SITREP 5/24/23: UA’s Desperate Border Stunt Ends With Large Losses

Though it may slip under the radar, particularly due to the West’s obvious desire to keep it quiet, to me the actual most consequential news of the day is that we have a semblance of the first truly genuine, high level confirmation that Zaluzhny may in fact be kaput.

Russian Ria Novosti news service reported that a Russian military source reported the news, which was in turn received from insiders in the AFU:

GENICHESK (Kherson region), May 24-RIA Novosti. The Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Valery Zaluzhny, received a head injury and multiple shrapnel wounds during a missile strike carried out by Russian troops in early May at a command post near the village of Posad-Pokrovskoye near Kherson, a representative of the Russian security forces told RIA Novosti, citing his sources in the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

If true, this would obviously be a massive blow for Ukraine and have large implications for any potential ‘offensive’.

The source claims:

“In Nikolaev Zaluzhny was given first aid to stop the bleeding. In the Kiev military hospital, he underwent a cranial trepanation,” the source said.

He added that the commander — in-chief’s condition is complicated by the presence of a concomitant disease-type 2 diabetes mellitus.

“The forecast is as follows: he will live, but will not be able to do his job,” the security official concluded.

So, he received a craniotomy after major trauma to his head and brain, and will likely not resume service. However, Ukrainian advisor Danilov issued a statement refuting this, claiming that Zaluzhny reported to work just this morning:

The National Security and Defense Council refutes the statements of the Russian media about the wounding of Commander-in-Chief Zaluzhny. Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council Alexei Danilov said on Twitter that Zaluzhny reported today at the Headquarters of the Supreme Commander-in-Chief.

We don’t know for certain if these are maskirovka games between Russian-Ukraine officials, and could just be a way of Russian officials ‘egging them on’ or trolling them. However, it still remains that Zaluzhny has not truly been seen in public for well over a month, barring the recent pre-recorded video released by an Odessa science institute where he made an address.

Take this as very low confidence, but one rumor even said that Zaluzhny’s coordinates were in fact given to Russia by Zelensky in a plot to remove Zaluzhny from power by convenient methods.

💥💥💥There are rumours that the Office of the President deliberately leaked the coordinates of Zaluzhny’s location (with the aim of eliminating him) near Pavlograd in order to cast Zaluzhny as Syrsky and simultaneously eliminate a potential competitor to Zelensky (or his successor) in future presidential elections.


Here’s a twitter thread on it which states that it was a former member of the Verkhovna Rada that published this information:

Shocking discovery: Zelensky gave the coordinates of General Zaluzhny to the Russians, after which the rockets flew

Former member of the Verkhovna Rada Ilya Kiva said that the coordinates and time of the location of the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Valery Zaluzhny, were leaked to Russia by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyi. “Zelensky, fearing a military coup, released the coordinates and time of Zaluzhny’s presence, after which a Russian rocket arrived there! That’s how he killed two birds with one stone:

He got rid of the competition and prevented an unsuccessful counterattack by the Armed Forces of Ukraine,” the former MP wrote on his Telegram channel. Ilya Kiva stressed: Whether Zaluzhny is alive or dead is not important.

According to him, the commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine is now disabled and is no longer dangerous for Zelensky. “Earlier I wrote that Zelensky is preparing the liquidation of the Supreme Commander. Moreover, Zaluzhny is not the first.

Russian SVR chief Naryshkin did confirm he too has similar information about Zaluzhny’s incapacitation, but that it’s not 100% reliable so he can’t say for certain.

Moving on.

The other big news is the Ukrainian Belgorod incursion but I’ll save the biggest for last, as there’s a lot of information to be said about that.

So first, let’s cover the other biggest news, which is that yesterday Prigozhin released a nearly two hour interview where he gave a frank assessment of Wagner troops’ losses in Bakhmut.

There are several variations working their way around the net and being posted because Prigozhin gave the casualty figures in a variety of sometimes confusing, indirect methods.

This is roughly how he broke it down:

  • AFU had 50,000 KIA, with upwards of 70,000 severely injured.
  • Wagner had 3.2 times fewer dead in general, which is another way of saying that the final kill ratio was 1:3.2 in Wagner’s favor.
  • Wagner had 50,000 members at its peak at any one time, the AFU had 82,000 in Bakhmut
  • Out of 50,000 total ex-convict members who went through the ranks, 20% of them died, which is 10,000 KIA just from the ex-con battalions

Now the next part is a little confusing, as some are deriving different numbers from it. On one hand he said that Wagner suffered 3.2 less deaths than the AFU, which suffered 50,000. This would put the total Wagner deaths at 15,600, which, given the above statement, would comprise 10,000 convicts and 5000+ regular contract Wagnerians.

However, other people are reporting 20,000 total KIA based on a different way he worded one of the figures in another segment. Either way it appears to indicate somewhere in the 15-20k KIA for Wagner vs. 50k for the AFU, with wounded also being much less than the AFU.

My own estimate for Wagner’s losses has been in the 5-10k range, and if pressed I would have probably guessed in the middle, at 7k. However, there is some reason, at least according to some people, to believe that Prigozhin could be exaggerating the deaths for political reasons. This would not be out of the ordinary for him, after all recall the stunt he pulled in showing the dead Wagner bodies multiple times to try to really emphasize the losses in a way that some perceived as almost gloating at the number of dead.

For instance, from Donbass Devushka’s channel comes this opinion:

Hi Everyone,

Per this post we reported what Prigozhin said but I wanted to say that, in my personal opinion, he is full of it on this matter.

Mediazona, which is looking for ABSOLUTELY ANYTHING was able to identify at most slightly more than 4,000 prisoners KIA and 1,575 Wagner ‘regulars’ over the course of this 15 month war. Also the prison population of Russia in 2019 was 467,000 ( I highly doubt Prigozhin got to recruit over 10% of the prison population or even that there were 50,000 prisoners who would even meet Wagner’s admittedly not particularly strict but not exactly carefree standards. As to exact AFU KIA numbers – nobody knows what they are. In view of the pictures we get from new cemetries and what can be observed on the battlefield though both identifable personnel and vehicles losses we can safely say “substantially higher than the Russians by order of magnitude” but that gives us rough ideas, nothing so precise as what Prigozhin says.

Prigozhin has an agenda, and he is angling here for political power and saying that he can fix what is broken. In view of what we posted today from the Ministry of Defense demonstrating substantial Ukrainian losses due to their Belgorod incursion, I at least am not so convinced that the regular Russian military is broken. One of the Generals Prigozhin derides, General Alexander Lapin, led this action himself, from the front. He killed a lot of the Nazis without losing any of his guys, expelled the invaders and recorded it all to ensure that not only were they defeated but also humiliated.

They bring up some good points, citing real statistics, including the fact that MediaZona was only able to verify a tiny fraction of such deaths.

The other thing that attests to this possibility is that, in the very same interview, Prigozhin went on a hyperbolic rant about how Russia has “militarized” rather than “demilitarized” Ukraine thus far. Ok, it’s a fair point as a generality. But then he starts spouting numbers that are clearly hyperbolic bait. For instance: “They had 500 tanks at the beginning, now they have 5,000. They had 20,000 soldiers, now they have 400,000.”

All of these figures are categorically wrong, and laughably so. Ukraine had far more than 500 tanks, and they certainly don’t have even a fraction of 5,000 now. Ukraine didn’t “start with 20k” troops at the beginning of the SMO either. It’s well known they had at least 200k. So, how much to believe from Prigozhin who clearly tries to inflate everything Ukraine does to drive home his political points. Would he inflate Wagner’s own casualties to do so?

For those wondering, what political point is he making? Well, he also goes into detail about cleansing ‘Russia’s ranks’ and who he would appoint for the various MOD positions (Mizintsev and Surovikin, for those wondering), wink, wink. Is he giving us a clue here? As to his presidential aspirations, perhaps? It would serve him well to present himself as the wise and noble savior of a decadent Russia.

Anyway, we don’t know if he’s referring to Bakhmut only, or Soledar as well, where a Wagner commander once stated that the AFU lost 10,000 alone.

In this video, ex-Russian GRU and Wagner commander ‘Lotus’, whom I talked about before as being possibly the theater commander of Bakhmut, stated in this earlier interview that the Wagner to AFU loss ratio was 1:6 or 1:7 in favor of Wagner. And this is the guy that would know far better, as he’s an actual awarded commander who creates the tactics and strategies and leads the troops on the frontline, rather than Prigozhin who acts more as the ‘CEO’ and spokesperson.

What it could mean is either:

  1. Prigozhin’s numbers are off or
  2. Wagner’s casualties took a sharp upturn during the last bit of Bakhmut, which is for obvious reasons very believable. After all, it’s what appeared to send Prigozhin into apoplectic rage. Whether it was the late diminution of ammo he spoke of which led to this, or simply the climactic, tooth-and-nail nature of the battles for the final quarters of the city, where a tenacious AFU tried desperately to hang on by pouring everything they had into it.

Recall that this AFU officer admitted they lose two companies per day in Bakhmut. The Bakhmut battle was said to go nearly 250 days and if we give them the benefit of the doubt, and assume their companies are very understaffed, perhaps we can get something like 300-400 men lost per day x 250 = 75,000 – 100,000.

Either way, we likely have a good base floor and ceiling for roughly where their losses are.

The other interesting thing this scenario presents however, is that both Ukraine supporters and 5th columnist 2D bloggers are now put in a bit of a conundrum. You see, they spent months taking Prigozhin’s word as gospel. Telling us how much of a rarity his frank and unvarnished honesty is, amongst the Russian military. All the woes and internecine squabbles he raged about were reported as unequivocal fact, and anyone who dared challenge Prigozhin’s heroic anti-establishment, salt-of-the-earth honesty was deemed a ‘Kremlin apologist’.

So now: where do they stand? The Ukro-supporters and 5th columnists claimed Ukraine had a lopsided KIA ratio disparity against Wagner and it was in fact Wagner that was being slaughtered by the thousands in endless waves of ‘meat assaults’. The AFU was supposed to have only suffered a minor flesh wound by comparison, maybe 2-3k dead or less. But instead, he revealed with frank honesty, higher Wagner losses than expected, but even much higher AFU ones. Is Prigozhin now suddenly a liar? Will they hand pick the numbers they want to use? “Well he must be lying about the AFU’s numbers, but look over there at how many Wagners have died!”

It’ll be interesting to see them squirm through the cognitive dissonance to explain away that contradiction. You can’t have it both ways, either he’s a liar or his truth is gospel.

But this hypocritical double standard is a common tactic for Western supporters. To wit, note that even with Strelkov, the West conveniently picked and chose facts that fit their narrative: Back when the Donbass war was started in 2014, Strelkov was ‘definitely a Russian FSB/GRU’ agent working for the Kremlin who can’t be trusted.

Now that Strelkov happens to be spewing some doom-and-gloom that comports with Western narrative, he’s suddenly a sterling and proven commander who certainly knows what he’s talking about when it comes to war, so his opinion that Russia is losing must surely be the truth. Not to mention they now support the position that he was a lone wolf who went rogue all along, proving the disingenuous inconsistency that plagues the dishonest Western commentators.

Either way, if Prigozhin’s numbers are true, my own sensible estimate was certainly much closer to the reality than the wildly exaggerated figures of most West/Ukraine supporters and 5th columnists, who claimed anywhere between 50-100k Wagners were killed in Bakhmut.

For what it’s worth, Prigozhin added the following words:

“PMC Wagner has no exhaustion. More than 10.000 people join to Wagner every month,” Prigozhin for the American magazine Newsweek.

On the other hand, the mystery surrounding Kiev’s losses in general continues to grow with every hour. A French outlet recently made waves when they reported that they’ve lost contact with 40-60% of the AFU personnel who’ve trained in France in 2022, concluding that: “We think they’ve already died in battle.”

💀 “The data on Ukraine’s losses remain Zelensky’s biggest secret,” write the French outlet Valerus.

Questions to the military authorities of Ukraine on this issue “cause their anger,” say those journalists who “risk into it.”

– However, from 40 to 60% of Ukrainian military personnel who were trained in France in 2022 no longer get in touch, according to a Valerus source. “We think most are silent because they have already died in battle.”

“There is no doubt that the number of dead and injured has risen sharply since the end of the summer.”

– “After about ten waves of mobilization, the number of those who can serve under the blue-and-yellow flag has noticeably decreased.”

“The nine brigades reconstituted with NATO assistance to prepare for the spring offensive have between 2,500 and 3,000 men each, while there should be between 5,000 and 8,000.”

Now onto the last big news, which is AFU’s incursion into Russia’s Belgorod region. I almost didn’t even want to cover this because I think it to be inconsequential, and to cover it at length is to give Ukraine exactly the type of psychological ‘victory’ they sought with their desperate failed stunt. But alas, I’ll cover it if only to show how miserable of a failure it was.

But first, I’ll say how awed I am that so many people still fall for these stunts and consider them to actually be some major sign of Russia’s impending loss or failure of the SMO. As ex-Austrian army officer, GeromanAT noted on his Twitter:

How people think border defenses work vs. how they actually work:

The fact is, the AFU crept a few hundred meters into the border, got destroyed and ran away. Here’s the checkpoint they made such a big deal about ‘taking over’:

You know how deep into Russia that checkpoint is?

The yellow lines are indicating the Ukrainian border. But the psyop included artillery and MLRS fired from the rear, as well as drones, much deeper into Russia which gave the appearance of their actually having swept through the whole region, which was not the case.

However, the desperate psyop was very elaborately orchestrated—we must admit that.

They carried out a number of simultaneous, sophisticated psychological actions all while bursting through the border with a battalion of mixed units from Kraken, Azov, etc. It was obviously pre-planned for a long time and carried out multi-modally through a variety of hybrid warfare methods.

Here’s a list of the simultaneous actions they carried out in order to create mass panic, demoralization, informational distortion, etc:

  • Attacked the border and rear areas with Uragan MLRS systems
  • Began to try to cut the power of the outlying villages in order to cut communications with further regions
  • Began a mass terror campaign of drone bombing various neighboring cities, including Belgorod itself, which consisted of indiscriminately targeting civilian cars and businesses with bomblets dropped from drones
  • Launched a multitude of spoofing shell channels which pretended to be official community channels for the respective cities/towns in that region. These channels then, under the guise of some authority figure, reported wrong information about mass panic, evacuations, etc.
  • One such psyop campaign involved broadcasting to thousands of people that the militants had broken into a police station and disguised themselves as Russian police. The channel urged all citizens of the region to immediately take up arms and shoot any police officer they see. This last number is particularly cynical, like something out of the Joker’s bag from the Dark Knight movies and demonstrates the levels of depravity and terror that the Ukrainian Nazi regime has stooped to
  • Make fakes about Russian forces retreating, Russian planes and helicopters being downed and destroyed, which didn’t happen
  • Broadcast interviews with one of the leaders of the group who stated that the citizens of Belgorod infact invited the group in because they were sick of the Russian government and wanted the true Russian dissident forces to provide ‘security’ for them
  • Broadcast that Russian nukes are stored nearby and were at risk of being seized
  • Synchronized release of professionally produced fake videos claiming to show a Russian soldier captured as well as a Russian border station chief killed and his office raided

Here are sample photos of the civilian cars destroyed in a mass drone terror campaign in the region that day:

They also shot up many cars, took hostages inside homes and killed/injured several civilians.

Here are two of their devious pysops. They created a fake channel for the town of Grayvoron, and spread the disinformation that the governor defected to the militants. And the second is the request for all citizens to open fire on the police:

It’s so deviously cynical you almost have to respect it for its boldness. And yet, it’s like a child’s game for sickos. Does anyone actually think such paltry, feckless, and inane little games can win you a war? But I suppose we must look at it from their perspective: they have nothing else. Wouldn’t you do the same in their shoes? They’re really trying.

Here’s an example of their psyop: on the left shows their channel which was originally established as Vinnytsia Live at the beginning of last year. But in preparation for yesterday’s psyop, they changed the channel’s name to Grayvoron Live to carry out their info attack:

Here’s what one Russian analyst had to say about the operation:

Dedicated to everyone who is looking for yellow scotch tape and cartoons on the corpses of killed Nazis, whose photos have been scattered around the network.

Yesterday I wrote [ ] that up to a battalion of Nazi personnel was involved in the attack on Russian territory. The composition was motley – “Kraken”, “Azov”, “RDK”, Kharkov Terodefense, and a number of other units that carry out the main service in the border areas, in this particular case in Velikaya Pisarevka.

“Azov”, “Kraken” and “RDK” in fashionable multicam and pasted with tape like parrots came to shoot tik tok, their home video shooting was covered by the very auxiliary units of the Kharkiv Terodefense and the military of the Armed Forces of Ukraine that serve in Velyka Pisarevka.

Tik tokers from “Azov”, “Kraken” and “RDK” already by 12 o’clock on May 22, 2023, having filmed the content, dumped from the territory of Russia, leaving the Armed Forces of Ukraine at the MAP “Grayvoron” to “cover” their departure. It was them that our artillery guns petted, and the infantry subsequently collected the corpses. Such things are small.

And here’s one Ukrainian channel’s version of what the secret operation was actually all about:

And reportedly it is true, that Russia did in fact once store nuclear weapons at this storage base nearby:

Geolocation: 50.564436746379215, 35.736953217001755

MSM channels like Newsweek even sprang into action with such headlines:

However, this appears to be another part of the info war psyop as it was the Ukrainian MOD that “confirmed” these facts. Russian channels on the other hand report that Russia had long ago removed the nukes from this ‘Belgorod-22’ storage site.

So, how did the rest of the story pan out? Local Russian territorial forces kept the elite Ukrainian assault group at bay until General Lapin arrived with his ground forces and mopped the rest of them up:

Not to mention, all the while, the Russian airforce was hammering them mercilessly from the skies, inflicting a reported 70+ casualties with guided strikes on their vehicles at the border checkpoint. Here’s a medley which shows the entire incident in compressed form, from start to finish; the incursion, followed by the defeat:

Ukrainian National Security secretary Danilov verbalized what the real goal of the incursion was in this interview:

The point is to create uprisings of scared and fed up Russian citizens against their government, to destabilize the Kremlin. Naturally, he states these border DRG diversions will increase in many other regions, including Kursk.

Now they’re trying to save face by claiming this was merely a ‘raid’. However, uncovered fortifications showed they were actually digging trenches and had meant to dig in and occupy the villages:

Good job, I guess. You lost an entire company of men, over a dozen total vehicles, for what? Oh, that’s right—we know exactly what it achieved:

The blue line shows ‘Bakhmut’ searches on the internet, the red line is ‘Belgorod Oblast’. Guess which narrative was suddenly swept under the rug in brisk fashion as soon as this psyop was launched?

Note that Bakhmut was liberated on the 20th, when its searches shot up and was conveniently and predictably sandbagged by the fake raid.

So what did this achieve? Did it buy another few days for Narco-Führer Zelensky to beg for more F-16s? Did it buy an extra week for comatose Zaluzhny’s brain to reduce swelling?

Oh, let me guess. It “exposed” how weak Russian border defenses are, is that the narrative? Well, if they’re so weak, then why did Russia lose almost no men while an entire battalion of the most elite units of the AFU (Kraken, Azov, etc.) was hastily driven back with a large part of them liquidated, their vehicles destroyed? Were the elite AFU forces not able to withstand ‘weak’ Russian border conscripts?

To me, this mass delusion is akin to the infamous survivorship bias, which is defined roughly as a logical fallacy of concentrating on instances where something has passed a selection process, while overlooking instances that did not. So, for example Ukraine constantly makes attacks on Russian lines, including border areas. No one bats an eye when hundreds of such attacks are destroyed and driven back every month, no merit or recognition is awarded to Russia. But when one measly attack gets a few hundred meters in, suddenly it’s the end of the world and the AFU is celebrated.

It’s also compounded by a large dose of recency bias. For instance, Russia shot down several Ukrainian aircraft this week, including a Mig-29 today, but that just passes through the sieve. But when a single Russian craft is shot down, it’s considered a major blow—which is illogical as it’s much more of a major blow for the country with almost no aircraft to have one shot down, rather than for the country which has the second largest airforce on earth.

The same goes for Russian gains and advances. The little Belgorod escapade naturally screened the fact that Russia just made more inroads in several theaters, including gains in Kremennaya, Kupyansk, and a new important gain in Belgorovka, near Seversk, which Russian forces are now almost encircling:

⏺ Ukrainian sources report that the situation on the front around Seversk has worsened

▪️According to his statements, the crew in Belogorovka found themselves in semi-encirclement, as the Russian army launched an attack from several directions, where they managed to achieve certain tactical successes that enable it to act in the rear of the Ukrainian forces.

📌 The local road connecting Belogorovka with Serebryanka, and further with Severska (about 12 km as the crow flies) is particularly at risk.

The Ukrainian command announces that at this moment extraordinary efforts are being made to improve the situation.

But is this to completely dismiss all the legitimate concerns, complaints, etc., about the incident? No, of course not. The Belgorod incident has spurred the usual bacchanalia of teeth-gnashing rage and worry. Much of it is in fact healthy. There are legitimate concerns about the situation and why, despite being beaten back, the AFU units were able to incur into Russia to begin with.

There is a multitude of perspectives from every station, such as this reported post about how Russian EW is too strong for its own good, hampering Russia’s own drones in the region:

👉👉👉 Apparently a post from a Russian military man…

The first problem is our Electronic warfare. Artillery would be happy to fire back, but for it to be useful, they need to see where to fire, and not just shoot at the sound, somewhere “there”. To do this, it is necessary to raise a drone. Which, because of our own EW, is not always possible. It is impossible to get higher than 30 meters near the border, and often the drone even “goes crazy” and begins to perform. There was a case of an acquaintance when a Matris 300 flew to the Ukrainians. Now in order to skip our EW, my crew has to look for “holes”. Of course we know some places to fly from, but this is not a solution either. It’s not safe to fly from the same place every time. But the bummer is that the Ukrainians are now switching en masse to

433, 1.2, 1.4 MHz, and our EW squeezes the most common frequencies used in the Mavic. Consequently, the Ukrainians misses our EW more often. So it turns out that we crush our drones, depriving our artillery of prompt fire, because each battery does not have its own “Eagle”(Orlan-10), but has a Mavic. And Khohol has adapted and bypasses our EW by changing frequencies.

But these are all problems which can be addressed and fixed.

Another sensible complaint:

There are a lot of questions about the situation in the Grayvoronsky district for our intelligence and not only intelligence.

1. Why were the enemy’s attack plans not revealed at the initial stage of the preparation of the operation?

2. Why weren’t they opened and worked out to prevent the movement of the enemy on the way to the state border?

3. Why did the border guards and the military have to leave the first line of defense?

4. Why are civilians still living in settlements that are 1 kilometer from the border (in fact, the front line), because of which artillery and aviation could not inflict fire damage on the enemy?

5. Why are people who want to defend their land still not armed and are in sham “terodefense”, and not in the extermination squads of the people’s militia?

The above highlights another issue, which was that the region has a 3,000 man, several battalion strong force which wants to fight and provide security, but—according to them—due to the bureaucratic nightmare of the Russian government, they have not yet been issued weapons; the Russian MOD is famously cautious and painstaking when it comes to such things.

But a lot of the issues were also greatly exaggerated and amplified, as per the guidelines of the psychological operation, by the AFU group, and so it’s difficult to know for absolute certain how much of it is true.

Certainly there is a growing critical mass of people, at least in the information field, who are losing patience with the Russian MOD’s way of dealing with things. I mean this in a general sense, even if they handled the situation decently well on the ground, people have found the informational aspect highly inadequate. Some have complained, for instance, that the MOD waited for a whole day or more to show the losses of the AFU, all while ceding the informational space fully to the UA psyop, allowing them and their words, images, and deeds to dominate the information space. I’m definitely sympathetic to that angle.

Another top Russian account angrily posted the following:

Unofficial Bezsonov “Z”: “The rhetoric of our speakers and media on the breakthrough of saboteurs in the Belgorod region: “we will squeeze out”, “they pushed us back”, etc. Are you on the fun side!? The war is on. Saboteurs need to be killed, destroyed, and eliminated. You understand that rhetoric is very important. Our front-line soldiers read the news and get fucked up. People often ask me why they were sent to war to actually kill their enemies, and all the officials are afraid to even say that.”

Even the famous FighterBomber channel agreed with the sentiment, stating how the morale of Russia’s airmen operating over the Belgorod region during this flare up was affected after the fake about a ‘shot down’ Russian helicopter was broadcast by Russian channels. The Ukrainian assault group, by the way, was said to have advanced with an Avenger AD system covering them as well as a large amount of manpads.

So, yes, there are problems. There will always be problems. They are being worked out and worked on constantly. But how can, in the minds of some people afflicted with the worst cases of the aforementioned logical fallacies and biases, could these relatively minor problems possibly overshadow not only the fact that Russia destroyed the group and pushed them out, but the general fact that Russia is handily winning the war and has just captured Bakhmut?

But all this brings me to the final topic. It took no great skill of course to predict this Belgorod incursion—I myself as well as almost every analyst on the planet have said weeks ago that this would happen as a distraction effort to both shore up the failings of Bakhmut, but more importantly to attempt to ‘shape the battlefield’ (both psychologically and physically) in preparation for UA’s expected offensive.

The most logical strategy employed was to try and pull Russian forces from another theater, i.e. the south all the way to the north to thin out the south’s defenses on the eve of a potential offensive.

It does appear that the UA assault group had plans to dig in, not only based on the discovered trenches they were in the process of digging, but the fact that a larger force was continually spotted by Russian drones in Velyka Pysarovka—which is the Ukrainian town right on the other side of the border—which was meant to be the reserve that ‘pushes through’ past the dug-in gains of the first vanguard element. The point being that the operation appears to have potentially been planned as a much larger one than we think, with the intention of taking over the entire local region, digging in, and creating a huge problem requiring Russia to immediately commit reinforcements from the southern direction to enter into a protracted pitched battle against the occupying forces. And it may very well not be over yet; they appear to have retreated for now but they may attempt to reconstitute and continue trying, so we’ll see what happens.

But my point was that, this could presage the coming of the UA offensive. GUR chief Budanov stated yesterday that the offensive is coming “very soon”, though those words are relative. And I always said that things would begin to accelerate on the eve of a potential offensive. Recall that Zelensky was trying to postpone things with Bakhmut and several sources on both sides stated that Ukraine’s offensive would begin after the fall of Bakhmut. Zelensky can’t afford for Russia to take the Bakhmut capture momentum in force and continue going forward or even launch their own more major offensive.

All the possible convergences have arrived and it feels that we’re at that singular point. And now that UA has begun these major psychological ops on the Russian border, it could be the last precursor to shape the field and try to rearrange Russian forces into favorable postures at the final hour.

Now there are rumors—low confidence of course, but worth sharing just in case—that NATO intends to ‘do something’ during their upcoming June exercises described as “largest ever”:

NATO is preparing to hold its largest-ever air exercises this June, known as Exercise Air Defender, that will involve 220 aircraft and 10,0000 personnel from 24 nations.

The drills will include a massive deployment of aircraft from the US Air National Guard, which is tasked with defending the homeland but, according to Defense One, also maintains units for “prompt mobilization during war.” –Zerohedge

“The exercises will mark the largest US air forces deployment to Europe for NATO drills since the alliance was founded in 1949.”

The purpose of the drills is to simulate what the US would have to do if the war in Ukraine spread into NATO territory.

“This is now putting the alliance together quickly, with a credible force, to make sure that if Russia ever lines up on the NATO border, that we’re ready to go,” said Lt. Gen. Michael Loh, the head of the Air National Guard. “We’re going to defend every inch.”

The drills will take place from June 12-23 and will stretch from Iceland to Romania, with most flights taking place over Germany and the North Sea. The massive show of force is a clear message to Russia and comes as the US and NATO are escalating support for their proxy war against Moscow in Ukraine.

They openly state that the exercise is to show Russia that they’re “ready to go”, whatever that means.

The more fringe of the rumors claims that NATO plans to launch a massive undercover strike on Russian assets. While that’s very unlikely, what is likely is using the exercises as cover for UA to launch their own offensive, particularly with unprecedented numbers of NATO troops all around in the region, perhaps some of them or their assets can be brought to bear without setting off Russian alarm bells.

I’ve said time and time again that military exercises are the most classic ruse in history for staging falseflags and secretly deploying armies to theaters in preparation for attacks. Russia itself used this common ruse at the start of the SMO, if you’ll recall. The huge joint exercises with Belarus were used as smokescreen to move Russian units in position before launching the mass invasion. It’s one of the oldest and most predictable tricks in the book.

And since I’ve previously outlined that summer is the final chance for Ukraine to launch its offensive, as autumn starts getting back into the whole heavy rains and mud rasputitsa cycle, that means June could be the prime launching date. Which is also partly why many of history’s most renowned operations were always launched at that time, such as, famously, Barbarossa on June 22 and Normandy D-Day landings on June 6.

I gave the reason in the last report: since autumn isn’t ideal, late summer likewise proves questionable because you need some headroom for your operation to spread its legs and gain some actual returns. What’s the use launching late summer only to get bogged down in rains and mud only a few short weeks later? Early summer is ideal so you can have the full breadth of the season to push your big gains, so of course, logically, June is the favored month. The only question that remains is whether the AFU is ready, and who is even leading them? A cerebro-cranially trepanated Zaluzhny?

You’ve got to admit though, the narrative is perfect, it fits the Brawny American style: under the cover of the largest exercises in history, with silver NATO birds spanning the skies with their grand show of strength, and here comes the AFU, symbolically now under the NATO banner to decimate the Russian lines at a time when the headlines of both the exercises and attack bleed over and create a sort of parallel reality distortion where, to the droopy-eyed Western observer, it may all look like one grand action movie, where the beleaguered orc hordes are being driven back to Mordor by the stupendous NATO forces. It would be too easy for the empire’s scribes to confect such a deliciously alluring narrative, would it not?

Also, consider this low confidence as well, but there are reports that U.S. congressmen are being issued emergency satellite phones for a potential ‘disruptive event’:

Many have pointed out that a lot of strange incidents have occurred, like the 30 tons of explosives “going missing” from a California train. To wit:

Could the elites be getting ready for some major black swan events tied into the NATO exercises and coming Ukraine offensive? I did point out last time how famed futures forecaster Martin Armstrong said there won’t even be a 2024 election and that the U.S. won’t exist after 2032. The globalists do need a desperate black swan type event to save Ukraine, and their own asses, as it’s the only thing that can really stop Russia from winning.

Most likely it is nothing—but it’s grist for the mill and worth mentioning/discussing. The next 12 to 18 months promise to be quite eventful, that’s for sure.

A couple last items:

The Russian Black Sea ship Ivan Khurs was attacked by Ukrainian naval drones near the Bosporus Strait while it was patrolling the Turkish Stream pipeline. Russian sharpshooters on the deck of the ship took out all drones in spectacular fashion with their handy 14.5mm KPV HMG deck guns:

This appears to be the standard Ukrainian naval drone used many times before:

Here’s the location of the action:

What do you see there on the far right side, likely directing the drones? Surprise, surprise—the American RQ-4 Global Hawk just happened to be doing a fly over at the time. It remains one of my chief contentions against the Russian MOD that these drones should have been shot down long ago, with no qualms. Let U.S. futilely raise hell in the UN and cry, it’s proven they won’t dare do anything, as Russia already took down their MQ-9. These are unmanned systems after all, it’s not like they’d be killing an American serviceman. With that said, Rybar does report the following, which is promising:

More recently, the NATO RQ-4D Phoenix UAV left the patrol area with emergency code 7600 – and this is a damn pleasant fact, which means that Russian electronic warfare suppressed the electronic warfare control channel, forcing them to leave the water area. Yes, the measure is temporary – the UAV will return in the following days.

But before we had no such measures.

Yes, now it is only the use of electronic warfare forces, but maybe in the future we can count on something more? In the end, one UAV has already gone to the bottom of the Black Sea.

Apparently Russia is jamming the RQ-4s, making them spout emergency codes and flee back to base.

Another interesting item:

Russian S-350 Vityaz, an advanced, modern variant that’s actually closer to the S-400 (using the same missiles) than the S-300, reportedly took down several AFU aircraft, including a plane and several drones, in full AI mode.

“The operator simply did not interfere in the operation of the complex, in the automatic operation algorithm chosen by the machine,” the source said.

Sputnik reports:

Russia’s S-350 Vityaz surface-to-air missile (SAM) system shot down Ukrainian aircraft in the special operation zone in fully automatic mode, without the participation of an operator, a well-informed source told Sputnik.

The source said that “for the first time in the world the Vityaz performed the fully automated detection, tracking and destruction of Ukrainian air targets in combat; the surface-to-air missiles downed several Ukrainian warplanes and unmanned aerial vehicles.”

According to the insider, “the automatic mode was implemented on the basis of the principle that a person does not cancel the decisions of the SAM’s artificial intelligence elements within the framework of the emerging air combat situation, namely, an operator just did not interfere in the running of the system, thus confirming the operation algorithm chosen by the machine.”

The sources explained that the Vityaz simultaneously worked in active and passive radar modes, something that boosts the SAM’s jamming immunity, as well as its ability to detect and classify targets.

Well, as exciting as that sounds, let’s hope they don’t let these AI run too wild before it starts deciding to shoot down every Russian air group like the four lost weeks ago.

A heartwarming item:

Simferopol, 9 years later: a meeting between the girl Anya and the Russian soldier

In February 2014, at the very beginning of the Russian spring, while still a little girl, Anya approached Mikhail and hugged him. This small but touching episode was captured by cameras and flew around millions of people across the country and inspired the creator of the famous monument to ‘Polite People’.

The above famous video shows one of the ‘little green men’ aka ‘polite people’ who took Crimea in 2014. When the little girl hugged him, it was caught on cameras and inspired an emblematic monument which stands there to this day:

But now, the soldier, revealed as Mikhail, is still participating in the SMO and has a reunion with the little girl, all grown up, nine years later:

Mikhail is participating in the special operation, now he’s in the Crimea on vacation and is preparing to return to the front line. After 9 years, he met the girl Anya, gave her a basket of flowers, a bear and the same chocolate bar that he handed to the girl in 2014.

“I had the last call today. And when I met you, I just had begun school, and now we met when I have a graduation,” says Anya.

A penultimate item: Head of DPR Dennis Pushilin peremptorily settles the Bakhmut debate once and for all. It is now officially Artemovsk, period, end of story!

Bakhmut is Artemovsk, end of conversation. – Denis Pushilin during his visit of Artemovsk

“Bakhmut is the name from the Russian Empire. But under the Soviet Union it was called Artemovsk, that’s how we remember it. Moreover, there is a corresponding decree that states that all the names of cities and districts within the borders of the former Donetsk region of Ukraine return to May 11, 2014 year,” the head of the DPR said.

It’ll take some getting used to!

And lastly, German Defense Minister Pistorius, echoing various technofascist eurocrats like Von der Lyin’ and Josep Borrell before him, says the quiet part out loud about Ukraine.