Wagner Group in action

Grenade!

“However, the Russian advance on eastern Ukraine appears to have already stalled due to a combination of incompetence, poor morale, troop losses and the beginnings of a Ukrainian counter-attack.

“Despite struggling to break through Ukrainian defences and build momentum, Russia highly likely intends to proceed beyond Izium to capture the cities of Kramatorsk and Severodonetsk,” the Ministry of Defence said in its daily assessment of the war in Ukraine on Wednesday.

It added that “capturing these locations would consolidate Russian military control of the north-eastern Donbas and provide a staging point for their efforts to cut off Ukrainian forces in the region”.

Izium, which is occupied by Russian forces, lies around 70 kilometres south-east of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city.

As the city sits on Russia’s northern axis of advance, it could be a staging area for an attempt to cut off and defeat the bulk of Ukraine’s soldiers in eastern Ukraine. This in turn would prevent reinforcements from being sent to other key Ukrainian cities such as Kyiv.

Decoy mannequins in uniforms

However, Western officials say Russia’s troop advances have already stalled in the Donbas region.

This is partly due to heavy losses in their failed attempt to capture Kyiv, as well as fierce resistance from Ukrainian troops armed with British and American weapons.  

Russia’s army also appears to have been duped by the Ukrainian army’s diversionary tactics – recent video footage of a Russian artillery strike on a trench near Izium showed it was manned by decoy mannequins in uniforms.

Another video, posted online by Rob Lee, a military analyst at King’s College London, showed the moment a Russian artillery strike landed short of a Ukrainian trench in the same area.

“The position looks well-fortified and the soldiers are likely underground. Not clear whether these strikes are particularly effective without a ground assault,” the analyst observed on Twitter.

Comment: I am impressed by the sheer number of Russian bots, IO people and “surrender now!” people here on this place of contemplation. Why they waste their time in this little place run by a wounded old man is a mystery. pl

Watch: Russian mercenaries storm trenches and fight door-to-door in rare close combat footage (telegraph.co.uk)

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66 Responses to Wagner Group in action

  1. Degringolade says:

    Colonel:

    I have a feeling that this is gonna be an old fashioned grind ’em out kinda war where both sides are damaged and will need to go into hiatus on adventures.

    I have a sneaking hunch that when all is said and done, both sides will lay claim to quite a few “war crimes”.

    The whole thing is a mess, blame enough to go around the block with everyone taking pretty big portions.

    Thanks for running this place.

  2. Polish Janitor says:

    I think these trolls and digital parasites and what-not originate from their natural habitat, e.g. pro-Putin blogs and websites such as Moon of Alabama, the Saker, Veterans Today, Unz Review, some middle-eastern pro-Axis of Resistance garbage bins that think it is the 2000s (at a time when the alternative media was up and coming) that they could get away with disinfo and misinfo easy enough without passing the smell test. It is sad that roaming around this blog is a form of financial livelihood for these people as (I suspect) they get paid to express nauseating views wherever they leave a cyber footprint.

    • TTG says:

      Polish Janitor,

      Those here sticking to the pro-Russia and “Surrender Now” arguments are certainly not all trolls and digital parasites. They are woefully misinformed, probably through a steady diet of those blogs and websites you mention, but most are sincere in their beliefs. Exasperating, yes, but I wouldn’t call it nauseating.

      I hope when this is over, or at least much further along, Patrick Armstrong comes back and gives us his reassessment of Russia and the Putin years. I found him to be a sincere and reasoned Russophile, although I found his cheerleading of Russian offensive military might a bit much at times. When Putin launched his invasion, Patrick stopped writing to reassess his views. I trust him to do an honest reassessment and look forward to hearing from him.

      To my view, this war has revealed Putin’s Russia to be a true Potemkin village. There have been real advances in Russia, but those advances were enabled by the rise of a virulent kleptocratic class and a truly masterful grasp of information operations. About seven years ago, I spoke of this masterful grasp when I brought up the topic of Russia’s concept of reflexive control. Everybody thought I was nuts then.

      • Master Slacker says:

        Never nuts, always twisted. Genius.

      • Degringolade says:

        I would also like to see Patrick return. Keeping my fingers crossed.

        I tend to lean toward the “Russia is winning” side, not because I see their system as superior to ours (It most certainly is not) but on the basis of the logistical and transport realities coupled with just how far the Europeans have allowed their militaries to atrophy.

        I think that the Russians do see the status of the Ukraine as an existential threat, Whether it is or not is a subject for discussion elsewhere, I merely state that it is part and parcel of my enemy’s worldview and how they perceive the world. They have proven that they are willing to fight to contain that threat. Russophobe or Russophile is beside the question. That fact appears to me to be the “ground-truth”.

        I spent too much time growing up around SAC bases with B-47’s and B-52’s coming in over base housing. I see the Russians as a threat. But I can’t say for a moment that I see Europe as something that I would be proud of my sons fighting and dying for.

        If we aren’t careful and if we don’t play our cards well, we could well be in the shoes of Great Britain after WWI. A dying empire that will dwindle. We have made a series of bad choices over the past thirty years. We enabled China’s rise with corporate tech transfers, we gave Europe a false sense that we really gave a shit about them, we stood by when Yeltsin and the oligarchs took control and began their efforts to modernize their military.

        I want more than anything for this country to begin to address and reverse the mistakes of the last thirty years. I genuinely think that if we get caught up in a war on the Pontic-Caspian steppes, it will cripple our country permanently.

        I still say fuck Putin and this whole misbegotten escapade, but I think that if we aren’t careful, we will be hurt badly.

        • cobo says:

          “…to address and reverse the mistakes of the last thirty years…” This is what America needs to do, now. We may continue to flounder in the midst of our own delusion, while being drugged, robbed and ruined by the oligarchs who have come to dominate this country, but when war comes, and I believe those same oligarchs are yearning for it – it will bring new energy to this country and the liars, cheats and thieves will lose their grip on the future.

      • Fred says:

        TTG,

        ” a truly masterful grasp of information operations.”

        Isn’t the abilty to avoid falling for your own IO the most important part of that skill set?

        • TTG says:

          Fred,

          I have little doubt the kleptocrats were bullshitting Putin and his people all along. Putin made a big deal about making all industries home grown. The crooks running the businesses used cheap foreign components rather than spending the money on developing their own solutions. Then they told Putin everything was home grown. I bet they’re going to end up falling out of windows soon. The same happened with the military. All those enormous canned exercises were designed to make Putin think he had a crackerjack military. Why did Syria work out so well? I guess there wasn’t an opportunity for graft and thievery.

          • Fred says:

            TTG,

            “All those enormous canned exercises were designed to make Putin think he had a crackerjack military.”

            Sounds like our Navy’s sea trials for CVN 78, and the LCS class, and……

          • cobo says:

            All I can say is that our whiz-bang new weapon systems better not fail our soldiers, sailors and airmen in battle – “for want of a Chinese nail”

      • Polish Janitor says:

        Dear TTG,

        I understand what you are saying regarding the pro-Putin trolls and the need to differentiate between those who have been drinking the kool-aid for too long who automatically express pro-Putinism, pro-multipolar world order nonsense (which I seriously doubt they even know what the concept means!), anti-western imperialism ,etc. that borderlines a kind of subconscious anti-American fetishism and on the other hand the professional pro-Russian trolls.

        My issue is that how much more evidence and quality analysis does it take for the former to ‘get mugged by reality’ vis-à-vis the Russian invasion? To see the reality and to regain their sense of right and wrong? The fact that now Putin’s barbarism is exposed and the reality of the situation is clear enough for most people to understand, it has never been easier and more accessible to understand the reality of the situation in Ukraine. Being against Putin and the war does not equate being a neoconservative or a liberal hawk, and some true believers of Putinism Inc. have found themselves in a situation where in order to avoid being defined as warmongers, they do all the mental gymnastics and whataboutism to position themselves as the victims and not the victimizers. These kool-aid drinking useful idiots have built such a thick pro-Russia skeleton around themselves by their own hands for so long that it is not only suffocating them from within (i.e. internal contradiction) but taking away any moral sense that exist naturally in every human being. No matter how many mass killings, rapes, mutilations etc. that Russians are committing, it’s always fictitious and fake and staged according to these folks! Back in the Iraq wars days, these folks were the loudest and the most vocal “anti-war activists” that denounced some American and private military contractors’ crimes but when the Russian military and Kadyrov thugs do them, it is factious and fake!

        Thank god now there is ample evidence for every horrific thing Russian soldiers under Putin’s command have been committing to shut them up for good! Interestingly but not surprising is the fact that the most vocal of these folks are the hard-left progressives and UN-lovers whose natural alliance with Putinism Inc. is based on one thing only and that is the ‘anti-west ideology’. Some very prominent people on the paleocon orbit have also aligned themselves with the left’s most favorite talking point, i.e. “blaming America first” which is very disappointing and actually tells you something about their own version of anti-west ideology!

        • Medicine Man says:

          You say a lot here that resonates with my experiences, Polish Janitor. There does seem to be a particular marriage of thought between left- and right-wing tankies, for lack of a better descriptor.

          I wholly agree with your observation that the left-wing variety hasn’t thought about their “multipolar world order nonsense” very carefully.

    • AngusinCanada says:

      Don’t get too upset, Polish Janitor,
      I’m sure the Ministry of Truth will protect us all from this disinformation.

    • English Outsider says:

      Well I don’t know, Polish Janitor. It’s months now since I dug up an old assessment that had caught my attention and posted this bleak warning to an English site –

      “Providing lethal aid to Ukraine would exploit Russia’s greatest point of external vulnerability. But any increase in U.S. military arms and advice to Ukraine would need to be carefully calibrated to increase the costs to Russia of sustaining its existing commitment without provoking a much wider conflict in which Russia, by reason of proximity, would have significant advantages.”

      https://www.rand.org/pubs/research_briefs/RB10014.html

      The Rand people could just as well have saved their breath. None listened to them. Whether we’re pro- or anti-Russia, or don’t give a damn, our political classes have now landed us with “a much wider conflict in which Russia, by reason of proximity, has significant advantages.”

      What I never guessed would happen was that the most of us in Europe would be cheering those same political classes on. We’re all behind Borrel and Baerbock now. Diplomacy and compromise is out of the window and the issue must be, as Borrel says, decided “on the battleground”.

      The Russian response? “If they won’t talk to Mr Lavrov they must talk to Mr Shoigu.” And we’re now waiting to hear what Mr Shoigu has to say.

      It’s annoying. For me as well as for you. All this so we can keep a regime in power in Kiev that routinely uses neonazis to harass the ethnic Russians of the Ukraine. We could have found ourselves slightly less disreputable proxies.

      • English Outsider says:

        Checked my typing but still missed an error. It’s Borrell, not Borrel. Apologies, Colonel.

      • Polish Janitor says:

        Biden’s admin has been very inconsistent, hesitant, and even at times contradictory in their approach toward the Ukraine. Some of the blame must be put on the Dems and the Biden and the NATO leadership that allowed deterrence to become weakened, beginning in 2014. At the beginning of the invasion Biden called for Zelensky to flee to some Eastern European capital which in fact would have benefitted Kremlin, then it slowly but surely and based on the advice of the military brass and not the political/diplomatic class ultimately decided to actually help Ukraine resist against the invaders. Then Biden said it wanted Putin out of power, then he retracted, then it said it wouldn’t support more lethal aid, then it sent artillery and more trainers. the pattern continues to this day and is a contributing factor for the lengthening of the war, which from the POV of the Dems bogs down Putin in quagmire, but the Dems are willing to fight Russia to the last Ukrainian which is sad. The Biden admin is so weak and unpopular that it can’t even make up it’s own mind vis-à-vis Russia. There is no policy, but only reactions. My point is that if it were under a more confident and more popular U.S. admin., Putin would have thought twice before launching his “Special Operation” to capture Kiev.

        Regarding the Azov neo-nazis, the summarized reality is that by the time the pro-Russian Yanukovych was in power a decade ago the Ukrainian military was undergoing an intentional and gradual weakening of the military that would have ensured Putin a free hand in future operations, should EU/NATO actually went on to absorb Ukraine into their alliance. The Azov neo-nazi militia grew as a counter-force to this scenario of future Russian operation in Ukraine and were probably among the few forces that were willing and probably capable of resisting Russia. So there is this side too that is actually rarely mentioned. Think about it this way, imagine in a fantasy scenario China launches a special operation in Texas or California and the only forces capable and willing to fight the Chinese invaders (with the exception of the National Guard of the military forces in general sense of the word) or are some type of the Proud Boys or the Oath-Keepers or the One Percenters or even some type of the 2022 version of Black Panther? Home defense vs. ideology. So it’s a complicated issue.

        • English Outsider says:

          Polish Janitor – a bit off topic but I saw that London is sanctioning away a hefty chunk of its insurance market. Riles me up a bit, that. They say bad things about the City but much of its work, and work we’re supremely good at and well placed to do, is of that bread and butter sort. So let’s casually toss it overboard to please some half-witted politicians.

          On the Ukrainian neonazis, yes, agreed. Absolutely. It’s a minority group in what is itself a minority. I don’t believe it’s five or even two per cent of the population, as is often asserted. A whole lot smaller than that. The rest are just people who have nowhere else to put their loyalties.

          In the conditions of social and political breakdown that have obtained in the Ukraine since the ’90’s they got a head start.

          All the old Soviet countries are unbelievable corrupt and mismanaged, not as we are but right down to the minor official level. Russia is still so, but seems to be gradually dragging itself out of that condition. You have to give that to the Siloviki.

          Ukraine never did. Of all the old Soviet countries it had the fairest prospects but the most disastrous performance. The emigration figures for the past couple of decades tell that story.

          So you got the oligarchs or cronies who weren’t, as in Western countries, decently hidden away up at the top while the rest of us got on with our lives. Such as Kolomoiskyi conducted themselves more like mafia warlords and had their war bands to match. Who would they use for such work but the most extreme of the extreme?

          It’s therefore not so much that the Ukraine had its neonazis or other extremists. We all have those, even England. It’s that circumstances have placed them in a position in which they have an outsized effect on the political process. And in which they are free to act out their fantasies as they cannot elsewhere. Which is why the country’s a magnet for the international “far right”. For “far right” we may just read “thugs”.

          A gift for Putin, of course. With a population behind him for whom the very words “nazi” or “fascist” are a red rag to a bull he’s got pretty well a free hand in the Ukraine. Did no one see that coming? Never mind the Europeans – they’ve been asleep at the wheel, as you may have noticed – what about State? Was there no one there over the past few years warning that they were gifting that massive propaganda advantage to their opponents? “We trained Nazis!”, proclaims one of our anti-neocon analysts and there’s no answer to that. We did. And now videos of what they’re getting up to are going viral all over Russia and inevitably hardening their resolve.

          Well, no one saw it coming and here we are. It’s what happens next that matters. The Ukraine will be dealt with one way or the other – soon, I hope, since many good people are dying – and what then?

          The Russians still have their wider security concerns. Those concerns have become more, not less, urgent. They have any number of “military-technical” options to which Europe has no answer.

          Your country does, if it can get its act together. A country the size of a continent that can feed and fuel and defend itself is never going to go right down. But the Europeans, HMG pushing them on, don’t have a chance if Russia decides to play the sanctions game the other way. Or, as begins to seem more and more likely, if the fools continue to play that game for them.

          • Polish Janitor says:

            I agree with your nuanced overview of the Russian situation and security environment in Europe. You are 100% spot on.

            Your view of the “far-right” and the fact that there are deep underlying issues regarding crime syndicates and how (especially in the context of Eastern Europe) they represent ‘outlawlessness’ that can easily evolve (devolve?) into far-right extremist political movement and even to larger manifestations as in the form of authoritarian governing polity of a nation-state (e.g. Russia, Byelorussia, Albania, Azerbaijan, Chechnya etc.) is really crucial. This framework also gives better understanding of the Dems and the Biden family’s (a deeply corrupt political family) close link with-at best- dubious political entities and outfits in Ukraine which have been going on for years. The Democratic Party elites are really adept at enriching themselves and acquiring power outside of the U.S. against the Republican Party in the context of the U.S. domestic policy by developing sketchy relationships with certain crime entities worldwide and whenever they saw themselves in trouble they just call on these entities to aid them in their battle with the Republicans in manners they see fit. This is another dark side of the so-called “globalization” phenomenon that has made corruption, blackmail, money-laundering and other vices transnational, mostly to the benefit of the Democratic Party elites to give them the upper hand against the Republicans in the U.S. Do you remember back in the fall of 2019 and the impeachment trial saga how the Dems got frenzied and raving mad when Trump (whom I don’t like at all btw) started poking into the Dems’ dark closet in Ukraine? I’m mentioning this, because the Democrats’ support of Ukraine also has this angle to it IMO and they are supporting Ukraine not out of pure humanitarian reasons (or for that matter, not even strategic security reasons) but because they’ve gotta have some stake in Ukraine too that prompts them to pursue an incoherent policy in Ukraine.

        • Steve says:

          Polish Janitor,

          The Biden administration has been entirely consistent. According to Ms Nuland “Jake” had told her that “Joe” was with them in the coup. Obama put a ban on escalation much to the chagrin of many in his administration, then they had four years of Trump in which the had no leverage. As soon as Biden was in the WH the calls and acceptance of proxy war was back in play.

          Re the extreme right acquiring their power: according to them it was during the coup when their leadership had an open door into Pyatt’s office, something confirmed in the Nuland/Pyatt conversation.

    • longarch says:

      I am impressed by the sheer number of Russian bots, IO people and “surrender now!” people here on this place of contemplation. Why they waste their time in this little place run by a wounded old man is a mystery.

      Many anonymous writers on anonymity-centric sites treat turcopolier.com as a reference encyclopedia. So any amateur security enthusiast who has an interest in anonymous discussions of military strategy may stumble upon random disputants arguing over what was meant by various posts on this blog. On the bright side, this fame reflects the high repute of turcopolier.com as a source of good info; on the dark side, fame probably increases the disruptive noise from anonymity-centric amateur security researchers.

      Perhaps this is what was meant by the saying, “Hypocrisy is the tribute vice pays to virtue.” Perhaps some disruptive and hypocritical Russian visitors sense that this blog has useful information and are fascinated despite themselves. Or perhaps they are simply paid well enough to cause trouble and they think they are causing trouble.

      Polish Janitor speculated:
      I think these trolls and digital parasites and what-not originate from their natural habitat, e.g. pro-Putin blogs and websites such as Moon of Alabama, the Saker, Veterans Today, Unz Review…

      I suspect a much more significant flow goes in the other direction. This blog, turcopolier, provides free high-quality education to many ignorant visitors. Some of those visitors stay and comment on this blog, but many get a small taste of knowledge and then migrate to Unz Review. After reading this blog for a long time, I have not absorbed much knowledge and I am still mostly ignorant, but I catch references to this blog from numerous writers who seem to have visited turcopolier.com briefly and then wandered away.

      As for whether we insignificant visitors are trolls … the word “troll” doesn’t mean anything specific any more. Anybody can call anyone else a ‘troll’ for any reason.

  3. Seamus Padraig says:

    Comment: I am impressed by the sheer number of Russian bots, IO people and “surrender now!” people here on this place of contemplation. Why they waste their time in this little place run by a wounded old man is a mystery. pl

    A lot of us ‘Russian bots’ have been visiting SST long enough to wonder what happened to the Col. Lang we once knew. It’s not that you aren’t entitled to change your mind, but I’d be curious to know what made you change it. Didn’t you witness the same coup in Kiev back in 2014 that we all did? I don’t remember you being against, for example, the Crimean referendum, the Donbass’ attempt at secession, Minsk I, Minsk II, or any of that. So why did you suddenly decide to switch sides in February? It doesn’t seem to make any sense.

    • TTG says:

      Seamus Padraig,

      You forgot what precipitated that coup. For years, Ukraine was moving towards European integration, even when they couldn’t agree on anything else. The EU agreement was negotiated and approved by the Verkhovna Rada. Rather than signing it, Yanukovych ignored it in favor of a deal he arranged with Moscow. The protests of late 2014 started there and culminated in Yanukovych fleeing to Moscow. Yanukovych and Putin overplayed their hand and chaos ensued. The US tried to take advantage of that chaos. Although I have no proof, I bet the Pentagon and NATO were at least dreaming about ousting from Sevastopol and planting a NATO flag there. We then overplayed our hand and Moscow had no choice but to seize Crimea. I don’t blame them for that decision.

      • Rodney says:

        “Yanukovych ignored it”

        That’s not what happened. Ignored it? Haha Wow, this one act by Yanukovych which has led to where we are today and you sum it so simply and wrong.
        It was a bad deal. The EU wanted to turn Ukraine into even a bigger debt slave, so he went with Russian debt slave deal.

    • Barbara Ann says:

      Seamus Padraig

      I see no such inconsistency in our host’s position. Until Russia invaded a foreign sovereign nation on a large scale I too was sympathetic to their treatment at the hands of Cookies Nuland and the other Neocons. What changed for me on February 24th was Russia making the tremendous error of invading Ukraine and seeking to overthrow the government. All Russia’s highfalutin speeches on Westphalian values and America defying international law in Iraq and elsewhere went out the window on that day, Russia had stooped to the same level.

      As soon as it became clear that the Little Russians did not want to simply be the borderlands of the new Russian Empire it was easy for me to support the party fighting for their independence. Do I support the neo-Nazis in Ukraine – of course not. And I do retain sympathy for those in Russia fighting the globalist elite who are the true enemy of us all. I think it is too early to tell how this war will figure in that wider fight, Russia has many internal enemies some of whom are currently voicing support for the SMO (Medvedev spring to mind). If Putin truly wants to defeat the clear and present danger to Russia’s sovereignty from the globalists he will need to wrap up the SMO and address that internal threat. I wish him luck.

      • Eric Newhill says:

        Barbara Ann<
        What, in your opinion, should Russia have done?

        Your comment seems to me to be the classic passive aggressive perspective. Push and push some more, make it clear you're non-negotiable and leave no options and then, when the other party (Russia in this case), reacts, blame them for the situation and do what you were always planning to do.

        • Steve says:

          Eric,

          “What, in your opinion, should Russia have done?”

          A question nt asked often enough, especially when one makes a realistic appraisal of the events leading up to the invasion.

          • Eric Newhill says:

            Steve,
            It’s a lopsided, bellicose, unprincipled perspective fought with unspoken hatred of Russia for hatred’s sake.

            The irony is that if anyone suggests that UKR should capitulate, they are a cowardly surrender monkey; maybe even a “traitor” (use of term of which indicates that the US considers UKR part of its territory – see definition of treason per US law). Yet, Russia is supposed to capitulate and take its beatings like a dog until it’s dead. Why would they? Why should they? They are not permitted to be the men/country they thought they were? Again, an unexamined manichean outlook in which Russia is on the dark side. Who negotiates with t]he Devil himself?

            So it’s just going to be war to the point of utter destruction of at least one nation. Make no mistake; that is what is being called for beneath all of the fluff talk – and has been for some time (based on various neocon writings and lectures). The Russians realized that and did what they they thought they needed to do. The whole world saw what happened to Iraq and Syria. Once the neocons have you in their sights, they’re not going to stop until you’re dead or until you have fought back and beaten them. It has been said that the best defense is a good offense.

        • zmajcek says:

          What problem does this invasion solve in your opinion ?

          • Eric Newhill says:

            It’s pretty simple once you are no longer distracted by angst, hate and shiny things. Destroy the UKR military as a functional fighting force. Foil neocon plans and demoralize supporters of the neocons. Set a precedent that Russia will fight when pushed.

            Once all the UKR grey beards are dead, there is no one to replace them. UKR has had a low birth (below replacement) and what young men there are, are more inclined to immigrate that stick around in the UKR military.

            As I keep saying, logistics issues like training and transport of US/NATO supplied weapons aside (yes, Russia is destroying, totally, key rail junctures, etc), if there’s no one to man and defend the weapons systems, they won’t do any good.

          • Stadist says:

            It solves the common psychopaths problem of my-neighbour-bought-a-gun-and-is-obviously-planning-to-murder-me-so-I-must-murder-him-first.

          • Barbara Ann says:

            Stadist

            Only in this case the intended victim (Russia) has only managed to shoot the murderous neighbor’s dog – and the thing still limping along.

        • Barbara Ann says:

          Eric

          I will answer your question in the inverse: Of all the things Russia should have done, a half-assed* but large scale ground invasion of Ukraine was right up there among the worse choices.

          *Russia is (still) fighting a limited Special Military Operation against a country fully mobilized and backed by the most powerful military alliance in the world.

          In terms of blame, it simply no longer matters what provocations Russia suffered. They have invaded a sovereign country whose people are evidently willing to go to great lengths to repel them. The Ukrainian people are certainly not to blame for their fate and I have no problem supporting their cause.

          Though I support the Ukrainian fight for independence, there is in fact no need to impute any moral failing on the Russian leadership – the invasion was a bad decision on purely practical grounds. If Russia’s aim was really to “demilitarise and denazify Ukraine” she should have been prepared to use overwhelming force to achieve that aim right from the outset. Yet even now well over 2 months in there is no mobilization and no serious attempts to degrade Ukrainian infrastructure to prevent reinforcement of the front. I read yesterday that Russia has just hit a single Dnieper bridge for a second time – but why in God’s name are any still standing at all?

          And again on the practical plane, the avowed aim of preventing NATO’s eastward expansion looks like being wildly counterproductive once Sweden & Finland’s accede to the Alliance. This is aside from the inevitability of any remaining rump Ukrainian state joining NATO the moment hostilities cease. zmajcek below phrases the question the right way around and asks in what way will the SMO will solve Russia’s problems. I have no answer to that.

          Putin says Russia is in an existential war. I believe him, so why doesn’t he act like it?

          • Eric Newhill says:

            Barbara Ann,
            We seem to be watching two different movies on the same screen. I see the Russians up-ing their game and currently pounding UKR forces with artillery and airstrikes. I see Russia taking cities and territory at a relatively rapid pace. Russia is indeed reducing UKR forces at a steady rate. Reports from UKR troops are not promising for the future of the UKR military.

            I don’t see a fully militarized country. I see fighting age men fleeing across the borders, or trying to. I see the Donbas militias going with the Russians. The US is sending weapons? So what? Who is left to train to use those weapons? How will the weapons get to the front? Russia keeps destroying these weapons just as or before they arrive. The Russians have indeed destroyed – long term – UKR rail systems. The US is perfectly capable of abandoning countries and fighters to their fate. Is the US going to send troops to go into direct combat with Russia? Again, UKR is not able to replace their steady losses with trained, competent troops full of esprit. The US backing is just going to draw this out longer and get more Ukrainians killed just to keep the US fantasy alive until after the elections.

            Your overwhelming force paradigm, I assume, is straight from the US “shock and awe” doctrine. What peer against peer (or even near peer) war has the US fought and won in the last three generations or so? No disrespect intended to any veterans, but what war of any type has the US brought to a successful conclusion since repelling the North Koreans from South Korea? But Russia should follow US doctrine?

            With respect, it seems you were unable to answer my question as to other viable options available to Russia and your only criticism is that they didn’t blow up UKR and kill lots of Ukrainians fast enough. So what if, at the end of the day, the slow grinding down of UKR forces results in the same destruction of UKR military capabilities that would have happened under your preferred approach? Same goal achieved, but with the added bonus of not earning the hate of Ukrainians that are either leaning toward Russia or are indifferent.

          • Eric Newhill says:

            Barbara Ann,
            I should have that there is a concept around keeping troops and weapons in reserve. Do you not think that Russia could have imagined certain responses from the US/NATO that would require Russia deploying their best units and weapons systems in response – and that they are prepared to meet that threat should it arise?

            If I need to kill coyotes in my pasture, I might elect use a .22 rifle even though I have an elephant gun on the rack because I know the .22, while not the best, will eventually get the job done and there is a possibility of the Grizzlies lurking in the woods making trouble and I need to save my big bore ammo for that event.

          • Fred says:

            Barbara Ann,

            It is rather reminiscent of the ‘phony war’ after the defeat of Poland and before the blitzkrieg.

          • Steve says:

            Barbara Ann,

            You make some very good points that have been mentioned in MSM interviews with DIA officials who have been surprised that Russia hasn’t done: create excessive civilian casualties or massive infrastructural damage. Why they went about it this way is something about which we can only speculate but the fact of it does support Putin’s assertion that he considers Ukrainians and Russians to be the same people.

    • Steve says:

      Seamus,

      Agreed, though with one correction: “…..Donbass’ attempt at secession” The Russophones in Donbass demanded autonomy while remaining within the Ukrainian state. Federalism. But now we want to call them “separatists”, which of course they now are but who wouldn’t be after the violence that’s been visited upon them the past 8 years by that state.

      Apparently separatism is just fine and dandy as long as it’s a separation from Russia.

  4. TonyL says:

    Colonel,

    I’m glad you are in good health recuperating from the surgery.

    “Why they waste their time in this little place run by a wounded old man is a mystery. pl”

    No mystery at all. You and TTG are highly respected, and your wisdom are in high regards. I read all the blogs everyday. Here first and then Moon, Lary, and sometime Smoothie. We just want to understand what’s going on in the world. The opposite viewpoints are quite dissonant, but one must bear with craziness from the info war from both sides to remain sane.

    Wishing you the best of good health, and hope to see you post again about what’s on the menu of the day. Your steaks look sublime 🙂

  5. Jose says:

    So are you including Red Francis and Yovanovitch in your equation?

    https://www.thegatewaypundit.com/2022/05/pope-francis-first-called-backing-ukraine-war-russia-now-saying-nato-caused-russia-respond-ukraine-sudden-contradiction/

    https://theparadise.ng/former-us-ambassador-to-ukraine-admits-trump-would-have-prevented-war/

    Some of us see the consequences of war as the necon/deep state madness and short shortsightedness that it is.

    • fredw says:

      Jose

      “Red Francis”? That attitude makes it really hard to refrain from ad hominem response. The linked article references no statement or action of Francis that supports any hypothesis of sudden sympathy for the Russian invasion. The closest seems to be the “barking at Russia’s gates” phrase. It is easy to read that as an indictment of NATO, but that is not really the message conveyed in Corriere della Sera, which conducted the interview:

      “Pope Bergoglio’s main concern is that Putin won’t stop any time soon. He tries to consider the roots of his behavior, the reasons that are pushing him to engage in such a brutal conflict. Maybe it was «Nato barking at Russia’s gate» that compelled Putin to unleash the invasion of Ukraine. «I have no way of telling whether his rage has been provoked»” Bergoglio wonders, «but I suspect it was maybe facilitated by the West’s attitude».”

      So we have the usual mind-reading on the basis of one strongly phrased isolated quote. And some descriptions of his thinking by clearly biased observers. The technical term is “rumor”.

      https://www.corriere.it/cronache/22_maggio_03/pope-francis-putin-e713a1de-cad0-11ec-84d1-341c28840c78.shtml?refresh_ce

  6. blue peacock says:

    There’s an anti-American chorus on the web. Some of the folks presenting themselves as Russian “trolls” could very well be from this set. MoA is a good example of a blog that caters to that group. Bernhard makes his living out of it. That’s his shtick and he’s been doing it for a good long time. He extols the virtue of Chavez while Venezuela became a basket case. Xi and Putin have always been his lodestars along with Nasrallah and the Ayatollahs. He is the epitome of the caricature of an armchair marxist. Enjoying the good life in Germany. Not living the talk out in Shanghai or Beijing or Moscow let alone Caracas or Havana. Upton Sinclair said it best “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”

    There are few like me who would prefer the end of US meddling in other peoples affairs and to focus our energies on the growing authoritarianism here at home with the mockery of the rule of law and the market consolidation of our economy in fewer hands. And the decades long corruption of our political system with the revolving door of kleptocrats who dismantled our industrial base to build up Communist China’s and financialized our economy into a casino to benefit Wall St.

    The conflict in Ukraine is complex. OTOH, we definitely have played a hand in poking the bear by the expansion of NATO, Clinton’s rejection of Putin’s offer to join NATO and Russiagate and all the anti-Russian rhetoric from our duopoly for decades. Then there is the perspective of those Eastern European countries who have direct experience of Russian occupation and have no interest in going back and due to their small size want the protective umbrella the US offers, although US resolve has not yet been tested. Ukraine itself has a complex internal situation with no unanimity. Putin has expressed in his speeches and interviews two thoughts – one, that NATO expansion poses a military threat and two, that Ukraine is a brotherly country and rightfully belongs in the Russian orbit. So while his concern about NATO proximity is real, his colonial mindset relative to Ukraine does not give any agency to them. What I believe Putin and his military and intelligence advisors didn’t forecast correctly was the resolve of the Zelensky government and the Ukrainian people by and large to fight back fiercely. As a shrewd observer of US government & media leadership he would have known that the neocon run US foreign policy establishment would run with the opportunity he gave them. A key takeaway for me at least is that the much held perception of Russian military superiority is no longer operative. If they can’t control with political machinations inside Ukraine and through the use of force a neighbor with all the advantages of logistics and a bigger force they’re not as strong militarily as advertised. One good thing from this ongoing tragedy for ordinary people should be that it is a cautionary lesson to Xi that his dream of regime change in Taiwan could be fraught with great uncertainty.

    • Eric Newhill says:

      BP,
      You and I are aligned on all of the above, including your observations concerning MoA. However, I question the notion of the people of UKR “fighting back fiercely”. Why are UKR troops so old? Why all the grey beards on the front lines? Where are all the young men willing to make a stand for their country? They are sparsely represented in most any photos or videos. Why all the young men fleeing the country, being caught and dragged kicking and screaming into service?

      • blue peacock says:

        Eric,

        The frontline has barely changed since the beginning of the invasion. And both sides have taken a beating. Some say this is by design and Putin’s military objective is just to annex the Donbas, while others say that the much vaunted Russian military who were labeled as near peer to the US and some like Martynov even claiming here on SST that they were superior to the US military, have not been able to dominate and suppress the supposedly much weaker Ukrainian forces who still remain in the fight. Guys like Bernhard @MoA were wetting their pants in glee at the hypersonic arsenal of Russia and how it would sink US aircraft carriers and lead to a strategic military defeat of US military forces. If this superior Russian military can’t get this “old grey beard” Ukrainian military on their knees and have lost their flagship in the Black Sea and hundreds of tanks and other weapons and are right where they began after 70 days, IMO, is surely not this near peer military rival to the US they were billed to be?

        • Eric Newhill says:

          BP,
          The Russian appear to be restrained by the concern for minimizing civilian casualties and damage to civilian infrastructure. You deem the capture of Mariupol and other other cities to be barely changing front lines? How long did it take US and Iraqi troops to take back major cities from ISIS? Where do all of these artificial timelines by which Russia is judged come from? Why do the Russians need to wrap this up so fast? Russia is slowly grinding the UKR forces into dust. Starving, worn out, lacking resupply, the grey beards will either die or surrender when the situation becomes too painful to endure any longer. Why would the Russian risk assaulting enemy positions and taking the associated casualties along with civilian destruction just to satisfy the US presstitutes’ empty chatter?

          I don’t take Bernard any more seriously than I do the talking head, opinion influencer, retired brass in the US. They’re all playing the same game.

    • Polish Janitor says:

      Your view of the Moon of Alabama is quite spot on. The “arm-chair Marxist” cohort are united by their hatred of the West and not America alone. I used to read the Moon rather sporadically a few years ago to see what’s he been up analysis-wise and now I just can’t even go there mentally let alone actually typing in the address to visit the blog! It’s very far away from the truth. His analysis of Iran and the ME is just sad! It’s like these folks try so much to find bits of information in order to fit them (with so much struggle mind you!) into their own larger narrative.

      • Eric Newhill says:

        PJ,
        “It’s like these folks try so much to find bits of information in order to fit them (with so much struggle mind you!) into their own larger narrative.”

        There’s a lot of that going around these days.

        In fairness, it’s a psychological condition common to humans generally. I do it and you do too. There are ways alleviate it, but those involve relatively pure motives at base and intense intellectual discipline, self-scrutiny, mental flexibility, opens to other perspectives and an ability to admit when one has been wrong or simply doesn’t know (suspension of ego); all of which is rare in a single person.

        • Polish Janitor says:

          True, quite true. But I’d have to say in their case the facts on the ground are so clear that it takes so much effort to boast that it is daylight, when in reality it’s night in terms of their narrative-making that borderlines personal dogma.

          • Eric Newhill says:

            The facts on the ground are so clear?

            I keep asking people who make bold statements about the situation where they are getting their info and they usually dodge the question. Others basically admit they are parroting what they hear on the “news” or open sources.

            Personally, I’m not sure of anything having to do with this. I have only opinions that I form by just trying to collate whatever it is that both the Russians and Ukrainians are saying. If they both agree, then it probably happened. Then I think about the ramifications, extrapolate, etc. I also pay attention to what the Ukrainians are saying that is not internally consistent. Their statements often contradict each other. I look at videos, interviews, etc. from the front. Finally, I look at what is not being said or shown and ponder that.

            A lot of what is stated with certainty by various “analysts” and pundits would be impossible to know unless one has been read in and is looking at unfiltered intelligence (GEOINT, IMINT, HUMINT and SIGINT).

  7. fredw says:

    Colonel

    I find turcopolier valuable because I get some thinking from people (especially you and TTG) who have been there, done that, actually met many of the people who I otherwise know only from news reports. Following the posts over time has given me some understanding of the background and attitudes behind the judgements that are expressed. Turcopolier is a small part of my evaluation of events, but it is an invaluable check on everything else that I read or view.

  8. Leith says:

    IB Times reported a week ago that close to 3000 Wagner mercs have been KIA in Ukraine. If it is true, my guess is that it’s an aggregate dating back to 2014, and not just since February of this year.

    Not sure where Putin gets all the recruits. He’s got Wagnerites in Ukraine, Mali, Central Africa, Libya, Syria, etc. Are they still in East Africa and Venezuela?

  9. mcohen says:

    I wonder what Netanyahu could have done to prevent this war.One thing I do know for sure.This will be last “adventure” of the so called warlords.

    • Leith says:

      mcohen –

      Putin made a phone call recently to Nutsandyahoo’s successor Naftali Bennet to apologize for Lavrov’s comment about Hitler having Jewish blood. Apparently he is worried about Israel sending anti cruise missile weapons to Ukraine, which some in the knesset were pushing for.

      • Polish Janitor says:

        The recent Russian-Israeli tension has another angle to it that can be found in Israel’s not-so-secret-anymore scheme to facilitate Iraqi Kurdisat’s transfer of oil to Europe via Turkey which Iran a few weeks ago spoiled. Russia and Iran were on the same side in this case, that is no special energy delivery to Europe for now.

        • Leith says:

          PJ –

          The Barzanis have been exporting oil to Turkey for years. Because when they send it for export elsewhere via Basra, they do not get paid their share by Baghdad. Turkey is an importer of oil and gas. Any talk of them sending it to Europe at the behest of the Izzies is fiction from Tehran or Baghdad.

          • Polish Janitor says:

            ‘Via Turkey’, not ‘by Turkey’. For sure the country is an importer of fuel. The Iranian news and sources linked to those aligned with the Axis of Resistance officially quoted senior Iranian military that the recent Erbil ballistic missile attack was meant to foil the Iraqi Kurdistan’s energy transfer to Europe.

          • Leith says:

            PJ –

            The IRGC announced that attack was retribution for the Izzie killing of two IRGC colonels in an Israeli airstrike in the outskirts of Damascus in Syria the week before.

            The fable by Fars and the Axis of Resistance is another attempt to throw dust in the eyes of those who support the Kurds. They said the same thing previously about the YPG in Syria, claiming they were selling Syrian oil to Turkey, or to Israel “via” Turkey. In fact it turned out to be ISIS sending 30 to40K barrels of oil per day to Turkey. Or in some cases it was a group of Syrian Arab gangsters out of Raqqa that diverted some oil shipments to Turkey that were supposed to go to the refineries in Baniyas and Homs.

          • Polish Janitor says:

            Leith,
            A few points on the Erbil attack:

            *Israel destroying a sizable drone base West of Iran in the late 2021

            *Israel targeting two senior IRGC members in March coinciding with the Ukraine war which if I recall correctly was a *peculiar* situation which had a lot of Russian manipulation in it as it happened especially very close to the Russian air-force and anti-air defense systems near Damascus and when the Israel areal attack occurred these systems were switched-off, giving good enough room for Israel to target Iranian assets and personnel, which ultimately underlies Russian-Israeli convergence of interests in containing Iran and keep it off certain limits.

            *Israel has been bombing Iranian interests directly in Syria for years now and consistently causing casualties. The idea that Iran grew a pair and finally decided to retaliate at this moment and even quite openly claiming responsibility without taking into account the Russian agency is naïve and ignores crucial Russian agency, especially in terms of how the geopolitics of fuel is a key variable in this situation and the attack in Erbil. Last but not least, Iraqi and Kurdish presidents denied that there was any secret Israeli assets that were destroyed and Iran has yet to provide evidence for it.

          • Leith says:

            PJ –

            I’m glad to hear that Russia stuck it to Iran by switching off their air defense systems for the Israeli attack. Guess they have a hotline? But is that story even true? I thought the Russian S400 was on the other side of the coastal Nusayriyah Mountain Range. Therefore Damascus was in the radar shadow of Russian air defense. And the Syrian manned S300s have not been 100% effective against Israeli air.

            I don’t believe that the Mossad had bases in Erbil either. But a slander about Kurdish/Israeli connections have been long standing throughout the Arabic and Iranian world. In fact, the Kurds fought as allies of the Palestinians against Israel in the 1982 war.

            Regarding your comment on the idea that Iran retaliated and claimed responsibility is naïve: The IRGC of Iran did make such a statement claiming responsibility. And it was just six days after the Israeli strike that killed the two Iranian military advisors near Damascus.

            https://web.archive.org/web/20220314054952/https://www.tehrantimes.com/news/470982/IRGC-confirms-it-hit-Mossad-training-centers-inside-Iraqi-Kurdistan

            https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/3/13/missiles-hit-iraqs-kurdish-capital-no-casualties-officials

          • Polish Janitor says:

            I didn’t reject the senior Iranian killing by Israel as a reason for the Erbil missile attack, all I’m saying is that there’s more to the story e.g. the EU fuel crisis+Russia+Ukraine War+ the Erbil attack that prompted the response from Iran by ‘allegedly’ hitting dirt and calling it even. Regarding the perception of Kurds and Israel relations, the misconceptions/exaggerations etc. I have to admit that I’m not really knowledgeable about it and so I take your for for it. I’d assume it ought have domestic propaganda purposes for public consumption, But I honestly don’t know much abt it. And btw thanks for mentioning the Kurds support of Palestine during the 1982 war, I wasn’t aware of it. It is rather interesting and a bit surprising because I remember a long time ago reading a book that in one of its chapters it discussed secret Iranian (before the revolution) and Israeli joint spec ops in supporting Kurdish guerilla fighters against Saddam in the 1970s, and it had never occurred to me that the Iraqi Kurds would take such a stance.

            P.S., I recently came across some articles that said some anti-Turkish Kurdish factions in Iraq have found common cause with Iran against Turkey in NW Iraq. I though to myself, well the Axis of Resistance now is allying with Kurdish Marxist groups now…strange times! Maybe it has smth to do with Erdogan’s recent flirtations with Israel.

      • mcohen says:

        Sales will kick off now that the heavy stuff is over.That can only mean one thing.Increased tension in the far east.Drone swarms and cyber in the middle east.Small teams to the banana republics.

  10. Mikew says:

    A lot of us waste our time here because during the Syrian war this was one of the few places you could get information outside of the hive which was repeating the “Assad is an animal” mantra. I suppose some of us came here expecting the same deviation from the hive narrative. Not a bot or a Russian.

    Russia had as much right to invade a sovereign country to protect their interests as we did in VN, Iraq, Syria and on and on.

    I suspect the driving force of lefty support for Ukraine is because they see Russia as helping prevent HRC from reaching the White House.

    • TTG says:

      Mikew,

      If that was the reason, I wouldn’t have been so supportive of Russia’s work in Syria. What they did and continue to do there is brilliant.

  11. MJ says:

    Colonel – Glad your back!

    Nuance is hard for a lot folks. A lot of folks want to live in a black and white world as opposed to the many shades of grey it is. You can be against the Neocons and for the Ukrainians.

    BTW – Half way through Tattoo and loving it!

  12. SRW says:

    Curiosity finally got the better of me so I googled the term “Turcopolier”
    tur′kō-po-lēr, n. the commander of the light infantry of the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem—always an Englishman. [O. Fr.,—Low L. Turcopuli—Late Gr. tyrcopouloi, light-armed soldiers—Tourcos, Turk, poulos, a child.]

    How did you come up with this definition of your excellent web site and is their any significance that you can explain to me?
    And you must know a hellva lot more history than me.

  13. Richard Ong says:

    And US complicity in those killings is authorized by what constitutional or statutory provision or by what treaty? The Treaty of San Francisco? How?

    Is it simply that we have now designated Ukraine as a certified “pal”? A “partner”? A “stakeholder” in some vital enterprise? Ergo.

    Or can the US go ad libitum here and there in the world involving itself directly in the killing of senior military leaders of any and all countries? Open season on people who annoy us?

  14. Jovan P says:

    In today’s fast living and pretty intertwined world, it’s hard for people, countries and whole parts of the world to isolate. If you’re a Polish of Uzbek influencer who likes to cook, most likely will at least ten people in different parts of the world try to cook something by your recipes. If you’re Spanish have an instagram profile with nice design and architecture solutions for flats and houses, you may have many followers that don’t speak your mother language. Similar king of intertwining happens to political and military processes. This means that if Biden tries to impose a Ministry of Truth in the powerful US, there’s a good chance that some other politician will try it in the near future in some less powerful country – Egypt, Israel or maybe Mongolia. If the Chinese government imposes unnecessary strict and Orwellian anti-COVID measures in Shanghai (the only explanation I found is from Tucker Carlson – the central government is showing the local Shanghai government and politicians their place), you can bet that it will be copied tomorrow by some malevolent politician in let’s say Russia, Canada or maybe South Africa.

    PS On a personal level I find very intriguing a piece I read called ,,Is Christ’s second coming pre-programmed” which has the following thesis – on a collective level the fate of the world is more or less predetermined by God (inter alia arguing the results of John Calhoun’s experiment Universe 25), but on a personal level one can save his soul, i.e. have his soul saved by the Saviour. And that’s more or less equal to saving the universe.

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