Russia/Ukraine INTREPs1–2 28FEB22; 0038–2141
[Originally posted on author’s Facebook page; post is publicly available.]
1.) Unconfirmed reporting suggests that the 25th Sevastopol Brigade was “completely annihilated,” and it’s commander was killed, during RU’s continued attacks on Kharkiv. I want to stress that this is not confirmed, but if true would represent significant losses for Russian forces IVO Kharkiv. I’m somewhat skeptical that the brigade was annihilated, as such verbiage is usually an exaggeration.
2.) Politico reports that the Pentagon wants a back-channel with Moscow in order to avoid the risk of nuclear escalation. If this happens, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Mark Milley will likely have to be in contact with his counterpart, Russian General Valery Gerasimov, with whom Milley evidently has good relations. This will probably take place behind the scenes, and may prove critical in the near term. There’s a long history of direct communications, post-Cuban Missile Crisis in 1963, designed to avert an unintended conflict using nuclear arms.
3.) Ruble is at an all time low, trading at 117.62 rubles per dollar as Russia’s currency collapses; estimates measure Russian inflation presently at 69.4%/year. The ruble has lost more than 40% of its value in about a month and change. The Russian stock exchange will not open until 1500 Moscow time, likely in an attempt to limit trading so that their markets don’t continue their free fall. Sanctions as well as Russia’s geopolitical isolation are going to devastate its economy. And it seems to be happening far faster than I expected.
4.) The US has approved direct delivery of the FIM-92 Stinger missile to Ukraine as part of the relief package approved on Friday.
5.) Aeroflot Flight 111 from Miami to Sheremetyevo International Airport violated Canadian airspace, according to the Flight Aware website. The track seems to have made no effort to avoid Canada. In response, Transport Canada stated, “We are aware that Aeroflot flight 111 violated the prohibition put in place earlier today on Russian flights using Canadian airspace. We are launching a review. We will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action and other measures to prevent future violations.” Subsequent violations of airspace, accidental or otherwise, could get ugly.
6.) No good reporting yet on the status of the resumption of hostilities IVO Kyiv. Hopefully more news in the morning.
Admin Note: Tomorrow’s morning update may be delayed. Unlike the Russians, I have good logistics and need to get new brakes installed.
Light on analysis tonight. We’ll be back at it at full power tomorrow, rest assured. Puns assured, too, I might add.
1.) The meeting between UA/RU in Belarus seems to have yielded nothing of substance. The delegations are, supposedly, going to renew talks. UA sent the Minister of Defense and other top officials. RU sent, as the leader of the talks, Putin’s adviser on culture. This seems to give a good indication of how serious Russia was about this meeting. Zelenskyy stated that the increase in shelling during the meeting was aimed at forcing him to make concessions. As previously assessed, Putin is not coming to these talks in good faith and likely has no interest in anything other than regime change in UA.
2.) The much-discussed Russian convoy continues to mass near Kyiv. It has no apparently security and is now stretched forty miles in length (breaks in between some sections) from Prybirs’k to the Antonov airfield northeast of Kyiv. Imagery from Maxar shows portions of this convoy has vehicles almost bumper to bumper, with plenty of transport trucks. In another section, it appears that some structures, likely homes, along the route are on fire. I can only speculate as to why. That said, a UA TB2 drone struck a Russian military train carrying fuel, as reported by Oryx. Good effect on target was observed. Explosions and fire. If the Russians are suffering from fuel shortages in theater, this will only exacerbate the issue.
3.) Reports are that some Telegram channels are stating that Mariupol is occupied by RU forces, but it’s prudent to wait for some confirmation. Telegram channels are rife with misinformation. However, multiple videos of Ukrainian civilians in Berdyans’k confronting Russian troops in the city, so at this time it’s plausible. I will have to look into this, and I suspect it will become more clear soon. However, this is not a good sign for any future pacification measures. I expect that similar events will transpire in any large population center that Russian forces happen to occupy.
4.) Moscow says the countries sending military equipment to Ukraine will be responsible if they are used against Russian forces. We’ve discussed these considerations in previous posts — how will NATO/Western nations send equipment to and equip UA forces actively engaged with RU forces? With recent reports of Russian strategic bomber assets being threatened to interdict Western resupply, it’s possible that things might come to a head in the coming days.
4.a.) The AP reports that “…the Kremlin has raised the specter of nuclear war, announcing that its nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missiles, submarines and long-range bombers had all been put on high alert, following President Vladimir Putin’s orders of the weekend.” The Pentagon Press Secretary stats that “We believe it is as unnecessary as it is escalatory.” Secretary of Defense says he’s “comfortable with the strategic deterrence posture of the United States.”
5.) Perhaps as many as 500,000 people have left Ukraine in the last few days. As logic might dictate, the majority have gone to Poland, Romania, and Hungary.
6.) The emergency meeting of the UN Security Council is only the eleventh such meeting since 1950. These types of meetings are not at all common.
7.) Finland, a non-NATO country, is reportedly sending to Ukraine 2,500 x assault rifles, 150,000 rounds of ammunition, 1,500 anti-tank weapons, and 70,000 food kits. BP and Shell have announced that they will be exiting all investments and joint-ventures with Russian oil and gas companies. Russia’s position on the world stage continues to shrink, with more and more countries either actively supporting Ukraine by sending equipment or enacting sanctions and the cessation of flights and other actions against Russia.
8.) A Russian propaganda vehicle in Bucha was recorded while broadcasting something over a loudspeaker. Right before an “irregular Ukrainian soldier” creeped from the bushes nearby and fired what looks like some form of RPG at the vehicle. I heard both the RPG fire and the subsequent impact on said vehicle. At that time, it ceased its broadcast. Subsequent pictures confirmed its inoperability.
More soon. Thanks for reading.