Lights off in Ukraine
Some general notes
Appointments in RMOD
Russian Ministry of Defense (RMOD) announced some important appointments in the first days of October. Army General Sergey Surovikin has been appointed commander of Special Military Operation that Russia is conducting in the former Ukrainian territories. Other appointments were Colonel General Roman Berdnikov became commander of the Western Military District, Colonel General Rustam Muradov was appointed commander of the Eastern Military District and Vice-Admiral Viktor Sokolov was appointed the new commander of the Black Sea Fleet. Earlier, on September 24, 2022, the Defense Ministry announced that Colonel General Mikhail Mizintsev was appointed to the post of Deputy Defense Minister in charge of material and technical support of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation.
No doubt, these appointments can be interpreted as measures to streamline and amplify the military operation in Ukraine.
Starting points of the latest escalation
The real inflection point was the explosions of Nord Stream gas pipelines couple of weeks ago. This case was analyzed in my previous article, here. Not only is this a new escalation step of the war but it is a clear overt acknowledgement to all that this war is a US vs Russia war.
What happens when European citizens realize that they’re simply being used as a vassal for the benefit of the US and are about to pay for that a horrible price and while they’re suffering and they’ll be forced (because there are now no other solutions available) to buy much more expensive US natural gas. Obviously, it will create massive rifts in European politics. When the Europeans realize that the Americans cut off their life support system, willingly and knowingly, true chaos will be expected.
Crimea Bridge terror strike, on Saturday, October 8, when a cargo truck exploded on the Crimean Bridge early in the morning, causing seven fuel tanks of the train to catch fire. Two automobile spans of the bridge partially collapsed. The arch over the land part of the bridge was not damaged. Three people were killed in this explosion. The arrangement of the cargo truck sabotage was complicated, indicating careful pre-planning and participation of several professional actors, which refers to a competent state special service. The strike was carried out by the SBU – Ukrainian special services.
From Moscow’s point of view, this incident was in sequence: Ukrainian terrorists blowing up Darya Dugina’s car in a Moscow suburb, attempts of sabotage attack on the Turkish Stream gas pipeline as well on the Kursk NPP, US/UK special forces blowing Nord Stream pipelines and now the terror attack on Crimea Bridge.
It is very clear now that the destruction of part of the Kerch-Crimea bridge and the destruction of three strands of the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines required highly sophisticated technology and the skill of secret operators. According to Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) investigation, the truck bomb that destroyed part of the Kerch Strait Crimea bridge “was concealed in 22 pallets of plastic film rolls weighing a total of 22.770 kilos.”
The Russians blame the Secret Service of Ukraine (SSU) but Kiev would have needed considerable professional help from the US/UK experts to design such a huge weapon. The biggest bunker buster in the US inventory, for example, is the GBU-57 A/B at 14.000 kilograms. Experts would have known that to knock out the bridge they needed something even more powerful.
The investigative journal site Greyzone said on October 10 that the British Secret Service (MI-6) drew up a plan last April to blow up the Kerch Bridge and shared the plan with Ukraine. As Greyzone reported, the British plan was to bring in explosives by sea, perhaps using underwater vehicles or divers and blow away the main bridge supports. An alternative, the British allegedly recommended, was to use cruise missiles. The Russians may have known about the plan and the Russian countermeasures forced an alternative plan. UK or US experts were commissioned to determine the scale of the explosion needed to blow the bridge from the roadway and finally cargo trucks were used.
In the case of NS-pipelines, the device, it turned out, was a SeaFox mine-disposal unmanned underwater vehicle manufactured by the German company Atlas Elektronik’s division located in Maine, the US. Both the US/UK experts (MI-6, Navy Seals) usually use SeaFox in manifold operations.
As the Kerch Bridge and Nord Stream blasts indicate, war by other means involving highly secret operations with significant organizational and technological skill is now underway. There are few nations that have the experience, resources and capability, including the organizational skills, to manage and successfully launch such attacks.
“Russia’s victory in the conflict in Ukraine would be a defeat for NATO, the alliance must not allow such an outcome”, the organization’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Tuesday (11.10.2022) at a press conference ahead of the meetings of NATO Defense Ministers on October 12-13 in Brussels. Stoltenberg stressed that NATO must be prepared for a long war in Ukraine. “I think that we just have to be prepared for the long haul (to provide support to Ukraine),” he added.
Address by Mr. Stoltenberg was revealing. At last, he recognized publicly that NATO is a key partaker in the Ukraine war and publicly made an absolute commitment to victory, in other words to defeat Russia. All these statements were said in the capacity of the NATO’s Secretary General and on behalf of the organization.
But by saying these things, he made two severe mistakes – one was recognition of NATO being a key partaker and the other was absolute commitment to victory – and painted himself and his organization in the corner without way out. His speech discloses wide desperation and panic inside the NATO. Based on his speech, it is nearly impossible to find any working way out in order to de-escalate the situation and to proceed any viable peace proposal.
Russia’s massive strikes, October 10 – 13
October 10, the morning in Ukraine began with the backlash for the terrorist attack on the Crimean Bridge. Russian retaliation strikes, with missiles and kamikaze drones, hit strategic infrastructure facilities of the largest cities of Ukraine. Russian Defense Ministry (RMOD) announced that a massive strike was launched with long-range precision air, sea and land-based weapons against Ukrainian energy, military and communications facilities. At least 100 strikes (using over 200 missiles and drones) were carried out, using Tu-95 and Tu-22M bombers as missile carriers, Iskander ballistic missiles, X-101 and Kalibr cruise missiles and as well as Lancet and Geranium-2 kamikaze drones. The drones have played a fast-growing role in the war efforts.
In the capital Kiev, explosions thundered in different regions, including the headquarters of the Security Service of Ukraine and other government buildings as well as the base and headquarters of the regiment Azov in Kiev. The “Klitschko Bridge” located near the building of the European Union advisory assistance was also damaged. The Ukrainian railway reported damages to the nation-wide railway network. Metro services in Kiev and Kharkov were stopped. In Lviv, Khmelnytskyi, Zhytomyr and many other cities there were significant interruptions of electricity and Internet services, resulting in rolling power outage. Ukrainian air defenses managed to repel only a limited number of missiles and drones used in the attack.
According to the Ukrainian side, the numbers of the strikes (10.-11. October) per region are the following: 60 in Kiev, 20 in Kharkov, 47 in Nikolaev, 15 in Lvov, 27 in Vinnytsia, 15 in Odessa. The main targets of the strikes: SBU Headquarters and several administrative units in Kiev, several thermal power plants (TPP) around the country, 11 important infrastructure facilities were damaged in eight regions, some areas were de-energized. Electricity and water supplies were interrupted in many of those regions and public transportation went out of service. Number of railway junctions, transformer substations and military repair plants were destroyed. The railway is of strategic importance for the supplies of the Armed Forces of Ukraine on the front lines.
On Tuesday, October 11, Russia’s Armed Forces continued the massive strike campaign in tens of places in Ukraine and strikes continued on Wednesday and Thursday. Target range was wide: thermal power stations, communications nodes, railway junctions and infrastructure, command posts, field headquarters, transformers, substations, ammo and fuel depots etc. and this was more than enough to “pull the plug” on a huge country like the Ukraine. All large thermal power plants in the country were struck, especially the TPP damages in the Vinnytsia and Krivoi Rog regions are problematic. It seems that 50% of Ukraine’s thermal power plants (gas, oil, coal) have been damaged. RMOD announced that the purpose of the strike was achieved, all designated targets were destroyed.
However, it is important to notice that not a single blow was inflicted on strategic facilities with a high voltage of 750 kV neither nuclear nor hydro power plants. Thus, the attack was not aimed at the destruction of the Ukrainian energy system but at causing limited damage to it. In turn, Ukraine stopped exporting electricity to Europe in order to stabilize its own energy system.
Speaking to journalists after a summit with regional leaders in Kazakhstan’s capital Astana, Russian President Putin said that the recent strikes had destroyed 22 out of the 29 targets in Ukraine set by the military and that “they are getting” the remaining seven. He added that there is no need for more massive strikes on Ukraine, days after the heaviest bombardment of the country since the war began. “There’s no need for massive strikes. We now have other tasks,” he said. Moscow’s goal of mobilizing 300,000 men would be met within two weeks, he said.
Ukraine’s air defense
Immediately upon Monday’s major wave of Russian airstrikes, the Zelensky administration renewed its appeal for Washington to urgently send more anti-air defense systems to help “close the skies”. President Biden in a phone call responded positively to the request, telling Zelensky the US will continue providing the weapons needed, which is to include more air defenses, most likely the NASAMS anti-air defense systems which since the summer the Pentagon has been providing. Germany too has stepped forward to pledge it will be transferring at least four IRIS-T SLM air defense systems to Ukraine “in the next few days.”
Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine Ruslan Stefanchuk sent a letter to representatives of the US Congress with a request to urgently transfer long-range ballistic missiles to Kyiv. Ukrainian politicians are calling on US President Joe Biden to lift the ATACMS (a strike distance of up to 300 kilometers) supply ban. They also told that the Ukrainian army needs NASAMS anti-aircraft missile systems, F-15 and F-16 fighters.
After the Soviet Union’s dismantlement in late 1991, Ukraine inherited approximately 30% of the Soviet military infrastructure, being the large and powerful conventional military force and being in possession of one of the largest and most advanced air defense networks in Europe.
After 2014, NATO provided billions of dollars’ worth of military aid, which restored and modernized most of Ukraine’s Soviet-era air defense systems. Still, when Russia launched its special military operation, these SAM (surface-to-air missile) systems failed to produce the desired result, which was also proven by Russia’s recent missile strikes. In order to tackle this issue, NATO member states have been promising to deliver modern SAM systems. This includes the NASAMS (joint US-Norwegian project) and the German-built Iris-T.
The Biden administration approved the shipment of six missile systems in late August as part of a nearly $3 billion “lethal aid package”. NASAMS is considered a medium-range system capable of defending against drones, aircraft and cruise missiles at a range of up to 50 km. First shipment took place in late September.
Recently, the German Ministry of Defense announced the delivery of at least four Iris-T SL air defense systems to the Kiev regime forces. According to the German media, the final decision to send the weapons to the Kiev regime was made on October 10, immediately after Russian missile and UAV strikes hit dozens of critical military targets across Ukraine. At least three German IRIS-T SLS (the short-range version) SAM systems are seen in a military convoy, which was spotted in the vicinity of the city of Katowice in southern Poland heading to Ukraine. The timing indicates that the decision to send the IRIS-T SLS was taken much earlier.
Still, Kiev doesn’t seem to be content with the current version of this SAM system, as its engagement range of only 12 km. Kiev is trying to acquire the IRIS-T SLM version, which has an engagement range of approximately 40 km. German media think this variant could be sent to the AFU in November, if the decision is confirmed by the German MoD.
The primary downsides of the IRIS-T SL are its limited range and the infrared-based guidance system, which makes it vulnerable to active counter-measures like flares. They are also unlikely to provide any new capability, as the AFU are already using mid to long-range SAM systems like the Soviet-made S-300 and Buk, although most of which have been destroyed by Russian strikes.
So far, NATO countries have sent thousands of MANPADS (man-portable air defense systems), but their impact doesn’t go beyond the tactical level. However, most countries of the political West lack mid to long-range SAM systems, which could replace the Kiev regime’s losses, as such systems have never been the focus of the Western style of warfare, which is based on the concept of air dominance.
Thus, even the somewhat longer-range NASAMS, which uses more advanced radar-guided missiles, will not likely have major contribution for AFU air defense. This is especially true, when it comes to such Russian missiles like the low-flying subsonic cruise missile “Kalibr” or the high-flying hypersonic missiles like the “Iskander” or “Kinzhal”.
Interesting special issues and targets
On September 11, the sixth power unit of the Zaporozhey Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP), the only remaining operational unit, was shut down and the functioning of NPP has been sporadic. On October 17, was officially announced that units of the ZNPP will not be restarted any time soon, due to shelling attacks and disrupted power supply lines. ZNPP will not be restarted “until the frontline is moved away from the station, until the shelling by Zelensky’s militants ceases and until all power supply lines are restored.”
The Zaporozhye nuclear power plant is the largest nuclear power plant currently operating in Europe. It has a capacity of about 6,000 MW and used to generate a quarter of all electric power in Ukraine. Russia took control of it on February 28, during the first days of its special military operation in Ukraine.
In the strikes on October 10. one of the victims was the head of the Department of Cyber Security of Ukraine, Police Colonel Yuriy Zaskoka. His death was also reported by the press service of the National Police of Ukraine (NPU). Zaskoka was driving a car along Shevchenko Boulevard at the time when a Russian cruise missile hit there. Ukrainian sources report also that many special service employees were killed during the attack on the SBU in Kiev, complaining that the Ukrainian authorities did not prevent the employees of the upcoming attacks.
Special task group of over dozen foreign mercenaries, led by Ukrainian intelligence officer, was detected in the Zaporozhie region, from which several American and German mercenaries have been identified afterwards. In the firefight with Russian troops and by Russian Airforce strikes the whole group was eliminated.
Various sources of info said in early October that the number of Polish mercenaries amassed at the engagement line in the Zaporozhye Region amounts to 5,000 militants. They are not at the forefront but at the most important and necessary sections of the combat engagement line. This news may explain, why Russian Forces have stricken so much, during October 10-14, to this region. Some days later, large formations of foreign mercenaries were eliminated by Russian strikes on Luhansk frontline.
On October 14, Russia continued to attack military and energy facilities in Ukraine. In the Lviv region, long-range sea-based missiles were used to destroy a large warehouse complex with significant stocks of Western weapons, military equipment and ammunition in the city of Brody, the Lviv region.
Drones and missiles from Iran
The Russian military has been using Lancet loitering munitions (kamikaze drones) against Kiev forces since the beginning of its special operation in Ukraine. In the last few weeks, the Russian military expanded the intensive use of loitering munitions and introduced new types, like the Geran-1 and 2 which are thought to be copies of Iran’s Shahed-131 and 136. As a result, Kiev forces sustained heavy human and material losses.
International media has been telling that Russia has received in large quantities drones and now also missiles from Iran.
The kamikaze drones (loitering munitions) are the Geran-1 and 2, which are said to be copies of Iran’s Shahed-131 and 136. The Shahed-131 has a range of 900 kilometers and a 15 kg warhead, while the Shahed-136 has a range of up to 2,500 kilometers and a 40 kg warhead.
The Russian military has been also using Iranian-made Mohajer-6 drones. The combat drone is capable of carrying a multispectral surveillance payload and up to four precision-guided munitions. The drone has an endurance of more than 12 hours and an operational range of 200-500 kilometers. Media has told that Iran is preparing new deliveries of drones for Russia, including “dozens” of additional Mohajer-6s and a larger number of Shahed-136s.
The media said that Iranian officials arrived in Russia on September 18 to finalize terms for additional weapons shipments, including Fateh-110 and Zolfaghar ballistic missiles. Iran is currently preparing a first shipment of the missiles. The Fateh-110 missile has a range of 300 kilometers and a warhead weighting 650 kg, while the Zolfaghar has a range of 700 kilometers and is armed with a 450 kg warhead. Both missiles are guided by a satellite-aided inertial navigation system.
Besides, Iran is directly supplying weapons to Russia, the Russian military industrial complex is producing or preparing to produce these missiles and drones under an agreement with Iran.
Since the outbreak of the Russian-Ukrainian War in February, questions have been widely raised regarding the absence of top end Russian tank, T-14 Armata, from the battlefield. Speculations have been, either they were not ready for service or were being conserved to confront more powerful NATO adversaries on other fronts.
The most capable variant of the T-90 tanks, the T-90M version, which entered service in April 2020, first appeared in Ukraine in April 2022. Obviously, one T-90M was destroyed in combat, although its performance and survivability were still overwhelmingly superior to the T-72s, T-80s and older T-90 variants which the Russian Army had previously relied on.
While the T-90M represented Russia’s second most capable tank class, it was the absence of the T-14 Armata, which fueled the most speculation.
A single T-14 was reportedly sighted on October 8 near the village of Midginskaya in Luhansk. The tank’s deployment comes amid growing signs that Russia is set to escalate its war effort including through mass mobilization, rapid commissioning of more T-90s and possibly opening of a second land front through Belarus. Although even older Russian tanks such as the T-72B3 boast very significant advantages over Ukraine’s 1970s armoured units, the T-14’s very high survivability, powerful sensors and much higher mobility will make it a potent force on the battlefield even if fielded in limited numbers.
There have been discussions in Russian Duma on a proposal to “blowout” the NATO satellite constellation, which conducts reconnaissance activities and guides/coordinates missile strikes by Ukrainian troops on new Russian territories. Russia has weapons capable of doing this, like Russian laser weapon “Peresvet”, which can blind and disable those satellites.
On October 5, it was reported that NATO reconnaissance satellites went out of order after the Russians used advanced laser weapons. As a result, the West lost the ability to control the movement of part of Russia’s nuclear weapons. According to experts, the Russian army used the Peresvet laser system. The system is capable of disabling satellites at a distance of up to 1,500 kilometers. After the use of this weapon, the alliance lost control over a half of Russian nuclear missiles, media said.
The neutralization of Western satellites came as Moscow’s response to the recent accidents at Nord Stream gas pipelines. The measures taken will make the use of many American arms systems, such as, for example, HIMARS MLRS, pointless. “Neutralizing satellites is a good response to blowing up Nord Stream. Without satellites, American HIMARS are ordinary Katyushas,” the expert summed up.
At the beginning of the war the Ukrainian military was supplied with thousands of Starlink ground terminals that can connect to the swarms of small Starlink satellites, which were managed by Elon Musk’s companies. They allowed for communication between Ukrainian ground units as well as for general command and control of larger operations. Without Starlink the Ukrainian command will depend on cable-based field telephone, runners and couriers. All of which are extremely vulnerable in an artillery rich environment.
The Russian army is known as a leader in electronic warfare globally. It can disable ground-based radio traffic on any frequency. It has now found ways to also disable ground to satellite connections as used by the Starlink constellation. Since 2001 Russia developed the Tirada 2 electromagnetic system, which can disable ground to satellite traffic in specific areas.
The disablement of the Starlink communication traffic was only a question of time. The traffic had to be analyzed to identify the frequencies and algorithms used by the transmitter and receiver. Software had to be written to implement a matching radio jamming pattern. The hardware of the Tirada system was likely already sufficient to emit the appropriate patterns on the identified frequencies.
As this system has now been proven to be effective in the field it will likely be made available on a wider scale. Russian electronic warfare equipment can already disable all ground radio traffic in specific areas. Soon all frontline communications of the Ukrainian forces will be disabled. This will be catastrophic for Ukrainian operations. Forward observers will no longer be able to correct artillery missions. Platoons and companies at the front will have no way to call for support. Higher command will have no way to coordinate larger operations in real time.
Harpoon-3 anti-drone gun
On October 17, it was announced that Russian troops have started using Harpoon-3 anti-drone guns in the special military operation in Ukraine. There were previously no official reports about the combat employment of these anti-drone guns in the special military operation in Ukraine.
Harpoon-3 anti-drone systems were engineered by the APT Company. The system’s first prototype was unveiled several years ago. The improved Harpoon-2M version with enhanced characteristics and new functions has been demonstrated at arms shows since 2019. The Harpoon-3 modification was unveiled at the MAKS-2021 air show outside Moscow last year.
The system is designed in the form of an anti-drone gun. Structurally, it consists of an instrument panel with controls and a jacketed antenna device. According to data from open sources, the system is over 1 meter long and weighs 6.5 kilograms.
The Harpoon-3 can be used as a hand-held gun or a stationary system. The anti-drone gun can be mounted on a special platform with two-plane guidance drives or can be remotely controlled. This design enables operators to simultaneously control several anti-drone guns scattered over a certain area.
The device is directed towards a target visually and within line of sight. The device has an operational range of 3.5 km and up to 2 km in high frequency interference. The anti-drone gun’s memory stores information on various unmanned aerial vehicles and the data on the fight against them. The Harpoon-3 can continuously operate for 60 minutes, using its own storage battery.
The Starlink network and communication system, launched by Elon Musk for the use of AFU in the territory of Ukraine, has been disabled, according to a number of sources. Russian rocket strikes on October 11, disabled a number of Starlink satellite communication terminals. The situation is close to losing control of units on the frontline, according to the General Staff of AFU.
On February 27, the founder and owner of SpaceX, Elon Musk, announced that he had opened access to his Starlink global satellite communications system in Ukraine. In March, US media reported that the Ukrainian army was using the Starlink satellite constellation to strike Russian troops in the absence of alternative communication channels. On October 3, Musk revealed that SpaceX had spent $80 million to launch and maintain Starlink in Ukraine and was not willing to go on at their own cost. The disruptions are indicative of a lack of cooperation between Ukraine’s military leadership and SpaceX, according to analysts.
On October 7, the British newspaper Financial Times, citing Ukrainian officials, reported that Starlink began to malfunction in the zone of Russia’s special military operation. According to them, “catastrophic losses” of communication were recorded in the Donbass, Kherson, Zaporozhye and Kharkov regions. The publication emphasized that failures in the system caused panic in the ranks of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. Ukrainian experts interviewed by the FT expressed the opinion that the cause of problems with communication in these regions may be a deliberate decision by the American company SpaceX, which launched Starlink, to restrict access to it in Russian-controlled territory.
On October 15, Elon Musk tweeted he will continue to fund Starlink satellites in Ukraine “for free” after a recent standoff with the US Department of Defense over the cost of their deployment. The shift comes a day after Musk threatened to cut financial support for SpaceX’s Starlink satellite internet service in Ukraine, having claimed that the operation had cost his company $80 million so far. The Pentagon had responded by confirming it’s in talks with SpaceX, while adding that the US is looking at other options.
Shutting down Starlink terminals would deny Ukraine a key means of communication in the fight against Russia: in addition to helping Ukraine’s forces on the ground, the terminals have supported infrastructure across the country. Ukraine has 20,000 Starlink terminals, provided evenly by USAID, Poland, the European Union and private companies. SpaceX sent a letter to the Pentagon last month, asking for funds to maintain the service in Ukraine because it’s draining resources from Starlink.
Russian Senator Vladimir Dzhabarov commented on the situation and said a Ukraine without Starlink “is going to be a massive blow to the country’s defense capabilities … mainly because the service is used for “targeting” Russian assets. Dzhabarov said SpaceX is a “private company after all, and although it did everything [provided free Starlink services to Ukraine] at the request of the Pentagon, it couldn’t go on like this forever.”
It appears now that Pentagon and SpaceX have entered some kind of “accord or consensus” regarding the availability and use of Starlink for AFU operations in Ukraine. But be it this or that way, the issue of Starlink will stay as one of the key elements in the western support of Ukraine and from Russian viewpoint it is a key element to be eliminated.
Rodion Miroshnik, a representative of the Lugansk People’s Republic in Moscow, has told US businessman Elon Musk held on to his status of a sponsor of terrorism after he said on Saturday that his SpaceX company would continue to pay for Starlink telecoms services in Ukraine.
Great Offensive in sight
There have been two stories of various offensives in the western and Russian narratives. Another is the large AFU counteroffensive in the Kherson area before the winter and the other one is the Russian Great Offensive, when the mobilization is ready and the necessary troops formations are ready for this operation.
Now it appears however, that the mentioned AFU offensive may wither down, mainly due to colossal losses of the autumn’s counteroffensives, since late August up to date. Troops losses surely exceeds 70.000 soldiers and losses of various armored vehicles well over 400, moreover hundreds of artillery pieces, mortars, rocket launchers etc. No wonder, Zelensky administration is asking more military aid on continuous base. But … there are some other viewpoints too.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin signaled this week that the US and its Western allies are having trouble keeping pace with Ukraine’s demand for the advanced weaponry it needs to fend off Russia’s invasion. That signal reflects dwindling supplies for Ukraine and fear in the White House of escalation that could lead to war between the US and Russia. The risk of reduced US stockpiles of high-end munitions has been reported almost since the US began contributing to Ukraine’s defense. Now, nearly eight months since the start of the war, experts interviewed by Fox News Digital say the US is at or very near the end of its capacity to give these weapons.
Mark Cancian is a senior adviser at the Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS), who spent seven years working on DOD procurement issues for the Office of Management and Budget. His assessment based on inventory levels, industrial capacity and information from the Biden administration is that the US has left “limited” supplies of HIMARs, Javelins, Stingers and M-777 Howitzers. “There are some areas, where we’re basically at the bottom of the barrel,” he told Fox News Digital. Cancian said that while there is talk of the US providing more air defense equipment, there is not much the US can give in that area. Cancian said he reads Austin comments as a sign that the days of the US giving Ukraine its best stuff are gone.
When assessing the current Russian military formations, instead of brigades and battalions, a concept of a battalion tactical group (BTG), is necessary to take in use. BTG is a combined-arms manoeuvre unit deployed by the Russian Army that is kept at a high level of readiness. Typically, BTG comprises a battalion (typically mechanized infantry) of two to four companies reinforced with air-defense, artillery, engineering and logistical support units, formed from a garrisoned army brigade. A tank company and rocket artillery typically reinforce such groupings. Each BTG has approximately 600–800 officers and soldiers, of whom roughly 200 are infantrymen, equipped with vehicles typically including roughly 10 tanks and 40 infantry fighting vehicles.
Partial mobilization as well as those other mobilizations, described in my previous article , will create a new, significant military formation to Russian Army, available for war theater operations by the end of this year. Russia’s partial mobilization will make some 110 – 130 new BTGs, Wagner Group’s mobilization will make additional 50 – 70 new BTGs and Chechen’s mobilization another 20 new BTGs, totaling about 200 new BTGs. In addition, Belarus and Russia are forming some new groupings in Belarus regions in the vicinity of Belarus-Ukraine borderline. Huge columns of military hardware have been seen going from Russia ahead to Belarus.
Latest reports, during the last seven days, from frontlines (Kherson, Donetsk, Luhansk) tells, that Russian Army has taken upper hand over warfare operations along the frontline.
Based on the assessment of decent mobilization, it seems that November will be the crucial turning point in the Ukrainian crisis, especially in the military point of view.
The end-game seems to be on the horizon. This follows the release of information that the Ukraine has grouped 15.000 soldiers on the border with Belarus, mining roads and blowing up bridges. Something is afoot. Is Russia about to cut off the NATO road and rail supply routes from Poland and stop the supply of the Kiev forces with Western military equipment?
As said above, Russian and Belarusian troops already are gathering on Ukraine’s northern border. Whether this is a bluff by Russia or genuine preparation for opening a new front in the north, the massing of forces requires Ukraine to deploy already depleted forces to the northern border. This will weaken Ukraine’s ability to hold off a Russian offensive in Kherson and Zaporhyzhia.
If Russia seizes the initiative and moves in force against Ukrainian units, NATO will not be in a position to rescue Ukraine from defeat on the battlefield. Any further intervention by NATO will make it, in the eyes of the Russians, a legitimate military target. I believe that the events during the next five weeks will create a crisis within NATO and the US.
And beyond this, there is another, ultimately far more important, issue. This is the worldwide economic crisis. In the US, Biden and Democrats are likely to lose control of the House of Representatives and the Senate in November 8. If this happens, Biden will no longer have a congressional ally eager to keep shoveling money and weapons into Ukraine. The economic conditions throughout Europe of inflation and shuttering businesses will fuel more domestic unrest and diminish enthusiasm for keeping Ukraine afloat.
When you take all of these factors into consideration, the conclusion is clear – Russia enjoys a strategic and tactical initiative that will be difficult to surmount. Conversely, NATO is in trouble.
Reverberation from Samarkand
China’s foreign ministry on Saturday issued an urgent call for any Chinese nationals still in Ukraine to exit immediately, kicking off speculation over what’s behind the unspecified appeal and scramble. The notification is being widely seen as the most forceful evacuation order yet and suggests that Beijing might be aware of Russian plans for possibly imminent bigger airstrikes against Ukrainian cities. The Chinese foreign ministry and embassy warned of the “grave security situation” and ordered an immediate departure, citing the need “to enhance safety precautions and evacuate.”
While it’s yet unknown precisely what triggered the heightened, urgent appeal for all remaining Chinese nationals to exit Ukraine, it’s possible the answer could come in the following days. Does this signal that greater Russian escalation on the horizon?
The group of “Russian friendly” countries with embassies still operating in Kiev, are shutting down and ordered their personnel to leave Ukraine. This includes before-mentioned China, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Serbia, Belarus, India and Egypt. Note that these embassies have remained open during the last seven months of the war. The decisions to cutback or cease operations is one indicator that these countries expect a major escalation in the war on the part of Russia in the near future.
Please, notice also that those same countries were gathered in Samarkand summit, in mid-September. I refer to my relevant article “Samarkand calling” of September 20, and those “prophetic” statements and conclusions I made in that article.
You may begin to recognize, what is the name of the global game you are eye-witnessing right now.