Some Miscellaneous But Salient Observations about the War in Ukraine

Let’s start with the obvious — Chef Prigozhin. Three days ago he was in full meltdown and vowed to take his boys and abandon the fight in Bakhmut to the Akhmat Battalion. Now, all things are swell, the Wagner Group continues to advance in Bakhmut, General Surovikin is watching over Prigozhin and Wagner continues to clobber Ukrainian positions with ample supplies of ammo. When it comes to temperamental Chefs, the irascible Gordon Ramsay, a British Celebrity Chef, is a piker compared to Prigozhin. I remain convinced that Prigozhin was doing a mega troll routine to distract the West from Russia’s true intentions.

In the aftermath of Prigozhin’s public rant, the Russian military has carried out three days of intense bombing, artillery and missile strikes on Ukrainian warehouses filled with Western military equipment and ammunition and on troop assembly areas. Russia is not giving Ukraine any breathing room to gather its forces for a long promised counter offensive.

At the start of the “Special Military Operation” more than a year ago, the Ukrainian Army outnumbered the Russians by a factor of three. Even with their advantage in numbers, the Ukrainian defenses failed to stop the numerically inferior Russian force and failed to expel the Russians from the Luhansk and Donetsk territories.

We now are being enticed to believe that Ukraine, with a numerically inferior force compared to Russia’s current troop deployment, is going to mount an offensive, despite a severe lack of tanks, armored vehicles, mobile artillery and air cover, that will drive the Russians from fortifications erected during the last six months.

Ukrainian officials persist in making wild claims about Russian defeats, low morale and catastrophic casualties. There is a very simple test you can do to evaluate the Ukrainian claim about Russia’s losses — find the social media and count the photos and videos. If Russia had suffered the number of killed and wounded cited by Ukrainian and Western officials and pundits, then it would be impossible to hide those photos and videos. Social media and smart phones are ubiquitous and grieving wives, girl friends, parents and friends are not easy to corral.

Images and videos like the following are widely available on Ukrainian Telegram channels. The opposite is true when it comes to finding comparable material on Russian channels. There are a few photos of newly dug graves in a Russian military cemetery, but nothing like the quantity of images recording Ukraine losses.

When the history of this Special Military Operation/War is written, the first week of May 2023 will mark a watershed moment when Russia massively employed its fixed wing air capability in launching bombing raids on Ukrainian positions throughout Ukraine. But we are still not getting a comprehensive report or assessment from either side about the success (or failure) of these glide bombs.

The Russian Ministry of Defense is the only one providing a “detailed” daily brief on military operations carried out during the preceding 24 hours. But even these briefings are deceptive. They rarely provide any details on the particular Russian forces carrying out those operations. If you were asked to write a summary report on Russian military activity during the past year the material you could quote paints a picture that portrays the bulk of the fighting being done by the Chechens and the Wagner Group. The Russian General staff’s picture of the overall battlefield is deliberately opaque; not because they are losing but because they are playing their cards close to their vest. The Russians continue to employ Maskirovka, but have adapted it to the world of comprehensive ISR.

If you watch RT television you would hardly know there is a war going on. Reports from the front lines are scarce. When RT correspondents do file stories they generally are designed to promote a particular narrative. If you compare the coverage of the battle for Mariupol in May 2022 with the battle of Bakhmut, the reporting on Mariupol was quite extensive in comparison to the news out of Bakhmut. It is only in the last couple of weeks that reports from inside Bakhmut have ticked up. I think that it one of the most telling indicators that the battle is in the end stage for Ukraine.

One final note on the report that Russia destroyed a NATO command center in March:

Several Twitter and Telegram posts, totaling hundreds of thousands of views in late March 2023, purported that a NATO HQ in Ukraine was destroyed, with “up to 300 people” killed in the strike.

“A terrifying strike of the Russian supersonic missile ‘Dagger’ at a depth of 130 meters on the NATO command center in Ukraine!”: Greek Pronews writes about the huge losses among NATO officers as a result of the missile attack,” one post read:

“A terrifying strike of the Russian supersonic missile “Dagger” at a depth of 130 meters on the NATO command center in Ukraine!”: Greek Pronews writes about the huge losses among NATO officers as a result of the missile attack.

Mark this down as an important development — Newsweek finally got something right. There is no way that the West could hide the deaths of dozens of NATO senior officers. Once again, apply the social media test. I have seen zero evidence of grieving widows, parents and friends mourning dead NATO Generals, Colonels or Majors via posts on social media channels. Not one. I have checked with friends who still have access to intelligence information and they have seen no reports on such casualties from that one strike.

As I write this it is 5:30 am in Moscow and Kiev on May 9. There are no reports corroborating stepped up Ukrainian attacks. However, the Russian bombs and missile strikes continue to fall on Ukrainian positions. That is the reality hampering Ukraine’s ability to mount its counter offensive.

 

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