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I was researching something else and came upon one of the many articles written about the casuatlies of the 18th Motor Rifle Brigade (Independent):

Yelena Tumanova could not be reached for comment and Reuters was unable to review the documents. But more than 10 soldiers in her dead son's unit told Krivenko and Ella Polyakova, another member of the presidential human rights council, that Anton Tumanov died in an Aug. 13 battle near the Ukrainian town of Snizhnye. The battle, the soldiers said, killed more than 100 Russian soldiers serving in the 18th motorized rifle brigade of military unit 27777, which is based outside the Chechen capital of Grozny.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/09/12/russia-ukraine-soldiers-coffins_n_5809116.html

This battle was part of Russia's attempt to selectively slow the Ukrainian advance in the beginning of August. It had some success, but overall the Ukrainians were making too much progress and were not losing much of what the gained.

At this point Ukraine had recaptured almost 1/3rd of all territory lost, cut Luhansk city off from supply from Russia, was about to cut off Donetsk city from supply, nearly surrounded Horlivka, split DPR and LPR apart from each other, retook all the border area between Russia and DPR, and was threatening to take the most important supply point into Ukraine (Izvaryne in Luhansk). If Ukraine's offensive stopped where it was then almost the entire population of Donetsk and Luhansk would be cut off from direct access to Russian resupply. Obviously this would mean the end of the DPR and LPR.

Russia then forced in the fake "humanitarian aid" convoy of mostly empty trucks, despite promises it would not do so or would do it under Red Cross supervision. The trucks were not inspected leaving Ukraine and the information is they were filled with wounded and dead Russians from the 18th Motor Rifle Brigade and others. The timing is about right.

Steve

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You guys might be interested in this.

In the second week of August a bunch of things happened that shows that Russia realized the danger and near collapse of its puppet regimes in Ukraine. They had a number of Russian Army units in Ukraine at key points that were slowing down the Ukrainian offensive. However, Ukraine was still making steady progress on all fronts.

About this time it is apparent Russia realized it was "now or never" in terms of stopping the offensive. Here are my daily notes. They should give you some feeling of what was happening. I skipped the daily reports of various amounts of Russian fighters and equipment moving over the border except where it was significant.

August 14

1. Girkin and the other Russian nationals heading DPR and LPR were deposed replaced with a mix of Ukrainian and Russian nationals sometime around the 14th of August.

2. The first new Russian offensive from Russian territory was the quick retaking the Marynivka check point. This was in the rear of the southern most units and had previously been the main point of Russian supply to Donetsk. Without it DPR was effectively cut off from Russian supply since the overland route through Luhansk was largely in Ukraine's hands or threatened by them. Gubarev, a Russian fascist leader, made a PR video about the retaking of the checkpoint.

3. Various Western journalists saw a large column of Russian APCs cross over the border at Izvaryne through a wooded area. This group apparently went north to break through to Luhansk city.

August 15th

4. Battalion Aydar and 51st Mech Bgd stated they lost (combined?) 22 KIA, 36 WIA, and 4 MIA in fighting north of Luhansk city from August 13-15th.

5. Saur-Mohyla is attacked from the south by the group that crossed over at Marynivka. This was a key piece of high ground allowing major disruption of DPR and LPR access. It also formed the "shoulder" of the southern front, with the front running westward and southward from the position. It was also a jumping off point to try and drive a wedge through Luhansk from the south to positions held by Ukraine near Luhansk city.

6. Russian counter attack against Shakhtarsk to relink DPR and LPR together.

August 16th

7. First reports of "professional soldiers" fighting in Luhansk on the side of the LPR. Not coincidentally LPR's new leader, Zakarchenko, stated 1200 fighters trained on territory of Russian Federatin during four months and 150 armored vehicles, including 30 tanks, were now in Luhansk.

8. Major counter attacks against Ukrainian positions blocking Luhansk city's southern access.

9. Video of Chechens and at least one BTR-82A hit YouTube. These guys were involved in the attack on Saur-Mohyla. Later analysis seems to indicate they were Russian special forces pretending to be Chechen "volunteers". This was based on high end communications equipment and weapons seen in the video on the soldiers.

August 17th

10. Ukraine states that over 10 Russian UAVs violated Ukrainian airspace in the last 24 hours.

11. More Grad launchers spotted crossing over from the newly recaptured Marynivka crossing.

12. 30th Brigade is conducting a fighting retreat from positions in the Krasnyi Luch area. Only 4 tanks are operational. This is where reports of T-72s and perhaps at least one T-90 are coming from. (note, no evidence of T-90s has ever been confirmed. Most likely confused with T-72 with Kontakt-5 ERA).

13. Ukraine reports heavy losses in the village of Grabske village between Mospyno and Ilovaysk. This was the southern pincer intended to cut off Donetsk city from the rest of DPR territory.

August 18

14. Plentiful evidence of Russian T-72s being used in the battle for Yasynuvata, which was retaken from Ukrainian forces, then quickly taken back by Ukraine.

15. Donbas Battalion takes most of Ilovaysk.

Over the next couple of days there are more and more reports of Russian forces entering Ukraine. The battles in the middle areas continue to be vicious, but it's pretty clear Ukraine is losing ground if not momentum. The Ukrainian attacks in Luhansk and Donetsk start to falter. The situation in Ilovaysk starts to become serious for Donbas and the army units fighting along side them.

Special summary. On August 15th Ukrainian command claimed it had interdicted a Russian military unit with artillery and caused a large number of casualties. The column was headed towards Luhansk city. Staring a few days later (Aug 17-18th) significant evidence of the destruction of a large amount of equipment and personnel of the 1st Company, 104th Regiment, 76th Pskov Guard Air Assault Division starts to be released. It includes pictures of knocked out vehicles, documents, and personal equipment. A roster sheet showing all the personnel of a platoon was found in a dead platoon commander's BMD. Some names are checked on vKontakte and confirmed they are Russian soldiers. One of which, IIRC from later research, was verified dead. Also around this time Russia starts to try and force the stalled "humanitarian aid" convoy into Luhansk.

August 21

16. First and second attacks against Ukrainian positions at Novoazovsk on the cost of the Sea of Azov.

17. Separatist media claims they are starting a major counter attack from Luhansk city northward.

August 22

18. The nearly empty "humanitarian convoy" crosses into Ukraine escorted by separatists. This despite Russia's promise that they would respect international law and their own agreements to do this with the ICRC.

19. NATO says it has proof that Russia moved artillery into Ukraine in recent days.

20. Journalist in Luhansk says he saw 8 members of the 76th Pskov being treated in a hospital (injuries were too serious for transport), 30 other wounded 76th members had been moved to Rostov.

August 23

21. Russian "humanitarian aid" trucks return to Russia and are not inspected.

22. Reports of a Russian assault force landing by sea in Novoazovsk, on the Sea of Azov coast. This was preceded by a naval bombardment of Sedove and Novoazovsk.

23. Reports of fighting in many, many places not noted in recent days. Starobesheve-Kuteynikove, Amvrosiyevka, and other places in the rear of Ukrainian forces fighting south of Donetsk.

24. Battalion Aydar, fighting north of Luhansk city, comes under Grad fire from Russian territory.

August 24

25. More shelling and attacks of areas to Ukraine's rear. Olenivka, Andriivka, Liubivka, Volnovakha and others reported.

I'm going to stop there. At this point the Russian counter attack is in full swing. The Russian attacks towards Mariupol and the rear of Ukrainian forces from Russian soil are now easily seen. Plenty of reporting on this already, so I won't keep going.

As you can see from my notes the significant Russian resistance started around the 14th of August, with mixed results. More Russian units were committed from Russian soil and through Luhansk over the next few days. Ukrainian progress slowed and then began to reverse in many key points. Then on the 23rd the major attacks against the southern portion of the ATO and towards Mariupol started. The southern forces of the ATO were overwhelmed and most of the positions Ukraine gained in early August were recaptured by Russia. The one big exception being Debalstevo, which is still in Ukrainian hands.

Within a few days the Russian offensive started to run into problems and/or reached its operational objectives. Probably a mix. At this point the cease fire started to be talked about and was enacted. The war has been active ever since.

Steve

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I came across this T-72 and BMP-2 POV footage from combat in Syria. These T-72s have a full suit of ERA and are broadly comparable with at least some of what'll likely be in CMBS. I think it nicely depicts the enormous basso noise levels just from engines alone, the very close intervehicle spacing attendant with MOUT, the seemingly low acoustic register of the 125s firing (mic overload?), the way small arms crackle clearly cuts through the larger overall rumble of the tanks moving and firing. Particularly noteworthy are the reverberations as the tanks move through the narrow streets with their multistory buildings. Obviously, unless we posit summer on the steppe, things are altogether too dusty to be directly applicable visually, but I do feel this footage gives a pretty rich feeling of the potential game atmosphere to come.

Regards,

John Kettler

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DMS,

I think you have a rather exaggerated view of satellite image resolution. The US government recently dropped longstanding restrictions on sale of high resolution imagery, from national security concerns, which was 50 cm. Digital Globe has now been authorized to go as low as 25 cm.

http://www.theverge.com/2014/6/14/5809628/us-government-signs-off-on-sale-of-ultra-high-resolution-satellite-imagery

Several decades ago, a physicist I knew at Hughes calculated the theoretical optical resolution limit as 4 cm. Resolution, for our purposes, is the minimum distance at which two objects may be placed and seen as separate things. Rest assured, you can't read shoulder boards from low satellite orbit, and you certainly can't read newspaper headlines, either.

Here is what a Typhoon class sub looks like at maximum magnification (effective eyeball height over target 53 meters) in 2007 Digital Globe imagery.

http://geimint.blogspot.com/2007/07/russias-typhoon-ssbn-fleet.html

And here's that same sub (bottom left) in the overall context of the image.

http://geimint.blogspot.com/2007/07/russias-typhoon-ssbn-fleet.html

Taken from this excellent open source IMINT site.

http://geimint.blogspot.com

Regards,

John Kettler

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George MC,

Thanks for the catch! Fortunately, I was able to fix it in time. That drunk dude, BTW, was phenomenally lucky. He fell 8 stories and landed on a car, emerging bloody but alive. Sometimes, Hollywood tropes actually work. Probably helped he was so blotto he was relaxed when he hit!

Regards,

John Kettler

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You guys might be interested in this.

August 24

25. More shelling and attacks of areas to Ukraine's rear. Olenivka, Andriivka, Liubivka, Volnovakha and others reported.

I'm going to stop there.

Steve

If you have time please paste your notes and summary of the Russian involvement beyond this date.

Some very interesting and " New to me" data in your posts that is very much appreciated, especially as I can anticipate that you are busy.

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If you have time please paste your notes and summary of the Russian involvement beyond this date.

Some very interesting and " New to me" data in your posts that is very much appreciated, especially as I can anticipate that you are busy.

Yeah, not too much time to spend on this right now. Some things I did not mention above:

1. Most of the notes above have links to information associated with them. I did not include them because what I wrote above is consolidated info and I didn't want to post a ton of links.

2. The things I noted above were posted in a private discussion area and I only reposted the "vetted" ones here. Still likely some mistakes as this is war and reporting is imperfect, but I wanted at assure you guys that these are not just blind reposts of twitter statements or blog postings.

3. In recapping the above events I did fold in comments/corrections from others as necessary to improve the accuracy.

Some quick things I can post. The first three came from August 25th. Obviously a busy day and it shows to some extent how closely I was following events at the time:

There are now elements from a minimum of four Russian Army divisions actively involved in Ukraine. This comes from knocked out vehicles and, more importantly, Russian POWs:

1. 45th Air Assault Division (present since nearly the beginning)

2. 23rd Mech Division (present since at least June in the Luhansk city area)

3. 76th Air Assault Division (discovered recently, but likely in earlier)

4. 98th Guards Division (part of the new wave of attacks?)

Since some of these confirmations took awhile to be formalized (the 23rd Mech guys were reported captured in July, IIRC, but no unit associated with them until this week) and not much is known about the current incursions. Because of that I think it is safe to assume there's more forces represented than just these 4 divisions.

As [redacted] has reported, the list of weapons and vehicles that could only possibly come from Russian Army sources is increasing. However, so far Russia continues to (laughably) continue with the Green Men concept by (poorly) obscuring the fact that the forces fighting are regular Russian Army units.

Military news is still a little confused, but from the reports it looks like the Russian Army has launched at least three significant attacks and several small special forces type operations:

1. Major push (one report says 250+ vehicles and artillery) towards Amvrosievka, which was taken.

2. Company sized attack towards Starobesheve-Kuteynikove area. Not sure what the status of this attack is.

3. Attack on the border along the Sea of Azov coast in the direction of Mariupol. Reports about the composition of the force vary and there's some indication that there was no penetration by ground forces. However, what seems to be undisputed is that there was a 9 hour bombardment of Novoazovsk from artillery and something from the water.

Minor actions:

4. Special forces type attack on Mariupol airport.

5. At least one ground probe north of Luhansk City, but it doesn't seem to have been serious.

6. Reports of skirmishes in a number of small towns south of Donetsk along route T-05-08 headed down to the coast.

On top of this, the separatists have launched a major attack southwest of Donetsk into Olenivka, which is along T-05-08.

To me it looks like one (Amvrosievka) or two (Starobesheve-Kuteynikove) major pushes designed to roll up the Ukrainian forces south of Donetsk. With this accomplished the chances of Ukraine taking Donetsk city are pretty small as it would result in a lot of lost forces/equipment, a lengthening of the front down to the Sea of Azov, and the inability to cut Donetsk city off from resupply/reinforcement.

The activities north and south of this area are distractions only. They are intended to create confusion within the Ukrainian command structure and to divert resources away from the prime objective.

I don't know how long Russia will keep up the pretense of not being directly involved. The evidence of their direct involvement with organized formations of the Russian Army is overwhelming. On top of that, even Russian sources are confirming soldiers have gone missing. At least one family has made a formal request to the Ukrainian government for information about their son (23rd Mech Division) because they have reports of 40 23rd Mech soldiers being captured in Luhansk. Ukraine says that officially they have no Russian POWs because Russia says it isn't fighting in Russia, so they should ask Russia. Russian officials apparently won't even respond other than to say "he left the unit".

In fact, Defense Minister Shoigu is flying to Pskov tomorrow. Speculation is that it's in connection with the reports that a company sized force from the 76th Pskov Air Assault Division was wiped out. Certainly the timing is suspicious.

Just as a reminder, the primary reason cited for the Soviet Union being obligated to pull out of Afghanistan was the pressure from the families of the soldiers killed there. They put a lot of pressure on the Soviet government and it likely ended the war sooner than the Kremlin had intended. Now with the Russian public being more aware of what's going on and having an easier time communicating amongst each other it seems that Kremlin officials can't continue to operate this war in the shadows for much longer.

Interesting follow up to Shoigu's visit to Pskov. He awarded the 76th the "Order of Suvorov", which is a combat operations award. Weeks later when he was asked why a combat award was given to a combat unit that had not participated in combat (according to him and other Russian officials) since the Soviet Union collapsed, his answer was (I don't have the exact quote handy) "well, they have fought in combat long ago so why not give them an award?". And if you believe that, I know of a really sweet deal you can get on a bridge in Brooklyn.

It is things like this that people must ignore in order to believe the lie that no Russian military units are involved directly in Ukraine.

As the old saying goes...

If it walks like a duck, swims like a duck, flies like a duck, and quacks like a duck... it probably is a duck and not a cow.

Or something like that :D

1. Ukraine has evacuated the border crossing of Matveev-Kurgan (edit... name seems to be wrong, so not sure what crossing was evacuated, if anything). This is crossing that the major force going towards Amvrosievka passed through. This likely indicates that the territory north and east are effectively in Russian hands.

2. Polish media report that 76th Air Assault soldiers were buried in Pskov today:

http://wpolityce.pl/swiat/210801-rosjanie-pochowali-swoich-zolnierzy-poleglych-na-ukrainie-chcieli-zachowac-tajemnice

3. Fighting for Ilovaysk continues with Donbas still holding on. Now with the Russian Army coming in from its flank, I don't know how much longer the battle will last.

4. Russia is preparing a second convoy for a move into Ukraine. I'm including this in my military reports because it is, obviously, a part of Russia's military strategy. My guess is that the second convoy is going to be loaded with military items. To try and prevent Ukraine from striking it the Russian Red Cross is supposedly going to escort it.

5. Mariupol residents are hitting the roads out of fear that Russia is going to invade.

6. (removed as it was speculation and it didn't happen)

BTW, a few weeks ago some people pointed out that Russia has a long history of launching military actions in August. Seems that there's another one to add to the list.

Military news:

1. Associated Press is finally telling what is really going on. I've got it on good authority that the AP's Moscow office, which controls the reporting in Ukraine, has vetoed linking Russia with what's going on. I won't get into the details, but let's just say that it's not what one wants to hear about a news wire service like AP. Anyway, the head office in New York finally laid down the law and AP journalists are now able to get their stories out. This is a short one that basically details 3 large convoys coming in from Russia through Krasnodon. Interviews with the Russians said border guards didn't do anything to stop them from going through:

https://za.news.yahoo.com/weapons-convoys-seen-rolling-eastern-ukraine-194715758.html

2. At least 10 Russian soldiers captured in the Starobesheve-Kuteynikove area. These are from the 98th Guards, which apparently got clobbered by Ukrainian forces. One of the 10 apparently stated "Stop sending boys here. This is not our war".

http://news.liga.net/photo/politics/3056131-obnarodovany_foto_voennykh_iz_rossii_zaderzhannykh_v_donbasse.htm#1

https://twitter.com/PeterShuklinov/status/504044109439725569

Interesting side note here. Since Russia doesn't admit to their forces being in Ukraine then they are not technically entitled to guarantees of the Geneva Convention. Meaning, Ukraine's government can show their names and faces, not just bloggers. Because until the Russian government claims these soldiers are indeed soldiers of their armed forces they are nothing more than criminals/terrorists from a legal standpoint.

3. Russian website posting about the funeral in Pskov for the soldiers who were killed in Ukraine, even though they weren't there:

http://slon.ru/fast/russia/v-pskove-proshli-zakrytye-pokhorony-mestnykh-desantnikov-1147710.xhtml

4. Separatist mouthpieces are admitting that Ukraine has made some gains around Luhansk city. According to their statements Ukraine is near cutting off the city again after briefly losing some ground in recent days.

5. Ukrainian forces are firmly in control of the border along the Sea of Azov. Various social media accounts have said government has fled, Russian Army is in Mariupol, Novoazovsk is in separatist hands, etc. Separatists are behind a lot of this fear mongering simply because they constantly lie about what is going.

http://en.censor.net.ua/photo_news/299588/mariupol_is_covered_by_the_army_novoazovsk_is_in_our_hands_panic_needs_to_stop_advisor_to_the_interior

6. Ukrainian forces are pushing into two northern districts of Donetsk (Kuibyshev and Kyiv).

And one more from August 26th:

SBU interviews with captured Russian soldiers from the Amvrosiivka engagement (I thought it might be Novoazovsk, but that's not correct):

One of the above (not sure which) states "I didn't know I was going to Ukraine" and SBU pulls up his VKontakte page where he said "Our unit just got mobilized, we're heading off to kill Ukrainians". Doh! As has been seen in previous SBU interrogations, it seems that these guys were told to say they weren't aware they were in Ukraine. Stupid, but like so many Russian tactics it's simply to introduce some doubt.

This one is apparently quite interesting. The quick translation I got indicates that this guy is answering directly and without weaseling, like the other guys. He comes across as someone who isn't going to lie for SBU any more than he is Putin.

Here's what's been pieced together about how these guys came to be captured. Much of the information came from the Russian soldiers:

A mixed column of perhaps 40 tanks, BMDs, and artillery went into Ukraine. The engineer platoon was supposed to lead the way and clear paths through any defensive works. However, shortly after getting over the border the engineers had one or more vehicles breakdown and the decision was made to leave them in the rear. The column continued on after a short bit and a couple of the lead tanks were knocked out by Ukrainian infantry. Various ambushes bogged the column down allowing the Ukrainians to hit it with some air strikes, then artillery. During the fight their lieutenant (Mikhail Milenko) went missing. Some more time passes and the engineer platoon decides it should withdraw to Russia, apparently on its own initiative. However, Ukrainian forces had moved in behind them to seal the road off from escape. The engineers decided it was smarter to surrender than to try and fight through an unknown enemy force which was waiting for them. Given what happened to the heavier units against supposedly unprepared Ukrainian forces, it is not hard to see why this decision was reached.

Ukraine released some enemy casualty figures for yesterday's actions, of which this was part of, but it's released an an additional quantity of 247 KIA/WIA/Captured enemy, destroyed 2 tanks, 7 armored vehicles, 2 grads and 4 light vehicles and 1 cannon.

Now Putin faces some serious additional problems. He's got a bunch of losses without anything to show for it and he's got a whole bunch of captured Russian soldiers who are obviously not on vacation. This exposes the fact that Putin has breached a very, very important social contract with the families of the Russian Armed Forces. And that is the right for a family member to know when their loved one is in a combat zone. Putin has said they aren't, but then coffins come back or they appear on TV being interviewed by SBU. This is likely to cause a lot of apprehension amongst family members and they are going to no doubt start asking some tough questions that Putin rather not answer.

The problem with a gambler is that they don't know when to quit. Bullies have the same tendency. Putin is both a gambler and a bully. He's progressively moving events in a way that put his goals ever further away.

We'll see how the talks with Poroshenko and Putin go today, but my guess is Putin isn't going to see Poroshenko blink.

Looking over the notes again I forgot how much offensive fight was still in Ukraine around this time period. But I do remember seeing, at the time, evidence that it was an offensive operating on "borrowed time" because the operations in the south were too serious to be able to continue offensives in the north. Plus, the Russian military reinforcements hitting back at Donetsk and Luhansk city areas were getting stronger.

However, Ukraine did not wind up losing that much terrain in the north. We've also seen at the Donetsk airport that Russian and separatist forces have suffered massive casualties over many weeks without dislodging the Ukrainian defenders.

The south, on the other hand, was an attack in the rear with sufficient force from two sides that Ukraine couldn't possibly keep up the offensive there.

Steve

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A note about my use of "Russian" and "Russian Army". Up until August 15th I used terms like "separatist", "Chechen", "volunteers", and other things to describe the nature of the units fighting against Ukraine. Of course there were reports of organized Russian forces operating in Ukraine before this time, but they seemed to be playing minor roles. Starting August 15th I changed my terminology because to me it was pretty clear something major had changed.

On August 15th I put my marker down and called what was going on a direct Russian invasion.

I'm calling it now... Russia has officially gone Full Retard

The week that followed proved me right and information gathered since then has only reinforced that position.

Steve

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Yeah, not too much time to spend on this right now. Some things I did not mention above:

2. The things I noted above were posted in a private discussion area and I only reposted the "vetted" ones here. Still likely some mistakes as this is war and reporting is imperfect, but I wanted at assure you guys that these are not just blind reposts of twitter statements or blog postings.

Steve

Thank you again Steve. You've really fired my interest to do more research and reading myself, and probably start my own notes in times of tension and conflict.

You appear to have really gotten into researching this, and dare I say a real interest in Modern combat scenarios now.

Re 2. Without sounding sycophantic, you, as many do on your forum, always come across as though you do your homework and think before talking ;-)

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Ukraine will hold a referendum on joining Nato

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-30176256

That is just part of the on going diplomatic dance. Russia is claiming the conflict is driven partly by a fear that Ukraine will join NATO, but it really is'nt.

NATO says the door is open, but everyone knows NATO will not allow Ukraine to join in the short/medium term, certainly not while it is involved in an undeclared war with Russia.

There is a rift inside NATO, former Soviet Bloc members, like the Baltic states and Poland are much more gung ho to confront Russia while the western members like France, Germany and Italy are more cautious.

Which reminds me, I think media in UK has been downplaying Russian involvement. I wonder whether there's powers behind this as the economies can't take another shock.

Again part of the diplomatic dance, Western European powers, UK, France, Germany, et al, do not want to directly confront Russia about this, because they would then be forced to actually DO something about it, i.e. more sanctions or military aid and there is very little domestic popular support for either.

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Thank you again Steve. You've really fired my interest to do more research and reading myself, and probably start my own notes in times of tension and conflict.

Some people have wondered why I spent so much time on this crisis. Some days, in the heat of things, I might have put in 2-4 hours doing research. A few days, like the day Russian troops first appeared in Simferopol or when the MH-17 got shot down, I probably put in 8 hours.

As a historian, these sorts of major geopolitical events come about very infrequently. And in the past media was very, very slow to report on things. Contrast this with MH-17. I was watching the reports of the Buk transporter moving around *HOURS BEFORE* the poor people of MH-17 were shot down out of the sky. When the plane was shot down I also saw, almost in real time, the separatists in the area bragging about the shoot down. So when I saw the first report of a civilian airliner being shot down I was surprised only that it happened, not how or why it happened. Then I watched the Buk move out of Ukraine. Watching history as it happens is a rare thing.

You appear to have really gotten into researching this, and dare I say a real interest in Modern combat scenarios now.

I wish there was more tactical information to dig into, but it is understandable why it is slow in coming. And even when it comes it will not be proportional to how much fighting there was. When I did the research for one of the Bagration campaigns, which involved millions of men, there was also a lack of low level details useful for CM.

Re 2. Without sounding sycophantic, you, as many do on your forum, always come across as though you do your homework and think before talking ;-)

I try :D There is so much deliberate disinformation about what is going on that it is impossible to not "bite" on the wrong things sometimes. The trick is just like any scientific study. The more information you sample, the more places you get it from, the more likely your overall conclusions will be correct. It also helps to have studied Russia and the Soviet Union in detail for 25+ years ;)

That is just part of the on going diplomatic dance. Russia is claiming the conflict is driven partly by a fear that Ukraine will join NATO, but it really is'nt.

NATO says the door is open, but everyone knows NATO will not allow Ukraine to join in the short/medium term, certainly not while it is involved in an undeclared war with Russia.

There is a rift inside NATO, former Soviet Bloc members, like the Baltic states and Poland are much more gung ho to confront Russia while the western members like France, Germany and Italy are more cautious.

Well put.

Early on in this conflict Ukraine offered to guarantee Russia that it would not join NATO, especially right after Poroshenko was elected. But Ukraine offered this in exchange for Russia ceasing to wage war against it. Obviously Russia's continued aggression has changed the position of the Ukrainian government. It will be interesting to see how the vote goes. Prior to Maidan a minority of Ukrainians wanted to join NATO. I am sure that's changed.

Again part of the diplomatic dance, Western European powers, UK, France, Germany, et al, do not want to directly confront Russia about this, because they would then be forced to actually DO something about it, i.e. more sanctions or military aid and there is very little domestic popular support for either.

Yup. There is nothing to be gained by the Western countries talking up war or even stronger sanctions at this point. Nobody wants war and the sanctions in place now are about all the West wants to do. But the longer this conflict goes on, the more blatant Russia's aggression is, the harder it is for the West to do nothing. This is why Putin's saber rattling moves (i.e. aggressive bomber flights and nuclear warfare talk) actually works against Russia. Putin apparently did not learn much from The Battle of Britain or Pearl Harbor. Democracies allow themselves to be shoved around only to a point.

Steve

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9. Video of Chechens and at least one BTR-82A hit YouTube. These guys were involved in the attack on Saur-Mohyla. Later analysis seems to indicate they were Russian special forces pretending to be Chechen "volunteers". This was based on high end communications equipment and weapons seen in the video on the soldiers.

I would really like a link to this video.

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The problem with the claims of full units of the Russian military fighting openly in Ukraine comes down to the units that have been said to be fighting. By the very nature of the conflict Russian leadership would never commit regular contractors to fight in a clandestine war they want to have deniability about. I was a contractor for 6 years in a motorized infantry unit. We don't have any code of secrecy indoctrinated into us. We talk. A lot. Russians as a society is very guarded with secrets and the rank and file are not trusted. Regular army brigades are not going to be committed to a clandestine war. It just goes against the Russian soul.

Now, I am not an idiot - I'm convinced there was aid given by the military - training, planning, equipment, intelligence, probably leadership at the unit level. I have no doubt that men were probably granted leave to go to Ukraine and fight - though I also don't doubt that they were indeed volunteers. I don't doubt that artillery was fired into Ukraine - it was part of the mutual provocations on the border (the captured VDV guys were part of this) There were patrols by both sides beng done on both sides of the border and both Ukraine and Russia fired artillery (several incidents of Russian soldiers killed in Russia by Ukrainian artillery were ignored by BBC and the like).

My educated opinion:

Was the uprising in Donbass orchestrated by Russia - No, but inspired by Russian actions.

Were/are the Rebels controlled by Moscow? Um murky, but yes-no. Too many loosely aligned factions. Some were proxies, some were 'legitimate' rebels, some were volunteers from abroad inspired by the cause. The initial senior leadership was not. The current more than likely is.

Were/are the Rebels supplied with arms, equipment including tanks and IFVs, intelligence, leadership etc. by the Russian government? Yes.

Were/are the Rebels also funded, armed, and supplied by normal citizens of the Russian Federation? Yes.

Did Russian soldiers fight in Ukraine? Yes.

Did entire units of regular soldiers fight in Ukraine? No.

Did rebels train in Russia with the blessing of the government? Yes.

Were rebels trained in Russia by a cadre made up of active duty Russian soldiers? I can't say, but more than likely yes.

Did rebels stage out of Russia for their August counter-offensive? More than likely, though not certain if they started the march from inside Russia.

Was the counter offensive planned by Russian leadership? More than likely completely planned.

I've come to these conclusions based on my personal experience and reading countless reports from many different sources and watching hours up on hours of video in the original language. I'm not saying I'm 100% right, just my feeling about it all.

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Again part of the diplomatic dance, Western European powers, UK, France, Germany, et al, do not want to directly confront Russia about this, because they would then be forced to actually DO something about it, i.e. more sanctions or military aid and there is very little domestic popular support for either.

I think this is a major driver. So the politicians have been reserved, leaving the media with not a much to say.

That said, much western media is so 'lazy' these days that some probably buy the uncertainty by Russian denials.

I doubted the West would be interested in Ukraine joining Nato, but like you say Steve, Putin's actions are working against him.

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Here is something tactical for you guys to sink your teeth into. It is a first hand account of the disaster at Ilovaisk. Obviously the details have to be taken with a pinch of salt, as with any first hand account, but when I read it last I didn't notice anything that seemed wrong about it:

http://burkonews.info/story-colonel-evgeniy-sidorenko-broke-ilovaisk-russian-t-72-tank/

Steve

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That said, much western media is so 'lazy' these days that some probably buy the uncertainty by Russian denials.

To be fair, there was a lot of good reporting in the early days, especially from The Guardian and VICE news, but once journalists started being threatened, arrested, kidnapped or worse (and yes, I know there were incidents on both sides), all the traditional news media pulled their people out, which is why, these days, we spend so much time trying to read tea leaves. :)

p.s. - If you have not done so, I would recommend watching the "Russian Roulette" video series on VICE. First class reporting.

https://news.vice.com/show/russian-roulette

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I would really like a link to this video.

Here you go. It is in two parts:

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=NydKpqZ1sIM

Here are some stills with commentary about equipment:

zeM4oqQd22w.jpg

cZc153qge5Y.jpg

Two more stills from the video. The person that took these stills noted special 12.7 mm sniper rifles and communication equipment (rus.writing "СРС" (SRS). Apparently this is standard equipment of Russian special forces, not anything that would be "found" during battles in Ukraine:

zilcSK-L0Yo.jpg

LSAdprkFAh8.jpg

This is the force that came from the Russian side of the border in the strike north from Marynivka.

Steve

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Are you sure they're not simply Yorkshire blokes on a day trip? as their telltale ferret-leggings on their trousers, arms and tucked in socks give em away ;)

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The problem with the claims of full units of the Russian military fighting openly in Ukraine comes down to the units that have been said to be fighting. By the very nature of the conflict Russian leadership would never commit regular contractors to fight in a clandestine war they want to have deniability about. I was a contractor for 6 years in a motorized infantry unit. We don't have any code of secrecy indoctrinated into us. We talk. A lot. Russians as a society is very guarded with secrets and the rank and file are not trusted. Regular army brigades are not going to be committed to a clandestine war. It just goes against the Russian soul.

What do you say about all the interviews with Russian contractors and conscripts that said they went to Ukraine? Some said they were pressured in the usual military ways, others said they refused to sign the papers and were not sent. But in either case the offer was made to them by the Russian Army, not shady political forces on the side. Plus, it's silly to think of a Russian soldier breaking his oath to go fight in Ukraine without the explicit blessing of the Russian military. The Russian military is well disciplined and so there is no other conclusion to make.

For the most part they do seem to be volunteers. They are offered significant raises in pay and promises of medical treatment costs if wounded. Have you also seen interviews with families and soldiers that have complained that they have not received these benefits?

However, in a few instances I have seen interviews with Russian soldiers that said they did NOT volunteer. They were in a unit, were told they were going on a training patrol, and then found themselves being shot at on the Ukrainian side of the border. The engineer unit I quoted above was one such unit IIRC.

Now, I am not an idiot

We may disagree about some details, but on this point we are in 100% agreement. I have debated enough people in my years to know the difference between a disagreement with an intelligent person and a disagreement with someone... uhm, not quite as intelligent :)

I'm convinced there was aid given by the military - training, planning, equipment, intelligence, probably leadership at the unit level. I have no doubt that men were probably granted leave to go to Ukraine and fight - though I also don't doubt that they were indeed volunteers.

From all the sources I've seen, this is how it works...

Russia needs a battlegroup to rotate into Ukraine. It goes to larger formations and seeks out volunteers. The volunteers are then grouped into improvised units according to standard Russian military organizations. Out of a Brigade they might get a Company sized force. The equipment is either drawn from those units or is taken from other units. The soldiers spend time removing tactical symbols, number plates, etc. They change their uniforms and weaponry as needed. The unit spends minimal time getting to know each other.

The component pieces are brought together as needed. It seems the most common organization is 1x Company of tanks, 2x, Companies of Mech Infantry, 1x battery of artillery (towed or SP), and a logistics component to bring ammo, fuel, etc.

Now, how do you wish to characterize this? Well, it depends on how fine a line you wish to draw. In my opinion when the Russian Army organizes a unit of soldiers that it has trained, equips them with weapons from its arsenal, then marches them into Ukraine as an organized force to carry out orders of the Russian government... in what way is this different from the Russian Army ordering X standing unit into Ukraine? Sure, I understand there is a slight difference from the Russian soldiers' perspective, but how is it different in terms of what constitutes an invasion by the Russian Army?

I don't doubt that artillery was fired into Ukraine - it was part of the mutual provocations on the border (the captured VDV guys were part of this) There were patrols by both sides beng done on both sides of the border and both Ukraine and Russia fired artillery (several incidents of Russian soldiers killed in Russia by Ukrainian artillery were ignored by BBC and the like).

I will quibble with this. The amount of artillery fire into Ukraine was *massive*. And it has started up again in the last 2 days. The first recorded strike of Russian artillery killed and wounded 100+ Ukrainian soldiers. And that was just one strike. How many Russian soldiers are claimed victims of Ukrainian artillery fire? And I also read the Russian government claiming they were attacked by a couple of rounds. Journalists were not allowed to cover it in detail. The two situations are not comparable.

On top of this, it there have been repeated reports of separatists firing on Russian units and over the border in order to get Russian military to become involved. In one case Russia sent in a team to investigate a strike on its men and the investigation team was shot to pieces by separatists. Separatists have also been repeatedly reported shooting at each other.

My point is that there is no proof that a single round of Ukrainian fired artillery has hit Russian soil that I know of. There has been massive and regular reporting of Russian artillery firing into Ukraine. Including NATO released satellite imagery, geolocated videos taken from cellphones, and Russian artillerymen posting to social media.

My educated opinion:

Was the uprising in Donbass orchestrated by Russia - No, but inspired by Russian actions.

Were/are the Rebels controlled by Moscow? Um murky, but yes-no. Too many loosely aligned factions. Some were proxies, some were 'legitimate' rebels, some were volunteers from abroad inspired by the cause. The initial senior leadership was not. The current more than likely is.

Were/are the Rebels supplied with arms, equipment including tanks and IFVs, intelligence, leadership etc. by the Russian government? Yes.

Were/are the Rebels also funded, armed, and supplied by normal citizens of the Russian Federation? Yes.

Did Russian soldiers fight in Ukraine? Yes.

We are largely in agreement here. I will say that the Russian government's involvement in causing the whole crisis to start with is far more elaborate and deliberate than you perhaps think. Russia has been actively planning this action for many years, including putting GRU operatives in place well ahead of time. How else do you think we wrote this into Black Sea's back story starting in 2009? It was apparent even then that Russia was actively planning to counter any change in Ukrainian politics away from Moscow's "orbit".

Did entire units of regular soldiers fight in Ukraine? No.

Depending on your definition of "unit" I might partially agree with this. Artillery and specialized units have been fighting in Ukraine as whole units, but for the most part the mech units are subsets of larger units.

Did rebels train in Russia with the blessing of the government? Yes.

Were rebels trained in Russia by a cadre made up of active duty Russian soldiers? I can't say, but more than likely yes.

Did rebels stage out of Russia for their August counter-offensive? More than likely, though not certain if they started the march from inside Russia.

There is ample evidence that the operations along the Sea of Azov came from Russian territory and the sea. Since there was 0% separatist forces in the area, there's no other place they could have come from. There is also very large amount of evidence that they launched attacks from Russian soil in at least two other places. Specifically Marynivka and out of the forests to the west.

Was the counter offensive planned by Russian leadership? More than likely completely planned.

The single biggest criticism of the separatists from themselves and others is that they have no unified command. It is IMPOSSIBLE for the separatists to have done this themselves. Especially because days before the largest part of the offensive *all* of the senior leadership of both LPR and DPR was replaced. This change in leadership has never been described as a coup by the separatists and, in fact, Girkin has since expressed anger at having been removed from authority. So how is it possible that brand new leadership managed to organize a massive, coordinated counter attack against the Ukrainian forces that had been victorious almost completely for 3-4 weeks?

I know a lot about military and political history of this region of the world and others. I can tell you, with 100% confidence, that there is no way (NONE) that the counter attack could be anything other than Russian organized and Russian executed. I would sooner believe that people have walked on the moon without spaceships or pressure suits than to believe that a bunch of fresh faces to TWO dysfunctional organizations could so dramatically reverse a very successful enemy offensive within a couple of days. Especially since the reports still say that the separatists are fragmented, disunited, and prone to shooting at each other. There are many reports of GRU/FSB taking action against certain units that refuse to follow orders. Brezler certainly didn't relieve himself of command!

I've come to these conclusions based on my personal experience and reading countless reports from many different sources and watching hours up on hours of video in the original language. I'm not saying I'm 100% right, just my feeling about it all.

I appreciate your perspective and definitely find more to agree with than disagree. The two major points of disagreement are:

1. How you define a military unit. I think if it is organized in Russia from Russian military personnel, armed with Russian military weapons, commanded by Russian officers, acting on orders of the Russian ministry of defense that it is a "military unit of the Russian Army". I also think there is direct evidence to suggest that some units were sent in completely whole, especially artillery.

2. The counter offensive, which arrested and reversed the Ukrainian offensive, was conducted by Russian units from Russian soil under the leadership of the Russian military under the direct orders of the Russian government. I am guessing about the latter, but I don't think anybody can seriously argue that the Russian military would act without the blessing of Vladimir Putin. So logically we know what the case is without seeing secret orders.

Steve

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BTW, here is a website that is tracking evidence of Russian units in Ukraine from various sources. As usual, it seems the Russian soldiers are providing the most convincing evidence as they brag on social media:

https://burkonews.info/67th-air-defense-missile-brigade-russia-ukraine/

As Na Vaske stated, correctly, Russian soldiers LOVE to talk. Here's proof that they both like to talk and that they like to talk about being in Ukraine :D

https://burkonews.info/story-army-sergeant-captured-ukraine-evidence/

Steve

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