Population density map of Russia.

“Beset with a population aging into decrepitude and a system that has given up educating the next generation, Russia’s credit collapse is but one of a phalanx of factors capable of ending the Russian state. The question isn’t will the Russians go out swinging—Russian’s invasion of Ukraine is testament to that—but instead, who else will they swing at?” – Zeihan

 

NATO Air Patrol Now

The 24-hour surveillance and combat air patrol posture of NATO countries have increased since the war between Russia and Ukraine began. Note the presence of Italian aircraft carriers in the mix.

 

Tactical Operations

Around Kharkov/Kharkiv

Ukraine carried out two offensives in the Kharkiv area.

North of Kharkiv, Ukraine captured the settlements of Slobozhanske, Borshchova, Rus’ki Tyshky, and Cherkas’ki. Lyptsi is contested.

Northwest of Kharkiv, Ukraine captured Bairak, Rubizhne, Verkhnii Saltiv, and Zamilivka.

The Russians have been promising a large counterattack for a month now but don’t seem to have much momentum. Perhaps they’re amassing logistics for that sort of a summer offensive. They still have an army in the field, significant armor and artillery assets, and theater air resources (located off the map) available to support such an offensive.

Even if Ukraine pushes Russian military forces out of its territory, they share a common border and Russia can make its moves. The problem with all that comes with overhead surveillance. You can’t move quickly enough to surprise the satellites and the people watching you from Virginia. It simply won’t be much of a surprise.

Those quick moves would have been made by the Russian VDV (airborne forces) and they’ve suffered catastrophic losses in the war to date. The 331st Guards Parachute Regiment, literally the best in the Russian order of battle, needs to be rebuilt before it can fight again.

The men in the 331st regarded themselves as the pick of Russia’s army. In a video posted online last May (2021), a general tells soldiers of the 331st Parachute Regiment that they are “the best of the best”. The unit served in the Balkans, Chechnya, and the 2014 Russian intervention in the Donbas region of Ukraine, and regularly took part in Red Square parades in Moscow.

The 331st was also a showcase for Russia’s policy of replacing national service soldiers with contraktniki – professionals under contract. It is understandable why the generals should have given it an important role in the invasion.

On the memorial wall for Sergeant Sergei Duganov, one woman wrote: “Nobody knows anything. The 331st regiment is disappearing. Almost every day, photos of our Kostroma boys get published. It sends shivers down my spine. What’s happening? When will this end? When will people stop dying?”

Her post was followed by another, which exclaimed: “Kostroma has lost so many young men, what a tragedy”. Another pleaded: “God, how many more death notifications shall we receive? Please have mercy on our boys, help them survive, return them back home to their wives and mothers. I’m begging you!”

Maybe replacements will come from other broken VDV units and 331 Guards Airborne can return to action this summer? Maybe the lessons learned will be enough to keep from these elite units being shredded in combat (often by Ukraine reserve units or local militia units). Maybe not? The question for Russia is whether it’s worth it.

 

A Canadian soldier in Ukraine (his view of fighting)

In an interview with DW’s Washington bureau chief Ines Pohl, US Army general and CIA director (ret.) David Petraeus aka Betrayus. 

15 COMMENTS

    • Do you mean like Bono holding a concert in a bomb shelter in Kiev?

      Some may be panicking that the war will be over too quickly when it was intended to replace Afghanistan as an endless sink. Once the original turf is Ukrainian again, how will Moscow handle Crimea? Is it worth a nuclear exchange to them? They’re going to lose access to the Black Sea no matter what – until some sort of rapprochement is reached and that’s devastating. Just the loss of access to markets will bring even more financial ruin to them. Maybe Ukraine levies a heavy tariff to help pay for the war – as part of a larger package to pay for breakage that will be heaped on the back of the Kremlin?

      • Old NFO — Then there is the “War Tourism” business that sprang up for elites and politicians to tour the war-torn capital, etc. Five-star meals and accommodations are just a few hours from the front.

        • Ahhh so that helps to explain the increase in Zelensky’s net worth and his ability to get a 20+mil dollar property in S. Florida. How exactly did this guy get all the money in the last few years?

          • Zelenskyy might say if asked directly, that he’s been very lucky with a few investments. One scoop of raisins in the Raisin Bran, one scoop into Voldomir’s pocket.

            He got his money the old fashioned way.

  1. The 24-hour surveillance and combat air patrol posture of NATO countries have increased since the war between Russia and Ukraine began.

    Given the years of parsimonious spending on military assets, including air, by various NATO countries, just how long can they maintain this tempo? Maintenance, spare parts, and trained technicians have been neglected. Our USAF isn’t in much better shape. Many Air National Guard units are being activated.
    What impact will calling up the Guard have on domestic airlines? Out of date now but when the Colorado Air Guard with their F-100s went to Vietnam, Frontier and Continental Airlines were in a bind for pilots.

  2. I wonder if Ukraine clears any concert venues with Russia? It would be all sorts of bad to accidentally shell a celebrity, people would talk.

  3. I have dubbed this “small incursion” The Slavic Hatfield & McCoy’s Feud. Seems fitting.

    My take is Biden et al are waging a war by proxy so they can deny we are at war with Russia. It’s being done to cover up the treasonous activity (just look at who from Congress went there. What was the point?)..and to upend the Mid-Terms along with “more Covid Crap”.

    Guessing troops on the ground in a month, give or take. And it’ll be justified as “a peace-keeping mission”, which half the USA will swallow.

  4. Two Italian Carriers are way too many: we’ve two CVL all told, including Garibaldi who has been repurposed as an interim LPH ut should manage to carry Harriers in an emergency. I suppose the main deployment area will be in the Eastern Med, to keep a baleful eye on that brace of Slavas stationed off Syria…

  5. Yes, you make a great point, LL.

    Even if Ukraine takes back all pre-2014 territory, they are still in no position to impose an end to the war, and Russia is in no worse position to fight it.

    The only real way to get an end is by NATO – Russia – Ukraine negotiations, and the way the West has acted (especially the unprecedented global economic war), I can’t imagine the Russians being willing to talk. I also can’t imagine the imbeciles in Western power wanting to settle for a workable peace instead of abject Versailles-style humiliation.

    We really don’t want Russia to feel like they have nothing left to lose.

    I see little hope for this not to drag on indefinitely, even if we manage to avoid worst-case.

    -Kle.

  6. Drove into Dallas on Monday and just about everyone there is, apparently, Ukrainian, judging from the flags. They also love tranny marriage, masking, and killing children in the womb. Are these things linked?

    Some say that the West is a rainbow army of mithril elves defending womyns’ health centers from evil orcs. Just like we did in Syria.

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