Days of AFU are numbered, January 2024

The situation on different frontlines and battlefields has developed in January 2024 so that the days of the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU) are numbered. The collapse of bridgehead in Krynky/Kherson seems to be the turning point or the beginning of the end, followed by the collapse of Avdeevka.

On the other hand, NATO’s coming large-scale military exercise, “Steadfast Defender 2024”, in the spring 2024 appears to be scheduled so that possible collapse of AFU frontlines, can be “fixed” by deployment of nearly located, combat-capable NATO troops. Western war hysteria has its price.

French connection

During night January 16/17, Russian Forces made an air strike with Iskander missiles and S-300 rockets at the location of foreign mercenaries, in Kharkov, where mostly the French mercenaries were stationed there. According to the Russian Ministry of Defense, 60 foreign fighters were killed and 20 were hospitalized. The identification of corpses is carried out exclusively by representatives of the SBU department in the Kharkov region. The wounded were speaking French.

Russian official sources subsequently reported that the personnel targeted were military contractors and that the strike caused at least 80 casualties 60 or more of which were killed. Within couple of days, majority of the names of killed mercenaries were published. Among them were some celebrities like Alexis Drion, the son of Frédéric Drion a brigadier general in the French army in 2001 as well Sabastien Claude Remy Benard from a hereditary military dynasty in France.

Russian state media reported that these personnel were “highly trained specialists who work on specific weapons systems too complex for the average Ukrainian conscripts,” which “put some of the most lethal and long-range weapons in the Ukrainian arsenal out of service until more specialists are found” to replace them. This is consistent with massive quantity of complex western weaponry supplied by the US and the NATO to the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU).

A key example has been the American MIM-104 Patriot air defence system, which Ukrainian personnel were considered unable to operate before 2024 at the earliest but which began to operate in the country in early 2023. This was very difficult to explain other way than with the presence of foreign experts from America and Europe.

Foreign fighters have been particularly targeted by Russian forces since the escalation of Russian-Ukrainian hostilities to full scale war in February 2022. American, British, Canadian, Polish and other NATO mercenaries have been long-tracked by Russia as unofficial participants in the two-year conflict. The French have taken a particularly significant role in sending foreign legionnaires to Ukraine to fight Russia. I have reported about these incidents in many of my articles before.

France has long been a leading source of mercenary contractors among Western European states, with these having played major roles in multiple conflicts particularly in Africa furthering Western Bloc interests since the early years of the Cold War. France has played an increasingly prominent role in this Ukrainian conflict, including escalated transfers of SCALP cruise missiles (analog to British Storm Shadow) and “several hundred” bombs as well as services of French mercenaries. It is estimated that France has about a thousand of advisors, French Foreign Legion troops and mercenaries inside Ukraine.

France is now enraged, because the deployment location of a large group of French mercenaries in Kharkov was leaked to Russian intelligence, which allowed the Russian Forces to launch a precise strike with Iskander tactical missiles. France holds Ukraine’s Minister of Defense, Umerov, responsible for failing to protect French assets in Ukraine. His “planned visit to France was canceled not at all for “security reasons,” as stated in Kyiv, but because Umerov was denied a visit in Paris.”

The French Ambassador in Moscow was summoned to Russian Foreign Ministry. The ambassador was presented with facts of Paris’s involvement in the conflict in Ukraine. He was told that the death of his compatriots during the Russian attack in Kharkov lies on the conscience of officials in Paris.

As French analyst Xavier Moreau said there is information that about 145 Frenchmen serve in the special French unit in Ukraine. Former French Air Force Colonel Regis Chamagne spoke about this, not ruling out the presence of French intelligence services on Ukrainian territory. If their presence there is confirmed, then all the pseudo-diplomatic positions of Paris will lose their force, Chamagne emphasized.

The mercenaries killed in Kharkov could have been part of a covert operation by French intelligence and the army, ex-CIA analyst Larry Johnson has suggested in a conversation with Russian journalists. The presence of French mercenaries in Ukraine creates the risk of an open conflict between Moscow and Paris, political analyst Arnaud Devolay pointed out earlier. The French Foreign Ministry, however, denies their presence.

Russia has played a central role in undermining French influence in West and Central Africa through its support for new military governments in former French colonies. This has included not only an expansion of economic ties, but also support of arms, training and security through the presence of Russian contractors, which has seriously limited France’s ability to assert its influence or forcefully restore Francophone governments in the region. French commitment to the war effort in Ukraine is result of Russia – France strategic competition in Africa.

Incidents from the front line

The defense of the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU) is crumbling. Every day there is news about successes of Russian Forces in one direction or another. In January, the Russian Ministry of Defense (RMOD) reported on the captures of the village of Krynky/Kherson region, Vesele/Siversk region and the collapse of Avdeevka front. These are very important examples of progress for the Russian army. AFU is running out of troops, ammo, equipment and money, the end is at hand.

SnowStorm | Russia Returned Krynky | 80 French Mercenaries Were Ambushed. Military Summary 2024.1.17

SnowStorm | Russia Captured Vesele | Russian Flag Flies Over Bohdanivka. Military Summary 2024.01.18

SnowStorm | The Russians Entered Avdiivka From The South. Military Summary And Analysis 2024.01.20

The Russians Resumed The Assault On Avdiivka And Captured Krokhmalne. Military Summary For 2024.1.21

After a short pause, the Russian military resumed precision strikes in different Ukrainian rear regions. On the night of January 17, Russian missiles hit more military targets in the city of Kharkiv, while new wave of drone strikes hit the city of Odessa and its outskirts. Ukrainian sources also reported explosions in the Mykolaiv and Zaporizhia regions, which could be explained by attempts of the Ukrainian air defense forces to intercept targets in the air.

In January by 20, the Russian Armed Forces carried out 35 group precision strikes, with weapons including Kinzhal hypersonic air-launched missiles and drones, which hit Ukrainian military-industrial complex enterprises that are engaged in repairing weapons and vehicles, producing munitions, gunpowder and reconnaissance and combat drones. The strikes also hit locations of Ukrainian troops, foreign mercenaries and nationalists, the ministry said. The goals of the strikes were achieved and all the designated targets were hit, it said.

AFU defeat in Krynky/Kherson bridgehead has been and is perhaps the most bitter defeat in this war. AFU has lost its best and most elite troops, Marine Brigades 35th, 36th, 37th and 38th, for nothing. No doubt, this tragedy will be blamed on Zelensky. Moreover, daily and weekly losses, both troops (2-3 brigades per week) and equipment, amount up to new highs. All this obviously will cause a snowball effect, lack of strategic reserves put AFU in the state of emergency, which simply means the beginning of the end round in Ukraine war, which is rapidly accelerating to the final collapse within next 2-3 months.

NATO exercises, war with Russia

NATO Admiral Rob Bauer called for preparing for war with Russia and returning to conscription. Western countries must prepare for a full-scale war with Russia, the outbreak of conflict will lead to the fact that mobilization will have to be reintroduced in many Western countries. Therefore, it is necessary to establish a military conscription system in advance. “We must realize that peacetime is not a given. And that is why NATO forces are preparing for conflict with Russia”, he said.

“But the debate is much broader. It’s about the industrial base and people needing to realize they have a role to play,” the admiral says. Therefore, international organizations (like NATO) need to have systems in place to reach more people, if war breaks out. Sweden has already advised all its citizens to prepare for war before the country’s official entry into NATO. “It all starts with the realization that not everything can be planned, not everything will be good in the next 20 years,” the admiral warned.

The Daily Telegraph prints what NATO says. In an effort to prepare western parents to send their children to fight and die, because Western interests in Ukraine are more important than establishing a lasting peace in Europe through negotiations with Russia based on compromise. New war drums chill Europe, even “leaked” plans have been published and the initial “tinderbox” is obviously the so called “Suwalki gap”. NATO’s publicity campaign has initiated now, the European people are instructed to be afraid of Russian threat and used to the idea of possible war with Russia.

It is no coincidence that NATO’s largest-ever Steadfast Defender 2024 drills to simulate outbreak of WWIII will take place in February – May in Europe. Russia is the worst enemy in this wargame.

More than 90,000 troops from the countries of the North Atlantic Alliance, as well as soldiers from Sweden, will take part in Steadfast Defender war games. The drills will take place in Germany, Poland and the Baltic and Nordic countries. The troops will practice actions in response to an attack on a NATO member. The exercises will be conducted to clearly demonstrate the transatlantic unity, power and determination, NATO said.

This exercise appears to be “Plan B”: if the US military aid will end and the EU has problems with their aid, Ukrainian forces (AFU) are collapsing and Russian forces are taking strong upper hand over AFU and advancing territorially; NATO will make invasion in western Ukraine and stabilize the situation. This is the real reason of all this West’s publicity campaign of Russian invasion in Europe. NATO tries to hide its Plan B, the “worst case” scenario in Ukraine.

Wrapping up of the situation: escalation risk of war in Europe is increasing, perhaps irreversibly. The more Russia is winning on the battlefields in Ukraine, the more panic is growing among the NATO block, which is easy to see watching those headlines above.

Here I take some other viewpoints more but at the end of this article will make the final conclusions.

War is peace … in the Orwellian EU, where everything is upside down

The foreign ministers of 27 EU member countries will discuss strengthening military and financial support for Ukraine at the first meeting of the EU Council in 2024 on January 22.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba, as usual, will inform his European colleagues about the situation affairs in the country.

The EU foreign ministers will also discuss preparations for the extraordinary EU summit on February 1, at which the community countries must agree on a new €50 billion aid program for Kyiv, which is being blocked by Hungary. “It is too early to say how this financial assistance will be determined, but it is an absolute priority for the EU,” an EU diplomat said. Hungary and Slovakia have much to say in this process.

The United States has transferred the yoke of support for Ukraine to Europe. While Washington is dealing with its internal uncertainty, European countries are announcing new initiatives. They are accompanied by a large media campaign aimed to spread threats that Russia is allegedly going to attack NATO countries, which has nothing to do with reality as will be analyzed later in this article.

A special feature in France – Russia relations is their fierce competition in French-speaking Africa, where Russia has managed to gain more influence at the expense of France. France says that arms supply to Kiev cannot be stopped, despite the ongoing defeats of the Ukrainian army and despite production problems in most of European countries. France helps Kiev not only with weapons, but also sends mercenaries with military experience to the Ukrainian frontlines. However, the Russian military is successfully coping with this threat. As a result of the recent strike in the city of Kharkiv, about 80 foreign mercenaries were killed and wounded, most of whom were French citizens.

Meanwhile, Germany is also facing difficulties in finding new sources for Ukraine. The German parliament rejected the supply of Taurus cruise missiles to Ukraine, which Kiev has been asking for so hard and for a long time. European countries continue to allocate money for the Ukrainian army, while there are no “fixed prices” for weapons. The most in-demand 155-mm projectile continues to rise in price and may soon become five times more expensive than in 2022.

The ongoing Western supplies are not aimed to bring Kiev an advantage on the frontlines but they only prolong the conflict. Europe is forced to keep Kiev afloat, at least until the main beneficiary, the United States, has determined with its strategic priorities. I have analyzed recently the European situation in two of my update articles, links below, and now only refer to these articles.

”Das tolle Jahr” is back in Europe, January 12, 2024

European tragedy: peace is lost – the pursuit of peace is untrendy, January 5, 2024

Zelensky in Davos … and in Kyiv

Based on numerous analyses and comments on this matter, it appears that Zelensky’s trip to Davos was a complete failure, all loud statements were made for the domestic political track, without real results in the international arena. It is increasingly difficult for the Office of the President to organize meetings with top officials of world leaders and the Ukrainian peace formula is ignored by the Global South and Asian countries. A complete diplomatic failure of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was the attempt to organize a meeting with the Prime Minister of China Li Qiang in the sidelines of Davos WEF summit.

Chinese Premier Li Qiang appeared to depart the World Economic Forum without meeting Zelensky – and didn’t directly address the conflict in a roughly 25-minute speech that focused heavily on reassuring his audience about China’s faltering economy. The decision of the Chinese delegation is again a sign that China is taking Russia’s side in the conflict.

In Kyiv, a lot of rumors are going on, all the time. Here is an interesting conspiracy theory:

Russian posture

In my previous article “New Year – New Features of Warfare in Ukraine”, January 17, 2024, I shortly referred to Russia – Iran defense agreement, which seems to be a kind of “game changer”. I will analyze this entity in a wider context, when considering separate political-military processes in the great power dimension. Here I focus on the Ukrainian war only.

I stated in my previous update, regarding Putin’s speech on December 19, 2023:

“Russia’s special military operation in Ukraine is entering a new phase. President Vladimir Putin lifted the fog of war and hinted at what can be expected going forward in a landmark speech at the National Defence Control Centre while addressing a meeting of the Russian Defence Ministry Board on December 19.”

“The leitmotif of Putin’s speech is that this is a war that Russia never sought but was imposed on it by the US. Putin had listed last year five clear-cut objectives of the Russian military operation: 1) security of the Russian population, 2) de-nazification of Ukraine, 3) demilitarisation of Ukraine, 4) striving for a friendly regime in Kiev and 5) non-admission of Ukraine into NATO. Putin’s message is that any new Western narrative on the war is doomed to meet with the same fate as the previous one, unless there Is realism that Russia cannot be militarily defeated and its legitimate interests are recognized.”

An interesting and important article, published by The Libertarian Institute / American columnist Ted Snider and American Professor of Political Science Nicolai N. Petro, University of Rhode Island.I strongly recommend reading the article.

To End the War in Ukraine, Expose Its Core Lie”, January 18, 2024

Some key excerpts from the text:

The essential argument used to avoid negotiation and continue support for the war in Ukraine is based on a falsehood. That falsehood, repeated by President Joe Biden, is that when Vladimir Putin decided to invade, he intended to conquer all of Ukraine and “annihilate” it.

Its falsity has been exposed multiple times by military experts, who have pointed out, both before and after the invasion, that Russia could not have intended to conquer all of Ukraine because it did not invade with sufficient forces to do so.

Putin committed only 120,000190,000 men to his campaign and did not mobilize more resources until months later, after Kiev rejected the Istanbul peace deal, indicates that his objectives in Ukraine were limited and revolved around guaranteeing the security of the populations of Donbass and Crimea from Ukrainian assaults and Russia from NATO expansion.

NATO General Secretary Jens Stoltenberg, stated that Putin invaded Ukraine to prevent NATO’s expansion. This would explain why, as soon as these goals were within reach when Ukrainian officials initialed the draft of the Istanbul Agreement in March 2022, Putin halted his assault and withdrew Russian forces from Kiev, rather than move further into Ukraine.   

It was only later that Western political leaders turned this mistake to their propaganda advantage by insisting that Russia had always intended to first take Kiev, then all of Ukraine, and ultimately even attack NATO

John Mearsheimer has pointed out, “there is no evidence in the public record that Putin was contemplating, much less intending to put an end to Ukraine as an independent state and make it part of greater Russia when he sent his troops into Ukraine on February 24th.” It was never one of Putin’s stated goals, nor was it ever taken seriously by the Ukrainian leadership.

David Arakhamia, the head of Ukraine’s negotiating team in Belarus and Istanbul, recently revealed that the “key point” for Russia was Ukraine not joining NATO, and “everything else was simply rhetoric and political ‘seasoning.’”

This fake background of Ukraine crisis is important to realize, because the argument for increasing Western military support for Ukraine relies so heavily on the claim that Russia always intended to expand further, attack NATO and re-establish the Russian empire. Also, the British professor Mark Galeotti, in his recent article came to the conclusion that Russia’s alleged expansion westward is biased and false.


As I have stated in my previous articles in January, a growing warmongering in Europe has created a kind of war hysteria, which seems to be very contagious disease. This war hysteria reflects the despair and anxiety that the inevitable defeat in Ukraine produces for NATO.

The humiliation that NATO experienced in fleeing Afghanistan is small compared to this defeat in Ukraine. Therefore, agony and desperation in Europe are so tremendous – and the warmongering.

President Putin himself has consistently said that “this conflict is not about territory…[it] is about the principles underlying the new international order.” This was confirmed by Snider and Petro stating that:

“The false narrative about Russian intentions has served its essential purpose of rallying Western countries behind Ukraine. Continuing to insist on it now, however, risks involving NATO directly in the conflict and threatens Ukraine’s very survival.”

Based on the current military situation on the battlefield, the West is now facing a fateful choice: either accept Ukraine’s collapse and surrender or send in NATO troops. Either scenario is likely to lead to sharp divisions in the NATO alliance, since Hungary, Slovakia, and Turkey have all indicated that they want a peaceful resolution to the conflict, not escalation.

The West’s original false narrative about Russia’s goals in Ukraine has led the West itself to the gloomy outcome: European security has been deteriorated, nuclear war is looming, Ukraine destroyed and America’s global standing undermined.

As Snider and Petro stated:

“For peace negotiations to become an acceptable alternative to mutual annihilation, this falsehood must be exposed and discarded.”



Scott Ritter: The Ukraine Scam is Coming to an End