The regiment’s commander, Colonel Sergey Sukharev, was also confirmed as killed during the fierce battle that raged near Kyiv on March 17, according to local reports. Reports claim that the Russian 331st Guards Airborne Regiment was destroyed after coming under fire from Ukrainian forces. The regiment is part of the 98th Guard Airborne Division and had around 2000 soldiers along with over 200 armoured fighting vehicles.
Only one severely wounded Russian soldier is believed to have survived the battle and is being cared for by Ukrainian medics.
In addition, Ukrainian forces took up to 100 prisoners of war over the last few days of intense fighting.
Mykola Vorobiov, a research fellow at Johns Hopkins university, wrote: “Last night Russian troops were thrown back 60-70km from the capital Kyiv.Putin’s Costly Blunder
Belarus Insurgency Against Russia Catching Hold
Russian troops in the north of Ukraine are dependent upon vital supplies reaching them via the Belarusian railways. But as railway sabotage within Belarus picks up — and Russian supplies and supply routes are destroyed — Russian fighters are being caught short on the battlefield and being wiped out.
The BYPOL group, which consists of former security officers who support the opposition in Belarus, said on Tuesday that a series of sabotage actions had targeted the railway system in Belarus, disrupting the movement of military trains in the country.
“Belarusians, today our country is drawn into a criminal and bloody war with the fraternal Ukrainian people on the side of the aggressor – the Russian Federation,” wrote BYPOL in a Telegram message. “It is our duty and in our power to do real things to stop it, free ourselves from the occupation of Russian troops and restore the good name of our ancestors. ‘Rail war’ is the knowledge that we inherited, this is what we can do and what each of us can do.”Source
More on sabotage in Belarus:
Ukraine, with the help of Belarusian railway workers, have dealt a devastating blow to Vladimir Putin’s war plans. On Saturday, Belarusian railway workers carried out the “largest act of sabotage” on train lines leading into Ukraine, making it impossible for the Russians to resupply by train. This follows unverified reports of Ukraine battalions also blowing up train lines between Ukraine and Belarus.War Actions Spread to Belarus
Morale among Russian troops is sinking, as the invading army runs out of vital supplies in the midst of a bloody quagmire. Even Putin’s vaunted Guards, Paratroopers, and Spetsnaz are experiencing shocking losses which Putin could not have anticipated before giving the fatal order to invade.
Moscow’s assault on Ukraine seems to contradict what we had anticipated about how a future high-end conflict with Russia would unfold. Moscow’s vaunted information warfare capabilities have not served it well in light of the U.S. and European responses to Russian aggression. While there have been disagreements within and among Western governments and media circles over the conflict and how to deal with Russian tactics, there has not been the kind of internal disarray that many experts feared would occur.
Although information coming from Ukraine is often incomplete, it is clear—as the Director of National Intelligence recently observed—that the Russian military began operations with a defective plan, poorly trained forces, abysmal logistics, limited cyber operations, inadequate air support, insufficient precision munitions, and bad intelligence. What is particularly remarkable is that the Russian operation in Ukraine looks like a throwback to one by the Red Army of World War II. So too do the tactics which rely on frontal assaults, ponderous logistics, and extensive use of indirect fires.Real Clear Defense
This is Key: Russia’s Military Cannot Adapt to Changing Circumstances
…the Russian mid- and senior-level officer corps is being killed at a rate unseen in modern conflicts. These officers have been trained and educated, have held various lower levels of command to prepare them for higher responsibility and have years or decades of experience. These commanders were leading units that trained with a model of centralized, officer-directed leadership as opposed to the U.S. model of mission command, initiative and tactical execution by a strong and professional corps of noncommissioned officers (sergeants). In many ways, while history remembers the Eiseinhowers, Bradleys and Pattons, U.S. victory in World War II was achieved by sergeants and corporals who understood the mission’s intent and executed accordingly when communications were unreliable, when drop zones or beachheads proved to be incorrect or when commanders were killed. The Russian army cannot rely on the tenacity and adaptability of such junior leaders. They are losing the very leaders who could potentially exercise the decisions required to regain tactical and operational initiative and do not have a culture of quickly adapting to those losses.
On top of all of this, Russia has done little to overcome the much-reported logistical problems that have plagued them. Despite having months over the winter to stage forces and pre-position required stocks, Russia has proved incapable, in many cases, of maintaining a steady flow of fuel, food and ammunition a mere 60 miles from its own borders. Even if Russian combat arms units are capable of extending their progress further into Ukrainian territory, every mile of progress is another mile of vulnerable lines of communication that requires more fuel to move supplies and remains susceptible to attacks from the very capable Ukrainian special operations forces currently hunting Russian vehicles and armor along the country’s roads.
Even if Russia can develop a system to effectively move supplies throughout the Ukrainian theater of operations, it is not entirely clear that Russia has the supplies it needs on hand. The fact that Russia appears to be begging China for prepackaged meals to supply its forces in Ukraine isn’t a good sign for its forecasted quantities of basic items that would be essential to sustain the war. Meanwhile, Ukrainian forces seem to have an incredibly high ratio of anti-tank missiles per soldier and a steady supply of Western aid, both lethal and nonlethal, continuing to flow.
All this is to say the Russians have lost the initiative, and regaining it when battered, demoralized and increasingly frustrated at failed results takes an incredible amount of competence, focus, planning, synchronization and, potentially, national will. As of yet, there have been few to no indicators that the Russian military seems capable of achieving the majority of these goals.New Lines
Putin Lied About His Sanctions-Proofed Economy
For over ten years, Putin has said that he was prepared for any sanctions the west might impose. He boasted of import substitution measures and other sanctions-proofing policies that would make Russia immune from western sanctions.
… it was Europe that led the drive during the first week of war for tougher economic sanctions, culminating in an almost unprecedented freeze on Russia’s central bank reserves.
This was a level of sanctions escalation that Russian policymakers had never seriously contemplated. On its own, the move — grabbing control of around $300 billion worth of Russian foreign exchange reserves stashed in Western financial institutions — constituted the biggest bank heist in world history. The fact that these moves were multilateral meant that “de-dollarising” didn’t matter. The Euro, pound, and yen were no more accessible to the Kremlin. And it didn’t matter what payments system was used, Russian or otherwise, if a substantial chunk of the world economy simply refused to transact with you.
The Chinese — supposed allies in “sanctions-proofing” — were no less shocked than the Russians by this display of financial firepower. China has already announced that it is cutting off certain Russian industries under special sanctions, such as aviation. China’s banks, meanwhile, continue to undertake some non-sanctioned transactions with Russia, but according to reports they are broadly following the West’s lead. The Moscow–Beijing entente is more a marriage of convenience than a sanctions-busting partnership.Sanctions Bite
What Supplies Do Ukrainians Really Need to Repel the Brutal Invasion?
- Air-defense assets. Ukraine’s success in denying Russia air superiority has been much more due to ground-based air-defense assets than fighter aircraft. The Soviet-built S-300 SAM has been highly effective in the war so far. The mobile, long-range system continues to inflict losses on the Russian Air Force three weeks into the conflict. Three NATO nations—Bulgaria, Greece, and Slovakia—operate the S-300. The transfer of these systems, which Ukrainian forces know well, would complement low-altitude MANPADS such as Stingers and provide a potent anti-air capability that would have a much more significant effect in preventing Russian air superiority than additional MiG-29s. Reports on Wednesday indicated that the United States and NATO allies are now sending more S-300s.
- Counter-fire capabilities. Russia’s failure to develop localized air superiority has prevented it from leveraging its numerical and technological superiority in the air to fully support its ground invasion. The preponderance of death and destruction, however, is from ground fires such as MLRS, long-range artillery, and mortars. The best means to reduce the rate of fire and destruction from these systems is through counter-fire against enemy weapons. Counter-fire is based around the ability to find a ground-based system that is firing and then quickly return accurate fire to disable or destroy that system. The United States has previously provided counter-fire radars (known as counter-battery radars) to Ukraine, sending two advanced AN/TPQ-30 counter-battery radars to Ukraine in 2019. More of these radars, which Ukraine already knows how to operate, would be helpful in identifying and locating Russia’s ground-based systems that are wreaking havoc on Ukrainian cities. Well before the conflict, Ukraine began building its own MLRS, a derivative of the Soviet-designed BM-30 system that the Ukrainians call the Vilkha-M, which is compatible with AN/TPQ-30 radars the United States has already delivered.
- UAVs and drones. Ukraine has released dozens of videos of the Turkish-built TB2 Bayraktar destroying Russian armored vehicles and air-defense systems. The TB2 can be used to collect battlefield intelligence and destroy targets with precision-guided weapons. Ukraine’s defense minister said this month that Turkey delivered more Bayraktars to Ukraine. Additional TB2s will help blunt the Russian armored advance in the north and continue to inflict significant losses on Russian combat vehicles. Also, there was an unconfirmed report over the weekend that the United States had sent Switchblade-300 “kamikaze” drones to Ukraine. While the report was unsourced and may not be accurate, the concept is sound. Ukraine could use hundreds of kamikaze or suicide drones to destroy Russian armor. Supplying Ukraine with a “high/low” mix of advanced UAVs and rudimentary lethal drones would ensure it continues to inflict huge and unsustainable losses on Russian armor and air-defense systems. The White House announced Wednesday that it will send an additional one hundred “tactical” UAVs to Ukraine.
- NSM. The Norwegian NSM can be used to disrupt the Russians’ naval supremacy in the Black Sea and negate the advantage it has given them on their southern axis of advance. The Polish Navy currently has two Coastal Anti-Ship Missile Divisions each equipped with twelve land-based NSMs. This is the ideal variant of the system to be employed in the defense of Odesa. If Poland is willing to provide several NSMs to Ukraine, the Polish military could train the Ukrainians in Poland before delivering the missiles to Odesa.
Besides the anti-aircraft missiles, drones, and anti-tank missiles, Ukraine needs counter-battery radar and counter-fire capacity to rapidly knock out Russian artillery and rocket batteries. In addition, anti-ship missiles are needed to knock out the Russian Black Sea fleet.
It should be noted that since Russia is the brutal invader and perpetrator of mass genocide against civilians, no amount of brutality against Putin’s forces should be considered excessive. Parenthetically, no amount of brutality against Putin himself should be considered excessive.
What does stalemate mean in the context of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine?
What does it mean that Russia is losing so many top commanders and generals?
Note: The destroyed Russian 331st Guards Paratrooper Regiment is believed to have participated in an August 2014 massacre of Ukrainian troops at the Battle of Ilovaisk, where the Russians first guaranteed safe passage for retreating Ukrainian fighters, then went back on their word and ambushed and massacred about 1000 men. Source
Ukrainians have long memories for the many atrocities committed by Russians against them over the past many centuries. Putin’s ongoing genocide provides even more motivation, although it isn’t truly needed.
Additional info on Belarus railway sabotage
“Belarusian partisans have been sabotaging signals, switches and other equipment to disrupt the delivery of #Russian military hardware by rail to the borders of #Ukraine.” More
The Ukrainians are fighting for the existence of their country, and recent polling suggests Ukrainian resolve to fight on has only solidified with more Russian attacks against civilians. The Russians, however, are racing against a clock that will run out when they can no longer supply their forces, mobilize fighting formations, or when the domestic population or security apparatus is no longer willing to support the human and material costs of continuing the war. NewLines
….the Russian state faces a deep economic crisis. The ruble has slumped and prices are rising. Unemployment is set to spike as factory closures cause industrial bankruptcies. Living standards will fall far behind inflation, which will accelerate over the coming months. Foreign companies of all types, from BP to McDonald’s, are fleeing.
“I understand that rising prices are seriously hitting people’s incomes,” Putin admitted in a speech on Wednesday. What he didn’t say is that he has neither a plan, nor any resources, to deal with this. On the battlefields of Ukraine, Russian forces have demonstrated incompetent organisation and a horrible command of logistics. Despite much talk of “sanctions-proofing”, the Kremlin’s efforts to protect itself from economic warfare have been just as inept — and, for Russia, disastrous.AEI
Updated losses of the Russian Guards 331st
Back in Russia, those who knew the killed Russian soldiers want to remember them as heroes:
A woman who says she was the wife of Warrant Officer Sergei Lobachyov writes: “Seryozha, my most reliable, loving and caring husband. Now you are in heaven and you will protect us from there! You will always live in our hearts and you will forever be a real hero to me!”
On the memorial wall for Sergeant Sergei Duganov, one woman wrote: “Nobody knows anything. The 331st regiment is disappearing. Almost every day, photos of our Kostroma boys get published. It sends shivers down my spine. What’s happening? When will this end? When will people stop dying?”
“Our soldiers are real heroes. Russians have never killed civilians nor children, which is something you can’t say about Ukrainians.”Heavy Losses of Russia’s Elite
But Russia’s forces are killing civilians, and not in heroic fashion at all. One must wonder if Russia has any true heroes left. If so, there is no evidence of it in Putin’s war on Ukraine. Russia has earned the undying hatred of its victims and of the witnesses to this brutal unprovoked war on a peaceful sovereign nation.
Your site is generally interesting and well done. Thank you. In the past 1-2 months, the anti-Russia focus seems out of character. Seems heavily influenced by Peter Zeihan who seems heavily influenced by a specific nation state. I recommend a more nuanced, balanced approach vs. depending on a propaganda approach.
Thank you for the comment.
I have my own reasons for a healthy skepticism of many of Peter Zeihan’s ideas. I will discuss some of them in the future. No one is without flaw, and we tend to accept a large number of serious flaws in particular persons as long as they remain a reliable source of something of significant value.
The “anti-Russia focus” of this blog comes from a long study of Russian history, from the ancient to the contemporary. Zeihan is neither here nor there in any significant sense. For a quick catch-up on Russia’s contemporary governing elites and the things that have brought them to the current impasse, I suggest the book “Putin’s People” by Catherine Belton. Shining a light of facts on what has been intentionally obscured will help most independent thinkers to shift their perspectives.
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