The end?

Brief news. According to General Cherrycola, 24 trucks carrying PAC2 and PAC3s just arrived unannounced in Ukraine .... apparently the lead truck playing "Born in the USA" (I kid you not).
This was a pleasant surprise to say the least ... he thinks possibly part of Biden's presidential drawdown.
Brief news. According to General Cherrycola, 24 trucks carrying PAC2 and PAC3s just arrived unannounced in Ukraine .... apparently the lead truck playing "Born in the USA" (I kid you not).
This was a pleasant surprise to say the least ... he thinks possibly part of Biden's presidential drawdown.
Bloody deluded Yanks. Glad of the equipment, of course, but they can keep the jingo to themselves ( they actually can’t…)
Re. Odessa port hits.... Russia targeting stuff bound for Africa I think.
Anyway, this....

"There is some confusion on the internet about if there is an upcoming Russian offensive on Kharkiv, or if Ukraine will push home the ongoing Bilhorod Mission.
ISW (The Institute for Studies of War) is pushing the Kharkiv Offensive narrative online, and usually they are fairly based in reality, so is there any truth to this?
Let us debone stuff directly from the horses mouth.

As I have mentioned previously Russia is pushing in roughly 20 000 soldiers into Bilhorod per month.
These are newly contracted replacement soldiers that was originally slated for the frontline in Ukraine.
But, since Russia did not have enough units to spare to secure Bilhorod inside of Ukraine, they started to divert in fresh meatcubes instead.

At this point they have roughly injected 30 000 soldiers into the Bilhorod Oblast, and 5 000 each into Kursk and Bryansk Oblasts.
The troops are pretty light on equipment so far, but they do have a fair smattering of older tanks and APCs.

As such it is enough to stabilise the front from the Russian perspective since main Ukrainian heavy units are not participating in the battle.
And with stabilising I mean the Russian units are staying outside of the grey zones in Bilhorod, but are as of now making it impossible to move forward for the Free Russia Troops.
I expect that in a while as more troops pour in, that they will start to slowly push the Free Russians backwards.

The ISW also wrote that Ukraine has sent reinforcements to stop said Russian offensive on Kharkiv.
Causation is important here, also temporality.
Ukraine sent heavy reinforcements to the area at the beginning of the latest Free Russia invasion of Bilhorod, no new troops have been sent since.
These units are from the 2nd Combined Arms Army of Ukraine, and are the same army that Tank Girl has been lugging around for pretty much a year now.

Their purpose is to make the Russian side nervous.

The Russian newly minted forces brought with them a lot of artillery for being at this stage in the war.
And when Russia has artillery, they will use it, preferably on civilian targets.
So, they started to shell towards Kharkiv to attempt to hamper logistics for the Free Russia troops and the 2nd CAA sitting behind the border.

So, it is not so strange that everyone is believers in a Russian offensive towards Kharkiv.
Troop buildup of a sizeable force, artillery preparation fire, etcetera.
And here it is where facts and fiction meet.
I am certain that Russia is nurturing fantasies of attacking Kharkiv, and they might very well attempt that one day.

For now Tank Girl has been busy blowing up artillery systems in this region to neuter any stupid ideas on the Russian side, and to get back some peace and quiet in Kharkiv.
And, with more air defence on the way, things should soon improve for the Kharkivians.
For now though an entire brigades worth of Russian artillery have been taken out in 72 hours of counter battery fire and artillery duels.
That is half of what they have in this sector, it speaks volumes about how good the Ukrainians have become at counter-battery fire.

Kharkiv Offensive
One should always ponder what the enemy might do.
So let us ponder an offensive on Kharkiv, and what stages must be taken to be successful.

First Russia would need to clear out the Free Russian units, this should not be a huge problem really, after all Russia by now have a 1:4 advantage in troops, and the Free Russians are not heavy units, nor really dug in.
Even with the Ukrainian artillery and drone advantage this should be possible to do in between 1-7 days.

During this Russia would have to do intensive artillery preparation on the 40K Ukrainian Border Force that is covering the borders towards Bilhorod, Bryansk and Kursk.
The detachment in Bilhorod is roughly 15 000, and they are pretty well dug in with concrete pillboxes and bunkers, so not so easy to just march over.

Behind those 15 000 you have 20 000 soldiers in heavy units and artillery brigades from the 2nd CAA.
In reality these would gleefully punch out the lights of any Russian getting through the border force and trenches.
But, let us imagine a Universe where the Russian forces are ever glorious just for the sake of things.

After getting through the Border Force of Ukraine with minimal losses the remaining 25 000 Russian soldiers tangle directly with the Ukrainian main units and achieve a win with 1:1 losses.
The remaining 5 000 men at this point should be facing the reserve force of 30 000 men from Poltava, but they have received bad fuel so their gear does not start.

So, the 5 000 Russians gloriously run on their stubby legs into the 4 defence brigades manning the fortress that is Kharkiv, and at this point they find Shai-Huluds to break through with...
Yeah, we are now in the realm of Dune science fiction warfare.

And here is the thing, I am almost certain that whatever is running the war on the Russian side see the Russian troops like I described them ironically.
Hence why they might try and offennsive.

But in real life there are no Shai-Huluds to ride on.
Russia would need at least a quarter of a million soldiers to even attempt taking a monster city like Kharkiv.
And they would need 12 million artillery shells to hammer the city apart.
Russia obviously has neither of those things, so it is just a pipedream.

But, Russia being Russia, there is still hope that they will attempt to do this, and that would be very good news indeed.
It would consume resources so fast that the war would be over in between 90 to 180 days.

Good Mobifikation News!
Russia in their infinite wisdom have decided against a large general mobifikation campaign.
They simply feared a second wave of Russian exodus as people flee the draft again, a similar sized one would truly be the end of Russia.

Instead they are doing the darnedest to increase the rate of recruiting new contract soldiers.
This is being done by yanking the salaries upwards on a massive scale, they are now paying up towards 7 000USD, with the pay for a grunt being doubled to 4 000USD.

Now imagine what that is doing to the sad Russian economy for a minute...
It reeks of desperation if nothing else.
On top of that they are pushing harder than ever before on the regular conscripts to sign a contract.
And when I write "pushing", I talk about beating and raping them until they sign.
Russia, such a lovely place.

Even with the salary hikes and ruination of Russian arses it is not enough.
Most Russians are now well aware that the odds of you returning alive is almost zilch if you sign a contract.
So, Russia is relying ever more on recruitment of African, Indian, etcetera mercenaries.
And still it is not enough to feed the Russian offensive monster with more meatwaves, so for the first time in the war the Russian army is shrinking.

I think that the political side in Russia is now getting pretty blooming nervous about the "Lackings" erupting around them.
On top of the Lackings nature seems to hate Russia and is drowning ever larger areas as the snowmelt creeps northwards into new areas.

To further complicate things Europe is slowly getting its **** together in regards of arms production and further support to Ukraine, and there's even an army slowly building up threatening to enter Ukraine against Russia...
And out of the absolute blue came "Peekaboo 'Murica!" as they returned swinging due to having remembered how to 'Murica.

There's at this point no sunny sides remaining on the Russian eggs."
It does go to show how the estimates of reserves can vary quite a bit between our friend, Germany, China, UK, ISW etc. but you do start to think the lower estimates of how much equipment remains could be nearer the mark even accounting for Russian ingenuity in the face of desperation and the firing squad.
Another refinery/storage boom this morning in Omsk.
The issue that "caused" the weaknesses in the frontline, allowing the Russians to make a breakthrough this week has been addressed. The Ukraininas successfully played Whack a Mole.
The US equipment started rolling into Ukraine from early yesterday.... the first 60 US "advisors" have arrived. Taken alongside some AD systems arriving thanks to France, Holland, Germany and Greece ... on top of the US Patriots ... Ukraine should have much more effective Air Defence within days. There's new stuff guarding Odesa now (which is a relief to me). The new gear and consumables will be on the front "in days", I'm told.

Now for some Russian weirdness. Shoigu's right hand man and future son-in-law arrested:
Thoughts from our man

"In short, the deputy Prime Minister & Deputy Defence Minister of Russia, Timur Ivanov have been arrested together with his righthand man Sergei Borodin.
I will put in a link at the end that gives a pretty good runup of these two gentlemen.

The initial claim was that they had been arrested on corruption charges, and no clue was giving about what the arresting body was.
I already at that point lifted my eyebrows, people that high are just not arrested for those things, it is sort of expected of them to steal as much tosh as they can grab, as long as they share the spoils with the boss (Shoigu) they are supposed to be safe.

This sort of made me think that this a play against Shoigu to weaken, or remove him outright.
I especially thought this to be likely since Ivanov is divorced and it is not a secret that he and Ksenia Shoigu (Soyghurts daughter) are a couple, they are even engaged.

And later today the bomb exploded, he had been arrested on charges of treason by the DVKR FSB.
This is the Counter-espionage and Counter-intelligence Directorate of the FSB.

Court Politics
Here we need to detour into the intricacy of Kremlin Court Politics.
Yuriev, the head of the DVKR could have arrested Borodin after getting sign-off from the head of FSB Bortnikov.
He could not arrest a deputy prime minister and the righthand man of Shoigu even with Bortnikov's signature on the arrest warrant.

At this point Shoigu went ballistic and called and yelled at Yuriev, who told him to b***r off.
There's like 5 steps on the power ladder between those two, so he must have felt very sure that nothing would fall down on him.
Remember that Shoigu is number in the top five in Russia.

To arrest Timur Ivanov Yuriev have had to go to Bortnikov, who then would have had to go to Patrushev for a signature.
And even then it would have been those two that was first on Shoigu's speed dial to complain too.
It sort of Implies that neither Patrushev, nor Bortnikov, even deigned to pick up the phone, and that they had instructed Yuriev to tell Shoigu to put a sock in it.

This implies several things.
One of them is that they are either cutting into Shoigu to weaken him, or this is the first step in arresting him.
I am certain that when the thugs of the DVKR are done with Ivanov and Borodin in the cells under Lefortovo, that they will be more than willing to sing like birds in regards of true and false things that Shoigu has done.

If now that is the game.
Since things so far have been done in the open(ish), so it sort of implies that Shoigu might be set up as the fall guy.
Look how a chain of traitors have led the army, and destroyed the Russian army, sort of thing.

If there is a real Putin still around it implies that he knew about it, and Peskov stated that he had been made aware of the case by Bortnikov.
How much now that is worth as a source.
It might also push towards a putch of sorts as the major players try to save themselves firstly, and Russia secondly.

As things go, this is the highest Game played in Russia since the Soviet days.
I am pretty convinced that this is highly important.
I am also not entirely sure what it is about yet.

Oh, forgot... Neither Ivanov, nor Borodin, are known sources to a Western intelligence service.
That does not exclude entirely that they may have been that, or been sources to China.
If the "traitor" part is even remotely true I would say that China would be the more likely option.
But, I suspect that the treason charges are just so much bullhork and a convenient path to take to remove Shoigu.

We shall soon see I think.".

Significant visible change at the top in Russia has to happen, in my opinion.

On many levels there are such comparisons with WW2. The Germans couldn't win the war probably after a short period around Dunkirk (as long as we had US support and held India and the rest of the empire), but they had LOST the war by mid 1943 and it was evident to the German high command, the front line soldiers, sailors and airmen and most of their civilians by mid 1944 that Germany was not only going to lose, but it would lose ever more catastrophically, in every respect, the longer it continued to fight.

Russia had that small initial window of a few days to take Kyiv, capture and replace Zelensky and win. It is now a case of how long can they prolong things and what will be the ever increasing cost.

So why didn't Germany actually surrender?

Because those at the top knew that it would mean death for them personally and the Nazi ideology that most of them fervently believed in. The survival of Germany overall and the suffering of it's people came nowhere in to their calculations. Therefore the only way to get Nazi Germany to surrender before their military was destroyed, their cities and industry razed to the ground and the Red Army exacting terrible revenge all the way to the Reichstag, was change at the top. That was easier said than done. It was even more difficult after the failed Von Stauffenburg plot, so it is important that when moves are made they are successful. Treason is death. Failure is death. Even association with traitors was death, just look at the fate of Rommel.

We are in a similar situation with Russia now, it seems to me. The one (huge) difference, at the moment, is that Ukraine and the West are not going to invade and destroy Russia. Never the less, just as with Nazi Germany, war will continue until those in charge of Russia, those prime movers, those influential powerful key figures who also believe in the war in Ukraine, believe in Russian expansionism and believe in Putin's kleptocracy, are removed. If they are not, then at best we will have only a pause for Russia to re-arm, learn, plan and return.

If we get to that then it would seem that the West will be back in a cold war situation, with Poland, Ukraine, Latvia etc on our side of the curtain, but China, India and others now as viable significant economic outlets for Russia.

Even to get to that cold war situation from the hot war we are in, Russia surely either has to have a genuine change at the top or a visible, apparent pretend/slight change at the top, to allow Ukraine and the West to even contemplate a deal could be struck that has any viability. We probably won't know for quite some time which, but there will have to be some high profile victims prior to any withdrawal and reparation negotiations. Shiogu would be one visible change. Putin even better, of course, but if he doesn't die then there needs to be such changes that he is an isolated figurehead no longer in charge. I can't see that happening because it is just not the Russian way. It might happen in practice, but he would die soon after, before the world started laughing. So opaque, careful, weird moves going on in Russia don't worry me too much. There surely have to be some on the way to the outcome we need, it's just whether they are the right ones, or perhaps counter moves. Russians are still pretty good at ruthless political chess on their own boards.

Russia is still heading for some very difficult economic times whatever happens. The full catch up consequences of this wasteful war will have quite some time lag. Russia had some very unsavoury demographics coming along, it now has more. It doesn't seem like the most welcoming place for a bunch of young Nigerians say to rock up. In terms of influence worldwide it has lost it's military reputation for competence and it's arms industry credibility is in tatters for everything except maybe drones.

Furthermore, in the same way WW2 was the end for Britain as an empire and world power, it could do the same for Russia. It may break up. It has certainly lost the fear factor of some neighbouring states. The EU, NATO and China will be preferred partners.

So, tough economic times ahead for Russia, even with its natural resources. If there is a genuine change at the top, the tough times ahead might end up being laid at their door and allow another Putin or Stalin back in. It might be better for both us and Russia all round if the change is not genuine and a new cold war ensues. The economic difficulties coming would be exacerbated with continuing western frostiness and we might have another collapse of regime as happened 25 years ago. Many people in Russia have got used to some significant improvements in the last 25 years. It is always more disgruntling going backwards to poverty than never having reached a position of comfort in the first place. There are millions more young, intelligent, productive Russians who have or are enjoying life outside Russia that it can't afford to lose but are unlikely to return to a life worse than they have in the west.