Ukraine update: Russia wants the people who beat them last time to fight the people beating them now

Ukraine update: Russia wants the people who beat them last time to fight the people beating them now

In 1978, the communist People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan took over that country in what was called the Saur Revolution and immediately imposed a harsh crackdown on opponents and established one-party rule. The government they overthrew had taken power in 1973 in a coup and … immediately launched a harsh crackdown on opponents and established one-party rule. That government had ousted Afghanistan’s royal family and replaced the long-serving king with a president. A president who also happened to be the legislature, and the foreign minister, the chief of the army, and president-for-life, as well as a member of the ousted royal family. But not king.

Following that second revolt in 1978, forces loyal to the just-ousted coup government, and forces seeking a restoration of the royal family, and forces trying to turn back the clock to the 8th century Umayyad Caliphate, all put together makeshift armies and went to war in a round-robin of shifting alliances. 

By the spring of 1979, the PDPA government controlled only about half the country, and things had barely started getting messy. Because the PDPA itself was cracking up, splitting into two groups. What followed was a cascade of assassination and counter-assassination, purge and counter-purge; a heaping helping of good old bloody vengeance. This went on until, at last, a guy named Babrak Karmal—who had survived one round of purging by escaping to Prague and been saved from another assassination attempt by the KGB—ended up as General Secretary of Afghanistan on Christmas Eve … at the head of the invading Soviet Union 40th Army.

The driving factor behind Russia’s invasion was something called the Brezhnev Doctrine, which was sort of an inverse Truman Doctrine. The Truman Doctrine stated that the United States would provide assistance—both economic and military—to any democratic government in danger of being taken over by a non-Democratic government. Which basically translated into fighting communists. The Brezhnev Doctrine stated that any threat to a communist government was a threat to all and required that the Soviet Union intervene.

It was good old domino theory politics on both sides, with each trying to flip the dominos in their direction. When Reagan did a rebrand on the Truman Doctrine in the ‘80s, he specifically tied this to fighting any nation under threat from the Soviet Union, a clarification that was meant to underscore U.S. support for rebels fighting the Soviet invasion in Afghanistan … and to excuse some shenanigans involving a birthday cake, some missiles, and about a thousand felonies.

From the last days of 1979 until the early months of 1989, the Soviet Union tried its best to quash rebellion in Afghanistan and keep the PDPA in power. Their invasion put the Soviets on the receiving end of a truckload of international sanctions, including the U.S.-led boycott of the 1980 Moscow Olympics (sorry, Misha). It put the Afghan rebels on the receiving end of spotty support from the U.S. in terms of crates of weapons and mostly a cheery wish that they kill lots of Soviets. Over those ten years, the Soviets watched their men, tanks, and fortune all go up in flames in the deserts, mountains, and scrublands of Afghanistan as everyone—east and west—utterly failed to learn to learn a damn thing in spite of very painful lessons.

It was also ten years in which Soviet troops brutally raped thousands of Afghan women, butchered civilians wholesale and buried them in mass graves, set up torture chambers throughout the country, and engaged in massive looting. Presumably meaning that any washing machines left Afghanistan along with the Soviet troops in 1989. The Soviets also engaged in deliberate destruction of civilian infrastructure, including the irrigation systems that had made food production possible across a large area of Afghanistan. The crumbling cities and barren fields that we think of as characteristic of Afghanistan aren’t the nation the Soviets entered. It’s what they left in their wake.

The enormous expense of that failed war in Afghanistan was directly tied to the rise of reformist Mikhail Gorbachev and the end of the Soviet Union. It was also directly tied to the creation of al-Qaida, turning Osama bin Laden into a leader, and the fall of the twin towers. And for Afghanistan … let’s just say, no one won.

The Russian Federation would not be the Russian Federation if not for what happened in Afghanistan. In many ways, it’s the reversal of Afghanistan—the unmaking of those events—that Vladimir Putin has been trying to achieve through all his many invasions ever since. All of this means that these last nine paragraphs are just one very long, and hopefully ironic, introduction to this tweet.

New: Members of Afghanistan’s former elite army commando corps say they are being contacted with offers to join the Russian military to fight in Ukraine from @lynnekodonnell

— Robbie Gramer (@RobbieGramer) October 25, 2022

Many of those who are the targets of this Russian outreach are the same Afghan soldiers who fought with the U.S. to remove the Taliban government and install the short-lived Republic that seemingly beat U.S. forces to the planes in an effort to get out of Kabul. 

The rapid fall of the Afghanistan government and the failure of that government to engage in an effective defense against the Taliban has led to the impression that the members of the military there simply laid down their weapons and went home, or switched sides. But that’s really not the case. Not only were many of them highly effective as partners to the U.S. while U.S. forces were in Afghanistan over the last decade-plus, but those Afghan forces also engaged in some hard-fought and effective actions on their own. 

Somewhere north of 20,000 members of the Afghan National Army Commando Corps were left behind when the U.S. departed. These are the elite of the Afghan military, with U.S. training, familiarity with combined arms tactics, knowledge of U.S. systems, and long experience in fighting in harsh conditions.

Now, they are jobless and hopeless, many commandos still waiting for resettlement in the United States or Britain, making them easy targets for recruiters who understand the “band of brothers” mentality of highly skilled fighting men. This potentially makes them easy pickings for Russian recruiters, said Afghan security sources. A former senior Afghan security official, who requested anonymity, said their integration into the Russian military “would be a game-changer” on the Ukrainian battlefield, as Russian President Vladimir Putin struggles to recruit for his faltering war and is reportedly using the notorious mercenary Wagner Group to sign up prisoners.

Compared to either the prisoners being converted from new recruits to corpses in front of Bakhmut, or the “mobilized” conscripts now stumbling into bunkers all over Ukraine, these guys would be absolute Sardaukar. And the offers being waved in front of them are hard to resist for guys who are sitting in a country now ruled by their enemies, locked out of even the most menial job. 

If the U.S. wants to do something now that would be highly effective in saving lives and ending the war in Ukraine, without putting any U.S. boots on the ground, try this: Accelerate resettlement of these soldiers, who originally fought alongside U.S. forces, in the United States.

Absolutely no one in the U.S. should want to see members of the Afghan army fighting members of the Ukraine army in the service of Russia.

As you might guess from the prolonged ramble through history, I’m utterly lacking in Big Breaking News of new cities liberated and Russian forces sent packing.

The overnight news from Ukraine is replete with lots of “Ukrainian forces moving closer to Beryslav” posts in Telegram, but without any of the specificity to know if this means 10km closer, or 10cm. The level of “oh, I wish I could tell you what I know, but OpSec…” posts is enough to raise the Smugometer to 11. I can only hope these guys know what they’re talking about and that we’re soon to see some of these posts — a few of which even include videos of Ukrainian forces moving swiftly down dirt roads — translated into something that can actually be put on a map.

On the Russian side, more videos were supposed to show Ukrainian forces suffering huge setbacks, specifically in Kherson, and again it seems that those videos came from months ago and other places.

It’s safe to say that Ukraine has taken out several Russian ammunition and supply depots in the Kherson region using a combination of HIMARS, artillery, and drones. Also in Kherson, someone fired what appears to be an antitank weapon right in the middle of the city, blasting into an office of the occupation government. There continues to be a mixture of reports that Russia is either 1) abandoning positions or 2) sending in mobilized recruits to reinforce positions. Take your pick.

Up to the north, Ukraine is continuing to move toward Svatove, though many of the towns officially announced as liberated on Wednesday are actually ones that Ukraine has held for weeks, well away from the current lines. Meanwhile, Russian military bloggers seem to be afraid to post anything but the most flattering maps and posts, no matter how unrealistic. They’re probably thinking of WarGonzo’s missing toes. For a few weeks there, Russian Telegram posts had been some of the best information on what’s happening, but now it’s all back to stock repetitions of propaganda.

Two things worth noting this morning: Reports of artillery overnight and on Wednesday morning outside Rubizhne and reports that Russia has moved forces from Lysyschansk back to Severodonetsk. There were reports on Tuesday that Ukrainian forces were on the P66 highway north of Kreminna, and videos last week hinted that other Ukrainian forces had crossed the Siverskyi Donets near Bilohorivka. At least one of those videos on Tuesday ended with a Ukrainian soldier saying they were heading to Rubizhne. Maybe so. I’ll have an updated map of the area as soon as I hear anything definitive.

There have been a lot of videos of captured Russian equipment, both north and south, in the last two days that seem to be unconnected to earlier large advances. I don’t know where this stuff is coming from.

Another trophy 🏆

— NOËL 🇪🇺 🇺🇦 (@NOELreports) October 26, 2022

In the last two days, something like 90% of Russian missiles have reportedly been shot down. In part, that’s because of the German IRIS-T system gaining praise near Kyiv. But it may also have something to do with this…

Две батареи ПВО NASAMS от США уже в Украине, — гендиректор компании-производителя Raytheon Technologies Грег Хайес

— Харьков даст пи@ды рашистам! (@kharkiv_warnews) October 26, 2022

UPDATE: Wednesday, Oct 26, 2022 · 8:19:24 PM +00:00

Mark Sumner

Yesterday, there were all those posts hinting that something was happening in Kherson and that Ukrainian forces were “getting closer to Beryslav.”

Unfortunately, today the DeepState Telegram channel’s report on Tuesday action has just this to say about the Kherson area: “Attempts to attack the enemy failed.”

That doesn’t seem to leave a lot of room for “gee, I wonder how much closer to Beryslav they got?”

UPDATE: Wednesday, Oct 26, 2022 · 8:00:22 PM +00:00

Mark Sumner

Seeing reports that Ukraine has liberated Ploshchanka, which is east of Makiivka and (of course) exactly in between the two maps I’ve made today. But I’m not making another map until I get a bit of confirmation.

If true, this expands Ukraine’s area of control over the P66 highway between Svatove and Kreminna.

UPDATE: Wednesday, Oct 26, 2022 · 7:24:49 PM +00:00

Mark Sumner

Russia has lost just over one helicopter, on average, every day of the invasion. Today … is a day.

Russian Ka-52 helicopter shot down in Kherson Oblast

— Ukrainska Pravda in English (@pravda_eng) October 26, 2022

UPDATE: Wednesday, Oct 26, 2022 · 6:48:41 PM +00:00

Mark Sumner

More reports of a battle going on at the P66 highway north of Kreminna near the village of Chervonopopivka. This could be the source of the artillery noise being heard down at Rubiznhe, which is less than 20km away.

Fighting north of Kreminna as Ukraine moves to control the P66 highway at several locations.

UPDATE: Wednesday, Oct 26, 2022 · 6:41:24 PM +00:00

Mark Sumner

Lots of messages today about Ukrainian advances all up and down the line west of Svatove, from around Berestove in the north all the way down to Makiivka. Hoping to see some definitive results soon.

UPDATE: Wednesday, Oct 26, 2022 · 6:38:10 PM +00:00

Mark Sumner

More reports that weather is playing a big role in slowing down the counteroffensive — as kos speculated over the weekend. Ukraine has been able to move quickly by going around hardened locations. That often means needing to move over dirt roads or even through open fields. When those paths are made impassible, choke points along highways become easier to defend.

According to Ukrainian general staff, the offensive in Kherson has slowed down due to bad weather. We will see a lot more bad weather in the coming months and might not see any major movements in a while.

— Def Mon (@DefMon3) October 26, 2022

UPDATE: Wednesday, Oct 26, 2022 · 6:19:50 PM +00:00

Mark Sumner

The Ukrainian military claims to have destroyed or captured 17 tanks, 30 APVs, 12 artillery and 2 MLRS on Tuesday. Which certainly indicates that something big is underway somewhere. Maybe this…

Kherson-Svatove The AFU repulsed an attack in the area of Ternova. I have been told RuAF are trying to attack with tanks north of Svatove, this might explain the high number of reported destroyed tanks by GSUA the last two days. I think they reported almost 40 tanks destroyed.

— Def Mon (@DefMon3) October 26, 2022

UPDATE: Wednesday, Oct 26, 2022 · 5:55:43 PM +00:00

Mark Sumner

Ukrainian forces cleared Russian troops from Nevske after the area was pushed back into dispute two weeks ago, but boy, look at the sad condition of this place after being taken by Russia at least twice. This video is likely from last week. Ukraine has slowly been confirming the liberation of towns north of Lyman, often days or weeks after Russia was really kicked out.

Video appeared of Ukrainian Warriors raising a Ukrainian flag over Nevske village in Luhansk region. Glory to our Defenders! 🎥 Special Operations Forces of Ukraine

— Anton Gerashchenko (@Gerashchenko_en) October 26, 2022

UPDATE: Wednesday, Oct 26, 2022 · 5:42:18 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Despite the image in this tweet, the rumor going around about Israel’s Smart Shooter providing systems to Ukraine has nothing to do with automatic rifles mounted on drones.

Ukraine received Smart Shooter systems from Israel to intercept Iranian drones installed on UAVs to fight against Iranian drones

— ТРУХА⚡️English (@TpyxaNews) October 26, 2022

It’s actually about automatic rifles that can shoot down drones. Smart shooter markets a “fire control system for small arms.” Reportedly, you can lock onto a target and the system will keep the rifle locked on, even if the shooter or the target moves. How? I do not know.

Smart Shooter is marketing it as “one shot, one kill” against drones. 

UPDATE: Wednesday, Oct 26, 2022 · 5:36:24 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Russian military continuing to spread the dirty bomb story. Really difficult to figure out what the purpose of this mythology is.

Russia created another fabrication regarding the “dirty bomb” false flag operation. They used pictures of the Slovenian nuclear disposal site and claimed that it is Ukrainian. The Slovenian response was swift and clear: Russian lie.#Ukraine #Russia #Slovenia

— (((Tendar))) (@Tendar) October 26, 2022

UPDATE: Wednesday, Oct 26, 2022 · 5:18:10 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Telegram channels related to LPR forces—the supposedly independent Russian occupied area of Luhansk—are reporting fighting near both Svatove and Kreminna with “sad results” for the Russian side.  

UPDATE: Wednesday, Oct 26, 2022 · 5:14:30 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

There are reports this morning that Ukraine is moving closer to Svatove. On Tuesday, fighting was happening between Kovalivka and Nezhuryne. Now that fighting appears to be east of Nezhuryne, approaching the P66 highway. That puts the combat within about 4km of Svatove. It also means that Ukrainian forces have reached a position where they can fire down into the city.

Fighting has moved closed to Svatove. Open in another tab for a closer look.

Additional fighting is reportedly happening to the north, about 11km away near Kuzemivka.

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