Friday, September 23, 2022

Putin Declares Mobilization and Referenda

 First some good news. 215 Ukrainian prisoners were exchanged for Putin's man in Ukraine, Victor Medvedchuk, and 54 other Russian prisoners. Among the Ukrainians released are 108 survivors of Azovstal in the battle for Matiupol. Some of them are also survivors of the murder of 53 Azovstal prisoners and the wounding of over 100 others in the Olenivka Prison Camp when the Russian mercenry Wagner Group either planted or fired an incendiary bomb into the dormatory. The swap was arranged by Saudi Arabia and facilitated by Turkey.

Paramedic Kateryna “Ptashka” Polishchuk

Marine Mykhailo Dianov 

Five commanders from Avolstal will spend the rest of the war in Turkey

Two days ago, Putin made a speech on national TV announcing a "Partial Mobilization" and agreeing that refernda would be held in the occupied Oblasts about becoming part of the Russian Federation. A referendum would be held in Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhia from Septembere 23rd to September 27th. How they will be held is irrelevent, though "on-line" has been sugggested, as the results are already tabulated and will be in the North Korean area of 97% one suspects. The Oblasts will immediately be declared part of Russian Federation. And concluded by threatening nuclear response for the Nine hundred and thirty eleventh time and said he is not bluffing. 

NOTE: Update 27/09/2022: Voting was conducted door to door with armed soldiers ensuring people voted yes. Some had to vote more than once for absent family members. 

Of course he is bluffing as he is holding a busted flush, ten high. No one will take seriously the results of the referenda. He may be insane enough to use nucs but his immediate coterie of underlings is not. And if I understood it right, Joe Biden said if they do use nucs, USA will establish a no-fly zone over Ukraine and send the entire Russian Black Sea fleet to join the Moskva, all in 24 hours. Now, Joe is not bluffing.

Putin's main purpose was declaring a "partial mobilization" of 300,000 former reservists. He lied of course. It is a full mobilization, as anyone between 18 and 65 can and will be "drafted". All contract soldiers are now permanent. Plane tickets out of the country went to $11,000 and cars are lined up at every border out of the country that will allow them in.  Belarus and Kazakhstsn are not cooperating, Germany thinks they should be allowed into the EU.

People are very angry and have taken to the streets although not in numbers large enough to make a difference. Protesters are hauled away and immediately drafted. No one comes to their rescue. Of course the main hardship will fall on the ethnic groups who have already suffered the highest percapita losses. In Buriatia, students are grabbed froim the schools, people are pulled from their beds, villages are emptied of all males of fighting age, given half an hour to pack and report.

They are supposed to get two weeks training before being sent to the front but there are no training centres large enough to handle the numbers. They will have no uniforms unless they bring their own. They will have no or very old equipment  and certainly no heavy arms. They are being sent to the front to die. If they refuse to fight, they will be shot. If they retreat or try to surrender they will be shot. Their only hope is to shoot their officers and surrender. 

This is Putin's version of a Stalanist ethnic purge. He will throw masses of soldiers at the Ukrainian lines. The more that get killed the better. He can't deport them as Stalin did, nor can send them to the Gulag. There are too many. So if they die, so much the better. And get rid of the trouble makers too. He could draft as many as a million. As is the Russian pattern, he is taking out his losses on his own people.

Putin likes to think he is Peter the Great or Stalin. He is far more like Nicholas II in 1914 and his army suffers from the same shortcomings. Both looked good only on paper. 

The Army of Nicholas II was clumsy and inefficient precisely because the tsarist regime itself was clumsy and inefficient. Its fa├žade may have been magnificent, glittering—but a glance behind the curtain disclosed indolence, incompetence, indifference, corruption and decay. Given tsarist Russia’s natural advantages, it ought to have been a great power to rival the United States. But thanks to its structural deficiencies it was the weakest, most fragile of the great powers. The poor performance of the Russian Army in 1914-17 faithfully reflected the defects of the regime it served.

V. Putin may aspire to emulate Peter the Great and Stalin, but his regime most resembles that presided over by the last tsar. In such a state the despot’s formal monopoly on power is absolute but his actual power is much less, its exercise being dependent on the loyalty and competence of underlings. But since despotism puts a premium on loyalty, competence is relegated to second place.

This is a comparison of the armies of Putin in Ukraine and the armies of Ncholas II at Tanneberg in 1914. Well worth a read. https://unwokeindianaag.substack.com/p/tannenberg-revisited 

In 1917 the Russian soldiers shot their officers, threw down their arms and went home. This led to the takeover or Russia by the Bolsheviks and a five year civil war that killed millions.


Sunday, September 18, 2022

Well, Dog my Cats

 If you want pictures of the atrocities committed in Izyum and other liberated communities you can Google them. Be warned that they may make you nauseous. Today I will post pictures of our dog and cats. I miss them and am lonesome for home.

Lucky

You want it, come and take it

He has been digging a bomb shelter

Enjoying the A/C on a hot day

He loves his squeaky chicken

Watching Tanya in the kitchen

Checking the neighbourhood

His favourite ball

Supper time

Kick it if you can get it

Bonya, Tigritsa, and Vovo

Bonya is the biggest of the siblings and the most gentle


He likes sleeping in the back porch in the day time

Tigritsa is the undisputed queen of the house

Feed me treats

Sharing sour cream with Tanya


A bag is as good as a box

Sleeping on the blanket box

Any place works for sleeping

Vovo is a hard one to get  picture 

Waiting for their morning tuna

Bonya finished first

Tigritsa and Vovo take their time

On cold nights they sleep with Tanya
Neighbours grey cat comes for food too

Sleeping in the morning sun

This just arrived. Tigritsa is helping Tanya


Thursday, September 15, 2022

Catching up on the War in Ukraine

 

This took all day to put together. Hard to know what is accurate or just rumor. Sources are different and so information varies. MSM is useless. They are farther behind than Twitter and insist on the both sides equivalent BS. This is as current and accurate as I can make it but by the time I post it, something will have changed. I have tried to include maps where possible but some are in Ukrainian. Google maps works well though spellings may differ.

Russia is losing on the battlefield but has turned to tactics to make Europe cold and Ukraine dark. Shutting off gas completely and bombing any and all electrical plants in Ukraine. They are using cruise missiles launched from the black sea or from bombers over the Caspian Sea as well as shorter range rockets and barrel artillery when within range. Yesterday Eight (six?) Russian cruise missiles fired from a Tu-95 bomber hit a hydroelectric facility in Krivii Rih, leaving the city without water and causing the Inhulets River to overflow. It has risen 5 meters since the dam was breached. https://twitter.com/i/status/1570109515651227648 The city has been partially evacuated. 

Russia continues to send cruise missiles into Zaporizhzhia, Dnipro city, Mykolaiv, Kharkiv, Sumy, Rivna and other cities to destroy infrastructure and kill or injure civilians. Tanya said that a couple days ago there were missiles going over head all night, all day and the next night. Air defense shot one down so close that our house shook. Cats and dog not impressed.

The Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, the largest in the world, has been under Russian control since the first days of the war. Russians have been shelling Nikopol across the Dnipro river and the community of Enerhodar, where workers at the plant live, from the ZNPP. They have also been shelling the plant with mortars, knocking out the power lines around the plant and blaming the Ukrainians.

All 6 reactors are now completely shut down. Three external power sources have been reconnected to supply electricity to the cooling pumps. ZNPP is NOT another Chernobyl waiting to happen. Totally different technology and well-fortified against bombs or Missiles. Should an accident happen, the amount of radiation escaping would increase cancer risks over the years but not the kind of deadly levels that Chernobyl created.

Ukraine says nothing changed after the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) visited the ZNPP. IAEA left two people behind to monitor the situation. However IAEA chief Rafael Grossi said very recently that talks are underway to establish a protection zone around the Russian-held Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. At the same time, Ukrainian Intelligence said that Russia was planning more shelling of the NPP. Danger Zone: How Russia is risking nuclear disaster at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (info-res.org)

Map showing percentages of Oblasts occupied by the Russians

Russian routs have made Russia the largest supplier of war munitions and equipment to AFU next the USA. Ukraine now has ample shells for its 152 mm Warsaw pact howitzers and 400 workable tanks. Surrendering Russian soldiers are poorly dressed, poorly equipped and poorly fed. Ukraine will treat them under Geneva convention rules and that should encourage more to surrender. Russians are even using 60-year-old T64 tanks, they are so short of equipment. (Ukrainian Territorial Defense Forces are using a few Maxim machine guns from WWI. Once in place they still work well and are effective).

In liberated territory, locals are quick to identify collaborators to the police. The SBU continue to root out spies acting on behalf of Russia. In occupied areas partisans look after collaborators their own way. AFU is mopping up isolated pockets of Russian soldiers in liberated areas. And about 4% to 6% of Kharkiv oblast is still not under Ukrainian control, almost all of it east of the Oksil River. Russian military have stiffened their resolve and Ukrainians are still fighting to push towards Lysychansk and Serevodonetsk.

As communities are liberated by the AFU, forensic investigators move in, to document war crimes. These communities have been under Russian control for as long as 6 months, compared to those near Kyiv where they are still uncovering victims. So far findings have been just as horrific including a torture chamber in Balaklia where a prisoner had written the Lord’s Prayer on a wall.

On the Donetsk front, Russians continue to attack Bakhmut and continue to be driven back. Ukrainian forces repelled enemy attacks  in the areas of Spirne, Soledar, Mayorsk, Zaitseve, Odradivka, Vesela Dolyna, Vodyane and Novomykhayilivka settlements. They seem like atomatons, not thinking at all. Shades of the Winter War. They have been instructed by Putin to take Donetsk and cannot change tactics until the order is rescinded by Putin. In the mean time Ukrainian forces have recaptured the airport on the outskirts of Donetsk city as it is quite close to the front line.

Russians are reporting that Ukraine is concentrating troops and equipment on the Zaporizhzhia front between Donetsk city and the Dnipro river. There are reports of Russians stealing cars and trailers to transport loot from Melitopol into Crimea. They are likely moving their families to safety, anticipating AFU counter offensives. Russian forces are also reported to be moving towards Crimea. Melitopol is a major Russian base in southern Ukraine and an obvious target for Ukraine to split the occupied territory in half.  This would allow Ukraine to regain control of ZNPP as well. Russian troops would be isolated there and forced to surrender. 

Map showing the Zaporizhzhia front and the concentrations of Russian troops

The Kherson offensive will be slow as there is little or no cover and no real reason to hurry. AFU is content with throwing back Russian attacks and letting the Russian military trapped on the west side of the Dnipro wear themselves out and run down their supplies of ammunition and food. Russians build or repair bridges, ferries, pontoons, and Ukraine knocks them down. The Russians have moved the front line back closer to the Dnipro river so they can be covered by artillery from the east bank. According to major general Dmytro Marchenko (mastermind of Mykolaiv defense in first month of war) in last 2 weeks RU lost in Kherson region ~1.8K troops, 120 MBTs, 130 tube artillery pieces, 20 MLRS, 2 helicopters, 2 planes. There are rumours that some of the troops are negotiating to surrender. 

When opportunity arises, the AFU slowly move forward and may have retaken Kiselyvka, which is 25 km away from Kherson City. The bridge and river crossing are now within reach of Ukrainian artillery. If true, only one settlement, Chornobaivka, remains to be liberated to reach Kherson City.

Recent activity on the Kherson front

There is a 30-40% chance that the Russian army will collapse by Christmas and the war in Ukraine will come to an end - Edward Stringer, Marshall of the Royal Air Force. Kremlin is working to shift blame for the fiasco onto the shoulders of military advisors to clear Putin of any responsibility. Ukrainian Intelligence reports that Russia is no longer sending reinforcements to the front as troops are refusing to go. Hardliners are demanding that Russia formally declare war and mobilize accordingly. It would take months to train troops and equipment is almost non-existent. And middle class Russians would be on the streets protesting if their boys were forced to fight.

BBC reports a failed assassination attempt on Putin. Rumours of coups and assassinations are the replacement for the Putin is dying of cancer etc. circulated earlier. We can always hope BUT a hardliner is most likely to replace him.

Ukrainian peace proposals have changed dramatically since the beginning of the war

Zelensky has been busy visiting the front compared to Putin who sits at his long desk


I wish someone would do this with a Kossak and a Bear

Saturday, September 10, 2022

Armed Forces of Ukraine are on a Roll

 This post will be out of date before I finish, things are moving that fast. 

AFU Howitzer in action on the eastern front

Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU) have been successfully targeting ammunition dumps, command, control and communication centres, railroads and bridges with HIMAR rockets. AFU threatened a counter offensive in Kherson in southern Ukraine, succeeded in drawing thousands of troops to the west side of the Dnipro River and then knocked out the bridges, trapping them there. Russian forces continued to wear themselves down unsuccessfully trying to move forward in the pocket between Izyum and Donetsk City in east central Ukraine. Russians continue to shell, bomb and fire rockets into civilian areas of Kharkiv, Mykolaiv, Nikopol, Krivii Rih, and other cities, as well as shelling villages along the front line with barrel artillery .

Four days ago, the AFU launched a counter offensive between Kharkiv and Izyum with the intention of taking Kup'yans'k on the Oksil River, cutting the road and railroad used to supply the Russian military in Izyum and isolating Izum. Once they broke through the Russian lines, there was no stopping them as there were no backup defenses and apparently no reserves. Any place that was defended, such as Balaklia, they bypassed and left to be cleaned up by AFU second and third groups. Once the Russians saw they were outnumbered they surrendered in such numbers that the AFU said they had no place to put them. 

The animated map shows the first three days of the counter offensive. https://twitter.com/i/status/1568227635641331713

Police have moved into the liberated villages to begin investigating war crimes. Considering that they found in the communities held by the Russians for a few weeks before the attack on Kyiv was driven off, one can only imagine the horrors they will find. 

Russians are fleeing in such numbers that Russia has become the largest supplier of military equipment to Ukraine. Russians cannot fight but instead increased the bombardment of civilian areas in towns and cities, and killing and injuring many people. 

In three days they reached the Oksil river south of Kup'yans'k and turned south towards Izyum. Fighting continues at Kup'yans'k but the bridge is destroyed and they have no exit. AFU have now reached the village of Oksil to the south and east of Izyum while Ukrainian attacks from Lyman and Svyatohirs'k south and east of Izyum will link if they have not already, totally surrounding Izyum and 10,000 to 20,000 Russian soldiers. They also captured a very senior Russian General who was commander of the front. 

Russians are fleeing Lyman and Svyatohirs'k, and Izyum is not being reinforced. Attempts are made to supply Izyum with helicopters but AFU missiles make it a dangerous proposition.

Most current map showing Russians fleeing and Ukrainians driving south

A more detailed explanation.

Russians are sending reinforcements from Donetsk Oblast north to counter the AFU offensive but they are too late and are likely to add to the death and destruction of the Russian military. And if they weaken that front too much, expect AFU to take advantage. They have got the Russians on the backfoot. The armchair generals on twitter are worried about the Ukrainian flanks, however Patton had something to say about flanks. 


Not sure when the American lend-lease goes into effect but watch this Ukrainian soldier as two A10 Warthogs fly overhead https://twitter.com/i/status/1568210289190998017

This table from the AFU is unreliable as no one can keep up with the numbers these past few days 

Tomorrow maybe I can post about the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP)





Thursday, September 8, 2022

Lucky's Big Day

 Lucky is so happy to have Tanya back. He loves to help her in the garden and has dug a hole about 50 cm (18 to 20 inches) deep. He helped her dig beets too. Yuri, our neighbour who is retired and helps us with work around the yard, can work in Lucky's yard with no problem. Lucky ignores him mostly. But if Tanya comes out, suddenly Lucky is all guard dog, barking fiercely and threatening Yuri. Tanya says he is just showing her that he is necessary to have around to protect her. 

She has been working on getting him an EU Pet Passport that indicates his ID chip number and all his most recent vaccinations so he can travel in the EU. The key vaccination is for dog rabies and is the only vaccination needed to come to Canada. All vaccinations must be done by a recognized government veterinarian. 

Our veterinarian has come to our place for most of the shots. But to confirm the rabies vaccine has been effective a blood sample must be taken at least 28 days after the vaccine and sent to the central laboratory in Kyiv. For that, Lucky had to go to the clinic. Tanya was very worried about how he would behave. He is very strong and she was so scared she couldn't handle him if he proved difficult. He had not been in a car nor to the vet clinic since he was well under a year. At that time he was very well behaved.

Today he went to the clinic. Tanya found a willing taxi and Lucky entered when asked but was so frightened he literally shook all the way to the clinic. He was very well behaved in the clinic, got up on the table with no problem and lay down when Tanya told him to. Tanya held his paw and head and talked to him while the vet drew blood. No problems at all. 

On the way home he was fine, looked around, knew the area of course and knew he was going home. Both he and Tanya were stressed out from the trip so when they got home they both lay down for a two hour sleep. Lucky slept like the dead and snored lustily.


Lucky is growing up. Tanya is not worried about him now as she knows he can travel and will be a good dog.

Sunday, September 4, 2022

The counter offensive has begun

 Since the end of the War for Kyiv, the Russians have concentrated on taking all of Lugansk and Donetsk Oblasts. They use WWI tactics, massive shelling, followed by frontal charges which are driven back with heavy losses by the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU). Once there is nothing left to defend the ARU pull back and the deadly game begins again. The Russians have also targeted civilians all over the country. Kharkiv had endured the most destruction since Mariupol as the AFU have been unable to drive the Russians back past the  25 km mark to be out of range of artillery. 

Improved air defense has destroyed some rockets and planes targeting civilian infrastructure and civilians. A number of "unfortunate accident" in Russian Belgorod have destroyed several locations from which rockets were launched against Kharkiv and scared the citizens who are abandoning the city. Last night 5 rockets were fired at Dnipro City and were all destroyed by air defense. 

With the arrival of HIMAR rockets systems the AFU have concentrated on destroying arms dumps, command HQ and concentrations of soldiers when known. Every Ukrainian with a cell phone is a potential observation post. A month or so ago, the AFU stated that they were about to start a counter offensive to retake Kherson and Zaporizhzhia Oblasts. Russia immediately stated sending troops and equipment from Donbas to the southern front and moved about 25,000 troops and associated equipment to the west bank of the Dnipro River.

Once they were nicely settled in AFU began destroying the bridges using HIMARS so they could not resupply and are essentially trapped. And as the Russian army weakened itself in the east and northeast, Ukraine began probing counter offensives there, while continuing to defend against Russian attacks in Donbas. 

Day after day the threads read Russia attacks are driven back
and Russians shell these communities as marked

Unfortunate accidents also occurred in Russian occupied Crimea, destroying aircraft, ammunition dumps, command HQ. No smoking signs are now posted I hear. Also cars were backed up 100 miles of tourist and other Russians fleeing Crimea for the mainland.

The counter offensive has begun along the Zaporizhzhia front but mainly on the Kherson front. Russians respond by shelling civilian targets in surrounding communities such as Mykolaiv, Nikopol, and Krivii Rih. Artillery barrels must be changed periodically as they over heat. Ammunition expended cannot be replaced. Pontoon bridges are destroyed by HIMARS. Russians try to resupply using helicopters but dare not land more than two at a time on the Kherson airport or they will attract AFU rockets.

Little information is available from the Ukrainian side for obvious reasons but phone calls from Russian soldiers to their mother's or wives would indicate a fair bit if panic in some places. Reports are that the offensive is going better than hoped and the AFU is penetrating Russian lines in several places and blocking every attempt to resupply across the river. The maps below are a few days old so do not represent the current situation.

Blue indicates areas where AFU is pushing Russians
back towards Tokmok and Melitopol

The Kherson front showing destroyed bridges on the Dnipro River  

I am not a military expert, not even amateur so please feel free to add more information. Also on twitter follow Flash, War Monitor, The Kyiv Independent, Defense of Ukraine, Ukraine Weapons Tracker, Euromaidan Press, and Michael McFaul.