Putin's War, Week 62. Kremlin Droned, Russia Dissed by Friends and Allies, and Ukraine's Offensive Takes Shape

Destroyed Russian tank. CREDIT: Pixabay

Welcome back to the Ukraine Update. Today marks the 435th day of combat operations.

The ground combat action this week was not high-intensity unless you were being shot at. But some interesting things are happening. Ukraine has kicked off two small-scale offensive operations and made numerous strikes at logistics targets inside Russia. These, I believe, are in support of the coming offensive.


Away from the battlefield, the major theme was Russia’s eroding influence. China, India, and Brazil, all thought to be friendly with Russia, voted to condemn Russia as the aggressor in Ukraine and Georgia in a UN General Assembly vote. Russia could count only on the votes of such powerhouses as Syria, Belarus, and Cuba. Finland, forced into NATO by Putin’s War, is in talks to establish US military bases in Finland. If Putin’s fear before the war was being “encircled,” he’s probably having a case of the heebie-jeebies over this.

I’ve been doing these updates longer than I’d imagined possible. Here are links to some of the more recent ones.

Putin’s War, Week 61. Xi Calls, Prigozhin Sounds El Degüello, and Surprise Attacks at Sevastopol, Kherson, and (Maybe) St. Petersburg

Putin’s War, Week 60. Leaked Documents, a Russian Troll Exposed, and More Pieces Fall Into Place

Putin’s War, Week 59. Russia Goes ISIS and Waiting for General Mud to Take a Break

Putin’s War, Week 58. All Dressed Up and No Place to Go

Putin’s War, Week 57. Waiting for Godot.

Putin’s War, Week 56. Putin Indicted for War Crimes, Xi Visits Moscow, and Sevastopol Attacked for a Third Time

Putin’s War, Week 55. Russia Drops US Recon Drone, Ukraine Suffers From ‘Loose Lips’ as It Doubles Down on Bakhmut

Putin’s War, Week 54. More NordStream Melodrama, Russia Shows Diplomatic Weakness, and the Bakhmut Flipflop

Putin’s War, Week 53. Zelensky Blows a Big Play, Moscow Dodges a Drone Attack, and Russia’s Spring Offensive Fizzles

Putin’s War, Week 52. US and China Face off, Prigozhin Goes for the Jugular, Mystery Weapon Strikes, and Happy Anniversary

Putin’s War, Week 51. Russia’s Slow-Mo Offensive Gets Underway

Putin’s War, Week 50. The Calm Before the Storm

Putin’s War, Week 49. Waiting for the Russian Offensive

Putin’s War, Week 48. The Logjam Breaks and the Leopards Are About to Roam the Ukrainian Landscape

Putin’s War, Week 47. Gerasimov Shakes Up the Russian Army and the Russian Spring Offensive Looms

Putin’s War, Week 46. Putin Shakes up the Army Command, Prigozhin Shows How It’s Done, and Western Tanks for Ukraine Are on the Way

Putin’s War, Week 45: Putin Declares a Cease Fire, Zelensky Gets Putin’s Terms for Peace, and if You’re Fighting a War, Leave Your Cell Phone Home

Putin’s War, Week 44. Drones Strike Russian Strategic Bomber Base…Again… Prigozhin Makes His Move

Putin’s War, Week 43. Zelensky Visits the Front Lines and Washington, Putin Tries to Push Belarus Into War

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

Many more are available at this link.

Politico-Strategic Level

Kremlin Hit By Drone Attack

The biggest news of the week was a drone attack on the Kremlin. The questions still abound. Was it a Ukrainian military attack? Was it Russian partisans? Was it a false flag? My post is here Putin’s War Comes Home as Kremlin Is Hit by Drone Attack. Joe Cunningham has additional coverage at Russia Blames U.S. for Drone Strike on Kremlin, White House Denies Involvement.

If You Want a Friend, Get a Dog

Tuesday, the UN General Assembly voted on a resolution that included, “Recognizing also that the unprecedented challenges now facing Europe include the aggression by the Russian Federation against Ukraine, and against Georgia prior to that…”


From the six-member (Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, and Tajikistan), KMart Blue Light Special answer to NATO that Russia lords over, Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), Armenia and Kazakhstan voted to condemn Russia as the aggressor. Russia and Belarus voted no. The others abstained.

Russia’s alleged economic partnership to rival NATO, the Eurasian Economic Union has five members ((Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Russia); two voted in favor of the resolution, Armenia and Kazakhstan. Kyrgyzstan abstained. The organization has three “observer” nations, Cuba, Moldova, and Uzbekistan. Moldova voted in favor, and Uzbekistan abstained.

Among Vladimir Putin’s fluffers on the right, there has been a lot of talk about the “BRICS” economic group (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) that will challenge the EU. Still, even here, only Russia voted no. South Africa abstained, while Brazil, India, and China voted yes.

Labeling Russia as an aggressor by the UN General Assembly is a blow to Russia’s prestige. It should destroy the stupid “Ukraine started the war” argument once and for all, but it won’t because the people pushing that line are unconcerned with the truth.

I’m a Strategic Genius, Part Three

Before the war, Vladimir Putin’s fan club proclaimed him a virtuoso strategist who single-handedly outplayed all of his adversaries. The invasion of Ukraine has shown it to be quite the opposite. Russia has destroyed Moscow’s influence. The Russian diaspora in Eastern and Central Europe, the base for Russian information and intelligence operations, has been isolated. Russian is being eliminated from the public school curriculum, and the push to have Russia declared an official second language in several countries has died. The Russian minority in Estonia is becoming Estonian at a rapid pace.

One of the reasons Putin gave for invading Ukraine was NATO expansion. As a direct result of the invasion, Finland cast off over 70 years of neutrality and, at times, near Soviet satellite status to become a member of NATO. Sweden only needs to cut a deal with Turkey to become a full member.

Now Finland has announced that it is in negotiations to permit the stationing of US military forces on Finnish territory.

With Putin’s leadership, the dissolution of the Russian Federation seems a real possibility.

New Weapons Pledges

The latest round of the Ramstein Contact Group produced additional pledges of support—the most significant come from the US and Great Britain.

Casualty Data

Monday, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby made some waves by floating an “official” estimate that the Russians have lost 100,000 killed and wounded in the fight for Bakhmut.

I don’t know if that is accurate or not. Some have said that Kirby meant to reference the entire theater of operations, not the one battlefield. I don’t intend to argue it one way or another. I think it is safe to say that Ukraine is the bloodiest war we’ve seen since the Korean War. Despite what Zelensky’s detractors and Putin’s fluffers say, I think it is also safe to say that Russia is much more profligate about soldiers’ lives than Ukraine.

Russia’s Hacking Expertise May be Vaporware

Putin’s War in Ukraine has produced a lot of shocks. The Russian Air Force was unable to establish air superiority. The Russian Army displayed a stunning level of operational and tactical incompetence. The Russian PR machine was stomped flat, except for a handful of paid shills. However, the biggest surprise was the ineffectual cyberwar capability that Russia demonstrated. For a country that allegedly “meddled” in a non-trivial way in the US election in 2016, it was amazingly inept. The Ukrainians swiftly worked around Russian attacks, and their political and military operations were unimpeded by Russian hackers.

This last week the Ukrainians have shown themselves to be no slouches.

Hacked conference

Hacked bank accounts

This may be the funniest.

Read the story at the link, but Sergey Morgachev (pictured above) is one of the guys Robert Mueller’s cretins succeeded in indicting. The hackers stole his passport info, driver’s license, and personal papers, and they used his checking account to buy “sex toys, FBI memorabilia, and gay pride paraphernalia.

This is close to a 10×10 on the FAFO scale.

More Attacks on Civilians

Early Friday, the Russian military launched a volley of 23 cruise missiles against Ukrainian cities. Reports indicate that 21 were shot down. The two that leaked through caused damage and casualties in the cities of Dnipro and Uman.

The Russian Defense Ministry celebrated on social media.

Sunday night, Russian strategic bombers launched 18 cruise missiles at targets in Ukraine. Although most were shot down, there are no reports of significant casualties.

Thursday night, Russia launched a wave of Iranian-made suicide drones. There were no reports of fatalities or significant damage.

Russia Broadcasts Fake Attacks

How It Started…How It Ended

Monday, a story hit Russian Telegram channels and quickly ended up on social media that a train loaded with S-300 surface-to-air missiles had been destroyed by Russian fires in Pavlohrad. This was significant for two reasons. First, Ukraine is facing what is believed to be a shortage of surface-to-air missiles, particularly those capable of engaging targets at long-range and high altitudes like the S-300. Second, the Russian military has proven utterly inept and interdicting military supplies coming primarily from Poland. A successful attack on a major shipment of munitions would mark a major change in the dynamics of the war.

When more information became available, the story changed. The attack was on a storage area at a chemical plant where out-of-date missiles were stored for decommissioning. This is not to say the strike wasn’t effective. The blast caused extensive damage. Civilians had to be evacuated. And the fuel and explosives from the old missiles that could be recycled into newer weapons were lost. But the attack did not show anything other than an attack on a static, well-documented target.


Prigozhin Pulls Fire Alarm on Wagner Group Status

Wagner chieftain Yevgeny Prigozhin is pushing the panic button, at least publicly. He’s accusing the Russian military of depriving his men of ammunition and fire support and says that the Wagner Group contingent in Ukraine may cease to exist unless things change.

As with so many things in this war, it is difficult to parse out the real from the make-believe and determine who is doing what to whom. Prigozhin’s association with Putin leads to the conclusion that he is being used as a stalking horse to voice Putin’s dissatisfaction with the Russian military. Otherwise, it is hard to see how he could have survived this long. If things in Bakhmut are not going all that well, and there are hints on Russian Telegram that they aren’t, then this is a way of disengaging Wagner Group’s reputation from any debacle.

Regardless, this announcement means something, even if we’re not sure exactly what.

War Crimes Admission on a Television Show

On the television show Law & Order, we are repeatedly told that one of the exceptions to the hearsay rule is an “admission against penal interest.” What you’re about to see might be a textbook example.

If you’ll recall, when Russian troops rolled into Kherson in a move that we now know was facilitated by Russian-owned commanders in the Ukrainian Army and intelligence services, they were not met with cheers. They were met with sullen crowds and with pro-Ukraine protests.

Here is Pavel Gubarev, a key figure during the first Russian invasion of Ukraine, crediting his wife with organizing summary executions to crush the demonstrations.


Russia’s Logistics Chief Fired

After only seven months, Colonel General Mikhail Mizintev has been fired from his position as the Russian Army’s logistics chief.

The churn in the senior ranks of the Russian Army has been remarkable. For an army failing in the way the Russian Army has failed in Ukraine, heads should roll. General George C. Marshall did that in the early days of World War II. Success in peacetime is no sure predictor of success on the battlefield. What is notable about the Russian purge is that no one is forced into retirement. Generals who are fired because they are incompetent on the battlefield are just sent somewhere else to f*** up yet again. This hints at the strength of seniority and the “good ol’ boys” club in the Russian Army.

Operational Level

This week showed the beginnings of the shaping operations preparing the way for Ukraine’s spring offensive. Fuel tank farms were hit in Crimea and Russia. Electric substations powering trains were targeted. Partisan operations struck at collaborators in Occupied Ukraine and military freight trains in Russia.

More than ever, the main objective seems to be on the axis of Tokmak-Melitopol with an objective of severing all rail and highway communications from Occupied Kherson and Crimea to Russia except for the minimal traffic allowed across the heavily damaged Kerch Strait bridge. I think we will also see a localized offensive aimed at “winning” the Battle of Bakmut via an attack north of the city.

Russian Winter Offensive Fizzles

We can conclusively say that the “winter offensive” that had been predicted to restore Russia’s fortunes in the war has failed. Below is an animation of the changes in the front lines from January to April.

Northern Front


Fighting continues in some hotspots, primarily Bakhmut. In addition, there are unconfirmed Russian reports of a local Ukrainian offensive. Emphasize “unconfirmed.”

Southern Front


Russian Headquarters Hit

This strike allegedly interrupted a May Day party for Russian officers. We saw this happen a couple of times over Christmas. It shows that the cell network used by the Russians in Occupied Ukraine is deeply compromised and that the slavish devotion to using cell phones continues to provide windfalls to Ukrainian rocket artillery.

Partisan Activity

Though the tweet refers to some mope working for the police, a bit of research shows that it was the deputy head of internal security for Melitopol who was assassinated. Melitopol, if you’ll recall, is the city I think will be the operational objective of the Ukrainian spring offensive.



We’ve not heard any more about the alleged Ukrainian operation on the left bank of the Dnieper (Putin’s War, Week 61. Xi Calls, Prigozhin Sounds El Degüello, and Surprise Attacks at Sevastopol, Kherson, and (Maybe) St. Petersburg). The action has been confined to the Russians doing what they are most competent at: attacking civilians.

Rear Areas

For the first time, areas away from the line of contact have seen the most action. My assessment is that this indicates the Ukrainians are conducting shaping operations to limit the ability of the Russian Army to respond to an offensive.


UAV Strikes Oil Depot in Sevastopol

Over the weekend, a major oil depot in Crimea was hit. The strike shows increasing sophistication in Ukrainian drone strike operations. The drones were routed out to sea and around the land-facing radar and missile systems defending the area.

Explosion at FSB Barracks in Simferopol

This is not particularly significant by itself, but it adds to the general unease.

UAV Strike on Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol

This UAV strike on Russia’s Black Sea Fleet was unsuccessful but has a psychological effect.

UAV Strikes Electric Substation in Belgorod

I covered another strike on Belgorod’s electrical grid in the last update. This does more than affect the city; the substations serve the electric railroad lines bringing supplies from interior Russia to the front.

UAV Strikes Electric Substation in Klimovo, Bryansk, Russia

More of the same as the Belgorod strike. The real target is the power to the railroad.


Town Shelled in Bryansk Region

I’m not exactly sure what happened here. The video doesn’t show any military targets, and not enough civilians were killed to classify it as retaliation for Russia’s missile attacks on Ukrainian cities.

Two Russian Army Freight Trains Derailed in Bryansk

This was the work of either partisans or Ukrainian special forces. I tend to believe the latter, as Russian military freights were hit both times instead of random trains.

UAV Strikes Oil Depot in Taman, Russia

UAV Strikes Oil Depot in Stavropol, Russia

What’s Next?

Looks for more strikes at logistics targets deep in Occupied Ukraine, Crimea, and the border areas of Russia. Keep an eye on the battle areas around Avdiivka, Vuldehar, and Bakhmut. Minor Ukrainian offensive actions are underway near those cities. My guess is that Ukraine will open its spring offensive in one of those areas to freeze Russian forces in place and pull their reserves, particularly artillery, to the scene of what looks like the offensive. The real attack will happen somewhere else…like aimed at Melitopol.


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