From Jamie Peipon: The news is varied and hard to verify. Most of the details are fuzzy as operational security is such a high priority on the battlefield. The general sense of the news is that Ukraine is doing well, and Russian soldiers are a bit panicky. In the picture above, you can see a screenshot from a video taken by a Ukrainian soldier. He comments that he’s going to put his can of soup “into the microwave” before walking over to a destroyed (and still smoking) Russian armored personnel carrier and putting his soup in the coals. In general, confidence within the ranks of the Ukrainian Armed Forces is high. It seems that they are still making progress, but they are not outrunning their supply lines despite their eagerness to rid their land of the Russian horde.
The Russian army’s confidence however… not so much. A senior US defense official has been quoted as saying that following Ukraine’s impressive counteroffensive in the Kharkiv oblast, many Russian volunteers have started to refuse to fight. The infamous paramilitary organization known as the Wagner Group has been recruiting by offering freedom to convicted felons in the Russian prison system. Apparently, many of the felons are also refusing. It probably tells you all you need to know about Russian morale when convicted felons in a Russian prison (which I’m sure are just lovely facilities) prefer staying put to fighting for freedom.
It isn’t just the will to fight that is a problem for Russia. Based on many reports, there is also a complete lack of discipline. A report today has been circulating saying that one Russian brigade accidentally fired on another Russian brigade. The friendly fire escalated until 21 Russian soldiers were killed and 53 were wounded.
In an effort to gain back some momentum, the Luhansk civic chamber has now called for an “immediate” referendum on the topic of joining the Russian Federation. Luhansk is the only oblast that Russia has occupied in its entirety. The goal of bringing the Luhansk oblast into the Russian federation seems mostly to be a way of trying to consolidate the apparent gains. Some also speculate that once it is “officially” (only according to Russia) part of the Russian Federation that they will have the right to defend that territory by any means necessary. This doesn’t seem likely to me as they pushed a similar referendum on Crimea eight years ago and there has been no special response to the attacks that have fallen on Russian targets in that region.
Russian propaganda TV is also in a state of disarray. They’ve been bragging about how much more powerful they are than any other army for months, even years. Now they’re having trouble denying that they’ve lost territory and if they say that Ukraine and the west are weak, it only makes Russia look worse. Their news talk shows all seem confused about what the proper script should be. Another shocking statement came from Russian pop star Alla Pugacheva. Alla is the matriarch of pop music. She’s 73 and is basically Whitney Houston, Barbara Streisand, and Madonna rolled into one person. She is an extremely famous household name and posted on her social media that she is “a patriot of Russia and wants the motherland to flourish, a peaceful life, freedom of speech, and an end to the deaths of our boys for illusory aims that make our country a pariah and weigh down the lives of its citizens.” The chorus of people speaking out against the war in Russia is (very slowly) growing louder.
But Russia’s arm is still long. Vladimir Osechkin is the founder of an anti-corruption and torture website in Russia. He has been hiding out in France. He was reportedly carrying some dishes into the dining room to feed his kids when he saw a red dot on the wall moving towards him. Based on a tip from another investigative journalist, French authorities are now investigating the incident as an assassination attempt by a Russian FSB (read: KGB) officer.
“Blessed is the man who makes
the LORD his trust,
who does not turn to the proud,
to those who go astray after a lie!”