Everyone is waiting for the start of the Ukrainian spring-summer counteroffensive, but neither are the Russians, who are so nervous that they claimed that a small probing action in Zaporizhzhia Oblast was the start ( and the end) of the expected Ukrainian action. Let’s see where things stand.
First of all, Ukraine tells people to… shhh.
We’ll contrast that quiet confidence with the crap show that is Russia in a moment, but first a word on what silence means in operational security (OpSec).
That doesn’t mean people aren’t reposting the music videos or geotagging them.
If Russia releases a video, they know that 1) whatever is depicted took place and 2) where it took place.
If Ukraine publishes a video, it agrees that this video be published. Soldiers and airmen with access to these videos know the rules of OpSec. And as you’ll often see, if they don’t want the video to be geotagged, they’ll blur all the background identifying features. They know the game perfectly.
You will see people complaining on Twitter, Telegram or right here at Daily Kos when such videos are posted, misunderstanding the situation. Ukraine does not wantthe locals, the residentspost videos of their troop movements, or just about any battlefield information that might endanger the troops. But if it’s on Twitter, where most of us see this stuff, it’s already been seen by millions on Telegram, where the Russians hang out.
Going back to Ukraine’s quiet confidence, let’s compare it to the chaos of the Russian side. There was such mess this weekend.
Wagner Group mercenaries actually participated in a shootout with a Russian army unit, captured its commander, a lieutenant colonel, broke his nose as a sign of torture, then filmed him being admit to having targeted Wagner out of “personal animosity”.
Wagner CEO Yevgeny Prigozhin must feel untouchable enough to not only kidnap and beat a Russian army officer, but to posted the on line. You can read more about the feud between Wagner and the Russian Ministry of Defense in This thread by a Ukrainian intelligence officer. As several people joked today (so not my joke), we may be getting to a place where Russia isn’t even the second best army in Ukraine!
Likewise, Wagner’s feud with pro-Moscow Chechen Kadyrovites escalates, with a not-so-veiled threat posted on Wagner’s Telegram accounts. The meme features a photo of bombed-out Grozny, the capital of Chechnya, with the caption: “Grozny, Chechnya 2000. We can repeat.
Meanwhile, pro-Ukrainian Russian forces and some Polish foreign legionnaires actuallybusysome border settlements on the Russian side of the border at Belgorod. No, they’re not marching on Moscow, and they may have retreated to Ukraine by the time you read this, but they certainly make Russian dictator Vladimir Putin look impotent. Russia either needs to pull troops away from the Ukrainian front lines to stop these border excursions, or the Russian government continues to fool around as these marauders roam the Russian countryside, playing moles up and down this long border. This time they even caught some Russian prisoners of war.
Kadyrovite leader Ramzan Kadyrov, who just promised to send troops to Bakhmut that never arrived, is now offering to secure Russia’s northern border.
To be clear, Kadyrov does not have 70,000 troops. Most estimates hover around 10-12,000, of which only around 10% have been deployed to Ukraine. (When deployed, they’ve mostly posted TikTok videos of themselves shooting at traffic lights and random empty buildings.) They’re definitely not Spetsnaz, Russian special forces. Russia only has 17,000, minus everything they lost in Ukraine.
If Kadyrov had 70,000 Spetsnaz, he could declare independence and there was nothing Moscow could do about it. Most likely, he saw Prigozhin’s offer to secure the border of Belgorod, and he decided that he could not be overshadowed by his fierce nemesis.
I wish they would settle everything on the battlefield – that would be the ultimate expression of toxic Russian masculinity.
Russia claims Ukrainian counter-offensive started today in southern Ukraine, Zaporizhzhia Oblast, and they crushed it! It’s finish!
On the morning of June 4, the enemy launched a full-scale offensive in five sectors of the front in the southern direction of Donetsk, bringing into the battle 23 and 31 mechanized brigades from the strategic reserves of the Armed Forces of Ukraine with the support of other military units and subunits.
A total of six mechanized battalions and two enemy tanks were involved (…)
As a result of skillful and competent actions of the Eastern Group of Forces, the losses of the Ukrainian Armed Forces amounted to more than 250 men, 16 tanks, three infantry fighting vehicles, 21 armored fighting vehicles.
In fact, somethingEastevent. Russia even published blurry video of what appears to be 9-10 disabled armored vehicles, several of them on fire. It certainly does not show 37 burning vehicles. The video was geolocated in the direction of Mariupol, 1.2 km inside the last supposed front lines. just west of Velika Novosilka. Ukraine released his own video purporting to show Ukrainian tanks destroying a Russian tank. But honestly, I can’t say what’s going on in this video.
Yet Russian Telegram sources admit that Ukrainedidmanage to liberate settlements in this region, both in Novodarivka and possibly even in Neskuchne:
For context, here’s where we are on the map, backwards:
A Russian commander of the pro-Russian Donetsk militia, Alexander Khodakovski, complaints Ukraine has taken territory, suffered losses (as the video above suggests) and, above all, that it’s not really the big counter-offensive.
In the direction of Velikonovoselkovsky, the enemy tries to break through. Having gathered his shock fist, in the first half of the day he was able to achieve tactical success – he took a position from us, but suffered tangible losses. Now the enemy is strengthening its presence in the breakthrough sector – obviously it is striving to increase its achievements.
Neither the action to the north in the direction of Novaya Tavolzhanka, nor the action to the south is in itself the promised counteroffensive, but in the event of a breakthrough, larger forces could be transferred to the site.
This could resemble the localized counter-offensive in the flanks of Bakhmut – territory reconquered on the initiative of local commanders. Or it could be probing actions, testing Russia’s defenses and looking for weak points along the lines. Or it could be a diversion, as Ukraine signaled a Kherson offensive last September, when the real target was the liberation of Kharkiv.
Which is it? No one knows except a small group of people in Ukraine. All we can do is wait. Personally, I won’t believe the counter-offensive has begun until we see the Leopard main battle tanks lying in wait.