Fair Warning. This is going to be a wee different from what you’re used to on this subject. Instead of one long article on a single situation, this article is a recap of several relevant events that have happened over the last 24-48 hours. They all have one thing in common. They’re not good news for Putin or Russia.
First, the latest news from Mariupol. And it’s good news for a change. After what seems like a hundred false starts and stops, yesterday the first UN, Red Cross-Red Crescent convoy of buses finally pulled into Mariupol, and loaded about 100 civilians from the tunnels of the Iron factory they’ve been held up in. The buses loaded up, and were allowed to leave again for safety for the mostly women and children.
But it turns out it was more than that. Because word had gotten out, but was it another ruse? Nope. And when residents sheltering in dozens of other bombed out buildings and underground shelters grabbed their parents, their kids, and their pets, and almost nothing else, ran through the devastated landscape to their cars, tied white flags to the radio antenna, put cardboard placards with the words Children and elderly in the side windows, and made a run for the border.
An they made it. All the way to the safe haven of Zaporizhzhia. And safety. There were reports of tears streaming down their faces as they pulled into the parking lot. But this being Ukraine, and Ukraine being at war, they still had to pass police checks to make sure they weren’t Russian plants before being allowed into the assistance area for the first hot meal and drink of fresh water since who knows when.
And now onto the more seriously shitty news for Vlad the Imp. There was a report out today that British military intelligence estimates that 25% of Russia’s current forces in Ukraine are combat incapable. Put simply, while the units may still be in the field of operations, they are incapable of taking part in offensive or defensive operations. Whether they have lost too much of their heavy equipment, or their ground forces are too depleted and scattered to be coherent. They’re just wandering around.
The British Military Intelligence report went on to say that, under current conditions, given ideal circumstances it would take Putin and Russia 3-5 years to bring those units back up to speed. Given the shrinking Russian economy, the flagrant corruption in the Military industrial industry, and the pathetic inefficiency of Russian manufacturing, Putin can’t replace what he’s lost. And with sanctions on things like raw materials and high speed computer chips, he ain’t going to be able to any time soon either.
Sadly, the Pentagon wasn’t able to verify and confirm that report. But don’t worry, they had their own bucket of shit to dump over Putin’s head. Their current estimate is that Russian military forces currently operating in Ukraine are at 70% of capacity. Are you fucking kidding me?!? Just sit back for a moment and think of what this means.
When Russia went into Ukraine on February 24th, they had more than 130,000 men massed along two borders. If the US estimates are correct, then Russia has lost more than 40,000 men in just over 2 months, 20,000 a month. Nobody has seen losses like that since WWII.
But let’s just extrapolate forward in the simplest method possible. Russia started out with 130,000 men in Ukraine. At an average of 20,000 men a month, in 7 months, Putin won’t have anybody left in Ukraine anymore! And reports from Russia are showing that the show up rate for the 100,000 new conscripts Putin ordered a couple of weeks ago are lagging. Parents are hiding their kids, or sending them to other countries, just like Canada during Vietnam.
One more thing before I sign off. A couple of days ago I reported that the Russian advance in Donbas was running 3-5 days behind schedule. And that was after only one freakin’ week! Now military analysts are starting to refer to the battle in Donbas as static warfare, that means that one side surges forward, and then falls back.
They had a name for that back in 1915-17. They called it trench warfare. Each side had trenches built about 100 yards from each other. One side would blow a whistle, and 1400 men would surge out of a trench and run the 100 yards to try to take the next trench. If they were successful, the next day the other side would blow a whistle, and 1500 men would surge from the next trench, and try to retake the one they lost the day before. The losses were horrendous.
That’s what’s going on right now in the Donbas region of Ukraine, but without the trenches, and with fewer losses. The Russians will throw some artillery forward, and troops will rush forward a half mile or so, and take root. But they can’t hold the position. In the afternoon, the Ukrainians will fire back, the Russians will retreat, and the Ukrainians surge forward and end up right back where they were at dawn. The Russian army is stalled.
And think of this. As we speak, at an undisclosed air base in Poland, every day there are 8-12 civilian transport aircraft that land, 1-2 per hour, to unload new, high powered armaments to head to the battlefield in Ukraine. The Ukrainians haven’t even brought those weapons of death into use yet, and when they do, the Russians have nothing they can bring up to counter it. 7 days left until May 9th, the most sacred Soviet holiday in Russia, and one that Putin desperately needs a victory to tout. Tick-Tock Vlad.