June 25 — Day 122 — Missile madness, Plague propaganda, Rail ties

Hi FB,

The big news today is pretty obvious: early this morning the Russians launched somewhere between 40 and 60 cruise and ballistic missiles against targets all across Ukraine. It seems like a lot of them came from Belarus, and a substantial portion of those were air launched from bombers. It seems like military sites were targeted, more or less, but as always lots of civilian targets were hit as well. The Ukrainians aren’t saying much about what was hit.

I assume what is going on is that Russia is posturing and demonstrating no, it hasn’t run out of long-range guided missiles, plus maybe they were taking advantage of the Ukrainians’ having relaxed, because they had concluded the Russians couldn’t put together any massed missile strikes.

According to Defense Ministry spokesman Mihailo Podolyak, it was 48 Russian cruise missiles, of which 20 were fired from Belarusian airspace. One of the sites hit was the Desna natural park (wetlands, forest) in the Chernihiv region. Allegedly only civilian stuff there. Images of the type of jet used and a monument in Desna park after a missile hit it.

Stock image of Russian bomber that carriers missiles
Desna park, hit by RF missiles

According to a compilation by the Unian news agency, this was a “record number”of missiles over a 24 hour period. “Close to” 30 missiles were launched in the Zhytomyr region, of which 10 were shot down. Eight hit in the Kyiv region, two in the Khmelnytsky region, and 20 hit Desna in the Chernigiv region. Another six missiles were fired at the Yavoriv training area in the Lviv region; Ukrainian Armed Forces (UAF) anti-aircraft shot two of them down.This last was confirmed by head of Lviv region.

A statement from the Ukrainian air force said that the missiles were Kh-22 and Onyx (almost) hypersonic missiles, and Iksander ballistic missiles. It’s not clear if there were any other types of missiles besides that. That the UAF was able to shoot any of them, the statement said, is an achievement: Ukraine’s air defense network, limited as it is, is designed to deal with aircraft and slow-flying cruise missiles.

The fighting

Donbas -

Today basically confirmed yesterday’s big new: the UAF has withdrawn from Severodonetsk, Hirske and Zolote, and all sources seem to agree it was a retreat in good order. Even the pro-Russia news platforms are silent about masses of prisoners, captured equipment and piles of corpses and so forth which they normally crow about after a big territorial gain. The impression I get is that, in general, the UAF exacted a pretty serious price in blood and then fell back to prepared positions, but, now there is a bit less distance between the RF forces, and the UAF supply lines.

I’m including an excellent image of UAF soldiers shortly after they evacuated Sevrodonetsk.

Just off the line, vicinity Severodonetsk

For the record, a Pentagon spokesman yesterday effectively said the same thing: the UAF remains a coherent force in Donbas and if the RF wants more ground they will have to fight for it.

Both sides said now the focus of the fighting will shift to Lysychansk. The UAF said today they repelled an assault against the city, the Russian propaganda platforms said the first assaults are now taking place.

South -

The Ukraine Army General Staff reported UAF units repelled an RF attack. Otherwise, as yesterday, both sides were pretty much silent on developments in this sector. Reportedly there was some moderate UAF movement to the south of Kryvyi Rih, heading south towards the Dnipro. Map attached.

Area of alleged UAF advances in the south

Behind the lines:

Major food shortages reported in Mariupol, this due to people returning to the city from outlying villages, and a failed food distribution network. Images attached.

Big lines for food reported in Mariupol
Reportedly, people in Mariupol can stand in line for hours to get food.

Also, the poster partisans struck “somewhere in Crimea”, supposedly. Image attached.

Gas platforms — that was just the beginning. Later — More. The picture is of the Kerch bridge, a target whose destruction Ukrainian strategists enjoy discussing.

In the RF:

Musical Generals — We have more command shuffling in the Russian Army. According to multiple sources apparently starting with the British Defense Ministery, the Russian High Command “likely” removed Commander of the Airborne Forces, Colonel General Andrey Serdyukov, and Commander of the Southern Group of Forces, General of the Army Alexander Dvornikov, from key operational roles in the war in Ukraine. Allegedly, Colonel General Sergei Surovikin — In 1991, he led a column that crushed people in Moscow, and in 2014 he sent tanks to the Donbass — will get Dvornikov’s job. Serdyukov’s place will be taken by Alexander Lapin. He is, reportedly, best known for giving his son a medal in the early days of the war for capturing Chernihiv. Image attached.

The guys on top are sacked, the guys on the bottom are hired

Best propaganda yet — Komsomolskaya Pravda and the Russian Ministry of Defense came out with a report that Kyiv is using its evil NATO artillery in the southern sector to bombard 19th century graveyards, which simultaneously prevents local residents from paying respects to their departed relatives, and, is perniciously creating a biological hazard because the relatives died from the plague, and with the graves churned up a pestilence walking the steppe more than a century ago, now threatens the living. You really have to give these people credit for imagination, but again, if you are reading Russian media and trying to develop situation awareness, you have more free time than I do. Image attached.

Russian propaganda at its best: the Ukrainians are shelling cemeteries in order to infect their own population with bubonic plague

Logistics:

A minor news item that could have some big implications: Ukraine and Moldova will resume railway communications, bypassing (Russian Imperial and Soviet rail lines) passing through Transnistria. According to the regional trade site Ark Inform: “Cargoes will be transported by the railway section Berezine (Ukraine) — Basarabeasca (Moldova). Thus, Moldova will be able to transship goods through the port of Izmail, located on the Danube, reducing congestion in the port of Reni. At the same time, through this section of the railway, Ukraine will be able to export goods to Moldova and the EU.” Image of a rail line attached.

Unused rail line, no particular place

The kicker is that for the rail link to work, the Russian missiles will have to be kept away from rail bridges leading to Basarabeasca. Difficult, but technically possible. With a NATO air overwatch piece of cake, but of course NATO seems to want to do things the hard way when it comes to helping Ukraine.

Stuff for Ukraine:

Podolak offered some more details on HIMARS systems supplied to Ukraine. The missiles have a max 70 km range, and although munitions are on hand many, many more are needed. The Americans will ultimately donate eight systems, and the British 3.

Finally — I’ve attached a circle chart originating in Russia that analyzes the Russian geopolitical process, in my opinion fairly succinctly.

Starting at the top and working clockwise: We are the smartest of all!, Demonstrative rejection of western values, Self-confidence increases, We decide to fight a war, Destitution and crappy life, We see, how well people live in the West and we are envious, The government is change, Destitution and crappy life, Life starts to get better, We are the smartest of all! etc. etc.

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