It looks like Ukrainian officials are not blowing smoke on this. During the past 24 hours Russian military operations in the Donbas and in Western Ukraine have increased markedly.
I want to share with you some videos from the Intel Slava Z channel on Telegram. While there always is the possibility these are staged propaganda pieces, they appear legitimate.
First up is the shootdown of a Ukrainian combat jet. Thermal footage shows Ukrainian Su-25 attack jet firing flares, in vain, trying to escape an incoming Russian missile. The jet was shot down on 15th of April by Russian Air Defense units.
The second video shows a Chechen in Mariupol inside one of the buildings at Ilyich plant where elements of the Azov battalion hid. This is probably from Saturday, 16 April. It did not turn out well for the Azov thugs:
The Russians are busy on several fronts. Let’s start on the southern coast of Ukraine:
- Mariupol is under the control of Russia, only a small element of the AZOV battalion is holed up in the Avostol steel plant with their backs to the sea.
- The Russians have secured Berdyansk, which is 60 miles west of Mariupol.
- There are explosions in Kherson, which is 220 miles west of Berdyansk.
- The night sky over Nikolaev (aka Mykolaiv) is on fire with a barrage of airborne explosives. From Nikolaev it is only 80 miles to Odesa.
At present, Russia is controlling the southern coast of Ukraine with a combination of naval and ground forces. Once Odesa falls (and it will fall), Russia will have completely cut off Ukraine from its southern ports. (There is no commercial activity now because it is a war zone.)
Then there is the action in the west along the border with Poland. Russia is destroying the military equipment that the United States and NATO are sending to Ukraine. Here is a remarkable video showing three weapon collection sites being hit in Lviv (I do not think this is from a video game because even Fox News reported the strikes). According to Intel Slava Z:
Aviation strikes with high-precision missiles at the 124th Joint Logistics Support Center of the Logistics Command of the Armed Forces of Ukraine near Lviv, – Defense Ministry
The logistics center and the large consignments of foreign weapons that were delivered to Ukraine over the past 6 days from the United States and European countries were destroyed.
But center stage for Russian military operations is to the east in Donbas. Popasnaya sits halfway between Luhansk and Kramatorsk (the site of the missile that killed civilians at the train station a week ago). Russian tanks reportedly are bombarding Ukrainian positions:
If the Ukrainian Army still had intact artillery it would be firing counter-battery rounds at the Russian tanks. That is not happening. When you are fighting a comparable force, doctrine dictates that the tanks fire and then move. (Counter battery fire means that the unit being shelled can fire back and hit the position where the shell originated.) I add the caveat that this video could be an elaborate propaganda production, but comments from Zelensky and his toadies indicate the offensive is underway.
There also are press reports that Russian artillery is firing on Ukrainian units around Kharkov (which is a 160 miles northwest of Popasnaya). The limited ability of the Ukrainian forces to respond in kind means the units are hunkered down and taking a brutal beating. If they poke their heads out of their bunkers they are likely to lose their noggin.
Besides physically killing the Ukrainian soldiers, the Russian sustained bombardments are also killing the will to fight among some of the units. Significant numbers are surrendering to Russian units. The first video shows more than 80 Ukrainians who are now under Russian control:
Here is another group of more than 300 Ukrainian soldiers who gave up:
If Ukraine was succeeding on the ground I am sure we would be seeing daily briefings from the Ukrainian generals touting their latest triumph over Russian forces. The absence of such reports is not the product of some clever Ukrainian plot to deceive the Russians into complacency. The inability to maintain robust lines of communication with the front line units and ensure they are fully supplied with ammunition, weapons and food is a death spiral for any military organization.
Recent new reports in the west state that there are limitations on what the United States and NATO can supply. Here is Bloombergs “rosy” picture:
America is following an “arsenal of democracy” strategy in Ukraine: It has avoided direct intervention against the Russian invaders, while working with allies and partners to provide the Kyiv government with money and guns. . . .
Yet as the war reaches a critical stage, with the Russians preparing to consolidate their grip on eastern Ukraine, the arsenal of democracy is being depleted. . . .
General Mark Milley, the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, told Congress that the West has delivered 60,000 antitank weapons and 25,000 anti-aircraft weapons to Kyiv. The Pentagon is now laying plans to rush additional artillery, coastal defense drones and other materiel to Ukraine. The White House on Wednesday announced a new $800 million package including helicopters and armored personnel carriers. . . .
Pentagon officials say that Kyiv is blowing through a week’s worth of deliveries of antitank munitions every day. It is also running short of usable aircraft as Russian airstrikes and combat losses take their toll. Ammunition has become scarce in Mariupol and other areas.
This is presenting Western countries with a stark choice between pouring more supplies into Ukraine or husbanding finite capabilities they may need for their own defense.
What the Bloomberg reporter forgot to mention is that Russia is blowing up many of those munitions in western Ukraine even before they can be sent to the front.
In writing this hard truth I am frequently accused of simply passing on Russian propaganda. Not true. If you have the videos of the Ukrainians wreaking havoc on the Russians please let me know. I have not seen it. And as I noted above, I do not doubt for a minute that U.S. news media would be showing these videos if they existed. This may be a decisive week for the continued existence of organized Ukrainian military operations. The Russian military appears to be following Putin’s directive–demilitarize Ukraine.