More from the ETO today:
· The ISW assessrep for 22 March 2022.
o ISW report states that UA forces are conducting several counter attacks around Kyiv. If OSINT from Twitter is to believed, and so far there have been a great deal of reliable sources, the Ukrainians have actually surrounded several Russian formations in Bucha, Hostomel and Irpin! One unit that is potentially surrounded is the 31st Guards Air Assault Brigade (aka paratroopers). Now U.S. paratroopers are used to being surrounded, and they even get revel in the idea; at the moment, I don’t think Russian paratroopers are feeling the same way.
o John K beat me to the punch in sending out the Atlantic article, “Why Can’t the West Admit That Ukraine Is Winning?” But… it is time to admit that Ukraine is now in the position of being able to recapture a significant chunk of its territory.
o With the Russian Army crumbling and leaderless, the question is now whether Ukraine can restore its pre-invasion territory and whether it will push to liberate Crimea, Luhansk and Donetsk. The risk in recapturing Crimea is that it is a significant flashpoint for Russian mania. Outside of Moscow, the Kaliningrad enclave and Crimea are two key centers of gravity in their strategic thinking because both are critical to Russia’s access to warm water ports. Recapturing Luhansk and Donetsk is unlikely to cause the same level of alarm, but they would still be significant in giving Putin a well-deserved black eye.
o That said, threatening the 2014 gains to which Putin claims legal ownership may be seen as an “invasion” of Russia itself and could be the trigger for testing the West’s “red lines” with chems, nukes and/or bugs. With the Russian Army flopping like a dying fish, Putin may feel that he has no other options to prevent the roll-back of his ill-gotten 2014 gains.
o On a separate note, Russia is leaving a lot of its toys laying around and Ukrainians are picking up after them. Aside from tanks, Ukraine is also capturing Russian EW ensembles and this will be a gold mine for western intelligence.
o Speaking of Russian “technological marvels” laying around the battlefield, the Russian prototype T-80UM2 was destroyed about a week ago. This is believed to be the progenitor of the “Black Eagle” project and the test bed for Russian APS systems…. and in a twist of irony, it is highly likely that it got killed by a missile.
· The Ruble to USD exchange rate is currently 100:1. This represents a slight strengthening of the ruble which has now recovered about half of its pre-war value. This likely means that with Putin’s early preparations to insulate the Russian economy from the effects of sanctions, and Chinese and India support, Russia’s economy is unlikely to spiral out of control in the near-term. In other words, the West’s tut-tutting and sanctions are not having the desired effect of putting pressure on the Tsar to end the war.
· Rumblings of a plot against Putin continue to swirl around the Internets. It is certainly plausible the Tsar has built up enough resentment by sacking generals and arresting FSB officials to stoke the flames of an ouster. It certainly would not be the first time this has happened in Russian history either. It is also entirely possible that these reports, which were leaked by Ukrainian intelligence, are meant to inflame the hate and discontent the oligarchs are feeling for being deprived of their yachts.
· Speaking of coup attempts, there is no further evidence to suggest that there is or was an attempt against Belarussian President Lukashenko.
~Eric (Token Army Guy)