The end?

Apparently in the recent Storm Shadow/SCALP strike on Sevastopol a Russian Ropucha class LST "Minsk" was hit in dry dock and severely damaged/destroyed

This not only leaves them down by one LST it also makes their dry dock unusable in the short/medium term. There are no dry dock facilities at Novorossiysk. I have read second hand reports that a Kilo Class sub "Rostov-On-Don" was also hit and damaged/destroyed. Presumably a consequence of Ukraine degrading the air defences in Crimea? The Black Sea fleet is going to look very second hand before very long. (Also I'm told that the LSTs were never built in Russia but in Poland so effectively irreplaceable)
More support for Ukraine in Lithuania. Destination boards on buses alternate between the destination and Vilnius loves Ukraine, the embassy is on Ukrainian Heroes Street and Ukrainian flags everywhere. The people despise the Russian state after experiencing Soviet rule and associated atrocities for 45 years following the 2nd World War.

You can see why they've looked West when seeing their history. In a very vulnerable position geographically.
Apparently in the recent Storm Shadow/SCALP strike on Sevastopol a Russian Ropucha class LST "Minsk" was hit in dry dock and severely damaged/destroyed
View attachment 63540

This not only leaves them down by one LST it also makes their dry dock unusable in the short/medium term. There are no dry dock facilities at Novorossiysk. I have read second hand reports that a Kilo Class sub "Rostov-On-Don" was also hit and damaged/destroyed. Presumably a consequence of Ukraine degrading the air defences in Crimea? The Black Sea fleet is going to look very second hand before very long. (Also I'm told that the LSTs were never built in Russia but in Poland so effectively irreplaceable)
Also has the nice side effect of reminding everyone that if they can reach Sevastopol they can reach out to anywhere in Crimea. Now where’s that bridge 🤔
I can't post yesterday's musing in any detail really .... suffice to say that the strike on Sevastopol and also the downing of an SU24 120km inside Russia is indicative of a game changer having happened..... somewhat sneakily. Let's just say those pilots that have flown the Gap already are now operational, with their own long range capabilities. This gives Ukraine some much needed air superiority, as they can strike even low flying Russian fighters/bombers well over !00km inside Russia, without being detected and from safely within Ukrainian airspace. As you can imagine, having seen what their new "second hand" gear can do, they are busily drawing up target lists. What's more the Russians do not know what has hit them, literally.
A few updates ... most you will have heard about, I was just slow to post these.

"Naval Warfare
After the burning down of the Minsk and Rostov-na-Don, Ukraine used a few naval-drones and attacked two hypermodern patrol ships, one of them is either heavily damaged or have sunk, and the other is suspected to be damaged.

And with only a single military drydock available in Novorossyisk Naval Base (filled with another Ropucha that is damaged by drones), Russia is in deep creek.
Even if the Patrol Crafts (Corvettes in Western nomenclature) are just damaged, there is nowhere to repair them.
And if one is dragged in heavily damaged it will most likely sink in port.

Tecknically and with a bit of difficulty Russia could use the civilian shipyard in Rostov-on-Don to repair the ships.
At least to put them in drydock for the time being.
Problem is that those drydocks are filled with ships, among them the damaged oiltanker.

Another S-400 system was hit yesterday further limiting Russian abilities to respond.
This one was taken out by a Stormshadov.
After that a stream of drones dumped down all over Crimea, especially at Yevpatoria where several ammunition dumps was hit.

The Yamal Pipeline is now into the 5th day of burning merrily about 120km before entering Moscow Oblast.
For some reason the Russians have not been able to cut the flow of gas in the pipeline, so there's quite a blowtorch running.

According to Russian reports it will take up to 6 months to get it back up and fix the faulty (sabotaged?) shut off valves unless it is prioritized and more resources are assigned.
We believe those resources will be assigned rapidly, having Moscow with half of its heating and electricity production during winter would not be an option.
There's about 2 months of gas in storage in Moscow right now, so they have a race on their hands.

Tokmak Axis
Ol***** has pushed units down the Eastern Side of Novoprokopivka, while at the same time attacking it from the North.
He already holds the high-point to the Northwest, and is about to push further South from here.
This means that the Russians have a problem with their logistics routes once more.

For the moment Ukraine is holding the Western third of the village, and at the same time Ukraine has pushed along the trenchnetwork to the North of the Village.
This means that they now have firecontrol from the North, West and Southwest.

This is by now a broken man.
He was interviewed by Rosiya TV and if you zoom in you see a man on the brink of tears with slumping shoulders.
He was then asked openly "Will we win?" by the journalist.
He first shrugged his shoulders, and then said with a very small voice, "We do not have any other option"."

Then this later today

Both I**** and A**** had noted that there's a bunch of villages being evacuated on the northern shores of the Dnipro in Northern Kherson.
A**** asked if it was related to things to come.

The reason is twofold, the Russians are shelling those villages.
That means that Ukraine have put in counter-battery radars.
This has led to even more shelling as punishment.
And more counter-battery fire... and so on and so forth.

But, to answer the question (somewhat).
We will see! ;)
Popcorn might though be a good thing to have.

Somehow Ukraine hit the Samara Ballbearings Plant in Samara.
That is a hairs-bredth away from the 1 000km distance from the closest point held by Ukraine.

2 000 square meters of the production facility dissappeared in a combination of the explosion and the ensuing fire.
This has completely stopped production, and it is to make things even worse the only ballbearing factory in Russia.
This means that production of cars, vehicles, trucks, tanks, railcars, locomotives, etcetera, has stopped for now.

Restarting the production would require new machinery to be installed, and this is not easy to find.
There are only 2 companies on the planet that produce those machines.
One is in Japan, and the other is SKF.
Neither of those will sell any machines, and no not even the chinese can make those machines.

In a way today was the day that things ended.
Yes, they probably still have a few ballbearings laying around, and they can blackmarket import a limited number at outrageous scalp-prices, but there is definitely not enough to go round, nor will there be.

The last time anyone built such a factory it took ten years, and that chinese company had access to ballbearing machines from Japan.
This means that Russia now is set to truly grind to a screeching halt as their ballbearings grind down.
This was truly the jackpot hit from Ukraine during this war, and the importance can't be exaggerated.

Won't China sell ballbearings instead?
Nope, this is a specified dual use product.
And China is deadly afraid of exporting any of those.
I have no reason to believe that China would supply them even on the sly.
It would require a monumental shift in a policy that China has adhered to strictly to avoid losing the lucrative western markets, Russia is not even remotely close to being able to cover any Chinese sales losses to the West.

In the last 2 weeks Crimea has lost half of its airdefence cover due to Ukrainian strikes.
What is remarkable is that they are no longer replacing those units.
Instead they are sending any replacements to Moscow.

Almost forgot...
Russia lost a ship again.
So, they saught shelter in Bulgarian waters thinking that Ukraine would not attack them there.
They will very soon be very surprised in this regard.
Also, there will be a few NATO ship interventions, NATO is not about to protect the Russian navy in NATO waters.
Stay tuned.

Kersh Bridge
Russian repairs did not work out.
There are still grave structural cracks on the railbridge, so it is still unusable.
And the car bridge is not really much better off.
This delayed the need to dunk the bridge into the water somewhat.

It is still though very high up on the menu, just to make certain that Russia can't start using it.
Stay tuned."
An interesting side show

"A couple of weeks ago Putin had the Nikolay Buynov, one of the two main owners of Irkutsk Oil Company arrested on the usual "corruption" charges and the company was seized and transfered into his ownership.
A tradition as old as Yukos and Khodorkovsky.

This time he made a mistake.
He forgot that Nikolay Buynov was not the CEO, nor truly the force behind the company.
That is Marina Sedykh, a far harder nut to crack.

Unlike the other softies among the Russian oligarchs she decided that she was gonna have nothing of it, and sent in her private army.
Here came Putin's second mistake.
He allowed the oil and gas companies to form their own Private Military Companies (PMC's) in an attempt to diminish the power of Wagner, and to perform the security operations that the Russian State previously performed but is not longer able to do due to the war.

These PMC's was at the end of the Wagner era sent to Ukraine, or at least most of them.
No danger with those "PMC's", after all Putin either own them directly, indirectly, or the Russian government owns them.

The method that Putin used to take those companies was always to say that the oil/gas-fields had been old Soviet fields that had been stolen, or mishandled by the oligarch in question, and then he grabbed them.
But, in this case none of IOC's oilfields are old Soviet fields, they were discovered by Marina originally, and then painstakingly developped over 30 years.
That sort of protected IOC for a long time.
Here came the third mistake.

The fourth mistake was that the Irkutsk Oil Company (IOC) is a wellrun company, paying well for the region and always on time, they also pay a lot of "extras" in Irkutsk City.
This has led to Irkutsk being one of the nicer and most well kept cities in Russia, something that Irkutskians are very proud of, and many tourists come here to visit lake Baikal.
The reason for this "pampering" are that both Buynov and Sedykh are themselves proud Irkutskians and want "their" town to be nice.
As Oligarch's go they are a tad different, and quite popular in Irkutsk.

So, back to the IOC PMC, it never went to Ukraine.
And instead of quantity they went for Irkutskians that had served in true elite units like the VDV, Marine's and Spetznas.
They hired only the best, and only local's patriotic to Irkutsk.
Here comes Putin's mistake no 5.

Sedykh never registered as a true PMC, she registered as a Private Security Company (PSC).
But, nobody really noticed the difference until Shoigu and Putin disbanded all PMC's (even the oily ones).
Putin's oil-soldiers was just moved over to the regular army.
Sedykh's private army never moved over.

Mistake number six of Putin was that he did not ponder who IOC sells their oil and gas to.
They sell it via their own pipeline into Mongolia, and onwards to China.
Note that this is private, and unlike the China-Russian Pipeline it was never in the agreements between the states, and it was never limited in amount (basically China halved their purchases from the other companies), instead they increased purchases from the IOC until they bought everything.

So, as Putin arrested Buynov and stole her Empire and sent manager's from Lukoil to take over she decided to have none of that.

Musing History
I have previously mused about the Tobolskians who would protect their electricity sub-station.
It was an allegory for something like this.
What I did not mention well enough in this allegory is that it is much easier to revolt if you are on the borders of Russia, because you trade with your neighbours directly across the border.

If you are gonna leave Russia you sort of need someone else to trade with, especially if your are the first to go...

Back to Irkutsk
If you have had it with Putin, you are out in Nowhere, your customer is China, and you have sizeable army of professional armies dedicated to the region and the company, then it is very easy to pull the trigger.

In the morning a couple of days ago Marina Sedykh sent in her troops and retook her holdings, blew up a few bridges in the general Russian direction and continued to send oil and gas southwards, receiving hard cash.
She also took control of a couple of key bridges of the Transsiberian and the M53 and M55 highways.
And, much of the stuff she needed came anyway from China, she is sitting their beaming watching while Russia continues to go to ****.

Formally Irkutsk have not left the Russian federation, but with the police seemingly being happy, the FSB mysteriously quiet, and happy Irkutskians galumphing about.
The question is what Putin can do about 2500 IOC PSC soldiers with all the equipment that a giant fortune can buy, fed by a good cashflow company?
Not much really unless he is planning to take something like 10 000 Mobiks from the frontline and storm Irkutsk.

There is so far no information about if Sedykh is going to leave the federation, or if she is just happy with sitting waiting for someone less insane than Putin to come to power, more malleable to the idea of private ownership etcetera.
For the moment she seems happy to be in control of her oil/gas-fields again and is not interfering in the civilian leadership, but it is anyones question how it will develop over time.

I waited for something like this to happen somewhere, when someone with clout decided to defend their property in one way of form against the cleptocracy in Moscow.

As Moscow become ever more desperate and try to wring out the last of the rest of the federation to keep itself warm and fed, I expect things like this to become more common.
Especially if someone had already done it and gotten away with it.
Question is if Marina Sedykh will get away with it.
Personally she is safe, she flew in temporarily from France, but is now back there.

One thing to keep in mind is that she know holds the main artery of all of Russia in her hands, and if attacked she could quite easily blow up the bridges of the Transsiberian.
I think the Moscovians for now will just go and drink a lot of vodka and for all intent and purpose try to forget about it and leave things be, the risk is just to big if you try to storm the IOC."

I just looked at google images of Irkutsk. Wow. Beautiful indeed.
The previous one about Irkutsk was an example of all of the intelligence reports I get each day, in total I get to oogle between 80 and 100 of them.
Some of them are about the price increase of Omul fish in lake baikal, and some are more useful.
Problem is always to know what is what.

Anyway, someone came home being rather sheepish after having discovered the price tag of the bottle of Montrachet that she had snarfed.
I got both flowers and a box of chocolates as mollification.
She had googled it since she liked the bottle, and pretty much fainted at the price tag.
I mostly found it funny though.
I'm happy munching on cherry chocolates.

As *** had noted, Ukraine has emptied out a lot of villages along the northen side of the Dnipro due to "not being able to keep the integrity of their safety".

So, what is behind this really?
Let me give you the backdrop.

Ukraine is currently holding no less then 5 bridgeheads on the southern side.
They are not big, but they are important to give opportunities to cross over as and when needed.
What is more important is that Ukraine is by now holding most of the islands in the Dnipro river, this gives a somewhat safe access for larger barges carrying heavier equipment.

But, to bring over more heavy equipment Ukraine must take more land around the bridgehead, and that requires more infanty on that side with more equipment.

On the Russian side we can see that it is the most lightly defended area, there is nowhere near the same amount of troops here compared to any other stretch of the frontline, this is why Russia has failed to drive away the troops holding the bridheads.

To be able to go across in numbers Ukraine would have to remove more Russian artillery, and also hit more air defence systems.
The latter part is by now achieved with there being no air defence in the Western 2/3rds of Kherson.

Last week Ukraine has moved in 3 ordinary marine brigades and 2 artillery brigades.
On top of that the battalion that was trained by the UK SBS has meandered over to a suitable spot.

At 0300 last night the new artillery brigades opened fire on known Russian artillery positions, and a very one sided artillery duel began (Russia has no counter-batter radars here).

These are the facts as of 24 hours ago.
You can decide what will happen in the end.

Over at Avdi'ivka it seems like the 72nd brigade has been demolished completely, and near to 800 Russians was taken as prisoners.
Behind the village was the Russian second defence line behind the railroad.
This was first cut towards the North towards Bakhmut, and later behind both Klichi'ivka and Andri'ivka.
The Russians attempted to retake the two salients behind the village in waves of meat.

At the same time Ukraine took control of the Westernmost part of Bakhmut itself, just a few blocks, but still.
This was achieved with very little fighting.

We have done nothing really interesting.
Just a few happy attacks to keep the Russians perky, but taken nothing.
We are mostly grinding away at Pavlivka and Novodonet'ske.

Tokmak Axis
Same goes here, the storming of Novoprokopivka is ongoing, but as with any village, it takes time.

After the attack on Yevpatoria Russia has lost 80 percent of their air defence in Western and central Crimea.
What is interesting is that they are bringing in nothing to replace it.
Not even one system is moving from Russia, and none of the systems around Kersh is being moved.

It is like if the air defence of Kersh is doing its own sad last stand.

Now it is naptime for me, I am whacked."
And some other bits and bobs.

"Unless you have unlimited amount of mine clearing equipment it takes time to sap (handclear) minefields.
Hence why we are currently a bit boring over in our direction.
We need to first make a bit of space so that we later can pile up in columns and do more speedy stuff with the mine clearing equipment that we have.

I was mistaken, or more to the point, I missed that it was two ships that had gone boom out at sea.
One was a frigatte, it was damaged and was taken to port where they are running pumps on it waiting for a birth in Rostov-on-Don Shipyards and then tow it there.
Towing a damaged ship is dangerous since if there is a pump failure it can sink and drag along the tugs down.

The Samun mineship was also hit, and that was dragged in with the stern down and with portside list.
It is now at the docks being pumped, and divers will try to go down to close doors and so on below in an attempt to stabilise the ship for the long long tow from Sevastopol to Rostov-na-Don shipyards.

Ukraine has now received equipment to serially produce these naval drones, and will soon be able to blanket the waters with them.
At that point the naval part of this was will be over.

I know that our Chief of Navy is believing that unless you have a lot of water to manouvre in the classic ship naval warfare is pretty much a thing of the past and that she has ordered rapid development of new far more advanced drones and long range autonomous land launched torpedoes.
A pretty telling statement since it is coming from someone who's entire career has been based upon running ships.

Instead ships will be used to dash in, launch missiles and drones, and then dash out.
No more patrols of an area with ships, that is a thing of the past.

Mission Creep
I have been waiting for this to happen.
Mission Creep is when the goal of a mission or a war, or the parameters, start to move.
This is normal, and almost always happen.

Mission Creep can be bad, like in Afghanistan where a fairly rapid invasion turned into a multiyear occupation without an end in sight.

It can also be a thing that is good.
Like the US support of the UK during WWII, where it began with a few old ships and handmedown weapons, and ended up with entering the war after instigating the Lend/Lease-Act.

An important and good mission creep just happened in the US, and I have waited for it.
US has previously had a strict "No firing on Russia" policy in regards of the weapons given to Ukraine, and have enforced that for all weapons systems given even by other NATO-countries.

We instead gave and sold weapons with the, "use them as you wish, but please do not aim for civilian things" proviso.
Ie, use them wisely.
Something that Ukraine has been very good at following, unlike the Russians they are not monsters.
Yes, misses may happen, but it is war and mistakes do happen, but at no point have they directly aimed at anything civilian.
Now someone will say, "but they blew up a powerplant".
That became a military target as soon as the Russians started to fire on the Ukrainian powerplants.
Reciprocity is a part of the rules of war.

Anyway, the US all of a sudden changed the usage requirement for their next package (that does indeed seem to contain a few ATACMS) into "the weapons are Ukrainian, and they can chose how they target themselves, but we recommend avoiding targets inside Russia unless necessary".

The existing weaponry like glidebombs, Himars, etcetera, will be unlocked for free usage.
This is a pretty big thing and will in the end give Ukraine more abilities to shorten the war.
Just imagine if all bridges 300km away from the frontlines blew up on the Russian side?
Ouchie... no more logistics, at all.