Russia has executed a number of standoff missile strikes on petroleum storage areas and facilities in the western and central part of the country that support Ukraine's ability to sustain a conflict over an extended period of time. These include air defense weapons storage and overhaul facilities. Both target sets aim to make sustaining the level of warfighting available to Ukraine today an issue in the future.
At the same time, Ukrainian intelligence is warning that Russia may attempt to bifurcate the country. This is could very well be part of a pivot to a less ambitious strategy that Moscow is framing as their original intent, which is a lie.
Still, this makes sense as trying to secure a large part of Donbas, or more realistically from the Dnipro River to the south to somewhere east of the Vorskla River to the north, is a far more attainable goal than taking the entire country or even half of it. This would be sold by Putin as a measure to provide security to the newly-recognized (by Russia) 'republics' of Donetsk and Lugansk in Ukraine's far east, but it could possibly allow Russia to maintain a land bridge to Crimea and control every port on the Sea of Azov. These separatist republics may soon 'vote' to actually join the Russian Federation, which would give further pretext to such an operation.
Above all that, it would give Russia a major foothold to degrade, undermine, and outright attack Ukraine over the long haul. It would also be better situated than ever to launch a new invasion of more territory to the west in the future under such a setup.
We set laid this out as one of Russia's possible courses of action prior to the invasion. Of course, there is some international precedent to this type of situation, as well. North and South Korea, for instance, and most importantly, East and West Germany — the latter of which Putin has personal experience with.
Now let's move on to the other developments:
There are some very concerning POW videos going around showing extremely poor treatment of Russian soldiers at the hands of Ukrainian troops. Some of the videos are unconfirmed and could be faked. Still, the Ukrainian government is apparently taking action now over this, which is a good sign.
More videos are now popping up of locally produced Ukrainian ATGMs in action, many of which were intended for export:
More Russian equipment now in Ukrainian hands — a fully loaded TOS-1A reloader:
We have been getting reports that impromptu 'chop shops' are ripping down Russian vehicles for their explosives and parts, while repurposing other vehicles and building up spares for those vehicles. This could turn into an important 'cottage industry' as this conflict wears on, especially if NATO does not supply additional armor to Ukraine. Lots of munitions captured can also be repurposed into roadside IEDs. As we repeatedly predicted, this is where this conflict is heading for Russia, sadly.
Interesting target, to say the least:
This is a good story on how foreign fighters who heed the call from Ukraine's government to come and fight on their behalf are being met with the realization that the country is nowhere near prepared to execute such a program. Just the lack of basic hardware — guns, ammo, helmets, armor, and so on — is glaring and makes the mission impossible for many. It also underlines how glamorous claims of major CIA and other foreign government's clandestine facilitation for these efforts, and even for training Ukraine's own militias, are not based in reality.
We will continue to update this post with more info as it comes.
Contact the author: Tyler@thedrive.com