(Image by NEIVANMADE)
Tonight is one year since Putin gave the order to re-invade Ukraine. This part of the war is now one year old. Of course we’re also 8 years and just about 11 months into the longer war that this past year has been a part of. It is important to remember that Putin moved on Donbas in April 2014.
Tonight is the night we can have some restful sleep.
No need to stay up again!
Ukraine is on guard 🇺🇦
Goodnight, the world. pic.twitter.com/CvQYYSq56X
— Illia Ponomarenko 🇺🇦 (@IAPonomarenko) February 23, 2023
Here is President Zelenskyy’s address from earlier today. Video below, English transcript after the jump:
Good health to you, fellow Ukrainians!
Today was a very eventful day.
First – the Staff. Extended format, detailed reports. Zaluzhny, Syrskyi, Tarnavskyi, Moskalyov, Nayev. The situation in the key directions.
The east – very difficult. Hurtful. But we are doing everything to endure.
The south – in some areas the situation is quite dangerous, but our warriors have means of response to the occupier.
Odesa and the Black Sea area – the situation is under control.
North – all our warriors in this area can see every intention of the enemy. We are reinforcing where necessary.
There was a report by Chief of the Main Intelligence Directorate Budanov on the current intentions of the occupier. There are decisions on our counteraction.
Separately and in great detail, we addressed the issue of production and supply of ammunition and weapons. Of course, I cannot publicly disclose the details of this. But this is meaningful work. And I am glad to hear at the meeting of the Staff that even in such conditions we have the appropriate potential.
During the evening I’ve been receiving detailed reports on the situation in Kherson. Another Russian strike damaged the main pipeline that provided heating to about six hundred houses – more than forty thousand people! Repair work will continue without pause until the heating supply is restored.
And we will restore it! No matter what these Russian terrorists and bastards do, we will restore everything.
Today I held talks with the Prime Minister of Spain, who arrived in Kyiv. I thanked him for the very important Spanish defense and political support. For the fact that during a year of full-scale war, Spain has stood with us in defense against Russian terror.
This is a very valuable and value-based cooperation. It is here, on our land, that we are protecting the very values that underpin the life of not only our people, but also the vast majority of European nations.
Of course, the life of Spain is based on these values too. That is why we understand each other very well. Spain has become part of our tank coalition. Spain helped us to protect our skies. There are many other parameters of support, both already provided and planned by us.
Today I also met with a delegation of the global parliamentary network “United for Ukraine”. These are representatives of 13 parliaments of European countries and the European Parliament. The topic of the meeting is quite clear: weapons for our warriors, sanctions against the terrorist state, and the implementation of our peace initiatives, including the Peace Formula.
I spoke with the President of Egypt, including about the defense of international law, our work to restore food security, and some aspects of bilateral relations. It was a good conversation.
I devoted a significant part of this day to preparing for tomorrow’s diplomatic events. We must do everything to make them fruitful for Ukraine. Really significant not only in terms of symbolism, because it will be February 24. But also in terms of real benefits for our defense.
Glory to our warriors!
Glory to each and everyone who is now in combat!
Thank you to everyone who helps us!
Glory to Ukraine!
You remember that night a year ago? The longest night ever. We were up, in front of our laptops, sipping whiskey in the silence. The last night of peace in Kyiv. We knew what was coming. Before the night is over… The dark was deepening. pic.twitter.com/ggcIcp3Xch
— Illia Ponomarenko 🇺🇦 (@IAPonomarenko) February 23, 2023
But one year later… we’re still around.
We’ve seen things that were impossible to imagine. Valor, horror, death, smoke, the smell of rotting flesh, pride, joy, tears.
There’ll be more.
I’m lighting a candle in the memory of the fallen tonight.
Glory to Ukraine 🇺🇦
— Illia Ponomarenko 🇺🇦 (@IAPonomarenko) February 23, 2023
Here is former NAVDEVGRU Squadron Leader Chuck Pfarrer’s most recent assessments of the situations in Vuhledar, Kreminna, and Bakhmut:
VUHLEDAR /1320 UTC 23 FEB/ Two RU probes toward the T-05-24 HWY at Vuhledar were broken up. UKR reports that elements of the Cossack Detachment (Volunteers) assigned to RU 155th Brigade of Marine Infantry (Pacific Fleet), have refused orders to engage in offensive operations. pic.twitter.com/hWNI6IyxOF
— Chuck Pfarrer | Indications & Warnings | (@ChuckPfarrer) February 23, 2023
KREMINNA AXIS /2250 UTC 23 FEB/ After being repulsed yesterday west of Kreminna, RU units limited ground combat today to a single attack in the vicinity of Kuzmyne. UKR carried out 14 aviation strike missions against RU forces and four strikes against enemy air defense targets. pic.twitter.com/92ekNycUPU
— Chuck Pfarrer | Indications & Warnings | (@ChuckPfarrer) February 23, 2023
BAKHMUT /1400 UTC 23 FEB/ RU continues ops against UKR Lines of Communication & Supply (LOCS). UKR forces are in contact south of the M-03. RU has redoubled efforts to capture the villages of Dubovo-Vasylivka, Berikhivka and Yahidne on the northern limits of Bakhmut. pic.twitter.com/pjG7Ydkajl
— Chuck Pfarrer | Indications & Warnings | (@ChuckPfarrer) February 23, 2023
Update on Bakhmut, 23 Feb – Kiyanyn pic.twitter.com/Z7G6uQj23M
— Dmitri (@wartranslated) February 23, 2023
🇺🇦Witch tells the story of the Bakhmut Asphalt Plant❤️ pic.twitter.com/UC3y0NsDjQ
— Sofia Ukraini (@SlavaUk30722777) February 22, 2023
Reposting as I neglected to include scare quotes for “Artemovsk” – that language is interesting here because Prigozhin is shifting to use it more frequently and MoD describes WG units as “volunteers assault units Artemovsk”
— Jack Margolin (@Jack_Mrgln) February 23, 2023
In a number of districts of the occupied Crimea, local radio stations broadcasted the anthem of Ukraine, as well as an address by the head of the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine Kyrylo Budanov, the Crimean Wind channel reported. pic.twitter.com/8MswgBOQM1
— Hromadske Int. (@Hromadske) February 23, 2023
A day after hackers blasted false air-raid sirens in cities across Russia, radio airwaves in Crimea suddenly broadcast a message from the head of Ukraine's mil intelligence vowing that all occupied lands will return to Ukraine. "We'll find every traitor wherever he's hiding." pic.twitter.com/kZTMAmFQQY
— Kevin Rothrock (@KevinRothrock) February 23, 2023
Double tap attack in Dvorichna near Kupiansk. When the rescuers arrived, Russians opened fire on them in a series of repeated attacks. First responders are the real heroes. Every day Russia shells up to 30 settlements around Kharkiv. pic.twitter.com/DiCBbrJeD9
— Maria Avdeeva (@maria_avdv) February 23, 2023
Mariupol via The Guardian‘s reporting:
For more than 80 days, the Russians bombarded Mariupol, determined to take the port city even if they had to raze it to the ground first.
After Russian forces finally crushed Ukrainian resistance last May, they set about putting their stamp on Mariupol, erasing evidence of the recent atrocities and of past Ukrainian history in the city.
A year on from the invasion of Ukraine, the Guardian tells the story of Mariupol – perhaps the bloodiest and most shocking chapter of Russia’s brutal war.
Mariupol greets the new year, 2022, in a relaxed mood. When a strong gust of wind blows over the city Christmas tree, sending its vast illuminated branches crashing to the ground, a few suspicious types whisper that it could be a bad omen for the year ahead.
But most people pay little heed to the crescendo of chatter about Vladimir Putin’s nefarious plans for Ukraine.
They are used to the idea of war here, after the events of 2014 when Russian proxies seized neighbouring Donetsk and briefly controlled Mariupol, too. The frontline, just outside the city, has hardly moved for years. Occasional military skirmishes are a fact of life, but the idea of a full-scale invasion seems fanciful.
So for the first seven weeks of the year, life goes on more or less as normal. People huddle in cafes smoking shisha on cold evenings; teenagers giggle as they slip on the ice rink behind the drama theatre. At a nearby restaurant one Saturday night, a group of women dance to a vocalist singing in Russian and English; their husbands remain seated, nursing beers.
A few people do become uneasy and clean out their basements, equipping them as bomb shelters. They stock up on tinned food. Often, their friends tease them for such eccentric behaviour.
And then, in the early hours of 24 February, it begins.
Around 5am, calls go out to the chiefs of police and other municipal services, announcing that military hostilities have begun and ordering them into their offices. Most of them are already awake, roused by the sound of Russian artillery.
At 11 in the morning, the mayor, Vadym Boychenko, convenes a press conference. Already, three civilians are dead and six injured, he says. The mood in the room is tense, but Boychenko assures the few journalists present that officials and key infrastructure workers are still working, and life will carry on.
“Don’t panic. We are ready to fight for Mariupol and Ukraine,” says the mayor.
He and most of his team will flee the city three days later.
On those first few days, the fighting is limited to the outskirts of the city. Wounded soldiers arrive at the hospitals from the front, and hundreds of volunteers show up to donate blood.
There are long queues at ATMs and petrol stations, but public transport is still running, and some people stoically continue as if everything is normal, heading for work.
At the train station, a young couple hurries along the platform dragging suitcases and cradling a cat. Tearful parents bundle their children on to evacuation trains heading for Kyiv. But the trains leave half empty. By the time most people realise what is coming, it will be too late to leave.
The city is well defended from the east, where everyone expected the Russians to launch an attack. But there has been no preparation for an invasion from the west. Russian troops pour across the narrow isthmus from Crimea towards Mariupol, and within a few days, the city is encircled.
Almost immediately, the Russians hit the electricity, water and gas supplies. People melt snow for water, and cook outside over open flames. Phone reception disappears, creating an information vacuum. The last shops close their doors, soon to be looted by people desperate for food.
As the fighting becomes more intense, people drag mattresses into the stairwells of their apartment blocks, or move into their dark and freezing basements. Some people are too old or too frail to move. Most of them will not survive.
At Hospital Number One, on the eastern side of the city, Serhiy Mudryi, a traumatologist, arrives for a two-day shift on 28 February. It is too dangerous to move around the city, so Mudryi sleeps at the hospital. His shift will end up lasting 40 days; he leaves only once, to collect his family and bring them back to the hospital, giving them beds in an empty ward.
Most of the other doctors flee, and soon there is just a skeleton team remaining at the hospital: Mudryi, two surgeons, an anaesthesiologist and a couple of nurses.
Arrivals are frequent, both soldiers and civilians. Before long, the ambulances stop running and patients arrive in private cars, driven by relatives frantic with worry. It takes a lot to shock a traumatologist with two decades of experience, but the minced flesh and crushed bodies Mudryi is seeing every day turn his stomach.
The doctors do not have the time for the complicated operations required to save limbs. “Post-operation, wounds require lots of care, there is a huge risk of infection and gangrene, and then dying from it,” Mudryi explains to patients. Now, whenever there is a serious injury, the doctors amputate. The patient will lose an arm or a leg but have more chance of staying alive.
As the fighting shifts into the suburbs and more buildings come under fire, many people who live close to the hospital arrive and move into the hospital basements. One 92-year-old woman tells Mudryi she has come because she remembers hiding in the same place during the second world war.
Much, much, much more, including photos and maps, at the link!
The Financial Times reports about how Putin blundered his way into the re-invasion:
At about 1am on February 24 last year, Sergei Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister, received a troubling phone call.
After spending months building up a more than 100,000-strong invasion force on the border with Ukraine, Vladimir Putin had given the go-ahead to invade.
The decision caught Lavrov completely by surprise. Just days earlier, the Russian president had polled his security council for their opinions on recognising two separatist statelets in the Donbas, an industrial border region in Ukraine, at an excruciatingly awkward televised session — but had left them none the wiser about his true intentions.
Keeping Lavrov in the dark was not unusual for Putin, who tended to concentrate his foreign policy decision-making among a handful of close confidants, even when it undermined Russia’s diplomatic efforts.
On this occasion, the phone call made Lavrov one of the very few people who had any knowledge of the plan ahead of time. The Kremlin’s senior leadership all found out about the invasion only when they saw Putin declare a “special military operation” on television that morning.
Later that day, several dozen oligarchs gathered at the Kremlin for a meeting arranged only the day before, aware that the invasion would trigger western sanctions that could destroy their empires. “Everyone was completely losing it,” says a person who attended the event.
While they waited, one of the oligarchs spied Lavrov exiting another meeting and pressed him for an explanation about why Putin had decided to invade. Lavrov had no answer: the officials he was there to see in the Kremlin had known less about it than he did.
Stunned, the oligarch asked Lavrov how Putin could have planned such an enormous invasion in such a tiny circle — so much so that most of the senior officials at the Kremlin, Russia’s economic cabinet and its business elite had not believed it was even possible.
“He has three advisers,” Lavrov replied, according to the oligarch. “Ivan the Terrible. Peter the Great. And Catherine the Great.”
Under Putin’s invasion plan, Russia’s troops were to seize Kyiv within a matter of days in a brilliant, comparatively bloodless blitzkrieg.
Instead, the war has proved to be a quagmire of historic proportions for Russia. A year on, Putin’s invasion has claimed well over 200,000 dead and injured among Russia’s armed forces, according to US and European officials; depleted its stock of tanks, artillery and cruise missiles; and cut the country off from global financial markets and western supply chains.
Nor has the fighting in Ukraine brought Putin any closer to his vaguely defined goals of “demilitarising” and “de-Nazifying” Kyiv. Though Russia now controls 17 per cent of Ukraine’s internationally recognised territory, it has abandoned half of the land it seized in the war’s early weeks — including a humiliating retreat from Kherson, the only provincial capital under its control, just weeks after Putin attempted to annex it.
But as the war rumbles on with no end in sight, Putin has given no indication he intends to back down on his war efforts.
At his state-of-the-union address on Tuesday, Putin insisted the war was “about the very existence of our country” and said the west had forced him to invade Ukraine. “They’re the ones who started the war. We are using force to stop it,” he said.
Even as the huge cost of the invasion to Russia becomes apparent to him, Putin is more determined than ever to see it through, people who know him say.
“The idea was never for hundreds of thousands of people to die. It’s all gone horribly wrong,” a former senior Russian official says. With the initial plan in tatters, Putin is searching for new rationales to justify the war effort, insisting he had no choice but to pursue the invasion by any means necessary, current and former officials say.
“He tells people close to him, ‘It turns out we were completely unprepared. The army is a mess. Our industry is a mess. But it’s good that we found out about it this way, rather than when Nato invades us,’” the former official adds.
The Financial Times spoke to six longtime Putin confidants as well as people involved in Russia’s war effort, and current and former senior officials in the west and Ukraine for this account of how Putin blundered his way into the invasion — then doubled down rather than admit his mistake. All of them spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive matters.
The people who know Putin describe a leader who has become even more isolated since the start of the war. “Stalin was a villain, but a good manager, because he couldn’t be lied to. But nobody can tell Putin the truth,” says one. “People who don’t trust anyone start trusting a very small number of people who lie to them.”
Last year was not the first time Putin had withheld plans of an invasion from close advisers. When Russia seized Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, he did not inform his own security council — instead on one occasion gaming out the peninsula’s annexation with his defence minister, Sergei Shoigu, and three top security officials all night until 7am.
Initially, the advisers urged Putin against sending troops into Crimea, according to a former senior Russian official and a former senior US official. “Putin said, ‘This is a historic moment. If you don’t agree with it, you can leave,’” the former Russian official recalls.
When the west, fearful of escalating tensions to a point of no return and jeopardising Europe’s economic ties with Russia, responded with only a slap on the wrist, Putin was convinced he had made the right decision, according to several people who know the president.
“He really believes all the stuff he says about sacrality and Peter the Great. He thinks he will be remembered like Peter,” a former senior official says.
Prewar predictions that Ukraine’s army would collapse had largely been based on the assumption Russia’s air force would quickly establish control of Ukraine’s skies.
Instead, amid widespread disarray among the invaders, Russia’s army shot down a number of its own aircraft in the early days of the invasion. As a result, it ran out of pilots with experience of combat operations involving ground forces who were also prepared to fly, according to two western officials and a Ukrainian official.
“It may not have been double digits, but it’s more than one or two” Russian aircraft shot down by friendly fire, says the former senior US official. “There was a lot of fratricide.”
He adds: “They may not have had pilots with combat experience who were willing to fly over Ukraine and risk their necks in that crazy environment.”
Vadym Skibitsky, deputy head of Ukrainian military intelligence, adds: “It happened. From artillery units, from tanks, and we even saw it from our intercepts of their conversations. They shot down their own helicopters and they shot down their own planes.”
Much, much, much more at the link!
Ukrainska Pravda provides us with an English language version of their interview with Major General Budanov:
Over the years, Kyrylo Budanov, who assumed his office in August 2020, has been the most media-friendly Chief of the Defence Intelligence of Ukraine (DIU).
His interviews are quoted in the news, and his forecasts are heeded.
Ukrainska Pravda met with Budanov on the day when Russian President Vladimir Putin was giving a two-hour speech to the Federal Assembly [Upper Chamber of Russian Parliament].
In an interview with UP, Kyrylo Budanov explained what Putin’s announcement regarding suspending Russia’s participation in the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty means, shared why Russia is willing to end the war as soon as possible, what is happening to their offensive, and stated when to expect a Ukrainian counteroffensive.
Budanov also answered questions on conflicts in the Russian military leadership, the training of Wagnerites, Medvedchuk’s [Ukrainian businessman and pro-Russian politician to whose daughter Putin is godfather – ed.] role in Moscow, and the cooperation of Putin’s entourage with the DIU.
And, of course, we tried to figure out how the Chief of the DIU nearly became the Minister of Defence in January 2023.
“Russia cannot meet the needs of its armed forces with conventional weapons. Where is there room for high-tech ones?”
We are conducting this interview afterVladimir Putin’s speech to the Federal Assembly. In your opinion, what was the ultimate goal of this address?
As we say, I will answer you with another question: what is the ultimate goal of everything they are doing now? Does it have a goal at all?
Look, is there an ultimate goal in their minds? Does it even exist in their heads? This is a purely rhetorical question.
This event had been announced in advance, so they couldn’t avoid it.
They had to say something to their society on the anniversary of the great war [full-scale invasion of Ukraine]. By ‘they’ I mean a hypothetical Putin and his hypothetical associates addressing a hypothetical people in a hypothetical Russia. It had to be.
Since they did not find much reason to talk about anything specific, they had to just say something for the sake of saying it.
It was a two-hour historical tour to influence the perceptions of the Russian people. Wasn’t it?
What did the lecture lead to? You see, a lecture should always lead the audience to something. And what did it lead to? Well, nothing. Here is the war, it is ongoing, and that’s it. This is just a statement of fact.
– How do you understand Putin’s statements thatRussia is suspending its participation in the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty? What does this mean?
This is yet another attempt to manipulate and, unfortunately, to blackmail the world with nuclear weapons. I emphasise: not [only] Ukraine, but an effort to blackmail the world with nuclear weapons.
In the current situation, what may this mean? It means nothing. As the military-industrial complex of the Russian Federation is currently unable to produce advanced types of missile weapons in sufficient quantities, especially for strategic and tactical purposes.
So, if such a statement had been made somewhere even before 24 February 2022, then yes, one could seriously think about it.
However, this year of full-scale war has completely destroyed all of the international community’s beliefs in the power of the military-industrial complex of the Russian Federation.
Can they produce, let’s say, a prototype of something? For instance, a tactical missile weapon or a medium-range strategic one? After all, when they mention such things, it is usually about ballistic missiles with a range of 5,000 kilometres. Well, theoretically, they are capable of producing one or two.
What’s next? If Russia engages in this kind of arms race, it has no theoretical chance of competing with the West. Russia cannot meet the needs of its armed forces with conventional weapons. Where is there room for high-tech ones?
“The Wagnerites act more decisively, although they mainly involve convicts”
Very often, society speaks of the Russian army in a derogatory way. However, people who fight on the front say that our enemy is quite fierce. What is your assessment of the Russian forces?
There can be no unanimous answer here, because it varies.
How do you compare a unit of Territorial Defence Forces drawn from conscripts with, for instance, an elite unit of airborne troops or a unit of the Wagner private military company?
Let’s distinguish between the two. How does the Wagner Group fight and how do conscripts fight?
They are worlds apart. The Wagner Group is a head above in everything. Unfortunately, it is true.
Yes, their assault units are usually formed from convicts but they are commanded by professional enough former soldiers. And they act decisively enough, powerfully enough.
Despite their losses, they are advancing metre by metre.
And they are, in fact, the only ones who manage to do that.
What keeps them motivated?
A certain category of them which is not very big – those are the people who have been in the private military company for many years. They are even intrinsically motivated, they have a certain code, so to speak.
And 90% are convicts who are driven solely by fear. They have an order to advance – they advance. If a convict does not advance, he will simply be executed.
They do such things relatively publicly.
Unfortunately, it does work for them by these or other methods.
– How many Wagnerites are fighting against us at the moment?
Up to 10,000 are participating in ongoing combat actions.
Russia conscripted hundreds of thousands of people in the autumn…
They conscripted 316,000 people. And they have not stopped the mobilisation, I would like to point this out again. Covert mobilisation is going on as of now.
How do conscripts fight in comparison with the Wagner Group?
Without any specific training, with what they have been given, with what they have found somewhere. The outcome reflects this.
“Russia plans a small missile strike”
Do you know what is happening in the Kremlin on the eve of 24 February? Roughly speaking, is Putin shouting at everyone that he needs a quick result?
You know, he used to shout. It is more of a statement now: “I need at least something, at least to reach the administrative borders of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts”.
We are aware of the Russian Federation’s love for symbolism when it comes to dates. And, obviously, a lot of Ukrainians are worried that Russia can perform some large-scale provocation on 24 February. Are they planning something unexpected?
Let’s put it like this – there will be nothing extraordinary. Their usual efforts… They are planning a small missile strike.
Exactly on 24 February?
23 and 24, they have two dates. Believe me, we have already survived this more than 20 times.
They do combine their attacks differently now. They launch Shahed kamikaze drones from one direction, missiles fly from a different one, and then so-called reconnaissance balloons distract our air defence units…
Those are already pretty old methods. What new things can they have?
Then, I will ask about 14 January 2023. There were strikes in several districts of Kyiv that day. An air-raid alarm was activated only after missiles hit the city. Do I understand correctly that the Russians used some new weapons then?
It was an experimental missile launch. As far as I remember, it was a 48N6DM from a S-300 [a missile that can hit targets up to 250 kilometres away and has the speed of 2.5 km/h – ed.].
They were deployed in Bryansk Oblast, and it was one of the first detected test launches. I am highlighting that these were test launches.
Can there be many such launches?
As of now, no. This is a problem of the Russian Federation, they are not capable of manufacturing many weapons at once, like a lot of other post-Soviet countries. One-offs – sure. But mass production is difficult for them.
In fact, things that are Russian-made there are only a body, an explosive, a piece of software. Everything else is definitely not made in Russia.
They have one programme – parallel imports. It is essentially legalised smuggling.
Relatively speaking, via Africa?
Yes. Most often, when you hold a chip, it is just a chip. When you install it in a single system, it becomes a weapon system. That is, controlling such elements is a hard task for the entire world.
You cannot control the fact that, for instance, company X bought some Japanese-made controllers in the Czech Republic and then sold them to a fourth country through some third one, and then they entered Russia from there without going through customs control. But all these processes were significantly complicated for them [Russia – ed.]. Therefore, they cannot produce weapons in sufficient numbers.
“The Russian Federation understands that the longer it goes on for, the bigger and faster the complete destruction will be”
Before recording the interview, we started talking about Russia’s offensive. And you are somehow very calm when you are talking about this, as you do not see them having enough potential for a major offensive. Nevertheless, you said earlier that there would be fierce battles taking place in the spring. Well, what will happen in the spring, to be precise?
There will be a lot of events in the spring that will possibly be remarkable in this war.
Let’s break down the story. What is Russia preparing for in the spring?
For carrying out task number one. That is, to reach the administrative borders of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts by 31 March 2023 – it is another deadline of theirs.
Things are very hot now in Bakhmut. They are trying to enter the city from the east and north. What is the situation there now?
At the moment, [they are trying to enter] more from the north. I would rather call it suburban fighting. But in reality it is taking place more in private residential areas.
Do we have the strength to hold Bakhmut?
Well, as you can see, Bakhmut is still standing.
In Bakhmut, we are losing huge resources, primarily human ones. Can you explain to our readers why Bakhmut is strategically important for us?
(Getting annoyed) You know I was recently asked this question by a journalist. I interrupted the recording and told him what I thought. And I don’t think it will violate any ethics.
Let’s talk hypothetically, without reference to the country. For example, imagine that I am in this same position in France. And now someone’s troops are storming, for example, the city of Marseille.
And you would say to me: “Why are we doing this? Let’s just surrender the city, because many people have been killed there?”…
I am sorry, but I didn’t ask why we were doing this. Please explain why Bakhmut is strategically important in this battle.
Every millimetre of our homeland is strategically important and this must be understood.
I have said it many times, and I am repeating to you again, that every metre of ground lost may save the lives of one or two soldiers. But you may lose ten soldiers trying to regain that one metre of ground.
So do we need to hold on to it because it will be much more difficult to regain it?
Classical tactics say that those who advance should have at least a three–fold advantage of forces and a seven-fold advantage in breakthrough areas.
Do I understand correctly that Russia is still trying to drag out the war for years?
No, absolutely not. Exactly the opposite. Russia is trying in every possible way to end the war as quickly as possible. But their military bloc is still trying to prove that “we can do it, let’s limit ourselves to the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, but we will definitely do it and stop the war.”
There are a certain number of people who believe that delaying the conflict plays into Russia’s hands. And there are a certain number of people who believe that this benefits Ukraine.
The problem is that, in fact, although I hate all these muscovites, there are also some not-so-dumb guys and girls there. And they clearly understand that no one has time. The longer this goes on, the more and faster the complete destruction of the armed forces and the economy will come.
Every day Western partners agree to supply us with more and more new weapons: tanks, infantry fighting vehicles, artillery, and so on. Are these deliveries already underway?
Yes, they really are.
From what is already here and what is to come to Ukraine, do we have enough for a counteroffensive?
(Smiles) A provocative question. This is exactly what we need for successful actions against the invader. Do we need more weapons? Yes, we do.
Everyone understands this, and actually, they talk about it quite frankly.
You said earlier that the counteroffensive is planned for the spring. Is everything going according to plan?
Give or take, yes.
“I’m prepared to assist Prigozhin and Shoigu to destroy each other”
We were just talking about Wagner mercenaries. A public conflict between Yevgeny Prigozhin, the owner of the Wagner Group, and the Russian Minister of Defence Sergey Shoigu has been unfolding over the last couple of weeks. What does this conflict mean for us?
This is definitely to our advantage, let’s just say, in any case. The more quarrels and serious conflicts they have within the system, the faster our victory will come.
So let them fight?
Absolutely. And I am ready to help both at the same time. Only for them to destroy each other (smiles).
In a previous interview, we talked in detail about Surovikin. He was responsible for the heavy bombardment of our power grid, and you described him as a very violent man. But it so happened that he was ousted, and Gerasimov took Surovikin’s place. What happened there?
This is another such example of their internal struggle.
This process started in the autumn. Then Gerasimov was actually ousted, although he was second in command after Shoigu. Gerasimov began to look for ways to push Surovikin out.
And closer to winter, he began, I am not afraid to use such an expression, a “special operation” against him.
This included: conducting checks and inspections, setting up commissions and communicating these results in the correct form to the top leadership of the Russian Federation.
They painted a picture that Kherson was lost solely because of Mr Surovikin. It was solely because of Mr Surovikin that the Russian Federation suffered terrible losses. Solely because of him, there were problems of drug addiction and alcoholism in the army.
Well, there were many such examples. In my opinion, the only thing that they really correctly charged him with was an abnormal consumption of missile stocks.
In fact, these were brought to almost zero in all categories of missile weapons. In short, this is how Gerasimov regained his position.
Much, much, much more at the link!
One year ago I wrote the following:
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.
Two nights later, when I told Cole I’d do a nightly update for as long as it takes, I wrote:
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.
Fortunately the positives have held up for the Ukrainians and the Russian negatives have gotten more negative as each day goes by.
White House fact sheet: US has committed more than $30.4 billion in security assistance to Ukraine under Biden, including about $29.8 billion since the start of Russia’s all-out invasion on February 24, 2022.
Here's a comprehensive list of US security assistance sent to Kyiv: pic.twitter.com/y0iwxIaWJO
— Christopher Miller (@ChristopherJM) February 23, 2023
Vienna – This is how it’s done:
Finally someone at the OSCE parliamentary assembly in Vienna speaks up on the presence of delegates from #Russia. Kudos to the delegate from #Latvia, Rihards Kols. #Ukraine pic.twitter.com/a95vAxsN6y
— Rikard Jozwiak (@RikardJozwiak) February 23, 2023
That’s enough for tonight.
Your daily Patron!
During the past year, the 🇷🇺 launched almost 5,000 missiles and 3,500 air strikes. "Kyiv in 3 days", "Let's go to Berlin like our grandfathers", "Everyone will respect and fear us". But it's been a year since they became a laughingstock. So cruel and angry but a laughingstock. pic.twitter.com/cEi61yOodW
— Patron (@PatronDsns) February 23, 2023
If Ukraine had to choose one song to sing this night… « I’m still standing after all this time
Picking up the pieces of my life without you on my mind…
I’M STILL STANDING! Yeah-yeah-yeah » 🎶 @eltonofficial thank you for this song.
— Patron (@PatronDsns) February 23, 2023
And a new video from Patron’s official TikTok:
Ще одне і все🤭 #песпатрон
The caption machine translates as:
One more thing and that’s it 🤭 #песпатрон
And there it is, the face saving excuse:
“You would never have known just how ill-prepared we are for war if I hadn’t blundered us into one.
You should thank me, really…”
The tweets from Ponomarenko are very moving. I can only imagine what was going through the minds of Ukrainians that night. I just hope they all knew they would be as brave and tough as they’ve been.
Also too, fuck yeah Latvian dude.
Every time I read things putin has said in this or that speech, I just really want to see him get punched in the face. I mean, worse things too. But a good solid sock to the face would be very pleasant to watch. I suppose for now having him get smack-talked by a dog will do. A dog that is 100x stronger than he is.
Thank you as always, Adam.
Gin & Tonic
I am exceedingly grateful that, a year on, you are finding the stamina to do these. Did you think, then, that “as long as it takes” would be this long?
Mike in DC
I think we are seeing what level of attrition can be expected in a conflict between two large modern(ish) armies engaging in prolonged medium to high intensity warfare. Massive losses of manpower and hard to replace equipment, along with shortages of vital supplies such as fuel, small arms and artillery ammo, and basic stuff like winter gear and night vision goggles. We are seeing just how woefully equipped and badly led the army of a corrupt former imperial power is, and how much the resistance to that power has held together.
I am cautiously optimistic that this war can be won on Ukrainian terms within the remainder of Biden’s first term.
Adam, I’ve been wondering about Ukrainian reserves. I’ve gotten the impression Ukraine is keeping enough men and materials in and around Bakhmut to put up a solid Russian killing meat grinder but have not committed much of their reserves to it, unlike the Russians. It seems like Russia’s ‘arms’ encircling Bakhmut are extremely vulnerable to counter attack at some point when the Ukrainians deem they’ve chewed up as much Russian offensive capability as they can.
At least that is my hope. Curious as to what others think.
Gin & Tonic
The article linked from this Tweet is long, but very moving.
I have doubts as to how effective this would be. No doubt the Ukrainians would try, followed by a second Holodomor on steroids. It would take a vigorous set of actions/sanctions with the goal of destroying Putin’s government to mitigate it. EVERYTHING short of actual war.
@Gin & Tonic: Hear hear.
I’m very appreciative of these threads even if I cannot always bring myself to read them. I can’t even imagine how terrible it is for Ukrainians.
Adam, your dedication and persistence is a gift.
Anonymous At Work
@Mallard Filmore: Unconventional warfare means trusting subordinates from Putin down to the (last-surviving) junior lieutenant. Nothing about how Putin runs things or choses his ministers and grifters suggests any such trust exists at any level.
@Gin & Tonic: Not going to twitter. Not possible to post a direct link to the story?
Anonymous At Work
Budanov: how much of that interview was BS, how much was effing with Russian intelligence, and how much was honest? I’m guessing more than a little of my confusion was the translation but I’m also guessing/hoping it was a masterclass in psych-ops through the media.
Gin & Tonic
@karen marie: Give me a few minutes.
Thank you, Adam, for your tireless efforts to keep us updated. Slava Ukraini, and may all the forces of good that exist in the universe stand with Ukraine.
“elements of the Cossack Detachment (Volunteers) assigned to RU 155th Brigade of Marine Infantry (Pacific Fleet), have refused orders to engage in offensive operations.” Maybe the start of a wider mutiny?
@Anonymous At Work:
I don’t understand why Ukrainians doing unconventional warfare need to trust Putin. Our perspectives are not lining up.
Gin & Tonic
@karen marie: Here’s the story.
To me, The biggest tactical mystery of the entire war – – why didn’t the Russian Air Force control the air in the early part of the war? – – is finally explained. They were shooting down their own aircraft.
Anonymous At Work
@Mallard Filmore: Sorry, flipped your comment. Ukrainians are trying in spots but most of their senior officers are former Soviet officers, trained in micromanaging subordinates rather than trusting them. Hard habit to break, especially in a cutthroat system.
Gin & Tonic
@Anonymous At Work: I believe you are seriously underestimating the Ukrainian armed forces.
Curly, Moe, and Larry more like it.
@Gin & Tonic: They seem to be pretty damned flexible. And willing to trust subordinate leaders to do their jobs.
I am mostly a lurker on Adam’s threads, but I read them every night. I am overdue to thank Adam again for his extraordinary efforts to enlighten. Thank you Adam.And there is one recurring theme in Adam’s writing that I most wholly agree with ( at Ieast as I understand it) — let’s stop being afraid of Putin’s feelings and give the Ukrainians all of the weapons they need to win the war.
Adam L Silverman
@Gin & Tonic: I feared so. I did not doubt the Ukrainians societal resilience. I knew they would not crack and break. What I did not know was just how hollow the Russian military was. Nor was I sure that the US, the EU, NATO, and our non-EU and non-NATO partners would actually step up they way they have even if more needs to be done and it needs to be done more quickly.
As long as the Ukrainians are fighting I will keep doing one of these every day. It is the least I can do.
@patrick II: I really doubt that Purim’s feelings enter into the calculations.
Adam L Silverman
@Freemark: That sounds right to me.
Adam L Silverman
@Omnes Omnibus: You leave the Jewish emancipation from Babylonian tyranny out of this!//
@Anoniminous: So that’s one pure Russian type and two who tried to make their country more like Europe. Maybe Putin missed that history lesson.
Also, at least two leaders who never lined up almost the entire world against them.
Adam L Silverman
Everyone is most welcome. And thank you all for the kind words.
@Freemark: My hope too.
This year has been the longest three days of Putin’s life.
@Adam L Silverman: Weird autocorrect. But I stand by what I said.
What is the best thing for a random American to do to help Ukraine? I imagine money donations are still best; to whom? (Other than continuing to talk up the need for continuing US support).
And let me add my thanks to you, Adam, for doing these updates every night.
@Omnes Omnibus: Everyone blames autocorrect, but nobody ever turns it off.
@Adam L Silverman: I’d say, if they want to have an opinion, let them. So long as they don’t dominate the threads or make personal insults.
Didn’t you work in an artillery unit? Sorry if I got it wrong. What did you think of the video of Sheva aiming that launcher with a rock?
@FelonyGovt: I would say United24 is still the best place — official charity platform of the Ukrainian government, and you can choose one of a few sectors for your donation to go to. Also World Central Kitchen is still there on the ground, and considering how many people are often without power and water, getting hot meals somewhere is incredibly important.
Adam or G&T might have some other ideas.
The tech for telling your side’s planes from the other side’s, so that you avoid shooting down your own guys, has to my knowledge been around since WWII.
@FelonyGovt: The amount in the “Balloon Juice for Ukraine” link in the right column keeps going up every week. There are 2 charities listed there.
HTH a little.
@Omnes Omnibus: I guess “feelings” is the wrong term, but they were very reluctant to give Ukraine , “offensive” weapons vs. “defensive” weapons for a long time and not just because they thought they might cross Russia’s borders but because they were wary about how Patin would react to them. Modern tanks are finally being given, but it took a year. Long range missiles are just seeming to become available and modem fighter jets not yet. And while some of this is certainly about concern over logistics and the Ukrainian military’s capacity to absorb them, worrying about Russian, that is to say Putin’s, reaction was certainly an important consideration.Actually , “feelings” might be the correct term , because appraising Putin’s ” logic ” doesn’t seem appropriate.
Much as I would like to think otherwise, I am afraid Adam will still be doing these next year at this time, although with Russia occupying much less territory.
When discussing Kreminna, it is easy to forget at times, that as often as they talk about Russian forces attacking, they are actually the defenders in that area. Not that long ago, Ukrainian forces were hoping to be close to there. When, not if, Ukraine takes Kreminna, it will be a major blow to Russian efforts, unlike if Russia takes Bakhmut.
And to be honest, I had figured Bakhmut would have fallen by now. I am beginning to think it won’t fall at all.
Finally, I remember reading the early posts by Adam. First the everyday pictures of the long tank convoy on it way to Kyiv and how worried everybody was. Then, when the Russians got pushed back to the borders I remember how, to some degree, there was an almost unrealistic optimism. This been such an emotionally back and forth year for me, I can’t imagine how it has been for G&T, zg, and Alison and others with direct ties to the area. And most of all, for the Ukrainians themselves. I would like to think I would show the same fortitude and resilience, but I can’t be sure.
Gin & Tonic
@Alison Rose: I’ve actually thought about this a bit. When the US gov’t is providing assistance to the tune of tens of billions of dollars, it is difficult for an individual person in the US to actually have a meaningful impact donating to something like United 24. I mean, say you’re feeling flush and generous and want to give $1,000 – that’s 0.00000005 or less of the total. Does it help? Well, maybe?
So my recommendation is to try to find individuals or entities that wouldn’t otherwise get funded. Something like WCK is one – they do good work, but aren’t in line for USG assistance. MSF (Doctors Without Borders) is another organization that is well-run, does valuable work, and doesn’t get USG assistance. I’ve recommended Razom before, partly because I know some of the people involved, but same thing. My family’s own donations, which have been substantial, have gone in directions that aren’t accessible to you, for projects I won’t discuss, so that’s no help.
But equally as important is just the effort to keep the US on the side of what’s right. Keep contacting your Congressperson and Senators – if they are supportive of Ukraine, support them; if they are not, politely explain why it is in the US’s interests to support Ukraine. If you have a local newspaper, make sure they are on the right side of this, and write to them, either way, to emphasize the need for support. If you live in a location that’s visible, fly a Ukrainian flag. Buy some stuff from some of the sources that have been mentioned here, and wear Ukrainian-themed clothing when you go to the store. What russia is counting on is that the West will grow tired of supporting Ukraine. Help keep that fatigue from setting in.
@FelonyGovt: I give to Razom for Ukraine.
@different-church-lady: You are witty!
@Gin & Tonic: What an interesting account of her awakening. Thank you for sharing it.
@Gin & Tonic: Thank you, this is a very good point. I’m glad to hear that MSF is one of the good ones, I’ve supported them in the past and they have always seemed to be very honorable, but you never know. (Although I did see a while back that they have an A rating from Charity Watch, so that was good to see.)
Thankfully all of my local and national level politicians are Democrats who completely support Ukraine, so I don’t have to do any arm-twisting with them. But I do make a point to share factual info and on-the-ground reporting and such with my friends because I know many of them live under crappy politicians. And I put a Ukraine flag up in my living room window on the 3rd or 4th day of the the full-scale war and it will remain there even after Ukraine’s complete victory. I think of it in part as a tribute to my great-grandpa, who was from Lviv. I never met him, but I’m sure I would’ve loved him, from everything I know now.
Weather conditions in the Bakhmut area are not favorable for a Combined Arms offensive. Armor and other vehicles are road bound meaning their avenues of approach and attack are 100% predictable – the last thing a commander wants to be.
As AA systems became more complex and aircraft became faster, IFF had to continually evolve, as did air defence.
In the situation of two combatants flying the same jet, it became even more problematic. The standard response was/is to set up AD “zones”, that your aircraft stay out of and “Air Zones” that Air Defence stays out of. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work. It requires constant communication, and often an aircraft has to “stray” or an AD system “wanders”.
Add in MANPADs and basic AA gun systems, many of which either have no IFF, operation reaction time in excess of IFF, or worse yet, operators who are untrained on IFF, or don’t care one way or another, or a command chain that says “do this”, pretty much the Russian system.
As examples, Ukrainian International Airways flight 752, Malaysian Airlines flight 17, and more than a few others.
More at the link.
That’s over 95 percent of the countries that voted “demanding Moscow withdraw its troops from Ukraine”.
Surprised, TBH, and delighted.
@Jay: It looks so beautiful like that.
Many thanks, Adam for your great work highlighting so many different aspects of the conflict, military, cultural, political and human. The jackal community brings even more context. This is a true public service. I am indebted to you.
The mystery surrounding potential Chinese consideration of selling lethal weapons to Russia continues.
I find the comments by Blinken & Ned Price striking. Yes, the distinction between the state & private enterprises are much more blurred in China, & non-existent in the defense industry. OTOH, the Chinese State/CCP regime is not a unitary actor, it is a fragmented authoritarian system w/ a vast multi-level bureaucracy & a large network of state owned/supported companies. Many of the players in the bureaucracy & industry often act on their own initiative, w/o close supervision, certainly not to the level of Xi or the Politburo Standing Committee. If “China as unitary actor” is the framework under which many parts of the Biden Administration analyze & approach China, then it is staggeringly bad analysis. Of course, the Biden Administration may be signaling to Xi to more tightly control the bureaucracy & industry when it comes to providing lethal or dual use items to Russia, & kill any deal in progress. However, such diplomacy should not be conducted through media megaphones, especially w/ China. Media diplomacy will inevitably be conducted w/ a close eye to the domestic audiences. If that is the motivation behind the recent claims, the Biden Administration may well achieve its immediate objectives, but at the cost of even greater mutual distrust.
Meanwhile, Der Spiegel does provide an example of potential sale of lethal weapons under negotiation:
Honestly, it sounds like small fry, precisely the kind of deals that small Chinese companies might strike to seize market opportunities, w/o direction from Beijing. Here is Bingo’s home page, its entire (very short) product catalogue is made up of drones w/ < 50 kg take off weight. It was founded in 2017 on US$ 7M registered capital. Such companies are dime a dozen in China. It really speaks to Russia’s desperation when they have to resort to seeking sourcing from such small unknown players for products that they have never made before, in line w/ dumb drone from Iran & munitions from NK. Even if the ZT-180 are designed & perform to expectations, it does not offer much more impact than Iranian Shaheed-136s, not in the quantity discussed (perhaps tactically more useful if it has electro-optical sensors & can be remotely piloted).
If Xi has made the decision to provide lethal aid to Putin, & is willing to bear the costs in terms of rupture of relations w/ the EU especially, I would think he will authorize much more impactful sales (such as 122 mm/152 mm laser guided artillery shells, & HALE/MALE surveillance/strike drones, from major Chinese arms manufacturers that are already under historical US sanction).
Finally, there is an FT opinion piece that strikes the opposite tenor:
What can I take away from the above article? Perhaps the Chinese bureaucracy is now learning the Western art of selectively leaking to Western MSM to promote their preferred narratives.
Andrew Small at the German Marshall Fund has a good Twitter thread on the inherent limitations to China play any kind of mediation role in the Ukraine war.
Wish there was no invasion to have an anniversary of, but that’s no help.
I’m not feeling flush, and my job situation is not secure, so I can’t donate much right now. I have been using Etsy to find Ukrainian crafters, trying to see how often I can find something we have to get for our home that someone in UKR makes.
That FT article on Putin’s decision making leading to invasion & post-debacle is pretty staggering. He kept doubling down even after the debacle had become blindingly apparent, & remained quite callous to the obvious cost of doubling down. The part on seizing Crimea in 2014 is equally staggering. If the US/EU had reacted much more strongly, Putin might have drawn different lessons back then. China was not as closely aligned w/ Russia at the time. Really brings up uncomfortable parallels to the UK & France allowing Hitler to march into Rhineland unopposed. & I usually loath comparisons to WW II.
Ukrainian troops say ‘formidable’ Challenger 2s can change course of Ukraine war
Gin & Tonic
@Lyrebird: Thank you, but I do not wish my comments to be interpreted as any sort of exhortation for people to donate. If you are able, my comments may provide some guidance; if you are unable then please do not feel any obligation.
A grisly anniversary. Thanks for keeping all of us informed on this, Adam. All of your posts have been hard reading at times, but necessary.
@Another Scott: China, India, Pakistan, South Africa, & Vietnam abstained. The usual straddlers. However, the list of straddlers is getting shorter. Very good to see Brazil under Lula voting “Yes”.
If you’re not doing anything tomorrow evening,
Listen live on Friday, February 24th, at 7pm (Eastern Std Time, also on WQXR.org)
The Metropolitan Opera, in association with Lincoln Center and the Permanent Mission of Ukraine to the United Nations, present a one-time live broadcast concert to mark the one-year anniversary of Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine.
Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin will conduct the Met Orchestra and Chorus, and soloists Golda Schultz, Emily D’Angelo, Dmytro Popov, and Vladyslav Buialskyi. The program will feature Mozart’s Requiem, Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, and Silvestrov’s “Prayer for Ukraine.” The night of solidarity opens with Verbytsky’s Ukrainian National Anthem.
Mykhailo Verbytsky: Ukrainian National Anthem
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Requiem, K. 626
– Golda Schultz, soprano; Emily D’Angelo, mezzo-soprano; Dmytro Popov, tenor; Vladyslav Buialskyi, bass-baritone
Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Op.67
Valentin Silvestrov: “Prayer for Ukraine”
Thanks, again, to Mr. Silverman for helping keep us informed.
and our thanks and prayers to those fighting and enduring in Ukraine !
@Another Scott: I look at the Ukraine donation column, too. I have a lap quilt set back for a raffle. I have lots and lots of blue and yellow fabric, just waiting to be used! And it will be!
I may have to slow down a bit, I’m having a knee replacement surgery in March. The good thing is that it is my left knee, and I operate the sewing machine with my right leg!
Here is a photo of a quilt that is partially done…the cat can’t resist sprawling on a quilt. With her stuffed fish toy.
A year of tireless effort. Thank you, Adam.
@Carlo Graziani: +1. This has been an incredible series by Adam.
@YY_Sima Qian: It’s impossible to tell what information the US has acquired from the conclusions that have been publicly announced. It is, however, possible to speculate about where the information came from at a reasonable probability level: SIGINT. If indeed there are private actors in play with or without semi-formal blessing from CPC, it’s practically guaranteed that their signal security practices are garbage, and that their mobile phones are supplying NSA with a steady stream of intelligence.
And this stream doesn’t even begin to compare with the flood of information from the Russian end of any alleged bargain: NSA is apparently “resident” on Russian mobile networks, and in any event communications security in Russia can be easily penetrated in myriad ways, as Bellingcat has repeatedly demonstrated by the simple expedient of buying tower data.
I can’t imagine a more boneheaded move than transacting a sensitive deal with Russia secretly, and imagining that it will remain secret for longer than the time required to translate a transcript.
Hey, does anyone know the rank of “The Witch”? She appears to be a very competent small-unit commander, but what kind of unit is it, and what is her seniority?
I’m going to a candlelight vigil outside the Russian Embassy in DC tomorrow (organized by Ben Wittes, who has a brand-new powerful projector to project the Ukrainian flag on the building.) And then on Saturday there’s a big rally at the Lincoln Memorial!
@Anonymous At Work:
A working theory: Bakhmut really is strategically worthless, except as a trophy to be denied the Russians on the anniversary of the war. Budanov knows this perfectly well, but can’t say so openly, because that would be tantamount to announcing that the UA is planning an orderly withdrawal soon after the anniversary has lapsed, and telegraphing one’s intentions to the enemy is dumb, and Budanov is anything but dumb.
But the stuff about “every inch of Ukraine is as sacred to us as an inch of New York would be to Americans” is, on it’s face, dumb. The UA has withdrawn in good order from both Severodonetsk and Luhansk, for example, and none of this “sacred soil” bullshit was invoked then.
When obviously smart people say dumb things, that doesn’t mean that they have become dumb. It means that they want someone else to believe that they believe something dumb.
@Carlo Graziani: That seems a plausible theory. I have been rather puzzled for the last 2 weeks or so at the UA remaining in Bakhmut.
@Carlo Graziani: Yes, intel collection from the Russian side is definitely possible. In that case, the Biden Administration may be trying to divine Chinese actions, intentions & motivations through the lens of Russian wishful thinking.
Bingo’s webpage is extremely sparse. There is no list of customers & does not trumpet any sales. People have searched company activities on open source data bases, & there has not been any activity since 2020. It could be a PLA front company, but in that case one would expect the company to funnel slightly modified kit made by established Chinese arms manufactures.
It is not out of the real of possibility that the Russian have fallen victim to Chinese fraudsters.
Heading to bed, tomorrow is a travel day (Amsterdam! I’ve never visited the Netherlands before). One last comment on tonight’s rich take: Prigozhin’s squawking about his mistreatment by MOD is reinforcing my view that the current Russian offensive is completely disproportionate to its logistical resources, a conclusion also supported by the Vuhledar fiasco and transformation from combined-arms thrust to desultory infantry/artillery shoving match. Wagner’s ops in Bakhmut are marginally more successful than the mutually-unsupporting efforts in Vuhledar, Donetsk, and Kreminna, and if supply were plentiful they would certainly get some usable share of the goodies, especially as this is the only effort that could have supplied good news in the occasion of the anniversary of the war’s onset.
But Wagner is sucking supplies through a thin straw. My guess is that this means that MOD-controlled units in other theatres are sucking nearly as desperately on only slightly higher-caliber straws. And if this is correct, and the Russian offensive has already hit logistical culmination, then they are going to be exhausted, strung out, and very vulnerable quite soon.
That’s an excellent point.
An excellent podcast at the China Project w/ two great China analysts from the Carnegie Endowment:
China and the Ukraine War one year after the invasion, with Evan Feigenbaum and Alexander Gabuev
On China’s relation w/ Russia, the continuing uncomfortable straddle wrt the war in Ukraine, its more recent adjustments in foreign policy, & w/in the context of great power rivalry w/ the US, & the more complicated relationship w/ the EU.
Thank you Adam for the incredible amount of work you’ve put in these posts for the past year. I rarely comment, but I’ve been reading your posts (and many of the comments) for the past year. It’s allowed me to be much better informed on this war than I would have been.
You can tell yourself this if you want to. But the truth is simple, and comes from the question: are any Chinese companies selling weapons to Ukraine in *any* significant quantity? My bet would be *no*. And from this comes the obvious truth:
The Cossacks work for the Czar.
Of *course* China is a complex system, but in the end, Chinese companies sell military-capable goods to Russia b/c the PRC government is fine, fine, fine with that. It’s obvious. It’s an authoritarian regime, dude. I mean, do you really think Turkish companies go behind Erdogan’s back to sell military-capable goods to Russia? Really?
China has not yet sold any weapons to either side of the war. For “dual use” items, both sides are prolific in using DJI commercial/consumer drones for surveillance & targeting, & DJI has not geofenced off Ukraine. No, Xi is not going to order the Chinese defense industry to sell arms to Ukraine. However, if Ukrainian concerns quietly approach middlemen to purchase Chinese made rifle ammo & artillery shells, I would not be surprised if any least one Chinese manufacturer goes for it. That is the nature of China’s fragmented authoritarian system. Part of the reason Xi started his anti-corruption drive w/ the PLA in 2013 was because weapons/ammo disappearing from PLA warehouses into the international black market became an alarmingly frequent occurrence (never reached Russian levels of disfunction, though).
Of course, Ukraines has much closer & much more reliable sources of supply in the former Warsaw Pact countries, & it has been getting those stock as donations.
What you term “military capable” are mostly commodity chips & parts that have widespread civilian use but are “dual use” capable. These are impossible to regulate, but it is also true that China, the UAE & Türkiye could not be bothered to even attempt to regulate them, & most of such trade fall outside of Western sanctions any. No one can stop Russia from importing microwaves, then rip them apart for chips to be used in missiles. Especially w/ how smart modern appliances are becoming. No one can stop bags of commodity chips from being carried over the land into Russia through Central Asia or the Caucasus.
Is this why UA is getting ammo from South Korea, Pakistan, and Azerbaijan? All that has been documented.
@Chetan Murthy: Has any Ukrainian concerned approached any middle man that might source from Chinese suppliers, whether for lethal or “dual use” goods? It would be particularly instructive to identify what Pakistan has sold to Ukraine. Many of the weapons systems & munitions under production in Pakistan are licensed copies of Chinese designs. While the terms of the licensing agreements generally gives Pakistan freedom to market them as they see fit, China can intervene against a sale if they are really determined to do so.
I mean, China certainly is not an impartial party here, it has a clear pro-Russian slant, both rhetorically & in trade (though China remains the top purchaser of Ukrainian grain). The point was if some Chinese entity is negotiating to sell a small lethal quantity of lethal weapons to Russia (such as Bingo is allegedly doing w/ small attack drones), what if anything can we deduce about Xi’s position on the war, on Russia, or on Ukraine.
J R in WV
Oneof my best and oldest friends grew up in North Philadelphia, and back in 1969 I met some of his v elderly grandparents. At the time they were described as Russian Jewish immigrants…
But now I have learned that they were actually Ukrainian, and fled the Tsar’s draft in the late 1800s, spoke Yiddish, Hebrew, Ukrainian, but in a Jewish neighborhood never needed to learn much English. Mike has been upset about the Russian invasion, obviously.
Thanks, everyone, for sharing information about the Ukrainian status!
Thank you, Adam. May the need to do these not continue much longer (and for the right reason).
@FelonyGovt: World Central Kitchen and Razom for Ukraine are the two charities in our Balloon Juice for Ukraine thermometer.
The default is an even split, but to give to one and not the other, or to give more to one than the other, click Customize Amounts before you enter your dollar amount.
@WaterGirl: Auld phartz like me – auld enough that a proportion of the 401k stash needs to be dribbled back into the taxable world every year – might note that WCK and Razom qualify as charities for purposes of the Required Minimum Distribution, and whatever is donated directly to them out of the 401k counts against the RMD but incurs no tax. I donated directly last fiscal year to get a bit more sky-blue-&-sunflower-yellow bang$ for the buck$.
@YY_Sima Qian: Pakistan: https://www.ukrainianworldcongress.org/pakistan-to-send-more-than-10000-grad-rockets-to-ukraine/#:~:text=In%20January%2C%20Pakistan%20shipped%20159,M82%20primers%20and%20PDM%20fuses.
South Korea: we’ve all read about the US buying and transshipping large quantities of 155m ammo.
The idea that somehow Ukraine didn’t approach China …. that’s ludicrous. China wants Russia to win, dude. Ukraine has approached every noncombatant country in the world: we routinely read about Zelensky and Kuleba having talks with tiny countries halfway around the world, after all. They’re working assiduously to get support from every single corner of the world: do you really think they would have skipped one of the Great Powers?
China wants Russia to win.
@Quiltingfool: Wow! Just beautiful!
She was featured on Defense of Ukraine twitter several months ago. (I have not attempted verification, but Defense of Ukraine doesn’t lie as far as I have noticed. Exaggerate, sure. And this is a (truth-based) PSYOP, in part playing on Russian sexism.)
The insignia on her left arm in that video is
“Insignia of the Territorial Defense Ukrainian Armed Forces”
I can’t place the patch that they did a closeup of (1:16). (The text on the vest says “witch” according to google translate on my phone.)