Putin's War, Week 42. Ukraine Gets the Nod to Strike Targets in Russia and Some Tools to Do It With

As we start the forty-second week of Vladimir Putin’s heroic campaign to throw George Soros and the neo-cons out of Kiev, we’re beginning to see some future operations take shape. On the ground, the situation is pretty much as it has been for the last month, that is, literally, actually stuck in the mud of the bezdorizhzhia in Ukrainian or rasputitsa in Russian. This generally confines mechanized/motorized movement to all-weather roads. Movement is only part of it. Maintenance of vehicles and major weapons systems suffer because your average mechanic doesn’t like wallowing around in six-to-eight inches of mud Jell-O to do basic checks and services. Men suffer from trench foot and all sorts of respiratory infections because they are confined to trenches and bunkers with no way to get warm and dry. The ground is beginning to freeze, and soldiers find that adapting to dry sub-freezing temperatures is much easier than dealing with temperatures just above freezing with a constant downpour.


Politico-Strategic Level

Finland and Russia Bicker

Finland is just now joining the Poland-Lithuania-Latvia-Estonia club of nations where Russia feels free to demand that illegal enforcement action be taken against anyone who offends its dignity. My guess is that this is making even the NATO skeptics in Finland happy that Finland will join the alliance. For all the abuse directed at him as a Russian tool, Viktor Orban’s Hungary has promised to ratify Finland and Sweden’s membership applications in its next parliamentary session. This leaves only Turkey to go, and I think Erdogan will get what he wants from Sweden and then ratify the memberships. This permanently alters the strategic balance in the Baltic and Arctic Circle against Russia.

Iran to Supply Russia With Ballistic Missiles

The British government has confirmed this reporting. I find it cute that a rogue terrorist state is concerned about UN resolutions.

Nothing Happens in a Vacuum

Concurrent with the leak that Iran was sending ballistic missiles to Russia, the Biden Defense Department moved to transfer as many as four Patriot “fire units” to Ukraine.

What this means is that Ukraine may receive between 16 and 32 Patriot launch systems, each holding four missiles.

 A Patriot battery or fire unit is a basic operating element. Normally it includes a command post, radar, 8 launchers and support vehicles. The battery can engage up to 8 targets simultaneously. If required the battery can operate with up to 16 launchers. Launchers can be located up to 1 km from radar or command post vehicle. In order to establish effective and overlapping defenses batteries are located 30-40 km between each other.

The fire unit requires 90 men to operate and maintain the equipment, but only three men are needed to work the pointy end of the system.

There has been a lot of idiocy attached to this decision. The grand prize goes to indicted fraudster Kim Tim Jim Vestor, aka “Kim Dotcom,” who whiles away the hours awaiting his extradition to the US and a lengthy prison term by spouting Russian propaganda. Maybe he’s hoping the Russians will fix him up with citizenship and a hot girlfriend like they did for Edward Snowden.


Patriots will not be engaging drones. They are part of a layered air defense system to counter the ballistic missile and cruise missile threat. Instead, one will see them farther West, near Lviv, and used to protect Ukrainian logistics nodes.

And my favorite Russian stooge Michael Tracey swoops in with this self-own.

Poland has bought Patriot systems. They haven’t been delivered yet. The Patriot missiles in Poland are from other NATO countries, primarily the US. The Ukrainian missile crews will be trained at the US Army training facility at Grafenwoehr, Germany. Tracey and his fellow travelers have been beating the tom-tom of “boots on the ground” for months to try and fire up the people who imagine Victoria Nuland leading a cavalry charge against the Russians. I hope the clicks he gets from this garbage are worth it.

US Changes Policy on Ukrainian Strikes in Russia

If policy is a word to describe feelings, the general US policy about Ukrainian strikes into Russia has been “let’s not.” Personally, I think this only makes sense from the standpoint of the “foreign policy realists” like John Mearsheimer, who would prefer a multi-decade “frozen conflict’ costing tens of thousands of lives and reducing Ukraine and the bordering areas of Russia to a wasteland to the idea of their beau ideal Vladimir Putin having his ass handed to him and losing what little credibility they have remaining.

That has changed.

Britain agrees.

Allowing Russia to strike at Ukraine’s civilian infrastructure to punish the Ukrainian people is unconscionable. This nonsense ends only if targets in Russia become vulnerable to Ukrainian strikes.

Russia Gets Another Weapons Source

Russia purchases ammunition, clothing, and equipment for its army from Iran and North Korea. This past week, another supplier surfaced.


This is the kind of commerce that will end up hurting South Africa while filling the Swiss bank account of someone in power. The real story, though, is that South Africa uses weapons that fire NATO-standard ammunition. It only has small arms left over from the “revolution” 30 years ago that use Russian ammunition. So if there is a need in Russia for slightly used AK-series automatic rifles from South Africa, there is a larger issue at hand than the arms sale itself.

US Increases Training Capacity for Ukrainian Army

The British Army has trained some 13K Ukrainian soldiers in basic combat tactics and soldiering. The US has trained about 3,000 in Germany. That effort is set to increase.

Over and over, one reads on social media the trope that Ukraine drags men off the street and sends them straight into battle. As far as I can tell, that is just propaganda. Ukrainian soldiers are sent to the UK or Germany for about five weeks of basic training, equipped with field gear, and then returned to Ukraine and integrated into combat units.

Russian Conscripts Plead for Equipment

We’ve seen this too often not to believe it.

Apparently, the Russian Army relies upon the civil government of the area where men are conscripted to provide them with essential equipment. I actually had someone defend this to me as “federalism” and how the US military should operate.

The Russian areas of Ukraine are also sucking hind…I’m not sure I can say that here…having personnel difficulties.

Is Belarus Going to Jump Into the War?

We’ve covered this topic since early in the war. Belarus is a Russian client state, but its strongman, Aleksandr Lukashenko, has been reluctant to wade into the war because his nation is sympathetic to Ukraine. There is even brigade equivalent of Belarus citizens in Ukraine’s “foreign legion.”

I’m uncertain about what this means. Does Ukraine have intel that indicates an imminent attack from Belarus? Or is this a “dialing for dollars” exercise? If Belarus does become a combatant, I think it will be a colossal mistake for Lukashenko. And those Patriot missiles Ukraine is getting? They make most of Belarus’ airspace hostile territory for Belarusian and Russian aircraft.

Putin Cancels His End Of Year Press Conference 

I’m not of the school of thought that thinks Putin is fatally ill. I do believe he is a megalomaniac, and, like the rest of us, he doesn’t like being mocked.

Operational Level 

 New Weapons 

Skynex Air Defense System

Skynex is produced by the German arms manufacturer Rheinmetall. It is a point defense system that can be mounted on a vehicle or in a fixed facility. This is the kind of system needed to negate the effect of suicide drones.

TRF 1 155mm Howitzers

France is transferring TRF 1 155mm towed howitzers to Ukraine. Six have been delivered so far. These are more of the solid towed tube artillery that Ukraine needs as a backbone of its artillery force to replace the rust poles inherited from the Soviet Union.

SAMP-T Air Defense System

France and Italy have agreed to transfer the SAMP-T air defense system to Ukraine. The SAMP-T is a low-to-mid air defense system comparable to the NASAMS and will bolster the layered air defense system Ukraine is building to defend its civilian infrastructure.


As mentioned above, the Department of Defense has moved beyond its policy of trying to restrict Ukrainian operations to a small slice of territory and preventing Russian logistics facilities directly supporting the war but located in Ukraine and Russia from being put at risk. The first weapon system released are kits to convert existing “dumb” bombs to GPS-guided Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM).

This kit can be adapted to ordnance delivered by UAV, rocket motor, or aircraft. In short, It extends Ukraine’s range of operations to strike at Russian logistics in Crimea and Russia and to strike the launching areas for Iranian-produced drones.


The discrepancy between the two announcements is that the returnees were 64 Ukrainian prisoners and one American, Suedi Murekezi. Murekezi was living in Kherson when the Russians rolled through and was arrested on suspicion of being a CIA operative because everyone knows that a Rwandan immigrant who served in the USAF was the ideal cover for a CIA guy in Ukraine.

Combat Operations

Like last week, very little of immediate operational significance happened.

Kharkiv and Donbas

Over the past month, a lot of combat has occurred in this area, but no one has made substantive gains.

In my view, the Ukrainian operations around Svatove and Kreminna differ substantially from the Russian attacks near Bakhmut. The Ukrainian offensive operations seem to be setting up a larger offensive. I would classify them as shaping operations. I am skeptical that the Russian offensive near Bakhmut has any more significant purpose than attrition. The Russians are using people they don’t value, mostly the Wagner criminal recruits, to kill trained Ukrainians. There are those who see an operational concept that will regain all of Donetsk for Russia. Perhaps, if one uses very thick glasses and turns the lights way down. If you are interested, this is the most coherent defense of what I think is just a meat grinder.

I think his first and third reasons are sheer lunacy, and started to respond…but lost interest. In the interests of fairness, read Helin’s thread.


No significant action took place in this area of operations. But Ukrainian partisans or special operations were working.


A Russian barracks in Crimea was attacked. Because of the distance from Ukrainian lines, it appears to be the result of partisan or special operations actifvity.


While limited action took place on the front lines in the Zaporizhzhia area of operations, it wasn’t quiet. If you recall from my previous updates, I’m on record saying the most logical — and most operationally lucrative — is an advance on the axis from Orikhiv-to-Tokmak-to-Melitopol.


If the Ukrainian army can advance to the outskirts of Melitopol, none of the Russian-occupied territory to the west, including Crimea, is defensible. The Kerch Strait bridge is impassable to large road and rail traffic volumes. Tokmak and Melitopol sit astride the only rail lines. As I’ve also covered in these updates, the Russians are building a defensive belt around Tokmak and paralleling the railroad/highway from Donetsk into Kherson.

Long-range precision fires have targeted Russian positions around Melitopol.

Among the targets struck in Melitopol was a building used by the Russian Army as a barracks.


Partisans struck a bridge on the main highway towards Melitopol, leaving Russian milbloggers on Telegram frustrated by how this could happen.

Noting here that the location of the bridge is stated correctly, the direction of travel on that highway is totally wrong.

The two displaced piers and the deck neatly snapped are the work of demolition charges, not rockets or bombs.

Read here and here for an informed discussion of how the attack was executed.

Ukrainian precision strikes have also struck at Russian command targets.


Igor Girkin, a Russian intelligence operative prominent in Donbas politics and who was convicted of complicity in the shootdown of Malaysia Air flight MH-17 (Dutch Court Convicts Three Former Russian Intelligence Officers of Murder in the Shootdown of Malaysia Air Flight 17), sees this as the axis as the most dangerous for Russia.

What’s Next?

The Ukrainian General Staff predicts a Russian offensive after January focused on Donbas; their Ukrainian chief of staff cautions against underestimating the Russians.

I think it is more likely that the Ukrainians will put together an offensive first simply because they are better supplied and have interior lines. In my view, the ability of the Russians to mass forces for a large-scale offensive is minimal, absent some gross intelligence failure by Ukraine. I imagine the Ukrainian offensive will come in late February to March after General Winter has been given the first shot at the Russians.

Both sides are exploring new territory in force generation and ammunition usage. The one who masters those problems first is the favorite, and I think the Ukrainians have the best chance of doing that.


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