Russian Colossus Almost Out Of Steam
The turning point is at hand
If Ukraine was saved in the first four days, it now stands to reason that Ukraine might win the whole war in four months. Events suggest an accelerated strategic momentum in Kyiv. Proverbial tides are turning.
Another defeat looms for Vladimir Putin and a Russian Army that does not learn. Ukraine is still gathering strength and has begun battlefield preparation for a massive counterstrike.
The first wave of Russia’s new offensive in Luhansk and Donbas has achieved only limited gains. Ukrainian forces resisted both powerful bombardments and massed attacks, trading some space for time while inflicting heavy casualties.
Decimated Russian units have been redeployed from the north of Ukraine only to suffer the same fate as the friends they left behind there. Reserves are still getting thrown into combat piecemeal, reinforcing failure.
Blind to evidence, stung by the loss of the missile cruiser Moskva, Putin is desperate to seem like “a winner.” According to one informed op-ed writer at the New York Times, as well as sources who spoke with The Financial Times, Putin is genuinely high on his own supply, with “a distorted view of the war as set out by his generals and depicted on Russian television.”
Although Russia is still massing for a second wave, it is not clear how many Battalion Tactical Groups (BTGs) are even at full strength, and the Russian formations are already low on infantry by design.
Kryvyi Rih, the reported objective of the coming second wave, is already surrounded by defenses. Only a spectacular reversal can save the reputation of Russian arms.
Meanwhile, manpower reserves are just about gone. Nothing less than a full national mobilization will be enough to build a new army for Russia, and this is exactly what Vladimir Putin does not want to do.
During a rare public conference with his minister of defense last week, Putin suspended plans to assault the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, acknowledging that casualties would be too heavy.
Thousands of armored personnel vehicles remain in the Russian inventory, but they are useless without soldiers. Even if Putin begins drafting citizens on May 9th, the day he had wanted to declare victory, he could not mobilize an army like the one that is taking shape against him.
Damaged Ukrainian tanks and captured Russian ones are being refitted in Slovakia and the Czech Republic, then shipped back into Ukraine by rail. Ukrainian soldiers have already begun to receive Western howitzers and the advanced munitions designed for them.
Western counterbattery radar is already directing Ukrainian fire on Russian artillery units. Aircraft and ammunition flows seem satisfactory to President Zelenskyy, for he no longer complains about what he does not receive.
Meanwhile, a quiet war has been underway beyond Ukraine’s borders. Recent rumors about Belarussian railroad saboteurs turn out to be true. No wonder Russian logistics passing through their unwilling ally’s territory were so terrible during the initial invasion.
Twelve hours before publication, two huge explosions were reported in Bryansk, a city located about halfway between Kyiv and Moscow.
Unlike the mystery fire which recently destroyed a Russian research facility, any remote chance of coincidence can be ruled out here. One explosion could be an accident, but two separate facilities — oil export storage tanks and an ammunition bunker one kilometer apart — exploding close together? That is enemy action.
If this attack was sabotage, then Putin has a much bigger internal security problem than he realizes. If it was a Ukrainian missile attack, say with aircraft-launched Neptune missiles, then it is a harbinger of more to come. Either way, Putin seems defenseless against increasingly frequent attacks on Russian soil.
Moreover, Russian fuel and supply flow for their Donbas offensive is already problematic and their anemic performance on the ground is the direct result. No one on the general staff seems capable of managing operations larger than one army.
The entire Russian force might grind to a halt in mid-offensive by next week. Ukraine will take the offensive soon, and an expanding deep attack campaign promises that it will be a doozy.
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