I am fascinated by guys like Wes O’Donnell, who publish delusional nonsense without offering one piece of credible evidence. O’Donnell, who claims to have served in the U.S. Army and the U.S. Air Force, put up a piece at Medium last week with the catchy title, Putin’s Death Cult Prepares for Huge Casualties in the Coming Days.
The Russian army just suffered the deadliest 24 hours since the start of the war. According to Ukraine, 1,030 Russians were killed yesterday as Moscow continues to throw thousands of freshly mobilized soldiers into the meat grinder.
This brings the Russian death toll to 133,190. . . .
In an intelligence update given on Tuesday, the UK Ministry of Defense said Russian forces have “only managed to gain several hundred meters of territory per week,” because the Kremlin “now lacks the munitions and maneuver units required for successful offensives.”
I guess research is not Mr. O’Donnell’s strong suit. Instead of looking for independent sources he repeats the lies from the British Ministry of Defense, which gets its “intel” from the Ukrainians. If you accept the Ukrainian truth you are convinced that the Russians are being slaughtered at a horrendous rate. Only one little problem — I have been unable to find any Russian social media that shows mass graveyards and thousands of grieving Russian relatives.
O’Donnell also relies on the propaganda generated by the Institute for the Study of War (a new competitor for Oxymoron of the Year Award). He makes this outlandish claim:
Perhaps most interesting is how Putin is using conscripts in this war counter to traditional Russian military doctrine. Historically, Russia’s “trigger-pullers” have been its professional corps of contract troops — while conscripts were reserved for menial tasks like manual labor and maintenance.
But in Ukraine, it’s the conscripts who are sent to the front while the contract troops stay safely “in the rear.”
Well, as Chris Berman used to say on ESPN, “Let’s go to the videotape.” Here is a video of Wagner Group “contract” soldiers in the midst of the battle in Bakhmut packing up the corpses of fallen Ukrainians. You can hear the noise of battle in the background. Odd isn’t it. Instead of desecrating the bodies of their adversaries, the Russian contract soldiers treat the dead with respect as they secure the bodies to send them back to their loved ones. (You can see a Ukrainian flag on some of the caskets.)
Here is the rest of that story. Those caskets are headed to western Ukraine and will be buried in graveyards like the following:
I want to reiterate the inability of Ukrainian and Russian authorities to control social media. The ubiquitous cell phone camera provides a powerful tool to record events as they happen. If Russians were dying in the numbers claimed by Ukrainian sources we would be seeing that on social media. We are not. At least not in the number that appear on Ukrainian channels.
I am not suggesting that Russia is casualty free. Russian soldiers are being killed and wounded. But not in the volume that Ukrainian soldiers are. Ukrainian claims about Russian losses is just another manifestation of psychological projection.