Putin’s War, Week 62. Kremlin Droned, Russia Dissed by Friends and Allies, and Ukraine’s Offensive Takes Shape

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We are pleased to welcome you back to Ukraine Update. Today marks the 435th combat day.

This week’s ground combat was not intense unless someone was shooting at you. But there are some interesting developments. Ukraine has launched two small-scale offensives and carried out numerous strikes on logistics targets in Russia. These strikes, I think, are to support the coming offensive.

The main theme away from the battlefield was the erosion of Russia’s influence. China, India and Brazil, thought to be friends with Russia, all voted against Russia in the UN General Assembly for being an aggressor in Ukraine. Russia was able to count on votes from such powerful countries as Syria, Belarus and Cuba. Finland, which was forced to join NATO after Putin’s War is currently in negotiations with the US about establishing military bases in Finland. Putin, who was afraid of being “encircled” before the war, is probably getting the heebie jeebies about this.

Political-Strategic level

Kremlin Hit By Drone Attack

The most important news this week was the drone attack on the Kremlin. There are still many questions. Was it an attack by Ukrainian forces? Was it Russian partisans? Was it a fake flag? Here is my post: Putin’s War Comes Home As Kremlin Hit By Drone Attack. Joe Cunningham provides additional coverage in Russia Blames U.S. For Drone Strike On Kremlin; White House Denies involvement.

The UN General Assembly passed a resolution on Tuesday that included the following: “Recognizing that among the unprecedented challenges that Europe faces today is the Russian Federation’s aggression against Ukraine and Georgia before that …”

Armenia, Kazakhstan and Belarus voted against Russia. Russia and Belarus voted against. All the others voted no.

The Eurasian Economic Union, Russia’s supposed economic partner to rival NATO has five members: (Armenia, Belarus Kazakhstan Kyrgyzstan and Russia); Armenia and Kazakhstan both voted for the resolution. Kyrgyzstan abstained. Cuba, Moldova and Uzbekistan are the three “observer nations” of this organization. Uzbekistan and Moldova abstained.

Vladimir Putin’s supporters on the right have been talking a lot about the “BRICS”, an economic group that includes Brazil, Russia, India and China. They also talk a great deal about how the EU will be challenged by this group. Even here, Russia was the only one to vote no. South Africa abstained while Brazil, India and China voted yes.

The UN General Assembly’s decision to label Russia an aggressor is a serious blow to Russia’s reputation. The UN General Assembly should have thrown out the ridiculous “Ukraine began the war” argument, but they won’t. They don’t care about the truth.

Vladimir Putin was hailed by his fan club as a brilliant strategist who outplayed every one of his opponents. Invasion of Ukraine proved it was quite the contrary. Russia has destroyed Moscow’s influence. Russia has isolated the Russian diaspora, which was the base of Russian intelligence and information operations in Eastern and Central Europe. The Russian language is being removed from the curriculum of public schools, and efforts to make Russia an official second-language in many countries have failed. The Russian minority is rapidly becoming Estonian.

Putin cited NATO expansion as one of the main reasons for his invasion. Finland, which had been neutral for 70 years and at times a near-Soviet satellite, has now become a NATO member as a direct consequence of the invasion. Sweden needs only to reach an agreement with Turkey in order to join NATO.

Finland announced today that it has begun negotiations with the US to allow military bases on Finnish soil.

Putin’s leadership makes the dissolution the Russian Federation a very real possibility.

New Weapons pledges
The Ramstein Contact Group has received additional support pledges, the most important of which came from the United States and Great Britain.

Casualty Statistics
John Kirby, the National Security Council’s spokesperson, made waves on Monday by stating that an “official estimate” of the Russians having lost 100,000 dead and wounded in Bakhmut.

I’m not sure if this is true or not. Others have claimed that Kirby intended to refer to the entire theater, and not just one particular battlefield. I’m not going to argue either way. I believe it’s safe to say the war in Ukraine is the most bloody since the Korean War. Despite what Zelensky detractors and Putin shills claim, I believe it’s safe to say that Russia has been more generous with the lives of its soldiers than Ukraine.

Russia’s hacking expertise may be vaporware
The war in Ukraine by Putin has been a source of many shocks. The Russian Air Force failed to achieve air superiority. The Russian Army showed a shocking level of tactical and operational incompetence. Except for a few paid shills, the Russian PR machine has been smashed to pieces. The biggest surprise, however, was the ineffective cyberwar capability demonstrated by Russia. It was astonishingly inept for a country who allegedly “meddled”, in a serious way, in the 2016 US election. The Ukrainians quickly worked around Russian attacks and their political and militaristic operations were not impeded by Russian hacker.

Last week, the Ukrainians showed that they are not slouches.

Hacking conference

Hacking bank accounts
The funniest thing you’ll ever see

Sergey Morgachev, pictured above, is one of those cretins that Robert Mueller was able to indict. Hackers stole his passport, driver’s licence, personal papers and used his bank account to purchase “sex toys and FBI memorabilia” and gay pride paraphernalia.

It is very close to 10×10 in the FAFO scale.

There are more attacks on civilians
The Russian military launched 23 cruise missiles early Friday morning against Ukrainian cities. According to reports, 21 cruise missiles were destroyed. Two of the two aircraft that escaped caused casualties and damage in Dnipro, and Uman.

Social media was ablaze with the Russian Defense Ministry’s celebrations.

On Sunday night, Russian strategic aircraft launched 18 cruise missiles against targets in Ukraine. Although many were shot down, no significant casualties have been reported.

Russia launched a new wave of suicide drones made in Iran on Thursday night. No reports have been made of deaths or major damage.

Russia broadcasts fake attacks

What It Was…What It Ended

On Monday, an article appeared on Russian Telegram and was quickly shared in social media. It stated that Russian fires destroyed a train with S-300 Surface-to-Air missiles near Pavlohrad. It was important for two reasons. Ukraine faces a perceived shortage of surface-to-air weapons, especially those that can engage targets at high altitudes and long ranges, like the S-300. Second, Russia’s military has shown itself to be utterly incapable of interdicting supplies that are primarily coming from Poland. The war dynamics would be dramatically altered if a successful attack was made on a large shipment of munitions.

As more information was available, the story began to change. The missiles that were being decommissioned at the time of the attack were in a storage room at a chemical factory. The strike was not ineffective. The explosion caused extensive damage. Civilians were evacuated. The fuel and explosives of the old missiles, which could have been recycled to make new weapons, were also lost. The attack was a simple attack on a well-documented, static target.

Wagner Group status is no longer under fire alarm by Prigozhin
Yevgeny Prgozhin, the Wagner Group’s chief, is publicly panicking. He accuses the Russian military for denying his men ammunition and fire support, and claims that the Wagner Group’s contingent in Ukraine could cease to exist without a change.

It is hard to separate the truth from the fiction in this war and to determine who is doing what. Prigozhin’s association with Putin makes it seem that he’s being used to express Putin’s dissatisfaction over the Russian military. It is difficult to imagine how he has survived so long. This is to disassociate Wagner Group from any disaster if things are not going well in Bakhmut, as there have been hints of on Russian Telegram.

This announcement is significant, even though we don’t know what it means.

War Crimes Admittance on Television
The television show Law & Order tells us that an “admission in the interest of penality” is one exception to the hearsay law. What you are about to witness could be a textbook case.

You may recall that when Russian troops entered Kherson, a move we now know to have been facilitated by Russian-owned officers in the Ukrainian Army, and in intelligence services, there were no cheers. The Russian troops were met by a sullen crowd and pro-Ukraine demonstrations.

Here’s Pavel Gubarev, who was a key player during the first Russian invasion in Ukraine. He credits his wife for organizing summary executions against the protests.

Russia’s Chief Logistics Officer Fired
After just seven months in his role as Russian Army’s chief of logistics, General Mikhail Mizintev was fired.

The Russian Army’s senior ranks have been undergoing a remarkable amount of change. Heads should be rolled for an army that fails in Ukraine the way the Russian Army did. In the early days World War II, General George C. Marshall achieved this. It is not certain that success in peacetime will translate into victory on the battlefield. The Russian purge is notable in that no one was forced to retire. Generals that are dismissed because they’re incompetent are sent to another place where they can f*** again. This shows the importance of seniority in the Russian Army and the “good old boys” club.

Operational Level

This week saw the beginnings to the shaping operations that will prepare the way for Ukraine’s spring offensive. In Crimea and Russia, fuel tank farms were targeted. Targeted were electric substations that power trains. Partisan attacks targeted collaborators in Occupied Ukraine as well as military freight trains in Russia.

The main objective appears to be more than ever on the axis Tokmak-Melitopol, with the objective of cutting off all rail and road communications from Occupied Kherson to Crimea and Russia except for the limited traffic allowed over the heavily damaged Kerch Strait Bridge. I believe we will see a localized attack aimed at “winning the Battle of Bakmut” via an assault north of the town.

Russian Winter Offensive Fizzles
We can say with certainty that the “winter offense” which was predicted to bring Russia back into the war, has failed. Below is an animated view of the changes on the front line from January to April.
Northern Front
Donbas

Bakhmut is one of the hotspots where fighting continues. There are also unconfirmed Russian news reports about a local Ukrainian attack. In the text, emphasize “unconfirmed.”

Southern Front
Zaporizhzhia

Russian Headquarters Hit

The strike is said to have interrupted a May Day celebration for Russian officers. This happened a few times during Christmas. This shows that the Russian cell network in Occupied Ukraine has been compromised deeply and that the slavish adherence to cell phones continues providing windfalls for Ukrainian rocket artillery.

Partisan Activity

The tweet may refer to a mope who works for the police but if you do some research, it turns out that the assassinated deputy head of Melitopol’s internal security was actually the person. Melitopol is, as you may recall, the city that I believe will be the main objective of the Ukrainian Spring offensive.

Kherson

There’s been no more news about the alleged Ukrainian operations on the left bank Dnieper. (Putin’s War, week 61. Xi Calls Prigozhin Sounds El Deguello and Surprise Attacks on Sevastopol Kherson and (Maybe?) St. Petersburg. The Russians have been doing what they do best: attacking civilians.

Rear Areas
First time, the areas far from the line-of-contact have seen the most activity. This indicates to me that the Ukrainians are conducting shaping to reduce the Russian Army’s ability to respond to a major offensive.

Crimea

UAV Strikes Oil Depot in Sevastopol

A major oil depot was attacked in Crimea over the weekend. The strike demonstrates the increasing sophistication of Ukrainian drone strikes. The drones were directed out to sea, around land-based radar and missile defense systems.

Explosion at FSB Barracks, Simferopol

It isn’t a major issue, but it does add to the general feeling of unease.

UAV Strikes Black Sea Fleet at Sevastopol

The UAV attack on the Russian Black Sea Fleet failed, but it had a psychological impact.

Russia
UAV Strikes Electric Substation at Belgorod

In the last update, I discussed another strike on Belgorod’s electrical grid. The substations are also used to power the railway lines that bring supplies from the interior of Russia to the front.

UAV Strikes Electric Substation in Klimovo, Bryansk, Russia

The Belgorod strike was more of the same. The real enemy is the power of the railroad.

A Town is Shelled in Bryansk Region

I’m still not sure exactly what happened. The video does not show any military targets and there aren’t enough civilian deaths to qualify it as a retaliation against Russia’s missile strikes on Ukrainian cities.

Two Russian Army Freight Trains Derail in Bryansk

It was either the work of partisans, or Ukrainian Special Forces. I’m inclined to believe that the Russian military trains were targeted both times, and not random trains.

What’s Next?
Watch for additional strikes on targets in the deepest parts of Occupied Ukraine and Crimea as well as near Russia’s border. Watch the area around Avdiivka and Vuldehar. Near these cities, minor Ukrainian offensive actions are taking place. My guess is that Ukraine’s spring offensive will begin in one of these areas in order to freeze Russian forces and bring their reserves, especially artillery, on the scene to create the appearance of an offensive. The real attack is going to happen elsewhere…like in Melitopol.