“Ukraine War, 17 February 2024: Melee in Avdiivka”

Hello everybody!

An update at ‘unusual hour’, because of latest developments in the Avidiivka area.

Essentially, upon realising that the ZSU is in the process of withdrawing from the ruins of the town, the Russians launched such a massive onslaught, that the outcome of this battle can only be described as a ‘veritable catastrophe’. ….and that for both sides.

The ZSU seems to have planned a so-called ‘phased withdrawal’. That is: first to go were the units holding the eastern side of positions, outside the down. Then the units holding the south. Then the units holding the town were to withdraw to the 9th District, and from there to fall back further west etc…

The 110th Mech led the way. Its I Battalion seems to have completed its withdrawal relatively intact (at least there are meanwhile videos showing its T-72s and different infantry fighting vehicles on the way out, disturbed by the Russian shelling). Already the withdrawal of its II Battalion from the Zenit fortification collapsed towards its conclusion: as mentioned yesterday, at least six wounded were left behind, and about a dozen of troops killed while withdrawing…

Foremost, the Russians then launched such a massive attack – they have rushed literally all they’ve got into the onslaught – and that from so many directions, and ‘supported’ by over 50 air strikes, that both their own, and the Ukrainian plans then fell apart.

The result was what is termed with ‘melee’ in military vocabulary (from French mêlée). See: disorganised battle fought at ‘abnormally’ close range, with little control from above, and that all over the ruined Avidiivka. Something like ‘Hollywood-style, everybody against everybody, at very short ranges’.

Unsurprisingly, details are still fragmented, but what can be assessed from what has been reported by now, is looking something like this:

  • Yesterday alone, the Russians should have lost over 1,300 ‘killed in action’ (KIA), and another 1,000 were ‘wounded in action’ (WIA); their casualty evacuation (CASEVAC) is so poor, that the mass of the wounded cannot even be evacuated (if they are found, just for the start); plus, local military hospitals are hopelessly overfilled; 
  • The Russian 74th and 114th Motor Rifle Brigades have been wiped out in the process (their combined loss is assessed with over 4,000 KIA and WIA); 
  • However, the ZSU also suffered dozens of losses, and – worst of all – left dozens of additional WIA behind in Avidiivka. Considering the poor state of the Russian CASEVAC… sigh…

Where are the frontlines right now, I doubt even the local commanders can say with any significant dose of certainty. My ‘best guess’ is that the ZSU is trying to hold out in the 9th District, buying time to collect scattered troops that are falling back from the ruins of Avidiivka. If so, the situation is something like this:

Of course, more details are to follow in the morning (or days later), but the point is: I do not expect them to contain any ‘good news’.


Comment: This is Tom Cooper’s take on the withdrawal from Avdiivka published last night. He published an update this morning. I’ve linked to that below.

About the same time, Syrskyi publicly announced the decision to withdraw from Avdiivka.

Based on the operational situation around Avdiivka, in order to avoid the environment and save the lives and health of soldiers, the decision was made to withdraw our units from the city and move to defense on more favorable borders.

Our soldiers fulfilled their military duty duly, did their best to destroy the best Russian military units, inflicted significant losses in manpower and equipment to the enemy. We use measures to stabilize the situation and maintain occupied positions.

The life of military is the highest value. We will return the Avdiivka anyway.


Judging by the reinforcing units sent to that front, including two battalions of the 3rd Assault Brigade, I believe the decision to evacuate Avdiivka was made before Syrskyi took over. It just fell on him to execute the plan. This is an extremely complicated and dangerous operation. I’m not surprised it didn’t go exactly according to plan. A withdrawal under pressure and a passage of lines, also probably under pressure, are two of the most difficult maneuvers to execute. In the 25th Infantry Division in the late 70s, we practiced these maneuvers along with breakout from encirclement regularly because we assumed we would always be outmanned and out gunned on a potential battlefield. The Ukrainian Army at Avdiivka is certainly outmanned, out gunned and definitely under tremendous pressure. Once the Russians detected the withdrawal was underway, they hit the Ukrainians with everything they had.

The Ukrainians also decided to bring up air defense to deal with the glide bomb attacks. The Russians are getting damned good at those attacks and it’s been devastating on prepared defenses and defenses in built up areas. It could have been a Patriot or SAMP/T or even a NASAMS unit brought up. No matter what it was, two Su-34s and an Su-35 were already downed. That they waited so long to risk one of these precious air defense weapons speaks to the effectiveness of the Russian glide bombs.

All in all, I’m glad to see the Ukrainians decided to not do another “Bakhmut Stands” defense at all costs in Avdiivka. The withdrawal/retreat seems to have been pulled off with serious, but not horrific casualties, at least for the Ukrainians. The Russians, on the other hand, have thrown caution to the wind in their zeal to obtain a victory for Putin’s election.



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69 Responses to “Ukraine War, 17 February 2024: Melee in Avdiivka”

  1. cobo says:


    I haven’t thanked you enough for continuing this blog and for your analysis and insights.

  2. d74 says:

    With such victories, the Ukrainians will soon be able to dictate peace at Kremlin. And Zelensky will be sleeping in Putin’s bed.

    Non possumus, you say ?
    In the age of Hollywood, anything is possible. All you have to do is make it look like they (the Ukrainian army) came from Vladivostok.
    I overstate with ‘victory’. At least they have the decency not to proclaim it. It’s Marioupol all over again, only smaller: the Ukrainian command is the sovereign master of its own decisions. The Russians, who can’t but, are bound to comply. Hollywood, I tell you again.

    Now I’m serious. I hope they’ve taken advantage of this horrible slaughter (4 months or so) to build a serious line of defense further back. The current one around Donetsk is being torn to shreds.

    • aleksandar says:

      They have.
      Two lines 20 km west Avdeevka.
      Russian change the game.
      They will now kill ” en masse”.
      No Marioupol again.
      Russian AF started using glide kits to drop 500kg and 1000 kg glide bombs, 40 the first day, 60 the second.
      No line of defense can resist such an amount of destruction and will be breached.

      Russia will win this war.
      (Don’t forget that they managed to put a washing-machine-sattelite-killer into orbit.)

      • TTG says:


        That satellite killer was not put in orbit. It’s still in development. That story was a lot of premature huffing and puffing.

  3. Yeah, Right says:

    So if I read this correctly, it is the Ukrainian forces who had to cut and run, and in the process of cutting and running they managed to kill 1,300 Russian troops while losing “dozens” of soldiers themselves.

    So, a massive disparity in the Ukrainian’s favor, even though it was the Ukrainian forces that were forced to cut and run.

    And that sounds credible to you? Because to me it doesn’t pass the sniff test.

    • TTG says:

      Yeah, Right,

      The Russians engaged in a zerg rush assault across the Avdiivka front as soon as they detected the withdrawal. It’s normal to suffer heavy losses in such an assault. Can’t blame them for initiating such an assault. If they succeeded in overrunning the Ukrainians across the entire front, the Ukrainian losses would have been staggering.

      • Yeah, Right says:

        Zelensky himself stated that the ratio was “seven to one”, which would lead to Ukrainian losses between 180 – 200.

        Which isn’t ” dozens of losses”, which suggests to me that Tom Cooper’s statements should be taken with a heavy dose of salts.

        As in…..
        TTG: “The Russians engaged in a zerg rush assault across the Avdiivka front as soon as they detected the withdrawal.”

        So said Tom Cooper.

        Excuse me for being very unconvinced regarding such statements of “fact” being put forward from that gentlemen.

        Do you have any other source for that claim?

        • TTG says:

          Yeah, Right,

          I think a lot of this early info is coming through the Ukrainian MOD press center for the Tavria region. I don’t know what sources Cooper uses. Once the lines firm up, we’ll know if this was a successful withdrawal under pressure or a rout.

          • Yeah, Right says:

            TTG: “Once the lines firm up, we’ll know if this was a successful withdrawal under pressure or a rout.”

            Either way, that (deliberately) misses the point that I am making, which is that there doesn’t appear to be any independent confirmation that the Russians suffered a rush of blood to the head and launched a “zerg rush assault” once they became aware that the Ukrainians were withdrawing.

            Certainly none of the videos I’ve seen from the front lines support such a claim: those show Ukrainian troops coming under mortar or artillery fire as they withdrew.

            But that’s not at all the same thing as those Ukrainians being faced with Russian troops rushing at them with bayonet’s drawn and blood-lust in their eyes.

          • TTG says:

            Yeah, Right,

            Don’t get hung up on my use of the term zerg rush. I know these assaults are more sophisticated than a simple every one rush forward all at once maneuver. It’s actually a complex series of movements of echelons, even at the squad and company level, with specific tasks for each echelon. But like the Soviet era echelons, the first echelons will likely be destroyed. That’s incorporated into the plan.

          • Yeah, Right says:

            OK, I’m going to try one more time before I simply decide that you are being deliberately obtuse.

            Irrespective of whether or not we use the term “serg rush assault”, or “Soviet era echelons” or ” a complex series of movements of echelons” you don’t *actually* have any evidence whatsoever to independently support Copper’s claim that when the Ukrainians started to withdraw that the Russian forces then moved out to attempt to come to grips with those retreating Ukrainian forces.

            To, as Cooper puts it, “melee” with the Ukrainian forces.

            I’ve seen no evidence of such a thing actually taking place, and I’ve seen plenty of videos that flatly contradict it.

            TTG: “the first echelons will likely be destroyed”

            You FIRST have to demonstrate that any “echeloning” actually took place, and this you have singularly failed to do.

            TTG: “That’s incorporated into the plan.”

            And in the absence of any other independent evidence then I’m going to suggest – again – that this “plan” exists entirely in the mind of Mr Cooper.

            Oh, yeah, and in your imagination as well.

    • Fred says:

      Yeah, Right,

      With results like this the Ukrainians should retreat more often. By the time they reach the Polish border there won’t be a Russian army left.

  4. Lars says:

    It appears that Ukraine made a good decision in a difficult situation. It is always hard to withdraw troops as the US learned when Biden had to execute Trump’s decision to quit Afghanistan. But in general, it appears that Russia is employing the same strategy of throwing a lot of soldiers into a shredder and doing it over and over, expecting a different result. It now appears that there is a stalemate and how long that will remain, I have no idea. But the US now have a means to turn the tide, first with passing the aid to Ukraine that the Trumpserfs in Congress are holding up, but more importantly, they can now use the killing of Navalny to give the $300B frozen to Ukraine.

    • Peter Hug says:

      I think it will be more than $300 million in the end. The US is not the only country that is very unhappy with this.

      That said, at some point ultrasound will need to figure out a way to deal with this approach that stays within their available resources.

      • Peter Hug says:

        Ukraine, not ultrasound. I suspect that a bunch of platforms have switched to using a new AI engine that is more than a bit broken. They all have simultaneously become very bad at predictive text

    • Fred says:


      Afghanistan, after two decades of US presence, was Trump’s fault the Afghans changed sides and the Kabul catastrophe occurred. I salute your loyalty to the party. If only Biden had the ability as CIC of the armed forces of the Republic to actually order a change in plan. Remind us all what obligation we had to Afghanistan, whose government sheltered Bid Laden, before he fled to our “ally” Pakistan.

  5. leith says:

    This is a big morale boost for Putin. He can thank the Russian VVS and whatever engineer developed their MPK/UMPK stand-off glide kits. The latest battle for Avdiivka may be only four months long – but the Ukrainian Army has been holding Avdiivka just a few miles from Donetsk City for almost ten years now. I’m guessing the handwriting on the wall became clear to the ZSU when the Russian AF started using those glide kits to drop 500kg (1100 pound) glide bombs, 40 or 60 per day, on their positions. They’re inaccurate but with a 250-meter damage radius they don’t need to be pinpoint. Plus the VVS is also using 1550kg (3400 pound) glide bombs.

    Good that the Ukrainians took out those three Sukhois. Is it confirmed it was another SAM trap like they did last May & December and again just last month? I wonder though. They have AMRAAM air-to-air missiles with 160 -180km range, have those been adapted yet to their fighters?

    • James says:

      If anyone would care to weigh in on how these Russian glide kits compare to comparable US tech I would love to hear it. Is it possible that Russia has caught up with USA in this particular field – or are they still well behind?

      • leith says:

        James –

        Theoretically the accuracy of that Russian glide kit is about ten meters. They use GLONASS satellite data for guidance, but at least half of those satellites are old and some are in decaying orbit. And then Ukraine is undoubtedly trying to jam GLONASS signals. So in practice the accuracy is a lot worse, how much I don’t ken. But then you don’t need much accuracy with a 1500kg bomb.

        JDAM uses GPS but has an INS backup. Published unclassified accuracy is said to be no greater than five meters. With Russians jamming GPS, that accuracy would be a lot greater if using only the INS guidance. No clue how well JDAM works with Ukraine’s MIGs & Sukhois. And they’ve only been given the 500 pounder, nothing heavier that I’m aware of.

        Both JDAM-Extended Range and the Russian glide bomb have similar range.

        • James says:

          leith – very interesting. Thanks.

        • TonyL says:


          “With Russians jamming GPS, that accuracy would be a lot greater if using only the INS guidance”

          I think you meant “Using only INS guidance, accuracy would be degraded but adequate for JDAM”.

          That raises the question whether the JDAM system can detect that its GPS is being spoofed/jammed.

          • leith says:

            Tony –

            Thanks, you’re right. Or part right as I’m not sure about the “adequate for JDAM” ending on that sentence. Probably still adequate for an area target using JDAM. But wouldn’t using only INS guidance impede or hinder the destruction of point targets such as a bridge or an individual armored vehicle? Depends maybe on the size of the warhead?

          • ked says:

            this wiki article on JDAM is a useful overview. it strikes me (yet another bad pun) that navigation fusion + seeker-sensors + very “smart” anti-jam tech is where development is headed – especially for keeping lock on moving targets. down the road? old refuelers & cargo AC converted to drones loaded w/ JDAMs). also; variants for niche missions & integration of off-platform anti-jam aimed at specific emitters.


    • Fred says:


      So Donetsk City is no longer within conventional artillery range of the Ukrainians? That’s been a problem for the Russians/Donetskians for how many decades?

      • leith says:

        Fred –

        I take it you meant mortar range, not artillery. Avdiivka is just six km (3.7 mi) from Donetsk City. BTW, even after the withdrawal from Avdiivka, Donetsk is still within range of Ukrainian artillery. But other than the shelling in 2014, Donetsk has only been shelled twice that I’m aware of. Both times at a legitimate military target with few casualties. Donetsk still stands with little or no damage unlike the ruins of Avdiivka, Bakhmut, Severodinsk, Mariupol, and others.

        The win for Putin is a political boost internally and in the Third World, plus a morale gain for Euro Russophiles, and another reason for appeasement by US isolationists. It cost him though in Russian casualties. The win for the Russian Army is a straightening out of their defensive lines by getting rid of the salient. But they were not able to close the cauldron on Avdiivka, their main intent. If they had, then a brigade or two of Ukrainian POWs would have been disastrous for Kyiv politically and militarily.

        On a side note, if today’s reports of two more Sukhois shot down are confirmed it means the VVS has lost six in just three days.
        The US Army should upgrade US Patriots to get the capability of that German high-mobility, shoot-and-skoot Patriot used by the Ukrainians.

  6. Peter Williams says:

    The Russian MOD has a slightly different view –

    “MOSCOW, February 17. /TASS/. Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu has informed President Vladimir Putin that the town of Avdeyevka near Donetsk has been taken under full control, the Defense Ministry stated.

    “Today in the Kremlin, Russian Defense Minister Army General Shoigu reported to the supreme commander-in-chief of the Russian Armed Forces that the Center grouping of forces under command of Col. Gen. Andrey Mordvichev has taken under full control the town of Avdeyevka of the Donetsk People’s Republic, which was a massive fortified stronghold of Ukraine’s armed forces,” the ministry said.

    “In the Kremlin today, Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu reported to the Supreme Commander-in-Chief Vladimir Putin the group of troops Center under the command of Colonel-General Andrey Mordvichev gained full control of the town of Avdeyevka, in the Donetsk People’s Republic, which was a major stronghold of the Ukrainian military,” the Defense Ministry said.

    An area of 31.75 square kilometers has been liberated from Ukrainian nationalists. The enemy’s losses in the fighting for Avdeyevka over the past 24 hours alone exceeded 1,500 men.

    Under continued Russian fire only scattered groups of Ukrainian militants managed to escape, abandoning weapons and military equipment. At present, measures are being taken to clear the town of militants and seal off Ukrainian forces that have fled the locality and entrenched themselves at the Avdeyevka coke and chemical plant, the Defense Ministry said.

    The Ministry stressed that information about the advance of Russian troops was not made public until the complete defeat of the enemy and the establishment of full control of the locality.

    “The liberation of Avdeyevka made it possible to push the frontline away from Donetsk, thus significantly securing it from terrorist strikes by the criminal Kiev regime. The group of forces Center continues offensive operations to further liberate the Donetsk People’s Republic from Ukrainian nationalists,” it added.”


  7. Augustin L says:

    The city was not strategically important, Ukraine Is exchanging space for time, russians lost 6 millions soldiers to capture it. When it’s all said and done, there won’t be any Orcs with shovels left to take over the depopulating Baltics. Oy vey !

    • TTG says:

      Augustin L,

      6 million? You’re either badly misinformed or very sarcastic.

      • Poul says:


        I do not for the life of me understand why you take any of the loss numbers serious.

        Both sides are spraying BS when it comes to their opponent’s losses.

        Even Julian Röcke of Der Spiegel has stopped believing in the numbers.


        “Without proper ammunition along the entire front and while withdrawing from Avdiivka, the Ukrainian army killed 1210 Russian soldiers yesterday and wounded another 3630, destroying five entire BTG on a single day … according to the Ukrainian army.”

        Common-sense based on existing knowledge would indicate that 75% of losses come from artillery. So who has the most AND the most shells? Plus who now also has JDAMs?

        The answer is Russia.

        If Russia were suffering all those losses. Why is it the Ukrainians who needs to conscript more troops?

        I have no doubt that more Ukrainian soldiers have been killed/wounded than Russians in this war and this battle. How many more is a guess, but 2-4 times would be the estimate range.

        • TTG says:


          Ukrainian artillery fired 400 fire missions in support of the withdrawal on 17 February. That’s in addition to heavy use of drones and direct fire weapons against the pursuing Russians, pursuing across open fields. That’s going to cause some serious casualties. BTW, someone should tell Julian Röpcke that BTGs are no longer in use.

        • Barbara Ann says:


          Brigadier General Tarnavskyi, the guy who commands Ukrainian forces in the south, said Russia had a 10:1 artillery advantage in the assault on Avdeevka (NYT link below).


          Syrskyi said the withdrawal is to “more favorable lines”. It looks like the Russians are losing no time in trying to push further west. Where is the next fortified line west of Avdeevka?


          • TTG says:

            Barbara Ann,

            Watch the Willy OAM video provided by wiz earlier today from about the 3:20 mark. That shows what could be the lines now. I have no idea how well built those defenses are. A lot will depend on what kind of minefields have been laid in addition to any fortifications. I’m sure the Russian would like to continue the pursuit, but it may end up like their taking of Bakhmut last May. They still haven’t been able to push from Bakhmut towards Slovyansk and Kramatorsk.

            A lot will also depend on Russia’s ability to continue the heavy use of those massive glide bombs. They can make fast work out any prepared fortifications. Perhaps the Ukrainians will use their truck-mounted Patriots provided by Germany. They’re better suited for the shoot and scoot tactics used recently with good effect.

          • Barbara Ann says:

            Will do, thanks TTG. The early arrival of the rasputitsa this year may prove to be as effective as any minefield.

          • Jimmy_w says:

            The way Patriot launchers are designed, there is little time difference no matter which truck you are using. The American model can run with the prime mover staying in place.

            The cables and the radar probably take more time than anything else.

          • aleksandar says:

            Attrition or pursuit ?
            So far Russia has around 150 000 soldiers south of Rabotino.
            They will attack there.
            To force Ukrainians to move reserves from east to south not being properly re-manned and re- equipped.
            Take back Rabotino and even conquer Orihiv.
            Then back to the east.
            And so on.
            A cat and mouse game.

      • F&L says:

        Big picture .. It’s been two friggin years – 2 years – and this town is literally on the outskirts of Donetsk. (Do I need a “for Chrissakes” in that sentence?) Oh and breaking news – everyone still lies. “Lies” rhymes with “dies.” Sorry to have to mention that.

        Source? My reports come directly from the desk of Field Marshal Bogged-down-ovitch himself. Maybe Field Marsh-hell is the more correct spelling.

  8. babelthuap says:

    I read both sides. Both stories are different which they should be in a war. The only people who know what is really going on are those in it and I guarantee their stories (if they could tell them) would sound nothing like the tales being told right now by both propaganda machines.

    I’m hearing some chatter about Lithuania for a source from a source. No way to confirm but maybe some type of “incident” In the coming week. Again, could be nothing but it would make sense to take attention away from this current situation.

  9. wiz says:

    Ah, the old Zerg rush story.
    Days ago, when it was clear that the Russians have started to make some serious
    inroads into the town, Tom Cooper was still all about how Ukrainians are defending against all attacks inflicting catastrophic casualties onto the Russians.
    Now that the town has fallen, it is again about how Ukrainians inflicted thousands
    of Russian casualties while taking only dozens themselves. The only rush that was evident is the Ukrainian rush to get out of Dodge while they still can.

    No matter whether Ukrainians are attacking or defending, according to Tom Cooper they are destroying Russians brigades left, right and center with minimal own losses.
    I guess that is why the Ukrainians are snatching people off the streets and trying to recruit another half a million soldiers.

    Tom writes some very educational articles concerning the matter of air defense/aircraft but IMO he is too biased to be taken seriously about anything else.

    One of the few remaining somewhat impartial open sources is the former Australian military guy Willy.
    He’s been in Ukraine, have some contacts there still and is trying to put together a picture of what is happening guided by available sources and common sense and not pure bias.


    • TTG says:


      See my response to Yeah, Right about the zerg rush. And that guy Willy OAM is worth a listen.

    • F&L says:

      Believing these people such as Cooper is a sucker’s game.
      This video is worth a look. Long at 50 minutes but the first ten minutes should suffice. On the 911 building 7 – a professor emeritus at U of Alaska Fairbanks analyzed the collapse and concluded that the NIST story was not worth a nickel.

      We’ve been lied to all along.

      From The Bells, by Edgar Allan Poe.

      And the people—ah, the people—
      They that dwell up in the steeple,
      All alone,
      And who tolling, tolling, tolling,
      In that muffled monotone,
      Feel a glory in so rolling
      On the human heart a stone—
      They are neither man nor woman—
      They are neither brute nor human—
      They are Ghouls:
      And their king it is who tolls; ..

      “They are neither brute nor human, they are ghouls ..”

      • babelthuap says:

        Tucker’s recent interview with Mike Benz explains with precision what has been going on for some time. I knew all this stuff but he wrapped it up and put a bow on it in an hour.

        If you don’t believe it then don’t. I’ve been researching this topic for years. I would not believe it either but I took it all in in small bites.

        These IT companies are absolutely not what they seem and never have been. Nobody out of college gets that amount of cash to start a business like FB with no business model. NOBODY. Unless the government is behind it. It cost an enormous amount of money to run these platforms. Without a model to make money you get NO LOANS. So messed up. These companies are facades. Arms of the government. Nothing more.


        • Barbara Ann says:


          Whatever you think of Tucker and his politics his interview with Mike Benz is extremely important, much more so than his Putin interview. Everybody should watch it IMO. In the first 16 minutes Benz succinctly explains that Americans are now subject to domestic military-grade information warfare and censorship in the interests of “preserving democracy”. This is the fast track to a police state. If Congress is truly interested in avoiding that, a special counsel should be appointed to investigate the issue immediately. Americans need to know how bad this has gotten over the last few years.

          TTG have you watched the interview, do you have any thoughts on it as an ex cyber warrior, and as an American?

          • TTG says:

            Barbara Ann,

            I haven’t watched that interview yet. I intend to do so later today. From your and Eric Newhill’s comments, I expect it to be quite interesting. I do have a deep interest in the subject. You may remember a post of mine about the Russian concept of reflexive control from back in early 2017 when the “Russia Hoax” idea was being pushed as hard as the “Trump colluded with Russia” idea. In my opinion, they were both examples of attempts at reflexive control and/or information operations.

  10. leith says:

    Russia reportedly used seven Motorized Rifle Brigades, one Motorized Rifle Regiment and four Tank Regiments to take Avdiivka. That does not include the VVS with those 3400 pound glide bombs, and Spetsnaz, plus elements of the People’s Militia of the Donetsk People’s Republic.


  11. F&L says:

    For those who can use Telegram and its translation functions, here are several links to a Ru channel which purports to have very tight connections to investigative authorities of the Russian Federation. It’s name ВЧК-ОГПУ is a combo of the acronyms of the old Cheka and OGPU – fearsome repressive organizations back in the day. But it’s said to be the brainchild and financial beneficiary of the jailed oligarch Michael Khodorkhovsky, now free and living in London exile. The articles are quite brief and very interesting. Essentially Navalny died of zero medical care and an infirmary manned by an ex-criminal with no medical education at all. The cause of death is not released.
    Etc ..

  12. aleksandar says:

    Not so rosy.

    Peter DERBAL Ukrainian MP:
    “Such a disaster.
    I repent for my excessive optimism in the previous post.
    Unfortunately judging by the stories of those who managed to get out from the encirclement of our soldiers in Avdeevka , after all a disaster – it was a total chaos, not organized retreat.
    It was too late already in hopeless conditions when Sirsky finally decided to leave Avdeevka.
    When exiting the cordon was killed or captured, approximately 850 of our soldiers, including 350 wounded who were not evacuated.
    PS : How can you be such idiots for first announce your exit and only then start conducting it ?
    So that enemies are already near you ready to shoot you like in a shooting gallery ?”

    IMHO Sirsky has no other choice as Ukrainian units have already begin to leave and 3 Azov Brigade refused to send more than a battalion to counterattack.

    • TTG says:


      The withdrawal was officially announced by Syrskyi as the withdrawal was being completed. Units of the 3rd Assault Brigade and others were brought up to facilitate the withdrawal a few days before that. Whether they waited too long to begin the withdraw is a legitimate question. That depends on the condition of the new defenses. If they were ready, I think the Ukrainians should have withdrew sooner, but if the blocking forces like the 3rd Brigade and the new defensive positions were not in place, the withdrawal would most likely have resulted in a rout and the Russians would have been on their way to the Dnipro.

  13. Fred says:


    a note related to ‘woe’. Here’s some appropriate artwork, though I don’t think it is downloadable but may be of interest. (German war memorials WW1)


    • TTG says:


      The entire site is interesting. I saw a few of those while stationed in Germany for six years. I still think one of the best war memorials was “Appomattox” that stood in Old Town Alexandria. I don’t know where it is now, but it’s supposedly safe under UDC protection. I also found the mass grave memorials in Saint Petersburg and Moscow haunting.

      That one photo of the skeleton drummer immediately reminded me of this.


      • Fred says:


        The American Leftists are erasing our history so that only what they present will be known. It’s standard marxist fare. They appear to be winning as none of the boomer generation wants to be called racist, or now, ‘white supremecist’. Thus giving more power to the anti-Americans among us.

        • TTG says:


          There are some four thousand monuments to the Civil War still standing. Around 700 were removed, moved or vandalized. That purge also caught a few monuments to Grant, Farragut and a couple of abolitionists. None of that erased history. But it is true that boomers and many others do not want to be called racists or white supremacists. I certainly don’t. In fact I find racism and white supremacism, although definitely part of our history, not to be anything to cherish. Remembered,yes, but not something that should generate pride. Pride in such concepts is anti-American.

          • Fred says:


            Only leftists describe those monuments as honoring white supremacists. The 1619 project funders know exactly what they are doing; and they have plenty of domestic help.

      • James says:


        The best war memorial I have ever seen is the Mamayev Kurgan Memorial complex in Volgograd. There is a little cafe where we ate lunch after walking around the complex. The waitresses were wearing (what looked to me to be) 100% authentic World War II female soldier uniforms. And the sound system was playing some martial music from the time that had me (a lefty anti-war peacenik) eager to go to war after about 3 minutes of listening to it. The power of that music still freaks me out.

  14. English Outsider says:

    Avdeevka didn’t seem to fit the pattern seen since just after the start of the SMO. That pattern being maximum attrition of enemy men and equipment at the least possible cost.

    That was scarcely going to be achieved by an assault on the most heavily fortified position in Ukraine. The Ukrainian casualties are horrendous and the concluding turkey shoot even more so, though I’ve tended to shy away from the worst of the videos: but for the Russians, getting into position for such a victory was expensive.

    So Avdeevka was a morale booster for the Russians. It demonstrated that the Russian generals aren’t just pretty faces but are capable of expertly coordinating an extremely complex and fast moving multi front operation. It may perhaps have disposed of some of the component in the Ukrainian army that the Russians regard as priority targets, the ultra-nationalist component. But it still doesn’t fit the general pattern of the last couple of years.

    And it did risk being too successful. Kiev must keep sending men in in bulk to be attrited, preferably as close to convenient and well established Russian logistics as is practicable. They can’t be atritted in bulk if they start running away or holding back.

    Therefore many commentators are seeing Avdeevka as heralding a general Russian offensive. Some talk of an advance to the Dnieper or even beyond. If those commentators are right then that must mean that the process of attrition has been taken as far as possible and it’s now time to start capitalising on it.

    On that, this doesn’t look like a broken army so far. The Ukrainians are still offering courageous and determined resistance elsewhere along the front. That’s where the Russians want these unwitting foot soldiers of the West in any case. Easier to kill them there than dispersed and dangerous in the back alleys of Kiev or Kharkov.

    Nor do we know how far the process of political disintegration has gone in Ukraine. Triumphant gossip about how this figure has fallen out with that in Kiev. Much being made of resistance to mobilisation. But none, including the Russians I’d guess, really knowing how close we are to the Ghani moment. It’s the sort of situation in which, afterwards, we’ll see plenty saying they knew it was bound to happen but none right now really knowing how or when. Kiev’s last days in the bunker are numbered but none can say by how many weeks or months. And the vacuous nonsense we saw in the recent MSC shows that the West is still intent on keeping those magnificent Ukrainian soldiers on the rack just as long as it can and preferably indefinitely.

    Because, TTG, they are magnificent. Their defeat’ll be down to inadequate numbers and poor generalship. It won’t be for lack of guts.

    All these indeterminate considerations do, however, ignore one consideration that almost all overlook when looking for the meaning of Avdeevka. It is incorrect to make that one consideration the only consideration. It is foolish not to recognise that it could well have been the main consideration.

    It was mainly from near Avdeevka that the shelling of civilians was done. For nearly the last decade and intensifying recently. No matter how short the Ukrainians were of ammunition, or how important it was to keep their HIMARS for the fighting, they could always spare a little for the civilians of the Donbass. They always have.

    There’s a man who catalogues that side of the war. A Brit, I’m proud to say, though some from that part of the island prefer other labels. I don’t think he goes back to 2014. But he details the continuation of that side of the ATO to the present day. Petal mines, deliberate shelling of civilian gatherings, the lot. A sample:-


    In considering the Avdeevka battle from the military or even “geostrategic” angle, we might perhaps consider the possibility that this expensive and demanding operation had as its main aim putting an end to that. Time the civilians of the Donbass got a bit of a rest from it, the grim Generals back in Moscow may have thought, as they set themselves to warding off our attentions this time round.

    • Christian J. Chuba says:

      Yeah. Just looking at a map, I saw the Russians surround the city and force the UA to abandon their fortress. Russia did not take it block by block.

      Given that the UA has a well publicized shortage of artillery shells while the Russia has both artillery and new 3,000 lb glide bombs, I do not believe these fantastical stories of dead Russians lining the streets as Ukraine loses ‘dozens’.

      • TTG says:

        Christian J. Chuba,

        It took five months of assault and horrendous casualties, but Russia did execute a much more effective maneuver in Avdiivka than the block by block slog through Bakhmut.

  15. English Outsider says:

    Some discussion since I submitted that comment on whether the Ukrainians can continue to shell the Donetsk civilians.

    They can. HIMARS have a more than adequate range. Some rumours that the Germans are re-considering the provision of Taurus missiles, which have a greater range again. Other missiles already provided to Kiev can also do the job. A map I saw recently showed in any case that other areas south of Avdeevka will need to be cleared as well for the same reason. The Russians have a way to go yet if they are to finally put a stop to the vengeance shelling of civilians in the Donbass. And of course in other Russian areas such as around Belgorod.

    The Western hope is that we’ll be able to keep rump Ukraine – I prefer the term remnant Ukraine – as a base for these and other “nuisance” activities indefinitely. As we provide or threaten to provide longer range weapons to Ukraine there’s no reason why remnant Ukraine should not perform the same function as the pre-SMO Ukraine: a permanent means of “over-extending and unbalancing Russia” just as it has been since 2014.

    I believe this hope is unrealistic. The Russians haven’t lost upwards of 50,000 men just to end up where they started from in 2022. They will neutralise remnant Ukraine – which is what “denazify and demilitarise” amounts to – to avoid the possibility of such annoyance in the future.

    It’s difficult to see why the Western politicians do not understand this. The more long range weapons they provide or consider providing to Kiev, the more they seal the fate of remnant Ukraine. Any American politician would soon be out of a job if he allowed indiscriminate shelling of civilians areas in the United States. The American public wouldn’t stand for it. That applies to President Putin also. The Russian public will not stand for it either.

    The rules of the game have changed. We could get away with threatening the Donbass in the old days. The Russians hoped back then that they could negotiate the problem away, Now they know they can’t they’ll deal with the problem by force.

    “If they won’t talk to Mr Putin and Mr Lavrov”, it used to be said of the Western politicians, “They’ll have to talk to Mr Shoigu and Mr Gerasimov.” What have we been seeing but that since the breakdown of the Istanbul talks? Mr Shoigu and Mr Gerasimov will grind on now and sooner rather than later, I suspect, the Madonna of Gorlovka will be a sad memory and not an ever present reality.

    • TTG says:


      Your relentless cheerleading for the success of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine is tiring. The only saving grace is that you write well and this is but one facet of your personality. Russia has been at it for two years and are no further along than they were two weeks into this. And the Ukrainians will not surrender to those who seek to eradicate them as a people. This is a war for the very existence of Ukraine and the continued existence of Putin as leader of Russia. The continued existence of Russia and the Russian people are not at risk. One saving grace of this war is that it made clear that Russia, despite all her bluster, has no capability to invade Europe.

      • English Outsider says:

        TTG – but we’re in agreement on most of the points to do with this conflict! And I also agree on the position with regard to the Eastern Europeans.

        I don’t myself think they are at risk from a Russian invasion – but it’s no more the job of anyone in England to tell the Eastern Europeans what their defence policy should be than it is their job to tell us in England what ours should be. If they’re truly worried about a Russian invasion then that’s their business and they should get on with guarding against it.

        But not this way. Using the unfortunate Ukrainians to fight an enemy they dare not fight themselves unless covertly. Shelling the Russians of the Donbass as a means of getting the Russians embroiled in a fight the Russians did not want. This is morally wrong and I have argued that from the start.

        It’s also impracticable. With the failure of the sanctions war it has become abundantly clear that this fight with Russia is not a fight that is going to be won. We should stop insisting that the corrupt and inefficient government in Kiev feed men into the killing grounds for no purpose other than temporarily saving face for the corrupt and inefficient governments in Washington and Berlin/Brussels as they face their next round of elections.

        That’s what Milley/Cavoli/Radakin were up to in the conference with Zaluzhnyi and what our various militaries have been up to all along. Telling the Ukrainians to mount hopeless and appallingly costly attacks, encouraging them to do just that by providing them with arms and money, just to keep the thing going beyond the next elections.

        The Grand Chessboard no longer belongs to us. Slowly, the pawns are starting to tell us to get lost. Time we accepted that, stopped wrecking so many with our failed proxy wars, and got on with repairing our own shattered economies.


        As for the duration of this war, I checked out a couple of my comments with a man on Martyanov’s site who’s been following all this since 2014. I got a gloomy answer back. He reckons this war in Ukraine will continue for a while yet. The emphasis shifting more to what we’re already seeing. Attacks on Russian civilians and civilian infrastructure. We’re in danger of following the Syrian pattern, when we used Jihadis to carry out similar attacks and apparently still do.

        TTG – this is about the level we can expect from the Europoodles. But should the City upon a Hill follow suit? Will it?

  16. Peter Williams says:

    EO, many thanks for the link to Rob Cambell’s blog. He posts in a manner that tickles my fancy. I shall now follow him.

    • English Outsider says:

      But of course trust but verify. Especially on the military stuff. I don’t know about Mr Campbell but almost all the commentators I read, Western or Russian, get the SMO wrong and have got it wrong from the start.

      Shoygu tends to get it right but as you’d expect he doesn’t tell you the stuff you really want to know – and very little overall. Maybe when it’s done he’ll loosen up a bit. And pigs might fly. The Russians are impossibly uncommunicative when it comes to explaining what they’re up to in any detail and our lot impossibly gabby.

      I find the summary valuable. To steal from Lenin, there are weeks where decades happen. Right now we’re getting quite a few of Lenin’s weeks, The flood of information coming out is unmanageable. That brief weekly summary does put a structure to it.

      I enquired how he does it. Apparently he spends most of his time working at it. Scotsmen are like that, when they get stuck in. It’s how they managed to take so many chunks of England off us.

  17. Peter Williams says:

    MOSCOW, February 20. /TASS/. The Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU) lost 166 thousand troops and more than 800 tanks during their counteroffensive, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said. According to him, the losses of Ukrainian troops amounted to “166 thousand killed and wounded, more than 800 tanks, almost 2,400 armored combat vehicles.” “In fact, of what they have today, more than half of the Leopards were destroyed, they lost 123 aircraft and helicopters,” the minister said in an interview with TASS editor-in-chief Mikhail Petrov.

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