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Two Russian Generals Reported Killed as Ukraine Invasion Becomes ‘Clusterf**k’

Posted on | March 9, 2022 | Comments Off on Two Russian Generals Reported Killed as Ukraine Invasion Becomes ‘Clusterf**k’

Russian Maj. Gen. Vitaly Gerasimov reportedly has joined his comrade Maj. Gen. Andrei Sukhovetsky in the ranks of those killed during Putin’s disastrous invasion of Ukraine. The Russians have confirmed that Sukhovetsky was killed Feb. 28 by a Ukrainian sniper near Mariupol, while Gerasimov was reportedly killed Monday near Kharkiv.

Ukraine’s defense ministry released audio of an intercepted call from a Russian intelligence officer that appears to confirm that Gerasimov was killed along with several other senior Russian officers, although the nature of the Ukrainian attack involved is unknown. Having two major generals killed in the span of a week is one measure of how badly the Russian invasion has gone, and the fact that their communications are being intercepted is another measure:

Russian forces in Kharkiv have accidentally taken out their own secure communications systems by destroying the 3G towers they depend on, it has been reported.
Ukraine’s military has shared an intercepted call captured as a result, reporting the death of Major General Vitaly Gerasimov to someone identified as a senior Russian intelligence officer by Bellingcat’s Christo Grozev. . . .
Mr Grozev said he had confirmed the Major General’s death with a Russian source and that Bellingcat had also identified the senior FSB officer in the intercepted conversation as one known to be based in the Russian city of Tula.
“His boss… makes a long pause when he hears the news of Gerasimov’s death (before swearing),” added Mr Grozev.
“In the call, you hear the Ukraine-based FSB officer ask his boss if he can talk via the secure Era system. The boss says Era is not working.”
Era is a “super expensive crypto phone system” which the Russian Ministry of Defence introduced last year, Mr Grozev said, alongside a guarantee it would work “in all conditions”.
However, according to Mr Grozev, the cryptophones require 3G/4G data connections to work, and Russian forces in Kharkiv have destroyed so many 3G towers, and replaced others with surveillance equipment, that it is not working.

As the Church Lady would say, well, isn’t that special? Losing two major generals is pretty bad, but it isn’t the worst problem facing the Russians in Ukraine. British defense expert Michael Clarke “says Russian forces have lost about 860 pieces of significant equipment — including tanks, armoured vehicles and artillery pieces, according to verifiable figures from independent sources or with photographic evidence”:

Of those, about 60% of them have been abandoned or captured. . . .
Ukrainian sources say Russia has lost 11,000 troops but verifiable sources put the figure closer to 10,000, according to Prof Clarke.
He says this is much worse compared to the conflict in Afghanistan, in which Russians lost 15,000 troops in about nine years. . . .
Prof Clarke says a Russian convoy headed towards Kyiv has not moved in six days – a major issue for its planned attack on Kyiv.
He agrees that it’s a “sitting target” and says Ukrainian forces are attacking it effectively using drones. . . .
“They’re being clever, because what they’re doing is they’re attacking the fuel.
“This convoy contains about 15,000 troops – it’s basically an armoured division and probably about 230 tanks.
“They’re not attacking the tanks, they’re attacking the fuel.
“They’re holding it in place by denying it the ability to sort itself out. They’re keeping the traffic jam jammed.”

Estimates of Russian losses vary, but all agree it’s bad for them:

Lt. Gen. Scott David Berrier, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, told the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday that his agency has seen estimates that between 2,000 and 4,000 Russian troops have died. He also noted they have “low confidence” in the assessment, gathered from “some intelligence sources, but also open source” data.
The number is much lower than the estimate from the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, which said Russia had lost 12,000 troops. . . .
Russian troops face more problems than just Ukrainian resistance, according to the Department of Defense.
“They still seem to be plagued by logistics and sustainment challenges,” a senior defense official told reporters on Tuesday. “They still are struggling to overcome fuel shortages, food shortages, and making sure that they can — in terms of ground troops — that they are able to arm themselves and defend themselves, and so they’re still working their way through that.”

So the total KIA may be as low as 2,000 or as high as 12,000, but even the lowball figure of 2,000 is not insignificant, as it means the Russians are losing nearly 200 men killed per day, to say nothing of the troops wounded and captured. Perhaps Russia can withstand such attrition and still win, but officials at the Kremlin are reportedly furious:

A week ago, Russian journalist Farida Rustamova wrote on Substack that a high-level source told her Kremlin insiders believed the war on Ukraine has been a complete disaster.
“They’re carefully enunciating the word clusterf–k,’’ she wrote, according to a translation.
Another source told her, “No one is rejoicing. Many understand that this is a mistake, but in the course of doing their duty, they come up with explanations in order to somehow come to terms with it.”
Rustamova, a former BBC and TV Rain journalist, published the report March 1, less than a week after the invasion began.
She reported that only a small circle close to Putin knew of the imminent invasion, with many assuming the military build-up on Ukraine’s border was a negotiating tactic with the West.
Her reporting also cast doubt on the Russian president’s state of mind.
“He is in a state of being offended and insulted,” said a source described as a “good acquaintance” of Putin. “It’s paranoia that has reached the point of absurdity.
“Putin now seriously believes what [Defense Minister Sergie] Shoigu and Gerasimov are telling him: about how quickly they’ll take Kyiv, that the Ukrainians are blowing themselves up, that Zelensky is a coke addict.”

Even if you take these reports with a grain of salt — as wise people should in a wartime situation — the overall picture is that the Russian offensive is bogged down, and unlikely to get rolling anytime soon:

Having failed to make a decisive advance in the early phase of its Ukraine campaign, the Russian army is now facing a thaw that could make progression on key routes problematic due to mud.
Like the armies of Napoleon and Hitler before them, Russian mechanised divisions are likely to be slowed down or halted as unpaved roads become treacherous quagmires.
Locals have a word for the twice-yearly season of mudbound roads in the region: Rasputitsa, a term that refers to both to the seasons themselves, and the resulting muddy conditions on the roads created by thawing snow in the spring combined with wet weather, or heavy rains in the autumn.
As President Vladimir Putin massed his army at the Ukrainian border, many Western experts expected him to abstain from marching in as the weeks passed, because time was running out before the great thaw.
“Early spring is a bad time to invade Ukraine if the main roads have been destroyed, a task well within Ukraine’s irregular warfare toolkit,” wrote Spencer Meredith, a professor at the US National Defence University, in an article published a week before Putin gave the order for the invasion.
While some experts may have misread Putin’s intentions, their assessment of weather conditions has been spot-on, as pictures of Russian tanks stuck in the mud have begun to appear frequently on social media.
“There were already numerous episodes when Russian tanks and other equipment drove into the fields and got stuck. So the soldiers had to leave the equipment and go on foot,” said Mykola Beleskov, an Ukrainian military analyst.
He added: “The situation will worsen as the weather warms up and the rains start, it’ll just chain them to the ground.”


The weather may ultimately defeat Putin’s army.




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