a "liberal" who was once assistant to German Gref of Sber bank, and will therefore "plunder" Russia's economy by yoking the recently state-seized defense concerns back into the 'private sector'—in essence, handing the keys to Russia's future back to fat-cat weapons oligarchs.

We'll have to wait and see, but I don't think that's what it means. This development can only be received positively as it shows Putin's seriousness in tackling the issues of defense-economic integration and alleviation. I believe this will revolve around scaling of manufacturing processes and creating a more agile, flexible, and innovative defense sector by allowing private companies to integrate better with the developments currently being made by the 'state owned' industrial powerhouses. This is how it works in the U.S., and there are major advantages to fast developmental pipelines for new innovative designs.

While Russia has done very well in some sectors since the start of the SMO, in several others it has lagged very badly. For instance, the scaling and commercialization of personnel-based EW systems leaves much to be desired. Most of the systems on the ground are cheap Chinese knockoffs and requisitioned ad hoc, a process that is extremely stale and ineffective, causing the mass deaths of Russian servicemen to enemy drones. Something in this pipeline is in grave need of streamlining, which includes the "localization" that Belousov himself emphasized in the video above.

As for the concerns that he's a civilian through and through, this has now become a du jour tradition under Putin and in fact the last four ministers of defense have all been non military. Shoigu, as most know, was an emergencies minister; before him, Serdyukov was a tax guy, brought in by Putin specifically to be an "outsider" who can clear out the cobwebs of the military apparatus incapable of self-policing; and even before him was Sergei Ivanov, an FSB chief who specialized in law, with no military background. After all, Peskov mentioned that once again Belousov was brought in by virtue—rather than in spite—of his non-military background.

Some final thoughts on the appointment from another analyst:

Belousov's appointment promises a total audit of all financial flows of the Ministry of Defense. He is a fairly tough and effective manager known for his practical approach to business. He often had an unpopular point of view on the work of accountable structures, which is probably what the Ministry of Defense needs now.

And there's always this, for the believers:

The new Russian minister of defense, Andrey Belousov, is a practicing Orthodox Christian. He has personally donated to & built a monastery in the Vladimir Oblast: "Russia must become the guardian of the traditions of Christian civilisation. The era of globalism is over."

Acquaintances of Andrei Belousov told The Bell (foreign agent) that he periodically serves as an altar boy in one of the churches, presumably in the Vladimir region.

In general, I view it cautiously as a very positive development. I have been outspoken in the past about the fact that much of Russia's military structure at the onset of the SMO was a rusty, sometimes decrepit and even corrupt, carryover from the past. Years of low intensity operation or no hostilities generally results in the buildup of laziness, useless generals who stuff their pockets or sit on positions they view as sinecures rather than meritoriously earning their keep.

All this gets cleaned out by virtue of necessity—and an existential conflict brings necessity like no other. Since the beginning, Putin has been slowly clearing out the calcified structures, upwardly promoting and mobilizing deserving men to replace the hangers-on from the dusty ages of long time past. This is a continual and unending process, but it has bore fruit and today we see its ongoing progression. The spring renewal of change and adaptation is a good thing.

As a last quick mention of the ongoing Kharkov offensive, we've now seen the official introduction of the northern group's operative tactical symbol:

A comparison of current operation to the 2022 attempt of taking over Kharkhov region

2022: Russian troops advanced primarily along roads and had reached the borders of Kharkhov city in a few days. Main troops entered

2024: Russian troops are avoiding stretching lines and are moving through forests and fields in the border, still a DRG led operation

2022: The symbols V, O, Z (which coincidentally are Initials of Volodymyr Oleksandrovych Zelenskyy) started appearing a few days before the main attack started

2024: The new tactical symbol was only unveiled after the attack had started

2022: Russians due to advancing too quickly also became prey to ambushes, suffering losses higher than Ukrainians who were hiding

2024: Russians have deployed more drones and means to destroy incoming Ukrainian reinforcements, the losses can be equal or even higher for Ukrainians for now

At the same time, with weapons like FPV drones, and FABs, the fighting style is also different

While not as grand as 2022 attempt in terms of land grab, this is more sustainable for the RU army, and creates strategic dilemmas for Ukrainian command

In addition to the above, it's now said that Russia is demining entire fields by setting them on fire and burning all the mines off:

And things continue moving apace, with Russian forces seizing more villages and now having entered the actual city of Volchansk, the largest stronghold of the northern region:

Many Ukrainian military-linked channels are in panic or disorder, now openly accusing Ukrainian leadership of not having built any defenses in the north. It's clear that what began as a coping attempt to downplay the northern advance is now turning into an open debacle:

Ukrainian volunteers complain that the Nazi formations of the GUR ("Kraken", "Sonechko", "Brotherhood", etc.)* blocked the evacuation of the local population from Volchansk and are using city residents as human shields

Local residents made an agreement with the volunteers, but did not let anyone in or let anyone out of the city.

Judging by the news reports, fighting for the city has already begun. Take care of yourself, dear ones! — calls for Dill Fresh

The AFU is now scrambling to plug the holes by routing its most elite units to the north, with GUR spetsnaz and Kraken reportedly coming to the rescue. Unfortunately for them, several Kraken groups have already been captured by Russian forces. Their interviews below:

Captured militant of the "Brotherhood" battalion of the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Kyiv regime. This formation was created by the bastard Korczynski, who went to kill Russians back in Chechnya, as a member of UNA-UNSO he fought on the side of Duday's terrorists.

2nd Video:

A militant of the battalion 'Brotherhood', which is part of the GUR. One of these organisations similar to the RDK (the guy is from Krasnodar).

Starshe Edda fills in some details:

The second day after the start of the offensive of the North group of troops. The number of captured AFU has already exceeded 50, there is even one prisoner from the Kraken. It's too early to estimate the enemy's losses; there are probably 100 people lying on the strongholds, these are those whom the fleeing Ukrainian Armed Forces soldiers could not drag away. How many of the enemy were destroyed as a result of incessant artillery and air strikes is unclear at the moment, but it is obvious that there is a lot.

Strelechye, Gatishchi, Pylnaya, Borisovka, Pletenevka, Krasnoye, Ogurtsovo, as well as the adjacent forest regiments and enemy fortifications, are under our control; battles are taking place in the Glubokoe area, as well as on the outskirts of Volchansk. It is very important to note that our losses are minimal, Storm of the North acts very competently, Lancets, FPV crews, artillerymen, tankers pave the way for them, sweeping away the enemy's fortifications and his armored vehicles.

AFU cannot show their ohlos anything (meaning show successes on the battlefield), so they record videos with representatives of the cock volunteer corps, in which they talk about our great losses. I hope that the fighters of the cock corps will stop pissing on the fences in Kharkov and will already come to the aid of the Ukrainians, where we will drive them away. The enemy takes out all his failures on the civilians of Belgorod, shelling residential areas. It is this problem that the steel Northerners are now solving, unwinding the enemy.

He makes an important note I've seen underscored by others: for once, this offensive has been marked by a specific emphasis on the fact that Russian forces are utilizing effective combined arms tactics, with several frontline reports making pains to note that artillery and drone utilization is good, communications are notably coordinated and running fluidly, etc. This is contrary to many other fronts like Kherson where complaints about coordination between those mentioned aspects abound. It seems whoever is running the 'Northern Wind', as some are calling it, is doing a very competent job thus far.

And of course, the credit should also go to the units themselves, for which the picture is becoming gradually clearer. I mentioned some of the units suspected to be involved last time, but now there are a few more notables being put forth:

The 138th Separate Guards Motor Rifle Brigade, which is from the 6th Combined Arms Army from the Leningrad District; one source claims the 80th Tank Regiment, though I haven't seen confirmation of this.

Then there's reportedly the 18th Guards Motor Rifle Division, as part of the 11th Army Corps from the Baltic Fleet troops I already mentioned last time, with the 79th Motor Rifle Regiment operating as part of the 18th division.

One of the only prevailing commonalities is most of the utilized units appear to be from the newly-formed 'Leningrad Military District'.

This panicked cris de coeur by a Ukrainian 57th Brigade account even lists the now legendary 'Storm-Z' penal troops as participating, while also naming the Ukrainian 125th territorial defense troops as abandoning their positions in Volchansk to flee:

It was likewise already confirmed by other Ukrainian military accounts that the AFU was forced to withdraw much-needed units from the Avdeevka and Chasov Yar fronts to reinforce the worsening Kharkov direction:

The first consequences of the breakthrough of Russian troops into the Kharkov region. Military chronicles report that the Ukrainian Armed Forces withdrew part of the units of the 42nd Mechanized Infantry Brigade from the front near Chasov Yar and hastily transferred Troops to Volchansk, fearing further expansion of the bridgehead and the introduction of larger Forces of the Russian Armed Forces.

As well as Forbes:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/davidaxe/2024/05/12/ukraines-cv90-fighting-vehicles-are-rolling-into-vovchansk-their-crews-expecting-a-russian-invasion-from-the-north/

The dilemma, for Ukrainian leaders, is that a feint can turn into an offensive with little notice—as long as the Russians can spare the forces from their operations in the east. "It is a shrewd approach, considering Ukraine's manpower constraints," Finnish analyst Joni Askola wrote.

The Ukrainian military isn't taking chances. Elements of several brigades, including the 59th Motorized Brigade and the 92nd Assault Brigade, are already in Vovchansk—or on the way. Notably, the 92nd Assault Brigade is bringing its best CV90 infantry fighting vehicles.

Ukrainian commander in chief Oleksandr Syrskyi insisted his troops would deploy and redeploy to match the Russians' moves. "We are aware of the enemy's plans and can respond flexibly to all of his actions," Syrskyi said.

Meanwhile, AFU sources themselves report that Russia only started off utilizing 7% of its regional forces, subsequently increasing it to 15%—which should give an idea of what's yet to come:

Ukraine post: There is a lot of pressure on the boys. Deep is very difficult, Vovchansk is under control, but there are attempts to break through. The occupier is pulling more and more forces. If yesterday 7-8% of the total number of forces deployed in the operational area were involved, today it is up to 15%. A lot of enemy equipment was burned. But they will not stop until they are completely destroyed.

Here's a visualization of the fights from one of the AFU units in the forests near Volchansk as they get shelled by Russian artillery:

Spokesman for Ukraine's battlegroup Khortitsa, Nazar Voloshin, states Russia launched 22+ guided bombs on Volchansk today:

ISW also confirmed Russian advances and the AFU's complaints:

There continue to be many other Russian advances on other fronts as well, but we can cover those next time.

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Simplicius The Thinker
11 May 2024 | 6:23 am

6. Special Report: Russian Forces Breach Kharkov Border


We'll keep it brief today, just down to the brass tacks of ongoing on-the-ground events.

In accordance with information we've been reporting for many months about stirrings in the north, Russia has finally launched an assault on the Kharkov region. But it's important to clear up a lot of misconceptions about the objectives.

Firstly, the assault was likely smaller than it may have sounded at first—more a recon by fire or advanced scouting party, with most of the damage being done by Russian long range fires and drones. However, it did capture half a dozen small, mostly abandoned settlements on the Ukrainian side of the border:

(Does he know the definition of counter-offensive?)

It's still not even clear which Russian units precisely participated, as that would tell us a lot about the character and nature of events. However, it appears possible the 1009th Motor Rifle Regiment was involved, which is subordinated to the 11th Army Corps out of Kaliningrad. They are basically Baltic Fleet troops and have been on the Belgorod front since at least early 2023, having fought in the Kharkov defense prior to that in 2022.

Since they're motorized and not mechanized, what we saw today matched the description, as from the little footage there was, they appeared to use light vehicles only and very little armor, with some BMPs. Also, we know General Lapin is commanding the entire northern front, as I reported last time he gave a check on the units right before this attack occurred.

Opposite them is the Ukrainian 42nd Mechanized Brigade defending. The 42nd posted videos destroying some of the Russian light vehicles, which were actually geolocated to even much deeper than just the border towns that were captured:

The towns on the border were mostly in the gray zone already, so they met light resistance for the most part, though Russian sources have stated the AFU took many casualties and reportedly nearly two dozen POWs, with photos showing some of the captured troops.

The newer Ukrainian fortifications which Zelensky himself inspected north of Kharkov just a month or so ago are said to be much closer to the city itself, and so Russian forces did not have to even go near them yet.

In fact, Ukrainian sources claimed the attack merely consisted of 4-5 battalions:

The fact that this motorized regiment without much heavy gear was used is revealing. It confirms reports that Russia is no where close to introducing its "main force" into the region, which can come much later after Russia has tested the Ukrainian defenses, revealed their positions via recon-by-fire, and then softened them up with air strikes.

Ukrainian military sources report that not only does Russia possibly have a much larger force it intends to introduce later, but another one is gathering in Sumy region as well:

Rumor:

⚡️🇷🇺⚡️IMPORTANT

🔴 It appears that another direction to Sumy will be opened in the next few hours.

The enemy forces are in full combat readiness.

They are dragging the reserves toward the border.

🔴 Meanwhile, our army is working on enemy concentrations.

An assault is planned in the next few hours.

Our DRGs have already started working.

Let us pray for our Boys⚡️🇷🇺⚡️

Remember precisely two months ago I said I had my own personal on the ground sources who said the Russian gov't was quietly clearing out Russian villages on the Sumy border, with the specific instruction that they have two months time? The article is here, from February 25th, I wrote:

Well, almost exactly two months later, it looks like things are bearing fruit. I believe the current action is both multi-stage and longer term. That means you won't see a flash-in-the-pan blitzkrieg or thunder-run, but rather a very methodical introduction of forces from the north at key points like turning the screws on a vise.

Russia will likely see how Ukraine reacts to the Kharkov incursion, watch where it deploys its reserves, and act accordingly, with potential Sumy and/or Chernigov contingents to come in much later.

The objective here is not to take Kharkov any time soon. That can happen much, much later in an organic fashion as a byproduct of far more exigent objectives, like cutting off the Kupyansk corridor for the AFU. Little by little, Russia will worm its way in and surround Kharkov, which will be besieged and likely fall very slowly, maybe even by mid 2025 or so. They're not in a rush to capture it any time soon as doing so is not necessary for the time being, nor would provide any recognizable strategic benefit.

Remember: the objectives right now are to degrade and destroy the AFU manpower, not to "capture territory"—that will all come as a natural secondary byproduct of its own.

In the meantime, Russia is slowly degrading the logistics in the region:

New satellite images confirm the destruction of the bridge over the Seversky-Donets River at the Stary Saltov Dam in the Kharkov region.

Coordinates: 50.07710811888536, 36.81177840025569

This bridge was blown up during the withdrawal of Russian forces from the settlement in 2022, but was restored and used by Ukrainian forces. Now it has been destroyed again, which will significantly affect the Ukrainian army's logistics in this direction, as it will either have to build crossings higher up the river or take a 20-kilometer detour to bypass it.

And another nearby at 50.305850, 37.074000:

In the meantime, Ukrainian commanders wisely note that the northern actions are merely distractions and fixing operations for a reinforced campaign through the center in the Donetsk region:

This is true to an extent. But war is not black and white. The northern incursion is in fact a pinning operation for now, but that's not all it is. It's part of the grand boa constrictor or 'death by a thousand cuts' strategy I've been describing for over a year now, and more resources will be poured constantly onto it until the trickle develops into a deluge. After that, it will be a fully formed front in its own right and Ukraine will have major problems choosing where to send reserves.

But this may all happen over a longer period of time. Russia could even freeze it here for now, depending how many forces it has itself at its disposal, and just keep AFU busy, or they can put far more pressure. It's hard to know for sure as estimates vary as to how large the total 'rear' force in the Belgorod region really is, but some claim there's a "hidden" force as large as 100-150k waiting to be pushed in and turned into a full-fledged mass operation.

▪️"Russia does not have the resources to reach Kharkov"

"They can only aggravate the situation on the border," Kovalenko, head of the Center for Countering Disinformation, reassures Ukrainians.

For now, Ukrainian officials remain 'confident' it's not much, though of course that could just be a facade of strength, hoping to keep morale from crashing.

In the meantime, the Avdeevka-Ocheretino axis is deteriorating fast, which is precisely why Russia decided to "turn the screws" some more:

‼️UKRAINIAN POST‼️

Our source in the General Staff said that the situation in the Avdeevka direction continues to deteriorate, we will be forced to leave three settlements in the coming days so as not to fall into a tactical encirclement. The enemy continues to create a bridgehead that will be used for an operation to encircle the Ukrainian Armed Forces grouping in Toretsk and Niu-York.

And by the way, today new gains were made on the Kupyansk front toward the town Pishchane, which reinforces the idea that soon this front may get more activated in accordance with the northern breach.

ISW has called the gains thus far tactically 'significant':

NEW: Russian forces began an offensive operation along the Russian-Ukrainian border in northern Kharkiv Oblast on the morning of May 10 and made tactically significant gains. This is likely the initial phase of an offensive operation north of Kharkiv City that has limited operational objectives but is meant to achieve the strategic effect of drawing Ukrainian manpower and materiel from other critical sectors of the front in eastern Ukraine.

Some on the UA side are pointing to the fact that this was well known in advance, with Ukraine having good recon and intel on Russian force dispositions and general objective trajectories. This is meant to underline that Ukraine is in control, as Russia has no 'element of surprise'.

The problem with this thinking is all modern warfare, we now know, is no longer contingent on element of surprise. Russia knows that Ukraine knows, and Ukraine knows that Russia knows that Ukraine knows. It's that type of situation—and it doesn't matter. Despite advance warning and accurate intel, Ukraine can do nothing about the events that are soon to come. This is a chess match and a numbers game; you can "know" full well the constrictor is tightening over your chest, but there will be little you can do about it. Ukraine will lack the means to respond to the constant swell of Russian troops and armaments on every single frontline, which will only stretch longer and longer as Russia potentially introduces new breaches into Sumy, Chernigov, and perhaps even elsewhere—some Russian channels are still trading rumors of a potential push from Belarus into Kiev region as eventual part of the now initiated cascade.

So yes, Ukraine will know full well what Russia is doing—but this by no means allows them to have the situation "under control". They can send their reserves to Kharkov, then they'll get run through in the Pokrovsk direction. Should they choose to 'split the difference' and go half and half, then they'll just get worn down and overrun in both directions; it's really that simple. Recall all the quotes from Ukrainian officers I recently posted wherein they admitted they don't have the mobility to match Russian 'whack-a-mole' tactics. Russia can transfer units from one region to another and mesmerize the AFU with the 'thousand cuts' from every angle, and Ukraine simply doesn't have the logistical infrastructure to keep up plugging each hole. The longer the front stretches, the worse this issue becomes.

All in all, things are shaping up right on schedule. It seems the Spring offensives are starting just as we all thought, and there's good chance they're timed to put maximum pressure on Zelensky who will be in political peril in only a matter of days/weeks, once his legitimacy runs out at the end of the month.

As a final note, contrary to early reports, the Russian MOD has not even officially acknowledged nor announced this Kharkov assault in any way whatsoever, which means this is clearly meant to be downplayed for now and is not even close to the main push. It is further proof that this is just the early recon effort and the question still remains whether a far larger push will be made soon, or instead a more low key, gradual buildup and long range fires destruction to keep the AFU busy here.

We'll keep monitoring the situation.

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Simplicius The Thinker
10 May 2024 | 4:36 am

7. Victory Day: Anxiousness Grows Amid Stirs in the North


Quick note: It's never occurred to me that my 'Tip Jar' link may be a tad obscure and buried at the bottom, as I've gotten several emails from people not knowing how to donate. Allow me to place the full link as reminder, this is my official Tip Jar: buymeacoffee.com/Simplicius

Thanks to all the contributors who do throw some coin on there, as it is a big monthly help. Now back to our regularly scheduled programming.

The latest Economist piece takes us to a Ukrainian bunker outside the besieged town of Chasov Yar. It contains a few interesting items that converge with current goings on.

https://archive.ph/JKMaM

Chasov Yar is a unique front because unlike most of the other fronts, where a major disparity exists between elite troops of one side and mobilized defenders of the other, here they are evenly matched. One of Ukraine's most elite brigades, the 92nd Assault Brigade, is defending against Russia's elite 98th Airborne Division, making the fights particularly hellacious and unforgiving. The 92nd were one of the foremost brigades taking part in the Kharkov offensive of late 2022, earning themselves many medals and state honors in the process as they drove Russian forces out of Izyum and Kupyansk.

The article describes their air defense battalion—consisting of 250 troops—as having its own radar terminal showing all Russian air activity in their vicinity. If true, it gives an eye-opening account of what they can see and track: Smerch missiles passing over them at 900mph, Russian jets to a depth of 50km unleashing glide-bombs, which their radar allegedly tracks—though they have no way to shoot them down.

One noteworthy point from the article underscores something I wrote last time, that at this point most Ukrainian officers and officials are no longer fighting for 2022 or 1991 borders, but rather for simple survival:

A year ago, as Ukraine readied for its counter-offensive, just holding its own positions was considered the most pessimistic scenario. Now, as Russia prepares for a fresh push, it is considered the best case. From soldiers to generals, everyone The Economist spoke to over the past week knows that Ukraine lacks the resources to get back to its 1991 borders, as its politicians have promised. "I suggest to anyone who talks of 1991 borders to come as far as Bakhmut," Colonel Timchenko says, referring to a town Ukraine lost a year ago after months of savage fighting.

At stake now is not Ukraine's territorial integrity, but its survival.

The commander of the brigade goes on to state that if Konstantinovka falls Russians will very quickly reach the Dnieper; Konstantinovka is the next big strategic center after Chasov Yar whose importance likely even eclipses that of Bakhmut, as Konstantinovka and its neighboring Druzhkovka have classically been the headquarters of the entire Ukrainian ATO/JFO since 2014:

Colonel Pavlo Fedosenko, commander of the 92nd, who helped liberate Kharkiv province in September 2022, is now fighting some 350km south-east of the city. "Everyone knows that if we don't fight for Kostiantynivka and Druzhkivka [Russia's probable next target], Russian forces will be in Dnipro, Kharkiv, Kryvyi Rih a few weeks later," he says.

He thinks there is a "70% chance" that Russia can occupy the rest of the Donbas region. The question is how long it might take, and how much damage Ukraine can inflict in the process.

Note the bolded above.

The article complains that allies have not given enough weapons to Ukraine, implying that if they were to do that Ukraine would magically win. The commander says he gets 5 shells a day for his American Paladin artillery guns. But we just saw the U.S.' own Paladins using Korean shells in training. Doesn't Economist get it? There's nothing left to give—production is maxed out.

Here's one of the most revealing parts of the article:

Some 70% of the Russian soldiers in such assaults are former convicts, says Colonel Fedosenko. He also sees Tajik, Uzbek, Turkmen, Cuban and Somali mercenaries. Many soldiers have never been in combat before. "Our interceptions suggest they are scraping the barrel, using whoever they can force into battle—cooks, builders, mechanics, anyone."

This correlates with the latest BBC report from days ago showing that Russia has managed to successfully transfer the majority of its losses onto volunteer and prisoner units:

https://www.bbc.com/russian/articles/c9ezjy35g11o

Note how the vast majority of those who died during the Bakhmut operation from early 2023 until its conclusion in May 2023 were prisoners, i.e. Storm-Z units. Then note how exactly corresponding to the start of the Avdeevka assault, which was early October 2023, the green colored bars representing volunteer casualties jumped and began to dominate.

Why is this important? Those who read my most recent paid article will understand precisely the reason. Russia is carrying out a methodical textbook force management, husbanding its most experienced contract professional soldiers while utilizing the more 'expendable' forces in dangerous assaults with higher casualty risks. It sounds callous to say it this way, but this is war, and the side which utilizes its resources smarter wins. Russia is seasoning its best warriors, preserving them while they accumulate vast experience which can be shared and absorbed throughout the entire structure of the armed forces.

I described at the conclusion of the Avdeevka assault how it went down. The 1st Army Corps DPR units like the 114th augmented with Storm-Z penals led the high casualty vanguard assaults, and only after Ukrainian lines began to break did Russia begin introducing elite Spetsnaz and other hardened units as follow-on and breakthrough forces which hunted down the retreating Ukrainians, cutting them off and generally wreaking hell on their lines.

Brief Primer on Volunteers

The only question is: what are volunteers exactly? No one seems to know or clearly understand. The reason for that is the definition drastically changed.

You see, in the beginning of the war, and particularly in the post 2014+ era, a "volunteer" was someone like Russell Bentley who comes of his own will, signs up with little to no training, often or usually doesn't even get paid, and just gets stuck to a position somewhere. Even in the early 'wild west' days of the SMO of 2022, things were more chaotic, disordered, and lax. People could simply go "volunteer" and fight for free virtually without any training at all.

That doesn't exist anymore. Things have been dramatically tightened up and systematized. But what exactly then is the difference between a volunteer and a regular paid contractor or kontraktniki? You see, a volunteer is a person who walks into an army enlistment office and enlists to join the Russian Army. But doesn't that just make him a regular soldier of the Russian army? Volunteers now also get paid standard rates, etc.

The differences are now more subtle. Firstly, the Russian army proper prefers to recruit its contract soldiers internally from actual called up conscripts who have just completed their compulsory service bootcamp. As you know, Russia has both a spring and autumn conscription call up. A certain percentage of these will just serve their mandatory 12 months training and go back home, while a percentage will sign a contract to join the army and be sent to the SMO. Not to mention the various military academies from which Russia gets its professional contract officer corps troops.

"Volunteers" on the other hand are generally people who also served their compulsory service long ago, but are now older and have been living their lives, had careers, etc., and have chosen to come and enlist out of a sense of duty or simply for the good pay. However, one of the key differences is that such volunteers often go into separate 'volunteer' groups, battalions, brigades, etc., which—although technically under the official auspices of the Russian Armed Forces—are sometimes akin more to a paramilitary or auxiliary structure. I.e. rather than being within real, established, classic Russian formations/brigades, they may operate as a sort of Rosgvardia/National Guard, or Akhmat "special" units, etc.

One of the reasons for this is their training is different and not necessarily "standard" with what the nominal Russian Army conducts on their annual conscripts/recruits. Obviously this training is often highly accelerated and perhaps even more lax given that many volunteers are older to begin with, though there are many different types of specialized "volunteer" units such as the BARS, which are essentially old veterans. There are many different groups, with volunteer units often being grouped into homogenous types like a unit of all over 50+ aged soldiers, or a unit of all foreigners, etc.

However, it's not necessarily super clear cut and there may be some interoperability or intermixing between the two, i.e. perhaps some volunteers are able to transfer into nominal Russian Army units as regular contract soldiers, etc.

But the main point is that, to some superficial extent, there is no difference between 'volunteers' and regular troops. They're both officially recognized combat troops and are both paid standard rates. But there are key differences in how volunteers are recruited and trained, and the types of units they get into. This is because they come from "outside of the system". Conscripts who are called up on their annual conscription, on the other hand, are already serving within the nominal formations of the Russian units, i.e. classic, historical units (albeit not inside the SMO, obviously) with which they can subsequently sign contracts and join upon completion of their conscription service / bootcamp.

Also, many volunteer units end up being subordinated into the DPR/LPR structure and are therefore part of the 1st or 2nd AK (Army Corps) rather than the official Russian Armed Forces. Yes, the 1st and 2nd are now officially under Russia, but since that was only semi-recent, it means the organizational realities are still in many ways more DPR than Russia, so to speak—which sometimes means more lax rules, standards, conduct, etc. This is why you often see videos (particularly near-OPSEC-breaking ones) from such units while Russian Army proper have much stricter phone/video codes and you see almost nothing from them apart from officially released videos by the MOD.

Now back to the article, which hilariously again claims that Putin is as-ever gunning for some mystical date:

For now, however, Russian forces continue to advance. While Ukraine is not collapsing, it is losing about 20 sq km a week. Mr Putin may want to inflict maximum damage before nato's 75th anniversary party in July, to humiliate the West and force Ukraine into negotiations.

Don't they ever learn?

But the final key topic swings back to Kharkov, where they emphasize the possibility that Russia will soon attack Ukraine's "second city" in one way or another:

With around 50,000 fresh Russian troops gathering across the border some 40km away, Kharkiv's commanders know they may be a target in Russia's next push. One scenario would be to isolate the city by cutting the main road to Kyiv. Another would be to move some 10km closer, putting the city's eastern outskirts within artillery range and creating a buffer zone to protect Belgorod, a Russian city that is being hit by Ukrainian drones.

This was again repeated by Ukrainian authorities from the Kharkov region just yesterday:

Remember how I said a while back I wouldn't start believing the stories until credible Ukrainian reports of actual Russian buildups had begun to appear? Well, it seems now they're starting to appear.

Here's the most detailed from a Ukrainian military channel yesterday:

The enemy continues to accumulate in the border strip of the temporarily occupied Belgorod and Kursk regions.

About 33-35 thousand orcs have already gathered in the first, and another 13-14 in the second. The number is increasing.

As you can understand, the number of military bases and means of destruction (~430 tanks, 135 units of self-propelled artillery and 388 units of self-propelled and towed artillery) is not enough to conduct a combined military operation and achieve even an operational-tactical goal.

For comparison, at the peak of the Avdiiv operation, there were more than 115,000 personnel of the occupiers.

This is on a section of the front less than 40 km wide (from Krasnohorivka to Krasnohorivka).

The enemy also understands this. Therefore, the meaning of the actions of the occupiers can be reduced to the following:

a) an attack on Vovchansk to enter the rear of our Kupyan group

b) raids in the direction of Kharkiv and Sumy/Glukhov

And both options are quite realistic. They differ only in the final goal.

There is still a third option - border battles on our territory.

No one knows what will happen to them.

But I can say for sure that our guys are ready for any development. Angry and motivated to destroy the enemy🫡

What more can be said - there may be even more indiscriminate strikes on Kharkiv/Sumy. The enemy has a lot of anti-tank missiles up to s-300 and rszv. As well as more accurate ones (shahedy/9m723/х-59/69). And fabs/cabs/other types of tactical aviation weapons. This must be understood.

Believe in ZSU and donate to ZSU! Only our warriors are the guarantor of our safety and the broken plans of the enemy!

So, according to him there's 35-50k troops and growing, with "~430 tanks, 135 units of self-propelled artillery and 388 units of self-propelled and towed artillery."

That's virtually a couple armored divisions and is roughly how much armor Ukraine used in total in the grand Zaporozhye counter-offensive, from recollection.

I agree that the current amount is probably not sufficient to take Kharkov but as far as other objectives, it really depends how strong the Ukrainian reinforcements there are. For instance, even Wiki admits Russia had Kiev entirely yoked up with a tiny 15-30k troops.

Under 'Battle of Kiev 2022':

Last year I had already written at length about the potential for Russia to enter from around Vovchansk in order to put pressure on the rear of the Kupyansk group:

With the boa constrictor strategy, Russia can make Kupyansk extremely unstable and the AFU there much more apt to mass retreat.

The Economist article finishes with the Kraken commander likewise agreeing that Russia will attack Kharkov as soon as 'mid-May', but believes it will fail:

Konstantin Nemichev is the commander of the famous Kraken regiment, a special-forces outfit formed in the early days of the invasion in 2022 that defended Kharkiv. He expects the enemy to attack the province again in mid-May, but reckons they will fail to get near the city. Interviewed outside a ruined school building in the east of town, the site of an intense firefight in 2022 in which invading soldiers were wiped out, the commander says the defence is much stronger now. It has three lines of fortifications and a full brigade to stop the Russians. "They can move a few kilometres into the province," he says, "but I don't think they can get as far as 10km."

A full brigade to stop the Russians?

The other interesting thing is rumors continue to abound of greatly elevated "activity" on the Kharkov and Sumy borders. Every day channels buzz with new rumors of something out of the ordinary happening. Yesterday, Ukrainians actually blew up a bridge in Vovchansk, which is precisely one of the only key entry points Russia can utilize to cross the border:

This was followed by rumors stating that Russian DRG activity has risen in the "rears" of AFU units in both Sumy and Kharkov regions.

And then this today:

Finally, Russia interestingly published a photo of General Lapin today giving a "readiness check" of the North Group of troops on the Kursk border, which he commands:

Colonel General Aleksandr Lapin inspected the readiness of the troops and "provided practical assistance" to the command of the group covering the state border in the Kursk direction.

In the meantime, Russia continues its infrastructural strikes, with a large one occurring the night before last. Ukraine's energy grid authority Ukrenergo admitted several key power plants were again hit, this time in the west of the country, and "extensively damaged":

One writeup had the following details:

Russia continues to conduct a systematic approach in the fire destruction of objects of the energy complex of Ukraine. Thus, in the Burshtyn TPP, only 10 turbogenerators had secondary turbine speed control, a total of 12 turbines. After the previous strikes, 4 turbines remained operational, and this was quite enough to regulate frequency deviations from the nominal value in the evening peaks of electricity consumption. Apparently, they were finished off last night.

At the Dobrotvorskaya TPP, turbo generator No. 1 was finished off, previously only the second turbo generator was defeated. Both were destroyed after the morning strikes.

Another blow was probably inflicted on the Ladyzhinskaya TPP, since the last strikes on April 3, and a month later, on May 3, it started working.Also, Kryvyi Rih TPP has not yet been "calibrated".

As you can see, missile strikes are mainly carried out on thermal power plants with secondary frequency control equipment. They allow you to adjust the frequency from a preset value of 50 Hz. And two of the three TPPs listed above have such equipment.

And one more:

Details of the massive strike on power facilities in the early morning of May 8.
In Poltava, the last autotransformer 330/110kV was attacked, the previous one was destroyed in April. However, judging by the fact that the light did not disappear in Poltava, there is another autotransformer in the city that needs to be destroyed.

In Ladyzhinskaya TPP, the 6th power unit was destroyed and the 5th power unit was damaged. At the Kremenchug hydroelectric power station, a rocket crashed into the cover of hydroelectric unit No. 4 and damaged one of the transformers of hydroelectric unit No. 4.6. Targets to hit are heavy.

A separate report claimed that "all major thermal power plants controlled by Ukraine have now been destroyed or severely damaged" and that "Hydroelectric generation plants are next to reduce the flexibility of Ukraine's grid. After which Ukraine will rely on 3 nuclear power plants and imports from EU countries."

It's difficult to verify this as some of them may be only partial hits and more are required to take out additional turbines.

For the record, this was Ukraine's official shoot down figures for Russian missiles in the attack, make-believe or not:

33/45 X-101 / X-555;
4/4 Caliber;
20/21 Shahed/Geran drones;
0/1 Dagger (Kinzhal);
0/2 Iskander-M;
2/2 X-59 / X-69;
0/1 Iskander-K.

At night three DTEK thermal power plants were attacked. The equipment is seriously damaged. Managed to shoot down all air targets in the area of the capital.

And Russian forces continue to advance a good deal each day. The latest in Krasnogorovka, which is now almost fully enveloped in a cauldron:

North of it, Umanske—west of Avdeevka—was said to have been totally or nearly captured, with one report stating Ukrainian troops have already begun retreating to Skuchne to the west of it:

Also, just south of it Russian troops advanced into the center of Netailove.

This is significant because that represents precisely the Vovcha river defense line we talked so long about being Ukraine's final backstop defensive line of the region.

Then, Paraskovovka was almost captured west of Novomikhailovka which itself was only recently taken:

This is big because Russian forces are close to cutting Ugledar's main supply route to the largest regional HQs:

That means Ugledar's time is almost up. After that road is cut, things will begin getting increasingly difficult and go down the tubes for Ukraine in Ugledar which will be increasingly isolated and vulnerable.

ISW confirmed most of these advances:

Lastly, the realizations are slowly setting in and Ukrainian figures are conditioning the public for the eventuality:

"We may lose the entire Donetsk region, but this does not mean that the war is lost" Ukrainian volunteer Taras Chmut is preparing citizens for a new scenario for his country.

A few last items.

Here is Putin's full May 9th Victory Day address:

During the proceedings, Putin sat amongst many of the heroes of the SMO. It included this familiar face just behind him on the left, famed platoon commander of the 810th marine brigade of the Mariupol siege, Red Backpackman, aka callsign 'Struna':

In fact, afterwards Putin honored the 810th, who now fight on the Kherson front around Khrynki, in another major way. In a round table session with all the top commanders, Putin heard the official plea of the brigade commander of the 810th himself, Major General Vlasov, and decided to officially expand the 810th—which has now grown from 2,500 men to over 11,000—into a full Division:

Isn't it interesting how Ukrainian brigades all started at 5000-6000 men and are now mostly operating at 1000-2500 at most, while Russian brigades balloon from 2500 to 11k? And yet they tell us it's Russia that's taking the "unbearable losses".

A quite unexpectedly rare sight occurred at the parade. A medaled Russian formation comprised of real SMO veterans took part. Consider the significance: these are among the only truly living decorated soldiers in the world who can lay claim to having fought and survived a real war. No other country presently can march real live, active duty, decorated heroes who've tasted real combat of this sort:

Lastly:

Putin honored his highschool teacher Vera Gurevich, who is still alive at 91 years old. She gave an insightful recollection of Putin in his youth, describing him as a humble warrior of justice:

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Simplicius The Thinker
8 May 2024 | 5:46 am

8. Crunching Numbers: Ukraine Munitions "Ramp-up" Buzz, Real or Hype?


There have been some new production updates, so I wanted to do a little breakdown to see how plausible the West's claims of significant production ramp-ups really are.

We'll start with the mainstay of the 155mm artillery rounds. The latest big announcement is that the U.S. has finally broken through their previous ceiling of ~28k rounds per month via the infamously worn-down Scranton factory. The new claimed amount: 36k shells per month, as per the latest:

This has set off joyous celebrations amid the pro-UA crowd with claims of numbers like 80-100k "by end of year".

Older video for reference:

Unfortunately, to burst their bubble, the U.S. Army's official projections for production ramp-up were revealed:

https://www.defenseone.com/policy/2024/02/army-aims-double-155mm-shell-production-october/393943/

What can we see in the chart? The army is supposedly doing slightly better than their oldest projections from 2022, but is not anywhere even close to tracking for the most recent hopeful 2023 projections, which appear to be wishful thinking. Those projections show somewhere around ~60k per month by end of year, however the actual track appears to be headed towards a disappointing ~45k or so at most.

Two problems with that:

  1. This is a pitiful number and at that rate would not even hit 100k a month for several years.

  2. Even that puny ~45k would not all be earmarked for Ukraine.

As to the second point above, with Israel now reportedly beginning its Rafah operation, and many other flashpoints looming, like a potential Lebanese incursion, there is no telling how much of that ammo Ukraine could receive. Thus far the U.S. has averaged around 10k rounds a month sent to Israel, which accounts for roughly 33% of all produced.

Now, things have gotten so bad there's rumor the U.S. is tightfisting its own supply due to shortages:

One report:

Last week, the Joe Biden administration seized a shipment of ammunition made in the United States of America for Israel.

According to some, this may be due to a domestic shortage of ammunition and the shipment of available ammunition to Ukraine.

Worst of all, a shocking image made the rounds showing that United States Army artillerymen themselves were now firing Korean rounds in training:

That means the U.S. and combined West's 155mm situation is so bad that the U.S. doesn't even have enough of its own rounds to conduct basic routine training for its own crews, which eats up a certain percentage of rounds per month throughout the year.

But now the latest claim being trotted out is that Germany's Rheinmetall plans to send Ukraine "millions" of rounds:

https://www.ukrinform.net/rubric-ato/3860414-rheinmetall-plans-to-send-ukraine-hundreds-of-thousands-of-artillery-rounds-before-yearend.html

This is all cruel nonsense. It's hard to understand why they torture Ukrainians with such lies.

But for the sake of transparency let's list their official claims from the article above:

Before Russia's full-scale war against Ukraine, Rheinmetall's annual capacity stood at nearly 70,000 rounds. This year, the group expects to reach 700,000, and in the medium term aims at 1.1 million. To this end, Rheinmetall is building a plant in Unterluss. A new production line is being set up in Lithuania. In Ukraine, the company also plans to build a munitions factory.

As one can see, these numbers are contingent on a bunch of far-off wishful-thinking-floated improbabilities. Firstly, if you dig into the "new factory" they're allegedly building in Unterluss, you find the following official spec:

In future, Werk Niedersachsen will produce artillery ammunition, explosives and rocket artillery components. The factory will eventually manufacture some 200,000 artillery shells a year, along with up to 1,900 tonnes of RDX explosive and, optionally, other components for producing ammunition charges. In addition, production of rocket engines and possibly warheads could take place here, which will be necessary for the planned German rocket artillery project, for example.

Not only is it more of a general purpose plant for various things—which could mean it will be very large and take long to build—but here it says it will max out at 200k artillery shells a year, eventually. The inclusion of that qualifier means even after its completion, it will have to slowly ramp up to a very unlikely "ideal" of 200k. We could be talking a 5-10 year projection, if not more. The previous promise of 700k and 1.1M shells a year looks ludicrous upon closer inspection.

This is a fine point one learns only through experience of many years studying the artful words of politicians; they are very clever in disguising gross exaggerations and other lies by omission.

For instance, the same article freely admits:

According to the assessment by the Rheinmetall CEO, it will take nearly a decade for the defense industry to replenish the Bundeswehr's stocks to the proper level after they have been depleted, including as a result of equipment donations to Ukraine.

Then they give the exact timeline:

The top priority for the new factory is the earliest possible start of production. Following a construction period of around twelve months – proceeding from the date of the contract – annual capacity will be 50,000 shells a year. Germany's initial share of value added will come to 50 percent, gradually increasing in the second year of production to 80 percent and to 100 percent in the third. By this point, Germany will have a fully autarkic supply of artillery ammunition, with value added generated entirely at home.

In terms of volume, annual capacity will reach 100,000 shells in the second year of production, later rising to 200,000 a year. 

Is that a joke? 100k shells by the second year? Those should be monthly numbers. Russia is said to be doing 250-350k shells a month at the minimum.

And it's nearly insulting to even comment on Rheinmetall's claim of building an ammo factory in Ukraine—this is nothing but childish posturing. They know full well such a factory would get a sunny visit from Iskander and his pal Kinzhal and be promptly reduced to constituent silica.

Not to mention NATO's defense firms continue to go up in flames, with reports claiming Germany's Diehl plant burned for days:

It's the same lies over and over: just as Czechia claimed to have found 1 million rounds, only to repeal to ~100k with the promise they will find the rest 'somewhere' unspecified.

You see these politicoes use the same strategy of ambiguous promises to instill hope in obvious exaggerations.

Another one: hoopla ensued over Macron's latest comments about sending a whopping "75 Caesar" SPGs to Ukraine. This sounds incredible on paper, as Caesars have proven quite formidable, arguably the single most powerful artillery gun in the entire war thus far—but very limited in number.

But when you take a look at the Caesar production capability you learn that France itself has only 40-60 of them total, depending on source. And each unit takes a whopping 30 months to build—it took them something like 8 years just to build the few dozen that they have.

Now of course that doesn't mean they build one at a time, and the production time has allegedly been "halved" since then—they can build a few simultaneously in those months it takes, but it still means the total "75" is years away.

A trickle of a few Caesars per year is not going to do much when Ukraine is facing collapse.

The UK is in a similar quandary:

ATACMS Shoptalk

Now the latest unjustified excitement surrounds announcements that the U.S. has also "ramped up" ATACMS production to a whopping "dozens per month".

https://en.defence-ua.com/analysis/ukraine_wont_be_running_short_of_atacms_production_rates_and_stock_estimates-10384.html

The site above gives an eye-opening breakdown of current potential ATACMS stockpiles:

But according to third-party estimates, Lockheed Martin had produced a total of 4,000 missiles, some 600 of which were spent during hostilities and exercises. However, saying there are 3,400 left would be too hasty.

Estimating the real number based on public data is actually quite possible. Here, for example, the information on the current stock of missiles as of April 2007 is not a secret. According to the fact sheet, about 2100 missiles in various versions were stored in the arsenals of the U.S. Army at the time.

They go on to calculate that the U.S. was only producing give or take 100 missiles per year or less; for instance:

Yet, we must pay extra careful attention to the 2020 deadline because that year, Lockheed Martin announced that it had received an order worth $426 million for the production of 400+ missiles by March 31, 2023. Most likely, the figure encompassed both the brand-new and processed old missiles, let's tentatively assume 50/50.

So in 2020, Lockheed signed a deal to produce ~400 missiles by 2023, yet this likely only 50% new missiles with 50% refurbs. Taking both into account that puts their fastest pace at something like 130 missiles a year, give or take, which is about 11 missiles a month.

Given that they claim to have "ramped up", and that we know from their 155mm production "ramping" is likely a very gradual and not altogether dramatic process, the "dozens" now produced per month can probably refer to at most 2 or 3 dozen. That's because without building a totally new facility, all you can count on is adding another shift to your factory, or two extra shifts max for 3 x 8 hour shifts. Then calculate some efficiency loss into that from multiple concurrent production lines: you can get 11 x 2 or 11 x 3 = 22 / 33, subtracted from efficiency loss, and we get 20-25 missiles max per month—and most likely not even that.

The article above reaches a similar conclusion, though they do so more subtly.

Can that number of missiles make a major difference in the war? Let's say it gives Ukraine the ability to fire ~20-25 ATACMs per month, then factor into that an interception/failure/jamming rate of anywhere between 25-75% for argument's sake. That means Ukraine can expect to maybe land half a dozen hits per month somewhere, not exactly game changing.

By the way, Ukraine's own "latest figures" for Russia's missile numbers—though they should be taken with a huge grain of salt, but at least it's worth looking at:

One thing it does semi-accurately convey, which is seen in the ATACMS production as well, is that most leading nations can really only produce 10-20 of these high end missiles maximum per month. Russia's advantage is that it has many different types of missile systems which are produced independently by various corporations like Novator Design, Raduga, NPO Mash, Zvezda Strela, JSC Tactical Missiles Corp, etc.

Even if the above list is semi-accurate, it's missing many other missile types being actively produced, like Iskander-M and K, Kh-101, Kh-59, Kh-35 fired from Bal launchers, etc. And that doesn't even begin to address the glide-bombs which perform a similar, albeit more frontline-tactical, role:

By the way, the above clearly contradicts the earlier list which amounted to only ~50 Russian missiles produced per month. If Russia is hitting Ukraine with 300+ missiles per month then that's likely a bigger indicator of their monthly production, though that may include the dozen or more tactical frontline missiles like LMURS, Kh-36/38, etc., which only have ranges around 15-50km or so.

That being said, I believe Ukraine received an initial lump sum of ~100 ATACMs which will allow a higher tempo of launches for the immediate future and then will likely taper off to their much lower monthly allowance represented in the production figures above.

https://www.newsweek.com/ukraine-exploit-atacms-window-russia-1896472

In a new article, Ukrainian officer Ivan Stupak told Newsweek that Ukraine only has a short window to use these missiles as the Russians adapt very quickly and will neutralize them in a matter of months, as they now famously did the GLSDBs, JDAM-ERs, Excaliburs, and to a large extent HIMARS—though the latter missiles are still occasionally used to success to snipe lone targets, but are never able to hit well-protected C2 nodes or industrial centers of any kind.

"Russians are able to adapt in a very short period of time, so we have up to two months before the Russian Armed Forces adapt to ATACMS, says Ivan Stupak, a former officer in the Security Service of Ukraine & now an adviser to the Ukrainian parliament's national security, defense and intelligence committee.

Russia will adapt to counter ATACMS operational-tactical missiles in a couple of months, said Ivan Stupak, adviser to the Ukrainian Verkhovna Rada Committee on National Security.

"As we know, the Russians can adapt in a very short period of time," Stupak told Newsweek, suggesting that Ukraine "has up to two months" before the Russian military adapts to ATACMS.

Just a month or two ago, Russian missile forces had stated they were already on the job of figuring things out:

According to one of the commanders of the air defense of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, they are learning to shoot down "ATACMS".

I.e. Creation of countermeasures, operational algorithms, study of trajectories, maneuvering and flight speed, monitoring of practical launches.

The crews of the air defense systems of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation have already received the first information about the missiles.

That being said, I'm not yet as positive as some of my colleagues about Russia's abilities to defend against the ATACMS so far. They have not yet proven the ability to consistently shoot down the missiles. There have been multiple recent reports of strikes which the Russian side has claimed to have totally repelled, yet satellite BDAs afterwards showed that Russian airfields were in fact hit, like the recent case of Dzhankoi field in Crimea:

However, in the above case, neither side was fully truthful. It appeared the ATACMs did strike the airfield but did not actually destroy any S-300/400s like Ukraine claimed. Yes, the satellite photos days prior showed an AD battery present there, but the post-strike BDA clearly shows impacts in the ground, i.e. dirt gouges rather than destroyed missile TELs or radars—though there may be some equipment there, it's hard to tell for certain. Also, it's possible Russia did shoot down the missile(s) very late which caused them to still unleash the cluster munitions haphazardly over the field—but this is still problematic for a reason I'll delve into after.

Also, there's this—albeit from the UA side and unverified:

My guess is that Russia knew the strike was inbound and moved the systems out of the way before hand. Why move them rather than shooting down the missiles? Because you do both: you move them first to ensure they aren't in the strike envelope, then you can still attempt to shoot the missiles down from your new position. You see, as impressive as Ukraine's NATO-fed signals ISR capabilities are, they operate on a fairly long delay. Often the SIGINT assets like British RC-135 Rivet Joints or U.S. RQ-4s fly the night before the attack, or at least hours prior, gaining intelligence on the location of Russian systems. The coordinates are fed to Ukrainian missiles to fire, but if those assets move afterwards, the missiles have no way of re-targeting them. In short, Ukraine's intelligence is usually about 4-24 hours old—not realtime. The same goes for satellite recon which is not exactly omnipresent.

So Ukraine would launch missiles at the site hoping Russian AD assets remain, but Russia can readily relocate them to a different position nearby and still be ready to try and take down the ATACMs. However, given that the missiles did provably impact the airfield, it means Russia has not yet mastered consistently taking them out. That being said, if a saturation attack of 10-12 like RYBAR and others claim was used, then Russia may have shot down 70-85% percent, leaving one or two missiles to impact, which does appear likely given the few pock marks seen, particularly since the missiles use cluster munitions.

Furthermore, unlike cruise missiles which fly low beneath radar nets and thus at least give Russian AD the excuse of not being able to detect them at great distance, ATACMS fly a high ballistic arc that should be in full view of Russia's most powerful S-300V/400 radars.

Here's the problem:

You see how the ATACMS has to overfly a ton of Russian AD nets just to get to Dzhankoi and other bases? There is no in-built excuse for flying 'under' the radar. The ATACMS is dozens of kilometers high in the sky, at precisely the ballistic range Russian systems are supposed to be able to easily track and shoot down. In theory, the ATACMS should be engaged somewhere over Kherson region long before it even arrives in Crimea, at the midcourse rather than terminal stage. The fact that they're waiting until terminal is a bad sign which could point to Russian inability to properly track the missiles, which may be simply a training issue rather than mechanical/technical shortcoming of the systems themselves.

One analyst actually covered Russia's BMD (Ballistic Missile Defense) capabilities:

First - the shooters. Presently the most common BMD capable systems would be (a) S-300PM/S-400 and Buk-M2/M3. After those there is (b) the S-300V3/4. There are also new generation systems in limited service (c) - S-350 and S-500.

The challenge (a) category has is the BMD search capability. Buk, even current mods, has very limited BMD performance, S-400 can do better, ie with its battle management radar, but even it is rather underwhelming. Otherwise, despite limited protected area, it works.

So the challenge is, as often is in case of BMD, in sensors and C3. While it is possible to integrate different SAM systems, ie have an S-300V4 unit support several S-400 units with it's BMD radar, common legacy C3 systems have long cycles, ie ~10s for Pyramid.

You can read the rest of the thread for more details, but in essence what he's saying is that utilizing a hybrid of older/newer systems, Russian C3 (Command, Control, & Communications) infrastructure for the air defense net is not as integrated as one would like and thus may be struggling against the ATACMS.

Of course, this is just one person's opinion. It's difficult to know how true it is precisely, but we do know from all the recent friendly fire incidents concerning the Russian A-50s or Il-76, that there is some kind of problem there. Whatever it was that was shot down months ago, we not only have footage of the downed craft wreckage, but one video of Russian missile systems literally engaging the landing Il-76/A-50 near Krasnodar. So we do know there are major problems with IFF and possibly C3, as the above thread professes.

Furthermore, we do know ATACMS has been at least partly successful in many of its previously notable attempts, like the attack on the Berdiansk helicopter airfield. Sure, they may not have destroyed all those Ka-52s/Mi-28s as they claimed, but the missiles got through and we have footage of burning Mi-8s at the minimum.

Just on May 4th there was another claimed ATACMS hit on a Russian Iskander system. Again, the BDA shows damage to a small field but the actual destruction of any asset is inconclusive and questionable. But the point is, the missile still got through to something.

Two days prior to that, ATACMS successfully hit a Russian troop concentration near the Lugansk/Russian border, again overflying a vast amount of Russian AD coverage which proves they're not yet able to consistently track or engage the missile.

And as of this writing, a suspected ATACMS strike has hit a oil refinery in Lugansk tonight:

Now keep in mind:

Ukraine is still very selectively utilizing the missiles in areas with low coverage. If the ATACMS were actually capable of penetrating the densest layered regions, then we'd see everything in Sevastopol and many other places go up in smoke. So I'm not saying this is a critical problem, but rather shows that Russia's AD is able to be penetrated in certain places.

Allegedly, Russia is taking note of this and acting accordingly, because latest reports claim that with the arrival of more ATACMS, particularly the newer longer range ones, Russia has begun pulling back certain assets to farther airfields.

The overall strength of enemy aviation units deployed directly at forward airbases has decreased from 303-305 units of combat and special aviation to 280-283 units.

Four Su-30SM fighters and four Su-25 attack aircraft have been moved from Eisk to Privolzhsky, Armavir airbases. Eight Su-25 attack aircraft from Taganrog are now at Budenovsk. Four MiG-31BM fighters from Primorsko-Akhtarsk have been redeployed to Privolzhsky. Two Su-35 fighters from Tikhoretsk are now stationed at Akhtubinsk. Five Su-30SM fighters from Krymsk are relocated to Privolzhsky. Four Su-25 attack aircraft from Millerovo are transferred to Budennovsk. Five Su-30SM fighters and five Su-24M bombers from Saki are now at Eisk. Two Su-35 fighters from Baltimore (Voronezh) are relocated to Lipetsk. After a missile strike by the Ukrainian Defense Forces on Kushchevskaya, up to seven Su-35 fighters from Akhtubinsk are moved. Overall, during the day 43 aircraft of various types were withdrawn from the area targeted by the Ukrainian Defense Forces

But again—remember what the Ukrainian officer said in the earlier article, they themselves believe they only possess a window of a couple months before Russia fully adapts, and I believe that will likely be the case.

It takes a while because first the ATACMS has to be "profiled" in action by some frontline AD systems, which may initially struggle with it. Then engineers study the telemetry and create a custom 'profile' that can be downloaded into all capable frontline units, which will enable the systems to far more accurately track the ATACMS' unique flight characteristics. This 'systems upgrade' process can take a few months.

Also, recall that no country in the world has yet demonstrated a consistent ability to intercept ballistic missiles in a live war setting—as opposed to highly controlled test/exercises. Not only have NATO's most advanced AD systems all failed to stop Russian Iskanders in strikes on Kiev, Kharkov, and everywhere in between, but we recently watched Iran's ballistics totally humiliate the combined Israeli/NATO defenses. In fact, Israel just revealed that the U.S. systems in particular were a total flop and announced they'll be mothballing their Patriot missiles due to their uselessness:

The only reason I'm wasting so much digital breath on it is because many expect a large ATACMS strike on the Kerch Bridge very soon. In fact, some expected it today, to spoil Putin's inauguration, with May 9th Victory Day being the other critical window.

❗️Destroying the Crimean Bridge on the eve of May 9 is the idea of the West, (https://www.politnavigator.net/razrushit-krymskijj-most-nakanune-9-maya-ideya-zapada-azerbajjdzhanskijj-analitik.html)- Azerbaijani analyst.

Strikes on the Crimean Bridge do not have any practical significance, and are a stupid waste of scarce resources for Ukraine rockets. Azerbaijani military expert Agil Rustamzade stated this on the air of the Direct TV channel, the PolitNavigator correspondent reports.

Recent headlines trumpeted what we've long known—that Russia no longer even uses the Kerch for military transport, and now has a whole network of newly built road and railways overland to Crimea:

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/ukraine-war-crimea-bridge-russia-land-routes-b2540140.html

But should Ukraine attempt to strike the Kerch with ATACMS, I don't think they'll have much success apart from damaging some of the flattop at most, which would need to be repaved, or maybe even dropping a span segment or two, but it doesn't have the accuracy to hit the actual supports, which are the key bridge anchors. Numerous missiles would have to hit the same exact support to ensure destruction, and there's very low chance of that in a highly AD/EW contested environment. The reason is: the ATACMS uses exclusively GPS/INS, which means it's screwed in a jammed environment, while missiles like Storm Shadows have advanced TERCOM/DSMAC (Digital Scene Matching Area Correlation) that allows an onboard camera to match the target to pre-stored satellite photos when GPS fails.

Recall, in the secret audio, the German generals estimated needing 20-40 Taurus missiles for the job.

And by the way, the ATACMS with the unitary warhead (rather than cluster munitions) has a relatively small 214kg warhead—this is half the size of even a Storm Shadow warhead, and 1/4 the size of the largest Iskander warhead variants. And recall, Storm Shadows hit the Crimean Chongar Bridge:

The Kerch is much larger, wider, and sturdier than the tiny Chongar local civil bridge. You do the math. The ATACMS' real threat is the cluster munition variant, which can cover a wide field and destroy a lot of soft targets. But this is completely useless against hardened targets like bridges, to which it would do no damage. The ATACMS unitary warhead variant is not very impressive.

In conclusion: I remain unconvinced Ukraine can effectively do anything to the Kerch with ATACMS. Secondly, as time goes by the ATACMS will likely get increasingly ineffective as Russia adapts its systems and tactics to it, and AD operators master its signatures.

To summarize the mood: ATACMS and all the other aid won't save Ukraine, but rather "a whole new army" is what will do the trick. And even then, the best case scenario is to "force Moscow to negotiate"—goodbye to 1991 and 2022 dreams.

In closing, here is the full speech by Vladimir Putin at his inauguration today:

Or the English transcript version: https://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/news/73981

As most speeches go, it was a bit boilerplate. However, one key aspect was the focus on economic and societal development, the all-important stability of the people under the shadow of war. A few weeks back there was another key interview Putin gave where he gave a small answer that flew under the radar, but which was extremely revealing as to his general strategic outlook for the SMO.

In essence, he expressed that the most important goal is to maintain societal stability and economic development. While it may sound self-evident or obvious, it was one of the few times he expressly enunciated it in such a way in relation to the goals of the SMO. In other words—as I understood it—he was basically saying: societal stability and development is supreme, and the SMO is subordinate to that.

This answers the big question many have had on their minds since the beginning: why the slow-walking of the conflict, why no "total war" declaration, forced conscriptions, massive provocations and escalations against NATO (like shooting down their craft in the Black Sea, etc). This is why: Putin believes the most important virtue by far is shielding society from the effects of the SMO, and keeping the SMO on a sort of parallel but insulated track. We may not agree with that view, but that's what it is. But know that this view can only really be born of the knowledge that the goals of the SMO are achievable by way of this 'low intensity' conflict management. If Putin's internal metrics told him otherwise, then he would likely have no choice but to institute a WWII-style total war economy.

So far, though, it's working.

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Simplicius The Thinker
6 May 2024 | 2:10 am

9. Macron Again Struts Feathers, NATO Troop Paranoia, & More


The most interesting development surrounds the Kremlin having designated Zelensky himself—as well as several other top Ukrainian officials and generals—as "wanted", though oddly enough, the precise legal reason is unclear and not listed on the Russian Interior Ministry's site.

The most immediate repercussions of this are:

  • Russia may be sending a signal and setting the groundwork for the revocation of any "peace deals" with Zelensky, as placing him on the wanted list ensures that the Russian state cannot legally parley with a wanted criminal.

  • Even more darkly, it potentially sets the stage for Russia to eliminate him following his total loss of legitimacy on May 21st, when the Ukrainian presidential inauguration would have taken place.

As to the first point, there have been a lot of signals from both the West and Ukraine itself about coming back to another 'negotiations' within the Istanbul mode, particularly given the upcoming global 'Peace Summit' in Switzerland on June 15th. Russia may be sending the West a message that no matter what they come up with during this summit, it will be impossible to treat with a man considered not only illegitimate but even a wanted criminal at the state level. Recall just last month Peskov himself hinted as much, and Lukashenko was the one to bring up the illegitimacy roadblock.

Here's what Medvedev had to say about it on his TG:

What is the benefit for Russia from the Swiss "peace conference"?

The benefit is triple.

Firstly, it will be another evidence of the collapse of the so-called peace plan of the idiot Zelensky. At the same time, it would be desirable for Bandera's bastard to visit her in person and once again sign off on his intellectual worthlessness.

Secondly, it will become visible evidence of the complete impotence of the current Western elites, who have committed a painful self-castration of their capabilities to end the military conflict. Moreover, on the direct orders of a group of senile doctors from Washington.

Thirdly, it will allow our Armed Forces to continue clearing the Little Russian territory of neo-Nazis without interference or regard for anyone's asshole "peace initiatives", and for all of us to carry out scrupulous work towards the final collapse of the political regime b. Ukraine and the speedy return of our ancestral territories to the Russian Federation.

Thank you, country of cheese and watches!

Now there have been increased signals from the West and Ukrainian officials themselves that returning to 'pre-2022' borders, much less 1991 borders, is no longer even an objective, but rather, at best, Ukraine aims to merely hold what it currently has.

For instance Congressman Adam Smith stated the best Ukraine can hope for is to retain access to the Black Sea and not lose Kiev:

Smith – the top Dem on House Armed Services –said Ukraine must hold onto about 82 % of the country – and not lose access to the Black Sea or have Kyiv threatened – to consider the endgame a success. Biden admin has been reluctant to say that because no one wants concede that might have to give up ground, he added.

And then there's this:

https://archive.ph/wxEDp

Deputy head of UA's military intelligence Skibitsky states quite plainly that:

His claim, though, hinges on the belief that Russia's arms production will "plateau" in early 2026 due to a "lack of engineers and materials", and apparently this will cause Russia to preemptively seek peace. I wouldn't count on that. He further adds:

Maj Gen Skibitsky warned that Russia's army is no longer the disorganised rabble that Ukraine repelled from some regions with such success in the early stages of the war.

Now, it is a "single body, with a clear plan, and under a single command," he said.

Given these potential peace overtures, Russia may be kiboshing Zelensky in order to set the legal precedent that it will not entertain negotiations. This will accelerate after Zelensky's mandate truly runs out at the end of May, at which point Russia may take a far sturdier official stance in not even acknowledging him as the country's leader; in the worst case scenario, this could potentially even lead to Russia eliminating him in strikes, if necessary, though I think they'll save that trump card for a rainy day.

The more interesting conclusion general Skibitsky makes in his new Economist interview regards the brewing Kharkov region offensive:

Looking at a wider horizon, the intelligence chief suggests Russia is gearing up for an assault around the Kharkiv and Sumy regions in the north-east. The timing of this depends on the sturdiness of Ukrainian defences in the Donbas, he says. But he assumes Russia's main push will begin at the "end of May or beginning of June". Russia has a total of 514,000 land troops committed to the Ukrainian operation, he says, higher than the 470,000 estimate given last month by General Christopher Cavoli, nato's top commander. The Ukrainian spymaster says Russia's northern grouping, based across the border from Kharkiv, is currently 35,000-strong but is set to expand to between 50,000 and 70,000 troops. Russia is also "generating a division of reserves" (ie, between 15,000 and 20,000 men) in central Russia, which they can add to the main effort.

This is "not enough" for an operation to take a major city, he says—a judgment shared by Western military officials, but could be enough for a smaller task. "A quick operation to come in and come out: maybe. But an operation to take Kharkiv, or even Sumy city, is of a different order. The Russians know this. And we know this." In any event, dark days lie ahead for Kharkiv, a city of 1.2m people that rebuffed Russia's initial assaults in 2022.

As I've been writing for a while now, he acknowledges that Russia may be looking to create another fixing operation in the north and then play things by ear depending on where the AFU commits its rundown reserves and forces. Should they overcommit to the potential Kharkov breach, then Russia could slam an offensive through the center front around Donetsk to create breakthroughs.

This has once more been echoed by Ukrainian officers:

Deputy commander of Navoz Zhorin said today that Russia will launch an offensive on Kharkiv and then immediately launch a larger offensive in the south

Another Ukrainian Marine with a popular Twitter account agrees:

Read the highlighted part carefully, "we just don't have enough brigades to maneuver and react."

This encapsulates Russia's potential plans. By introducing a large force in a new direction they can really throw the AFU off balance. However, there's also a good chance that Russia is merely playing at the possibility of introducing the northern force for the very reason to keep Ukraine guessing and unable to fully deploy reserves in Donbass, as they have to be on standby to be deployed to Kharkov. Just by keeping a large force on the northern border, Russia can keep critical Ukrainian reserves tied down.

How's this news being taken in Western circles?

https://archive.ph/axMzP
https://archive.ph/9Wghu
https://archive.ph/hVlmy

Unfortunately, the Biden admin doesn't seem to be interested because they've now admitted that after accomplishing his 'responsibility' of throwing Ukraine a bone, Biden intends to totally shift focus on more important things, like the election:

NATO Troop Diversionary Screen

Given the above continued developments, we're once again being razzled with threats of NATO troop deployment:

In the latest Economist piece, Macron again rekindles bravado-driven boasts of sending troops:

Many were again taken aback when Macron essentially said that if Russia creates a breakthrough in Ukraine, and Ukraine requests aid, then France will consider sending troops. But in truth, he's merely trotting out the same threats made previously, hoping to spark headline buzz to maintain his 'strongman of Europe' facade.

Ukrainian Rada deputy Goncharenko however seized at the opportunity, reinforcing the play by juicing French TV audiences with the possibility Ukraine may in fact invite European troops in said scenario:

"If the situation at the front shows us that Ukraine cannot stop Putin on its own, without European military support and troops, yes, I believe that it is absolutely possible that we can ask for troops..." the politician said.

Amid all this, Italian newspaper Repubblica made waves by revealing the two red lines that would bring a direct NATO intervention into the war.

The article itself is paywalled though you can read commentary on it from Forbes.ru amongst others:

NATO, against the backdrop of Western concern about the failures of the Armed Forces of Ukraine at the front, "in a very confidential form," "established" two "red lines" for itself, which could be followed by direct intervention of the alliance in the conflict, writes the Italian newspaper Repubblica.

The first "red line," Repubblica argues, "revolves around the possibility of Russian penetration through Kiev's defense lines" and concerns "direct or indirect third party involvement" in the conflict in Ukraine. The publication writes that the Ukrainian Armed Forces "can no longer fully control" the border, which, according to the newspaper, creates conditions for the Russian Armed Forces to break through into the corridor between Ukraine and Belarus. As the newspaper suggests, "then Minsk will be directly involved in the military dispute," and "its troops and arsenal will be of decisive importance for Moscow." "And this circumstance can only intensify (NATO's) defense in favor of Ukraine," the article states.

The second "red line," the newspaper writes, "involves a military provocation against the Baltic countries or Poland or a targeted attack on Moldova." Repubblica also notes the deep concern of Western authorities about the situation at the front and the "unfavorable conditions" for Kiev.

This is extremely interesting because, as always, it telegraphs NATO's own intentions of provocation. The first red line is unclear, but refers to a Russian breakthrough possibly through Belarus, which they would equate with Belarus' involvement in the war. In finer terms, this seems just a roundabout way of saying: "If Russia threatens Kiev."

Why? Because Russian forces potentially aiming to surround Kharkov don't require Belarusian territory. Only to take Kiev would they need to come from Belarus—so reading between the lines, it means NATO is quietly implying that they would only intervene to save Kiev.

The second red line is more troubling: a provocation on Moldova, Poland, or the Baltics is an easy route for NATO to create falseflags to blame Russia for a casus belli to enter the conflict. Just blow something up with a missile and claim Russia did it. Or, they could of course stoke the Baltics into provoking Russia into taking some action, just as they floated in the Kaliningrad train saga a while back.

As Legitimny channel writes:

That is why the former secretary of the National Security Council of Ukraine Danilov was sent to Moldova now, and Moldovan telegram channels insider about a certain disagreement between Sandu and Zelensky, according to the timing of the defrosting of the conflict in the PMR, where Maya pushes him away for 2025, and Zelensky needs him in the fall of 2024.

And Rezident UA:

Our source in the OP said that Danilov was specifically sent to Moldova as the creator of the CPD for working with cognitive operations. It is important for Bankov to draw Moldova into conflict with Russia in order to play the Transnistrian case in the summer. The former RNBO Secretary was instructed to work with all political actors and escalate the track of the war with the PMR this summer, as well as quickly resolve all issues with Sandu, who does not want to start the operation before the presidential election.

The Italians claim "100,000 NATO troops" could take part in such an intervention; not really much against Russia's new 500k+ man second army, but certainly enough to at least block off a particular corridor.

In the end though, most of this is just posturing. The game has once again been given away by Macron himself in the earlier interview, and others as well. Macron said:

What I also wanted to reopen on February 26th was this famous strategic ambiguity, which should convince Putin that we are determined and that he will have to count on our determination.

And here is Polish foreign minister Sikorsky again outlining the fact that this coordinated European provocation is merely meant as a smokescreen to "keep Russia guessing" via 'strategic ambiguity':

The F-16 figleaf is likewise being used in this game of ambiguity to push Russia's boundaries and test its limits. They will likely try to deliberately smokescreen where the F-16s can eventually be stationed or come from to give the effect that NATO may be involved in order to maintain a sense of tension they believe will deter Russia. But if you listen to Russian authorities and siloviki, they do not sound very frightened.

For instance, Colonel of the SVR, MGIMO professor Andrei Bezrukov's comments on Macron's interview are a must listen:

The Colonel may be right, as the outlook does not appear favorable for Macron and his party for the upcoming European Parliament elections:

Macron LREM/ENS, Le Pen RN:

As a final note, a new article by Stephen Bryen has made waves, where he claims that France has already begun officially deploying troops into Ukraine:

https://asiatimes.com/2024/05/france-sends-combat-troops-to-ukraine-battlefront/

I'm only addressing it because it's getting passed around on social media, but as of yet I see no real evidence of this. Bryen does not tell us where he received this information as far as I could see, but of course, if they did begin deploying troops, it could very well look like this: a quiet injection of units to help in the rears of the most critical fronts. So we can stay alert to possibilities but in this case, there is no evidence to support these new claims as of yet.

But keep in mind, I believe that French troops have already long been in Ukraine anyway. Some may recall as far back as the Mariupol fight, Russian forces kept finding French military berets and pins in the wreckage. Here's a recent resident of liberated Avdeevka who says he saw French troops firing on civilians (note: 1923 should be 2023):

Georgy Nekrasov, a resident of Avdeevka, said that in 2023, French tanks under the control of French crews from the positions of the Ukrainian Armed Forces shelled peaceful areas of Avdeevka.

Given how detailed his account and good his memory is, I would think he's a fairly reliable and believable source.

In the end, it's not about sending troops, which likely have already been there, but rather sending them officially and in large number.

Also, here's Swiss Colonel of the General Staff and Deputy Chief of Staff to the Chief of the Swiss Armed Forces' Military-Strategic Staff (MSS), Alexander Vautraver—read the highlighted portion below:

The French army would be "a drop in the bucket" in terms of support for the Armed Forces of Ukraine, says retired Swiss colonel and editor-in-chief of the Swiss Military Review (RMS+) Alexander Vautraver.

"This is a drop in the ocean, just a small part of what is needed. The question must be asked: is the French army sufficiently equipped in terms of training and modern weapons to contribute to offensive operations against an enemy that is superior in numbers?" - said the former military man on the French TV channel LCI.

"The forces that we could deploy are two brigades of 5-6 thousand soldiers, with a deployment duration of a maximum of 1-3 months. But if we are talking about a longer period, as, obviously, in the case of Ukraine, this is only 2 battalions that are today in the Baltic countries and Romania. The bad news is that these forces are absolutely not enough to confront the half-million Russian army," he said. According to Vautraver, these forces, located outside France, are now under NATO command, which is "even more problematic."

To cap things off, here are two other noteworthy videos from high ranking military officials:

Retired US Army Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Davis:

And former French army general Dominique Delavard:

Now some other important sundry items, as tradition would have it.

Several times I was asked in past mailbags to comment on the state of the Ukrainian disabled veterans. Now, a new Le Monde article covers the topic quite grimly:

https://www.lemonde.fr/international/article/2024/04/03/en-ukraine-la-colere-grandissante-des-soldats-mutiles_6225649_3210.html

It states outright that 70% of disabled Ukrainians are forced to care for themselves with the state having "given up on them."

Now add this to the new mobilization procedures which allow for the sick and even mentally incapacitated to be called up by Zelensky:

I've long covered the topic of Ukraine's prisoner disparity with Russia, which is an obvious analog to the general casualty ratios. Rezident UA now gives their take on the numbers:

#Inside
Our source in the OP said that the process of exchanging prisoners has stalled due to the approach to the lists. Now in Russia there are more than 20 thousand prisoners of military personnel, and we have only 800 and almost 5000 thousand separatists, whom we are trying to exchange in the same way.

According to them, Ukraine holds 800 Russian and 5000 Novorossiyan POWs, while Russia holds over 20,000 Ukrainian ones, which would likewise reflect in the general casualty ratios between the two.

Josep Borrell again reiterates that Ukraine would surrender in 2 weeks without aid supplies:

After reports last time that the Abrams tanks were withdrawn from the battlefield, Ukraine's 47th brigade vehemently denied it and said they haven't gone anywhere. As if to undo the shame they appeared to make a show of it, risking the Abrams once more in defense of areas west of Avdeevka, which resulted in 2 new Abrams being destroyed today, as well as another Bradley. That reportedly now makes upwards of 6-8 Abrams destroyed thus far by most counts:

Lastly, as a new update on the Bentley situation:

The lawyer for the widow of the murdered "Texas" said that the killers of Russell Bentley were detained and are confessing. The case is under the control of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation.

Below, the lawyer explains that Moscow has reportedly assigned great importance to the case with a special investigator and all things are going accordingly:

And Lyudmila gives some meditative thoughts for the religious occasion:

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Simplicius The Thinker
4 May 2024 | 3:05 am

10. RUSI Report Quietly Validates Russia's Strategic Superiority: A Breakdown


This is the latest in my roughly bimonthly paid article series. It's one you do not want to miss as the findings in this report even blew me away for reasons you'll discover by the end of the piece.

It covers the latest RUSI release about how modern wars should be fought and won, and why the West is light years behind Russia—though the latter point is ever-implicitly made.

It's another doorstopper in size, at nearly ~6800 words, and I've made about the first ~1900 free to the public.

It's not often that I vaingloriously feather my own cap, but this occasion will count among the rare ones that necessarily must highlight the many accuracies of our previous reporting, whose validation is only now coming to light by the laggardly verifications of Western military pundits.

The following will be a breakdown of one of the latest RUSI reports on lessons learned from the Ukrainian war:

https://rusi.org/explore-our-research/publications/commentary/attritional-art-war-lessons-russian-war-ukraine

As reminder, RUSI is the Royal United Services Institute, and claims to be "the world's oldest and the UK's leading defence and security think tank." And not to be confused with a prominent Russian politician of the same name serving in the Duma, the article's author Alex Vershinin's credentials are listed as follows:

Lt Col (Retd) Alex Vershinin has 10 years of frontline experience in Korea, Iraq and Afghanistan. For the last decade before his retirement, he worked as a modelling and simulations officer in concept development and experimentation for NATO and the US Army.

The very ethos of the arguments they make is stated outright from the beginning:

The entire report revolves around an urgent plea for the West to remold its strategic concept of warfare, which has been badly degraded and fallen out with the times by several decades of lazy misallocation of resources and reorientation toward colonial policing actions.

In the following paragraph, the author defines precisely the difference between 'maneuver' wars and classic attritional wars, which is relevant in understanding the rest of the exegesis:

Attritional wars require their own 'Art of War' and are fought with a 'force-centric' approach, unlike wars of manoeuvre which are 'terrain-focused'. They are rooted in massive industrial capacity to enable the replacement of losses, geographical depth to absorb a series of defeats, and technological conditions that prevent rapid ground movement. In attritional wars, military operations are shaped by a state's ability to replace losses and generate new formations, not tactical and operational manoeuvres. The side that accepts the attritional nature of war and focuses on destroying enemy forces rather than gaining terrain is most likely to win.

In particular, re-read the last statement:

The side that accepts the attritional nature of war and focuses on destroying enemy forces rather than gaining terrain is most likely to win.

This appears a major admission of Russia's strategy. After all, recall how Ukraine's strategy famously centers on "not one step back", because even a single lost yard represents unbearable reputational costs for Zelensky's much-admired 'international community'. This has led to generals like Syrsky being dubbed "General 200" for his no step back attitude in prosecuting defenses like that of Bakhmut and Avdeevka, among others.

Russia on the other hand has notably used strategic retreat to such a vast extent it has left the military commentariat befuddled, as in the case of the large-scale back-to-back Kherson and Kharkov region withdrawals, not to mention the late March 2022 rerouting action from the entire north of the Kiev, Sumy, and Chernigov regions.

What this amounts to is the bitter admission that Russia has in fact been ahead of the mark all this while. Despite full-throated attempts to disparage Russia's military choices throughout the course of the war, it has only now in retrospect become obvious to 'experts' that Russia has in fact been utilizing the superior common sense strategy all along, while waging the correct war.

What has it amounted to? It's clear to see: just read the headlines. For Russia, the headlines talk incessantly of an "over abundance" of manpower and materiel. In the case of Ukraine, it's the total opposite, the dire dearth of men. One side has competently pursued the strategy outlined by RUSI above: "The side that accepts the attritional nature of war and focuses on destroying enemy forces rather than gaining terrain is most likely to win."

I've said since the beginning that most of Russia's objectives in the war will be reached not by territorial gains but attritional ones. For instance, there's almost no feasibly realistic way for Russia to "capture" Odessa via kinetic and direct physical assault. Going cross-river is unlikely, and having to come down from the north in Kiev would hypothetically take years. But simply baiting Ukraine to throw in all its blood and treasure into the Donbass killbox and meatgrinder, Russia stands to attrit the AFU both militarily, materially, economically, and morally to the point of exhaustion and collapse, allowing the subsequent capture of required territories via Ukrainian capitulation.

RUSI goes on with another big admission:

The West is not prepared for this kind of war. To most Western experts, attritional strategy is counterintuitive. Historically, the West preferred the short 'winner takes all' clash of professional armies. Recent war games such as CSIS's war over Taiwan covered one month of fighting. The possibility that the war would go on never entered the discussion. This is a reflection of a common Western attitude. Wars of attrition are treated as exceptions, something to be avoided at all costs and generally products of leaders' ineptitude. Unfortunately, wars between near-peer powers are likely to be attritional, thanks to a large pool of resources available to replace initial losses. The attritional nature of combat, including the erosion of professionalism due to casualties, levels the battlefield no matter which army started with better trained forces. As conflict drags on, the war is won by economies, not armies. States that grasp this and fight such a war via an attritional strategy aimed at exhausting enemy resources while preserving their own are more likely to win. The fastest way to lose a war of attrition is to focus on manoeuvre, expending valuable resources on near-term territorial objectives. Recognising that wars of attrition have their own art is vital to winning them without sustaining crippling losses.

There's a lot of truth to unpack just in that above statement. But let's keep it minimal by highlighting the most salient points:

  • The West continues thinking long attritional wars are an exception rather than the rule in near-peer conflicts.

This appears to indicate that Western military structures are no longer systemically and institutionally capable of approaching war in a manner beyond one ingrained into them in the low-intensity COIN/policing action years of the past few decades. This has been highlighted recently as the realization slowly sets in, for instance from yesterday:

https://www.yahoo.com/news/us-spent-much-time-fighting-114501537.html

Western mercenaries who visited Ukraine admitted that their combat skills had "atrophied"

This was reported by the Business Insider portal with reference to the American military.

"We've become so accustomed to the idea of fighting guerrilla wars, fighting terrorists and everyone else, that we've forgotten what it's really like to fight a peer war," said one American mercenary.

In the above article, the U.S. mercenary says no U.S. soldier is being trained or prepared properly for a modern war like Ukraine:

He said that he has seen a lot of Western soldiers struggle in Ukraine as "they already have a set idea about how things should be and everything, and it's just not that way out in Ukraine."

Another American veteran in Ukraine told BI this month that he had similar concerns. He said that his friends still in the US Army ask him for tips on how to fight with drones or in trenches, as they aren't getting training that fully reflects what is happening in Ukraine.

He explains the key difference and then echoes my own words:

He said that in many places where he fought in Ukraine, "there is nowhere that is safe," while when he was in Afghanistan and Iraq, if you were half a mile behind the front line, "you could stand outside and have a barbecue, a sandwich, and drink."

Unfortunately for the West, once an action has been repeated for that long, it becomes reflexive and institutionalized to such a deeply embedded level that there appears almost no way to come back out of it.

The reason is, multiple generations of both leaders and servicemen have been inculcated with a particular set of skills, mindsets, and approaches to the point it's become axiomatic by nature. Furthermore, the ancillary institutional appendages which function as symbiotic conduits to the corpus of the military structure have all likewise atrophied or have simply been rerouted to totally new paradigms of functioning completely antithetical to the 'total war' attritional approach.

In simple terms, this obviously means that all the attendant MIC suppliers and manufacturers have built their architectures, production lines, and supply chains around the concepts inherent to the 'Western' style of colonial war: low quantity, high precision, high cost systems which excel at individual targeting of terrorist leaders and such, but are too finicky and expensive to maintain in attritional conflicts. This has calcified within their structures to an institutional degree.

I spoke about this at length before:

One of the key overlooked concepts I mentioned above is not simply that Russian systems are cheaper and easier to maintain, but rather that they're built around an entirely different philosophical paradigm for warfare.

The most important of these is that the systems are built with the express understanding and expectation that they will have to someday be manned by under-trained conscripts, and thus have to be designed around the philosophy of extreme ease of use and intuitiveness. The famous example I used to highlight this is how, from the U.S. Army's own Fort Benning reports, the Javelin had a less than 19% combat effectiveness, owing mostly to its complicated use and the recruits' inability to fully internalize its combat parameters, such as minimum engagement distances, locking procedures, etc.:

I shared videos of AFU POWs complaining their 'fragile' Javelins either broke before use, or simply were discarded before Ukrainians could figure out their complex use. Russian systems are designed to be picked up and fired. This is the concept of 'total war'—ingrained into the ethos is the basic assumption that heavy attrition of troops will eventually degrade the quality of conscripts, which will have a snowballing effect on effective usage of "complex" machinery. Ukraine is currently experiencing this, with an already totally eroded manpower resource being teased with offerings like the F-16 and other highly complex systems that would take even a seasoned veteran during peacetime a huge amount of effort to learn.

I further highlighted how Russian systems are made to be interoperable and versatile for precisely this reason: when your human capital is being attritioned, you want systems which can be picked up by anyone, including—if need be—troops from other adjacent combat roles.

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