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Moscow, We Have a Problem

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For my Ukraine War updates, I have been following Russian mil blogger’s accounts. Over the past 48 hours, there has been a significant shift in tone.

These Russian sources have documented that Ukraine’s rapid and unexpected advances in the north have caused a palpable frustration among writers who are well-known for their pro-Moscow drumbeating.

Since Russia has many big cards to play and because of the two main points of contention (Crimea and Donbas) that remain out of Kyiv’s reach, I don’t get too excited about Russian forces being routed outright from Ukraine.

One soldier from Ukraine posted a photo showing himself in Ivanovka, a village liberated by the Russians. It also included a disturbing message to any Ukrainians who aided the Russians.

Russian mil blogger Ghost of Zeepo wasn’t happy about the situation but his anger wasn’t directed at Ukraine.

I have no clever words to describe this.

Russian forces are called “Z”.

After spending much of August moving troops south to Kherson, Russia has been busy moving reinforcements north to Kharkiv. Moscow has to fly fewer troops because Kyiv now controls important roads.

Zoka, another pro-Moscow blogger isn’t happy about this.

Sasha Kots (war correspondent for Komsomolskaya Pravda) described a heroic defense by Russian forces.

Yesterday, for instance, the Armed Forces of Ukraine attacked the west of Malaya Kamyshevakhi with up to a battalion of troops, 6 tanks, and 4 armored personnel carriers. From there, they wrote to me: “6 tanks and 4 armored personnel carriers went at us. A battalion. Repulsed. Buba shot himself (perhaps he set fire to himself? – ed. He said, “Goodbye men. I was glad that you were there. They are now… Ali. They have moved away. Buba is a volunteer from Vologda. Sergeant. Commandant of a motorized rifle company made up of volunteers. He was the senior officer at the base observation point. Saved young subordinates.

Kots warns, however, that the situation is not easy. According to the Rybar map, the supply routes for the group from Kupyansk at the moment are cut off.

The fate of Kupyansk could be the deciding factor in this battle, which is aiming to take control of eastern Kharkiv Oblast as well as parts of Donbas.

According to CNN, a photo of Ukrainian soldiers holding a flag at the southern entrance of the city of Kupyansk (in the Kharkiv Region) shows them also reaching the city. The city is located approximately 70 miles (112 km) east of Kharkiv.

Evegeny Poddubny, another Russian war correspondent, almost sounds panicked describing this scene near Kupyansk:

Ukraine War

Google Translate:

The bridge that crosses the Oskol River at Kupyansk was severely damaged by enemy actions. Artillery from the Armed Forces of Ukraine is currently attacking the city. The neo-Nazi regime uses Western MLRS, howitzers, and self-propelled gun formations. Kupyansk is being protected. The reserves keep rising.

These reserves are now free to use one bridge.

Trent Telenko, another Twitter user, often has lots of useful data. However, I find his bias towards Ukraine too extreme. He makes a valid point, however, when he points out that Russia’s Izyum salient has become a railway logistical area because of the demise of the bridge. Russia doesn’t have a way to evacuate its [sic] huge artillery ammunition resources.

If you are interested, he has more information available.

Russia’s current situation is, according to me, serious, but not catastrophic. If the other side has the mobility and resources to benefit from them, then salients such as the one Ukraine created in Kharkiv could become deathtraps. We’ll see.

I found a Russian mil blogger who wrote about the larger picture in a panicked tone. However, it was only Telegram screencaps so I could not confirm whether it was genuine or not. These columns require a lot of waste material.

This is why I hesitated to include the last item from Mikhail Khodorkovsky, a Russian exile and “opposition activist” because I am 99% sure it’s fake. Perhaps there is a lesson here about how to spot fakes.

Each side in war has a bad habit. They tend to over-report enemy losses. If I remember correctly, in an early naval battle in the Pacific, Japanese pilots reported sinking more American ships than they were actually present. This was in addition to the fact that we had more vessels in our Navy than they did. It is a human failure as old as warfare.

Kyiv claimed a Russian KIA/MIA figure that is so similar to Khodorkovsky’s, that some will be tempted by this “leaked” letter to claim the real McCoy.

It’s almost impossible to do so.

Russia invaded Russia in February with an estimated 190,000. There are still 48,759 missing or dead, and there are wounded.

The ratio of wounded to killed is usually around 3-to-1.

To make Khodorkovsky’s letter true, it would need to have about 150,000 Russian military personnel missing, wounded, or killed — nearly 80% of the original deployed.

C’mon, really?

An even better estimate is approximately one-fifth (courtesy of The Dupuy Institute) or approximately 9,000 KIA/MIA with another 25,000-30,000 injured.

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