By Nightvision for the Saker Blog
Firstly, the biggest news at the forefront is that the Mariupol situation appears to be nearing a possible conclusion. We reported last time that one prominent source said Azovstal would be fully resolved by 4/30 (today), while Sladkov said days ago that Azov had about 9 days of food left, which by now would put them at maybe 6 days or less, by those estimations.
We also reported that negotiators had arrived and were settling in to the small villages around Mariupol. Now today there is a large, full blown UN / Red Cross operation under way to evacuate the civilians in the Azovstal factory.
Now as many have seen a family was the first to leave the Azovstal factory yesterday, and now today it’s being reported by Novosti that 25 people have been released, including 6 children. The interesting thing is that the first family released said there were “70+ others” left in the bunkers, though I’m unclear if they meant 70 people or 70 families (presuming it’s total people). This is in stark contrast to Azov’s claim that over ‘1000’ civilians were hiding beneath the factory. It’s clear that Azov likely lied to inflate the numbers for obvious reasons.
With the UN and Redcross involved, it’s unclear what the terms of the current negotiations are. Here’s one report:
“In Bezymenny (Novoazvsky district of the DPR), negotiations are underway regarding the evacuation of civilians from the territory of Azostal. Representatives of the UN and the IWC are participating.
Earlier, the Kremlin has already outlined its position on these negotiations – the evacuation of civilians can be easily carried out, the main obstacles to the evacuation are the Nazis themselves, who do not want to let go of the human shield.
Nobody is going to let the Nazis go, there will be no humanitarian corridors for them.
The only chance for them is to surrender.”
You can see dozens of evacuation buses there: https://twitter.com/uasupport999/status/1520465607422091264
A rough calculation of ~30 buses, with maybe ~30-50 people per bus could be enough for over 1000+ people, so either the original Azov civilian estimates were right OR the UN is really hoping to evacuate their Azov terrorists as well. At the moment Azov is pleading to at least evacuate the wounded and the wives/families of trapped Azov have been rallying now for the release of their militants along with the civilians as well:
Anything could happen but there’s a chance that the entire Azovstal saga could end in the next day or two. The plant appears surrounded as Russian forces have captured everything but the main complex where they’re all hiding, and though the remaining Azov/marine militants are said to be numbered in the 2000 range, upwards of 600+ or more of them are said to be wounded or incapacitated.
Head of the DPR Denis Pushilin believes it will all end very soon. He has stated: ‘“Very soon, I really count on it, the situation with Azovstal in Mariupol will be completed, and we will see a large number of mercenaries there,”– he said on the air of Channel One.’
Pushilin also announced large construction sites in Mariupol will start as soon as Azovstal is done, and DPR spokesman Basurin said that a park in memory of those killed in Mariupol might be laid out on the site of the former Azovstal factory complex.
Though videos still come out showing some Mariupol fighting, we were told that most of them are as much as 10 days old due to the timed release method of information so that the enemy does not see current RF troop movements, so the fighting likely has already ended, though Azov/Arestovich still claim that their fighters conduct “sorties” above ground “when they are able to” – whatever that means.
With that said, one amusing video was released of close quarter fighting which shows Russian marines storming a building while attempting to communicate with some of the foreign mercenaries trapped there in both English and French:
And on the topic of mercenaries, there’s been a deluge of new updates.
Not only was another British merc named Andrew Hill captured and interrogated:
But the first American mercenary death was announced:
While Russia also captured two British NGO workers near Zaporizhzhia:
And British press is now reporting on the death of Scott Sibley, a mercenary we reported on last time:
Also, there was one unconfirmed report that said:
“#IMPORTANT Russian Spetsnaz unit in #Kherson captured 2 Russian-speaking British #SAS operatives on April 21, after a leak of their position from #Kiev. They were conducting recon for #London (these are not mercenaries). Leak suspected from #Zelensky’s office or #Ukrainian MFA.”
This is not unbelievable as we’ve already reported last time that SAS is openly working in Kiev and elsewhere.
A Georgian mercenary fighting for Azov was not so fortunate.
His before and after:
And a Danish mercenary was reported killed
“When luck refused the “soldier of fortune” , a 25-year-old Danish mercenary died in Ukraine, where he fought as part of a foreign legion. It happened in Nikolaev, the military commander of TV channel TV 2 Rasmus Tantoldt reported.”
Some are in fact saying it’s this guy, but there is no confirmation:
Now to segue to some of the developments from last time regarding the possible upcoming NATO escalations in Ukraine. Russian intel agency head Naryshkin, who issued the statement last time regarding Poland’s planned incursion has also now stated that, “plans to deploy a Polish “peacekeeping contingent” in the western part of Ukraine is not a version, but intelligence information obtained from several reliable sources, the Foreign Intelligence Service explained.”
In short, he’s saying this is not speculation but an accurate report based on many sources.
Also: “Military expert Yuriy Kotenok talks about plans to bring Polish, Romanian and other military contingents to Ukraine under the legend of “exercises”. The decision has already been made. BTG will be covered from the air. Their task is to prevent Russia from completing the operation to denazify and demilitarize Ukraine.”
Unfortunately this is for Russian speakers only as there’s no subtitles here: https://bastyon.com/index?v=2000ace73f9745dd7511ac5dccdee93a635aafe127381eaf08e5a54d8db2a12a&video=1&ref=PARV591XENALBB5ApkR7WcQPhEZtLHfi2A
And a Ukrainian account has stated: “Our source in the OP said that the General Staff has already prepared a military campaign to neutralize the Russian group in Transnistria.”
While Deputy Chairman of the Russian State Duma Committee on Defense, General Zavarzin, “called for missile strikes on headquarters in Kyiv and Lvov.”
And here’s one analyst’s take:
A strike force of NATO countries near the borders of Ukraine and Belarus – what is it for? Is it really about an ordinary peacekeeping mission?
In light of the latest information about the aspirations of Poland and other NATO members, several questions arise. Firstly, what contingent is now formed on the eastern borders of the bloc, and secondly, why are all these forces being accumulated?
It is impossible to accurately assess the grouping of NATO countries, drawn to the borders of the Republic of Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova and Russia, having only information from open sources.
However, from what is known, a total contingent of 50,000 to 100,000 people can be inferred. This includes units deployed by Poland, and the American contingent, and units of various NATO countries deployed in the framework of exercises in the Baltic states. There is also information about a serious Romanian group in the Moldovan direction. Just as we wrote earlier, combat aircraft are also being transferred to Europe. In the shortest possible time, the size of the NATO contingent can be doubled.
NATO’s ultimate strategy on this issue is currently unclear, but several options could be considered. Firstly, this can be done for a banal intimidation of Russia and an attempt to put pressure on the course of a special operation in Ukraine, and secondly, in the West they perfectly understand that Ukraine as a country no longer exists and see its future on the principle of occupation sectors. And the third option is the most terrible, but the least likely: NATO decided to go all the way and, if lend-lease and hybrid warfare do not stop the Russians, then regular units of Western countries will step in. This, of course, is a 100% threat of the use of nuclear weapons. It looks utopian, but in 2022 everything is possible.”
And from Colonel Cassad:
“The main topic that worries many today is the adoption by the US Congress of the lend-lease program for Ukraine. Delivery of large batches of modern weapons is expected soon. The war will reach a new level, because now we will also have to fight with the American military industry. Deliveries of American heavy weapons are expected, including F-16 aircraft. Today we wrote that Ukraine is already preparing pilots for these machines. Here you need to understand once and for all, we are at war with NATO, where Ukraine is just cheap service personnel and cannon fodder.
Also on the Belarusian-Polish border, there is a transfer of a shock group of troops from Poland. The answer to this was the sending of Belarusian units to strengthen the border.”
And John Kirby yesterday: ‘US Defense Press Secretary John Kirby:
“Today I can announce that the United States has begun training the Ukrainian armed forces to use key weapons at US military bases in Germany.”’
On the topic of Lend Lease, it became a curious discovery that on the official U.S. Congress website, the date of the submission of Lend Lease to Congress was seen as 1/19/22.
So how is it that it was proposed a full month before Russia’s invasion on 2/24?
There are more military transfers being rushed to Ukraine: https://twitter.com/AZmilitary1/status/1520170505516503040
And reports like the following:
“Kiev secretly sent Kharkiv cadets to the United States to learn to fly the F-16, which will soon enter service with the Armed Forces of Ukraine under lend-lease Kiev decided in advance to retrain its pilots for the NATO fleet. As it became known to Readovka, the cadets of the Kharkiv Higher Military School were sent to one of the European NATO countries and to the United States in early February for emergency retraining in the management of American F-16s. The cadets were taken directly from the 4th year classes. All of them were transported in complete secrecy. Thus, it is more likely that NATO, together with Kiev, knew about the imminent deployment of a special operation of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation and tried to work ahead of the curve. The law passed the day before by the US Congress authorizing the lend-lease of heavy weapons to Ukraine apparently involves the supply, among other things, of American F-16 fighters. There is also information that the lend-lease announced by the United States was launched solely to legalize the transfer of F-16 fighters to Ukraine. https://t.me/readovkanews/32369”
From a Ukrainian channel: “The Pentagon has begun planning military operations for the Armed Forces of Ukraine in Donbas to contain the Russian army. The Ukrainian General Staff permanently hosts several dozen NATO generals in the status of military advisers who participate in the discussion and decision-making on key issues.”
“The General Staff permanently hosts several dozen NATO generals in the status of military advisers who participate in the discussion and decision-making on all key issues.”
So all of this brings me to the following big topic. Which is that there is a lot of conversation revolving around how the Russian SMO is going, with many people unable to reconcile the two opposing sides who both claim they are winning easily. Understandably this creates a strange paradoxical dichotomy where each side says they are smashing the other, and each side posts material that conveniently reflects their stated ‘strategy’ as evidence that everything is in fact going to plan.
i.e. Russia posts its advances and mass destruction of AFU units and says this is clear evidence of ongoing victory. And AFU posts its retreats and says that these are all strategic retreats and that Russia is in fact being both bled and led into a trap from which they will never emerge.
So I wanted to address this with some new material that can shed light and contextualize the U.S./Ukraine’s overall grand strategy.
In short, it is this: it is becoming increasingly clear that the grand strategy is to slowly abandon the Donbas, but in the process, slow down and attrition the Russian forces as much as possible, while simultaneously reconstituting a massively armed new NATO-standard army in the West.
Not only has NATO and U.S. both now released statements that they are readying for a “long war” of up to 10 years in Ukraine, but there are reports like the following:
“Our source in the OP said that the Office of the President (of Ukraine) is ready for a long war that will last 2-3 years. Kiev does not consider a possible defeat on the eastern front to be critical for Ukraine,
the main thing is that the battles for Donbas exhaust the Russian army and last for several months. Using time, the Armed Forces of Ukraine will receive modern heavy weapons and will be able to launch a counteroffensive in the South of Ukraine.”
In a recent interview on his youtube channel, chief presidential advisor Arestovich openly confirms the above. In fact he plainly tells host Feigin that with all the new NATO equipment coming in, it will take them about 1 to 2 months max to arm a new army in the west, and that Ukraine will be ready to create mass counter-offensives from the west starting in mid to late June.
So in short, their entire strategy is to stall Russian forces in the east as much as possible by conducting slow, orderly retreats, even if it means eventually giving up the entire Donbas – in fact in the same interview Arestovich says that he fully expects Russia to encircle Kramatorsk/Slavyansk but that it will turn into “another Mariupol”, or so he hopes. And then by late June, even if Donbas is lost, they expect to be able to retake it with massive new Ukrainian offensives utilizing newly reconstituted reserves armed with full NATO arsenals, from German tanks to American F-16’s and everything in between.
On the RF side, some already accuse them of heavy ‘coping’ and excuse making, where the narrative is now shifting from “we’re winning in the Donbas” to “it’s ok if we lose the Donbas, we’ll retake it later.”
In fact Arestovich foresaw all of this, in his famously prescient 2017 interview he not only predicted the Russian war to happen around 2022, but he said there will be at least 2 wars, possibly 3, one following in around 2024, then another 2026+ or later. The reason being is that, he foresaw a stalemate with Russia taking Donbas but being drained and depleted, forcing to compromise in a treaty that leaves western Ukraine. Then Ukraine would get armed to the teeth by NATO and a new war would take place a year or two later, similar to Chechnya 1 and 2 where Russia had to go in to finish the job a second time.
So this brings me to the issue of military hardware and who is winning. The main problem for the Ukrainian side, is they rely entirely on the belief (real or not) that they have endless reserves of manpower. Arestovich and others have said, “our problems are opposite, we have endless manpower but no equipment, and Russia has endless equipment but not enough manpower.”
The chief problem here is the blanket assumption that Ukraine has endless reserves and high remaining morale. But there is increasing evidence that this is not the case. Not only are mass surrenders increasing, but each time they happen the troops complain of the same things, low morale, high desertion rates, resentment towards their commanders. And increasingly the troops are from the far west, old, and haggard which proves that Kiev is already tapping its absolute reserves from the west of the country, rather than local reserves held back at 2nd and 3rd echelon lines like near Pavlograd, Poltava, etc.
Secondly, there is increasing discontent amongst the populace. Today in the far west city of Khust, where these reserves are already being tapped as I just outlined, the wives, mothers, and family of soldiers being sent to the front virtually rebelled and started destroying the local military offices, and this is becoming increasingly common:
They don’t want any more war.
I already reported last time how the ‘grand popular uprising’ that Zelensky promised (read: hoped for) of the molotov-armed partisans was a complete failure. In fact now, more and more we’re seeing secret pro-Russian underground resistance cells forming in all the major cities who have released videos and are promising to help take the city once Russia arrives. Such cells now exist in Kharkov, Nikolayev, Odessa, and elsewhere:
And in Nikolayev, one report said: “According to available information, the elite of Nikolaev, businessmen, politicians, fellow bandits, are negotiating with the Russian side on the bloodless surrender of the city. Nobody wants to repeat the example of Mariupol
They ask for guarantees for the preservation of assets, business and participation in the political life of the city. There is a bargaining going on, while guarantees will not be provided to Kim, a different fate will await him.”
Though this is speculative, we know for a fact this very thing happened several times already, including a Kharkov mayor who was arrested for trying to peacefully hand over the city at the outset of the conflict.
Also, there is the belief that Ukraine maintains the giant pre-war numbers we were all given, but in fact it’s been greatly hidden by the authorities what vast amount of people, particularly military-aged men, have fled the country or gone into hiding, refusing service.
According to the Russian MOD almost 50,000 of AFU’s manpower has already been irrecoverably attritioned whether by KIA, MIA, WIA, POW, etc.
This was posted on a Ukrainian account: “Colleagues, we published that the Kremlin handed over lists of POWs, of which there are more than 4,000 thousand. For the Office of the President, this is a big problem, which they will not be able to keep silent about for a long time, in Kiev they are now looking for a formula on how to submit information to the public. Surrender is becoming a mass phenomenon, because of some brigade commanders who simply throw the guys on the tanks, while they themselves are tens of kilometers away from the fighting. Indicative in this regard is the case of the 93rd brigade, our soldiers got into a tactical encirclement , because of the tyranny of the command, and no one comes to their aid.”
Arestovich spoke on this in his newest interview where he said there has been a problem of mass morale loss of soldiers calling their relatives and saying that everything has gone to hell, but of course he continues to say that these soldiers are playing into the hands of Russian propaganda.
Today’s newest report is that 1000 AFU soldiers are now surrounded and trapped in Oskil, pushed against the bank of the Donetsk river without any vehicles to cross it. This could soon bring another 1000 POWs as well as the 2000 that will soon come from Azovstal.
Ukraine is losing 300-400 men per day to KIA and POW alone.
From RF MOD: “Losses of the Ukrainian side as a result of a special military operation of the RF Armed Forces on April 30, 2022
▪️During the day, the Armed Forces of Ukraine lost 556 people killed, wounded and captured. The total loss of killed, wounded and captured in the Armed Forces of Ukraine, NSU and State Border Service is over 47 thousand people.
▪️According to the internal report of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, 6 tanks, 39 armored vehicles, 21 field artillery and mortars, 7 MLRS, 25 vehicles and special equipment and 23 UAVs were lost.”
Just look at today’s newest graphic losses (18+++):
Meanwhile, the Ukrainian side continues to rely heavily on the belief that Russia is simply being attritioned faster, and this is what will lead to victory. Bellingcat reports that Russia has used up 70% of all its missiles. However, commentators were quickly to point out the following inconvenient fact:
The 2nd in command of Bellingcat said Russia would “collapse” by the coming Sunday, on March 4th.
The fact of the matter is, 50k of the AFU are gone, another 50k are trapped in Donbass and are slowly being grinded down. Millions have fled the country (Russia has taken 1+ million refugees alone, and much more went west, to europe and elsewhere) so we can expect that the vast majority of the fighting age males have left or gone underground.
Based on what we’re seeing on the frontlines, the most distant reserves already being used and depleted, the riots of family members in western Ukraine proving their last reserves are already being tapped, one can only conclude that Ukraine will not have anywhere near the numbers of fighters left to arm with all the incoming ‘NATO toys’.
On that note, read this illuminating new frontline report from a highly respected source, the famous Serb fighter in the Donbas, Dejan Beric (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dejan_Berić)
In short, the public is now being conditioned to move the goalposts such that losing Donbas no longer means a loss in the war, but is just a momentary strategic retreat until the mighty NATO wunderwaffens from the West allow the AFU to strike back with a vengeance.
Last time I reported the bridge being blown in Slavyansk, pictured with the purple circle on the left:
Now they’ve blown the bridge even further east (red circle) in preparation for the coming reality.
And strangely, U.S. officials are now claiming Russia is only “days” behind schedule in Donbas, when previously it was weeks if not months.
And finally, reports now indicate that the British expect Putin to formally declare war on Ukraine on May 9th and begin mass mobilization.
“The British Ministry of Defense has reportedly seen indications that Russian President Putin is preparing a Statement for May 9th during the Victory Parade in Moscow, which its expected a General Mobilization and a Declaration of War against Ukraine will be declared.”https://platform.twitter.com/embed/Tweet.html?dnt=true&embedId=twitter-widget-0&features=eyJ0ZndfZXhwZXJpbWVudHNfY29va2llX2V4cGlyYXRpb24iOnsiYnVja2V0IjoxMjA5NjAwLCJ2ZXJzaW9uIjpudWxsfSwidGZ3X3NwYWNlX2NhcmQiOnsiYnVja2V0Ijoib2ZmIiwidmVyc2lvbiI6bnVsbH19&frame=false&hideCard=false&hideThread=false&id=1520142879825575937&lang=en&origin=https%3A%2F%2Fthesaker.is%2Fsitrep-operation-z-17%2F&sessionId=a75066d8bc0ae0026f1ca8fc8cdf6d8fa60c59bf&theme=light&widgetsVersion=c8fe9736dd6fb%3A1649830956492&width=550px
Of course this could be complete nonsense and propaganda on their behalf, or it could be another case of predictive programming, self-fulfilling fantasy. Just like when they ‘predicted’ Russia would invade in february but in actuality pushed Ukraine to bring a massive army to the Donbas contact line, start shelling Donbas and Russian territory in order to force Russia to invade, here may be the same situation. This could be a sign that they plan to massively escalate by invading Transnistria (and perhaps western Ukraine) and forcing Putin to mobilize so they can again claim it was Russia’s plan to do it on the heroic May 9th all along.
In fact MSM is already conditioning the public with what a response might look like to Russian nuclear use:
To conclude, we see that Ukraine’s strategy is try to bleed Russia in Donbas as much as possible before the eventual collapse and pull out, then ‘hope’ for huge amounts of reserves in the far west of the country to remain so they can be armed with NATO wunderwaffen for a big summer blockbuster Barbarossa offensive to unironically start by June 22.
By NATO’s own admission that they are ready to supply and stand with Ukraine for a war lasting “3 to 10 years”, we can infer that they understand Russia is in fact not running out of anything (be it manpower or supplies) any time soon, and that the war will in fact be long – the rest is just propaganda for public consumption.
There’s no more room for now to cover the likelihood or probability of any of these plans to work, perhaps next time. But for now I’ll leave you with one last stomach-turning story. In Hostomel, near Kiev, a Ukrainian video influencer decided to go out to one of the wrecked tanks, and found himself some remains of a ‘dead Russian soldier’, which he decided to cook and eat to great internet acclaim in his country.
(18+) for anyone with the stomach to watch:
Now whether this is a staged ‘stunt’ or not, the fact of the matter is on social media he was said to have gotten greatly positive feedback from many Ukrainians who urged others to go out and cannibalize dead Russian soldiers. This is just an insightful look into Ukrainian society and their inculcated, absolute inhuman hatred of Russians.
And of course there’s the unfortunate fact that experts have determined without a shadow of a doubt that the tank from which he foraged his unholy delicacy was in fact a Ukrainian T-64 (and not a Russian T-72), a tank Russia does not use (nor was DPR/LPR anywhere near Hostomel at any time).
You can draw the conclusions to what this means for the poor, attention-seeking, self-avowed cannibal.