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Russia's SMO: A timeline of premonitions
Warnings from pro-military hardliners were ignored. Is it time to start listening?
Igor Strelkov’s 39 questions about the “special military operation” in Ukraine contain a number of implications:
The SMO was based on assumptions “completely divorced from reality.”
Russia’s military has been crippled by poor leadership and mismanagement; the RF Armed Forces were not prepared for a conventional war, and lacked drones and communication systems at the start of the SMO.
Donbass has been deprived of badly needed aid for the last eight years; the People’s Militia of the LDNR “received extremely meager supplies and were armed with outdated weapons systems.”
Import substitution has failed, and the Russian government has refused to transition to a war-time economy.
There is an ongoing shortage of necessary military equipment and ammunition, “and if you subtract equipment that is donated by volunteers, the picture looks even more depressing.”
The decisions to withdraw from Kharkov and Kherson are, at best, acts of criminal incompetence, and at worst, the result of deliberate sabotage.
Partial mobilization was too little too late, and carried out in the absence of a clear legal status for the SMO, leading to all sorts of problems.
TV pundits have been misleading the public for years; those who warned of “a big and difficult war” have been “marginalized by official propaganda.”
Russian oligarchs and elites are pursuing a separate peace with the Collective West, and are actively undermining the war effort.
In general, nothing has gone according to plan, and little (or nothing) has been done to fix this.
Serious allegations. Do they have merit?
Edited by Russian military veterans and experts (some of whom live in Donbass, and all of whom refer to Ukraine as “the Ukro-Reich”, the “Ukro-Nazis”, “Bandera-stan”, etc.), Military Review has been warning of all these exact same “problems” since before the SMO even started.
The below excerpts are from op-eds published by Military Review between December 2021 and June 2022.
December 14, 2021 — Who will the ‘corrupt’ army protect?
[Our] “indestructible and legendary” army, despite the billions poured into it, is steadily decomposing on the way to complete degradation. […]
I consider the command of this very army to be the main enemy of the Russian Armed Forces … Do you want a position [a promotion, a high-ranking post or commission, etc.]? No problem, pay … Pay and you will have great prospects. […]
If this is a secret for anyone, then it is exclusively for those who live on the reports of [state media] Zvezda and Channel One. Everyone else is aware …. Today, everything in our army costs money. From the very bottom to the very top. This applies to contractors, officers and even conscripts.
The army is actually turning into the same money-making tool as the Duma deputy corps, or the Executive Branch. This means that we are in for a complete degradation, similar to the one we are seeing in the regional and state Dumas, and in the offices of mayors and governors.
High-level “effective managers” have already destroyed a lot. Today we are witnessing the complete inability of our industry to master the production of new models of tanks and aircraft, the complete degradation of the space industry, culture, medicine and education that have turned into a nightmare.
Apparently, the army will simply become (if it has not already become) another place where people simply earn money by providing protection services. But it’s not really an army anymore. And it is rather difficult to predict how such a state of affairs, which today are becoming the norm in the army, can turn out for Russia.
December 28, 2021 — ‘Military’ UAVs from [China’s] ‘AliExpress’
There is laughter through tears … a new drone developed by Russian company Kronstadt can be found on “AliExpress”. […]
Of course, you can change the software. Better batteries can be installed. If so, where can I get them—Russian batteries, I mean? But these modifications will not turn a Chinese children’s toy into a Russian military drone. […]
Lies, when they are exposed, undermine not only trust—but also the belief that we can still do something ourselves. The fact that almost all electronics in the military industry are made in China is already more than enough to create distrust.
January 25, 2022 — Case of the generals: Corruption in the Ministry of Defense
In the Western Military District, Yuri Domolazov, an official in the regional directorate, was sentenced to 3.5 years. The former official also received a fine of 58.5 million rubles.
The fraud was as follows: During the reconstruction of the St. Petersburg Rocket and Artillery Cadet Corps, he signed documents on the acceptance of work for 186 million rubles, while they cost no more than 35 million.
The scale is certainly impressive … and again, scammers from the Ministry of Defense.
If you look at the statistics of the last five or six years, there has been an increase in corruption cases against military officials.
On the one hand, this is a sad trend, indicating that a lot of superfluous people have settled in the higher echelons of the ministry. On the other hand, the growth in the number of detainees is a clear sign of the high efficiency of the work of the main military investigation department, the FSB and the military prosecutor’s office.
February 8, 2022 — Is Russia ready for war with the West?
Unlike the elites of the Collective West, the Russian “elite” are stupid, lazy, and are not able to exert any influence on the global agenda. After Crimea, Russia’s elites completely gave the strategic initiative to the enemy and, writhing under sanctions, since 2014 have been rushing around the expanses of the former USSR with buckets, hastily trying to put out the fires organized by their “Western partners” in Ukraine, Transnistria, Karabakh, Belarus, and Kazakhstan. And at the same time, with their cannibalistic reforms, COVID madness, and tax pressure against the common people, they are rapidly undermining the domestic political situation in Russia itself.
The explanation for these actions, paradoxical at first glance, has long been known: The vast majority of the Russian “elite” consider Russia not as the Motherland, with which their fate and future are connected, but as a raw materials appendage and periphery of the Western world. […]
Can we win a war with such an “elite”, who have had passports of other states in their pockets for a long time? Who have real estate, wives, children, and mistresses abroad? The answer is obvious.
February 17, 2022 — Did the people’s militia of the LPR and DPR learn the lessons of Debaltsevo?
The real situation with communications is worse than seven years ago, in part because the enemy has made very large-scale efforts to organize wire communications and closed radio communications, and improve interaction. The efforts of the Armed Forces of Ukraine are systemic.
In the LPR and DPR, only volunteer organizations and the fighters’ own wallets work on the front lines. The headquarters of the corps is perfectly connected with the headquarters of the brigade, the headquarters of the brigade with the headquarters of the battalions; the training grounds are equipped with beautifully laid telephone lines, but those who are on the front line are often deprived of normal communication, especially closed digital radio communication with the necessary level of encryption. Providing electricity to forward positions is also an old and unresolved problem.
But the main thing is the people. There is simply nowhere to get motivated and trained fighters and commanders. While everyone is standing still, it is not so noticeable. But if a maneuver war begins, then these failures will become visible to the naked eye. In order to train people, we need infrastructure, training and repair bases, and a huge number of competent and motivated technical specialists. This does not exist in the republics, and attempts to create these conditions were crushed and killed. I wonder who will be made responsible for all this when full-scale hostilities resume in the Donbass, and all these problems, as they say, will come to light?
The pace of the offensive in four directions, covering the whole of Ukraine, was fast on the first day [of the SMO] … [but] the refusal to consolidate the territory and capture cities threatened communications and logistics.
The pace of the offensive began to slow on the second day … The shock groups are starting to get bogged down; with every day the advance is taking place with difficulty and losses. It has not yet been possible to organize the encirclement of the Donbass grouping and the blocking of Kiev.
April 5, 2022 — We can lose Ukraine again
One gets the impression (and we will talk about this in great detail one of these days) that what is happening in Ukraine has become some kind of surprise for the Russian authorities. It is difficult to say who is to blame for the fact that this happened, but obviously the picture that was in the heads of representatives of power structures has nothing to do with reality.
Indeed, it is as if Russia’s military planners were waiting for a sea of flowers, surrendering troops of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, joyful crowds of residents of Ukrainian cities welcoming the liberators… It didn't work out. And in general it looks very stupid. […]
I would like to see from the representatives of the Russian authorities at least a minimal understanding of what is happening. After all, not even we need understanding, understanding is needed first for the people of Ukraine.
April 9, 2022 — The first results of the special operation
Without a clear ultimate goal of the launched special operation and sufficient military forces, Russia still does not carry out strategically important measures necessary in wartime: transferring the country’s economy to a military footing, mobilizing to replenish the army, cleaning representatives of the “fifth column” from power, and fighting corruption. Everything is done reluctantly, insufficiently or not done at all.
April 18, 2022 — The situation at Russian customs on the border with the LPR is becoming more complicated. Only convoys of the Ministry of Emergency Situations are allowed
The delivery of humanitarian supplies for the People’s Militia of the LPR remains vital for the defense of the LPR. Many mobilized are forced to fight with Mosin rifles and without helmets, because there is simply no other available weapon.
However, Russian customs gave an unpleasant surprise to the republics: A few days ago, two cordon rings were placed in front of the border from the Russian side by the forces of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation, which, according to their logic, will tighten control and not allow unofficial humanitarian aid to pass through. Now at the posts they are intensively inspecting all cars traveling to the LPR in search of humanitarian aid.
And now we are not only talking about a ban on the transport of bulletproof vests and helmets (which are in dire need in LPR and DPR, where many servicemen are dying without protective equipment)—now it is problematic to carry out any humanitarian assistance. Even religious icons and books are confiscated at the border “for examination.”
This happens not only at the customs of the LPR. The same situation, as military correspondents and volunteers write, is also observed at the border with the DPR. Russian military commander Andrey Medvedev writes the following about the current situation: “Volunteers are constantly faced with the fact that they are not allowed to bring medicines and equipment for the DNR fighters. In the Kherson region, customs also does not allow fuel and lubricants from Crimea, although farmers are ready to sow … I don’t know who you have to be to humiliate the Russian people like that.”
April 21, 2022 — On criticism during the war
After the start of the military operation in Ukraine, the inadmissibility of criticism began to sound loudly on many Russian information resources. They argued that now is not the time for criticism, it is necessary to support the actions of the leadership in everything, to engage in criticism means to undermine the morale of our soldiers, etc. However, the war has been going on for two months, and many decisions, such as the creation of military-civilian administrations, opening the border for the free flow of humanitarian aid to the liberated territories—decisions which should have been made quickly and efficiently—have been neglected. And without bringing these problems to the forefront, they are often unresolved, or are resolved with a great delay.
It should be noted that many of those who oppose all criticism had been talking for years in the media and on television about how weak the Ukrainian army is, about the fact that if war with Ukraine starts, Russia will win in a few hours.
In the LPR and DPR, they have also been saying for many years that it is impossible to criticize officials and structures, and de facto banned such criticism. What did it lead to? It has led to the fact that the corps of the People’s Militia were not ready for a large-scale war, to the fact that all the problems associated with supplying and providing the corps with everything necessary were hidden, and now people are forced to fight with Mosin rifles and without normal uniforms. If these problems had been raised earlier at a higher level and made public, perhaps everything would have been different.
Constructive criticism that points to specific problems is not “working for the enemy”, but a necessity.
For example, after publications on the topic of not allowing the transport of fuel and essential products across the border of Crimea and the Kherson region, fuel and products were nevertheless allowed through.
Well, in conclusion, I will quote a political scientist, the author of the Russian Orientalist telegram channel, Igor Dimitriev, who just now wrote a good text on this topic: “The most dangerous effect of a lack of criticism is drunkenness from one’s own lies. Criticism does not let you lose touch with reality. Criticism is a necessary part of any system … it cannot be canceled during hostilities. No need to publish fakes, no need to give out military secrets, no need to break the law. You just need to think soberly and offer adequate solutions. Do not get drunk on your own propaganda and do not deceive others. The deception will be revealed sooner or later, but it will deal a much more crushing blow than public criticism.”
April 28, 2022 — The West is betting on the exhaustion of Russia
With the current available forces, it is impossible to liberate the entire Donbass, the entire Left Bank, and the Nikolaev and Odessa regions from the Nazis, creating a corridor with Transnistria. And the fight will not end there, if the Ukro-Reich is not finished off, he will receive new military assistance, re-equip units and formations, mobilize new “cannon fodder” and go on the attack again. That is, the enemy must be finished off, and then also to restrain the pressure of the entire Collective West.
That is, at least partial mobilization is necessary, the creation of divisions, brigades and regiments of the second or third line. Mass recruitment of volunteers, the formation of volunteer units, is also needed.
May 11, 2022 — The second stage of the military operation in Ukraine: Everything is going according to plan
Three weeks have passed since Russia announced the second stage of the special operation, the main goal of which was the complete liberation of Donbass and control over southern Ukraine. All this time, heavy fighting continues in the Donbass with slow advances of the People’s Militia of the LDNR and the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, but a radical change has not yet occurred. Moreover, the Armed Forces of Ukraine launched a counteroffensive in the Kharkiv direction. Is everything really going according to plan, as Presidential Spokesman Dmitry Peskov says? […]
The situation is greatly complicated by the lack of UAVs, digital closed communications and lack of medicines among the units. […]
The key problems of the current Russian army are the lack of reconnaissance equipment, i.e. UAVs, problems of interaction with artillery (fire adjustment is poorly adjusted), and a generally low level of command and control. At the moment, it is required to issue UAVs at all levels, without this it will be difficult to achieve a decisive turning point in the war. The fact that Rostec announced its intention to create miniature drones for the Russian military is, of course, wonderful, but the speed of decision-making is simply astounding.
In general, at the moment the army needs not so much the mobilization of human resources (although this too), but the mobilization of industry, the mass production of UAVs and communications equipment.
May 28, 2022 — Is mobilization necessary?
The prolongation of the conflict is extremely dangerous for the Russian economy, which, as it turned out, although all sensible experts sounded the alarm about it, is not ready for a war of attrition. And import substitution, as it turned out, failed. The economy is deindustrialized and too dependent on imports. At the same time, the Kremlin did not set a course for a new industrialization.
The state continues to accumulate windfall profits from the sale of oil and gas without investing in the modernization of existing plants and factories, production lines, equipment, machines and machine tools. Big capital is still unwilling to invest in the country, withdrawing capital to Turkey and the Arab monarchies. [..]
We need to build a new, modern economy, without corrupt officials, oligarchs-thieves and bankers-parasites.
The abundance of political experts on television and in the Internet media, who talk about the future and make various, often loud, forecasts, is amazing. However, few people have thought about the quality of these forecasts and the extent to which these experts give adequate estimates. After all, journalists are almost never asked to compare their forecasts with what actually happened.
The main problem is that the same experts and political scientists wander from show to show, making more and more “predictions”, but no one asks them: Which of your predictions came true? The question is quite logical, but it is not asked. Experts voice low-quality forecasts, and sometimes they even speak outright nonsense, because they know that they will still be invited to federal channels. […]
It is obvious that initially the military operation proceeded precisely from the assessments that we read in the media. And wrong estimates led to the setting of wrong tasks.
Initially, the SMO was not planned as a real war, otherwise the RF Armed Forces would not have launched an offensive in several directions at once with the numerical superiority of the enemy, and in some cases without air cover, and would not have refused to carry out missile attacks on the barracks of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in the first weeks of the operation. There was a hope that Zelensky would flee from Kiev as soon as the Russian army was a few kilometers from the Ukrainian capital, and that he would capitulate along with the Ukrainian regime.
This calculation was not justified. And those who gave false forecasts about the situation in Ukraine are also to blame for this. If initially the political leadership of the Russian Federation had real information, then perhaps the situation would have developed according to a different scenario. As Deputy Chairman of the State Duma Committee for the Development of Civil Society, General Vladimir Shamanov, said: “Those who expected that we would be greeted with flowers [in Ukraine] ... This is one of the main mistakes that we felt very keenly in the first five days of the special operation.”
We don’t enjoy writing about the Not-War; it is an unpleasant thing to do.
Many people have chosen a Side, are convinced of their side’s Imminent Victory, and are extremely allergic to any information that might suggest everyone will lose in the end (except for the space lizards, of course).
This is understandable, even human. Personally, we are praying for an outcome that will lead to a brighter tomorrow for both Russians and Ukrainians. Unfortunately, this possibility is becoming less and less likely. Or so it seems to us. That’s just, like, our opinion, man.
But we do have one request: Can we start discussing the realities of this conflict in a more open way, without the in-group amnesia and stubborn denialism (from all Sides)?
Aren’t people tired of the perpetual “just two more weeks” news loop—a phenomenon we’ve seen before, and one that definitely lasted longer than just two weeks?
At the very least, can someone give us some “war updates” that haven’t been deep-fried in Kremlin/Kiev Crisco?
Look, here is an interesting story from yesterday:
The founder of Wagner PMC Yevgeny Prigozhin said that he was not allowed to build defenses before the Ukrainian counteroffensive, which he claimed will begin in May.
“There is betrayal inside Russia—we are not allowed to build a defense and advance further,” Prigozhin said. “No one gives us ammunition. The criminal gang does not provide ammunition, it accumulates in warehouses. The number of people in PMC Wagner is drying up. We are preparing new reserves, but we will not throw in new people until we have fully prepared them. Those bastards who decided not to provide ammunition must answer to the mothers of the dead. Due to the fact that there are no shells during the assault on buildings, [many] fighters die instead of [just] one. There are no shells to destroy their artillery.”
Yes, that is what Yevgeny Prigozhin—the guy who is spearheading Russia’s assault in Bakhmut—said on April 26, 2023.
Of course, he could be bluffing. Or maybe he’s insane? Still, seems newsworthy? But why can’t we find this information on the GAME-CHANGING CAPS-LOCK BREAKING NEWS YouTube channels that supposedly “cover” this war?
We hope you are having a pleasant Thursday.