Today is a terrible milestone and an amazing one at the same time. Today is the 180th day of Ukraine’s defense against Russia’s re-invasion. Six month’s ago I wrote:
This appears to be a full scale invasion, not merely a reinforcement of the occupation of eastern Ukraine. Unlike 2014, the Ukrainians are far better prepared. They have far better capabilities. They have 8 years of combat experience in holding off further Russian incursions. I do not know, however, if they can withstand a full fledged Russian invasion that intends to take and hold Ukraine. I am in complete agreement with the assessment that without significantly more assistance, the Ukrainians need to adopt an Unconventional Warfare approach rather than meet the Russians head on. They need to draw the Russians into the cities and turn this into a three block at a time war. To do that, the Ukrainians will have to be willing to absorb significant casualties.
Putin seems to have decided to go all in. The discussion of whether he is physically and/or mentally ill are irrelevant at this point. I think it is far more likely that he has simply spent every day for the past 30 years being consumed by his belief that the fall of the Soviet Union and the diminution of Russia was solely the fault of the US and its lackeys in the EU and NATO. And that after forty years of stewing over this belief it has finally consumed him.
So now we wait. We wait to see what Putin does. We wait to see what the coming dawn in Ukraine brings. We wait to see what President Biden and our EU and NATO allies are willing to do and able to do in response.
If you’re the religious type, say a prayer for the Ukrainians tonight. If you’re not just keep good thoughts. This is going to get far, far, far worse before it gets better.
The positive signs I’m seeing are:
- The Ukrainians appear to be very motivated, for obvious reasons.
- Zelenskyy has risen to the occasion. As have the Klitschko brothers and other Ukrainian leaders, elites, and notables.
- The Ukrainian military is performing well so far.
- The Snake Island defenders and the retaking of the airport outside of Kyiv are going to be huge for military and civilian morale.
- As is the MiG 29 pilot or pilots flying sorties over Kyiv and now known as The Ghost of Kyiv.
- As of now, based on numbers from the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense, the Ukrainians are inflicting almost 8 killed in action (KIA) on the Russians for every Ukrainian KIA. This too will be a big morale booster for the Ukrainians.
- Russian troops, including at least one whole unit, are surrendering. Again a major morale booster.
- Putin has committed only half of his forces so far. He still has plenty of reserves to throw at Ukraine.
- He has also been much more restrained than expected in use of AirPower, his missiles, and cyber warfare.
- I would very much like to know why he has held back.
I want to build out the killed in action line of analysis a bit. After the first day of fighting, the reporting was that the Ukrainians had killed 800 Russian Soldiers while suffering only 137 KIAs. By last night eastern time, the reporting was that the Ukrainians had killed an additional 2,000 Russian Soldiers bringing the total to 2,800. I have not seen an update to the Ukrainian KIA totals after the second day. I’ve also seen the numbers as 400 Russian KIA after the first day of fighting. Even if the lower number is the accurate one, and I don’t think it is, this would be 4 Russian Soldiers killed for just over every one Ukrainian Soldier killed. And while the Russians definitely have more Soldiers massed on Ukraine’s borders to throw at the Ukrainians, this is still a huge imbalance in favor of the Ukrainians. The reason I think the higher number may be more accurate is that the Russian Health Ministry has issued a nation wide mobilization of Russian doctors, nurses, and other medical person for a “mass medical emergency” event in Russia, but the orders make it clear this will be official travel. I think that this reporting is a good indicator that the Russian casualty numbers that Ukraine’s MOD is putting out are pretty close to accurate. And that Putin never expected this type of resistance from the Ukrainians or for it to be this effective. Comparative context here is important. The US lost 4,431 personnel in Iraq as of 19 JUL 2021. It is being reported that the Russians have lost almost 2/3rds of that in two days! Even if the number is half what is being reported, that is still an amazing number of KIAs in just two days.
As we hoped, the Ukrainians rose to the occasion. The defenses of Kyiv held, which prevented Putin from being able to seize the city, replace Ukraine’s leadership with his quislings, and fulfill the pseudo-historical destiny that Putin has concocted for himself and Russia. For the past six months, night and day, Ukraine has stood in the breach and held. It hasn’t been easy. It hasn’t been pretty or pleasant. But right now Ukraine is the frontline in the defense of liberal democracy, self determination, self government, and liberty against those, like Putin, who would remake not just the international system, but all states and societies, into managed, illiberal sham democracies pitted against each other in a perpetual struggle of all against all.
We all owe Ukraine and the Ukrainians a debt of gratitude for not flinching in this grim duty that has been forced upon them. The Ukrainians heroic defense epitomizes Lincoln’s dedication of the cemetery at Gettysburg:
“…we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
We are witnessing the only just war any of us will ever see in our lifetimes. We are watching everything that American leaders have pontificated about as our national ideals be defended by a state and a society that six months ago was still a transitional democracy with all the flaws and blemishes that result from that hard transition.
A great miracle is happening there.
President Zelenskyy’s address, video and English transcript after the jump (emphasis mine):
Good health to you, fellow Ukrainians!
A report on the activity during the day.
I took part in the work of a special forum of veterans. And announced changes in state policy regarding the veteran community – we must create more opportunities for veterans. Without such changes, without this reform, it is simply impossible.
Veterans of the war for independence of Ukraine have become one of the most significant and respected groups in our society. With their specificity, with their needs, with their expectations, which must be responded to so that veterans can contribute not only to the defense of our state on the frontline, but also to the post-war development of Ukraine.
And not only the state must react, but also business, which is very important, employers, education.
We will create such a system of veteran policy and services for veterans, opportunities for their transition from military affairs to civilian life, which will be on a par with the strongest similar systems in the world. You can cite the example of the Israeli model, as well as the American one.
But our goal is for the Ukrainian experience of veteran policy to eventually become a new example for others in the world to follow.
I held a large meeting with representatives of the defense and security sector. Zaluzhny, Monastyrskyi, Danilov, Budanov and others were present. The key issues are, of course, the situation on the frontline, the security situation in big cities, as well as specific security measures due to the holidays and important political events this week – meetings, negotiations.
We are already fully prepared for the second summit of the Crimea Platform. This year’s summit will be even more powerful than last year, in terms of both the number of participants and the topics of discussion. We are significantly expanding the format of the Crimea Platform – tomorrow we will announce all the details.
And today the new diplomatic and security format “Kyiv Initiative” was founded. Ukraine’s European neighbors are already participating in its work. These are Poland, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia and the Baltic states. We will gradually involve other countries. In the “Kyiv Initiative” format, the work takes place at the level of foreign policy advisors to the heads of state. From the Ukrainian side, these are Andriy Sybiha and Andriy Yermak. And this format will allow us to strengthen cooperation in the region and joint protection of our interests, primarily security. This is a very promising line of our work in the Euro-Atlantic direction.
Today there is good infrastructural news – the railway branch connecting Ukraine and Moldova has been upgraded and launched. Moreover, we did it both on our territory and on the territory of Moldova – our “Ukrzaliznytsia” did it, well done. This route has been closed for almost 25 years, and now it is working for Ukraine again. This is an important transport direction. And the average volume of cargo per year can be about 10 million tons. I am grateful to our partners from Moldova.
Search operations at the site of the occupiers’ attack on a residential building in Kharkiv have ended. The building was destroyed by Russian shelling last Wednesday. Only today we managed to get the bodies of all the dead from under the rubble. This Russian strike alone claimed the lives of 19 people. One strike. And savages have not stopped such strikes at different parts of our country for 180 days.
The total number of various cruise missiles that Russia has used against us is approaching 3,500. It is simply impossible to count the strikes of Russian artillery – there are too many of them, they are too intense. And at the same time, the terrorist state does not stop playing around with international structures and once again has the audacity to convene the UN Security Council to discuss its own provocations, its own terror at the Zaporizhzhia NPP…
I am grateful to all European politicians who do not forget that the eighth sanctions package against Russia is needed. The longer the interval between sanctions packages is, the greater Russia’s audacity is. And I am grateful to all our friends, all friends of freedom in different countries of the world, who promote the need to recognize the objective reality and legally define Russia as a terrorist state. This decision will come sooner or later, and the only question is how many more lives Russia will manage to take away before the retaliatory strikes from the international community become truly tangible for those responsible for this terror.
And, dear Ukrainians, especially these days, when we celebrate the day of our flag and the day of our independence, if you are somewhere abroad, please remind about Ukraine there, be there with the Ukrainian flag and spread the truth about the crimes of the occupiers.
Let’s all stick together, no matter where we, Ukrainians, are!
Glory to all who protect the state!
Gratitude to everyone who fights for Ukraine!
Glory to Ukraine!
The operational update regarding the russian invasion on 06.00, on August 22, 2022
lory to Ukraine! The one hundred eighties (180) day of the heroic resistance of the Ukrainian people to a russian military invasion continues.
The enemy continues to focus its efforts on establishing full control over the territories of Luhansk and Donetsk regions, maintaining the captured areas of Kherson and parts of Kharkiv, Zaporizhzhia, and Mykolaiv oblasts, restoring the combat capability of units that have suffered losses, and preventing a possible counteroffensive of the Defense Forces.
There were no significant changes on the Volyn, Polissya and Siversky directions. The enemy shelled the areas of Katerynivka and Obody of the Sumy oblast with barrel artillery.
In the Kharkiv direction, the enemy fired from tanks, barrel and jet artillery in the vicinity of Svitlychne, Slatyne, Pytomnyk, Petrivka, Pischane, Husarivka, Mospanove, Krynychne, and Pryshyb.
In the Slovyansk direction, the enemy continued to fire near Dibrivne, Mazanivka, and Dolyna.
It tried to lead an offensive in the directions of Dovhenke – Dibrivne, Brazhkivka – Nova Dmytrivka, did not succeed, and withdrew.
In the Kramatorsk direction, shelling was recorded near Rozdolivka, Hryhorivka, Verkhnokamyanske, Dronivka, and Serebryanka. The enemy is trying to launch an offensive in the direction of Spirne – Vesele, hostilities continue.
In the direction of Bakhmut, the enemy inflicted damage from barrel artillery and MLRS in the areas of Soledar, Zaytseve and Bilohorivka settlements. He led an offensive in the directions of Vershyna – Kodema and Hladosove – Kodema, but was unsuccessful. On the directions Strapivka – Soledar, Pokrovske – Bakhmut, Travneve – Kodema, Semihirya – Zaytseve and Hladosove – Kurdyumivka, hostilities continue.
In the Avdiyivka direction, the enemy fired from barrel and rocket artillery near Opytne, Maryinka, Piskivy, Avdiyvka and Nevelske. Tried to conduct assault operations in the directions Spartak – Opytne, Novoselivka Druha – Krasnohorivka, Donetsk – Pervomaiske, Pisky – Nevelske, Lozove – Nevelske, but was unsuccessful.
On the Novopavlivsky direction, artillery fire was recorded near Vuhledar, Velyka Novosilka, and Pavlivka.
In the Zaporizhzhia direction, the occupiers carried out fire damage to the districts of Dorozhnyanka, Novosilka, and Mala Tokmachka. Airstrikes were carried out near the Mala Tokmachka and Olhivske. The enemy led an offensive in the direction of Makarivka – Vremivka, had no success, retreated.
In the Southern Buh direction, the enemy continued shelling the areas of Velike Artakove, Lozove, Tavriyske, Stepova Dolyna, Pervomaiske, Kiselivka, Chervona Dolyna, Potyomkine, Prybuzke, Parutyne, Polyana, Novooleksandrivka and Partyzanske settlements.
Carried out airstrikes near Zarichne, Bila Krynytsia and Andriyivka.
In the Mykolaiv direction, the occupiers carried out assaults in the area of the settlement of Blahodatne, with partial success.
The enemy’s naval group in the waters of the Black and Azov Seas focuses its main efforts on blocking civilian shipping in the northwestern part of the Black Sea and damaging military facilities and infrastructure elements deep in the territory of Ukraine.
Our missile and artillery units and aviation continue to successfully carry out fire missions in the designated directions. The enemy is experiencing an acute shortage of trained and motivated reinforcements for units that are systematically suffering losses.
We believe in the Armed Forces of Ukraine! Together we will win!
Glory to Ukraine!
Here is today’s assessment from the British MOD:
Here is former NAVDEVGRU Squadron Leader Chuck Pfarrer’s update map and analysis regarding the battle for Kherson:
KHERSON / 2000 UTC 22 AUG / UKR Partisans & SOF continue to operate in and around Kherson. Partisan units were able to coordinate a precision strike on the M-14 HWY bridge; this fire mission targeted a RU ammo convoy as it was crossing. pic.twitter.com/u7ibD8eFru
— Chuck Pfarrer (@ChuckPfarrer) August 22, 2022
Earlier today Russia’s FSB, the successor organization to the Soviet KGB, announced that it had identified the assassin/bomber of Daria Dugina. They stated she was a Ukrainian veteran of the Azov Regiment who, with her twelve year old daughter in tow, moved to Russia for several weeks, located herself in Dugina’s neighborhood, surveilled her, set the bomb, and then immediately fled to Estonia before the FBS could capture her.
Soldiers of the Azov Special Operations Forces have reported that the claim about the regiment allegedly having something to do with the assassination of Daria Dugina, daughter of Alexander Dugin, the pro-Putin ideologist, is another low-quality fake from the FSB.
Quote: “The FSB are not working hard enough to justify their salaries. This fake is very funny.
I don’t know this woman. The documents provided by the opponents belong to a person who is not a soldier of the Azov Regiment. Our military uniform is MultiCam [camouflage pattern – ed.]. All our documents contain photos of us dressed in the MultiCam uniform.
You can check this piece of news right now. The woman in the news is dressed in the dress uniform of the National Guard of Ukraine. And it is stated on her official ID that she is the soldier of the 3057 military unit of the National Guard of Ukraine.
A separate Azov special forces squad belongs to the 3057 military unit of the National Guard of Ukraine, but not everyone who is in service in the 3057 military unit is an Azov soldier, and this woman is not an Azov soldier either.”
Details: According to the Ukrainian defender, the official ID exhibited by propagandists could have been found in some military unit in occupied Mariupol: “If we look carefully at what is written on her ID in pencil, we will see that the ID was altered because she got married”.
Quote: “This is this woman’s old ID which was just lying around somewhere in the archives at the 3057 military unit site in Mariupol. So Russians found this document and are now passing it off as a “Yarosh business card” [an Internet-meme ridiculing Russian propaganda which went viral in 2014 after a similar incident – ed.].
It isn’t serious. It is a low-quality, hastily made fake.”
Details: The Azov soldier revealed that he has found his own personal information in propagandist social media groups. According to Russian Telegram channels, he has already died.
Apart from that, it was reported at the briefing that there is not a single woman with the rank of colonel among the Azov soldiers.
Moreover, there is not a single female soldier in Azov.
German journalist Julian Ropcke sums this up perfectly:
So the FSB
– knew her house
– searched her car
– filmed her routes
and still let her kill Dugina and leave the country safely?!
What a great service this is … pic.twitter.com/FME7TaQDt3
— Julian Röpcke🇺🇦 (@JulianRoepcke) August 22, 2022
Bellingcat’s Christo Grozev aids in the debunking:
FSB's announced suspect in Dugina's assassination was entered into a Russian doxxing site for "Ukrainian nationalists" as a member of the Azov regiment back in April 2022. How did she get into Russia with that easily discoverable military footprint? pic.twitter.com/WWyCUbcMBN
— Christo Grozev (@christogrozev) August 22, 2022
As does Ukrainian journalist Olga Tokariuk:
They can't even forge the evidence properly. The ID card of a 'Ukrainian Azov regiment' woman, accused by Russian secret services of blowing up the car with Daria Dugina, is a cheap fake https://t.co/vDWNn2EVtd
— Olga Tokariuk (@olgatokariuk) August 22, 2022
The Russians, of course, have gone all in on threatening Estonia for allowing the assassin to cross the border and escape:
First Deputy Head of the International Committee of the #russian parliament Vladimir Dzhabarov:
“If Estonia refuses to extradite the criminal Natalya Vovk to Russia there are reasons for the Russian federation to take tough actions against the Estonia, which harbors a terrorist”
— Inna Sovsun (@InnaSovsun) August 22, 2022
At this point I’m now quite confident that my third possibility from last night is the correct one. One of the Russian security services did this with the intention of exploiting it for maximum domestic propaganda and international agitprop purposes. Whether Dugina or her father were the real targets doesn’t really matter.
I expect this will not be the only increasingly desperately destructive act that Russia will undertake this week. Ukraine holding the line through Ukrainian Independence Day on the 24th is going to push Putin and the siloviki to ramp up their efforts. It is going to be a long week.
I think that’s enough for tonight.
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