A Chronicle of the Slavic Civil War So Far
Please share with the 5D people and demand that they stop lying.
I should state my biases as an analyst up front. I am pro-Russian in the sense that I am for the political unity of the East Slavs and their incorporation into the Russian Federation on the grounds of a shared blood, culture, and history. I have always been pro-Putin, but I have taken up this position mostly for lack of a better option. I also believe that the evidence points to a concerted effort on the part of neocons in the West and Ukraine to provoke and prologue a fraternal bloodletting in the Slavlands. In my opinion, this concerted effort has largely been successful as there is no end to the conflict in sight and Ukraine will now be a permanent armed and hostile “Israel” on Russia’s borders for the foreseeable future.
What follows is a summary of the key events in the ongoing Slavic Civil War so far.
It is impossible to not mention the context in which hostilities between Ukraine and Russia and NATO (partially) began. As most everyone knows by now, NATO pursued a policy of expanding further and further into FSU territory all while openly advocating for regime change in Moscow, Kiev, Minsk and other countries. A low-scale civil war was already smoldering on in the Donbass for 8 years at that point as well. By the time that Zelensky came out and started openly talking about the possibility of Kiev acquiring nukes, the stage had already well and truly been set for a showdown with Russia in one form or another.
Still, many analysts, myself included, were taken by surprise by the launch of the special military operation. This, in itself, should not be surprising considering the fact that many top Kremlin officials themselves appear to have been kept in the dark about the operation. And, actually, we don’t really know what the true reason for the SMO was, to this day.
I have a powerful article on this topic coming out soon. It WILL be paywalled.
Sergei Lavrov, the head of Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, for example, stated that it would be unthinkable for Russia to launch an invasion of a neighboring country and that such accusations were just standard libel hurled in Russia’s direction by the West. It seems like quite the stretch to believe that he said this to throw NATO and Kiev off the scent because there are many other ways to phrase such a denial that don’t leave Lavrov standing with an egg on his face and forced to pretend that he didn’t condemn a hypothetical Russian invasion only to then have to defend the actual invasion soon after.
Lavrov eventually settled on using the, “it’s not a war, it’s a special military operation, a policing action” talking point put out by the Kremlin. Despite about a hundred thousand deaths on the Ukrainian side, and probably seventy thousand on the Russian side, the Kremlin still refuses to call this a war, and maintains that it is something akin to a neighborhood policing action.
On the other side, President Zelensky seemed to be convinced that no Russian incursion was being planned, and that NATO was pulling his leg. This, despite American intelligence sounding the alarm that an invasion was imminent. Also, while political nobodies like Sergei Lavrov, were not consulted about the operation, influential oligarchs like Roman Abramovich curiously started moving their money around right before the start of the war. In other words, we learned a lot about who was part of the insider circle in Russia and who wasn’t. But only if we were paying close attention.
The Coup Campaign
The start of the SMO started promisingly. Russian troops made rapid gains in the south, the east and the north. They cut through Ukrainian defenses like butter and pressed ahead at breakneck speeds to secure their objectives.
In no time at all, they were parked outside of several major cities, the most important of which was undoubtedly Kiev. The army group coming down from the north got there first and began to wait for the group coming in from the north-east to surround the city from the other side. When this eventually occurred, the world watched with bated breath to see the other shoe fall.
In other cities, like Kharkov, the Russian army inexplicably tried to enter the city as if they expected no resistance, fell into a trap and had to pull out quickly.
In Kherson, the Russian army entered the city without any resistance.
These three separate case studies are worth analyzing because they reveal what the Russian plan almost certainly was when they sent fast-moving, lightly-equipped and undermanned strike teams into Ukraine.
With Kherson, the operation seemed to go off as planned: the mayor of the city had been in talks with someone from the Russian side and quickly handed over the city without a fight.
In Kharkov, the same plan was obviously effected, prompting the Russian army to try and enter the city, but it was a failure as evidenced by the Ukrainian resistance and the fact that the mayor was then accused of trying to lure the Russian troops into a trap with false promises of surrender.
In Kiev, there were reports and videos of fighting occurring within the city between bands of armed men. But, eventually, no serious attempt was even made by the Russian army to enter the city. They eventually packed up and retreated as quickly as they could.
You will notice that none of these cities were taken by storm. There was no mass bombing campaign and no strikes on critical infrastructure. All of them were meant to be taken intact.
This is all consistent with the thesis that the plan was to effect a coup using operatives placed inside the various cities ahead of the operation and through negotiations with the authorities. If this was indeed the plan, it would be similar to the Crimea operation that occurred 8 years earlier which was a bloodless political coup for which the Russian military was called in to simply provide support.
If the Russians had been able to pull off a similar operation a second time, they would have taken the majority of Ukraine without a fight and the situation would be very different today.
But, unfortunately, something went wrong.
Many pro-Russians believe that the Oligarch Dmitriy Medvedchuk was the linchpin of this plan. It was well-known in these circles that he was tasked with keeping some semblance of a pro-Russian network alive in pre-SMO Ukraine. However, many pro-Russian analysts expressed extreme skepticism about Medvedchuk’s loyalties and the effectiveness of his efforts. He was arrested before the SMO even started, and, eventually swapped for hardcore Azov fighters with the help of the aforementioned oligarch, Roman Abramovich, who served as an intermediary between the two sides.
Serious doubts about the competency or even the loyalties of the people who assured the Russian president of the effectiveness of the pro-Russia network in Ukraine began to arise on the home front.
However, in pro-Russian English alternative media, the failed coup campaign was marketed as a brilliant “strategic feint” to draw the focus of the Ukrainian army off of Donbass. It was dubbed a stunning success, and now, the knock-out blow in Donbass was about to be delivered. We are now almost one year into the aforementioned knock-out blow and still continually being told that in two weeks the Russians will win and that the Ukrainian side will crumble. You’d think that people would start expressing skepticism of the people continuing to make such sweeping claims, but you would be wrong, dear reader. From what I can tell, the pro-Russia English alternative media (I refer to this segment as the 5D Chess Blogger) are still being listened to and cited by people who believe that they are telling the truth and not just making it up as they go along.
But I digress.
The Russian army also behaved rather strangely as the coup operation quickly morphed into a full-blown war. For example, they refused to target critical infrastructure, such as the bridges across the Dniepr river, which were used to send men and supplies to the Donbass to fight Russia. They also left the Ukrainians’ communication infrastructure intact. In the early days, this could be explained away as part of a plan to seize the country completely intact and to then use this same infrastructure against the enemy. But, to this day, this critical infrastructure has not been targeted, raising questions about the Russian strategy that have yet to be satisfactorily answered.
We will return to this point later in the piece.
The Ukrainian army survived the Russian surprise attack relatively unscathed. They retreated to the cities and towns and turtled up there, relatively assured that Russia would not want to risk harming the civilian population and the infrastructure. Then, they began to poke out of the cities and attack Russia’s overstretched supply lines. It was because of these actions that Russia suffered far more casualties than the Ukrainians in the early days of the SMO. Furthermore, we learned that the Russian air-force had made several costly sorties, but then quickly found out the hard way that Ukraine’s anti-aircraft defenses were robust enough to effectively render Russia’s air advantage useless. As a result, Russian air power has been largely absent since the early days of the SMO.
In those early days and weeks, videos began to emerge out of the absolute chaos and bedlam from both sides hinting at what occurred next.
Many Ukrainian units willingly and gleefully shared footage of them torturing and executing captured Russian soldiers. They then accused the Russians of conducting indiscriminate massacres in places like Bucha, a suburb of Kiev which had been occupied by the Russian army. We also began to learn about the fate of the Russian paratroopers dropped into the Gomostel air base. Lightly-armed and outnumbered, they held out doggedly for many days while taking heavy losses against Ukrainian armor while waiting for the Russian column from the north to link up with them. Some estimates put the total number of casualties for the elite airborne strike-force dropped in Gomostel as high as 75%. Also, as mentioned before, strange footage of firefights occurring in the streets of Kiev surfaced that hinted at either city marauders or small Russian strike teams or a network of Russian agents battling it out with Kiev’s security forces.
It was also at this time that we began to hear about the infamous “Ghost of Kyiv”, the “Snake Island Martyrs” and kids disabling tanks with water balloons coming from the Ukrainian side. An organized propaganda and disinformation network of NATO agents, the most visible of which was NAFO (North Atlantic Fella Organization) appeared on social media and began to spread stories of Russian war crimes and Ukrainian heroism. Russia, in contrast, did not have a propaganda campaign set up and ready to go and so they foundered for many months on the information front until civilian initiatives began to pick up the slack and provide a pro-Russian perspective, mostly on platforms like Telegram, which was set up by Russian tech guru-in-exile Pavel Durov. Despite Durov being based in the UK after being hounded out of Russia by oligarchs in Putin’s inner circle keen on taking over his business, the Telegram platform has largely played fair and allowed for alternative viewpoints to be shared.
People in both the West and the East chose sides and decided then and there, for the most part, which narrative they would believe going forward. This has made getting to the truth of the matter exceedingly difficult as emotion-driven propaganda from both sides obscures the realities of the situation on the front.
The Donbass Offensive
After having failed to take Kiev and several other cities (Kherson being the notable exception), Russia quickly regrouped in the East and began a conventional campaign against the Ukrainian army in the Donbass, around Kharkov and in the south. The going was slow, but, the Russians continued to make steady gains at the cost of many Ukrainian soldiers’ lives.
The Russian side enjoyed a numerical, organizational and firepower superiority over their Ukrainian opponents in the early days of the campaign. Around the end of the summer though, the Russian advance had well and truly stalled out. Several explanations have emerged since then to explain why the Russians could not advance any further.
Unlike the Russians, the Ukrainians had not been sitting idly by for the last 8 years. In fact, as revealed by Merkel and other Western politicians, the Minsk treaties were simply a front to buy time to prepare the Ukrainian army for war. Funny enough, this is exactly what right-of-Kremlin critics within Russia had been warning about for years. In response to these revelations, Putin came out and confirmed that he and his top officials had been bamboozled by their esteemed Western colleagues.
And, unlike 8 years prior, there were now many defensive fortifications set up in the east, the scale and extent of which seemed to take the Russians by surprise. These fortified cities, towns, factories and so on, proved to be a tough nut to crack. Also, the disheveled and mutinous Ukrainian army that even unorganized groupings of Donbass rebels were able to contend with now had several well-trained and well-armed divisions.
Also, Ukraine wasted no time in announcing a general mobilization. They succeed in mobilizing a huge amount of men. Like America before it in the so-called “War on Terror”, many Ukrainian recruits were told that they would be used as regional state guard equivalents. However, they were all simply sent to the front to be used as cannon-fodder to stall the Russian advance. The Ukrainian strategy was simple: to trade ground and lives for additional time to better prepare an organized Ukrainian counterattack.
If Russia suffered more losses in the coup campaign, they began killing far more Ukrainians in the Donbass offensive as they brought overwhelming artillery power to bear, used better trained professional troops against raw recruits and enjoyed a significant numerical advantage in some places over their opponents.
However, the situation shifted quickly, and the Russians failed to adapt with it.
The Ukrainian Counter-Attack
Russia quickly began to run into manpower shortages, whereas, by the end of the summer, the Ukrainians had successfully mobilized hundreds of thousands of men. They now enjoyed an overwhelming numerical advantage over the Russian army (perhaps even 3:1) and used it to break through overstretched Russian defenses in Kharkov. The north-east front was the first to crumble to the now-prepared Ukrainian army. The few Russian troops there mounted a panicked and painful retreat, leaving behind supplies and men who then had to fight to break out of encirclement.
Despite efforts to portray this as an orderly retreat, reports and video began to surface of the chaos of the Russian retreat, which contradicted the Russian Ministry of Defense’s claims. It was around this time that any serious analyst ought to have started treating the claims of the Russian MoD with as much skepticism as they treated Ukraine’s prior to that point.
But most 5D analysts just hand-waved the Kharkov disaster away and stuck to their guns.
In response to this sudden reversal in Russia’s military fortunes, a wave of long-range missile strikes on Ukrainian electricity infrastructure was launched, and, eventually, a “partial” mobilization was announced by Moscow. This was a tacit acknowledgement on Moscow’s part that they had failed to deliver a knock-out blow to Ukraine in either the initial ‘Coup Campaign’ or in the subsequent Donbass offensive.
Using their numerical advantage, and NATO weapons like the long-range HIMARS, the Ukrainian army pressed its advantage and began to apply pressure on Kherson next. They targeted critical infrastructure like bridges and supply depots, and, even though Russia had equivalent systems on paper, like the Tornado, these were curiously absent from the frontlines. In fact, most of Russia’s much-vaunted new military toys were curiously absent in the conflict, and while, at the time of this writing, some have started making an appearance on the battlefield, finally, they are in small numbers, and not enough to change the course that this war seems to be taking.
After a month of deliberation, the Russian military concluded that they could not hold their forward positions in Kherson and so, announced a general evacuation and then a retreat. The only major city captured by the Russians in the war without a fight was then surrendered without a fight.
The Lost Territories and The Rumblings of Discontent
After the summer offensive had well and truly stalled out, the Kremlin decided to consolidate their gains. They announced that referendums were to be held in the territories captured by the Russian army. Following the results of these referendums, these territories were then annexed by Russia and guarantees were made that they would never again be abandoned by Russia. A thin red line was drawn, if you will, around these territories, and threats were issued to the Ukrainian side to not even try it. Their bluff was quickly called and the subsequent loss of some of these territories was, once again, a giant PR blow to the Kremlin at home, and their prestige abroad.
After the surrender of Kherson, outrage directed higher-ups in Russia began to bubble to the surface and spill over, forcing a confrontation between right-of-Kremlin patriots who were critical of the war effort so far and state media talking pieces.
Political pundits like Vladimir Soloviev began to directly attack the figurehead of the Kremlin-critical patriots, Igor “Strelkov” Girkin, the most famous of the separatist commanders in the Donbass, a man who was largely responsible for starting the rebellion there, against the wishes and best efforts of the Kremlin. After a month of warning the Russian public to ignore the patriots, a sentiment that was dutifully and loyally picked up and repeated by their 5D english-language blogger counterparts in the West, the state media largely gave up on trying to fight people like Strelkov and instead, fell back on the tried and true strategy of pretending that these people didn’t exist.
But the questions that have been raised by pro-Russian, but Kremlin critical patriots remain at large:
Why has critical Ukrainian infrastructure still not been targeted?
Why were territories that Russia had pledged to defend so poorly defended and then outright abandoned?
Why has no one lost their job in the Kremlin over all of these failures (like Shoigu)?
I have tried to address all of these questions on my blog.
The Bakhmut Controversy and the Rise of Wagner
Bakhmut - an insignificant rusted-out post-Soviet town in the Donbass, has seen some of the bloodiest and most intense fighting of the war since it began. Despite its lack of any strategic importance, Bakhmut became the only axis of advance for Russia once the offensive campaign had stalled out. The reason for this was because it was close to the contact line, and it was an object that Russia could, in theory, seize using infantry and artillery. Due to mounting tank losses and the numbers disadvantage that Russia now faced, “big arrow” offensives were off the table and all they could do was focus on localized operations on the tactical level.
The task to take Bakhmut fell largely to Wagner, a private military corporation i.e., a mercenary outfit and some regular groupings of the army that they had taken under their wing.
What ensued was a brutal battle reminiscent of Stalingrad to take the town from the Ukrainians, and a media blitz launched by Wagner against the Russian Ministry of Defense and parts of the Kremlin. While the fighting raged in Bakhmut, Wagner CEO and PR manager Evgeniy Prigozhin opened up a new front against several generals, bureaucrats, and politicians. As he continued to lob media bombs at his internal enemies, many interesting details surfaced that confirmed rumors that had been circulating about the conduct of the war from the Russian side. Prigozhin claimed that the war effort was deliberately being sabotaged, that internal political wrangling informed the MoD’s decision-making, and that things were looking bad for the Russian army on the front.
Despite the media blackout on Wagner, they continue to rise in prominence and popularity at home in Russia. If the MoD, the state media and the FSB fails to stifle their growing prestige, power and popularity, Russia may finally see the emergence of a new player on the political scene - something that hasn’t occurred in nearly two decades at this point.
The Nonexistent Winter Offensive
Russia was either unwilling, unable or uninterested in launching a large “big arrow” offensive this winter. Despite the promises of all the prominent 5D analysts, the closest thing that we got was more fighting in Bakhmut and a failed offensive to take Ugledar.
There, Russian tank columns were thrown against fortified Ukrainian positions. Suffice it to say, things did not go well for them. Other than this doomed-to-fail attack, nothing much else happened. Strangely enough though, rumors and reports of Russia holding back up to a hundred thousand recently mobilized men began to rise up, raising yet more questions.
Is Russia holding back? Is someone sabotaging the war effort on the Russian side?
More and more evidence continues to pile up that Russia is fighting this war in a very strange way. And perhaps we will learn more about this as further details continue to emerge.
But the more obvious conclusions to be drawn are that the Russian army faces many problems.
A critical shortage of officers
A shortage of modern tanks
Equipment shortages for mobilized men
Not enough UAVs and no/not enough domestic production facilities to produce them
Sanctions that limit Russia’s ability to get component parts to make more advanced missiles
Russia has largely given up on large-scale “maneuver warfare” and has instead opted for WWI trench and artillery style tactics. The reasons for this become clear if we consult the list of problems that the army faces above. Furthermore, many contract officers were killed or rotated out because of the Kremlin’s refusal to use mobilized men during the first half of this war, and having to use officers as they would regular soldiers on the frontlines.
As for the Ukrainians, they too face many problems. In particular, they struggle with:
Far more serious shell hunger than the Russians
Equipment shortages for mobilized men
But the Ukrainians have made good use of HIMARS and other Western tech. In particular, Western satellites provide them with good information on the location of the Russians, which allows them to direct fire on them quickly and accurately. Furthermore, many equipment losses are in the process of being replaced. Drones have been a key game-changer in this war. Both sides have used them to gather information, direct artillery fire, drop bombs on their enemies, and kamikaze them as well.
Unlike the Russians, the Ukrainians have demonstrated that they still retain their ability to engage in WWII-style breakthroughs and large, coordinated maneuver warfare.
The Expected Ukrainian Counter-Attack
The above-mentioned point is important to note because it indicates that Ukraine is going to be going on the offensive for the foreseeable future and will most likely attack Zaporozhye in the south, and make a push on Melitople to try and cut Crimea off. Whether they will be successful or not depends on whether or not they have more armor and men than the Russians concentrated in that area, and whether or not the Russians have sufficiently prepared. While Bakhmut is being defended by expendable units and raw recruits, Ukraine is busy massing up and training a breakthrough force.
If they break through the Russian defenses with sufficient men, the Russians will be forced to retreat again, or risk encirclement.
Also, it is clear that Ukraine continues to enjoy a noticeable numerical advantage over their opponents. Both sides have been badly mangled by the fighting so far, but the Ukrainians have probably had it slightly worse than the Russians. But then again, both sides cover up their dead and shamelessly lie about the casualties that they have inflicted on the other side, so it is hard to know for certain one way or the other. One thing is for sure though, the rumors of the Ukrainian army’s demise were unfounded. In fact, they are now larger, better-equipped and more confident than they were in the beginning of the war. They may not be able to beat Russia outright, but they are more than capable of handing Russia another defeat or two.
The Grimdark Prognosis
The war has revealed many unsavory details about the state of the Russian government and its military. Cronyism and networks of influence appear to be the foundation on which the Russian state has been built, not on any meritocracy or core competency. Russia’s intelligence-gathering capabilities, military capabilities and economic base have left much to be desired.
Ukraine, despite actually being far more of a basket case than Russia before the start of open hostilities, has benefited greatly by NATO taking a greater role in the war effort, a seemingly endless supply of Western cash, and, the unified power of the Liberal media, which has successfully raised the Ukrainian’s cause to the status of a moral crusade. Most Westerners appear to support the cause of the Ukrainian Human Rights Liberal Democracy against the Authoritarian Racist Russian Regime.
Most worryingly, there appears to be dissent within the ruling caste in Moscow.
With Russia’s refusal to escalate the fighting or invest serious resources into getting the economy up to a war-footing, expand the army, or fire incompetent ministers, the only conclusion to be drawn is that Moscow does not have the stomach for this war or a unified political class. As a result, we are forced to conclude that the Kremlin will vie for negotiations sooner rather than later, and, barring any real chance of a peace deal, they will attempt to slow the conflict down and simply do their best to hold on to the gains that they have made while committing the minimum amount of resources possible to the front.
There have also been some developments following the visit of Xi Xinping to Moscow, but literally nothing concrete at all. The people who are proclaiming the dawn of a new world order following Xi’s visit are high on their own supply of copium. Moscow would like for Beijing to start providing them with credit and ignore Western sanctions by supplying Russia with the products that they need, but themselves no longer produce. China, in the meanwhile, appears to be content scooping up a desperate Russia’s raw resources on the cheap while continuing to sell finished products to the West.
Our best hope is that the American government focuses its attention on China next, or Iran thereby giving the Russians some time to breath and regroup. As for the much-needed reforms in Russia? Without some sort of pressure, either internal or external, it appears the Kremlin is content with keeping things the way that they are.
It seems painfully obvious that they had no plan B after failing to take Kiev right away. I don't think the US had a plan either besides dumping a ton of money and arms into Ukraine. Now we're just fighting until one side gets tired and just doesn't feel like it anymore.
Given that Russia has been in this pattern for an entire year now, I think they're just waiting for the US to switch gears to China and Taiwan and leave Ukraine high and dry.
"Just a note that the mercenary mis-identified by many as Aiden Aslin last week, fighting for ukrainian forces by Artemovsk, New Zelander Kane Te Tai, is now being reported across media and social media as killed in action. So, there you go." - Graham Phillips