Discover more from Simplicius's Garden of Knowledge
SITREP 5/1/23: Massive Missile Strikes Rock Ukraine
There are a lot of updates, so strap in folks.
Firstly, let’s cover the most pressing news. The anxiety surrounding the upcoming Ukrainian offensive is reaching a peak. Many predictions stated it would come early to mid-May. Prigozhin himself just stated that May 2nd is when the rains will stop and the ground will begin fully drying up, which will take a couple weeks at most. Recall that Vladlen’s old prophecy was between easter and May 15 at the latest.
Prigozhin believes that the Ukrainian Armed Forces can launch a counteroffensive in May: the last rain should pass on the 2nd, it will take another week for the soil to dry up, then they will be ready to move.
The best scenario for the Armed Forces of Ukraine would be an offensive in June, in May they would have time to prepare the 61st, 44th, 115th, and 5th brigades. The enemy wants to gather more troops that can deliver massive strikes in all directions. However, the Western hosts require an offensive on the eve of May 9.
Now Ukraine is increasing shelling on various fronts, probing attacks, drone strikes—all potential precursors. There is also activity on the Dnieper.
One thing to mention is that for the past few months, Ukraine was said to be damming a lot of water up-river on the Dnieper. The water levels were said to have dropped to historic lows. The reason is presumed to be that they intend to launch a cross-Dnieper assault by drying up the river. Around Kherson particularly (and possibly other regions), there are many areas where the river is split into a lot of small, marshy tributaries and islets which are not very deep. If you really drain the river by damming it up stream, it could create cross-able conditions.
Prigozhin also has stated that he believes the Ukrainian offensive will come as soon as Bakhmut falls. And Bakhmut is finally on its last leg. It feels like we’ve been saying that forever, but the gradual progress, slow or not, is undeniable. And judging by the new maps, it is doubly undeniable how little of it is left.
Here are some maps showing the Bakhmut situation:
It’s literally down to a few city blocks. And the reports from the AFU are not getting any better, including on other frontlines. Here’s a text posted on a Ukrainian channel, from an AFU soldier named ‘Berlin’ on the Orekhov line in Zaporozhye:
He says that in 40 minutes of fighting, they had 46 wounded (300s), and 10 dead (200s).
But with the closing in of the offensive date, things are getting extremely tense on both sides. There is massive pressure on the Ukrainian command and soldiers, but also a lot of tensions flaring on the Russian side, with some skeptics sounding the alarm about Russia’s preparation.
Yesterday, Prigozhin launched into his most scathing screed yet, accusing the Russian MOD of outright treason, purportedly pointing the finger at Shoigu for withholding critical munitions from Wagner forces. He even appeared to levy a threat by stating that if proper munitions are not supplied in the next few days Wagner will withdraw from Bakhmut. Longer excerpts:
Ukraine supporters plus 2D Bloggers and 6th columnists immediately latched onto this tirade as proof that Russia is failing, the offensive will overrun Russian forces, and that all is lost. They particularly latched onto a statement by Prigozhin that due to the shell hunger, Wagner has taken some of its heaviest losses recently, with the specific quote that on one recent day they lost 93 men.
📍 The Armed Forces of Ukraine are fully prepared for the counteroffensive. It will 100% start before May 15th. The Russian side is not ready for it because of the ongoing problems with management, it is not preparing correctly or not preparing, they will simply run out of the trenches. The Russian army in its current state is unable to successfully fight a serious enemy, which is now the Armed Forces of Ukraine. The mess is complete everywhere, there is no discipline. Everything is there in the army, there is absolutely no control, but there is a social, absolute, paranoid gap between what is happening in the trenches and what they know and think in the headquarters.
The problem is, the doomers and 6th columnists left out the second part of Prigozhin’s statement, which was that on the same day, the AFU lost 500 in Bakhmut alone. So yes, 93 is a lot for Wagner to lose in a single day, but that is still a 5:1 kill ratio on the AFU as per ‘doomer’ Prigozhin himself. Why sneakily leave that part out?
Prigozhin has stated before, that Wagner suffers ~20 casualties on a ‘good day’ and 50+ on a ‘bad day’. Well, this was a really bad day, but still not comparable to the AFU’s losses.
With that said, that’s not to downplay or totally dismiss what may be happening behind the scenes. It is extremely difficult to penetrate to the truth here, as Prigozhin is known for his theatricality, which was demonstrated recently when he released a long documentary video heavily criticizing other rival PMCs in Ukraine, with the clear angle of lionizing Wagner. In fact, the video was pretty much a PR/marketing ad for Wagner. However, it was an interesting look, nonetheless, at some of the powerplays occurring behind the scenes.
For those that don’t know, there are a number of other PMCs fighting on the Russian side in Ukraine. Some estimate over 10-20. In the video, Prigozhin names PMC Nevsky and PMC Stream, which is apparently Gazprom’s private PMC company sent to cover Wagner’s flanks in Bakhmut. There is also a PMC Wolves and PMC Patriot, alleged to be the private PMC group of Shoigu, which has previously worked around Energodar nuke plant and other areas near Zaporozhye and Kherson, if I recall correctly.
Ultimately, it’s difficult to know exactly what Prigozhin’s angle is; he could just be playing up the theatrics, or doing outright disinformation in the Sun Tzu fashion we’ve discussed before. Or there are actual critical disagreements happening. For instance, Russia recently fired General Mikhail Mizintsev, which western yellow press calls ‘the butcher of Mariupol’:
He’s now being tied to the Prigozhin debacle, as rumors now state that he was close to Prigozhin and was supplying Prigozhin with more munitions than Russian MOD had accounted for or allowed. Others, however, claimed he was a smurf and a poor leader.
This saga has once more devolved into claimed leaks showing the exact munitions counts requested by Wagner, and delivered to them. With a counter release by the Russian MOD showing confirmed munitions deliveries:
The document on the right side from the Russian MOD states that between March and April of this year, Wagner forces received amounts like: 55,000 total various 122mm rounds, ~40,000 total 152mm rounds, 160 pieces of laser-guided Krasnopol artillery rounds, and a hell of a lot of other things. 135,000 RPG-7 rounds is nearly difficult to believe. Over 182,000 82mm mortar rounds for the 2B9 ‘Cornflower’ auto-mortar launcher is also quite a lot.
But taking just artillery alone, my calculations show 75k+ total regular howitzer artillery rounds of the 155mm and 122mm variety (not counting the 122mm BM-21 Grad MLRS rockets). This 75k for under two months of time breaks down to ~9,400 a week or about 1,300+ per day. Considering that this is not counting the hundreds of thousands of mortar rounds, MLRS rounds, ATGMs, etc., this doesn’t seem too bad for just Wagner group alone. 135,000 RPGs for eight weeks’ time is a whopping 2,500 RPGs fired per day, which seems…well the only word that comes to mind is: inordinate.
Either way, Wagner continues advancing and is clearly on the precipice of capturing Bakhmut—beyond that there isn’t much else to say. But the debacle and haggling does leave a bad taste in people’s mouths on the eve of what could be a turning point offensive. It leaves people asking whether Russia is truly ready, and whether internal strife and infighting could be Russia’s undoing in light of a massively prepared, Western-trained-and-armed Ukrainian force.
To be frank, we can only wait and see. But this bitter infighting is not shared along all the other fronts or Russian forces, though with that said, none of them are currently undergoing fighting as intense as that of Wagner, so potential ammo-hunger would not theoretically strike them in the same way.
And despite Prigozhin’s seeming doomer outlook—even if it’s genuine—I believe that Prigozhin knows hardly any better than we do about the state of the Russian frontlines, not counting his own Bakhmut front, of course. As I said before, he’s not actually high up in the food chain, has no real military experience, and knows nothing of the Russian army’s condition on other fronts apart from his own, nor of why the MOD may or may not be conserving munitions. Personally, I’m still inclined to agree with this writer’s viewpoint on the coming offensive:
Written by Павел Владимирович:
Of Ukraine’s glorious counter-offensive
Zaluzhny now insists on postponing the long-awaited Ukrainian counter-offensive to the end of June, because he thinks better weather, warmer Dnieper river and dry soil will help Ukraine and be “more comfortable for its soldiers”. To me, this translates to “I don’t want to deal with this, please appoint someone else to orchestrate this debacle”.
It is clear now that Russia is no longer fighting the same Ukrainian army that it did a year and some ago. That army has been annihilated and so has the second one during another glorious counter-offensive, namely that around Kharkov. Now, with a third Ukrainian army, full of untrained men who don’t want to be there, Ukraine is pressed to venture on another great adventure. We’ve seen many videos of people being caught on various streets of what is still Ukraine (although it is getting increasingly silly to call it a country, even objectively) and many of them show less than enthusiasm. We’ve seen a guy fainting, a fella fighting the police (not just one, by the way) and these people will now be sent against the six layers deep Russian defences, protected by the actual Russian army. There was some talk that Ukrainians are hoping to rout the Russian army and throw it into panic (I’m assuming upon seeing their grand armada, carrying the banners of Odin or whatever), which I hope, for their own sake, isn’t true.
The insane mechanics’s dream that is Ukrainian heavy equipment garage is about as wonky as their personnel too. The many nations of the global West chipped in for this fight for the American dollar and so Ukrainians now have a bit of everything. As pretty as all this equipment looks with a swastika painted on it, it can’t do much without ammunition, which Ukraine has very little of now as well.
Another thing to point out now is the shortage of air-defence ammunition, which allows the Russian air-force to pummel the aryans to Valhalla daily.
In summary, the Third Ukrainian Army (I capitalise because it’s funnier that way) is a Frankenstein’s monster of equipment that has only been raised a bit. The monster knows it’s there, but can’t do much, in reality.
All of the things I mentioned aren’t getting any better, it’s all getting worse and worse daily and only accelerating. If this is clear to someone like me, who’s only military strategy experience comes from video games, I’m pretty sure it is clear to Zaluzhny.
I don’t like making predictions, but please allow me to make one: the Ukrainian counter-offensive won’t happen, at least not the way we imagine it. I know some highly knowledgeable people would disagree with me, but what the hell… The Western pressure on Ukraine will force them to do ‘something’ and that ‘something’ will be presented as a great counter-offensive, but it won’t be that at all. Instead it will be a desperate attempt at making it look like a counter-offensive, while throwing the too young and the too old with no experience or training against Russian artillery to please the Western masters.
Also, I’d like to share this post as well, which confirms some of the numbers of the potential offensive which we’ve bandied about here. Particularly the statement in the second paragraph, which is roughly concordant with my own calculations, that I’ve posted several times before. I continue to maintain that there has to be at least 150-250k Russian troops not yet committed to conflict which are sitting and waiting, and mostly being utilized for rotational purposes to keep troops fresh, and inure them to combat conditions slowly and gradually.
If it’s true that Russia mobilized not only the 300k we know of, but an additional 100k volunteers—which is very believable, by the way—then that bodes very well. And I continue to believe that they are not yet being committed so as not to be ‘caught with their pants down’ by a huge Ukrainian counteroffensive striking at a weak point. For now they will likely wait to counteract Ukraine’s last hurrah, and then be utilized in a decisive Russian offensive of their own.
As for the possible offensive of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, many large figures will be thrown in, but size ranges can be compiled based on various data sources.
The Ukrainian garrison in Zaporizhia has more than 50,000 troops, including fighters trained in the West, and new equipment, including tanks. In the Dnipropetrovsk region, there are also large reserves of the Armed Forces of Ukraine – at least 100-150 thousand people. Draws attention to the fact that they are kept away from the front and will be allowed to fight on the move. It is reported that in the area of Bakhmut, AFU troops numbering from 50,000 to 80,000 people are waiting for the offensive. However, from these troops, the Ukrainian Armed Forces send new reinforcements daily to the Bakhmut "meat grinder", where losses are high, which worsens and weakens further conditions for the spring offensive.
As for the Russian troops, the partial mobilization last fall resulted in the recruitment of 300,000 reservists and 100,000 volunteers. Currently, the Russian Federation is reported to have concentrated 113 battalion tactical groups in the Zaporizhia direction and 205 BTG in the Donetsk direction. Based on the fact that there can be 600-900 people in one BTG, this means 190-286 thousand people in reserve who are not currently participating in combat operations. Until now, most of the newly formed troops were outside the front line in reserve.
If this general assumption is almost correct, it certainly means that Russia has more than enough reserves to deal with any Ukrainian invasion.
Meanwhile, things are looking no better on the West and Ukrainian’s side. A slew of headlines and MSM articles continue to either downplay, downgrade, or ‘check expectations’ for the coming Ukrainian offensive.
The Newsweek article above whines:
Ukraine, on the other hand, concentrated many of its best equipped and best trained troops in Bakhmut where they were pounded for months by Russian artillery, missiles, and drones. In the battle for Bakhmut, Ukraine lost thousands of experienced troops who cannot be replaced by conscripts with a few weeks of accelerated training.
Ultimately, we are not generals, but we do understand economics. It has always seemed extremely unlikely to us that a nation with a 2021 GDP of $200 billion and a population of 44 million could defeat a nation with a GDP of $1.8 trillion and a population of 145 million. This would seem particularly true if only the larger nation, that is Russia, possessed a sizable air force, significant defense industries, and nuclear weapons.
It ends with this flat assessment:
The classic requirements for a just war include a reasonable possibility of victory. While a generation of Ukrainian men are dying, the sad reality is that Ukraine has about as much chance of winning a war against Russia as Mexico would of winning a war with the United States.
This new Politico article has a doozy of a revelation:
As reported last time, the trend towards conditioning the public towards acceptance of some sort of ceasefire carries on. One can see in the Politico article above, the Biden administration wrangling with how to present a potential ‘ceasefire’ to the Ukrainian people once their offensive comes to a calamitous end.
The Biden administration is quietly preparing for the possibility that if Ukraine’s spring counteroffensive falls short of expectations, critics at home and allies abroad will argue that America has come up short, too.
Ukraine’s ever-imminent counteroffensive will attempt to retake Russian-seized territory most likely in the east and south, though for operational reasons no senior officials from Kyiv have detailed specifics.
Please note my previous forecasts about the 2024 election cycle, and how the closer we get to it, the more disastrous the Ukrainian situation will be, politically speaking, for Biden or whoever the establishment candidate is. They are already beginning to draw up contingencies in that regard. And I explained previously how it will be sold to the Ukrainian people/leadership as a ‘temporary’ ceasefire measure, and maybe even have some sort of carrot-on-a-stick dangled as coercion—i.e. NATO membership, etc.
Publicly, President Joe Biden’s team has offered unwavering support for Ukraine, pledging to load it up with weapons and economic aid for “as long as it takes.” But, if the impending fighting season yields limited gains, administration officials have expressed privately they fear being faced with a two-headed monster attacking it from the hawkish and dovish ends of the spectrum.
One side will say that Ukraine’s advances would’ve worked had the administration given Kyiv everything it asked for, namely longer-range missiles, fighter jets and more air defenses. The other side, administration officials worry, will claim Ukraine’s shortcoming proves it can’t force Russia out of its territory completely.
The article goes on to establish that ‘behind closed doors’, administration officials are skeptical that Ukraine can realistically sever Russia’s link to Crimea.
Moreover, U.S. intelligence indicates that Ukraine simply does not have the ability to push Russian troops from where they were deeply entrenched — and a similar feeling has taken hold about the battlefield elsewhere in Ukraine, according to officials.
The most striking admission comes from Richard Haass, a senior deep state bigwig who has long been president of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR):
“If Ukraine can’t gain dramatically on the battlefield, the question inevitably arises as to whether it is time for a negotiated stop to the fighting,” said Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations. “It’s expensive, we’re running low on munitions, we’ve got other contingencies around the world to prepare for.”
This very article, by the way, was stealth edited when it originally said that Ukraine has suffered 100,000 killed troops thus far; this was subsequently quietly changed to “100,000 casualties”, something that did not escape the notice of many analysts.
The revealing article also hints at something else I’ve seen discussed lately: which is that Ukraine could be pushed to accepting more modest/realistic goals, which includes being allowed to ‘claim victory’ for simply reaching Crimea rather than attempting to liberate it. However, reading between the lines, I’ve extrapolated this further to mean that there’s a likelihood that Ukraine’s real goals of the offensive will merely be to push south far enough to put Crimea within artillery range. They could consider calling that a victory and trying to force a ceasefire as this would give them immense leverage during any Minsk 3.0-style armistice, as they will now be able to terrorize Crimea for their purposes in the same way they did Donetsk, etc., for many years during the multiple Minsk agreements.
However, even that is likely unrealistic, so I wouldn’t be surprised if they settle for bringing Melitopol within artillery range instead. This would only require them to get as far as Tokmak to the north.
In light of this, the following, said by Urkainian political scientist Ruslan Bortnik, is noteworthy:
If the president of Ukraine "freezes" the conflict, that is, does not end it with a "victory" from the point of view of Kiev, he will find himself in the crossfire of two oppositions, said the Ukrainian political scientist Ruslan Bortnik. Some will accuse Zelensky of losing territories and people, while others will blame him for unleashing the conflict.
"Moreover, we will have to publish a huge amount of data related to losses, and a lot of information related to corruption will come out, the most serious corruption, with which there are huge problems," the expert said. Therefore, it is advantageous for Zelensky to continue fighting. While they are going, there is no one to put all these questions to him, Bortnik concluded.
Also, here’s the problem with the many theories that Ukraine may be carrying out a massive maskirovka campaign, and actually planning to strike elsewhere: such as occupying Donetsk/Gorlovka as Russell Bentley claimed, or overrunning Svatove/Kremennaya, or even Bakhmut.
The amount of munitions they’ve stockpiled is likely only enough for one big impressive and flashy push. It is critical that this push results in some type of very tangible result that can be used as a monumental psychological victory to rally flagging European support.
The problem is, if they waste this stockpile on some entrenched theater, they will only bog themselves down and end up in a situation weeks down the line where they have no more munitions and have achieved only pushing into the heart of, let’s say, Donetsk region, without achieving the sort of ‘flashy’ rallying victory necessary.
I believe the only objective that could generate such a victory is giving Russia a major scare vis a vis Crimea. Not least of which reason being that, striking against directions populated by LDPR or Wagner would not really be an optics victory against ‘Russia’ itself. Only the optics of a major victory against true Russian forces would give the sort of rallying cry intended. And no direction is associated with the true heart of Russia more than the Crimean one. This is why I simply can’t see any way out for them other than going for Crimea or its general direction (Melitopol, Berdiansk, Mariupol, etc.).
On the other hand, in preparation, Russia has been greatly increasing its strikes on deep rear infrastructure and troop consolidation points.
Days ago, Russia was said to strike a large mercenary gathering in Konstantinovka with Iskander missiles, killing 60+, plus destroying upwards of 15 vehicles:
Another massive strike in Kramatorsk reportedly destroyed “200 tons” of ammunition supplies.
And Sergey Lebedev, a coordinator of the Nikolaev underground movement, told Russian Ria Novosti news the following:
A missile attack on the night of April 27 on the territory of a shipbuilding plant in Nikolaev destroyed about 20 senior Ukrainian and foreign officers who held a meeting there, the foreigners were from English-speaking countries, Sergey Lebedev, coordinator of the Nikolaev underground, told RIA Novosti - Translated Video Link
And as of this writing, an unprecedented strike is underway, reportedly utilizing 13 total Kalibr carrying ships and subs, 50 Geran and equivalent drones, and ~21 Tu-95MS Bears and additional Tu-160s armed with upwards of 8 KH-101 cruise missiles each for a total of over 500 guided missiles/drones. There’s no telling how many are actually launched compared to decoys or simply ‘going up’ in the air in regions in order to distract or raise regional alarms.
But it’s been confirmed that a critical railway juncture and surrounding depots in Pavlograd were hit, with massive explosions visible, signifying huge losses. Reports claim two entire divisions of S-300s (representing over 16 launchers) which were being stored and prepped for the upcoming offensive were destroyed as well as tons of other ammo, including DU shipments, and many troops as well. The reports are likely not far from the truth as the explosion type was clearly of the ‘chandelier’ type (as described by one source) with the typical telltale signs of ammunition detonation, secondary explosions, etc. So it’s a certainty that a mass amount of ammunition supplies were destroyed. One video here: Video Link.
If the scale of this attack is true as reported, this is a clear sign that a major offensive is gearing up because this is exactly what I’ve stated before, that Russia would continue saving up its munitions/missiles, waiting until the eve of the offensive when Ukrainian hardware is finally getting centralized, consolidated into depots or places of preparation, etc. Then it would launch massive strikes against these consolidation points. And we’ve seen that in the last several days as there was suddenly a spate of missile launches, though the one two days ago was small by comparison.
With that said, it could also be preparations for an offensive of Russia’s own, as any potential Russian offensive would also come on the heels of massive strikes.
On the topic of Ukraine’s preparations, recently there have been more and more (and more and more) videos of Leopards and Bradleys in Ukraine. One of the videos showed the Bradleys (as well as a T-55M) sporting new tactical symbols, which is typically a sign that they’ll be used in combat soon.
As can be seen, the symbol has been identified as closely resembling the Wehrmacht 22nd Panzer Division.
Rybar has compiled the following map and information as to the offensive preparations, showing Ukrainian units moving up towards the frontline, entering special training, etc.:
One thing to keep an eye on, as we get closer to go time, is the following report which claims that the U.S. has recently outfitted Ukraine with ‘radiation sensors’ to detect nuclear blasts. This is worrying only from the standpoint that of my long held theory that once Russia truly crushes the Ukrainian army once and for all, one of the only remaining ways ‘out’ to save Ukraine will be a nuclear falseflag, i.e. blaming some nuclear attack on Russia, similar to the infamous ‘gas attacks’ blamed on Assad.
"The United States is wiring Ukraine with sensors that can detect bursts of radiation from a nuclear weapon or a dirty bomb and can confirm the identity of the attacker," the Times report says. The goal, according to the report, is for US officials to be made immediately aware of if a radioactive weapon detonates inside Ukraine, and to be able to identify Russian forces as the culprit.
NYT describes the measure as "the hardest evidence to date that Washington is taking concrete steps to prepare for the worst possible outcomes of the invasion of Ukraine, Europe’s second largest nation."
It’s very forebodingly troubling that they describe the team making these preparations as a ‘shadowy group’:
The Nuclear Emergency Support Team, or NEST, a shadowy unit of atomic experts run by the security agency, is working with Ukraine to deploy the radiation sensors, train personnel, monitor data and warn of deadly radiation.
In a statement sent to The New York Times in response to a reporter’s question, the agency said the network of atomic sensors was being deployed "throughout the region" and would have the ability "to characterize the size, location and effects of any nuclear explosion." Additionally, it said the deployed sensors would deny Russia "any opportunity to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine without attribution."
This Twitter account rightly understands the connotation :
The idea would be an obvious one: allow Ukraine to launch its offensive. As Russian troops fall back slightly in order to trap the AFU into the standard over-extension a la Hannibal’s famous Battle of Cannae tactic, the Western MSM would be directed to pump up a hysterical propaganda storm of mass Russian retreats, routs, defeats, etc. This narrative would be sold as a mass defeat of Putin’s army, forcing Putin’s hand into a final hour desperation nuclear strike. The reality on the ground would likely be the complete opposite: the AFU would be massively slaughtered, taking unprecedented casualties. But to no avail: the MSM’s narrative would be complete. Putin got routed and was forced to use a tactical nuke on Ukrainian forces to save his troops.
This of course would then open the door to NATO intervention at least insofar as stealing Odessa, fortifying Western Ukraine as a bulwark against the Russian army that the AFU can later escape to, etc.
It’s not definitive that this will happen, but it is one possible scenario being prepared for the CIA and co. as a contingency, should the AFU begin taking massive losses, and is something to keep an eye on.
Interestingly, at the same time the U.S. has recently revealed that it has “sensitive nuclear technology” at the Energodar nuclear power plant, and warned Russia “not to touch it.”
Given the fact that there’s been previous evidence that Ukraine was storing and/or developing nuclear weapons or their constituents at some of these plants, it is a concerning development.
Only recently Arestovich revealed that Ukraine had only two types of guarantees for its protection: either to join NATO, or if that should fail, to immediately develop a nuclear weapons program: Video. And since it’s obvious that the former is not likely, then there’s very strong chance Ukraine would be long underway with the latter. Arestovich adds that Ukraine would be able to develop nukes in under a year. I would not be surprised if the CIA misplaced some ‘sensitive technology’ connected to this pursuit.
In the meantime though, the West continues struggling to try and arm Ukraine. There’s been another spate of reports detailing how intractable the situation really is. Some people believe just because some Western bureaucrats haughtily announced that they will ‘ramp up’ production of munitions that it’s a done deal, and is as easy as that. But in reality, they are finding it impossible:
The most devastating of the revelations was that the Pentagon’s only supplier of crucial gunpowder had blown up in recent times, and was never even rebuilt.
The “incident,” as the Minden explosion has become known, is a pointed example of the risks facing America’s military. The blast that wrecked a World War II era building in a remote compound 30 miles from Shreveport has extinguished all production of black powder in North America.
The article cites many weaknesses in the U.S. arms industry not limited to supplies; the largest of which is actually the labor itself. U.S. can no longer find workers with the required technical expertise. This is a problem the Russian arms industry is currently suffering from as well, but the difference is, Russia is in a far more advanced state of ramped-up war-footing. For the U.S. to be in such dire shape is well…dire:
“Can you imagine what would happen to these supply chains if the U.S. were in an actual state of active war, or NATO was?” said Jeff Rhoads, executive director of the Purdue Institute for National Security, a defense-research institute at Purdue University. “They could be in trouble very quickly.”
So, if that was North America’s only military black powder supplier, how are they making do? The article claims they are drawing on stockpiles and buying from several European manufacturers—but it’s not enough.
This new WarOnTheRocks article highlights the endless laundry list of problems that European arms manufacturers are facing. Ironically, every single one of them are things they had accused ‘corrupt, backwards’ Russia of. Yet as always, it turns out they were merely projecting.
In the lead up to these offensives, Russia has been massively targeting and neutralizing Ukrainian air defense systems in particular. Days ago a slew of videos were published showing what amounted to upwards of 6+ Ukrainian S-300s destroyed, one German Gepard, and a Ukrainian Tor-M1, hit while speeding down the highway:
As can be seen by the map, the Tor was hit on the highway just north of Vasilevka and Orekhov, in the Zaporozhye region, exactly where the offensive is set to take place, and was likely being brought up for that purpose.
To help combat this accelerated AD system attrition, already revealed in the recent leaks, the U.S. has in fact begun shipping decoys of S-300s and TOR systems to Ukraine. These were spotted on a train in Ohio, and are of much higher quality design than the typical “blow up” decoys filled with air. They reportedly have functioning wheels, amongst other things:
The U.S. is now complaining that Russian pilots are attempting to ‘dogfight’ them over Syria:
Meanwhile, U.S. has grounded its entire fleet of combat helicopters after two Apache AH-64s crashed into each other during training in Alaska, killing 3 of the crewmen.
And a new American mercenary was pronounced deceased in Bakhmut. Cooper Andrews was a 26 year old Ohio native, black rights activist, self-avowed anti-fascist and anarchist.
Andrews served in the US Marine Corps, where he allegedly "dared to spend the night in the same barracks" with neo-Nazis in order to figure out and get them discharged from the army. He retired with the rank of sergeant.
Oh, the irony…
Meanwhile, the U.S. army is having such massive retention problems that that it’s been reported 600+ pilots have been forced to sign three-year contract extensions against their will.
And the U.S. is getting so broke they want to water down the metal content of their coinage to ‘save money’:
Bloomberg writes that U.S.’s most critical strategic ICBM update now risks being delayed into the 2030s.
The U.S. has also completely cancelled Switchblade-300 production, finding them utterly useless and inferior to Russia’s Lancet loitering drones in Ukraine:
Popular Science, meanwhile, is perplexed why U.S.’s JDAMs have been such failures:
American-made satellite-guided bombs provided to Ukraine are missing their targets. These Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAMs)—which use a strap-on kit that turns ordinary aerial bombs into precision-guided weapons—have repeatedly failed in the field, falling victim to Russian electronic-warfare jamming.
They do at least make one correct admission:
Russia is probably the preeminent world power in battlefield jamming. The Russian military has been acutely aware of the West’s use of precision-guided weapons, particularly satellite-guided ones, and has undertaken a considerable effort to nullify that advantage. Russia has led development of GPS jamming capabilities, and the Russian Armed Forces maintains five electronic-warfare brigades for battlefield jamming.
The article ends with the insight that the only way around this is to use laser-guided bombs—but Ukraine has no laser designation capabilities as that would require having air superiority which would allow laser-armed drones to designate targets—doh! Guess they’re S.O.L.
One other interesting report:
According to Pentagon documents, the Ukrainian military has very limited use of American HIMARS systems. According to MASH journalists, out of 20 launchers in service with the Ukrainian army, only 3-4 are used.
AFU performs only 2-4 missile launches per day, which is significantly lower than its real capabilities.
Among the reasons for such a limited use are: lack of missiles, attempts by the AFU to save rockets as much as possible on the eve of the expected counteroffensive, as well as the destruction of the HIMARS MLRS by Russian troops.
There are also claims that the limited number of strikes is not caused by a lack of ammunition, but by attempts to avoid Russian counter-battery fire
This jibes with what we see on the battlefield, and is further compounded by the bad news that a lot of the arms shipped to Ukraine have major problems or are defective:
The Armed Forces of Ukraine complain that NATO is sending non-working military equipment to Ukraine
▪️Thus, of the 20 M109 self-propelled howitzers handed over by Italy, not one was ready for battle.
▪️Advisors of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine reported this to the Financial Times.
Russian State Duma Deputy an ex-general Andrei Gurulyov made an interesting statement days ago as well, in regards to Putin’s recent visit to the frontline zone as well as Chinese defense minister’s visit to Russia:
The visit of the President of the Russian Federation to the NVO zone, the check of the readiness of the Pacific Fleet, the visit of the Chinese Minister of Defense are links in the same chain.
Any meeting of the president with the commanders of the groups in any case leads to a tangible result. Today, the final stage of planning is underway, I think that the events planned by us at the front are not far off.
I noted weeks ago, when Putin visited the SMO zone that this appears a sort of ‘final blessing’ and readiness check. Of course, it could be interpreted as a readiness check of defense forces rather than offensive ones, though Gurulyov’s statement appears to hint at the latter.
Another big update is that the U.S. has greatly curtailed its drone ISR operations over the Black Sea, following the MQ-9 destruction weeks ago:
🇺🇸 The United States has completely stopped launching Global Hawk strategic drones over the Black Sea after an incident with their other Reaper drone, according to Flightradar24 data. This information was also confirmed by an informed source to RIA Novosti.
As evidenced by the Flightradar24 tracks, the last time the American Global Hawk flew over the Black Sea, opposite the coast of Crimea, was on March 21. Since then, US strategic drones based in Sicily have no longer entered the airspace over the Black Sea.
The U.S. even issued a condemnation of Russia’s recovery of the MQ-9 Reaper:
✖️ The House of Representatives of the US Congress adopted a resolution condemning Russia's actions during the incident with the American drone that fell into the Black Sea. As stated in the document, attempts by 🇷🇺 Russia to raise a drone pose a threat to the national security of the United States.
** Military experts note that the US Congress is passing resolutions due to the inability to prevent Russia from raising and testing the US bpl ✈️ MQ-9 Reaper.
A few disparate but interesting items:
The Russian military-industrial complex is working on pairing the Marker ground robot with unmanned aerial vehicles (reconnaissance and kamikaze drones).
▪️According to the announcements of military experts, this platform could soon become a BPL carrier on the battlefield. She will be able to use up to 100 miniature bpl-kamikazes that will act in the form of a "swarm".
Patriot missiles have begun official combat duty in Ukraine: VIDEO.
Top Ukrainian Channel ResidentUA writes about Ukraine’s struggle to adapt to Russia’s new surge of glide-bomb use:
The 🇺🇦General Staff is urgently trying to change the defense tactics of Bakhmut/Avdeevka/Ugledar, due to the use of aerial bombs by Russian troops.
The main principle was built around the creation of fortified areas from high-rise buildings, in which snipers were located on the upper floors, and warehouses and headquarters of units in the basements.
In recent days, Russian troops have been conducting reconnaissance using drones, and then bombing the buildings, after which nothing remains of the houses, and those who are in the basements are simply buried alive, since there is no way to dismantle the rubble. The losses are so significant that the General Staff is forced to change the strategy for the defense of cities.
Ukraine likewise complains of new SEAD/DEAD tactics of the Russian airforce:
The RF Armed Forces have changed the tactics of using aviation and drones to search for and destroy air defense of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. This was announced by the Ukrainian head of the joint press center Alexei Dmitrashkovsky.
According to him, Russia is now using a slightly different tactic, unlike the past, when they flew one or two planes at different times. “Yesterday there was team work: two planes lured out our air defense forces, and the third plane struck ,” Dmitrashkovsky said.
Kamikaze drones are also used differently. As Dmitrashkovsky says, now Gerans are combined with Lancets, where the former lure the air defense systems onto themselves, and the Lancets hit open positions. “After the use of the Shaheds , the Lancets appeared. It is also a strategy to locate air defense positions and then strike with the Lancets accordingly ,” he said.
A quick update on Peskov’s son, who Prigozhin revealed had earlier fought for Wagner.
The son, Nikolay Peskov, released an interview here, where he confirms having served a standard six month Wagner contract and it being his decision, rather than some sort of pressure from his father for the sake of optics. Also, the fact that he served under a pseudonym, and no one in his unit knew that he was the son of Peskov, so he was apparently not given special treatment.
The other big revelation from the interview, is that Nikolay Peskov’s great-grandfather on his mother’s side is actually the famous ‘Hero of the Soviet Union’, Marshall Semyon Budyonny.
Being a descendant of such famous stock, it becomes more apparent why he felt the need to follow in the footsteps of his ancestors.
The final thing I’ll leave you with is this poignant quote from Aleksandr Dugin, which summarizes the recent important new legislation Putin signed weeks ago, which flew under the radar, but which establishes a new civilizational direction for Russia in the new era. The full text of the “new foreign policy concept” of which Dugin speaks can be found here.
“Putin has come a long way in 23 years, from the first cautious but resolute attempts to restore Russia's sovereignty as a state, almost completely lost in the 1990s, recognising that Russia (although sovereign) is part of the Western world, part of Europe (from Lisbon to Vladivostok) and generally shares Western values, rules and attitudes, to the head-on clash with the collective West, openly rejecting its hegemony, refusing to recognise its values, principles and rules as universal and strictly accepted by Russia.
Putin's signature on 31 March 2023 with the new foreign policy concept means that the road from a sovereign state in the context of a common Western globalist liberal civilisation to a sovereign civilisation, the Russian world and an independent pole has been definitively passed. Russia is no longer the West. The West was the first to proclaim this, launching a war of annihilation against us. After a year of SMO we also affirm it. Not with regret, but with pride.
In the above definition of Russia there are four levels, each representing the most important concept in foreign policy.
The statement that Russia is a civilisation-state means that we are not dealing with a simple nation-state according to the logic of the Westphalian system, but with something much bigger. If Russia is a civilisation-state, then it should not be compared with a particular Western or non-Western country, but with the West as a whole, for example. Or with another civilisation-state, such as China or India. Or simply with a civilisation represented by many states (such as the Islamic world, Latin America or Africa). A civilisation-state is not just a very large state, it is like the ancient empires, the kingdoms of kingdoms, a state of states. Within the civilisation-state there can be several political entities, even quite autonomous ones. According to K. Leontiev, this is a complexity in the making, not a linear unification, as in the common nation-states of the New Era.
If you enjoyed the read, I would greatly appreciate if you subscribed to a monthly/yearly pledge to support my work, so that I may continue providing you with detailed, incisive reports like this one.
Alternatively, you can tip here: Tip Jar