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Ukraine 22: Anyone else holding their breath?


Ser Scot A Ellison
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There is not too much to report, from what I can tell. Ukraine is still trying to maintain the fog of war about their operations in Kherson and around Svatove-Kreminna. So what news we have is mostly guessing based on what news and portents we have from the Russians. The Russians claim that they are trying to evacuate "their" citizens from Kherson - which is a war crime - but some are speculating that they are using them as (a) human shields for protecting their troops' retreat, which is a war crime, and (b) planning on doing something nasty to Kherson once they are gone, whether that is blowing up the dam or bombing the city to kingdom come. 

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The Ukrainians seem to be indicating they are hearing of growing movements inside Russia to end the war on somewhat favourable terms (for Ukraine) and they are willing to entertain such talks as long as Russia withdraws to reasonable lines (pretty much as before). However, they believe a stronger economic push is needed to really force Russia to the negotiating table. In particular, expelling Russia from the FATF (Financial Action Task Force on money laundering) is not a major escalation but it would make the ability of other nations to hide money in Russia and Russia to move money through third parties to avoid sanctions almost impossible. They note that the very mild-sounding act may have reduced Iran's exports by 30%. That seems to be on the table.

The Russians do seem to be acknowledging they cannot hold Kherson and are preparing for a withdrawal, having looted the place first. They seem to be in the mode of either holding the city if they can, but are willing to lose it to hold a much more secure defensive line down the Dnipro (which will still leave Kherson effectively on the front line, replacing Mykolaiv, although of course hopefully relieving Mykolaiv of the near-daily bombardment it has suffered since March).

The internal situation in Russia seems to be becoming more tense. Some reports of up to 1 million people may have fled since the mobilisation order was given, for around 1.3-1.5 million in total since the start of the war (although its believed that maybe 200,000 of those numbers have returned to Russia since), which has to be having an impact on the economy. Putin has attempted to halt the panic by capping the mobilisation numbers at 220,000, not the 300,000 initially claimed and not the 700,000 or even 1 million allowed for by the legislation. Private military contractors have apparently been hired by senior personnel in the FSB, the army and regional governments to serve as bodyguards.

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3 minutes ago, Ser Scot A Ellison said:

Hasn’t that been their de facto status since that territory was overrun?  Is this really a change?

This just dropped, so additional details about how this changes anything will soon follow. It may give the regional governors more power. 

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12 minutes ago, Ser Scot A Ellison said:

Hasn’t that been their de facto status since that territory was overrun?  Is this really a change?

No, not really. Ukraine has put the entire country under martial law from when the war started, and the DPR and LPR were under effective martial law anyway.

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ETA: Martial law means that, legally, conscripts can be sent to those regions. Under Russian law they're not supposed to be sent onto foreign soil, but by annexing the regions and declaring martial law, that clears up that block.

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10 minutes ago, Werthead said:

ETA: Martial law means that, legally, conscripts can be sent to those regions. Under Russian law they're not supposed to be sent onto foreign soil, but by annexing the regions and declaring martial law, that clears up that block.

I'm sure the mobilized troops will appreciate it. 

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4 minutes ago, Ser Scot A Ellison said:

Where are you hearing that?  How are they fleeing in panic with the bridges down?

The one bridge was left open to civilian traffic. It was weakened and the support bridges destroyed to stop heavy traffic crossing.

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Russia has opened up the reality of attacks on civilian power infrastructure with their recent bombardments in Ukraine.

So what do you think will happen in the next few months in Russia, once Ukraine starts producing these in industrial quantities?

 

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On 29 September a Russian Su-27 opened fire on a RAF UAV over the Black Sea. Apparently the missile did not acquire target lock and fell into the sea. The UK Defence Minister contacted his Russian defence counterpart and apparently it was confirmed that the missile release was an accident, which the UK accepted on the basis that the Russian jet was not trying to lock on before firing. There may even have been a (mild) apology.

Brown trousers moment.

Edited by Werthead
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This doesn't sound good. 

This has been discussed in the past, but dismissed as unlikely because:

1.  Russia controls the south side of the Dnipro, which will experience the majority of the flooding. 

2.  It makes the water supply to Crimea much worse.  This is one of Russia's strategic goals for the entire war, so not to be dismissed lightly.

 

But if Russia has entered the phase where even bad options should be embraced so long as they also hurt the Ukrainians, then I guess blowing up the dam makes some sense.  It's also a war crime, of course. 

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