I never cease to be amazed by the utter failure of journalists to assemble facts. I think it boils down to laziness. Why should you do any independent research or thinking that requires you to go to the front lines when you can gobble up and regurgitate pre-packaged talking points? You get paid the same and hell, you might even get a Pulitzer if you are the most enthusiastic purveyor of regime bullshit.
A recent piece in the New York Times, Russia’s Shortfalls Create an Opportunity for Ukraine, Western Officials Say, illustrates this phenomena. Here are the salient points from the article by Julian Barnes and Eric Schmitt:
Now, as the fighting enters its sixth month, critical manpower and equipment problems could again slow Russian operations and give Ukraine’s counteroffensive a better chance to succeed, U.S. and European officials said.
The signs of Russia’s challenges abound: artillery shells missing their targets, intercepts of Russian soldiers complaining they have been given old tanks and a sharply rising death and injury toll in its military ranks. . . .
U.S. and European officials say few powers have conquered a country and destroyed an opposing army with a mostly volunteer force, as President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia is attempting to do. But Mr. Putin has shown no indications that he wants any sort of full-scale draft, which would amount to an admission to his country that the fight in Ukraine will be a long war, not a short operation.
Russia has committed nearly 85 percent of its fielded army to the fight in Ukraine, drawing on troops from the country’s far east and deployments around the world, a senior Defense Department official said recently. The Russian military, European officials said, has been hard-pressed to bring reservists and new recruits into the fight.
Estimates of how many Russian soldiers have been killed range from 15,000 to more than 20,000, with thousands more injured or missing. Even taking the conservative number, according to U.S. and allied intelligence officials, Russia has lost more soldiers this year than the Soviet Union lost in nearly a decade of fighting in Afghanistan.
In its search for recruits, Russia has had to lower its standards, Western intelligence officials said. Mr. Putin signed a law eliminating the age limit for Russians to sign their first contract to join the military. Western officials also said they have assessed that the Russian military is lowering health and fitness standards and giving waivers to people with criminal records to join.
Man, talk about the psychological principle of “projection.” The New York Times is ascribing to Russia the very things that are happening to Ukraine. Weird.
Let’s start with the Barnes/Schmitt claim that Russia has committed “85 percent of its fielded army to the fight in Ukraine.” How is your math ability? Russia’s army is 850,000 strong with 250,000 in reserve. What is 85% of 850,000 (think of this as a college entrance exam)? That’s right–722,500. There is ZERO evidence that Russia has that many troops on the ground in the Donbas and southern Ukraine. In fact, Russia is pushing ahead with its “Vostok 2022 (East 2022) exercise scheduled for Aug. 30-Sept. 5 will involve troops on maneuvers at 13 firing ranges of the Eastern Military District.“
There is no way a Russian army decimated by the Ukrainians and hanging on by its fingernails could afford to send remaining troops to the Far East for war games.
The intrepid NY Times’ scribe fail to mention that the bulk of the fighting on the ground in the Donbas is carried out by the militias of Donetsk and Luhansk Republics. Russian forces are handling artillery batteries, flying drones, fixed wing combat jets and rotary wing aircraft (i.e., helicopters). That does not require 700,000 plus troops.
There is no evidence that Russia is sending middle-aged reservists and new recruits to the front to be chewed up as cannon fodder. That honor is reserved for the poor louts in Ukraine who get scooped up by security police and dragooned into service. The video evidence of that is extensive.
If Russian troops really are so beleaguered, so worn down and so dispirited (as claimed by Messrs. Barnes & Schmitt), then why is Ukraine retreating and ceding territory to such a motley crew?
Note the weasel words in one of the opening paragraphs of the Barnes/Scmitt fantasy piece:
critical manpower and equipment problems could again slow Russian operations and give Ukraine’s counteroffensive a better chance to succeed, U.S. and European officials said.
The U.S. and European officials are relying on HOPE–hope that troop shortages and old, worn out equipment slow the Russian advance. A reporter worth a damn should have asked, “what is the evidence of troop shortages?” Russia is not a totalitarian state. Russia has not shut down opposition media and political parties. Ukraine has done that. So where is the social media showing a rising tide of disgruntled Russians being forced to put on the uniform and then being compelled to show up on the front lines without adequate training? I have not seen it. Have you? Please forward if you got it and please, no video game footage. That does not count.
Are you familiar with the refrain, “If if and buts were candy and nuts it would be Christmas everyday.” That seems to be the position of the unnamed U.S. and European officials desperately hoping that Ukraine’s million man offensive against Kherson will succeed. Only several little problems. Ukraine is having a dickens of a time scraping together that mythical million man army. And if they do succeed in rounding up that many sentient fellows, how will they get proper training while Russia continues to hit Ukrainian training bases with missiles, rockets and shells?
And what about those pesky Russian artillery shells that are “missing their targets?” Are we talking most, some or a few? Barnes and Schmitt are an incurious duo. They forgot to ask for that information. Perhaps if they had gone to Pesky and counted the number of incoming Russian shells and then counted up the misses then they would have had quite a story. I can see the headline now, “Russia’s Shitty Shooting–Only 10% of Shells Hit the Target.” Not hard to do that kind of reporting if you get off of your lazy behind, strap on some body armor and report to the front. But Barnes and Schmitt did not do that. However, I will give them credit for reporting from a combat zone. Other reporting does confirm that many parts of New York City are veritable combat zones. It is dangerous to take a subway or just stroll down the street dodging sucker punches and homeless guys urinating with abandon. I guess they rely on that reality to justify getting danger pay.
Late breaking–CBS News apparently awakened from its drunken slumber and decided to report on what Ukraine is doing with the billions of dollars of weapons the United States and NATO are sending to Zelensky and his gang of thieves.
You can watch the full report here (https://www.cbsnews.com/video/arming-ukraine-cbs-reports/?intcid=CNM-00-10abd1h#x). Judging from the clothing the reporter and his colleagues are wearing, the film was shot in April or early May.