More to ignore, Book 59........

Ten Thousan Marbles

Well-Known Member
Feb 6, 2014
Ukraine update: At Popasna, Russia is like the dog who finally caught a car
Mark Sumner


An overturned and burned out van on the barren road to Popasna.

For two solid months, Russia pounded away at the town of Popasna. Again and again, Russian forces crossed the 2 miles from the neighboring town of Pervomaisk, which has been under Russian occupation since 2014. Again and again the forces that survived to reach Popasna were pounded into scrap by artillery stationed west of the town. But gradually, after tremendous losses, Russia wore the defenders in Popasna down. They reduced the buildings in the east of the town to rubble. They reduced the buildings in the south and west of the town to rubble. They reduced the buildings in the north of the town to rubble. Finally, with not a single intact building remaining, Russia took Popasna. Sort of.

"The Russians are not just destroying Popasna,” said the head of the regional military administration. “They are removing it from the map.” Russian drone footage showed the last survivors of the town being blasted out of the rubble with grenades. On May 7, Russia celebrated their capture of a town that no longer existed.

Capturing Erasing Popasna seemed to be an accomplishment. Yes, it took Russian forces over two months to grind out 2 miles of progress despite piling onto Popasna more forces in less space than anywhere else along the entire line of battle. But they got it, by Putin, and then … they seemed to forget what came next.

As kos has detailed, Russia had initially aimed at carving a north-south line through Ukrainian territory far to the west, a line that would have started at the city of Kharkiv and cut all the way down to Zaporizhzhia. That didn’t work out. So Russia cut back its ambitions and instead started down a path that ran southwest from the salient they established at Izyum. Only that attempt ground to a halt, so they started going southeast instead, aiming to cut off a smaller but still substantial chunk that would include the cities of Slavyansk and Kramatorsk. But okay then, who needs those cities? Instead, Russia could go from Lyman to the place that used to be Popasna on the map. That would be just a fraction of their original goal, but hey, it has Lyman. It contains Severodonetsk. It puts Russian troops on the other side of the Siverskyi Donets River and pretty much at the boundaries of Luhansk, so get busy with that.

Except that since Russia moved all those forces assaulting Popasna to sitting on the dust that had been Popasna, it seems to have lost track of what to do with them. In the last 10 days, Russia has attacked west out of Popasna. And north out of Popasna. And southwest out of Popasna. And south out of Popasna.


Russia mini-salient at Popasna.

As of Thursday, the situation looked roughly like this: Russia has taken several small villages in the immediate vicinity of Popasna, most of which seemed to have been abandoned without resistance. But an attempt to drive west toward the town of Bakhmut was turned back at the village of Pylypchatyne. Attempts to drive back to the south ran into a wall at Troitske. The line of towns and villages north of of the “mini-salient” pushing out through Popasna has been under almost constant attack, but with the exception of Komyshuvakha, Ukraine seems to have held onto contested positions.

On Wednesday, the Russians made another run at Pylypchatyne and were repelled with heavy losses. Then they moved back inside their own lines, shifted troops from Popasna to the east, and made a run at Toshkivka. But they were thrown back again, and forces returned to sitting on the ashes of Popasna.

It’s not that Russian forces have made no progress since taking Popasna almost two weeks ago, but the loss of the town failed to turn into anything that might be described as a “breakthrough” that allowed Russian forces to flood through a gap in the Ukrainian line. Instead Popasna—a place with no standing shelter, water, or electricity—has become the new base for Russia’s slow crawl.

And without the direct goal of Popasna to capture, Russia seems uncertain of just where it wants to go next. It’s still attacking in directions that make no sense when applied to wider goals. The attempt to move west, which has failed at least twice when it reached Pylypchatyne, at least makes some sense in terms of trying to complete that connection to Lyman, which is only about 50 kilometers to the northwest. But Russia seems likely to abandon that effort, especially after the repeated failed attempts to cross the Siverskyi Donets near Bilohorivka.

Eventually, Russian forces can be expected to go north from Popasna, not just because that’s the one direction where they’ve had some success, but because north from Popasna represents the smallest possible version of Russia’s “cut off Ukrainian forces at the eastern front” plan. If they can manage to keep their forces at Popasna relatively intact and pointing in the same direction, they might even make progress. Then pro-Russian sources can brag about how all those other attempts to cut off larger pieces of Ukraine were always feints. Very expensive feints.

But first expect Russia to make a few more pointless, high-casualty runs in random directions.

Ten Thousan Marbles

Well-Known Member
Feb 6, 2014
Thursday, May 19, 2022 · 11:20:32 AM EDT · Mark Sumner
The Russian shelling into border towns near Sumy over the last week has been a genuinely curious action. It’s hard to believe it would divert serious attention from other regions, because the odds of Russia launching an assault into these oblasts seems near zero.

On the other hand, it’s easy to see how it might lure artillery or aircraft the area in an effort to halt the shelling. Which could make a good trap … if Russia is thinking that far ahead.


Ten Thousan Marbles

Well-Known Member
Feb 6, 2014
Thursday, May 19, 2022 · 12:01:12 PM EDT · Mark Sumner
New action east of Staryi Saltiv. On Wednesday, there absolutely nothing happening in the area according to the FIRMS data, and the social media chatter was so quiet that even some of the sources that had first reported Ukrainian forces crossing the Siverski Donets River began to suggest that the whole thing may have been small units of Ukrainian special forces rather than a true bridgehead on the east.

But on Thursday, things are lighting up again.


On Tuesday, artillery fire was clustered near the village of Metalivka, north of the town of Zarichne, which had been reported captured by Ukraine, and about 5km north of the bridge at Staryi Saltiv. Now the fire has moved nearly 4km north to Buhaivka, right in the area where earlier information suggested Ukraine had created a pontoon bridge from Rubizhne.

Meanwhile. on the west side of the river, an earlier cluster of fire aimed at an area near the riverbank has moved to the west side of Rubizhne.

Is this Ukraine on the march again, resuming a pushing toward the rail junction at Vovchansk, and perhaps simultaneously moving against Russian forces still on the west side of the river? Or is it Russian forces coming down from Starytsya and Vovchansk to conduct a counter-counteroffensive against Ukrainian forces?

Honestly, I don’t know. However, there are some reports that Ukraine has now captured Buhaivka, securing both sides of the river at Rubiznhe. Take these with the normal shaker of salt, covered over by a extra heavy sauce of war fog.

Ten Thousan Marbles

Well-Known Member
Feb 6, 2014
Insurrection probe hits lawmaker who allegedly gave tours of Capitol with request for cooperation
Brandi Buchman

The January 6 Committee has requested cooperation from another sitting lawmaker; this time it is Rep. Barry Loudermilk, a Georgia Republican, who investigators say gave a tour of the U.S. Capitol one day before a mob violently stormed the complex.

The letter sent to Loudermilk on Thursday is not a subpoena. It is a request for voluntary cooperation and committee chairman Bennie Thompson asked that Loudermilk make an appearance next week.

“We believe you have information regarding a tour you led through parts of the Capitol complex on January 5, 2021. The foregoing information raises questions to which the Select Committee must seek answers. Public reporting and witness accounts indicate some individuals and groups engaged in efforts to gather information about the layout of the U.S. Capitol, as well as the House and Senate office buildings in advance of January 6, 2021,” Chairman Thompson wrote.

Loudermilk Letter Jan 6 by Daily Kos on Scribd

The week after former President Donald Trump incited an insurrection at the Capitol, New Jersey Democrat Mike Sherrill alleged publicly that she witnessed sitting Republican lawmakers lead tours through the Capitol on the eve of the attack.

Other Democrats, like Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon of Pennsylvania, also said they saw small “unauthorized” groups touring the Capitol on Jan. 5. Scanlon told the Philly Voice in January that she witnessed a group of up to eight people, wearing ill-fitting face masks, on one of those tours.

This stuck out to her, Scanlon recalled at the time, because the Capitol had stopped public tours due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

For Sherill, a moderate Democrat, sitting member of the House Armed Services Committee and Navy veteran, the accusation drew sharp rebuke.

Sherrill has been publicly mum about the details of what she claims to have seen on Jan. 5 but she did, however, join more than two dozen other Democrats who demanded that the House and Senate Sergeant-at-Arms investigate the “suspicious behavior.”

Denials from Republicans came swiftly and Rep. Loudermilk, who sits on the House Armed Services Committee with Sherrill, lashed out by filing a complaint against her—and 33 other Democrats who called for a probe—with the House Ethics Committee.

Loudermilk Ethics Complaint by Daily Kos on Scribd

Loudermilk called the Democrat’s request “a stain” on Congress and flatly denied that any member of the GOP led “reconnaissance tours” through the Capitol on Jan. 5.

“Security footage captured by U.S. Capitol Police easily confirms these facts,” Loudermilk wrote in the full-throated denial.

Loudermilk was one of several Republicans on the House Administration Committee that reviewed security footage from Jan. 6. Many of those same Republican lawmakers said after reviewing it that there were “no tours. no large groups, [and] no one with MAGA hats on.”

In fact, Rep. Rodney Davis, once nominated to serve on the Jan. 6 Committee by GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy, led a call for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to have the Capitol security footage made public.

His review, Davis said, did not support allegations from Democrats that members of the GOP led tours of the Capitol on Jan. 5. Pelosi, he screeched, must release the tapes.

But Davis was barking up the wrong tree: Pelosi does not have the authority to release U.S. Capitol security footage. That is up to the U.S. Capitol Police.

Arguably, Davis should have known that. As a member of the Committee on House Administration, he serves a committee that, in part, oversees the Capitol Police.

Incidentally, Davis was also approved by Pelosi to serve on the Jan. 6 Committee when it was first being formed.

McCarthy nominated Davis and four other Republicans—including Trump cronies Rep. Jim Jordan and Jim Banks—to serve the probe. But Pelosi didn’t want Jordan or Banks on board and sent McCarthy back to the drawing board.

Instead of continuing negotiations, McCarthy abandoned the committee altogether and slammed it as a partisan witch hunt.

Since then, Davis has served on what amounts to a shadow committee investigating January 6. Its members are all those Republicans who were not placed on the Jan. 6 Committee including Banks and Jordan.

The shadow panel has no subpoena power, so it has relied on voluntary cooperation only and has reportedly focused its efforts almost entirely on the U.S. Capitol Police.

Loudermilk has been a vocal opponent to the investigation of the attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Before the probe was officially formed, Loudermilk said any select committee formed in Congress would fail to produce new information.

So far, the Jan. 6 Committee has interviewed over 1,000 witnesses and has obtained critical first hand witness testimony about what was happening inside of the White House during the insurrection incited by the former president.

Some of that information has included texts from Loudermilk to Trump’s then chief-of-staff Mark Meadows.

While a mass of the former president’s supporters—and members of domestic extremist networks like the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys—carried out the assault, Loudermilk texted Meadows.

“It’s really bad up here on the Hill,” he wrote. “They have breached the Capitol.”

Meadows responded to Loudermilk that Turmp was “engaging.”

Loudermilk thanked him but he lamented where they found themselves.

"Thanks. This doesn't help our cause," Loudermilk said.

The lawmaker had spent weeks publicly promoting the idea on Twitter that election fraud was rampant in Georgia, as evidenced by posts collected in a social media field guide first compiled by Rep. Zoe Lofgren.

A representative for Loudermilk did not respond to a request for comment Thursday.

Loudermilk ultimately voted to object to the certification of the 2020 election results on Jan. 6 after hundreds of police officers had been badly beaten, a person had died and the Capitol endured more than $1 million in damages.


Ten Thousan Marbles

Well-Known Member
Feb 6, 2014
Ukraine update: Cutting through the fog to get some sense of what's happing at Staryi Saltiv
Mark Sumner


Former Russian tank in a former Ukrainian village north of Kharkiv, May 19, 2022.

I’ve written before about the danger of basing any interpretation of what’s happening on the ground on the data from NASA’s FIRMS instruments. A collection of orbiting spectrographs and infrared sensors are not a substitute of any sort for reports on the ground. They can’t distinguish artillery from a forest fire, can’t tell what the source of any fire might be, and absolutely can’t fit all those little colored squares into any kind of narrative. Using FIRMS data requires interpretation, and interpretation risks being absolutely, 100% wrong.

With that warning in place ... here I go again, because Ukraine’s rapid gains north of Kharkiv may be the most interesting sequence of events in the whole of the invasion, and what’s now going on east of Staryi Saltiv may be the most interesting part of that whole Ukrainian counteroffensive. But through the whole operation, not just whatever may be going on east of the river, Ukraine has played activity in this area very close to the vest. Actions like the recapture of Staryi Saltiv, or the fast march to Ternova, weren’t reported from any official source until days after they had taken place and sizable areas around the towns in question were under Ukrainian control.

To be absolutely clear, Ukraine owes us, the highly interested war-watching public, absolutely nothing. They owe the guys actually on the ground, doing the fighting, everything. There are very clear tactical and strategic reasons why Ukraine sometimes pulls out the Fog of War machine and layers their actions in secrecy, just as there are also clear reasons why they sometimes decide to blow away that fog long enough to report a triumph that thrills the armchair generals and, more importantly, keeps the folks on the ground properly chuffed.

Right now, the fog has rolled in. So let’s once again pull out the satellite pics and do a little time-lapse of the entire Staryi Saltiv area. In the process, we’ll tell a story, but please understand that story may be no more accurate than those which begin “Once upon a time ...”



NASA FIRMS data, May 7. Staryi Saltive area.

Just a day after initial reports that Ukrainian forces had recaptured Staryi Saltiv, after moving quickly over a dozen kilometers and bypassing other areas of Russian control, FIRMS started reporting some hot spots in a strange area. It appeared that Ukraine was shelling locations on the east side of the river, directly around the other end of the Staryi Saltiv bridge. This was especially strange, because it was known that this bridge had been purposely damaged by Russian forces and was impassable.

The best assumption at the time was that Ukraine was clearing out possible Russian artillery on the east bank, but there doesn’t seem to be any return fire from the Russian side.


NASA FIRMS. May 8. Staryi Saltiv area.

A day later, and the shelling around the east end of the bridge has stopped. Instead, the only action is one kilometer to the north. A detailed look suggests this fire was right on top of a hotel whose name translates roughly into “Silver Pine Lodge.” It seems like a nice place: 240 rooms, rec center, built-in movie theater. But “seemed” is probably the right word. In the spirit of speculation, did Ukraine get word this hotel, and the Sosnovy Bor rec center under that northernmost yellow block, were being used by Russian forces? Sure. Why not?

What happens next is … nothing. Just under a solid week of nothing. That doesn’t mean that nothing was happening. Actions involved might not have included heavy use of artillery. FIRMS is also not perfect, and at least two of the days involved included heavy rain and overcast skies. It’s not until May 13 (a relatively clear day) that FIRMS lights up again, and when it does, the location is really puzzling.


NASA FIRMS. May 13. Staryi Saltiv area.

On this day, all the fire is directed east of Rubizhne, but not really across the river. Instead, this is all in the series of small islands and marshes located west of the main river channel. Previously, I speculated that might be Russian artillery firing into the location where Ukraine was trying to construct some kind of bridge. However, it could also be Ukraine firing into an area where Russian forces had retreated. In any case, all of this fire is happening in an area half a kilometer south of the normal bridge at Rubizhne, a bridge known to be demolished by Russian forces. Honestly, if I could get one person from the Ukrainian team in the area and ask them what was going on, it would be, “What the heck were you shooting at around Rubizhne?” Just wait a second. This question will come up again.

May 14 and 15 are absolutely quiet, so far as FIRMS is concerned. This doesn’t mean that Ukraine and Russia were not going at it with everything from kitchen spoons to heavy machine guns. It’s just that nothing in the area tweaked the hot spot sensors on FIRMS. Those spots are back again on May 16.


NASA FIRMS. May 16. Staryi Saltiv area.

Now the fire is coming down in three areas. On the east side, there are scattered strikes in Zarichne and east of Metalivka. On the west side, there are a cluster of hot spots actually south of Rubizhne, in an area that had reportedly been under Ukrainian control for some days. This is the day that social media chatter—including reports on Telegram from Russian sources—indicated that Ukraine had crossed the river in force. It’s certainly easy to interpret the pattern of impacts on the east side as coming from artillery that had been moved across the bridge at Staryi Saltiv and directed north.

What’s going on south of Rubizhne? I. Do. Not. Know. Not only is this supposedly an area under Ukrainian control at this point, but the area where these hot spots are located is pretty much empty. Like … empty. There are relatively dense levels of buildings to the north and south; there are open fields on the west, marshes on the right, and partially nothing but the highway worth targeting. Russian forces attempting to halt the flow of Ukrainian troops up the highway? Possible. Again, this is a puzzler.


NASA FIRMS. May 17. Staryi Saltiv area.

A day later and the fire around Zarichne is gone while that east of Metalivka has increased. There’s still some of that heat on the west side near Rubizhne, but it’s considerably reduced from the previous day. It’s very tempting to read this day as Ukrainian forces moving north from the Staryi Saltiv bridge to recapture Zarichne and continue their path toward Vovchansk. Supporting this were several unofficial reports that Ukrainian forces had occupied Zarichne. Maybe the reduced fire on the west bank is happening because Russian artillery is getting driven back or destroyed on the right bank, but again, that’s something I’m pulling from my … hat. Let’s say hat.

Meanwhile, if Ukrainian forces also crossed east of Rubizhne, there seems to be no sign of them. Again, they could be going at it hammer and tongs so long as they didn’t employ something that registered with FIRMS, but other than some apparently panicked announcements from Russians convinced that Ukraine was just about to capture Vovchansk, there doesn’t seem to be any sign of fighting in Verkhnya Pysarivka or other villages to the north.

Then May 18 comes and there is … nothing. Not one hot spot in the whole area. In fact, it’s so quiet that some of the same sources that first reported Ukraine crossing the river begin to backtrack and make claims that maybe it was just a few special forces types crossing in boats to cause havoc. Maybe there’s no real bridgehead at all.

And then …


NASA FIRMS. May 19. Staryi Saltiv area.

Kaboom. Those two areas in the image are red rather than yellow because they were all detected between six and 12 hours ago. There’s no more fire east of Metalivka. Instead, everything has moved above the town of Buhakiva on the east. There’s also fire again on the west side, but now that fire is west of Rubizhne.

Again, the hot spots on the east make it appear that Ukraine is proceeding to the north. Not only are there now some very unofficial reports that Ukraine has taken Metalivka and Buhaivka, one of the Russian Telegram sources reports that Ukraine took Buhaivka from the north. So did Ukraine manage to move forces across the river at Rubizhne after all? However they got there, if Ukrainian troops really are in Buhaivka, that puts them just 16 km (10 miles) down a wide road that runs straight to Vovchansk. Russian panickers, start your engines.

However, there were also reports that today was going to be the day of a Russian counteroffensive. Or counter-counteroffensive. So perhaps these hot spots mark Russian troops pushing down from Vovchansk on the east and Starytsa on the west to block any Ukrainian advance. It would be pretty odd for Russia to be firing into a town it supposedly controls, but, you know, Russia.

There’s also something of an odd coincidence here that suggests whoever is creating these hot spots is responsible for both east and west. The hot spots appeared on both sides of the river on the 16th, and again on the 17th. On the 18th, both sides were quiet. Then on the 19th, both sides are lit up again. If this was really Russia and Ukraine exchanging shells across the river, it seems odd that both sides would flip on, then off, then on together. After all, if you were aware of enemy positions across the river that you could hit, why stop firing? Shouldn’t there at least be a “tail” where one side keeps firing for hours after the other side has gone still? And if Russia is firing across the river, why are they firing everywhere around Rubizhne, but not at Rubizhne?

One of these days—a day within the next two weeks, almost certainly—these mysteries will become clear. Until then, I think my hat is empty. And analysts who said this on Tuesday evening:

Said this a few minutes later:


There is an ongoing debate over the scale, or even existence of the entire Ukrainian operation east of the Siverskyi Donets River, and I’m absolutely not in a position to break the tie. But if you happen to be on the ground in Metalivka or Buhaivka … call me.

Ten Thousan Marbles

Well-Known Member
Feb 6, 2014
Ukraine Update: A Russian volunteer's story lays waste to the myth of the Russian "BTG"


Old-school trench warfare, with new-school anti-tank weapon, somewhere on the eastern Donbas front.

Hey, look at that, the Pentagon finally admits that a Russian BTG is not really a BTG.

The Pentagon keeps saying stuff like “Russia has 106 BTGs in Ukraine,” but that’s literally gibberish. On paper, a Russian BTG should have 600-800 soldiers, 10 tanks, and 40 infantry fighting vehicles (along with assorted artillery, air defense, and logistics/support vehicles). In reality, deployed BTGs rarely, if ever, arrived at full strength, in large part because of grift, but also because conscripts assigned to those units weren’t legally allowed to deploy outside of Russia (though it happened sometimes, it wasn’t widespread). At this point, Russian BTGs are mostly shattered remnants. To prove that point, let me tell you the story of Dovhenke, just 26 kilometers (~16 miles) southeast of the Izyum salient.


Russians know the town as Dolgen'koye, and it’s currently blocking Russia’s southern advance. Just a few kilometers south of the town, a rail line still feeds supplies to Sloviansk (and Kramatorsk). Its value is obvious. More ambitiously, any attempt to encircle those Ukrainian strongholds at Slovyansk and Kramatorsk run through Dovhenke. The town had a pre-war population of 850, so we’re talking a few farmhouses and sheds. This is not an urban stronghold.

Meanwhile, estimates put Russia’s presence in the Izyum front at 22 BTGs, Russia’s largest concentration of firepower in the entire country.


Remember, 22 BTGs technically should mean 220 tanks, 880 infantry fighting vehicles, a buttload of artillery, and close to 18,000 soldiers. Dovhenke is just down the road from Izyum. Should be an easy pickings, right? Russia took Izyum on April 1, there’s been plenty of time for progress!

Dmitri on Twitter has been dutifully translating Russian-language accounts of the war, and he stumbled onto a real treasure, the diary of a Russian contract volunteer. Part I talks about how Viktor ended up in Ukraine in the first place. It’s interesting, for sure, particularly in his discussion on how little training and preparation volunteers received. But Part II is something else. You see, Viktor spent a month with units fighting the battle of Dovhenke.

On 10 April, myself and 4 more people ended up in the first company of the 752th regiment located on the defence in shrubbery at altitude 200 to the south of Kamenka village. Commanding the company was Sr. Lieutenant Guzaev. A real officer and a very good person… Kind and humane… In the company (if it can be called a company) there were 8 people together with company’s starshina who never went into assaults. After we joined, the company consisted of 13 people.

A company is four platoons, each of which should have 30-40 infantrymen. Each platoon normally has four sections, so around 7-10 soldiers each. So, what should’ve been a company with 120-160 soldiers, in fact had 13. That’s, at best, just 10% of full strength. It was section pretending to be a company.

Anyway, Viktor set out for an attack on Dovhenke, but they got lost or something. Maybe it was intentional sabotage by the “company” commander. They lost a guy because he was so out of shape that he started to have “heart aching.” That proved fortuitous for Viktor, because he was ordered to stay back with the “injured,” despite not having been hit by anything other than indirect mortar fire. The next morning…

Many company commanders in the two battalions of the 752th regiment told their fighters that we are being sent to a sure death, since the Ukrainians are well prepared. So they said - decide for yourself if you want to go or not. Four fifths of us (if not more) refused to go. So did I.

They’re already what, 90% understrength, and then another 80% decide not to proceed. This was the closest to combat Viktor got. The rest of this info he got second-hand from other fighters.

Also, who says “sign me up!” with that pitch?

They left at 10AM and only by 4PM managed to reach 600 meters from the village. They were exhausted. All this time they marched under heavy mortar and artillery shelling. Dead and wounded started appearing. When we reported to our battalion commander Major Vasyura about dead and wounded, he cussed: 'leave them and keep advancing!!!'.

Remember, Russia supposedly has 22 BTGs in the area—220 tanks and close to 1,000 infantry fighting vehicles. Lots of trucks too. What are they doing rucking six hours merely to get to the outskirts of town, without any armor support, and no vehicles to transport them? So of course, as predicted by those commanders, they got smashed, suffered heavy casualties, and had to retreat.

So they retreated. Everyone was exhausted. It was very difficult carrying the wounded. We came back at 11PM. One of the volunteers, Andrey from Kursk who came together with me said that many simply ran off while retreating. He yelled at them to help pull out the wounded, but they didn't help. He said he wanted to grab an assault rifle and start shooting in their backs... Thus, the grenade launcher platoon commander, Captain Nikolaev who was dragged for 4 hours, died from blood loss... I didn't know him personally, but everyone said he was a very good person... So that was an attack on Dolgen'koye on 20 April...

Seriously, not a single infantry fighting vehicle or truck to help carry the wounded back? You're going to tell me they have all that supposed combat power, and they made these guys march 4-6 hours each way, with no vehicle support? Or maybe Ukraine has done such a good job interdicting fuel supplies, that Russia literally can’t move its vehicles.

Looking ahead, I’ll say that based on the fact that different units tried to take Dolgen'koye, I think that our command simply had the task of taking Dolgen'koye and simply sent in everyone they could. It got to a point where in early May they started sending only 7 people to attack!!


New volunteers were immediately thrown onto Dolgen'koye upon arrival to Ukraine. There were no more officers so they were picking the most hardened ones among the volunteers (ones who fought in Chechnya and Syria), appointed them as seniors, gave them radios and sent them to assault... At the end of April they brought to us around 18 people who advanced as a large group of 120. They said that apart from them some other unit attacked Dolgen'koye from another direction. Perhaps that is why they reached Dolgen'koye without any mortar shelling. They had 300-400 meters to go when they came under crossfire from two machine guns... Even closer to them were positions of Ukrainian assault riflemen. They started combat. Our guys also had machine guns and RPGs. As I understood they killed at least 6 assault riflemen but had to retreat due to Ukrainian machine guns which they couldn't suppress. Most likely the machine guns were located in well-fortified positions. The guys said that if they had a little help, if the machine guns were suppressed with helicopters or tanks, then they would have entered Dolgen'koye...

If Russia had 22 functioning BTGs in the Izyum salient, they wouldn’t be throwing the freshest meat into that grinder. Their own officers say “it’s a suicide mission,” and yet they keep executing the order from who-knows-what-general who got his rank by being so stupid, he would never pose a threat to Putin’s regime. "We got 120? Throw them in! Frontal attack. Oh, only 18 returned? Smush them with those other survivors, and let’s do it again!”

Note that Russia lost over 100 men in this attack … because of two machine guns. Two. A tank would take out those prepared machine gun nests. But again, Russia couldn’t spare a single one. (And to be fair, if they had, it likely would’ve been taken out by an NLAW or Javelin. But at least Russia would give those poor souls a fighting chance.)

At the very least, you’d think Russia would do them the courtesy of a ride to their death, instead of letting them arrive to the front line wiped after a 4-6 hour march, lugging all their weapons and ammunition with them.

In May they brought the remnants of 'Bars' (trained reservists from all of Russia) - 14 people. They assaulted Dolgen'koye for a month and remained in the area. As I understand it, they were attached to the leadership of our wicked division. In total, 340 of them arrived to Ukraine. After a month of shelling only 57 remained. Moreover, half of the survivors were at the headquarters. Most of them were wounded. They never had a single firefight, all the losses came from Ukrainian artillery fire...

This is what happens when you don’t protect your flanks, and it’s the reason I always said the Izyum salient would fall. Remember this image from back in April?


I wrote at the time how Ukrainian artillery could set up shop to the west and whittle away Russian forces. Viktor confirms that’s exactly what’s happening.

Now the Pentagon say Russia has “switched to smaller units,” which is hilariously understated. This is after spending the last two months predicting a big Russian combined-arms massed offensive in the Donbas that was just around the corner. It was clear from the start that this this was never going to happen. Russia’s only play, from the very start of the war, has been drip-drip-drip attacks, never able to open any spigot. Can you imagine those Ukrainian defenders at Dovhenke watching another wave of untrained, under-equipped, infantry stumble in, half dead from their brutal march, with zero armor or air support? It’s a turkey shoot.

And then people wonder 1) why Russia never advanced from their initial Izyum positions, despite all that supposed massed firepower, and 2) why Mark and I aren’t panicking about the Popasna salient.


I really wish we had a better way to gauge Russia’s combat forces aside from “x number of BTGs.” When Russian companies sit at 13 untrained volunteers, 90% understrength, it’s clear the term “BTG” has zero meaning.

As for today’s progress, the bigger story continues to be the Popasna salient.

However, this corner of Ukraine has something we haven’t seen anywhere else this war—hills. For an army that has struggled to advance on flat terrain, this will present a whole new challenge.

We’ll take a look at the area’s geography in a future update.

Ten Thousan Marbles

Well-Known Member
Feb 6, 2014
Thursday, May 19, 2022 · 11:08:33 PM EDT · kos
All that action Mark saw earlier today, around Kharkiv’s Rubizhne, turns out it was Russian advances.

The Popasna salient is more protected from Ukrainian artillery than the Izyum one, but the area is geographically hillier, offering more protection to defenders. And those lines are starting to stretch out, and we know what happens to Russian advances when their lines stretch out. Just compare the size of the Izyum salient to the expanding Popasna one.

Ten Thousan Marbles

Well-Known Member
Feb 6, 2014

Six nights a week, Vladimir Solovyov, one of the dominant voices in Russian propaganda, gathers a half-dozen pundits for more than two hours of what appears to be unscripted political crosstalk. Most recent episodes have been devoted to mocking Ukraine and its allies—especially the United States and President Biden—and debating Russia’s options. “Should we just turn the world to dust?” Solovyov asked during his show on April 29th. His guests—seven middle-aged men—laughed heartily. Later, Solovyov grew sombre. “I’d like to remind the West of two statements of historic significance,” he said. “The President of the Russian Federation has asked, ‘What is the point of a world in which there is no Russia?’ ” This is a quote from an interview Solovyov himself conducted with Vladimir Putin, in 2018, in which Putin responded to a question about the possibility of a nuclear war. The second statement Solovyov quoted was also from Putin in 2018: “If they start a nuclear war, we will respond. But we, being righteous people, will go straight to Heaven, while they will just croak.” Solovyov quotes this one a lot, sometimes as a sort of call-and-response with his guests.

All broadcast television in Russia is either owned or controlled by the state. The main evening newscasts on the two main state channels, Channel One and Russia One, cover more or less the same stories, in more or less the same order. On April 30th, for example, Channel One led with a report from a village recently “liberated from the neo-Nazis”; Russia One began its newscast with a general update on the gains made by Russian troops—“Hundreds of neo-Nazis liquidated, tens of airborne targets hit, and several hits against command centers and equipment stockpiles.” Both newscasts reported on atrocities ostensibly committed by Ukrainian troops. “The Ukrainian Army once more bombed civilian targets,” Russia One claimed. Channel One carried a detailed confession supposedly made by a Ukrainian prisoner of war, who said that he had raped a Russian woman and murdered her husband. Both channels carried reports from a military hospital where a group of young men in identical striped pajamas received medals for their heroic roles in “liberating” Ukrainian towns and villages.

Coverage is repetitive not just from day to day, television channel to television channel; nearly identical stories appear in print and online media, too. According to a number of current and former employees at Russian news outlets, there is a simple explanation for this: at weekly meetings with Kremlin officials, editors of state-controlled media, including broadcasters and publishers, coördinate topics and talking points. Five days a week, a state-controlled consultancy issues a more detailed list of topics. (The organization did not respond to a request for comment.) I have not seen these lists myself—individuals with access to them said that they were too scared of being prosecuted under new espionage laws to share them—but they agreed to analyze the lists during the course of a couple of weeks. They said that the lists generally contained six to ten topics a day, which appear designed to supplement the Ministry of Defense’s war updates that constitute mandatory coverage. Those among my sources who have seen these lists work for non-broadcast media, but the talking points they described invariably appeared in the news lineups on Channel One and Russia One.

Topics fall into four broad categories: economic, revelatory, sentimental, and ironic. Economic stories should show that Western sanctions against Russia have made life harder in Europe than in Russia: people in Britain can’t afford heat, Germans could be forced to ride bikes because gas prices are rising, stock markets are falling, and Western Europe may be facing a food crisis. Revelatory topics focus on misinformation and disinformation in the West. These may include stories about Ukrainian refugees exposing their true criminal selves by shoplifting in a Western European country, or a segment about Austin Tice, an American journalist who was kidnapped in Syria, in 2012, narrated to suggest that he was punished for telling the truth about the United States. Sentimental stories focus on connections between Russians in Russia and in eastern Ukraine: a couple getting married in newly “liberated” Berdyansk, humanitarian aid from Russia arriving in the Donetsk region, and Russian doctors providing medical treatment to children injured in Ukraine. Finally, ironic stories focus on mocking the Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelensky, and, frequently, Joe Biden’s supposed mental decline. For these, Russian television often uses segments from Tucker Carlson’s show on Fox News............

Ten Thousan Marbles

Well-Known Member
Feb 6, 2014

May 20, 2022 at 12:58:04 AM

Speaking as a former military engineer, and as currently a volunteer firefighter, and a former mine geologist where I worked with the stuff on a regular basis: holy ****ing shitballs. I mean, seriously, holy shit. All it would have taken is to spill some fuel on That is so mind-bogglingly stupid it hurts.

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