No joy for Russia in Donbas

A new store in Bucha

“As the war entered its 81st day, Russian offensive operations in Donbas remained largely stalled following the failure of Russia’s ambitious attempt to cross the Siverskyi Donets River and encircle the metropolitan area of Severodonetsk, the capital of the Ukrainian-administered Luhansk region. Severodonetsk was heavily shelled on Sunday, with several people injured after artillery rounds hit the city’s hospital, according to Ukrainian officials.

Russia has gathered a force of some 2,500 tanks, artillery pieces, armored personnel carriers and troop trucks to the area, said Serhiy Haidai, the Ukrainian governor of Luhansk. After failing to encircle all of the Donbas, Russian forces have switched to the more-modest goal of cutting the only road to Severodonetsk, pushing from the direction of the town of Popasna that was captured in early May, he said. “They are making very serious preparations and throwing all their forces to the Luhansk direction,” he said.”

“With Western weapons continuing to flow into Ukraine, Ukrainian officials are beginning to say that, despite these continuing Russian advances, a pivot in the war might be near, with Kyiv switching from defense to offense to reclaim large parts of southern and eastern Ukraine that remain under Russian rule.

“A strategic break in Ukraine’s favor is under way. This process will take time. But, in the long term, these trends make Russia’s defeat inevitable,” Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said in an address to Ukrainian citizens.

In a sign of Ukrainians’ renewed confidence, in recent days more people returned to the country than left it, the Ukrainian border service said Sunday. On Saturday, 37,000 people left Ukraine via crossings to the European Union and Moldova, and 46,000 entered the country. More than six million Ukrainians, most of them women and children because military-age men aren’t allowed to leave the country, have escaped Ukraine since the war began Feb. 24, according to the United Nations.””

Finland Plans Next Step in NATO Bid as Ukraine Mounts Counteroffensive Near Key Eastern City – WSJ

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49 Responses to No joy for Russia in Donbas

  1. Fakebot says:

    I have a difficult time seeing Russia accept the sort of defeat Ukraine believes is achievable. The nuclear threat looms large, although Putin has demonstrated some measure of sanity on that so far.

    • PavewayIV says:

      ‘Ukraine’ believes? You’re assuming the current Zelensky/Kolomoisky/NATO government speaks for the Ukrainian people.

      IMHO, the problem with arming Ukraine greybeards from the countryside and sending them off to war armed with an old AK47 and ‘government promises of victory’ (real or imagined) is that – once those promises are broken – the greybeards will visit Kiev with those AK-47s and they’ll be mad as hell. They’re not going to wait for the next NATO scheme to ‘ensure victory’. They’re not going to obey the current Ukraine government or cower in fear of the SBU Gestapo or Azov thugs. Russia doesn’t need nukes – it just has to grind away until Ukrainians overthrow their current government. I know that’s not ‘allowed’ in western democracy, yet there it is. Am I the only one that sees this?

      I have to believe most Ukrainians are not ultra-nationalists. Maybe not big fans of Russia and Russian oligarchs, but they’re not stupid – they *know* they’re being used as cannon fodder by the west to bleed Russia. At what point do you think they start to ignore the demon we’ve created for them (Putin) and begin to direct their anger at their own corrupt, useless, oligarch-and-foreigner-controlled government?

      These are the words of one Ukrainian soldier on a video making the rounds on social media:

      “Today in Ukraine, there is at least a million warriors holding weapons in their hands. Those in power should understand it’s not 2014, 2015 or 2016. Today, every soldier, every mother that awaits her soldier back home, every wife and child, every volunteer waits and hopes that we can free our country from the enemy. And then we’ll drain the swamp. That’s for sure. No one today, just so you could understand, is counting on the fact that we will just kick them out, and then you corrupt officials will rob us. No, we will murder you all. Do you understand, no one will return their weapons. We will clean everything up from you. Do you understand? We will clean it all from you. And if you will not run away from here, we will bury you under the ground. That’s what I think, corrupt officials and everyone who robbed us for years, you better run. Better run.”

      This doesn’t look like or sound like either Ukraine or Russian propaganda. It isn’t an Azov guy. Sounds like an ordinary Ukrainian to me.

  2. Fourth and Long says:

    It greatly pains me to revise titles of masterpieces of Russian literature. They as a people are my favorites. On reflection I think their finest writer must certainly have been Bulgakov, who couldn’t bring himself quite to the levels of sarcastic cruelty necessary and named his magnum opus “Heart of a Dog,” rather than the more accurate: Heart of a Pooch-Skrewer. I imagine similar reticence saved the world’s literature aficionados from these titles:

    Pooch Skrewing and Peace by Tolstoy.

    Dead Pooch Skrewers by Gogol.

    Pooch Skrewing and Peace by Dostoevsky.

    The Pooch Skrewer’s Daughter by Pushkin.

  3. Fourth and Long says:

    Sorry. …. and Punishment by D…

    Serves me right.

    • TTG says:

      Kilo 4/11,

      Don’t normally publish comments consisting of naked URLs, but that first photo is going to be featured on a magazine cover. Please include your thoughts on such linked items in the future.

      • Kilo 4/11 says:

        TTG: Be glad to.
        On these two, I just gave up being able to say anything remotely up to the level of the images themselves …

  4. walrus says:

    Col. Lang I think is right. The Russians are getting their ^sses handed to them. I would say because of poor preparation and planning, believing their own propaganda and thus underestimating their enemy..

    On a strategic level the Russians have forgotten Americas ability to swamp Ukraine and Europe in weapons and supplies beyond measure although it takes time to get the systems running.

    I’m therefore beginning to think that Austins call to Shoigu two days ago was not an request for a ceasefire out of NATO weakness but an entreaty for Shoigu to “come to Jesus” as we used to call it when trying to persuade a difficult customer to buy from us.

    Unlike what certain former posters here seem to think, my guess is Austin laid out in very stark terms what is going happen to Russias armed forces in the coming months if they don’t cease and desist right now, and it was nothing good. Shoigu was probably asked to convey the message to Putin. I would guess face saving would be involved.

    if Russia doesn’t accept that invitation, then Ukraine is going to carry this war onto Russian soil while NATO forces stand on the borders and watch – at which point Putin loses power and Russia will be faced with unpalatable terms. That is unless the PLA starts sending ‘volunteers” from China.

    • Steve says:

      Walrus,

      “….if Russia doesn’t accept that invitation, then Ukraine is going to carry this war onto Russian soil while NATO forces stand on the borders and watch….”

      Perhaps that’s what the Russians would like them to do. There’s history behind this. They believe that this war is existential – or so they say and with all available evidence I have no reason to doubt that – an attack that crosses the Russian border will likely cause them to get serious before closing the door and fully turning eastward. This would be a complete tragedy for Ukraine while the only beneficiaries will be the armaments industry whose stockpiles are getting extremely low.

    • Fakebot says:

      Should be stressed Russia had major intelligence failures too.

      Are we all going to pretend Russia isn’t a nuclear power? If Putin is removed by hardliners or Ukraine makes the kind of progress deemed possible (and Russia qualifies it as an existential threat), we may end up with a Russia finding the will to use them.

    • English Outsider says:

      Can’t work, Walrus. Apart from the fact that we’re using as proxy a Kiev government that is not what we’ve been led to believe, the mechanics are all wrong. The Russians have kept the most of their forces back for the escalation they expect from NATO. I doubt they’re panicking because a hundred M777’s or whatever have been sent in. They’ll have readied themselves for a lot more than that.

      But as explained to “James” in the previous comment section, that’s irrelevant in any case. Any time they choose the Russians can turn the lights off in Europe. Biden and UvdL are running around like headless chickens at the moment – never seen such a shambles – but this is not a proxy war they can win.

      Nor should they. This is not the most discreditable of our proxy wars, nor the most destructive. Not by miles. But using a neo-nazi dominated regime as proxy does stick in the throat.

      • James says:

        English Outsider,

        I am not sure that Russia just turning off the gas to Europe would work so well for Russia. Putin has been trying to establish good relations with Europe (and the US has been trying to sabotage those efforts) for a very long time. If Putin turns off the gas he may hand the US a permanent win in this department – and Europe may well muddle through with high prices, rationing, and increased LNG imports. People (ie the Europeans) can accept a lot of suffering when they feel that they are at war.

        The US has outsmarted Russia in every turn up to now.

        • English Outsider says:

          James – when the sanctions failed to wreck the Russian economy both Brussels and Washington lost their war.

          Mrs Nuland’s cookies not only led to ruin in the Ukraine. Ultimately, they’ve ditched Europe. The Euros have finally realised this and are now backpedalling furiously. Might be a little late for that. We’ll see.

          They haven’t done your country or the US much good either. Time to back off and save what can be saved from the wreckage.

      • Sam says:

        “The Russians have kept the most of their forces back…”

        Really?

    • Leith says:

      Walrus –

      Ukraine does not want any Russian soil. They just want their own soil cleared of Putin’s invading troops.

      Other than a few airstrikes on oil supplies, ammo dumps, and airfields being used to attack Ukrainian cities, there is no way the Ukraine Army will invade Russia. Any incursion by ground forces on Holy Russia would surely bring on Armageddon, no matter whether Putin is still in charge or someone else.

  5. plantman says:

    So you think “Austin laid out in very stark terms what is going happen to Russias armed forces in the coming months if they don’t cease and desist right now”?

    And, then what happened? Putin started shaking in his boots?

    Ridiculous. We are just at the beginning of this conflict. Be patient. Putin has alot of cards up his sleeve. Once he turns off the oil spigot, Germany goes dark. That should slow the weapons shipments considerably.

    The only reason the congress ponied-up $40 bil overnight (instead of helping Yemen or so other more deserving victim) is because this whole deal is aimed at removing an obstacle to US domination.

    Do you really think Biden cares about the “poor Ukrainians”??

    Baloney! This whole fiasco has been stage-managed to launch a war against Russia.

    That’s what’s really going on. Empire.

    • TTG says:

      plantman,

      We’re not at the beginning of the conflict. We’re a third of the way through. There’s still two thirds of the invader’s forces left to destroy or chase out of Ukrainian territory. The only cards Putin has left are a pair of jokers.

      • Steve says:

        TTG,

        The Russians may be two thirds through the phases but how long is a phase? Have the two thus far been equal in time and effort? I don’t think they have, which means the final (?) phase may be longer or shorter; either more or less destructive.

        Pretending to know these plans and how well they work out – or not – can become somewhat self deceiving.

      • James says:

        TTG,

        One wild card that Putin has is to drop tactical nukes on every LNG import terminal in Europe and then to turn off the gas.

        • PeterHug says:

          I can’t imagine that what would happen next in the event that Putin were to do that, would be seen overall as a net positive by the Russians.

        • blue peacock says:

          Amazing set of fantasies. Sure fire way of ensuring regime change – by internal forces. That’s if a Russian commander actually even follows the order.

          And who will Putin sell all that gas to pay the bills? The pipeline to China is rather small compared to what flows to Europe.

  6. Leith says:

    More bridge work, this time by Ukrainian Special Forces. And this time a reinforced concrete railroad bridge, not a temp pontoon bridge like earlier. Nice demolition work by a team from 8th Special Forces in taking down that enemy held bridge between Sievierdonetsk and Rubizhne.

    https://news.yahoo.com/ukraine-says-rail-bridge-seized-094226982.html

    https://twitter.com/ChuckPfarrer/status/1525976953081184257

    https://gur.gov.ua/en/content/8-okremii-polk.html

    • d74 says:

      Thank you for the Internet addresses.

      Concerning Chuck Pfarrer, I was surprised by the low informative value of his news. He seems to lack raw material.

  7. Fourth and Long says:

    The surest testimony to Putin’s incompetence if not outright idiocy is actually not to be found here or in related ongoing accounts of these battles. It’s in what they did to their armed forces by changing conscription service to one year from two previously. From what I’ve read, that change was concurrent with the switch from Serdyukov to Shoigu as defense minister in 2012, and it resulted in losing their overall apparatus for enlisting large numbers of troops in case of emergency, which had long been in operation. I don’t say it was intentional sabotage, not by any stretch of one’s imagination. More like noble goals such as developing a professional military, absent the means to effectively and efficiently do so – not enough money, briefly. That’s my present understanding anyway based on detailed reading of open source stuff easily available to those willing to make the effort. In reading that sort of material you aren’t confronted with the Public Relations or Propaganda efforts of the munificently endowed and professional skilled liars and exaggerators of either side, so, dull as the going is you needn’t become irate at the cheerleading, deception and ongoing overly credulous great masses of spectators. Perhaps I’m wrong and I’ve fallen for unseen influences but it all dovetails with Russia historically as being backward, unprepared and therefore bumbling and corrupt. It is a crying screaming outrageous shame, as they are victims mainly of the impossible odds presented by Geography and forces as impersonal as gravity. Lack of natural geographical borders. No warm water ports. Very harsh climates. And the political and social depredations therefore consequent resulting invasions, upheavals and insufficient development. A military force budget of $60 billion (approximate, larger with PPP accounting) versus the US with $800 billion (much larger actually, given accounting tricks and spending for other agencies such as intel which are essentially military/strategic/whathaveyou) plus UK and France which are individually as large as Russia’s. Not to mention 5 eyes and Japan and South Korea. It tain’t the least bit fair at all. But life is not fair. Never was, never will be. As I wrote to TTG on another thread, I probably like it less than most people. It’s damn tedious and stupid. You would think people could do a better job of things. Poor old Rodney King.

  8. cobo says:

    Colonel, What are your thoughts about the appointment of General Cavoli?

    “Gen. Christopher Cavoli has been nominated to become supreme allied commander for Europe”

    https://www.politico.com/news/2022/05/16/nato-general-european-command-ukraine-00032593

    • cobo says:

      Sir, I should explain further. After watching the AUSA interview with General Cavoli, linked in the article, I am impressed with the man and with the nature of our organizational capabilities. I was kind of wondering what had happened to the US Army, with the embarassment in Aghanistan, etc. I know it isn’t necessarly about the Army, more it’s about the quality of our civilian leadership – still.

      I remember reading “INTO THE STORM: A Study in Command” by Tom Clancy with General Fred Franks, Jr. He discussed how the Army would reinvent itself through, largely TRADOC. I had been in the active Army 1976 – 1979 – the Jimmy Carter Army. And the Army was messed up following the way the country unwound after Vietnam. My younger brother joined the infantry in the early 80s, and his Army was much better. You could see that the changes that had been made and discussed in the book had real impact.

      That being said, if we are going to confront world enemies, then I feel that we are up to it. And if so, I advocate we maintain a belligerent posture and be sure to keep everyone sweating the nuke thing – not to cower in its face.

  9. Mike B says:

    Would anyone be surprised if the Donbas region swore allegiance to President Zelensky? Russia/Putin these days is one large amorphous disappointment with Ukraine and Zelensky looking far more dynamic and attractive. One point to consider is the homogenizing effect of this war on Ukraine nationality. An attenuation of the crazies in Ukraine’s eastern regions?

    • AngusinCanada says:

      Well, considering the neo-nazi infested Ukrainian military terrorized the civilian population of Donbass for 8 years, killing 15,000 innocents, all for the crime of wanting to speak their native Russian tongue, I’m a tad skeptical they’ll be running back to the broken husk of what used to be Ukraine.

      • TTG says:

        AngusinCanada,

        You do realize that 15,000 includes combatants and noncombatants on both sides most killed in 2014 – 2015. No one has stopped Ukrainians from speaking Russian. Zelenskiy even speaks in state business. It’s his first language. My guess is that few Russian speaking Ukrainians will be clamoring for Russian rule after their trail of looting, raping and murdering. Russians haven’t been making many friends, even in the Donbas.

  10. Jovan P says:

    Ukrainian regime officials are dreaming of some kind of pivot? Even if they said this, I doubt they mean it. The Ukrainians lack fuel, jobs, in some places (Nikolaev) water and/or electricity, the only thing they have enough is western weapons pouring in.

    The Azov gang and other Ukrainian soldiers are starting to surrender at Azovstal. Whatever the western MSM calls it (extraction, displacement, etc.), they’re surrendering and that’s the right decision to do. Not because of Russia’s glory, but because there is no reason that they waste their lives for nothing (and the lives of the Russian soldiers around Azovstal).

    • Klapper says:

      Some claims are that all 2,200 remaining AFU at Azovstal are going to surrender. Maybe 300 so far, although mostly the wounded. It all appears to be happening pretty fast.

    • mcohen says:

      Looks like they reached some sort of deal at azovstal.i wonder what changed.maybe the gig was up.who knows.like pieces on a chessboard.anyone here got any ideas

      • John R says:

        From the pictures I’ve seen, they look like they are starving.

        But Russia has always been open to surrender (for several obvious reasons).

  11. Leith says:

    Putin is directing military units and operations at the level of a Colonel or a Brigadier according to western intel says the Guardian. Can this be true? Remind you of any history in particular – say from about 80 years ago? What expertise does a KGB foreign intelligence officer bring to military ops? If it’s true then IMHO it could be fortuitous for Ukraine and disastrous for Russia.

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/may/16/putin-involved-russia-ukraine-war-western-sources?CMP=share_btn_tw

    Or is this psyops aimed to destroy Putin’s rep with his insiders and the Russian people?

  12. plantman says:

    TTG
    I beg to differ, we ARE at the beginning of the conflict, and I’m quite sure you will still be posting regularly on developments in Ukraine next year at this time.

    In essence, this is a war between the United States and Russia, and that is a struggle that is bound to go on for some time. The US is already massively engaged via $53 billion in cash, nonstop weapons shipments and a wobbly coalition that will buckle as soon as the gas is turned off in Europe.

    The sanctions have hurt the west much more than they’ve hurt Russia. As you’ve probably noticed, the ruble is the best performing currency this year, while unused dollars continue to wash back on US shores from foreign central banks that have switched to other currencies.

    And we haven’t even talked about the food shortages and the supplyline disruptions yet, all of which are eroding the economic situation in the west…due entirely to a war that could have easily been avoided if we had a team in the White House that cared more about the American people than dreams of global domination. But that is not the case.

    We’re all going to suffer greatly for their stupidity and arrogance.

    • Poul says:

      The only way for unused US dollars to wash back to the US is by reducing the US current account deficit. In short buy American stuff with the dollars.

      Given that the deficit is at record levels the world is clamouring for the dollar. Or more correctly the US economy’s ability to soak up excess savings from the rest of the world.

      https://tradingeconomics.com/united-states/current-account

  13. Fourth and Long says:

    You will want to watch this eminent Russian military expert deliver his sober, realistic and not flattering assessment on Russian TV very recently. 4 minutes with subtitles. Eloquent, smart. His assessment concerning the grievous error people (mostly laymen) are making about the apriori superiority of professionals vs conscripts in the case where the issue is defending the homeland or not on home soil is vital.
    He has to fight uphill a bit to make his point but clearly someone wanted him to deliver his message. Further on in the twitter thread it is opined that it may signal that Russia is going to announce a withdrawal or serious pullback. I’m not quite there myself yet but if it’s not being considered, IMO they’ve lost their marbles. Ritter changed his assessment yesterday. This speaker in the tweet video emphasizes – the whole world is against us and it is a serious mistake to sabre rattle in response to Finland joining NATO. Fittenly with that insight, Putin was reported as calm and collected during his talk with the PM of Finland.

    https://twitter.com/francis_scarr/status/1526293852704890882?s=21&t=tkAnf4wB_q_03MIdDTjZVA

    • Babeltuap says:

      They were always going to pullback. They never wanted the entire country and who would. It’s a worthless puppet state of the US. All Russia wanted were critical resource areas. Nothing more. The rest of the country is worthless. Russia already has those areas. They won.

    • John R says:

      This dovetails with Ritter’s analysis (which is worth listening carefully to and is being misunderstood).

      This “candor” as you call it could simply be paving the way for a general conscription in Russia: to match the apparent escalation in Ukraine and NATO. By saying the conscript can be equal to the professional opens the door to a wider mobilization in Russia.

  14. ked says:

    Maybe it was a just a bad idea for Putin to be so petulant as to employ a kinetic solution to what could easily been achieved via his oft-credited brilliant statecraft. Forget the USA’s many sins & stupidities (just for a moment…). Europe’s post-boomer generations (even leaderships & parties) know enough about recent history (Molotov/Ribbentrop Pact, Katyn Massacre, Soviet occupation, etc) plus direct experience with post-Soviet Russia, to prefer Do Whatever It Takes, Now! over debating leftover ideologies to determine Who Lost Ukraine, This Time?
    Is it not obvious the Ukrainians are going to fight this one out? If they lose the traditional war someday… they will fight the non-traditional one. They may lose that one too if Russia succeeds going Full Stalin – wiping out the natives, genocide-style. Russia has seemingly retained that skill. It has convinced itself it is Godly and always succeeds – a great benefit to totalitarianism. The rest of us make loans, place side-bets and watch.
    First and foremost (Proxy War! reminds one of Domino Theory!) this is a War for Independence by a people (even Nazis & Commies arm-in-arm – Polish Underground redux) now united by visceral hate for Russia. A hate reignited by Russia. Vlad’s version of neo-imperial exceptionalism has triggered its self-desruction. Russia will lose… and if by chance it defeats Ukraine, it will also lose… just differently.

  15. guidoamm says:

    I don’t see the immediate demise of the Russian army at the hands of the Ukrainian army. Similarly, I do not see a Russia in great distress due to sanctions brought on by the West.

    Quite apart from the Minsk agreements that were accepted but never acted upon, here is what I see:

    Russia has a debt to GDP ratio well below 20% vs Western ratios of 130-280%
    -Recent increases in commodity prices will help maintain this ratio in check
    -Russia and Russians do not appear to be overly stressed about the sanctions enacted against them.
    -Russia has continued to supply energy to Europe

    On the other hand the West has:

    -Demonized and ostracized all Russians
    -Confiscated/frozen bank accounts of all Russians
    -Limited the movement of all Russians
    -Is openly arming Ukraine
    -Has enacted a Lend Lease program with Ukraine
    -Is financing Ukraine

    AND

    -Has suddenly rehabilitated the Azov battalion that until recently was deemed a global ideological and physical threat. The following link is a non exhaustive compendium of recent MSM articles about the Nazi “threat” presented by these groups hailing from Ukraine.

    https://askeptic.substack.com/p/the-msms-ukraine-amnesia?s=r

    The West has de facto declared war on Russia.

    If Ukraine is winning this fight however, why is Milley calling Shoigu asking for a ceasefire?

    https://news.sky.com/story/ukraine-war-one-hour-phone-call-between-us-defence-secretary-and-russian-counterpart-after-months-of-trying-12612485

    The Ruble
    https://www.tradingview.com/x/oJvoB2xS/

    I think Escobar is much closer to the truth than the Western press

    https://thecradle.co/Article/columns/10277

    Yes, there is a law banning the Russian language in Ukraine
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Language_policy_in_Ukraine#:~:text=Since%20then%20various%20cities%20and,voted%20to%20repeal%20the%20law.

    Which brings us back to the Minsk accords that France and Germany were supposed to guarantee.

    From where I am standing, Russia is not doing too badly in Ukraine so far.

  16. Al says:

    After his grim assessment of Russia’s struggles in its invasion of Ukraine, senior military analyst Mikhail Khodaryonok was apparently set straight by unnamed handlers behind-the-scenes. Today, he is back, sternly cautioning everyone not to underestimate Russia’s military might.

    Likely was told to stay away from windows in high rise bldgs!

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