SitRep 2/20 – Terminal Approach

Well, folks. Things are heating up like the barrel of this Russian 12.7mm after an intense firefight on the front.

Today the ol’ Crypt Keeper stalked through the streets of Kiev in a parody parade, with phony alarm blaring in pretend mimicry of ‘war’. As the mummy stiffly sleepwalked and pantomimed through the deserted streets, friendly SBU agents dispersed these ‘helpful reminders’ to the debased burghers of what-was-once Kiev, who may unwittingly commit the faux-pas of gazing upon the sacrosanct American presence sweeping through their streets:

It savors of the unfortunate reminder of these flyers found on liquidated militants, informing them how to avoid being ‘sexually assaulted by’ the foreign mercenaries so graciously offering up their unconditional frontline service.

Even (Hem)Reuters had to caw at the brazen theatricality of the Mummy’s rehearsed Kievan performance:

Of course, U.S. had to ‘inform’ Russia (read: get permission) of the visit.

Afterwards, the Mummy announced the usual criminal disbursement of stolen tax-payer funds to his Kiev-Cronies. Although the $500 million sticker price on today’s allotment left a lot to be desired, and seemed indicative of a sagging enthusiasm (not unlike the enthusiasm the Mummy displayed taking his shambling tour of Kiev’s wartime, de-electrified environs).

Meanwhile, the continued ‘support’ has renewed panicked cries among the Euro-intelligentsia of the damage being done to their economies.

If they just invest in the indomitable power of ‘belief’, though, they could always hope for an optimistic outcome.

Last week’s balloon saga, meant to obscure the unpleasantries of Seymour Hersh’s Nord Stream revelations, had in fact Streisand-effect-catapulted Hersh back into media prominence, whereby he proceeded to drop a string of gems, including this one, where he explained that insiders have told him that Ukraine is “nearly done” and it’s only a matter of “how many of his own people Zelensky wants to kill.” Followed up by other truthbombs.

And what flew under the radar in this saga, was Russian news service RIA Novosti’s article featuring American journalist John Dugan’s claim that he received an anonymous letter from a serviceman participating in the BALTOPS 22 exercises which occurred during the likely mining of the pipeline.

According to Dugan, he has every reason to trust an anonymous source, as he presented evidence — photos from the exercises and documents. But he asked not to distribute them for fear of revealing his identity. I fully trust the letter. It contains details that could only be provided by a person who is well acquainted with the Baltops-2022 exercises and deep-sea equipment. Everything was correct, ” the journalist told RIA Novosti.

The letter describes, in detail, the eyewitness of American navy divers arriving at the exact location and time which corresponds with Sy Hersh’s exposé, and diving underwater for an extended period of time with unknown ‘small crates’ in hand. Use an auto-translate app to read the full article.

And as for the balloon saga itself, it ironically served to deflate the stature of U.S. Airfarce capabilities. Not only did it turn out that the stealth F-22—which, after nearly two decades of being in service, has yet to record a single real combat kill, exempting the balloon of course—used its $400k Raytheon stocking-stuffers to shoot down what turned out to be a $13 hobby balloon:

But the full transmission of the heroic air-battle released here, was fraught with a gag-reel of sloppy gaffs worthy of lampooning. Not only did the first state of the art Aim9x Sidewinder MISS, the F-22 pilot can be heard on audio admitting that, “I’m having trouble locking onto it for more than a second,” and even more interestingly that his Link-16 had degraded, causing the disruption of comms/data to the command flight.

So not only was the futuristic F-22 AN/APG-77 AESA radar revealed to be a dud unable to even lock onto its target, but the much-vaunted NATO standard Link 16 had trouble performing even over uncontested allied territory, losing its datalink to the C3 flight shadowing the jet fighter. Imagine how it would perform in an actual contested, adversarial environment full of EW suppression? But can one really be surprised?

And by the way, while the F-22 will likely soon retire in abject ignominy, without a single confirmed kill to its name, the superior Russian Su-57 got what was likely the single longest air-to-air kill in history as its very first scalp.

Not to mention the recent revelation that the Su-57 has already been performing both air-to-air and air-to-ground sorties in the SMO:

Denis Manturov, Deputy PM and Head of the Ministry of Industry and Trade of the Russian Federation, said that the Su-57 fighter strikes both air and ground targets during the SMO Earlier there were some indirect confirmations about the participation of the Su-57 in the SMO zone.

Not bad, huh?

Onto the next news:

There was a sad bit of news out of Ternopil, western Ukraine, where reportedly the locals were up in arms after it had gotten out that one of their young men, who was forcibly mobilized (read: press-ganged) in a shopping mall in this type of fashion, was given only a cursory (read: nonexistent) training, and sent to the front on February 12. By February 16, he had already perished in battle.

Speaking of tragic losses, a Swedish mercenary made this post only days ago from his front of Ugledar, saying, “I bet 70% to 30% I don’t come back from [this mission]”.

Interestingly, he inadvertantly seemed to offer up insight into internal views regarding Russia’s coming offensive: “700,000 orcs at the border and they’re giving us artillery before the onslaught. Most likely we’ll see the invasion within 9 days….”

Not long after his post, his prophecy proved true. This news was shared by family who’s now managing his social media account: “He died on the battlefield near Ugledar on February 17, 2023.”

Ugledar itself has been a hot topic recently. The AFU has pushed the narrative that Russian marines were “slaughtered there”, when in fact MediaZona (the current top independent casualty researcher, and Pro-Ukrainian to boot) confirmed that only 19 Russian marine casualties could be verified in the period between January through most of February.

After being exposed, the ‘NAFO’ crowd quickly deflected by switching to the purported ongoing ‘struggles’ of Wagner troops in Bakhmut. It is claimed that Wagner’s been suffering from great shell hunger, and has made a video pleading for the Kremlin to send them more shells. This has ignited speculation on whether an internal ‘feud’ of sorts is developing between the politically ascendant Prighozin and the Kremlin holdovers.

However, two interesting items were shared which shed a different light on developments. Firstly, this message from a purported Russian unit supplying Wagner troops:

Followed by this most intriguing (purported) MI6 transmission:

MI6 transmitted intelligence to the President’s Office and the General Staff that PMC Wagner has no problems with weapons and shells, and all publications are an information campaign to distract the attention of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. The Russian army continues to implement its strategy to encircle Bakhmut. According to British intelligence, next week will be the most active on the eastern front, and the Ukrainian Armed Forces need to be ready to retreat from the city.

This of course, coming after some of us had already ventured the suspicion that this could be the case. There was something really ‘off’ about the contrived nature of the back and forth. I allow that there could be something to it, and the other natural thought-train was that the Kremlin could be intentionally limiting Wagner’s allowance, not for ‘political feud’ reasons, but rather to rein them in, slightly, for they might’ve been progressing too quickly in Bakhmut to suit a particular operational imperative the Kremlin had in mind to coincide with their next incoming phase of operations.

Of course, that’s crude speculation. But the above two bits of info are otherwise quite intriguing in their own right, and point to an ongoing ‘maskirovka’ dance on all sides.

Now, onto a last few updates that could give some clarity as to the coming hours, on the eve of Putin’s big address.

#BREAKING Alexander Bastrykin, Chief of the Russian Investigative Committee, has just received confirmation that the Ukrainian special services organized the attack on the Crimean bridge. Why is this important? It could give Putin a legal reason to declare war on Ukraine in his upcoming address.

There’s been talk of how Russia has been using the last few weeks to organize and consolidate presentations of evidence and accusations regarding almost all the recent large transgressions committed against it. Almost like a culminating point, trial lawyers getting their final materials together for the big court date.

As seen above, the committee finally ‘confirmed’ days ago, with full legal ramifications therein, that Ukrainian special services were in fact solely responsible for the organization of the Kerch bridge attack. This was self-evident and obvious to all—BUT—the timing of the announcement is crucial. They are laying the framework, and seeding the information on a purposeful schedule.

It comes on the heels of other recent biolabs presentations, and revelations from the Russian ministries, as well as the above-mentioned investigator, Bastrykin, further charging over 600 Ukrainian officials with various war crimes, during which he further elaborated on such recent incidents as the mutilated Polish mercenaries which were found with their heads and hands cut off, to thwart identification (Graphic video here).

Also highlighting recent chemical allegations, of which there was another one made yesterday from Russian forces in the Ugledar direction

And as mentioned last time, there was the new UN Resolution on the Nord Stream attacks (vocally supported by China just today). Now, given the rumors that Putin’s speech could be premised on these various allegations against NATO’s and Ukrainian war crimes, this lends an interesting timing as—like mentioned above—these recent releases could be the ‘laying of the groundwork’ to justify the announcement of new military/political escalations.

One important, if disturbing, development is that, predictably, the Atlanticist scriptwriters are already busying with the next potential provocation and escalatory measure. And so, to wit, came the sudden orchestrated series of announcements yesterday that newly-elected Moldovan president (after the country’s entire gov’t collapsed last year) is now pressing for the expulsion of Russian forces from ‘its territory’, and the complete ‘demilitarization’ of Transnistria. Those are dangerously meaningful, not to mention foreboding, words.

And this comes directly after Polish PM Morawiecki issued this screed:

“The Russian Federation is preparing for the next attack, potentially on the Baltic states, Finland, Poland, Romania or Moldova, that is why we are doing everything to defeat “this” Russia,” said Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki.

Followed by the sudden announcement:

The Ministry of Defense of Moldova from February 21 to 23 will hold tactical exercises at the northern training ground of the country, the military will practice shooting skills at night and daytime, the ministry said.

That’s a very provocative series of developments, and they mirror directly the predictable events of early last year, when Ukraine was practically begging Moldova to jointly invade Transnistria and expel Russian forces:

Now, in a surreal deja-vu callback to last year, there’s once again rumblings about Ukraine’s flagging ammunition supplies, and how that might spur them to seek a desperate requisition of the ammo in Russia’s Transnistrian garrison, which is a notoriously enormous depot known as Europe’s largest ammo dump.

The fact is, Transnistria remains a crucial ‘pressure point’ in the escalating hybrid war against Russia, and they know they can ‘activate’ this point via their stooges in Moldova at any time to try and throw Russia off balance and tailspin the conflict into unpredictable directions, in order to stymy Russia’s near-certain imminent annihilation of the AFU.

A few last points about how things may unfold soon. Firstly, there’s been rumor that Zelensky is ready to “pull” Bakhmut completely, but was saving it for the sake of Biden’s visit, as he didn’t want to spoil the optics of the visit’s grand overtures by having a deflating ‘mass retreat’ from Bakhmut crowding the headlines. Bakhmut is in dire straits and Wagner continues advancing and enclosing it from the north. So now rumor says Zelensky will order full withdrawal by the end of the week. And this tolls with several other sources we’ve had from the Russian side which forecasted a fall of the city in a week’s time (though Prighozin himself demurred with the projection that it could take well into March to capture).

Our source in the OP said that the Office of the President will order the withdrawal of the Armed Forces of Ukraine from Bakhmut at the end of this week, Bankovaya does not want an information defeat before Biden’s speech.

One analyst saw it this way:

Ramsay: “From the point of view of the strategic situation at the front, now is the perfect time to launch a large-scale offensive. Almost all the tactical reserves of the Armed Forces of Ukraine are involved in the defense of Adeyevka, Maryinka, Ugledar, Artemivsk and Kupyansk. Strategic reserves of the Armed Forces of Ukraine are at the stage of forming and receiving new equipment, and the equipment itself is in the process of being delivered from Europe. Ammunition is also significantly limited in the delivery process and at the front. Preemptively striking and forcing the enemy to fight during the deployment phase is a serious advantage that will confuse all his plans for the spring offensive. But for the success of such an offensive, it is necessary to create a tactical (at the point of impact) superiority of three to four times, as well as the creation of overwhelming superiority in artillery and armored vehicles. In this case, you can count on success and then develop it to the scale of operational.

This is in line with our thinking from last time; that there is a window opening now for Russia to strike and seize major initiative as all of Europe scrambles to outfit the final hurrah brigades of the AFU, which won’t be ready until late March or April at the earliest. For the first time, Russia could strike with a true numerical advantage and put the AFU completely on the operational backfoot. And this is why we do believe a large offensive is imminent.

However, there are some detractors. Shoigu met today with CSTO’s (Collective Security Treaty Organization) new chief amid persistent rumors in the ‘doomer field’, that President Xi of China is secretly orchestrating a plan to involve CSTO joint forces as peacekeepers in a newly signed armistice between Ukraine-Russia.

Several sources claim that a plan is being prepared for the CSTO to participate in monitoring the demarcation line for the disengagement of Russian and Ukrainian troops. The involvement of the CSTO is allegedly part of President Xi’s plan.

It would seem unlikely, as even the framework for military cooperation of this sort is a long way off for the CSTO, nor is China even a part of the coalition. But China has motioned the intent to present a new ‘framework’ of theirs soon, by which to end the conflict with a ‘political’ (rather than military) settlement.

Thus, one could buy into the speculation of increasing forces militating towards a ‘peaceful’ resolution of the conflict. So the big question remains: will Putin push the gas pedal, or disappointingly kowtow to rising global ‘pressures’ for compromise? And if the former, then will the gas entail merely the ‘satisfactory’ liberation of the entire Donbass, or is he prepared to go ‘all the way’ to the end?

The address itself is now less than 9 hours away, Moscow time of 12pm noon.

One last message:

Russia is most likely preparing a major offensive on February 24 in a number of areas, Vitaly Barabash, head of the Avdiivka military-civil Administration, said on the telethon.: “According to intelligence data, the Russians are moving additional forces to the Donetsk direction (Avdiivka, Bakhmut, Ugledar, Marinka). A couple of weeks ago, about 160 battalions were concentrated – now it is already 190. Even with incomplete equipment – this is a lot of people. We understand that, most likely, they are preparing for something. On February 24, they will probably attack, ” Barabash said.

I leave you with this suggestive post reportedly put up by a Russian channel linked to the Airforce.

It reads: “Tomorrow will be tomorrow.”