Ukraine update: ‘A picture of ever growing chaos and fear among Russian troops’

Ukraine update: ‘A picture of ever growing chaos and fear among Russian troops’

One year, when I was in college, it snowed. At lot. And no, that’s not because it was during the Ice Age. 

In any case, this was Kentucky, where snowplows were considered exotic beasts and 30” of white stuff was enough to literally call out the National Guard, declare a statewide emergency, and put the campus on a lockdown. Also, since this was Kentucky, and college, and and the dorms were segregated by gender, it took roughly twelve hours before the dorm where I lived was missing big chunks of walls and ceilings. Twenty-four before someone on my floor decided that patterning a 12 gauge shotgun on the fire door was a keen idea.

Stick with me. This is going somewhere.

In order to distract the student body before our snow break generated a body count, the campus administration quickly came up with a series of competitions, from snow sculpture to a makeshift musical, in a desperate attempt to keep us from being the idiots that we were. And somehow, in that middle of that, I found myself playing in a campus-wide, winner-take-all, no-holds-barred tournament of that most time-consuming and monotonous game: Risk.

If you’ve never played Risk … don’t bother. But for anyone who has, you’re almost certainly familiar with the final stage of the game, when the last two players on the board are trying to drive each other to extinction. What I mostly remember from that tournament, again and again, was that the final stage looked like this: Player 1 tried to push player 2 off the map, but got carried away and fell short. What looked like a massive army at the outside dwindled as it fought and spread. That left their forces spread paper thin all over the map, easy pickings for Player 2 when that player mounted their own counteroffensive.  If the first player didn’t start with enough to guarantee carrying them through, they often found the tables turning. Quickly.

The idea of “the hunter becoming the hunted” has long roots. Greek mythology has a very literal version of this, when the hunter, Actaeon, is transformed into a deer by the goddess Artemis and is then chased and torn apart by his own hunting dogs (yeeks). Real life rarely provides such clear examples as board games and myth, but what’s going on right now in Ukraine certainly seems pretty close.

Even though Russia spent much of last week floating claims that they were going to take more and more and more of Ukraine, the truth seems to be that Putin’s offensive in the Donbas has stalled out short of objectives. While there continues to be fierce exchanges at many points along the front line, and Russia continues to launch attacks toward positions like Bakhmut and Bohorodychne, there are no confirmed reports of a significant gain by Russian forces in over two weeks. In that same period, a number of villages either returned to Ukraine or been thrown into dispute as Ukraine has refused to give Russian forces a chance to catch their breath.

At this point, the Ukrainian ministry of defense estimates the Russians have suffered 39,000 killed in action over the course of the invasion. U.S. intelligence estimates that 85% of the Russian military is already actively engaged in Ukraine. When Russia discovered it could not quickly take all of Ukraine, it withdrew and refocused on capturing a much smaller area. Months later, it hasn’t managed to accomplish even that.

Vysokopillya area is effectively cut off from other Russian forces.

The biggest signal of a big change in the conflict continues to be in the west. That’s where Ukraine is demonstrating to a suddenly terrified Russia just who is in control of the situation. Ukrainian forces have isolated what’s reported to be over 1,000 Russian troops in the town of Vysokopillya. Ukraine has planted neat patterns of craters on both the Antonovskyi Bridge outside Kherson and the Kakhova Bridge 50km to the north, both to limit the utility of those bridges and to make it clear to Russia that they can close those bridges whenever they want. And Ukraine has taken down a series of bridges across the Inhulets River, showing that they can isolate Russian forces inside Kherson oblast, making it extremely difficult for Russia to move to points of conflict, or to get supplies to their troops in forward positions.

Russia seems to be responding by attempting to build a series of pontoon bridges to cross the wide Dnipro River near Kherson, a tactic that cannot hope to keep the area adequately supplied, even if they make it work. Pontoon bridges are easy to take out. So are vehicles queuing to get onto a pontoon bridge, something Russia might remember from a place called Bilohorivka.

There are now more reports of abandoned Russian positions, and of positions in the city of Kherson that have been handed on inexperienced troops and Russian sympathizers, as the experienced Russian forces have apparently gone out to powder their nose.

As promissed a 🧵 on what was happening inside #Kherson city yesterday (22-7). I have been in contact some local sources who painted a picture of every growing chaos & fear among 🇷🇺 troops & collaborators inside the city. First it’s important to know that during the occupation

— NLwartracker (@NLwartracker) July 23, 2022

That thread also reports Russian soldiers shedding their uniforms, and Russian troops looting in the high end areas of the city. There are also reports of more explosions on the bridge and just outside the city. In essence, Vysokopillya is just a miniature version of Kherson. Or Kherson is a larger version of Vysokopillya. In both cases, they my not yet be physically surrounded, but the range and precision of Ukrainian weapons mean they are effectively surrounded.

1/3⚡️ The situation with Antonivskyi Bridge in Kherson is under the fire control of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, General Romanenko says. “They (Russians) see that they can stay surrounded. This is an operational surrounding.

— Flash (@Flash43191300) July 23, 2022

One other thing you can pick up by playing Risk: Ukraine is a really difficult place to hold. It touches so many areas. Scandinavia. Southern Europe. Northern Europe. They can all reinforce Ukraine. 

Explosion at Horlivka

Showing that Ukraine’s new use of precision guided weapons that can hit well behind Russian lines, there was this explosion on Saturday in Horlivka, in Russian-occupied territory north of Donetsk. The target seems to have been a repair facility for Russian equipment, and past tense is definitely deserved.

Explosion in occupied Horlivka, Donetsk region. Local news say that a machine repair plant was hit – where Russians repair their vehicle. Information is being verified.

— Anton Gerashchenko (@Gerashchenko_en) July 23, 2022

The moment of the explosion in Horlivka.

— ТРУХА⚡️English (@TpyxaNews) July 23, 2022

The distance of this strike means it might have been drone-guided artillery, rather than HIMARS. Either way … what a shot.

Thermite in Donetsk

At this point, there have been dozens, if not hundreds, of videos of Russia using white phosphorus munitions in this invasion, usually against urban areas. But this is just flat out strange. On Saturday evening, the sky over Russian-occupied Donetsk was weeping that all too familiar fire.

— Special Kherson Cat 🐈🇺🇦 (@bayraktar_1love) July 23, 2022

The best bet on this is that someone simply screwed up. There has also been a lot of speculation that this is a false flag operation, something that Moscow dreamed up in order to justify doing … something. Maybe issuing a general mobilization and sending people to the front with clubs.

Location, viewer is looking west towards the river, the spread of the falling thermite makes me think it came from the north or east.

— OSINTtechnical (@Osinttechnical) July 23, 2022

It certainly could have come from Ukraine, especially from someone still boiling over Russia’s continued attacks on civilian areas. But if so, this is the first time Ukraine has been seen using incendiaries since the invasion began.

Russian And friends Follies

Strike up the Liberty Bell March!

In this first one, the tank driver apparently forgets that tanks have a barrel, and that barrel can’t magically pass through trees.

порахував стволом усі стовпи

— Злий Конопляний Джмелик (@DimSel007) July 19, 2022

This Belarus crew is out to show they are better showmen than Kadyrov’s Chechens.

Belarusian special forces recording a video that is meant to induce fear in the Polish and Ukrainian armies.

— Visegrád 24 (@visegrad24) July 20, 2022

Proof that WWII era tanks just don’t want to go to Ukraine.

ruZZian tank T-34 in action 100/10

— Putina Pomorenko (@pawmaz0723) July 13, 2022

This instructional video on how to throw your own people off a tank, then repeatedly almost run over them, has been seen before, but is worth a repeat.

Друга армия третього світ….

— Thirteen Bitcoins (@_tredecim_) July 18, 2022

Missile go up, missile go down. Very close to where missile go up.

🇷🇺🇷🇺 The moment #Russia’s #Iskander missile transforms into a Mortar!

— Dr. Ali BAKIR (علي باكير) (@AliBakeer) July 20, 2022

I would love to know what this guy says shortly after this missile launches. I can’t stop matching this thing. Somehow … so satisfying.

Made in Russia

— ТРУХА⚡️English (@TpyxaNews) July 22, 2022

Showing Josh Hawley how it’s done.

#Ukraine: Russian troops rapidly abandoning their tank after it was shelled by the 93rd Mechanized Brigade of Ukraine in the vicinity of Izium, #Kharkiv Oblast.

— 🇺🇦 Ukraine Weapons Tracker (@UAWeapons) July 23, 2022

And finally, the musical part of our program. Please stick with this one at least 30 seconds until you can see the expansive, enthusiastic audience. 

The Russians sure knows how to throw a party, the crowd looks enthusiastic. “A concert program was prepared for the military, consisting of original arrangements of songs of the war years and modern patriotic compositions.”

— Def Mon (@DefMon3) July 22, 2022

Sunday, Jul 24, 2022 · 2:56:58 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Reports that Yaremivka (яремовка) and Studenok (студенок) on either sides of the Siverskyi Donets River between Izyum and Slovyansk have been abandoned by Russian forces who packed up and left  no idea if this has any implications  

“…сегодня утром орки и их пособники уехали из… Грузили на грузовики всё, что видели, ковры, технику, вещи, и драпали” Из тг-чатиков

— IgorGirkin (@GirkinGirkin) July 24, 2022

Sunday, Jul 24, 2022 · 3:00:21 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Multiple reports that Russia has people out there on Sunday trying to patch the damaged bridges. If there is a top 10 “jobs I don’t want to do today…” 

Russian occupiers try to repair bridges in Kherson Obl damaged by 🇺🇦HIMARS strikes- Kherson Obl Council deputy Sobolevskyi Specialists were forced to work & repairs are fast-tracked, meaning safety may suffer.

— Euromaidan Press (@EuromaidanPress) July 24, 2022

Sunday, Jul 24, 2022 · 6:13:06 PM +00:00

Mark Sumner

This is reportedly the results of a Ukrainian strike on a Russian base in Chulakivk, which is on that spit of land that juts back to the west beneath Kherson. According to the tweet, “it is no longer there.”

День перестає бути томним… У Чулаківці на Херсонщині у рашистів була база. По ходу її вже нема💥🔥

— Північний Українець (@WarSvitla) July 24, 2022

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